Saturday, 24 May 2008

I bought a new bike!

I bought myself a bike here in Melbourne today. I had to order it in, so I couldn't take it to my brother-in-law's today, but it will be here next time in Melbourne. Pat is a darling, and he's going to pick it up for me, along with all the paraphenalia. Amazingly, the bike + stuff cost $15 less than the same model a couple of years ago. How cool is that?

I'm going to have to commit to riding it lots while I'm here. It's a bit of an expensive sometimes toy otherwise. Oh, and I was so good about not buying every accessory in sight. I figured I should work out which bike I liked best for the Great Victorian Bike Ride before I go buying more stuff.

Rang TB, who is in Canberra, who said "you'll never guess what I'm doing". It took me a while - he went for a walk. I am such a good influence!

Which reminds me of something I'm really proud of. Two years ago I got a group of seven people together to walk in the GCC. Last year, the company I worked for had a handful of teams entered. I don't work there any more, but I had a quick look to see if they had entered this year. There are 36 company teams entered. How fabulous is that? Ironically, the first year the team was made up of contractors. Last year they subsidised the original team, even though we were contractors. This year they decided contractors weren't welcome. What a shame. Still, there are 36 x 7 = 252 people walking in the challenge who weren't doing it two years ago.

Survey surprises me

I had to fill in a survey the other day when I logged into the GCC website. It was a simple survey. How many days do you exercise each week? For how long? How many pieces of fruit do you eat a day? How many serves of vegetables? I asked TB how often he thought I exercised. Six or seven days a week, he replied. Don't you mean four or maybe five at a stretch? I asked. No way! he insisted. At least six days a week. I thought about it and realised he was right. What I'd failed to take into account was that TB and I have started going for evening walks. Those former rest days have turned into gentle exercise days.

I didn't bother to think about the time I exercise. I just picked the 60 mins+ option. Even on a low exercise day I do at least that much walking. One of the benefits of being a public transport user. As for fruit and vegetables, this is usually where I do badly. TB has been a great influence on me. I easily eat 5+ serves of vegetables a day now. I've been working on increasing my fruit intake and I was able to put down 2 serves of fruit.

I finished the survey and realised that I'd ticked all the boxes for a healthy lifestyle. How great is that! On my phone I have a mantra that I try to read / think about each time I turn the phone on. "I am a fit and active person who makes healthy lifestyle choices." It looks like it's working!

As for my recent exercise efforts, here goes. I haven't blogged for a couple of weeks so it looks like a lot more than it really is.

Week 1 - rode my bike to and from work twice, went for four walks with TB, PT with Julia and with Krissi
Week 2 - rode my bike to and from work once, went for two walks with TB, a two day trip to Melb with walking on Tuesday and a 3 km run on Wednesday, no PT at all (good to have a rest but I'm missing it like crazy - just haven't managed to get to the gym), and more walking planned for today and tomorrow. (Yes, the walking challenge is back on!)

Now, riding my bike is excellent exercise. It's 10 km each way, which takes me about 40-45 mins (that includes waiting to cross roads safely, but I definitely ride slower than some people run). If I catch the bus to work the trip takes me about an hour. When you add showering or changing to the bike trip I end up getting my exercise for about the same amount of travel + shower time that I'd be spending anyway. I figure as I get better at cycling I'll end up cutting down the travel time, which will be a bonus.

Cycling when it's cold has amazing credibility too. It's funny hearing people be impressed. I find myself buying in to the mystique of it all. The other day in the lift someone said to me "it must be cold out there" and I casually said "you soon warm up". I just didn't mention "after freezing your backside off for the first 15 minutes!" The other day it was so cold that my finger tips were incredibly painful in my winter cycling gloves. Instead of thinking "don't do this you crazy woman" I was riding along thinking "if I wear my white cotton gloves under my cycle gloves that might be enough to fix it".

I don't know if this happens to other people when it's cold outside, but my tummy is always freezing when I get to work. Lately it's been going bright red when I shower - so red that it's actually itchy and painful. It must be the circulation starting up again. I have to really resist the impulse to scratch it, however it settles down within half an hour. Unfortunately I'm bright pink for several hours after exercising, but they are used to it at work now. I prefer to refer to the pink glow as "my translucent skin". It sounds so much better.

I'm off to do some serious shopping today which will involve more walking. I'm back to counting steps for the walking challenge. I'm really looking forward to it this year. Bye for now.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Mother's Day Classic - 5 km

I really don't know where my head is at. I wasn't going to run at all today because I haven't done much running lately. For some reason I was thinking that if I couldn't run a decent time I shouldn't run at all. Considering that my running goals don't include running fast, it made absolutely no sense that I should be bothered by time.

On Friday Krissi asked me if I was doing the run in Melbourne. I had intended to run the 8 km event with my nephew but the combination of Mother's Day and his father's birthday had him deciding he didn't want to miss out on any of the morning's festivities. I was secretly relieved as I had the whole I-shouldn't-be-running thing going on in my head already. I told Krissi why I wasn't going to run and she suggested that I give Lola a call to see if I could run/walk with her. Lola is having radiation treatment for breast cancer at the moment.

Straight away that took away any concern I had about the time. I called Lola on Friday and arranged to do the run with her. She had run the course the day before with a workmate who would also do the MDC with her. We arranged that Lola would pick me up on the Sunday morning. Just as well, as it was a real effort to get out of bed this morning. If I'd been getting there under my own steam I may well have given it a miss.

This year the MDC had relocated and we were effectively running bridge-to-bridge. This is a regular run around the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin for many Canberrans. Being a familiar course, I knew exactly what I was in for .. a couple of hills going up to the two bridges, lovely scenery, and an enjoyable run. I had to fill in my entry form at the event. I hadn't realised there was a $3 fee for the timing tags. I'd brought the exact money with me. Luckily for me, it wasn't a drama as they'd run out of timing tags. Phew!

I ran into so many people that I knew. I expected to meet the running girls but it was lovely to bump into people from the gym and from work. I'm one of these people who doesn't expect to see anyone they know so it's a pleasant surprise every time I do bump into someone.

The organisers had the walkers starting off 5 minutes after the runners and were directing traffic at the start line. Fortunately for me, the girls were happy to start near the back of the runners, so I was able to smuggle myself in with them. There were plenty of other people with pink numbers who were running. The start wasn't as much of a shemozzle as other fun runs I've been to, partly because there was plenty of space and partly because most of the walkers were back at their start.

Lola headed off at a steady pace and Julia and I kept up with her. Julia's a beginning runner so she's still at the stage where the first km feels as though it's a mountain. She did an excellent job though, only dropping back to a walk on a few occasions. After we'd gone about 2 km it was clear that Lola was really struggling to stay back with Julia. I could tell that Lola was concerned that if she held back she wouldn't last the distance, so I suggested that she head off at her own speed and I'd run with Julia. I was wondering what this poor woman would think, having a total stranger jog along beside her, encouraging her around the lake. Anyway, I know it helps me to have someone distract me, so I blathered on regardless. We ended up getting to the finish line in 40 minutes. On the way through I was handed a spot prize, which I was pleased about.

When I'd registered there was a sign up saying that there weren't enough showbags or medals. When we finished, I queued up with Julia anyway. I figured that the worst thing that would happen was they'd see my number and say I couldn't have a showbag. Luckily that didn't happen and I got my showbag. I was really pleased to see the lunchbox. It's the perfect size to take with me when I ride to work.

It was a fabulous day. I really enjoyed myself.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Cycling and PT

This week I managed to ride to work three times. It's 10 km each way, so it's great exercise. I've been working at motivating myself to start cycling before the weather gets too cold. I figure that if I can get into the habit now, it will be easier to tough it out through winter. That's the plan at least.

On Wednesday and Thursday I left home about 7:30 am. Well, I started to leave home at 7:30. For some reason it takes me a while to actually get out the door and started. There's the Garmin to organise, the panniers to put on the bike, the various essential accessories, etc etc. The ride is taking me about 40 minutes at the moment.

The first five km is along the bike path, which is lovely and flat and safe. There are other people out and about, walking their dogs or cycling to work. There's even the occasional runner. The path follows the old creek bed, now a storm water drain, so there are long sweeping curves which are fun to ride.

The next km is across town. Now Civic is not exactly metropolitan Melbourne, so that's not as daunting as it sounds. On Wednesday I was brave and headed along the bike lane on Barry Drive. I was quite proud of myself for a few moments then the bike lane ran out, my lane was closed to traffic, I was intimidated by the traffic and ended up on the footpath (temporarily closed to pedestrians but I was desperate). It's just as well that I don't ride a mountain bike as my bike would have hung its head in shame when I dismounted to walk it across a gutter.

The last few km are pretty much uphill most of the way. I rode along a few streets and then was up on the footpath along the road to the War Memorial. I decided the footpath was a much safer option the other day when I was watching a cyclist from a taxi. There's not much room along that road at all. Oh, in the ACT cyclists are allowed on the footpath.

The really really big hill (I could put a few more reallys in there for emphasis - just imagine my arms as wide apart as they can go - it's big) starts just after the War Memorial. It's definitely a granny gear hill. The feeling of achievement once you get to the top is amazing. There's a second little hill to climb after that, but it's a doddle once you've done the first. Then there's this amazing coast down to the turn off to work. It's great fun, particularly as you know you have completely earned it.

Locking the bike up and taking the bits and pieces off it is getting to be a regular routine. Mind you, I did all that on Thursday and then forgot to actually lock the bike up. I didn't realise until I was getting changed to go home. You can imagine how I felt until I got down to the bike rack and saw my trusty bicycle still there.

On Wednesday afternoon I discovered an unpleasant side of commuting the extra distance to work. Yes, my cycle gear was kind of .. well .. yuck! I left the bag open on Thursday and aired out my top layer and on Friday, as I did an hour of PT on the way to work, I brought a change of clothes for the trip home.

Commuting every day has another logistical problem to overcome - clean cycle gear. It's getting so cold in the mornings now that long leggings are the way to go. I have the great knicks that I bought for the Yass ride, which I wore on Wednesday. On Thursday I resorted to a pair of long leggings over cycle shorts, but I was in trouble on Friday. I called in at the LBS on Thursday evening and bought myself a pair of leg warmers. On my way out I remembered that my neck had been quite cold in the morning, so I ended up buying a tube scarf thing that can be worn several different ways, including pulled up over my nose on freezing mornings. I tested it out on Friday and it was great. So were the leggings. In fact, the coldest part of me ended up being my butt. I think I'll have to work it so that I wear the really great cycle knicks on Fridays, as I leave an hour earlier to get to my PT session.

The ride home starts off with a logistical problem - how to get safely across the road when everyone is tearing off home. There's a road down to a large roundabout on a major road. There's a bike lane on the major road, so technically once you're around the roundabout you're ok. Alternatively, you can cross the road and travel on the footpath on the other side of the road. Crossing the road is the problem. I've tried crossing at a few different places. There was so much homeward bound traffic on Wednesday that I ended up getting off my bike and walking across the road. On Thursday I got into the right lane at the roundabout and then managed to cross the street to the footpath as there wasn't much traffic. On Friday I went around the large roundabout (yes, I am getting brave). I was doing really well, although one driver entering the roundabout from the other side waited until I was almost past him and going into the bike lane when he decided to turn left as though I wasn't there. I had to hit the brakes to avoid him. It seems right of way may be a myth when you're a cyclist.

On the way home I've found that it's easiest to cross a number of roads at the lights. All I have to do now is work out a safe route between the lights. Crossing Civic in the evenings is harder than in the mornings. Again, it's roundabouts that cause the problem. I've always laughed at how badly Canberra drivers manage roundabouts, but I'm finding myself less and less amused these days. Once I'm on the bike path though it's a fabulous ride home.

I've got guests arriving for dinner shortly, so I'll blog about my PT sessions another time.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Tired, sore and happy

This morning I had my PT session with Krissi. I rode my bike there. It was a little chilly but not freezing, thank goodness. I headed off in daylight, which is a good thing. A few weeks ago I needed my lights at 6:30 am and I know that I will need them again soon, so I'm making sure I enjoy the daylight while it lasts. I hadn't ridden my bike for a week, but I was quickly back into the swing of things, changing gears whenever there was a slight bump in the road. It was a beautiful morning, apart from the cold.

We had the usual 10 mins on the bike, followed by stretching and then we got into it. I'm trying to remember what we did, but I can only recall bits and pieces. I think that's because I'm tired (and sore). I mentioned dead lifts to Krissi the other day. I've been doing them with Julia, and one of the other PT's at the gym mentioned to Julia that we were doing them wrong. She wasn't able to explain what the problem was, so Julia and I figured that she may have been concerned because I stick to the 30 degree thing with bending my knees. Even though I wasn't all that concerned, Krissi thought it would be a good idea to check my form. I really appreciated that Krissi would do that for me.

I've been doing them 'ok' but I find Krissi always takes me to a new level. I feel like I can do them even better now. I certainly felt them in my hamstrings more. I get a better explanation of the exercise from Krissi - experience really does make a difference.

After we did that, Krissi had me doing an exercise that involved balancing on one leg, holding a 5 kg weight and lifting the other leg. I've done it with her before. It's really difficult. I saw it in a magazine the other day as a 'great exercise', but I can't remember what they called it. I like giving it a go, as it's one of those exercises that you can see that you'll be able to measure your improvement.

I did the chest presses again with the same weight as last week. I managed a whole two in the first set before Krissi felt the need to spot me. She told me that I was doing the lifting for all 8 reps, but I know I felt more secure with her touching the bar. I managed four reps in the second set before needing actual assistance from Krissi. Getting the 8th rep out was a major struggle but she talked me into it.

I did some upright rows with the uneven bar. Krissi had me concentrating on lifting my elbows and keeping my scapula down. I thought it was pretty cool that I was able to actually concentrate on my scapula. Of course, that didn't mean it stayed down. *chuckle*

Krissi had me doing some ridiculous jumping from leg to leg thing with a resistance band. I'm glad I couldn't see myself. I could feel my abductors though, so the idea was good.

I'm having a quiet chuckle with my "I could feel my abductors" comment, as I have no idea if that's what the muscles are called. I just know I work them when I use the hip abductor machine at the gym. I'm referring to the outside of my thighs. I was trying to explain to Krissi where I hurt last week. She was kind enough not to laugh, but I did get told the names of the muscle groups in my upper back region.

We did some good abs work. A couple of 60 second planks (grr) and some fitball crunches that were harder than expected. A bit of a chat, and then I was off to work on my bike. I was really pleased with the ride. Instead of going the back way to avoid (a) the bicycle lane and (b) the really really really big hill, I figured that I'd give it a go. I made it up the hill. Mind you, after my Yass ride I knew that I could manage this hill. I felt safe in the bike lane. An added bonus was that I was at work, showered and changed, a good 15 minutes earlier than usual.

I rode home too. It's 10 km from work to my new home. The first part is hilly, but the last 5 km is pretty flat. I was really tired when I got home. I'm starting to feel the effects of today's PT session. I know I'll be fine tomorrow, but at the moment I could do with a massage.

As for the rest of the week, I managed to get the boyfriend (TB) to the gym on Monday morning. That was a major achievement. I'm hoping to get him there again over the weekend, but I'm not holding my breath. I did my PT with Julia on Tuesday. That was a great session. We managed to increase the weights on a number of my exercises. On Wednesday I was in Melbourne for work. It was an exhausting day. I left home at 5:30 am and arrived home at 8:30 pm, so I didn't get any exercise in. On Thursday I went to the pub with the gym girls for the WOW program. I figure that counts as almost exercise. :-)

As for the weekend, I'm playing hockey on Saturday and I'm having a massage on Sunday. It will be a relaxation massage as I'm a total wimp where pain is concerned. I'm looking forward to it though.