Thursday, 27 November 2008

Weekly update

I keep meaning to write up my blog but then I get intrigued by Facebook or distracted by The Age. Sometimes real life interrupts me. Fortunately, there's the quick update option instead of the "capture every second of the day" option.

Last Sunday was our last game of twilight hockey for the year. We don't start again until mid-January. The Blue Geckos decided to celebrate the end of our spring fitness activity in style with pizza and beer. Fortunately I did a bit of running during the game! I was well outclassed skill-wise on the field, which added motivation to my current plan to train next year. Let's hope that idea lasts across the summer break.

On Tuesday I had my bootcamp followed by PT run combination. I should just call it my "I'm going to need an afternoon nap" combo, as I was exhausted at work. We had a boxing cardio session for bootcamp. It was like the run along, stop, choose a card, do the activity session, except that the activities all involved boxing.

It was a good fun session but it was maybe not the best preparation for an hour run. I really didn't want to run. Ten minutes in, legs moving even if they were tired, breathing fine, mind completely out of it. Krissi was chatting away to me, but the distraction wasn't enough. I simply didn't want to run. I proposed a quick walk instead. Ha! As if!

Krissi kept me going, along past the sailing club and all the way up one of the long hills. She then completely amazed me by telling me I could walk after the top of the next hill. Before I could express my surprise, she then added a condition - if I really really needed to walk, then I could. We made it to the top of the hill and kept going. I don't know how it worked. Somehow having permission to stop made it ok to continue.

It was tough though, for the whole run. I was amazed how my mind would keep noticing how tired my legs were. My lower back started to ache. My shoulders were tense. Every time I conquered one problem, my brain would sneak in a new one. Fortunately Krissi was there with me. When I'm having a day like that I don't know whether or not I'm really hurting. I kept checking my breathing, which was fine. My legs kept turning over. If I didn't think about it, my back and shoulders were ok.

I was hoping Krissi would turn around sooner than usual. Of course not. Mind you, she didn't make me run any further than I have before. We turned around just past the nursery. It seemed like a long way back to the car, but we made it. All up, I managed to run for just over an hour even though I didn't want to run. That's got to be good for me when I eventually run a half marathon. (Shh: I'm not quite admitting this to myself yet. I'm planning to give the Canberra Half a go next year.)

Even though I was exhausted on Tuesday at work I managed to spend half an hour weeding the garden and I vacuumed! Yes, for those of you who missed the Facebook update, I bought a Dyson on the weekend. Wow!

I gave myself Wednesday off exercise, apart from a little walking. Today I had the double bootcamp. This morning we had our final session, so it was the fitness assessment. I was less apprehensive about the beep test, but I only made it one level past my starting point. I thought I couldn't go any further, but I didn't actually throw up when I stopped, so I think maybe I could have managed another level. I did more pushups and situps, ran the time trial 3 seconds faster, and was slower in the agility. Overall, it was a good result.

The one I was most pleased with was the 1 km run (almost 1 km, but let's not be precious). Last time I went out too fast and had to stop to walk a couple of times. This time I managed my pace a lot better, which made for a much better run. I can't say that I was enjoying it. In fact, I would have stopped half way if I hadn't had to face Krissi and TB afterwards. I was surviving it though, which makes me realise that I can run faster. It's all about managing my pace.

I was quite tired at lunchtime, which surprised me. Maybe I went out a bit harder this morning than I thought. With Billy, we did the usual skipping, three sets of 2 minute intervals today, followed by star jumps (I am so good at them!), power squats (not so good), bottom half of burpees (hopeless) and pushups (not as many as this morning, but still respectable). After that we did pulling people with the resistance bands. That's a lot harder than it looks. We finished off with two sets of boxing. It was a great workout.

I'm feeling really good right now. I just have to keep up the exercise now that one of my bootcamps has finished. Time to get my backside out running on my own I think.

Friday, 21 November 2008

PT session, ten pin bowling, housework and gardening

I hate being late, which means that I'm often early. This morning I was too early for PT, so I ended up filing my nails in the car. That's one of those "I really should do it more but I don't" things that takes no time but seems way too much trouble. Once it's done though, I find myself wondering why I don't do it more often.

When I got to Krissi's she was in the doorway waiting for me. She was checking that I hadn't used the lift! Sometimes I think "I'll play with her head - I'll call the lift and take the stairs" but I get over the impulse quickly enough. Mind you, I like to catch my breath before I go in - no chance of that this morning.

Instead of going up to the studio, Krissi told me to leave my stuff on the dining table and take my water with me. I was immediately apprehensive. What was she up to? I noticed that she didn't have her shoes on, so we weren't going for a run. We wouldn't normally take water bottles with us either. Krissi led the way down the corridor to the stairs! You guessed it. I was running up and down stairs.

Now, I have a fear of falling and stairs bring it out in me. I believe I have a perfectly good reason for this. My brother, when he was a toddler and I wasn't much bigger, helped me when I said "Watch me Mum, I can jump down the stairs" by giving me a push. I landed three steps from the bottom of our Queenslander house. Ouch! Fortunately, Krissi didn't push me to run fast down the stairs. I have been noticing lately that I can slowly run down stairs where before I used to have to step carefully. I've been quietly pleased by this, as it's a sign that I'm trusting my balance more and more.

Running up was a different matter. Krissi encouraged me to lift my knees, to drive my feet off the stairs, to use my arms and to think "fast feet". I flew up those stairs. If I'd known that five pushups were waiting for me at the top, I might have gone more slowly. Three reps and a rest, followed by stairs with dips, a rest and stairs with squats. What a warm up.

I know who to thank for it. The exercise bike broke when Peter was using it. I'll have a word with him at bootcamp on Tuesday. Grrr!

After the warm up it was up to the studio and squats with the bar. I was up to 8 in the first set when Krissi stopped me and switched me over to lunges. I'm not at all sure that this squat/lunge combo is a good thing, but I managed three sets. The next exercise was hamstring curls. For once I could really feel my quads when I was doing them. I think my legs were worn out!

We moved on the chest press. I got through the first set of 10 on my own. Krissi didn't even touch the bar lightly. Three sets of those of course. I struggle more with the second set than the third, which always amuses me. Then we did the weird back exercise. Krissi told me that Peter was pleased nobody was watching him when he did it. I so know what he means. It must work though, as my back has been feeling tired all afternoon.

Finally we got to the stretching. I was taking my time getting down on the mat because I was expecting abs work. If I'd realised it was stretching I would have been down there a lot faster.

Later in the day we went ten pin bowling with work. It was a lot of fun. I've also mentioned housework and gardening as I'm counting calories. I've discovered that I can eat more if I count my housework and my gardening. LOL.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Bootcamp and Mandarin podcasts

This morning it was raining and the alarm didn't go off. Not that the alarm not going off was a problem as I am trained into getting up early now. It was waking TB that made me feel slightly guilty, particularly as I knew the rain was pouring down. He had expressed less than his usual enthusiasm for bootcamp the night before because of the weather. He'd also had quite a stressful day, with a major family issue being sorted out at long last.

You did note the word "slightly" in the middle of that rambling paragraph. Yes, I woke him up. He complained about me waking him when it was raining, but I was over the whole guilt trip by then. I did think about going without him, but I decided that harmony at home was more important than exercising in the rain street cred. I also decided that getting up was a better option than keeping TB from his much needed sleep. Of course, the rain out our way stopped right on 6:30 am. Ouch! Fortunately, half way through the day I looked at the weather radar and saw that the weather was moving across Canberra from my side of town. Hopefully, it was still pouring at 6:30 am at Lennox Gardens. I guess I'll hear all about it from Krissi tomorrow morning.

I took my bootcamp gear to work for my lunchtime session, but I was hoping it would continue to pour rain all day. No such luck! At 11 am, Billy called to see what the weather was like out our way. Enough people wanted to do bootcamp, so it was on. That's when I checked the weather radar, as a last ditch effort to avoid any exercise today. No such luck. All the weather was missing us, until after lunchtime.

With everyone else in, I had to get my act together. Wouldn't you know it? It was a fantastic session. It started with the usual skipping and jumping warmup. I can skip for two minutes now, which I'm really pleased about. We did two sessions of skipping followed by two sessions of jumping. I think we did 2 mins followed by 1.5 mins of jumping. I am able to jump back and forth across the rope for the whole 2 mins now. How cool is that?

We then did a 2 mins on, 1 min rest set, starting with star jumps, followed by power squats, the bottom half of burpees and pushups. I killed the star jumps. Everyone else was way impressed but I knew it was all down to being able to run. Not that I let anyone in to my secret. The power squats are a challenge, but I kept on going through them. I was a disaster in the burpees. My tummy was in the way, so I did little jumps. I also found my arms tired really quickly. I did the best pushups I've done for some time.

Then we did some running. I was last, as ever, but I handled it fine. We had to slow jog or fast jog, depending on the instruction. In the middle we did a few power squats, then finished with a "burst". I was "bursting" away, miles behind everyone else.

After that, we put on the gloves and boxed. I boxed first, and my arms were simply dying. Usually, we swap over in the middle, but we did two sets of boxing before swapping. When it was my turn to hold the pads, my arms were still dying. I could certainly feel the burn! I somehow survived, mainly because Kirsty doesn't hit that hard. Thank goodness.

After that we did another set of starjumps etc, 30 secs of each without stopping. It seemed much easier than the 2 mins, even though we weren't having a break. It was a fantastic bootcamp session. We were all really pleased with how we did. The whole group tries hard. I thanked Lisa for getting me there after the session, as I had so much not wanted to do it.

When I got home tonight I did another half hour in the garden. I find the squatting to weed is really good for me.

I've discovered some free Mandarin podcasts on iTunes. I had already booked some cd's from the library, but I'm on a waiting list. Isn't it great that there's so much stuff out there for free?

Now for my next challenge. Learning to speak with inflection. I get so confused. It's just as well that so many people around the world speak English!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Bootcamp intervals and PT run

This will be a quick update. This morning we had an intervals session at bootcamp. This was the session with the cones that are apart different distances, smaller to bigger. You run up and back, dropping down a distance each time. You get to rest until the next interval starts.

The first interval was 40 seconds. I could make the longest distance in 26 seconds, so that was a comfortable set. The next time, because the faster runners were waiting so long, the intervals were 30 seconds. I was able to survive the longer distances, but we dropped to 25 seconds on the third set. I was starting at the long end, so I really struggled through the first three intervals, without managing a break. I skipped the fourth, then joined back in and finished the set.

After that we used the harnesses, and did the running against our partner's resistance. We had to run hard for 10 seconds, then they let us go and we sprinted 20 metres. That was a lot of fun. We had four turns each before doing our cool down. Oh, I managed the warm up better than usual today too, which I was happy about.

Once bootcamp was over, I headed across to the War Memorial while Krissi packed up. I had an ulterior motive as I wanted to go to the toilet before we set off on our run. I scared the poor cleaner again ... poor man.

Krissi and I headed off on our usual run around the base of Mt Ainslie. I wasn't at all sure how I'd manage, particularly after an interval session. Krissi has this "I'll work with 100% of what you've got left" approach, so I figured I'd see what I could do. My legs were tired, but we managed to run for just over an hour. It was a slow 7.75 km, but I was pleased with it. I really had to struggle to keep my legs turning over during the second half of the run. I ran the whole way, without stopping!

I was so tired afterwards that walking to the car was a major effort. An excellent day's exercise.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Morning run and trip to China

This morning I made it out on my own for a run. Yay me!

I nearly didn't go. The devil that sits on my shoulder reminded me that I hadn't mentioned it to anyone at home in Deer Park. TB thought I should wait a week to let my blister heal properly, so he wouldn't criticise me. Nobody would know I didn't go. The angel on my other shoulder reminded me that I'd mentioned it here in my blog. The devil piped up, "You've done that before - they won't be surprised that you didn't get out there." It really was teetering there in the balance.

Add into all this that I've been working hard on managing my food consumption all week. I've been faithfully writing everything down, good and bad, as a baseline against which to assess my progress. I really want to lose the weight I've regained over the past eighteen months. I really love to eat. If I'm going to have it both ways I have to get out there and run.

I stopped listening to the angel and the devil and started listening to me. What did I want to do? I wanted to run.

It was just a little run, half an hour around Kororoit Creek. It was an important run though, as this is where I first ran for half an hour without stopping. This is where I used to think I was going to die before I made it to the bridge, five minutes into the run. I was remembering all that as I jogged around the course. I noticed how much easier it was to run up the hill on the far side of the bridge, how the temptation to turn off at the other bridge instead of doing the big loop wasn't there today, how I didn't even notice that I was running along Station Road instead of burning with embarrassment that people driving past could see me lumbering along.

I decided that I'd only do one loop this morning, another baseline. I didn't even check the distance when I turned off my Garmin. I'll see that when I load it up onto the pc. For today, it doesn't matter. I got myself out there, I ran and I enjoyed myself. I didn't notice any blisters. I stretched properly when I got home. I was really proud of myself.

My other exciting news today is that TB and I are going to China in February next year. We booked the tickets this evening. You've got to love the Internet. I'm so excited!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Weights session

Yesterday I had my usual Friday morning session with Krissi. I am sure that part of the reason that I enjoy this so much is that I expect to enjoy it. It's certainly not because of the way I struggle during the session or my muscles hurt afterwards.

Krissi's home studio is up two flights of stairs. I'm not game to catch the lift up unless I have my bike with me, so I dutifully struggle up the stairs each week. Usually I have a few creaks and aches on the way up, but yesterday everything felt fine. Why then, was I struggling for breath when I got to Krissi's door? A similar thing happened to me at work the other day, but that was three flights of stairs. I was puffing away as I went past all these people's workstations, trying to regain my breath and stop blushing at the same time.

To add insult to injury, there's another flight of stairs to get to the actual studio. I followed Krissi up, listening to her complain about how hard the stairs are some mornings. I had a little inward chuckle as I followed this amazingly fit woman up the final flight of stairs. Mind you, Krissi had competed with a team in a 12 hour mountain bike race over the weekend, so I think she had a valid reason to complain yesterday.

I started off on the exercise bike, as we discussed the benefits of those amazing bandaids for blisters. For the first ten minutes, which is meant to be a warm up, I'm able to talk. Once we get to the intervals I rely on Krissi to do the talking while I do the sweating. Krissi told me all about the bootcamp session that I missed. I'd heard TB's version of the scavenger hunt as well. It sounded like a lot of fun.

I sweated so much that I figured I could finish PT after the cycling. I suggested it to Krissi. Her solution was to turn on the fan. Trainers!

For a change I did dead lifts. Getting the form right was quite a struggle. When Krissi demonstrated her back was like a lever, dead straight. My shoulders went over straight away. Krissi gave me a few tips on technique and I managed to keep my back a lot straighter. It helps that Krissi has a picture of the perfect guy on the wall for me to look at. When I started, the bar felt quite light, but I had to put it down after six reps. I did two sets of 12 reps altogether, before moving on to chest presses. Same bar, same weight, 10, 8 and 10. A couple of sets of jack-knifes, one minute plank and I was done. Phew!

I've packed my running gear for Melbourne .. just have to get out there tomorrow morning. :-)

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Bootcamp and blister

I only made it to one of my two Thursday bootcamps today. Yesterday, on my rest day, I managed to get a huge enormous blister on my heel. OK, it was a little one, but it hurt like a huge .. you get the idea.

When I got up this morning I put a bandaid on my heel and taped it. No joy. It still hurt once I put my shoes and socks on. I even tried two pairs of socks. TB, who managed to survive me with blisters at the Queen Vic Markets in Melbourne, suggested that I stay home. As it was meant to be a cardio session, I decided that I would take his advice. Of course, it was a scavenger hunt, which is one of my absolute favourite sessions. Oh well. Another time.

I nearly left my gear at home however I'd packed it the night before so I took it to work with me. I wasn't feeling at all confident about being able to wear my runners at lunchtime. Two of my workmates were looking for a can of harden up for me. Yep, I was getting lots of sympathy. I decided to try my shoes on about half an hour before bootcamp. To my amazement, I couldn't feel the blister. Now, it may have healed dramatically in the five hours between bootcamps, but I'm giving all the credit to the magic bandaid I put on when I got to work. I invested in some of those "healing" bandaids a few weeks ago. I haven't been at all convinced that they work up until now.

It was 30 degrees today, so we were all wearing our sunscreen and hats. We also made sure we had plenty to drink before we headed outside. It's fun doing this with the people at work as there's a lot of mutual encouragement before and after bootcamp sessions.

We started off with our usual skipping warmup. We seem to be skipping for longer, which has got to be good. We then jumped over the rope for a while. It seemed like quite a while but it was probably only two sessions of one minute.

After that we did some boxing. The person with the pads called a number between 1 and 8, the other person punched that many times and then shuffled around in the direction of the last hand they used. It was a good workout. I'm not sure how long each turn was, but we got to box twice. I was encouraging my partner to hit through the focus mitt instead of aiming for the front of it. She was doing a pretty good job by the end.

We then did the running against the resistance band. That's quite an exercise. We normally run all the laps, but Billy encouraged us to power walk the last lap. He didn't say so, but I think he was paying attention to the heat. We each took two turns at that, then we were back to squats. Phew! Billy loves his squats. I've got to admit, I can stay down longer and go down further now.

What I have noticed, and this has come from running and not stopping, is that I have more stickability with the different exercises now. It's as though I've realised I've got another gear that I can get into, and I can do more for longer no matter what it is I'm doing. When I was powering along with the resistance band I could tell I was in the same headspace as I was when I was running up those hills around Mt Ainslie and it kicked in again when I was struggling to stay down in the squats.

Tomorrow I have PT with Krissi. I so enjoy my weights session with her. I'm in Melbourne on the weekend, so I won't be playing hockey. I'm going to take my running gear down with me and go for a run around Kororoit Creek. That's a plan!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Hockey, gym, boxing and running

If I updated my blog more frequently it wouldn't sound like so much exercise!

On Sunday night I played twilight hockey. It's a mixed comp, with a max of 5 men on the team. Fortunately we had 7 men and 8 women, so we were able to sub regularly. I started on and played the first half, so I was glad of a break at the start of the second half. When I went back on, I played inner, which was fun for a change, as I'm usually a defender.

During the game I had one of those "Wow, all this exercise is paying off!" moments. I took off after someone, sprinting as fast as I could. Now, normally this means that I'm trailing the other player and getting further behind, but I actually caught up with them and then stayed with them! I didn't make the tackle, but gee I put her under pressure. I was going to tell her how excited I was that I kept up, but my sensitive side stopped me when I realised she was 20 years or more younger and might not appreciate an "old lady" making that comment.

On the way home I had another of those "WATEIPO" moments. I may have mentioned before that there is a hill on the way to my house from the hockey centre. It's always a struggle to walk up it after a game of hockey. I plod along, lifting up my feet, which feel like lead in my hockey boots, asking myself "What on earth do you think you're doing, running around on a hockey field? Why didn't you drive over to the hockey centre?" etc. This Sunday I was walking up the hill realising that it was much easier than it had been before. I was so stoked I forgot to show TB my injuries. Don't worry, I showed him a couple of days later when the bruising looked impressive.

I didn't check the bootcamp timetable before I went to the gym on Monday night. If I had, I might not have been so enthusiastic about doing an upper body workout. It's been quite a while since I made it to the gym, so I was determined to get there on Monday. There were new faces everywhere, behind the counter and around the gym. After being a regular there for so long it was quite strange to be anonymous. Fortunately I soon ran into a few people that I knew and the place started to feel like "my" gym.

I pretty much did my old workout, cutting the leg work right back to one set of walking lunges and one set of hip abductor exercises. My right shoulder has been sore since carrying the 20kg weight plates and dragging the tyre, so I paid attention to it to make sure I didn't make it any worse. I only had to cut one set of one exercise back from 12 reps to 8 reps, as it was getting tired. I managed to get quite a sweat up while I was working, which was a good sign that I was pushing myself hard enough. I find it all too easy to slack off a little when I don't have a trainer watching me.

On the way out of the gym I had a huge smile on my face. I was feeling so happy. You've got to love that exercise high.

On Tuesday morning we had a cardio-boxing session at Lennox Gardens. After our warmup we were put into groups of three, one punching, one holding the pads and one doing a shuttle run. We went through a series of one minute each doing four different punches, jabs, hooks, uppercuts and jab/hook combinations before our first real break and then did another series of one minute doing crosses, uppercuts, and a four punch combination. It was hilarious trying to do the four punch combination. I couldn't get the pads right for my poor punching partner, although I was trying hard. She was punching faster than I could move them.

After the cooldown, Krissi and I went off on our run. My legs felt like lead from the beginning. Krissi was taking me off somewhere new too, which meant that I didn't know what to expect. The first run somewhere I'm always a little anxious. We headed off towards Parliament House so I had seen the first part of the run before. That helped me to relax. Mind you, I was feeling whingey. Luckily Krissi has a complete lack of sympathy for minor whinges. I was able to moan "My legs don't want to do this" without her saying "Oh you poor thing, we'd better stop now."

As we jogged along I was paying attention to the fact that I'd never managed to do this part of the run before without stopping to walk. I didn't think it was worth mentioning to Krissi, as we're both over the "Oh my goodness, you haven't walked" commentary now, but I was internally telling myself how great it was. I don't think I'm ever going to get over the fact that I can run now. And, when I think about it, why should I?

The first part of the run is a bike path which turns into a pathway as it nears Parliament House. Even though we were shaded by trees most of the way through this section, it's a lot hotter when we run now. I was wishing I'd drunk more water before we started. Fortunately, there was a bubbler at the top of the hill when we reached the road immediately around Parliament House. We ran around the back of the building on paths, through a car park and over a bridge before reaching another path to run on. It almost felt like we were out in the country, except there we'd just crossed a large intersection and there were people walking along on their way to work. We made our way towards the front and then ran down towards Old Parliament House. It was as though we were doing a tourist route.

It was amazingly pretty. We were in among the trees, running on beautifully kept paths, and then we were running beside and around attractive well-maintained buildings. We ran across the park, on the far side from the tent embassy, down across reconciliation place and through the middle of the flags, facing across the lake towards Anzac Parade and the War Memorial. It was like running in the middle of a set of post cards. We ran along the edge of the lake back to Lennox Gardens.

When we got back to our stopping place we were ten minutes early, so we did another lap of Lennox Gardens, which was a bonus as it meant we got to see the cute duck family again. Once my legs would have said, "Stopping place means you have to stop" but they have the ability to go a little further now. When we did finally stop we'd been running for 55 minutes. It was such a lovely run.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Personal Training

It was one of those "just five minutes more" mornings today that make me realise why I have a personal trainer. It would have been all too easy to roll over and go back to sleep, except that Krissi was waiting for me. I'd gotten all my gear ready the night before too, which seems to make it so much easier in the morning.

I was in surprisingly good shape after yesterday's double bootcamp effort. My calves were reminding me they were there and I felt tired all over, but I wasn't in pain. When I arrived at Krissi's I told her I was feeling like spaghetti. She laughed, that evil personal trainer laugh that they must teach them at the start of their course, and said that she'd work with whatever was left in me.

My legs felt really tired when I started warming up on the bike but they were working ok after five minutes. Maybe they weren't going as well as I thought though. Once I'm warmed up I usually do six sets of intervals, but Krissi let me off after four sets. I wasn't expecting that, but I didn't argue.

My absolutely favourite part of PT is the stretching. Krissi gave me a good stretch today. Usually I feel the stretch but I don't feel that it's painful. My left hamstring had me almost gritting my teeth today - not because of pain but because it was a strain to stretch it. Fortunately that was the worst of the stretches, either because I relaxed or because my other muscles weren't so tight.

Krissi had me do some squats with a light weight and some calf raises before getting me to get myself into a strange position for some flys. She had the bench set up on an incline. I was behind it, with my head leaning against the end of the seat, my knees bent and with my arms down straight with elbows slightly bent, holding 3 kg weights. From there I was to lift the weights by squeezing my shoulder blades together. I gave it a go, and it was a good thing that my head was leaning on the bench, as my legs ended up shaking away. Krissi told me that she'd given me this exercise because she figured out that the only part of me that I hadn't exhausted the day before was my back. (Exhausted is my word!) When I did the second set I was shaking so much that we were both giggling when I tried to get the 12th rep out. Some jack-knives and I was finished. Thank goodness.

At work today we were all comparing pains. Just as Billy had promised, people could feel their shoulders. My gluteus hurteus muscle was making itself known today too. I can't work out why my butt ends up sore - I exercise it all the time by sitting on it! I'm starting to feel a few other aches and pains. Nothing that a good night's sleep won't cure I hope. Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday and I can sleep in!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Double bootcamp

This morning's bootcamp was a hike up Mt Ainslie. I quite enjoy this particular session, even though it's always hard work. TB was pretty sure we'd be working harder than usual, as we have two trainers for this bootcamp. His theory was that one of them could be harrassing the people at the front of the group, that is, him, while the other could be looking after the people at the rear, like me.

We all gathered in the car park behind the War Memorial. I was wearing my warm hoodie as it was cool again, but all the others decided to brave the elements. Water bottles in hand, we headed off across the road as Krissi explained what we would be doing. We were walking up the first section as a group. Once we got past the steepest part we were running the rest. It all sounded quite achievable. I had no idea if I'd be able to run that far, but I knew that I could do better than I had the last time I tried running on the mountain back in August. Mind you, looking back at that blog entry, I did better then than I remembered.

I found I handled the steep part better as well. I'm clearly a lot fitter this time around. All that running has made a difference. It got a bit hot, so I had my hoodie around my waist by the time I got to the point where we were stretching before we started running, a view station on the way up the hill. It had a stone wall around the edge, behind which I left my hoodie. I made an emphatic mental note to pick it up on the way down, reminding myself that I'd have to climb the steep part again if I forgot it. (Actually, I thought TB would have to climb it for me ... blush.)

Heading off for the run, I was surprised at how easy it seemed after Tuesday. I ran for a couple of sections before I stopped for a work. My competitive nature kicked in, as I made sure I ran further than the girls in front of me before I stopped to walk. I told myself that I might be slower but I could run uphill for longer. I got myself back running again quickly, and only stopped a couple more times on the way. I walked the long set of stairs near the top and told myself I'd run the last path after the stairs finished. I realised that there was a section of path before the last stairs of that section and decided that I'd run that bit too. I was really proud of those few metres as they were an extra I hadn't planned to do.

In my mind I was going to stop when I got to the final set of stairs, but Brad was there so the vanity effect kicked in and I ran them. I stopped at the lookout but Brad encouraged me to walk up to the car park, then run across and run up the final flight of stairs to the next lookout. It was such a relief to finally stand still. I have to admit that I didn't really look at the view. I was too busy catching my breath to appreciate it.

On the way down I picked up my hoodie, so I saved TB the extra run. I must see how he reacts to my dastardly plan. It should be amusing. I was walking down the mountain with Peter. He inspires me so much as he has arthritis and yet still runs up mountains. He's not steady going downhill and neither am I, so we've developed a habit of walking down together. After a while Krissi came along with Fiona and said "Kathy, you want to jog the rest of it, don't you?" I said, "No, I'm fine" before I realised that Krissi wanted me to jog the rest of the way down. I decided that it was easier to jog than to protest, so off I went with Krissi, while Fiona kept Peter company the rest of the way down. It was good to jog some of the way, however once we got to the bridge we had to turn around and jog back up until we met the last group. I was pleased to see that I managed the jog on the steep bit. I'm thinking that it's time that I tried running the whole way up the mountain. I'm sure that I can make it if I take it one small stretch at a time.

While I was running up the hill I was thinking, "There's no way I can survive bootcamp at lunchtime after doing this," however I turned up anyway. Billy had warned us that it would be a hard session, suggested we all make sure we ate something a couple of hours beforehand (never a problem for me) and that we bring along a sports drink. We were dragging tyres. When we got there I went to help with bringing the equipment over. Billy asked me how I was feeling. "Apprehensive!" He laughed. What is it with personal trainers? They always smile more when you tell them it's hurting!

I carried a 20 kg weight plate over from the car. I brought it over with two hands and rested it on my tummy. Imagine my reaction when the first serious exercise we did, after the skipping and jumping warmup, was carry two 20 kg weights across the lawn and back again. While jogging!

Billy had us using our arms like levers, explaining that this would help us to strengthen our grip. With the right posture and tight abs, our bodies would do the work instead of our arms. Amazingly, he was right. I was able to carry the weights across and back, while jogging. Mind you, I was by far the slowest in the group. Still, I was doing it. I had to make myself take my last turn as I was exhausted.

After that we dragged the tyres around. Each tyre had a 20 kg weight on it. Dragging them was as hard as it looks. At one stage my arms and legs were going but my tyre wasn't. We did one lap, then Billy let us do a lap without the weight. I asked him to put it on again for my third lap as I really wanted to do it the hard way one more time. I felt like I had something to prove. It was an internal thing that surprised even me. I guess I needed to know I didn't have to have the weight taken away. Afterwards Billy came up to me and complimented me for doing that, which I appreciated, but I'd really done it for myself and nobody else. As I said, I don't know where it came from.

A few squats, which I handled better than last week, even after all the hill work, a few stretches, and bootcamp was over. We helped carry the equipment over to the car. Billy always seems surprised that we do that, but the whole group just gets in and helps. We've never even discussed it - we just do it. I work with some lovely people.

This evening I have a sore butt and my shoulders are feeling pumped. I'm off to have a warm bath after I water the garden. Fortunately TB suggested leftovers for tea, so I won't have to cook dinner. Apparently he liked my pasta bake!

Personal training tomorrow morning and then the weekend. I'll have hockey on Sunday and I'm hoping to find the willpower to go out for a run on either Saturday or Sunday morning. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Bootcamp and long run

Even though Tuesday was a public holiday in Canberra TB and I were up bright and early for bootcamp. The schedule said interval training, which had me feeling quite apprehensive as Krissi and I were going for a run straight afterwards. Knowing how hard an interval training session is, I was wondering if I'd be able to run for an hour afterwards.

It was a chilly morning - you'd never know it was meant to be Spring. I braved the elements in a nice warm hoodie and I had a long sleeved top for my run later. We went for a warmup run around the oval. I was struggling immediately to keep up with the others. I felt even more worried about my PT session, particularly as I'd been so stiff and sore on Sunday evening. When I stood up after I finished blogging I was hobbling like a little old lady.

After the warmup run and stretches, we jogged as a group around the outside of the marked oval, which was about 300m long. The purpose of this lap is to check out the ground to make sure we're aware of any trouble patches. After running on the Campbell High School oval during the last bootcamp, this place looked like heaven. They play AFL on Reid Oval during the winter, so it's kept in good condition. As we jogged around Krissi told me that it was up to me whether or not I took the interval session a little easy as we were going for a long run afterwards. I didn't pay much attention to the word "long" as all my runs with Krissi seem long to me.

We ran a second lap around the oval at our own pace. TB ran off ahead of the group while I dutifully brought up the rear. As we finished we were given numbers, which were used to divide us into teams. I ended up in the same team as TB, which I was pleased about. Krissi explained the concept of the intervals session, and I was suddenly glad that I was the slowest runner in the group. We were doing a velodrome session, where the team would run around the oval as a group, dropping the slowest runners off at the end of the second lap, then the next slowest etc, until the fastest runner ran a lap on their own. While the others were still running, the people who had dropped off would be doing exercises in the middle of the oval.

I ran my two laps, then did a lap of crunches, a lap of pushups, a lap of squats and another lap of crunches. After the faster runners had some time to recover, we did the session in reverse, picking up a runner each lap, then finishing with two laps for me. More crunches, pushups and squats for me, but I was feeling a lot more confident about my run afterwards. As for TB, he did a lot of running. That's what you get for being fast!

We stretched and chatted at the end of the session. I was keen to head off and so was Krissi. She suggested I eat something, but I didn't want to after my experience at the fun run on Sunday. We drove over to the other side of the War Memorial, which surprised me, as it's a five minute walk. I thought Krissi must have another appointment after me, but I soon found out why we were putting the cars near our finishing spot. Krissi was taking me for a "long" run.

Because it was a public holiday, I didn't have to be at work and Krissi's next client had moved their session to Thursday, Krissi was taking the opportunity to take me for a run right around the base of Mt Ainslie. Now this is a run that my running buddies have spoken about with awe and fear. Krissi herself had told me that she cried the first time she went up one of the hills. I think she is probably exaggerating, but even the thought that she might feel like crying is enough to impress me with the magnitude of the task. Mind you, she's been preparing me mentally for this over the past few weeks, as she's been telling me about the various sections and how they are all achievable. We've even run nearly one third of the way up the horrendous hill. I have to admit that I've dropped to a walk the two times we've done that, but at least I knew what it looked like.

Krissi told me that the run was just under 10 km. We'd been running just under 7 km along there in approximately an hour. Krissi thought we would be out there for about an hour and a half, which seemed like a long time to me.

I felt absolutely fine when we started the run. I was warmed up from bootcamp. I checked out how I was feeling, just as my Chi Running book advises. No aches and pains anywhere. Still, as I ran along beside Krissi I was thinking up all the reasons why I couldn't do the full run. My knee would hurt afterwards, I would have to walk all the hills, etc, etc. I didn't want to embarrass myself by giving up immediately, so I thought I'd see how I went on the way to the turnaround point.

I chatted away to Krissi while this was all going on in my head. Before I knew it, we'd come to the part of run where there's a high, middle and low road. We've been taking the middle road. I threw up half way up the hill the first time we did that, and I stopped the walk the time after that. To my amazement I was running up the hill and chatting. I figured I'd shut up, relatively speaking that is, and try making it to the top without stopping. I succeeded! I shared my milestone with Krissi, who was keenly aware of what was happening. We had a mini celebration in the way you do when you're running. (Me: "Pant, pant, that was an achievement." Krissi: "Well done Kathy.". Me: "Pant, pant")

I was still thinking that I'd make up my mind about turning around at a particular point on the run when, all of a sudden, we were there. I hadn't realised we were so far along. I knew I was feeling great so I really didn't have any excuse to turn around. The run was so much easier than Sunday's had been. I was really enjoying myself. I figured that I'd keep on going.

The horrible hill was pretty much there. Krissi gave me a pep talk about how to get up the hill. The plan was not to look up, as the top of the hill seemed so far away. The part I'd already run was as steep as it got, and there were a few "flat" bits that would give us a rest along the way. I was to take it slowly but steadily. We made it to our furthest turn around point and I hadn't stopped to walk. I was really proud of myself but it was pretty hard work. The temptation to stop and walk was so strong. Then Krissi said the magic words, "Xxx didn't make it all the way to the top the first time she attempted it." I decided that I would attempt to get further than Xxx before stopping. I just forgot to ask where it was she stopped, so I ended up running all the way to the top.

I asked Krissi about stopping for a water break at the top. She kindly told me that I was going to have to drink my water while I was catching my breath on the downhill. We've been talking about that, as so many people, me included, feel as though they must stop at the top of the hill. Krissi is intent on curing me of the habit!

We got to what I thought was the top, just behind some people who were walking their dogs. They took the path that veered to the right, which went up again. I thought "Oh no, it keeps on going" but fortunately Krissi was quick to reassure me that we weren't going the same way. She had carried our water on her running belt, so she handed me my bottle and fed me a sports bean. Now, I've never had sports beans on a run before. They are fantastic! In retrospect, I'm a little amused that I became so excited by an orange jelly bean. It tasted so good and it was so refreshing. Krissi only had four sports beans and she kindly gave me three of them on the way around the mountain. In fact, she would have given me her fourth bean too, if I'd asked for it. How lovely is that?

Once we got over the top of the horrible hill, Krissi warned me about another part of the run that was psychologically difficult, a series of hills that looked tougher than they really were. After that was a section where you were in what looked like the middle of nowhere, reached a recognisable landmark, and then kept thinking you should be back at the War Memorial.

After the horrible hill there was a lovely long downhill to run, with fantastic country views. It's hard to believe that you're in the middle of Australia's capital city when you're running through bushland with not a building in sight. I settled in and enjoyed that stretch, particularly as I knew there was more hard work to come.

I was glad Krissi had warned me about the deceptive hills, as the sight of them would have convinced me that I was done. By this stage I really wanted to make it the whole way around the mountain without stopping. I gritted my teeth, took the hills slowly and made it up all of them. The next section didn't worry me so much as I worked in the building that was the recognisable landmark and I'd been running on some of the tracks in the past. What bothered me was that my legs felt like lead.

It was quite understandable. I haven't run for more than an hour for about 18 months. My longest recent run was 8.67 km on much flatter ground. I'd just done an hour of bootcamp (even if it was an easy session). No wonder my legs were tired.

That was the whole point of the run, to take me past what I'd been doing already. Krissi wanted to move me further from my comfort zone. She certainly succeeded!

As we wended our way along a few different tracks on our way back to our starting point, Krissi told me that the finish would appear sooner than I expected. I thought she was being extra encouraging, but she was right. Before I knew it, we were there. I was so glad! I went to turn off my Garmin and realised that I hadn't turned it on properly at the start of the run. My amazing run, complete with impressive elevation profile and I didn't have a record of it. I had to laugh. Oh well. It looks like I'll have to run it again so that I get one. (Krissi sent me hers. I just have to work out how to load it into SportsTracks. Don't worry, I'm an IT consultant - I'll figure it out eventually.)

I am so proud of myself for doing that run. The thing that I'm most proud of is that I ran the whole way. That's a major achievement as I used to be one of those run/walkers. It's taken me a long time to be able to just run as my legs seem to make the decision before my brain gets involved. I even stopped to walk a couple of times on Sunday.

I was exhausted all day on Tuesday though. Thank goodness it was a public holiday!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Bootcamp, personal training, fun run and hockey

Bootcamp is going to be pretty much a theme for my blog over the next few weeks. TB and I have signed up for six weeks of 6:30 am starts on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I'm also doing a Thursday lunchtime bootcamp for 10 weeks at work. It's keeping me fairly busy.

This Thursday we had a circuit session at Reid Oval in the morning. While I love doing bootcamp at the War Memorial or at Lennox Gardens, Reid Oval is so much better for running activities. The even ground is a real bonus with agility work as well.

This is a session I've done a few times now. There was a new station (a recovery jog) and a minor change to one of the activities (a sprint at the end of the plyometric jumps). I really enjoy this session and I love seeing how much I've improved over time. For example, there's an activity with five cones in a pentagon around you. You start in the middle and jump between the cones and back to the middle, going one way around and then the other. I used to struggle with this one, pausing between each jump, landing heavily, and squashing the cones more often than not. Now I rarely squash a cone, I land lightly on my feet and I can complete the jumps in both directions without stopping.

There are other signs of improvement. During the warmup, which involved a lot of jogging around in a circle, Brad had us bending over to touch the ground with the appropriate hand, when he called out 'right' or 'left'. I didn't realise that some of the others weren't touching the ground until TB and I were chatting afterwards. I was too busy making sure I didn't fall over as I bent over to notice what the others were doing. I was pleased though, knowing that I'd managed to do something relatively easily that other people struggled with. I know that sounds as though I am competing with them, which I am a little, but I'm mainly pleased because it's a sign that I'm more flexible and that my balance has improved. Back before I lost weight, if I dropped something on the ground it was a major struggle to pick it up. In fact, I used to be intensely embarrassed if anyone was around to see me as I levered myself down and back up again.

There's a ladder exercise that we do, where we step into each rung with both feet as fast as we can. I realised on Thursday that it was a great abs workout. I hadn't noticed that before, probably because I was concentrating on coordinating my feet and swinging my arms (trust me, it helps). I found that if I wanted to go faster I had to tighten my core.

After bootcamp I headed off to work. I like getting there early after exercise, as that means I can used the shower in the disabled toilet. It's so much more pleasant than the shower down in the basement, but we're asked not to use it between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm.

Lunchtime bootcamp was a lot of fun too. Billy had medicine balls with him, that had me worried, but the exercise we did with those was quite achievable. We started off with some skipping and some jumping across the rope. My knee was fine so I was able to skip the usual way. We then swung the medicine ball over our heads and threw it down on the ground to bounce it, catching it on the way up, then swung the ball in the other direction. It was more fun than it sounds. I liked the big thud as I drove that ball into the ground. Mind you, I thought I was doing the exercise properly but Billy managed to find an improvement for me. Isn't it always the way with personal trainers?

We then did the running with the bands that we did last week. I teamed up with Kirsty again and we powered away. It seemed easier this week, probably because I knew what I was doing and I knew when to expect to get a rest. We then went and found a gutter and did some jumping. I thought 'oh no, my poor knees will never survive more jumping' but they were fine (and still are). It was hard work though. We also did squats. Billy loves his squats. This time we held the skipping rope above our heads while we squatted. It certainly keeps you upright. I'm enjoying the change of pace with this second bootcamp but I'm a little apprehensive about next week. Billy is bringing tyres / sleds. It sounds a little too boot for me. Still, I'll have a go. You never can tell.

On Friday I had my usual PT session with Krissi. My legs were so tired when I did the bike warm up, but I got through it. I've gone a little backwards with the chest press - I have only been doing one weights session a week lately, with work trips to Melbourne, boot camp starting and so on. After talking it over with Krissi, I've decided that I'm going to try to get to the gym at least once a week to get my other weights session in. I'll be focussing on arm work when I'm there.

I sometimes wonder am I enjoying personal training too much. I certainly work up a sweat, so I figure I must be working hard. I feel great all day afterwards. It's just that I enjoy it at the time. Isn't it supposed to be hard work that you dread? Have I got this all wrong?

This blog post was going to stop here, but I lost my internet connection, and half the post last night, just after I wrote that I was going in a fun run and hoped to run 6 km in 45 mins. Well, the run is over. I managed to get around in 43:54, which I was really happy with. I also managed to run along behind a group of Canberra Raiders for a short while. You have to love eye candy.

Krissi did the run with me. She wanted to push me a little harder than when we run on Tuesdays and I enjoyed the company and motivation. Mind you, the only time I voluntarilty accelerated and started to run past people, I immediately got back into the pack. Yes, there were a couple of people between us and the Raiders, obstructing my view. I'd told Krissi about my valiant attempt to run faster last year when the Raiders went past, so she was quietly laughing at me. We managed to stay with them a short while - it's probably where I picked up the minute that I ended up under my goal time.

I found the run a bit hard today, but I still enjoyed it. Krissi pushed me along and encouraged me to keep a steady pace, which really helped. Krissi and Brad didn't sign up for the run, so they left me just before the finish. I tried to run faster up the straight, even though my legs didn't think they could. It's amazing how having all those people there helps you find something more though. At the end of the run I got through the finish line and a few steps away before I started to feel as though I simply had to throw up. I lost some of my breakfast, found that I desperately had to go to the loo, and headed straight over to the gym without telling the others where I was going. A kind lady grabbed me a cup of water when she saw me throwing up, and another gentleman offered to get me one. I was incredibly grateful to them both, but I didn't actually look up to see their faces when I thanked them. I hope they have lots of good things happen to them both this week. They certainly deserve it.

After my emergency dash to the loo I felt a lot better and found the others. Lola and her friend Julie had finished a few minutes behind us. Jess and Fiona both did the walk. Normally they would run the 6 km, but Jess is expecting her first child in early December and Fiona carried her two year old in a backpack. We had arranged to have morning tea after the run, while the announcements were happening. I'm glad we did that, as it was a pleasant and relaxing way to finish the event.

Today's event was special to us, as it's a year ago since Lola was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. In fact, she wasn't able to do this run with us last year, as she had just had surgery, but she did come out to encourage us. It was fantastic to have her run with us at this particular event. She's finished all her treatment, her hair has grown back curly to her disgust, except that it could have grown back patchy so she's not complaining, and it's just a matter now of keeping an eye on it all. Which reminds me, it's twelve months since I last did a proper breast check. All you women out there reading this blog ... self-examination this week!

I got home to find TB working on the garden. I grabbed a mattock and gave him a hand to plant our brand new row of thujas. These are conifers that are going to form a privacy screen between us and the neighbour. We went for the cheap 10 for $60 option, so they are tiny. It will take a few years before they form any sort of screen. Still, it's the beginning of our front garden, which also has a magnolia and a lilac planted in it. We have two daphne bushes and six azaleas in pots under the tree ferns out the back. They are destined to be in the front garden when the thujas are forming some shade.

After that, I had hockey. I walk over to the hockey centre. It's about a kilometre, which is a good warm up. Usually I run around one of the fields before I play but my legs didn't think that was a good idea. I did plenty of running though - the other team were fast! Well, everyone else is fast compared to me. Still, it's a lot of fun. I staggered home - the hill up to our place seems to grow while I'm away - and now I'm contemplating a good night's sleep.