Monday, October 09, 2006

Or 8679, if you like

...or 1443, my finishing place out of 1581 competitors; 898 of 994 women; 53/60 in my age group; my chip time 1:15:44.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Just Call Me 820

That was my number in this morning's CIBC Run for the Cure (5K).

I didn't run, of course - but I walked it in 45 minutes. I would probably have done it a bit more quickly, but I assumed I'd be at the slow end of the scale so I started near the back, only to find myself behind a sea of real slowpokes. I spent the first km dodging around people (and dogs and strollers) to get to my comfort zone. I'll know better next week in Victoria. Mind you, the Victoria race is actually a race, so there probably won't be so many lollygaggers.

I was a little worried about my back, after the mess I made of it in England, (see Turtle Afloat)but the walking actually seems to help. I had fun. I have to work 5 days now, and then I have the weekend off. I think I'll try to go down to Victoria on Saturday morning, collect my race kit, spend the night either in the RV or at a friend's place, and be there in town for the race. Otherwise, I'll have to leave home incredibly early on Sunday to be there for the race.

Given the difficulty I had walking 12 k a couple of months ago, I think I'll stick with my 8k registration. There will be time for 1/2 marathons later, I hope.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Turtle Afloat

Robin and I are flying to England tomorrow for a narrowboat holiday, and I've started a new blog in honour of the event. It's called Turtle Afloat, and I've put a link to it on the list below. See you there!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Five (at last count) Rs

Reconnecting. Re-reading. Resonating. Ranting. Remembering.

Hi, everybody. My poor computer was ill, so it went off to hospital for a few days, and I suffered the torments of the isolated. It wasn't bad, really, except I missed being able to catch up on the boards, post here and also read Charlie's blog to get the latest on his athletic endeavours.

I have done several 10k walks and two bike rides (14 and 16 miles, respectively), which made me feel ill - I don't seem to do heat very well. I'm glad the races are scheduled for October, not August.

In the meantime, also, I've re-read Barbara Kingsolver's Small Wonder, which brought me to tears again; I've listened repeatedly to my favourite violin concertos and the Bach cello suites -and the other day I heard a wonderful 3-hour CBC programme that featured the viola da gamba. I'm beginning to sort out my physical reactions to the various stringed instruments. The violin takes my breath away - literally, at times - but I seem to hear the sound mostly in my face and jaw. The viola da gamba resonates off (on? in?) my left collarbone and shoulder blade. The cello's voice settles right near my bottom ribs and gently touches my diaphragm, thus also causing a bit of breathlessness. I tend to think of it as making my chest hurt, but that's not it, exactly. It hurts good, whatever it is. The common-or-garden viola sounds to me as if it's made from a not-quite-empty cereal box, and it doesn't resonate at all - just lies there making scraping noises. All these things make me ponder the nature of beauty and our individual responses to it. They also make me want to unplug the tv and just fill the house with music (my music, of course. This could be difficult.)

Here comes the rant: Why, why, why did I not take violin lessons when I was advised to do so? Our school system brought in people to test us kids I think I was nine or ten years old - and tell us what sort of instruments we should play (if any, I must presume*); I was told that I was best suited to the violin. I took a few piano lessons at school (a horrid experience), but never picked up a violin. I did sing, of course, and continued to sing until just a few years ago, when a bad patch of allergies made me sound like a frog, but my voice is the only instrument I ever learned to play with any degree of proficiency. Shame. It was probably a matter of money, and there was nothing to be done about that, but it's still a shame. I'd love to feel the music in my fingers and hands and arms, as well as in my face and chest.

*Little story. Funny/sad. My daughter also took piano lessons for a short time, but from a private teacher. Before long, the teacher told her she was the most appallingly untalented child he had ever encountered (PD is, she will be the first to admit, tone-deaf, and her eye-hand co-ordination was a little slow in coming. She has other redeeming qualities, like emotional honesty and straightforwardness, which I wish I shared.) Shortly after this outburst, the gentleman killed himself. All these thirty years or so later, I think my poor daughter still nurses a suspicion that she was responsible for his demise.

That's what happens if you take my computer away. I have too much time to sit and think.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Learning Experience

Several, actually - the latest of which involved sitting here, composing an entry about my last week's activities, and failing to notice that my battery was low. Suddenly, the screen went dark, and there went my post. So here I go, trying to remember -

I had planned to take the 10k walk with the Running Room group last Sunday, but something else came up, so I went out by myself on Saturday instead. The walk was long, but fun, to make a long story short.

Then I worked and worked (enough said) until this weekend, when I took the Coho to Washington to visit some very good friends. We had a lovely, relaxing couple of days together.

When I got back to Victoria, I intended to walk the 8k Victoria Marathon course, then take the bus home and watch the re-run of the World Cup final. I carefully avoided watching or hearing any news reports, so that I wouldn't hear who won. I walked to the bus station, only to discover that they don't have lockers any more. The lockers were pulled out a year ago. I guess I don't take buses often enough. My backpack contained my clothes for the weekend, toiletries, and two bath towels I had bought in Washington. I was also carrying a purse. There was no way I was going to walk the 8k with the pack on my back, so I settled for a walk up Douglas Street to a fabric shop. While I was in the shop, I heard horns honking. The sales clerk said "Oh, those crazy Italians! They just won the World Cup." So much for the element of surprise. In the end, though, I didn't mind, because I got to be in Victoria for the party. There were cars speeding up and down Douglas Street with horns blaring, Italian flags waving from their windows, and voices crying "Viva Italia!" While I waited for the bus, I sat on a bench in the Empress Hotel's rose garden and listened to a marimba band that was playing on the corner. It was a great finish to the weekend.

This morning I set out on a walk. I made several mistakes. First, I didn't map the route out first, so I felt a little aimless. Then, I didn't have any bananas, so I ate a nectarine instead. Nope. Bad idea. I only had $3 in my belt, and figured that would be enough. It wasn't. About five kilometers into the walk, I was decidedly tired, so I detoured to a supermarket to buy a Power Gel. I ate the gel, wishing I had enough money to buy a bottle of water to wash it down (Fruit Punch Gatorade really doesn't go well with chocolate gel). Much refreshed, though, I walked home, where I stretched, bathed, and finally mapped the route I had taken. 10.98k (6.82 miles) that felt much longer.

Along the route, I thought about my mother, who would be 90 years old today if she had lived. Creaky as I am, I'm still moving, and I'm eleven years older than my mom ever got to be, so I guess things aren't so bad.

Friday, June 23, 2006

8k and beyond

Yesterday I did the planned 4.11 mile (6.61k, 10,040 steps) walk, and arrived home still feeling strong. I thought I could have walked farther.

This morning I decided to try for 8k. I had an unexpected errand to run, so I modified my walk to allow for a stop at the office with paperwork. I was wearing my pedometer, and figured I'd have to do about 12,000 steps to make the 8k. By the time I had taken a walk that included the errand, several stretch stops and one bathroom stop, I had taken 12,454 steps. I entered the route online and it worked out to 5.66 miles/9.11 kms. Cool.

I've listened to the experts. I'm no longer trying to lengthen my tiny stride, so the shin pain is gone, though I'm developing a blister on my right little toe. Also, Charlie told me that the only person I'm competing with is myself, and I've decided that at least for now, my race isn't about speed; it's about endurance. Today's walk took just under two hours. Without the business stop, I think I could have done at least 10k in the same amount of time, even with the rest stops.

I have another day off tomorrow, and I hate to waste the opportunity for a walk, so I'll probably put my rest day off to Sunday, when I have to work at 6 am anyway.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Useful Discovery

Yesterday I was prepared to spend $30 at The Running Room

on a pedometer that would tell me how far I had walked, but I didn't have $30 on me, so I put it off to today. When I got home, I had an e-mail from The Running Room that included maps of a 5k run and a 10k run here in Nanaimo. They were done on Google's pedometer site, which I hadn't known existed. Whew. Saved me $30, they did. I signed up for the site, and this morning I did a 3.51 mile (5.616 km) walk in my own neighbourhood. 8,762 steps. I've already mapped tomorrow's 4.11 mile walk. This is going to be very useful indeed. I will spend the $30 on something else from The Running Room.

Charlie's going to be racing again this weekend - check it out on his blog. The link is over on the right.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Time off

I've had the last few days off work - time for lots of training, one would think. However, it hasn't really worked out that way. Robin has had the time off also, so we've been doing things together. The World Cup finals are on, so we've been spending an inordinate amount of time glued to the tv. Robin has an unfortunate tendency to support the European teams. I like the New World teams, for the most part. The match that's coming up in a few minutes is England vs Sweden, so for once R and I will be cheering for the same side.

Yesterday we drove the motor home to Parksville, where we took a bike ride - but it wasn't all that long a ride. We had Lupa with us, but it seems I tired her out the day before, so she didn't feel like walking very far. That's to be expected, I suppose, as she's about my age.

Today we went to the Aquatic Centre. Robin went straight to the pool, but I took a few minutes to walk on the treadmill, then used the lat pulldown, shoulder press, leg press, and ab machines before I joined him. I did my stretching in the pool, which was wonderful. As I've mentioned somewhere else this morning, I actually feel as if my hip flexors are starting to flex, and that's just amazing. I'm feeling guilty about not doing full walks the last few days, but if what I'm doing loosens my hip joints, it can only help when I do walk 5-8 k at a time.

The receptionist at the Aquatic Centre informed me that there is a summer special on. If I buy a monthly membership for July, I'll get August for free. That works perfectly for me. Now I can relax and go to the gym/pool as often as I like.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Return to Power

I've been without power to the computer for a few days, but all is well now - power cord here and connected. Meanwhile, I've not kept track of my activity - but I have been walking. We have Lupa here again, so she and I get out for a walk first thing in the morning, and tonight we took a second walk. Tomorrow we will take Lupa up to Parksville in the motor home and spend the day - or possibly stay overnight. That will allow for some beach walking, as well as a bike ride.

I do recall noting that when I started walking on pavement, I developed a pain in my left shin that didn't respond to stretching the shin. Oddly, I could relieve the pain by stretching my calf. Today, when I did post-walk stretches, I forgot about my quads, and when I started to walk later they protested. I really must develop a routine for stretching, so I don't forget something important.

My sister Pam will be coming up for a visit in August. I've rented a spot for the motorhome at my favourite RV park in Victoria, and I've warned Pam that she should start training, because she and I will be walking the 8k course while we have our visit. She's such a good sport, and a great walker. I look forward to seeing scenic James Bay with her.

Now that I'm reconnected, I'll try to keep up here - my memory being too short for three-day breaks.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Just for a Change

I didn't go to the gym yesterday. My shift was noon-8:00, so I took Lupa (Golden Retriever) for a walk in the morning. We went to the Parkway Trailway and walked for one hour and twenty minutes. The new shoes felt pretty good, apart from a little heat where the lump had been. I think I'm just settling the cushioning foam into place.

I don't think I made half the speed that I do on the treadmill, though. When race day comes, I'll need to find somebody fast and chase him/her for all I'm worth.

After work, I did a few pushups and worked my triceps. I met a runner the other day who said that running in the morning and strength training in the evening works well for her, so I'm going to try that approach.

This morning, R and I were going to go for a bike ride, but England is playing football, so I have a feeling I'm going to be on my own.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New Shoe Diary

I took my new training shoes to the Aquatic Centre this morning and walked over four miles on the treadmill. I did just under one mile, got off to turn the fan on, and inadvertently turned the treadmill off, technologically challenged as I am - so I turned it back on and did another 3.25 miles, just to be sure I had made it over the four-mile mark. A couple of times during the walk, I increased the speed to 4 mph for 1/2 a mile.

The shoes: At the beginning - at least for the first mile - I felt as if I had something in my right shoe, close to the outer margin of the ball of my foot. That feeling did ease up considerably in the course of the walk. For a while, my left foot felt a bit numb, but that passed as well, and overall I was very pleased. I think I can resolve the issues I had by learning to tie my shoes. It's never too late, I hope. It occurred to me that the socks I wear are quite thin, as well - so I'll try wearing something a little thicker.

After the walk I stretched a little, worked out on the lat pulldown, the shoulder press, and the Roman chair, then spent the last ten minutes doing some serious stretching. I came away feeling much more limber than usual.

As I walked, I tried with some success to keep my arms engaged, but from time to time I just had to lower them for a rest. I was working on racewalk form, but I don't think I carried it off. I think I'll get somebody to videotape me while I walk. My camera will do two-minute videos. If I have a look at my form, I can make some corrections. At the moment I feel very awkward. OTOH, maybe you just can't racewalk correctly on a treadmill. Better check that out.

My pre-workout breakfast was half a banana again. That seems to work very well for me. I'm only now (11 am) beginning to feel that I need a bowl of Spoon Size Shredded Wheat. I am trying to figure out what I need to eat before I go out to race, and the 1/2 banana seems to fit the bill. As I start walking longer distances, I'll start carrying a Clif bar or something similar to eat during the walk.

You know what the best part of working out is? The focus. During my stretch, I suddenly realized I had been thinking of nothing except stretching this muscle, stretching that muscle. The realization came when I noticed a group of people with MS working out nearby. I started to reflect on how lucky I am, and that was when I realized I had been totally absorbed in my workout. Cool.

Monday, June 12, 2006

What I did on my day off

Have you noticed that days off just fly by? I woke up this morning at 5 o'clock, decided that was a ridiculous hour to be up, and went back to sleep. Unfortunately, I didn't wake up again until 7:15. I was to pick up my friend Jane at 9 am. I had to go to Victoria to pick up my new passport and do a couple of other errands, and Jane was kindly coming along to keep me company. We wanted to have time to do all the Victoria stuff and get out of there before rush hour.

Accordingly, I dressed in my gym clothes, grabbed half a banana for breakfast, and drove to the gym. I only had time to do 55 minutes again (I didn't actually have time for that, but I did it anyway.), a little over the 3.25 km this time - then a perfunctory stretch, and home for a shower. I arrived at Jane's, puffing, at 9:15. Tsk.

Jane and I had a great time in the big city. After we picked up my passport, we had lunch at Pagliacci's, a Victoria landmark. Happily fed, we drove over to James Bay and checked out the routes for the 8k and half-marathon. Then we hit Silk Road for a supply of Rooibos tea, Home Depot for Jane's paint, and back to Nanaimo.

My right leg started bothering me last night, possibly because I'd been trying out all those wonderful stretches I found at and got carried away - but I had a good look at the New Balance shoes I'd been wearing (for everything), decided they were really Old Balance, even Off Balance, and had been for a very long time. After I left Jane at her house, I made my way to the Running Room, where Mike guided me through the painfully expensive experience of buying a new pair of shoes for training. I ended up with Mizuno Wave Riders. They feel very structured after the loose comfort of the NBs. I'm wearing them around the house tonight, and I'll go to the treadmill tomorrow morning to give them their official tryout. If they're okay after that, I'll risk going out on a track and making them unreturnable. I shall be good and wear them only for training.

So. I was walking back and forth in the shop while Mike stared at my ankles and knees (the rogue - checking for excess movement, he said) and I noticed a sign on the window referring to two other races coming up in this area. The first one will be happening while I'm on holiday in England, so that's out, but the second one, the CIBC Run for the Cure, is slated for October 1, will take place here in Nanaimo - and it's just a 5k. Hey! I could do that as warmup for the October 8 8k run - and walk off my jet lag as a bonus.

Charlie, you've created a monster.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Lest I forget

I just came back from the gym, and I'm hurrying to get ready for work - but I want to make note of this morning's stats: 55 minutes, 3.25 miles. I did a couple of minutes' warmup on a different treadmill, didn't like it, and switched back to the one I used yesterday. How can they have such distinct personalities, these machines? Anyway, I set the speed at 3.5, which is 17.08 minutes/mile, and the incline at .1, and just walked. I took a much-needed bathroom break at 2.5 miles, and I'm not sure whether the clock kept ticking while I was away, so I'm calling this "just over 3 miles" - still up from yesterday by over a mile, and at a minute less per mile. I'm really enjoying this, so far. The first mile or so is drudgery, but then I seem to get into the spirit of it, and it stays good for the rest of this - admittedly still short - walk. I may reconsider when I get to the five mile walks.

My late mother's birthday is July 11, and that's the date I've set as Decision Day. I should know by then whether I will be able to do the half marathon. I'll try to add at least a mile to my walks each week, which should put me at 8 miles or better - still nowhere near the 13 needed for the half, but I should have a good idea of my capabilities by then.

Off I go to work now.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Emulating the tortoise, not the hare

I woke up to the sound of rain this morning. It wasn't the kind of morning that inspires one to walk to the gym, so I changed plans. I drove to the gym, got on the treadmill, and did two 18-minute miles. I was tempted to speed up, but (having a lot of time to think while I walked) I thought it best to start gently. My heart rate was just right - in the aerobic range - at 18 minutes. Tomorrow I'll walk a little farther at the same speed. First, endurance - then speed. I can walk pretty fast, but 8 kms is a long way - and 21 kms - my not-so-secret true goal - is even farther! I want to find a speed that I can maintain for the distance.

After the treadmill, I worked on shoulders, legs and abs until I had to leave for work.

During the day, I stopped by my friend Joyce's house to ask whether she might join me in the race, and in training for it. She would love to, but is waiting for knee surgery. If she has recovered in time, she will get on board. I hope she does. Get well soon, Joyce.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Here I go.

I did it. I registered to walk the 8 km road race that is part of the Royal Victoria Marathon on October 8, 2006. That gives me 122 days to train, some 21 of which (in September) I'll be in England, winding and climbing and taking walks along the canal. Meanwhile, I'll have to start walking to the gym instead of riding my bike, and I know I have a pedometer somewhere. I've added a link to the marathon to my list. Do check it out. It's right over there. -->

I get a shirt - a purple one, I think.

Yesterday's workout was great. I biked to the gym, worked out for an hour, including a ten-minute stretch at the end, and biked home. I felt terrific. That and reading Charlie's report of his half-marathon were what inspired me to make the commitment.

Today, R and I went out for a bike ride before work, but he got a flat tire, so we really didn't get far. Tomorrow, he starts work at 7:30 in the morning and I don't start until 11:00, so I think I'll get up with him, take a walk to the gym, and work out before I go to work.

I am just so stoked. ;>) A winding, walking, wheeling dervish.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

In Training

Okay, Franco, I'm back. Franco has been nagging me to get back to my blog. I think that's mostly because my last post recorded my beating him at UpWords - what was it? Three times in a row? Heh™.

I'm here to say that the tables have turned, UpWords-wise. Franco has beaten me every time we played since that first night. Never mind. There will be other games.

Robin and I have booked our flight to England for September 5, and rented a narrowboat (the Bedwyn Lock) to sail the Kennett-Avon Canal for three weeks starting September 6. It is now high time for me to get into shape for my job as winding-thingy person (aka The Monkey). I went to the Aquatic Centre the day before yesterday and bought ten tickets so I would be sure to keep coming back, then did a half-hour workout.

Yesterday I put Leslie Sansone and the Stepford Wives in the DVD player and did two miles.

Today I had the day off, so I rode my bicycle to the Aquatic Centre (15 minutes), worked out, and rode home again. I have the day off again tomorrow, so I may just do the same again, or at least the workout part. When I was at Wydel's Gym, I used to do two days on, one day off, two on, and two off. That seemed to just suit me. Mind you, that was a few years ago now. I'll have to see how my poor old body reacts to all this activity.

The highlight of the workout, in terms of pleasure, was the leg press. I love the leg press, probably because it's easy for me to push 120 pounds. The real highlight, as far as fitness goes, was the new piece of equipment I discovered. It had the word "Atlantis" on it, and it was an ab machine. It was horrible. I hated every second of it. I did three sets of twelve crunches, pushing 30 pounds. I also worked biceps, triceps, lats, and obliques, did a quick session (five minutes) on the rowing machine, balanced on a tippy board - well, tried to balance on a tippy board - and stretched a bit. I made notes of the various pieces of equipment, and I'll make myself out a schedule to carry along so I don't just wander aimlessly around the gym.

Somebody please keep reminding me that I really do like working out, and really, really like Having Worked Out.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I am the Champion

We went to F&J's for dinner. R didn't want to play UpWords. Channeling Peter Sellers, he said "I like to watch," so F and I played. I won the first game.

"There's a learning curve," said F. Things will be different this time. I won the second game.

"I've really got the hang of it now," said F. I won the third game. Heh™.

I love UpWords. It is definitely going to be the game of choice on our holiday.

Tonight we went to Alexandra's Restaurant for dinner, courtesy of my bosses. I decided to order calamari. I take in a little animal food now and then, so I don't turn into a self-righteous and judgmental vegetarian, a regrettable tendency of mine. The calamari were delicious, but they aren't agreeing with me. I remember this feeling from when I ate clams in Mexico last year. Back to the soy I go.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

First steps

Today we made reservations for the American Atheist annual convention, to be held in San Antonio April 14-16, 2006. This constitutes starting our itinerary at the tail end, or nearly. By the time we attend the convention, we'll already have been in Mexico for a month or more, then worked our way back via Laredo, I think. My sister Pam and her husband hope to come visit us in San Antonio or - earlier - down on the gulf. If that doesn't work out, we'll be stopping by Austin to see them after the convention. We're both very excited about our trip. It comes up in conversation about every five minutes. 42 days and counting.

Yesterday was R's 66th birthday. I gave him a tripod for his telescope (much needed and appreciated) and a game of UpWords, which comes highly recommended. We're going to F&J's house for dinner tonight, and a game of UpWords is on the after-dinner agenda. Shortly, we'll be packing both telescope and game into the motorhome......(see what I mean?)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Starting as I mean to go on, I've come in to welcome the new year. I bought a new notebook yesterday, and I'm determined to do writing practice every day. It wasn't exactly a New Year's resolution. I just realized that I had gone far too long without writing, and the time had come to correct that. However, the beginning of a new year is a fine time to start a new good habit, or revive an old one.

Today, I've had several ideas come to the surface of my mind, and I've not been in a position to write them down. Now I have to go sit quietly and hope they resurface. If that doesn't work, I should consider carrying around a very small notebook just for jotting, so that when the time comes to actually write, I won't just stare into the middle distance and wonder what it was I wanted to write about.

As for my real New Year's resolution, I absolutely must go back to getting some exercise every day. I'm having a hard time remembering how good it felt, but I know it was better than this fatigue and depression and getting fat trip I'm on now.

Well, wasn't that a cheerful closing line? How's this? I'm off to open my shiny new notebook and write for fifteen minutes. Exercise for the brain.