neighbourhood walk

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Nice day to go out for a walk around the neighbourhood. Clear skies but dry enough that I’m not dripping with sweat. Quite pretty around St Walter Church.

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The houses in this area are pretty. To my standards, they are all large and even the ones that look small from the outside are deep so there is plenty of space inside. This interesting one has the remains of a wall around the front gate. I wonder what the story is.

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I walked to the orphanage again, and over to this small store. It’s a pokestop too. But I didn’t go inside, apparently it’s a dodgy place where suspected drug dealers hang out. Safe enough during the day (from across the road) but I won’t go near it when it’s dark.

There were very few pedestrians around. This being America, with drive-thru restaurants and ATM machines and even drive-thru postboxes, most people out and about were driving. I saw a postal worker delivering mail, a couple of people walking their dogs, a kid on his bike, people waiting for the bus, that was about it. There was a group of 4 women having a picnic at the lawn near the church. Perhaps having lunch? It was around noon.

#46 wall climbing

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The one task I didn’t fully complete from 101.1001 was #46, to go wall climbing. I counted it as complete because I made the booking before the end of the challenge. So today was the booking.

I got to the ymca around 20mins before the course, to fill in forms and give them a couple of photos. There are 2 sections there, and one of the sections had a kid’s birthday party going on. It was a small class, just me and 3 young women, friends from Singapore I think. The first hour was going over rules, safety and first of all learning how to fall. Then it was earning how to use the harness and belaying system. Learning how to make knots, use a carabiner, use a <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigri_(climbing)” title=”wiki’>grigri. We could climb up to 3m without a harness but anything above that we need someone to belay.

We were then paired off for our first climb as a team. Learned how to belay and steady our teammate. Checking each other’s equipment was paramount, as were the signals we have to give. Also learned how to fall and brace someone who is falling. The first time I did the fall I pushed off using my arms only and fell upside down, hahaha.

“Climbing.”

“Okay.”

“Tension.”

“Lower.”

“Falling,”

Climbed up and down a few times. I got stuck at the bit that was an outcrop but it didn’t matter. It was fun.

After 2 hours’ instruction was the assessment. Went through everything that we learned so far and made sure we did everything correctly. I was nervous and didn’t do too well. Was tired at that point too so couldn’t even climb very far. But I passed the assessment, so yay! Now I can book climbing sessions myself, but obviously without a teammate can only do the 3m or less bouldering. Definitely need more practice.

#43: 101 crunches

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Task #43 of 101.1001 is to do 101 crunches.

Compared with 101 squats, this took longer to achieve because I’m poorer at crunches than at squats. What helped a great deal was I’ve been following a 30-day challenge that focused on crunches, squats, lunges and wall-sits. Started with 10 crunches on day 01 and reached 100 crunches (plus 75 squats and 100 lunges) on day 30. Not a problem to add one extra to get to 101.

A bunch of other people on fb are also following the program, which makes it more fun. It’s well known that crunches, squats and lunges are beneficial for all levels of fitness. I should continue the program to help strengthen my hips and core for running.

#83: kayak, stand up board

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Task #83 of 101.1001 are 3 activities with family. This is 3 of 3.

Sis invited me to go on an outing at the beach today. My niece had a playdate with one of her school friends to go kayaking. Very easy, rent a kayak or stand up board from the people at the beach, that was it. No need for life jackets, although we thought we should have been offered the option. The part of the beach was quiet and not very deep anyway.

I tried both kayaking and stand up boarding, both for the first time. The light kayak was very easy to handle, and I went out past the parked fishing boats to one of the buoy markers. I was a bit wary of the stand up board, starting off sitting and paddling around, but after a while I found courage to first kneel then stand up. Took more concentration than sitting in the kayak, trying to keep balance.

Great fun. Only around £5 for an hour, and we could swap between kayak and stand up board as we wished. I think it may be a new activity, will try to get mm to come with me next time.

#45 kickboxing class

boxinggloves boxingring

Task #45 of 101.1001 is to take a tai chi, yoga or martial arts class. This is one of the ones carried over from the 2007 challenge. This time I was determined to sign up and attend at least one class. The opportunity came when Sis said to come with her to kickboxing class. That counts as a martial arts, right?

The gym looked pretty serious, with separate men’s and women’s sections separated by the reception area. There is a small changing room with showers. Sis had spare gloves for me but I had to get wrapping bandages for my hands and ankle protectors. The class was definitely a beginners’ class and it was more like using kickboxing moves in a cardio routine. Punching with or without gloves, kicking in the air or against the punchbag, squats, pushups, and combinations. The first part of the class was easy enough, and then the instructor started giving us more complex routines. Burpees combined with punching and kicking; crouching (as if to avoid an opponent) and crunches.

All in all, an intense workout. I got tired towards the end. Not sure if I’ll go again, perhaps. Some people like class exercises, I don’t. I prefer running and doing weights at home so I don’t need to be in the company of other people. Plus, I don’t see the point of paying so much for gym or kickboxing studio membership and class fees.

#40 update: hobbiton to lothlorien 920 miles

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Task #40 of 101.1001 is to complete the 1779 miles walk to mordor challenge.

I reached milestone 1: hobbiton to rivendell or 458 miles in august-2014. Today, as I reached 87 miles for the month of feb-2015, I passed milestone 2: rivendell through moria to lothlorien for a total of 920 miles. More than halfway, 859 miles to go. I’m ahead of scheule—marathon training has me running a lot, and I’m still only at the base building phase. Proper training starts in june.

trashy exercise, trashy discovery shows

An upset stomach together with niggly aches and pains provided the perfect excuse to skip running today. I wasn’t entirely delinquent, I did 45mins on the stationary bike. Someone, somewhere posted that we should substitute elliptical or stationary bike for running by doing around the same amount of time with similar intensity. So, 6km was approx 45mins.

I tend to watch mindless discovery shows while on the bike, because it’s so old that the sound of the belt covers a lot of the sound from the tv. The shows tend to involve small groups of people fighting against each other in auctions to buy stuff cheaply, they then fix them and hopefully sell for a profit. The stuff range from old cars in Texas, houses in Arizona or abandoned storage units in California.

One theme that runs through these programs are how nasty most of the buyers are. There’s a lot of trash talk and boasting. Probably exaggerated for the cameras but by and large I find people on US reality tv to be rude egomaniacs. Of course everyone wants to win or get a profit, but they can’t seem to do that with even a modicum of manners.

Ambulance in Motion
flickr / benjamin ellis

If I can catch it, I watch 24hrs in A&E, which is as different to those trashy, trash-talking US reality shows as night is to day. It’s described as a medical documentary and is filmed in an A&E department round the clock for 28 days straight.

First of, it’s filmed at King’s. I’ve long ago gotten over the fantasy that I could have studied medicine there rather than chemistry. Some of my undergraduate friends lived at KC Hall over at Camberwell, so I know the area well. Even with gentrification, this is still a working class, gritty area. Not the posh Britain of Downton Abbey or Sloany Britain of Ab Fab or Privileged Britain of Sherlock.

One theme that shines through is the dedication of the staff, even though they are working in a busy, underfunded inner city hospital. I love the end when the patients are interviewed, most of them obviously having recovered. It’s been described as exploitative, then again which documentary, especially one that takes a fly-on-the-wall approach, isn’t? The patients and their friends & family are shown sympathetically. This snippet about a 5 year old with burns [youtube, can’t embed] brought in by her dad is typical of the realness and the professionalism of both the production and the staff at KCH.

jan-2015 runwalkbike total 100 miles

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Yay, I broke 100 miles of run/walk/bike in january. Actual total 103 miles, of which 60 miles was running. That works out to be 15 miles a week, so there’s a long way to go in terms of marathon training—I need to get to 25-30 miles a week by the time the proper 18-week training program begins. Most of the walking was at the end of a run, when I go to the market near the parks and walk back after grabbing some fruit & veg or coke zero. So-called biking is on mum’s stationary bike.

I know it’s only the 30th and I could go tomorrow for an easy 4km to get to 100km running total. It doesn’t matter, I’ll get to 100km running soon enough, long runs in february are ramping up to 8miles/13km.

edit: did a couple miles walking on the 31st, bringing the monthly total to 105 miles / 169 km.

check out wall climbing course

Organic Wall
flickr / steve oliver

I called the YMCA about their indoor climbing wall. For anyone to use it, they must show that they are competent by being a member of a climbing club, or having gotten a certification from the YMCA themselves. The introductory course is on tuesday evening or saturday afternoon, for 3 hours, and very reasonably priced.

When I was very young, I loved climbing on rocks and stuff. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at wall climbing. I hope I have enough upper body strength for it, but apparently it’s leg strength and coordination. I’m okay with leg strength—at least what I’ve built up whilst running. My only reservation is the current state of my wrist; my left wrist has always been problematic and it’s been swollen with sudden sharp pain for a couple of weeks. The pain manifests in certain situations and positions like taking the laundry from the washing machine, or doing bentover rows. Seems to be fine when gripping.

Anyway, I have the details now. 

workouts with a twist

#‎weights‬ 3×8: db bench 20, bbell squat w/curl 30, goblet squat w/twist 10, woodchopper lunge 10, pushup, crunch

Trying to get back into training. After more than 2 years, sigh. Running and weights. For weights I’m adding movements to bodyweight exercises. Squats with twist or curls, woodchopper lunges. Hope they do me good. I’m still not very good at pushups, will keep at it. 

101.1001 #86 | 30.30 #19 bbmm activity: korean spa jjimjibang

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Task #83 of 101.1001 and task #19 of 30in30 is to do a new activity with mm. We are in seoul for holiday and as soon as we got off the plane and deposited our luggage at the hotel, we headed to a jjimjibang spa to rest and pamper ourselves. We got the deluxe package at KRW100,000 (USD100). We ended up staying from 10am to 5pm so it was worth it.

The spa says it’s the largest in Korea. At a sprawling 7 floors I can believe it. There are sauna, steam areas, baths, massage rooms, sleeping rooms, relaxation hall, restaurants, a rooftop garden, internet café even a cinema.

First we got keys to our locker. The key was a regular locker key as well as a smartchip that recorded any purchases or treatments. We had a quick shower at the large bath area. Korean baths are like Japanese baths, sexes are segregated and you don’t wear anything inside except a small towel to strategically cover certain areas.

First stop of our treatment was the herbal steam bath. We were seated on wooden stools with an opening in the middle. The herbs and water were heated and the steam rose up through the opening. We were covered in a sort of plastic tent to keep the steam in. Quite surreal, the herbs smelled really nice though.

After the shower and steam we changed into standard issue pajamas—t-shirt and shorts. Everyone inside the facility was dressed in these pajamas. The massage part was 90mins of a mix of acupressure and thai style. The young technician got almost every troublesome spot in my shoulders, lower back, arms and definitely hit the ITB around my left knee.

At the end of the massage it was around 1pm so time for lunch. The spa had a cafeteria and 2 restaurants. We went to the self-service korean restaurant and had tofu soup and beef rib soup. Came with banchans and I had a tasteless beer.

We found massage chairs in the main hall and fell asleep for around 1.5hrs. One of the features of traditional korean spas is the sight of people asleep at sleeping rooms and areas. Admission is 24hrs so some people stay the night.

Then it was time to check out the heat rooms. The traditional pine scented one was so hot inside we could barely walk, our soles were burning up. Lasted 10 seconds inside there, max. The himalayan salt room was a pleasant 52°C, blankets were provided so we lay down and rested on pink salt crystals. The charcoal heated rooms were good too, we went into the high temperature one, around the same as the salt room. In between rooms, we sat in the ice room to cool down, and then on the floor.

Last stop was the baths area. There was a steam room and half a dozen baths at different temperatures. We like the outdoor ones for the fresh air, the ones with jetstream massage and the cold 24°C cooling pool.

Great day, and the perfect cure for a night spent on a red-eye flight.

korea trip day 01

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Early start, flight at 1am arrived 5.30am. Didn’t get much sleep on the plane, slow moving immigration meant we were out at arrivals after 7am. After a little walking around, we finally found the right stop for the airport bus to take us to our hotel. Trip was over 1hr, so we managed to nap a bit.

Way too early to check into hotel, so we left our luggage and headed to the subway. Got a t-money (like octopus) and our brains weren’t working, we initially only filled up for KRW1,000 (USD1.00). Hahaha. Caught the mistake easily. The destination was dragon hill spa, a traditional korean spa occupying 7 floors of a building. There were spas, steam rooms, dry heat rooms, saunas, massages, restaurants, resting area and even arcade games and a rooftop garden. We went for the massage package at KRW100,000 (USD100) including 30mins of herbal steam bath, 90mins of acupressure massage. The steam bath was interesting, and the massage was excellent. Lunch was typical korean food of tofu soup and beef rib soup. We got to the spa around 10am and we left at 5pm. Lots and lots to do in term of rest, pampering and relaxation.

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We took the subway at rush hour back to our hotel area at Ewha Women’s University. The night street vendors were just starting and we grabbed a bowl of extremely spicy tteokbokki (aka topoki) and freshly squeezed sugar cane juice.

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Hunting around the street market area looking for dinner led us to a homely upstairs place serving tofu hotpot with spicy squid. Wow, food in korea is hot! The tofu was wonderfully silken. Of course, walking back to the hotel we saw many other restaurants, but we were happy with our choice. Popped into a supermarket to get water and green tea for the next few days.

The hotel is new, it’s more like a serviced apartment with a small kitchenette, a full sized fridge, a washing machine, a closet and even a shoe cupboard. Happy with our choice and happy to be settled in early.

30in30 #6: TRX 3 sets of 12

Task #6 of 30in30 is to do 3 sets of 12 weights or TRX.

Lots to do tonight: sort out some spreadsheets, update apps, buy the all-season pass for run zombies (on sale for $9.99), defrost my fridge (again) and other stuff at home. In between I found time to get a TRX workout in, because: a) it’s one of 30in30 and b) I haven’t done TRX for a while.

I don’t usually do so many TRX reps. Two sets of 10 or 12 is what I usually do, so 3 sets of 12 was a little more strenuous. And it was great! My shoulder and triceps are already telling me they got a workout. The TRX is one of the best things sis ever gave me.

101.1001 #44 | 30.30 #3: 101 squats

squats

Task #3 of 30in30 is to do more than 50 squats in one set. Task #44 of 101.1001 is to do 101 squats in one set.

I’d originally aimed for the set of 50, seeing that I haven’t been working out as rigorously as I used to. I got to 50 and felt fine, so I carried on. A little tight at 80, at which point it was worth pushing on to finish at 101.

Slow squats, on form, trying to keep a 90 degree angle at the bottom of each motion.

30in30 #5: 30 day shred level 3

First time attempting level 3, it’s hard. On paper, not so much but all the exercises were complex multi-muscle group moves. Plank jumps, plank pull up with leg raise, squat clean with weights, jumping jack with weights, travelling pushups. I had to drink half a litre of water, scoff down a few biscuits and take a nap after the workout. And I was mainly following the beginner’s portion.

30in30 #6: bike 30mins

Task #6 in 30 in 30 is to run/walk/bike for 30 mins.

Continuing the “back to exercise” and “slowly letting the knee heal” themes, I did 30mins on mum’s stationary bike. The gears had come loose earlier but they recovered all on their own and I can go back to adjusting the tension. The electronics are still kaput so I continue to use the 1 mile per 5 minute estimate.

I’ll get back to running soon, I promise.

30in30 #2: 50 crunches

Task #2 in 30 in 30 is to do a set of 50 crunches.

Even though it was mainly seafood, I ate more than usual on holiday and it’s time to get back to working out. I tested the knee and it was just about okay to do 10 squats, not sure about more vigorous sets or running. Crunches are fine for knees, I did 50 each of regular crunch, reverse crunch and oblique crunch, very slowly.

30in30 #7: walk 60mins

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Task #7 in 30 in 30 is to run/walk/bike 60mins.

Day two of our Hokkaido vacation. Today our plan was to cover the main area of downtown Sapporo. We walked to the red brick government building, the clock tower, odori park, nijo market, tanukikoji shopping arcade, susukino, ramen alley and back to sapporo station to our hotel. Lots and lots of walking. Quite a lot of pictures. It was a little chilly, there was still some snow on the ground and late afternoon we got some heavy sleet.

We set off at 10am and came back to our room at around 4pm. Not all walking, there were stops at nijo market for oysters and clams, at ramen alley for ramen and at a fabulous cake shop for fabulous strawberry cake. All in all though, I think we walked for something like 3-4hrs today. My knee held out, it got a bit sore towards the later part of the afternoon, which was why we went back to the hotel to rest before dinner.

30in30 #1: 50+ squats

squats

Starting 30 in 30 from the top, although the intention isn’t to work down the list daily. Task #1 is to do more than 50 squats in one set.

Squats are not difficult, but they are not easy either, especially to keep to good form towards the end of a long set. I ended up doing 3 sets @75 reps per set. Knees are a little sore, but it’ll pass. I think I can work up to a 101 rep set soon.

stationary bike mile vs running mile

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It’s cold and very windy, I thought about going running, but decided to try something else. So I dusted off mum’s stationary bike and did a quick 20mins. It’s a really really old stationary bike, all the electronics are shot so no display of any sort. The belt still works and because it’s old and stiff, it provided effective resistance.

Normally I would just track the time, but I want distance to include in, guess what, the 101.1001 challenge. The trick is to try to convert 20mins stationary biking to equivalent in running or road cycling distance.

Naturally the actual distance covered on a stationary equipment is 0 miles. I’m aware of that.

It’s like asking does running 1 mile burn more calories than walking 1 mile. Most of the answers will be that we shouldn’t compare apples with oranges. Factors like pace, road surface, gradient, wind resistance make the activites differ. That said, there have been attempts to come up with some ratio based on calorie burnt, ie effort. Others anecdotally quote ratios ranging from 3:1 to 10:1, most commonly comparing a marathon with a century (100 miles bike).

There’s also a big difference between cycling on a road bike vs a stationary bike. Wind resistance and undulating surfaces primarily. I do find that with a road bike there’s also the momentum factor. Stop pedalling on a stationary bike and it does just that, it stops. In terms of effort, I’d say road bike requires more effort even with momentum.

Anyway on the ancient stationary bike I worked up a decent amount of sweat, my arms and thighs are stiff, so I did put in some effort. My current slow running pace is around 12min/mi so 20mins is 1.7miles. Using a very conservative 2:1 ratio and generously rounding up, I’m awarding myself 4 miles, or a mile every 5 mins. Who knows if it’s accurate, I’m sticking to it.

trx plus intervals

Between doing TRX yesterday and intervals on the treadmill today, there are certain muscles I haven’t used for a long time that are hurting. Hip flexors, back and abs mainly. Those are the places I need working out most. Need to keep at it, otherwise that last 10 pounds will never shift and I’ll lose all my marathon fitness.

running and swimming

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7.02km 57.35min 8.12min/km (13.12min/mi) running
500m 25min swimming

After weeks of rain and heat, an overcast day meant I could venture out running. Except it was deceptive. Still extremely hot and muggy and humid. Yuck. Ran to the second water fountain and back via the supermarket. Very slow still. Not planning on doing 9 min/mile yet. Wait till it’s cooler.

I was so hot when I got home, literally dripping sweat. Went outside to the pool for a dip. Swam 50 leisurely laps, it was pretty good. Muscles felt like they had a proper workout. If only I still had my bike, could have done my version of a mini triathlon, hee.

badminton and feast

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Badminton with mm after lunch. I went to her place early to try to fix her airport express, which was mine and is almost 10 years old. But to no avail, she’ll have to use ethernet until she can get the ISP to switch her to a wireless modem.

In terms of badminton, we’ve progressed slightly to the point where we were trying to win points against each other, slightly. Her way is to drop the shuttlecock just over the net and my way is to get some height and smash it. She doesn’t seem to like the shuttlecock heading straight towards her so I eased up on the smashing. Fun game, even though rallies were short, we played almost the full hour, just taking a few mins’ rest halfway through.

After showering, it was time for our feast. Salami and cheese from last year. Gigantic, thick scallops and sweet prawns we ate as sashimi. Chicken wings. Edamame and a cold starter she made from sea fungus, sesame oil, vinegar, garlic and ginger. Just one small glass of rosé each.

I napped whilst she played piano. And then it was time to leave. I felt weird. She gave me very little notice, only told me when I arrived, that she’d booked a foot massage session at 8.30pm. So it kinda meant I got kicked out just after 7pm, and I was a bit hurt that she didn’t ask if I wanted to join. She did drive me to a nearby station so I could catch the minibus home. I dunno, it’s the state of our relationship that always catch me unawares.

badminton

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Woke up at 6am to take the bus to the sports centre near mm to play badminton. It’s been a long time since we played, so long that we bought new rackets. Good game, we played casually for an hour, and managed a good number of rallies. Hadn’t forgotten how to play. Next game is next week, already looking forward to it. Must keep it up.

badminton

badminton

We took advantage of the sales to buy a couple of badminton rackets at a big discount. We’re determined to do some sports together, and badminton is easy and cheap. I gave all my rackets away in London so I need to get new ones. Just as well because the styles have evolved since. We’ll move to squash next.

swimming

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I live literally a stone’s throw from the pool. Some people hate it when other people use literally when they mean figuratively but if I opened my living room window and threw a stone, it really would land in the pool. This pic was taken from said living room window position.

So, I have no excuse. The pool opens at weekends during May, so I went out and did 40 laps. Breaststroke and freestyle. I don’t know if it’s even a 25m pool so I have no sense of distance. Did about 25mins. Together with shower time, the whole endeavour took less than 45mins. Again, no excuse.

gentle exercise

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I went out walking in the afternoon, to get out of the flat. Walked to the library to return a book, then wandered around. Bought wine, coke zero, some toiletries. Total eventually was over 2hrs, wow. And then I did some weights. Gentle exercising, together with lots of vegetables, a healthy sort of day. Oh, well, I had ice cream too.

boxing and other activities

Boxing Gloves

Sis dragged me to thai boxing class. I’m not very keen on classes, I’ve tried yoga, aerobics and dancing and didn’t really enjoy them. This thai boxing was quite okay, long warm up with stretching, squats, crunches and the like then it was punching, jabbing and kicking against the punching bag or the trainer. It was good, I wasn’t all that winded. But I don’t think I’ll go again.

Did some work on her book, then it was mad rush to take my niece to enopi class then taikwondo class. Grilled some fish back at Sis’ home for dinner. Quite a full day.

baseball, skiing or climbing

Sis was asking me what I wanted to do for my birthday next month. Hmm. The boring thing to do would be go out for a meal and then struggle to find something to do afterwards. The other alternatives include indoor skiing, baseball or climbing. Climbing sounds really interesting.

dizzy beer steak

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I followed the exercises on the trx dvd, 2 x 30 seconds for 9 exercises, and got a better idea of how to use the suspension training system. Didn’t feel I exerted myself too much, but then got hit by dizziness. Yikes, not good. Probably a bout of low blood pressure or lack of blood sugar, so I ate some biscuits and heated up a can of cream of mushroom soup. Sat watching tv for a couple of hours and it got a little better.

Sis came to pick up her chairs and being outside really helped. We went to the restaurant next to her place, all 3 of us had steak. It was happy hour so I chanced a beer. This place is famous for peanuts, not the unlimited supply, but how they encourage customers to throw the discarded shells all over the floor. The steak hopefully replenished nutrients, I’m not sure I’ve been eating all that well lately.

TRX

My Sis bought me a trx a while ago, but I only just got round to trying it out. They call themselves a suspension training system, which is basically a glorified name for resistance bands. Initially I couldn’t get it properly anchored at the door, they sell a couple of pieces of accessories that did the job but I don’t have them. Came across a brilliant method of using just a towel to act as anchor. Works like a charm.

The system came with a dvd and an instruction booklet. There are also tons of videos on youtube. I did a few basic exercises, to get the feel of the system. Chest press, fly, row, pushup and such like. It feels different than working out with weights. I only did 2 sets of 12, but I wasn’t breaking out in sweat so I think I can up the intensity and the number of sets.

It’s very convenient, and the exercises range from fairly easy to difficult. I like it. By just changing where I put my feet I can make an exercise harder. I need to practice getting my feet into the hoops for the floor exercises. A nice change-up to my regular weights.

time to lift heavier

I do weights with my dumbbells and barbell. Bench using 2 dumbbells at 20lbs each, which wasn’t too smooth when I started the weights routine again. But as I’m getting better and my form smoother, I think that it’s time to add another plate. I’m so pleased I bought these quicklock interchangeable dumbbells, I can add in increments of 2.5 or 5lbs. This guy’s set goes up to 160lbs, my set only goes up to 75 but it’s plenty enough for me. He is also doing bench presses with 2×80=160lbs total. Yikes. Going from 40 total to 50 total is progress enough for me.

lunge jump

I had a 12k long run scheduled today, but I didn’t go: 1) it was raining very heavily and 2) my sis at the last minute asked if my niece can come over and play. Instead of doing nothing, I did some weights. Lunge jumps are new, I like them better than regular lunges or woodchopper lunges. And they are hard to transition smoothly. These, plus pushups, are the parts of the set that make my heartrate go up. Nice.

taekwondo exam

We all went to see my niece’s taekwondo exam today. She’s at red-black belt and today’s exam will bring her from one to two stripes — she can’t get the black belt and dans till she’s 15. There were about 30 kids altogether taking the exam, ranging from around 4 years old to older kids who look 15-16. The test consisted of some set moves, self defence, plank kicks, plank punches and two spectacular moves — high jump kick (plank at tip of outstretched hand height) and obstacle jump kick. She got a few A grades, really spectacular. Both sis and I got pics and videos, but I’m not posting them. Instead, this is a video of a couple of really really cute tiny kids sparring.

nature walk and bbq

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We were watching Fringe till late last night. Had a relaxing morning — mm played the piano whilst I played mafia wars and then read a little. Brunch was plain noodles and broccoli. By the time we made a move it was 3pm.

We caught the bus to TT reservoir, getting off at the stop just before the dam and finding a really hidden walkway down to the bottom. It was a nice walk around the reservoir, people were fishing, boating and there was even a middle-aged man at the side practising bagpipes. We didn’t walk a lot, may be around 45mins.

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Went to one of the houses where they have set up a large area into a bbq centre (not restaurant per se, more like a house converted to an eatery). Tables and grills are all set up, they make the fire for you too. Food is provided — the usual steak, pork chop, chicken wings, sausages, fish balls, fish, mushroom, sweet potato, corn and other vegetables. Refills available. What I enjoyed most was making toast — this style of barbeque involves stabbing the food with a bbq fork and grilling it over the fire, no wire mesh or grill cover in sight, just a small shelf at the side. The hardworking staff made sure to add charcoal whenever it was running low.

We also ordered a bottle of wine, I chose the savignon blanc because the alternative was a bulgarian merlot which sounded way too risky. Switched to beer (for me) and soft drinks after we finished the bottle. We started the bbq when it was still light out, by the time we finished it was dark. A little bit of an adventure to get home, especially for me, but I still managed to get back by 11pm.

tennis

The last time I played tennis was over 10 years ago. The last time I played tennis at the park was probably closer to 20 years ago. Booked for 2hrs at the synthetic court and played with CC and Mak. Rusty in the beginning, but got better. Still a little fitness left from running, stamina wasn’t a problem. There will be sore muscles tomorrow though, not used to using those particular muscle groups. Ah, I’m reminded of how much I like racket sports — tennis, squash, badminton, table tennis — I’ll take them all. Problem is, I need other people to play with me.

basketball 2

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Did a mediocre 5k in very strong winds around the track, then about 10mins’ worth of shooting the hoops. It was a fun and twisted sort of nightmare to keep track of the basketball while I was running — I’d stuck it underneath a bin, then in a gap in the roots of a tree, then at the corner of the gate — it insisted in escaping, cos of the wind. At one point I just carried it with me and did one lap.

Sigh, I’m so horribly out of practice. I still know how to shoot the ball, but most times it bounced off the board or the rim and I don’t get the basket. There is only one solution to this. Play more.

basketball

092:365 Basketball
image courtesy flickr user GonchoA

I was at Lillywhites getting a Man U shirt for my friend’s son, and at the till there was a bunch of basketballs for £2.99. So now after more than 20 years, I am once again the proud owner of a basketball. It has been so long since I played. Wow, the days when I played for the school team. Memories. Yes, I’m short and I wear glasses and I’m no longer fast. But I still love it, hopefully I get a chance to go out to the court and mess around a little.

pick up the weights

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3 sets of 8: db shoulder press 2×40, squat 20, bent over row 20, lunge 2×20, 24 pushups, 2x1min plank

I haven’t done any weights in over a year. Took me long enough to assemble the bench and I had to get SM’s help to unstuck the weights. There is way less room here, I don’t even have space to use the barbell, but I managed okay with the bench and the small space next to my bed. Wow, so out of practice. Almost couldn’t get to the last rep of the db press, and at only 40lbs. If I want to get better with my marathon training, I have to do more cross training. Those weights need to be used more.

national bike week

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It’s national bike week, with the aim of getting more people cycling. It is a big thing here, much more so than in the US. I had to go to the health centre at Harrow Road and I did take my bike, but I wasn’t happy about it. There is simply too much traffic and blockages even where there is a bus or bike lane. Until there are dedicated lanes and a culture where other road users take care of cyclists, London will never be an Amsterdam or Zurich.

bike 13 miles

I wanted to go to Fleet Feet Piper’s Alley to register for Thursday’s Turkey Trot 8k, they were doing registration and packet pickup in the store, so it saved me even registering online. Piper’s Alley is down in Uptown where the Saturday market is. The normal mode of transport would have been drive or get the #22 bus. Then I thought, it’s a good distance to bike — I run all the way to the boat when I was training, so it shouldn’t be a problem to take my bike. And it wasn’t. Except for parts where it got windy, it was a nice ride down and back home. Total 13.2 miles, according to google maps.

bike 15k

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I’ve been looking forward to this all week. My first “official” cycling cross-training session. I’m still very cautious about riding on the streets, but once I got to the lake it was fine. It occurred to me how easy it was, didn’t have to take all the paraphernalia associated with going out for a run, didn’t even change out of work clothes.

A leisurely 25mins to Diversey Harbor. Running would have taken me almost 1.5hrs to get to that point. I read somewhere that bike:run effort ratio is between 3:1 to 4:1, so I guess cycling 50mins is like running 5k. Livestrong tells me that 45mins cycling at leisurely pace = 461 calories, when my rule of thumb for running is 30min = 220-230 calories. Something doesn’t track here. I think the cycling calories burned is too generous.

Anyway, I was able to measure the ride on google maps, but it made me realise how useful a garmin would be. The nike+ only functions for running whereas the garmin does running and cycling. Argh! Another gadget want.

bike

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I was window shopping on Clark yesterday, walked south till there were no more interesting shops, then walked north. Not looking for anything in particular. The only thing I bought was an ice cream at george’s.

The final destination was the produce place to get eggs and veg. The local bike store next to the produce place had 20-odd bikes out on the pavement, all refurbished and on sale. And remembering how nice it was to rent a bike a couple of weeks ago, I looked to see if they had something cheap. There was one for $100 I liked, but I wasn’t tall enough. They had a similar one at the back that they were still working on, but if I could come back in an hour they would have it ready. So I did. And I thought it was a pretty nice bike. I mean, it’s nothing fancy, but it suits my needs. Even if I go out on it 4 times, it’d be cheaper than renting. (Although, I forgot I had to buy a helmet and lights and a lock, so 4 times is probably more like 8.)

Took it out to the lake and rode as far as the totem pole. It will come in handy for training — the days I’m not running I should be cross-training and I haven’t done it so far. No more excuses.

bike 15 miles

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What I should have done: 3-5k recovery run.

What I did: biked 15 miles down to Navy Pier.

Too gorgeous a day, even though I was a little sore from yesterday. I don’t know why it suddenly occurred to me to rent a bike, now I’m sorry I didn’t start doing it earlier in the summer.

The rental place is at Foster, I run past it every time. $30 for half a day and $35 for a whole day. I did just half a day. Smooth ride all the way down the lakefront, past Montrose and Belmont Harbors. Stopped for a bit at North Ave beach, which psychologically is a “turn around” point. But this time I went further south, ended up at Navy Pier.

Left the bike at the top of the pier and walked to the biergarten, wanting a beer. Wow, I paid attention to prices along the way, and it gets more expensive towards the end of the pier. Bud light for $5 at the biergarten, but there was one place near the entrance that had them for $3.75. So I went back and just sat on a bench in the shade, people watching. Lunch was beer and an orange creamsicle ice that was oh so delicious.

Nice ride back, I returned the bike early. I’m very tempted to buy a second hand bike, but it’s probably too late in the year for it. And besides, I always have to remember I’m only here temporarily.

Had a nap in the afternoon, then a quiet rest of the day. I’m the darkest I’ve ever been, cos of all the sun this summer.