Monday 28 May 2012

'36 Days of Running' - Week 2

Yip, that's 14 consecutive days done and I'm feeling fabulous. Running has been comfortable and this past week I averaged just over 8km per run. Very comfy.

Weather has been decent and most days it has been relatively easy to get out, despite lots on my plate before my mom and I head to Ireland - two weeks to go today! My mom has been doing '36 Days of Walking' so I aim to make one of my week's sessions a walk with her - nice time to catch up on happenings in our lives.

Thursday 24 May 2012

This year's Everest season

Image from an article by Grayson Schaffer on Outside Online (21 May 2012).
I'm keeping an eye on news from Everest through The Adventure Blog and Alan Arnette's site. Over the 19/20 May was the first window and another is expected to open today/tomorrow-ish. There are hundreds of climbers on the mountain, hoping to make the summit. Amazing image above from an article by Grayson Schaffer on the Outside Online site.

As of yesterday morning there had been 11 deaths; higher than the 1996 disaster year. And most of these were not just due to of high winds - they are from human error, like people refusing to turn back, staying up there too long etc.

I have many thoughts (not very favourable) about the number of expeditions, climbers, sherpas and commercial operators on Everest. This all dilutes the sport of mountaineering and diminishes the impressiveness of this mountain. I think there were over 250 summits during the window this past weekend.

This was an interesting comment from the Schaffer article: " helicopter rescues at Camp II, including one this morning for an International Mountain Guides client with a badly frostbitten foot. Today alone, helicopters made roughly two dozen sorties to Base Camp, retrieving both injured climbers and those who'd finished and were simply taking the speediest way home."

Just doesn't seem right.

I've been reading Edmund Hillary's book on and off for a few weeks. It was published in 1955 and tells of 'the' Everest expedition (and Himalayan expeditions before the 'big one'). This is 'real' mountaineering, where they were going into the unknown, cutting steps through the Kumbu Icefall (he was cutting steps and creating routes for his sherpas, not the other way around), rigging their own ropes etc. Everest seems so 'sterile' and packaged now.

The Muffin Muncher

Let's say that I bake muffins (and I do bake really good muffins!). If you've bought a muffin from me before, you get two muffins for the price of one.

Now, consider a family that likes to eat muffins. They love muffins and because they buy from me when ever I bake a batch, they get the special rate. There's not a lot of them in the family but because they're all from the same family I think it is a nice thing to give them a bit of special treatment, just like I do with my family, who readily tuck into muffins.

Knowing that I'm about to bake a batch, the mom asks me to make sure that I keep some muffins for her family (including extended relatives), which I do.

Then, I find out that instead of passing on the 'two muffins for the price of one' to the relatives that ordered their supply of my muffins through her, the mom has been giving them their one muffin and scoffing the other herself.

I asked why she was eating all the extra muffins that were part of the special deal for her family and instead she invited me for tea to discuss this.

Frankly, I don't see that there is anything to discuss. Two muffins each should be going to her children, in-laws, nephews and nieces.

So, because I won't meet for tea and a discussion the muffin order has been cancelled.

I'm not peeved about the cancellation of the order as the majority of my muffins are bought by other families; I'm totally peeved that she was scoffing all the extra muffins that I baked especially for her relatives.

The Muffin Muncher is a fabulous children's book. My dad bought me a set of books in this Serendipity Series and The Muffin Muncher, about a muffin-eating dragon, was one of them. It was one of my favourite stories as a child. Great illustrations. I see it is on Amazon. An how is this? A lady on YouTube reading the book (7:42)

Sunday 20 May 2012

'36 Days of Running' - Week 1

Today I completed the first week - seven days - of '36 Days of Running' and it has gone really well. No big distance this week - or weekend, which has been nice. Just ticking over and averaging around 6.3km/day. This week I'll probably get in a bit more.

Again this game is teaching me just how possible it is to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of running every day, whether I feel like it or not because after the run I always feel warm and fabulous. Emails can wait 30 minutes, that artwork I was working on can wait 30 minutes, phone calls can be returned and the article I was writing can be picked up later on and completed with a mind that is fresh and re-energised.

I'm not sure why I let myself forget this outside of '36 Days of Running'.

Jump City GP event - missing the jump

I've just returned from this morning's Turbovite Jump City GP event and I can't say that I was impressed. Entry fee was R230 for solo entrants and R390 for pairs (R195pp). Aside from having a fun outing with my buddy, Fred, which we have every time we go run anyway, I wasn't very impressed.

The event is punted on the website as "TURBOVITE JUMP CITY GP Urban challenge is inspired by the growing disciplines of Parkour, Free Running and Cross Fit. The urban challenge provides you with a unique and exciting opportunity to safely experience Jozi and the amazing landmarks it has to offer whilst you sweat it out through 10km of urban obstacle courses."

Well, the course was around 7.5km according to Piers' logger. Parkour and Free Running are essentially the same sport; it's the intention and purpose and philosophy that differ. I saw a couple of parkour guys at the event but this course was really, really not designed for them with very few features, places and elements where they could use their sport. As for cross-fit... dunno that it really featured (rolling the tyres?).

As a road run, I thought the route was good. It took us past some interesting buildings that I didn't get a chance to look at, but would like to on a leisurely, photographic morning. And the route was a good mix of flat roads and up and down.

The obstacles... very, very, very disappointing. The event website says, "All obstacles are designed and inspired by the city to give you an unparallelled experience. Obstacles will require athletes to climb, crawl, jump, carry and more." This experience wasn't unparallelled.

These images below are from a video on the Jump City GP website that promotes what I could expect. I didn't take any photos so I can't show you what we got vs what I was expecting...

From the 'what to expect' promo video on the event website

  • Pricey entry fee
  • There were a bunch of samples in the 'goody bag' but I'd rather the organisers spend more time on planning the course and obstacles than on sourcing and putting together giveaways. I'm paying an entry fee for the race, for the course; not for samples of marie biscuits, weet-bix, coffee and Turbovite.
  • Registration process was slow, especially for the volume of people. This is a tough one to get right and I'm sure they'll refine this for other events.
  • They had those fancy portable toilets - the ones on trailers. But there were probably only four of them - two loos each. An additional bank of 10 x regular porta-loos would have been a good idea.
  • No route markings. Most intersections had traffic police who were guiding the way. There were two spots where we popped out and didn't know where to go. 
  • There was one water point on the route, as advertised. There really should have been two.
  • The first 'obstacle' was that orange tape that the city uses when they're fixing roads, pipes etc. We stepped under it. And, came too early on. Next 'obstacle' were about three rows of those plastic barriers; like a toll gates or used in road construction. They're usually filled with water to weight them down and stabilise them. These weren't.
  • There was a set of wooden cable rolls, on their sides, to bound over. Mmm.. ok. 
  • There was no marshal at the bottom of the first garage from whom we were meant to get an elastic band to prove we'd been to the bottom. I think there were a good load of participants who turned around before the bottom, realising that there was nothing down there for them to get.
  • Fred found a blue 'short-cut' tag in the first garage (nice course idea). In the second garage a lady asked us if we had a tag and showed us to a flight of stairs. While she was assisting us other people with tags could have come past and they would have missed out on the short cut. 
  • I think in this second garage were the ropes we had to crawl under. 6m distance, maybe.
  • In the third garage, with the tyres, we rolled our tyre up to the top floor - until we couldn't go any further. No marshal there. A bit further on, coming off the Nelson Mandela Bridge, we saw a pair ahead of us who we overtook ages before. Seems most only rolled their tyre up one level, which is probably what they did. Piers said that was what they did; the team ahead of them did the same. A marshal telling us what to do would have helped because there was no instruction. These garages are a 'nice' idea but with no control and the same way in and out, they're illogical in course flow and 'cheating' is very possible. I don't like anything where you have people coming and going on the same section.
  • About two kays to the end we climbed up a low wall and about a kilometre before the end there were some tyres on the ground to walk over (about 4m distance) and tractor-type tyres upright to vault over and a wooden beam to climb over. Two sets of these after each other. 
  • At the end was another wooden cable roll and then the skateboard ramp, which was half the size of the one in the 'what to expect video'. Two steps and I was up.
  • No cargo net as per the video and no 'ocean' of tyres.
  • Heidi and Stephan's red inflatable obstacles are way, way more challenging than all of these obstacles.
  • Foundation of the event concept is good; implementation was weak.
  • Friendly helpers at registration, on the course and at the finish.
  • Nice event area in Mary Fitzgerald Square with wooden benches to sit on in the sun - lovely. There seemed to be a food stall or two; but I didn't try them. The sound was bad and couldn't hear music or announcements well.
  • There was a gazebo with a bunch of massage beds and physios to give participants a rub-down; nice touch.
  • Road run route was pleasant and went past some interesting buildings - lots of turns and corners.
  • Although I'm not into race tee shirts, I got a girly-cut tee that fits! Bonus! It is really a treat to get a women's style tee and the skyline print on the bottom left, that wraps around the side is novel and attractive. I generally hate race tees because they're men's cut (news flash - I'm not a guy!), unflattering and too big.
  • Good pre-race communication by email (regular reminders).
I could definitely see this concept working but with A LOT more attention to the course and to the obstacles.

I was expecting cargo nets, monkey bars, scaffolding, fire escapes, stairwells, beams, ropes... so, that's why I am disappointed.  

The obstacles really are the selling point of this event and differentiate it from being a road run. I'd keep the distance at the current 7-odd kilometres and set off the runners in batches - say waves of 100 in each to minimise bottle necks (there were around 900 participants - event was limited to 1000 - and it generally worked well, especially later in the event when the field was really spread out); put in some quality, challenging and long obstacles that add to the route and make it challenging and interesting. The obstacles have to be so good that people can't wait to get to work the next morning to tell their colleagues all about them.

The event is currently a 7.5km road run with a bit of decoration in the form of token obstacles tossed in. So, I'm feeling a bit like Michael Douglas in that scene in 'Falling Down' (1993) when he's in the hamburger joint (great scene! specifically the piece near the end at 4:10) -  a discrepancy between what I expected and what I got.

That said, this event does have potential. I won't rush out to book an entry for the next one; I'll probably wait to hear from people what it offers up and then maybe try again the following one.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Local running highlights

I have a couple of roads and sections near home that I really enjoy running past; and I do so most days. Even if I mix up my routes, these parts are usually included early on or later into the run.

This evening, Day 2 of '36 Days of Running' I joined my mom on a walk; she's doing '36 Days of Walking'. I took the opportunity to photograph some of my favourite spots.

Palm trees on the way home. When I started road running regularly - 20 years ago! - these palms were so low that I couldn't walk underneath them...
There are very few days when I don't run through this park on my way out or home. I regularly see this guy practicing his golf swing.

There used to be a house on this property and for years it was very overgrown and neglected. Then they started to take the house apart and to cut down trees and clear the vegetation. And then nothing happened for months. And then they bashed down the house. Now nothing has happened again for weeks. Last week I saw a man picking a plant. I stopped to ask him what he was picking, "Morogo", he replied. Ahh.. wild African spinach. He showed me the plant and said that you boil it, throw out the water and put in fresh water and then boil it again. Then it is good to eat. I've often thought that this land would be more useful turned into a big ol' vegetable garden. There are no sale signs and I've got no idea what is planned for this ground or when.

One of my favourite roads. It is rough and peaceful, even though the N3 runs to the left. There's another section to this further down that I love but I've been avoiding it because one house has crazy dogs that get out too frequently. I've had two run ins and don't plan to have any more...

Lots of people were out and about this evening. Saw a tree covered in these. Like thousands of spikey xmas decorations. The guy who lives in the house says they bugger up the lawn mower. He says these dry and harden - rock solid.

'My' park - looking very autumny. I love running around this park and do so regularly. I like watching the colours and foliage change, the rolling lawns and the evening soccer sessions. Does my heart good to run around here.

Evening soccer training. Every day. Fabulous to see the park being used. There's a coach too, who whips his players into shape.

There are many spots and feature in my 'hood that I like to check out and keep an eye on during my 'rounds' - much like a wolf patrolling its territory. And so many things little things, like blossoms and mulberry trees, that give me great pleasure.

Chafing article in MarApr 2012 issue of Go Multi

I rarely post my published articles - but I should. Nice to keep track of 'em. I generally do post the ones I write for Go Multi on in the Articles section. One issue's article goes up when the next issue comes out.

In the March/April 2012 issue of Go Multi magazine.

Monday 14 May 2012

36 Days of Running starts - TODAY

As of today there are 36 days until by 36th birthday, which means that it is time for '36 Days of Running', a repeat of my '35 Days of Running' last year.

There's not much different except that this year my minimum distance will be 5km, not 4km. Other than this, I've got to run every day for 36 days.

Perfect training for the 24hr Rogaine Ireland, which I'm doing over the weekend of 23/24 June with an Irish adventure racer, Sean Murray.

Rogaine Ireland has all come about because my mom (lucky lass) won two flights to Ireland. We timed the trip to coincide with the event and we'll spend the two weeks before the Rogaine doing walking trails around Ireland; some of these will be part of my 36 Days. Ireland was on her hit list as a destination to go walking following her Camino adventure last year. Driving home one day she heard a competition announcement on the radio, entered and a few weeks later got the call saying she'd won the flights. Nice! We've still got to plan our walking stops; getting quite excited for it now. This will be the first time that we're doing an adventure together.

If you're tempted, as per last year, join me for '7 Days of Running' - or any other activity - at any stage during the next month and a bit. Will be nice to have your company.

Back for a fourth Mnweni Marathon

Ah... the mountains. And my fourth Mnweni Marathon. Tony and I travelled together, enjoying some audio book listening on the way down. Two of our buddies couldn't make it down with us but we were delighted to meet up with Steven, who came up from Salt Rock with his twin brother. Always good to see other familiar faces from the Mnweni Marathon family. And, I saw my old, old AR teammate Kevern there too. We raced together in mid-2000. That was a nice treat.

In previous posts I've written about the route and terrain (2007, 2010 - seems I didn't write about the race in 2008?). Not much to add here except to say that where I drew in the 'high route' in 2010 is wrong. I took it this year and really enjoyed the terrain; I'd take it again. It's only a little above the valley. I had a bit of a bush bash to get on to it - the start is hard to find - but enjoyed the trail and the scenery. I only managed to get on to it because I spotted another runner above; and they found it because they saw a local chap with his dogs on the trail. I can't really see it on Google Earth but it is there and seems to be used a lot by the locals. Bruce (Arnett) thinks the lower route is still the fastest but I think that for 'normal' people the top route is a little quicker.

What I did do differently this year was to miss Chi-Chi camp, which is the place to turn left and on to the Mnweni Pass trail. Goodness! I'm still not quite sure how this happened. We did find a camp but then the trail fizzled and so we dropped into the river. I said to Melvyn, who has done about seven Mnwenis now, that I didn't recognise anything. We must have been just too much to the right. Quite a few places have changed substantially since I last did this route two years ago and I must have just missed it and my usual spot to fill up with water. We didn't go badly wrong - just a little too far upstream - so again it was a steep (but short) bundu bash to get on to the trail.

Looking up the pass from the 'bump', which is - for me - the real start of the pass
(although you do climb big time to get to the bump too)
The Pass was as glorious as before. Steep and up, up, up! Took just over an hour to get to the top where I did my customary photo.

From the bottom of the pass I had company from Philip - this was his first Mnweni. He took this pic ;)

Up on top I tried out the panoramic feature on my new happy-snappy camera. My old faithful died about two weeks ago. I bought it five years ago and in this time it has been to every single event, race, weekend away, run, bike, O... Good solid lifespan.

This panoramic is looking back at the top of the Pass - in line with the person dot, which is Jacques.

Philip and I ran together for the rest of the way - we had bits of other company down Rockeries and on the descending trail. With about two kays to go I spotted the bridge and wanting to make under eight hours I left Philip. He came in just under two minutes behind me and just made sub-8, with seconds to spare. A really, really fantastic run.

Interestingly, this time I felt that our traverse across the top of the Berg was quicker than usual. I'm not quite sure why because the grass wasn't any shorter or longer. And the road section also seemed way, way shorter than usual. Obviously it isn't but the end really did seem to come much faster than previously.

As for my time... 7:58:10. Mmm... 24 minutes faster than 2010 (I made a route blunder here) and seven minutes slower than 2007. 2008 was somewhere in between; anything between 7h50 and a few minutes after 8hrs. I finished 44th (or 45th) out of 92 finishers (4th woman). I don't think I've ever been as far back - even though my time is same-same, which says a lot for the quality of the field. Some really superb results.

Most notable were:

  • Winning men's time of 5:03 by Matthew Kretzmann - on his first attempt! Only two men have ever got under 5hrs - Bruce Arnett and Andrew Porter. Close, so close. 
  • Winning women's time of around 5:45 (also will update with correct time when I get it). This amazing time was run by two women - tie for first. Tracy Zunckel was the one - she had the previous record of around 6:15. I'm not sure who the second was. As I recall Hilary Pitchford was third with just over 7hrs. All very, very good. Go girls!
  • Tony took almost an hour off his previous time to run 6:40-ish
  • Steven and his brother Andrew, for their first Mnweni, ran 5:42. Andrew ran the route in his regular Adidas Adizero road racing flats and seemed none worse for wear. He just complained about not having any grip on the loose trails. Doh!
I was really surprised at the small field of women overall - only about 10 of us. I'm sure we've had a bigger female contingent in past years?

As for running faster times... I couldn't remember what my previous splits were for getting to the bottom of Mnweni Pass or the top; that makes it harder to try to beat a time. So I just went with the flow. I got to the 'bump' at 3h34 and was at the top marshal, Clinton, around 4h40.

I had a really good run section in the early morning. It usually kills me to make my body work so early on, but I felt great. I took the trail section step-by-step, running where the terrain was nice and I could see my foot placements and walking where it wasn't. Definitely lost some time with missing Chi-Chi camp.

Ascent up Mnweni Pass was steady, as usual. My strategy here is to keep my heart rate and breathing under control and to work my way up step-by-step. I was trying out the new Black Diamond Z-Pole - just one. Really light and comfortable and I like the three-way fold; really comfortable to run with it in my hand. Philip did really well, keeping pace. He said later that if he hadn't been walking behind, in my footsteps, that he would have taken an hour longer, resting all the way up! He handled the ascent beautifully.

The crossing up top was, as mentioned, pretty quick. That's the way it felt. I have no splits from previous races to compare real time.

Descent down Rockeries may have been a little quicker than before...? It went well, felt smooth and my legs felt good. As soon as the trail flattens out, before the checkpoint #7 river crossing, the terrain becomes really runnable and I loooovvveee this section. Had a good run from here to the finish.

When I run this race again, I'm really going to have to concentrate on working harder over the first section to make up time. I do take this part pretty easy because 1) I know what is coming and 2) I love to run the runnable last section. The first time I ran this race in 2007 it was sweltering and I could barely run the road section under the scorching sun. The road seemed sooooo long and I felt pooped! Now, I blitz it, which means that I've got (too much) gas in the tank that could have been used a bit more earlier?

This is the only race that I've done four times (nine x Swazi Xtreme doesn't count because each year the route is totally different). It is a peaceful area, small field and a rustic type of event. Totally my thing.

Bruce, thank you for again presenting Mnweni Marathon and there's no doubt that you'll see me again for another lovely weekend in the mountains.

Friday 11 May 2012

Alternative fix

I've had two niggles for some time; right knee and right shoulder.

The knee... not sure when it started and it isn't an everyday thing and it gives me absolutely no trouble when I run. But sometimes I feel it if I take an odd angle getting out of the car. It's been on my mind for ages that there's something not right and that although it is no trouble now, it could be two or five years.

The shoulder... the only time I have injured my shoulder was two years ago when Karel the Cat died and I dug his grave. It was early morning when I found his body and I was in an absolute state, tears streaming. The ground was hard and somehow I really tweaked my shoulder. When it wasn't resolving I went to a physio who declared no major damage other than really, really tight muscles that she worked out. No problem. And then it came back a few months ago. Not bad and not movement or activity limiting - but something.

Pole is seriously intensive on the shoulders especially with hand springs and the acrobatic balance moves where it's just two hands on the pole and most of my weight on my right hand, arm and shoulder. Other moves - like swings - are all hanging on the shoulder etc. Yoga too, with all the upward dogs, yoga push-ups... all shoulder intensive too.

Actually, pole could also be hammering my right knee. There are a lot of moves where I 'hang' from my knee or use just one foot (right) to pull myself up from an invert...

When I was in Thailand my massage teacher sorted out this one guy's toe. He'd kicked a rock on the beach, had limited movement, lots of swelling and lots of pain and hadn't been able to move it for two weeks. She worked on tendons and ligaments and muscles upstream of the toe to alleviate the pain, loosen it up etc. It worked. I got to thinking about my friends toe. She's been back and forth to physios and specialists who were now talking surgery. She wisely was not keen. I thought of this alternative therapy guy I know messaged her from Thailand. I set them up when I got back. She's been to see him recently and is having more success.

This guy, Vic Boston, I've known for years from running. Met him more than 12 years ago when we went to the same gym. He's quite a Comrades legend and this year will line up for his 36th CONSECUTIVE Comrades Marathon. He checked me out in about 2000 / 2001 when I had a low-grade stress fracture (from shoes that should have been replaced earlier). He's a natural health practitioner, blending kinesiology, acupuncture, other Chinese therapies, massage and a bunch of other stuff. Bottom line is that he's good, he's a runner, he's thorough and he knows his stuff. I've sent people to him over the years; and now it was time for me to go and see him.

Great news is that knee is 100% perfect in terms of joint, bone, ligaments, meniscus etc. What we did find was a lymph build up on the inside top of the knee - really sensitive to massage. Interesting, this is an area of my leg that takes a lot of push-pull pressure from pole, which could account for it. Those pressure points didn't lie and we worked it out. Have't had a twinge since I saw Vic on Tuesday. I'll keep up with massage of the area to stimulate circulation and lymph drainage.

I went back yesterday for the shoulder. Again, no serious problems. It's all muscle related and seems to be scar tissue, which I can only think is from the grave-digging injury. Vic used a burning stick thing to stimulate circulation around the pressure points. This was a funny one because I had to say when it got hot; felt like a laser on a point when it got hot event though the 'stick' is about 15mm wide. On the second round, I couldn't feel it. He also did some frictioning and pressure point work. Should feeling good today. Pole class on Monday will tell.

I'm rarely troubled by niggles and most will go away overnight (maybe I ran wonky or the inner in my shoe was squiff) and others, like these, that haven't. I've had no serious injuries other than the stress fracture and a very bad foot injury (possible fracture in bone on top of foot) in the early 2000s. Otherwise, for the 20-odd years that I've been running, playing and seriously into sports (oh, the hand fracture in underwater hockey in the mid-90s) I've been 99.9% injury and niggle free.

I find it really scary to have something not right. But, the goodness is that there are people out there - like bios, physios and other therapists - to help fix these problems and make us stronger. The big step, especially me where I think I'm in tune with my body and used to sorting out issues on my own with massage, Arnica oil and attention, is to stand up and say, "Hi, I'm Lisa and there's something wrong with my shoulder and knee". The relief that I feel now is fabulous knowing that there's nothing serious and that both complaints are really easy to fix, with Vic's help.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Body Rockin'

Well over a year ago Fred showed me some exercise videos on - this really zippy lass, Zuzana. Foreign accent and serious workouts all focused on using own bodyweight or basic accessories.

The principle behind BodyRock is that you can exercise in your living room. Short sessions with a couple of exercises that are done for 50 seconds with 10 seconds rest. Three sets. So, you're looking at high intensity sessions of only 12-minutes.

Since I first visited the site BodyRock seems to have gone from strength to strength (literally!). Neat layout and presentation, a number of different instructors, superb videos (massive amount of content) and regular 30-day challenges.

The instructors are quite something. Really phenomenal physiques. Eye-catching abs and bigger-than-what-nature-gave-them endowments. The camerawork on the videos is very oogling - for want of a better word - and photos on the site and FB are seriously posed and pimped (aspirational?) but the fundamental is that BodyRock is fun and it adds great variety to your workouts.

The names of the workouts rock too. Like "300 rep fat slaughter workout" for today's SCULPT session or "Sexy booty curves!" and "It will rain sweat workout" and "Kissable hot abs challenge". Silly and fun.

With all of these strengthening exercises I hope to get my yoga 'jump throughs' over the next year and I've got no doubt that being stronger with even better core that the more acrobatic moves that I'm working on in pole will improve.

I went on to the site on Saturday and decided to take up their May 30 Day Challenge. They have a calendar / timetable for the month (it's on Facebook) and the programme runs Monday to Friday with active rest on weekends. Every day they post videos of the workouts that you have to do. They have tutorial videos for the workouts, which is great if you're new to them. In the tutorial they show you how to do the exercise properly and also give you variations - like if you're beginner, intermediate, advanced. Also variations on equipment - like if you don't have a sandbag you can use hand-held weights or no weights at all.

Day 1 of the challenge is mostly about doing a fitness test. You do the four exercises, write down your scores and then you'll revisit this after the 30 days.

Day 2 was a FLOW, which is demonstrated by a yoga lass. These exercises use yoga moves.

Day 3 had BURN and SCULPT sessions, which got me sweating.

Day 4, which I did this evening, was a rocker with BURN, SCULPT (my first session 'with' Sean) and FLOW sessions. Loads of exercises from the yoga plank posture across the three sessions so needless to say just sitting here I can feel my shoulders and triceps speaking to me. I'm about to watch the fifth post (which was from yesterday, Week 2, Day 1, which I'll do on Thursday).

All days, except today, I ran before doing the session. Works nicely because I'm warm going into the session and I really work it for the 12 minutes. And the exercises are a great compliment to all my other activities, from running to yoga to pole.

It's handy to be a few days behind the programme as they may only post the day's workouts during the day and you may want to do it in the morning.

I like to download the videos so I can watch them a few times, especially if something is tricky and I need to check form, hand position, technique, coordination etc. I open the video in YouTube and then cut-and-paste the address for the video into KeepVid. I download the smaller of the MP4 file options.

So, how about it? Wanna join me on this rockin' adventure? You can get cracking on Day 1 tomorrow. Keep me posted on how you're doing with it. I'll give you feedback on my progress in two weeks.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Bit of this, bit of that

I'm not sure where the time is going but I do know that I'm not keeping up - but gaining ground ;)

Hit by a tummy bug
Man, I got slammed by a 24hr tummy bug two weeks ago. One of those where you wake up at 3am and are not quite sure what is happening because you're not feeling great. And next minute you're sprinting for the bathroom. Up and down, up and down by 8am when there was nothing left in my stomach and my ribs were aching. My tummy stabilised by midday - probably thanks to being able to sleep for most of the day (well, I couldn't really do anything else I was so slammed!) - but I only started drinking water and eating dry toast later in the afternoon. By Thursday I was right as rain but way more weakened than I thought possible. Only really starting to come right now, two weeks later.

In the 'Berg, but not in the mountains
I'd fortunately recovered sufficiently to spend the long weekend - 27 April to 1 May - in the Drakensberg to share the weekend with my friend and her family to celebrate her 40th birthday. What a great idea and such a lovely weekend. What was even more fun was that we stayed on a farm just outside Winterton so we were not in the mountains, but could see them. This farm area is absolutely beautiful and peaceful. I totally loved the trees and grasses. And the weather was perfect: sunny, clear and warm.

I do like moos...

And I went kloofing with my two favourite boys (aged 5.5 and 6.5). Let's just say that trail running to get to where we got into the river... Auntie Lisa was hard-pressed to keep us with these speedsters! And in the river they were incredible, only slowing down later when they were getting a bit tired. They're better than most adults on uneven terrain. We must have been in there for an hour - slip-sliding and clambering. Helluva good fun!

Wouldn't be a birthday without home-baked birthday cake...

A lovely thing we did over the weekend was to build a puzzle - most of the 11 adults and children contributed pieces, sections or chunks. 1,500 pieces made up this Renoir. Morning, noon and night we were assembled around the dining room table.

And by the last night... et voila!

Back to the Berg this weekend
I'll be running Mnweni Marathon in the Mnweni area of the Drakensberg this coming weekend; my 4th time (not consecutively; 2007, 2009 and 2010). It's a divine area and a good route. I'm looking forward to camping, running and hanging out with friends. This is the post I wrote about Mnweni in 2010. Race time prediction? Dunno. I'd like to run better than in previous years but I have a feeling we're going to have a hot, hot, hot day out there and I haven't been feeling my best. So, will see what race day brings.

I have to buy a new happy-snappy running camera this week because my old-faithful gave up the ghost about a week after Thailand. I'd had this faithful little Sony Cybershot for almost five years to the month. It's been to every single event with me in this time; long races, sprints, orienteering. It has travelled with me everywhere. It has been rained on (no, it isn't waterproof), sweated on and it has been through very hot and very cold conditions - and lots of sand! I can get a little camera with double everything this one had (megapixels included) for less than I paid in 2007. Amazing.

It's full moon tonight and I didn't organise a Full Moon Run... again. I did run this morning. With Fred. A road run around Linksfield Ridge. I've done it twice before but not recently. It's actually a tough route. Will be fun to run it in the other direction (we went anti-clockwise) - it will mean steep hills near the end. I thought the loop would be about 15km. Not far off at 17km. Felt like 30km on some sections...

Dairy theory
I'm back on to this again... When I got back from Thailand I was running like the wind. Shouldn't have been really coming from sea level to Jo'burg's high altitude. After about a week I started feeling really nasty on runs; just not full of beans and really feeling it in my chest. Like huffing and puffing more than I feel. Last week was particularly bad - and I'd been eating quite a lot more yoghurt than usual.

I'm back on to thinking it is a dairy thing. I don't drink much milk (only really in tea) but I do love yoghurt, cheese, cottage cheese...

So I've had this theory for over a year about certain types of cheese making me feel like I've been hit over the head when I wake up. I've stayed away from these aged cheeses and I've been much better. Last year, to test this, I gave up cheese for 30 days. I always go back to cheese because I really do love the stuff and it's my favourite sandwich filler.

This past Wednesday night, after a particularly tough run of a regular route, I decided to test out my theory with a 'No Dairy' policy for a few weeks. On Saturday evening I ran this same route five-minutes faster and felt as good as I did in the first few days when I returned from Thailand.

Why I'm really thinking it is dairy is because in the two-and-a-bit weeks that I was in Thailand I drank no tea (=no milk), ate no cheese and only on three mornings did I have fruit with plain yoghurt for breakfast. Thailand is a great place to go dairy and gluten free.

Almost the start of '36 Days of Running'
Last year I did '35 Days of Running' leading up to my 35th birthday. This year another day is added as my 36th approaches. Start date is one week from now; Monday, 14 May. This year I'll do minimum 5km per run, which is manageable on days when I have yoga / dance class to fit in too. My friend Rebekah is doing 366 Days of Running, which she started on 1 Jan. That's inspiration to get me through the cold fronts that are sure to hit during my 36 days.

Wishing y'all a great week ahead. Every day is an opportunity for new, different and better everything.