Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Boot Camp - Day Two

We are partway through our first week of boot camp - and I'm loving it as much as ever!  Higgie couldn't come this morning because he had to go to work early but we were joined by a new couple.  She is one of my Weight Watchers members but I feel like I've met her husband before somewhere too.  He's very fit and funny and a great addition to the group.

There was a heavy mist all over the city this morning so we never did see a sunrise but there'll be plenty more of them to come.  It felt mystical and slightly eerie to be on a deserted beach in thick fog.  Our work-out had me feeling pretty warm but when I took my jacket off the cool, damp air put a chill on things pretty quickly.

Stupid Knee was fairly quiet but I did feel the occasional twinge.  I'm sitting here with an ice pack on it at present and I will take a Celebrex shortly, but all in all it was pretty co-operative.  Practically everyone else in the group has an ache or a pain or an old injury they were moaning about so we're a sad bunch!  But we'll get better.

It's tough to put into words just how incredibly happy it makes me feel to know I'm doing my favourite work-out again.  It means my weight fluctuations will cease, I'll have more energy and I can get back to running.  It even makes the half-marathon feel do-able.  Boot camp makes many things possible.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Boot Camp Starts Today

It's official, boot camp starts today after a one-week delay.  The weather has improved to a balmy 5C and though the sand on the beach will still be wet from Friday night's storm we will still be rolling around in it, no doubt. 

I've been awake since 1:30 a.m., not from excited anticipation but just because I am going through another period of sleeplessness.  I spent Saturday afternoon in the emergency ward with my Mom who had another little spell of passing out.  This time she was seated, thank goodness, so nothing was broken.  The stress of it left me a bit rattled though and I have slept badly since then.  I'm hoping increased activity will put an end to it.  I'll try to nap when I get home this morning.

Stupid Knee has been responding well to Celebrex and I can bend it pretty well so I'm going to attempt running.  Higgie, on the other hand, has had bad knees ever since Harry's Spring Run-Off.  He's been getting treatment for them but he refuses to walk anywhere and when forced to he won't bend his knees so heaven only knows how he'll fare this morning.  He was advised by Dr. Wade not to run for another week yet so he thinks that means walking too, although Wade did say he should be.  He's thinking he'll come down to the beach with me and meet everyone and then go home.  I hope Bruce persuades him to stay.

I'm looking forward to meeting the other participants.  There are two Weight Watchers members, one of whom I know, together with her husband whom I have not met.  I think I know the other Weight Watchers member but I'm not sure.  I'm glad she decided to participate, whoever she is.  I will continue to encourage members to join us throughout the season.

Time to go kick Higgie out of bed.  More later when I'm back home and have shaken the sand off me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Boot Camp - A No-Go

It didn't happen.  We didn't start boot camp this morning, despite my having gone to bed early and setting the alarm for 4:45 a.m.  I had planned the number of layers I was going to wear and how to stay warm.  But I managed to miss Bruce's email cancelling this week's activities by 5 minutes.  He sent an email out last night shortly after I had gone to bed and I didn't read it until this morning when the alaem went off.  The first thing I did was check email and there it was.  Did I go back to bed?  What do you think?

We had blizzard conditions yesterday, with white-outs and freezing temperatures.  Though none of it stayed on the ground by my house it's likely that there would have been ice on the boardwalk by the lake which would have made for dangerous conditions.  We're waiting for next week when this cold weather front is supposed to pass.  Darn it!  While I'm glad my knee has another week to recover I'm missing the endorphin rush - and the calorie-burning action.  Good thing we're talking about tracking this week at Weight Watchers because I know how effective it is when I can't rely on activity to help me stay at goal.

May this week and this weather system soon pass.  I need some Spring!!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

More Boot Camp Memories

Am I crazy?

It's been raining and cold all weekend and we just had a brief flurry of snow.  Boot Camp starts tomorrow.

I've been going over journal entries from previous years.  Here's one from the fall of 2009.  The weather then is much like it is right now:

After only managing to get four hours sleep last night thanks to snoring husband, puking cat and asshole neighbour I was not in the mood for the cold wind, 34F degree weather and misty rain.  Nevertheless, and despite Higgie and I asking each other if we were crazy, we met with Bruce and proceeded to run the longest steepest hill in the beach.  I slipped on a wet leaf on the road that was not visible in the dark and almost landed on my head, and by the third time up I felt nauseous.  Fortunately, we stopped after that and then went down to the beach where the waves were roaring onto the shore with the intensity of a hurricane.  We did push-ups, pull-ups and bench dips all the while trying not to get blown over or too wet.  I could barely hear Bruce calling out instructions because the wind took his voice away.  Just when I though we were done he made us do walking lunges for 100 meters and then do the whole strength training circuit over again.  It truly was a tough, tough morning.

This is from Year three (again, in the Fall, but still...)

Freezing temperatures this morning; ice on the boardwalk and crunchy sand.  I'm not allowed to run or walk hills so I power-walked the boardwalk (oh yippee) while Higgie and Gail ran one of the nearby hilly streets with Bruce.  There were very few people out at first but on my way back down the boardwalk I saw one running club and a few people walking their dogs as the sun slowly showed itself as a pink streak on the horizon.  My fingers and butt were very cold and I never even broke a sweat.  I was late joining the others for the strength training portion of our work-out so I did a few extra push-ups and dips just to get caught up.  It was far from being the boot camp work-out I am used to but it was better than staying in bed, even if it was freezing cold!  We just signed on for 10 more sessions and there's no snow predicted for the whole month of December so we'll see how far we can take it.

But then there were some great moments, like this one:

Good drill, good knee, good ice pack.
It was cold this morning and there was a not-inconsiderable breeze down by the water but I had tons of energy and flew through the agility drill.  My knee cooperated right up until the end when some sumo squats kinda undid me.  No pain but I could feel the strain and knew I had a date with an ice pack as soon as I got home.  There was a gorgeous sunrise and I couldn't help but be pleased as we did rolling side plank that when I rolled to face the west I saw the downtown skyline all twinkly lights and as I rolled to the other side I saw red and orange sky to the east.  Fabulous sight! 
I'm sitting here getting colder by the minute thanks to this ice pack strapped to my knee but I will get into a very hot shower in a few minutes and feel great again.  Ah fitness!  How I do adore thee.  I'm crazy, I know....

Crazy or not, I've been sifting through memories of previous years all this weekend and becoming more and more excited about challenging myself once again through a tough fitness regime.  I re-reading my old journal entries one issue seems to surface again and again, however; my knees.  They do not respond well to this sort of treatment.  I'm presently having knee trouble for no good reason and have been icing and resting it all weekend.  I'm sincerely hoping that they will stand the test and get me through this year with few problems.  I've come to understand that I must ice them after all activity.

Tune in later this week to see how our first week goes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Boot Camp: A reverie

I'm about to start my fourth year of boot camp training and I'm remembering the first year.  I thought I'd share some thoughts from a journal I kept.  I decided to take up this type of training when it was offered through a gym I used to belong to.  The gym is long gone but the trainer, Bruce Tisdale has continued the tradition of a tough outdoor work-out with everything a boot camp brings to mind: outdoors, early hours and not fancy stuff, just a stripped down, bare bones work-out.  My reasons for wanting to do this type of work out had to do with my brother's years spent in the military.  I figured if he could do iIt, I could do it. The final 20 pounds of my weight loss goal were slow in coming off and I wanted something that would bolster my discipline.

The first few weeks were very tough because of inclement weather, illness and injury.  I wasn't in as good of shape as I thought I was, the early Spring weather and the local dog-poo infested park where we first began to train were enough to turn everyone off.  Here are a few comments from a journal I kept:

Today was killer and it's only going to get worse!  We went to the park and Bruce laid out a course about 100 yards long which we were to run and then do a series of lunges when we reached the other side.  Then we ran back and did it again.  We did this for ten minutes and then he switched it to 20 military squats at the end of the run for an additional ten minutes.  I was drenched with sweat and my glasses fogged up.

I wanna puke.  Today was the hardest so far and I felt very weak for some reason.  I had another lousy night's sleep and 6 hours is just not enough to go on when you're working out this intensely.
Today we did sprinting for 100 yards with a walk or jog back to the finish line.  We did this for 20 minutes.  I jogged back at first but after a while it was a fast walk and more like a jog than a sprint.  Then we did ten minutes of bear walk, which is walking on all fours, followed by ten jumping jacks at the finish line, then crab walk back with more jumping jacks, squat-hops and lunge-walk.  I was ready to heave by the end of it, my breathing was all raggedy and my bum was wet from plunking it down on the grass during that god-awful crab walk.

Both myself and another woman commented to the trainer that we thought we were getting worse, not better.  He said it was because everything he was giving us to do was becoming increasingly more difficult.  I hadn't realised there was any difference in the difficulty level.  Now I feel better.

Which I came down with a cold I had to miss a few sessions.  On my return I discovered we had relocated to the beach.  It was a more attractive setting but the work just got harder.  Sand got everywhere - in my shoes, in my ears, even in my underwear.  Doing push-ups and crab walk in sand chafed my hands to bits until I got smart enough to bring gloves.  But I began to notice things - like how all the colours of the Canadian shield could be found in the sand beneath my face as I did push-ups, and how the sun would rise as we did sit-ups, and the flocks of cormorants that would come in to feed.  Could it be I was starting to enjoy it? 

The hardest part of the training seemed to be the run back up a very steep hill to return to the gym at the end of the session.  Silver Birch Avenue is the steepest street in the Toronto Beaches neighbourhood and I was determined that one day I would make it, running, all the way to the top.

Funny things happened:
Today I was doing pelvic lifts on my back with my feet on a park bench and a dog came up and licked my face.  I screamed and then laughed so hard the dog thought I wanted to play.  It was hilarious.  His owner could barely get him off me.

Damon Allen is a jerk!  The famous CFL quarterback who retired yesterday after a stellar career including running a total of 7000 yards (I'm quoting here; I don't actually know this stuff) is Bruce's best friend and as a tribute to him we did a football drill today including something horrible called 'breakdowns'.  I almost had one.  They involve marching in place (in the sand) for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of running in place while squatting as low as you can go.  We did four sets of this.  It was exhausting. 

And I did make it up that hill:
I was very slow and definitely feeling tired so I had no idea that I would find it in me to finally conquer that hill .  As we were stretching before run back to the gym, I leaned back in a lower back stretch and looked up at the clear blue morning sky and thought, 'Whatever else I gain from this, I at least have this sky to look at.' The run back up the hill begins at a slow, gradual and steady ascent.  It leads past the office of a medical professional who performs liposuction.  His sign reads 'medical slimming techniques'.  Sure, there's the ticket.  Get your fat sucked instead of running it off.  I find it ironic to be running past there three times a week when all I'd have to do is fork over thousands and risk my life, not to mention have some very ugly scars.  As if.  I looked up and saw I was very near the hedge that marks the limit of my past efforts up that hill.  The next thing I knew the hedge was gone.  I reached the top of the hill and my feet stopped before I did.  I was staggering and gasping but I felt very elated.   As I walked home afterwards I think I was strutting with pride. 
Today I kept thinking about all the times I had wished the fat would just magically disappear, all the excuses I made as to why I could never do Weight Watchers, how diets didn't work, how I was too old to exercise, how I had injuries, etc., etc., etc.  Here's what i have learned: if you want something badly enough you have to work at it.  You can't buy it or borrow it from someone else. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pictures from Harry's Spring Run-off 2011

Here we are, in all our glory.  I don't look as happy as I feel but I do think this picture shows determination.  Both of these were taken crossing the finish line.


Higgie looks a but more rested, but he stopped to walk a few times.  Or maybe he just takes a better picture!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Aftermath: Dr. Wade & Spinning to the Beatles

Two days later and I'm still stiff and sore - but the pain in my hip is GONE!  We walked and stretched a good deal after the run on Saturday and I ran up and down the stairs in my house dozens of times yesterday doing laundry and I also worked outside raking leaves, but the soreness is only in my quadriceps and hip flexors (those tendons in the groin) this morning, not the hip itself.

I had one more visit with Dr. Wade to make sure there was no damage incurred by the run.  He was pleased to hear I no longer have hip pain but he did feel some tightness still in my glutes.  He set me free from further treatment (and expense, thank goodness!  The bill came to over $400.) but told me to be sure to put my Super Feet inserts back in my shoes to prevent pronation or be looking to get some custom orthotics made one day.  He gave me the go-ahead to take a spin class today in order to work out the kinks and reminded me to trust in my training.  He told me I've reached a level of fitness that should allow me to be confident that I can accomplish most challenges I choose to undertake.  I'm that fit?  Who knew?

So, off I went to spin class at noon, to find that once again I was the only person there.  To make it even more fun the instructor had prepared an entire set of Beatles music to pedal to which made the time go faster (and my feet!) so I can now say I don't really hate spin anymore.  I'm still sore though, and likely will be for a few days.

Heading for the shower marvelling over the concept of being fit.  Me, the kid who hated gym class.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Harry's Spring Run-off

Yesterday marked the first competitive run of the year for serious runners and even though I was doubtful I would be able to participate, I came, I saw and I conquered!

This run is sponsored by Canada's largest and most exclusive purveyor of mens' clothing, Harry Rosen.  All proceeds form this run go to research and treatment of prostate cancer.  It's in its 32nd year.  I participate in it not just for the challenge of running it but because my brother is a prostate cancer survivor.  It's very hilly course through one of Toronto's most famous and beautiful parks.  I first participated three years ago, shortly after reaching my goal weight.  I did the 5K course and found it very hard-going.  Last year I completed the 8K course and found it even more grueling but finished with a very respectable time of 54:35.

Here's a picture from the first year, in the 5K race:

This one is from last year, near the finish line in the 8K:

This year, because some still unexplained pain in my right hip which has been well-documented here, I was unable to train much and I was really doubtful about being able to run at all, much less finish the course.  I decided not to worry about time and to allow myself to stop when necessary.  I was definitely not prepared for how well things actually did go and I can only say it must be as they say about training: the body remembers.  It really was as if my body said 'I can do this.  I know how'.

I can only say it surpassed my wildest hopes.  My time was not as good as last year's; 58:19, but I was pleased to still come in under an hour.  I beat Higgie by 3 minutes, which shocked the heck out of me, and I didn't stop once, except for a millisecond twice to get a drink of water which I drank as I continued to move forward.

The last two times I have run this course I've been working my body too hard to appreciate its beauty but yesterday, going at a slower pace, I was able to relax and enjoy the run in a way I never had before.
It was a sunny but cool day, and despite doing several minutes of warm up stretches and walking lunges to get my quadriceps moving and my hips loose, I knew it was going to take at least 20 minutes for my body to accept the concept of running.  I had purposely lined up four slower songs at the start of my play list on my iPod, beginning with "Horse With No Name", and old favourite of mine.  The lyrics really spoke to me, in a way they never have before because they were so completely appropriate to the situation at hand; 'On the first part of the journey, I was looking at all the life, There were plants and birds and rocks and things...'  I really forced myself to look around me and enjoy the brilliant sunshine, even if it was only 3C.
My hip was creaky and sore for the first 10 minutes or so, and I even got a stitch in my side to start out with, so it wasn't exactly a glorious beginning.  I promised myself I could stop after the first four songs were through but somehow I forgot about that promise.

I soon warmed up and had to take off my running gloves, even though they are very handy for wiping my nose!  I tucked them into the waistband of my pants.  I was glad I had resisted wearing a running jacket.  I chose not to because the bibs we were given this year had a timing chip built into them and we were told not to put anything over them or the scanner would not be able to record our time.  That would have meant pinning the number on over the jacket and the jacket would have had to stay on.  I wore a long-sleeved tech shirt with a singlet-style tech shirt under that but together with a fairly heavy running bra it was more than I needed and I got pretty warm.

Higgie and I started running together but he soon got way ahead of me.  I caught up to him at the first water station, which was at the 4K mark.  After a few sips of water and with the knowledge that the run was half over at this point, I felt very refreshed.  My back was starting to tighten up so I made a point of correcting my posture by standing more erect and activating my core muscles.  It was at this point that I really began to enjoy myself.  The course was taking us around Grenadier pond at that point, a large and natural pond in the centre of the park and t he view was exquisite.  I was actually smiling, I was enjoying it so much! 
I tried to pick up my pace as the beat of the music on my iPod increased.  It might have been "Let's Get it Started" by the Black-eyed Peas that did it but I did start moving faster.  I knew I had to save something for the final hill.  I lost time on the descents because I can't run downhill (bad for the knees) but that slowing down also gave me a chance to refresh myself and regain strength.  I made it up the final hill at a snail's pace all the same but managed to sprint to the top and across the finish line punching the air and saluting the race official who was reading off my name and my speed.  I was thrilled and elated.  I didn't expect to run the whole way and I certainly didn't expect to make it up that last hill.

When I stopped running I felt dizzy and sick and had to walk it off for a long time.  I stretched for several minutes while waiting for Higgie.  They wouldn't let us stay near the finish line so I didn't get to see him cross it.  He said his back had tightened up and he had been forced to walk for a few minutes a couple of times.  I was surprised because he has been training much harder than me.  I began to think that the spin classes I took might have been more of a help to me than I thought.

I rode home in the car sitting on an ice pack for the sake of my hip.  We picked up my Mom from her seniors home to bring her out for lunch with us.  I was still wearing my medal and bib.  People were curious about my 'look' and Mom told everyone in the place I had 'won the race'.  I admit, I felt like a winner, even if I did finish in the dead centre of the pack.

We went out for a victory lunch of Stilton burgers (what is it about stinky blue cheese that goes so well with beef?) and sweet potato fries washed down with pints of Fuller's London Pride at our favourite British pub.  Mom had a good time hearing about the race, even though she still confuses what we do with every sport on the TV in the pub.  Yesterday it was soccer.

This morning I am still feeling exhilarated, if tired and very sore.  My legs are killing me.  I need to get out and rake leaves or do something physical to shake off the stiffness.  I'm seeing my chiropractor tomorrow to make sure everything is still working okay.

Can't wait to see Bruce on Thursday and tell him how well it went.  I'm really looking forward to the Ottawa race weekend in May, now that I know I can still do this.
'Tramps like us, Baby we were born to run...'