Monday, July 26, 2010

Boot Camp

Today was my first day of CrossFit Boot Camp. CrossFit is a gym that had a different approach to fitness. Each day is a different workout that may feature anything from running and kettlebells to rowing and push-ups. You never know what you are going to get, but each workout is designed to be a complete core workout, even if it only takes a few minutes. The key is intensity.

I am familiar with the concept of CrossFit. My sister-in-law's sister-in-law owns a CrossFit gym in Florida. My own hubby has been a member of this gym for probably about a year now. I have been to an open house, but I have never done the workout myself because I always thought it would be too hard. Hubby forwarded an e-mail announcing their latest edition of Boot Camp, and I decided to give it a try.

I had hoped today would be an orientation session. It was not. Our instructor, Ashley, introduced herself to us and got each of our names. She then sent us out to run 400 meters as part of a warm up. When we returned, she said that we would always warm up together. She got us started crossing back and forth the gym floor doing a variety of activities like high knee lifts in front, butt kicks to the back, and squats. She then demonstrated each move for the main workout. Our workout today was repetitions of three exercises - push-ups, air squats, and sit-ups. We were to do them as fast as possible starting the first round with 10 of each, the second round with 9 of each, continuing until we were to zero. When we finished, we were to yell "Time!" so she could record our times.

I can't do push-ups, so it was nice to see Ashley demonstrate several different options for movement including knees up or using a bar. She was more concerned with the posture of the push-up (straight back, chest down) that the leg position. I finished last among the girls, but strangely, sooner than both the guys. I was a sweaty mess when I finished, but I did my first workout. We finished with 30 seconds of plank, 30 seconds of rest for three rounds. I was not able to get my body off the ground, so she again showed a modification. Then, we were done.

On the drive home, I felt my right shoulder aching. I knew I would be sore, but I think I tweaked something during the push-ups or the plank. It brought to life my biggest fear - that this new workout could negatively impact my other training. I need to be able to use my shoulder for Masters swim and for the race I have on Sunday. I think it is just a fluke - a first time trying something new minor injury. I hope it feels better tomorrow.

I want upper body strength and core strength. I just don't want to have to work hard or hurt to get it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's Done

I finally did something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. I quit The Junior League.

I have been thinking about quitting for a really long time. I have never had the guts to do it until yesterday. It is time.

I feel what I stated in my resignation letter is true. My personal life focus does not mesh with the demands and duties of The Junior League. I have been thinking for months about just how little I could do this year just to get by. I enjoy very little of the things the JL does. I hate Bargain Sale, I have no interest in children, and I have very few friends in the League. I usually stand by the wall by myself during the meetings just waiting for it to end so I can leave. I am just not in the same place in life that my fellow League member are. Most of the women I came into the League with are now getting ready to have or have already had their second children. They go to play groups together. I have no mutual interests with young mothers.

I am excited about this change. It means I am free to go to Tri Club meetings and yoga, or to do anything else I want on a Wednesday night. I can also enjoy the two things I like about the League-Holiday Market and Home Roam-without being a member.

I am glad I finally made the right decision. In this instance, quitting is good.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Training Time

We are now in serious training mode for the International Triathlon. This past weekend, I ran 10 miles with my running group on Saturday, then went out to the lake with hubby and a friend on Sunday. We did some open water swimming in the lake, then went on a 23 miles bike loop, and finished with a 1 mile run to get our legs under us. It was a long, hot morning. Afterward, we had sandwiches, so we didn't even have coffee on Sunday. It was strange, but I think it will be the norm for the weeks to come.

It is tough getting out of bed so early on the weekends. Weekends used to be the time we slept in and had a nice, big breakfast before reading the paper. While I like getting out in the morning to finish the day's workout, it makes you so tired for the remainder of the day. I think I will have to start adding naps to my weekend routine.

I am also contemplating joining a local gym called CrossFit for a boot camp. The whole concept of CrossFit scares me, but it may be a good thing. I have no upper body strength and very little core strength. I know I need to work on these areas and that they will help my overall performance. So, do I dive into the unknown? I have until tomorrow to decide.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Triangle Triathlon x2

This past Sunday marked my second year of competing in The Triangle Triathlon. This race is the toughest and longest race I have done to this date. The Triangle Tri is a 750 meter open water swim in Harris Lake (home to the Shearon Harris Nuclear Reactor), a 17.5 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run. It is a longer swim and bike than the normal sprint triathlon, so it is a great race to test your endurance and see if you really want to move to the next level of triathlon racing.

Of course, it was not the ideal time for a race. Hubby and I just finished a two week no holds barred vacation in Europe. There was plenty of eating and drinking (OK-lots and lots of drinking), but absolutely no training. I was a bit concerned about how I would fare in this race, but it all worked out fine. I would have probably done better without two weeks off, but that two weeks was worth it!!

We decided to do the Sunday edition of this race. Due to the popularity of the event, it was expanded to a full weekend this year. I am glad we chose the Sunday race as it was the smaller group of the two days. We arrived early at the race site, but had no problem getting a parking space inside the park. Soon, we had our race packets, our bodies marked, and our transition area set up. It was time to hang out with G & K and our good friend C who got up way too early in the morning to cheer the four of us in this race. G and Hubby were in the water soon, and K and I were waiting for our turn to take off.

I did my usual when starting the open water swim. I started in the rear of the group to the outside. The gun went off and we were off. The water was very warm (high 80s), but murky. The race course takes you out to a triangle buoy where you turn left and head to another triangle buoy before returning to the shore. The nice part about the first length of the swim is the electrical wires and poles in the lake. It makes for easy spotting while swimming. I felt that I held me own with the group and didn't get too far behind. My arms were aching, but I kept moving without getting run over by other swimmers. After what felt like a long time (really only 19:02 minutes), I was out of the water. I had trimmed over 3 minutes from my time last year and would later find out that I had beaten both G and Hubby in the swim.

There was a long run from the water to the transition, but again I bettered my time from last year. I changed as quickly as I could, and was off on the bike course. I was passed by a few folks heading out of the park. I think that biking may be the weakest area for me. The first few miles of the course are not too bad, with more rolling hills than steep hills. I did manage to pass a few people on my own, and played back and forth with a few others. I was nervous about what I knew was coming - the killer hill. It is a long steady incline a little over half way through the course. It wasn't as bad as I anticipated. I made the steady climb, and soon turned right onto Avent Ferry Road. I got some water and a GU packet, and was re-energized for the ride back to the park. I was picking up some really good speed when I saw something no athlete wants to see - a biker down of the side of the road. I heard later that he was clipped by a car and landed in a ditch. The police, a fire truck, and race officials were there with the athlete. I hope he was OK. I made it back to the transition area taking about 8 minutes off my ride from last year. I finished it in 1:08:49.

I started to have some problems at this point. My T2 time was slower than 2009 (must put the pull tabs on my running shoes!), and I knew I was tired. I headed out to the run course, but I knew what was waiting for me. It is a short run on asphalt leading to a trail. I am not a trail runner at all. I was having problems with my legs and had to take walk breaks more often that I wanted. I would count about 45 breaths running, then walk for about 30 breaths. I did improve over the course, but it was still difficult to run on the trail with little shade in July. It was getting hot. I would be sure to dump water on my head at every water stop. I finally reached one stop, and the volunteers told me I had about .2 miles left - thank goodness! I could hear the finish and I was heading home. I ran in from the trail to the finish (must look good crossing the finish line), but I was beat there by another triathlete - a 72 year old woman in a green tri suit! Oh well, she looked great. I finished the run in 42:07, a disappointing two minutes slower than last year. I blame the vacation.

Overall, I finished the race in 2:16:25, a better time than the 2:26:54 I posted in 2009. I hope 2011 will be even better. Now, it is time to hit the training hard. We have less that 2 months until the White Lake International race, and I want to be ready. Gotta run!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Forgot one!!

I can't believe that I forgot this item on my travel list. It's a good one!

11. Chocolate for breakfast - Our innkeepers introduced us to this concept. One morning on the table was a box of dark chocolate sprinkles, like the kind you would put on an ice cream sundae. These sprinkles, however, are not for ice cream. They are for toast! Toast a piece of bread, spread butter or jelly on it, and top with chocolate. Brilliant!! Every day after that one, we enjoyed some form of chocolate with breakfast. As Martha would say, it's a good thing!

Monday, July 12, 2010

What I Learned while Travelling

Hubby and I recently returned from an amazing two week vacation in The Netherlands and Belgium. We have been to Europe before, but this trip was the biggest travel endeavor I have ever taken. I learned a lot about travel, trips, and Europe, so I thought I would share some tips here.

1. Don't be afraid to plan a big trip yourself - Initially, we contacted a travel agent because I was too scared to plan a trip like this one by ourselves. We wasted time and effort with the agent. She just did not have the same vision we did, so we went in our own direction.

2. Buy the guide book - There are so many great travel guidebooks for purchase. Even on short trips, I will go to the library and borrow a copy of the guide for our destination. They give great advice and tips for the best places to visit, to eat, to shop, and to stay. I usually go for a Fodor's book, but we used Rick Steves' book for this trip. It was a great guide and we used it throughout the trip.

3. Stay in a B&B if possible - We stayed in 3 different places on our trip, and used bed and breakfasts in 2 locations. It was wonderful to share someone's home for a few days. The service was outstanding and the locations were small (one had two rooms, the other three). The hosts were amazing and were so helpful to us during the trip. It was just such a treat to be able to stay in a ship's captain's home from 1667. We also met a great couple in one of the B&Bs and have planned to get together with them here in the states. B&Bs are usually less expensive than commercial hotels, but offer the same (or better) amenities.

4. Cash! - If you are travelling to Europe, it isn't going to be cheap. As our new friends said, "Bring a few clothes, take bags of cash." We found that it was much easier to pay as much as possible with Euros. It is also less expensive in the long run. Our ATM fees were 1% of the withdrawl amount plus a nominal fee for using the machine. Credit card purchases carry a 3% transaction fee and may require a European PIN to work in certain places. We also found that our bank have a foreign currency department. We were able to order Euros from the bank and pay only a delivery fee.

5. Prepurchase tickets - While we were in Amsterdam, I knew I really wanted to see The Anne Frank House. I prepurchased the admission tickets online a few weeks before our trip. I am so glad I did. We bypassed a huge line of people and walked right in to the museum with our paper tickets.

6. Trains - The trains really intimidated me, so we prepurchased the majority of our tickets before the trip. While it did save time standing in line, I think it was cheaper to buy the tickets at the station. I think in the future, I would buy day trip tickets in the stations. For major trips to big city central stations, I would buy those tickets online. I would also buy either Thalys (high speed with assigned seating) or first class tickets. On our train from Brussels to Bruges, we had to stand for the entire 45 minute journey. It was hot and uncomfortable. We almost had the same problem from Antwerp to Amsterdam (a 2 hour trip), but we did find out you can squat in first class if you don't have a ticket or you can buy an upgrade to first class on the train. That upgrade was worth every penny to not have to stand for 2 hours in a very hot area between two cars.

7. Europe is so laid back - I love the USA - please don't understand. While travelling to Europe, however, I realized just how restrictive the US can be. Land of "Yes, we can?" More like the land of "No, you can't because it is against federal regulation US527." We toured a medieval 13th century castle by ourselves. It was worn and have very steep stairs, but we know what we were going to be doing. I wonder if the various regulatory agencies would have allowed something like that in the US. There was no handicap access, no guiderails on the stairs, no screens or safety material on the windows - it was a fantastic "at your own risk" tour.

8. English spoken here - We never had any communication problems on our trip. Although English is not their first language, we met people who could speak at least a little English. Everyone was wonderful and had no problems translating menus or anything else we needed.

9. Go for it! - You are on vacation, so do things you would not do every day. We went for a hot air balloon ride over Bruges, and it was amazing! It was such a unique and wonderful experience, and a memory I will always cherish from this trip.

10. No goofy souvenirs - For once, I decided not to buy postcards, magnets, or other dust catchers. I bought a few pieces of jewelry and we got several Belgian beer glasses which we intended to purchase during our trip. Other than that, we have about 1500 amazing pictures to remind us of this great trip.

It truly was a wonderful trip. We were excited for months leading up to this trip, but we were both scared to hope it would be everything we wanted it to be. It was everything and more. It was the greatest vacation to date. We are already thinking about our next trip to Europe. Should it be Germany/Austria or Italy?