Thursday, July 31, 2014

Exercise Diary: Run, Lazy bum, Run!

July has not been a good month in terms of exercising.  With my friend's motivation I did manage to go to yoga almost every week, but on the running front I really have been lacking.  And I fear that I was on the verge of giving up.

I have often asked myself why.  Why altering getting yourself home at a reasonable hour you refused to put on your gym clothes and go out again.  Why did you stay up late when you said you wanted to go for a weekend morning run?  Why do you keep making excuses?  Why are you so determinant in the evenings, promising yourself that you would go out and run tomorrow and when tomorrow comes you choose to waste the evening away?

I don't think I will be ready for my half-marathon in October.

I think my main reason is my foot.  I still haven't gotten it checked out.  I'm still trying to find a good way to describe my injury, and I'm terrified at the possible solutions that would be given back to me.  Sometimes the pain worsens for no reason, and other times I get the false hope that it may be getting better.

The other reason is that I'm terribly self conscious about being seen.  If I can have my way I would get up at 5 every morning and run on empty streets (but I can't get up in the morning).  I don't want to run into anyone I know.  I don't want to be seen by strangers.  I don't know why, but I am more self-conscious about my slow running and my terrible body image than ever before.  I even went back on the treadmill, but the boredom was worse.

So yesterday I made a decision that I would just have to put on my running clothes and RUN!  And I sort of picked a bad time to do it.  I had a 30 minute incubation period during one of my experiments that I thought would be perfect for a 2-mile pond run.  So I did.  And I went.  And I finished the two miles within thirty minutes.  And even factoring in the time to get in and out of my gym clothes I was only a few minutes over.  I guess running-wise it wasn't too bad, but the subsequent failure of my experiment sort of brought the whole experience down.  I was running terribly late, my experiment didn't go the way I wanted, and I had to postpone my meeting with my friend for almost 20 minutes.

But after all that, I did go out a run.  It wasn't a long run but I thought it was a good start.  My foot, surprisingly, didn't bother me during or after the run.  It did start to feel terrible in the evening.  I iced and massaged it, but I don't think that made it any better.

With the help of Garmin Connect training plan (oh, did I tell you, I got a new GPS watch~  More on that later I think), I decided to embark on a half-marathon training.  It's a 16-week plan so I won't be ready for my half in October, but we will see how it goes.  I still have a few weeks till the registration deadline, so I still have some time to decide whether I want to do it for real.

We'll see how it goes~~

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Exercise Diary: Short run, then some badminton

  • Yesterday was beautiful!  But since it was still too warm when I left work, and that I wanted to play badminton, and I wanted to do a short run, I decided to run on the treadmill.  
  • The fitness room was air conditioned and felt so nice!
  • I was surprised to see that most of the treadmills were occupied.  
  • There was a sad spinning class with one very enthusiastic instructor and what looked like 2 students.
  • Running on the treadmill was SO boring!  It definitely takes more effort to keep yourself motivated while running on the treadmill.  1.26 miles never felt so painfully long, even with an entertaining podcast in your ears.  
  • Then again, I ran almost a whole mile at a faster pace than one I would normally have done (even with the 1% incline to mimic real roads).
  • My workout was cut short (only 16 min) because I was overall running late, and badminton had begun for almost an hour.  So I left the air conditioned room and went downstairs..
  • Which is hotter and more humid than outside!  The basketball courts are one of the places in the building that's not air conditioned, and it felt terrible.  What's worse, because of the lightness of the shuttlecock we can't even blast the super giant fans on.  So essentially we were playing in a sauna.
  • I thoroughly had my butt kicked by a friend.  I felt so angry and stupid: she's 7 years older than me and a mother, and she's got better figure and played better.  
  • I upset my foot again during the play and had to stop and massage my foot a bit.
  • After taking a shower upon getting home I iced my foot with my frozen water bottle and it felt slightly better.  Still debating whether I should go see someone.
  • Finally cooked.  The peppers, after sitting in the fridge for a week, were surprisingly still edible.  My dried tofu, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky.  It got moldy and I was quite upset.  What a waste of food.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

This Week on the Net (7/14-7/20)

Wasn't even going to do one, but saw this new concept of spinning class and thought I would share.
  • Soulcycle.  Found a new concept of exercising, and this is called soul cycle.  It doesn't have any studios near where I live, and the closest one is in Chestnuthill in MA.  I decided that it's too far away from me and too much hassle just to go experience it.  But there are a good number of studios in New York, so maybe the next time I go home I will try a class.  It's basically a spinning class with a lot of other workout added to it, such as yoga-like stretches, and strength training involving weights.  They also emphasize the importance of upbeat music, and the fact that the classroom is lit not with lights but candles, to make you feel private about what you are doing.  Upon first glance it felt very hippie and pretentious, but I think it can be a much better workout than just a boring spinning classes (which I've never attended).  And as far as I know it doesn't require extra, novel equipment.  Maybe in the near future our school's PE classes will introduce a soul cycle class in addition to the traditional spinning classes it already offers.  

Trail Challenge and Foot Rest

My friend and I are currently doing a Trial Challenge that explores the different trails we have in our town.  While it is called a "challenge", all 7 trails featured in the program are very easy and short to do, as the event is targeted mainly for families with small children.  We still thought it would be fun since, hey us students never explore our own town, and we need the excuse to get outside this summer.  It is a bargain too, because for $3 a piece we each got a water bottle, a trail challenge T-shirt, a booklet with all the instruction, and an invitation to the end-of-summer party with a chance to enter a raffle if we finish at least 5 of the 7 trails by then.

Last Friday we did our first trail.  It was a short (0.8 mile), easy trail toward the south end of our town, tucked secretly behind some big ass mansions we didn't know existed.  The trail was very well maintained with signs on tree barks that guide the hikers.  It curves around the edge of the Connecticut River and offers a very nice view of the water.  The trail was covered with pine needles and moss, but all we got in terms of wild life was a squirrel and the voice of a very pretty-sounding bird, which suited me.

As a way to verify that you did each trail, at the midpoint of each trail is a sign with a symbol for you to copy down.  We found it nailed on a tree near the water.  It was a simple outline of an animal but it was hard to copy convincingly without anything to lean against on.  On our way back we took a short cut that led us to a cemetery that was actually very lovely and well maintained.  The trail was very short, so short that the way getting to and from the trail from our office took longer than walking the trail itself.  But it was a very nice start and we couldn't wait to explore the rest of the trails.

Despite the short and easy hike, and the fact that I was wearing my trail running shoes for the occasion, I was still stepping on uneven grounds and occasionally placed my right foot right on a tree root, and it seriously hurt my foot again.  It was an alarming pain that lasted through most of Friday night.  I don't even know what it is anymore.  It sort of emanates from the heel and spread to the rest of the mid foot, and the pain comes in waves.  I iced my foot and it only moderately helped.  I stayed home for most of Saturday, but the foot still hurt on Sunday so that I gave up on running on Sunday.  Just like plantar fasciitis the pain sometimes goes away after walking or running for a bit, but we all know that it doesn't mean it's actually getting better.  I'm still debating whether I want to go see someone, and I'm kind of reserved on the idea because I really don't know how to describe what I have, and I fear what their solution might be.  I don't think any bones are broken but I certainly don't want surgery, and I don't want them to tell me that I have to rest and not run for an extended period of time (granted I didn't run at all last week, mostly due to laziness).  I still want to do a half-marathon in October but I really haven't been training at all, and my reluctance to train seriously is largely due to the foot.  Perhaps if I get it checked out I would make better informed decisions, as the deadline for registering for the half is approaching.  I just don't want to look like a loser and having to tell people that I hurt myself from not-very-serious running or worse, having to be on crutches or something.  We'll see, maybe I will make an appointment to see someone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Exercise Diary: Quick Yoga Post

Went to yoga yesterday.  I kind of had to go since I haven't been to yoga in two weeks, plus I got a free class because it was my birthday last week.

Summer really is a time when everyone is outside doing their physical activities.  When we got to the studio around normal time we were the first ones there.  Granted eventually the class filled up pretty well, and there were more than a few first timers, but overall it really is best to be outside.

Also partly because the studio was as hot and humid as outside.  If we are smart we should hold classes outside about an hour before heavy rain so they will save some money on their heating bill.

It was a good class over all.  My balance, especially on my right leg, still sucks, but otherwise I do feel stronger and somewhat more flexible.  Tried to do a back bend but failed miserably.  Perhaps if I lose another 10 pounds and strengthen my arms a bit I could eventually do it.

The yoga studio offers a rewards program, so you get points for attending classes and referring friends and such, as a way to motivate people to attend classes and get their friends to attend classes.  I had previously already earn enough points to get a studio logo T-shirt, which I assume was made mostly from cotton (there was no tag) but has a slightly different feel.  It feels thinner and silkier and clings to your body more, so I was always assuming that it has at least some polyester in it.

I wore my shirt proudly into the studio since I couldn't put it on when I was 10 lbs heavier.  As I said, the shirt clings to the body so it brings out the worst part of your torso.  I had tried it on in the studio's makeshift changing room before I took it home with me but it was tried on in haste and I didn't realize how much my stomach was showing.  But now I can wear it and not feel conscious about wearing it so  I have really made some progress regarding weight loss.

The shirt, however, was not good for warm yoga.  It's slippery, so it gets almost slimy with sweat.  And the sweat stays, to the point that I saw giant sweat stains on my back and under the arms when I took it off afterwards.  And it's thin, so it doesn't even absorb that much sweat, most of it went on  to the mat.  It was overall very yucky.  I still like the shirt, but I probably won't ever wear it again to yoga.

Anyhoo.  Just want to put it on record that I went to yoga yesterday.  It was a good class and it felt easy.  We started out really slow, probably because of all the newcomers, but I did get a workout from it, so all is good.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A weekend in volunteering

Actually, I was lucky enough that I got Sunday to rest (which I didn't nothing but).  But I was on my feet for more hours than I care to remember on Friday and Saturday, as a volunteer for the 33rd Annual Prouty, which is an event that raises funds for cancer research for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, specifically the Norris-Cotton Cancer center.  It's one of the biggest event for the hospital and the nearby towns, to the point that our yoga studio had to cancel classes for Friday and Saturday because everyone is out Prouty-ing.  Started as a cycling event done by a few nurses inspired by one cancer patient, Audrey Prouty, the event has since grew and expanded to include walking, rowing, and golfing ("but honey, I have to go play golf this Saturday, it's for charity!").  I don't know how many countless individuals and teams participate in the event, but for volunteers alone they wanted a few thousand, and this year I was lucky to be one of them.

I was volunteering at the Prouty Gear for both Friday and a good part on Saturday.  Prouty Gears are gifts (smaller things like beach towels and tote bags and larger items like long sleeve running shirts, bike jerseys, and Ibex vests) for people who have raised at least $500 for the Prouty.  Each $500 constitutes as a point, and the more points a person has earned, more and better gifts can be selected.  I was at first suspicious of the whole point conversion system, since divisions by 500 isn't that difficult.  I realized how wrong I was when I started to regularly seeing those who came by with 5, 10, and even 20 points trying to redeem their gifts.  Just because I suck at asking for money from other people doesn't mean that everyone else are just like me.  And I regularly got people who knew the Gear system better than me, and those who were bored by the same gifts every year, and would rather donate their points to other people (which was not a policy we hold, so those people essentially wasted their points).

I was the designated computer person who is responsible for ordering anything that people wanted that we either didn't not carry or had run out.  It wasn't a hard job, and being the first night, there weren't that many ordering that needed to be done.  So after standing there awkwardly for a bit and filed cards for the rest of the volunteers, I became one of them, taking in point tickets and greeted the fund raisers.  It was fun, and it felt like working at TJMaxx again.  It was simple, repetitive, but never the same.

Went back for more of the same thing the next day.  Almost 5 hours of getting numb by the large sums of money that people have raised, and realizing that despited their, or their friends' wealth, when it comes to selecting merchandises, some people can be just as bitchy as those who shop at TJMaxx.  I was kind of surprised by the pickiness showed by some, and the surprising patience and apathy showed by the same people when I told them that if I reorder something it wouldn't get to them for 6-8 weeks.  They didn't care.  Either they knew already or they really didn't care about having it at that moment.

Then at 3 I went outside and helped at the Prouty Store tent, which is open for everyone who wishes to buy stuff (many had tried to buy the Gear items we had on display, and I must say that comparing both, I would rather raise a large amount of money and get the Gear stuff, they are soooooo much nicer!).  I now know that the roads open at 4 and all the riders and walkers have to be back to the finish line at 4pm, and that the food tent closes at 5pm, so I don't feel too bad about having to take inventory almost as soon as I got to the store tent.  But since I was inside for majority of the time and missed the biggest crowds and the most fun, it was kind of sad when I did get out and had already had to pack up.  I did catch some late arrivals as those, I assume they were doing the 100-miler, finally made their way back to scattered but enthusiastic applause.  I did feel bad for a pair of riders who got back after 4pm and received nothing.  We were in the process of packing up, no one was at the finish line to greet them, and they rode in, parked their bike, walked around, and left again.  I was merely following directions, but presumably the woman in charge of the tent had been doing it for much longer.  She was all about keeping herself busy and getting things done, so she was more focused on counting all the merchandises, getting them packed and ready for storage.  We talked about how we need to thank all those who raised money and rode and walked on the day, but when we get down to business it's all about efficiency.  I think most people understand that and accept it as is.

I was scheduled to work till 6, but we were done by 5:30.  As I looked back on the now empty tents and the last remaining people bringing back the final boxes, I have to accept that while it's a big festival where the whole town got together and do this one thing, it's still a fund raising event.  At the end of the day, it's about the number after the dollar sign.  I still had fun, and I got to meet more people who are part of the community, rather than college students who are just here temporarily.  Somehow meeting people who encompass a wider range of age and experience, who are together because of where they live rather than their age, gave me back a sense of community and family that I have been missing for a long time.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Exercise Diary: Quick Post, Quick Run

Just came back from a week of vacationing at home.  Not that we went anywhere special, but just by being in the Big Apple after months in the mountains is a big refreshing change.

Didn't do any runs while at home, but I did walk quite a bit in NYC.  On my birthday I wondered in lower Manhattan and walked a total of ~80 blocks and almost gave myself a heat stroke.  And after I got back I found that I lost another pound.  Can't say that I complain!

I was very much hoping that I would get a new cell phone (and a new plan) when I was home.  But what I found instead was that our old family plan contract, which my parents signed two years ago in the summer, doesn't actually end until the end of the year.  And while we could terminate it early and switch, we are no longer in a hurry so we didn't end up doing anything but had a lot of discussions.  Basically for me is that I'm not getting a new phone right now and I still don't have data coverage in my plan (and since I'm actually not paying for any cell phone bills I don't have the right to complain).  What I did, however, was that I got a cheap Android phone in the hopes that it would be a better alternative to my iPod Touch.  It wasn't, since the phone is not compatible to either Nike+Running or Zombies, Run! apps, so if I want accurate records of my runnings I would still have to use my iTouch with the Nike sensor.  Oh well.

I was able to download some other apps, but none of them work properly without access to internet.  So while I did a short run yesterday, all I have is the amount of time I spent running, and no other data. One of these days I will just have to suck up and get a GPS watch to end all hassles.  Don't know when, but some day.

Did about 3 miles today yesterday.  I was supposed to go for a volunteer training and it was only a short distance away, so I ran there and back.  I had to go running at 5pm, which was not ideal but what could I do?  I did became very aware of every piece of shade on the way, which there were more than I anticipated.  It was nice under the shade, and there was a light breeze, but I really don't like the blazing sun and 5pm is not a good time for running.

Workout for Thursday, 7/10:
Time: ~34 min
Distance: ~ 3 miles (According to google maps anyway.  The time also seemed right.  But it felt like a very short way away so I still can't be convinced that it was actually 3 miles to and back).