The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Monday, November 30, 2009

The In Between Parts

The 4-day Thanksgiving weekend was filled with bright moments, surrounding the Big Event. In addition to the usual Thanksgiving feast, we celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday. Children, grandchildren, 1 boyfriend, spouses, aunt and uncle went to see a contemporary ballet performance and then to dinner. Yes, DH and sons #1 and #2 sat through 90 minutes of modern dance without muttering one complaint or negative comment. My mom loved it. She loved the ballet and spending the day with the people she loves.

We have a family tradition of playing a game at big holiday gathering. On Thanksgiving it was Malarky. One person has the right answer to a question, such as “why do dogs dislike it when you blow in their ears,” or “why is the shot clock in an NBA game set at 24 seconds?” Everyone else has to make up an answer and try to get the other players to vote for your answer. It was hilarious. My mom is a bad liar.

My gym has a tradition of a 90 minute spin class on Thanksgiving Day, appropriately called the Pilgrim Pedal. It always features a 2nd “guest instructor,” T-shirts and water bottles, raffles for some bike apparel and gift cards, and lots of snarkety backtalk and comraderie. Plus you have a negative caloric balance when you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner.

I bought this jacket from LLBean to wear cycling and during other outdoor adventures into the winter months. I wore it on Sunday when I went for a bike ride with 3 other GirlsOnBikes (GOBs). We started a little later to let the day warm up. We rode some fabulous backroads and stopped at the indie coffee shop for some beverages. It wasn’t about the mileage or speed, it was just an opportunity to be outdoors and ride on a glorious November day. The jacket worked well and will work well in colder weather.

Son #2 left late Saturday night to return to college, and son #1 left on Sunday afternoon. So Sunday was a day to think about how lucky (and thankful) I am and try to hold onto the warm and fuzzy feelings. I went to a yoga class in the afternoon, prepared a light and easy vegetarian dinner, and watched some football. I feel fortified to face the craziness of December.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pink Glove Dance

We all know somebody who was taken from us by breast cancer. Share this, spread the word, raise awareness.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Riding with the Human Rain Delay

Yesterday I did a nice and easy club ride. I haven't been on my bike in 2 months, so I decided to dial it back and just enjoy being out there on a really beautiful autumn day. I waited until the late morning to get started to take advantage of the warmer temps. That also allowed me to get to my Masters swim workout (yes, I know, I am a beast). Two people showed up to ride with me, one of whom shall now be known as the "Human Rain Delay." As soon as he saw the cue sheet, he started whining about the hills, so I told him we could go as slow as he wanted, no hurry. He rides a cheap bike that is falling apart. About 8 miles into the ride he got a flat, which is a weekly event. For some reason, he has schraeder rims but presta tubes, so he uses these little adapters on the valve so he can use a schraeder pump (last week, the tire came off the rim while riding!?!). After fixing the flat, we needed to stop 2 more times for adjustments. A few miles later his pedal fell off. That was it. Paula and I finished the ride and then I drove back to pick him up. The Human Rain Delay is going to Florida this week for the winter. I hope he buys a new bike when he comes back north in the spring!

It was a beautiful afternoon for a ride, and I enjoyed being out there very much. It was in the mid 50s, and it was totally doable. It made me think that I might try to stay with it. So today I ordered a vest and jacket that I can hopefully wear to stay warm as the weather gets colder. Outdoor activities trump indoor workouts any day of the year.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yoga Where Art Thou

I have always felt that gym time should be spent either lifting weights or sweating. I do a strength work-out with a trainer once a week; I swim with the Masters Swim Team twice a week; and I run and ride (indoors or outdoors, depending on the season). I have little patience for women who lift light and/or think walking and talking is exercise. And I never thought yoga would have a place in my fitness plan. I always thought of yoga as an "activity" for people who don't want to exercise but still want to feel like they're becoming more fit. Then I started to notice that as I get older, I have less flexibility and poor balance. Add to that the repetitive motion of hundreds of miles of swimming, biking and running and pretty soon your hamstrings, hips and shoulders are tighter than tight. This was my attitude when I took my 1st yoga class ever on Wednesday. It was medicine for my aging body. But I enjoyed it, and I found it challenging. And that didn't change the next day when I was so sore, I could barely get out of bed. I took my second yoga class ever this evening. It was totally different from the Wednesday class (different teacher). It was less physically demanding and much more focused on breathing and using your breath to maintaining attention and focus on the movements. And I am starting to see after these 2 classes that a consistent yoga practice will improve my flexibility and balance. AND it will make me stronger in my core and enhance my ability to use my breath to enhance my performance in any sport but especially in swimming. Swimming is all about efficiency. Flexibility and balance are important components of that efficiency. But mostly it's about controlling your breathing and linking your breathing to your body movements. I can already visualize smoother longer strokes with my arms and head linked to my rhythmic breathing.

So somewhere in the time I spend at the gym, I will find the time for yoga. Between the swimming, lifting, spinning and running, I will bend, balance and pose. And I will take what I learn on the road and into the pool. Right now I am less inclined to work with the more cerebral side of yoga, but maybe I'll find ways to make connections to my life in general.

BTW, I still think yoga is not a substitute for other activities that build muscle and make you sweat. But as a powerful complement to these activities, I'm on the bus.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Words cannot describe the degree of delayed-onset-muscle-soreness (DOMS) I am experiencing today. I am sore in places I didn't even know I had muscles. The combination of kettlebells and yoga was way more new experience than my body can handle. The only thing I can do without feeling the soreness is breathing. Well, this will pass and I am still glad I did it. I don't know if I will be swinging kettlebells, since there are no kettlebell classes at times when I can get to them. But I will be back at yoga.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day Off ... Day On

Veteran's Day is a state holiday in NY, so as a state employee, I have the day off today. So I decided to take advantage of some exercise classes at the gym in which I don't normally have the opportunity to participate. I took a kettlebells class, and about 15 minutes into the class I was thinking, "holy crap how am I going to survive another hour of this!!!???"I was amazed at how quickly swinging a kettlebell became exhausting. Of course doing planks and push ups between sets didn't make it easier either. I can already feel my butt getting sore from doing a few hundred squats!

I also took my first ever yoga class. There are yoga classes every day of the week at my gym, but the only beginner yoga class is Wednesday morning. So this was the perfect opportunity to see what it's all about. Now, for several years I have been telling myself that I'm not a yoga-type person, and that time spent at the gym should focus on burning calories. But I know I don't spend nearly enough time stretching and I have lousy balance. And as an "over 50" person, these are 2 skills that are important to maintaining an active lifestyle. So I went into this with an "it will be good for me" attitude. I was pleasantly surprised that, not only did I find myself stretching and balancing, but it was quite challenging and I liked it quite a bit. And now, I can feel lots of muscles in my back that are getting sore, I woke them up today! I would like to invest more time in yoga classes; I think it will be time well spent. I am going to see if I can get DH to come with me, too. He had started taking yoga classes about a year ago but didn't stick with it. I won't be able to go to the beginner class, so I guess I will have to jump into the real yoga class, but I already know this won't be a problem. You just do what you can do and with practice, you get better at it! I must admit it was difficult for me to stay focused and move slowly and thoughtfully for 90 minutes, but again, this is a good thing to practice.

Friday, November 06, 2009

My Indoor Iron Miles Challenge

In my world of a commuter, changing the clocks marks the beginning of the indoor season. I have not abandoned outdoor activities on weekends, but the shorter daylight hours and colder weather means that the gym is often the best option. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because the gym imposes a more consistent routine on my life. My life has been quite inconsistent, almost chaotic for the past 6 weeks and I have neglected to keep many of my “healthy habits” in play. I have also felt adrift. After completing the Rhode Island Century in September, I have struggled to find the motivation to work out. Certainly part of that was burnout. But part of it is just not having a goal. “Being healthy” only gets me so far. I need to commit to something bigger, a target, to keep my wheels turning.

I have decided I want to get back to triathlons next year. And the training starts now, with My Indoor Iron Miles Challenge (MIIMC). How long will it take me to accumulate the distances of an Ironman—2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles cycling, 26 miles running. How many cycles of Iron Miles can I complete in the next 6 months (November-April). Now since I have invented this challenge, I can also invent all the rules that will govern it. The swimming is the most straightforward. Get in the pool and count laps. The biking is a bit more complicated because I do 95% of my indoor riding in spin class. So I will convert to mileage based on the assumption that I ride 12-14 mph (yes, I am THAT SLOW). Running is the most difficult because my knees cannot tolerate that pounding. I have to cross train. Once again I will supplement running with other cardio and convert based on time, using 4.5-5.0 mph.

My Indoor Iron Miles Challenge kicked off on Tuesday with a spin class. I felt my lack of cardio over the past 6 weeks—my heart rate was higher than typical and I kept looking at the clock to gauge whether I could sustain the effort. But I went with the music and nailed down my first 13 miles. Today I used the arc trainer to warm up for my weight training, so I put down 1 mile of “running.” Only 99 more miles on the bike, 25 more miles on my feet, and 2.4 miles in the pool to complete my first cycle of MIIMC.