Friday, May 27, 2011

Strength Training through Gardening

Cross one off The List - a butterfly garden has been planted!

Bending, stretching, digging, planting...gardening is great exercise. Especially when you have to dig up sod before you can get started!

Before - front corner of the yard. Clover is starting to fill in but this is the patchiest part of the lawn.
Looking forward to having a garden here instead.
All in all, I spent about 9 hours on this project over 2 days. Started by digging up 25 sq-ft of the front lawn. Not a massive patch, but it was still long and tedious work and it took a couple of hours. Definitely not my favourite part of the project.

Thank goodness the bulk of the site prep is behind me and I can get to planting.
Woke up the next morning, eager to get planting - and realized that I wasn't sore!!! My back, hands, legs and feet all got worked yesterday but I'm feeling strong. This is a nice change from past spring planting sessions when I'd wake up the next day feeling stiff and tired.

My daughter loves getting her hands in the dirt!
Had a quick breakfast, then headed outside with a cup of coffee and my shovels. Spent a fair bit of time fussing with plant placement and enlarging the patch I dug up yesterday. My husband did the final shaping - he's got a much better eye for design than I do.

All of the plants that I put in are teeny and I'm hopeful that they thrive. Can't wait for them to mature a bit, fill in and start blooming.

For your interest, we planted: 
  • Little Bluestem Grass and 3 x Dwarf Shooting Star - good host plants for larvae
  • A Butterfly Bush, 2 x Spirea, 5 x Black-Eyed Susan, 3 x Butterfly Weed and 3 x Bee Balm - good nectar sources for adult butterflies
  • A few flat rocks - for butterflies to land on and warm themselves
  • Lavender and 2 x campanula - relocated from another garden, to fill in bare patches!
  • Another garden two feet away contains yarrow - flat big flower heads make more good landing zones for adults
We also need to add a water source - I'm told that either a shallow bird bath or a dish of moist sand will do the trick.

Not the world's most impressive 'after' picture. Can't wait for these plants to grow!

Here's this week's recap -

Saturday - Dig, plant, repeat. Followed by rearranging the furniture in both children's rooms and the tiniest start to a deep clean of my son's room. Not sure that I really want to get into this - his room is filled with loose Lego pieces, "treasures" and dust. Sigh.

Waiting for our turn on the bumper boats
Once again grateful that I no longer have to worry at amusement parks about being able to fit into a lifejacket...or swamp the boats!
Sunday - Met friends for a few hours of fun at Ontario Place - rides, mini golf and so on. Fun!

Son and I at the track - pic by my daughter

Monday - Victoria Day holiday! The four of us went to the park for a few hours - rode our bikes around the track, played catch. I logged about 6K on the bike, and gave my pitching arm a good workout!

Mom - over here! I'm open!
Realized that I'm no longer cranky when my kids' throw is way off and I have to run for the ball.
Being fitter makes games SO much more enjoyable...
Tuesday - Short lunchtime walk, about 1K.

Wednesday - Short lunchtime walk, Zumba

Thursday - Short lunchtime walk, Zumba + 30 pushups.

Friday - Took the kids to the circus! Saw a friend of ours perform in the end-of-year show for the Toronto School of Circus Arts. They put on an amazing aerial and acrobatics show, and it has us excited about the prospect of taking classes at a studio closer to home this fall :-)

What I'm reading this week - Cool Water by Dianne Warren - very reminiscent of Annie Proulx's Wyoming Stories - and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Life's a Lot More Interesting Since I Got Off the Couch

A number of interesting things floated my way this week. I have to say - stuff like this never happened back in my couch potato days:

  • I got out of my warm bed early on Sunday, took my son out in the rain and ran/walked around downtown. Paid to be there, too: $60 + transit fare for the two of us. Got a medal at the end!

  • Dropped in at a local circus school to talk about family classes for the four of us this fall. Found out that my husband would like to take trapese lessons.

  • Noticed that there is an axe-throwing league next door to the circus school. They have invited us to drop by to fling axes at targets, any Monday from 6-7 pm. My son now has "Mondays from 6-7" permanently tattooed on his brain - he's dying to give it a try!

  • Emma mentioned to me this week that we should think about doing a race relay. I'm thinking about it.

  • I'm starting to think about taking swimming lessons, so that I can improve my form and maybe doing a try a tri. Mentioned it to Lynda and she immediately put try a tri on our 'maybe' list for 2012.

  • Took the kids camping last summer. Twice. Going twice again this summer!

How has getting active changed the way that you look for fun?

There is one thing to mention about all of this. I have tons of confidence these days, am really enjoying myself and sometimes have a good laugh at how positively my life has changed - but I still occasionally find myself thinking 'fat girl' thoughts. Like 'Someone invited ME??? to do a race relay?  Why on earth would they invite ME???' Little souvenir of who I used to be, I suppose. Wonder how long those self-doubt thoughts will stick around.
Here's this week's recap:

Saturday - Had to go in to work (it's a once in a while thing) but made it to the race expo first. Loaded up on samples, saw the swag from a few events I've been thinking of doing, and picked up my race kit!

Emma, Elissa, Rachel, v2.0 and me - Finishers at the Goodlife Toronto 5K!
Sunday - Goodlife 5K followed by a drive out to pick our daughter up from her camping weekend. She had fun - but two nights was a long time for her to be away from home. Very glad to be coming home. Very glad to have her back!

Monday - Recovery day. Did an easy circuit at Curves (and 20 pushups) to stretch the muscles out.

Tuesday - Needed a second recovery day - still a bit stiff, but much better than yesterday!

Wednesday - Stairs to 7 in AM, 1K walk at lunch, Zumba + 1/2 Curves circuit + 36 pushups after dinner. That's more like it!

Thursday - Had the day off work in order to have a minor procedure done at the hospital. Went for a 1K easy stroll later in the afternoon.

Taking a break - it's hot out today!
Friday - Another day off work - this time with my kids on a PA Day. Met up with friends at a playground and played catch for a while before going out for brunch. Was a beautiful day, and a fabulously relaxing way to start a long weekend.

What I'm reading this week - The Long Walk by Stephen King. Was in the mood to continue the cheerful theme set by The Hunger Games. Ha.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lessons Learned from a Hard-Earned PR

May 2011 - my first medal!
Goodlife 5K? Check!

Proud to say that I PR'd (40:43), but it wasn't easy! Between being sick recently and the lack of training that I mentioned last week, I really had to rely on my base level of fitness to do this event - and my time is really a reflection of me hustling to keep up with my son.

My son, who by the way, did amazing on his first 5K. He paced himself, slowed down when he needed to, kept an eye for me when I'd lag behind, then ran ahead for the final leg, finished strong and met me at the finish line. Bursting with pride for himself. I'm wicked proud of him too!

Hey - he also showed beautiful race etiquette on the course and it was an absolute pleasure competing with him.

11 years old and finished his first 5K with a smile.
Man, he's getting tall!
So - what did I learn?

Training matters. I already knew that, but good to be reminded of it. Especially with the Becel 25K Ride coming up in a few short weeks. Today was more work and less fun that my last 5K or two, and that lack of training was definitely a contributing factor. Really underscored the need for me to get my work/life balance back in, well, balance.

Don't underestimate the short course. Knowing that I was short on training, I found myself consoling myself with thoughts of,"It's only a 5K. Been there, done that." And with that, stopped paying as close attention to my nutrition, water intake and sleep in the days leading up to the event. There's no room for a cocky attitude here, ladies and gentlemen!

Music makes the course seem shorter! I kept my iPod off in order to better communicate with my son - which was important - but I did find that not having the tunes really made the course seem long.  There was a bit of music on the course; wish the coordinators had organized more.

Running against the wind is not fun. We had to run about 1.5K into the wind during the last part of the course. A bit of drizzle...even a bit of cold drizzle...was OK, but the wind was not what I was looking for :-(.

I love an out and back course! Seeing the sights in reverse on the way back - and knowing where the finish line is - keeps me going.

And finally -

Kids are generally stronger and more capable than I had realized. I've been so focused on my own efforts to cross a finish line that it's taken me a while to notice just how many pre-teens participate in these things with their parents. So fabulous! Going as strong as they are able and finishing with a smile. So great to see them on the course, and so fantastic for their parents to include them. Love it.

It took me until this season to start including my son, mostly because I needed to get a few events under my belt to know what I was capable of (Can I get to a finish line without dying?) before I had the mental room to include him.

My daughter starts joining us later this year!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Is it possible to cram for a 5K?

I hope so! Between work being nuts and and getting sick, exercise has been thin around here for the past few weeks. Fingers crossed for a good 5K on May 14.

Saturday - Fighting off last week's strep throat and chest infection. Spent most of the day napping, then went to the theatre in the evening - we had tickets to see The Railway Children. Kids loved the performance - interesting story, unique set and a real steam engine! Also fun to go out on a Saturday evening. Sun was down when we came out of the theatre, CN Tower was lit up. Neat thing: the show was staged in a temporary theatre that one the grounds of a refurbished train roundhouse, and there are train engines on display as party of the roundhouse landscaping. Climbed around on the trains after the show. Fun!

In the hammock. No better place to be on a warm spring day.

Sunday - Mother's Day, but I was a bit too sick to notice. Kids made me fabulous cards and husband made a lovely breakfast. I spent the morning moving slowly. Planted a dozen peas. Spent the rest of the day moving slowly. I heart my hammock.

Monday - Back to work. Thank goodness the antibiotics have finally kicked in. Once again - too busy to get away from my desk at lunchtime. This is not a good trend and I'm trying to figure out how to get back on track. The good news is that it was a beautiful day, so I got the kids to do their homework outside while I rearranged some plants in the garden. We also planted our tomatoes! Two whole plants worth. It's a small garden.

Tuesday - 1K walk in the morning. Spent the evening getting my son ready for a school trip - he leaves at 6am tomorrow for a couple of days :-(

Wednesday - MADE IT TO ZUMBA! Did the full class, half a circuit and 30 pushups. Felt SO SO good to get sweaty!

After Zumba. So sweaty and so happy :-)

Thursday - Made it to Zumba again! Did the full class and 33 pushups afterwards. Picked up my son later on - he had a fantastic time in Ottawa! He loved the War Museum in particular and came home with stories of having seen a bullet-riddled UN jeep - and one of Hitler's cars. Eeek.

Friday - Stairs to 7 in AM. Evening was spent driving my daughter out of town for camping with her Sparks group. Amazed that neither of us cried during our goodbyes - but I did get a bit teary at dinner later when she wasn't with us. Oh, mom. Such a softie.

What I'm reading this week - Paula Spencer by Roddy Doyle.

Friday, May 6, 2011

There Go My Plans for Operating Heavy Machinery This Weekend

Go figure - I ate well and exercised all winter and didn't get so much as a sniffle. As soon as my job hit a really busy patch this month, exercise got sacrificed, I started eating more convenience food (read: food court every day for lunch) - and I got sick. Started off as a cold but over the course of the week turned into a chest infection and strep throat. Surprise, surprise - when we stop taking care of ourselves, the germs come over for a party.

So - this week was thin on moving. Here's a recap:

Saturday - Ran around in the morning, getting a haircut, taking my daughter to a bday party, shopping for summer clothes for both kids. Got some good bending and stretching in later in the day - son and I played Frisbee for a while, and then both kids and I planted 75 freesia bulbs in the front garden. Hoping for a splash of colur - and some nice fragrance - later in the season after the tulips fade. Starting to get the sniffles.

Check out those finisher's medals!
Husband & his twin sister after crossing the finish line at their first 10K - May 2010

Sunday - Race day for my husband and SIL, their very first 10K! They had to get up pretty early to get to the start, but they went strong and finished with a smile. PBs of 1:14 (him) and 1:11 (her).  Came home talking about what they want to sign up for next, and how they think they'll do next time. Meanwhile - our BIL and nephews came over for the morning. Playtime and lots of giggling before we celebrated the finishers by making them a big brunch. Afterwards, I spent a bit of time in the garden planting some mini narcissis.  

I had a few friends doing this event too, and have to tell you - looking at their photos made me pine for the energy of being at an event, the thrill of showing up at the start, the high from crossing a finish line, and the bling in the swag bag! Looking forward to my next 5K in 2 weeks, and the expo the day before :-)

Monday - 1/2 of a Curves circuit + 30 pushups after dinner. Achoo!

Wednesday - Stairs to 7 in AM.

Friday - Ow, my throat. Broke down and went to the walkin clinic after dinner. Time to take meds, rest and eat well. These meds are making me blissfully drowsy :-)

Prescription-strength cough syrup, antibiotics and TWO inhalers.
Glad I decided to stop trying to tough this thing out.
What I'm reading this week: The Year of Finding Memory by Judy Fong Bates. Very interesting to see how her experiences growing up influenced Midnight at the Dragon Cafe  and China Dog and other Tales from a Chinese Laundry.