Friday, April 27, 2012

CN Tower - Check!

My son and I climbed the CN Tower this weekend - again

It's a tall tower. See how it towers over the rest of the city?
Photo source.

That's 1,776 stairs, folks. 144 flights. Sweaty work. This was my third time, his second, and we both PR'd :-)

28:50 for me; an outstanding 21:02 for the boy!

Have to say - I was pretty nervous going into this as I haven't been specifically training for it. I used to take the stairs to my 7th floor office every day, but had to stop back in December when we moved to a building with locked stairwells.

So I was pretty much hoping that this winter's boot camps and C25K would get me there.

And they did!

I shaved just over a minute off last year's time AND had enough energy left over to say "OK!" when my son suggested that we jog back to the subway afterwards. I'm calling that one an NSV.

This has become an event that I to use to monitor my fitness levels - not just my finish time, but also how I feel afterwards. It's been very gratifying to see an improvement from year to year.

For my son - last year, he wasn't old enough to go it alone and had to stick with me. He was really nice about it, but definitely felt that he was held back by going at his mother's pace (um, thanks, kid). He was really eager to see how he could do on his own this year now that he's old enough to fly solo.

Turns out that he's a powerhouse! Said that he took a brief break at the 96th floor but otherwise went straight to the top. Shaved 8:33 minutes off of his "waiting for Mom" time. Huh - guess he really WAS holding himself back last year!

I'm crazy proud of him. And grateful. Grateful that he's a fit kid, grateful that he looks at challenges like this as fun, and grateful that he does stuff like this with me.

To you parents out there - how do your kids stay active? Mine are pretty active but balk at most afterschool & weekend lessons/leagues outside of Guides & Scouts - they really prefer to have their free time to ride bikes, kick a ball around, go for hikes and so on. This past weekend, they tried to teach the dog how to hula hoop - which meant that they spent a lot of time hula hooping to show her how it works. Whatever keeps you off the couch and outdoors, right?

In other news - I've been gaining and losing the same 3-4 pounds all winter and I've had enough. Time to recommit to weight loss. This was a good week of gigantic salads for lunch, portion control at other meals, no idle snacking, and tracking everything on myfitnesspal. Let's see how long I can keep this up - would be great to smash through this and hit the next milestone.

Here's this week's recap -

Saturday - CN Tower climb in the morning; slow jog to the school playground in the evening then walk back (2.6K round trip). Slept very, very well afterwards.

Sunday - Rest day.

Monday - Curves circuit integrated into a boot camp = 50 minutes of pure awesome. Then a very slow 250m at the pool. My arms were very, very tired!

Tuesday - Rest day. 1K slow walk with the dog.

Wednesday - 2K dog park walk after work, then later Stella and I went on our first real run in a while. Did 3 sets of 10s and 1s, covered 3.6K.

Blackberries take terrible pictures after dusk. And the flash makes the dog squint. But then we ran, and it was a good one.

Thursday - Another Curves circuit integrated into boot camp for 60 minutes. Sweaty, hard and hilarious.

Friday - Rest day. Should have gone for a run but the legs just weren't willing.  Instead, my husband dragged me out to help my daughter make a new addition to our family zoo. Meet Cinderella and Cocoa:

The pets outnumber the humans now. At least these don't shed.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dialing Back the Intensity (for a second week)

I kept things light again this week - the weekend was pretty tiring (more below) and I needed to rest up for a race coming up this weekend. I'll kick things up a notch next week.

So - why was my weekend tiring? The kids and I went on a sleepover at the Science Centre!

Goofing around while we wait for the program to start
We checked in, dropped off our bags, caught an IMAX movie (Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees) and a science demo, then had a few hours to explore the Centre. So great to have the place pretty much to ourselves - the kids were able to have extra time on their favourite exhibits and try out a few things that we ordinarily don't get to when things are crowded.

Pulleys make lifting weights easier

Using kid power to play a radio and power some lights

Rocket chair!
Stroke of good luck - our sleeping assignment was in our favourite hands-on gallery. I scored a great spot next to their favourite exhibit (an imitation beaver lodge) and by a huge window.

Midnight (yes, midnight) and time for bed. That floor was NOT SOFT.
 Up early the next morning for breakfast, then we had two more hours to explore around.

Surprisingly cheerful for 7am.

We had a great time. Being able to explore to our heart's content without any crowds really was the absolute best part of this and was well worth the price of admission. We even found exhibits that we didn't know existed! We've been on a similar sleepover before, at the zoo, and found the same thing: it's nice that the attraction puts on some special programming for the evening, but having the place pretty much to yourself is absolutely fabulous.

I highly recommend that you give this a try if you have the chance!

Like I said - I kept the rest of the week pretty light:

Sun/Mon - rest days. Walked the dog.

Tuesday - biked to the gym for Zumba class and a boot camp. 7 minutes on the stairstepper, 40 pushups, 1 min plank, 200 crunches, 4 burpees. Good lord, burpees are hard.

Wednesday - drove to the gym. Did a circuit and a boot camp. 290 crunches, 50 pushups, side planks, standard plank, 11 burpees.

Finally got a picture of my sweaty self where I actually look sweaty.
I don't look as sweaty as I actually was, but at least you can tell that I'd done some work.

Thursday - Walked over to school in the evening for the Spring Concert. My son was helping to run music for the other grades and performed a song with his class.
Friday - Rest day. Son and I are climbing the CN Tower tomorrow morning!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dialing Back the Intensity (for a week)

Spring has got to be my favourite season. 

And with both my gym and my pool closed for the 4-day Easter long weekend, I'm taking that as a sign that I was meant to put training on pause.

So, I slowed things down this week to make sure that I had a chance to enjoy the stunning weather. And now I'm feeling refreshed...rejuvenated...and so happy.

I've also taken some time this week to think about how to balance work, home, kids, dog, running, swimming and gym while also adding in biking. I've been dangerously close to becoming stressed over how to fit everything in but I think I've figured it out -

  • Hitting the gym 2x/week instead of 3 should give me the time that I need to get in a long ride every week.
  • Riding to the gym (possible now that the days are longer) will add in two short rides :-)
  • Zumba has moved to a day/time that really doesn't work for me - I'm going to miss it this season, but that frees up the same amount of time as one of my runs typically takes.

I think that's all the tweaking that's going to be needed, and I'm feeling pretty good about these changes. Let's see how the next few weeks go!

How are you keeping life in balance? Do you find that you need to tweak your routine now and then to fit everything in  - and make sure that you're still enjoying what you're doing?

Here's this week's recap -

Saturday - Spent the day with my inlaw's - took kids and dogs for a hike, then settled in for a long and lovely Easter dinner.

Kids on a log

Dogs in a creek

Sunday - Easter egg hunt in the morning...park in the early afternoon....
Kids got some excellent super-bouncy balls in their Easter baskets.
Perfect for handball and every other game we could come up with.

...and jogged over to a different park in the early evening (2.6K round trip)

Monday - Kids and husband had the day off. They went to the zoo while I had to go to work :-(

Tuesday - Rest day.

Wednesday - Boot camp followed by Curves circuit. Did 50 pushups, 1min plank, 70 leg lifts each side, 5 burpees, 250 crunches and 7 mins on the stairstepper.
Thursday - The 5 of us went to the school playground after dinner - I jogged with dog while kids rode their bikes - 2.7K round trip.

Sliding face first with your sister riding on your back seems like a good idea, no?

Friday - FIRST BIKE RIDE OF THE SEASON. I know, I know - it's April, what took so long? Mainly, I'm a wimp about riding when the temps are so cool that I get chilly during a ride. Tonight was perfect though. Felt great to be back on the bike, and I think that starting to run over the winter helped a lot - I felt remarkably strong for my first ride out, rather than rusty after almost 6 months off the bike. All good.

Rode to my gym (6K round trip), did a circuit and a few extras (100 crunches, 30s plank, 40+20 pushups, 50 leg lifts each side).

Took this to show how sweaty I was after the circuit, but it just doesn't show up.
Honestly, I was dripping!

And here's something wonderful - a lady came over to the stretching area at the end of her circuit, grabbed a mat and did 4 pushups. Turns out that these are the first pushups she's ever done in her life. Said she saw me doing mine and wanted to give them a try. She's aiming for 5 next time. LOVE IT.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Go Check the Batteries in Your Smoke Detectors, Okay?

There are a lot of really great people who live on my street, and we're fortunate to have such fantastic neighbours. I hope you do too.

See, here's the thing - there was a fire in the house next door - which we are attached to - very early last Sunday morning. Thanks to the smoke alarm waking the homeowner up and a quick response from 911, the fire was contained to part of one room of the house. Smoke and water damage have made their house unlivable for the next while - but everyone is alright, their house is definitely repairable, and their insurance company is being so, so fantastic. Our house wasn't damaged at all, thank goodness.

Howver, things were very tense getting to that point. Three houses (including us) evacuated in the middle of the night, windows were breaking, smoke was pouring out of the house, tons of firefighters and police on the scene. Scary.

But the neighbours on the street were amazing. Someone put a jacket over the shoulders of the chilly homeowner. Do you have a place to go, do you need a phone, have you reached your parents. What do you need, how can we help. Scads of offers to take our sleepy kids inside. Here, put your dog in my backyard. Trays of coffee and help sweeping up glass after the fire was out.

I know that people tend to come together in a crisis, but this was a reminder of how the people on my street tend to look out for each other in general. We shovel snow and take care of garbage cans for older folks, keep a half an eye on little kids at play, stop and chat with each other and generally know who lives on the street. We've made some good friends here.

Not bad for a neighbourhood in the middle a big city. Actually, it's pretty great.

Hope you are equally blessed.

Now - go check your smoke detectors, OK?

Here's this week's exercise recap:

Saturday: 1K + 1K run with Stella to the dog park and back.

Sunday: The above excitement, followed by 2K dog walk, then felt compelled to kickstart spring cleaning season. Pulled out the fridge and the stove and gave the entire kitchen a scrubbing down, inside and out.

Monday: 2K dog park walk; Curves + boot camp (350 crunches, 140 leg lifts each side, 30 + 30 pushups, 2 x 1min planks); down to the pool to swim 250 metres. Tonight's focus: breathing. As in I need to work on how to.

Tuesday:  Rest day.

Wednesday: Had a really, really great run with Stella before bed. Did 3 sets of 10s and 1s, covering 3.6K, and could have gone for more. Found just the right rhythm, weather was lovely and cool, dog was exceptionally well-behaved.

Thursday: 2K dog park walk. Curves + 150 crunches, 40 pushups, 35s plank.

Friday: Good Friday and a day off work - and the weather was perfect! Took Stella for a 2.8K run/walk before breakfast (not the best idea, but still not a bad run). Later in the afternoon, the 5 of us headed to the park down the street (2K round trip walk) and made the most of it! We took Stella to the dog park, then flew kites:

Lying down while flying a kite is just about the most peaceful way to spend an afternoon that I can think of.

Even Stella likes to watch kites
OK, your dad's taking a long turn with that kite - can we go play now?

 My son and I shot hoops while my daughter rode her bike:

Verrrry rusty. I did manage to sink a few but missed most of my shots.

Son is a bit rusty too. Then again, we both got our sweat on chasing after the ball!

...and then the kids rode their bikes home while my husband and I strolled our way back. So relaxing, so rejuvenating. Yep, pretty much a perfect afternoon. Hope the weather cooperates for you this weekend!