Thursday, July 30, 2009

Geese Outnumber The Bilbys

We had 15 starters at Dickson Oval for training tonight (including a couple of new people) and outnumbered the Bilbys triathlon squad by 3 which I believe is a first! Perhaps us runners are pretty hardy people on these cold Canberra evenings.
Tonight after our warm-up loops we ran round and round the 400m track up to 12 times with a sprint on the straight. I managed 10 laps after being lapped twice by the fast runners. We finished with a cool down lap of the oval in the opposite direction.
Total distance: 7.7km
Calories burned: 450

The Anti Taper!

Next weekend is the City to Surf in Sydney for which I am totally unprepared. Since returning from the States I have felt lethargic and although I have been back to the gym and running I feel sluggish and I have not yet lost the weight which I managed to gain while I was away. I find these days that it takes months to gain a good fitness level and only a few weeks to go right back to square one and even gaining a few kilos can make all the difference to my speed and how I run.
This year I will not expect any PB's in my races but I do hope for improvement when the warmer weather arrives and I can run comfortably again.

Yesterday I went to my RPM class and abs class at 6.15am before work. Our usual coach was back to take abs class but I think she must have been on a course as she came back with all sorts of new exercises and it was very challenging!

After work I ran from home at about 5.30pm. It was dark half an hour into the run and I ran with caution along the back paths.
Total distance: 8.05km
Time taken: 49:59
Average pace per km: 6:13
Calories burned: 475
I have very recently finished reading Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. It was very exciting and if possible more gripping than the movie. Part of it was a race to find a bottle of anti-matter before it destroyed the vatican. At the moment I am working on an anti-taper (referred to in speedygeoff's blog recently). I need to building up my distance and speed with the C2S and the Vets' Half Marathon on the horizon and very little time left to train!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Speedygeese training on a cold Monday

It was sooooo cold out of the shelter tonight. I arrived at training about half an hour early but too late for the early session. However I ran on my own down to the lake and met speedychief and a few early starters on their return run. Training officially started at 5.30pm and after our warm up loop of Parliament House our main session consisted of:

8x400m with a 400m jog between (I only managed 7 repeats) along the south and west side of the road around PH sheltered from the cold wind on a fairly flat course

We finished with another loop of PH.
Total distance: 12km
Calories burned: 700

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blewitts Forest Monthly Handicap

On a brisk Canberra winter's morning a large number of hardy veteran runners turned up ready to face those nasty hills for the July handicap run. Many started in long sleeves and beanies but soon warmed up on the many challenging hills. It was good to be back out there again and I ran (generous terminology) all the way. It was great to catch up with lots of running friends out there even when one certain mountain goat ran up behind me calling "I can see where those extra kilos are strewth" as he flew past up the hills. Hmmmm, what are friends for if not to say it how it is! Methinks there is definitely lots more work to do!
Distance: 7km
Time taken: 44:30
Average pace per km: 6:20
Calories burned: 396
Handicap Group: 20
Place: 67th in the Thomas series (out of 88)
This is the first time I had run in an event using my new gandalf3 so was glad it seems to work okay. It's certainly more compact than gandalf2 but will take me a little time to adjust to using it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Need for Speed!

Our favourite running spot in New York - Central Park

6.15am - Body Balance - I find this class excellent for me as there is a lot of stretching and of course the balance and coordination is extremely useful for someone with a body as unflexible and uncoordinated as mine. There is also abs work included and the lovely little relaxation to finish.

In the afternoon I ventured out for a middle distance run. Although it was a sunny day it was still cold all day as the wind was cold. In sheltered spots there was some warmth in the sun but not much. I ran my usual lake from home route but did not feel wonderful. I had to stop half way for a nature stop and struggled a bit during the run.
Total distance: 16:45km
Time taken: 1:47:45
Calories burned: 975
Average pace per km: 6:33

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head!

It had poured during the afternoon but the rain stopped for long enough to make the decision that I would go to training at Dickson Oval. There was still a light drizzle during the warm up loop and I was surprised at the number of people who turned up. We even outnumbered the Bilbys triathlon group who train at the same time as us.

Session: warm up loop of the oval followed by handicapped 8 x 400m efforts with 200m jog in lane 4 on 4mins.
Total distance: 7km
Calories burned: 395

I started on zero every time as I was the slowest and most unfit! Of course I found it hard work to say the least. I was freezing at the start but by the time I finished I had stripped off the beanie, gloves, long sleeved top and spray jacket and was running in tights and t-shirt.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Struggling to Regain Fitness

This morning I set the alarm for 5.30am (yes really) and went to RPM class at the gym. Boy, it was tough after a six week break and to top it off I next went to the abs class where there was a stand-in coach who absolutely killed us. We had to do 300 - yes 300 crunches AND front plank, side plank on both sides alternating with front plank without a break over and over and over. Boy, I knew I had abs when I left that class. I next returned home, changed into running gear and went for a run. Surprise, surprise it was a slow pace again after all that gym work!
Total distance: 10km
Time taken: 1:02
Average pace per km: 6:30 approx
Calories burned: 572
At the time of day I ran the sun had just emerged and although there was a bitter wind there was warmth in the sun and I ran in a singlet top. Later in the day it rained so I fitted in my run at the perfect time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Lot of Work Required for Improvement!

This morning I took the plunge and actually went to the gym to do an hour's strength work. Wow, it hurt! Then this afternoon I went for a short run as it really was a stunning day reaching 16deg. It's lovely being able to run at that time of day but I do have to return to work next week when all the red tape has been sorted out and I become permanent part-time. After all I have a little holiday to pay for!
Total distance: 6:6km
Time taken: 40:49
Average pace per km: 6:12
Calories burned: 386
I would not usually record these slow times but I have decided I just want to ensure that I improve by shaming myself into it!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Strewth - I'm Slow!!

Tonight I returned to speedygeoff's training. I met up with Marg a little early and we ran a couple of km to warm up. What a misnomer - it was absolutely freezing! I could hardly move, it was really really cold and we were both struggling to run against the bitterly cold air. However, by the time we ran up the little hill back to the carpark we had warmed up ever so slightly! I still ran the training session in a long sleeved top, beanie and gloves however. We ran a warm-up lap of PH and then ran 20 hill repeats - what a way to start back at training - phew! Still I was happy to run every single repeat even though I was definitely at the back of the pack! It was great to see everybody again after more than five weeks.
Total distance: 9km
Calories burned: 460
Saturday 18 July
Today Marg and I decided to attempt a gentle longish run starting from my house. We ran to and round Lake Ginninderra and back via Giralang. It was great to have company but I couldn't believe how slowly we ran when I checked our time. Never mind, it was a start and we at least made the distance!
Total distance: 17km
Time taken: 1:57
Average pace: 6:52!!!!
Calories burned: 1030

Friday, July 17, 2009

All Good Things Must Come to an End!

Thursday 9 July

It was a much cooler day today and we started the day with our 7km Central Park loop. It was really quite pleasant but I was still very slow.

After a shower we took the subway to East Houston Street to check out some of the addresses of possible ancestors that we had investigated at the public library. A lot of walking was involved but all the original homes had been pulled down and replaced by Government housing apartments about 40 years ago - very ugly ones at that! It was not the most salubrious part of town but that is part of the charm of NY. One minute you're in the upmarket glitzy NY and the next you're in a rather scruffy area with its own unique personality. We also checked out a few places in our guidebook such as an impressive and popular deli called Katz which was the spot "where Harry met Sally!"

Later after lunch and changing into appropriate clothes we headed for the Ed Sullivan Theatre in Broadway to watch the recording of the David Letterman Show. It was fantastic being part of the audience and during the commercial breaks of the program we were entertained by a great band and vocalists. We were really lucky as all the guests were terrific. They were Bruno (aka Borat - the movie starts here tonight) and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and a Russian ballet dancer with the NY ballet. It was a really great experience with lots of funny anecdotes and jokes at the expense of the just-resigned Sarah Palin and the just-jailed Bernard Madoff -extremely entertaining.

After the show we crossed the road to watch the action outside the premier of the new Harry Potter Movie - The Half Blood Prince. Was that a glimpse of red-headed Ron Weasley, or of Hermione? The murmur went round the crowd that Professor Snape had just arrived! Actually we only saw the tops of heads and the red carpet but the excitement was intense and it was great watching people and some celebrities arriving in their variations of dress code - some very over the top, some quite casual. There was lots of screaming and it was fun being part of the action! The movie is open to the public from 15 July.

We returned to the hotel just in time to watch the David Letterman show all over again on telly but we couldn't spot ourselves in the brief glimpses of the audience.

Friday 10 July
Today we had our last run in Central Park - another 7km. Then later we headed for the Rockefeller Centre and went to the "top of the Rock". Wow, that was an amazing experience. In some ways it was even better than the top of the Empire State Building as the views were very clear. It was only 70 floors up this time but the top of the lift was a view in itself, as we zoomed up and down we could see interesting patterns appearing above us.

Saturday 11 July
This morning we met up with our namesake James and his girlfriend Nora at West Village for a delicious hot breakfast - a great way to start the day. It turned out to be a hot sunny day and after brekkie Nora and James took us to some local street markets before we headed off to Soho for some last minute shopping.

In the evening we had a huge NY pizza at Angelos near Carnegie Hall. It was delicious and we washed it down with a great bottle of Californian Sav Blanc.

Sunday 12 July
All good things must come to an end and this morning we packed our bags filling our extra suitcase and crossing our fingers that we would be ok with our luggage allowance! We then headed for the local Sunday markets. However, it was an extremely hot day and the novelty soon wore off. Instead we bought some bagels and headed for Central Park to eat lunch and sit and watch the turtles in the part of the lake where the green algae is cultivated for them. It was peaceful and lovely sitting there for our last little time in Central Park which has become our favourite venue in NY. It's so pretty and full of surprises. Later we walked to the Buttercup Bakery for one last cupcake before heading back to collect our bags from the hotel and catch a cab to the airport for our long long flight home via LA and Brisbane.

It was a nerve wracking time waiting for our bags to be weighed but we were cleared this time without any problems. Phew - the extra bag saved us as they are more concerned about each bag weighing more than 23kg which then becomes a health and safety issue. Spreading the load seems to be the answer!

Tuesday 14 JulyYes, we lost a day and arrived safely home on Tuesday morning. It took ages to unpack and we were determined not to go to bed too early to try to overcome a bit of jetlag.

Thursday 16 July
Yesterday (Wed) was definitely a write-off as we were both suffering from hot and cold shivers and felt dreadful. We assume it was jet lag. This morning, feeling better, I went for a run. My garmin needed recharging so I went out with no idea of speed. However I know the distance of that particular loop. The first half wasn't too bad but after that I had to stop and walk a couple of times. I had no energy and felt very sluggish indeed. This does not bode well for C2S which is in 3 weeks - looks like I'm heading for a PW but ah well, it was all worth it.

Distance: 8km

Footnote: We had an absolutely fantastic holiday but five weeks was definitely long enough to be overseas. I have had a great coffee or two since arriving back in Canberra and gee, we are appreciating our lovely comfortable bed! Indeed, there is no place like home!

Now I have some serious training to do!!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Why I Love New York!

We left Pennsylvania on Saturday and headed back to NYC in time to celebrate Indpendence Day. What a difference a week makes. The temperature had risen and the sun was shining as we drove into town in the late afternoon. We found out the best spots for viewing and later we walked along the Hudson River along with half of New York and watched 25mins of absolutely amazing fireworks, the most fantastic display we have ever seen. We had a really good spot and were so glad we had decided to return on time to see them.
Next morning (Sunday) we updated our week's laundry and walked round Central Park enjoying the sunshine. Dave queued up for tickets for the free showing of Shakespeare in the Park which is held each evening but it turns out that people arrive to queue for tickets from 3.30am along with sleeping bags and lots of supplies. The queue by mid morning goes for miles. There are 1800 tickets given out plus 50 standby tickets after 1pm but people still stay there until 8pm in the hope that people will hand their tickets back. It's extremely popular and the queue is the same every single day - not much chance of us being successful with those tickets!! I think we draw the line at a 3.30am start which may involve at least a 10 hour wait!
In the late afternoon we went for a run - yay, at last - back to Central Park where we ran from the hotel and the loop of the resevoir a couple of times. After a week of NO running it was hard work but it was still so good - definitely slow and very hot as the last time we ran there was no sunshine!
Total distance: 7km
Monday 6 July
Today we walked heaps exploring the city and our local area. We investigated a Runners' Shop but didn't buy anything (honest) except a triathlon magazine! We also discovered Alice's Teacup, a delightful little cafe based on an Alice in Wonderland theme. The choice of teas was seemingly endless - pages and pages and a lovely selection of scones and cakes. We had a look at the Natural History Museum with the intention of returning there and just generally had a lovely day of walking and rediscovering NYC.
In the evening we took the subway to Times Square and were sucked into attending a stand-up comedy act which lasted about an hour and a half and only cost us $10 each. The catch was that we also had to buy 2 drinks minimum each! It was fun though and something entirely different with six comedians with varying degrees of funniness! It did however require a bit of concentration to understand them. Sometimes it amazes me that we all speak the same language. Our accent must seem just as strong to Americans I guess.
Tuesday 7 July
Today was quite a day! We started it with a repeat of the run course we did on Sunday - another 7km - still slow, still hot!
After lunch we caught a bus to the MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art). What can I say? There was so much to see and after over 3 hours we had still not covered everything. It was mind boggling.
We walked back to the hotel and had a bit of a rest before taking the subway to Broadway to see the musical Chicago. Oh wow! We absolutely loved it. It's been on at Broadway for about 8 years but tonight was the debut show for the main character (Roxie) - Samantha Harris. She was fantastic and is apparently a co-host for Dancing with the Stars here. Anyway it was a great night and we had a light meal very late at night before wandering round Times Square and just enjoying the atmosphere well after midnight.
NYC is just always alive - there's a constant buzz even in the quieter areas where there's always something happening and people around. It's fabulous.
Wednesday 8 July
This morning we queued up for free tickets at Broadway to be part of the audience in the David Letterman show either tonight or tomorrow night. It turned out to be a lottery system so there were no guarantees. However, we had a telephone call to our hotel early this afternoon advising us that we had been successful and tomorrow night we will be part of the audience on the show - woo hoo! This requires us to arrive at the theatre before 3pm. The show is recorded from 4.30pm to 5.30pm but not shown until late tomorrow night here and possibly in Aussie the night after. It's very exciting!
Today we also visited the NY Public Library. I saw the gorgeous stairs which were shown on Sex and the City and we visited the amazing reading rooms - really incredible. Mr B was investigating some microfilm history of his family data and I perused other parts of the library while waiting. It's certainly extremely impressive.
Tonight we ate a superb meal at what we score as our favourite restaurant here. We ate a wonderful meal here a couple of weeks ago and we were not disappointed on our second visit. It was just beautiful - melt-in-the mouth food (salmon for me and veal for Mr B) and excellent service.
Reasons I love New York (in no particular order)
  • It never sleeps
  • There are lots of dogs but everybody always cleans up after their dog. They carry little plastic bags and you never ever see doggydo on the streets unless it's being picked up!
  • Everybody is friendly
  • The food and restaurants
  • The theatres
  • The museums
  • Central Park
  • The efficient subway system
  • The shops
  • Times Square
  • The atmosphere and the constant buzz
  • People watching
  • The multiculturalism

Things I miss about Canberra

  • My family and friends
  • My running group
  • The coffee!
  • The open spaces
  • The clean air
  • The solitude
  • Good eating habits
  • Being fit
  • A healthy lifestyle
  • Lots of places to run

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Cruising the Islands then Finding our Own Village!

Views of 1000 islands

Wellington Ontario

Tiny bridge separating two little islands between USA and Canada
Wellington - paddling in Lake Ontario

As we sat eating breakfast In Kingston Ontario on Tuesday morning (our time) we spotted two little black squirrels preening themselves outside the window. They were too quick to photograph but they were really cute. Since then we have spotted quite a few squirrels and they can move really fast!

After brekkie we drove about 30km from Kingston to Gananoque where we went for a three hour cruise of the 1000 Islands. In spite of the bleak day and odd sprinkles of rain (surprise, surprise) the cruise was really interesting with beautiful views of the islands which actually number 1,865 not the purported 1000; many of them are inhabited some with only one house! They lie in the St Lawrence seaway between Canada and USA and the boat criss-crosses between them.
After our boat tour we drove back to the US and stayed overnight in Watertown, not much there, just a convenient stopover, before driving 600km to Lancaster, Pennsylvania yesterday where we have booked an extra night because there's so much to see.
We had a very full day today. We visited two very interesting villages - the Village of Intercourse and the Village of Bausman! Now there has to be a good story behind Intercourse, Pennsylvania - apparently the village was called Cross Keys, but because it was the entry to the local horse race course it became known as Enter Course, which eventually became corrupted to Intercourse.... Or maybe someone simply had a sense of humour and an eye for a profit - the "I love Intercourse" t-shirts seem to sell very well! No, I didn't buy one - I would be too embarrassed to wear it in Canberra!! Then there's Virginville, Paradise, Bird in Hand, and Blue Ball, all villages in the countryside around Lancaster - Amish country, very quaint, green and prosperous. They really do travel around in horse drawn carriages, disavow electricity and television, make most of their own clothes in traditional style, wear straw hats, and teach their children themselves. They also have special Sunday clothes and the men wear black hats instead of straw! We were told all this on the Amish village tour today .... and it's a myth that they don't pay taxes. So there you are, an interesting and downright quaint part of the world.
The main reason for coming here, however, was to visit Bausman, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Lancaster. It turns out to be a small residential area, with no facilities other than a post office with a very friendly postmistress who is willing to stamp our postcards with Bausman as evidence!
Today we also explored Kitchen Kettle Village (very pretty) and Strasbourg which had a fantastic model railway and a Thomas the Tank Engine shop - our grandchildren would have loved it here! Our hotel is actually directly opposite the Dutch Wonderland and there are a number of very excited young children staying here as it's the school summer holidays.
To top off our day we had dinner in a gorgeous little old pub dating back to 1740. The food was delicious and the ambience just fabulous.