Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Year in Review Post

Mad Dog is back and hitting the gym big-time.  I ran again today!  More precisely I ran half an hour, slowly, on a treadmill.  I felt great the whole time, though my heart rate again got up higher than I would have liked.  My ankle ached a bit, but it didn't get any worse and I didn't feel like I needed to stop.  Puzzingly, the pain in my ankle has moved to the inside ankle bone, having started out at the front outside edge then moved into the tendon that runs up to the shin.  I'm not sure what's going on, so I will have to continue taking it easy until everything works itself out.  The most positive indication is that I still have a full range of motion.

I followed the run up with Margaret's Balance class.  We did release 37, which is a goodie, but I was all over the place and it was clear I haven't done Balance in a few weeks.  Of course, the 'hitting the gym' bit meant that my legs were a little sore as well!  

If there's one thing that everyone in the blogosphere seems to do, it's the 'summing up my year' post, so I though I should probably chip in.  In short, this year was absolutely amazing.  If this is what it means to get older, then I can't wait for my forties.  Let's get the ovious out of the way first...

Running and all things fitness
Or, the year in which I discovered the Mad Dog.  If last year was the year I discovered running and fitness in general, this was the year I lived it.  This was once again a year of training well then running badly on the day of the event.  It was also another year of injuries.  I started off the year with Round the Bays.  Afterwards I ran two 10km events and two half marathons.  One of each I was happy with.  I had planned to run at least another couple of half marathons and the Rimutaka Incline, but an abductor injury, then an ankle injury, put paid to those.  I did the SPARC duathlon again (last year the Special K), and inspired my mother to take part.  I spent much of summer in a wetsuit in Oriental Bay, then stopped swimming as soon as summer came to an end.  Poor Lola has sat unused in the study (bar one short ride with Nic and Leonie) since the duathlon.  However all year I have faithfully gotten up several mornings a week, skipped out of work at lunchtime, headed off to the gym after work, spent Saturday morning working out.  All year I've maintained a combination of disciplines, from swimming to biking, running, RPM, Balance and weights. There have been times when I've trained for up to 13 hours a week, but ten seems to be reasonably sustainable!  Despite the injuries I know that I've finished the year fitter, and I know I have 
muscle.  I'm a LOT stronger than I was before.  I'm also a little heavier at the moment, but I'm working on getting that off again and I was probably too thin at my lightest anyway.  All of this means more to me than it is possible to eloquently express.  

I hesitate to set goals for this year, because it all depends on whether I can stay injury free.  On 
the list of possible events are the SPARC duathlon again, the Shewoman triathlon, the Grape Ride (a cycling event in Marlborough), and the Harbour Capital half marathon again in June.  I was planning on doing the full marathon, but I think that would be too much to focus on if I want to up my cycling.  It would still be nice to think I could run a full marathon this year, but perhaps in October (perhaps the Auckland).  Other triathlons are a possibility, but it's all about the swim. Obviously I need to sort that out first. 

I started out this year as a business analyst, fairly quickly got bumped up to a senior BA role, and shortly I will be taking over management of a fairly large project in my department.  I agonised about whether to return to my old organisation (I'd been away for two and a half years), but it was obviously the right decision.  I went back knowing where I wanted to go once I got there, and that clear-sightedness obviously worked in my favour.  I got to where I wanted to be much more quickly than I'd anticipated.  

 My writing continued to new levels this year.  The highlight was NaPoWriMo, and I was very nearly successful in posting a poem a day for a whole month.  Looking back some of those poems were actually rather good.  I also started to read a lot more poetry (and books about writing poetry), and I attended poetry readings.  I contributed to several poetry communities.  Unfortunately my writing has tapered off dramatically over the last couple of months as the stresses of a busy life have taken hold.  I'm hoping to address that in the new year, by
timetabling my writing the way I timetable my exercise.  

After monitoring Hihi every weekend last summer I burnt myself out a little and barely went into the Santuary over the winter.  Thankfully they took me back, and although I originally said I'd only go in once a fortnight this season, inevitably I've ended up there every Sunday.  I still love being up there in the trees with my birds, although the inevitable deaths are as difficult as always.  However, just when it seems to be all too hard - an afternoon spent shivering in the 
cold rain, an abandoned nest - a fledgling takes its first leap from the box in front of me, or a male sits a metre from my face chattering, and I realise it's still all worth it.  

Life in general
Last year New Years began shivering on a hill in Golden Bay.  This year I will be in Shed 1 dancing to Fat Freddy's Drop.  Music has continued to play a part in our lives, though not as large as it once did.  Hamish has continued working with Theatre Militia, and there have been the odd few big nights out (notably dancing for six hours in high heeled boots on Sandwiches' concrete floor).  This year we're looking forward to Luminate, a five night festival at Canaan Downs in February.  Hopefully it will be a bit warmer!  

This year everyone went off overseas, and those who were already overseas dropped by for quick visits.  I started thinking about trips to India and making megabucks as a project manager in the UK.  Who would look after the cats though?  We have a great life here, and it seems unlikely we will leave Wellington long-term any time soon.  And yes, I do still love this city.  

Hamish's year has been a bit stressful at times with big changes afoot at his company.  However things seem to be working themselves out there, and the general environment seems to be more positive.  I've spent a fair few weekends zipping up and down to Taranaki to see my parents.  My mother had problems with her diabetes, my father with a slipped disc in his back.  Both seem to be fairly stable right now.  My own health continues to be excellent, with no issues with my Addison's other than a brief, unfortunate bout of campylobacter, which I managed without the need for hospitalisation or injection with Solucortef.  

We still haven't done much around the house.  Unexpected repairs to the roof dominated late in the year.  I contemplated moving to a smaller, new house in Northland, but in the end it just didn't feel right.  I still come home and count my blessings that we bought this house when we did.  

We've enjoyed some great meals.  Maria Pia's stands out.  Flying Burrito Brothers continued to be as consistent as always.  Scopa was good, as was Hope Bros.  Piccolo Pizzeria continued to be a reliable standby.  Ernestos was great for brunch, as was The Matterhorn.  Midnight 
Espresso won out for its cheesecake at 3a.m.  Mavericks did great fish and chips and pizza.  
Chow was still the best place to take Auckland visitors. Tinakori Bistro won for being BYO friendly (essential when your father-in-law owns a vineyard in Central Otago). The Majestic overwhelmed us with its banquet.  The Duxton however was notable for the crushing awfulness of its vegetarian food service at 
the Chapman Tripp awards.

All up it was a good year.  There were definitely more ups than downs.  The goals for 2008 then are really to keep moving in the same direction.  

And that's my year.  It's now just after 9pm on New Year's Eve.  Time to put those boots back on and head off to hear Fat Freddy's.  Love to everyone and have a great night!  

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm Back

I'm back in Wellington, happy to be here, and preparing a series of proper blog posts.  In the meantime, the Mad Dog has returned.  Today I did an RPM class with Dee, then followed that up with Body Attack.  I cruised through Attack, never really feeling as though I was over-exerting myself.  Afterwards I ate a nectarine in the car on the way home, showered, ate a lovely smoked chicken and feta salad for lunch, then spent five hours gardening and doing housework.  I am incredibly grateful to this body for being strong and fit. I am thankful for the things I am able to do.  If I were the type of person who counted my 
blessings, my health would be top of the list.

Monday, December 17, 2007

If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman?

Yay! A twist of fate saw release 30's tape missing tonight when Steve went to do Track 4. We had the choice of Kryptonite or Paradise City. It's not that I don't like Paradise City, but I've heard it far too often lately, and I LOVE Kryptonite. In my opinion it's one of the most under-rated RPM tracks out there.

I've been feeling so grumpy lately, and I know that's partly to do with the time of year, but I'm convinced it's also to do with the lack of running. A major study published recently claimed that it's not how thin you are, but how fit you are that determines whether you are likely to live to a ripe, healthy old age or not. When I started exercising it was the increased fitness levels that got me motivated. The weight loss didn't start to kick in until I'd already been training for several months, and when it came it was a pleasant side-effect. Later I became determined to get my weight down to lower my training, but I never intended to end up five kgs below my goal weight, and I never thought I'd end up in my doctor's office asking how I could put weight back on again.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. Exercise makes me feel great. Exercise makes everything bright and shiny and crisp. Before exercise I was plagued with low-level depression and a borderline anxiety disorder. Being diagnosed with Addison's Disease helped, but it wasn't until I started doing prolonged sessions of intense cardio and weights that I discovered the true secret of mood elevation.

We are not sedentary creatures. Once we were hunters and gatherers. Our main defense against predators was our ability to keep moving for long periods of time without stopping. We were genetically programmed to be marathon runners. So what do we do now? We sit at computers all day under fluorescent lights. We feed our children additives and colouring, corn oil and salt, then make them sit in a classroom all day. When they get out of control we diagnose them with ADD and feed them more chemicals. We are so far away from what we were supposed to do naturally that we don't actually know what it means to be normal anymore. We are all convinced that we have a condition that sits somewhere on the DMSM, when really we just need to get back to basics and get moving. Would I be dependent on corticosteroids if I'd discovered this secret in my teens when I first started suffering from anxiety? No, I don't think I would.

When I started this post the point was to express my joy at a ten minute run on a treadmill followed by an RPM in which I was actually able to stand on my pedals without my ankle screaming. Touch wood all seems well. We'll see whether the inflammation returns overnight! So now I'm sitting on the sofa in post-workout bliss, experiencing that particular deep relaxation that only comes from a good workout.

This feeling takes a lot of effort and time. At full pitch I can be doing some form of exercise for around 13 or 14 hours a week. that includes a mix of yoga, weights, running, RPM, swimming and cycling. I would like to be running six days a week, but until I manage to stop injuring myself I'm best limited to four or five. I'm learning about periodisation. I'm learning about active recovery, and learning that an easy flat run should be an easy flat run. It's there for a reason!

I'm not suggesting everyone go out there and work out for a couple of hours a day either, but for me this works. Find your own endorphine trigger, then go for it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I finally stopped putting it off!

Today I got back in the water for the first time since the end of last summer. Boy do I suck at swimming! In fact, I didn't really swim at all today. I did some lengths of aqua jogging, some kickboard, and some side swimming with a little buoyancy thing. Earlier this year I was doing little half-lengths of Oriental Bay, but that was in a wet suit in salt water. Put me in a swimming pool and I magically transform into granite.

So, in the pool there's the flotation issue. On its own I could work that out, but at the same time I'm trying to not suffocate. How on earth do you people swim and breathe at the same time? Perhaps I'm just expending so much effort trying to keep on top of the water that I'm getting too out of breath to breathe properly.

Oh well, I'll go easy on myself and just be happy that I finally got back in the pool. I'll keep going now and I'll get back to where I was at the start of the year again soon enough. I think though that swimming is the hardest thing I have ever tried to learn to do. It all feels so completely foreign to me.

I loved being back in the water again. It felt wonderful and I remembered why I enjoyed my lessons so much. However I just can't seem to work out the mechanics of it all. My sessions with Duck lately have made it clear to me that I learn best by doing, not by watching, and I usually manage to work out most physical activities by making little adjustments to the way my body moves and noting the result. Swimming feels like it should be easy. I understand the theory of it all, but I can't get the knack.

I'm on a roll now though, so I'm sure that I'll either be back at the pool tomorrow or on my bike. My ankle's also feeling healed enough that I'm contemplating trying another run some time this week. It would be nice to think I will be able to run around Cornwall Park while I'm up in Auckland over Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Still Here

There just doesn't seem like there's much to say at the moment. I'm not really writing anything I would want to publish, and I'm still not running. My ankle continues to niggle. It settles down, then as soon as I get on a treadmill it flares up again. I worked out that RPM wasn't helping, or at least, standing up on the pedals wasn't helping. So I've done the last couple of classes in my seat. 45 minutes of grinding. Yep, it's not fun.

Thank heavens Duck continues to come up with new ways of torturing me, and thank heavens RPM instructors Steve and Mike continue to be loud and vocal, and to play good tracks. I finally got to hear Underneath the Radar today, and it was fun. I also did the latest Balance release on Saturday. I found the tracks a bit insipid, and there's no way I can ever see myself being able to do anything even closing resembling the splits (curse bendy Sarah). Mind you, I was hung over from a staff Xmas do the day before, so shouldn't really have expected to enjoy myself.

Duck's going to write me up a training calendar for the New Year, and I think that will help me get out of my current end-of-year blah. Training for long-distance running is on hold for the time being, so it's the Shewoman triathlon in March, the SPARC duathlon in April, and the Grape Ride the week after that. I miss running though. I miss running soooo badly. I'm becoming a terribly grumpy cow.

But good things have happened. Dinner at Maria Pia's Italian Restaurant in Thorndon with Hamish's company on Saturday night was quite possibly one of the most divine eating experiences ever. I scored myself a huge great slab of crispy slow-roasted duck. It was good, and I ate it without irony. Yes, ducks are friends and not food, but sometimes they also just taste good.

The next morning I got rid of the second hangover in two days by spending several glorious hours drinking in the warm earthy air of the Sanctuary. I spent a lot of time following three young Hihi fledglings around the bush. The sun shone and I felt myself filling up and relaxing.

Perhaps I'm not grumpy because of the lack of running, but simply because of the lack of fresh air. Sun, sea, sky, mountains, trees. These things have been lacking in my life the last few weeks. Normal service will soon return ...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Shameless small furry creature linking

Just go there ...

And in other news, it occurred to me that the reason my ankle was feeling better as because I wasn't doing anything to aggravate it. So I didn't run today, and I didn't go to the gym. I feel like a big fat blob, but I'm relatively pain-free. I have another physio appointment tomorrow so I'll see how that goes.

I had my exam today as well. It was open-book, although I answered most of the questions without picking up the course text, as recommended. I had half an hour left over to flick through the book to correct some of the answers I'd been unsure of. I did well enough to pass. I'm fairly confident of that.

The exam was, ironically enough, held at the Duxton. Today I got my risotto, and it was okay. I'm still amazed at the standard of Sunday's meal though. Time to let it go.

Sorry about the inanity of the last few posts. Normal service will resume shortly!

Monday, December 03, 2007


My ankle feels good. I may try to run tomorrow. Any takers on ten minutes?

I also have an exam tomorrow. I don't feel at all confident, even though I did well enough in the practice exam today. All I need is 50%, and I'm never going to know my score, only whether I pass or fail. I keep thinking I should have put more study in, but when I look through the manual it all looks familiar.

I feel hung over, tired and heavy after last night. I'm sure I would feel better right now if I'd been able to go for a run or do an RPM class today. I went for a gorgeous long walk around Vogeltown this afternoon in the sun, but it just wasn't the same. And lunch tomorrow means running the gauntlet of the Duxton kitchen again. Don't even get me started on the fiasco that was the Chapman Tripp awards ceremony dinner last night. Let's just say that a few steamed vegetables, some mashed potato and some fried rice with a few corn kernels, does not a vegetarian meal make.

Which isn't to say that we didn't have fun, because obviously we did. But the food was appalling.

Right. Off to see if anyone else has played their turn in Scrabulous!

Ever have one of those nights ...

where you just somehow knew that life was good, and that you had created this world for yourself?

Theatre Militia were up for three awards at the Chapman Tripp awards tonight. We didn't win anything, but we were up against some heavyweight nominees. The lighting designer lost out to Maui. His budget was around $100. Maui had a TEAM of lighting people, and needless to say, the budget was somewhat larger.

Oh, and Hamish looked HOT in his floral shirt from Mandatory. Eleven years, still all good. Love you babe ...