Sunday, June 01, 2008

One Pedal at a Time

Well Marshy, I did it. I hauled myself out of bed at 6a.m. this morning, downed some porridge and headed off to Extreme for a 7.15 a.m. 90 minute RPM class. Now I know I'm hardcore! I wasn't going to sign up, but a couple of women I cycle with caught me at a weak moment. It was fun to spin with them on either side of me.

I took the class at a steady pace, but I'm happy with my exertion levels throughout. I started to hit my stride with "Underneath the Radar" about 40 minutes in. It takes me 40 minutes to start feeling good when I'm running as well, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised! I did have an interesting realisation about halfway through. I was reflecting on how my right side seems to take most of the load when I'm riding, and that it feels much tighter than my left. All my sacroilleac injuries have been on that side, as have my IT band and knee issues. As I was thinking about this I had a clear image of my right hip, which is lifted up and tilted forward when compared to my left. I remembered my physio making me stand in front of a mirror to demonstrate how my hips were uneven, and making me pivot into an unnatural position to show me what it looked and felt like to stand evenly. So I thought, how would it feel to replicate that on a bike? I pulled my right hip back a bit and shuffled my left forwards. My left hip opened its eyes, gave me a bit of a strange look, and reluctantly started to pick up a bit more load. Seriously, I could feel it putting out more power, and I could feel my right hip easing up a bit. Exciting! I obviously need to do a bit more work on correcting my posture. Even if it doesn't translate to more speed, even if it simply leads to a little less strain on my right side it will be worth it.

I felt great until the second and third-to-last tracks, when Stephan threw in two intervals in a row. I started to feel just a teensie bit fatigued. After the two intervals I was expecting a speed track with a large hill track to follow, so I was surprised when Stephan announced that we were onto the last track (of course a hill). I still had enough in me to really work the dial and finished thinking that I could have lasted 120 minutes if necessary.

I am getting ahead of myself a bit though, because of course there's a whole other week of workouts to blog about. It's been a bit of an annoying week run-wise. The ankle has stopped me from putting in the distances I would have liked. I have still been putting in some good, solid workouts, but it has felt like a light week.

Last Friday I flew up to Auckland for the weekend to spend some time with H's mother ahead of some meetings on Monday. I'd organised to meet up with Marshy at Les Mills New Lynn on Saturday morning. This involved a bit of negotiation with Auckland's public transport system. H's mother dropped me off in Newmarket and I caught a 7.30a.m. train to New Lynn. The train station is just across the road from the gym, so I was there by 8 with a whole hour to kill before the class. So I decided to do my weights workout. In retrospect, this was probably not such a great idea!

I'd pretty much finished up when I spotted Marshy lurking by the water cooler, so we spent a bit of time chatting outside the RPM studio waiting for the 8a.m. class to finish. By the time we got in the room smelt, well, a little funky. The New Lynn studio has air-con but no fans, and the full class left a distinct aroma behind them.

Marshy has written about the class as well. Let's just say it was the best I've been to in ages. The instructor was fabulous and I loved his choice of tracks. I went hard right from the start. I haven't yet made the 'sausages and mash' I promised Marshy I would, but I've just fished the sausages out of the freezer and I bought some more potatoes today.

Afterwards we sat around in the excellent Les Mills cafe for a while and chatted. I had some delicious corn fritters with bacon and a slightly odd salsa. It was great to hang out with another gym junkie. Marshy has lost an admirable amount of weight, gained an impressive fitness level and is now discovering the wide world of Health at Every Size (HAES). I'd say "go girl" if I was the kind of girl who says that kind of thing!

Afterwards Marshy drove off to pick up a free bottle of chocolately liqueur, and I wandered around Lynnmall. It didn't take long! The place hasn't really changed much in the last 15 or so years. It was kinda nice to be back, but I was keen to head back into town. H's mother was tutoring a series of small children back at home, so I had a day to myself to kill.

So it was back onto the public transport system, and another train to Britomart. I love trains - an affection brought about by train trip adventures into Newmarket twice a year for hospital appointments followed by trips to the Mandalay, the reception lounge where my father worked as an assistant manager. My love affair was cemented further by a year in Holland, where the train network is excellent. I didn't have long to wait on the New Lynn platform before a train arrived. I sat down then set off on a real nostalgia trip as I watched the familiar train stations slip past - the many neat and tidy backyards around Mt Albert, the weeds and graffiti and the long tunnel that terrified and thrilled me as a child.

Auckland does seem to be getting its act together, public-transport wise. The Western line is being double-tracked, the train stations are clean and the timetables easy to follow. Away from the trains the bus stops on central routes are also clearly timetabled and many even have digital display boards showing when the next buses are due. I was thoroughly impressed.

Before long we'd pulled into Britomart. I was planning a walk up Queen Street, but the sun had come out and it was too nice to do anything other than to heard for the harbour. I wandered past Cin Cin on Quay and then around the perimeter of Princes Wharf, stopping to send H a few pxts. The poor boy was stuck in bed with three cats (one rather wet), all sheltering from a damp, cold Wellington morning. I, on the other hand, was continuing to feel the nostalgia. It was a perfect day and the Viaduct area was almost deserted. In Wellington on a day like this you'd barely be able to move for walkers, runners, cyclists and roller bladers. Here a few white, wealthy middle-aged types lingered around the almost-empty bars, trying to pretend that they weren't there all alone.

From Princes Wharf I continued around to the inner viaduct, where a man recently leaped to his death in a failed attempt to propel himself from apartment balcony to water. Today there was no sign of any tragedy but I was hanging out for a quiet glass of something cold in the sun somewhere where I could admire the view. Somehow, however the rather desperate looking staff in the empty bars didn't draw me in. I ended up at the Loaded Hog, where I paid an overinflated price for the privilege of basking in the warmth with a bottle of cider, watching the world go by for a while.

From the viaduct (walking past a rack of bikes-for-hire) it was past Victoria Park (past the Beaumont Quarter complex, where owners are facing vastly inflated ground-leases), then up College Hill. More memories here. Once, in my Weight Watchers days eight years ago, I struggled to walk up here. Now I know I could run it.

Down Jervois Rd and right into Blake Street. Hamish and I lived here for two alternately amazing and stressful years in our first home - a 46 square metre one bedroom apartment. It was here our first two Burmese kittens grew up. We would walk them around the school gardens behind the complex and the boy, Linux, learned how the elevator worked, once walking out on the third floor on his own (presumably someone pushed the button for him).

From the adjacent street I could see into our old apartment, which looks the same as it once did. From the back of the building (the school gardens) I could see that some of the west-facing balconies were rotting. It seems we were right to sell when we did!

I wandered around for a while feeling even more nostalgic. It wasn't exactly that I wanted to go back there, but it was an important time in our lives and some pretty special things happened while we were living there. It was so exciting to have our own little home in the middle of one of the hottest suburbs in Auckland.

Onwards down Ponsonby Rd and into Annah Stretton, not escaping without a gorgeous top. Photos to come, because I promised Leonie! Afterwards I decided to limit the damage and jumped on a Link bus back to Newmarket, then another bus back to Epsom.

A leg workout, an RPM class and several hours of walking were not the best way to spend the day before a planned 17km run. I'd organised to do brunch with H's mother and friend very early Sunday morning and afterwards I felt completely wiped out. It was all I could do to catch a bus to Les Mills Victoria Street and spend half an hour on a bike before jumping in the spa and sauna. Oh well, I thought, I can always run tomorrow.

However on Monday my ankle was aching and I was flat out at work. On Tuesday I had planned to do RPM. On Wednesday then I was well overdue for a run. When the power went out at 3.00 that afternoon it was time! Unfortunately the power cut coincided with a downpour. I donned my windbreaker, but it is only water resistant, not waterproof, and standing at the lights on Jervois Quay I nearly died from the wet and the cold. It took at least 5km to warm up. All the other women running in the monsoon conditions exchanged one of those "yep, we're totally insane" grins as we passed each other.

The one good thing about running through the rain was that I ran really fast to get it over with. I doubt I've ever run 7km so quickly. It's ironic that, given my ankle issues, I feel stronger than ever. I don't doubt my cardiovascular capabilities or that I have the endurance to get me through 21km. I just wish my ankle would cooperate.

On Thursday I spent half an hour on a bike at my highest level, then spent an hour with Duck. We started out with some cable work, core work and pull-ups, then did a number of running drills with a ladder. We followed that up with some mini-circuits with power bags and a step. We did a fair bit of jumping up and down off the step, which was fun. I suck at jumping though!

On Friday all I could fit in was a Balance class, albeit a very strong, flexible one. I did the best backbend ever. I don't know why I have such a difficulty with backbends. I think it's primarily a psychological issue.

On Saturday I met Julia and Karen for a ride. It was a fantastic morning, but I had some trouble keeping warm. We decided we wanted to do a hill, so we tackled the climb up to the prison. I had a score to settle here after having failed miserably a couple of weeks before the Grape Ride. Had the problem really been that I was climbing on the wrong cog? I'm not sure, but I definitely have my hill legs back. I flew up that puppy, stopping at the first car park to let the others catch up, then racing off up to the top. I felt great the whole way.

We regrouped and chatted for a while at the top. I was getting cold so was glad to be off again. We feathered our brakes the whole way down to Worser Bay, with the road extremely slick. From there we continued around to Island Bay, where we stopped to let Karen shake out a cramp, then it was up Happy Valley to the bus stop in Brooklyn. I had a bite to eat while waiting, although this time Julia wasn't far behind me.

Back down Happy Valley and around to Lyall Bay. It was really getting windy by this point, not to mention cold. We ducked through to Kilbirnie then back to Freyberg. I tested my off-the-bike legs by doing a few laps of the carpark then we crossed the road to Parade where I downed a lemon, honey and ginger drink and finally started to feel a little warm.

My aim for the next few days is to finally get a long run in. I need to have 17km under my belt. I've also got the Scorching Duathlon this weekend, so will need to make sure my ankle's ok for that. I want to really try to push the runs, but I haven't trained specifically for a duathlon, so I'm just going to be winging it. I've got no idea what I can do!

I'm sitting here watching a triathlon programme on TV1. Does this mean triathlon's gone mainstream? I'm fed up with the cold. Can I haz tropical island holiday pleaz?!

1 comment:

Marshmallow said...

Yaaaaaaay you did the long class! They don't run the 90 minute version in New Lynn, I know they have a 75 minute version in town (but I don't like the instructor, he's too much of a softie for my liking) I'd love to try that 90 minute class, next time I'm in Welly, I'll come along with you!

I'm glad you enjoyed the class in New Lynn, it was great to have you there :-) (though yeah, that 8am class always leaves an aroma behind - I've found out that they used to have fans in there, but because the room is so small, they were rather noisy and got moved into Studio 2 - Saturday is the only day they have back-to-back classes in there, so us 9am-ers just suck it up and strive to be just as... 'fragrant')

It was awesome hanging out with another gym junkie, like meeting a long lost sister, awwww! If you're ever up here again, you know I'm keen :-D