Thursday, 28 July 2011

Complimentary coffee

How to fill the best-flippin-Tour-de-France-in-years-shaped hole in my afternoons this week?

Simple: cycle 40 mile round trip to meet lovely boyfriend at work for a coffee.

All the best bike rides involve a cafe.

Whilst soaking up the sun, enjoying my cappuccino, lovely boyfriend remarked,

"You look a bit like a pro..."

I blushed.

Then he finished,

... one who's let themselves go a bit."

Charming. Coffees are on him next time.


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A runner's constitution

Lazy Girl Running posted her running manifesto earlier today. A great idea, courtesy of Run Dem Crew.

Here's mine:

Running is… just putting one foot in front of the other. Nothing more complicated than that.
Running is not… for fish.
I run… on roads, off roads, in races, in circles.
I run for… me: my sanity and my happiness.
I run because… I say I can.
I run when… I need to clear my head and when I want to fill it.
I run with… little grace but lots of optimism.

I have never run… without a good sports bra.
I have always run… and greeted other runners.
I run in spite of… it being the sport I have least aptitude for.
I don’t run… on a full stomach.
I should run… like Phoebe once in a while.
I might run… faster, one day.
I will run… if I want to.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Yoga matters

I'm on holiday now and it's bloomin' marvellous; however, with most normal people still fully occupied with proper jobs, I do need to be careful that I make the most of my time off and not fritter it away. Catching myself eating Wotsits for breakfast and contemplating watching an episode of Waybuloo the other morning, I realised I was very much on the verge of frittering. I thought about some worthwhile jobs that I could accomplish this summer. The list is long, ambitious, and mostly unrealistic but I've been making some progress on one of the assignments: find a yoga class I like. Hardly the most philanthropic of tasks but purposeful nonetheless (and a positive spin on the near-Waybuloo indiscretion).

I used to go regularly to a class at the council sports centre where you could hear techno music from the gym thudding through the wall. Then there was a brief fling with a class at the local village hall, where the bangin' choons were replaced with trombone practice next door. That was over 4 years ago and it would appear that my toes have got much further away since then.

Back to the task, I first tried a morning Hatha class at another local sports centre. With the daytime scheduling, there were some impressively supple pensioners there. One cheeky chap said he'd rifled through my handbag during the session. Thankfully, I don't think he had, but it's something to be wary of.

Keen for something a little more energetic, I found the details of an evening Ashtanga class at a yoga studio located behind an Italian restaurant (an encouraging sign, especially as my rusty conversational Italian meant I could understand the swearing coming from kitchen). I e-mailed the instructor to apologise in advance for my inelasticity and she replied to say I was very welcome to join; the look on her face suggested she may have reconsidered when I told her I'd run there. I dripped sweat steadily at the back and slid about on my mat, whilst it dawned on me that the class might be a little more advanced than ideal. The instructor was kind and patient; she reassured me not to look at what others could do (especially those balanced on their heads) as she helped push my unyielding limbs to somewhere near they were supposed to be. I imagine it looked rather like Rabbit trying to push Winnie the Pooh out of his front door. The class finished with some chanting; not normally my thing but the instructor said it was to wish everyone well in the world and I thought that sounded jolly sporting. Besides, she said we could just join in with the bits we knew, which reminded me a bit of hymn practice at school.

Still reasonably convinced that Ashtanga was more my cup of tea, I booked into another morning class back at the sports centre today. I cycled there this time, having learned my lesson from the run, and arrived relatively composed. This time there was a nice smell of incense and a good mix of participants. It turned out to be the same instructor from the yoga studio and she was even more helpful than before. She remarked that my shoulders "resisted" relaxing as she tugged energetically at my neck (hardly surprising when I write such long, rambling blog posts) and made several more attempts to free Winnie the Pooh.

So far, I think the 3rd class has been my favourite. The morning timing means its a no-go in term time, but I will go again in the holidays. The search for an evening class continues, as do the efforts to avoid the temptation of Waybuloo.

I know there are a few blogging joggers who practice yoga: do you have any tips for finding a class that suited you?

Monday, 18 July 2011

How to make friends whilst racing people

I did my first Olympic distance triathlon yesterday. Given how little preparation had gone into it, I was quite pleased with my pedestrian time and actually rather enjoyed the extra distance. I even wondered if I should break recent form and consider some training in between these races.

It seems perhaps not everyone enjoys their racing though. At least 3 people mumbled that they weren't having any fun as they streaked past me on the run. Call me old fashioned, but it does seem a silly way of having a crap time on a Sunday morning.

One such character really caught my attention at yesterday's race. We shall call her Skinnylady (merely an observation, with a hint of envy).

It's not unusual for me to be overtaken by a lighter, leaner competitor going uphill on my bike and yesterday was no exception. On the other hand, it's always quite motivating to catch up with someone who clearly takes more care of their self than I do and I do my best to manage that on the descents; however, in the awkward moment as you draw level, I believe it's only good manners to acknowledge that person with a word of encouragement.

"Well done", I said as Skinnylady overtook me on the first climb.

Skinnylady said......... nothing. She didn't even flinch.

Moments later, I moved past Skinnylady on a flat, fast section of road, "Well done, keep it going!"

And Skinnylady said ............. nothing. Again.

On the long climb up to the half way turn, Skinnylady danced past me with some style, to which I offered, "Go on, great climbing!"

Skinnylady exclaimed ................. nothing. Foxtrot Alpha.

At this point, I considered the possibilities: perhaps English wasn't her first language; maybe she was crippled by pathological shyness; or maybe she was just plain rude. As I overtook her again on the next descent, my cheeks were flapping so much I couldn't really speak, so I decided to cease efforts to communicate there.

She finally snuck past me on the way into transition and I assumed that would be the end of our uncomfortable silences. I continued with my campaign of harassment/support and attempted to encourage those passing me on the second lap of their run, comforted by the fact that many of the racing snakes could manage a nod of recognition as they pelted past. Many even initiated their own support with a helpful comment and my faith in camaraderie was restored.

Finally hitting a steady shuffle after 3K or so, I saw a familiar silhouette in the distance... walking. With some curiosity, I drew level and asked if she was OK.

“I’ve got cramp!” Skinnylady barked. I made sympathetic noises and encouraged her to keep moving until it passed. I carried on running for fear of my own cramp or, even worse, another fiery rebuttal.

Some time later, a small voice behind me yelped,

"Thank you for keeping me going. Can I run with you?"

Hello Skinnylady.

I offered her one of my Shot Bloks and said she was welcome to join me. We continued on into the second lap, shoulder to shoulder. I wondered whether small talk would be a wise option but decided that the awkward silence we'd established earlier in the event would probably be more appropriate. Besides, conversation whilst running is not easy with my training base. This continued until a kind-looking man cheered us both on. Breaking all expectations, Skinnylady turned to me, smiled, and said,

"Isn't everyone here friendly?"

She then lengthened her stride and left me for dust.
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