February 28, 2013

Thursday Meanders in Cardiff

I am good at lots of things.  I am not good at relaxing.  I like doing things and I like being on the move and I like accomplishing things and I like making plans.

I struggle to do nothing. 

But sometimes I have to do nothing. On Monday afternoon I did not feel well.  Nor did I feel well on Tuesday, so I came home from work and did nothing.  On Wednesday I felt worse. 

But today I had the day off work, and I relaxed.  I cycled into town quite leisurely at 11am, and took this accidental photo while playing with my phone:

(One should not play with phones while cycling.  It is very bad form)

There were a number of stalls up in Cardiff for St. Davids Day.  I couldn't resist buying 4 hot welsh cakes for £1:

And while in town I stopped at Certini - the Bike Store under House of Fraiser.  The ever helpful staff helped me pick out a new helmet, and I cycled it home to get final Brewer Half approval.

There is something a bit odd about carrying a helmet on the back of a bicycle. 

And now I'm home, and relaxing while blogging and watching the sun set out my window. 

Also, It's still light at 5:30, which is a sure sign spring is coming.  And yes - I'm still wearing my Awesome Hat inside - because I love a good hat!

So I didn't manage to do nothing today - but I did manage to relax a bit and get my mind off work. In an hour I have thursday yoga with Tori - I don't want to risk illness by jumping back into swimming or climbing but I think Yoga is a good mid ground for relaxation and recovery.

February 25, 2013

5 Good Things Monday! (and an adoration of Fresh Baguette Bar in Cardiff)

Today was an awesome day!

1.   I made it to the gym at 7:15 and was ready to work out when Geraint got there at 7:30.  He showed me the new weights routine and it is AWESOME! It's got 4 sets of 4 things and you do each set twice and it's just brilliant.  My pushups are getting better! My pull ups are getting worse.  But I am feeling awesome!

2.   I made an epic pasta dish for dinner.  It was all the veg and all the herbs and also olives and pasta and it was delicious.

3.   I wore this mega cool hat all afternoon:

4.   I managed 12 miles of commuter cycling on my road bike.  Clip shoes make me feel like a speed machine.

5.   We had a lunch buffet at work from Fresh.  In case you did not know what the best sandwich shop in Cardiff is, it is FRESH.
The thing with Gareth (who is the owner of Fresh) is that he takes things I could eat anytime and makes them into DELICIOUS THINGS I WANT TO EAT ALL THE TIME.  We had an amazing selection of sandwiches today, including salmon and cream cheese, mixed veg and spread-y cheese, brie and grape (YUMMY) and more.  AND MORE!

Since moving to the UK I find often my sandwich choices are either ham and cheese or cheese and pickle.  But at FRESH my choices are UNLIMITED!  For instance, look at this photo of a baguette that I stole from the internet:
See in this photo Gareth saw a chicken baguette and said "I can do better!"

And he did!  He added crackling and veg and seasonings.  Today we had pea and garlic soup too - immense!  And on Wednesday I'm going to have butternut squash soup, which is also going to be immense!

Anyways, those are 5 awesome things that happened today.  A workout, a pasta dish, a hat, a bike ride, and a sandwich.  

Yeah, my life is pretty sweet.

February 24, 2013

Cardiff Ajax Sunday Club Ride - Steady Group 24th February.

Today was Sunday, and as such it was time for a SUNDAY CLUB RIDE! The local cycling club - Ajax - puts on Club rides every Sunday for varying skill levels.  One of Ajax's own - Elinor Barker, just won Gold at the UCI Track World Championships.
Here is Elinor Barker with Ajax Kit
(Elinor Barker in Ajax Kit)

But today I did a ride that was not for Elinor Barker.  It was mostly flat and 60 miles and was the "steady group" which is the "slow group" but longer than the "steady steady" group which does 30 miles.  

I haven't bene on a long ride since before Christmas and was very nervous to start.  For Christmas my housemate got me a cycling stem bag for holding snacks:

 Like a true athlete I filled it with Jelly Babies
Hypothetically I can now eat jelly babies while cycling for added fuel.  I tried to eat while riding today but it's not very pleasant, and I like eating so much that eating unpleasantly feels defeatist to me.

I was feeling good until the "cake stop" which was after 35 miles at the Chepstow Garden Centre.  I had a snickers and about a litre of water and when we got back on the bikes 20 minute later I felt like my legs had hit a wall.  The last 25 miles were hard - there were good bits but I was often off the back and couldn't seem to get my desired middle-pack position back.  About 15 miles out I contemplated giving up, but the group was nice and the leaders were taking care of people me so I couldn't just sneak away quietly.  Also I was still 15 miles from home, so where would I go?

I did make it home at last, and in an attempt to not fall asleep immediately I ate a powerbar recovery bar
And then I had a grilled cheese sandwich with a fried egg.  And went to Marks and Spencers to do some fancy shopping with my £15 gift card from Living Social.  And then I came home, and sat in my room, and did nothing.

Cycling takes it out of me - I'm useless after a Sunday ride.  But being able to ride 60 miles is not to shabby, so let's hope the legs work tomorrow!

Strava from today:

February 23, 2013

Cardiff Parkrun - take five.

Today I ran my fifth park run.

I was quite excited in the morning - everything seemed right. I had slept enough, I woke up early enough, I wasn't hungover, things were looking good.

I took a position closer to the front than usual, trying to get spurred on by the other faster people.  Last time I ran a 28:50, I was hoping I could get even quicker this week.

My pace felt good for the first mile, and even for the second.  I could tell I started to go a bit slower but there's a stretch I dread, the slow stretch, and I think I ran out of people to pace me, no one I wanted to chase was in front of me and the girl behind me seemed to be pacing off me.

I felt good still, and not out of breath.  I did manage to overtake 3 people towards the end, but I didn't manage a sprint finish and I didn't feel like I was going to die at the end.  But when I got my time I was still disappointed - 29:30.

Then I realized that only 3 months ago I dreamed of going under 30 minutes, and eight years ago it took me 40 minutes.   The first 10 minute mile I ran was the last 10 minute mile for 5 years - and now I was disappointed because I did 9:05, 9:48 and 9:51 consecutively.

I look a little defeated in my post race photo - but I should have been elated.  Sometimes I get so focused on the goal that I forget the progress.  

And my stupid goal really is to run a 27 minute 5k.  And then a 25 minute one.  

But my real goal is to keep running.  And running.  Because I won't get better at anything unless I keep trying!

Here's the strava of the run:

Tomorrow I'm going out with Ajax again - 60 mile bike ride.  It's been 2 months and I'm somewhat scared.  I'll report back tomorrow, wish me luck!

February 21, 2013

Hotel Gym Workouts - avoiding the eventual boredom

While sometimes a hotel gym fills me with excitement, sometimes I cant bear to run on a treadmill facing a wall and getting nowhere.  Or use the elliptical - the machine that reminds me of obesity.  The rower is okay, for a while, but something always hurts.  Stair climber, euch.

And that's it, that's a gym.  the introduction of weights to my programme was an awesome inspiration for more gym ideas.  But even though all I need is bars and barbells, sometimes gyms don't have bars.

The gym I'm in has a wonderful set of machines for weights, but no barbells.  And sometimes I run out of inspiration.

So I'm going to collect some of my favorite gym workouts in one easy place!

1) NERD FITNESS - 20 minute Hotel room workout

2) ....?

I thought this would be easier but there aren't that many gym workouts made for people who like fun workouts and don't like faffing with lots of different weights or trying to figure out the proper technique for a dumbell bicep curl.  I can still do most of my cardio routines in the gym, like CARDIO 2 and MIND CLEARING CARDIO.

I'm not sure why I'm trying to reinvent the wheel... or the routine.

Today I ran a mile in the morning
Then I did intervall training (3 mins @7, 2 mins @20) on the elliptical

Later I'm thinking about doing 10 minute rotations on every cardio machine - 10 minutes is not enough time to get bored... unless I'm running... maybe I'll do 5 on the treadmill :-p

How about another Nike Photo?

What's your favourite hotel gym excercise?

February 20, 2013

Wednesday Words.

Today I tried to go to the gym.  I had 1.5 hours until I had to leave.  I couldn't find my headphones, I had 1 hour.  I had 3 emails come in which needed a response, and I responded.  I couldn't find my headphones.  I only had 30 minutes left, and I wasn't going to make it to the gym.

Sometimes there really isn't time.  Most times, there just isn't effort.

This is my favorite quote about running:

February 19, 2013

I'm back!

I'm sorry I was gone forever!

As I may have noted, I started a new job in January.  It means I travel a lot.  This has worked out really well for me with healthy eating (lots of tasty options!) and exercise (hotels with nice gyms!)

But somehow, last week, it didn't work out well.  I Left on Monday afternoon... trains were delayed, late arrival.  I stayed up past midnight working.  I woke up too early the next day and was tired.  I ate a lot of bread and cheese.  Timings got changed, things got shuffled, and suddenly it was Thursday and I hadn't eaten healthy and I hadn't gone to the gym.

On Friday and Saturday I had a lovely holiday - and by holiday I mean weekend - in North Wales.  I will tell you more later, but it's flipping beautiful
This week I'm at St. Georges Park, which is England's amazing custom built football centre in Burton on Trent.

This is what the hotel looks like:

And this is what the walk to training looks like:

The sun is out, I made it to the gym today (I did the most ridiculous version of AWESOME WEIGHTS ROUTINE 2 where I only did about 5 reps of everything but I also did 10 minutes of interval training for running where I did 2 minutes walking 1 minute at 8mph.   It was hard.

Anyways, onwards and upwards and more blogs soon!  About hiking! But not biking, I havent ridden a road bike since January.  I may have forgotten how.

February 11, 2013

Y Wal - Mountain Biking Afan Argoed on a Wet Winter Day

On Sunday my Brewer Half and I headed to Afan Argoed for a quick blast around Y Wal - 11 miles of lovely single track with some of my favourite descents - and even climbs! - in Wales.

Y Wal is mountain biking pleasure.

It was raining heavy on the drive, but once we started cycling the rain disappeared and we were left with a nice winters day!  The fog was immense in bits - Afan has parts where you go through forrests and trees and the fog adds to the striking ambiance!  Especially when the trees open and you tear through puddles and bumps on a scenic hillside - if that's not perfection I don't know what it!

Y Wal did have more fireroad ascents than I remembered, but they're all the better to practice my climbing on....

...Or my standing next to a bike and posing.

Of course I strava'd the day, and was quite happy with 12 Personal Records and 28 Achievements!

The only minor hiccup was on the last turn of the last decent.  One thing I'm still not confident on is Burms - curved bit of track like this:
(that is not me.  that is a good biker)
And especially when they go into a downhill.  But I was feeling confident.  And so I saw a burm and a decent and I slowed down to get off and walk, but then I decided "NO!" and I said to myself "Self, you can do this!" so I did not get off, I decided to pedal through... heeding the words of wiser men than me...

"If in doubt, go flat out..."

And as I tried to gain speed I realized I had second guessed myself too much, and I was not going to make it - not because I couldn't, but because I hesitated.

I asked my brewer half to get me some water to clean my knee.  Instead he grabbed my camera from my backpack and started taking photos.

Luckily I saw the humour in the situation. Also lucky is that I was wearing cheapie Tescos leggings.  Unfortunately I knocked my crank off and so I had to walk the bike back, but luckily (AGAIN) I was pretty much at the end of the trail anyways.  

So that was another awesome ride at Afan, I will get back and do Whites Level (another slightly more difficult trail) at some point soon, but I think my bike (and knee!) need a bit of TLC first!

February 10, 2013

Cardiff Parkrun - take Four!

On Saturday morning I did my 4th Cardiff ParkRun.  There were a number of things going for me for this one...

1. it was not raining, icy, or snowing
2. I was not hungover at all, I hadn't even had a beer the previous night
3. I got enough sleep
4. I recently lied about my PB and want to get the PB that I lied about.*

So we got to park run, whistle blew, and off we went!

I had my best run yet, 28:53!  I averaged 9:40 a mile, and got my fastest 2 miles ever at 18:23


I even had a bit left for my sprint finish, even though at the end I kind of felt like I was going to pass out, I knew I already had my timing chip so it was worth it.

Here is a photo of happy stinky me at the end!

Horray!  One of these days I'll have to run a bit further... but at least all my gym-based intervall stuff seems to be getting results when it comes to actually running!

And then I came home and had a bagel as my treat, with Tescos finest mackerel (it's like poor person salmon!  yum!) and egg.  Om nom breakfast!

*I said I could do it in 27 minutes. 28:50 is not 27:00, but at least it's closer than my previous best of 30:00!

February 8, 2013

Cardiff Yoga roundup!

Today I finally managed to get to Yoga Class - All Roots Yoga to be precise.  It was Ellie's Yin Yoga class that drew me in - lots of long and deep stretching.  It was, in a word, awesome.  Because I never stretch it was like 75 minutes of mega stretching.  I think if I did it once a week it would cancel out my otherwise never stretching, right?  All Roots offers loads of different classes all around Cardiff, which makes me wonder why I don't actually go to Yoga more often!

Speaking of Yoga, Cardiff is really lucky to have loads of awesome yoga opportunities   Ellie at All Roots is great, but so is Tori of Yoga with Tori.  Tori teaches at Boulders, which was the main reason why I kept my climbing membership so long after I stopped climbing.  She also teaches just down the road from me, and has one of the most relaxing voices I have ever heard.  Tori's relaxation can put me to sleep in 5 minutes, even if my head is going 100 miles an hour (and it usually is!).  Again, why don't I go to yoga more!

Cardiff also has Yoga Fever - a hot yoga studio with loads of classes that I've been meaning to try for about 6 months now.  I shall let you know as soon as I try it, I've heard great things!

I managed to back-to-back my yoga with my weights (not the most brilliant idea, but a day only has about 24 hours), so as soon as I was done blissfully stretching out it was straight to DW to share my mega awesome gym routine 2 with Claire.  Claire was impressed with both my pushups and my pull ups skillz.  Claire can deadlift more than me and uses 17kg for lunges.  Claire and I are both pretty awesome.

And finally, to top of an epic afternoon of active funtimes, my lovely brewer half bought me one of my new favorite beers - Brew Dog's Dead Pony Club
Delicious.  Unfortunately he got thirsty while I was at the gym and drank it, but then he went to the store and bought me another one.  Because he is just nice like that.

Tomorrow is park run - time to get to bed!

February 6, 2013

Wednesday Workout!

On Tuesday night I made a less than triumphant return to ropes and silks at NoFitState circus.  It was okay, I'm getting stronger, but I'm not getting any more coordinated and that's the real problem.

On Wednesday I did Cardio 2 with Geraint again, and I it is awesome again.  I'm actually doing it AGAIN tomorrow!

The super-awesome news is that I can do 10 lame pushups in a row now!  This is super awesome.  At the gym I yelled "watch this!" and then did 10 Pushups.  If you want to look like a douche at the gym yell "Watch this!" and then do pushups.

Also I've now managed to lose about 4 pounds since Christmas time, which is pretty sweet.  I've decided when I go away with work I'm going to call it "fat camp" and I'll eat very little and exercise lots.  Then when I get home I'll eat normal and exercise normal.  While I know exercise is very important for losing weight, at the end of the day I think eating is far more important, because one can quickly eat way more calories than exercise can burn.

Speaking of eating, someone nicely dropped off a massive box of chocolate bars at my work the other day.  I love eggs, but I've been told not to eat too many.  However, I was never told not to eat too many cadbury cream eggs!  Those things are amazing!

Today I mixed it up and ate a dairy milk bar.  I had to try it, it was a new shape!

And I'm still addicted to hot chocolate.  Especially Aero hot chocolate.  

but Cadbury Highlights is pretty good as well...

I have no idea how I lost 4 pounds.  More chocolate please!!!

February 2, 2013

Really Awesome Weights Routine TWO!

Today I had a truly excellent workout.

I've started to get really into this idea of Strength Training.  I think it's because often my "hobbies" are more cardio based - like cycling, or mountain biking, or hiking, or even running (which is not so much a hobby but a think i try to do sometimes).

There is something fun about going to the gym and throwing around weights and looking awesome and seeing yourself get stronger.

I used a 10kg bar today for bicep curls and it was too light.  I did my 10 sets easy.

Tonight I used a guest gym at DW fitness. Saturday night at 7pm is an odd time to go to the gym, and the floor was full of muscle people, but I didn't care.  I did my totally awesome weights routine 2, which is the new workout Geraint and I do (the old one is HERE)


Rower: 500 Meter Sprint

Deadlift (25kg bar) 15 sets
Box Step Ups (5kg) 10 each side
Weighted Squats (10kg) 10 squats

Dumbbell Chest Press (10kg each) 10 sets
TRX Chest Press (10)
Press Ups (10)

Clean and Press (15kg bar) 10 sets
Bent Over Rows (15kg bar) 10 sets
Kettle-bell Swing (8kg) 20 swings

Bicep Curls (12.5kg) 10 sets
Upright Row (12.5kg) 10 sets
Chin Ups (10 or however many I can do)

Leg lifts (15)
Crunches (15)
Plank (60 seconds)

Repeat twice

I love this routine.  I love how it puts 3 exercises together and I love how I get to lift heavy things.  I like the Clean and Press most because it makes me feel awesome.  

This evening I modified it slightly, I didn't do the last core bit but instead did the following:

Modified Core

Leg Lifts (15)
Knee Lifts (15)
Crunches (20)
Plank (30 seconds)

Repeat 4 times

Now I'm tired.  That was a good workout.

February 1, 2013

Friday Cardio

Today was the kind of day where I had too much to do.

I woke up at 6:30, and started doing work.  I had intended to do something athletic, but since I hadn't gotten a chance to try the breakfast at this hotel I decided to sit and enjoy a breakfast instead.  I like being at hotels because I can order picky food - for instance I had boiled eggs with smoked salmon this morning.  Yum.  And rye vita and Boursin.  Extra yum.  600 calories of breakfast later I was too full to go to the gym

So I did work, and work, and work.

At about 1pm I had a stressful series of interactions and I started to get wound up.  I could have kept working - there was a lot more to do - but I thought it would do me good to take a few minutes away and go to the gym instead.  So I snuck out for a bit and found a local gym where I was able to do the following:


Elliptical for 20 minutes on level 7, 5 minutes forward and 5 minutes backwards
Running intervals - 20 seconds at 11 to 13.5 within 1 minute intervals
Rower - 2000 meteres at level 8 as fast as possible (pretty slow - took me 12 minutes)
Stair climber - start at level 4.  Increase by 1 level every 20 seconds until you can't bear it anymore.

And that was my routine - it took an hour and I left feeling energized and revived.  I got more work done and felt good about things.  It goes to show that when I think I have too much to do to work out maybe sometimes I am just not working well because I *haven't* worked out.

I also ate a very bizarre dinner which was Bolognese on chicken breast.  But it was kind of delicious.  When I'm away with work I'm trying to cut out most bread/grain so pasta and rice were out.  But to be honest it was quite tasty!

And now it's 10:30 and I'm exhausted!  So tomorrow is it a run day or a weights day?  Only time will tell!!