Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Challenge

Since there's been a bit of enthusiasm for an advent challenge (yay!), and since advent starts tomorrow in NZ (double yay! and also EEK!) I thought I'd better actually come up with, and share, the "rules" of the challenge (even if that does mean posting three times in three days, which might just make your computers explode with hotpotato overload).

The advent challenge is meant to be motivating, but flexible. For one thing, it's holiday season, which is mental for everyone. For another thing, the people who have so far expressed an interest are a mixture of marathoners, triathletes, active preggos at varying stages of gestation, gym bunnies, and people who want to generally increase their activity levels. So we can't exactly compete for hours of training or calories burned or anything. And it's hardly in the holiday spirit from us to "compete" at all. So the "rules" of the challenge are that it is low-key, fun and flexible.
Here's what I suggest:
- buy an advent calendar of your choice. It can have crappy chocolate behind the doors, or it can have dear wee pictures of Victoria nativity scenes. It's totally up to you.

- get hold of some plain white stickers; about the size of the doors on your calendar if possible

- think of 5 or 6 different types of workout you do (mine will be strength, stretch, swim and walk/wog I think, but yours might be tempo, hill, speedwork, race, or swim, bike, run and MTB, or whatever you want). Try to include something new, or something that you want to do more of, if possible.

- fill in some stickers for each workout type, and some rest stickers too- we want to keep things flexible, and we don't want anyone burning out and falling asleep during present time on Christmas day

- every day, once you have done your workout or played your rest card, you get to open the wee door on your advent calendar and look at the dear wee picture or eat the crappy chocolate. If you don't do your workout or you run out of rest cards, no door for you!

- THEN you can blog or tweet about it. I'll go for a really creative hashtag - hows about #AdventChallenge? I'll publish a list of participants later this week, so let me know if you're participating.

- there are no winners, cos that's just too hard. But if you do something that I deem to be ridiculously awesome, I'll send you a bag of Cadbury Magic Elves- the best and most ridiculous Christmas candy in NZ.

NOTE: I realise there are LOTS of people who don't celebrate Christmas. Aotearoa is pretty short on people who celebrate Hannukah or Kwanzaa, and I am only very vaguely familiar with the traditions associated with those holidays. But if you would like to be involved in the challenge and you are not a marker of advent, please come up with your own holiday themed challenge and share the love.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The end of a streak- and a new challenge!

Sometime early in November, I realised I'd exercised every day of the month so far. So I decided why not keep it up? I recruited Lizzy to join me, and together we ran, swam, walked and yoga'd our way through the month of November.

Until Monday, when my streak came to an end.

I'd been struggling with the streak for a week or so. Work, midwife and testing appointments, ante-natal classes and things were starting to pile up. Last Wednesday I was out of the house at 6:30 to make it to the lab for my glucose screening test. I worked til 5:30 or so, got home a little after 6, caught up on the chores (after a weekend away and long days on Monday and Tuesday there was a bit to do) and got dinner, so we'd just have to heat it up when Phil got back from the airport. I then had 25 minutes to squeeze in an at home workout before driving to the airport to collect him. So I did it- and that's good, cos something is better than nothing. But it was that point that I realised my streak was starting to interfere with my sanity. It had stopped being about making exercise a priority, and had turned into being about sticking doggedly to an arbitrary plan.
On Sunday after W2K and the hot trip home from Taupo, I was so tired I collapsed on the couch while Phil did the groceries. Then we prepared tonight's dinner (we're having people to stay), ate Sunday's dinner, and I fell into bed and slept, and slept. There was no way I was working out on Monday morning, and I spent lunchtime at the midwife's, worrying because dear Chip had been uncommonly quiet. The extreme couch time on Sunday meant we still had to tidy up both guest rooms (making up beds, removing clothes horses and so on), unpack and do laundry after the weekend away, and just generally catch up. I soon realised starting that process after swimming (i.e. about 7:30) was going to be a Bad Idea. Plus, I had a feeling that Chip's quietness was related to my big walk and overall fatigue, despite my midwife's assurances to the contrary.

So, with a little sadness, I decided to flag my 28/11 workout, and devote my evening to vacuuming, laundering and bed-making. And I feel a million times better for it. I'm disappointed that I couldn't keep my streak going, but at the end of the day I've also got to be a lawyer, wife, host, and weekend holiday-er, and I've got to be even smarter about how I use my time, because I'm also a Chip-baker.

But because I still love arbitrary meaningless goals...details of my Advent Exercise Challenge to come!

Monday, November 28, 2011

W2K Walk Report

We spent the past weekend in Taupo with a bunch of friends.  Theoretically, it was a bunch of different people doing different bits of the cycle challenge (NZ's biggest cycle event by far), but in the end it was Phil and my brother in law doing the MTB as a team, and 8 taggers along!

We rented a fantastic house in Acacia Bay for the weekend- room for ten, a spa, smoochy cats, chooks and amazing gardens.  If anyone's looking for somewhere to house a big group at a reasonable price, let me know and I'll get the details to you.

After a long day of spectating, and a long night of election watching, I had a lovely, luxurious sleep in in the king sized bed Phil and I had bagsed.  Nonetheless, I was first up, and had plenty of time to relax on the deck with my book, eating my breakfast and drinking my caro.  And admiring the view too!

Everyone was planning non-pregnancy appropriate cycling adventures for Sunday, so I planned to hang out at the house, do some reading, and maybe wander down to the Bay.   But after spending the morning on the deck, book in hand, I realised I was feeling energetic and wanted more.  So I came up with the brilliant plan of having Phil drop me off at Whakaipo Bay, walking W2K and meeting him in Kinloch post ride.

I rode W2K last Labour Weekend, so I had a good idea of what to expect, and I thought as long as I sunscreened, fuelled well, and rested if I needed to, I could make it over.  A perfect endurance challenge for a 27 week pregnant lady!

W2K is basically the perfect trail.  It winds gradually up one side of a peninsula (I guess), and then winds back down the other side, for 14km in total (see the blue trail- the red trail is a 10km, extra for experts loop- the views from the headland are amazing!)

It's a shared use, two-way, trail, and probably just about wide enough for bikes to pass, but it really does work best when everyone is courteous, and everyone pays attention.  I saw dozens of mountain bikers out on Sunday, and everyone was polite and friendly.  It winds up fairly gradually- it's predominantly uphill, and there a couple of steepy bits, but it's all very walkable (and rideable), even for someone who's the size of a small hippo, and there are plenty of stumps and a couple of seats to pause for a rest and a look out over the lake.  It's manageable for all sorts of people, but still fun for super fitties, who can blat up, smash themselves around the headland, head down the other side and turn back (most normal people choose the "two cars" route instead).   There's reasonable bush cover on the way up, but it's very exposed on the way down, so sun protection is a must. And there's no drinking water, but there is a loo just past the halfway point- very important for pregnant women (and, to be honest, most people setting out on a 3+ hour walk).   The sign at the bottom estimates 3-4 hours, but if pregnant Kate can do it in less, so can you!

From about 1km into the trail itself, you've gained enough elevation to get a glimpse of the views you'll be rewarded with, which is wonderfully motivating.  Farmland to one side, views of the Lake, Mt Tauhara, and the mountains (Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe)- it's just spectacular.  

I took a camelbak filled with nuun and two muesli bars to get me through- I also packed an apple and a bottle of water in the car, although I knew my recovery food of choice was more likely to be a big fat ice cream in Kinloch!

I wore my Garmin- not (initially, at least) because I had any goals about pace or time in mind, just cos I was interested to see what distance garmy would give me. But once my pace had hovered around the 5 km/h mark for the first few ks, I set myself the cheeky goal of keeping that pace up for the whole walk- which would have led to 15km in 3 hours (I did an extra k at the beginning because of where Phil dropped me off)It's amazing how sloowly each km passes when you're walking instead of running or cycling, but time ticked on and I made my way up, remembering milestones from previous occasions, getting out of the way of mountain bikers, and keeping a beady eye on the numbers. 

My lungs and heart were good, and I didn't feel tired at all, but the bigger worry was my legs- my feet and hips get quite sore after a day on my feet, and I was worried that the previous day's spectating exertions would start to affect me soon.  At 5k I sat on a stump, texted Phil and ate a muesli bar.  I could feel that my feet were starting to get tired as they dangled off the stump, but I mostly felt pretty energetic and didn't doubt that I could finish.  Long drop stop at 8km, and another stump stop at 10km.  Unfortunately, the second stump stop became a sap stop- it went right through my pants and I had to text Phil to bring a change of clothes to the end!

The last 5 ks is a bit of a tease, really.  The trail feels like it's about to end for a couple of ks, then it does end at about 12 (or 13 for me).  But there's still a couple of ks to go- through a Kinloch subdivision, over a boardwalk to the lake, past the marina to the domain.  My legs and hips/bum were pretty wasted by this time, and part of me hoped I'd run into Phil early, even if that meant I didn't make the distance!  But Phil had taken my delaying texts to heart, so we didn't meet until I got through the domain and out the other side with 60m to go (you don't have to know much about me to know I waved at him to keep driving while I walked up and down a little bit of road to make the distance!).  Finish time was 2:55 for 15km (11.40/km or 5.1km/h).  Roughly twice the time it would take me to run it- but I was still bloody proud!

And my recovery food of choice?  Chip butties from the Kinloch store (who'd run out of fish...really???) and a can of deep spring fizz.  Brilliant.

I would thoroughly recommend W2K to anyone visiting Taupo- walk, run or ride it, and top it off with a picnic in Kinloch.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hot Potato Chip: Week 26

 26 weeks today!  That's got to be officially pregnant, right? Apparently, Chip is the size of a cauliflower, which seems a little absurd!

What we ate: A pretty good week, apart from Sunday.  I worked really hard at cutting out sugary drinks.  It's not like I've been drinking fanta all day long, but without booze, coke zero and coffee, I've been drinking more juice, and more flavoured water.  It's easy for the sugar in those drinks to add up, so I've focussed on not having them, and saving the sugar for an occasional Macs apple with dinner out. I've also been working on protein, which isn't easy for me- especially not when you add in the zillion or so pregnancy food rules.  I realise it's too late to fix anything pre-polycose screening test, but it's still good for me and for Chip!

How we moved:  #Novemberstreak continues, but barely.  Knowing I was keeping the streak up and feeling "accountable" definitely got me moving a few times!

Tuesday: 25 minute run at the lake; 20 minutes of weights
Wednesday: 1:05 walking (total- before work and at lunchtime); 45 minute swim
Thursday: 25 min walk; preggy yoga
Friday: 30 min swim (pm)
Saturday: 40 min walk in the am; 20 elliptical; 30 min weights; then a hilly 35 minute walk in Auckland
Sunday: Spectating!  I don't know if I'd normally count it, but it was a massive day, I was absolutely wiped, and I'd have easily done my 10,000 steps, so for the sake of streaking, I call it insies!
Monday: an at home workout, as I was flustered and still recovering from the weekend.  Did a light warm up in front of the TV, some leg and UB strength work, then a 10 minute preggy yoga youtube video.  I have indeed become a woman who marches on the spot in front of the telly...

Where we went: To Auckland for the Tri Auckland ITU race.  It was awesome, but exhausting- being in a big, busy city at a big event made spectating much more complicated than it usually is-  I walked and walked and walked and walked, until my feet hurt and my legs ached and then some! As mentioned above, I also ate like a little hippotamus- the early start combined with spectator syndrome really perked my appetite up!

What we wore: Nothing new or exciting.  But I ordered some clothes from gap maternity (...and spent $65 on shipping?! WTF?!) so there'll be new and exciting clothes arriving soon, I hope!

What we bought / got given:  Some clothes from the Farmers sale, and got some more second hand gear (just clothes).

What changed: Chip is continuing to grow, and sits quite low and to the front, which is making it harder to get up steep hills and stairs (the top of my leg will basically squash into my belly).
What stayed the same: Everything else! I'm still sleeping fairly well and am mostly comfortable, and thanking my lucky stars for that.

Exciting moments: Nothing much exciting baby related.  Phil may have felt his first kick, but the combination of paternal impatience, stubborn baby and not very strong kicks mean he's not entirely sure!  
 More exciting for me and Chip was watching Phil race in the sprint event at the Tri Auckland race and qualify to represent his age group at Worlds next year!  It'll be the most expensive sprint race in the history of time- I shudder to think of the per km cost- but the upsides outweigh the costs.  First, there's getting a tri-suit with his name on the bum.  Secondly, there's competing at a World Champs in NZ, which is awesome in and of itself, and super awesome for a guy who'll be becoming a Daddy the same year. Thirdly, there's getting to spend the winter months (and the new baby months) training for a sprint race, not a half ironman!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hot Potato Chip: Week 25

What we ate: A good week on the whole; lots of lovely berries and fresh veges, not too many dark peppermint mini slabs... I'm getting worried about the gestational diabetes screening test which is coming up, and fear is making it easier to say no to sugar! I still need to work at getting more protein in during the day- not easy when there's a "pregnancy rule" for everything...

How we moved:  I've started a twitter pact with Lizzy to move our booties every day in November.  It doesn't have to be much to count, so long as we do a little something every day.  For me this is about enjoying the last few weeks of the second trimester before I start suffering from too many aches and pains, and embracing the spring sun before the real summer warmth arrives! This week wasn't as impressive as last week, but it was a bloody busy week now that we've added 2-hour long ante-natal classes every Tuesday, so I'm pleased that #Novemberstreak motivated me to keep going.

Tuesday: 30 minute walk; 10 minutes stretching (am)
Wednesday: 30 min swim (am)
Thursday: 30 min walk; preggy yoga
Friday: 45 min swim
Saturday: 20 min walk; 20 elliptical; 30 min weights (and then a looong day on my feeties)
Sunday: 35 min run between prepping for and going to a friend's baby shower
Monday: 30 minute swim (am) (we slept in...)

Where we went: To the On Your Bike expo on Saturday.  Walking around and chatting for a couple of hours made it a long afternoon, and I was pretty beat afterwards, but it was great fun (and I will hopefully post about some of the fun things we found there later)

What we wore: I love my Pumpkin Patch maternity leggings.  I'm now pretty much out of tops- trying to figure out how long the next size or so up will last, or whether it would be better just to bite the bullet and go maternity.

What we bought / got given:  We bought our stroller, and ordered our cot.  Exciting times!

What changed: Nuttin' really.  Chip grew a little, moved a little more, and bending down got a little harder.[ditto] I also realised for the first time that things like sitting at my desk and doing the dishes are getting a little more awkward!

What stayed the same: Purty much everything! [ditto]

Exciting moments:
I always count down to midwife appointments- hearing the heartbeat and knowing that everything's OK with me and the baby (as far as we can tell) usually gives me a couple of weeks of comfort.  We're moving from 4 weekly to 3 weekly now, and it won't be long before we move to fortnightly- so soon I won't have time to start getting anxious between visits ;)

The other "exciting" thing was starting ante-natal classes (we've started quite early due to the inconveniently timed Christmas break, so will be all done with learning when I'm only 30 weeks), even though they're not exactly enthralling at this stage...

And, because you've been good, and you haven't a bump pic for a while, here's the bump after a quick gym workout this morning (at 25 weeks on the dot):

 (and yes, I am freaked by the fact that this belleh has another 15 weeks of growing to do!)

Friday, November 11, 2011

My pregnant tri-season

Tri-season is well and truly under way, and just because I won't really be competing this year doesn't mean I'm not excited. Of course, I'm also freaked, because Chip is due to arrive during this tri-season. Blimey!

So, what does my season look like?

Phil's season kicks off with the Tri Auckland sprint race the weekend after next. It's going to be a massive race, as both the sprint and the Olympic distance are qualifying events for worlds next year, so there are heaps of people racing, including plenty of "names". While some of me would love to be racing too, I'm not a huge fan of big competitive races, because there are always too many super fast men whizzing past and lapping me on the scary bits of the bike (of which there are many in this hilly, technical course), and I'm super looking forward to spectating. And shopping in Auckland. OK, and ice creams in Pokeno too.

Then it's Tinman, which we'll be participating in for the third time. I'm running in a sprint team; Phil's doing the Olympic distance. Currently, I'm feeling pretty good about getting through the 5k, and if previous years are anything to go by, I have a much greater chance of winning a good spot prize than he does ;)

Phil has December off, but we'll hopefully make it down to Rotovegas for my favourite race of all. There's always someone to cheer on (at least two people this year, anyway), and I'm sure by that stage I'll be perfectly happy just to sit in the shallows at Blue Lake getting pruney for the whole race!

Phil's biggie this season is, again, the Port of Tauranga Half Ironman, which is going to be epic. I'll be part of a big, awesome cheer squad cheering on heaps of blog and twitter buddies, and real life people too. I'm planning my water gun strategy already.

Then it will be time for my one and only triathlon for the season; a small (field of two) maternity mini tri at my favourite triathlon stomping ground, Blue Lake. Course and dates are TBD, but it looks as though I'll have a good chance of placing in my category (25-29 preggos- hey, if it's not TriNZ sanctified, why should I have to age up??)

I'm hoping that by through limited participation and plenty of spectating I'll be able to keep my passion for the sport alive- I know I'll need all the motivation and enthusiasm I can lay my little hands on if I want to have a cracker 2012 season!*

*And by "cracker", I mean FUN!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Hot Potato Chip: Week 24

What we ate: Mostly well with a few exceptions (grain waves when my nausea returned on Monday, a couple of servings of pre-dinner corn chips, and a few Whittakers dark mint mini slabs kindly brought to me by Ally).
How we moved:  Easy and often!  I said goodbye to my cold last weekend, and got to spend the week walking and swimming- with preggy yoga, a couple of gym sessions, and a run thrown in for good measure.  Long may this energy last...
Tuesday: 40 mins elliptical; 35 min walk
Wednesday: 40 min swim
Thursday: 45 min swim;30 min walk; preggy yoga
Friday:30 min walk; 55 min swim
Saturday: 30 min weights; 35 min swim
Sunday:35 min run
Monday: 45 min walk (am); 45 min swim (pm)
What we wore: The excitement for me this week was solving my burgeoning chub rub problem by purchasing a few pairs of cheap cotton "bike" shorts from good old Glassons.  Hello summer skirts, goodbye chafing!  I was also stoked to finally find a pair of maternity shorts I liked- and super stoked when I got them for roughly half price due to the combination of a few different discounts. 
What we bought / got given: I went clothes crazy at the Base yesterday.  Spent a small fortune, and we still don't have everything we need for any stage, but Chip will be two-thirds clothed until he or she is 1. Unless he or she is abnormally small or large, in which case it'll be about 6 months or 18 months :) We also ordered our chest freezer, so I can start preparing freezer meals :)
What changed: Nuttin' really.  Chip grew a little, moved a little more, and bending down got a little harder.
What stayed the same: Purty much everything! 

Exciting moments:
Reaching the 24 week mark, which means that Chip could, theoretically, make it if I went into labour now. This, of course, would not be ideal for many reasons; not least of which is the fact that we do not have nearly enough of the stuff we need to bring a baby home.  Stay in there, buddy!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Deep breaths and bean bags: Hot Potato hits up preggy yoga

I have been meaning to find a pregnancy yoga class for, oh, about 19 weeks now. I've had the contact numbers saved in a gmail folder, I've talked to pregnant colleagues, but I never actually DID it.  First it was work.  Then work again.  Then general slackness.  Then sickness.

But finally this week, I got off my bum (not literally, I was in my trusty office chair) and phoned around, and found a class at the local parents' centre for Thursday night.  I wasn't sure quite what to expect; knowing that some preggy yoga classes are basically focussed ordinary yoga classes (i.e. pretty much a workout), whereas others are more of the deep breathing and feeling centred ilk (it didn't matter much to me which one I got- I just didn't know).

After a 3k walk there (thanks to a wrong turn) I was hot and running late and feeling a little flustered, but I had time to lay my towel out and settle myself down before we started.  I wasn't even last there, quite. 

The class was very much "deep breathing and feeling centred", and it was great.  The stretches were easy and relaxing, and we focussed on the problem areas we'd all identified in the beginning (mostly rib and lower back pain- ho boy, do I have a lot to look forward to).  The instructor kept up a running commentary about various pregnancy/labour related things as we stretched, which eased the tension- you just have to relax and stop feeling like a spoon when you're in a room full of women talking about the bodily processes involved in pregnancy and labour!  At the end, we had 10 minutes to give each other back rubs and chat, followed by 5 minutes of relaxing on beanbags and "connecting with our babies."

I left feeling a little taller, a lot calmer, and with an inexplicable craving for chickpeas...  Looking forward to next Thursday!

Friday, November 04, 2011

"Swim tag" or "how soon can you lap Kate?"

Today at swimming (...where I did 1700m- woot!), I invented a sweet new workout game I like to call "swim tag", or, as I introduced it to Phil, "how soon can you lap Kate?"*

It worked really well for us, and I thought it would be a fun training game for anyone who trains with a speedster!

What you need:
- two swimmers, one fastish, one slowish
- one pool, preferably not too busy

What you do:
- fastish swimmer starts first, slowish swimmer jumps on his or her heels
- both swimmers keep swimming until fastish swimmer catches slowish swimmer's feet

Repeat as desired. 

We "played" twice- the first time, Phil lapped me at my 300 (his 350). The second time he upped his game and caught me at 275 (he also got brainy and took off really fast on the first 25 so I couldn't hold on).  It meant that Phil was motivated to put some effort it for a decent interval, and that I was motivated to just keep going (pregnant Kate tends to swim shorter intervals), and it was a great way to get 600+ metres in.

*I say invented, but I'm going to guess I'm not the first person to "invent" this one.  But for now, let me enjoy it, OK?