Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Polar Bears Go Swimming

...but I could have done, and will do, better in future.
This, I hope, will be one of those "what went wrong" posts, rather like Patrick's Windermere post last year - mostly for my own record so I don't make these mistakes again, but also in the hope that it helps someone else. Because even though nothing actually went wrong, it definitely could have gone better. It's a little embarrassing to admit that this swim really bloody hurt and there was next to no cold water euphoria. I'm a bit annoyed with myself because if I'd done everything right it's quite possible I could have gone around the buoy or even twice around it. Still, everything is a learning experience, right?

Welcome to Boundary Water Park in Cheshire, a place which is difficult to find since apparently signage is optional, but so pretty it's worth the trip. I'd swum here once before in high summer, when the weeds were just a week or so away from making it impassable. It's gorgeous and I'm keen to bring the kids down for a paddle when it warms up. I knew a few things about it: it's generally easier to just strip off and get in than use the changing portakabin; it's an easy, sandy entrance and exit; and the whole lake is shallow so it would be much colder than Quays. 

Reported temp on the day: 2.8oC. Cold enough for an ice mile - and whilst I'll never attempt that myself, I am delighted to congratulate Hazel Killingbeck, the youngest Ice Miler in the world, on hers! The lake had been down as far as 0.4oC and frozen a few days previously, and although we had a good chuckle about the ice bath USWIM provided, it was definitely colder out there (I stuck my arm in to test it, you see. I'm clever like that).

We hung around for a while, pretending to socialise but really working up the courage to get in (well, I was, anyway). There weren't many of us - maybe eight in skins and half a dozen in suits? I wasn't really paying attention to numbers. Eventually we stripped off and there was mistake number 1 - we should have got straight in instead of mucking about doing silly photos like this:

Spot the Team Bear polar bears! And yes, Marylyn, the lady in blue is so determined not to miss out that she has a plastic bag over her wrist-cast. Nothing short of heroic! <3

It was a lot of fun and I don't begrudge it, but it was a contributing factor, I think, because although I'd meticulously organised my bag and heap of clothes beforehand, I knocked it all over putting my glasses away and didn't sort it through again before getting in because I wanted to join in with the silliness. This was an idiotic thing to do because virtually every item of clothing I was wearing was black, so it took extra time to find everything in the right order when I was getting dressed. I will wear coloured things in future!

Mistake number 2 was forgetting to anti-fog my goggles. AGAIN. I always remember at the last minute, hope it'll be ok, and it never is. I should know better because foggy goggles make me very anxious and that's never good.

Getting in was ok. I'd considered putting on my neoprene socks - they'd been a big help getting into the sea because I really hate scrubbing sand off afterwards, and I knew it was a sandy, squishy entry at Boundary. But it was much better than I expected and I don't think I needed them after all. So I'm only counting that as a half-mistake because it was a distraction, not a difficulty.

Let us be honest: this was very, very cold. It's five degrees colder than I've ever done in skins. Five degrees difference is an awful lot. It really hurt; spiky, stabbing hurt - and yet the bit that's usually so awful, when the water laps at your kidneys - that wasn't so bad. Since I was distracted by trivial bits and pieces, my overwhelming feeling was that I just wanted to get it over with, and that's when I made mistake number three, the biggest and potentially most dangerous - I didn't tip the back of my head into the water. Nor had I done my usual ritual of wetting my neck and face: since there was no way I was getting my face in the water, especially not with a head cold and rapidly disappearing voice (which, let's be fair, was because I was up half the night nattering to Rach!), it didn't seem to matter. 

That was STUPID. I didn't give my brain the "cold water is coming" signal, and so my breathing didn't settle down at all, it was too fast. I set off with a rapid breastroke (not my best stroke!), determined to touch the buoy and get back again before anything went wrong. I'd turned around and was heading back before the rest of the group had reached the buoy and that was a bit sad, really, we usually do this together. I also hadn't set my watch off, which was another daft thing to have done - both distracting and potentially dangerous, though given we had good support and were close to the shore, it wasn't essential like it is for a solo sea swim. Another rookie half-mistake.

I got out ok thanks to a helping hand (you almost always need a helping hand out of the cold!) and dove thankfully into my shiny new DryRobe. That was brilliant. If I hadn't had that I'd have suffered a great deal more from the delay caused by rummaging through my clothes. However, I wasn't shivering at all, I had no giggles (a dead giveaway for being at my limit - later discussion revealed everyone has a different "tell", how funny!), and I really don't think my core temp had dropped a great deal. I was in less than ten minutes from first footing, anyway, and covered 50m. Which, it occurs to me, now means I could take part in a number of Chillswim events next winter, having proved to myself that it is possible.

Once dressed and with coffee and cake securely in my mitts, I finally started to smile a bit. Ok, a lot.

Three Bears: Rach, Cathy and me. 
We are silly and made of cake, love and a healthy attachment to pain.

USWIM provided for us famously, as ever - there was a fire to huddle round, and Cathy and Marylyn even went in the ice-bath straight afterwards (Cathy, an OWS in her first season, is now so tough she sheds ice-cubes when she takes her cossie off!). The coffee flowed freely, there was cake, hot sandwiches, music...everything you could have wished for. We ate a lot of cake, chattered to everyone and it was a great day, in the end. It was a good achievement, I learned a lot from it, and we had an excellent natter with a Mersey Mermaid we're keen to hook up with for river swims later in the year. And there was cake. Did I mention that?

There's one last mistake.

I'm reading Cmdr Chris Hadfield's An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth at the moment. It's a fantastic book; he writes warmly and engagingly and I'd recommend it to anyone, particularly those of us in the endurance sport community and especially to anyone taking part in relay or team events. I was standing in the kitchen making the tea with my Kindle reading to me, and I started laughing as I recognised a scenario straight from swimming. He's describing a training simulation of an accidental splashdown in the Soyuz capsule. There are three astronauts: himself; Max, a cosmonaut on his first command; and an astronaut named Andre who's as big as you can get and still fit in a suit. It's summertime, they're wearing pressure suits which need to be changed for water safety suits, and it's getting ridiculously hot in the cramped little capsule...

"Just when the heat felt the least bearable, I fake-shivered and said "Brr, it's cold!". It provided not only comic relief, but, for whatever reason, a bit of physical relief as well, so we all started doing it and for a glorious moment or two almost believed we weren't bathed in sweat."

What did we forget to do this swim? Not one of us said "eeee, it's TROPICAL!", not in my hearing anyway. Nobody flat-out denied the cold, no singing of Club Tropicana. We didn't even have the now-traditional War of the Roses over whether Lancashire or Yorkshire lasses can get in first (though I must point out I often win that one :P and hopefully that will set the scene for next time!) . We didn't do anything to shift our psychological state from fear to respectful mastery of the cold, and that temporary loss of humour, I think, made all the difference to me.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Janathon Week 3

 Third time's the charm?

The derailment continues. Thundersnow is apparently a thing, and it happened to us a week last Friday. Except here being here, it wasn't snow, it was 2ins of hail, which promptly went into the usual thaw-refreeze cycle. So running was right out because I don't have any ice skates and it was patchy enough to make YakTrax impractical. I had to wear hiking boots for the school run most of the next week as it then snowed on top of it. I also haven't completely shaken the horrible cold; it's actually come back and settled in my throat and lungs. Between the ice and that it's been hard to do more than I'd usually do, so I've spent some of the last week catching up on the remedial stretching and yoga I should be doing for my feet and hips. I'm trying to be ok with it - last year and the year before, ice and illness stopped me running completely. This year I'm viewing it as a blip in the schedule, not a dead loss.

However, we've had some really bright spots this weekend and that makes up for everything!

Friday 16th: 1hr 20 Yin Yoga: I'd been promising myself this session for a while but had to cut it short a bit as I was anxious about getting to school in bad weather, particularly since I'd promised to pick up one of the neighbour kids too.

Saturday 17th: Karate: Felt much better and spent some of my time working on doing combinations whilst sparring with the little ones - making sure I complete a block with a reverse punch, that kind of thing. Not doing terribly well with my kata, but it's early days yet.

Sunday 18th: The roads were scarily icy so I skipped USWIM with a heavy heart and worked through some Hatha for the core and spine.

Monday 19th: Too icy for running, too bored of yoga, so worked on my kata for a while. I forget how much hard work it is even when you do it really slowly!

Tuesday 20th: A real low with the head cold and weather: a 30s plank. Nice to know I can still pull that out of the bag whenever, though.

Wednesday 21st: Karate: hideous but fun; mostly due to a tough warm-up. Cheers, 8yo Cadet Leader.

Thursday 22nd: USWIM Blackburn: A really satisfying session; I feel like I'm improving every week and starting to get an actual feel for the water rather than wallowing through it. My timed 750m was 20s slower than last time but I'm not dissatisfied with that - different pool, different lane mates, and a cold. Still under 16min so I'll take it!

Friday 23rd: An overly busy day so just 10mins of Hatha for the feet - it turns out if you do Downward Dog with your feet braced against the wall, it hurts almost as much as Broken Toe pose.

Saturday 24th: On Thursday, Youngest (4yo) announced that she'd decided she wanted to be a Cadet Leader, which completely took me by surprise - Eldest has never shown any interest (she prefers not to be the centre of attention, she says). Sure enough she went and asked Sensei before class on Saturday, who took her at her word and let her try out. For that I'll be forever grateful, whatever Youngest decides in the future. So picture my tiny daughter at the front of a class of thirty-odd students, every single one older than her by a significant amount, all grades, lots of adults - and she took us all through the regular stretching routine with barely any help. Clear, loud enough without shouting, completely confident - I was absolutely blown away. So were we all. She got a huge round of applause afterwards and is looking forward to doing it all over again! She won't be able to take part in Cadet Leader classes for a while as she's just not physically big enough. I don't know if that'll put her off or give her focus: whatever happens, I hope she's understood that she has every right to give things a try.

Awarded by the whole class!

On Saturday afternoon lovely Rach came to visit as Eldest is due to take her ASA Level 7 Swimming Award soon and had asked for some help with her butterfly. It was a fairly quiet "kids' fun session", so there was much larking around on floats and trying to unglue Youngest from the wall (she's just come out of her armbands and lacks confidence), but I think some progress was made in both butterfly and freestyle.
Our Sunday lake swim deserves a post and photos all of it's own, so tune in later for "how I screwed up and still got a temp PB".

Monday, 19 January 2015

This Girl Can (point out some stuff)

 This fab embroidery is from the Mo Makes Stuff Tumblr. I suck at Tumblr and hope I've attributed this work correctly.

So, many of you will have seen Sport England's new campaign to get women into sports, This Girl Can. The "sassy celebration of active women everywhere". You might have read some articles about it, too - maybe here at The Conversation or the same piece at The Guardian. The Times asks "Can you keep up with these women? and tells us that the women featured are "normal". The Independent celebrates it as "not body shaming". Fellow Bear Vikki wrote about it this morning and after a brief chat on Twitter I realised that this video is a bit of a Rorshach Blot - we're all seeing different things beause of who we are, where we're from, the sports we're into and so on. Vicki and I both agree that initial thought - encouraging more women into sports - is a good one. There are things about the video that are great, and I will absolutely give that credit where's due. So don't tell me to shut up and appreciate the crumbs that have been dropped, the "at least it's got women in!" schtick - I see those, thank you very much.

I'm not taking offence here, this is not me waving my arms and complaining. It is a positive step. But I've watched it a number of times now and I have questions. And a few comments.

Let's take it apart word by word, shall we?

Ok, which this are we talking about? I see white women, I see black women (hurrah for this piece of inclusion!). I see some wobbly women (tick box), I see a young woman who appears to have Downs Syndrome (again, hurrah). I see the age split is around 90% skewed towards women between the ages of 20 and 30 - there's an older runner, and I give you my huge and delighted hurrah to see the Mersey Mermaids, a group of swimmers who sometimes frequent my home puddle and are friends of friends (we've probably shared a changing tent from time to time!). As an aside, I of course am thrilled to see Open Water Swimming represented. I'll come back to age representation in a minute.

Here's the but: where are the Asian women? I don't see a single other skin-colour group represented here. This is a huge sticking point for me; given that I live sandwiched between Blackburn and Bolton, it was immediately obvious that this section of women is just completely absent. Would it have killed Sport England to find a brown face? Or even, heaven help us, any woman in hijab (without conflating race and religion)? Because you really can get all sorts of sportswear that takes account of that requirement, whatever the current ignorant wrangling over it at Olympic level. You try telling Elham Asgari that you can't do sports in religious dress. And not only a lack of brown faces, but no-one from an ethnic group originating from further East than that either (apologies, I know that's very clumsy but I'm stuck for the right word). C'mon, we all know Britain is more than white and black.

Another but: yes, there is one girl with Downs and that's great, I'm so glad she's there. But...she is pretty much able-bodied. Paralympic sport is huge and well-respected by the general public in the UK, it's not like it's unheard of. Were only "normal" numbers of arms and legs and amount of mobility required? Several of the groups of women in the video are shown more than once - was there really no room to cut eg one Zumba scene for one shot of a wheelchair user? Someone with a cane? Someone using the pool hoist? After the success of the Paralympics, I feel it's even more important to include folks who aren't able-bodied just going about their "ordinary" sports for fun - you can't just wheel people out on the telly to get medals and be done with it. Not everyone is about the competition (and don't get me started on "inspiration porn" - watch or read Stella Young's fantastic TED talk on it if you've not come across that before).

Another representational but: I've got no answers for this one but would like to hear/read debate: how do you ensure inclusion of various sexualities/gender status in a visual medium? How could you make the video say to lesbian, bi and trans women "yep, you're welcome, come play sports!" I don't think this video allows itself to do that because as the writers of the article in The Conversation point out, the language used is that of sexual attraction - it's speaking from the male gaze AGAIN: "Sweating like a pig, feeling like a fox".

And yet what we actually see - particularly from the lovely Mersey Mermaids, which is my favourite bit, but also in various other parts - is women, together, creating friendship and having fun. This is the best thing about sports, for me (and not necessarily just with women, either!). Even if you run alone, you enthuse with other people about it. Does anyone give a crap about how sexy they are when they're about to plunge into freezing cold water? I bloody don't, I'm having a laugh with my mates and thinking about cake, ffs. I know I look flipping silly in my gi, everyone does. Only Bruce Li makes that stuff look good. Ultimately, this language slapped over the top is why I haven't shown the video to my daughters. They're four and nine years old and they LOVE their sports. They don't give a flying rat's ass how other people see them, let alone whether anyone finds them attractive whilst they're doing it. Why introduce that concept at all? You could take those words away, focus on a few more faces rather than wobbly bits, and have a much more appealing, approachable film. In fact, Sport England have done posters as well which are much better in terms of gaze:

But it still strongly suggests there's something to hate about bodies in the first place, which isn't a message I want to put in front of children.

Well, this properly set my teeth on edge; I dislike the term applied to all women in general. "Girls" are my children; the children I train with at karate; the junior tri club that blasts past me in the Quays every Summer. I know some people like it as an in-group word amongst friends - I probably use it myself from time to time, although I tend to say "ladies" and more often "people" or "folks". But to use it in a national, government-sponsored campaign to describe half the population? Doesn't work for me. It's automatically exclusive of older women (I am 38, I haven't been a "girl" for a long time. And don't you "calm down, dear" me, Mr Cameron, this whole thing smells of you and your mates). It's interesting that Twitter suggests "patronising" as an autofill after "#thisgirlcan", so clearly I'm not the only one that this has irritated.

I'm sure it was intended (again, as the authors of The Conversation article suggest) to suggest light-heartedness, but it's been used so many times to infantilise and dismiss women's sport that it really was the wrong choice here. It can also be read as only appealing to the age group most represented in the video - the 20-30y group. Where are the actual girls? Large numbers drop out of sport as they hit tween and teen years, so it's particularly disheartening not to see anyone from this age group in the video. My karate class contains girls from 4-18 years old - these are girls who really can! And there are plenty of us women, too, including our sensei. These women can, too.

Whilst I'm on that particular point, what's with the "I kick balls, deal with it" line? Even in the dojo and the boxing ring, women taking part in sport is not a threat to men, why imply that? Unless there's some terrible underlying fear that allowing women's football to get some limelight will decrease male footballers' salaries (please insert :rolleyes: here).

I've already taken issue with the subject of outright disability representation, so I want to look at other problems with accessing sport.

Ability: The women in this film are almost all working quite hard, with the exception of the swimmers, who are having fun. The others are "sweating like a pig", in fact. There are plenty of women out there who simply cannot do that, and lots of sports which help your health without sweating til you drip. Now yes, aerobic exercise is good and fun and all that. But this heavy emphasis on cardio bothers me. Where are the yogis? The walkers? The tai chi practitioners? The power lifters? The tango dancers? Women, particularly older women, need strength building exercise to protect bones and build flexibility and balance to prevent falls. That's a whole component of exercise left out. Why? Because I guess it doesn't fit the narrative of sweaty=sexy.

Time: Women are disproportionately child-carers, senior-carers, and in lower-paid and/or shift pattern work. When I look at my local leisure centre timetable, I'm frequently disappointed to see classes at tea time and childrens' bed time (6-8pm) - I suppose that suits people who go straight after work, but it's a barrier to me. And hell, I'm enormously privilaged to have a partner who gets home generally on time and frees me up several nights a week to attend Masters. I know instructors have a life too and aren't keen on teaching late classes. But time - and timing - is a problem.

Cost: Again, I'm very privilaged in this regard. Not as much as some folks - I couldn't afford a triathlon bike, to travel abroad to swim, to have a one-to-one coach or diet plan. Event prices scare me and I have to save up for them. I can pay for four classes a week, website access and all the kit I need (and some that's nice to have!). Even I balk at the PAYG price for the gym, though, and that's with a subsidy - nearly six pounds just to run on a treadmill for half an hour? A monthly fee is of course cheaper if you can get there often enough to make it pay for itself, but if you work shifts and care for kids or an elderly person (or both, as is becoming more common), or you have unpredictable health issues yourself...how can you justify paying up front for it?

You could of course take up running, the ultimate "low cost" activity. Which still needs decent trainers, enough kit to keep you warm/cool enough, and a babysitter if your work hours are the same as school hours. Some people just don't have this money available: if you have to choose between heating and feeding your kids, trainers are off the table. May I point you towards A Mile In Her Shoes if you have spare kit?

Safety: Look really, really hard at the video. Tell me how many of those women are outdoors, alone, and not in an inhabited area. I count one. Everyone else is penned in (courts, halls, pools, lighted pitches, leisure centres, housing estates), and with other people. Even the swimmers go out in a big group, which is the right thing for them to do because cold water carries a risk, of course. All the cyclists are in spinning class, not out on the road. So how about women who live in unsafe areas? Any area can potentially be unsafe - even I've had a driver pull over to ask directions and then shout abuse at me when I ran past, not realising he was attempting to speak to me, and that was on a main road with lots of traffic and housing. My husband has had similar in quieter spots and I don't feel comfortable running the routes he does because of that. I'm scared silly of cycling where I live because it's so narrow, hilly and overparked that I just don't have the fitness or the awareness to get around safely.

That brings us back to cost and opportunity - you may not be able to afford a running club membership so you can go out in a group, or be available at a time you can find a companion to run with. Or you might be a misanthrope like me and prefer your own company, but be unable to go alone. Women-only sessions can be helpful for this aspect but that very much depends where you live - there are none at my local leisure centre and you can't even search the town's website for women-only sessions anywhere in the borough. But overall, like the lack of actual girls in the film, I'm saddened to see sport represented only by what you can afford and limited to indoor, group activities in the main.

In conclusion, I'd love to say I was thrilled with this campaign. I think it's more than needed, I think it's a stab in the right direction and they've made at least some attempt at inclusion. But there are some mistakes and omissions here that need attention. I would like to point out that Sport England got £10 million quid's worth of funding for this. I've worked alongside local sport inclusion projects in the past (alongside, meaning: I followed their money and accountability) that got far less cash and managed to be more thoughtful, and that was ten years ago. So what gives, Sport England?

ETA: Please note that it's not my intention to attempt to speak for or represent any of the "missing" groups I've listed here. It strikes me that if *I* - who hasn't worked anywhere near the area of sports inclusion for a decade - can see glaring omissions of intersectionality, then a body paid such a lot of money to do it right has no excuse not to. And it's up to me to lift my voice and ask those questions of that body: as a woman, as an older woman, a parent, a neighbour, a compatriot, and not least as a person who enjoys sports.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Janathon Week 2

Ah, the traditional Janathon set-back bites me on the arse again, but thankfully just a nibble so far. Lots on my mind this week, for various reasons - I've had some hibernating days, some down days, some shut-up-and-get-on-with-it days and a day feeling like I'd been hit in the face by a snow shovel thanks to a sinus infection. I've done more laundry than any one household should ever have to do. Still struggling with sleep - I have a really peculiar form of insomnia that I can't seem to find by Googling: I fall asleep fairly easily, have vivid dreams for ten minutes, then wake myself up somehow (often by pointing out a logical inconsistency within the dream). Then I'm wide awake for ages. It's so frustrating. It only used to happen when I went to bed too early - for me that's before midnight - and now it's any time I go to bed. I can't fathom it out. It leaves me very tired and prone to dozing off during the morning if I get even slightly comfortable. The cat sitting on my lap is fatal - one purr and I'm out for the count.

I have managed most of what I set out to do this week; I'm down one karate and one run, both due to the sinus infection. Having to sit out of karate whilst the girls were sparring was one of the most frustrating and tedious things I've done in ages. I couldn't do much more than curl up against the wall, pathetically mainline Strepsils, and hope I wasn't too cross-eyed to drive them home afterwards; but I still wanted to damn well get up there with my mitts and pads on and try to get the better of someone. Bah.

This week:
Fri 9th: 30mins Vinyasa Flow Yoga: Tadasana to Warrior 3 on physio's instructions to do more balancing.

Sat 10th: Karate: loads of circuit training and feeling unhappy with my kata (currently Heian Yondan). I really need to get on with the home study.

Sun 11th: USWIM Manchester: working hard and feeling good; included a timed 750m at 15.32 - not stellar but a big improvement for me. And lane leader for a while without getting my toes tapped! 1.6km and really missing that last half-hour the pool management have nicked off us :(

Mon 12th: Run: Roughly C25k wk5 powered by hate and spite - I SO wasn't in the mood but I figured I may as well make it as hard as possible so ran up a 10% hill into a headwind. Not quite the 5/5/5 min splits I was going for - made it in 3.5/4.5/15, so longer and harder than planned. I'll take it. Three years ago I was knackered just walking up that hill. 3 miles in total including the warm-up and walking breaks.

Tue 13th: 1hr Yin for runners, aaaaah. Much appreciated and nowhere near as sore as the first run.

Wed 14th: Death. Slept for a solid four hours during the day, so no run, and had to sit out of karate. Did ten minutes of Restorative Yoga before bed to get the kinks out of my neck and shoulders. And because Janathon.

Thu 15th: USWIM Blackburn: ye gods and little fishes, quite possibly the hardest set I've ever done - virtually all sprint work. Absolutely exhausting and yet, here I am, still alive, slightly faster and with almost-clear sinuses. Witchcraft, I tell you. 2.2km all told.

Tomorrow depends on the weather. I neeeeeed a good long session of yoga (and by that I mean 90mins) but I should also crowbar a run in there, and I'm in school all morning. We shall see.

The Christmas chocolate is all gone. This is probably a good thing.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Janathon Week 1

 I do love my enormous Tyr bag. It's so comfy to carry and I can take ALL the things.

I was in my girls' school this afternoon (I do volunteer reading help with a couple of classes) and overheard the Juniors' assembly. It was all about New Year's Resolutions and how it's ok to fail and try again and make a new resolution any time of the year. I thought that was a really nice thing to make clear to the kids early on and it was worth hearing the message myself, too.

My first week of Janathon hasn't been as badly derailed as last year's was. I have had a day being very off-colour when I'd planned to run, and a few mornings where I've just desperately needed to hibernate in the quiet. I've accrued quite the sleep-debt (if that is a real thing and not a myth), and trying to force my natural 10am-2am bodyclock back to 7am-12am has been torturous. The kids are shattered too, although gleeful to be back with their school and sports friends. We also had a disaster on Monday night when the washing machine took the final revenge and covered all three white karate gis in horrendous brown streaks, creating one panicked 2am order of a new machine (arrives Friday) and a sad little plea to our sensei for new gis. Which, stunningly, she managed to get hold of for us before our Wednesday class. How awesome is that! So washing kit has been a problem and the Christmas laundry backlog is laughing in my face.

However, I have managed to do something reasonable every day, which breaks down like this:

Thu 1st: 1hr Yin Yoga (supine focus)
Fri 2nd: 20mins Hatha Yoga (pre-bed relaxation)
Sat 3rd: Ran a mile with Eldest in 10m 49s
Mon 5th: 1hr Yin Yoga (evening practice)
Tue 6th: 1hr Yin Yoga (sthira sukham asanam/steadiness & sweetness)
Wed 7th: 1hr Karate (lots of fitness work, stances and kata with a little sparring)
Thu 8th: USWIM Blackburn, 1.6km of even more drills and some sprints. Much easier than Sunday, and although I'm rubbish at tracking these things, I do think my speed over 100m has improved again - below 2mins, don't think I've ever been there before.

There ought to be at least one more run in there, but eh, at least I did something and I feel better in the hips and back than I did last week, which can only be good. I plan to do some more challenging yoga over the next few days - any day I can do, I will do (because every day is too much pressure but I like it so much that I kick myself if it gets more than a couple of days between sessions), and hopefully at least two sessions each of run/swim/karate as appropriate. Next week I need to start reining in my post-Christmas chocolate munching. Cos it's nearly all gone.

In other news, I GOT A DRYROBE! This is ace and I can't wait for the next winter swim.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

It's that time again...Janathon!

And we're back! Happy 2015, everyone, and if you haven't signed up for Janathon yet, hop to it. The rules have changed a little this year and you don't need to blog every day! Tweeting counts, hurrah.

Last year I was the last member of the family to succumb to the vomiting bug on New Year's Day, and thankfully it hasn't nabbed us this year (well - some of us had it in late Nov/early Dec and it could still hit us again, no chicken counting here!). I did feel kinda seedy after some enthusiastically alcoholic seeing in of the New Year and a whole lot of travelling over the last week, but a good session of Yin Yoga has sorted me right out. It's obvious I've been slacking, though, so my plan is to do yoga for the next few days to loosen myself up, then we're back into the usual round of Masters USWIM and karate five days a week, with yoga whenever I can fit it in. I saw my physio before Christmas to get my shonky hips and knees checked out, and it sounds like the usual hip flexor tightness and weakness on the left that's plagued me for years. So yin yoga and balance-based yoga need to feature highly this month. Also apparently my feet are "a bit wrong" so that'll need work too.

Plans for the year include but are not limited to:

- Swim a 10km event (mostly likely Bala two-way with the BLDSA, of which I'm now a member, and I'd love to do Kielder Water too) and probably a bunch of USWIM events

- Get my purple belt and be working towards purple/white

- Run a 10km event. Oh dear, what have I let myself in for with that! I have a rough plan to do it by the end of April. We'll see. I had a test run before xmas and I can still do a mile in about 9mins (albeit downhill), so that's something to build on.

- Support all our Team Bear members at Ironman UK - loads of our kids are doing the IronKids race, including my girls (and me, since Youngest has to be accompanied!); and wave pompoms for our Ironman nutters.

I'll probably end up doing a whole bunch of other stuff, and that's half the fun! In the meantime, have a horrible pun:

The teacher I like the most on YogaGlo tends to say "Yogi's choice" when there are multiple adjustments to a pose. So, I'm a Yogi. In Team Bear.

Clearly, I am Yogi Bear!