Tuesday, November 29, 2011

MYB Challenge: 3/3 and 3/4?

Well, yesterday something rare and beautiful happened: I went to the gym. No, really. Admittedly, it was a brief visit as I managed to get there about 25 mins before closing, although going to that gym adds an extra 15 minute walk to my day, thanks to location of trains home. Of course, I only went to pick up my stuff from my locker, seeing as my rental had expired. But in a money saving kick I decided I didn't need laundry/locker seeing as I only go to that gym once in a blue moon, having migrated downtown to try to take advantage of a buddy effect which was, over the summer at least, seeming to work.

That was definitely 3/3.

Well, it may have been 3/4. But I don't think so. I did a long haul to buy groceries on Sunday so that I could purchase free-range beef (the lack of free range meat in almost any shop in New York unless it's uber fancy is yet another thing to complain about re supermarkets in NYC (see: Cheese) and something I'd like to post about another time), so does that count? It gave me an extra 45 minute walk instead of a local place, as well as placing me higher on the list in cow heaven. So that might have been 3/3. Right?

Anyway, I think I might try to go for a run tonight. Might. It's rainy and grim, but I always liked that weather for running.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

MYB 4 for 4 challenge: 3/2 complete!

On the recommendation of Charlie Brooker, no less, I downloaded an app that helps you build up to 5k of running in 6 weeks. I thought that as my knee is still very much crocked, this might be the smart way to do things. Unfortunately, I also decided today was the day to try out running on the balls of my feet, and I'm not sure it works. Definitely weird going downhill, my knee feels twingey and unhappy. But then, it did before I went out, so I'm not sure it made any difference. I will persevere.

Still, exercise for today done!

Friday, November 25, 2011

MYB 4for4 challenge: postponed (but 3/1 complete!)

The past week has seen a pathetic lack of activity from me, even for me. I managed to go for a piddly little walk in Rhode Island, made longer because a friend lost her camera cover and we retraced our steps, but otherwise it's been work, home, sleep, and little else. Rubbish. So I decided to give myself a hiatus of a week, and have just restarted Week 3.

Week 3 started with a whimper, but got up and running with my first ever game of American Football - playing, that is, seeing as I've spent a hideous number of hours watching it. Turns out it's quite hard, this whole running wind sprints, bashing into other people (next time I'm wearing a mouthguard, I swear), turning and catching and spinning round. I was, frankly, quite hopeless - I can't catch, can't throw, and can't block very well either. It was absolutely brilliant.

It was also an excellent way to rev up some hunger for the wonder that is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving provides the opportunity to celebrate a Christmas-like feast with friends, drink fabulous cocktails like this Tippecanoe Sparkler and Tasting Table's awesome Autumn Whiskey Sours (from this grand collection of autumnal recipes). I also made this fabulous cranberry salsa - it was definitely on the spicier side, but really tasty, and I bet is heaven with turkey leftovers, as the fabulous Kalyn suggests (seriously, I've not had a dud recipe from her yet - everything has been glorious, but I particularly recommend this chickpea, sumac, red pepper & mint recipe - absolutely amazing). And then the pros took over and produced a gorgeous turkey feast. It's just such a lovely way to spend a day. And then you fall asleep early from all the tryptophan and booze, and get some solid sleeping done. Or you come home and watch a lot of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Ahem.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stephen Lawrence

It's hard to express what I experienced as I just read about Duwayne Brooks' testimony in the trial of two men for the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It's hard to express just how much Stephen Lawrence dying meant, how profoundly it affected me growing up in southeast London, a few miles from where he was beaten to death.

The first time I saw the flowers around the tree where he died, was when it hit me how close to home that was. We were in the car, an old blue Ford Cavalier whose number plate I still remember and which got nicked in Middlesbrough not long after this, and we were going swimming. I saw the flowers, and it hit me that this was where he'd bled to death. Just like that, on a road I travelled along probably once a month or so. Right there, within a bus ride. And I was not just angry for him, and his family's loss; I was terrified. That who I lived near, walked around, mingled with, could think such vile, racist things and could do that to someone. It was one of the first times my brain managed to comprehend fully that I did not share the values of people I lived with and near. I was scared, disappointed, and alienated. Typical teenage emotions as one grows up and away from home, but I think I had lived in this happy bubble and while knowing there were issues with racism, that wasn't what we were mostly like. And then this happened, and all most people knew about this pocket of southeast London was a disgusting murder; we all scrambled to distinguish and disassociate our neighbourhoods - be they Lewisham, Catford, 9r Hither Green - from Eltham.

I was terrified, angry, upset; I also lost some of my naivety about where I lived. My hometown, as it were, was always a bit rough around the edges, but this was something vicious, unexpected, an evil underbelly about which I'd been clueless; the lessening of my view of it and its people hurt a lot. But none of that compares to what Brooks went through, or that he would testify today after the loss of his father last night.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

MYB 4 for 4 - 2/3 & 2/4 Complete

Sunday was a mixture of loveliness and, for want of a better term, bleurgh. The bleurgh being the work and, alas, losing a rather bad-tempered second football match against a very annoying team, annoying particularly because they definitely were not better than we were. Ugh. But we won the first with some fabulous (for us) football, and TOH and I got to the Botanic Garden to see the Japanese Garden and the bonsai trees in their autumnal glory. They were remarkable - beautiful shades of red and yellow, including one bonsai with two trunks that had one half red, the other yellow. I'm not sure how I feel about bonsai, given that they appear to suffer the equivalent of footbinding for trees. Additionally, despite having no psychological or psychiatric training, they do seem to be quite a transparent (and futile) attempt to control nature completely. Nonetheless, these are beautiful things, and the bonsai, both in blossom and in their foliage change, have provided extreme beauty this year. We're thinking of redoing our photo positions for next year's BBG membership, and the bonsai may well be included in the new lot.

Monday saw me desperately trying to wonder how I was to complete week two of the MYB 4 for 4 challenge - morning was not possible (chores before work) and the evening saw a send off for a dear friend at work. So I decided to get let out of the cab early with a colleague and walk the 20 minutes back to the apartment, instead of getting the cab home. Not exactly going for a run or sweating much, but better than I would have done without the challenge. Which is the point, I think.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Move Your Body! 2/2 Complete

We've had a couple of great Saturdays of late. Last weekend we bought some lovely pork and fixings at the Farmers' Market at Grand Army Plaza, scoffed a fantastic peppermint hot chocolate from Blue Marble, and I did some gardening and snipped and froze a ton of sage, thyme and rosemary from the garden, per these instructions, so that we will hopefully have fresh and tasty herbs for the winter. Today we went for a walk around Prospect Park, full of yellows and reds and people playing flag football, ate a fantastic pumpkin ice cream pie and another peppermint hot chocolate from the fabulous Blue Marble, and then stuffed our faces with a lovely Saturday brunch - not often we get to do that.

The walk is what I'm counting as my MYB 4/4 challenge today - it was so nice to be out and about. I also took a longer walk up to Union Square after brunch, rather than the closest subway. I'm trying to be more active, honestly.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

MOVE IT! 1/4 and 2/1 Complete

So, Week 1 of the MYB 4 for 4 challenge finally forced me to use a voucher I'd bought, due to expire on Thursday night, for bikram at a place near work. Five classes for $45, a pretty sweet deal. Except I was all out of sorts - exhausted (for various reasons), I'd played footie the day before and my hip was giving me some trouble, I'd slept funny and so I had an aching left shoulder and neck muscles. I didn't drink enough water during the day, either. Plus, as much as I am not a morning person, each previous trip to Bikram in the evening had been pretty rough, indicating that for exercise, at least, 7am is better for me than 8.30pm. When I ran a lot, the best time was about 6.45pm, straight after work, for some reason, but I can't often take a class at that time these days.

This is a long-winded, self-justifying way of saying I complete sucked at it. Absolutely awful. I managed maybe half the standing series and, pathetically enough, the mat series, too. I ache a little today, to show that there was some stretching. This was, in fact, the frustrating thing - my half moon pose was pretty good, still, hand to feet ok, and my triangle - when I could do it - was awesome, for me, at least. And the second set of fixed firm had my shoulders almost back on the floor, already. But I just could not keep up. It was rubbish, frankly.

This morning I completed the first piece of exercise for week 2. I had to rush out and zoom in a highly aerobic walk to the co-op because, as per usual, I was sluggish this morning and too late to make it on time without sweating. The walk back to the subway was accompanied by listening to the author of Born to Run on the slate sport podcast. Most people take him as a proponent of barefoot running but, from his discussion on that podcast, his main focus appears to be on recalibrating running styles so that the ball of your foot is the major place that strikes the ground, not the heel. It's intriguing. Given that I've tried various other things - physio, orthotics, support shoes - it's certainly beguiling to think there's this fix out there... Hmm...

Sunday, November 06, 2011

MOVE IT! 1/3 Complete

Today was the New York marathon, and TOH and I ambled up to Clinton Hill, between the mile 8 and mile 9 markers, to see if we could spot our friend, Al, who was running. Despite frantically checking his progress on the handy website tracker, we somehow missed him; we had failed to tell him where we'd be or check what he'd be wearing. Suddenly, having gone through a sparse patch of runners, there were hundreds of them, everywhere, and we failed to find him. But he finished in a fantastic 3:43:57, and I am immensely proud of that achievement. I still don't want to run a marathon, but am absolutely awed by everyone who does. It's rare that we get to cheer on an everyday person - someone with a day job, and maybe not that much natural athletic ability - doing something absolutely physically remarkable. Which is, I think, one of the reasons why I love the marathon.

The place to watch it is definitely Fort Greene/Clinton Hill. As we wandered west toward the Q train for our football match, we went through that neighbourhood and heard funk bands, drummers, an awesome school band, and an amazing gospel choir outside a church. All there to entertain the runners and everyone there, and it was a fantastic New York day. It didn't hurt that the sun was shining, the sky was blue and clear, the leaves on the trees were yellow and red and orange, and it was fun to be wandering around.

Then came our game. Hard work, today. I got winded after a giant collision with a dude who while not large, is a lot bigger than me; there is also a guy on the team we played today who plays rough and I do not like, but I tried not to get too enraged. Well, not too often. My hip twinged a lot, but I don't tend to mind that as it takes my mind off my aching knee. We drew, 2-2; not a great result, but a hard fought, tough game. And three pieces of exercise complete. Which means I absolutely have to work out tomorrow, and that conveniently means I might finally use my groupon which expires this week...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

MOVE IT! 1/2 Complete?

The problem with New York is that it is full of mid-week temptation. In fact, going out mid-week in New York is far, far more interesting and fun, what with the bars not being overrun by idiots. Or even just other people. Not so keen on other people.

Anyway, Wednesdays are a particular weak spot for me, and last night was no exception. A lovely dinner and drinks at The Smith had us weakening and thinking of going home. Which, in all sanity, we should have done. But we didn't; we had (expensive!) tickets for Soulwax and so in an impulsive moment, decided to head on into Webster Hall to see what was going on. As luck would have it, Soulwax came on within seconds of us entering the main hall, and a lively hour or so ensued with much enthusiastic (if rubbish) dancing from me. I think that counts, right?

ps Soulwax - excellent.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

MOVE IT! 1/1 Complete

The recent massive upsurge in my work has meant that physical exercise has decidedly gone on the back burner. So, I've decided to sign up for the MYB (Move Your Booty - yep, that's the name!) challenge - The 4 for 4. The idea is that in November, you commit to four pieces of exercise each week for the four weeks. It's doable, I swear. I swear. Ulp. So out I trotted for a run yesterday - slow, creaky, my knee killing me by the end (I'm using it as a motivation tool to start stretching and strengthening again), but out I went. And, unsurprisingly, I felt gloriously better for it. The sun had set and there was a warm, orangey-yellow glow under the cool blue sky. I ran weaving in and out of blocks, and exploring my neighbourhood in a way that only happens when I go running; I went down streets I'd never gone down before, despite living here for over two years. It was great, and reminded me how much more peaceful I feel when I run. I need to fix my knee. Dr. TOH, it's a round of medical appointments again, I guess.