Saturday, November 11, 2017

C25K W5R3

Just a very quick post to say that this morning Wil and I went to Green Lake for our run. See, today was Week 5 Run 3 of the NHS Couch to 5K plan ... which meant that we did a huge jump and ran 20 minutes non-stop -- and the previous longest single run was 8 minutes. 

I wanted to go to Green Lake so that I didn't have to think, to plan, to wait for traffic -- I could just trot along on a relatively flat surface. And though it was drizzling turing the first few minutes, it actually cleared up a little as we ran.

We started with the usual 5-minute warmup walk. Then the first 10 minutes of running felt hard -- I was relieved when "Laura" (the podcast host) said we were at halfway through. I felt surprised, however, when she said we were at 15 minutes -- I think I was finally warm and loose at that point.  And then I was happy to hear "just 2 minutes left", and really pleased and more than a little tired when we finished.

Then we did our 5-minute cool down walk, and then extended that a tiny bit so Wil could hit 3 miles on his GPS. Twenty minutes! Nonstop! I'm really pleased to be making progress. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

The 100-Day Challenge

On October 5 my friend Tony Dubose posted a link on his FB timeline. The header? "Imagine How You'll Feel on January 18 (If You Start a 100-Day Challenge on October 10)".

I was intrigued – you know how I love a project. So I clicked through to Bill Murphy Jr.'s article from Inc. magazine and read this pull quote:
There are 100 days between October 10 and January 18. What if you decided to change something big during that time? 
The idea is simple. 100 days is long enough to accomplish something big, but short enough to discourage procrastination. And I have things I want to accomplish!

I decided to focus on one thing – increasing my chances of success by decreasing my tendency to get discouraged when I try to do too much at once. And the thing I have really felt has been missing from my life? Running.

It's weird – when we started running all those years ago, it took me a while to feel like a "Real Runner". But then I embraced it. It became part of who I was. Oddly enough, when I went to work for a running shoe company, I felt LESS like a "Real Runner" – I felt like I wasn't fast enough to be legitimate, a feeling reinforced by some of my colleagues who would say things like "Oprah didn't RUN a marathon… she COMPLETED a marathon. Anyone who takes that long to finish isn't RUNNING." Mind you, Oprah famously ran the 1994 Marine Corps Marathon in 4 hours, 29 minutes … a good hour faster than I've ever run a marathon. It didn't *stop* me from running – hell, I ran a lot of half marathons during my time there – but it definitely made me feel like I wasn't a Real Runner.

And then when I left the running company – when I thought I would be able to re-gain my runner self – I hurt my hip. Not running, amusingly enough – in an overeager attempt to do squats and lunges at boot camp. With the Kilimanjaro climb looming I decided to stop running and just do my PT exercises and walk and hike to train. I didn't want to hurt my hip and risk being able to climb at all.

But now that we're back I really wanted to get back to running – to being more active every day, not just when hiking. So the 100-day challenge is perfect.

I set as my 100-day goal to be able to run for an hour, without stopping, at the end of 100 days. Note that it's not a distance goal -- it's a time goal. As part of the goal, I decided to spend the first weeks following the NHS Couch to 5K program. And then, when that ends after 9 weeks,  and I am running for 30 minutes nonstop, I'll just keep building slowly by adding 2 or 3 minutes of running to each run. I feel good about this goal.

HOWEVER, because I'm being very sensitive to my gimpy, old-lady knee, I wanted to have a backup goal. If I had to stop running because I got hurt, I would at least make sure that I got 10,000 steps per day for 96 out of the 100 days. This was, in many ways, the more ambitious goal: since going back to work I rarely get my steps in. I have become weirdly sedentary. In fact, I looked back and in the weeks leading up to the challenge I only hit my step goals once or twice per week, usually on the weekend. Grim.

Here are my step totals for the month before the challenge, September 10 - October 9:

It doesn't look too bad in the early part of that month ... until one remembers that we were on vacation in Africa until September 21.

Thursday 11/9 was the first milestone day -- 30 days into the challenge. I had set my milestone goals as follows: having completed run 2 of week 5 of the Couch to 5K program, and having hit my steps 29 out of 30 days. I'm super pleased to say that I have done both!

Here are my daily step totals for the first 30 days of the challenge, October 10 - November 9:

Yeah, there's one day where I didn't come close: November 3. But I felt like it was a conscious decision that day not to push it, and I was okay with that.

The challenge has served as extra motivation -- I don't want to slip up; and I want to see how I keep progressing. Compare the week before and the week after the start of the challenge, October 3 - 17:

I've been making sure to get my runs in on Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually running at work, either on the treadmill or braving the roads of Woodinville. And on the weekend I get to run with Wil. And to get my steps in, I've been trying to move more at work, and then we go for walks in the evening. And it's not just because I want to keep earning stickers...

Big stickers = runs; small stickers = hitting my step goal.
There's still a long way to go -- lots of minutes to run, and lots of steps to get. But I still feel motivated and excited to keep going. Okay, maybe it is just stickers...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Zanzibar doors

I wrote about Zanzibar doors back in 2016 ... and I don't think I understood just how prevalent these intricately carved doors are in Stone Town, and how much pleasure I got from seeing them. And to be clear, these doors aren't just on preserved houses, or on museums -- these doors are still used and locked every day.

Doors were traditionally the first part of a new house to be built. And the bigger / the more elaborately carved the door, the greater the wealth and status of the house's owner.

Older doors reflect an Arab influence, with geometric designs. Doors dating from the late 19th century, however, reflect an Indian influence. Many doors are fitted with brass spikes, which may be a modification of the Indian practice of studding doors with iron spikes to fend off the attacks by war elephants. (Apparently, when Marco Polo visited Zanzibar in the 13th century, he wrote that the island had "elephant in plenty". Pity there are none left.)

The remaining doors in Stone Town date primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries and are maintained by the Stone Town Conservation and Development Authority.

Click on the thumbnails below to see larger versions of these images.


Monday, November 6, 2017

African Adventures 2017

It has taken me longer to write about our trip than it took us to live it. Maybe because it still feels like three distinct trips. It also surprises me that it all fit in one little Poppin notebook.

And, though I don't think this picture is testament to the fact, the edges of the pages where we were on Kilimanjaro have a distinct dingy brown hue.

It feels like we really did go on three distinct adventures. First and foremost, of course, was our Kilimanjaro climb.

Then our amazing safari in Kenya.

There's a lot to read -- and lots of pretty pictures too. Frankly, I don't expect anyone to get all the way through it. But I'm happy to have recorded it here in this blog.