Sunday, 31 May 2009

DD Review: Moving Comfort Fiona Bra

We haven't talked boobage for a while and this baby has been getting a fair amount of use lately so I thought it might be time to talk about the Moving Comfort Fiona Bra. Though truthfully I'm not 100% sure this is what it is, I'm about 95% sure and my last remaining doubts come from the fact that I can't find anywhere that sells it in the colour I have (grey and black). Anyway, let's assume this is what it is.

I think this bra would make an incredible bra for nursing athletes, as the straps go through a little hole on the front and velcro in. I always worry about them coming undone, but they never do. Actually for a really long time this kept me from wearing it in the high impact activities it purports to be designed for, and I relegated it to a 'yoga bra'. Then one day every other decent bra I owned was too dirty to wear, and I decided to brave the bounce.

Except that the bounce was, well not non-existant, but not too much more than any of my other bras, which is to say tolerable. And so Fiona has stayed in rotation. I won't wear it in the parts of the month when I'm a little tender, but other than that it gets a fair amount of use.

I can't remember what I paid, but Moving Comfort, Athleta, and Title Nine all list it in the $44/$45 range today.

Which brings me to: suppliers. Athleta has been recently bought out by the Gap family. I like that I can make my order when I order new jeans (curvilicous with a big booty is not a shape Gap UK carries so I'm reduced to ordering when one of us is going back to the US) but I don't like that their models seem to have started coming from the same place as the Gap models instead of the more athletic-looking 'real' women Athleta used to feature. Title Nine is still going strong, but their prices just seem to go up and up and up. Moving Comfort is a new one in my supply list. They too have a bra-finder thing and feature bras for women of all sizes. They also have MCW for women who wear 'plus' sizes (I really hate that designation). I'm definitely going to have to try them out.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Lazy London Saturday

Seeing as Meg is in New York this weekend I thought I'd laze about the house for a bit, but no, annoying morning person that I am I popped right up out of bed at 8 on a Saturday. Yesterday I managed to turn my alarm clock off at 6 so did not make it to yoga but still found myself awake at 7:30, just in time to make it to work on time, yay, so I guess being an annoying morning person isn't all bad.

Still, I took my sweet time getting out of the house and did not go for a run until well past 11. My couch-to-30-minute-5k training continues and today I got irritated with the 3 minute walk periods so after the first go-round decided to do 3 min/2 min instead of 1.5/1.5/3/3 min cycles. I finished at the library and went in to pick up my books that I'm reading for my non-work-writing&photography project. Walking home the weather was so nice I laid down in the grass in the park and just read for an hour or so before going the rest of the way home. But while I was walking past the church a really dodgy looking guy said "Well, hello there" to me and I was creeped out and also could think only of that Amanda Palmer song where she talks about wondering if catcalling women has ever worked and in my opinion no.

Then I came home and decided that what is needed is even more blogs in my google reader account seeing as how the 454 runner blog posts I haven't read yet is clearly not enough so I started checking out people listed in the JogBlog Juneathon Roll Call and discovered that some of them read me even though I don't read them (sorry, rectified now) and have added some new names to my blogs-I-try-to-read list and will now spend my exciting Saturday evening actually attempting to read some of them.

Oh yeah, and there was running too. 2.5 miles, 30 min of pathetic slowness.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Utthita Parsvakonasana, still

Today the regular Mysore dude was replaced by Jamie, another Mysore instructor who has a much more 'hands-on' philosophy about it. He helped me open up my lower back in downward dog and even though I really focused on doing the plank/updog/downdog transitions with rolling-over-toes my back feels much better than usual today. And I'm still, yes still, working on utthita parsvakonasana. I can only reach the floor if my knee is bent too much, and can't quite reach if my knee is at 90 degrees. Are my arms too short? Anyway Jamie is more about the knee-at-proper-angle approach whereas Brett is more about the reach-the-floor approach but I can definitely tell I'm getting closer to making the two approaches meet.

I had a lovely chat yesterday with an amazing mentor in my (work-)life and she's really helped me to think about taking the zen of yoga to work with me. I thought about that a lot today, and even though it was a stressful day I felt like it really helped.

Infected blisters: Take it and Run

The topic of infected blisters is already one of my top hit-getters, and I'm doing nothing today to decrease my google rank on this subject. But I suppose it's due to a dearth of information - that's certainly what I found when I was researching this for myself. So this is my topic for this week's Take it and Run Thursday (which I've been remarkably slack about participating in lately). This may gross you out, please don't read while eating.

OK, every runner in the world has probably had a blister. And you know you shouldn't pop them, but sometimes you have to. In this case, sterilise a needle and insert it gently into the blister, press the liquid out gently, cover with a bandaid or the like, and let it heal. Don't pull off the extra layer of skin that's left behind, just let it dry out and fall off naturally. Also examine your shoes and socks to see if you can figure out why you got a blister there and what you can do about it (different socks, ensuring no wrinkles in them when you put your shoes on, keeping your feet dry, Body Glide, etc).

But sometimes, even if you don't pop them, your blisters get infected. They may be harder than normal or have redness around them. When mine got infected, I didn't even really know for a long time because it was underneath my callous so I couldn't even see the blistery bit. But I ought to have known better because it was all hot. And neither blisters nor callouses are hot to the touch. It was also really painful to walk on, moreso than a normal blister, and didn't get better even when I wasn't running for a while.

If this describes your blister, you'll need to seek medical attention. The best place to go is someone who can prescribe antibiotics and perform minor procedures, which in the US is probably your regular doctor but in the UK unfortunately turns out to be two separate people (doctor and chiropodist). If you must see two people, I recommend the chiropodist/podiatrist first. They'll lance it open and drain all the nast out of it. Surprisingly, this didn't hurt. You'll likely also need antibiotics to make sure the infection doesn't spread. I got the antibiotics first, which helped bring the infection down a little but honestly didn't help that much as a blister tends to be pretty well isolated from the rest of your system. When I finally saw the chiropodist and had my blister drained it felt better almost immediately, and she didn't think I needed a second round of antibiotics, and it managed to heal pretty quickly.

In the interest of not getting sued, let me finish up by saying this is only my advice based on my experience, and I am not medically trained at all.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Couch to 5k, week 3 begins

It's 6:30 pm. First day of Couch to 5k Week 3 (I skipped the last day of week 2 in order to keep semi-on-track with respect to the calender, I'm annoyingly anal that way) was 12 hours ago. I'm finally finding time to blog.

Anyway. Today was meant to be 2x[90s jog/90s walk/3min jog/3 min walk] but that only adds up to 18 minutes. So I made it 3x that plus one extra 90s jog/90s walk at the end for 30 minutes. Somehow I wound up being kind of slow. Actually, a lot of slow (2.39 miles, 12:34 pace, ugh). Which had been striking me as weird until I realised that I am back to even times of walking and running as opposed to less time walking than running as I was last week. Maybe I'll mix it up even further later this week.

I enjoy running first thing in the morning. For one thing, it's the way to ensure I get it done (see: 6:30 pm and still at work, taking a quick break to blog). For another, I generally feel happier all day and am much less likely to eat a tuna melt for lunch. BUT. I'm not really that awake at that time of the morning, and neither is anyone else, so people waiting at bus stops tend to wander all over the pavement (sidewalk) annoyingly in front of me. PEOPLE, the pavement is not yours to control, even at 6:30 in the morning. Please look behind you before stepping backwards, lest you push a runner into the street in front of a bus.

3 more days till Juneathon. Can I get credit for a few extra days if I exercise every day this week?

I signed up for the Silver Strand half marathon with my dad (DAD, DID YOU SIGN UP YET? I'M GOING TO BE MAD IF I FLY TO CALIFORNIA AND YOU DIDN'T ENTER THIS THING!) and am 90% sure I'm going to do the Aviemore half in the Scottish highlands in October beforehand so I can do Silver Strand at whatever pace makes my dad happy. Am I insane to think about a highlands half marathon in October? The route purports to be downhill (though I should probably plan on a fair amount of hill training this summer). Am I going to freeze? Anyone ever done this one? Or want to join me?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

I reached!

Yes, it's true, I reached the floor in utthita parsvakonasona this morning without too much fidgeting. Now I'm working on getting my knee to 90 degrees.

A morning rain found me slipping and sliding to class. I don't understand how, in a country as known for the rain as England, they have not yet figured out how to make non-slippy sidewalks the norm. And I was a bit late, which meant that class was more crowded than usual (might have been Tuesday vs Monday, and first day after a bank holiday too). But I reached!

Um, so this is a kind of pathetic blog post. I've used all my available brain power sorting my desk out after an office move. Anyone got anything to help me write without having to think too hard?

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Hangovers do not make good running buddies

Oof, holy hangover, Batman. Meg and I went to see Spring Awakening yesterday afternoon (which was much less upbeat and much more tragic than we'd been led to believe by the friend who recommended it, and also seemed to have a few too many stories for the length of the show and yet was really really long) and then decided to head to our favourite restaurant here in London for 'a drink' which turned into a wine-fueled dinner and Wii extravaganza at home. So this morning, even though I was awake early (due to being an annoying morning person now) there was no way I was going to run before breakfast. We went to the Islington Farmer's Market and picked up supplies for a delicious breakfast which featured basil eggs, Perfect Salad [wild rocket with fresh garlic and parmesan], and pheasant & pear sausages. Mmmmmmm. Finally this afternoon I felt human again and went out for a (slow, pathetic) run in the beautiful sunshine and tried not to run over all the people on their way to the football. Then I got to the park and realised I'd lost the scrap of paper I'd written the hundred pushups/two hundred situps workout on so I had to guess and did 4 sets of 15 (for each) plus maxed out at 17 (pushups)/20 (situps).

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Intimidated by Mysore? Read on

Had a bit of a lie-in this morning so instead I thought I'd treat you all to part of a discussion I had with my friend Tracy yesterday. She was kind enough to share a video which features Iyengar doing ashtanga (before he decided to give up the vinyasa flow and focus on alignment), to which I responded:
"Wow, that's incredible. The kind of spinal flexibility and core strength I don't even dream about it's so far beyond me!"

Tracy then went on to mention that she's intimidated by Mysore, which drew from me:
"The thing about Mysore is that you kind of just have to take the leap. I am totally intimidated by it, especially when I walk in and there are guys 'warming up' by putting their legs behind their heads, but on the other hand we aren't all trying to do the same things the way we would be in a class, so it's less intimidating in that way. I can just do what I do, without the inherent competition of 'can I get my leg as straight as the guy next to me while we are doing the same pose?' because we aren't doing the same pose, at least not at the same time. So, um, at the risk of having the evangelism of a convert, just go for it!"

Anyway, it got me thinking about competitive yoga, which kind of seems an oxymoron, even though what I really mean by that is the kind of competition I refer to above. Not only external - can I bend in the same way as the guy on my left? - but also internal - can I bend as much as I did last time? And one of the things I try to get out of my yoga practice is the ability to just be. When I get frustrated with my life (wishing I lived somewhere else, wanting a promotion, etc) I try to remember that this is where I am right now, and I can either always be wanting something else and feeling dissatisfied, or I can just be, and get the most of now.

Now, if only I could actually do that...

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Keep reaching, and reaching, and you will eventually get there

After yoga on Monday, I exchanged emails with my awesome friend Andrea the Metallica-loving yogi. Among the many hats she wears is the yoga teacher one [what kind of hat does a yoga teacher wear?], so I was asking her about my inability to reach the floor in utthita parsvakonasona. Of course Brett in class helps me physically, but he can't be everywhere at once, an I find I'm a pretty intellectually-driven person so I wanted to talk with someone about what I should be thinking about in order to make this pose work properly. Her advice was to open my stance up further and we talked a bit about how I think that my breasts get in the way. I spent the next two days thinking about getting into this pose, and sinking low into my hips before reaching for the floor. And today, I got (mostly) there! Started my day off right. Too bad it's all gone to shit since then.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Couch to 5K, moving into week 2

I'm on fire, I tell you. I'm getting around to starting week 2 of couch to 5k version 2. I tried a pair of running shorts (these, I think). I think the 5lbs I have left in The Fat Runner's weight loss challenge (I've made mine a 6 week challenge) will help these shorts fit a little better, but I was pleasantly surprised even today. A little riding up, but not too much chafing, though I certainly wouldn't try these on a longer run quite yet. They did the trick for 20 minutes, though. Also went to the park to do pushups and situps even though the rain last night meant the grass was wet and I have no hope of wearing those clothes again without washing them. I can definitely tell I'm getting stronger. Kind of a boring run, no one doing anything funny or extra fun music, but I'm pleased that I was up and running by 6:30.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Do your practice, but death is still coming

The Mysore world is saddened to learn today that K Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga-style yoga, passed away. He was 94. Not a surprise, as he's been ill for some time. Even as a new Mysore practioner, I am sorry to read this.

Monday morning Mysore

After a lovely, too short weekend I snoozed my way to 6:30 before heading to yoga. I can definitely feel the improvement already in my chattaranga-updog-downdog transitions; maybe someday I'll be able to roll over my toes properly. Still working on utthita parsvakonasona (extended side angle), where my hands still don't touch the ground. I'm not sure where the tightness is that needs to be freed before I can do this pose properly - anyone have ideas? As I was doing my mini-finishing sequence, Brett came over to help me put my shoulders away from my ears. Made me laugh - I'm still so tight that even the fundamental postures need work. Practice and all is coming, I suppose.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Saturday nights and Sunday mornings

Yesterday was a scheduled run day but I stupidly let the wife talk me into breakfast before I went running...and then there was no running. Instead we went to the Guinness Premiership final (Leicester 10 London Irish 9) and drank too many beers (pints 6) but miraculously I was awake at 9 today anyway and went for a (very stiff) run in the pathetic Couch to 5K version 2 thing I'm doing, finishing week 1 of this and 100 pushups/200 situps, only 2 weeks after starting. But it's time to get going, otherwise JogBlog and everyone else will laugh at me when I can't run the 3.5 miles of the Crisis Square Mile run at the beginning of June and I'll feel silly for having asked if anyone wants to donate to help end homelessness. And now I'm going to take my annoying morning-person-self to the grocery so I can make ricotta pancakes and also spinach lasagne (I seem to have ricotta on the brain today).

Friday, 15 May 2009

Laying on of hands

I'm officially in love with Mysore. I went this morning early enough to be through sun salutations before the opening chant. I didn't know any of the words/sounds, but whatever. As an aside, I've noticed that if I go to bed kind of late (like 1am) after having a few drinks, I weirdly find it easier to wake up early than if I go to bed on time (11:30). Which has led to some hung-over early weekend mornings. Anyway. Brett came over when I was doing utthita trikonasona and helped me open my shoulders/twist properly and to move my hips away from my spine. He just kind of put his hands on my lower back and moved things ever so slightly in the right direction, and I could feel how it was supposed to feel. A weirdly intimate and yet detatched kind of touching - he doesn't even know my name and I only know his because I read the sign-in slip. But I could feel it improving my practice already, and after only 2 days of Mysore I'm getting closer to putting my hands flat on the floor in uttanasana. (And yes, I've looked up all these Sanskrit names.)

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

My first Mysore class

I made it to my first Mysore class this morning. Phillippa, who normally teaches this class, is away in Mysore right now so it was taught by her assistant. I got there about 7 and there were enough people in the room to give a good energy, but not so many I felt I couldn't get any attention. I did my practice, up through utthitaparsvakonasana (extended side angle) in the Fundamental Postures.

In Ashtanga, everyone does the same Fundamental Postures, then there are 4 sequences (Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A and Advanced B) before some finishing postures. You take the poses as they are given by the teacher. So far, I've learned the first 5 postures in the Fundamental group (there are 11).

I struggled a bit to remember the order, and what to do (inhale/exhale) when, which is quite sad really considering I'm only doing 5 postures ('postures' is a bit of a mistranslation, because most of them involve quite a bit of movement). But Brett, the teacher, came over and helped me put my hands in the right place and get the most out of each pose. At the beginning, I was quite stiff (that's what I get for doing yoga 2 days over the weekend then nothing until Wednesday) but after 10 Sun Salutations I could actually reach the floor again.

All-in-all, my practice took about 35-ish minutes. I know it will get longer as I get better, and I work on lengthening my breath. I am feeling it a bit in my back today, which tells me I should focus on engaging my core more, especially in all the up-dogs. I also really need some help in the moving between low-plank, up-dog, and down-dog. You're supposed to just kind of roll over your toes. Yeah, right.

But I can't wait to go back on Friday! Must not over-do it and get burned out, and also there's the small matter of wanting to run a half-marathon or two this fall...

Monday, 11 May 2009

How to take a Mysore ashtanga yoga class

I've wanted to start a Mysore-style Ashtanga practice for a long time. This is the traditional way of learning Ashtanga. However, it's a little intimidating. As Yoga is Youth puts it, a Mysore "class" seems like total chaos. I know the beginnings of primary series, but I'm not at all sure of the etiquette of something that's less class and more open house. So when Anna Wise of Ashtanga Yoga London announced an introduction to Mysore weekend, I was all over it.

While I already knew the asanas we learned, I feel ready to enter a Mysore class. Because the best tip I can give, having just taken the workshop and not gone to a class yet, is to just show up. It would be helpful to email or call the teacher ahead of time and tell them what state you're in (total beginner, been doing led Ashtanga for years, whatever) and find out what time within their practice is a good time for you to show up, but that's just courtesy. Most teachers will let you drop in on a class as it works for you, at least the first few times.

Most classes are listed for several hours, but you don't go the whole time. Instead, you think about how long your practice is likely to be (for a beginner, maybe 30-45 minutes; as you do more of the series your practice gets longer) and what time you need to be finished, or what time you can start (most classes are first thing in the morning), and you show up at the time that's convenient for you. Try not to come in as a practice session is ending - the teacher will be tired and the other students will be winding down.

What will happen when you get there? If there's space, you'll just put your mat down (if you do Ashtanga regularly they recommend you have your own mat, but most places have them to loan if you're just starting out) and begin. If not, you'll join a probably informal queue and wait until those who have come before you have gone in before putting your mat down in a space on the floor. Then, just begin with Sun Salutation A. The teacher (and assistant, usually) will keep an eye on you, offering correction as needed. You do as much of the series as you've been "given" before doing closing postures and relaxation.

That's it. Seems scary, and I'm still a little intimidated but I'm planning to bite the bullet and go for it later this week. Let me know if this inspires you to try it for the first time, or if you're an experienced practitioner and have other advice.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Creating calmness at work through exercise

Today has been one of those days. Where every other minute seems to pull you in a different direction. And I won't lie, it's been incredibly stressful. But I also feel calmer than usual and I'm blaming it on running C25k v2, day 2 this morning.
Good things to remember:

  • exercise creates endorphins, which make everything seem better
  • when you've used up your nervous energy with a (however short) run, there's less left to obsess over all the minutiae of your day
  • you generally get to work on time instead of lazing about in bed until it's time to already be gone before you get in the shower
  • you eat more healthfully all day so that
  • you don't feel guilty about going to a cheese-and-wine tasting (thanks Mom!) at night
I will say that I was sadly more sore than I should have been when I got going this morning and it took me a bit to get moving, and then overall I was slower than on Monday but whatever I don't care.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Running Music & Great Wall Marathon Swag Bag Contest

Big B on the Road is insane enough to be running a marathon on the Great Wall of China. I've just started reading his blog based on a Twitter tip from Runners Lounge, so I'm just speculating when I say this is his first marathon. Great Wall for your first time sounds both cool and, as I said before, slightly crazy. Though I suppose not so much more crazy than running a marathon, which I also have done and intend to do again.

Anyway. To go along with this, he's looking for some new music for his iPod, and giving some stuff away. Basically, go to his blog and suggest your favourite running song for a chance to win some cool stuff from his marathon. But even if you don't win that great prize, there are (as of this writing) 24 songs you can add to your own running playlist. And who couldn't use some new tunes?

A slightly better run report

I'm not cool like JogBlog so I haven't got any fancy sunglasses to review but I nevertheless dutifully put on capris, decent bra, tank top, socks, shoes, and hat. I put my sunglasses on the brim of my hat while I get the Garmin and my iPod all ready. I go outside, wait (and wait, and wait) for the Garmin to find a signal after all these months of not running and finally get going. I do my 60 seconds on, 90 seconds off thing. The goal this time around on Couch to 5k is to end up being able to run a sub-30min 5k at the end of it, so I try to do approx 10-min-miles in the running bits, which actually turned out to be a bit faster but we'll see how that goes when the time extends. I do 10 minutes, am feeling good, contemplate adding an extra 5 minutes today, decide not to because I have been so slack lately and don't want to overdo it the first day out but agree with myself to do 20 min Mondays, 25 min Wednesdays, and 30 min Fridays this week and next while everything is building up, then re-evaluate, so I turn around. Still feeling good after another 10 minutes when I'm back at the park near my house. I go to do the test for 100 pushups and 200 situps, and DISCOVER MY SUNGLASSES STILL ON THE BRIM OF MY HAT. I am a moron, or else London isn't really sunny enough for sunglasses yet. At least I didn't lose them as I did a little Metallica-headbanging-running-thing.

I know you're supposed to train for distance, and the speed will come, but as I said part of my problem doing longer distances (which I enjoy) is that it takes so bloody long to train for them when you are as slow as I am. So I'm doing a short-distance training to get myself used to running this kind of recreational distance at a not-embarassing pace, then planning to up the distances according to an as-yet-undetermined (Hal Higdon? FIRST? your thoughts?) plan based on my success in this revamed C25k. The first time I did C25k, I counted my warmup walk and cooldown walk in my distances, so I can't compare given that I didn't do any warmup or cooldown bits on this run, but back then I did an overall 13-ish minute mile and way back when I started doing marathon training I did 3 miles, jogging (I think) the whole thing at a 12:39 pace, and today I did rather less than 2 miles at an 11:59 pace of walking more than I was running. So I'm off to a better start.

I'm on Twitter, as many of you are. My running-tweets are predictably listed under @RunFrom30. I have a personal one too of course but my RL friends probably don't want to know how many (girly-style) pushups I've done. That's what I have you guys for.

Finally, check out the TopHeavyRunner, another well-endowed lady with suggestions about good bras for large-breasted ladies. I'm planning to try some of the bras she's reviewed, and I hope she'll do the same for me.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Couch to 5K, Version 2

I've decided to do Couch to 5K again. I can run 3 miles/5k, but not so fast. And part of the reason my training for long races goes to shit is that it takes so long to go anywhere. So this time I'm doing it with the aim of having a sub-30-min 5k at the end of it. Which means continually increasing the time I can run at a sub-10-min-mile pace. I know, not so fast, still, but a big improvement over when I first started this program, and this blog. I'm also adding the 100 pushups and 200 situps programs.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Vietnam, part 0.1

Even though Meg and I keep a pretty good travel journal when we travel, we haven't put any of it online from our Vietnam trip yet. And I always get shit from people about the low number of photographs I put out there - but honestly it's intentional as I fully subscribe to the belief that "the difference between professional photographers and amateurs is that the former show fewer photgraphs." (OK, I can't remember the exact quote or who said it, but you get the idea.)

Anyway, we'll put some stories up soon but we had an amazing active vacation, and a few photos, with more to come, are here.