anotheranon: (exercise)
Kinda, but not really.

Given my recent abundance of free time, I've been trying to make the best of it. My usual schedule is to wake up 1/2 hour early in order to write; given that I've had a whole day in which to write for the past ~week, I've been using that half hour to go for a short run in the park.

I hesitate to call it proper running. It's more of a very slow jog, with a break halfway (my endurance is CRAP), and it's not even a mile, I'd be surprised if it's even a half mile. And it's not something I plan to continue once work starts back up because I know I simply Won't. Have. Time.

But I'm finding it's a spectacular way to start out the day.

As usual I hate the "getting there" - I hit the snooze button hold my nose as I suit up in smelly sweats, but I really like how I feel once I've done those fifteen minutes: my mind is just so CLEAR! And getting a good sweat going wakes me up, kind of like my beloved-but-forsaken first cup of coffee (except minus the shakes and teeth-grinding anxiety).

Growing up, my family (and I along with them) would always laugh a bit at the "jog jog joggers" we saw on the road. Not sure quite why; perhaps it was because so many of them looked tired and pained, like running was a drudgery to get through because jogging was the expected thing to do if you wanted to stay fit in the pre-crossfit, pre-health club on every corner era. A quarter of jogging class because I needed a last-minute phys ed credit in college also didn't do much to change my mind either. I can't even say what possessed me to try this out last week.

But. I get it now. Even if it's something I can't do in my regular life, at least it's a way to get the blood pumping that's simpler than suiting up in three layers of canvas and hauling myself/my gear to fencing club. Something to think of when I travel and CAN'T fence.
anotheranon: (exercise)
Yesterday I went to an introductory yoga consultation.

I've been dancing around yoga for awhile, if only because I know so many people who swear by it as a means of increasing flexibility/strength and preventing injury. I've tried doing it on my own with YouTube videos and websites but I came to the conclusion that I needed some instruction if I wanted to do it right.

The consultation wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but I think I can use what I learned.

I was hoping for a simple routine of stretches to do at home, but the main focus turned out to be on breathing and meditation techniques, which isn't bad as I was hoping to get some relaxation techniques out yoga as well. Everything was couched in words like "meridian", "chi", "water energy" and the like. I have a gut dislike for such terminology because to me they seem like they're painting an unnecessarily fluffy veneer over something that can be more easily described as "breathe from the belly" and "concentrate on the moment", but I guessed that if I went into a yoga studio I'd best expect such trappings.

The instructor stepped me through the breathing, so I know how it's supposed to feel and some rhythmic motions that will occupy my mind during meditation (instead of counting backwards like I've been doing).

I signed up for a limited membership that includes 10 practices, their workbook, and access to online videos for a year - I figure it's worth it just to figure out how to do this without hurting myself. I figure I'll try out the stretches/classes once I've got the breathing down.
anotheranon: (busy)
Been meaning to update, just... hadn't. So:

Last weekend [ profile] dustdaughter and I went to Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, an exhibit up in B.more. I mostly went for lots of 16th century portraiture that I'd never seen, but as ever with history that's new to me the larger story was interesting too - how could it be possible that, for example, a Congolese delegation visited Elizabeth I's court, or Ethiopian priests studied in Rome, and I'd never read about it before? Recommended.

Also went through a round of veterinary visits with both cats. Kisia was diagnosed with high blood pressure, which explains why her pupils have been dilated for the past 2 months. We caught it before it could impair her sight and she's on medicine, which she doesn't like but has made a huge difference in her eyes and her friendliness in just a week.

Yesterday I competed at a moderately scary local fencing competition, and against all odds kept my head on and got to do 2 direct elimination bouts! I finished in the middle of the pack, and am pleased that I stayed loose and smart. Next weekend, doG help me, I'm in a regional Very Scary event, in which I'm sure to get slaughtered but I figure it's a good "managing the anxiety" exercise.

The library is coming along. The books are all on shelves, now it's just getting them on the right ones. And D. set our first fire last weekend :)

Sewing was/is on hold as I discovered that silk charmeuse facings just aren't stable enough on their own. I got some Touch o' Gold lightweight fusible interfacing, and will give it a go this week. Hopefully I can still do the rolled hem finish.

Still jumping rope 4 days a week, plus some weight exercises for fencing. I think I may have lost a bit of weight.

And after typing all this I'm suddenly very tired...
anotheranon: (exercise)
Storm or not, I did my "homework" from club: stretching for my lunge plus... 100 jumps with a jump rope every day I don't fence.

Until coach recommended this I hadn't jumped rope since...oh....first grade, and with very good reason. I would always trip on the rope and sometimes fall down, leading to giggles from my classmates and yet another reason to hate public school phys ed.

I hate(d?) jump rope, but I also knew that if I didn't do it V. would be able to tell. Besides, he's not steered me wrong yet...

Lo and behold, a quick surf through YouTube reveals that I've been doing it wrong all these years! Evidently you're supposed to keep the rope moving from your wrists, not your elbows! And no one ever thought to tell me this.

I could be charitable and suggest that my PE teachers were so familiar with this relatively trivial exercise that they simply didn't realize that not everyone was, but I strongly suspect it was another example of American public school phys ed* favoring kids who were natural athletes and leaving everyone else humiliated.

So, I *CAN* jump some rope. 10+ at a time without tripping up, and no falling down thus far. I can't say I love it, but at least I don't hate it.

*I add all these qualifiers because I try to realize that my experience may not be representative. Having said this, informal polling among acquaintances suggests humiliating PE class was not an isolated phenomenon.
anotheranon: (neat)
anotheranon: (busy)
I've kept up my resolution to stretch, if not daily, then certainly I'm up to 5 days a week over 3.

I think it's helping my fencing, especially the "rocking lunge" and keeping my back leg under me rather than out behind me (thanks Badger) - I'm doing the best lunges of my life and generally feel more mobile, at least after I'm well warmed up.

I fenced Scary Person(TM) M. last night and he said he was pleased to see me "consistently fencing at a competitive level" and while I was flattered, I as ever have problems accepting a compliment. Can I really keep this?

So, I've committed to stretching, but little else. I keep planning to go to the Anglo-Saxon hoard exhibit, register for ChocoTherapy, chocolate, and Dress U but keep putting it off because choosing something invariably means shutting some other possibility out. I need to just gorram do it already....

Also need to catch up on LJ etc. I know you all are doing cool and wonderful things that I neglect to comment on because y'all deserve more than "cool!" and my words won't congeal further than that :(

Off to find D.'s robe pattern, as he needs a new one (though Reconstructing History's latest and a holiday Downton Abbey marathon make me itching to make a 1910s dress. Which I'll want/need if I go to Dress U...)
anotheranon: (exercise)
Per your question I wanted to ask you about the stretching for fencing you talked about in your New Year's resolutions-what kinds of things are you doing? and posted public if anyone else cares to know:

cut because I care )

Hope this is helpful.
anotheranon: (Default)
..was an eventful one:

I had my last fencing lesson of the year this morning, with an exciting new twist - working on my lunge. As in, lunging and then shifting my weight back and forth between my back and front legs. While doing bladework. And keeping my back upright, legs stable, and no bobbing up and down. This is necessary for reach, stability, and injury avoidance.

Con: besides being technically difficult it hurts like a mother_)*(!_! Coach mentioned an ideal of being able to do splits(!) at which I laughed because I couldn't even do those as a child! Pro: this is something I can do while I'm at home/traveling without equipment. And I'll force myself to do it, because I won't be on a fencing strip again until January.

D. and I went to see "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" in the afternoon. Wow.. it is good, but so subtle, all of the acting is in the facial expressions so it takes careful viewing. I had some difficulty keeping track of characters and following the plot and I suspect it's easier to follow if you've read the book (I picked it up on the way home). ObCostume: The costumes and sets were straight from the seventies. I noticed no obvious shortcuts (like bad wigs) or anachronisms; the latter admittedly may have been easier because most of the actors were older men who are presumably less hung up on adding Hollywood style glamour where none is wanted. Go see it, but read the book first if you can!

Off to finish up Boardwalk Empire. And laundry.
anotheranon: (exercisegonebad)
It's not just for software development anymore :/ My lunge is either:

  • Good: stable, with no leaning or overextension
  • Fast: sudden and explosive to surprise both my opponent and myself
  • Cheap: economy of motion and effort that leaves me ready for further action if needed

Turns out I CAN have the first two, but always pay: sometimes immediately, as after a couple of good lunges I'm left wheezing like Darth Vader with a bad air filter, or later, when my back and/or feet go "ping".

V. says I need to practice lunge-recover-retreat off the strip to the point that it becomes automatic. He is not wrong, but MAN, it is gonna hurt! Think I may try this at home, on film, to make sure at least my form is good before I go back under the watchful Eye of Sauron (i.e. lecturing coach).

It's disheartening that I've been fencing this long and am still so bad at such a basic move. On the other, damn, look how far I've come already(!)
anotheranon: (busy)

  • I've found that the cross-training sneaks I use for fencing lose their "squish" after ~6 months. Replacing them has done a LOT to avert the back/knee pain I've had over the past couple of weeks.

  • Cotton batiste is easier to gather than any other fabric I've worked with: stiff enough to hold itself in place for sewing without a million pins but fine enough that the gathers don't have to be PERFECTLY even.

  • POTC 4 does not suffer the lack of Orlando Bloom/Keira Knightley - Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush chew enough scenery for everyone combined.

  • I need a pirate coat. But then again, who doesn't?

  • Either I've acclimated or the A/C about isn't cranking as hard as it used to, because for the first time in years I can wear sandals indoors without my feet going numb. Huh.

  • Angel rewatch: just got through the abysmal Connor storyline. Up next: season of Spike and wee little puppet man.
anotheranon: (exercise)
I'm almost 3 months into 2011 and I'm at least partly on track:

  • Eating more fruit: we got a blender and I've been having a fruit smoothie for breakfast at least twice a week. So far I prefer blueberry and strawberry, but as most of the flavor comes from vanilla whey powder (lactose free!), I think I could eat almost any fruit blended regardless of whether I enjoy the whole version.

    Also still eating apples at least twice a week, or if I'm craving something salty, nuts. I'm successfully avoiding the snack machine :)

    I'm aware that these are far below the recommended daily allowance, but I figure "some" is better than my previous "none".

  • Trying new things: in the past 6 months I've been 3 places I've never been before (Las Vegas, Gatlinburg, Detroit) and at least partially rolled with it instead of letting the "out of my cave" feeling scrape on me. Tried a new spa this weekend (ahhhhhhhhhhh), tried some new recipes. These are small things but I think they count. What other new things should I try?

  • Meditate more: er.....not so much :( Counting my breaths while trying to fall asleep doesn't exactly count; neither does focusing on the target while fencing because I'm still thinking. I'm still trying to wrap my head around scheduling time to do nothing.

I am at least doing fewer things. I finally realized the reason I couldn't get organized was because I had too much on my plate - or rather, D. pointed out that I was so busy I was never home, and usually harried when I was. Much as it chafes, I simply don't have time for SCA/historical "unpractice" anymore.

It was hard to drop because I was afraid of disappointing others, reluctant to give up something so interesting, and unwilling to admit that I was trying to do too much, but it was slicing both my week and Wednesday nights so perfectly in half that I felt like most of my time spent at home was either getting ready to go back out or getting ready for bed after coming in. I'll still fence rapier at events (and with more at home time I might feel more inspired to get out and about on weekends), but just can't do a regular practice right now.

I am doing cardio crosstraining at home - it's repetitive, makes me gulp for air and sweat even without wearing 10 pounds of cotton canvas. But I gotta if I want to outlast those freakishly fit young things on the other side of the strip.
anotheranon: (fencing)
This past weekend was the 2nd leg of my March travel marathon, to Detroit for a North American Cup.

NACs happen several times a year and have a similar national scope and size as summer Nationals, but don't require a separate qualifying competition. As such, I'm eligible for more than one event and as I'm not sure if I'm going to SN this year, I thought I'd let this be my big fencing trip for 2011. For a variety of reasons NACs aren't always in the most glamorous locales, and this one was in Detroit.

Locale/venue, and tales of good customer service )

fencing foo )

It occurs to me that I've been to 4 cities in the past 2 months, and while for some that's life, it's unusual for me and I'm rather looking forward staying put for the next few weeks. This weekend: sewing and a deep tissue massage.
anotheranon: (exercisegonebad)
Sundays at fencing club have been intimidating of late.

This is because a group of the Big Scary People - high-rated fencers who move like greased lightning and are six moves ahead of things Ordinary Mortals (meaning me) haven't even thought of yet - have been coming for the past few weeks. There are about 4-6 of them and they show up early, and if I'm there before noon it's either grit my teeth and cycle in or repetitive footwork/target practice until other Mortals show up.

The Big Scary People (BSP) aren't scary socially - as near as I can tell they are all friendly chaps and don't have superiority complexes over their considerable abilities. When I get the nerve to approach they don't refuse to fence with me, even though I don't pose much of a challenge.

It's just that my lizard brain still remembers humiliating high school phys ed, in which "natural athletes" bullied or simply bulldozed over apathetic bookworms like me. The teachers/coaches didn't seem to notice, or if they did, they didn't mind, which in retrospect makes sense, I suppose - what teacher wouldn't rather teach kids who are clearly enthusiastic about and good at the subject matter? The administration was another matter - school athletes got a pass for some of their less savory behavior, perhaps because team sports brought in money, and they were perceived as team players in a way that solitary bookworms were not :P

I need to remember that we are not children at club and I'm not just a bookworm anymore. I did cycle in yesterday and took my knocks and delivered a precious few of my own. There are still a couple who I think we'd be wasting each others time (I'd be little better than a moving target to them, and I can't even see what they're doing), but one of the ways I can improve is to play with the big kids.
anotheranon: (exercisegonebad)
I hurt.


Not in a fun way.

Saturday was one of my irregular attendances at fencing advanced/competitive class and the subject was "cross-training".

Tiny footwork backwards and forwards, and jump-lunge step-lunge exercises (?? "ay-la" and "la-ay") were hard enough, but included on the circuit were climbers and ab wheelies.

I went through the series around 5 times.

I feel "ripped" for non-washboard abs values of ripped: my back and midriff are angry and tight. My shoulders feel like there's no meat insulating the tendons from the bones. Sitting up from reclining invokes teeth clenching. [ profile] shemhazai visited Sunday-Monday and asked "are you ok?" more than once so I guess my discomfort shows.

All of that strongly suggests I need to do more climbers and wheelies, but I can think of almost anything else I'd rather be doing.

Ow. Ow.
anotheranon: (adventure)
I wasn't necessarily planning to ski when we went up to Gatlinburg.

I wasn't necessarily not planning to either. I knew it was on the itinerary and in the spirit of "fortune favoring the prepared" I packed a ski bib I got somewhere, who knows when ago, just in case. So when my sister-in-law suggested visiting the ski resort for the nieces first lesson, I figured, well, DID pack this huge fluffy thing and I've gone without real exercise for too many days...

...and by the time we drove up the hill and got through the lines, I was committed, lemme tell you! Evidently the holiday season + snow = one of the ~5 busiest days of the year for ski resorts (who knew? Skiers, of which I am not one) and it took 2 hours to rent all of our equipment, suit up, and get to the training slope.

An hour of instruction was required for beginners, and I'm grateful for it - my only other skiing experience as a child didn't, and I remember mostly lying in the snow, freezing. In that hour I learned how to put on/take off the skis and how to turn and slow myself down. I managed one or two times down the very flat slope and I kind of get the appeal - the slow build of speed and focused trajectory. The nieces picked it up even faster, and though each fell once, that was about it.

I fell quite a lot, but most of it was on purpose. I got the theory but not the practice of slowing down and the "bunny slope" was so packed with people who wouldn't get out of the way that I wiped out multiple times to avoid collisions. SIL had gone down the slope for real skiers while we were in training, and suggested another beginner's slope that was less crowded.

It was NOT a beginner's slope after all, but none of us realized that until we'd accelerated way past our comfort levels and tumbled to the bottom. The catch holding the skis to my boots were HARD to get off and wore out my arms far more than my legs. SIL commended us for taking the chance, and I was glad too, as part of my new year's resolutions (more in a later post) is to push my comfort zones.

Through it all, I was not as cold as I remembered or expected to be - having the correct cold-weather gear made a huge difference. So does adrenaline :P

I think I could get used to skiing given more practice at a much less crowded resort, but no idea when that will happen. The bib came back along with everything else, so I'm prepared at least.

the wall

Oct. 3rd, 2010 11:25 pm
anotheranon: (exercisegonebad)
Went to another competition this weekend, an E and under. Not a great showing, though not the Kickoff's definitive rout - I scored touches in all my pool bouts, though won none and finished last.

I was blessed/cursed with an opponent in pools and DE that fences the same way I do: slow moving defense with quick parry 4s. I fenced her last year and got no touches on her; she's not changed noticeably in style but I got 3 on her in pools and 4 in DE. Still, it was frustrating - one of those damn learning experiences.

Many people seem to assume that I have this amazing lunge - not so. Or, at least, not consistently. I've got the energy for about 3 good, upright lunges with recovery and then my hips and back get too weak to reliably pull me back. I've been slowly getting stronger, but the improvement is glacial and slight.

The footage Badger got of me last week is downright painful to watch, and not just because I look awkward - I felt as stiff and inflexible as I appear. No bounce, no stretch.

True thing: I love fencing but hate the repetitive solitary exercises that would improve my game: footwork, lunges, target practice. I don't like doing them at club because in theory I can do them alone at home, I just don't :P Brutal truth: at base, I am a fundamentally lazy person :/

So I'm going to start, and supplement with prophylactic back yoga instead of waiting until I hurt to stretch out. Today I did yoga and fifty lunges, plus some time in the fitness room. Tomorrow I'm doing it again combined with target practice on the wall (the laundry room should be ok).

And I'll put on music, 'cos it's so boring.
anotheranon: (cranky)
I may have given up on my efforts at wearing proper fencing shoes.

I suspect my D'Artagnan IIs are worn out, based on the fact that my past few orthotic replacements haven't kept my arches or shins from flaring up. That, and fact that my left big toe has worn a big hole in the innersole :P

I converted to them in the first place because I didn't like fencing in my old crosstrainers - they felt bulky and like I was dragging massive wedges of foam!! behind me, but that was ~2 years of footwork ago, and my knees weren't grumping at me then.

I've done some footwork in my new (plush, soft, like walking on a dream, but still big and foamy) cross-trainers, and if they don't slow me down on the strip during tomorrow's practice I'm calling 'em my new sneaks :P

Why must shoes that my feet love so offend my eye? Big white sneakers are among my least favorite looks :P
anotheranon: (busy)
or How I Spent (Most) of the Holiday Weekend:

My frustration with book storage at last came to a head. Through strategic rearrangement and clearance/use of bookcase tops and bookends, I've managed to clear most of the books off my ersatz cutting/work table(!) and even have a few inches of spare space left over for future acquisitions (!!)

Getting on a roll, I also moved things around enough on another shelving unit that I am now storing my printer, USB record player and 3 milk crates of vinyl in the same place. No longer do I have to keel on the floor to get to a record (yes, I still have records) or worry about dust and cat dander getting on the turntable!

I'm going to attempt my final feat of rearrangement-fu after this post: refolding and replacing everything in the linen closet. Admittedly at least part of this may have to wait until next weekend.

Other activities of note:

  • Gave the new residential fitness center a whirl, mostly for my upper body that gets very little work through fencing. All of the equipment is brand new with clear instructions and it wasn't too crowded. Though, IMHO, something that makes me this sore should also probably make me sweat more.

  • Visited with college friend J. and his new girl D., in town for the weekend. We went out for (Americanized?) Russian with vodka samplers. Large samples led to large conversation and a good time was had by all :)

  • Dyed and redyed a thrift store skirt to cover a stain. Note to self: if the garment is small enough, stovetop really works better.

  • D., fed up with the constant crashing of the latest iPhone OS, upgraded us to Droids. Still getting used to the keyboard. Not as many apps but I'm liking it so far.

Now, about those linens...
anotheranon: (exercisegonebad)
So, you know I didn't show well at Nationals. Much of this was because I was denied my preferred sleep and food rituals.

I lurve my prep, and tend to lean on it rather heavily to keep my game in order because even the tiniest discomfort derails me. However, I saw people with far greater impediments than I still manage to hold it together on the strip long enough to do some impressive things. People with injuries, illnesses, nausea, and even less sleep or food than I managed to summon something that I don't have and score a couple more touches, keep their feet moving just those few seconds more. Compared to these lions of endurance/stoicism, I feel like a tiny mewling kitten :P

Part of this is laziness on my part - my inner hobbit desperately wants to rest my legs as soon as they start to hurt and take a nap as soon as my eyelids droop. Having an uncompromising coach who pushes me just a little bit more every lesson helps, but I need to develop some internal toughness and self-discipline.

All of you who engage in physically/mentally demanding endeavors - how do you work through the distractions of pain, illness, sleeplessness and other less-than-perfect conditions to get something out of your performance?
anotheranon: (exercise)
Column one, 2nd day. I did day 1 twice because it's getting increasingly difficult, and might do day 2 again as well.

I'm no longer suffering residual aches a day or two after each round, but I am having to take breaks during sets: to avoid straining my back I'm trying to use my abs to keep my back straight, but when I do that I can't breathe and have to do a "downward facing dog" to inhale while not seizing my back muscles.

Incredibly I am not paying too much for this past weekend, a bit of pinging in my left sole and mild shin-splinty tightness but not nearly as bad as expected on either count.

...crap, I've run out of things to say now. Perhaps I can treat myself to an early night.

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