spring in January

I sat in the hot tub warming up before my swim and anticipated how freezing the water would be and also how good my body would feel once I got moving.  I also noticed something peculiar that had never happened before.  Out of 17 people in and around the pool, I was the only female.  I instantly wondered if I’d stumbled into a YMCA men’s day (which they don’t actually have), then I laughed as I thought back to my sister’s last swim on a women’s day at the JCC in New York.  She was about to join a lane when a splash fight broke out over who wasn’t letting who pass properly.  The fight was between two grown women and the lifeguard had to break it up!

I found myself a lane to share in the sunshine and jumped into the cold pool.  I didn’t have a goal or workout in mind so I came up with one as I swam.  Afterward I went back to the hot tub to stretch and my left hamstring immediately cramped up.  Note to self:  More potassium & lower intensity as I get back into the workouts!  I choked down a chocolate cliff shot, which was the only potassium- rich “food” in my swim bag and reminded myself to re-stash some electrolyte packs and cliff bars for next time!  As I write this, I am soaking up my Vitamin D and enjoying a sandwich outside the Crissy Field Cafe.  Enjoy the view!

The workout: 1800 yd swim/ 1 mile,  45 minutes

300 yd warm up, mixed strokes

2 X   150 yd kicking drills, 100 yd pull, RI:10, concentrating on a neutral pilates-type spine during the pull so as not to over-arch my back

700 yd high intensity ladder, L7- as high of intensity as I could sustain

50 yd RI: 10

75 yd RI: 20

100 yd RI: 30

125 yd RI: 30

125 yd RI: 30

100 yd RI:20

75 yd RI: 10

50 yd      RI: 30

200 yd cool down, mostly back stroke to open up chest

hill repeats

I did my first actual 15th Avenue hill repeats today!  Usually I call it a repeat and run it once, but I decided to try and live up to the title today.  I was thinking earlier to get on my bike again (finally) but as the afternoon wore on, practicing was a bigger priority and I knew I’d get a better workout in less time running.  Plus, I am still on a high from yesterday’s amazing run with tons of oxygen and my body is finally clearing itself of all unwanted germs.

I strapped on my heart rate monitor just to see where things are at and did a 10 minute warm up of walking and easy jogging to get to the hill.  I started up at an easy pace and was able to get to the top without too much difficulty.  I concentrated on pumping my arms to help my momentum and leading each step with the balls of my foot.  The only thing I don’t like about this particular run is that it’s mostly on concrete, so I was trying to counteract the pounding with better form.  I reached the top in 6 minutes then turned around and came partway back.  I did two repeats from the midway point then rewarded myself by running just a bit further to the gorgeous lookout point.  The air was moist and heavy with the scent of Eucalyptus, and the view was, as always, stunning.  I turned back and made my way down the hill, walking on the steepest parts to save my knees, then jogged the rest of the way to my block.  I concluded with my usual toe-heel walks to strengthen calves and prevent shin splints.

Once home, I rescued my yoga mat from where it was drying in the backyard and prepared to do today’s YJ core video.  Two problems:  Although the mat smelled much better than before it’s shower, it was still damp, and the video wouldn’t stream.  I opted to use our cloth mat instead and choose a couple of poses my body was asking for.  I did some twists, hip openers, back bends and balancing poses, then a few core exercises and other stretches.  I’m feeling great now!

the workout:

45 minute run- warm up, 6 min hill, 2X 1:30 hill repeats, run, cool down

HR was high at the top of the hill each time but recovered back to low ZN 4/ top of ZN 3 quickly

missing the gate & busting a move

I discovered four important things in the past few days:

1.  I LOVE breathing air full of oxygen at sea level

2.  My body has gotten stronger and more flexible in just one week of committed yoga practice

3.  My yoga mat was REALLY dirty (It had to take a shower with me yesterday!)

4.  Salsa music makes me run faster!

I spent most of our long weekend in Colorado sick and the altitude didn’t help matters!  I was mostly better by Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed the weekend anyway but it’s nice to be back at sea level, done with the nose bleeds, bad night’s sleep and cold air!  The skiing was good but windy and it took all of my concentration to relax and sink into each run.  That said, I felt easy on the slopes and am looking forward to next time!  My proudest moment came when we were waiting in the lift line and up next for loading.  I was giggling at the ski instructor in front of us who’d somehow managed to slide off the chair while loading- and when our gate opened and closed to let us through to the chairs, I found myself still on the other side of the gate while my husband and the others sharing the chair loaded up and took off without me.  I felt like a total idiot as I waited for the gate to open again, then took my own chair up the mountain.  My husband entertained himself the rest of the weekend by saying “ready, go” to me each time we loaded onto a lift.  Good times…

Yesterday was one of those busy “first day home in a while” days and I didn’t manage to get to the gym.  The yoga video from the 21 day challenge was a repeat of Day 1.  The circle sequence was really fun this time and my body actually felt good moving in and out of each pose.  The only problem was, my yoga mat was so dirty that my feet kept sticking and I couldn’t move fast enough to keep up.  Yuck!!!   I took it into the shower with me right after practice and turned my shower blue as the mat’s color washed out along with the dirt.  It’s now hanging on the clothes line outside, still blue and much fresher!

Today we did a repeat of last week’s morning sequence and I think I’m adding this one to my daily routine (at least sometimes!).  I did it mid- morning when my body was already warm but it was super energizing and I finished it ready for my workout!  I’ll post the link for the practice on my yoga page in case anybody wants to try it.

The highlight of today was my amazing run to the beach.  I cranked up my salsa music and ran fast, totally wearing myself out, and taking little dance breaks along the way.  When I got to the beach I decided to pretend I was that happy person in the movie who breaks into song and dance in the middle of the run because he/she is in such a good mood and life is going so well (Fame, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…. anyone??).  Me and myself did a little salsa dancing while we watched the waves crash and enjoyed the sunshine!  Then it was time to turn around and make my way home.  I danced for the buffalo, then again for my neighbors as I was getting my house keys out.  What a fun way to fit in my run and practice a few moves!

watching the snow

I’m tucked cosily into the mountains again.  I love being up here and right outside my sliding door I can see the light snowflakes falling and the ski lift running.  I’m not on the lift today because I’m still not feeling up for it!  After a long day of rehearsing, flying and driving, all I could do last night was sit and breathe and try to regulate my heart rate.  Going from sea level to 9,000 feet is never easy but it’s much more difficult when I’m already sick, and my head was feeling the pressure!  After an uncomfortable night, I marched myself to the store and picked up sudafed this morning.  It was a last resort after breathing exercises, pressure point massaging of my forehead & face (done by my husband!), cordyceps (supposedly good for high altitude), water/emergen-c for hydration, a hot bath and tons of tea.  I also began my morning with Nikken jade greenzymes.  This amazing whole food barley green supplement comes in very convenient travel packs which I stash in all of my luggage, purses and violin case, so I’m never without a dose!  I am feeling much better at this point and my headache even subsided enough for a little yoga.

I opted for yesterday’s standing pose, grounding balance sequence.  My forward folds are becoming easier and I love standing poses when I’m stuffed up.  Occasionally I couldn’t hear the video over my husband’s sneezing, but the practice was well paced and offered nice modifications!   I was able to breath through my nose when my head was right-side up and I found both ski socks and ski boots to be perfect replacements for a belt and yoga block.  The best part of my morning practice was the view out my window.

This afternoon I will do more of my core exercises and go for a walk to try and regulate my body enough that I will enjoy skiing tomorrow!

ginger for the cold

After a feverish night, I opted to stay in bed as long as possible this morning, hoping to rest this bug right out of my system.  By 10am I couldn’t sleep anymore so I got up and looked into today’s yoga.  My sister told me it was basically an abdominal exercise sequence so I found a Gentle Flow podcast instead.  If you’d like to try it, it’s on Yoga Journal podcasts, 10/14/09.  It was a nice sequence and I made do without the blocks and strap, using a couple of books and the wall as props.  As I finished my final meditation, the dog came in and offered me her favorite toy!

My body has lost so much of its natural flexibility through my back challenges in the past few years that  unless I make a point of at least trying each yoga pose, no matter my initial reaction of fear, I probably won’t gain this flexibility back.  I know exactly what will hurt me and what I’m simply afraid of, so I am closely monitoring every move for my body’s reactions and if anything actually hurts, I stop immediately or modify.  And while I’m on this train of thought- a little philosophizing…  So many musicians are injured because they play through pain instead of stopping when the body says “stop”.  Often this leads to chronic pain and more missed work than if  they’d simply quit playing for a few days right away.  Granted, there are sometimes circumstances when one absolutely can’t skip a performance, but for those who are able to rest a few days, I firmly believe this is ALWAYS the best case scenario.

And with that said, I’m going to do my core exercises so that I continue on my own path of healing!

wellness:  Fresh ginger tea is my best friend during cold season!   To make it, wash a big chunk of fresh ginger (2-3T) thoroughly then use a cheese grater to grate it into a saucepan full of water (3ish cups).  Bring the pot almost to a boil, watching it careful (it will overflow and make a mess in an instant!), then put a lid on it and simmer for several minutes.  Serve strained with a squeeze of lemon and some honey.


yoga with the dog

This morning we spent a frustrating amount of time trying to get the computer and yoga video to work but once we finally did, the 15 minute gentle morning sequence was wonderful.  JA & I set up in the living room this morning, which was more spacious and included a rug for my comfort, but the dog decided it was an open invitation to join us and she set up camp with her toys in the middle of us.

We spent the next 15 minutes in a trance-like sequence, breathing and moving through repetitive poses.  The dog was a comic disruption but I still finished the practice feeling great.

I opted out of another day at the gym because my throat is scratchy and I somehow ran out of time.  The cold weather really inspires me more to eat than to exercise but I’m planning to get on that bus and head to the Y again tomorrow morning!

yoga with the cats

My sister, RA, has two cats who’ve been ignoring me since I arrived Saturday night, but as soon as I was on the floor doing yoga this morning, they were curious, rubbing against my elbows and staring at me.

Yoga Journal’s 21 day Challenge began this morning so JA (the other sister) and I found ourselves some heated floor space near the dog kennel and followed as best we could the first practice.  I was disappointed to see that there were not more modifications offered for today’s practice, as much of it was tough for me, flexibility wise.  I know enough to guess on my own modifications but could have used more guidance.  We giggled through parts of it, especially when the instructor put us into a pose neither of us enjoyed then demanded “smile.  yoga is fun!”  We got through the practice, using dog toys as props when necessary and at the end, immediately after the voice guided us into savasana, YJ’s perky wrap-up music blasted from the screen.  Ughh…  We continued into savasana but I had trouble finding any comfort in the pose because the floor was cold and I’ve been working so hard on keeping my hips forward and symmetrical that I found it difficult to completely let go and release my right hip open as far as it likes to go.  

After yoga, I went to the dog park with the other girls.  It felt good to walk around in the cold weather and get some fresh air!