Saturday, August 31, 2013

Each day is a learning process....

This week, was an interesting part of the learning process.  First off, I walked with Shaniqua Mystique (my walking coach extraordinaire) on Tuesday and discovered that my shins, at the pace I was walking at were paining me terribly.  So, we slowed it down and still managed to get a couple of miles in.  Wednesday we went to a local pool and I attempted to swim laps.  I learned a couple of things. 

Firstly, my body remembers what a good swimmer I am.  It does all the right things and apparently my strokes are still gorgeous and impressive.  HOWEVER, I can do about a length of free style and then, boom, I want to die.  My heart rate is simply not in the target zone when I do crawl.  After doing a sum total of maybe five lengths, I gave it up and ran in place in the water with Shaniqua.  I learned that running in place does not do much for my heart rate but boy, can I feel the work it is doing on my calves.

The next night, I swam breast stroke for a half hour or so.  It wasn't completely continuous, mainly because one woman started asking me questions about breathing while swimming and the swimming instructor in me just HAD to stop and be of service, but it made me happy and it was a hell of a lot more lengths than I had swum in oh, twenty five years.  After that  I walked in the water, hoping that the resistance would help with training on land.  Jury's out on that, but it felt good.

Today, which was Shabbat, Marc and I walked from our house along the rail trail to the bridge that overhangs Main Street.  My pace is pretty good but i listen to my body, as one of my Doctors suggested and take it seriously when there is pain by slowing down.

We also stopped to chat with some friends.  I think we were maybe down for a total of five minutes and our walk lasted an hour and five minutes.  I noticed walking back how much better it felt and realized that for the first time, I am starting to understand what it means to warm up.  I am sort of happy with that lesson because in the half marathon, I think I can safely assume that it will get easier after I warm up, at least for a bit.

I also thought it was cool that the rail trail is actually about 32 kilometers long.  I am hoping that as my walks get longer, it will be a relatively safe place to walk and also a nice goal- maybe not pre marathon but it might be sort of cool to walk to Brantford!

So here is what I have learned thus far:

1)  Get out and do it is the most important thing for me.  Getting out the door is the hardest thing.  Marc promises me that any time I want to walk with him at night or on weekends, he is available to walk with me, because he loves walking and he loves me!

2) I bought a family swim pass for the City of Hamilton and Ariel and Max will not be swimming with ghac this year, so i look forward to being active with my kids too.

3)  i sort of have a little side goal of eventually being able to do my lifeguarding qualifications again- or at the very least, volunteering with swimming lessons or something.  I LOVE swimming instruction and I am pretty successful at it!  Thats long term though  because i am clearly nowhere near fit enough to pass the physical requirements!

4)  I apparently have good walking posture but in addition, I notice myself walking taller in general.  Not sure if it is pride, or the fact that I am walking faster or whatever, but I do like the idea of walking taller in general.

5) My only goal this year at all is to complete the half marathon.  I don't care if they all go home before I finish, I just want to finish it.  I am listening to my Doctor who is also super fit and trying really hard not to do myself any damage. 

6)  I am lucky to have gotten to this age and weight without serious knee and hip issues.  Even my sciatica is relatively harmless.  I don't want to break me.

7)  I thought for sure it could not work but Muscle Mist is pretty amazing stuff.  You can get it at
I was sure I would be calling on monday to say, hey this doesn't work, but yes it does, as crazy as it seems!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I've been a bit out of touch, but here's what has been happening....

For the past two weeks, I have not been training with my regular walking partner but I have made some interesting (to me anyways) changes.  Firstly, I went off the to the Catskills, for an amazing Torah Mates retreat at the Zone, in Stamford, NY.  It was awesome and one thing about the catskills is that it is definitely hilly.

So, the last time I was there, I did no gratuitous hill climbing or walking.  I left my place at the Venetian (or the Vatican as it was so humourously called) and took what I thought I would need until the next planned time to come back.

This time, I was in the Hyatt, which is closer to the main activities but the hill is more steep.  I walked back and forth as often as I forgot or needed stuff, without once giving any consideration to the minimizing of trips.  Taking a long walk there did not work out, timing wise, but I got some serious heart rate time in.

In addition, I was so pleased to finally be there when SHIMI 2 ZUMBA was giving a class!  For five years, I wondered what Zumba was about and what Shimi, that crazy woman's class was about and I finally got to do it!

I decided that as intimidating as it was, I was going to finish the class, even though I am a klutz, even though I am very fat, even though I only just started getting fit. I knew from doing step classes years before that one can march in place if you can't get the steps.  And so, I did.  I took the class, and started doing it even though I felt sort of idiotic and like I had no clue what I was doing.  And she kept adding on songs, and adding them on and in the end, I think it was somewhere around an hour and a half before we were done.

And I did it.  I finished it.  I walked in place where I needed to.  I didn't abuse myself.  Heck, I was not really any more sore than I might have been with all the hill walking but you know, I did it.
I finished it and that is what my goal is for this half marathon.

When I came home, I launched straight into work last week and honestly, I still have not figured out how one should work a 15 hour day on their feet and still go for a training walk after.  If anyone has suggestions, please let me know.

Saturday, I was planning on walking with Marc, but I had three migraines last week (which is highly unusual for me) and which honestly, there is no way in hell, I would train through those and one was on Saturday.  Hopefully this week.  We won't be 'training' per se on Shabbat, but just walking for long walks together.  He loves walking and is so excited to finally have me to do it with!  Who knew that this team yachad thing would be so amazing for my couple time!  (love you honey!)

AAAAnyways, finally, last night, I went out for a walk with the beautiful and dangerous Miss Shaniqua Mystique, my walking coach, and I discovered- ugh- shin pain!  She graciously allowed me to set the pace and I slowed it down but I think we actually went farther than either of us thought we would.  And with no shin pain.  The next time we walk, I will make sure to stretch better before which is something I have not been so good at doing.  Oh and we went even though we knew there was a storm coming.  And we kept going once it started to rain, although thankfully we missed the storm.  I was proud of us for not sucking out.

One thing that amazes me is that  after I walk, I feel amazing.  Once I cool down and stop shvitzing, I really feel so good!  I must admit that is motivating to me with regard to going out again.  Tonight, Shaniqua and I are actually going to swim, whether it be laps or walking with the water resistance, I don't know, but I love being in a pool!  Right now, i hope to get out for good walks at least every other day. (it appears that every day is really not good in terms of letting muscles rest, although pleasure walks on off days, or cross training are ok.)

Oh and one other thing.  I was at a Doctor appointment and he put the fear of god in me about injuries.  What he pretty much did was confirm that I am insane for trying this in such a short period of time from unfit to half marathon and when he saw that I was serious he said this. " Andrea, you are the kind of person who will decide to do something and then do it with all your might.  At your weight, the fact that you don't have sore hips or knees or anything worse than a little sciatica is a miracle and you don't want to go there, believe me.  So if it hurts, stop.  Train smart.  Don't get hurt because that will take you right out of your game.  Good luck!'

I will say that this Doc is very fit, and so is his wife.  She did a half marathon and apparently it was very tough even though she was fit.  So, from that, I learned that what I am attempting to accomplish is truly insane but worthy.  So, I am telling you all right now that my goal, my only goal, is to finish at a walk.  I don't care how long it takes me and I dont care what my time is.  I am doing this as a challenge for myself, but also to show my gratitude to yachad, which is truly an amazing organization.

I thank all of you for your ongoing support!

Monday, August 12, 2013

MARATHON TRAINING SESSION 1: ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Miss Shaniqua Mystique's Assessment

I'm not sure who you were actually describing in the days leading up to your first marathon training session, but the woman I had been lead to believe would probably walk too slow for a speed demon like me kept actually kept pace with me, side by side, each and every step of the near 5 km we walked! 

Oh, by the way - that woman is YOU, and yes... each and every one of my "seriously - are you kidding me?" was well deserved! In addition to being a much faster walker then perhaps you thought you were, you walk incredibly tall (no need for me to snap a ruler with this one... and you've already got the whole "walk with your hands, not your legs" thing figured out. So, guess it will be me tagging along with you, huh? 

 Given that we took more than a minute off our return walk, I suggest we continue to set new time goals each walk. To build on our cardio, eventually we will add some gentle hills for a challenge (and to build our endurance) and can opt for water walking sessions to compensate for the change in weather as winter approaches. But no matter what we do, the most important thing will always be... stay in motion, every day of the week! 

Later this week? A full 5K - five minute break at the half way mark, then we will take a minimum 1 minute off our return walk. We'll mix things up a bit by trying a water walk - a slow 2K jog in the shallow end of the pool. To build on your training, you'll keep walking on your own each day (remember to take screen shots on your phone tracking your progress!) and if they are nice, you might even let Mark and the kids join you for a walk sometime, too. 

Were you kidding me... or kidding yourself? You're a natural walker, Andrea, and if your first training session was any indication, your first half marathon is going to be your last. After that, you're going to be "full marathon or nothing"!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Andrea's Story

Tonight, I started training with my trainer the amazing Miss Shaniqua Mystique!  I will tell you that what I told her was pretty much that I am five two and weigh an awful lot (well, I was more honest with her, but I am just not in a place where I feel good about sharing my weight on this blog) and while I am not sedentary, I am also not fit.

Miss Shaniqua told me that as a speed walker she fully expected to have to slow down for me but she was thrilled to do so because she was so excited about my decision to be a part of Team Yachad and helping to support such an amazing cause!

So we met up and started walking and within a few steps, she said 'Um.  You don't walk slow at all.  You are matching my pace.'  and I was kind of shocked because honestly, I am the short fat one who is not fit.  In any case, we started walking, and our goal was 1 km.  In the end we did 5km, because i was doing just fine.  We even talked all the way.  I think tonight was shocking for both of us.  I am posting the screen shots of the two parts of the trip.  We did take a break to sit for a bit, because my sciatica needed a stretch but  next time, I will take advil and we won't have to stop.

We walked back and cut a couple of minutes off our pace as well.  My next big challenge is going out tomorrow for a walk by myself.  I am thinking I should commit here to practicing tomorrow so that if I don't live up to my commitment, I will have to suck up my face here as well.  Nothing like accountability!

Miss Shaniqua is writing a report which I will also post so that you can see what her thoughts are!  Oh and the screen shots are in miles. so if you multiply by 2,2 you get the kilometres.  Oh and Thursday we plan on going swimming at Dalewood after we finish our walk!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Training starts MONDAY NIGHT! August 12, 2013!

Tomorrow, my parents will have been married for 47 years, and I will be starting the momentous occasion of starting to train for my half marathon!  I will be training with my dear friend Ms. Shaniqua Mystique, who is an endurance walker and with whom I have no doubt there will be endless conversation as we walk and walk our ways to my half marathon!

I am so grateful for the offers to go walking together I have had from at least six people, the sponsorships, and as well, the very generous sponsorships that will increase as I hit milestones!  I am not really nervous at this point because I do know that there is plenty of time to start the training and get there in very good time.  For now, my goal is just to finish the darn thing, but don't be surprised if that goal changes as we go on.

I am planning on blogging the experience because honestly, I think the idea of someone who is as overweight and old as I am doing such a crazy thing is a) deserving of a description of the process and b) might be interesting and even serve as inspiration to other people who are not exactly  obvious candidates for 'half marathon participant!'

In fact, I am almost positive, here on this side of starting (as in, not yet) that there will be some interesting stuff I need to get out and work out (so to speak.)  Writing has always been my number one way to express my feelings, so a blog just seems like a logical step.  I really hope to be honest and transparent here.  I am attempting to work up the courage to weigh myself and post that, but maybe it will take me a while to get there....

Anyways, I am going to connect this blog to my facebook, so those of you who know me there will be able to check my notes and those of you who don't (ie) we dont actually know each other, can read me here, or via my Team Yachad runner web site which is attached to my blogger profile.  See you tomorrow Miss Shaniqua!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dear Team Yachad Coaches, HELP! I THINK I AM INSANE!

Ok, so only partially kidding.  I am a 45 year old mother of two, one of whom is a Yachad member.  I weigh way too much (think very heavy on a 5ft 2 frame) and because of my appreciation of Yachad as an organization,  I was suddenly inspired to sign up for the half marathon in Miami.  Before losing my nerve, I also posted it online and started getting sponsors, so now, I am fully committed.  I want to help put yachad in the spot light, and help support Yachad that much.
While I am not sedentary, I am also not fit, and in fact, think I must be insane- however, what convinced me was the fact that the coaches have never had anyone fail to finish and that the coaching was available. 
I also think it will make a compelling story which can be used to get more sponsors.  Yup, I am actually willing to go public with this intention.
I am writing to all the coaches to see which, if any, want to help me take on the challenge.  To be honest, I am ok with walking the whole thing- but god knows I need to do the training for it, because it isn't like I am a runner already.  Or even a walker.
I live in southern Ontario (between Niagara falls and Toronto) so weather could also be a complicating factor.
I look forward to hearing from you!