Thursday, 25 March 2010

Carbs: TW minus 3 weeks

After another lacklustre walk effort last Saturday (for Footsloggers post see here) I had an epiphany: I'm not eating enough carbs. In fact, I'm not eating enough of anything during these walks. I've been focusing so hard on blister preventation/maintenance and hydration, that the fundamental need for FUEL was forgotten.

According to AIS research Emma dug up, we are supposed to be consuming 30-60g carbs per hour. That's either a muesli bar, or 1.5 apples, or a banana, or 40g chocolate, or 1/2 sugary sports drink, or a wholegrain sandwich, or half a large can of baked beans every hour.

So last weekend's walk (Two Bays walk, Mornington Peninsula, 37km) was disappointing, but I feel so much better now that I've solved the problem. I am now actually looking forward to this Saturday's walk (Checkpoint 4 - Olinda to Checkpoint 7 - Warburton, 48km) so I can put my new eating plan into action. I intend to feel AMAZING at the walk's conclusion at about midnight on Saturday night. I don't quite know how I'm going to eat all that food, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

I attended the final information night tonight, where we received some insight into facilities, formalities and what to expect during the event. It's getting so close now. This weekend will be the final long walk before we taper, so we need to make it count. It's the last 'dress rehearsal' and we're still experimenting! But I feel much more positive and encouraged than I have in a few weeks, so bring it on!

Friday, 19 March 2010

TW minus 4 weeks

I'm back in the swing of things now, after a couple of weeks where training was not as it should have been. As a result of the poor training regime, I really struggled during last week's walk (start to CP3 at Kallista, with a wrong turn, ~39km). I particularly felt it in my quads and in the blisters that attacked my heels.

I like to think my lacklustre performance was due to my lack of exercise in the preceding fortnight, along with the fact I'd suffered from a dreadful cold all week -- but was it? What if I'm not in good enough condition? What if my blisters don't heal in time and I have to walk 100km in agony?

The blisters are especially annoying, as they are the first I've had. So why now suddenly? I don't know. I've drained them of fluid this evening so now I'm hoping beyond all else they don't get infected.

Last week's walk was the first time I started to question my ability to do this event, and for the first time I started to feel disillusioned. I am not looking forward to this weekend, when we tackle 44km in an afternoon/evening training marathon. I expect we'll finish in the early hours of the morning and it will take all of Sunday to recover!

But we persevere and there are only four weeks to go, and only two more training marathons before we taper. The event itself will be the mother of all marathons of course, but I'm thinking adrenalin will kick in for that and some enthusiasm and energy will return. In the meantime we have to get through this Saturday (44km) and next Saturday (50km).

The irony is that despite being in training for months, it suddenly feels as though we've got no time at all. We've only done one night walk so far (with two to come) -- will that be enough? I've still got to get a new headtorch as well. Moreover, some of us are still fiddling around with hydration regimes, footwear, foodstuffs etc. Where has all the time gone?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Sneaking a peek at the last page

Many authors hate readers flicking forward to the end of the book to see how it ends before they have finished reading. It could be fair to say that most authors hate it. After all, we spend so much time building the story, layer upon layer, seeding hints of ideas, fanning tensions. We try to play with the reader's emotions, capture their imagination and entice them on a journey, tease them mercilessly with cliffhangers and unresolved conflicts.

It's a little bit cruel, what authors do to readers. Sure, we take them on a journey, but it's one they have absolutely no control over. In fact, about the only alternative choices they have are to put the book down (which is not the aim of the exercise!) or try to relieve their tension by cheating -- flicking forward to see what happens.

As a reader, I will almost inevitably read the end before I finish any book. I don't usually succumb right from the start; it's not until I have a sense of the characters and have become invested in their journey that I care enough. But there will invariably come a point when I want to know what is going to happen. I demand to know! Sometimes I will only glance at the final pages to get a sense of events, but not specifics. Othertimes I will read the final chapter in entirety.

I cannot think of a time when this practice has been a decider in my not finishing a book. If I don't finish a book, it's because the story doesn't engage me enough to keep reading . . . and often in such books I don't even bother to read the end. It's never because I know the end.

Moreover, the habit of reading about what is going to happen sometimes re-ignites my interest and causes me to keep reading, when otherwise I might have the book down. This happened to me today.

We are currently reading Life of Pi for Page Turners. I started listening to the audio book this morning, and I have to say the beginning didn't grab me much. Too much narrative and waffle -- or so it seemed. Towards the end of the first CD it was starting to get more interesting though.

However, I might have found excuses not to listen to it the next time I went out walking, had I not investigated some more about the book online. Upon the recommendation of friends, I had avoided any talk about it, wanting to experience it with no prior knowledge . . . but it got to the point where I needed to know more about the novel, searching as it were for a reason to keep reading. So, although I haven't read the end, I did read a rough plot outline on Wikipedia.

And you know what? Now I know where this novel is heading, I feel much more compelled to keep reading.

As a writer, I'm not sure I'd mind too much if someone read the end prematurely. Obviously, I would rather it not be driven by the need for an incentive to keep reading . . . Far better it be someone who cares enough to look. In fact, I could almost take that as a compliment.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Retail therapy: Pens with personality

I have developed a penchant for 'nice' ball-point pens. I'm not sure where it came from, but it's got to the point where I cannot walk past Taft's without spending 5 minutes in front of the window display.

There are pens in Taft's for stupid amounts of money -- >$600 for example. I'm not that far gone yet; it would be hard for me to justify that amount of money on a pen. Besides, it's not the brand name, nor the materials, nor the craftmanship that call to me. Nor is it the writing nib, because most are simply Parker refills. Writing balance is part of it, but . . . well, it's not like we handwrite for extended periods anymore, so it's not such a big factor. (Moreover, a pen would almost have to write by itself for $600. Like Rita Skeeter's quill.)

What it comes down to is 'fun' and a way of expressing personality. I want to get my pen out and smile.

Maybe it's because I'm a writer, and, although not the central figure it once played in the creation of great works, the pen is still the symbol of our calling. And I do still need a pen to help me think -- both at home and at work. I write a lot of lists, and like to plan longhand. I relish the connection between pen and brain. (And there IS one!) No-one can argue with the fact that one always needs a pen on hand for something.

So today, feeling in need of a bit of a pick-me-up, and finding myself in the vicinity of Taft's, I decided to buy a new pen. Not a $600 pen, of course. Something under $60 would do just fine. So long as it has personality. And makes me smile.

The problem was I couldn't decide which out of two relatively cheap (and on sale) Perraz Gypsy pens (pictured) I wanted. In all things other than colour & design they were/are identical. The answer was simple course -- because one is always in need of multiple pens.

The next decision is which one to take into work to join my other pen with purple personality, and which will live in my handbag . . .

Thursday, 11 March 2010

TW minus 5 weeks

It's been a very slack week for me on the training front. One might almost suspect I had my old life back!

Gym sessions since last TW post - ZERO
Walks since last TW post - two pathetic expeditions of about 7km each.

I managed to go walking twice while down at Port Fairy, but not for much longer than 1.25 hours; and then I came down with a nasty cold a couple of days ago, so no training since. I'm feeling very sad and sorry for myself, actually. I even bailed on the second physio information night, which was last night. Instead I went to bed.

The plan is to be right for Saturday, when we tackle 35km -- the first time for me, but a reinforcement for the rest of the team.

5 weeks to go . . .

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Folk festival part 2 - chilling out

After a big day on Saturday, the remaining two days of the folk festival were a bit more chilled out. In fact, I didn't even show up on Monday, electing instead to take myself off for a walk (training, you know . . .).

Sunday was a great day, though. A relaxing cooked breakfast with other house guests provided stimulating conversation and a cruisy morning. The musical focus was the themed concert, 'A woman's voice', featuring Eleanor McEvoy, Kavisha Mazella, Kim Richey, Jen Cloher, Kerrianne Cox, and (twins) Alica and Alana Egan, starting at midday.

We then did a spot of shopping at the markets for the rest of the afternoon, before meeting up with friends (Erin & Chris with 2YO in tow) for an early dinner at The Hub. The story of the festival is the sari-skirt-dress that you can tie 75 different ways (apparently). For our evening music session, we drifted down to St Pat's hall, which is becoming a bit of a habit, to hear Enda Kenny.

In the end, I've come away with four CDs: two from Jen Cloher and The Endless Sea, plus a singles album from Eleanor McEvoy, and Kim Richey's latest album, 'launched' at the festival. Surprisingly for me, none of these sing any of the traditional ballads, which I often gravitate to. Instead, all three are singer songwriters. Jen and Kim aren't even particularly folky, but their music is great! Go figure.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Port Fairy folk festival: 8 ways to start

DAY 1 of the 2010 Port Fairy Folk Festival has been fabulous. I saw 8 different acts, and felt that I could easily have bought the CDs of seven of them! I haven't actually bought anything yet, however. I'm exercising restraint for once; waiting to see which acts really stay with me . . .

Here are the acts I saw today:
Jigzag -- 3 piece Aussie band with double bass, fiddle and guitar. They sang a mix of original and traditional songs. (Vivacious, intimate, joyous . . .)
Eleanor McEvoy -- Irish superstar singer/songwriter. She sang an acoustic set of very moving ballads.
Emily Smith & Jamie McClennan -- Scottish/NZ couple who sang traditional ballads (esp Robbie Burns songs), as well as original pieces.
Vin Garbutt -- UK legend who sang a mix of trad, original and others' songs, along with humerous (albeit very lame) banter.
Rory Faithfield -- Aussie living in Ireland, played acoustic original songs.
Jen Cloher & The endless sea -- Aussie four-piece band, described as 'alternative country-folk'. Original songs.
The Tealeaves -- Aussie 7-piece band with much swapping of musical instruments! Sang original and others' songs, including a moving duet between the lead singer and his dad.
Kim Richey -- US singer/songwriter whose songs have appeared on TV shows! All original or co-written songs.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

TW minus 6 weeks

Six weeks to go. Not too long now!

Our team walk last Saturday went well, although it rained for a few hours and we got wet. Our time for the 27.4km was around 8.5 hours including breaks (one of which was half an hour longer than necessary), and I think this is quite good for us. I believe we're on target to come in at 35 hours, and possibly even 30.

I pulled up well on Sunday. Now we need to increase our training intensity for the next month or so -- or so I tell myself. This week I've managed two gym sessions, but not much on the walking front, alas. I really need to step up my mid-week discipline for walking. I should be doing around 25km I think, in addition to the weekend long walk, and I'm not getting anywhere near this. Three 'walk to work' days would do it, but I don't seem to be doing much of that . . .

I went to an information night run by sports physio group, Back in Motion, on Wednesday. It was the first of two presentations, and focused on stretching and core stability. I felt quite energised by the presentation, but have I actually done any stretching since? No. [sigh] There really are so many things to do!

This weekend the team is tackling a long flat walk along the Bayside beach path, but I'll be away at the Port Fairy folk festival. (A pity they decided to walk near me for once on a weekend when I'm not actually there!) It will be a huge challenge for me to do any training at all, but I am going to try to get some walks in. Nevertheless, I guess I'll be a bit behind after this weekend and will have to work extra hard to catch up!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Life-changing Enjo for body and . . . cat fur!

Enjo really is quite remarkable. I was introduced a few years ago and bought a starter pack, which I've used sporadically over the years. Except for the dust glove, which I use all the time, because it is amazing.

I recently encountered Enjo again, when my mother decided she wanted to buy the floor cleaner and sought out a consultant to have a demo. I bought a few more kitchen and bathroom bits and pieces and reembarked upon Enjo usage with renewed vigour.

I also booked a demonstration as part of our Oxfam fundraising program (which proved outstanding in that regard) and ordered a few more bits and pieces -- and so it goes . . .

I now have the Enjo floor cleaner (which I'm yet to use to full capacity); but it is two other items that have captured my imagination in the last week since I've received my latest purchases.

The body glove: Even after a week, this has changed my life! Somewhat oddly (for in my mind it's a peripheral product and certainly not one that the consultant focused on or demonstrated), I started thinking about it at the first party. By the time my fundraising party came along, it was at the forefront of my mind . . . Basically, it's an exfoliator on one side and gentle cleanser on the other, meaning that you can wash without using any soap at all. It's fabulous for the face too -- all you need is moisturiser. And, I discovered this evening that it's perfect for a quick upper body wash when you've been to the gym and need to go out again with no time for a shower! I have no doubt at all that I'll next be getting the face glove (a smaller version) for both travelling and evening face cleansing. Life-changing, I tell you!

The lint glove: My devilcat, Chenna, leaves black fur everywhere -- including velvet-upholstered chairs and my doona cover! I've resorted to vacuuming the chairs and the doona cover every time I get out the machine. But, sometimes I want a more hassle-free and instant solution . . . Enter the lint glove. Once again, I had this at the forefront of my mind and to my amusement it caught on with just about every cat-owner that was present! I think we bought about 5 lint gloves between us. And they work!!

So here am I, happy in my little Enjo wonderland. Very clean too.