31 January 2012

Cycling: 31 January

I biked down to Hains Point today with David. It was nice out, so David didn't wear a jacket (I did). But, I don't go fast enough on my bike for him not to get cold, it seems--he was on his uberexpensive road bike meant for speed, I was on my heavy trail bike meant for rougher terrain, limping along with a bent brake disc on the front wheel. My average speed ended up being 8.61 miles per hour (1 hour 10 minutes for a total of 9.47 miles biked). I didn't end up biking all the way back home--I'm not used to biking on the road anymore, and my butt started hurting. I think my legs are still stiff, too, from yesterday around town and at the gym.

I need to do this much more regularly if I'm ever going to make it to ALC!

30 January 2012

Cycling and Gym: 30 January

Today I got a twofer--I cycled to and back from the gym, as well as cycled at the gym!

I didn't go to my neighbourhood location, it was one downtown near David's office. It doesn't seem to matter which location I end up going to, I am getting increasingly fed up with the entire Washington Sports Club chain. The Fitness First gym I used to go to had everything I wanted at less than half the monthly fee and a much more friendly and respectful attitude from both staff and patrons. Maybe I was spoiled that it was my first-ever gym membership and I should just get used to the typical DC-like behaviour in WSC locations, but it grates on me so bad.

I was going to do a rant, but it's not worth it. I just don't appreciate the general attitude and inconsideration of WSC patrons and the random poor quality and lack of upkeep of machines in a gym that charges me almost three times what I used to pay for what I consider to be a superior facility.

So, anyway, I biked 17 minutes downtown to the gym, and another 17 northbound back home, for a total of about 4.25 miles, according to the MapMyFitness route below (it's not exact, because the elementary school is just a start/stop point in the general vicinity of home, to throw off stalkers for a few minutes, at least). The route actually has a climb rating (the lowest, 5--but it's rated, which means I had a significant incline of some distance to overcome!).

While at the gym, despite the stationary bike's proclivity toward deciding that it didn't want to offer resistance when I pedaled--but only on every seventh revolution or so--I managed 19 minutes before the thing decided that I was no longer on the bike and shut down. The first bike I was on felt like something was broken on the inside--it was impossible to get a smooth rotation, and the machine only flickered on, barely registering that someone was trying to use it. I also ended up getting in 2 sets with 15 reps at 95 pounds on the chest press machine as I walked back to the locker room in a huff over the bicycle situation.

I also tried to take videos of my ride--a test for later this year when it's nice and I try longer routes into the nearby countryside. I need a better way to attach my iPhone so it has a more front-on angle. I probably also need some video-editing software or something. I'll be posting that video later in the week once I can get it off my phone and figure out how to speed up the frame rate about 20-fold--no one wants to watch 34 minutes of my hand on the handlebar, I'd imagine.

23 January 2012


I've mentioned before that I'm registered to participate in AIDS/LifeCycle this June.

After my hour-long ride at the gym (in fact, I was just getting out of the shower at home), I got a call from my Cycling Rep for the ALC event. I had recently e-mailed and called her to try to set up Team PFLAG, because David and I preregistered at last year's event, so it was not possible for us to do this for ourselves.

She had a lot of encouraging words for me as a first-time ALC cyclist. I do need quite a bit of encouragement--I'm terrified of the idea of riding 545 miles on my bike in just a few months. I know it'll be amazing--and painful--but I really want to do this. That's part of what this blog is all about, and completely what the little effort-tracking sidebar to the right is all about.

I went back to 22 September, the first date I am counting as part of my ALC Training record, and then graphed the distance I've biked outside and the time I've spent on the bike indoors. Then, I added the distances each day for this June's ride (using last year's mileage, which may vary this year but is still pretty reasonable, I'm sure).

(The first day of the graph is 1 September, even though the first day I'm counting is 22 September. OpenOffice doesn't seem to have an elegant graph editor, so the dates don't show up on the bottom. On the far right is June 3-9, the dates of AIDS/LifeCycle. The purple graph corresponds to minutes spent on stationary bicycles in gyms with the axis on the right; orange is miles rode on my Trek 4300 trail bike [Railbank, I call him] outside, with miles on the left axis.)

I'm even more terrified to know that my longest ride is still only half of the length of the shortest day during ALC. I have a lot of work ahead of me if I want to complete this ride--or even the first, 80-plus-mile day of it.

Beyond the effort I need to put in to get to a place where I can ride 100 miles a day several days in a row, I need to get to a place donation-wise to even be able to participate. I wouldn't mind you sending a few greenbacks ALC's way so I can participate in June!

Gym: 23 January

I went to the gym this afternoon, after applying to a few jobs and attempting to find something to pitch for freelance articles.

I spent 62 minutes on the stationary bike doing an alpine hill program. I thought it would add extra peaks as I doubled the time for the program, but it still had only 3 peaks where I worked hard for up to five minutes at a time, with gradients of less intensity on either side.

I get the feeling that the random hill program has a little more variation in the peak intensity, which is nicer for longer rides (>30 minutes), whereas the alpine hill program is probably better for shorter warm-ups when I plan on other activities in the gym.

Anyway, my stats for this ride included an average of 86 revolutions per minute, an average heart rate at 127, 22.16 miles pedaled, and an estimated 619 calories burned.

21 January 2012

Gym: 21 January

Today was a nice, relaxing day. It started with seeing a friend out at 1 am after a fun night of hanging and drinking coffee. We slept in until 10:30, I transplanted a few dozen seedlings into little plastic shotglasses while David worked on something for work, and then we headed to the gym.

I spent 45 minutes on a trainer in the spin room because the 4 less-professional stationary bikes I prefer were all in use. Half of the trainers in the spin room are hooked up to generate electricity--I made only 45.7 watt-hours while on the bike. David, who spent a little over an hour on the one next to me, reached 200 or so watt-hours. He is able to push himself harder than I do. That's why I like the random hill programs--I work harder that way.

I got off the bike after the TV show I was watching on Netflix on my phone ended and headed out to lift weights. Or, rather, use some machines.

I did my favourite lat pulldowns, 3 sets with 12 reps at 120 pounds (the third set was only 10 reps, with a break between the first 6 and the last 4--I am pushing myself to get better, and I am.

Then I did 2 sets with 8 reps at 100 pounds of chest presses, followed by 3 sets with 10 reps of back crunch things, without additional weight. Adding an extra set would be challenging enough, I thought. Next, if I remember, I'll increase the reps too.

After that, I wentto see if David wanted to practice quadrupedal movement (crawling) in one of the free classrooms, but he was still cycling, so I went to the shoulder press machine. I did 2 sets with 10 reps--the first was at 70 pounds, the second at 50, and even then, I paused after the first 7 reps. I thought about doing something else--perhaps ab-related--but I was (am) wiped. And hungry. So now it's dinner time!

18 January 2012

Cycling: 18 January

I biked 2 miles downtown today--my legs complaining the entire way because of the kickboxing class this morning. Also, the front disc brake is still bent and not happy. I must get that fixed...

Gym: 18 January

I went to the gym earlier this morning. Luckily, it's a regular work day, not a holiday, so there were much fewer people there at 9 AM.

I arrived a bit earlier than 9:30, when the cardio kickboxing class I wanted to take started, and spent 5 minutes warming up on the bike, going 2 miles on an Alpine Hill program. I usually use Random Hill, but I wanted to try something different. The sharp peaks and rests in the Alpine Hill program might make it my new default!

The hour-long cardio kickboxing class was killer. After a few dozen kicks with one leg, I was more just shaking it a little than lifting and kicking. I know how to punch--but not dozens of punches in a row.

If I ever went up against Xena and she just blocked all of my attacks, I'd wear myself out in about 5 minutes. Then again, I wouldn't be worrying about combination attacks--I'd be looking for some sort of heavy blunt object. Oh, how I miss brawling!

16 January 2012

Gym: 16 January

I went to the gym this afternoon with David, after a long day of baking and cooking (french toast and veggie sausage gravy over homemade buttermilk biscuits followed by tests of my veggie Shepherd's Quiche recipe).

Because I had a meeting at 5 tonight, I spent only 25 minutes on the stationary bike (8.15 miles, 86 average revolutions per minutes, 176 calories burned). I then did 3 sets with 10 reps of back crunch things, with the second set using a nearby 10 pound weight. After, I did 2 sets of 12 reps at 120 pounds of lat pulldowns.

Then, I wandered around aimlessly, attempting to find another machine I wanted to use. Unfortunately, squatters had proliferated throughout the gym--each machine I decided I wanted to try had a random dude just sitting on it. Not using it. Just sitting there. I wandered the gym three times--same dudes, not using the machines, just chillin' out on 'em.

Fed up, I wandered out of the door.

I just got an e-mail from my old gym (y'know, trying to get me to join again). It's two miles downtown (the only location in DC), but I might actually go there if it means I can avoid the unmitigated doucheyness of the people who go to the gym near my apartment.

12 January 2012

Activity: 12 January

While in South Carolina for the holidays, David and I saw an infomercial on a hotel TV for Insanity, a max-rep body-weight interval fitness training. It seemed interesting to both of us, what with our move from me cooking homemade General Tso's Tofu to being more healthy and fit, and it seemed as if it'd be a great complement to parkour.

Thus, I did the 25-minute Fit Test today.

First was a warmup, which was fine--jogging, jumping jacks, "heisman" exercises (which I never got the gist of before it moved to the quick-step heisman), butt kicks, high knee lifts, and some sort of arm-scissoring jog-kick things that were called "mummy kicks."

Then there was a few minutes of stretching before the fit test, which consisted of a series of exercises that last for 1 minute with 1 minute or so of rest in between. The first exercise was high switch kicks (whoa, my quads and such are TIGHT), followed by power jacks (jumping jacks with a squat at the end, basically); "power knees"; power jumps (which I just call "jumps"); "globe jumps" (it's just a jump to the left, back, right, and front, in a square); "suicide jumps" (or burpees, which I'm more familiar with--drop to a push up, bring your legs up under your chest, jump, squat, push up, repeat); push-up jacks (as you lower your upper body, open your legs like a horizontal jumping jack--bring your legs back together as you push up); and last but perhaps most fun, the low plank oblique (hold your upper body in a plank position and bring your knee up to your elbow-ish area, alternating each leg). Then a longer stretch session.

For my first attempt, I'm saying I did 0 high switch kicks (I know I did several dozen, but my legs didn't get very high, and I was mostly jogging, so I stopped counting), 29 power jacks, 70 power knees, 20 power jumps (this was more difficult with a not-legal-height ceiling), 0 globe jumps (nigh impossible with the floor space available and low ceiling height), 9 burpees (I was tired, plus ceiling height), 4 push-up jacks (um, no.), and 24 low plank obliques.

I'm a wuss. I was sweaty and tired in minutes. I know endurance is one of my weaknesses--which is why I need to do things like this to build it up. So, I will try.

Let's see how it goes next time!

09 January 2012

Gym: 9 January

Today, after making cream cheese spritz cookies, a roasted apple/caramelized onion/blue cheese tart, and candied orange peel (none of which should ever be included in a weight-loss-approved diet), I went to the gym with David. I biked a random hill program for 52 minutes--the machine said I rode 17.26 miles at an average of 86 revolutions per minute, burning 359 calories with an average heart rate of 116 (I didn't really get my hands on the heart-rate-measuring thing except during the resting periods--I've been wanting a heart rate monitor, but I can never seem to justify the expense when I'm out at a store).

With my legs wobbling and David prodding me to leave after his half-hour of biking and some lat pulldowns I told him to do, I went and did my own lat pulldowns: 2 sets of 12 reps at 110 pounds. I was going to do more, but the number of people in the gym made me less inclined to find an open machine or wait for one, so I asked David to show me some of the stretches he does after cycling (which we did for about 5 minutes).

It has been almost two years since he gave me his old Schwinn trail bike (on which I broke my collar bone the second time), and this is the first time we've stretched together. We'll have to do a lot more of that in preparation for AIDS/LifeCycle!

01 January 2012

Activity: 1 January

For the new year, David and I are pumped--or planning on getting that way. We put on our gym clothes for a little parkour-like activity at Finlay Park, where I made him crawl in the dirt, do push-ups, and jump around like a monkey for 45 minutes. I did a lot of the activity with him, but I spent a chunk of time watching his form while he was crawling and squatting. We ended with stretches, but my right quad still feels a little knotty. It was nice--I enjoyed the opportunity to be in a more instructional role. David says he'd even do it again, and that is quite high praise!