achey achey

Strictly speaking I haven’t actually done anything for me just yet, as I’ve only been awake for a few hours, but my whole body is SCREAMING from yesterday’s workout and that soreness feels so good. I have missed exercise horribly — I cut down to just running about 18 months ago, when it became too expensive to keep seeing a personal trainer, and dropped the gym fairly rapidly after that. It was a huge saving but I do sometimes wish I had access to a treadmill, so I could try some gentle running and see how I go, with the option to stop immediately if it gets too much for my knees or shins.

Anyway, for the time being I am happy to spend the 40 days until I leave working out at home with the Nike app, but I think once I am in Hong Kong I will need to get a gym membership. Hopefully I can go to the same one as Cici and we can be Supermate-Supergymbuddies.

It was brought to my attention last night by a certain Alasdair (big-up Brussels!) that my 100 Push-ups challenge has slipped out of sight. I had lost interest after being kindly informed that my form was wrong, but I think, based on the gazillion modified push-ups in the workout I did yesterday, that I could probably start again and do ok.

Today however, I am going to bask in my DOMS and not do a thing! Mummy has given me access to her eBooks account and now I can read all her books on my iPad, which is exactly how I plan to spend the rest of the day — after reading 4 or 5 terrible cheap/free self-published crime thrillers on Kindle, it’s a sheer delight to be reading Death Comes to Pemberley, even if the concept of a detective novel/Jane Austen mash-up is so very, very middle-class! I’m halfway through it and enjoying it immensely.



Sunday duties:

Week 2, Day 3: 34 push-ups

Week 2, Day 2: 111 crunches

These were performed whilst my housemate Marine looked on and made helpful suggestions, such as her sitting on my back whilst I did my push ups. I actually had to do them in record time, as I woke up late and needed to rush off to Danshui for the China Hash. I almost didn’t do them, but in fact it takes less than 15 minutes to do all 10 sets + rest times.

Taking the MRT for 80 minutes in each direction so as to run/slide through muddy jungle and farmlands may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but I cannot imagine a Sunday that doesn’t involve running the Hash. Unfortunately I have one such Sunday coming up, as I am hopefully going to be working as an extra on a commercial next weekend.

Anyway, today was good, I didn’t break any records but despite the mud caking my shoes I felt I was running well and continuing to improve. I’m happy to say I didn’t fall (or give up and slide down the slopes on my butt) once, although one of the Taiwanese hashers teased me that it means I’m not running fast enough. I’m looking forward to Tucheng this Wednesday — how can it already be 2 weeks since the last session?? — and hoping that I will continue to honour my coach.

One thing about this “coaching” is that my running style is a lot more relaxed and consequently I sometimes feel a bit silly, as if my arms and hands are flopping about. I cannot deny that this posture takes less effort and allows me to breathe easily, and when I’m running alongside people with their fists all bunched up against their rib-cage and their feet stomping along I can feel myself positively gliding past in comparison. Maybe I will be less self-conscious when I actually start running faster as well as better.


It seems I used up most of my enthusiasm on Wednesday night and the week went downhill from there. Yoga on Thursday was a bit of a struggle and I had to sit out the last couple of postures because my body was aching so much. I did my push-ups and crunches on Friday morning, and barely managed to increase my numbers (29 push-ups, 102 sit-ups). So I decided to not go to yoga on Friday night, which is a shame because it’s a nice bookend to my working week. Normally I study after class until yoga, and then get home about 9:30pm tired but relaxed and ready to start the weekend.

The main problem has been my classes. I don’t dislike the teacher or her methods, but we are studying the most inane, overdone topic in the history of learning Chinese: Chinese New Year. 1 – I have done this subject at least half a dozen times already over the years. 2 – the vocabulary is totally useless. I have no desire to discuss the different types of food that are eaten at CNY. I have no interest in dissecting the puns that accompany the festivities. 3 – this is definitely too easy compared to what we were doing by the end of last term. I feel like I am wasting my time and money.

I read an article last night that included the line “What doesn’t excite us makes us weaker.” This sums up how I feel entirely. I am not excited by my class in any way. Several people suggested to me last night that I should change classes, but there are only two other classes above ours, both are newspaper classes (which I do not find exciting), the easier one is at 8am (which I also do not find exciting) and the harder one is already packed beyond maximum capacity.

I have to wait for the scholarship announcement on the 20th of December. I don’t have much faith that I will actually get the stupid thing, and if I don’t, then I am tempted to get a refund on my remaining classes and do… something else.

Something else, following that age-old practice of brainstorming on Facebook, is currently a fantasy of moving to Chile. What do you mean I have never shown any interest in Latin America? Tintin and the Picaros was always one of my favourite Tintins!

Look, they’re running Hash!:

However, my immediate future involves spending Saturday in the library doing all my homework, and hopefully a swim as well. I wonder if I can smuggle my hot water bottle into the reading room?

day of rest

Today I had big plans! but despite getting up at 6am to clean my room and do laundry (which is still in the machine, 10 hours later) I then got sidetracked by the discovery that my phone has been cut off. Apparently the guy who processed my phone didn’t bother to submit my identification details to the company and now I have no phone service. Which is making coordinating with the various people I have plans with quite difficult.

Apart from running around trying to sort out my phone (which still isn’t working), today I have mostly been… napping. Oh and I had a craving for red meat so I went and got a decent burger at this American diner-type place and it promptly made me sick. Unsurprisingly, after 3 months of mostly vegan diet my body does NOT like huge slabs of beef anymore… one more reason to go back to bed.

I am currently reading two Trollope novels simultaneously, The Warden on Kindle on my phone, and Phineas Finn on iBooks on the iPad. The fact that The Warden was written before Barchester Towers makes things even more complicated, as I am constantly being referred to characters whose future I already know (ie. Mr Bold who is alive and unmarried in The Warden, but in BT is already several months dead and presumably at some point prior to his death got married to Elenor). But I’m still enjoying them — although I confess I wouldn’t read The Warden if it wasn’t the only unread book on my phone. Other recently read e-books: Treasure Island (another “I wouldn’t have read it except it was already on my phone” which I still quite enjoyed), L’Oeuvre (aka my favourite Zola ever, and which I wrote a huge blog post about at the time but never published), and every Contesse de Segur book I could find (not the most intellectual reading, but then again I think Ctesse de Segur is the reason why my French soutenu was/is so impeccable, so it’s kind of like revision…).

I’m right this minute flaking on yoga (cold; rain; disruptive drinking/dinner plans involving green beers in Yongan) but I did do my push-up/sit-up challenges though! (disclaimer: these are the total figures for the 5 sets, not for consecutive reps)

Week 1, Day 2: 19 push-ups

Week 1, Day 1: 73 crunches

my pet mountain

Wednesday night means Tucheng night (every other week, anyway). 1 hour bus, 7 hours train, 25 minutes MRT, and I was finally at the starting point to run that mountain. My “coach” scolded me for being late and then pushed me HARD, despite my protests about too little sleep and no food. And despite the massive snake that we ran into (try running fast up a steep hill in the dark and tripping over a snake — does wonders for your cardio).

And I really did run way better. If it hadn’t been for my sock rubbing my left toe to the point where I had to limp the last few kilometres, I would have massively crushed my time for that 10.5km of bitching mountain.

Week 1 – 1:30:00
Week 2 – 1:24:00
Week 3 – 1:20:00!!!

By the way, yesterday I did day 1 of the 100 Push Ups challenge yesterday: 13 push ups. In a bit I may do day 1 of the 200 Sit Ups challenge. Or I may just get some much-needed sleep.

PS – check out my guest run report on Run Taiwan.

challenge me

The Chinese speech contest is over and my holiday can begin at last!

Even though I was one of the first people (of nearly 60) to give my speech, I didn’t get home till almost 8:30pm. It was a long day… I didn’t win any prizes (although we all got 600NT as a “thank you” for our hard work, which was really nice), but I also didn’t screw up when doing my speech, which really is all I could hope for. I discovered that despite my confident and bouncy personality, when it came to standing on that stage for 5 minutes, I was petrified. My legs were shaking so badly they actually distracted me from my speech, because I felt like they were about to collapse beneath me.

Without exaggeration, it was one of the physically scariest moments of my life. I don’t know how to explain, because even though my brain was ok and my mouth continued to recite Chinese and focus on tones, my whole body was just shaking in fear. I was sure the judges could see my knees trembling.

But I survived, and my speech was nothing to be ashamed of, so I guess I should be less afraid in future. I almost feel like I should participate in more of these, so that my body learns to pull itself together. Whoever heard of such a fuss about nothing?

I want to try a couple of challenges, the 100 Push-Ups Challenge and the 200 Sit-Ups Challenge. I did the initial tests tonight, sort of, only I am not sure I am doing the push-ups and crunches with the correct form so I don’t know how much it should count. For the record, I did 4 push-ups, and possibly 50 crunches. I’m unsure about the crunches because 1, it seems unlikely that I should be able to do so many, although I suppose we do get 30-40 crunch drills thrown at us every week or so in yoga. And 2, I AM TERRIBLE at keeping track of my reps.

When I had the personal trainer, I am pretty sure he thought I was a moron, because I couldn’t count my own reps. We had a little ritual where he would ask me how many reps I was at, and I would say, “uh… 12?” and he would shake his head in disbelief, because it was either 7 or 30 but never, ever 12. He tried to lecture me several times on how I need to be counting them, but come on, what else was I paying $60 an hour, three hours a week, for him to do? I do the exercise, you do the maths. Simple.

Plus, I clearly just can’t count.