Sunday, April 30, 2017

5 Lessons from SUP and Pier Volunteering

Today was all about sunshine, the beach and stand up paddle boarding! First I got to meet two more ladies from the Discovery Bay Ladies SUP Group. This was the first time the sun was actually shining during SUP and it was absolutely perfect.

I'm still working on my SUP skills and with the help of my fellow group members, I learned a few things out on the water today.

1. Keep your paddle in the water - this is like having an extra leg down for balance and was a game changer for my confidence.

2. Face the wake head on - the wake is affected by the ferries coming and going, the wind, and the normal sea vessel traffic out in the bay. Turning into the waves makes a huge difference.

3. Bend your knees for stability - The slight bend relaxes my legs making it easier to go with the flow of the water under my board.

4. Straighten arms and paddle with your core - I can paddle so much faster when I use the proper form and my arms stopped getting tired.

5. Reapply sunscreen to your feet - so no one actually told me this (I should've known myself), but I learned the hard way today after my feet and toes got sunburned.

After the SUP group time ended, mrC and I continued paddling together (I'm so glad he has an iSUP board now too). We went out and back a few times with rests on the beach in between. Our friends joined us a little later and we enjoyed the sunshine and good conversation until lunch time.

Today was just as good as yesterday. It was pier volunteer time for another US naval ship that came into Hong Kong for some liberty. This ship was much smaller and able to be pierside which allowed us to see things up close.

Just like the last time, our job was to support the sailors by handing out maps, providing information on leisure activities, shopping, dining and helping to get them on their way in the right direction.

mrC was in town this time and volunteered too.

After our shift, we had lunch at Little Creatures in Kennedy Town. We patronize them because they give us loads of free beer coupons to give to the troops. And, the food is really good. Their pizza sauce reminds me of home.

We also took advantage of being in Central to do a bit of shopping. mrC picked out some tennis rackets and I picked out some new Skechers - mrC's first pair (Equalizer - Coast to Coast), my second (Go Walk Sport Rush Walking).

Do you have any SUP skills I should know about?
Ever been on a naval ship?
Are you a Skechers fan?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Fri-nally, a Run and a Night of Glamour

My big plans to get out early for a run on Wednesday were delayed until today.

The weather has been uncooperative and so has my body. So besides literally raining for days, my period left me feeling like I had been run over (sorry guys, if this is TMI). Usually I can sail through my cycle, but I woke up Wednesday feeling like mud. My head felt like I had a hangover and I had zero energy. I pretty much felt the big blah.

Somehow, I rallied enough energy to attend the American Women's Association's Conscious Couture Fashion Show at The American Club in Tai Tam. All of the models were AWA members and all of the fashion was designed with sustainable manufacturing processes and materials in mind. In addition to being able to "shop the runway," there was also a live auction of one-off pieces donated by the designers.

It was definitely an evening for the ladies loaded with all things glamour and beauty. There were canap├ęs and drinks to welcome us to the club, live performances from Jolie Chan and everyone went home with a goodie bag filled with amazing swag (I LOVE the scarf). I'm so happy that I didn't have to miss it.

This morning the weather was perfect. Just like the morning of my last run, the rainy weather left cooler, dryer air behind. These kind of mornings are perfect for doing the two hills route that goes right by the beach.

I am still running 2:1 minute intervals and feeling good about things. Today the best part of my run was coming up the final hill. Instead of walking for one minute recovery, I kept running and made it nearly to the top of the hill. I walked for maybe 30 seconds and then finished the hill all the way to our apartment. It felt awesome.

I had a couple of my running essentials with me on today's run. Even though mrC ran with me, I also wore my Wearsafe tag. This was more about making it a habit to wear it since it's still a new piece of equipment to me. I love how lightweight it is. I don't even feel that it's clipped to my tank. FYI ---> you can use my discount code RUNNINGESCAPADES for 15% off Wearsafe annual service.

Mizunos have been a running essential for me for a long time now. My legs (which really means my bad knee) are loving my Wave Horizons. I really think switching to a support shoe was what my knee was needing. I'm really glad mrC likes Mizunos, too. Now when we run together we become Team Mizuno.

We cooled down after our run with a breakfast smoothie. I'm still getting the hang of my new blender, so sometimes my smoothies are a little on the small size. It's ok, we had eggs and left over pancakes too.

Ever attended a fashion show or other big fundraising event?
What are your running essentials?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Life Between the Workouts

Yesterday, I started off the week by burning a ton of calories at Bodystep. This was my last class for a few weeks because our instructor is off to Australia (her home) and she is the only one who does Bodystep. I'm going to miss this class while she is gone.

Today, my workout of the day was foam rolling. It still hurts, but I do think I'm making progress. My foam roller is the flat kind. I don't know how anyone uses the type that looks like a torture device.

Here's a look at the rest of my day.

I had a meeting in Central, so I took the ferry over a little early to do some shopping. This is the ferry arriving at the terminal.

Victoria Harbour is full of amphibious traffic of all shapes and sizes. Today I saw a large ship pier-side, several other ferries from the mainland and outlying islands like ours, and a small fishing boat.

Spring weather lately - rainy

I had three items on my shopping list: a dress, a pair of walking shoes, and a blender. I was looking for a new dress to wear to an event tomorrow night. I have a dress, but just thought I would see what was out there. I found this really cute dress at Reiss, but I couldn't convince myself to splurge that much. No new dress for me.

I had just enough time to stop in ECCO before my meeting. I slipped on a pair of the Osans and a few minutes later I walked out wearing them. They are super comfortable.

Work meetings in public places. This is a very normal thing for a lot of people, but in my previous non-expat life, I was confined to my classroom and high school building most days ---> meaning (not counting days I might have slipped outside at lunch for a walk or run) 184 days in the building. This meeting is not for my job, but for a volunteer coordinator position that I am taking over within the American Women's Association to provide support to visiting US Naval Ships.

mrC met me after my meeting and we went to see the chiropractor together. We both needed an adjustment and I've been having a little trouble with my shoulder. The chiropractor thinks I've injured my rotator cuff.

Lulu, the chiropractor's dog likes to keep patients company

After our visit with the chiropractor, we popped into Wing On, a Hong Kong department store, shopped the blenders and found a winner. We've had our current single serve low-power blender for two years and it was time to upgrade. 

On our way to catch the ferry back to Discovery Bay, we grabbed a few things from City Super for a late lunch ---> which we ate on the ferry. I love their crab cakes.

Unpacking at the apartment, I found this spoon taped to a bag of chips. The cashier at City Super must have thought I'd need it for the yogurt I bought. Wasn't that sweet?

For dinner, I made smoothies with the new blender! Wow what a difference a few hundred watts makes. 

In the morning I'm hoping the rain has moved on so that I can get out for a run and meet a friend for some SUP.

Do you ever have work meetings in public places?
Smoothies for dinner? Yes or no?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

My Workout Recap, But First

Today I took a well-deserved rest day. I had a good workout week, so today was all about giving my body a break. I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly again for the Weekly Wrap, but first...

First, I want to tell you about the food we had today.

Hello, gluten free pancakes! mrC and I watched playoff hockey and then had brunch. These Bob's Red Mill pancakes were so good. Even though I would love to eat just carbs, we did have eggs too.

mrC had to run to the airport for a bit, and while he was gone I hit up the foam roller. I've been working this into my daily routine and focusing on rolling slowly to make it count. The slower I roll, the more tight spots I find compared to when I roll too fast. There may have been a few shrieks during today's session.

For linner (or whatever you call late lunch/ early dinner), we made homemade pizza. I found Udi's gluten free pizza crust on my last grocery trip and we still had some LaRosa's pizza sauce left over from my BFF's surprise birthday box. In about 10 minutes we had two personal sized yummy cheese pizzas. I like just cheese, but mrC is already planning the toppings on his next pizza ---> pineapple, mushroom and onion.

If you came for the weekly wrap, here you go:

Monday - I'm going to call this an active rest day. I walked to the plaza for groceries and I cleaned and conditioned our wood floors ---> it felt like a full body workout.

Tuesday - Ran a 5K with longer intervals

Wednesday - Po Toi Island tour with the American Women's Association to celebrate a very important birthday.

Thursday - Core strength workout that you might have seen on Instagram and running errands in the rain.

Friday - Burned off a ton of calories in Bodystep class. It was hot. It was tough, I loved it.

Saturday - A double workout with some hills and a little time on the water.

Sunday - rest day

What toppings do you like on your pizza?
How do you spend your rest days?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Two Hills, SUP #2 and A Plank Workout

After a stormy yesterday and more rain in the forecast, I was thrilled to find the streets dry when I headed out for my run this morning. It was early and there weren't many people out, but I felt safe running alone because I was wearing my Wearsafe tag (talked about it in this post).

15% off annual service with code RUNNINGESCAPADES

Unlike my last run, the humidity was really low, so I followed my Discovery Bay loop route. This means that I run two big hills, one in the beginning and one to finish the run. The first hill feels the hardest but the actual elevation gain is 119 feet compared to the slightly longer second hill at the end with a gain of 122 feet. In all honesty, both are HARD!

This was my second run using my new interval set of 2 minutes run and 1 minute recover. Sometimes if I knew that a downhill was up ahead, I lengthened my run time so that I could walk the downhill (sounds crazy right?) and keep my knee happy.

I give this run two thumbs up. 1) My knee felt good. This is always my biggest concern. It will never feel the same as it used to, but each run it feels stronger. 2) The temperature was PERFECT! Low humidity is definitely more fun for running. 3) I ran 4.56 miles, yay! I'm really loving these longer runs. 4) Those hills ---> there's still work to do, but today was a pretty good hill day.

After a shower and breakfast I headed out to meet my friend for some SUP. She also recently brought an iSUP board back from the US with her and is joining the DB Ladies SUP group.

We met at the beach and I was so happy to see my board had survived the 90km winds from yesterday's big thunderstorm. It would have been a bummer to only get to use it once.

It was a little chilly and cloudy (it actually started pouring when we were putting the boards away), so I was even more determined not to fall in the water than I was the last time. I only like to get wet when it's warm and sunny!

We're both a little rusty, so we made perfect partners SUPing around the bay, laughing at each other's wobbles, and getting our SUP confidence back. We ended up getting wet anyway since we had to walk to our apartments in the pouring rain ---> next time I'll pack an umbrella just in case.

Planking. I figure I can't be the only person who is on the fence about holding planks for multiple minutes (my PT told me short spurts are better because our form doesn't collapse). Anyway, I thought I would share this pyramid plank workout I made up and that really tested my core.

How often do you switch up your running route?
How do you push yourself up a big hill?
Do you plank for time or mix it up?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tin Hau Festival - Po Toi Island

After a long day of being very touristy, I naturally came home and used my foam roller. It's a nice substitute for a massage. Just kidding. It absolutely does not feel like a massage. I'm trying to foam roll everyday though. It's good for my muscles.

Let me back up to this morning. I joined an AWA heritage festival tour, aka Tin Hau's Very Chinese Birthday PartyWe traveled by private junk from Aberdeen pier - to the fishermen’s village of Po Toi Island to observe the birthday festivities for the Goddess of the Sea, Tin Hau. 

You may remember Tin Hau from Shenzhen (where we used to live). I ran by her many times on what I called my Mermaid Run.

Back to today. After cruising on the boat for about an hour, we anchored among many fishing boats and other kinds of vessels decorated with colorful flags. In other parts of Hong Kong, the festival includes a parade with lots of drumming and lion/dragon dances. In Po Toi, this happens on the boats.

We went on land to explore the Opera Theatre, which was built on a cliff right in front of the temple and then watched a performance by the Cantonese Opera Club.

Worshiping groups from different villages returned the temple's huge Fa Pau’s which are beautiful towers adorned with paper floral tributes and are unique during the Tin Hau Festival to honor the Goddess of the Sea.

Later they engaged in a scrambling game competing for another Fa Pau which would guarantee the winner good fortune for the year. This tradition is very rare to see as it is banned from most Hong Kong festivals nowadays. Basically a little tube with a number inside is launched from the platform. The number corresponds to one of the Fa Pau and some are more sought after than others.

Professional Chinese photographer Kwok-Leung Paul Lau provided insight in understanding the historical background of this yearly local tradition. He was our awesome guide.

It was a most beautiful day to learn more about Hong Kong culture.

Do you foam roll?
Do you like boats?
Ever been to a culture festival in a country other than your own?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bump Up Day and Running with Wearsafe

I stayed up very late watching the Boston Marathon last night ---> which was ONLY possible thanks to my amazing friend Janine who saved me from the online streaming blackout handed down to anyone not living in the right geographical location or subscribing to cable.

Needless to say, when I woke up at my normal too-early time today, I was feeling a little reluctant to go out for my scheduled run. I was tired, it was foggy, and the humidity was at 92%. Yikes! Then I remembered watching all those runners push themselves in the marathon. They didn't get there by skipping runs. As soon as I put on my running clothes and shoes, I felt better.

Inspiring shoes and shorts

In the elevator (we live on the 20th floor) as I was getting my music and interval app ready, I recalled my running plan. I've been running 90:60 second intervals for about two weeks with good results, so today was another big bump up day ---> increase intervals to 2 minutes run: 1 minute recover x15.

As I started I told myself to keep the pace nice and slow, so that I didn't fizzle in the humidity. Even though I had programmed 15 sets, I figured I would go as long as I could and make up my route as I ran.

I ended up doing a nice 5K around the north part of Discovery Bay - I think it was 11 interval. Instead of doing two full loops, I did one loop with a double out and back along the promenade thrown in. This meant I only had to climb a big hill once.

I was very happy with my run. My knee felt good with the longer run intervals, my pace was mostly comfortable (even going up the hill) and I am one step more confident that I can do a 5K race in the future.

Speaking of confidence, running alone can be scary. We've all read the headlines. Too many stories of runners being attacked. Living abroad with a husband who travels for his job makes going out for solo runs even more unnerving at times. That's why I was excited when Wearsafe reached out to me about joining their Running Ambassador Program.

Wearsafe is wearable safety device that makes it so I'm one click away from a network of people to help me. It works with your smart phone to track your location and even record what's happening once you activate the Tag by clicking three times (you get to choose this setting). That information is sent to your network and your people decide what to do.

Now anytime I head out for a run, I clip the Wearsafe Tag onto my top or shorts. I can run feeling safe and think about things like my pace or my route or the views.

Because I can attach my Wearsafe Tag to just about anything I might carry with me when I leave the apartment, it takes away any fears that I won't be able to get to my phone if I need help. With the click of a button, my family and friends instantly receive an alert.

With the key fob, I can carry my Wearsafe Tag when I'm walking to the fitness center or out running errands. Help is still only a click away.

It's the perfect safety device for runners, hikers, bikers, students, anyone ---> it's versatile!

Wearsafe is similar to your home security system where you pay a monthly fee for the monitoring. Plans start as little as $5.00 USD a month. That's pennies a day to feel safe and confident that help is just a click away every time you leave your home.

Use my discount code RUNNINGESCAPADES for 15% off Wearsafe Annual Service and reclaim your run today.

Were you able to watch the Marathon?
How do you stay safe on our runs/hikes/walks/daily adventures?

Disclosure: As part of the Wearsafe Running Ambassador Program I was provided with a Wearsafe Tag and 1 Year Wearsafe Service in exchange for using and sharing my honest opinions.