Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summer in Hong Kong: heat, humidity, typhoon, repeat.

The summer weather in Hong Kong certainly lived up to its reputation this week. Believe it or not, we were hit by two tropical storms in five days: Severe Typhoon Hato and Severe Tropical Storm Pakhar. Needless to say, my workouts for the week were not the norm.

Monday - The week started off with record-setting high temperatures. That didn't stop me from getting outside for my low carb Tabata workout and it was a good one: jump squats, in and outs, scissor jumps (I did star jacks instead), mountain climbers with a twist and toe taps. I decided to forego my normal Bodystep class because the Tabata workout sounded good on paper. Even in the heat, it felt good to do my workout outside.

Diverging for a minute...I've been meaning to share my FASTer Way to Fat Loss carb cycling results and since I keep forgetting this seemed like a good time to squeeze it in.

My initial six week program ended while we were at Cape Cod, so I took my measurements after doing another two weeks once we were back. Overall, I lost about 6 pounds and a total of 4.25 inches (mostly from my belly, hips, and thighs). I think it is hard to see a difference in the photos (easy to see my bad posture, ha!), but my clothes are definitely looser and my stomach feels flatter (most days). After doing multiple rounds and loving the program, I've continued carb cycling with the FWTFL VIP program which means that every month I get a new set of workouts along with even more interaction and accountability in the VIP online group.

Back to my Monday workout, my second time with the Discovery Run group was a hot one and mrC joined me this time. At 7:45pm the temperature was still 90 degrees with a feels like temp of 104! It did not stop us or the other 38-ish people from showing up to run together. The run was a little short of a 5K (that was ok with me because it was so hot) and it was a different route. I like that they will be switching things up week to week. I wore my favorite tank and shorts from Oiselle and they were soaked when we were done.

Tuesday - I had another laser hair removal appointment in Central which means no sweating for 24-36 hours. I ran some errands and then hung out with mrC in the AC because it was another record breaking hot day.

By the way, we all know how important it is to stay hydrated, not just in the summer when it's hot, but all the time. Hydrant wants to help you stay hydrated. Sign up here for a chance to win a one month supply. Winners will be announced September 1st.

Wednesday - Typhoon Hato came. This was the biggest storm I've experienced in Hong Kong. The winds were so powerful that I could feel the change in pressure and the building sway. I alternated between watching the storm from our 20th floor apartment or the lobby and being worried about it. Thankfully, mrC was home to keep me calm!

I did a little #typhoonyoga to distract myself and that helped a bit in the beginning. It felt good to go through a flow and just let my muscles stretch out and relax. Well, try to, when there's a raging typhoon going on outside.

By late afternoon, the storm had mostly passed, so we took a walk to see if our SUP boards survived. I was expecting to find them blown off the rack. I did not expect to see trees down and boats/canoes upside down and piled up like a mass collision on a highway.

Thursday - we walked down the hill to the boat club to get our SUP boards. The cleanup would involve removing the fallen trees and we didn't want to worry about the boards being in the way or getting punctured. We deflated the boards at the beach, rolled them up, and backpacked them up the hill to our apartment. 

Friday - the weather was quite nice for a walk in the morning. It was still warm, but the strong breeze and lower humidity made it feel cooler than it had in a long, long time.

In the afternoon, we joined one of the beach cleanups. If you have never done this kind of cleanup before, it is quite a workout! There is lots of squatting, lunging, lifting and dragging. 

Saturday - mrC had to work, but I headed to the boat club for some more beach cleanup. The nice thing about this one was the boat club fed us! Again, it was all about squats and lunges. I even double dragged trash bags across the beach once ---> it reminded me of dragging the tire on the rope at Bootcamp.

Sunday - Another day of watching stormy weather out the windows. Pakhar was not as strong as Hato and it was farther away, but the winds were still strong enough to blow a leaf up to our bedroom window on the 20th floor. It's crazy that there is a huge hurricane happening on the other side of the world at the same time. We are praying for you Texas.

It was a wild and wacky week. I am hoping that things will be nice and quiet and normal around here until we leave. We are heading back to the US in a week and I can't wait!

What's the most extreme weather you have run during?
Have you ever had to ride out severe weather?

Linking up with Tricia and Holly for the Weekly Wrap!

Monday, August 21, 2017

My First SUP Race Review (+ my Weekly Wrap)

When mrC and I decided to bring Stand Up Paddle boards to Hong Kong, we joined the Lantau Boat Club - Paddlers Section to have a place to store them right at the beach. LBC is actively trying to involve SUP-ers in club events which is how we ended up participating in our first Stand Up Paddle race.

SUP race participants

I've always thought of SUP as a recreational activity with a goal no greater than just enjoying being out on the water and getting a light workout. Since we live in a world that celebrates competition, it is easy to see how a casual day of SUP grew into a whole new world of racing.

Like running, SUP is suitable for all ages and abilities, so racing is not reserved for elite athletes. Realistically, anyone who has been on a board for 15 minutes can participate in a race. You might not win, but you'll have fun. Races vary in distance from a few kilometers to 15km+ long distance races. There are also short sprints and relays.

My first SUP race experience all started Saturday morning. Lantau Boat Club Paddling Section was hosting the race day event with a BBQ lunch to follow. We arrived at the beach at 8am and put our boards in the water for a little warm-up. Since it was a paddling event, there were outrigger canoes there too. The race schedule went loosely like this:

8:30 OC6s and SUP Around the Rock 3km

9:00 OC1s 500m sprint relay heat 1

9:30 SUP 500m sprint relay

10:00 OC1s 500m sprint relay heat 2

We watched the start of the 3km race and cheered for a fellow DB Ladies SUP group member. She was the only female competing in that race and she did amazing. I'm not strong enough or brave enough to go that far yet. Maybe one day.

When it was finally time for our relay, we were paired up to even out the skill levels (except one guy was a team one because he is that fast!). This meant mrC and I were not on the same team. The SUP sprint relay started on the beach. At the horn those who were doing the first leg, grabbed the SUP board and ran for the water.

I went first for my team, but quickly found myself in last place (there were four teams). mrC was right ahead of me and I paddled like crazy to try to catch him. At the turn-around buoy, I thought I was going to pass him, but he took off again. My partner made a valiant effort to make up the difference, but we still came in last place. My arms were so tired but I had an absolute blast. I'm looking forward to doing it again.

Here's how the rest of my week looked:

Monday - Bodystep and a 5K night group run

Tuesday - at home HIIT workout

Wednesday - Bodypump

Thursday - strength training at the gym

Friday - low intensity SUP

Saturday - SUP race

Sunday - 4 1/2 mile hilly walk

Highlight of the week: 

As usual I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for the Weekly Wrap!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Group Run and Tips for Newbies

Last night I took my introverted self to a group run in my neighborhood for the first time. Discovery Run is a free weekly meet-up that was started in June by three well-known local fitness enthusiasts in Discovery Bay. Their goal is to help DBers get healthy and have the opportunity to participate in running in a non-competitive way.

With all of my recent knee issues, I was nervous about attending the free Monday night 5K run. I've done group meet-ups before (usually with at least one friend in tow), but it's been a while and this time I did not know a single person. I was also a little worried that I might be doing too much in one day since I had attended Bodystep class in the morning.

See the girl in the green top? That's me behind her in white ;)

At 7:45 on the dot, the organizers welcomed all 30-ish of us and led us through some dynamic warm-up stretches. I'm guessing most people had walked or run to the meet-up, so the stretches were nice. After a rundown of the route (including where the leaders would be standing and directing us) and a quick photo (see above), we were off.

I was excited to wear my Nathan lights for the first time (I think). I don't even remember where or when I got them, but they made it to Hong Kong and if I need more, they're available on Amazon ;) I clipped them onto my shorts, but only used one because they are very bright and there were plenty of street lights. Speaking of shorts, I just picked up this pair of Track This Run shorts from Athleta and I love them. I can't wait to maybe get another pair when I'm in Cincinnati next month.

Most of the runners took off very quickly and at first I kept up with what I would call the "middle of the pack." I stayed with them for the most part until the turn around, but eventually we were pretty spread out. I passed about a half dozen runners on their way to the turn around and it felt good to know that I was holding up better than I had expected. I tried to keep a couple of runners in my sights (you can barely see them in the photo below), but the second half of the route had a lot of downhill that I was taking slowly and walking occasionally. Overall, my knee felt good.

With less than a mile to go, my watch died (I don't know why I didn't think to charge it ahead of time). I brought my phone with me (for pictures of course) and in case I needed to catch a bus home I'd have my bus pass (I wasn't sure how my knee would do). Because I had my phone I used an app to track the end of my run. So I don't know my exact time but between the two runs, I think it was about 34 minutes.

When most of the group appeared to be back from the run, the leaders led a quick cool-down stretch. Even though I didn't really "meet" anyone (this time), I did have fun and look forward to joining them again.

Here are a few things I do to make joining a run group for the first time a little easier:

1) Introduce yourself - just saying hi and making some small talk let's others know that you are new. The regulars will catch this and make you feel welcome. I got some extra information about the group this way.

2) Don't worry about your pace - most group runs are social which means ALL ARE WELCOME. If you are still worried, call or email the organizer. I reached out on Facebook and was relieved to hear that there were indeed runners of all types.

3) Walk when you need to - I knew that I would need to walk, especially the downhill portions because my knee doesn't like them. You will probably find other people need to walk too or you will eventually catch up to the people who slow down. I did end up passing a few people.

4) Know the route - I've never heard of anyone getting lost on a group run, but knowing where the run is going will make anyone feel better. This group had shared run routes on the group page, but the organizer also told us the route before we left.

What tips would you give someone who feels nervous about going to a group run?
What gear do you use for running in the dark?

By the way, it's good to be back. I didn't blog at all last week because it felt like I was saying the same thing, week after week. It felt like a good time to take a break and let my fitness experiences inspire me. I'm still following my carb cycling program and have some pretty awesome results to share with you soon!

(If you are interested in joining the FASTer Way To Fat Loss program, use my affiliate link to join and start carb cycling with me! Click here).

Today I'm linking-up with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! 


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Weekly Wrap - It's Sunny in Hong Kong

We finally had some great weather around here and just in time for the weekend.

Work before play, Saturday was Leg Day! Before heading to the pool to soak up some vitamin D, we hit the fitness center. For my warm-up, I ran for 10 minutes on the treadmill. Normally I would have gone for the mile, but my knee was feeling little wonky, no pain, just off. I used to push through moments like this, but not anymore.

The rest of the workout was the same as last week, except the one-minuters were doubled up and I increased my weights. I could still only do one round of the finishers although this time I did some really slow lunge jumps. No one said they had to be fast, right? I was toast at the end.

One of my favorite things to do after a good and sweaty FASTer Way To Fat Loss workout is relax at the pool. I'm so thankful that our fitness membership gives us access. It's so nice to just change in the locker room and walk outside to this beautiful view. It feels so good to just sit in the water to cool off and then dry in the sun.

We took advantage of the sunny weather again today and took our SUP boards out for a couple of hours. It had been awhile since we had them out. Between rainy days and other workouts in the morning (it is way too hot even for the pool or SUP after lunchtime in my opinion), it just hasn't worked out. Until today. I forget how tall my board really is 10'6". We got our boards on Amazon and brought them to Hong Kong as checked baggage. My exact board is not currently available, but they have this newer version out now.

We paddled out and back and then out again. The second time I went around the corner of the little beach bay area further than I've ever gone before. Then I did a little SUP yoga - my version anyway. It was so peaceful laying there. I could have taken a nap.

After we put our boards away, we walked down to the other end of Tai Pak Beach to check out the Funtastic Summer event that has been set up for the month. For the kids they have big inflatable slides, mini powerboats and a couple of inflatable endurance games (like a mild version of what you would see on Wipeout). For the adults there are deck chairs with umbrellas and a big misting zone. This is provided by the company behind the development of Discovery Bay and it is all free.

The other big highlight of the weekend was making banana protein bars. I mostly make these to have for hiking, but I was in the mood to make them today. I changed the recipe a bit and used almond butter instead of peanut butter. Both ways are good.

Here's how the rest of my week looked:

Monday - Mixing sprints and Tabata

Tuesday - Outdoor HIIT workout

Wednesday - Bodypump ---> and revealing breakthroughs

Thursday - Strength training at-home workout

Friday - Easy run ---> my attempt at a heart rate run

I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for the Weekly Wrap!

How was your weekend?
Any big events going on in your neighborhood?
Favorite DIY snack?


Friday, August 4, 2017

That's Not the Fat Burning Zone!

That's what I thought when I looked down at my watch during my run.

This morning I set out to do an easy two mile run. My goal? Stay in my fat burning zone. My zone is between 108 and 126. I don't normally focus on my heart rate during a run, but on FASTer Way to Fat Loss® low calorie days our workout is supposed to be low intensity.

I did my usual loop which starts off with a gradual and mostly down hill but then ends with a giant climb up a hill to get back to our apartment. It was muggy (partly the stormy weather and because it is pretty much always like that here), but there was a small breeze (a little relief is all I need).

It took me a few tries to check my heart rate because I don't know how to work the screen on my watch very well. Turns out two clicks will toggle between apps. I found that out completely by accident. Maybe I should have planned a little better. Anyway, my heart rate was way above my fat burning zone. I made myself slow down, but it stayed too high. Once I hit the hill I knew it was going to stay up there.

Well, I tried. I'm thrilled that I was even able to get out for a run. This is what it looked like before and after. Torrential rain? No thanks.

In the end, I had a good run. Here's why:

1. I liked listening to my playlist on my wireless earphones (available on Amazon) which I hadn't done in a long time. It had been so long that I forgot how to connect the earphones to my phone.

2. My shoes earned another two miles and I'm still very happy with the way my knee feels since I started running in them.

3. No intervals! I totally ran by feel. I took breaks when I needed (or wanted for a photo). Once or twice I stopped to stretch my quad and hamstring because that is what makes my knee happy.

4. I didn't want to die, haha! Sometimes the two mile loop that I ran can feel overwhelmingly hard. There's a tunnel and if there's no breeze, it can feel like an eternity running through it. Then there's the hill at the end. Today it didn't feel that long. I'll be holding onto that for awhile!

5. I did it. It's not easy going out alone when I worry about my knee ALL the time. Add to that, I worry about the weather. Not because I'm afraid of getting wet, but because I'm afraid I will slip and fall and hurt my knee. So getting out there alone is a pretty big deal these days!

I used to stretch in the car on the drive home after a run. Now I'm multitasking in the elevator. We live on the 20th floor, so I have some time to kill. I figured I might as well make the best of it!

Low calorie day - the meals

Broke fast at 11:15 (while watching the USWNT defeat Japan) - scrambled eggs with ham and PB&J rice cakes.

Lunch - Left over cheesy quinoa and tuna plus a snack bag of Cheez-its

Dinner - shrimp carbonara and green beans!

Do you listen to music when you run/workout?
Strangest place you have ever stretched?
Are you a soccer fan?

I'm linking up with Lacey and Meranda and Rachel for the Friday Five 2.0!