Gear + Collage = Ready to Rock!

Although I’m not up to my desired training levels, I’ve made good progress this week. I’ve been tracking my calories, got two good dance classes in, and been up on my environmental preparations (mostly groceries and cleaning, but soon to include food prep and other time saving measures).

I’m going to keep ramping up by the week, and what better to motivate me than new gear! After my heart rate issues during my last run, I checked into my heart rate monitor and saw a lot of bad reviews, including poor accuracy. When I purchased it several years ago (2011?), it was just a combination of conveniently available in the store and not too expensive. I decided I wanted something with better reviews and potential better accuracy. After some searching, I decided to go with the Polar FT4. Unboxing below!

I wasn’t planning to run this Sunday, but I might do it just to try out my new gear!

Another motivation tool I decided to try out was a wall collage. I put it on my bedroom wall so I can see it first thing in the morning to remind myself that my goals are more important than instant gratification (skipping workouts, eating too much, general laziness). I have some inspirational photos and quotes, as well as different goals I’ve set to cross off as I achieve them. While some goals are unrealistic (like recalling at Worlds), I’m a believer in aiming far in order to push yourself. If I aim for a Worlds recall, I might make it into Open.

I need to redo the photos as there was an issue with my printer, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

20160819_220203

Dance Brain – Activate!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year at my dance school. The unofficial privates+random classes July schedule is over, and our short summer session has begun. So many things are different this year when I look back at last year’s start of summer session.

  • A similar schedule – Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday classes – adds 75 extra minutes of dancing in the studio a week
  • I’m in the official school uniform (shirt with the school logo) for each class, which is not required of adults but is of the kids/champs
  • After debuting my first solo dress last year, I’m now getting ready to debut my tailored-to-actually-fit and newly blinged solo (blinging will probably not debut until October)
  • My tuition class is now Tuesday with the other Novice/Prizewinner kids, rather than the Thursday Adult class
  • I’m not even in the Adult class anymore, I’ve been promoted to the Prizewinner/Champ extra class with a different teacher
  • Last year I was prepping to be out of Beginner for the first time at a feis and focused on promoting anything Novice into Prizewinner (spoiler: I didn’t, but I got a trophy for a 2nd in the hard reel special); this year I’m just hoping not to be dead last in at least one dance in my first non-Adult competition
  • Nervous waiting gave way to extreme excitement last year that there were enough people in my dances at the upcoming feis for them to “count”, while this year I don’t care that I’m the only one paid and there aren’t five in any of my dances, because they’ll likely just combine me down to 13&Over from 15&Over
  • I wear poodle socks to class now, and I have purchased the necessary leg tan, kick pants, and sock glue to no longer wear tights
  • I’ll be a fish out of water at the next feis, whereas last year I was confident and ready

Overall, I’m really happy with the opportunities before me and really proud of myself for coming so far from the day I stumbled into an Irish dance class at the local recreation center in April of 2013.

Is that why this is the most wonderful time of the year at my studio? Of course not. The real reason is – all our steps have changed! Oireachtas is only a few months away and we all need to learn a new reel, slip jig, treble jig, and hornpipe, with a special urgency reserved for those going to Oireachtas.

No major for me this year, but the slip jig I learned over the summer is not the one I’m learning in Tuesday class, so there were a bunch of new steps for me last night. The beginning of the reel is a confusing sequence of steps and switches leading into a leap that I need to keep straight, but other than that the steps weren’t too tricky and it’s just a matter of undoing the muscle memory of the previous year and memorizing the new steps and sequences. If I start going into the old steps at my feis in three weeks, I’ll just have to make sure I do the same thing on both the right and the left leg!

I also had class on Monday, which was a drills class followed by recreational teams. I really wanted to be on a competitive team, but there weren’t enough olds (either 15&over or Adult), but fortunately my main teacher is giving this recreational class while the figures teacher is giving the competitive one! There are three adults, two teen champs, and one young girl. We did a ceili, then worked on a couple show pieces. The little girl was telling her mom how much fun she had after, which was great as I’m sure being in a class with older ladies is as intimidating to her as it is to me being in her classes with all the littles! Meanwhile, I was dying at the end with a painful toe and two hours in the studio under my belt after an entire week off. This worries me a bit for tomorrow, with my newly Novice self trying to keep up with the Champs for two hours, but Drills is always torturous (in the good way) so tomorrow may not be so bad.

In summary, my feet hurt, classes kicked my butt, and I’m feeling fine. Also, since I don’t have any good photos for this post, have a picture of my cat. He has many epithets (the god type ones, not that horrible bigoted contemporary ones), but a good one for this week is “He who does not tolerate flexibility training upon the living room carpet which he has deemed his.”

20160813_124947

I like to attack my human when she’s stretching and I eat foam rollers.

Focus on the Goal

My vacation…didn’t go as expected. I got sick the first night we were camping and had to come home. So, basically I spent half of my vacation being sick and the other half at home staying unplugged from work and most of life.

I eased back in with ballet class on Saturday. It was pretty tough since I hadn’t been very active between illness and post-illness, but I’m really glad I went. It’s important to remember I rarely if ever regret working out and attending dance class, and I always regret missing it. Since I’m coming back from such a break, this week I’m just going to focus on getting back to eating properly, attending my dance classes, and preparing my environment to really get into and stick with my training.

While sick, I didn’t do much of anything and the Olympics were in full swing with two of my favorites (gymnastics and swimming), so I watched a lot of that. It was very inspirational in two ways: I want that top of the podium feeling, and there were a lot of “old” folks kicking butt!

In the spirit of working hard and focusing on my goals, I want to briefly profile some of my inspirations from the Olympics and other sports.

gymnast-37-a-medal-contender-in-vault-v01ujf00-x-large

Courtesy USA Today

This is Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan. She competed in the Rio 2016 Olympics in gymnastics at age 41, her 7th Olympic Games. While she placed 7th in the vault final due to a fall on the landing of perhaps the most difficult vault in the world, she qualified for the finals at age 41 and she was ranked #1 in vault in the world this year. At age 41. In gymnastics. Where one usually retires by age 25.

 

ervin

Courtesy CBS Sports

Anthony Ervin is 35 from the USA. He has won gold in these Rio games in both the 50m freestyle and the 4x100m freestyle relay. The former makes him the oldest individual gold medalist in swimming. Ever.

usat20bronze20plummer_1470714735515_4853546_ver1-0

Courtesy KARE 11

 

 

And David Plummer of the USA has won a gold in the 4x100m medley relay and bronze in the 100m backstroke. At age 30, this makes him the oldest first time U.S. Olympics swimming qualifier in over 100 years.

 

features20cathy20desmond4

Courtesy Independent.ie

 

Perhaps the biggest inspiration of all to me personally, Cathy Desmond of Ireland took up Irish dance at age 40. She qualified for Worlds at age 47, and she still recalled and medaled at All Irelands at age 50. While she did dance as a kid for 6 years (age 11 to 17), not taking it up again until age 40 and qualifying for Worlds is a huge confidence boost that, with hard work, this dream is possible.

 

image_update_img

Courtesy ITV

Doreen Pechey of the UK has just passed her Grade 6 RAD exam in ballet. At 71, she is the oldest person in the UK to ever pass Grade 6. She decided to try ballet when she reached retirement and is looking forward to tackling Grade 7 of 8.

 

stock-photo-73398775

Courtesy ernestineshepherd.net

 

Finally, the most bad ass of all…Ernestine Shepherd of the USA. She just retired last year from being a figure competitor. She is 80, and she still lifts heavy and runs miles per week. Her commitment to fitness started when she was 56, out of shape and overweight. It is never too late, and you are never too old. But if you want to start…start today. Tomorrow, next week, next year, and ten years from now, you’ll be so glad you did.

Current Status

I’ve been terrible about updating the blog! I’ve been in a bit of a funk recently and I’m not sure why. I’ll be going on a vacation next week, so I’m not sure if I’ll make any updates again for a couple weeks, but here’s a current status on my training.

Dance

I haven’t done any home practice the past week, but I did attend my weekly class last week and will be again tonight. We learned the second step of the (way too hard prelim champ) slip jig and worked on the treble jig some more. I’m feeling pretty good about my treble jig as it’s mostly pieces of the old one, just in a different order, and I always scored well on that dance. The slip jig we’ll have to see. My teacher will give me guidance as to how I’m doing or if I should learn/compete a different one. I’m definitely doing better with the moves, and the second step was easier than the first. I might get it by September. I’m not sure how class will go tonight as we’re learning third steps and since I’m in Novice and not going to Oireachtas, there’s no reason for me to learn a third step.

In related news, I’m taking my dress in soon for some alterations and I have plans to add bling! Right now it’s a little tight in the shoulders and dropped waist, I have to pull it on over my head which is terrible for hair and makeup, and it has no crystals aside from the number clip I made myself. I’m looking forward to a better fit and some bling.

Cross Training

Strength

I skipped this last week. I don’t really have an excuse, I just got lazy. I’m going to try for it this week since I’m out of town all next week, but we’ll see. Seems I always say that but never make it happen.

Running

No run the previous Sunday as I had an all day activity. I did run this past Sunday, which was my 1:20 break week. I…didn’t make it. My heart rate was high before I even hit the trail and it freaked me out. My legs felt so terribly heavy and I was working so hard to try to keep my heart rate down. Since it didn’t recover much between intervals, there was just nowhere to go when I started running. I made it normally through 6 intervals, took an extra minute walking rest, then got about halfway through interval 7 before giving up and just walking the rest of the way back to my car. My heart rate came back down once I’d rested, thankfully, so I don’t know what the deal was. Stress from traffic, dehydration, it was too hot out, who knows. I still think the single best thing I could do to improve my performance is lose the extra weight.

Steps

Still hit or miss here. Last week I had 9k-10k steps 4 days out of the week, but my other 3 days I only hit 3500. The last couple days haven’t been very close to 10k either.

Ballet

Saturday was my third ballet class. I was very pumped up after my second ballet class about all the possibilities for improving both ballet and my Irish dancing. The third class, though, was frustrating. I experienced something similar with Irish though in that my second Irish class was so incredibly frustrating trying to keep up. Clearly that ended well, and I’m still excited to stick with ballet. The teacher thinks it could be great for my turnout and hip stability – particularly the IT band tightness, and I totally concur. One of the greatest things is I’m moving in all directions, not just the few used in Irish, and I think that will be great for flexibility and my performance as well. I’m strugglebussing trying to point backwards or use my arms and head motions, but even that will be useful come performances!

One great thing about my ballet teacher is that she has given me instructions for exercising to increase my hip stability, which a lack thereof is what makes me list to one side when balancing on one leg. I’m so glad I found a studio with a great adult program, because I really think ballet is one of the greatest cross training activities I’ve tried.

The vocabulary of ballet is still taking some work, and I don’t always understand what the teacher is saying. But I’m getting there and have learned some new words:

  • First and second position arms
  • Coupé: The foot is curled around the calf with leg raised, knee bent, and turned out
  • Effacé: Turned slightly to the side, but both hips still visible from the front
  • Croisé: Like effacé except the legs are crossed from the front view rather than open from the front view
  • Demi-plié: Like a plié except only going down halfway compared to the plié
  • Relevé: Rising up on toes from a position where both toes and heels are on the floor
  • En croix: Doing an exercise to the front, the side, the back, and then the same side again

I’m sure I’ve heard more, but I haven’t retained it all yet!

Nutrition

This one is a tale of the good and the bad!

From July 11 to July 25, I did a great job of tracking my calories and with the exception of one day, I hit my daily goal. I was so happy with myself, dropped to my lowest weight in the past year, and hit 5 pounds lost!

From July 26 to today, I’ve only counted and properly hit my target one of those days. The good news is I’m still almost 5 pounds down from my highest weight. I weighed myself this morning and was pleasantly surprised to see I was only up 1 pounds from my lowest on the 21st. I’m going to try to get it together and get back on tracking for the rest of the week, not worry about it much over my vacation, then buckle down again when I get back.