Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hiking: Tai Tam Country Trail

A couple of weeks ago I went with the AWA hiking group to hike Tai Tam Country Trail on Hong Kong Island. This 6km loop is a good hike for beginners looking to jump into trails that are a little more challenging and it also combines nature with Hong Kong history.

The good news is that the most challenging part, climbing 436 meters to Violet Hill, is in the beginning of the hike. Once you get to the top you can celebrate a little knowing the hard part is out of the way.

It was an overcast day, but we could still see down into Deep Water Bay and out to Lamma Island.

The second part of the hike merges into Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail, one of Hong Kong's battlefield trails. Along this trail you will see remnants of the battle between Hong Kong and Japan in 1941.

There are nine stations marking the 18 day battle that ended when the British surrendered on Christmas Day. At each station you will find information boards describing the battlefield relics that have survived: battery, pillboxes, underground bunkers and anti-aircraft positions.

This part of the hike also connects to part of Sir Cecil's Ride, namesake of British colonial administrator who served as Hong Kong Govenor,  Cecil Clementi  ---> I think it was his favorite place to walk with his wife (there is another section called Lady Clementi's Ride).

I saw my first porcupine in the catchwater (that had sadly met its demise). Even though I've walked hundreds on kilometers on the trails, through country parks and up and down mountains, I still forget that wild animals do exist in Hong Kong. The East Asian Porcupine is one of them. I have to say, I'm glad that they are nocturnal and prefer to avoid the urban areas, usually.

At the end of the our loop hike, we caught bus #6 to Three Pacific Place for a rooftop lunch at Beef and Liberty.

Other easy to medium hikes on Hong Kong Island:

What wild animals have you seen on your outdoor activities?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Last Week's Workouts

Last week started off completely normal and then my knee decided to present a new pain. I took a couple of days off from high impact training and I think that did the trick.

Here's how my week shaped up:

Monday - I made it to The HIT Room for another session of Bodystep.

Tuesday - I got myself to the fitness center to do a treadmill hill repeat workout that I got from the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program (affiliate). The workout basically went like this: walk @ 3.5 speed on 15% incline for 2 minutes, jog @ 6.0 speed on 5% incline 1 minute, walk @ 3.0 speed on 5% incline for 2 minutes. Repeat walk/jog/walk for 20 minutes. Finished with 15 minutes LISS on the elliptical (they really need more upright bikes).

---> I LOVED this workout, well, once I figured out the speeds (Hong Kong uses kph). Talk about getting an intense heart rate going. PS - I love that my Apple Watch (affiliate) keeps track of my heart rate during workouts. You can see where I finally got the hang of the right speeds.

Wednesday - Bodypump for my strength training. I'm slowly getting better at this part of my fitness, but I'm still a cardio junkie.

Thursday - When I woke up my knee was hurting right above my knee cap. I almost went to my GRIT class, but then decided to play it smart and called in. Instead I did some a session of deep stretch yoga.

Friday - Originally I thought I would be signed up for another Bodystep class, but I opted for low impact yoga again to give my knee another day off. This time I did a power flow and it felt so good.

Saturday - My knee was feeling better, so I decided to go for a run. Normally I would go to GRIT again, but thought it would be easier to bail on a run than to bail in the middle of a class. I did my favorite 5K route through the park and it was ok. It was a cool morning, but the humidity put me on the struggle bus.

---> Kicked off the holiday season with a festive manicure and then went to The HIT Room Christmas Party where instructors and members could put down water bottles and pick up a glass of wine/beer to celebrate our fitness accomplishments in 2017 together. Even though I hate going to these things alone (mrC is still on a trip), it sounded like a fun night. There was a really good turn out. Besides meeting several spouses, it was fun to see everyone in non-workout gear for a change!

Sunday - I went to morning mass (and met a very nice neighbor on the way) and then enjoyed a nice quiet day of rest.

How was your week?
Does your fitness center/gym plan holiday parties?
Do you do holiday nails?

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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Weekly Wrap - Independent and Keeping Busy

For some reason it has been almost a month since I wrote a Weekly Wrap post and linked up with Tricia and Holly. Wow! I've either been super busy or super lazy. Honestly, it's been a little of both. mrC has been on a trip for about ten days now and my I can do it on my own attitude is faltering.

I actually learned that there is a term for this situation in the expat community: orphan spouse. It refers to spouses that spend a large chunk of time apart thus creating a living separate lives feeling. Yes, we have friends/coworkers to fill the void, but it is not the same as having your spouse there to share the day-to-day stuff. Thank goodness it is temporary and mrC only has these longer trips once in a while.

A big part of my survival when he's out of town is to keep busy. Besides all the normal day-to-day stuff that needs to get done, I try to wear myself out with as much fitness as I can. That way I'm too tired to start feeling sorry for myself (this works most of the time).

Monday - AWA hike and rooftop lunch at Beef and Liberty ---> this will be a great place to take the kids when they visit next month.

Tuesday - REST day. My new exercise bands came and I'm super excited to use them.

Wednesday - I went to a NGO Workshop at the AWA office to learn more about what the American Women's Association does and then ran some errands.

Thursday - My very own Turkey Day 5k and GRIT class

Friday - I finally made it back to Bodystep class after about a month of conflicts on the calendar.

Saturday - More GRIT ---> this class is so challenging but that is why I love it.

Sunday - Walk to plaza for some shopping. After three fitness classes in three days plus running a 5K, my body was ready for a rest. I did some foam rolling and stretches, but really gave my muscles a day off.

And just like that, another week is done!

Don't forget to check out the Weekly Wrap link up with Tricia and Holly.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

#TOL and #TBT - Thanksgiving Day Fitness

Happy Thanksgiving from Hong Kong!

I'm on my own again this year (mrC is on a trip - occupational hazard in his line of work), but I keep myself busy with other friends who are also not traveling and use fitness as a VERY BIG distraction.

I pulled a doubler workout today. First I was up early to get in a run. My weather app said it was 58 degrees, which sounded like perfect running temperature to me, so I threw on a pair of shorts and a tank. When I stepped outside I almost turned around and went back in for more clothes.

Thinking out loud - I think my body has adjusted to the tropical climate because 58 degrees was COLD!

Almost. I didn't want to waste time waiting for the elevator and going back up 20 floors and I figured I would warm up. Not surprisingly, I passed a lot of people at the bus stop bundled up in winter coats who probably thought I was crazily under-dressed. I actually felt pretty awesome during my run.

Thinking out loud - I don't know what made me lace up my Wave Horizon today instead of my Wave Sky. They're both stability shoes and at this point they have nearly the same amount of miles.

I ended up running a loop with a loop through the park (it's small) to finish with a Turkey Day 5K. Since I was out so early (about 6:30am) I didn't see many other runners except a group that works with the local semi-celebrity coach here in Discovery Bay. I caught up to them along the promenade, but when I went into the park, they must have headed up the hill.

Thinking out loud - I think the coach might have thought I was part of his group because when he ran by me he said, "don't let him get away!" referring to one his runners who picked up his pace. I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. My pace, not yours, coach ;)

This run felt really good and I finished in 32:10. I'm not obsessed with my pace like I used to be, but it felt good to see it back in the ten minute range. I was also excited that I ran up the big hill at the end without stopping ---> that is seriously hard for me to do!

Thinking out loud - my body clearly likes running in the cooler weather. The last time I had a run that felt good like this, was when the temperatures dropped from the 80s to the 70s.

After a quick rinse, some coffee and a FaceTime session with mrC, I was out the door to catch the bus to my second workout of the day: GRIT Strength + Core class. It had been a long time since I did back-to-back workouts like this, but my workouts for the week had been nonexistent at this point.

The class is the perfect mix of cardio and strength with a little plyo thrown in. Today the upper body part focused a lot on the shoulders and I was ambitious with my weight choices. Thankfully, we got a break and focused on the lower body after that.

Thinking out loud - I admit that I was worried that I might be pushing my knee too hard for one day, but I knew that I could modify the exercises if I needed (and I hoped for the best). I do however, have to worry about whether I'll be able to lift my arms later.

Running this morning reminded me of all the Thanksgivings I started with some fitness. So here's a little Throwback Thursday for me you:

I have lined up with other runners to kickoff Thanksgiving Day with a race. I ran the Thanksgiving Day 10K in Cincinnati three times. I loved that race! I only stopped running it because I moved to New Hampshire.

When I wasn't able to join a run, I still got in a workout. In 2014 we had a HUGE snowstorm the day before Thanksgiving that knocked the power out for most of New Hampshire. The dog and I spent the holiday weekend in a hotel (mrC was on a trip) and I made use of the fitness center.

My first Thanksgiving as an expat was spent surrounded by SWIC friends on the hiking trails of Lamma Island. That was a great way to spend the day. They hiked in Hong Kong again today, but I wanted to run.

Do you workout on Thanksgiving?
Ever spent Thanksgiving away from home?

Today I'm Thinking Out Loud with Running with Spoons - join the link up or head over for some great reading.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Women's Five 5K - NOV 2017

Crossing the finish line of a 5K feels pretty awesome when you thought your running days might be over.

A little background: I ran my very first 5K ever in 2006 (long before I had this blog) and finished in 30:41. It was haarrrddd, but amazing. A lot of running has happened since that first 5K (improved my 5K time to a 26:38 PR and ran 13 half marathons), including a knee surgery (the kind that comes with a high recommendation to cease running). I rehabbed and ran for about a year before bam! My knee got pretty cranky.

I might be crazy (what runner isn't?), but here I am celebrating another 5K and it feels just as awesome as the first time.

The Women's Five is a new race for women only in Hong Kong. It holds two events, one in the spring and one in the fall. In addition to the race, women can sign up for a five week training program that offers training meet ups, yoga sessions and even a social movie night.

This was my first official race in Hong Kong (I did a fun Zombie 5K that was untimed) since running a 6K race in 2015. Needless to say, I was excited. I did the whole flat-runner race outfit on IG, but I'll just share here too.

Race #OOTD: bra (Lululemon) socks (Feetures), shoes (Mizuno Wave Sky),
water bottle (Simple Hydration), tank and shorts (Athleta), headband (BAMRbands)

The race was held in Ma On Shan which was kind of far away from me in Discovery Bay, but by hired car it ended up only taking 30 minutes. I had lots of extra time to pick up my bib, check my bag, find the toilets and mingle with the other ladies that were there early.

The start line and staging area was held on the YMCA track. There was plenty of room to warmup and stretch. After a nice big pep talk from the race director, the race started (almost) on time. I was anxious to get started and get rid of my nervousness.

The course was an out and back. After leaving the track area we followed the sidewalk down to the Ma On Shan promenade. It was not a closed course. There was a bit of dodging people out walking and running in the neighborhood and on the promenade, but it wasn't bad. Some parts were crowded and some parts were wide open.

Getting to the turn around felt like it took forever. I think it was partly because I was probably running too fast. I was excited to be running in a race and it was flat, so I think I went a little crazy. I took one walk break before the turn around and another after.

Hitting the turn around helped me mentally big time. The motion of running felt easier, as if I suddenly had gotten lighter on my feet. I was still breathing heavy and starting to feel the humidity, so I told myself to keep it steady so I could cruise to the finish.

At the finish line, they had food and water. After everyone came in, you could get your results printed out. I was pretty excited to see my time ---> better than my first 5K.

I hung around to watch the awards be handed out and enjoy some celebratory time with the other ladies.

I have spent most of the year patiently building up my running time and distance using intervals and keeping my fingers tightly crossed in the hopes that I could run 5Ks again.

I'm not ready to give up running yet because of events like this one. The energy, the excitement, the support. It is all just so addictive. I know my fellow runners know what I'm talking about, but if you are new to running I hope you get to experience the happy vibes that come from running a race very soon!

I am so THANKFUL to be able to run!

Do you remember your very first race?
New runners, when are you running your first race?
What are thankful for right now?

Today I'm doing the link-up with Patty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run!