Monday, December 11, 2017

My Archery Lesson

I love when I get the chance to try something new. Just a month ago, I tried dragon boat paddling for the first time. Last week, I got to try my hand at archery through the American Women's Association. I signed up for the beginner's class being held at Golden Trust Archery in Lai Chi Kok and prepared to bring on my Katniss skills ---> just kidding. I only hoped my arrows actually made it to the target.

We met our instructor Anthony and the first thing we did was a little warm-up and stretching session for our arms, shoulders, and necks. After that, we put on arm guards and he walked us through the steps of how to hold, load the arrows and shoot from our recurve bows. We were given the beginner's short and sweet edition compared to the reminder list posted on the wall (thank goodness because that is a lot to remember!).

Since four people could shoot at a time, we took turns practicing for about 30 minutes. On each practice we had six arrows to shoot, just like in a competition ---> only later I would learn that my station actually had 7 arrows. I don't think any of us needed to be told that the goal was to aim for the middle of the target.

I really thought that it would be harder than it was, but I was pleasantly surprised that all of my shots made it to the target. As we practiced, Anthony would watch and give feedback to help us get better. Once I got the hang of lifting my elbow up, I did pretty good.

One of my best practice rounds

During a short break we were able to watch a young woman practicing on another course. She was twice as far away from her target as we were and she was hitting the center nearly every time. She was our inspiration!

After the break, Anthony explained how to keep score: Starting at the outer blue ring 6 points, red 7 points, 8 points, yellow 9 points, 10 points, and the center 10 points but scored as an X (this is used to break ties).

We had a little more practice and then it was time for a friendly competition: four rounds or 24 arrows and the highest score wins. This is when I learned that I had seven arrows and as a result had to give up my highest scoring arrow that round (a ten pointer, that luckily only changed my score by one point). At the end, I tied Maureen with most points, but she had more Xs to win! (oh to have that point back, haha!)

Even though we were using very light weight bows, this gave my upper body a good workout. We had a lot of fun and can totally see why archery is a popular sport.

Have you ever tried archery?

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.