Running, personal space and awkward moments…

…otherwise known as ‘the week of new discoveries’.

Some of them good, others – interesting (to say the least):

Discovery 1: Axl Rose is my perfect match

I really did think this in the early 90s.  As a teenager, my bedroom walls were plastered with Guns N’ Roses posters.  I had moved on from Wham and A-ha, and the new man in my life sported a bandana and leather pants.

Axl Rose Photo

Yes, I truly did have this exact poster

Fast-forward to 2013.

While I no longer harbour a crush (and in fact moved on years ago – I’m still not over ‘The Spaghetti Incident’, sorry Axl), we have been brought together again. This time thanks to the wonders of technology in the form of an iPhone app called TrailMix.

Used while running / walking, TrailMix somehow detects your pace and chooses songs from your iTunes library to match.  If you then speed up or slow down, the tempo adjusts accordingly without sounding ‘chipmunk-like’ (who by the way were the ‘big thing’ prior to A-ha.  Yes, I was that cool).

It’s actually a pretty awesome app.  I found myself speeding up and slowing down purposely, just to hear the differences (and was pleasantly surprised).

I used the ‘Magic Shuffle’ option, and it chose Guns N’ Roses (from my playlist of 100s of songs) about 80% of the time.  My ‘cool down’ walk was even done to Sweet Child O’ Mine.

The other popular match was Kansas.  I couldn’t complain about that one, either – although Kansas at a faster pace just sounds wrong.  So I kept it at a slow jog and just enjoyed the music.


There were a couple of times it jumped a bit, but for a free app it’s pretty impressive (free when I grabbed it during a promotion – not sure of actual cost).  Check it out here.

Discovery 2: A sure-fire way to meet people is to invade their personal space

Think Aqua Fitness class and a pool full of people.

The instructor was different this week, and her preferred approach was for all of us to line up side-by-side.  This didn’t leave much room between each person to start with, but factor in knowing-left-from-right mistakes, uncoordinated moves and buoyancy issues and you get the picture.

We went pretty quickly from apologies and embarrassed smiles to just laughing and going with the flow.  What are a few mistaken gropes and misplaced touches / kicks between perfect strangers friends, right?

(Note to self: Next week, stand in the shallow end.  Lunges / squats are more effective and enjoyable without copping a mouthful of water each time.)

Discovery 3: ‘Supervised peeing’ means just that

I had to do a health and fitness assessment as part of a pre-employment check.  The email I received with the details read something like ‘urine test under supervision’, but I figured they’d just point me in the direction of the ladies (after checking it for escape routes maybe?), cup in hand.

My mistake.

It actually means door ajar, assessor-lady waiting outside, and awkward ‘eye-contact-avoiding’ behaviour (on my part) to follow.

Let’s just say I’m thankful this was conducted toward the end of the assessment, and that I got to hide in a soundproof booth and play space invaders straight afterwards. (It was actually a hearing test, but when you have a controller in your hand that you press when you hear a sound, you have to imagine the ‘pyou!’ noise and have a bit of fun with it).


Old-school style

On the upside, I got a free health check and apparently have great eyes, ears, blood pressure and strength. Oh, and ‘surprisingly good lungs’ for a trying-to-quit smoker.

Discovery 4: When learning to run, it’s good to mix it up a bit

I’ve been doing the C25K program (just finished Week 6), and have walked / jogged parkrun several times.  I thought I was improving (and guess I still do think that), but there’s nothing like a reality check to get your focus back.

This new-stretchy-pants-and-breathable-top clad gal headed off for Week 1 of a running program in the local park.  There are 22 of us all preparing for a Women’s 5Km run in March, and this week the training involved 5-minute interval runs.

On the 1st run I took off at a cracking pace.  By the hill stage however, I’d dropped back to ‘almost walking’ speed.

On the 2nd run my hat flew off.  I may have taken more time than needed to retrieve it.

On the 3rd run I did slightly better, but am pretty sure the parents and kids playing on the opposite side of the park could hear my laboured breathing.

Running in the afternoon is hard!  Especially at 4:00pm a hot day, and especially when your preparation up until then has only involved early morning or indoor runs.

But I guess it’s a good learning experience – the actual 5km event will be in the middle of the day so it’s perfect really.  Plus, it was great putting some more ‘faces to names’ from the local 12WBT group.

It also reminded me of how far I’ve come.  A few months ago I wouldn’t have considered running on a hot summer’s day – especially during the Australia Day long weekend (there’s beers to be had and BBQ sausages and lamb chops to devour)!

So on that note…

I hope your week has been a great one – and for those in Aus, that you also had a fantastic Australia Day and are enjoying your long weekend.

See, there’s this chick called Michelle

So…I wrote a song.  Well, changed the lyrics to a song (I’m not that clever) after pulling out the guitar again.

When I say ‘again’, I mean that I go through phases of building up callouses and then doing nothing for weeks so that they disappear / the whole process starts over.

So firstly – apologies for the roughness of the guitar playing.

And secondly – apologies if calling Michelle Bridges a ‘chick’ offends anyone.  It’s a term of endearment.  Honestly.

So here goes….

(deep breaths and ruby slippers definitely needed for this one)

…and share!

The idea came about in the shower, where all good at the time ideas are formed.

See, there are weekly challenges you can take part in during the 12WBT.  This week’s challenge asks us to reflect on what we’re doing differently now that sees us ‘playing the game rather than standing on the sidelines’.

It also mentions doing extraordinary things.  That’s where I got stuck.

I’m not extraordinary. At all.

But I am doing things differently.  Heck, just posting this song is VERY different for me.  I am no singer, and usually only play / warble in the comfort of my own loungeroom with an audience of one (the dog).  I do have a few tunes on Soundcloud, and am a user of *clears throat* the Glee App by Smule (don’t judge), but it’s all in fun and pretty anonymous.  But this blog is seen by real friends!  Actual people that I see and talk to!! (the double exclamation marks should have adequately demonstrated my feelings on this)

I still cringe hearing myself, but one of my goals when doing the Inspiration Board challenge back in Week 2 was ‘Enjoy It’.  This related to music, as back then I hadn’t played or picked up a musical instrument in months.

Another one of my goals was ‘Conquer It’.  As in the comfort zone.  You know – step outside it once in a while and see what happens.

So while not extraordinary, the change that the 12WBT has seen in me is slightly increased confidence and putting myself ‘out there’ more – like taking part in fun runs, leaving my job of almost 6 years and a workplace / people I loved (scary stuff – that one took ruby pumps, I tell ‘ya), and generally just trying new things.  Not huge for most people, but all baby steps along the yellow brick road path to the whole ‘believing in yourself’ thing.

Anyway, back to the song.

The tune is The Carpenters’ little ditty, Top of the World.

The cartoons were created using Bitstrips.

I’ll just go run and hide now…

“Are we there yet?”

I haven’t checked this out with my parents, but have always had an inkling that growing up, I may have been ‘that kid’.

The one impatiently asking at every turn whether we’re getting close to our destination, then asking again 20 minutes later (and on repeat: broken-record style for the duration of the journey).  Keen for the beach / shack / whatever adventure was in store that particular day.

Why have I thought this?

  • I’m the hobby gardener who buys established plants, not seedlings.  The gardener who checks daily hoping for immediate growth, and is then disappointed to discover that plants take their own sweet time and are ready in frustratingly slow due course.  (I haven’t pulled out a ruler yet to check progress, but let’s just say my tomatoes will be getting a ‘needs improvement’ rating on their performance reviews this year).
Totato Plants

Grow, my pretties! Grow! Grow!

  • I’m the shopper who likes to conduct transactions quickly.  The faster the better.  In fact, I generally try on the 1st thing recommended (eg the bathers from my last post), and if it fits / looks semi-OK , I’m outta there.
  • I’m the ‘beginner guitar player’ who wants to learn ALL the chords and play ALL the songs as soon as possible, thank you very much. (Tip:  small pieces of cardboard stuck to fingertips with Band-Aids can temporarily ease pain from blisters and bleeding fingers).
  • I’m also the Garmin-clad ‘wannabe runner’ who does parkrun and the Couch 2 5K program, keeps a record of results, and *needs* to improve each time.

I always thought it was impatience when it came to certain things (and in some ways it probably is).

This week however, an acquaintance pointed out that I am ‘results driven and outcome focussed’. The comment was made in relation to work (I’m looking for a new job at the moment) and his suggestion was to only consider roles / organisations that could provide this.

Sensible advice, but also something which led to a bit of reflection on the personal front.

Results Driven.

Outcome Focussed.


That sounds so much better than ‘impatient’.

I’ll take it!

Actually it really does make sense.  I like to see results, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I also think this is why the 12WBT is currently working for me.  It’s structured and organised with meal plans and exercise plans, and has a fitness test and measurements every four weeks along with weekly weigh-ins. Then there are the ‘before and after’ photos.

So it’s just the ticket for a results-driven-and-outcome-focussed kinda gal.

And speaking of which, my results from last week’s fitness test / measure-up included:

  • a 12cm reduction in size (53.5cm in total since starting the program in Round 3, August 2012)
  • a 2kg weight loss (14kg in total, or 20% of body weight)
  • improving on the 1km running time trial by 25 seconds (2 minutes since the start of the program).

I’m also pretty happy with the parkrun results, managing to improve slightly each week (and getting closer to the under-34-minutes goal).parkrun image

So in hindsight, the ‘Are we there yet?’ question as a child may well have just been eagerness to arrive at the beach and build a sandcastle, or to the shack and finish the tree house.

Not necessarily impatience at arriving, but possibly wanting to build, create, achieve and see results.

I’m not completely sure which it is, and maybe it doesn’t really matter.

So with just under four weeks remaining of Round 4 of the 12WBT, it’s time to dig deep and chip away at those results.

Watch this space, and wish me luck!

Week 8 update

We’re currently in Week 8 of the Michelle Bridges 12WBT, which means time to measure-up and complete our fitness test.  My fitness test is planned for Saturday, where I’m hoping to improve on the 1km time trial result of 6:36 and *finally* get past level 3 for abdominal strength (where I’ve been sitting since week 8 of the last round).

Push-ups and sit-and-reach results are both good.  The wall sit…well, there’s definitely room for improvement.

The measure-up should be OK. I’ve been focusing on fitness this round so not expecting huge results (but am happy to be surprised).

In other news this week:

Setting goals really does work (I know, right!?).

The combination of goals and my lovely new Garmin Forerunner have led to a pretty intensive fitness week, closely followed by pretty intensive muscle soreness and bouts of sleeping / bed rest.  Yawning by 8pm, clock-watching until an ‘acceptable’ time, then heading to bed ready to start it all again the next day.

But surprisingly, it’s starting to feel (almost) enjoyable.

So far the dog and I have walked / run almost 30kms, so we’re on track to achieve 100kms by end-January.

Wearing and checking your new sports watch can become an obsession

I admit to wearing my Garmin all day following a 9am Parkrun.  I only *actually* needed it for less than 40 minutes, but it has stats, and a timer, and your results, and connects to satellites, and…other stuff that just seemed important!  Plus, it’s so pretty…


After a couple of weeks of similar behaviour (and a watch-shaped tan line starting to form), I finally realised there may have been a slight problem when I considered wearing it to meet a friend for coffee.  Just to see how far it was, and maybe my pace…

*backs away from the watch*

It’s now charging.

Running is more fun with a four-legged companion

Apart from doing Parkrun on Saturdays, most of my running in previous weeks has been on the treadmill.  This week I ventured outdoors, joined by the dog.

I’m up to Week 5 of the Couch 2 5K program.   I should be further along, but I’ve had to re-start a few times due to his stops / starts / sniffs and greeting other dogs (hence the sniffs).  Then comes the playing. Then the drink breaks.

There’s also the constant checking of ‘P-mail’, but he’s learning quickly and getting better at waiting for our walk breaks.

I may not be as far along in the program as I’d hoped to be, but my fitness is still improving and we’re both really enjoying it.

A good quality pair of bathers won’t expand in water

My last experience buying bathers was on holiday in Fiji many years ago.  There was snorkelling planned, and I didn’t own any so headed off to Nadi to go shopping.

The first inkling that all was not well should have been the prices.  Talk about a bargain!

But the salesgirl was so keen and lovely, and there were hardly any customers in the store (another sign in hindsight), so I made my very first two-piece-costume purchase and was all prepared for a lovely day at the beach.

With a boat full of tourists.

All with snorkels and goggles.

Who knew that some fabrics are obviously not designed to hold their shape when exposed to water?  In this case, my bargain bikini went all loose and ‘expandy’ within 5 minutes of being fully submerged.


At least the beach was nice.  And turns out I can use both hands to cover / pull up / gather and rearrange fabric while simultaneously sprinting out of the water and into a towel.  It’s a skill I never knew I had (and now I do, so there’s the clutching-at-straws silver lining).

Anyway…fast forward to today.  I ventured into a sports store and actually bought a great bathing suit.  Sporty, two piece (but with one of those long tops so that it looks one-piece), really comfy, and (all-importantly) stays in shape when wet.

Sure, it was the first one the salesperson suggested (and I was determined to get out of there as quickly as possible), but maybe karma was keeping an eye on me (after it had finished laughing) and helped out.

Oh, and speaking of which…

AquaFit classes are fantastic!

The reason for the bravery purchase was to try out a fitness class at the local Aquatic Centre.  Around 45 minutes of exercise, and so much fun.  I only did it earlier tonight but can already feel it in my legs, abs and arms, and will definitely go again.


So overall a pretty good week so far, and with only four more weeks remaining of the 12WBT after this, I figure I might as well give it a final blast.

I’m also doing Parkrun again this Saturday, where I hope to run for longer (4kms last try – albeit very slowly).  If not, that’s OK – this ‘fitness thing’ is hopefully for the long term, so there’s plenty of time for that.

Out with resolutions, in with achievable goals

I’ve never really been one for setting New Year’s resolutions.


I know that some people do really well with this as each new year rolls around – it works for them. 

For others though, it can be a bit like a ‘to do’ list for the first week of January – especially when they’re set spur-of-the-moment and under the influence of a few December 31 drinks.  

So for me this year it’s out with the resolutions and in with the planned, continued approach.

One thing I’m gradually becoming better at is goal setting. Work-wise, this is no problem – planning and setting milestones is easy when there is a clear goal and deadline in sight (after a slight bout of procrastination, or course).

Personally though, I’ve always found this challenging:

What do I want?  Where do I want to be? Can’t I just go with the flow and see what happens?

But in the spirit of personal growth and stuff, I’m jumping on the goal-setting bandwagon.

Instead of the stock-standard resolutions this year, the plan is to revisit and continue on with my initial goals and set new, health / fitness-based ones. 

They’re still a work in progress, but so far the new ones include:

January – run / walk 100km over the course of the month

February – 1000 squat challenge, finish Couch25K program

March – enter Harcourts Women’s 5km Footrace, complete Parkrun in under 34 minutes

April – non-smoker for three months, BMI 22.0

May – run / walk 10km at least twice

June – enter B&E Launceston 10 (10km run)

So there it is. A bit of a plan.

We’ve just returned from several days’ camping, where relaxation and family time was on the cards.  No phone signal or internet, no TV, no electricity.  About as back-to-basic as it gets, and it was fantastic.

Exercise involved walks on the beach (dog in tow), so my January 100km run/walk challenge starts tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to getting back into it, accompanied by new Garmin sports watch / heart rate monitor (early Christmas present – I think I’m in love). 

So here’s to a New Year, and new goals. 

I hope your 2013 turns out to be a great one.