Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wrapping Up

Friday was a day off so I tried to use it to get ahead in my packing.  My uncle is headed to Trinidad on Monday for a round of chemo, so he will be taking one of my bags down ahead of time for me.  Once I got my first bag done it started to kick in that I was really leaving in a week.  It seemed like when I wanted time to slow down the most, it sped up into high gear.  When I was done packing one bag I still had a lot off stuff left.  I don’t know how I was able to pack it all the first time, but this time I’ll take it home in three bags instead of just two.  I went to a beach for the last time, and just like always it was perfect.  I sat on the beach and just enjoyed the waves crashing over my feet at first, then I went in for the last time.  There were a couple fish that swam up close, and the water was nice and warm.  We stayed until the sun started to set, and then it was time to say good bye to the beach. 

Saturday was church day for my uncle.  Since I have been here I think he has been out to church two or three times, and I hadn’t got with him yet.  He was going to the church he would be pastoring once he gets better and I decided to go with him to check it out.  The church was down in town, right by the shore.  When we got there they had started already, so we snuck in the back to join.  I had decided to wear a nice light sweater which quickly turned out to be a mistake.  There was a nice breeze from the sea coming through the door, and couple fans, but I was still sweating like crazy!  Other then the over heating though, the church service was really nice.  There was lots of singing and dancing, kind of like the black churches you see on TV. We spent lots of time afterwards catching up with people my uncle hadn’t seen in a long time.  A lot of them were very surprised in how well my uncle was doing, and even amazed he had made it through his surgery.  Every time I see my uncle I remember how much he’s been through, and how positive he still is about everything, and just how strong he has been.  He has been a real motivation and inspiration for me while I’ve been in Tobago. 

Once we got home I rested up for a bit, then headed to the soccer field down the street.  I had an easy workout since there were time trials on Sunday.  10x200 turn arounds on the grass, with 100 meter walk recovery.  Nothing too hard, but something to get the heart going.  I used this workout to try and work out some kinks in my form.  I think since I’ve come to Tobago my arm movement has gotten a lot better, so for this workout I tried to focus more on my legs.  Even though the workout was suppose to be nice and light, it seemed like the more I focused on getting my legs in the right position, the faster I would go.  The workout ended up going a lot faster then I thought it was, and I was done in just over an hour. 

I headed back home and just as I walked in the door, a friend called and invited me out for the night, talk about perfect timing.  I quickly got ready and headed back down the hill to get picked up.  It was my friend’s aunt’s birthday and he said it was going to be a big party.  Well he wasn’t lying.  There were cars lined up for several blocks and the crowd was huge.  When we finally parked the car and got to the house, the sweet aroma of Trini food filled the air.  I didn’t have time to eat after working out, so this was going to be perfect.  My friend had to help a bit with the park, so I plopped myself beside the food table and ate to my hearts content.  We stayed for a while and mingled, and my uncle actually ended up at the same party.  By 11 I was beat so we headed back home. 

Sunday was the last time trial for me and I wanted to end with some good times.  For the first time I was not the first person to the track for time trials.  There was a handful of guys already there waiting to get started.  Everyone was limin’ near the storage area, where there happen to be a golf cart.  Before I knew it, three guys were pushing and four were pulling the cart all around the track. None of the guys have there licenses and I could definitely tell watching then try to manuver the human propelled vehicle. From where I was sitting I could not see the stands, but the boys could.  All of a sudden in mid turn all the boys on the golf cart bailed like it was a sinking ship.  They all ran under the stadium, leaving me sitting there wondering what had just happened. Thirty seconds later one of the coaches came waltzing down the stairs, then one by one the boys came from under the stadium acting as though they had just got there.  I started to warm up for my last time trial not knowing what I was going to run, I just knew whatever it was, it was going to be fast.  The high school kids have their national championships on Wednesday and Thursday, so I knew there weren’t going to be too many rounds for the time trials, I prepared myself for a 200 or maybe a 150.  I was ready to go for the 200 when I was told it was going to be a 300 instead, I was a little off but either way I was going to run it well.  It was me and two other guys running the 300, then one guy running 300 hurdles.  I tried to put into play everything I had worked on during the week.  The 300s that I had done on Thursday helped me mentally to be prepared for the time trial.  I use to get scared of 300s because I thought they were too far, and that I was going to get tired.  Now I know that I may get a little tired, but doing reps of three or more 300s in practice help to let me know that no matter what, after I run I’ll be alright.  I made my way over to the 300 meter start and told myself just to take it out like I had on practice on Thursday.  Short quick steps off the start with a good acceleration phase, pick it up with 200 left, then once again on the home stretch.  The first 200 went just as planned, nice and smooth.  I didn’t get caught up in anyone’s race but my own, I knew where the guy in front, beside, and behind me were, but that didn’t change how I was going to run at all.  Coming on to the home stretch I could feel the tiredness kicking in.  I dropped my form coming off the corner and I could feel it.  I fought to bring it back, and as I did I could feel myself get taller and my stride come back.  There was a boy coming up on my from my left, I did not want to let him pass me.  I pumped my arms as hard as I could and finished off strong.  40.50 was my time, not a personal best, but my best so far in Tobago.  We took a short break, then went right into a 150. Doing the longer distances first really help to make the shorter ones seem not as bad.  I ran the 150 like it was a really long acceleration phase.  One of the coaches told me that patience wins the race.  I tried to stay low and powerful for as long as I could, and made a smooth transition into running up nice and tall.  I stayed relaxed but still quick and the time showed it paid off, 18.28, another good time.  Before coming to Tobago I ran 18.22 once before, and that was three years ago.  So, coming back and almost running a personal best just 5 minutes after running a 300 was awesome.  My shorter speeds have gotten really good since coming down, and it feels good.  I finished off with two 60 meter sprints, but unfortunately I didn’t get the times.  The 60s felt good, and I was able to keep fairly close to the guys, so I think they went pretty well.

And just like that, my last time trial was over. I now only have a week left in Trinidad and Tobago.  I’ll be going with the secondary school kids to Trinidad for nationals on Tuesday, so tomorrow will be the last workout at the track.  I still can’t believe my times almost up, it feels like I just got here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Watch Yuh Step

So, for the workout on Thursday I had made some predictions on how I was going to do.  I never claimed to be Miss. Cleo, so I ended up being a little off. “I predict…42.22, 42.68, 42.40…so I guess we will see.”  I ended up running 42.64, 42.20 and 41.97.  Like I said, I was a bit off :-)  I was definitely happy with my runs, and I was able to do them all on my own. The first rep I just told myself to try hard on having a good first 100 then see where that sets me up for the rest.  It was suggested to me to shorten up my first three to four steps off the start and make them quicker, so I did just that.  It seemed like by the time I was coming up from my acceleration I was heading into the bend.  The pace felt good, so I maintained it for the next 150 meter.  I wasn’t feeling tired or anything, so for the last 50 I just kept my hips up and brought it home.  When I looked down at my watch I knew I was a little off from my prediction, but I felt really good and I wasn’t tired at all from my run.  I relaxed for the break and just shook out my legs to make sure the tiredness didn’t kick in.  I chatted with some of the other athletes, then with three minutes left in the break, I headed over to the 300 meter start.  I relaxed myself then got ready for the next rep.  I was going to try the same thing again for the second one, but carry it over for 150 meters instead of just 100.  The shorter quick strides felt good from the first one, so this time I just focused on making them even quicker next rep.  Once again the acceleration phase felt amazing, and going into the bend I accelerated even more.  I came down the home stretch with ease.  The whole run felt effortless and when I stopped the watch I though it might have been slower then the first.  I looked down at my watch and it showed me otherwise. 0.44 faster than the first, and it felt real easy.  I did the same for the break as I did for the first because it seemed to work.  I just relaxed and didn’t think about the run until 3 minutes left in the break.  At that time I headed back to the start and got refocused on the last rep.  At this point I was very happy with how the workout was going so far.  I wanted to end just as good as I started if not better.  I reminded myself how easy the first two reps were and told myself just to step it up one more notch for the last one.  I took the last one out just as I did the second one.  Once again I accelerated around the curve, and this time when I had only 100 meters left, I stepped it up one more time.  I told myself this was the last one, and after I was done I would rest.  I pumped my arms as fast as I could but still stayed relaxed.  I could feel my legs get tired, but instead of thinking about my legs I just focused on my arms.  I tried my best to keep my form, and when I crossed the finish line I knew I had given it all I had.  I was so tired I didn’t even look at my watch, I fell to my hands and knees and just stayed there.  As I was hunched over I brought myself to look at my watch and as I saw the time I had a jolt of energy that brought me to my feet.  41.97, I was so excited I jumped up and pumped both arms in the air.  The excitement lasted for about 30 seconds before tiredness kicked back in.  I slowly made my way over to the side and started to take off my shoes.  I took my shoe and sock off my left foot first and naturally moved over to the right foot.  As I started to loosen up my right shoe I felt a burning sensation on my left foot.  A figured I ran so fast my feet were probably on fire.  I looked down though to find something very different.  Seven very large black ants were biting their way through my foot with no mercy.  I swear they were trying to burry their heads in, and it hurt.  I was so tired though all I could do was try to blow them off.  Somewhere between my head and my feet though the power of my blow weakened and didn’t even phase the ants.  They continues to bite hard, so I had to muster up some strength to bend over and kill them before they killed me! Once I finally got them all off I quickly moved away from the ant hill and relocated to the water pipe.  The biting was bad, but the burning was even worse.  I ran the water on my foot until the burning stopped, but large red welts remained to remind me of the attack of the ants. 

Two days later the welts have come down a bit, but smaller bumps remain as does the itching.  I guess this will just teach me that no matter how tired I am, I still need to watch where I step.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone

With less than two weeks left in paradise, I’m trying to take full advantage of the remainder of my stay.   Yesterday I was able to do two workouts and both of them went very well.  The morning workout was just basic drills to help work on my technique and form.  Since I didn’t need any equipment for the workout I trained on the field down the street instead of at the park.  My uncle was able to join me for a morning workout, which was nice to have him along.  He started chemotherapy on Monday and he’s trying his darndest to exercise and sweat out any ill effects it might bring on.  He walked and jogged around the field as I did my workout in the centre.  Seeing him fight through everything he has gone through, then having him there with me working out side by side was a huge motivator for me.  I realized I have it pretty good, and all I need to do is work hard and I’ll be able to achieve my goals.

After a hour of drills for me, and walking for my uncle, we were both drenched through and through.  The 12 o’clock sun beat down hard on us for the walk home, but as we came up the last hill before home, a cool island breeze helped cool us down.  After breakfast I spent the rest of the morning limin’ with my uncle and getting prepared for the evening’s workout. 

The workout for the evening was 4(4x50m) strong runs.  The workout always seems easy when I see it on paper, but by the third 50m run, I remember its not going to be that easy.  This workout will help me on my form though, and the coaches were able to tell me what to fix and what looked good.  From day one here I’ve been told I look tight when I run, so that’s all I focused on for the workout.  I tried my best to relax my shoulders and it paid off.  The coach said I looked like a totally different person, which I assumed was a good thing. By the time I was done running the sun was down, but it was still nice and warm.  I did a nice long cool down with some drills then spent 20 minutes sitting down and listening.  I could hear the ocean, the birds, some bats, I could hear the chatter of people at the other end of the field.  I looked up and I could see the moon crystal clear like I had never seen back home.  I looked off into the hills and they were spotted with lights from peoples homes.  It was hard to believe my time was almost up, it felt like I had just got here.  Before I got too overwhelmed I jogged back to the gym and lifted weights until my uncle came to pick me up.

Today when I woke up I could feel the effect of last nights sprints and weight lifting session.  With every step I could feel tightness in everything below the waist.  I went for a walk with my uncle to help loosen me up, and it worked! My uncle continues to whoop my butt when it comes to walking though, and today I was only able to make 3 rounds of the community, whereas he was able to do 4.  I told him I had to save my legs for my workout later on, when really I just couldn’t keep up to him anymore.  When I got back I quickly ate breakfast, then I started to pack my bags up.  I don’t leave until next week, but I know if I don’t start now I’ll be rushing and I’ll probably forget something.  I was able to get in with the secondary school sports team that is competing in Trinidad next week for their national meet, so I’ll be leaving Tobago on the 2nd.  This is the big meet of the year for the secondary school kids, and I guess for the past 14 or 15 years straight, Tobago has beaten Trinidad.  I’m going to go with them and help the kids with their warm ups and getting to the call room in time. I think its going to be a great experience, and ten times as entertaining as the meet that was in Tobago. 

The workout for tonight was drills again.  When I get two days in a row of drills, I know the third day’s workouts are going to be hard.  Tomorrow morning I’ll be doing some short speed and block work on the corner.  Then in the evening I have 300-300-300, with a goal of 42 seconds.  Last week I was a little off of the goal, but I feel with how well I did the workout on Monday I will be able to hit this goal no problem.  I predict…42.22, 42.68, 42.40…so I guess we will see.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Two Weeks And Counting

Yesterday I spent the morning on a glass bottom boat.  The boat was suppose to leave at 11 and be back by 1 giving me two hours to rest before the time trials.  I should have know better that the boat was not going to leave on time.  When 11:30 rolled around and the boat was not there, I knew I was going to be late for the time trials.  We boarded at 12 and by that time I had conceded that I was going to be late, and just enjoyed the ride instead of stressing out.  The boat took us out to the Buccoo reef where we were able to see a corals and fish through the glass in the floor.  Once we set anchor the captain gave us the option to go snorkelling.  I didn’t hesitate for a minutes and I stripped off my clothes and jumped in even before getting my snorkel.  After getting properly equipped I was able to see way better and get right up close to the coral and some fish.  One of the guides lead us off to a part where some sting rays were sleeping.  He dove down and scared them so they became visible.  We followed the sting rays around a bit and uncovered four of them before heading back to the boat.  The next stop on the trip was to a nylon pool.  The pool was maybe waist deep, but it was located in what felt like the middle off the ocean. The sand in the pool was made up of dead coral and the guide said it was really good for exfoliating.  My uncles rubbed some of the sand on their arms, and I was about to, when someone notices the sand made your skin stink like fish.  I very quickly let go of the sand in my hand and just swam around instead.  When we finally headed back to shore I knew it was getting well after 1 and the activities so far had tired me out a bit.  We got back and changed out and it was already quarter past two.  I knew for sure I was going to be late, but the adventure on the reef was worth it.

As soon as I got back home I changed into my workout gear and headed right back out the door, sea salt and all.  I ended up making it to the track by 3:10 and when I got there there was music playing and I wasn’t quiet sure why.  As I walked through the stands and to the track I came to see a large stage set up on the home stretch.  It then clicked in, all the banners I had been seeing, there was a  comedy show and it was that night.  The show wasn’t till later on, but they were already there setting up the stage.  I found my coach helping some people with some shot put, and I went to him to see what the deal was.  No one else was going to be coming for the time trials, but I was free to still train if I wanted.  I was pretty tired from all the swimming, but with only two weeks left in Tobago, I wasn’t going to waste a training day.  I ended up doing some short speed and coach helped time me do a 150.  He had a video camera with him, so I was able to watch my runs and get some good analysis which I usually wouldn’t be able to do on a time trial day.  By the time I got back home I was so tired from all the activities throughout the day I was ready to go straight to bed.  But as I entered the house, I saw countertops full of food prepared by my mom and my aunts earlier in the day and my tiredness was quickly replaced by hunger.  With all the activities I hadn’t had time to properly eat and I guess I was hungry then I though as I ate two and a half heaping plates of food.  I fell asleep real quick after supper and had the best sleep ever.  I may have in fact been in some sort of food coma, but it was good either way.

Today was the first real day back to training since coming back from Trinidad.  I had trained last week, but it didn’t really feel the same.  There were no people at the track last week and the atmosphere was just different.  Today was back to normal though.  As I came into the park I was greeted by several familiar faces.  And just like before there were people having heated discussions about something or the other, and people telling jokes and someone playing music off their laptop.  It felt real nice to be back.  My workout picked up right where I had left off, 6x300 with 3 minutes between and a goal of 50 seconds for each.  The 300s were a bit further than the 200s I had been doing so far, but it’s starting to get closer to competitions so a little more distance is going to be needed.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the workout or how exactly to go out, so I just settled into a nice pace for the first one and tried to judge from there how I should go.  Well I guess the pace was real nice, 45.67 for the first one. This was either going to hurt me real bad for the next five, or I might just be in good enough shape to pull it off.  I let up just a little bit for the next one and ran 46.36, still too fast, but I wasn’t feeling too tired, so, so far so good.  48.57 and 47.91 for the next two.  After the fourth rep the tiredness was starting to kick in and I was regretting going too fast on the first one.  I tried really hard not to get too down as I got tired.  I took an extra 30 seconds on the break, and just took it out like I did the first four, 48.39.  I was slowing down a bit, but I was still under the target, so I was still doing good.  I was super tired going into the last rep and I could feel my legs getting really heavy.  At what felt like a hundred pounds a piece, I didn’t know if my legs were going to make it through the last one.  Coach just told me to relax and what ever happens, happens.  I knew I wanted to do them all under the target, so I took off hard like the ones before.  Fifty meters into the run I felt like giving up.  As I came to the bend for the final 200 meters, I reminded myself I only have two weeks left, so I better make the most of it.  I told myself to turn over faster, keep my shoulders relaxed and it would all come to me.  As I came down the home stretch I dug really deep for whatever I had left.  I felt my face and my hands get numb, and I told myself not to give up. *BEEP* 49.11.  I felt on top of the world for getting them all in under the goal, but then I soon fell right back down as lactic acid kicked in and I realize I was tired as hell!  I fell down to my hands and knees and stayed there for a good 5 minutes. A couple of the guys helped peel me up and after a nice cool down lap, I felt good to go.  I missed out on the abs session tonight, but I was told they would have something extra special for me tomorrow.  I usually like things that are extra special, but I have a feeling this may not be a good one.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saturday Surprise

Saturday was suppose to be a day off track and fun in the sun day with my family.  Well late Friday night I got a nice little present telling me that wasn’t going to be the case.  Strength circuit, and just to make it a little more fun, I was going to have to do it twice.  I wasn’t too down about this because the last week in Trinidad made me feel really gross from not training, so this extra workout was going to be nice.  The only downfall though was my family wanted to hit the road early to get to the beach and spend the day.  I told my uncle of the new found workout and thought for sure he was going to be perturbed that it would mess up the plans.  ‘You do what you got to do girl!’ He wasn’t mad at all, and the rest of my family was the same too.  I woke up early to make sure I didn’t waste too much of the day and mess up a good outing.  When I woke up my aunts and my mom were in the kitchen cooking up a storm.  Turns out my workout was a blessing in disguise as it gave the ladies a chance to cook up a nice picnic for the trip instead up just white bread sandwiches :-)

The warm up and the drills portion of the workout seemed to take forever and as it progressed on, the sun got hotter and hotter.  By 11 I was ready to start the exercise and running portion of the circuit and it seemed like the sun was just getting to its hottest.  The t-shirt I was wearing was soaked already, and the exercises were going to be done on the ground.  After the first set of exercises my shirt was real filthy and I still had 9 more sets of five exercises to do.  I trekked through the workout and by the end I was dead tired from the sun, but definitely felt good for working out.  My shirt was covered in grass and dirt, and it didn’t look like it was coming out anytime soon.  I head back and got home just in time to leave for the beach, so I showered quickly and was ready to head out the door. 

The beach we headed too was only 20 minutes away, but by the time we got there I was already falling asleep.  The post workout nappers were starting to get the best of me, so I set up a hammock and dozed off for a hour in the shade.  I guess everyone else was tired too because everyone fell asleep!  When we were all rested up we enjoyed the awesome lunch the ladies made then went adventuring in the forest.  The forest we set up in was located on a hill just above the beach.  My aunt that lives in Tobago knew her way around so she lead our adventure.  She took us all through the forest, then lead us onto a peninsula at the edge of the island.  It was pretty sweet there because the waves would come up and crash against the rocks beneath.  I spent some time climbing in and around the rocks and I felt like a little kid again going on an adventure.  I ventured down the rock and got right up into where the waves were coming up.  I even got to see two snails going at it! After my little adventure was over, we heading back to the camp we had set up, and packed up then head out.  Before we headed back home, we went up into the country to see some more family.  When we got up to the house there was no one out front so we headed around to check out the back.  When we got there the whole family was sitting outside watching the sun set and listening to the waves hit the rocks down below.  It was the most peaceful site ever.  So we joined in, relaxed and limed until the sun went down. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Back To Normal

After an amazing week in Trinidad for Carnival, it was time to get back to the grind.  Thursday I headed back to the track for a nice light workout to warm my body back up.  I got a bit of a sore throat and nose from all the dusk and late nights over the past week, so I was really hoping it would not effect my training.  Thursday morning me and my family took the boat over, so we got into Tobago by 10 am.  I had to get re-settled in to my home away from home, then took a much needed nap before heading to the track.  On the way up the hill by the park a couple of the high school boys were limin’ about, and as I passed they waved and said hi and seemed some what happy or excited to see me…I’m not going to lie, I was happy to see them too.  When I finally got to the park there were more cars then usual, so I figured they were having a big welcome back party for me.  Well it wasn’t exactly that, instead I came to find a cricket game in progress.  The game took up most of the field, so we had to sit and wait until it was over.  I took this time to catch up and see what everyone else had done for carnival.  Turns out a lot of the same stuff that went down in Trinidad, they had a smaller  version of in Tobago.  I guess I could have saved the trip and just partied over here, but I guess now I know for next time.  By 5 o’clock the cricket game was still going on, and I had told my uncle to pick me up at 6:15 so I needed to get going.  I used the little area that was still free to do the best I could to warm up.  The circuit was pretty general so a lengthy warm up wasn’t needed.  Timing workout out perfectly for me though, and as I was ready to start the running portion of my workout the cricket game had finished and the field was all mine.  The circuit didn’t take too long and when I was done I still had time to talk with some of my friends. 

Today, Friday, I did my workout earlier in the day.  Since no one else works out on Friday’s I was going to be alone, so I decided to go early to get it out of the way.  300-300-300 was the workout.  It had been a week since my last real workout, so I was going to have to try extra hard for this one.  The week off was good for resting up, but it may also have some adverse effects, so with this workout I was going to find out which it was.  The goal for reps was going to be 42 seconds, but if I don’t reach it, I’m not suppose to get too down.  There were a couple workers at the field fixing up the cricket pitch, but other then them I was all by myself.  This was a good opportunity for me to work on the mental aspect of my training.  The first rep was 44.40 and I knew I wasn’t as focused as I should have been.  On my break I didn’t think about what I did wrong on the last one, but what I should do right on the next.  44.06 was the next, a little bit faster then the first but still not right on.  The sun started to get real hot, and even though I was trying to stay positive and focused, I was getting down because of the first two runs.  I wasn’t feeling tired, and I couldn’t figure out what was going wrong.  ‘Miss ya look tight!’ someone yelled from the side.  At first I thought I was being hit on so I just ignored it.  ‘Just relax na gurl then you’ll go fasta!’  Turns out it wasn’t a come on, just some good advice.  I took the strangers advice and relaxed on the last rep.  I told myself to speed up at each hundred mark.  Faster around the corner, faster down the stretch, keep the shoulders relaxed.  It wasn’t a 42, but it was still an improvement, 43.86.  Even though the runs didn’t go the way I wanted them too, I took the positive I could out of the workout and next week I’ll hit 42 each time.

After getting the workout done nice and early I spent the afternoon at the beach.  Me and my family packed into the car and headed down island to a new beach.  The beach had beautiful white sand and nice clear, deep water.  I attempted to swim out to a boat, but when I saw a dark object swim under me, I immediately swam back for shore.  I was kind of tired from the mornings workout, but once I saw the black object I got my second wind real quick and became a black female Michael Phelps. All the time I’ve spent at the beaches down here has actually made me a bit of a better swimmer.  If only I could find those kids from my first week and show them I can swim!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Carnival in Trinidad

Once I finally got into Trinidad on Friday I could feel carnival in the air. There was no workout for Friday so I just limed at my aunt's house with my cousin and did some catching up. My uncle Deryck from Canada is also here, so he came over and we just spent some quality family time together. The finals for the steel pan competition were on so we watched them. It was very exciting to see the competition and listen to the very energetic music all night long. I headed to bed a little early though because Saturday night was going to be a long night at the Insomnia fete. A fete is basically a party, but on the larger scale. Since it was carnival, this fete was going to be even bigger then a normal one.
Saturday my mom and I took a little walk into town to watch Kiddie Carnival. This was just a mini version of what Carnival on Monday and Tuesday was going to be like. There were a lot of cute little outfits, and a whole lot of loud music. The little walk we took ended up being seven miles long and at the end of it I had a nice shoe tan going on. I got back and crashed hard, but it turned out to be for the best because it gave me my second wind for the night. Around ten my cousin Keisha came and picked me up to head to Insomnia. On the way I could see stages set up for different fetes. When we finally got to Insomnia it was way bigger then I thought it was going to be. There was a stage set up and booths for alcohol and food, it was the real deal. By eleven the first performer was up and the crowd was loving it. For the second act we snuck into the VIP area and was able to get stage side for the performance! It was pretty exciting and the energy was amazing, the only down fall was I had no idea who the artists were and I couldn't understand any of their songs. This didn't stop me from jumping and dancing like the best of 'em though! By 5 a.m. I was beat, so we headed back home and once again I crashed as soon as I hit my pillow.
Sunday was more of a relaxed day. We woke up at 9, which at first I was very angry about, but then we headed to the beach which made my day. The beach looked like one of the beaches off of a post card or something. The sun was the hottest is been since I got here, the water was perfect and the waves were amazing. Other then being a little tired when we first got there, it was amazing. The sand was so hot I had to sprint to the water, but once I got in it was all good. I was suppose to do a jog and a warm up for my workout on Sunday, but since we spent the whole day at the beach I wasn't able to get it in. I did some running in the water for 20 minutes and did a lot of swimming so I was able to at least get something in.
Carnival Monday started bright and early at 4 am wit j'ouvert. Just before 4 a large truck was driving up and down the streets blaring soca music, waking people up to take part in j'ouvert. By 5 my family and I were up and out in the streets dancing and welcoming in Carnival. The streets were full of music and people, people covered in paint and mud. As soon as I saw the crowd I knew I had made a error in my wardrobe selection as I was wearing nice bright white pants and a t-shirt just out of the dryer. As I danced down the street with the crowd I tried my best not to get any paint on me, and I was doing pretty good until paint started falling from the sky and there was no escape. I didn't get too upset though because it was all in the name of the celebration. For three hours we danced up and down the street, and as soon as the sun came up it instantly got hot! We headed back to the house to eat a little breakfast and clean up from j'ouvert. My coach back home sent me my workout for today, Monday, and after taking a nap I started to look into getting to the track for the afternoon. My search didn't last long because after asking my aunt I found out that the facility will be closed for Monday and Tuesday because of Carnival. I was really bummed that I couldn't workout, but maybe the rest will be good. I ended up spending the afternoon watching the Carnival parade in town with my mom. The parade was like no parade I had ever seen before. There were costumes like an ordinary parade, but they were more than ordinary costumes. Some were so big you would think they were floats, but when looked at closely you could see that it was just one person alone carrying the costume. Then the same trucks that supplied us with music for the morning were parading as well and this time they were accompanied by a sea of people partying and dancing around them. They call it 'playing mas' and basically you follow the truck down the parade bath and 'whine' or dance and drink and just have a great time all day long, and these people definitely looked like they were having a great time! We ended up spending six hours watching the parade and when we left it wasn't even done yet. I wasn't ready to leave but I was told there would be more tomorrow. I know next year for sure I'm going to 'play mas'. My cousin said she did it before and if she wasn't pregnant she would be doing it again this year. And even though I wasn't able to workout again today, six hours of dancing has to count for something :-)

Friday, February 12, 2010

What A Week

Well it has definitely been a pretty busy week for me.  Monday was a regular training day for me.  When I got to the park though, the atmosphere was a little different.  I  came to find everyone still in their school uniforms sitting together on the benches.  As I grabbed a seat myself I realized they weren’t going to be training this day.  One by one each athlete was voicing what their goals were going to be for the next two days. Intercol was going to be on Tuesday and Wednesday so no training on Monday for the high school guys.  I had planned on doing 300s with the guys, but since they weren’t training I did 2(4x250) with one of the older guys instead.  My partner ended up joining me half way through the first set, and called it quits on the 7th 250.  The park was very empty without all of the high school kids there, it was nice because there was less traffic, but I did miss the chatter that they usually bring.  One of the coaches was there to help me through my workout, and at the end once again killed my abs with his insane core workout.  Some of the cricket players decided to join in with the core workout, and they had no idea what they were in for.  Half way through all but one had dropped out, and the last was holding on just to try and beat me.  It just wasn’t his day though, and he dropped out with just over a minute left. 

Tuesday was the first day of competition for Intercol.  I volunteered to help out, so I was at the stadium by 9:30.  My uncle couldn’t drive me all the way there, so he dropped me off 2km from the stadium and I walked the rest of the way.  As I got closer to the stadium there were more and more kids in uniform walking with me.  Coming around the last corner to the stadium the road all of a sudden filled with kids in uniforms.  The kids had no fear of getting hit by cars as they walked three to four a breast down the main highway.  I worked my way through the crowd and tried to find my coach to see where my help was needed.  I saw a couple of the guys from the track club and wished them good luck, and a couple of the other coaches were there so I limed with them for a bit in the stands.  The crowd outside the stadium started to thin out a bit, and the stands started to fill.  There were more people in the stands then any track meet I had ever been to, and it was only the students so far.  I eventually found my coach, and got set up at long jump to help out.  To start off the meet they had a parade of March Pass.  Each school had a group to represent them wearing their school colors and carrying their school flag.  The crowd would erupt with each group that came out, and instantly the energy level of the stadium was elevated, and it stayed that way all day long.   The competition was great all day long, on the track and in the field.  All the people from the track club did amazing, and it was nice to see them put all their training to work for them.  The day ended a little late, and by the time I got back to the park to do my own workout it was already 6:30.  The sun was already down, so I cut my workout a bit short since I couldn’t see anything. 

On Wednesday I decided to do my workout before I headed to the stadium, that way I’d be able to get it in without having to worry about the sun setting on me.  The only down fall on practicing early was that it was SUPER hot for my workout.  My t-shirt was drenched after my two lap jog, but I just reminded myself how cold it was back in Regina and the heat didn’t seem to bother me at all.  My workout was just a circuit, and I was done within an hour, so I showered, ate and made my way over to the stadium for day two of competition.  When I got there I could hear the music and cheering from outside of the stadium.  When I got inside they were just finishing up race walking, and long jump had already began, so I made my way down to the pits.  There was only one group to jump, and they didn’t need my help, so I spent the day as a spectator.   Day two was just as exciting as the first.  Even though they were in competition against each other, all the athletes were very supportive of each other.  There was also a lot of smack talk too. During the boys 200 meter final the boy in the lead coming off the bend turned and pointed at the guy in second, then to the crowd with a huge smile on his face. The crowd loved it, and cheered so loud I could feel the whole place shake.  At the end of the race the boys hi fived and congratulated each other on a good race.  The day ended with relays, which are always exciting.  The athletes not running in the relay lined the track and cheered on their teams around the track. It felt like a meet back in Regina with towels waving and people right on the track cheering.  I wanted to be running so bad!  The meet finished on time, and afterwards I headed to the park to lift weights since I missed them on Tuesday.  The weight room was empty so it didn’t take too long to get through my program.  One of the high school guys came by and retold the stories of the day to the guys who couldn’t make it to the meet.  Everyone who got first or second at the meet will be heading to Trinidad at the beginning of March for their national track meet. I’m hoping to head over and watch, and if its anything like the last two days it should be a lot of fun!

Thursday was back to normal for me.  Before I headed to practice though, me, my uncle and my mom headed up to the country to buy some fish.  This may be the freshest fish I’ll ever have in my whole life.  We went to the beach and waited for the fisherman to bring in his catch for the day.  Red fish and Tobago dolphin were the catches for the day.  We picked out the fish that looked the best and the fisherman de-scaled and cut up the fish right in front of us.  We zipped back to the city and I go dropped off at the park to do my workout.  300-300-300 was the workout for today, full recovery so they were going to be run hard.  There were a couple groups of cricketers and a group of guys playing soccer so I had a lot of obstacles to worry about during my runs.  The senior throwers were training, but no runners to join in the workout with me.  It took me a while to finally get going because I was trying to figure out the safest way for me to do my runs, but no matter how I worked it out, I would have to run through some sort of traffic.  I decided to just run them like normal 300s and just deal with whatever came in my way.  The first rep I ran pretty scotch free, the guys playing soccer chased me for about 50 meters, but I was able to easily get away.  My goals for the runs were to be around 42 second, the first one was 43.45, so not a bad start.  I tried to relax during the break and not think too much about the run I had just done, and the runs I had left ahead of me.  With three minutes left in the break, I headed back to the 300 meter start and got my focus back on.  Before I went I waved down to the cricketers to let them know I was coming, they stepped back and held on to their ball and waved me down.  As I passed I could hear words of encouragement that gave me a little boost.  As I came around the corner, I came onto the soccer game that was going on.  I could see the ball and I tried my best to stay out of the way, but as I was coming off the corner the ball came my way, and so did the defender.  In a split second I had to decide whether to speed up or slow down, dodge or stay on path.  I chose the combination of speed up and dodge, and was successful in not only avoiding a collision but also making a good time on the rep, 42.62.  I felt good after the second rep, and once again during the break I tried to relax and make sure my head was clear before going into the last one.  I tried not to over think the workout too much and just take it as it comes.  Just as I get into the last rep, I remind my self I can do it, and I try to focus on the points my coach told me to work on.  He said my shoulders are looking much more relaxed, so I concentrate on those to make sure they don’t go back to old habits.  I don’t get to tired during the run and my form feels really good, 43.44 is what I finish in.  Even though they all weren’t at the 42 second mark, my coach back home said not to beat myself up.  With in  the next couple weeks I should be able to hit the times no problem, then I’ll be able to see some improvements in my races on the track as well.

Finally, today, Friday.  No practice today, but I still had to get up early.  I’m heading to Trinidad for the next couple days to take in Carnival.  My boat leaves at 1:30 but since Carnival is kicking off today, I’m heading to the dock early to avoid the rush.  I’ve packed and unpacked my bag three times already, and it I still can’t believe how heavy it is.  I’m only staying in Trinidad for 6 days, but my bag is still popping at the seams. There is a big Soca competition going on tonight, and I’ve been told I’ll be able to hear most of it from the upstairs of my aunts house.  Tomorrow is an event called Insomnia, which I guess goes form 9pm till 9am and probably even later.  I’ve been sent my workout for Sunday and its just a jog, so any sort of Carnival activities I do shouldn’t have too big of am effect on my training.  Its off to pack my bags once more then onto the boat.  Carnival sounds like its going to be fun, and I can’t wait for it to start!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Testing 1, 2, 3…4

Friday was suppose to be testing but very early in the morning I got an email from my coach back home telling me not to do it.  I’m not a very good listener, so I did the testing anyways.  Every so often we do testing to see how well training is going and to see what needs some work.  The testing consists of a 40 meter sprint, standing long jump, three hop jump and over head heave.  Since everyone usually takes Friday’s off I was able to meet the coach anytime I wanted.  I went with 10 in the morning so I could get the workout out of the way and still have time to go to the beach.  The 10 o’clock sun was SO hot! I loved it though, I could feel my skin get darker by the minute :-)  The running and jumping portions of the testing didn’t go as well as I wanted and I sort of understood why my coach back home didn’t want me to test.  My legs had nothing in them left to do anything and the testing showed it.  I didn’t feel too bad after it all though, because I threw very well in the overhead heave.  I was able to throw 13.20 meters which was 30 centimetres farther then I had ever thrown before! So even though my legs were tired and drained, I still had a little bit of explosion left in them to get in a decent throw.  I spent a little time at the beach and was pretty dead for the rest of the day.  I think no matter how long I stay here, the sun will always suck the life out of me.  

Saturday was another resting day.  My mom is now in Tobago with me so we spent the day catching up, then we went to visit some friends. 

Today, Sunday, was another kind of testing day with time trials.  ‘Intercol’ is this week, so the secondary school athletes are taking it a little easy so they are prepared for their meet.  We still had time trials, but nothing longer then a 150 meter was run, to keep everyone fresh.  Once again I was super early and ready to go even before the coach had shown up.  I was ok with it though because this gave me some time to get some critic from some of the other athletes who had seen me run.  My biggest problem has been relaxing my shoulders, and the other athletes just re-emphasized it for me.  All I was going to focus on today was going to be my shoulders and just let everything else fall into place. 

For the start of the 150 I wasn’t quiet ready, so bad habits kicked in right away.  The other girls took off without me and with the first three steps my shoulders were right up by my ears.  For the first 50 meters I was just trying hard to catch up, but then I reminded my self of what my goal of the day was.  Coming off the corner I relaxed my shoulders and tried not to worry about the others.  As I started to relax I could feel myself reel the others in.  I just pumped my arms and didn’t even worry about my legs and with 50 meters left I had caught everyone and had an easy finish to the race.  I ended up running 18.74 which was a little slower then the last 150, but with a little polishing up of the beginning I’ll be able to bring that down in no time.  Next they ran 60s and usually I just sit back and watch these because I’ve never really been good at shorter distances.  I still felt like I had a little left in my legs though, so I decided to strap up and join in.  I set up my blocks in my new starting position and told myself that I would just focus on getting the right arm up on ‘GO’, then worry about the rest of the race as it comes.  As I settled into the blocks and awaited the ‘SET’ command I felt myself go into a zone I haven’t been in in a while.  I focused on the voice of the starter and nothing else.  I’m not really sure what happened next, but I heard the ‘CLAP’ and I was off.  I could hear myself exhale, and it seemed like after one blink I was crossing the finish line.  It was the most effortless run I had ran in a while and I thought for sure it was going to be super slow.  I walked back not really expecting anything, I was just happy that I got the right arm up when I came out of the blocks.  I got back over to the timer and he asks, ‘how fas you rundis before’, I laugh and say ‘8.09, was it that bad?’.  He doesn’t say anything and shows me to the watches and I can’t believe what I see…7.86?  I automatically assume it must be wrong, but he assures me its correct.  I finally put a decent run together and it felt so easy!  Now if I can just remember how to do it again, I’ll be good to go!

60 meter time trial in Tobago

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Playing Catch Up

Wednesday I had off, so I went to the beach with my uncle during the day.  We went to the same beach as when my cousin was here, but this time it was a lot nicer since it wasn’t six in the morning.  There were more people on the beach, and I think most of them were tourists.  At one point a fishing boat came right up on the beach to unload a couple tourists.  The locals were not really happy about this and it lead to a nice little bickering session about the rights of a fisherman versus the rights of a sea bather.  I could only understand a bit, but there were a few good shots that made onlookers laugh, so of course not to look out of place, I laughed as well.  During this time of the day there were a lot of little shops and bars open along the beach, and you could really tell you were in the tourist area of the island, plus the abundance of white people kind of gave it away too. We spent a couple hours at the beach, just enough time to ‘blacken up my skin’ then we headed back home.  The sun really sucked the energy out of me, so I took a nice little nap once we got back. 

On Monday we had gone grocery shopping and I picked up some things to make some pizza later on in the week. So after my nap I  headed straight to the kitchen to do a little damage.  With my recipe in hand I was ready to make the most amazing supper ever!  I could tell my uncle was a little worried about me working in his kitchen, because every five minutes he would come in to see how I was doing.  I was totally ok with this because it seemed like ever five minutes I needed his help with something. I ended up making the dough a little too sticky so some adjustments were needed.  I’m really glad that I lift weights because I used every single muscle in my hands and my arms to knead that dough!  When I finally got the consistency right, it was time to work my topping magic.  I tried to work from memory to make my favourite tropical chicken pizza from Boston Pizza’s. I thought this one would be very fitting given my current location.  I think my version was a little bit off though, because it was WAY better then any BP’s pizza! I ended up making enough dough for three pizzas, so this was only one of my three creations.  The next was a meat lovers that would put Tumbler’s pizza to shame.  With three inches of meat, one piece had enough protein in it for a week.  The last one didn’t get as much thought as the others though, it was called the What Ever Is Left pizza, but it still tasted pretty good. 

This was the first real time I had spent in the kitchen since I got here and it was actually pretty fun.  My uncle had been trying to teach me to cook some Trinidad food, but all I seemed to do was burn it.  I think the pizza making was a nice little redemption for me, and I was able to show my family that ‘burn’ wasn’t the only flavour I knew.

On Thursday I was back to the track.  I got there a little late, and when I did, the coach kind of seemed a little mad, I got straight into my warm up so I could catch up with everyone.  As I came close to the end of my warm up some of the boys started their workout.  I wasn’t too sure what was going on so I sort of just watched for a bit.  I guess some of the boys were misbehaving before I got there, and now they were being punished.  They were doing the fartlek that we did on Monday, but anytime their 100 meter sprint wasn’t fast enough, they would have to start all over again.  It didn’t look like they were having fun at all, so I just took my time warming up and once they were done with their punishment they were ready to start the real workout.  I had been sent a workout from back home, so once the coach had cooled off a little bit, I let him know.  He split the group up and half the boys did the same workout as me, and the others had some shorter work to do.  300-300-300 was the workout, full out with a full recovery.  Only one of the guys in my group had to run the fartlek, so the rest of them were fresh and ready to go for the workout. We didn’t waste anytime getting into the workout, *BEEP* 45.00 on the first rep.  I had forgot to write down how fast my coach wanted these to be, but 45 seemed good, and I would just try to go faster for the next two to make it a little more challenging.  The guys really don’t like getting beat by a girl and I had noticed that a couple of them like to just linger behind me for the first half of a run, then pass me at the very end.  I remembered this for the next rep and after 200 meters I turned it on, a kicked it hard all the way to the end, *BEEP* 44.00.  When we finished all the could say was ‘what was dat’.  I told them to stop being little girls and run the whole thing, not just the last half.  So on the last one I knew they would try to bring it on a little stronger then the first two.  I wasn’t feeling tired at all, and all I wanted to do was beat the boys.  Right off the start we were all going our hardest.  At first I was trying too hard and I could feel that my whole body was tight, so I just tried to relax and let my power do all the work.  I kept my knees coming high, relaxed my shoulders and just reacted quick off the ground.  It seemed to work because I could feel myself slowly pull away from the boys down the home stretch, *BEEP* 44.40.  I finished two steps ahead of the boys, and it sure felt good.  The coach said I looked really relaxed, but still very powerful, which is what I have been trying to work on this whole time.  It seems like all I needed was a couple boys chasing me to finally get it right.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Little Bit of Both

This morning like mornings before I went for a walk with my uncle.  I took a couple pictures, but after a while my uncle started to get a little to far away, so I put the camera away and worked on catching up.  Today was my turn to choose the route and I thought I knew where to go.  One wrong turn somewhere and we were lost.  Well I was lost, my uncle knew the whole time but failed to let me know that until we got home. 

After a quick breakfast I headed out back once again to work on my awesome tan :-) It was pretty windy so even though it was 30 degrees out, it didn’t feel too bad. 

My cousin had to work today, and my aunt took the other car, so I was on my own to travel to practice today.  I had noticed that there were always people on the side of the road looking for rides, and today I became one of them.  My uncle said a lot of people couldn’t afford cars, so hitch hiking was a very common way to get around the island. So at 3:30 I headed out to the main road and waited for someone to pick me up.  I was kind of nervous about getting a ride with a stranger, but you know what they say “a stranger is just a friend that you haven’t met yet”.  I’m not really sure who said it, but it did ease my nerves a bit.  I didn’t have to wait to long though and a nice older fellow picked me up, along with a younger elementary school boy.  Five dollars and 15 minutes later I was at the track, will all travel worries aside.  I got to Shaw park a little early so there wasn’t really anyone there.  I waited until 4:30 though and still no one was there, but I started anyways.  The workout I got was fairly short, so by 5:15 I was done. Around this time everyone else had finally showed up and was ready for their workouts. Their workout was 5x250, and I was told it wouldn’t be too hard.  So after a couple people challenged me and egged me on to join in, I couldn’t say no.  I have Wednesday off, so I figured I would have plenty of time to recover from the double workout.  I was able to keep up with the boys for the first three, then kick their butts for the last two.  I’m starting to think they like getting beat by me, or they are at least getting use to it.  We finished off again with some hurdle hip mobility drills that just killed me!  And some ab exercises that I know I’ll for sure be feeling tomorrow.

I had finished my lifting phase last week, so today I worked on finding out how strong I really was.  After the hurdle drills and ab exercises I hit the weight room to work on my swell :-)  All the weights are in kilograms and I’m use to pounds, so half my time was spent trying to do the math of how much I was lifting.  I never really figured it out, which I think maybe helped. I just kept putting weights on and didn’t really worry about how much it weighed.  I was able to power clean with 22.5kg and back squat with 44.25kg on each side, I’m still not really sure how much it is, but the guys seemed somewhat impressed so I’m going to assume it was good.

With tomorrow off I’m in no rush to get to bed on time tonight.  This is a bonus because TBS has a three hour mini marathon of The Office. I thought beating the boys was going to be the highlight of my day, but three hours of Michael Scott might just be the icing on my cake tonight!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Switchin’ It Up

Today I decided to try something a little different.  Usually on Monday’s the boys run 6x300 and I would do  3(3x200), so according to my math we were doing the same distance, so why not work out together!  This weeks is suppose to be an easy week, so even though I was working with the boys I was still going to take it easy.  I got to the track a little early to make sure I was ready when everyone else was.  The coach always said to be ready for 4:15 or don’t both to be there.  So of course at 4:15 I was ready to go, but no one else was, so 15 minutes later they were ready to go.  I started to walk over to the 300 meter start when I heard the coach say ‘fartlek’.  I turn around and gave him a bit of a puzzled look. ‘I thought we were doing 300’s’…‘Not today Canada’.  The fartlek we had to do was sprint 100 meters, jog back 50 meter, turn around and repeat for 400 meters.  It works out to 700 meters of sprinting in one rep! It was suppose to be an easy, so at this point I don’t what to do.  I didn’t want to duck out of the workout and look like it was too hard for me, so I just did it anyways.  One hard fartlek on an easy week shouldn’t hurt me,  four might though :-s  For the first two sets I got blown out by the boys, but for the last half I decided to step it up.   I lead for the first 200 meters of the third set, and finished strong right behind them for the last half.  No one ever remembers the first three quarters of a sports game, the fourth is always the time to shine.  So for the last rep I stayed right beside the guys for the first 300 meters.  I was feeling pretty tired by the last 100, so after the last 50 meter jog, I turned around and took off as hard as I could.  I stayed just in front of the guys for most of it.  I held them off for as hard as I could, but I could hear them inching up with every step.  I tired to relax and just finish it off.  With 20 meters left the guys started to pass me, I didn’t let them go, and finished just behind them.  I was tired as hell, but I still felt good.  I thought that was it for the workout, but there were still drills to follow.  I’ve done hip mobility drills before, but nothing compared to what we did today.  By the time we were done, my hip flexors were hard as a rock!

It was nice to try something a little different today.  Running with the guys pushed me a little, and reminded me how to dig a little deeper when I get tired.  Not sure what’s on the program for tomorrow yet.  If I don’t get anything from my coach though I might just join the guys again.