Thursday, April 28, 2016


I started out this week feeling a little bummed because I missed a feis near where I used to live. Though I was so not ready, it was cool that adult novice/prizewinner had 8 competitors. I saw my old school had posted pictures from the feis, and it looks like most of my old classmates are now champ dancers. I know I couldn't have handled the prelim prep class while pregnant, but it was just frustrating to think about everyone else moving forward while I moved backwards in my dance and fitness.

But then I started looking for the bright side. I gave birth to a healthy little boy, and I continue to be his sole source of nourishment, as I am breastfeeding. How cool is that? Sure, my jogging is super-slow, but it is still fast enough that if I was still in the Army, I would pass the 2-mile portion of the physical fitness test. My reel has greatly improved this week, as did my slip jig, though I still can't do both slip jig steps together. I am out of town the next couple of weeks, but maybe I can get a little time to practice while I've got lots of relatives willing to hang out with the little boy. I haven't officially signed up for any feisanna yet, but I hope to be back at competing by June. My hard shoe still needs a lot of work, though.

This week, I also got an adult class T-shirt, my first piece of apparel from my new school. I feel all official. I saw an article that one of my friends from another school posted about Irish dance schools in the area, and the one I attend was described as "highly-competitive," which may have scared me off, even when I was younger. I wasn't the most coordinated youth, at least not until sometime midway through marching band season in 7th grade. Though different things I'd heard or read made this school not my first choice, because I didn't think it would be the right fit, but I am so glad things worked out the way they did. I love my dance family, and I am sad I will be out of town and not able to attend an upcoming local feis with them. I wish them the best of luck though, and there's always next year.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Trebling and Running

Though I don't have room to practice my steps, I discovered I can work on my trebles. My back trebles are pretty abysmal, and I think it is because my treble form gets sloppy. So the other day I just stood in the living room, slowing down my trebles. The left foot is definitely worse than the right. But if working on basics is all that I have space to do, then maybe it will help me in the long run. Plus, as my son laid on a playmat on the floor watching me, he was kicking his feet in the air. I think he was trying to dance, too!

I am 2/3 through with week 5's workouts of Couch to 5K. My 3/4 mile jog was right on the pacing suggested, but 8 minutes for 3/4 is way slower than I am used to. My personal best mile time is 6 minutes 15 seconds, and I am hoping to get back there someday. But I guess first I build the mileage, then I work on speed.

On the bright side, my "best person" dress fits! Yay!!! It is a little snug in the bosom, but I was starting to panic about it fitting for my brother's wedding in 3 weeks. On the downside, the cut of the dress makes me look a little like I am still pregnant in the stomach :(

Speaking of dresses, I am hoping that when I start feising again that I will be allowed to wear a pseudo-solo dress. Not a really fancy dress, but a stretch velvet number with a little embellishment at the neckline and cuffs, with a sparkly cape. Definitely an adult dress, yet different than the school dress. I got it from another adult dancer and haven't been able to wear it yet, as I've just been in school dresses. It is in our school colors, so hopefully it will be allowed and will give a boost to my confidence.

Hopefully I will post again sometime after Thursday's class, and hopefully I will have slip jig improvements to discuss!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Slip Jig and Other Woes

I will try to start this on a positive note, so...on the bright side, I can get through both steps of my reel now. I start getting sloppy at the end, but at least that is one step that I have to the music. Plus, I am still seeking a 1st with 5 or more competitors in adult novice/prizewinner reel, so maybe I can finally get that, if I work on things like turnout, jump height (which seems dismally low since I haven't been doing jump drills and my abs are all stretched out of shape from carrying an 8 lb baby), and kicking my bum. My upper body is already getting better, and my stamina seems to be improving, though when I start feeling like my old, athletic self, then I end up peeing myself a little and it brings me back to reality :(

I can more or less do the right foot of my troublesome treble jig step to music. Now I just need to work on left foot and combine it with step 1. Hard shoe just seems to come more naturally to me. Maybe it is thanks to the 3.5 years of clogging that I did in my tweenage years. Pre-move, pre-pregnancy, I would feel like I wasn't so great at hard shoe in class, alongside the kids and teens, but then I would totally kick butt at hard shoe at the feis. At one point in time, I had a year-long winning streak in treble jig before I got a 2nd place result, I would win hard shoe just to come in 2nd at soft shoe, and at one really big feis, I only placed in my hard shoe and came home empty-handed at soft shoe. I didn't get to work on my hornpipe at all. They spent a lot of time working on traditional speed stuff, so I stayed in the other room to get more time to work on slip jig.

Oh, slip jig :( My feet will just not move fast enough at 2nd step. I learned it in November, and I was just too pregnant to ever put it up to speed, so I guess I just got in the habit of doing it too slowly. It is a lovely, spinning start, and has some neat elements like twists, but my feet will not cooperate! I am so glad my husband had to work this weekend, because had I feised this weekend, it would have been an epic fail. My teacher asked me if I wanted to practice it to slower music, and I was like, nooooo. That will only confuse me more. Some of my classmates were working on reel to slower music, but I need to do more like they did at my old school, and just work on little chunks to the correct speed of music until I could put it all together. I LOVE the people at my current school, but I miss the drilling of my old school.

Speaking of people, the super-helpful former champ dancer (who is also really nice and a fan of Dr. Who and Harry Potter) will be leaving our class :( She has to do field placements for her degree program, and while I wish her the best on her future career, I will certainly miss her.

The new plan is to start feising again in June. I will miss a couple of weeks of class in May, because of my husband's work and my brother's wedding, so I sure hope I can get my steps ready. My teacher said we would start with slip jig next week. I told her I don't have the space to practice at home right now, and she was okay with it, so I guess that is another advantage of an adult class. This is the first time I haven't had the space to practice, and though we have tossed around the idea of moving when our lease ends in September, it doesn't hardly seem worth going through a move just for a year. I just hope I can get my steps ready for the feis the third week in June. It is my old school's home feis, so I really don't want to humiliate myself. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Working on Running and Losing Weight

So I have been continuing on the Couch to 5K plan and made it into Week 5. Running feels pretty good now, though I still feel really slow. Maybe it is good that my husband walks with the baby stroller while I do my jog/walk (he sometimes runs at lunchtime), so I am not tempted to go too fast too soon. I don't want to bring back the tendonitis in my knee by overdoing it. I feel slow for a couple of reasons. First, I think it is a result of my weak is getting better, but I feel like I just can't move my legs fast enough. And with thicker legs than I am used to, I am having the issue of the insides of my legs rubbing against each other uncomfortably. I guess I will have to get out the Friction Block stick that I haven't used since the marathon in 2013. Finally, this may be TMI, but I sometimes pee myself a little. I spend so much energy trying not to pee that I end up running quite slowly. Guess I better keep working on those Kegels!

However, I am super-excited to finally have lost another pound! Sure, it is only 1 pound, but I was thinking the scale was stuck for a while. I have lost only about 4 lbs. in the past 6 weeks. Still have about 20 more pounds to go, and I haven't tried on the dress for my brother's wedding (which is in 3 weeks) yet. I ordered only 1 or 2 sizes bigger than normal, so I am crossing my fingers!

Tonight's dance class, so hopefully I will have another update soon. In my next update, maybe I can find and share the easy veggie curry recipe that I discovered on the Internet back when I was pregnant. We made it the other night, and there are still leftovers in the fridge. I think it is one of my favorite meals I make at home.

Well, gotta go...sounds like I need to change a diaper!

Saturday, April 16, 2016


While it has been nice to have so many babysitters so that I can go jogging, the disadvantage of being at my parents' house means food temptations everywhere. My family doesn't eat very healthy, and my diet has changed a lot since I moved out. They have been having a hard time figuring out what to serve me now that I don't eat red meat or pork, and there are hardly any vegetables in the house. I've been drinking more soda than usual (although at least it is the kind with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup). One day my mom served salad, and it just consisted of an iceberg lettuce/red cabbage/shredded carrot bagged salad mix. I ended up having walnuts and cheese on it too. On another day, I made my own dressing out of olive oil, orange juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, rather than eat the salad dressing that contained propylene glycol. Plus, there's all kinds of junk food like Pop-tarts and cookies. We also had birthday cake and ice cream for my brother's birthday on Wednesday. I am trying to be a good, gracious guest and don't want to come off as unappreciative, though. At least my mom said they have been eating healthier since I have been here.

Meanwhile, week 4 of Couch-to-5K continues. I've been trying to get my sister to join me. I thought she had given up running until she was telling me about her knee hurting from jogging 5 miles on the treadmill. I didn't realize she ran more than 5 minutes! Apparently, she just started running again two weeks ago. Sigh. No wonder her knee hurts. 5K is 3 miles, and the Couch-to-5K plan gives you 9 weeks to work up to that. I didn't want to sound like a know-it-all, but I've had tendonitis in the knee in the past from doing too much too soon. Trying to do it right this time, even if it means I can only run 5 minutes at a time for now.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Trying Not to Be Deterred

On the Irish dance front, I'm a bit at a standstill. I am away from the studio, so I will miss the optional Sunday afternoon class, and the only space that I would have enough room to practice is my parents' driveway, which is sort of out of the question now due to rogue neighbor dogs. Though the bite marks are healing, both wounds are bruising, and the vivid purple butt bruise is right where I would need to kick my bum for Irish dance :-/

I have been continuing with the run/walk program though. I can now jog for 5 minutes at a time. I've been driving to a local greenway, although I think I still must have a bit of PTSD from the dog attack. There was a girl riding a bicycle while her dog jogged beside her (which technically wasn't allowed, since it was supposed to be on the leash at the greenway path). Even though it trotted back over to her after she scolded it for straying too far from her side, I don't know if I trust unleashed dogs right now. Maybe I would feel safer if I ran wearing pants instead of shorts :-/

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Temporary Setback

My husband is doing a temporary duty assignment in another state this week, so I've traveled to my parents' house so I can have some help with the baby. Since they live near my old home/old dance school, I won't be going to dance class this week. But it doesn't mean I can't work out. I've been trying to plank when I can, since that only takes 30-45 seconds at a time. Plus, I've figured out how to do some ab work with a 13 lb weight, aka my son :) If I lean back just a little while I hold him while sitting on the floor, I can really feel it in my lower abs.

I figured having so many family members around would be the perfect time to continue with my run/jog Couch to 5K plan. Though I felt really slow and am alternating 2-3 min of walking and running, it felt good to be back on my familiar run route, out in the sunshine and spring air. I went to the highway and back, because I knew that it was 0.7 miles each way, and was planning on doing it again after turning around in my parents' driveway, but I didn't get that far. While I was walking on the edge of my parents' land and the road, I saw the neighbors' dogs come running down the hill across the road. I started cutting diagonally through my parents' property, trying to walk calmly so they would know I am not a threat, and I hoped they would just turn around when they reached the road. But no, the one jumped up and bit me in the butt, they barked and circled around me, and the other, smaller dog bit me in the leg. They were barking and jumping, and it was scary because I didn't know what they else they would do, so I started yelling for help. One neighbor was on a riding lawn mower facing away from me, and I thought my parents were in the house, but fortunately my mom heard the barking and thought the dogs were after her cats, so she came out to yell at them. When she yelled at them to go home, they backed off, but I was still shaken up from the incident. The nurses' line that my insurance provided said I needed to get checked out to at least get a tetanus booster. Nothing was bad enough for stitches, and the doctor said I should be okay, even though they didn't have their shots.

I'm okay, but it is so frustrating. I've run that route for a good 10 years or so, putting on probably hundreds of miles. Now I feel like I have to drive to a local park to go for a run. Plus, it is even worse that I was walking, IN MY PARENTS' YARD, when it happened. As far as my workout went, I had to cut it short and didn't stretch afterwards, since I immediately got on the phone with the insurance company, after I finished crying on the porch. I was just getting back on track with exercise, and even though it's not much a physical setback, it mentally took a toll. And now I fear for my son. We used to have family cookouts and stuff at my parents' house, but now, apparently their side yard is not even safe :( Exercise-wise, I will not be deterred. Maybe I will even go down to a county trail where there are leash laws for a walk/jog tomorrow. But the hypochondriac in me is still a little worried about the rare possibility of an infection or something from the dog bites :(  

Friday, April 8, 2016

Back in Class

So I've been back at class for two classes now. I meant to post after the first one, but it seems I never have two hands and a lap free to type at the laptop. Here's a quick, combined update:

First class back: Ugh, I felt so behind. I was having troubles getting my steps up to speed. It seems my legs didn't work fast enough. My height off the floor was abysmal and fundamentals like kicking my butt were really lacking. I was frustrated, but my teacher told me not to be so hard on myself.

We learned a new reel step, but when you consider that I had just "learned" a new reel step by watching and writing it down the night before I gave birth, I now have learned 4 reel steps (actually 5, if you count a beginner one) since September. I am used to drilling and perfecting just the feis steps, and while I like learning new things, I feel like this is where I differ from some of the other adults in my class. Many are there for fun and exercise, rather than competition. I love the fun and exercise, too, but I still want to be prepared to compete and win. My teacher is really cool about trying to help everyone get what they need out of the class, so she was understanding when I asked her afterwards about which would be the best steps for me to focus on for the feis. I just wish we would have had time to work on slip jig and my terrible second treble jig step. That is the disadvantage of having soft and hard shoe crammed into one night a week of dance.

Second class back: More work on the reel. It is getting better. My teacher and one of the former champ dancers were trying to help me work on issues like posture, keeping my eyes up (I'm looking in the mirror and thinking too hard about my steps; I'm not even looking at my feet), and kicking my butt. I think we may be having a breakthrough about my on-going upper body issue (I tend to lean in and out of my steps). I need to continue to work on stamina and form. I am just sooo tired by step 2, which causes my form to suffer. For slow-speed hard shoe, I am even tired by left foot of step 1. We worked on the treble jig step. It is looking better, and I can do it with the music if someone is doing it with me. My back trebles are horrible, my form isn't so hot, and my big clicks are terribly low, but I guess it is getting there. My teacher (who has taught other pregnant dancers/new moms before) keeps reminding me that it will take time. After all, it took 9 months to grow a baby.

Still didn't have any class time on slip jig, and we didn't do hornpipe this week, so I'm not sure if I have it up to speed.

I wish we would do more drills...that's what I really need to whip myself into shape. That's what really helped me at my old school. My current apartment is one of the smallest places I have lived in since starting Irish dance. That, plus often having an infant in my arms, and constantly wearing nursing bras, means I don't get to just dance around the house. The nursing "sports" bras seem to be a joke. They may look sporty, but they aren't supportive. I have to switch to a standard, max support sports bra for workouts.

I am slowly continuing on the Couch to 5K running plan. Roughly on week 3 now. The scale seems to be stuck at my current weight, though. Maybe it is the breastfeeding, or maybe I need to regain more muscle first, but I am 25 lbs. more than I would like to be.

I decided to sign up for the Louisville Feis in June, so now I have a concrete goal to work towards. Wish me luck!