Saturday, October 15, 2011

Gearing up for the 2011-2012 Season

Wow it's been a while, but I finally got my butt back in gear and my writing cap back on. I've been at Northwestern for about 4 weeks now and it has been surreal. The atmosphere is something else. It's like nothing I have ever experienced before. There is a huge sense of independence and freedom to go out there and be all that I can be.

Classes have been pretty good, pre-med is not exactly a cake walk, but it's worth all the hours spent painfully bent over books for hours on end in the library. You build a certain bond with teammates over the shared pain of school work and practice. It really truly brings you closer together.

Speaking of the team, the Northwestern Wild Cat fencing team has been fantastic! I am so excited to be a part of such a strong and unified team that would do anything for one another. It is far beyond just putting on a shared uniform or color. This team is truly that, a team, in every essence of the word. There has definitely been an adjustment period, but in the end everyone is there for each other day in and day out.

Practices have been intense and we have been at work not stop, both in the classroom and outside the classroom. And this weekend I finally got my act together to get myself back into training mode for the upcoming college season. Below I have listed my ab workout from Friday. I am really looking forward to kicking off the season and can not wait to be busing over to Pennsylvania for the Penn State Open in November!

Ab Workout:

1) Push ups         X 30
2) Toe Touches   X 30
3) Alternating Toe Touches   X 20 per leg
4) Upper ab. Crunches    X 60
5) Reverse Crunches       X 30
(3 cycles)

Run 3 miles

Go Cats!

Courtney Dumas

Sunday, September 4, 2011


August 31st, 2011
Ahh Venice, such a wonderful city! I was so excited to finally be arriving in such a renowned metropolis. This beautiful city built on the water doesn’t have any motorized vehicles except for boats! There are hundreds of bridges and water-taxis at your disposal instead!

I arrived in the early afternoon to St. Mark’s Square and to my shock and amazement I found that most of the square was partially under water due to the coming in of the tides. I could not believe what I was seeing! All the stores just brought out mops and platforms. This was an every day occurrence that was just a part of the Venetian lifestyle.

Bustling vendors, swift moving tourists sloshing through the flooded pathways, and dozens of pigeons, surrounded the square. It was quite a scene. You could see the Byzantine influence scattered across all 118 islands connected by the snaking web of 150 canals and 400 brides.

The characteristic winged lion of St. Mark could be seen every few feet as it symbolized the city’s emblem. The richly decorated Basilica San Marco stood next to the great square, built as a Greek cross with several eastern domes; it truly exemplifies the Byzantine influence on the metropolis. The Basilica is so richly decorated that it really embodies its name, the “golden church.” Inside the great beauty stand bronze statues captured from the Hippodrome of Constantinople and intricate mosaic tiling of the domes and floors.

It provides the perfect setting for the great Venetian composers like Vivaldi and Monteverdi. Beyond the breathtaking beauty, the acoustics inside this masterpiece are so unique that the musical works of these great composers do not sound the same when preformed elsewhere.

This beautiful city is so unique and I truly enjoyed my time exploring its pathways and distinct culture. The famed Gondola ride was fantastic and picturesque. The boat ride through the web of winding canals gave me deeper insight into the city of Venice and a greater appreciation of the ancient tradition. The agile craft maneuvered swiftly and with such ease through the tight turns and narrow canals. The personalities of the Gondoliers alone were hilarious. I swear I couldn’t stop laughing. They sang some Dean Martin, explained the history of Venice, and even hollered at one another, cracking jokes the entire way. What an experience!

By the time the day was through I had managed to explore Venice and their gelato stores-that desert was the best ice cream I have ever had! The lunch was amazing! I don’t think I can ever get used to regular food again after my adventures in Italy! The pasta is really something else. But alas, all good things must come to a close. I had reached the final chapter in my European adventure. It was time to go home and to get back to fencing. Ciao Italy!

As always, I would love to here your feedback and questions! Please leave your comments below!!!!

Courtney Dumas

At Sea Day #2

August 30th, 2011
I woke to a bright and clear day, the sun shinning and not a cloud in the sky. Temperatures were blazing and the pool and the shade were the only relief from the sun’s gaze. I grabbed a quick breakfast buffet style and hit the gym for a nice long workout to help make time fly on this at sea day.

I warmed up for another intense spin class this morning as well. The focus of this class this time around was isolating the muscles used for speed and pushing your body to bike at 80 percent of your fastest level and continuously increase and decrease the speed from their. The class also isolated the muscle groups used to train endurance and strength. I had to bike at resistance levels that were 60 percent of the highest resistance I could go and then increase and decrease levels from there on cue. Finally, the third aspect of the class involved muscle confusion by combining both speed and resistance training.

I had to preform pushups and squats while biking at various speeds and resistance levels. The exercise was great! The hardcore hour of continuous biking really got the blood pumping and pushed me to new levels of training. The difficult combination of speed and resistance as well as the added tasks of pushups, squats, and other various exercises forced me to concentrate on the tasks at hand and my breathing.

Immediately after my spin class, I moved on to focusing on strengthening and toning specific muscle groups such as the arms and legs. (The workout is listed below). Today I made sure to push my body farther than I had gone any other time along this trip in order to continue to confuse the muscle groups and to train for the upcoming fencing season. I was pumped up from my spin class and was itching to jump right into the weight training.

After the exhausting workout I hit the pool deck for some R and R. I was looking forward to Venice and thought that killing time would make the venture move along a tad bit faster. So I caught some sun and even had the opportunity to see Kong Fu Panda 2 poolside!

Thanks for reading, please leave any questions or comments you have on my posts, adventures, training, etc. below!

1)   Jumping Squats
2)   Press Ups-10lbs
3)   Lunges with the opposite arm extended above with a weight-10lbs
4)   Hand to Elbow Pushups
(Set 1-16reps, Set 2-14reps, Set 3-12reps, Set 4-10reps, Set 5-8reps, Set 6-6reps. No break after 3rd set.)

Abdominal Workout
1)   Crossover Crunch with arm+leg extended-20 reps, 3 sets (each side)
2)   Sit ups-20 reps, 3 sets
3)   Reverse sit ups-20 reps, 3 sets
4)   Planks-1 minute, 3 sets

Courtney Dumas

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Climb to Athens

August 29th, 2011
We hit Athens bright and early at 8:30 this morning on the venture to the Acropolis. Our guide led us through the city and to the Olympic stadium from the first modern day Olympics in 1896! From there the bus drove us through the city to the heart of the ancient ruins.

We climbed the 80 steep steps through the Propylara, the monumental marble gateway to these incredible ruins. Along the venture I saw the Temple of Nike and had a great view of the valley in which Athens was built. The whole Acropolis is under massive renovation to restore it to its great glory. It was so amazing to see the ancient ruins and to imagine the civilization once there.

On the north side of the Acropolis stood the Erectheum, the sacred site where it is said to have been decided that Athena would rule the city. At the center was the amazing and gigantic Parthenon. This massive monument was better than I could have ever imagined. It truly is one of the greatest monuments of ancient times. I really felt one with the Athenian culture and really gained new respect for the creativity and forward thinking of their culture.

From the Acropolis we strolled through the modern day Athens to the Plaka, the city’s historic shopping district. We sat down to a great authentic Greek lunch. The food there is truly amazing! It was a little shocking to see that my shrimp still had eyes and a head that looked straight back at me, but it was still fantastic.

Perusing the boutiques, jewelry stores, taverns, and cafes and visiting the local museums and galleries was fantastic! Zipping around the cobblestone lanes of such a colorful marketplace made my day. I loved plunging myself into this great culture and hope that I have the opportunity to visit again soon!

Courtney Dumas

To the Ephesus Ruins!

August 28th, 2011
My morning began with an early morning workout before the boat docked. I hit the gym nice and early so I would be ready to tour the fabulous ruins of Ephesus, Turkey. Today I wanted my cross training to involve plenty of leg and abdominal workouts in a jam-packed calorie burning workout. I have listed my workout for today at the end of this entry.

I was off to explore the best preserved ruins in all of the Mediterranean today. My day began with a scenic motorcoach ride from the port city of Kusadasi and past the Byzantine fortress in Selcuk to the house of the Virgin Mary. We traveled through the picturesque Solmissos Mountains and saw the Adaland waterpark that claimed to be the biggest in all of Europe, the one problem with it being that geographically, the waterpark was in Asia not Europe.

We traversed the ruins on a downhill walk of the city, stopping and awing every step of the way. Our guide highlighted the best archeological finds throughout our journey through the ruins, particularly highlighting how technologically advanced the civilization was. They even had heated floors for the winter!

I saw the beautifully preserved Temple of Hadrian, the magnificent Trojan fountain-with a man placing one foot on a globe symbolizing the ruling of the world, and the Odeon Theater. All of these sites were so well preserved that it was nice to not have to imagine what was once there, but actually see it right there in front of you with your own eyes!

The mansions were so ornate and advanced with their heated floors and marble walls and mosaic flooring. It was so beautiful and to know that each intricate part of the house was all made by hand without any modern technology just amazes me. Their culture truly was something else. Above all the majestic Celsus Library was a site to be seen. It was three stories high, even though only two stories remain today. The whole front of the building was pretty much still intact! I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was so detailed-someone had even carved a menorah into the steps of the marble stairs hundreds of years ago and you could still see it today!

We concluded our fantastic tour of the ruins with a view of the Great Theater and hiked our way back to the bus past the camel ride and all of the noisy vendors. The day finished up with a nice shopping trip through the colorful bazaars before we hopped back on board the ship to travel back to Greece.

1)   Burpees
2)   Lunges with Torso Rotation-10lbs
3)   Bell Ringers-10lbs modified-after the reps hold the position for that many seconds
4)   Mason Twists Rotations-10lbs and the last set was a double count
(Set 1-16reps, Set 2-14reps, Set 3-12reps, Set 4-10reps, Set 5-8reps, Set 6-6reps. No break after 3rd set.)
Abdominal Workout
1)   Crossover Crunch with arm+leg extended
2)   Crossover crunch legs in the air and bringing the opposite elbow to the opposite knee
3)   Leg lifts and leg circles
4)   Cross body pulses-balance on one side of the body and reach for the opposite leg with the opposite arm and then switch. Then hold the position for the count
5)   Reverse situps
6)   Six inches
7)   Lean back abdominal twists with dumbbell-10lbs
(4 sets of 20 reps)

Thanks for reading, please leave any comments below!

Courtney Dumas

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Adventure in Turkey

August 27th, 2011
The boat ride into Turkey this morning was amazing! The sun was shining bright and the domes of the Blue Mosque and St. Sophia were glistening. It was quite a site! My tour of Istanbul was first thing in the morning once the boat was docked. Our tour guide led us right to the Topkapi Palace where all of the sultans had lived. It was huge!

The palace is decorated with thousands of tiles since Muslims do not and did not believe in depicting the faces of people. Each tile is worth around $2000 to $3000! Here at the palace many religious relics are supposedly held as well like the staff of Moses. The palace is also the residing place of the Topkapi dagger and the Topkapi Diamond. This diamond is no regular diamond. It is 86 karats! It was unbelievable.

Our next stop after a fantastic lunch was the Blue Mosque. The decoration was so beautiful! The lights lit up the room perfectly and the stained glass looked as though hour upon hours of work must have been put into them. The interior of this mosque has over 20,000 blue Iznik tiles that give it its characteristic blue color. I could not believe the detail that went into the production of such an ornate building.

As we moved on to our next stop, the St. Sophia, we had a chance to grab a quick drink before we were off again. St. Sophia or Haga Sophia was a church built by Justinian in the Byzantine period before it was later converted to a mosque during the Ottoman takeover. From there the beautiful building was further converted to a museum with the rise of Ata Turk. The architecture alone of this museum is unbelievable. Its rich mosaic work and fine craftsmanship cause one to stare in awe of its beauty. Most of the mosaic tiles in this fine building are incredibly decorated with real gold leaf! The marble pillars are grand and the coverings ornate.

The amazing thing was that the Ottomans never destroyed the mosaics depicting the biblical figures. They merely covered them with plaster and redecorated the church. Today the massive disks they hung on the pillars still stand and depict the five pillars of Islam. The stucco has been removed and at the head of the building both the Christian alter and Muslim alter remain. One is literally not even a half turn to the right of the other! This museum is an amazing blend of both cultures and religions!

At the end of the tour around Istanbul we were taken to see the construction of fine Turkish carpets. Unlike normal carpets, the threads are knotted twice. From there we were set loose on the Grand Bazaar. I honestly could not believe my eyes. This market place was the biggest thing I had ever seen! There were so many stores and people bustling about and scurrying from place to place. It felt like a giant shopping maze! I’m pretty sure we went in circles for forever, but we finally after shopping for a couple hours found our way back to gate one and our bus and back to the boat.

The next stop is the Ephesus ruins! Please leave your comments below, I would love your feedback and would be happy to answer any questions!

Courtney Dumas

Arrival in Greece!

My arrival into Greece was a bit of a bumpy ride Friday morning. The sea was rough and the wind roared and slammed the waves upon the ship. We had to travel to Mykonos, Greece by tender, in other words- our boat would anchor in the harbor and another boat would come and fetch us. As soon as you left the safety of the ship, you could hear the howling and screeching of the wind. It was one of the most awesome displays of Mother Nature and the sea at work that I have ever seen!

Once we landed in Mykonos, we took another boat to the ruins of Delos. The island had been known for its religious importance throughout the ancient ages. Even the enemies of Athens-Sparta and Persia, respected this sacred ground. During this period of time Delos was the most important port in all the Mediterranean until it was deserted due to the fall of the Roman Empire.

The island was barren as far as vegetation growth, but many of the pillars still stood. It was very interesting to see the temples dedicated to the different gods in which they believed in. Much of the builds were made of local slate and granite. They were nowhere near as extravagant as the marble used to build the Parthenon. Nonetheless the layout of the town with its market place and intricate mosaics were still incredible. After the tour of the ruins and the Delos museum we grabbed some lunch and shopped around for a bit before we boarded the cruise once again.

I took a quick break before I headed on down to the gym to get in a longer workout since the boat had to leave earlier than the past few days in order to get to Istanbul by the next morning. I wanted to make sure I got my heart pumping this workout and to build my endurance and leg muscle. I need to have a lot of stamina for the upcoming NCAA season this year and my goal is to make the Junior World Team, so I wanted to improve my running to get into better shape. I have listed my workout below! The next stop is Istanbul and it should be pretty fun! Please leave your comments below!!!

1)   Run- 4 mi with 0.4 mi cool down for a total of 4.4 mi (500 calories burned)
2)   Vertical Chest Press- 60lbs, 12 reps, 3 sets
3)   Sit ups- 50 reps, 3 sets
4)   Bicep Curls- 20lbs, 12 reps, 3 sets

Courtney Dumas