Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Yogalates and Steamy Fartleks = 1 GREAT Wednesday!

Today at lunch, on my mission to up my cross training beyond that of just yoga, I started a weekly yogalates class.  I know, it is still quite yoga-esque but, what can I say, I love yoga and the feeling of wonderful self-absorbed happiness that follows a great practice. 

Anyway ... yogalates, or Yoga Fusion as the class I am taking is called, is more 'lates' and less 'yoga'.   My shoulders are unexpectedly sore and my abs are quietly humming now in what I expect will turn into a yell later today.  We used weights and resistance bands and I learnt that yoga blocks can be used for torment as well as assistance: think V Sit Ups perched on a block.  All things considered, I think I am going to love yogalates!

Traffic Light by grendelkhan on Flickr
Also on the books for this afternoon is a 7km fartlek experience.  A steamy 7km fartlek experience. The humidity in Ottawa today is something ridiculous like 38 degrees. It looks like the sky is bursting at the seams trying not to rain.  Gross.   But AWESOME as it will make our effort count so much more!  I used to dislike fartleks until, as is common I find in most things hard about running, I had a euphoric moment of insanity last week while chasing a 20-something fast boy.  I felt like I was a child again chasing a playmate down the road.  Pedestrians, accurately, looked at us like we were nuts.  Cars swerved out of the way as we barreled full tilt towards them and I just didn't care, I wanted to beat that boy to the next corner so badly!  Or the traffic light on the next block.  Or wherever the next place was that we had yelled to race to.  I never did beat him but I know he had fun too, staying just out of reach, it was uber fun!  I'm really looking forward to tonight :)

So far, my first week of focused 20lb killing is going great ...

Take that 20lbs ... you gotta go!!!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Sears Great Canadian Run - The Relay to End Kids Cancer - 100KM

On October 5th, I will be participating in the Sears Great Canadian Run - The Relay to End Kids Cancer.  

My team, 'Dylan's Divas' has chosen to run the 100km route.  While I don't know anyone on the team, I am excited for the day.  We are all runners and we are all there to support a very important cause.  I only know how it feels to watch a parent die of cancer; I can not even begin to comprehend the horror of watching your own child fighting cancer.

In my time working at CHEO, I was often heart broken watching the children who were obviously impacted by cancer playing in the yard.   Their bodies were under such attack and yet they played with the glee that only children can muster under such circumstances.  It really isn't fair.

If you are free on October 5th, consider coming out and cheering us on, volunteering, or, if you are able, supporting our team (or, you could even join us) ... no amount of assistance is too little.  The link below gives all the details and will also introduce you to our team's number 1 reason for running, Dylan.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Blogger Fail ... but let the marathon training begin

Well ... I know ... I stopped writing in here for much too long.   I'm having an adventure crisis though as we can't decide what to do next!  The world is, quite simply, too rich with adventure possibility.
On our must-do list at the moment we have: scuba diving live-aboard in the Galapagos, diving trip to Little Cayman, get our ice diving cert. somewhere and also, pre-Galapagos & Little Cayman, get our nitrox cert.  Clearly our adventure planning has really taken a focus on scuba diving!

Beyond scuba diving, my running continues.  In fact, I have registered for my first ever marathon at the Ottawa Race Weekend in May, 2014!  Eek.  I had a training plan in mind that would put me at this point in about 3 years from now ... but, like most other things that I feel challenged to do (someone said I wouldn't run a marathon 1 year and change ago and that was when and why I started running in the first place), I've grabbed this one by the horns and jumped right in.  

This has created an interesting reduction in fear that I was experiencing for the 30km Around The Bay Road Race that I am also registered for in March, 2014.  This race has been creating anxiety since I registered months and months ago.  The tales of the final hill have created many a nightmare.   But now, with a 42.2 in the plans, the 30k has moved into a happier part of my mind.  I wonder if this could be a fear-management strategy - always register for something scarier!!!

Anyway, my reason for starting this train of thought was to ask how people manage to run 5 times a week AND cross train?  I do know the answer though - scheduling - but I felt like asking it anyway!

Another thought, I can see this blog becoming a mush of adventure travel and running training which might break the #1 rule of blogging - stick to one topic.  But then, what if my ultimate goal for running training is to be able to comfortably complete marathons in amazing tropical destinations.   I think I answered my own question - new goal identified.

And last but not least ... I have a new goal to always look better in finishing photos than this one from my first 1/2 marathon this spring!  I don't know why I am sharing it, but it is the best pic I have from that race.

(& I am working on sorting through the 100GB of photos we have from Kili and will eventually post a link and a lessons learnt post on here ... I am sorry for the delay)

Friday, 2 August 2013

Day 7 - July 12, 2013 - Best sleep ever!!!

I have finally typed up my notes from on Kilimanjaro ... I will post them as a post per day ... only because otherwise it would be a 10 page post ... which I think would be quite overwhelming!!!  Pictures will come shortly ... I promise :)  My little inserts in italics are thoughts I've put in after the fact.

Day 7 - July 12, 2013

I had the absolute best sleep ever of my life last night.  Absolute, hands-down best.   The rock under my back didn’t bother me, the angle of the tent didn’t bother me, the cold didn’t bother me and the frequent trips to the toilet tent throughout the night (oh yes, I haven’t mentioned this yet – when you are made to drink 3L of water a day plus they give you on average 2L of water through soups and teas, there is a lot of trips to the toilet tent required at night) of my neighbours didn’t bother me; I slept like a baby.  I wasn’t even awake when they came to do our wakeup I was peacefully and happily fast asleep.  Amazing.

We had another long trek today – 19.7km.  And, where it should have been absolutely beautiful due to the scenery and views it was quite sad.   Apparently while we had been on the mountain, the south side experienced a very bad fire and acres and acres of forest and moorland was just smoldering (some parts were still burning).   It was very sad.   The guides were extra saddened as the area is a place of worship for the native Chagga people, of whom a few of the guides belonged.  It put a somewhat sad end to our trek.

The fire hadn’t reached as far down as our first pause at Mandara Huts (2743m) where they had … *drum roll please* … a working tap and showers!!!  We didn’t use the showers, but some of us definitely used the taps.  I actually walked into the shower stall by mistake thinking it was a toilet and just stood in it for confusion wondering why there was an empty stall …so foreign was the idea of running water or a shower.  Oh, and when I did find the toilet (squat toilet that is) I just about got stuck.   Apparently 40 some kms of hiking in 48 hours and that whole summit business leads to getting stuck in a squat position.   Thankfully the walls had some texture and I was able to pull myself back up without just collapsing into the hole … phew!  Ahhh, yes, more toilet talk!

The last 8km were absolutely breathtakingly beautiful with rainforest, waterfalls, amazing vegetation and air so so thick.  It almost felt too heavy to breathe.  Amazing.

That ends the summary of our days on Kilimanjaro.  It was a successful trip and provided me the best and worst experience of my life.   I didn’t have any great career revelations but did find a new zen inner self that I did not know existed.  I also, again, realized that I love travelling and so need to have a career that can support a future full of adventure!

I will post the lessons that everyone should know next week.

And then I can start thinking of our next adventure!!!

Day 6 - July 11, 2013 - A wedding anniversary to be remembered ... it's summit day!

I have finally typed up my notes from on Kilimanjaro ... I will post them as a post per day ... only because otherwise it would be a 10 page post ... which I think would be quite overwhelming!!!  Pictures will come shortly ... I promise :)  My little inserts in italics are thoughts I've put in after the fact.

Day 6 - July 11, 2013

Cold and dark and steep and dusty and slow and steep and tiring and steep (did I mention steep?)  for 6.5 hours.   That was a description of the first 6.5 hours of mine and Luke’s 3rd wedding anniversary.  A strange activity, really, to celebrate a wedding anniversary!!  It was definitely one that we won’t ever forget though.  Or, for that matter, probably beat.  Although, it has given us a great benchmark for future anniversary activities!!

The professional description of today, that we read yesterday at lunch (possibly not the best idea ever) reads as follows:

Tonight is very difficult - particularly the final 550m - and you’ll need to commit to fight for the summit. You will inevitably feel like giving up and going to sleep. This is normal and can be overcome with perseverance. When resting please ensure you only stand or sit and do not lie own or close your eyes. Please trust your guide; he is very adept at judging whether your condition will allow safe progress or whether you have succumbed to a potentially dangerous condition and to proceed will not be safe. Nausea and headaches are normal and around a quarter of climbers will vomit at or near Gilman’s Point.

I did not vomit … woohoo!  A couple of unfortunate souls in our group did though making us the perfect average group.  A lovely stranger also did and splashed on my boot.   I didn’t like my boots very much by this point though, so it really didn’t bother me.

Going to the loo on the way up was the scariest loo experience EVER.  Picture pitch black, 2 foot wide (maybe) trail, 1 foot of light radius max from headlamp and being told to just step over the ridge to the next one down to have a wee.  Adventure loo to the extreme!  Plus, in the dark, you can’t really see what previous loo deposits you may be stepping down into.  I had a narrow miss!   And, yes, I am aware of the loo theme throughout this 6 day summary.  In times like this it really comes down to the basics!!

Arriving at Gilman’s Point (5708m) was AWESOME.  I’d love to say primarily for the view but it was just sheer JOY at finishing the ‘demoralizing switchbacks’.  I’d love to reference that properly, but it was read to me from a book and I’m not sure which one.  They are quite demoralizing though just due to the sheer number of them, the dark and the slow slow slow speed with which you move through them.

I was quite surprised by the remaining distances though to get to Stella Point and then Uhuru Peak (5895m) but I was very very lucky and had a load of energy and was super hungry (phew for all of my sharkies and cliff bars that I brought with me)!

The walk over to the peak (with a steady climb of some 180 more meters) was incredible with views of the crater and glaciers and just the sheer joy of having made it to the top.  I luckily had no feelings of altitude sickness and actually thought I could have jogged over to the peak … with that being said, I probably would have died if I tried … but I’m going to keep thinking I’m Wonder Woman with nothing to prove otherwise.

The descent was incredibly fun – think alpine skiing in deep soft rocks.  Now that I write that it doesn’t sound as fun as it was … but, perhaps the exhaustion and the sheer joy at not having to walk slowly down were great contributors to the experience.   I have since read that it is very bad to ‘ski’ down the face though as it is causing rapid erosion … oops (Lesson 7).

Arriving back at Kibo Huts for lunch we were all shocked and, I think it would be accurate to say, absolutely HORRIFIED to find out that we still had another 12km to hike to get to our camp for the night.  We had a big group HMPH.  The total distance that we covered was 20.4 km and we were on the move from midnight until about 5pm non-stop.  It was an incredibly slow and LONG day!  I have never, and I can’t imagine ever in the future, been so excited to see an outhouse and our tent at the end of that 12k (Horombo Hut at 3760m).

I had expected that tonight would be a great night of celebration but it was, instead, a night of falling asleep wherever we stopped and counting down the time until they had finished serving our dinner and let us go to bed.   


Day 5 - July 10, 2013 - extreme grumpiness achieved

I have finally typed up my notes from on Kilimanjaro ... I will post them as a post per day ... only because otherwise it would be a 10 page post ... which I think would be quite overwhelming!!!  Pictures will come shortly ... I promise :)  My little inserts in italics are thoughts I've put in after the fact.

Day 5 - July 10, 2013

Day 5 I woke up, after my first good night of sleep (yay for exhaustion finally kicking in), in a great mood and full of energy and super hungry.  Woohoo :)  

We hiked 4.9km to School Hut at 4722m and then got ready for what we thought was our afternoon of sleep before our midnight ascent start.   This was incorrect.   It turns out that you don’t get to have an afternoon of sleep after all.  Boo that.  In fact, EPIC BOO THAT.

Instead, we arrived at camp just before lunch.  Got set up (ps – I hate hate hate hate the set up/pack up process.  Sleeping bags suck when you are freezing cold and dirty and they have to get stuffed into their stuff bags and then fit into your bag.  Suck suck suck) for the afternoon sleep and were then informed about our 3pm acclimatization hike.  Umm, we are already at 4722m and we have to start hiking to the top at midnight … why oh why oh why must we go for an acclimatization hike at 3pm?!!?   Even better, after lunch we were informed that we had 1.5 hours to nap.  Hmph.  I hate naps.  But I did it.  I had the coldest nap of my life.  Well, actually, I just lay in my sleeping bag thinking about napping.  I suck at napping. 

Our 3pm acclimatization hike mostly just gave us a glimpse at how tricky the steep scree descent is going to be.   And we mostly all grumped about how we’d rather be asleep and how cold it was.   But we all did it.  That’s what counts on missions like this!  Do as you are told, drink water, walk slowly, get to the top.  Period.

Went to ‘bed’ at about 5pm, when all was said and done.  Very very very grumpy.  I think I slept for maybe 2-3 hours MAX before being woken up by a delightfully cheerful ‘Time to get ready, be in the mess tent in 5 minutes’ at 11:00pm.   I won’t write in here what I responded with (very very very grumpy x10) but it had something to do with 5 minutes being ridiculous ESPECIALLY since we had to stuff those stupid sleeping bags back into their stupid bags!

I’ll continue from 11pm onwards as Day 6.

Day 4 - July 9, 2013

I have finally typed up my notes from on Kilimanjaro ... I will post them as a post per day ... only because otherwise it would be a 10 page post ... which I think would be quite overwhelming!!!  Pictures will come shortly ... I promise :)  My little inserts in italics are thoughts I've put in after the fact.

Day 4 - July 9, 2013

On Day 4 I had a new thing to complain about in my head (I think I did a pretty good job of being silent, for the most part, about my complaints) in that my face felt like it was on FIRE from the wind burn.  My lips and nose and cheeks were all chapped and we didn’t bring Vaseline (Lesson 4).   At this point I actually cursed Arbonne’s lessons in skincare and wished that, above anything else, I had a tub of Vaseline to dip my head into!!

I did, HOWEVER, have a GENIUS revelation in the middle of the night and used my Body Glide on my face and had immediate relief.  Yup, I had reached the point where it was okay to just wipe off the item that I had been using on my feet and use it as lip protection.   I even shared it with the group.  

(Lesson 5) It is an amazing thing how quickly you become very close and comfortable with strangers when you are all experiencing something like climbing a mountain!  On Day 1 we were sort of shy about personal issues, by Day 2 we discussing toilet patterns at dinner and now, on Day 4, pretty much anything goes!!  

Day 4 was awesome, but very very tiring.  I am not supposed to give camp names as we were doing Team Kilimanjaro’s custom Rongai route.  They add in an extra ‘secret’ camp for their climbers to give extra acclimatization chance and a more secluded camping option than the super populated Kibo hut.  To get to our secret camp though we covered a total of 11.6km!!  

We hiked via Mawenzi’s north west ridge (maximum height 4614m) to The Saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo.  This was a walk that never seemed to end as you just don’t seem to get any closer to Kibo for, what feels like hours and hours.  Hours and hours of scree and nothing but scree.  Oh and the remains of a crashed plane … very eery.  We also got thoroughly freaked out by seeing the summit ascent route.   Not a word of a lie, it looked straight up for a kilometer.  I will put pictures on our website and link to here in the next little while … you will hopefully be able to see what I mean from these pics!  The view of both peaks though was absolutely incredible!

We veered off the beaten path and actually descended to our camp for the night.  After being so high (4614m) it was really amazing to get to go down to camp.   I’m pretty sure I wasn’t imagining actually feeling the air getting thicker.  Oh, camp was at 3936m.

(Lesson 6) Oh yeah and, at this point, at night I was sleeping in my winter running tights, fleece pants, 800 down jacket and a toque in my sleeping bag.  So, if you are coming for this mission – bring warm sleeping apparel … it’s crazy cold at night!!!