OK -so the following is a list of a typical Kili Gear list, and beside it is whether I have so far accumulated that item, whether by buying or begging (nicely, usually). I copied the list off someone else’s blog, hope they don’t mind:)
25 days to go:
So this week is flying by, I just don’t know what is happening. I am incredibly busy at work for starters which certainly moves things along a pace, but time just seems to be running out.
So several things happened as far as momentum for the trip is concerned:
1. I went and bought a boatload of supplies for the trip. All the boring stuff like mossie spray, Savlon, lip salve, plasters, immodium, ibuprofen, vaseline (for chafing, in case you are curious:)) etc etc. My backpack will probably end up weighing (and costing as much as half of your average Boots The Chemists. Anyways, I am more or less done with that stuff, but thought it pays to get it so save last minute panics etc. I still need a lot of other things, but shall save that for the next post.
2. I went and got the first of my vaccinations. So here is an area that I knew nothing about, and so this might help someone if they are reading this and don’t know what they need. I knew nothing of course. I rang my local GP’s surgery and said that I need some vaccinations for Tanzania, and so was given an appointment to see the nurse, and was that I would need a Yellow Fever jab, and was told that it would be £50 for the privilege. Bargain, not.
Anyway, I turn up at the surgery and when called into the nurses office I am asked if I have filled my form in. I say “what form?” and the nurse says “the one that tells us where you are going to“, and I say “I ain’t see no form though” (in my best Catherine Tate voice), and she says “but you should have been asked to fill it in before you came to see me“, and I say “but I ain’t see no form though“, or words to that effect, etc.. So before one of us died, she said to me, very profoundly “look, I only have ten minutes!”, but before I could say “charmed I’m sure”, she had looked up on her screen what was needed (which after all could have cut out at least a minute of her precious ten if she’d just got on with it in the first place). So she said that I needed Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Diptheria, Tetanus and Yellow Fever, and also a course of anti-malarials. Oh yes, and rabies. Rabies! I thought they gave that to dogs, and ferrets and the like! Anyway, I then said “ahh, I think you’ll find that I have had jabs for Hep A, and typhoid and the like with in the last few years, so I won’t be needing those”. She was quicker than me though, and before I got to the end of said sentence she had told me that each of those boosters only lasted three years, and that mine ran out last year.
So before I knew it I had been injected for Hep A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Diptheria, I think. She told me that they couldn’t do Yellow Fever at the same time, so I would have to come back. She then asked me all sorts of questions about whether if I was bitten by a rabid animal whether I would be able to get emergency treatment within 24 hours. Tempted to say “how the flippin’ heck should I know”, but didn’t, so just said “yes” as it seemed easiest.
She then said that I would have to come back for Yellow Fever, and promptly got a vaccine out of the fridge and wrote my name on it. “Make sure you come back mind” she said cheerily as I left. You have to have Yellow Fever jab as close to ten days before you travel as you can apparently. That nay or may not be a complete load of utter bollocks, but it is the best advice on Yellow Fever that the Woodlands Medical Practice in Didcot has to offer, so I’ll take it for now, even if they do charge me £50 for the privliege. Oh and the anti-malarials are £100 apparently, which I can only imagine is at least better than catching malaria.
Am I waffling on? Sorry.
3. I got some more donations, which was great. Thanks to Dan, and David from work, and Bowder from Avforums. Dan my son put a post up to ask people and so we got £20 for the charity, and every little helps as they say. Am up to £130 I believe.
4. I have done some more training. Ah yes Body Pump again. I love it. I actually thought this time would be easier. I had been to the gym for 90 minutes the previous day, my fitness levels are up, and although it is at the spectacularly stupid time of 9.30am on a Sunday, I thought it would be easier this time, Wrong! It is just plain torture. There was a male instructor this time, and he just wanted to make people hurt. I mean when you have lifted ninety times your own body weight for an hour to music, slowly and painfully, why does he then at the end have you down “giving him 20” pushups, and then doing a raised plank, with rocking motion? Bastard, I hate him. When this is all over I will have a word with him about all this. I may not even send him a Christmas card at this rate.
5. Trained some more. Got to. 25 days to go. Help! It is now Wednesday night, 25 days to go, and I ache from a hard gym session where I pushed myself to do more incline, more speed, more weight, more repetition on every piece of equipment, than I have done before. Succeeded too, and am now hurting for it.
So I had an email today from a friend who said something like “do you think that in some bizarre way you will be going to Kilimanjaro for a break or a rest?”. The answer is that from work, yes, it will be a time of soul searching and self-exploration I am sure, and that will be refreshing. But as far as effort is concerned, I have no doubt still that what I face will be the hardest physical activity of my life. I suspect very much that in a month’s time I will be saying that that is a severe understatement. I hope not, but all I can do is be as ready as I can be.
As I have been writing this, the clock has just turned midnight. That’ll be 24 days to go then. Gulp!
Good advice came this week from an old friend who very much ‘does’ this sort of thing. He advised me that there was very little I or anyone could do about Altitude Sickness, as if it was going to hit me then it was going to hit me. However I could help myself about being as de-stressed as possible. Stress is an enemy on the mountain, and he should know, as he has been leading expeditions to the four corners of the earth since 1992. I was quite jealous when he told me of some of the places he had been to. Thank you to you – you know who you are.
I have in the meantime been fairly good this week, at least as far as training is concerned. As I write this it is Saturday, and I have been to the gym five times, today included. And I will be there in the morning at my 9.30am Body Pump class too. That’ll be me a hopeless quivering wreck for the remainder of Sunday then. Still, after next weekend there will only be a further two weekends left until I go – and that is a very very scary thought indeed.
I also did a Fitness Test today at the gym.It was the “Cooper Test” which shows your VO2 levels. It is done on a stationary bike and it is eventually pretty brutal. It gets tougher and tougher until you cannot keep the pedals moving between the 60-80bpm range. I took a screenshot of it when I finished below. I am at a VO2 level of 45, which apparently puts me in the top 10% of people for my age – I was chuffed!
Oh and I also should say that I did this at the end of my other workout, so I had already done about an hour on the bike, treadmill and cross trainer. I am up to level 10, 40% incline for 10 minutes at 65bpm if that means anything to anyone. I am going to up it, I can do better than that, and am starting to actually enjoy it. The only thing I hate is the treadmill. If it didn’t have a tv I couldn’t last the 20 minutes – it bores me stupid!
I know now however that I will never be ‘totally’ ready for the mountain properly. All I can do is do my best within the confines of work, and the rest of my life, and to try hard, and I am now more determined than ever. I have always been a bit lazy and indisciplined, but I cannot afford to be like that now. I was flattered also this week to see a very nice donation to the charity from one of the guys at work – thank you Martin, you are a star.
Oh and I weighed myself today, having not done so for a while – realised that I have probably not been eating as well as I should, but again for posterity I am as of today 84kgs, which is 13 stone 3lbs, or 185lbs.
More tomorrow – I am (as well as Body Pumping/torturing) going to buy a whole load of stuff that I need. Until then……..
Sorry for anyone (all of my fans out there haha) waiting for an update for the last week – I think is my biggest gap without posting anything, about 10 days I think. Well I had a bit of a crazy week at work, which meant that a.) I was working ninety three billion hours a day (or so it felt), and b.) we had an office away day, and then moved offices Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I have therefore had a week off the gym, which at this stage of the process is really not good. I did get back on track on Monday night however.
So the last three nights have been tough. The first one having been away from the place for over a week just hurt. If anyone is reading this subsequently and thinks of slacking, just don’t! The best thing that you can do is make your training frequent, sustained, and progressively tougher. I am not sure I can say that I have done that anywhere near well enough, but I am trying. Working long hours is a challenge in itself, and when you finish work at say 8pm the last thing you want to do is go to the gym for 90 minutes, when you are hungry and tired and just want to put your feet up. But you just have to, it is as simple as that.
So three brutal days then. It got easier every day however. I am actually enjoying the new routine much more, even if the weights just downright hurt. If I was meant to be lifting weights someone would have given me some muscles, and I don’t really have any to speak of, so that’s probably why it hurts more. Shirt collars starting to get tighter round the neck though, so something must be happening!
Anyways, this is just a quick late night update to keep this thing going. Oh and my shiny new camera arrived this week too – I bought it for that mountain place thingy that I am headed to. It’s a Lumix thingymajig – nice! I’ll post more about it at the weekend.
So in precisely 31 days time I will be on my way to that place that continues to inspire me, to haunt me, to frighten me. I wish I had more prep time now – it is coming too quickly. 31 days – help! The excitement is building – I have so much to do…………..and most certainly not enough time.
Until the weekend………..
I think I can safely say that of all the things that I have done in the last few months whilst preparing for this little adventure, that doing my first Body Pump class was probably one of the most surreal, and also probably (I am afraid to say) the most challenging. I am of the ilk “give me a mountain anytime” compared to what they put you through there.
Firstly I had no idea what I was doing there. I arrive at 9.30 on a Sunday morning, to find various leotard clad women (and two men, thankfully not wearing leotards) all pulling out step equipment and weights and stuff. I amble in and look bemused (certainly), nervous (probably), out of shape (definitely), and not dressed properly (Jack Nicholson “Who’s the Daddy?” T-shirt).
I am greeted by not one, not two, but three instructors, all of whom are sort of telling me at the same time that they have all been double-booked for the class, but that they are all going to do it anyway, and that I must be new here, and not to worry, and that it will all be OK etc. I feel like it is my first day at school all over again, and contemplate running out of the door. I decide to brave it out, which was my second bad move of the day (just being there at all was the first, obviously).
So for those of you who know what Body Pump is, please skip this bit altogether. I didn’t (know that is), and maybe someone who reads this doesn’t either, so this is for them: Body Pump is a torture chamber. You do all sorts of things that you might have done when you were at school and were halfways fit, like push ups, sit ups, lunges, squats and the like, except you do it with weights/bar bells. Sounds easy? Not on your life! They also lull you into a false sense of security at first, as the gym is full of girls carrying weights of around 10kg or so, and you think to yourself “pah – they are girls, I am man, me Tarzan, me carry 50kg“. Then you realise very quickly just how completely and totally stupid you are.
Firstly these people know what they are doing; secondly they are fitter than me; thirdly they are apparently stronger than me; and fourth…..why didn’t I just leave when I had the chance at the start? Oh yes and all three instructors are looking at me, permanently, as I am the new boy. Could be also they are looking at me because they think that I may collapse at any moment – if only they knew how true that was! And I am sweating buckets too, and my Jack Nicholson T-shirt doesn’t look very good soaking wet. Oh yes and the music is so incredibly loud I feel like I want to scream. I imagine that at any moment they will fill the room with foam, they will start passing round ecstasy tablets, and I will find that I have been transported to Ibiza. In fact that would be a relief.
The zenith of the class comes towards the end. After the warm up (exhausting), lunges (ridiculous), tricep curls (don’t even want to describe them to you), and various other excruciating things, you end up doing the Plank with rotations and things. Oh yes and at one point you have to grab your weights and put them to your forehead (“peak caps everyone!“) as you do sit ups – well I dropped mine onto my nose and thought I was about to have a nosebleed. When they finally do the warmdown at the end I am lying in a heap on my mat, too exhausted to even move. This is one hour and ten minutes of absolute, unadulterated, bloody torture. If someone could have said halfway through “don’t worry, it’s all a bad dream, just jump into this hole and it will all be over soon” I would have gone, not caring where the hole might take me. I imagine for a moment that if this is just an aerobics class with weights, what the hell will Kilimanjaro be like? Help – what am I doing?
At the end of the class I sort of stand there dumbfounded. I am red as a beetroot, and perspiring like a hosepipe. I am rooted to the spot. People around me are clearing up my equipment for me, probably feeling sorry for me, wondering, like me, what I was doing there. The main instructor, Aisha, comes up to me and says “well how was that then?”. I am not sure whether to laugh or cry, but instead I sort of mutter a little whimper, and say “ok I think“, which is a euphemism for “leave me alone, you sadistic, evil person you”.
I eventually clamber down the stairs and back to the changing rooms, and I sit on the bench for a few minutes, and contemplate life, the universe and everything. After a minute or so, I decide there is only one thing to do. I therefore march straight into the gym, jump onto the first exercise bike I see, whack it into high gear and pedal for all I am worth. After a few minutes one of the girls who was in the Body Pump class walks into the gym and sees me and comes over to me. She says “wow, well done, that’s great“. That makes me pedal a lot harder.
So you know what I am going to do tomorrow? 7.15am? Yep, another Body Pump class. I’ll tell you something else I am going to do as well – I am going to climb that mountain – it might beat me in the end, but I am going to absolutely give it my all. Bring it on!
If anyone at all (I never check any more) actually follows this blog, then you may recall that I admire massively the five time gold-medal winning Olympian rower Steve Redgave. One of the things he is also remembered for, was when after his fourth gold medal win, he was interviewed by the BBC, and said: “if anyone ever sees me get near a boat again they have my permission to shoot me“. Well I need to quote that myself now in a different way, and here is why:
I think in my last post I had said that I had requested my schedule be changed, and then that I had done my first routine under the new schedule. Well that was Friday night. So I woke up Saturday morning and I felt like I had been sat on by an elephant and it’s grandmother. Then I looked out of the window, after a few oohs and ahhs to no-one in particular (not that there is anyone else here to ooh and ahh to:)), and saw that the ground was still as frozen and snowbound as it had been the last four days. So no hill walking for me this weekend then. Two choices then, broadly speaking of course, which were to train in the gym, or to go shop/drink/eat/whatever. Right then, gym it is!
So on Saturday morning I go and do the same routine that I did the night before. They did only tell me to do it twice a week, as it is hard, and takes two hours, but what can I do? So I went for it, big styleeee. And you know what, I actually sort of enjoyed it! The weights though, just hurt. I don’t know why she (this is Hannah, my new dominatrix) asked me to do so many of them. Maybe she just sees me as some puny guy who needs building up a bit (and let’s face it she’d be bang on there), but it is torture! The tricep curls are just wrong, nasty wrong! Do I need to curl my triceps to get up Kilimanjaro? And why do I need to do 36 lateral raises with 12lbs each arm?
I am finding the new Nordic Track machine the hardest. My progamme is for a 30% incline, on a level 5, and for 20 minutes at 65 rpm. It hurts just about everything that I have! I only got through it due to Lily Allen. I was flagging really badly, when “It’s Not Fair” (the music in the gym is sometimes at mental loudness levels) came on, and that got me into a bit of a rhythm, and I got a second wind. When I had finished my cardiovascular stuff I actually went back onto the stationary bike for another 20 minutes, and cycled another God knows how many km at about 100rpm. It was brutal.
I walked out of the gym literally shaking, wobbly, and weak. I virtually had to run to the nearest source of chocolate/sugar/anything to get me back together. That is something I also need to watch out for, as I am prone to that, the adrenaline weakness. Particularly as this is now another level altogether.
So back to Steve Redgrave then, what was that all about? Well the above was an absolute breeze compared to what followed. Body Pump! Yes, after I finished Saturday’s ordeal (an hour afterwards in a nice Radox bath helped slightly), the Sunday morning ordeal was a Body Pump class. I knew nothing at all about Body Pump, but will tell you about it tomorrow.
All I can tell you, is that “if anyone sees me near a Body Pump class again, they have my permission to shoot me”.
And I mean it.
I am trying to stave off a panic attack today. Two reasons, and one one brought on by the other. Firstly they closed the gym for three days this week, the reason being that no-one around here (including the gym staff) seems to be able to get to work right now (myself excepted) due to the snow. Secondly I realised that I have forty four days to go until I fly to Tanzania. Holy Cow!
So here are a couple of pictures of the ‘weather’ around here:
So this is the road next to my house. The temperature last night was -17 degrees celsius, which I believe is around 1 degree Fahrenheit. Just up the road in Oxford they had a record of -20C, or -4F. If I told you that my house has no central heating would you feel sorry for me? Please? With my few storage heaters I have managed to get the internal temperature to 8 C, or 46F.
Here’s a couple more:
And so thankfully today the gym was open again and I did my new routine. All I can say is that I asked for it. It huuuuurrrrts! 20 minutes on the treadmill at 15 degrees incline and then 20 minutes on a nordic climber just hurt me, especially when added to bench presses, leg presses, bicep curls, stationary bike, lateral pulls, and the big ball thingy for your hamstrings. There is even a box at the bottom of the form for your to grade your ‘enjoyment factor’ out of ten. I put ‘0’, and that was me being generous. I have a feeling that tomorrow morning I will hurt in places that I didn’t know that I had places.
So anyway – 43 days it will be by tomorrow. I will be walking somewhere tomorrow, -17 degrees or not. Probably the gym again too, if I can move. I have to push myself like I have never pushed myself before. Actually, I have never pushed myself before, full stop, so that could be hard then.
Wish me luck?
So it had to happen, they re-opened the bloody thing didn’t they!
After about two weeks or more of a break (well it was Christmas too, and so I wouldn’t exactly have been beating their door down for a refund of my membership!), I went back yesterday for a good old (and overdue) workout. I was going to do my usual routine, but as they have changed about 90% of the gym equipment, and I couldn’t find the Nordic climber thingymajig, I had to alter my routine. Does that sound funny to you, it does to me:)
So all the gym equipment is very new-fangled. Each treadmill and bike has its own tv, ipod dock, fancy programmes and the like. The gym itself looks a bit more austere, but is fresh from several licks of paint, and so I am sure will be ‘warmer’ after a while. Not much can feel warm though whilst we have temperatures of -5 outside! Place was packed too, lots of people like me eager to get rid of their excesses over the festive period.
Anyway, so I did my bit on all the new equipment, and got done as much as I could without injuring, maiming or otherwise making an idiot of myself. Didn’t do too bad, but realised half way through that I need a new programme, some new motivation, inspiration etc. I want to be pushed harder, for it to hurt more. No pain no gain, no beer no cheer:) I have seven weeks to go, it is now or never for flippin’ heck’s sake!
As I leave I therefore go and speak to the girl on duty, and ask for a re-appraisal of my programme, and tell her why. She says ‘no problem’, and can I be there at 7 in the morning? That focuses the mind somewhat, and so I say ‘yes of course’.
I resolve two other things too – tomorrow I am going to launch my sponsorship stuff to the unsuspecting world – I would love to raise some money, anything at all for such a worthy cause as Bowel Cancer, and secondly I am going to have a big sort of wall chart in the house, so I can tick off the days and chart progress etc. If that sounds a bit OTT then you don’t know me – I need every kick up the backside/reminder/prompt/guilt trip I can lay my hands on.
I am going to climb Kilimanjaro, and it will NOT kill me………
So after the delights and excesses of New Year in Kent (and once my headache had subsided three days later:)) it seemed like it was time to go and do some exercise. I have a feeling it is 49 days until Kili, or something like that, and I want to seriously panic, but I resolve not to. I resolve instead to read this blog back in about two months time and look back at what an idiot I was to not do enough training. Moreover, and far more importantly, I decide that the hard work really really really starts here.
Most of the Kili training schedules that I have read (and I have read far far more than I have participated in, obviously) say that the hard work needs to start 8 weeks beforehand. So here we are then, seven and a half weeks to go. It is never too late, I hope! The weather is unseasonally cold at the moment (about -2C or 28F daytime temp), but the sun is shining and so I resolve to go for a good walk and get those boots going. As I didn’t really want to drive too far in the conditions, I thought I would walk from the house, and headed over the Ridgeway in the direction of The Bell at Aldworth (see one of my previous posts), just in case I fancied a break when I got there:).
I also decided that as this wouldn’t be the most strenuous of walks that I should carry a pack with me, so I loaded up my backpack with the first heavy thing I saw, which happened to be a big old ghetto-blaster, and set off. I added some water and a few other things, and so I was carrying about 25lbs or so. OK, maybe 20:).
As I got over towards the Ridgeway the path got icy, and was literally impossible to walk on, but the day was so still it was just wonderful to just breathe the air – this is what walking is all about for me:
The path at the top of the Ridgeway was however very much frozen – and so was difficult to walk on:
Eventually I made it all the way to Aldworth, about a 5 mile jaunt:
And then The Bell Inn was in sight:
So after a couple of very pleasant pints of Old Tyler, it was time to wend my way back to Blewbury. The way back was actually slightly harder than going up, as you had to watch your footing more closely. I also stopped to take a couple more pictures, including this one of a miniature horse:
So by the time I got back it was about 4.45, approximately 5 or so hours after I left the house. Allowing for two (or was it three) pints in the pub then I did over three hours walking and about 10 miles or so, so I was quite content with that. I even remembered to carry the old ghetto blaster home with me!
So tomorrow the gym is open again, and so I must must go. Yes, I must, honest. I am really really looking forward to being back at work too, for the first Monday back of the New Year. Which is worse? – I may have ‘Monday Morning Syndrome” coming on – I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes………
I cannot believe a whole decade is over! At the (immediate) start of this decade I was actually in Val D’Isere, France, for the Millennium, about to go and hurl myself off a mountain paraskiing. That was a ridiculously scary thing to do. Thankfully the only planning it involved was getting outrageously drunk the night before with my (now ex) brother-in-law, and saying “betcha won’t do it!” a few times poking fingers at each other. As it turned out, I should have bet for money, as he chickened out, and I got to go solo, albeit strapped to some mad French ‘instructor’ who made me scream a lot spinning in circles all the way down.
And so the end of this one finished in Broadstairs, Kent. Hardly Val D’Isere, but a damn good time was had by one and all. I had never been to Broadstairs before, and I thought it was a great place. Special thanks indeed to Col and John for asking me down, and for putting me up, feeding me, etc. etc.
Thankfully no photos were taken on New Year’s Eve (or that I know of yet:)), and that’s the way it should be. I shall leave it there. For posterity though, I do recall (at least) drinking (in this order I think) champagne, white wine, red wine, gin, vodka, Abbot Ale, whisky, Jack Daniels, red wine, red wine, red wine, vodka, sambucca, sambucca, Jack Daniels, and Calvados. I think it may have been a dodgy Calvados at the end that finished me off, but after a few hours’ kip on the sofa I did not, it is fair to say, feel good. I think I got to my sofa at about 5.15. It is difficult to say as no-one, including me, remembers:)
So anyway the next morning I tried to walk it off a bit, which was a stupid idea. I actually stumbled around Broadstairs like someone out of Shaun of The Dead. If someone had had a cricket bat I think I would have just asked them to finish me off. I walked into the very salubrious ‘Submarine Cafe’ near the sea-front and asked for sausage, beans, fried bread and fried egg. In fact that was pretty close to what they served me too, but as lovely as I’m sure it was, after about two mouthfuls I had had enough. No way could I eat, and that is a bad sign, although I did finish my tea I think:)
Got back to Col and Kai’s house about 11.45 to find them up and about and about to walk down to the beach. In Broadstairs they have an annual charity ‘swim in the sea-athon’, and as it was snowing I decided not to tale part:). Here’s a piccie of some of the brave souls who did:
And then with a flourish they all went into the icy waters:
So then we walked along the coast for a bit to ‘blow the cobwebs away’ as they say. Didn’t do a lot for me I have to say, but it was certainly bracing stuff. Here is a view a little further along the cliffs:
As it then started to snow and hail pretty badly, we headed back to the direction of Col and Kai’s house, here is a picture of me and Col on the way:
As we rounded the corner to what I thought was going to be their house, we passed one of Broadstairs’ landmarks, which is called “Bleak House”. This is the place frequented by Charles Dickens, where he apparently wrote David Copperfield, and pictured here in part for posterity:
As we rounded the bend we did not in fact come to Col’s house, but to another pub, called the ‘Tamar Frigate’ (I think – someone correct me here if I am wrong?). A Bloody Mary was the start of the day’s ills, which included a holy host of more Bloody Mary’s, a plethora of Abbott Ale and IPA, and a good old kebab to finish the evening, with chilli sauce, probably. Kilimanjaro seems like an eternity away.
I return from Kent on the 2nd, and resolve to start training seriously, like never before (which will in fact be easy), the very next day. More about that in the next post then.
Meantime I give you, below, the Lord Nelson pub, site and host of New Year celebrations 2010. Gawd bless her, and all who sail in her, of which I believe was one:
Happy New Year!