My Gear, or lack of it…

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:)

Hiking Boots                                                                              YES
Gaiters – OR Verglas (waterproof/breathable)           YES

Liner Socks – 3 pair (1 heavy, 2 light)                             NO
Wool or Pile Socks (2 heavy, 2 light)                               YES
4 pair underwear                                                                      YES
2 pair lightweight long underwear tops and bottoms  YES
2 Poly T shirts                                                                               YES
1 lightweight windproof long sleeve fleece shirt            YES
1 Fleece/Synthetic Jacket –                                                    YES
Shell Jacket hood –                                                                      NO
Down Jacket- Sub-Zero Hooded Jacket                             YES
Convertible Pants –  (water resistant)                                 YES
Fleece Pants – Tech Pant                                                          NO
Synthetic Insulated Pants –                                                      NO
Glove Liners                                                                                 YES
Gloves/Mitts –  (waterproof down)                                      NO
Hat –                                                                                                 YES
Balaclava –                                                                                    YES
Neck Gaiter –                                                                                  NO
Glacier Glasses – Julba Advance                                           NO
Headlamp –                                                                                   YES (Thanks Becca:))
Compact camera –                                                                     YES
Extra AA Batteries (for headlamp)                                       NO
Camelback – 3L                                                                           YES
Aqua Pure                                                                                      NO
Pack Towel                                                                                   YES
Toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving razor, ear plugs     YES
Sunscreen and lip balm                                                          YES
Wet Wipes and roll of toilet paper                                      YES
Hand sanitizer                                                                            YES
Pee Bottle                                                                                      What? :), NO.
Extra shoe laces                                                                         NO
Snacks –                                                                                          NO
Chemical Hand Pad Warmers                                              YES (Thanks Claire:))
Small personal first aid kit                                                     NO
Swiss army knife                                                                        YES
Baseball cap                                                                                 erm, no, but will get floppy hat.
Bandana                                                                                        you what?
Trash bags/plastic ziploc bags as needed                      NO
Camp shoes (cross-trainers)                                               YES
Sleeping Bag 5F                                                                         YES
Full Length Self-Inflating sleeping pad                           YES
Backpack (packed weight 30lbs)                                        NO
Seems I have a few things to buy still – although I don’t think I have the need for all of the things above. Large backpack for the porters, climb trousers, Camelback, soft shell, sunglasses (don’t want to take my best ones), headlamp and good mittens are the main things I still need. Oh and my own list will be a bit longer than that too, so will copy that on here sometime later and let you know what is really being taken. Still, it is a start.
So much to do and think about………

Holy Smokes it’s Getting Close

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.

OK.

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!

Four weeks tomorrow…

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!

Not too shabby for an old fella

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……..

31 Days to Go – gulp!

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………..

Body Pump….

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!

Steve Redgrave

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.

44 days to Go!

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:

Pretty huh?

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:

The next one is my back garden:

There is a pond in there somewhere.....

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?