I’m aware that I start every blog post in the same way, but really time is going so fast! The countdown is now down to one month which is really very scary…
On the training front, I am trying to walk or hike at weekends as much as possible, though as I mentioned before it’s quite difficult in West London! I’m also having to be quite careful with my long suffering left knee who’s a bit weak thanks to an old netball injury, and who didn’t really enjoy the descent of Ben Nevis very much. So I have stopped running and playing netball, which means my exercise is currently limited to walking and my trusty Jillian Michaels 30 day shred DVD…
Fundraising has slowed down a bit recently, although I have had a lot of promises of sponsorship which I think will appear closer to the time. I may try and fit in another cake sale or something in the next few weeks.
And in terms of preparation for the climb, I’m in the process working my way through a very long shopping list… I keep finding myself drawn to any outdoor shop I walk by – especially if it has a Sale sign in the window. I think I underestimated slightly how much all this mountain gear would cost so I’m happy for firstly the 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor, and that I work near Lillywhites where there is a great outdoor section. I also managed to spend a small fortune in Boots recently on things like water purification tablets and wet wipes and there is still plenty more on my shopping list! I am very much a list-maker so I currently have several lists going – packing list, shopping list and a few to do lists – enough to keep me occupied for the next few weeks!
Don’t get me wrong, I think West London is a great place to live, it’s just a bit too flat to be useful for training to climb a mountain…
I have had a few lovely walks along the River Thames near my house, the most recent being a 15km round trip to Barnes a few weeks ago.
While it was a lovely walk it didn’t really feel like proper training as it was too easy and flat! I walked almost as far as our Ben Nevis round trip, but in about a quarter of the time.
When possible, I’ve been trying to get in some hikes in some slightly more hilly areas in Surrey, either Box Hill or Devil’s Punchbowl. We went to Devil’s Punchbowl a week later for a hike – although Jason has had enough hiking with me so he stayed at the cafe while I walked
My phone ran out of battery near the end so didn’t track the whole walk, but it was about 14km with about 300m elevation gain. Unfortunately I got shin splints during the walk (I think from the downhill at the beginning) and they were really painful for nearly a week after but fine now. I’ve only ever had shin splints from running before and I hope this was a one off!
Apart from walking, I’m being a little cautious with my exercise regime due to a dodgy knee, that’s been dodgy for a long time but that I’ve been extra wary of since climbing (or more accurately, since descending) Ben Nevis. So no running, netball or anything high impact for a while
With less than 2 months to go (!) until I fly to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I thought I’d share a bit more about the details of the trip.
I decided to go with Discover Adventure on the recommendation of Parkinson’s UK as they had used them before to organise fundraising trips. We are climbing via the Machame route, which is apparently the most scenic route and also the best for acclimatisation. This does, however, mean that it also gets quite busy! There are currently 15 people signed up to the trek and we have been introduced via a Facebook group but yet to meet in person… We’ll also be accompanied by group leaders and a team of guides and porters who, let’s face it, do most of the hard work.
It will take 4 days to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, through terrain varying from forest to rocky and what I have seen described as “moonscape”. This map shows the route up the mountain – it looks a very long way…
Everyone I’ve spoken to or read about who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro seems to share the opinion that “Summit Night” is one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. We will go to bed nice and early, then get up at midnight and start walking for 4-5 hours to reach Uhuru Peak around sunrise. This is to avoid walking in the heat of the sun (and I’m sure it makes the views even more impressive at sunrise), but it means that the hardest, steepest part of the climb is very cold and dark, just at the point where the altitude is getting the hardest to bear. So that’s something to look forward to! I’m hoping that the thought of the view at the summit, not to mention the sense of achievement and the thought of all the donations to Parkinson’s UK, will be enough to help me push through!
A few weeks after climbing Snowdon seemed like a good time to tackle the next of the three peaks: Ben Nevis.
I made a vlog of the trip which I think tells the story better than I could write it:
You can see in the video it was very busy, even busier than Snowdon, as there seemed to be some kind of team challenge going on. While this was a bit annoying on the lower sections, I was actually quite relieved that there was a steady stream of people coming back down the mountain as we neared the top – one more way of checking we were still heading in the right direction through the snow with minimal visibility!
It was a bit of a shame that we didn’t get the reward of a nice view (or any view at all) but it was a nice hike all the same, and the weather and lack of visibility made it seem even more challenging – and meant we even got a chance to use the compass we took
Here’s the proof from the Map My Hike app I used to track the walk.
Elevation was just over 1,300 metres (4,265 ft)
Now we just need to find a way to fit in Scafell Pile to complete the three peaks…
As there are not very many mountains around West London, proper Kilimanjaro training requires travelling a bit further afield. And as I did say I was going to try and climb the three peaks, it was only a matter of time before a trip to Snowdon happened. So with a bunch of the McKechnie clan plus some friends, we rented an amazing house called Plas Colwyn in Beddgelert as a base to climb Snowdon. Most of us could only stay for the weekend but those with a bit more time (i.e. the retired ones) stayed on for the whole week.
After a hearty dinner on Friday night and a rather lengthy discussion about how many cars we needed to take to Llanberis (to ensure that the groups walking, getting the train or half and half could all get back at the end of the day) we set off at a reasonable hour on Saturday morning and found our way to the start of the Llanberis Path.
All weather forecasts had pointed towards very cold, windy and even snowy conditions at the summit, so we were all wrapped up in plenty of layers which were quickly shed as soon as we started walking under blue skies. But after a pitstop for sandwiches (thanks to Lindsay and Elaine) we could see the clouds coming in over the summit and all the layers were quickly piled back on.
To test out my new rucksack and make my training a little harder, I weighed down my bag with two bottles of champagne for a little summit refreshment Despite the cold wind at the summit, we managed to put away one bottle to lighten the load slightly for the way down!
I was quite surprised at how busy the path was – I had climbed Snowdon once before but that was (gulp!) 20 years ago and I remember the route being almost empty. Though I was 8 so my memory may not be the most reliable. But now it seems, during half term at least, that climbing Snowdon is a very popular Saturday activity!
As well as my Dad’s photos above, James and Lindsay did a great job between them of documenting the trip – James made two go pro films and Lindsay made a great vlog of the weekend:
After a couple of weeks of not wanting to go anywhere near my running shoes after the half marathon, I got back into a bit of running thanks to a new favourite 5K sunset running route along Brent River (uphill all the way, downhill all the way home – my favourite type). It’s amazing the difference longer evenings make to my willingness to run or really do anything after work.
The spring weather (which seems to have promptly disappeared) has also helped me with trying to convince Jason that hiking is a fun way to spend a Saturday, and we had a nice little trip to Devil’s Punchbowl in Surrey a couple of weeks ago. It’s a super pretty place to walk and enough hilly sections that it’s better training than my local West London walks along the river.
So here are the stats for April, not including general walking to the station and around and about:
Kilometres run: 24km
Kilometres walked: 20km
Other workouts: 3
Coming soon: a weekend in Snowdonia and a trip to Ben Nevis – feel like I need to up those kilometres!!
Whoops it’s already mid-April! Please excuse my tardiness, let me think back to March…
Kilometres run: 45km
Kilometres walked*: 8km
No. of other workouts: 3
The Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon was of course the highlight of March, and I have to say I’m glad it’s done – I think with more training I could have finished it faster, but really I’m just glad to have finished at all! I have found I am enjoying running more now that there’s less pressure to run really long distances – and the light evenings are definitely helping
At the end of March we popped down to Devon to visit Jason’s Mum, and the three of us enjoyed a slightly windy 8km walk along the coast from Westward Ho! up the South West coast path. Despite being fully kitted out in waterproof clothing on the advice of the weather forecast, in the end the wind was all we had to deal with.
* By the way, Kilometres walked only includes times I’ve gone out “for a walk”, basically how far I’ve walked in my walking boots. I’ve also been walking to one stop further away on the tube to get to work, and making sure I always walk up the escalators at Piccadilly Circus – every little helps!
It’s crazy to think that it’s been over 6 months since I first decided to take on this challenge, and in that time again I will be (fingers crossed) approaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro!
So far I’ve ticked off my running challenge with the Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon, and I hope to do a couple more 10K runs to keep up my general fitness and because now I’ve got some PBs I want to beat :o)
I’ve started my walking training with a couple of walks (most recently a windy South West coast walk in Devon this weekend) and plenty more planned, including a trip to Snowdonia and a vague plan for Ben Nevis. Also on the agenda are plenty of Box Hill laps and some flatter West London walks.
Fundraising is starting to ramp up with some donations coming in but I still have a long way to go! I am in the process of organising a pub quiz in central London and a couple of other events / raffles etc – details to follow.
I’ve realised I still have quite a long shopping list as far as kit goes. In fact, the only things I have purchased are my boots and some fleece lined walking trousers, so there’s plenty of shopping (/begging/borrowing/stealing) to be done over the next few months!
Last Sunday was the long awaited Silverstone Half Marathon and I’m pleased to report I managed it! Nice medal hey?
I had targeted myself to finish in under 2.5 hours, and my final time was 2:23:56 – nothing that could be described as fast but a good start for my first half marathon. I wasn’t overly confident of even finishing, having not run further than 11.5km in training, but as usual the atmosphere and adrenaline on the day was enough to get me there. May have been faster and easier with a little more training though!
Sunday was a pretty cold and windy day and when we arrived at Silverstone James, Byron and I all had a ‘what are we doing here?’ moment at the thought of running in the rain. Luckily the rain never materialised but it stayed cold enough that removal of coats and outer layers was not a fun experience and I kept my windproof jacket on to run.
I started the race near the 2h30 pace marker with the strategy of staying between that one and the 2h15 marker, although I overtook them both near the beginning in a reckless burst of enthusiasm. I really enjoyed the first 10km, I felt great and it went quickly; according to Strava it took me just over 1:00:40.
Kilometres 10-13 I will refer to as the thirsty section, as I kept expecting there to be a water stand and there wasn’t. I wish they had offered the choice of water at the Lucozade stand. The second half of the race was much more of a struggle (and much slower) than the first half. I had foolishly thought that the last few kilometres, a lap of the race track, would feel like the home straight and wizz by, but by that point it was horribly windy and I was knackered so it seemed to take forever and it was a great relief to finally see the finish line!
I’ve only got a couple of pics as we didn’t have any spectators and the official photos, while good, are very expensive, but Byron did get a good snap of me near the finish – he and James both finished fast enough that they’d been chilling out for a while before I was anywhere near the end!