Monday, 29 July 2013

T Minus 25 days and counting!

25 Days! That's all I have left to wait now! In 25 days I will be at Heathrow Airport ready to go to Africa. I have been pushing myself really hard over the last couple of weeks. Most of my work has been on my strength and fitness. The unusual but very welcome Sunshine and high temperatures have not really stopped me. On cool days I have been out running, mainly up and down hills to increase my leg strength and my overall fitness. There have been days where I have timed my runs well to get home just as the temperature rises.
On really warm days I have sought refuge in an air conditioned Gym. Putting the miles in on the treadmill and exercise bike, and then doing some weight training. I am happy with the level of fitness I have now. It's really comforting and encouraging to see my improved performances on my runs.
My kit list is almost checked off. The last one or two things I will have very shortly. I will then have the task of packing it. The weight limit for my holdall will be 20KG on the aeroplane. But, it will be a maximum of 15KG when I get to Kilimanjaro. At the moment I seem to be comfortably under the 15kg limit, even though I still have things to pack I don't think weight will be the problem, its room. My first couple of attempts to pack have been quite comical. The bag seems ready to burst at the seems. I am sure it will be fine, I keep telling myself.
The nerves and the excitement are really building now. Part of me can't wait to get cracking, the other part can wait. I still can't quite believe what I am doing, and how far I have come in the last 8 months. It might sound like a cliche but I have learnt so much about myself while I have been training. I have discovered a real enthusiasm for walking. I have also discovered a real self motivation and self determination. All those horrible winter days, the thought of not going for a walk because it was too cold never entered my head. There have been days when I have found training hard, but I have always had one not so secret weapon to drive me on. I just remind myself exactly why I am doing this. It is all to help a fantastic cause-Greyhound Rescue West of England.
I had the pleasure a few weeks ago of attending a GRWE fun dog show. I got to meet many of the volunteers who give so much of their time and effort to helping these amazing dogs. I also got to meet lots of GRWE dogs looking for homes. It's these dogs that all the sponsorship money that I have raised is going to help.
All of the support I have had so far to raise a stunning amount for GRWE makes me feel very proud. The good wishes and moral support I have been given is just amazing. For that, to everyone who has been backing me I offer my heartfelt thanks.
The last few weeks, I plan to make as stress free as possible. I aim to finish all my training a week prior to going. I have taken advice on this and getting a good weeks rest before it's 'Go time' seems to be highly recommended. If I do anything in the last week, it will only be a light bit of jogging to stay loose.
It seems like only yesterday that I stumbled across that video on youtube of the celebrities making their journey to the Summit of Kilimanjaro. In just a few short weeks I will be following in their footsteps. I don't expect it will be a walk in the park. I know it will be the toughest thing I have ever done in my life. But I am ready, and I am looking forward to the challenge.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Brecon Beacons

Today, I went to Brecon Beacons to test myself on the highest point in South Wales. I only decided last night that today was the day for it. I left home just after 6am and made the 3 hour drive to Cwmgwdi, which is just outside of Brecon. After parking my car I hit the trail. It was already hot at 9.15 am, I knew that today was going to be a real test for me. The combination of the hard trail and the weather would be a challenge.

I set off for the ridge, I appeared to be the only person on the trail. It was a steady climb over pretty good terrain. I had learnt from my recent Ben Nevis experience about the importance of taking rests. So a couple of times I stopped just to gather myself and take on some water.
 My rucksack today was fully loaded. I had my hydration pack in my rucksack, filled with 2 litres of water. The hydration pack is a clever device. Simply put its a big bag which you fill with water and place in your rucksack. There is a tube attached to the bag which you draw water from. It saves you having to reach for water bottles. I did have two one litre bottles full with water as well. Also in my rucksack were my trusty waterproof trousers and jacket..(just in case) a pack lunch and sun block completed the pack.
As I pushed on and reached the ridge I was really impressed. The views were amazing. I could see for miles.
I began to search for my target..Pen y Fan. The summit of Pen y Fan is 886 meters. It is the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons and in fact, the highest point in South Wales. It did not take me long to find it, towering in the distance. I kept a good pace over the ridge heading towards it and began my ascent.
I was feeling really motivated to get to the top, failure just was not an option. As I got to the last part it was incredibly steep. I refused to be intimidated by it though. I took a rest break at the foot of the last part of it. I took my rucksack off, dropped my walking poles on the ground and just tried to relax and concentrate on what I wanted to do. After about five minutes I got myself prepared to go for it. I watched as a small group made their way up ahead of me. I waited to give them space, so that we would not be in each others way, and then I started moving.
The terrain under foot was rock, it was not bad and gave me good grip. As I got further up, and closer to the top I realised my walking poles would not help. I would have to use my hands to help me scramble to the top. In the heat it was a difficult task. It was energy sapping, but I was so determined to reach the top, and too scared to look back and retrace my steps I think. Finally..I scrambled up to the peak.
I was ecstatic to reach the top. I threw my rucksack down and punched the air. I took a moment to look down at where I had come from and I enjoyed the same feeling that I experienced at Ben Nevis, pride and elation.
I took a well earned rest and had something to eat, then I scanned the horizon..I wasn't finished yet. Soon I saw what I was looking for,over to my right. Corn Du is Pen y Fan's slightly shorter neighbour standing at 873 meters. Within 10 minutes I was celebrating a double summit and looking up at Pen y Fan from the top of Corn Du.
After I had enjoyed the success and the spectacular views I began my descent back down the ridge to my car. It was scorching hot now, I was glad to be going down not up. I passed a few people making their ascent and wished them luck. Eventually I reached the foot of the ridge and finished my lunch sat next to my car. It had taken me just over 5 hours to do the 7 and a half mile route.
I made my way home, thankfully missing any big traffic jams and arrived home around 5.30pm. It had been a long day, but one that I was very pleased with. It's just over 6 weeks until I go to Kilimanjaro, the excitement is building inside me, but now so is the momentum.