Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

So I got the down jacket from Howies (lovely lovely people) and it fits very nicely between my fleece and waterproof for those really cold days. I'm looking for excuses to wear it already and seeing as I happened to have a whole weekend in Wales without plans I thought it might be a good opportunity to get out and about for a walk. It's been pretty snowy across the country and was still bitter today so I layered up, packed several litres of water and a few mars bars and headed over to Brecon for a wander around on the Taff Trail. It was too snowy to even attempt Pen-Y-Fan.
It was so stunning out there. Only 2 degrees but I didn't need any layers other than my Merino (THE best investment I've made) and my fleece. I started off with the down jacket but didn't need it after the first 10 mins so I'll probably be fine on top of Kili.

I soon learnt to tell the difference between snow and snow covered ice... some of that ice hid mud and water. Not fun. Still walked for about 4 hours (inspired by Clare) and now feel suitably achey and tired. I've resolved to do some sort of training every day between now and Kili whether it be a run, a walk, core work of whatever. But now, time for a bath and some food. I'll leave you with some pictures.

Monday, 30 November 2009

More New Kit (how much does a girl need?)

Finally got my new winter running kit last week which consisted of black running tights and a bright pink longsleeved top with reflective bits, plus matching gloves and beanie. I took them out for a trial on Saturday in the wind, just for a half hour or so, and am glad to report that they kept me toasty warm and made me feel very conspicuous, both of which they were meant to do so that was good. Running in the wind was hard work though.

I've also got my new Berhaus waterproof jacket with "interactive" fleece which is really just as much for life in Wales as for Kili. Yet to give it an outing but I'm sure it'll start bucketing down again in Wales this week and I'm planning a walk at the weekend so that'll be a good trial too. I decided to order a down jacket too, mainly due to a nice 20% discount offer at my favourite store, Howies. It arrived at my parents today so I'll get that at the weekend. I may decide to send it back but it was too good an offer to miss out on.

All my jabs are now booked up for next Friday but there seems to be some sort of issue with my Visa which I need to sort out... And I want to sort out all my kit and weigh it soon, just to reassure myself I'm not over doing things. Which I undoubtedly am.

Gym session tonight! And at least twice more this week. At least.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Latest efforts

Gosh it's been a while since I posted. I feel as though I've been pretty slack lately with the whole fitness and training thing. It hasn't helped, splitting my time between two homes and trying to maintain a new social life. That might have to be sacrificed a bit. One of my fellow trekkers emailed me today and we had a bit of a chat about the upcomming briefings, fundraising and training. The plan that someone's given her, and the amount she seems to do day to day is impressive and scares me. I know I've done a few mountains and runs and so on but I think I really need to start upping the anti now.

Whilst I was living in hotels I was working on my swimming a bit, learning how to do crawl again. This is all the fault of the triathlon mags I've started reading. Helps with all over cardio though. I missed out on entry to the Pine Ridge 10k which I was disappointed about but I'm not going to enter any more races until next year.

My plan for next week is to start making more use of the new gym facilities where I'm living. I want to go at least 3 times during the week, with a bit more emphasis on weights than I've been giving, and for a long run or very long walk at the weekend. I'm not sure whether there are any really nice walks near my parents but maybe just time on my feet is what I need. I ordered some new winter running kit which I'll be getting next Tuesday so that's incentive to get out and do something. This weekend I'm planning a run or a bike ride on Sunday, get those cobwebs out!

Following the discovery that my waterproof jacket was not, in fact, waterproof enough and that the hood is useless in a breeze, I've also ordered a new Berghaus jacket with zip in fleece. I'm very excited about this. I'm also considering a down jacket as some people have recommended them but I'm not sure. Thoughts? I don't think I need any more clothing apart from that.

I've sent off for my visa and booked up my yellow fever jab. Last one I need to do is the third and final Hep B jab which I'll get booked up next week. All systems go! The last thing I need to do before Christmas is pester everyone in the office to sponsor me!

Royal Parks... The Movie

Bit over due but here's my video of the half marathon I did a few weeks back.

Ben Nevis... The Movie

As promised here are a few photos and a video diary of the event.

Lovely view part way up Ben Nevis.

My cousin Rich at the top. Very proud of him cos it was his first ever mountain.

Me at the summit. Very wet and rather cold.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Ben Nevis - Conquered!

The weekend just gone was the long awaited Ben Nevis weekend. Three of us went up to Scotland on Friday morning, the rain starting the moment we stepped out of the airport to claim our hire car. A two and a half hour drive through stunning scenery, broken up only by a very spooky and Scottish lunch break at Drovers Inn, brought us to the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel handily situated at the foot of the route we would be taking up the mountain.

After unpacking and discovering the showers and kitchen we took a stroll to the Ben Nevis Inn where we cosied up with a few pints and probably annoyed the staff quite a bit by ordering our food a course at a time. Very good Inn indeed, also comes with a bunkhouse so would consider staying there next time. Getting back in the dark, talking about ghosties was great fun and after a good night's sleep we were up and out at around 8:15 Saturday morning.

We weren't the only ones trying to scale the mountain before the storms hit. There was a group in mild fancy dress and several family groups. The path had its tricky points but some sheltered areas for snacks and breaks. Once we got into the clouds the drizzle started and the winds got stronger. I was nervous at being blown off the top at some points and as we reached more and more false peaks (probably not real false peaks but for the last half house I kept thinking "it surely must only be up this next little bit") we were all feeling a bit disheartened but we made it, took a couple of photos, caught our breath and started to make our way back.

The wind and rain really took their toll and we were hoping to take a break below cloud cover to lunch and change out of our water proofs but it wasn't to be. The rain started to come down harder than ever, making the path slippery and the small waterfalls we'd had to cross on the way up into raging torrents. Nevertheless we made it without injury, just rather wet and tired. If we'd left much later in the day there's a very good chance we wouldn't have made it to the summit at all. Pints and a hearty meal back in the Ben Nevis Inn (we drove this time) were well deserved.

Photos and vidoe will follow at the end of the week but for now I'm just glad we managed to escape Scotland before the floods took hold in earnest!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Ready for Scotland

It's come around quickly. This weekend is the long awaited trip to Scotland to attempt Ben Nevis. I'm packed, confirmations have been printed and we almost have a plan for getting to the airport. This trip has not been without its issues but hopefully there will be no sprains, illnesses or freak snowstorms between now and then. With any luck we'll make it most of the way up the mountain. Support bandages and plasters at the ready!

I'll let you know how it goes and post some pics and video. As a nod to Halloween I'm taking a packet of Frightful (fondant) Fancies to eat on the way up :)

I've only managed to do a bit of swimming in the past weeks but the situation with work is calming down and I'll soon have a bit more of a base and less time will be spent travelling so exercise will become a priority once more.

In fundraising news I've now exceeded £4000! Thanks to Lucy, Angela and my grandparents (again).

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Target Exceeded!

The observant amongst you may have noticed that I updated my fundraising total last week without fanfare or fuss. I hinted a while back that I'd met my target but have finally updated the total and as you can see, am just a few pounds away from a massive £4000! I wouldn't have been able to do this without my family, my wonderful Aunt who wore out a lot of shoe leather around her village on my behalf, my grandparents and my parents who have great belief in me, and of course everyone else who has donated or pledged money to the charity. Thank you all so much!

So I'm definitely going to Tanzania! I'm absolutely thrilled and so excited. Of course there's a lot of training still to do and peaks in the UK to climb, all of which I'll keep you updated on in the next few months.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Royal Parks Half Accompished!

I did it! My first half marathon in 2 years and I did it in 2:10:10. I'm really pleased because although that might not be a quick time in your eyes it's a personal best and far exceeded what I thought I'd achieve. I even got a new P.B. at 6miles even though I wasn't going all out. Something to aim to beat again at next year's Bluewater 10km. I was planning a run/walk strategy but in the end I ran the whole thing with only a brief pause at the last water station. I did get overtaken by a hot dog and a man in a lime green mankini (there was one of them at the Bluewater 10k too...) but did overtake the Cat in the Hat :)

There was a real sense of comaraderie in the tubes heading to Hyde Park, everyone in their kit waiting for the trains, little old ladies wishing us luck, discussing P.B.'s and other events. The event itself was very well organised given that there were 15,000 people running. Got a nice lot of freebies including Lucozade, Mars bars and Oasis. Not much of a goodie bag, just a canvas bag, bottle of lucozade, water and a banana. The medals were cool though, made of wood. Couldn't have asked for better weather, cool, overcast and dry. The route was lovely, going through the parks and along the river, past Big Ben and Trafalgar Square. I felt like a real tourist! I don't think I stopped grinning for the first 6 miles or so.

I only really struggled in the last three miles due to my right knee starting to hurt. Had to limp my way to the medical tent afterwards to get it strapped up and I'm now the proud owner of some ibruprofen gel and a couple of good supports. Must look after myself. That said I can't wait to do it all again. Thanks to Sarah for giving me the chance this year. Hope my time was good enough ;)

I have since found out that Ben Fogle, Charlie Boorman and James Cracknell's wife ran too. Wish I'd had the chance to meet them as I especially admire Ben Fogle. Maybe at the next one...

I've got some video footage of the race which I'll put up towards the end of the week.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Royal Parks Half

It's been a while since I blogged but I've been keeping busy. A few things have happened all at once which have meant less time for blogs and so on. I've been moved to a new assignment at work, involving hotel stays, OU exam is looming next Wednesday, Ben Nevis plans have fallen into place and the Royal Parks half marathon that I'm running is on Sunday.

So evenings have consisted of revision and running. Cycling, cross training and swimming will begin to feature again next week (after a bit of a break). I ran about 10 miles on Sunday and felt great for it and this week I've done 2.5 and 5 miles with a 3.5/4 for this evening, being the last run before the event. I was feeling pretty scared about it earlier but have found renewed faith from somewhere (did it coincide with the new Runners World magazine?) and am really looking forward to it. I'm not aiming for a very fast time. Anything below 2.5 hours will be great and a PB at that distance for me (I wasn't terribly prepared for my previous half, with hindsight). Yes I'm beginning to feel like an athlete.

Thankfully I didn't get into the London Marathon, realistically I wouldn't have time to train properly and I'm looking forward to mixing things up a bit and then having a break after Kili.

I'll let you know how I do on Sunday!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Surprising myself

Seeing as I've accidentally gotten myself into running a half marathon on October 11th I've had to do some training focussing on running. The past two evenings I've been going to the gym with the sole purpose of running. The first evening it'd been tipping down with rain all day and although I've run in rain before, I didn't really fancy it then so treadmill it was. I amazed myself by running for 60 minutes solid without getting especially tired or puffed out. I'd have liked to have gone a bit longer but the machine times out at 60 minutes and I thought that was more than my fair turn.

Attempted the same last night with reasonable success. I had to slow once or twice towards the end as my right knee started to get painful, something that happens occasionally, but otherwise I was thrilled. My pace is about 9.5kph. Obviously I need to be running for about 2 hours at this speed at least and outside before the day but I'm optimistic. Having a day off today due to the knee but should be able to fit a run in before I go off on hols. There's a plan to do some rambling during the week and I'll be doing lots of physical work so I won't cease up. Feels good to be able to justify the cake I've been eating and to feel muscles aching from running that I've never felt before. All helps with the endurance aspect of my training.

Bit worried that Shruti's disappeared off the face of the earth this week... we've got Ben Nevis to organise and I can't do it without her.

Finally, I got a £20 donation from a very kind gent who reads the parish magazine yesterday so if you're reading, many thanks indeed!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Keep on running

I've managed to fit in a fair bit of exercise this week though I've set myself some new goals and I'm not meeting them which is a bit disheartening. I had a spa day on Saturday and decided to make use of the gym facilities so spent a good hour on the treadmill and a half an hour on the cross trainer but didn't quite manage to meet my distance target. Watched a lot of Top Gear though. Ho hum. Got to the gym at work once and have been out on the bike. Cycled to the sports centre and back this morning to play badminton so that all counts.

I've got a half marathon to run on the 11th October so I'm desperately trying to get the miles cranked up. It's hard though. It's like mny body just doesn't want to run at the moment. Walking, I can do that all day long. Cycling, great! Just show me a track and I'm happy. Swimming, mmm relaxing and strengthening. Running, oh God. Have to persevere though.

Everyone thinks I'm mad, especially my dad ("you'll learn" he said to me) and at this point I'm more than inclined to agree. I can't help myself. I think it would be a lot easier if I had a training partner at this stage. So out for a run or at the gym as many times as I can manage this coming week. Feel exhausted today though...

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Time to step it up

After a sluggish week or so and an indulgent weekend I'm finally raring to get back into my training with renewed vigour, not least because I got the latest Runners World yesterday and a brand new pair of cycle shorts. I'm back in the head offices now so have access to the free gym again and have booked a "gym buddy" for next Monday... no excuses now.

I've got a revision weekend coming up but there's an on site gym and a very early morning running session scheduled which I'm going to try my damndest to get out of bed for (6:30 am though!). I really need to up the pace and effort on things though so I'm hoping to head out on the bike tonight for maybe 10 miles or so and hopefully a run tomorrow. That'll depend on my ankle though which was been a bit dodgy since Pen Y Fan but if I can't run then I can cycle or swim instead. My aim for the next few weeks is to do exercise on at least 4 of 5 days.

I have even more incentive to train extra hard now because of how brilliantly the fundraising has gone. You may have noticed I've not updated my total very much lately. I will, but I want to hold out for a little longer and make it special. My Aunt has been fundraising on my behalf and raised a massive amount. I was totally stunned and I just want to publicly say, thank you so much, you're amazing! I've seen my fundraiser article in the parish magazine this week so I might get a little extra from local residents too.

I'm really excited at the moment but give me another couple of months and I'll be terrified again.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Lessons in goatherding

Had a great weekend in Wales. Got to Brecon quite late after a slight detour (head torches are an absolute boon when putting up tents at night) but was somehow up bright and early on Saturday and full of energy to go walking. We stayed at Bishops Meadow campsite; woe betide you if you turn up late, but in every other respect, a very comfortable site. Next time I might try Priory Mill Farm Campsite for the scenery alone.

We covered around about 20 miles, taking in some of the Taff Trail and then up to the top of Pen Y Fan and back again. My map reading was mostly ok but there were a number of rest stops while trying to climb a particularly steep slope to rejoin the path we somehow lost. The views going up Pen Y Fan were awesome and it's another one of these peaks that I think you could climb again and again, trying different routes each time. Although it was a bit busy at the top it was much quieter than Snowdon was. I'd definitely go back. Legs and feet were ok apart from a bit of a twist in my right knee and left ankle. These seem to be recurring mild injuries so I may invest in a support or two. No blisters though and the boots are really comfy.

Got to try out a Torq gel which tasted fine but I'm not sure whether it actually did anything. I guess with food it feels like proper fuel so maybe it's all in my mind. I also got to taste a Nakd bar and a Trek bar, both of which were lovely and I might well use some of those on Kili. I'll persevere with the gels for a bit longer. Other new items for the weekend included my lovely new Vango Viper 750 sleeping bag, just about the most comfortable thing in the world (considered using it instead of my duvet last night) with fancy pockets, drawstrings and stuff, and a howies jacket. Fantastic at keeping the wind out and comfortably fits a fleece underneath. Didn't get to test it in the rain though.

Having got a good work out on Saturday we decided to take it easier on Sunday, visiting Hay-on-Wye and the Small Breeds and Owl Centre, a delightful place where you can see shetland ponies, pygmy goats and many different breeds of owl. Some of the goats tried to escape through the double gate of their enclosure with us, at which point I discovered goatherding is not a viable career option but my fleece and trousers are goat delicacies.

You can see photos from the weekend here (not taken by me) and a video I put together on my flip, here.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Brecon Beacons

Things have tailed off a little in the last couple of weeks, mostly due to study. Only managed two exercise sessions last week and nothing so far this week. That's soon to change though. I've got the day off work tomorrow so I might start out with a run or a bike ride/swim and then on Friday night I'm headed to Brecon to spend the weekend camping and walking. I'm sure Pen Y Fan is not quite as challenging as Snowdon but I will be doing two days of walking in a row which is good practice in itself.

Next week, once the assignment is in, I'll be back to at least 3 exercise sessions a week. I know I'm addicted because I really miss not doing it. I find myself standing with my hand on my bike saddle, wanting to jump on and ride off when I need to be studying instead. Maybe that's just escapism rather than a desire to get fit ;)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Pictures from Snowdon

Our first stop, just a little way up.

Looking up at part of the track. It was pretty steep in places.

One of the many spectacular views.

Closer to the top.

Made it right to the very top.

They should have just flown up :)

Monday, 3 August 2009

FAQ - Kilimanjaro

I've had lots of people asking me about various details of the trek or about Kili facts and figures. I've read quite a bit about it but can very rarely recall the information when asked for ti so thought I'd put together a bit of an FAQ.

Where is it?
On the Northern border of Tanzania in Africa.

How big is it?
It's 5896m or 19340 feet high and is about 60 by 40 kms in size at the base.

Where do you start?
In the Machame village.

What route are you doing?
The Machame route. It's longer and steeper than the most popular route (Marngu, which 70% of people take). About 25% of people attempt it. Where as some of the other routes have cabins for sleeping in, this is strictly tents only.

How cold will it get?
The temperate will drop by approximately one degree for every 200m ascended. There are 5 "zones" to Kili. Cultivation, Forest, Moorland, High Desert and Summit. The temperature will range from 21 to 27 degrees C in the lowest zone and drop to between -18 and -26 at night.

How long is the route?
About 100kms.

What distance will you cover each day?
It'll range from 9kms to 30kms but on average it'll be about 15kms per day.

Will you definitely reach the top?
There's a 65% success rate of reaching the top but I'm feeling pretty confident :)

For a really good overview of the route you can look here and for more general info about the mountain you can look here.


This weekend just gone I climbed Snowdon. Shruti and I were meant to do it together but she came down with something and was told not to do anything strenuous for about a fortnight. So having got my brand new OS map, map case and emergency bag but not feeling brave enough to go alone I asked my friend Phil if he would be interested and able to join. Thankfully he said yes and even invited another friend of his to join us. More the merrier!

We drove up toLlanberis on Saturday and camped overnight. The campsite was fine but if/when we go back I think we might try out the Snowdon Cottage B&B which was highly rated. Had a fabulous breakfast at Pete's Eats (who also do accomodation - might be worth trying out) and set off around 9:30 on the Sunday morning.

I was loaded up pretty much as I would be for Kili, taking the opportunity to try out Lucozade energy bars and fruit bars as well as my merino top. I meant to try out the Lucozade energy gels but I managed to leave them at home. A cyclist friend of mine shared his "Super Flapjacks" recipe with me last year but I didn't get time to make any for this trip. They're totally amazing, full of good stuff and not to be given to children unless you're about to hand them back to their parents and you're feeling mischievous :) He recommended Torq gels Mule bars so I'll try those out at somepoint. He actually gave me a Torq gel to try out as an early birthday present today :) I've heard that Nakd bars are pretty good too.

We made way better time on the mountain tan I thought we would. Although Llanberis is billed as the longest but easiest route it still gave me a bit of a test. The scenery was amazing and changed every few minutes as did the weather. Made it to the misty summit and bought a badge to prove it. Looking forward to doing it again, maybe trying a different route. I got no blisters or sore patches on my feet and the merino top did it's stuff keeping me cool, dry and comfortable.. and smelling fresh! One thing I did learn was that I need to adjust the straps on my rucksack so they don't rub. Other than that it was great.

Only feel a bit tired today because of the 5 hour drive home. And I'm certainly not wearing high heels today! Photos to follow...

Saturday, 25 July 2009

A smile can get you a long way

I am exhausted. It's a result of plenty of exercise, a long week in the office, and a very early Saturday morning.

The tail end of the week hasn't been as active as I'd have liked but I managed a run, a swim and a gym session plus plenty of sit ups and press ups whilst watching On Thin Ice (maybe another year) so I'm not feeling too upset with myself for not doing much apart from digging and walking this weekend.

Unfortunately I'm moving office on Monday for the next couple of months which means no more free gym. I might try cycling into work if they've got showers at the new place. I'm almost certainly going to get a membership at the local sports centre for swimming though, make use of student rates while I can. And invest in some new goggles. I felt really great after the 1.15km I swam, made good use of my shoulder muscles.

The early morning was in aid of some more fundraising outside the local supermarket. Managed to make just shy of £100 during the morning which bumps me up to 91%! I thought Saturday would be busier but there were less people around than on the Sunday. Luck of the draw I guess.

So feeling positive and smiles all round :)

Monday, 20 July 2009

Obsession... for sports

Last week was a good week for me. I got went to the gym 3 times which means I'm back in the saddle with a new routine of going before work. I even managed to get back up to level 5 on the cross trainer for 20 mins, increasing by a minute this morning. Friday morning I attempted a short run but hadn't fuelled properly so struggled. At least it was exercise. Yesterday I did a 4 mile walk with my mum to Danson Park which was just lovely. It's made me realise what a difference a change of scenery makes. As a result I've found some new routes this morning and can hopefully get a longer walk in this weekend, maybe after the fundraising on Saturday morning. Would love to get another £100. I got £45 in donations this week so less than £500 to go now!!

I am a bit scared I'm not doing enough walking, hill walking in particular but with firmer plans now in place for Snowdon I guess I'll get a feel for my fitness level and what I need to work on. I'd like to start including some swimming, just once a week. My trouble is I like to do everything all at once, and I get deeply into things very early on. For example, running. It's only meant to be part of my training but I'm still treating it a bit as though I've got a race planned, beating myself up about under-performing, looking at what the best kit is and reading almost everything I can get my hands on. Runner's World is currently my favourite maagzine with SportSister discovered this morning. Running's not so much of an issue because I know I'll keep it up after the climb but in general I'm focussing too much on the individual sports and not the overall goal so I need to watch out.

In other news I've booked my first rabies jab for mid august... fun!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Supermarket Sweep

This weekend has been incredibly productive in terms of fundraising. The cheque from the Parish Magazine turned up and I managed to raise a somewhat staggering £107.81 in 3 hours outside my local supermarket on Sunday. I really didn't expect to get nearly that much but I was averaging about £1 per person, one lady gave me a fiver and even the guys refurbing the soon-to-be Costa Coffee over the road gave a couple of quid. Well they did sit drinking tea watching me just stand there all morning.

It wasn't quite as boring as you'd think but then I am quite a fan of watching the world go by and it's insightful, just how much life there is in Crowthorne on a Sunday morning. I'm not a fan of rattling collecting tins in people's faces so I just stood there and smiled a lot. Obviously did the trick! A second session is planned for a week on Saturday and I've got a couple of other supermarkets to ask too.

Didn't get out for a run or a bike ride over the weekend but started today off with a quick gym session. 22 minutes on the cross trainer and some crunches, press-ups and lunges. If I can force myself to get up an extra 15 minutes earlier I'd get a much better session in. The aim is to get back up to 20 minutes at level 5 hill programme on the cross trainer by the end of the week and get one bike ride or run in.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Update on everything

Some more very generous donations mean that I'm now at 75% of my target. When the and the cheque from the Parish Magazine for £200 arrives I'll be up to 80% with £650 left to raise! I'm looking forward to reaching the target because I won't have to worry about it so much then and I'll be able to concentrate solely on fitness levels. I also promised I'd give Shruti a hand with her fundraising at that point.

This weekend marks the first supermarket collection day. It's a Sunday, which isn't at all ideal but it will all help. I've got a Saturday session scheduled for a couple of week's time.

I've managed to get out on the bike a little this week and fitted in an early gym session this morning. I'm hoping to get in a run on Saturday. I could tell I'd been slacking. More gym sessions needed! It's been a little bit tough fitting it in between my study for the OU (deadlines loom once again) but I always feel much better for it. I've had to go as far as writing down in my diary, when I plan to fit in exercise because the habit is not yet concrete. Early gym sessions at work at least once a week will help.

I had my second Hep B jab yesterday and need to organise getting some of the other vaccines at the travel clinic.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

I knew that yoga would pay off

I get really excited about kit. Everytime I get something new I show my mum. It's meant to make her feel more reassured that I'm headed off with all the right things but it seems to just make her worry more. Mainly she seems to be worried that I won't be warm enough.

Anyway one of the latest things I got for the trek was a duffle bag. It's one of the 100l Mountain Equipment dry and wet kit bags. Dead nice and very sturdy. On showing it to mum she says "You could probably fit in there!". So I tried. And I do.

So if the worst comes to the worst I can always sleep in it...

Saturday, 27 June 2009


I'm a huge fan of music and rarely work out without my iPod or some other portable music device to hand. When I was training for my half marathon I put together a playlist with loads of upbeat music and made a subset of that recently that focussed a lot more on powerful rock music. I'm fond of both and alternate between them these days and add to them as I get new music. In fact I make up quite a lot of playlists. And it got me thinking.

While the upbeat dance and rock music is all well and good for training, it'd be fun to put together something new for when I'm trekking, and for the event itself. My dad did something similar for when we drove from San Francisco to California some years back with every track having a reference in the lyrics or title. So I've started putting together a list. Some are inspirational, some set the mood but most are just a bit of fun.

Here's some of what I've got so far. Feel free to add your own suggestions :)

Jazz - The Only Way Is Up
Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made For Walkin'
Miley Cyrus - The Climb
Linkin' Park - One Step Closer
Dire Straits - So Far Away
The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour
Queen - Don't Stop Me Now
Survivor - Eye Of The Tiger
Chris Rea - Road To Hell
Proclaimers - 500 Miles
M People - Moving On Up
Wagner - Ride Of The Valkyries
Diana Ross - Ain't No Mountain High Enough
The Who - I Can See For Miles

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Normal service will be resumed shortly

JustGiving are messing around with their site and updating the look, feel and functionality so you may notice that the widget isn't working properly and also my page is temporarily unavailable. I've been assured that all will be back to normal soon. I can only apologise.

Friday, 19 June 2009

This week's fundraising update

I've been a little busy this week but not in terms of fundraising unfortunately. Nevertheless I have promise of a £20 donation from a friend and some friends of the family have said they'll sponsor me £70 between them. Another wonderful bit of news is that I got a phone message from the Parish magazine yesterday saying that at their meeting recently they decided to donate £200! This is just on the basis of me submitting an article which will be published in Septembers edition, not asking them for anything. How wonderfully kind.

Anyway if all these donations come good I'll have reached 75% of my target!

And I've just lined up a couple of dates to stand with collecting a tin outside my local supermarket so might get a few more pennies there too :)

Thursday, 11 June 2009

I'm a lucozade convert

What a week last week was! Fundraising's been going extremely well, having reached 64% and £1240 left to raise. I've still got plenty of people to harrass for sponsorship and I'm hoping to squeeze in a few phonecalls to set up a stall in the local market and spots at supermarkets.

Did several runs last week and a couple of very short bike rides, culminating in the Bluewater 10k on Sunday 14th. It was a brilliantly organised event and I'm already looking forward to doing it next year. Lucozade were one of the main sponsors and were giving away loads of sports drinks, energy gels, bars and drink mixes as well as loads of advice on nutrition from their (dishy) Sports Scientists. I've probably got enough stuff to stock a small shop. Adidas were the other main sponsor and had provided everyone with a technical t-shirt. Red for the boys and garish day-glo orange for the girls. Nice. The weather was really far too hot, even at 8 in the morning when we started doing the warm up (well the girls did, the men just stood and watched us). However, it was a good course and I finished in 1:02:57. Bit gutted I didn't break the one hour mark but I'll do that next time for sure.

I had my first Hep B jab on Wednesday and was warned I might get flu-like symptoms but luckily I had no side effects whatsoever. I was worried it'd affect me enough that I'd feel groggy for the race.

I still want to keep running outdoors but I'm aware that won't prepare me enough for the trek so it's back to the gym this week. Only trouble is I'm crazy busy in the evenings so I might have to fit in some morning sessions, which I don't like because there's the hassle of showering at work. Still, Shruti and I have a long walk planned for the Solstice weekend and I'll get in a few more exercise sessions before middle of next week when I head off to Glastonbury. No chance of doing anything of use there :)

Monday, 8 June 2009

This week I have been mostly eating... junk

Firstly I'm completely blown away by the generosity of one of my donors.... thank you doesn't even begin to cover it. I cannot wait to get to the top of that mountain and take that video clip. Thank you for completely blowing my first target of £1k by end of July.

Last week I was pretty active, getting out for a couple of 4.5 mile runs and a 10 mile bike ride. I ate quite well too and lost a couple of pounds in weight, not that I'm trying to, it's just a side effect. At the weekend I was hoping to be clocking up the miles in the Peak District on a camping break but it rained about 60% of the time so instead of wandering over hill and dale more time was spent in Chatsworth house and some very nice pubs, drinking ale, eating bakewell tarts and consuming retro sweets like parma violets and sherbet fountains. We did get a bit active with a few hours at Go Ape! which was brilliant even in the rain. I ache a bit now but more from bruising than real exertion.

Spending time in a tent in the wet and cold has made me realise that my sleeping bag just won't do so I'm going to have to get a better one before the event. I've already got my eye on a couple that aren't too horrendously expensive.

I've got my 10k run this coming Saturday so I want to do at least two more runs before then. Should I get my assignment out of the way early on then I should be able to fit in either a gym session or a bike ride too. And it's back to eating properly. Considering signing up to a half marathon... would that be too much?

I'm still awaiting my collecting tins before I can start accosting people in the street but I'm going door to door and desk to desk until then. I've swapped a couple of emails with another girl who is going on the same event which has been lovely as we won't turn up on the day only knowing the people we signed up with.

Lastly, for this week's news, I'm getting the first on my Hep B jabs on Wednesday. Fun!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

The cost of staying healthy

I had an appointment at the doctors this morning to talk over what vaccines I was going to need for Tanzania. I hadn't been expecting a chat. I'd been expecting to come out feeling like a pin cushion but sadly no; things are a little more complicated than that.

Thankfully I'm up to date with most of the compulsory vaccines like Diptheria, Hep A, Tetanus and Typhoid but I'm lacking in Yellow Fever and a few other "suggested" vaccines. Sadly everything I need costs money as it's not available on NHS. I think they need to find a way to break this to you a bit more gently. If I just get Yellow Fever and Malaria tablets it's going to cost me around £120. If I add onto that all the vaccines that are suggested but not compulsory like Rabies, Cholera and Hep B then I'll be adding another £200 onto that.

I didn't realise doing something for charity was going to cost me so much money! Anyway I'll be able to stagger the cost but will almost certainly go for the additional Hep B (the most expensive of the optional vaccines).

In other news I only managed to get to the gym once last week but did do a 12.5 mile walk with Shruti at the weekend in the heat, culminating in some bruises because my boots were laced too tight and I didn't notice. I got to put into practice some of my newly acquired map reading skills and managed to not get us lost. I also bought a bike. I didn't really mean to buy a bike, I'd just intended to get the old one fixed up but it was going to cost me almost as much to fix it as get a brand new one so I figured it was worth while. Plus I now realise how rubbish the old one was. I'm now happily sailing around Crowthorne and getting in more exercise. This cannot be a bad thing.

I also got my race kit in the post for the 10k race at Bluewater on June 14th. It included a technical t-shirt which feels wonderful to wear but is bright orange. At least I'll be seen I guess. So this week the focus is on getting out on the bike and for a few runs. Also I need to get over my doubts about my fundraising capabilities.

I'm really having serious doubts about all this now...

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Let's try this again...

Brilliant news! Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Action Challenge have just confirmed that they've signed all the bits of paper, got their ducks in a row and carried out the secret handshake necessary for me to start fundraising again - about time too!

Needless to say (but I will anyway) I'm thrilled, not least because Shruti's now about £550 ahead of me. Got some catching up to do. Got lots of fundraising ideas up my sleeve and I'll probably be sending out lots of emails about various things. Going to need a bit of word-of-mouth help too. Feels pretty daunting at the moment, even though I'm in a positive mood today. So come on, don't let me stay in this disheartened state for too long. I've got the training covered so at the risk of sounding pushy I really need to start getting donations so it's not all in vain.

This is it, no more messing around. Now it gets serious!

Monday, 11 May 2009


Contrary to what Shruti thinks, I'm not walking "everywhere all the time". I just happen to have been fortunate enough to tag along on a couple of things. Anyway this week hasn'tr been quite so energetic; just the gym twice and dance classes. The weekend's wiped out with things in London but there are things in the pipeline.

I'm pretty keen on climbing the three peaks (not in challenge format) as part of our training. I'm quite surprised at how many people want to tag along. Snowdon will probably be the first because it's closest. This threatens to turn into a bit of an office expedition which is fine as long as people fit with our plans and not the other way round :) One of our badminton buddies has asked if he can join us when we do Ben Nevis and even offered to give me a crash course in map reading. Not that I can't read a map, just that it's been a while since I studied OS maps properly and I expect my skills are fairly basic.

The nice thing about having other people along is that by and large they are people who have done this sort of thing before. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous at the thought of my first climb being without any sort of guidance. I could do it, but I wouldn't necessarily be happy about it. This may surprise those of you who think I'm fearless.

But as with everything I'm super keen to get on with it. And once I've done the three peaks I may do some of the Welsh 3000's...

Still waiting on my new charity confirmation, grrr. Going to have some serious catching up to do if Shruti's funraising total is anything to go by!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Earley to Henley

On Saturday I did the longest walk I've ever done. 18 miles from Earley to Henley. My friend Dave is doing a sponsored walk of 77 miles over 3 days from Maidenhead to Brighton next Bank Holiday and this was his training walk that I just hijacked. We both benefitted from the company :)

It was the first proper walk in my new boots; the only other wear they'd had was around the house and 2 miles round the block the day before. Thankfully they were comfortable and I only got a couple of sore patches that are now recovered. I did pfaff with the lacing a fair bit but it's all part of the learning process. The backpack was used again and although I didn't weight it, it must have been about 4kg with the water and spare pair of shoes.

The walk itself was great. We'd stolen someone elses route from RealBuzz and steered clear of major roads. Plenty of countryside, a fair bit of wildlife (rabbits, deer, squirrels, fowl and a rather disorientated mole), and a small detour / pub break. Another well deserved pub stop once we got to Henley, at the Angel on the Bridge then a few trains and a cab back to Dominos pizza and a film. Sunday featured badminton, and a couple of very short walks and bike rides. As a result I shall be refraining from exercise today. Back to it on Tuesday :)


I've been meaning to put up a post about all my kit for a while, with pictures so this is it, for those who are interested. Everything I have bought so far is pictured below with the exception of my duffle bag which I only just got. It's actually bigger than I expected and I am wondering when else I'll ever use it but hey... time enough for that later.

Above picture, clockwise from top: Deuter 22l rucksack (with flower hairband - ah bless), camelbak, petzl head torch, microfleece sleeping bag liner (sleeping bag already owned), lifeventure travel towel, vango compact sleeping mat, primus water bottle (in side pocket of rucksack).

Above picture, clockwise from top:buff, howies merino long sleeved top, Craghopper trousers, meindl boots, x-socks, howies merino long johns (sexy), Peter Storm zip off trousers.

Close-up of my boots because I love them so much and they coped so well with the 18 mile walk I threw them into yesterday. So there you have it.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009


Today I ache. A lot. I went for a walk on Monday afternoon with a group of friends who are doing a sponsored walk from Maidenhead to Brighton onver 3 days next Bank Holiday weekend. I thought this was a fine way to start practicing walking longer distances and try out some of my new kit. I was right but it also served to show me what my body is capable of. I made it round the 13ish miles but my legs started to complain in the last mile or two. The last time I covered that sort of distance was the Henley Half Marathon. Today the tops of my legs ache despite the stretches and hot bath last night.

Good news is that while my legs are knackered, my feet are fine. One small blister on my left heel and that's it. I put this down to the x-socks. I didn't have my new boots so I wore my old timberlands which usually rub a bit. Rucksack was comfortable (Shruti and I bought matching ones Saturday), camelbak worked a treat and trousers were very comfy too.

It was a lovely walk though, around Maidenhead and Cookham, taking in the scenery and Mayday Fair. Would do it again in a heartbeat which is fortunate as I'm going to have to be doing a lot more of that. I was lucky this time in as much as I didn't have to plan the route, someone else was leading but I've found that the AA website and Real Buzz have some useful route planning tools and pre defined routes with difficulty ratings, timings etc.

Not sure I'll get a good walk in next weekend but being hardcore I'm going to the gym tonight. I think my legs might just be able to handle it...

Oh and some news on the donations refund front which I'll email the people concerned about. Still no news on the new charity front but I'm hoping end of the week will bring good news. Peace out.

Monday, 27 April 2009


Shruti and I had a fantastic day on Sunday shopping for kit. We went round about 4 different camp/trek shops and got loads of advice, tried on lots of boots, learnt lacing techniques and started to get geeky about socks (x-socks - rah). It's very easy to get carried away with this stuff and the totals rack up pretty quickly even for basic kit but it's justifiable. Specialist footwear is something I rarely baulk at paying out for because the comfort and health of your feet is mega important.

We ended up getting fitted at two places (kudos to the lad in Cotswold who had to contend with both of us at once) and although I bought a pair of boots, I'll be taking back at the weekend because it turns out the mens fit is better for me and I ordered those online last night along with a headtorch, towel, mat, softshell trousers, and fleece sleeping bag liner, taking advantage of a 20% discount. On these sums it really helps!

So I currently own a camelbak, pair of zip off trousers and a pair of x-socks. I'll pick up a water bottle, rucksack and maybe another pair of socks at the weekend. I still need a duffle and to check I've got other suitable clothing but I'm pretty much set. The "nice to have" stuff will be going on the birthday list.

Signed myself up for a 10k run at Bluewater on 14th June. It only cost £20 to sign up and you get discount vouchers, a technical t-shirt and some other useful bits and bobs so not only will it give me a training goal but I get kit too :) In a similar theme I'm getting a proper training plan drawn up at the gym tonight. Shruti has a personal trainer so I think she's set there. I'd love to get a new bike and cycle more (mine has the potential to fall apart any moment and isn't worth repairing) but even at £88 from Halfords that's money I probably shouldn't be spending at the mo'.

The saga of changing charity continues and updates are expected tomorrow...

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Bad news

Cancer Research have announced that they no longer take part in these open challenges. In real terms that means I can no longer fundraise for them unless I stump up about £1600 to go to Kilimanjaro in the first place. I simply can't afford this so I'm going to have to change my charity. I'll probably support Breakthrough Breast Cancer but will confirm next week some time.

I will have to close my fundraising page and set up a new one. I'm arranging for the money you've donated so far to be refunded and I really hope everyone who supported me so far will donate again when this is all resolved.

It makes me sick to think that we're getting messed around like this. We're trying to do something great and the charity aren't supportive. Ok we hadn't got very far into our fundraising, maybe 7% but I was so excited and it all feels for nothing now. I'm still keen to do the climb so hopefully I'll be back to the same place in a week or so. Good job I didn't send out my fundraiser email to my work colleagues...

Training will continue and kit will be bought (cos I'm going camping anyway). I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

It's all good

Was almost persuaded to go to the pub after work today instead of to the gym but I was good and went and then went for a 45 minute bike ride when I got home! Well it was the perfect evening for it. Could have ridden longer but had other things to do. I feel so energetic, which is just as well as I've got dance classes tomorrow and I've said I'll go to the gym again on Thursday lunchtime!

I've raised £200 already (thank you so much!) and have started to price up the kit I'm going to need. I'm definitely going to get my boots at the weekend following some recommendations and start building up the rest slowly. I suppose the rucksack is the next thing so I can get used to walking with it...

Fingers crossed I can blag some stuff but thank you to everyone who's helped so far, with money, recommendations or kit!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Let's start fundraising...

I'm not the best at asking people to part with their hard earned cash, espeically so far in advance of the actual event but Shruti started so I thought I mustn't get left behind. Friends and family are the first targets, colleagues after pay day ;) Only £30 so far but I'm so happy to have even that because it means I'm on the way. You can keep up with how the fund raising's going by checking that box over to the right. 1% of the way... 99% to go.

Printed off the event manual today and discovered I'm going to have to do a fair bit of shopping. Hiking boots on Saturday! The queen of discount that she is, Shruti's found some excellent websites for good value kit so I'll probably be getting a few bits off there.

Went to the gym tonight and will do again tomorrow. Need to start building up leg muscle which is the opposite of what I usually try and achieve, lacking in upper body strength as I do (I just want to be able to beat a boy at arm wrestling one day ;) ). Dance classes will help with flexibility a bit but spare time yoga at home will also help. We're probably going to join a ramblers club too, just to get out on some long walks.

I'm slightly less scared now I've started to raise the money.

Friday, 17 April 2009


Oh. My. God. We're actually going to do this. Insurance, visas, training, fundraising... it all starts in earnest right here, right now.

I'm a little bit shaky.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Awaiting confirmation

So the forms got posted last night. All terribly exciting. I may have jumped up and down at the kerbside and made some funny squealing sounds. Can't wait to hear back about whether or not we've got our places. My folks go on holiday middle of next week so hopefully I'll hear just after they've gone, so that I know but I don't make mum worry throughout her entire trip.

Told some very good friends of mine about the plans last night. Their 8 year old got very concerned and gave me a huge hug before I left, uttering the words "Please don't die". That sort of brings it home.

So we had a chat about fund raising last night and are going to start putting out feelers for things today. Got some pretty good ideas which is just as well given the sums we have to raise. There's likely to be an auction, wine tasting, film night, various stalls at various places at various times and we'll be doing things like bag packing at the local supermarkets and running errands. I suspect I'll be making lots of biscuits and cakes to sell and making use of some of my other "talents" for making cards, jewelry and so on. My partner in crime is much more talented at nagging people to give us stuff so we make a good team.

We've set ourselves some targets. By the end of July we want to have reached £1k each, £2k by end of October, £3k by end of December and the last £400 by the time we go or shortly after we get back.

Gym session tonight!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

More of the same

Well after a particularly indulgent weekend I was persuaded back into the gym after work. I felt good for it although I've a long long way to go. It's far better going with someone as there's an element of competition involved then; I push myself much harder. I suspect that in the coming weeks, when I'm not training outside, I'll employ a team of "gym buddies" to take it in turns to accompany me :)

18 minutes on the treadmill, 6 walking, 7 running, 5 walking at incline of 7 (walking pace 7, running pace 11)
1000m on the rower (4.48)
5 mins on the cross trainer
Lat pull down 3 x 10 @ 50kg
Seated chest press 2 x 10 @ 45kg
Leg press 8 @ 170kg
Bicep curls 3 x 10 @ 4kg per arm
Triceps 3 x 10 @ 6kg

As I said, a long way to go. I probably won't post very thing I do but in the beginning it will help me to see some progress. Will almost certainly go again on Thursday and might even get talked into a quick half hour at lunch tomorrow. Well i suppose I've got to work off the biscuits I made and may eat this evening.

Tomorrow I have my brainstorming fund raising session with my accomplice and the forms go in the post. I've told a couple of my friends and my dad that I'm going for this but not my mum yet... I'm waiting until it's confirmed ;)

Friday, 10 April 2009

First step

Ok well the plan to send off our forms last night sort of fell through due to trains not tunring up when they were meant to but we're still confident that we'll get a place if we post them off next week. We've got plans to meet up on Wednesday and have a bit of a brain storming session for our fundraising. I'm only concerned that we'll try to do too much too soon but that's where we work quite well as a duo. I think I end up being the voice of reason!

So last night I went to the gym. First bit of scheduled exercise I'd done in about 3 weeks. I usually have two 45 minute dance classes a week, play badminton and go for a run or a bike ride but none of that's been happening lately for a variety of reasons I don't need to go into here. Anyway I was impressed that I managed to run for about 8 minutes solid on the treadmill. May not sound like much but it gave me some confidence.

My new gym buddy and I are going to go again on Tuesday and I have a whole weekend of wandering around Oxford ahead of me. Even if I didn't have something to train for, I enjoy being active again.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

It started one bored afternoon...

When Shruti and I are bored, we seem to get loads of mad ideas. Admittedly she has more than I do and for what is going to follow in the next 10 months or so, I blame here entirely :)

Her ideas are usually along the lines of setting up various businesses and mine usually involve something that could get me injured like learning to skateboard or getting my motorbike license. So mother, be thankful we chose this one to go ahead with... though I can't vouch the others won't happen at somepoint. In this instance the idea is to trek up Mount Kilimanjaro for charity. It's on the very brink of becoming a reality. We thought about it for approximately a week and now the paperwork's almost all filled out and will go in the post on Thursday.

This is a huge thing and I'm actually quite scared. Not so much about the climb itself, I'm sure I can achieve a level of fitness that allows me to make it but the fundraising has me nervous. We're booking through Action Challenge and need to raise a minimum of £3,400. Each. I think this is almost more of a challenge than the actual climb.

Anyway I've been in touch with the organisers and my chosen charity, Cancer Research, and everyone's really helpful and enthusiastic. It's not in their interests for us to fail.

I've created a Just Giving page and am going to keep this blog so you can keep an eye on my progress etc. I'll share info, training progress, details of what I'm doing in terms of fundraising, donation updates, photos, videos clips and anything else I can think of.

If you fancy donating alreadyjust hop on over to http://www.justgiving.com/vikkiroberts

So this is it:
Event: Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Why: Do something amazing for myself and achieve something fantastic for the greater good
When: 26th February 2010 (subject to the booking being accepted)
How much?!: a minimum of £3,400

Oh and if anyone fancies booking me a foot massage and pedicure for around mid March 2010, you may be my best friend forever ;)