Sunday, April 20, 2014

Climb every mountain...

Well, 'tis done!

12 hours and 20 minutes of it.

We're back after, what I can only describe as, a pretty gruelling charity challenge doing the 5 peaks in the Lakes.

We all met on Friday evening, that is Mr Beehive, myself, the guides and the rest of our comrades for the duration, at a local campsite in the Langdale Pike region. We intially set up the campsite and began team building by preparing a meal for 20 on four burners with two vegetarians and a vegan amongst us and limited pots.

A cold night followed with little sleep of any worth or decency. Temperatures fell below freezing and despite wearing all our base layers under all our clothes, using season 3/4 sleeping bags, we were still kept awake through cold and Mr Beehive's pillow had frozen to the tent by the next morning!

An early rise with a 6am wake up call, some seriously 'hearty' (read that as lentil knitting) style museli, a cold wash and then layering up for the day ahead.

We parked the cars up at a farm at the bottom of Dungeon Ghyll and began our marathon (well, half really) efforts up Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell, Esk Pike, Great End and then the Capitain (sic) of all...Scarfell Pike, the highest peak in England.

I could spend hours giving you blow by blow accounts, but really, you'd be bored to tears.

It was far from easy. It certainly pushed me close to my limits of both physical and mental endurance. The ups were hard and tiring, the downs, wearing on the knees. The distances challenged my ability to stay calm and some of the ridges pushed me to my boundaries if not out of my comfort zone. The tireder we got, the harder it became.

The final summit, Scarfell, all 900+ metres of it was a mixed joy. Sheer thrill of achievement was tinged with the fear of the 4 hour descent we'd yet to master.

If truth be told, this was probably the hardest part of the day. We'd already walked up and down summits for over 8 hours. Every bone was aching and I had nerves that were occasionally shooting electric sparks of pain up to my hip from a slip earlier in the week in a particular supermarket that would catch my unawares, particularly as I moved from one rock to another. Each step just seemed further and further away and the path we were aiming at, despite seeming not far, appeared as a distant mirage on the horizon.

Incredibly, 12 hours and 20 minutes after we'd parked our cars early that morning, we were passing back through the farmer's gate and returning to our cars...perhaps a little unsure of our ability to physically operate the clutch!

I am so proud of  Mr Beehive and myself

It was an outstanding day. The weather was kind to us and the sun shone. Our noses burned and WE. DID. IT !!!! 13.6 miles (or more!) of seriously tricky terrain, rocks, boulders, scree and little grass. 13.6 miles of ascent followed by descent followed by further ascent.

The bump to the right of the picture was our starting point!!

The scenery was beautiful, the views at the tops, breathtaking, in fact one of the guides from the Lakes themselves, said that our view from Scarfell was probably one of the best he'd ever seen in all his years up and down the mountain!

To top it all off, we have managed to raise over £3000 for the National Eczema Society. We've been blown away by the generosity of family, friends and colleagues (HUGE THANK YOU to all of you!!!!) and there's still time to donate by using the link on the side of my blog.

Will we do it again? Er, perhaps not next week, but will we do something as challenging again, something to push us to our limitations? Indeed we will. We might push ourselves to do the 100Km Thames Path walk next year and maybe I will enter that ballot for the VLM for 2016 ...just you'd best start saving your pennies for another charitable cause next year.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

It started with a kiss...

Well, more like a terribly unflattering photograph which equated to a kick up the bum.

We knew we were going to do this climb to raise money for eczema research because this was a subject very close to our hearts. Many of you know, our eldest has suffered dreadfully for the last three years in particular, leading to stays in hospital as the skin is a barrier to infection, so when your skin is broken all over, you are susceptible to strep or staph or any other infection. He's also been on skin and oral steroids repeatedly and has been on the receiving end of mickey taking at school and numerous curious stares or questions. All of which, we have tried to give him the tools to cope with and help educate others so that they will be more understanding. However, we feel that more can be done nationally and this is why we're climbing five peaks in the Lakes on Easter weekend. But not over the course of a weekend, no, in 12 hours! Yup, a little bit barking.

So, this all sounded good on paper last autumn when his eczema was at its worst and my mama bear instinct had gone into 'save the world from eczema' overdrive.

However, it wasn't anything we were particularly doing much about. Five peaks? How hard can that be eh?


So fast forward a couple of months. We've just had Christmas, well, that is me, my chins and I....the photos were less than flattering. I was at least a stone heavier, if not two if I'm truly honest, but that's more because I do have ridiculous ideals in my head and appreciate that I am 5ft 8 and have the build of someone who is always going to remain in the 10 - 12 category rather than 6 - 8. In fact, size 8 and you will probably be able to snap someone of my height and stature, so, as I said, ridiculous theory.

BUT, something was needing to be done. I wasn't going to get far up mountain peak 1 if I did armchair exercise with the remote control.

We joined the gym. Yup, he and me...
We started, intially, on a six week programme. Then I was lead astray!
I began to get high on the endorphins after doing a work out. 2 times a week became three! I watched my crazy pal, Soph, do three half marathons last year starting from the same couch I had been sitting on.
She fed me runner bumf and showed me elicit hang outs for 'mummy' runners.
I had been running on the treadmill, but not since 2010 had I set foot on the pavements.
So, one morning, I decided to see how a treadmill compared to the hills and fields around me.

Mwahahahahaha, how we laughed!

So, jumping through pot holes, dodging tractor pitting, rabbit holes, cars and wearing fluorescent orange in order to be seen, I began a slow but committed journey to the asylum  becoming 'a runner'. My arse wobbled like jelly at first. One morning on my pre awake run across the fields, I saw FOUR hares! They fled when they saw me...probably assuming I was a genetically modified carrot panting towards them - (Woody Allen anyone??)

A gigantic breast in a scene from Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex

 I saw sunrises that beat any extra half hour under the duvet. I bought kit that I never thought I would be seen dead in. I wore out a pair of shoes...yup, can you believe it!! Yay, Run Forrest Ruuuuun!!!

1 mile to begin with, then 2.5, then 3.5 and my first 5K in 6 years! Then an increase to 5 miles, then 6.5 (that's 10K) and another race on Sunday (10K), a half marathon in the wings for October and the VLM not seeming such a' mad thing that other people do' in my sights for 2016, a full stone lost, muscle gained and the ability to run/walk up a hill without dying. I'm not fast, but I'm a robin ;-)

I think I'm nearly there for those peaks.

So, that's my training, the other half is in the gym twice a week and comes home very sweaty. He has also needed to tighten his belt, but he doesn't have the nutty runners bug like I do, which is probably good because at least one of us needs to remain sane and, if he ran too, who would cheer me on from the side lines on race days???

So BRING 'EM ON !! Is where I'm at now, feeling better than ever, stronger and more mentally prepared. 22km seems no where near as daunting as it did six months ago (although I am aware that 22km undulating is far superior to 22km on the flat!) my biggest fear now is the weather. If it rains and we get wet feet, the rest of the walk will be hell, despite having changes of socks. So, please pray or plead or whatever you do for some decent weather that isn't wet at least.

See you over the hill (s) !!