Here we go!

So I had every intention of blogging every day this week about the packing process, the anxiety over not having enough, having too much, where the hell am I putting it all, this won’t fit, etc.

However, life.

Seems my body decided to take one last shot at me to see if I am really serious about all this.

It started probably a week ago; but I just haven’t felt 100%.  My right knee, the one I injured in the fall at Walmart, was acting up.  So my sciatic nerve in my lower back decided to act out too.  On top of this, I seemed to have picked up a gastric bug somewhere along the way.  I’ll spare you the details, but the anti-diarrheal meds weren’t cutting it.  In the quiet of my bedroom my stomach sang to me the song of it’s people.

This wasn’t going to fly.  Not with the Fort Davis camping trip this weekend.

So…Monday off to my favorite person in the whole wide world, Dr. Heidi Iratcabal.  I swear this woman has held my poor broken body together for the past 15 years.  If I break it, she fixes it.

Anyway…she did her magic again, including adding some acupuncture tacks.  I took Monday off (no workout) with every intention of working out on Tuesday.

However, Tuesday I was 2 hours into my day when I realized my stomach decided to take me down.  I went home, found some Cipro left over from an India trip.  I slept all day Tuesday, which tells me my body had been trying to tell me something was wrong and I needed pure rest.  So rest I did.

Yesterday I finally started feeling better.  Was able to walk/jog and do some upper body circuit work.  My appetite is still weak, but maybe that’s just me starting to get used to much smaller meals.

Suffice it to say, there were no pictures taken and no blogs written.

However, thanks to my girl, we were able to not only get my backpack packed, but the math on this thing is pretty amazing.  While to the eye it may look slightly lopsided the reality is that mathematically it is even in weight and the center of gravity is exactly where I need it.  She’s pretty amazing!  We weighed the pack and right now it’s coming in just at 35lbs.  Keep in mind that I’m carrying 5 liters of water which is about 11lbs of weight.  Remember where we’re hiking this weekend there is no water on the mountain unless we get rain.

Speaking of rain, I’ve decided that the Fort Davis mountains must be Mother Nature during menopause.  In the past two weeks I’ve seen the rain chances for Fort Davis go from 0% to 50% up to 80% down to 40% back up to 60% and the last time I checked I think we’re at 20%.  It’s a game of what will the percentage be every time I check the weather out there.  So I have to be prepared for “anything”!

I’m both anxious and excited.  I still question whether or not I can really do this and carry this much weight on my back while I hike up an 1,000 ft. elevation gain.  I still have that nagging voice in the back of my head.  However, I’m excited to get back out into nature.

….and yes…I have my driver’s license, yes…I have my insurance card, and my health savings card.  I should be covered should a hospital be in my future.  There is a story behind this.  It involves a camp stove.  While I’ll save that story for another blog, suffice it to say I did spend time making sure I could operate my camp stove last night and this time it did not end up with an emergency room visit.  I consider that alone as a success!

What are you anxious about?  Remember….fear is something we create in our own minds.  We can overcome fear!  It just takes patience, practice and learning to trust!

You can turn it around!

So I’m three months into this “grand experiment” of mine and I have to say….I pushed another button today and got a well deserved pellet damn it!

I went back to the doctor today to get my blood test results.  Somewhere in the past week I dropped another two pounds so I’m now at 188.   However, here’s where the rubber meets the road:

Type                                                Feb. 2014                               Sept. 2014

Glucose                                           182mg/DL                              101mg/DL

HDL Cholesterol                            52 mg/DL                                50mg/DL

LDL Cholesterol                            157mg/DL                                140mg/DL

Total Cholesterol                          234mg/DL                                207mg/DL

Triglycerides                                  125mg/DL                                86mg/DL

Tell you what…for someone 6 months shy of 50 and who has treated her body more like a honkytonk than a temple; I’ll take it.  We’re going to watch the Cholesterol to make sure it doesn’t go any higher; but I don’t want to go on meds and I’m not about to give up bacon and red meat.  Although I have to admit, I haven’t had red meat in a while now.

We’ll do this again in December and continue to track.  But for now…I’ll continuing pushing the button and getting those pellets!

What do you need help with?  What challenge are you dreading and need some motivation?  Hell…what’s your pellet?

No, I haven’t gone backwards with my miles.  That’s 200lbs to 190lbs.  I’ve lost 10lbs in three months.   I’m a very simple girl.  If I push the button I need a pellet.  I need some sort of confirmation that all the hard work done over the past three months is actually making a difference.  Push the button, get a pellet; push the button, get a pellet.  I’ve been pushing this damn button for 3 months and my pellet is losing 10lbs!  I’ll take it!

I’m hoping the next pellet comes in the form of the results of my blood workup.  Like I said…simple girl.

Now…on to yesterday’s hike.

I was back at Lake Ray Roberts and hiked the Jordan Park Trail.  That trail starts at Bluestem Grove Camping Area and goes all the way up to FM 1192.  You can then cross the road and head up to the Lantana Lodge and then hike beyond Lantana for another 3.5 mile loop.

Yesterday was a first for me.  I had to poop in the woods.  Now, let me explain.  Years ago when I actually hiked a lot and everywhere, I bought one of those orange plastic trowels and carried it all over the place.  Not once did I ever have to use it. Not. Once.  I still have it somewhere, but as I’ve mentioned, who knows where half of my camping equipment from the 1990s has ended up.

Off to REI I go.  Apparently today’s “trowel” is black, lighter and supposedly more sturdy.  Okay…not sure why sturdy is important…but we’ll soon discover why that’s a useful feature.

I am on my hike yesterday when #2 decides it needs to happen.  As with most folks, I kept thinking I could put off this business until I reached the Lantana Lodge and use a proper bathroom…but my stomach this weekend wasn’t in the best of shape shall we say.  I went as far as I could until I could go no more.

Now it was a case of trying to find the perfect place.

I used to make fun of the cats in my life for digging and digging in their litter box.  They dig in one corner, no…that’s not right…then they turn and dig in another corner….by the time they finally go they’ve dug the Grand Canyon 50 times over!

So it was with me.  I kept checking out this tree and that tree.  I kept trying to triangulate where the tree was in relation to the trail and who could see me or not see me depending on which direction they were coming.  I hadn’t really seen anyone on the trail all day, but wasn’t about to take chances.

I finally found a clump of trees that I could get to that seemed far enough off the trail and hidden relatively from the trail.  Great.

I took off my pack and pulled out my trusty trowel.  This was going to be my first official “cat hole”.  I start digging.  What “they” fail to tell you is that you are going to hit every known root in the woods….all those roots are going to cross at exactly the place your digging!  I now know why a strong trowel is a must….because you spend more time trying to break through the damn roots and get a big enough and deep enough hole!  And of course the whole time your stomach is threatening to unleash what ever hell its been bottling up for the last two miles and reminds you that you better hurry up!

Damn it!

After finally pulling out roots by hand (someone remind me why I have a trowel if I’m going to end up digging the hole by hand), it was time….down go the pants and just as I look up….there they are.  Two deer no more than 40 feet from me who have been watching me this entire time try to dig a hole and squat over it.  They just stood and stared.  In all honesty…if I was them…I probably would have stared too.  Thank god they have not outfitted the deer with iPhones yet…otherwise there would be pictures of my lily white butt posted all over the internet by now.  Eventually they moved off and I was able to finish my business.

So there you go…my afternoon pooping with deer.  Fantastic.

Have you had to poop in the woods?  If so, do you have a story to tell?  I’m all ears!  Don’t let me be alone in this.  I promise not to laugh…too much.

203 Miles and counting….

And just like that, yesterday I broke 200 miles.  Whew!  I feel like I’m just getting started!

To catch everyone up….last week I fell at Walmart.  You can stop laughing now.  No really….stop laughing.

I hammered my right knee. Not a good thing when you have a pretty good training schedule set up.  So given my knee was hurting what do I do?  You bet…I went right out, put my 25lb pack on and hiked 3.25 miles.  That’s what we all do right?

Thursday, I took the day off….that means I walked / ran for about half to 3/4 of a mile then used the circuit equipment at a park near the house.  Came home and iced the knee.  I then started putting Tiger Balm before bedtime.

I love Tiger Balm.  If you haven’t used it, go get some…right now…I’ll wait.  I love the smell, I love the heat, it’s my go to for muscle aches.  It’s sort like BenGay on steroids.  Do they even make BenGay anymore? I’m dating myself.  Icy Hot…it’s like Icy Hot.

Anyway…Friday was an off day (for real) and I went and got a brace for the knee.  It kept feeling like it wanted to pop.  I also put in a call to my neighborhood acupuncturist who typically fixes me…but alas, she’s on vacation.  I don’t remember her asking me if she could go on vacation, but I digress.

So Saturday I ran/walk, circuited again.  Sunday….well…a 25lb pack, 13 miles and climbing up an overlook at 350ft to test the knee.  I made it back alive and I’m still walking.

It still feels the need to be popped…and every chance I get I slowly can get a few pops here and there.

Today I hit the stairs with the pack…knee felt good and I kept the brace off it while I did the stairs.  I think as long as I listen to my body I’ll be okay.  Until my body starts cussing me…then we’ll have an argument.

I feel really good…it’s been 3 months since I stared all of this.  Friday will be the test as I’ll be having complete blood workup to see what my numbers are at.  To give my body the best chance of success I am not drinking any alcohol this week.

Yes…I know…shocking isn’t it?

I’ll report back when I get the numbers.  Otherwise, I’m gonna keep on hiking!

Spider Web

This hike is 4.5 miles from the Bluestream Grove camp area of Lake Ray Roberts and comes out at FM 1192.  However, I decided to actually start at the park Headquarters.  That made this a 6 mile hike; 12 miles round trip!  It was long…but luckily the path is pretty level.

I started out around 6:30a.m.  First up…this really cool spider web!  I love how the web refracted the light.

Spider Web

Spider Web

Now I don’t mind spiders.  However, I despise spider webs.  Unfortunately being “first” on the trail comes with a price….you end up breaking down all the spider webs on the trail.  And once you get wrapped up in one, you can’t help but feel like you’re wrapped in it and can’t get rid of it.  You can’t see it, buy you feel it and it feels creepy….<shudder>.  It was going to be a long morning.

Up next a couple of Harris Hawks kept watch and probably laughed at my poor attempts to rid myself of the latest round of webs.

Harris Hawks

Harris Hawks

From headquarters to BlueStream Grove is little over a mile.  Once you come out at the camp area head toward the restrooms and you’ll find the Lunging Area.

Lunging Area...what the hell is a "lunging area"?

Lunging Area…what the hell is a “lunging area”?

Apparently lunging a horse is to work the horse in a circle having them speed up or slow down based on voice commands.  Why a park would need one of these is beyond me…but okay.  Go past the lunging area along the right side of the circle and you’ll find the trail head for the Jordan Park Trail.

Not a bad way to spend the day

Not a bad way to spend the day

Tiny frog...almost missed seeing him.

Tiny frog…almost missed seeing him.

As I got within a mile of FM 1192, I had startled a flock of cardinals.  As I stopped to watch them flit through the trees I turned back to the trail just in time to see my first Bobcat!  He apparently had been out hunting as he had something in his mouth.  He didn’t seem to know or care I was there.  He was probably 3 yards in front of me as we quietly trotted across the trail with his kill and off into the woods!

I finally got to FM 1192.  Unfortunately there is nothing here.  There’s a pull out where folks with horse trailers can park, but there are no services beyond that….as in no place to sit, no restrooms etc.  Okay….about 2 miles back on the trail I came across this pit toilet….but no.  I’ll take a tree any day over this disaster.

I'll take a tree please....

I’ll take a tree please….

While I would have continued on the trail, I was already at 6 miles.  I stopped under a tree, had a bit to eat, drank some Gatorade and got back on the trail to head back.

I stopped to talk with several groups of horsemen out taking advantage of the day.  Just as I turned away from the second group, I saw something slinking through the woods….I recognized it as another bobcat.  Or maybe it was the same bobcat.  All I know is I was very surprised at how big they are.  They’re about 30 to 40 pounds…they’re just a bit smaller than my dog!

I did see a couple of deer as well during this jaunt as well as a variety of insects that were kind enough to stand still for me to take pictures.  Unlike the deer and bobcat who I couldn’t get to sit in one place so I could snap a picture!

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Praying Mantis - Restroom buddy

Praying Mantis – Restroom buddy

All in all a great little hike…although a little long.  I was probably ready to be done at mile 10!   I feel pretty good….just need to make sure I stretch before bedtime…else I may not get up tomorrow or when I do, I’ll be groaning….a LOT!

 

Gear up!

I’ll be the first to admit.  I’m lazy.  All my backpacking gear is from the 1990s and who knows where all of it has ended up.  Okay…I know where some of it is…it’s in the garage…but back in the 1990s terms like “ultra-light” weren’t even part of the hiking lexicon.  If it was, it was all about sawing off the handle of your toothbrush to save 1oz.

So off I went for a trip to my local neighborhood REI.  I’ve always liked REI.  They actually hire people who have hiked, lived on the trail, and know the demands and the gear.  I probably spent about 2+ hours getting the following:

Backpack (and rain cover)

Tent (and footprint)

Sleeping bag and pad

Camp stove and cook gear

Spork (seriously, you have to own a spork)

Compression bags

Additional hydration packs

As I sit here typing, I can think of a pile of things I didn’t get and should have.  Rain gear, extra sock liners, maybe synthetic underwear (don’t judge).  That’s why I started early…so I can think of these things.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be documenting exactly the gear I bought, the weight, and my initial thoughts “before” the trip and my thoughts “after” the trip.

Oh…the trip.  Have I mentioned it?  I’m doing an all women’s backpacking trip in the Ft. Davis Mountains.  I’m very excited and eager.  Yes…this will mean loading up all that gear mentioned above and hiking with it.  But I figure I have time for that.

So if you see a woman straining under a backpack load simply stop and offer a few words of encouragement.  She and I will be very much appreciative!

For the past two weeks I’ve been running stairs at my office at least twice a week.  Today, all that hard work and sweat paid off!

I decided to hike the Elm Fork Trail up at Lake Ray Roberts.  For those of you just now joining us, I did a bit of this trail about two weeks ago and paid dearly for it with some of the most horrendous blisters on my feet to date!  I think several things happened during that episode:

  • Feet got wet
  • Out of condition
  • No experience hiking in soft, deep sand

By the way, do not ever underestimate what it takes to hike soft, deep sand.  This isn’t the compact stuff you find at the sea shore that’s been beaten down.  Hell no.  This is the “take a step, sink an inch or more, feel your foot slip off balance; take another step, sink, slip; repeat”.

Here’s a sample:

Sand or Dry Quick Sand?

Sand or Dry Quick Sand?

Now…if this was 25% or 40% of the trail, it’d be okay.  But this is nearly 85% of the trail!  I had to learn how to navigate it real quick since it and I were going to be best friends for the next 4 hours!  In case your wondering, I tried to take smaller steps and actually lift my feet out of the sand, then place the next step solidly and slowly in place.  You can’t “fast hike this”…well, you can, but then you end up with ugly blisters!

This is a great hike.  Lots up ups and downs, rocks and lots of woods.  Despite the fact its summer in Texas the day was relatively cool in the shade of the woods and the big pines.

 

I don't even think my arms will reach around this one!

I don’t even think my arms will reach around this one!

Great woods!

Great woods!

I didn’t see much wildlife today.  One rabbit, a couple of frogs, a couple of lizards and I don’t think these qualify as wildlife…but still fun seeing them on the trail.  By the way, in case you didn’t know…you always yield to horses.  Stand to the side of the trail, don’t make any sudden moves and say good morning to the riders so the horses know you’re a two legged and not a cougar.

Have I mentioned I LOVE the smell of horses?  LOVE!

Have I mentioned I LOVE the smell of horses? LOVE!

I still have a few more hikes to do around Lake Ray Roberts.  Stick around as I introduce you to them!

 

 

About a week and a half ago I posted on Facebook that a transformation was about to take place.  I offered no other explanation other than each day since then I have been posting on Facebook what my workout routine is for each day.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what’s going on, what am I training for.  This post will hopefully answer those and other questions.

Since about November of last year, I have experienced a decline in my health.  Nothing major….but just enough irritations after irritations to finally take it’s toll.  If you know me, I don’t do well with irritations.  I like being 100% at all times.

It started after I came back from a trip from California with the trifecta of upper respiratory diseases: bronchitis, sinus infection, and pneumonia.  Just as I was recovering, my annual mammogram found a lump in my right breast.  It turned out to be nothing…but this is the second time a “lump” caused all sorts of stress and consternation and turned out to be nothing.   Once that was settled I ended up throwing out my back, not once, not twice, but three different times.  Each time worse than the last.  Finally I dislocated my right shoulder, but it popped back into place pinching nerves and taking weeks to heal.  On top of this our company’s annual “health check up” showed me with a 41″ waste, labeled me as “obese”, a fasting glucose of 182mg and my bad cholesterol “borderline high”.  All of this and I’m on the downside of 49 pushing 50.

I finally got to a place where I was sick and tired and of being sick and tired.

I racked my brain over what I could do.  I HATE running and walking the concrete jungle didn’t have any allure for me.  So I started thinking.  In another lifetime I used to hike.  I loved hiking.  I would go to Colorado every year to go hiking and bouldering.  Somewhere along the way life happened and I left that love.  The time felt right to find that love again.

So I hiked.

I discovered some great trails right here in my city.  I started expanding to state parks as folks started following this blog and telling me about new trails.  The act of moving and discovery started bringing life back into my tired old body.   I started hiking on June 7th.  By July 7th I had put in 58 miles.  By August 7th the total miles was 146.  I stand at over 160 miles at the time of this writing.

But it wasn’t enough. 

In my twitter feed the Texas Parks & Wildlife announced a “Women’s Only Backpacking Outing in the Ft. Davis Mountains”.  I talked it over with Laura, and with her blessing I signed up.  It’s time to get back on the trail.  This also gave me something to shoot for beyond just hiking.  I have a firm date at the end of September and I need to be in shape for that weekend.  So I stepped up my game. 

My week now pretty much now looks like this:

Monday:  Stairs (20 minutes):  Effectively I’m running the stairs in my parking garage at work.

Tuesday: Running:  Remember…I hate running…so this is more run/walk.  But I try to do 1.5 to 2.0 miles.

Wednesday: Hike 3+ miles.

Thursday: Stairs (20 minutes):  I really like running stairs

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Upper body stuff (which I’m really doing upper body every day if truth be told)

Sunday: Long Hike….usually 7 to 12 miles

I’m currently in my second week.

Now…if you are still with me….let’s move on to the next phase of my rambling.

See the picture below?

LongsPeak

That’s Long’s Peak in Colorado.  At one time, I had a dream to hike this mountain.  I never made it.  I got as far as the parking lot of the trail head in the middle of the day thinking “One day I want to climb this”. 

Well damn it…that’s changing.  My goal for my 50th year, is to make it back to Colorado and climb this mountain.  Everything I’m doing now is preparing my body for the long hike and climb up this mountain.  I will do it.  I have to.

So what am I training for?  I’m training for myself…to help my body to feel better, to clear my head, get away from the city, and rediscover my first love…nature and all that she has to throw at me. 

Have I lost weight?  I’m not sure…the scale keeps bouncing around.  But I know my clothes are fitting better.  I can tell by the way my center of gravity has shifted that my body is starting to change.  I didn’t get to be 200lbs overnight, and I’m certainly not going to lose the weight overnight.  But as long as I keep putting small goals out there I will get there.

I plan on having blood work done in the next week or so.  We’ll do a comparison then of where I was in March to where I am now.  It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a change and how much of a change. 

So my question to you….what are you doing?  What’s been nagging at you and you’ve had a hard time finding the motivation to do it?  What excuses do you keep putting up?  Why?  What can I do to help you?   We’re all in this journey together….and there are days I don’t want to go run or hike in 100 degree weather….but I do it.  Because the only thing standing between me and my goal….is me.  Fear is a manifestation of ourselves.  It’s not real and it doesn’t exist except in our mind.  I will boldly go where I am meant to go. 

Join me.

 

143+ Miles and counting..

So if any of you have been following along at home, you know I’ve suddenly entered into the Gladiator of Blister Death Ring and have been having major battles with my feets.

Funny that none of this started happening until now.

So I decided to take stock and headed over to my neighborhood REI.  Now…I wish this REI was really in my neighborhood…but alas it’s like miles away from where I live now.  I used to live near an REI and that freakin’ rocked.  It was also dangerous to my pocket book.

Anyway a quick chat with the dude in the boots department, and he made some sock suggestions (as they do) and asked when was the last time I washed my boots.  What?  You have to wash the things?  There’s like maintenance?  And surprisingly there apparently is some maintenance. 

Today I took them out back and hosed them off, getting off probably two months of dirt, dust, and mud.  Not only did I hose off the outside, I hosed off the inside.  I should point out that currently here in Texas the average temperature during the day is what you would find in Hell, so I didn’t worry about the inside of the boots drying.  The next thing I did was take some Castile Soap put a few drops inside the shoe, fill with water, swish, empty, and rinse. 

Next, I figured after 143+ miles, I suspect the insole was shot.  So I bought some Dr. Scholl’s Massaging Gel insoles, cut to size, and outfitted the boots with those.

Lastly, I had bought some NikWax Leather Conditioner.  I applied that to all the leather and polished them up.  Not bad if I do say so myself.

My hope is all this TLC will convince my boots that I do love them, that I haven’t been meaning to take them for granted, and can we please call a truce over the blisters!

I’ll let you know if any of this works!

Clean Boots

1Clean Boots

So Sunday ended up being a very rough hike.  I ended up with three major blisters.  Here…let me show you….you’ve been warned.

 

Yikes!

Yikes!

 So yeah….that’s the one on the right foot.  I had a matching one on the left foot that apparently “popped” while I was still hobbling.  So needless to say the first part of this week was dedicated to foot care.  I’ve learned more about blisters in the last 4 days than I care to admit.

So..the current status is that the right foot, which had two major blisters…one being on the bottom on the ball of my foot, are healing nicely.  Twice a day, I wipe them down with alcohol and then tea tree oil.

Let’s talk about that left foot.  While the blister has drained, there’s still a lot of pain in that area.  I know and recognize this pain.  I’ve had enough injuries in my lifetime to know when a wound is infected.  This is infected.  Now luckily it’s not oozing anything “ugly”….but it’s red and hurts.  So I started a round of Cipro.  I did go ahead and hike last night, and tonight because it’s 101 degrees, no wind, and 45% humidity, I opted to do the treadmill.  I hate the treadmill….but it’s better than nothing.  It was after the treadmill that I finally had to admit things are not going well for that left foot.  I’m going to take two more days off and see how things progress now that I’m getting Cipro on board.

Not much else to report other than yesterday I figured out that I can now tell the difference between domestic dog poo and coyote poo.  I know you want to know more about this fascinating subject…however, I’ll leave that for another blog.  And don’t you worry…there will be pictures!

Yesterday’s Hike:

Miles: 3.20

Time: 01:06:57

Min/Mil: 20:54

Today’s Treadmill (aka Dreadmill)

Miles: 1.5

Elevation: 450ft+  (our treadmill does an incline, so I popped that bad boy up to 6)

Time: 32:00