Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Important Announcement ~ Postponement

Hi everyone,

I'm honored to have you here today, thanks for stopping by.

It's with a heavy heart that I announce that after much thought and indeed prayer on the matter, I've taken the very difficult decision to postpone the Battling Back challenge that had been scheduled for this coming October and November.

As regular readers will know, I've been nursing a niggling injury to my left bicep pretty much since I started training in late March for the challenge. As the weeks have gone by I've been determined to carry on and if need be bring the start date forward. I felt that that decision itself diminished the tough challenge that I'd set myself, but it was made for a few reasons, notably my stubbornness and determination not to quit.

However, with the intended start date now just over 11 weeks away, and the fact that in the last month I've only been able to train in the pool once each week because of the discomfort/ pain that even as I type this post I'm feeling, I know that this is the right decision, albeit a very difficult one to have made.

What happens now?
I will take the break from the pool that my friend and honorary coach Sarah has been trying to tell me to take for months, so that the muscle can repair. During the break I will be keeping up with the cardio sessions and will maintain the 3 times per week workout schedule for those.

Then, when the time is right, I'll begin rehab with gentle swims and work up from there towards the rescheduled Battling Back challenge.

Although posts may be infrequent for the time being, I WILL continue with the blog, so I hope you'll stick with me and perhaps consider subscribing to updates via email so you don't miss anything.

New date?
As of right now, I don't have a new date for the Battling Back challenge, but I promise that it WILL happen next year, quite possibly following the schedule I'd planned for this.

There ARE so many positives
Despite my obvious disappointment at having to postpone, there are SO many positives from having gotten to this point. Here are some of the highlights...

My first workout, on March 28 was only 15 minutes long and afterwards I was exhausted, but it was a first baby step back to physical fitness. I've come so far from that point, including...

Swimming a mile during my first pool session in more than 4 years on April 9.

Apart from the injury that's brought about the postponement, I'm a lot fitter than I was at the beginning and indeed I'm around 15 pounds lighter now.

I am determined to continue Battling Back, becoming even stronger physically and more prepared for the undoubtedly tough Battling Back Challenge.

The mile I did in the pool last week took the total to 26 1/4 miles/ 1260 laps ~ The marathon distance I'd aimed for during the challenge, so I DID achieve my goal, albeit in training. I'm so proud of what I've achieved!

Words cannot truly express my thanks and gratitude to each and every one of you for your support and encouragement. You have been and continue to be my inspiration, and without you and my Lord by my side, I wouldn't have gotten this far. I give you my word that I will continue Battling Back. THANK YOU!!!

God bless,

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th!

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by, I'm honored to have you here. Just a quick post today to wish all of you who are celebrating a very happy, very safe Independence Day, especially to all of you on the east coast of the US as Hurricane Arthur roars by. Special thanks to all those who are serving in our Armed Forces and who serve and protect us, especially those who are away from home today.

God bless America! God bless all of us!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Step by Step 2014 ~ Halfway There

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by today, I'm truly honored to have you here. In today's post I'll be sharing my training notes from the last couple weeks and also giving some thoughts about where I'm at. If it's your first time here, and/or you'd like to catch up with everything about this year's challenge, you can find all the related posts HERE.

I can hardly believe that I've been training three times a week for almost 14 weeks, having started on Friday, March 28, 2014 and there are now 14 weeks until the start of the challenge. I'll say more about that a little later, but first here are the training notes...

Friday, June 20, 2014
1 mile/ 48 laps completed. I decided not to push myself too much today. I know, that's rare for me, but as the weeks are flying by and the challenge getting ever closer, I have to listen to my body. Especially because a friend of mine who has been both a national level swimmer and then a coach, warned me that if I were to get the troublesome left bicep checked (which I'm not going to do) and there is a tear, I'll need to rest up COMPLETELY for six weeks and then slowly rehab. That would mean that I can't do the challenge this year, but I'm determined that it WILL go ahead.

I KNOW it's a risk, but at this stage I'd rather bring the start date forward, if need be and turn the training miles into actual challenge miles, than to take a complete break and have to start over. Cumulative totals: 21-3/4 miles/ 1044 laps. I'm finally through the 1000 lap barrier! YAY!

Monday, June 23, 2014
I felt well rested after a really relaxed weekend and the niggly bicep seems to be behaving. Yay! The weather is finally warming up and so today's cardio was a bit harder than others, but I got through the 4 mile Walk At Home workout and still felt great afterwards.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
1 mile/ 48 lap swim. Not many people manage to fall UP the stairs, but it seems I'm one of them LOL. On my way to bed last night I missed the top step and fell pretty heavily into the bathroom doorway. I was carrying my laptop at the time so my first concern was for that! Only when I'd checked it was ok, did I see and indeed feel all the grazes and bruises, including one on the left bicep! Typical LOL!

I was understandably very sore when I woke this morning. As a result I didn't even know whether I'd be able to do much in the pool at all, so for the first time I got into the water with absolutely NO target distance. It was in effect a "free" swim and whatever I could do would be a bonus and would get me closer to the challenge itself. As I progressed I decided that I'd get to a mile and then stop, no matter how I was feeling. Yep, I truly am listing to my body!

The prayer I said while still in the water was even more thankful than others. I'd felt not only everyone who is supporting me, but also my Ultimate Lifeguard's presence by my side encouraging me. Cumulative totals: 22-3/4 miles/ 1092 laps.

Friday, June 27, 2014
Because I was still feeling the effects of the fall and also having an early meeting this morning I decided to swap today's usual pool session for a 4 mile Walk at Home cardio workout. It went well and I'm pleased to have gotten through what has been the roughest week yet since I started training.

Monday, June 30, 2014
After a well earned restful weekend, I was pumped for today's cardio workout and felt great afterwards.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Thankfully the soreness from my fall has eased and I'm feeling great, and even the sometimes niggly bicep feels good! The bruise on the bicep from the fall is still looking angry, but because of my underlying autoimmune condition I take a long time to heal, so I'm not concerned about that at all.

I still don't want to push myself TOO much, but having taken it easy for a few weeks and because I'm feeling so much better, today's aim was to complete 1-1/4 miles/ 60 laps in the pool. I'm very pleased to say I DID it and by the end I STILL felt great!!! Could I have done more? Perhaps I could have, but yep, I am still being careful!

Today's swim also rounded out the cumulative total to TWENTY FOUR MILES/ 1152 laps! Am I proud? YES! Am I determined to give this my all? HECK YES!

Taking a SHORT break!
Last weekend when I looked ahead to this short working week, I had thought that although it's a very special holiday for us Americans on Friday, July 4th, that I would still hit the pool early and do a session. After all I've worked out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the last 14 weeks, including on other holidays, so why should this be any different?

I mentioned it to a friend, Mike, and as we talked, he told me how well I'm DOING, how well I've DONE and how he and indeed everyone know how DETERMINED I am to give this my all. It was then that I decided that I WILL take Independence Day off! I deserve an extra rest day and the fact that it is America's birthday and I've reached the half way point in my training means it's a doubly good time to do so.

There will be a celebratory post made to the blog on Friday, but I'll write it and schedule it for publication tomorrow.

To end this rather long post, I once again want to thank all of YOU! Your encouragement and support truly does mean so much to me. Each of you is an inspiration! THANK YOU!!!

God bless,

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Step by Step 2009 ~ Part 8 Hike Highlights

Hi everyone,

Once again I apologize for the gap between my posts. Please be assured that all is well and training for this year's challenge is continuing on schedule. I'll be posting my training notes from the last couple weeks late tomorrow afternoon, after the latest session.

In today's look back at the 2009 challenge I'm sharing the highlights post that I wrote on my return from the hike on January 3, 2010, before typing up the handwritten entries I'd written during the hike itself...

Monday (12/28) - Day 1
We were up at 5:30 am GMT (CST +6 hours). An issue with the train from Preston to Carlisle meant we didn't get into Carlisle until around 9:30 am GMT. We then arrived at Bowness-on-Solway at 10:30 to begin the 84 mile hike. The weather was very cold and icy (3 inches deep in places). Conditions under foot were VERY dangerous. Although I wasn't the first to fall, I was the first to draw blood (my left palm); typical that one of the qualified first aiders was first to need attention! I fell again at least a half dozen times, which meant my confidence pretty much disappeared.

The afternoon was better and I regained my confidence. We hiked into the night, arriving at the camp site just after 5:00 pm GMT. Having set up the tents and had supper, cooked by Seb's dad Terry, we were all in "bed" by 9:00 pm GMT. We did 12 miles on day one.

Tuesday (12/29) - Day 2
We were up at 7:00 am GMT. I helped Terry cook breakfast (bacon, eggs, sausages and baked beans) and then we packed up the campsite, what goes up must come down. The day dawned as the last had been, very cold and icy. We set off again around 10:30 am after taking this group pic (I'm second from left on front row)... 

Almost immediately we faced our first icy hazard, a stairway covered in ice. This also proved to be one of the highlights of the hike, as we all did some freestyle sledding, without sledges, down the slope. It was a complete adrenaline rush!

Around lunch time, the weather changed and it started to sleet, then rain heavily. Later that afternoon, still having little confidence on the ice, I did more freestyle sledding. The only problem was, the ice wasn't as thick this time, and that's where I aggravated my existing spinal injury.

As we arrived at camp, the rain was now torrential. After helping set up the tents, I sat in the support vehicle for 2 hours trying to warm up. Although we didn't see the Wall itself today, we did walk along a two meter wide ridge in a field that covered the Wall; the ground sloping away on either side of the ridge. We completed 17 miles.

Wednesday (12/30) - Day 3
Terry didn't wake us until gone 8:00 am as the rain had turned to snow further down the route. I had gotten less than half an hour's sleep overnight as the rain storm intensified. By morning, not only was my back agony, but I was very tired and verging on hypothermic. I knew as soon as I woke that I wouldn't be able to go out that day. This upset me greatly, as the charity means so much to me and I broke down in tears when telling Seb and Terry.

Instead, I helped one of the other girls, CJ, who also missed the day, get everyone's kit dry in the cottage Terry was staying in. I also got a longed for shower, the HOT water really helped my back, as did the pain medication.

That night, the guys came back around 8:00 pm. It was the first day they had seen the Wall and I was really disappointed I'd missed it. We stayed that night in a heated "camping barn" which was in fact a 12 bed dormitory, so no need for tents. I made up my mind to go out on day 4 tonight, not only for me and the HEROES, but also for my eldest son Matty; who's six years old tomorrow. The guys did around 14 miles.

Thursday (12/31) - Day 4
After an all too quick 7 hours sleep, which we all needed, Terry woke us with the news of a 5 inch snowfall overnight. I dosed up again on pain meds and made my way out with the others around 10:00 am. The snow showers would continue for the remaining days of the hike.

After missing a day, I was slightly stiff, but took my time and I was okay. The snow was thigh deep as we began. Terry joined us after a few miles, his only time on the route itself; as we climbed the sheer face of the wall. Still being a little unsure of my footing, I intended to send my rucksack down a sleep snow covered slope, before handing my camera to Terry....

Except it didn't happen that way. I lost my footing, slipped onto my backside, then proceeded to tumble downwards. I did two full head over heels somersaults and managed a half twist too. I landed head down the hill on my back. It was over in seconds and I'm thankful I've seen quite a few skiers fall, so I kept as small as possible.

Terry's immediate reaction after I indicated I was okay, was "I wish I'd filmed that". Seb, on the other hand, had seen exactly how close I'd come to disaster. Six inches to my left part way up was a huge boulder, which if I'd have landed differently, could well have had dire consequences for me. I was VERY lucky, as you'll see when I get the pics on here.

Lunch was eaten in the midst of a blizzard. That evening, we again stayed in the camping barn and had a New Years Eve party. I composed another verse, with the story of the day, and read all four just after midnight. We eventually got to bed at 1:00 am.

Friday (1/1) - Day 5
Terry woke us just after 7:00 am. I made breakfast for everyone while he had to go out again. Terry then drove us to the start point and we began around 11:00 am. Today was flatter than the last few days. Despite this, another old injury, to my left knee, flared due to the effort of hiking through thigh deep snow once again.

Having completed 16 miles, we waited for Terry in a bar, where the locals welcomed us with open arms. They couldn't believe that anyone was crazy enough to go out onto the wall in the midst of the worst period of continuous snow the area has seen in more than 20 years.

We got back to the camping barn, for our last night on the actual hike, at around 8:45 pm GMT. I was really tired and in bed asleep by 11:15 pm.

Saturday (1/2) - Day 6
Although we faced what we thought was 18 miles, we were in no rush to get out there. We were up by 7:30 am GMT and packed up everything after breakfast. Terry drove us to the start point for the day and we began around 11:00 am. We predicted a finish of around 9:30 pm.

The day itself was a lot harder, both mentally and physically, than I ever thought it would be. Each and every step took so much more effort than it had before. I suffered mentally as we passed close to Newcastle city center, knowing that we still had around half distance to go. Also because we would be returning to the city having completed in Wallsend.

My spirits lifted considerably when we saw the 6 miles to go marker. We completed earlier than expected, at just after 8:00 pm GMT. Though it wasn't clear we had finished and we carried on another quarter mile or so LOL.

Even though I missed a day, I still managed to complete 70 of the 84 miles. I'm really proud of what I've done, not only for the charity, but because I've proved to myself that even though I went through hell on more than one occasion, that I could do it. I DID do it.

Thanks again for all your support. You guys ROCK! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

God bless,