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What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…

PolesMeet Mike from REI. I met him in Vegas a couple of weeks ago when he sold me my first pair of trekking poles.

I had no idea what trekking poles were until I saw a few YouTube videos and read a couple of websites that strongly suggested them. The concept is that these poles help take the stress off your knees, ankles and lower back when you are hiking uphill and downhill (or so the guys at REI Vegas told me).

Unbelievable to me is that there was an entire section of trekking poles to choose from. Since I know nothing about these poles, I asked for help to figure out which pair might be best for me. A woman who is an expert mountaineer was absolutely wonderful. She took the time to explain why poles are important and showed me all the various options available to me.

Once we decided on a pair that was the right price (on sale) and feature set, she took the time to show me how to adjust the length of them for uphill vs. downhill and we actually practiced with them. I’m not sure I remember everything, but thank goodness for the web! She also showed me how to “wear” the poles. I had that totally backwards.

The funniest part of the entire experience was trying to figure out how to pack the poles in my suitcase as I was pretty sure that trekking poles would not get through security. With a little finagling, the poles finally fit.

Now the question is, do I have the courage to practice using them while going for walks in my neighborhood!

New school shoes…

New school shoesIt’s unbelievable that it has been literally months since I posted to this blog. That’s just crazy. My only excuse is that we have been super busy at work. I know. That’s not a good excuse. But, it’s true.

This is my absolute favorite time of the year… from Labor Day to Thanksgiving. It’s the time of new school shoes, cool new notebooks, new activities, college football, bonfires on the beach, hot apple cider… the list goes on. And, it’s a time of reflection. For me it’s much more a time of rebirth than Spring is.

How grateful am I? My job is challenging, my family is thriving and my friends are close. You can’t ask for much more. But, I think my quality of life could use a shot in the arm. Nothing major, but there are a few core areas that could be improved.

To figure out what to focus on, I spent a few days in August making lists of when I’m in the “zone” and what specific things I was doing to have this feeling. Then I prioritized the list and landed on a core list. Finally, I set realistic and achievable goals for the month of September. Surprisingly, all of these objectives fit nicely into my prep for Base Camp.

I’m proud to report that I’ve been…

  • Being mindful about my diet… well, for 2 weeks! It’s a start.
  • Getting more sleep… almost every night.
  • Drinking my eight glasses of water.
  • Doing more cardio.
  • Spending more time with family.
  • Planning more ”fun” time.

Pretty good for the first two weeks of September!

The Conquest of Everest…

CigarettesHard as it may seem to believe, I found a movie about Everest I have not seen before… The Conquest of Everest.  This 1953 movie was filmed while Hillary and Tenzing were summitting Everest for the first time in history.

The ‘home movie’ feel to the film along with the melodramatic background music and British narrator make it a classic in my mind. The slow pace of the movie and the camera angles make Everest appear to be a much more formidable challenge than some of the slicker more current movies do.

But, what was the most incredible was that they smoked cigarettes and pipes along the way. Crazy.

Everywhere I turn…

CabSaturday night I hopped in a cab after watching the Derby and having a fun dinner with my dad. I normally would have taken the subway, but I wanted to make the next train and time was tight.

The cabby started asking me the usual questions… Did you have a good day? Where do you live? What do you do? It was obvious he wanted to chat.

So I asked him some questions. When I asked him where he was from, he said Dallas. He had an accent I couldn’t identify, but it was definitely not a Texas accent. I asked him where he lived before Dallas. You guessed it; Nepal.

I think he was a little scared and a bit confused when I screamed, “No way!” We had the best time chatting. His family still lives in Kathmandu and he was 12 years old the first time he went to Camp 1 (above EBC).

The first question I asked him was how to say thank you in Nepali. There have been countless times that I’ve needed help in a strange land (including New Jersey). Being able to thank people for their kindness in their language is something I try to do. It’s not much of an effort on my part, but I think it shows I’m sincere. The Nepali word for thank you is dhanybhad.

I told him I am planning a trip to Mount Everest Base Camp in April 2012. He said I should try to go this October as this is a special year of tourism for Nepal and October is a month-long celebration better than Christmas and New Year’s. When I told him that was out of the picture, he said I would still have a great time.

But, he warned, be careful…it was dangerous. Dangerous? Not what I wanted to hear. I told him I was going with a group. His advice was to stay with the group on the mountain and back in Kathmandu. That’s exactly what I plan to do!

The great flippity-flop...

Flippity-flopI work at an online media company. We do very little print work and when we do…it’s a pretty big deal. Yesterday afternoon we were working on the production schedule for a large print project. A production schedule is basically a project plan with a very detailed list of every step in the process including the due dates for each task. The way you put together the schedule is to start with the date you need the printed materials and work backwards.

Work backwards! I had an epiphany. If I want to go to the gym before work, I have to plan my schedule backwards! That may seem obvious to most of you, but it wasn’t to me. I had been doing this all wrong. I had started with I want to hit the gym at 5:45 am. What I really needed to do was start with what time I need to go to sleep to make this happen. I need to go to sleep earlier to get to the gym bright and early.

Unlike many people I know who like to boast about how little sleep they need, I need a full 8-9 hours to be at my best. Always have, probably always will. I can certainly function with less, but not at my peak (and not without being cranky).

Check out the schedule I’m going to try for the next week to see how it works:

9:00 pm  Tucked in snug as a bug
5:30 am  Wake-up bright eyed and bushy tailed
5:45 am  Happily at gym
6:45 am  Leave gym feeling great
7:00 am  Get ready for the day
8:00 am  Head to the office
6:30 pm  Journey home
7:00 pm  Dinner, chores and relax

This is going to be a real change for me as I usually go to sleep around midnight. And, I need to plan in advance so all of life’s chores are done on the weekend to make this “go to gym in the morning” schedule reality.

Wish me luck.

Just do it...

just do it.Working out is quite the self-fulfilling prophecy.

Here’s what it’s like for me…

I don’t want to go. All I have to do is get in the car…I don’t want to. It’s cold. But, my playlist is great. So I go. Then I figure as long as I’m there I might as well make it count. I sweat. I huff and puff. And, then it’s done. I did it. And, I walk out tall and proud.

Last week I was traveling for business. It’s so easy to make an excuse to not work out when you’re on the road. So easy. But, it’s even easier to just do it. And, like most things that I’m not sure I want to do, when I stop thinking about it and just do it everything works out. So, that is just what I did.

I think I could get addicted. Wait, I think this could be part of my lifestyle. That’s better.

It’s time…

Tick tockOkay, okay. I’ve done everything in the world to “prep” to workout. New heart monitor. “Good” workout clothes ready. Gym schedule memorized. New workout program from my buddy Marcus. The only thing missing is…working out.

Enough is enough. My big toe just needs to enter the gym. I don’t have to have a big plan. I just need to go.

Well, it turns out that we’re having another snow storm tonight. I live at the Jersey Shore. The gym will be closed. The Jersey Shore crowd is better at beach clean-up than snow removal. We’ll be held hostage in our homes for days. Days.

I live in a 12-story building…that’s lots of stairs. Lots. And, I have a bike with a trainer. I’m missing a piece, but I can find it. Plus, if worse comes to worse, I can walk the halls…climb a flight of stairs…walk the halls on the next floor…and so on.

Expect an update tomorrow. If you don’t see one…call me on it.

A little cold standing in the way...

Cough SyrupSo, you may have heard this one before, maybe you’ve even said it…”I was supposed to start training, but I caught a wicked cold.” Seriously, it’s not an excuse. In my case, it’s the truth. Antibiotics, cough syrup, cold pills, chills…the works.

But, I’m on the mend and hope to start training this week. I’m actually pretty excited. I know it won’t be pretty, but no day of training will never be as bad as the first day is. The first day can be just so ugly…not knowing exactly what the routine is…thinking everyone is watching you…forgetting something really important, like a water bottle. After a few days, everything falls into place and a routine is born.

An update on the training schedule…it’s still not a cakewalk, but it is much more manageable. I’m starting with a biking program…long duration rides alternating with intervals. It seems much more reasonable a starting point. Maybe that was Marcus’ whole idea. He sent me the impossible work out and then swooped in with a plan that I might have said sounded “reasonable.” I hope I’m not that susceptible to child psychology. Oh my.

How did I miss this...

15-percent-inclineI get it…Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. It would make sense that Everest Base Camp is located at a high altitiude (5,360 metres…17,590 ft). I guess I was thinking that after a short flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, I’ll be at an altitude of 2,860 metres (9,383 ft). So, all I have to do is go from 9,383 feet to 17,590 feet…that doesn’t sound so bad, right? Add to that the masterfully crafted copy in the brochure that told me, “No prior mountaineering or trekking experience necessary.” It did say something about this being a strenuous trip…but, strenuous is such a subjective term…don’t you think?

This morning I received the much anticipated details for the first 12 weeks of my training program. The subhead reads, “This program is designed to get you ready to trek steep ascents for up to 8 hours and descend for 5 to 7 hours on your longest day.” I know I didn’t read anything about that in the brochure.

Let me give you some of the highlights…

Week 1 ends with a 3 hour hike…yep, you read that correctly…week 1, 3 hour hike. Week 2 includes a 60 minute walk on the treadmill ending with 5 minutes of side shuffles. (There are lots of side shuffles throughout this training program.) Week 3 has a series of stair repeats wearing a 15-pound pack. Week 6 ends with a 5-hour hike carrying a 20 pound pack. And, I don’t want to forget…there are alternating days of resistance training with all the things I love…lunges, squats, push-ups, etc. But it gets better…in week 8 I’m supposed to be on the treadmill for 60 minutes at a 13% incline. By week 11, I’m doing 60 minutes on the treadmill wearing a 35 lb. pack at a 15% incline AND doing a 6-hour hike with a 25-pound pack.

What have I gotten myself into?  Do you think he sent me the wrong program? Does middle-aged couch potato, how I described myself to the trainer, mean something else in Atlanta (that is where he is)? This program just couldn’t be the beginner’s program, could it? This is crazy!

Intellectually, I get that I will need to climb to get to Base Camp. What I didn’t get was that this was a serious athletic endeavor. How did I miss this important detail? Everyone looks so happy on YouTube…could it just be the lack of oxygen?

So very sad (and quite scary)...

22 dead in Nepal plane crash

From Manesh Shrestha, For CNN December 16, 2010 12:57 a.m. EST

story.nepal.map.jpg

Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) — A DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft that went missing en route from Lamidanda to Kathmandu in eastern Nepal crashed in a mountainous area east of the capital, killing all 22 people aboard, an airport spokesman said Thursday.

“The aircraft seems to have hit a mountainside,” Purusottam Shakya, operations supervisor at Tribhuwan International Airport, which serves Kathmandu, told CNN.

The plane disappeared Wednesday, and search and rescue teams looked for it until night fell. A search team in a helicopter found pieces of the aircraft Thursday morning about 150 kilometers east of Kathmandu, said Shakya.

Lamidanda is about 200 kilometers east of Kathmandu.

Shakya said the plane carried 19 passengers — including one U.S. national — and three Nepalese crew members. The other 18 passengers were Nepalese.

In August, 14 people were killed when a plane crashed in central Nepal.