Sunday, February 14, 2010

My leechy Saturday bushwalk

The day began like any other day. Well, not really - it was cloudy, rainy and miserable. But this was to be the day for our Prep Walk 1 nonetheless. Preparation for the 6 Foot Track is crucial as I have heard it will be a gruelling 45km trek, completed in about 12 hours. I cant wait really, I am up for another challenge.
So anyway, as we were driving up to the starting point the rain got heavier and heavier and the fog became as thick as pea soup. Just what I needed. The first bushwalk I went on had seen me twist my left ankle which to this day I have still not recovered fully from. It still swells in the heat and aches if I have done alot of walking on it. Funny enough though, when we finally arrived at our destination the fog had cleared and the rain slowed to what now was just a sprinkle.
There were 7 of us women and Barry. All I can say is I don't think Barry quite knew what he was getting himself into. We all started this walk with such excitement and a bit of a nervous twinge in our bellies. The sound of our voices I am sure resonated through the silent air of the mountains. We had all come somewhat prepared with our backpacks full of food, fluid and change of clothing. What we had not prepared for was what lay ahead in the dark wet gully some many metres below us.
So we began the descent down some many hundreds of stairs - some metal and manmade, others just chipped out of stone and some stairs carved into the soil held in place by timber retaining walls. The air already quite humid up high, became thick and clearly visible the lower we went. The canopy got higher and higher and showered us with rain every so often. It truly was a spectacular sight.
That was until the leeches started. Where in god's name were they all coming from. Some were little and barely visible others were long and skinny just waiting to fatten up on some poor innocent bystanders blood - Barry's Bootcamp girls looked like they were going to be on the menu for this trek. I have never in my life been so grossed out. If you stood still and stared at the ground they were like little zombie soldiers honing in on your scent from every direction. I was lucky. I only had about 8 try to get into my shoes an socks, others further down the back of the line were being swarmed left ,right and centre. The squeels from us all echoed through the valley. We tried warning other hikers but they looked at us as if thinking "novices". Oh well, we tried but it was too much.
Our trek got cut short as a result and now we had to climb back up and out. Oh boy, talk about lactic acid build up in my quads and calves. They were on fire. But the sheer thought of those blood thirsty creatures at the bottom spurred us on up that mountain in no time at all. When we finally reached open air and the top we began the search for more little friends right inside our shoes. I had none but others had them hidden in their socks and one lady Meg, had a critter feasting on her lower ankle. It was peeled off with a knife and feel off in a glutonous heap on the floor. GROSS.
Anyway the remainder of the walk although uphill was on flattened terrain. Perfect. I loved it. But my calves and quads are still paying the price and this is day 3. I have been stretching to alleviate the tightness and it seems to be working. Bring on Prep Walk 2. Can't wait.

The goal that almost was.

I shouldn't be disappointed in myself, afterall up till last Thursday I have pretty much reached every goal I had set myself to date. Maybe thats why it hurts so bad when you don't get there. Kinda like a little kid who always gets their own way until a parent puts an end to their ways and the child screams endlessly. Ok, so I didn't cry but I felt very flat emotionally.
My 4.4km goal in the pool came to an ubrupt end at 3km. Who told my calves that it was acceptable to start cramping - NOT ME. Initially it started in my left foot, but that ended after 1 lap. Boy, talk about painful. It starts in the arch of my foot and then all of a sudden my toes decide to separate in different directions without consulting the body they are attched to first. If I was onland all would be good, but being in water, makes the potential for going under all that more probable. I guess thats why someone invented lane, to hang onto while your cramping.
The next lap sent my left leg and calf into the most excruciating cramp (apart from labour) I think I have ever felt. My calf, foot and hamstring felt like it had been compressed from all angles and it didn't matter if I grabbed at my foot and tried to flex my foot back, this cramp was hanging on for dear life. All the people in my next lane stopped to see if I was okay, I guess because this was the first time I had actually stopped swimming. Normally I am pushing on to get it all done.
As I scrambled to get back to the side of the pool to get out, it gripped me like a vice again, and again as I exited the water and again as I tried to sit down. This continued on for atleast 10 minutes and then as quickly as it came it left. My calf felt battered and bruised. My hamstring felt like I had atleast half of my bodies blood stored in it. That was it for me - I was done for the evening. I was soooooooooooooo annoyed.
What had I learnt? In my search for understanding what makes my body tick so I can get the best out of it, I realised that swimming should be the only thing I should do on that day. Why, well I had walked 7km that morning - it was hot and humid and I had sweated heaps. I tried to replace the fluids but I had fatigued my legs in the process. I have also learnt that during swimming your feet are always pointed, something that we as adults are not used to doing. We always have our feet flexed for walking. As a child I did 6yrs of ballet and never once experienced cramps in my feet or calves, something which my brothers always did. Therefore I am now incorporating my ballet stretches into my regime. Hopefully this will help.
Also apart from taking my supplements which should help for my cramps I am now going to drink an electrolyte drink a couple hours before getting in the water to see if this helps. I will also try to have a massage atleast once a month from now on. I need to treat my body like a temple and nurture it like I used to. I will keep you posted with my progress. Fingers crossed

Your hard work will be rewarded.

"The path to a dream is paved with sacrifices and lined with determination. And though it has many stumbling blocks along the way, and may go in more than one direction, it is travelled by belief and courage and conquered with a willingness to face challenges and take chances" Barbara Cage