Monday, March 29, 2010

A great weekend, but now I cant walk OUCH Part 2.

What a way to double up on my pain. Saturday I had completed a 17km bushwalk, Sunday a 4km Kayak in Sydney Harbour. This Kayaking day was in aid of raising money for children with disabilities. What a great day, and to tell you the truth I didn't really feel the pain in my legs whilst I was rowing. The only thing that was getting to me was the burn in my arms and a blister I was getting on my right thumb and a bruise on my left knee - thanks to hitting it constantly with my paddle.

Paddling through middle harbour gave me such a sense of freedom. My mind wandered back to the days when I was younger and wanted to be a marine biologist. I wondered what was swimming underneath me and how beautiful it would be to be in the water scuba diving amongst it all. This was quickly replaced with looking around at the enormous mansions which lined the coast and the huge yachts that we paddled around. I didn't feel envious of their life rather I felt rich in my own way. I was out and enjoying life, living it to the fullest. This was better than any treasure I could find. I truly have the best life.

As we came to the end of our leg and ran to the finish line we were greeted with cheers and a bag of goodies. I had spent the day with an awesome group of people and lapped up the best of Australia's weather. But it was now that the lactic acid in my legs began to set in from yesterdays hike. My calves and quads began to tighten up and feel like they were on fire. So I quickly took myself off to the shore line and soaked my legs in the cool ocean water. A temporary remedy but effective nonetheless.

The car ride home had me nodding off every couple of minutes, thank goodness I was not driving. I could not keep my eyes open, no matter how hard I tried. I knew that getting out of the car would be a test, and boy was I right. As I exited the car my legs stayed in the bent position. To try and straighten them was near impossible and this was only the beginning. Days 2 and 3 are generally the worst and I was not looking forward to it.

Now that I have arrived at Day 2 heading onto Day 3 I can safely say that my legs feel like cement. I even think I may have torn my calf muscles as I am in such intense pain. Looking back to the bushwalk and analysing things as I always do, I spent a great deal of walking up those stairs on my toes. The stairs were so shallow I could not get my feet fully on each step, so it was inevitable that a lot of the strain was placed on my calves. This will heal but it may take a while. I shall continue to stretch in the hopes of preventing further injury. I will also take the remainder of the week off from exercise, apart from swimming or going to the sauna. This should help heaps.

I know I am in pain right now, but gees I had the best weekend.

Some of the stairs OUCH
The scary sign.
Feeling the heat.
Just before the scary sign.
The great views.

A great weekend, but now I cant walk OUCH

I am no an avid bushwalker, heck up until starting these bushwalks with my bootcamp group, the closest I had come to bushwalking was going across the paddocks at home. I had a rough idea of what would lay ahead of me this weekend, what I had no idea of is how much mental toughness I would need to get me out of the most challenging landscape in the Australian wilderness. However in order to do this 6 Foot Track on the 1st May I needed to partake in this preparation walks to see if this is truly what I want to do and if I would have the ability to finish a 45km bushwalk in about 12 hours. Do I still want to do the 6 Foot Track? You bet ya. Can I do it? I think I can. Will it be more challenging than what I just did? I think so!!!!!

Anyway back to this weekends bushwalk. If I could find words to describe the walk it would go something like this - tough, difficult, demanding, excruciating, gratifying, satisfying and more. What started off as a relatively brisk paced hike turned quickly into "try to keep up with the person in front" slow jog in parts. It was sunny and extremely humid and whatever fluids went in quickly exited through every pore of your body. I was trying to pace my fluid intake with how much I thought I was expelling and I think I did ok. Sometimes I was sipping on water, and other times I was sipping on Gatorade to replace vital salts that I was sweating out. At our lunch stop I ate a Vegemite Sandwich and Vegemite on biscuits. I thought the saltiness may help me retain some fluids. During my lunch break it was time to change my socks which were saturated with sweat and find a relatively hidden place to do a pee. Getting my pants down and peeing was relatively easy, getting my pants back up was harder than I thought. They were so saturated with sweat that they got stuck about 10 times on the way to their original destination. And the more nervous I got about other bushwalkers coming across my naked behind, the harder it got to get them settled into place. Anyway for all that effort I think I may have only urinated about 20mls. I shouldn't have bothered.

The lunch break may have lasted no more than 20 minutes and it was off again. Time to get focused and pick up the pace as I think we were not quite matching the pace that Barry would have liked for us to complete it in the time he wanted. I think he needed to gauge how fast we would need to walk in order to do this 6 Foot Track. But it is very hard to keep a fast pace when there is such unstable footing at times. I was scared on numerous occasions that I would twist my left ankle like I have done on numerous occasions before, even though it was all strapped up nicely. However, I still feel like I had a tonne of energy and my legs weren't hurting at this point, the only things bothering me were the flies that seemed to love my aroma. I well and truly stunk, I couldn't even stand myself. That's probably why I was walking so fast-I was trying to get away from ME. I couldn't wait to have a nice shower - another great motivator to get my backside out of the wilderness. I am sure all my fellow companions were feeling the same way.

Up until about Kilometre 14 I was feeling pretty upbeat. That was until I saw a sign that said '2-3hr very steep ascent'. Somewhere in my head a red light went on with a warning siren that was so loud I could hardly hear myself think. I knew in my head there were some positive comments to get me geared up for the onslaught which lay ahead but at that stage they were just being hammered by the words 'very steep ascent'. C'mon how hard could it be? I am a woman - here me roar. I was going to nail this climb like I had every other thing I had set myself to do. This was not going to beat me. I will win.

One step in front of the other is all I kept telling myself, that is the way to get to the top. One continuous step in front of the other. I just didn't realise how many steps there were. Every corner I turned there was another flight of steps that had been etched into the cliff face. I was trying to stay positive not just for me but for my friends and I kept saying "not long now - we are nearly there" when at times I was wishing there was some sort of lift that would get us to the top all safely. Some were starting to feel the signs of dehydration - cramping, dizziness, headaches and I knew that if we stayed here for too much longer things could get worse. But luckily everyone soldiered on so bravely and we all made it to the top. I think the thing that helped was having short frequent breaks on our way to the top. This gave our legs a much needed reprieve to be able to focus on the next 30-40 steps.

Finally we made it to the top but not the end of our destination after a whopping 24, 499 steps calculated by my pedometer. We still had some 10km to walk back to the car, not gonna happen. That sought of distance after what we had just done was too much to ask, so I asked some English backpacker who had a car if he would be so kind as to give myself, Tracy and Barry a lift to our cars. He kindly agreed and I am sure it was because he saw the sheer look of desperation in our eyes. We paid him for petrol and he got us to our cars. I drove Sharon's car back and the only thing I kept thinking was "boy do I stink, and now her car stinks too".

Going home was like having won lottery. I felt tired but mostly I just wanted to have a shower. I was looking forward to having nice warm water and a bar of soap to wash away the Blue Mountains dirt from around my shins and ankles and under my finger nails. I wanted to smell like a lady, not some form of road kill. So when i got home that is what I did before I gave anyone a hug and a kiss. But this was not the end of my weekend, I still had another days worth of activity. Stay tuned.

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