Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

courtesy Microsoft clip art

courtesy Microsoft clip art

I’ve been feeling a bit unmotivated lately.  Nothing’s “wrong.”  Life is good, in fact.   Well, except for the preponderance of weeds in the garden, but that’s for another post.

What’s been missing is having a goal. To be more specific, a travel goal.   Planning and training for my 2013 Camino consumed the better part of two years.  Rehabbing my foot and applying what I learned on my Camino took me through summer of 2014.   It’s now the end of summer 2015,  and I’m healthy and ready for a new adventure.

So where to go?  A few worthy suggestions have come across my Facebook feed over the past few months.  They include:

  • Norway.  A pilgrimage in Norway — in summer — sounds delicious!  And not because I’m a huge “Frozen” fan,  I promise!   I confess to having had little interest in, or knowledge about, this country until a hiking friend posted the information about pilgrimages.  Now I wanna go!  Beauty everywhere!  This is definitely on my bucket list.
  • Southern Colorado and the Camino de Crestone.  A Camino in the US?  Apparently so!  This 8-day journey features short walks  in an area of the country where I haven’t yet visited.  From the linked website: ” Amid some of Colorado’s greatest beauty, the little mountain town of Crestone is a magnet of spiritual presences.  Within walking distance of this small international village are stupas and zendos, ashrams, a Carmelite monastery,  Buddhist retreats and centers for sacred dance and voice, not to mention medicine wheels, sweat lodges and the labyrinth of Chartres in its exact dimensions.”    Bliss!  Here’s hoping this enterprise continues for years to come so that I can take advantage.
  • The European Peace Walk.  A long-distance walk through six countries:  Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy.    Be still my heart!   The website says this takes 24 days, with stages around 25Km per day.   This is definitely one of my “one day, maybe” trips.  Right now, however, I am currently reluctant to leave my dog for that long a time. She did not enjoy sleep-away camp while I was gone visiting family this summer.

In addition to the ones listed above, several other places have caught my fancy:  Scotland!  Montana!  Perhaps another Camino in Spain or Portugal!

All sound tempting, but for right now, I have settled on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Wales.   I will only be walking part of the path, from St. David’s to St. Dogmaels, with a side trip to the Preseli Hills and the stones.  Departure date: mid-May 2016.  Time away from Meghan the dog, who will have her own personal pet sitter in her own house with her own crate and her own back yard and all her favorite toys: two weeks max.

So Wales, it is!  Now it’s time to dust off the hiking poles, buy a new pair of boots and get moving.


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I recently turned 50 years old and one of my goals for the year was to have 50 new experiences. Today’s new experience was climbing the stairs at Wallace Wade Stadium.

In the past, I’ve avoided excessive stair climbing, even though it’s great exercise, because of my faulty knees.

But about a month ago, I was reading some Camino forums and saw a suggestion to climb stadium steps if one couldn’t easily train in the mountains. So I decided to go visit my friend, Wally Wade.

Duke’s football stadium is not very large, but it presented enough of a challenge for the beginner.

I must admit I’ve done this twice before, both times in February. The first time, I went around the stadium twice and was very proud of myself until the next day, when my calves seized with pain. Interestingly, all other muscles were fine.

Next time, I only went around once, and I varied my “step down” technique so my calves wouldn’t revolt.

Today I went around only halfway. Hmmm… This is probably not the best training plan!

Though to my credit, I’ve been sick the past three weeks and am just now getting my exercise back to where it should be. Plus I wanted to make sure I will be ready for my 12- to 15-mile hike tomorrow. Next week, I’ll go around the whole way.

Now about new experiences: I have realized that it’s much harder than I thought to do different things each week. Maybe because I haven’t felt well, combined with getting ready for my trip, wrapping up at my job, and hardly ever sleeping through the night?

Minus all my experienced on the Camino, I may have a tough time meeting this challenge.

How do you motivate yourself to do new things?

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It’s been raining (or severely overcast) about every other day for the past month. So much so that when it is actually sunny, I notice a remarkable improvement in my attitude. I definitely need sunlight in my life!

Today is yet another rainy day. And after another restless night, I was very grumpy! I knew I couldn’t sit at my desk through lunch.

So I took the opportunity to test the poncho I bought for my walk on the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage trail across Spain.

It was easy to put on by myself, and kept both me and my backpack dry. I also have a backpack cover that I can use for double protection.

The poncho felt more breathable than my rain jacket as well.

Tomorrow’s forecast includes more rain, so the poncho will come in handy once again.

Only seven more weeks til my Camino!!!

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Week Three of Dr. Fuhrman’s Holiday Challenge is in the books, and I did better, but not perfect.

I took to heart what reader Susanna said and paid attention to how I feel. I have noticed that nighttime is the hardest for me, so hopefully I will figure out a stategy that doesn’t include overeating.


I saw this sign while hiking at Umstead State Park today. I’ve read that I can slow my cravings down by waiting 10 to 20 minutes before indulging. Chances are, if I’m really not hungry, the desire to eat will pass. So this week I’ll give it a shot.

While at Umstead, I meandered around for about four hours. I was by myself, and I’m a bit directionally challenged, So I had to keep pulling out the park map to figure out where I was. Luckily I figured out I could use the camera on my phone to help me remember confusing interchanges!


The photo above helped me remember to follow the gravel road to the left.

The multi-purpose trails had numerous inclines and descents; granted nowhere near the elevation in the Pyrenees, but still nice practice. One thing I loved was all the moss along the way.




There was even moss on this cute cabin!


All in all, a nice hike and a great way to start the new week. Hope your Sunday was grand!

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I finally got to test out my new backpack this past weekend while hiking near Blowing Rock, NC.  I arrived early enough on Friday to get in a short hike.  So the first place I visited was a sweet little trail in the middle of town called the Glen Burney Trail:

This trail featured a nice descent, walking past three waterfalls.   The one below is the Glen Burney falls:

It rained on the way back up, so I had the opportunity to use my nice new pack cover.  Worth every penny, it kept everything nice and dry!

The next day, I headed out to the Tanawha Trail and hiked from Rough Ridge parking area to the Linn Cove Viaduct visitor center and back.

The mountain laurels were starting to bloom:

As were the rhododendron:

It felt magical walking through the bushes, totally surrounded by foliage:


I stopped every few feet to take pictures of the views:

And because I love rocks, I have lots of photos that include rocks, like this one:

and this one:


I got to marvel at this tree’s will to live:

Finally, after four hours of walking on stony paths like this:

I headed out to easier pathways: the carriage trails at the Moses Cone Craft Center:


I love big, old houses, so as I walked, I spent a little time imagining what it would have been like to live in a house like this, with views like these:

Saturday’s total mileage was about 9 miles, which was shorter than I thought I would do, but the Tanawha Trail was a bit challenging due to the recent rain and my discovery that I really needed some new hiking boots.  Plus I have this annoying habit of stopping and taking photos constantly.  And stopping to bask in the sun on a nice large rock.

Anyway, I got in another six miles on the carriage trails on Sunday before heading home.  All in all a good weekend for using the pack and the poles.

And my pack has a name!  Don’t know that I’m ready to share it quite yet, but it’s a Native American name for a mountain that’s fairly close to my house.

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image courtesy of Amazon

I am now telling anybody who will listen about my upcoming walk on the Camino de Santiago, partly because it’s only a year out now, and partly because I am just so excited that I have to share.  The parking officer by my building knows, the lady I pass on the East Campus trail knows, and my coworkers down the hall know.

When I told coworker G. about my plans, he asked if I had heard about “Wild,” the best-selling memoir by Cheryl Strayed, who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail without any training or previous backpacking experience.

I don’t follow best-seller lists, so I hadn’t heard about “Wild.” But I literally ran to the library to check out a copy. The Camino is not a wilderness experience, but I figured there might be something in this book for me.

Here are some of the things I had affirmed for me after reading the book:

1. Training is a really good thing, especially for those of us who are pushing 50 years old.

2. Taking practice hikes with the pack is also a good idea. Heck, just knowing whether or not you can actually lift a full pack onto your back is a good idea.

3. Properly fitted shoes are very important. So is having enough water.

4. People will be there to help you, if you open yourself up to that experience.

5. You can do things you might not think possible.

Other things I realized:  I am pretty attached to showers and to being able to put on a relatively clean set of clothing at the end of the day. I may have misread, but it seemed that Strayed only had one set of clothes available at a time. I’ll be switching between two, maybe three, outfits, so washing clothes will always be an option.

I also want to know that I have access to money if I need it.  Strayed ran out of money at several points during her trip, and that sounded more scary to me than her wilderness experiences.  Though I do have to say that ice-covered snow is never a good thing to deal with, whether you’re hiking the PCT or walking your dogs around the corner.

Another thing I must admit is that, at heart, I’m a bit of a chicken.

Wait, who am I kidding?  I’m the entire flock of chickens! 

I do love day hiking, but at this stage of my life, I would not feel safe spending the night in the wilderness by myself. Luckily, Strayed only had one scary experience with an unsavory character, and she was able to extricate herself from the situation.

Lastly, I love that Strayed named her pack.  I think naming the pack is a grand idea!   Strayed’s pack was called “Monster,” which fit with her experiences with the overly heavy piece of equipment.  However, I want my pack to have a name that implies adventure, security, joy and lightheartedness.  Any suggestions?

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A year ago, give or take a few days, I received some flower essences in the mail. Along with my order was a postcard advertising a book about one woman’s journey on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. One look at that postcard and I knew I had to make my own journey on this ancient pilgrimage trail.

I immediately called my friend, soul sister and walking partner S., and gushed with excitement. Little did I know that S. and her hubby had traversed part of the trail years ago, and she had always wanted to go back and walk the entire route.   So it was immediately decided: we would go!

What wasn’t so easy to decided was when to go.  I had elderly dogs, one of which is still alive, and didn’t want to leave them for such a long time at this stage of their lives.  I figured a few years out would (sadly) mean that I wouldn’t have to worry about this.   My remaining dog is (happily) doing quite well and shows no signs of rapid decline, so I may still have an issue here. 

Another concern for me was saving enough vacation time to have a month or two off.   Waiting a couple years, and taking no time off until then, would mean I could go without worrying about paying my bills.  Unfortunately I am not one who can work without time off, especially when the garden calls.  So I may still have an issue here.

Then there was the teeny, tiny issue of saving enough money to actually pay for the trip! I needed some time to do that.

S. had a few concerns of her own.  A new grandbaby was arriving shortly, and she wanted to be around to help out.  She also had some knee issues that she wanted resolved before embarking on a long walk.

Plus, we both wanted to train.  We had walked for two weeks during our 2010 trip to Southwest Ireland, but nowhere near the  daily distance we’ll be covering on the Camino.   So, given all our constraints, we decided on May 2013.

At the time,  2013 seemed so far away.  But the past year flew by, and I’m pretty sure this next year will too.  Because of that, I’m already working on increasing my daily walking distance slowly but surely, and I’ve begun purchasing some equipment for my trip.

Two weeks ago, during a “down” day, I did what your normal American woman does when she needs to cheer up: shop!

Now for a disclaimer: I”m not really a normal American woman, because I hate shopping.    But I had this 20 percent off coupon from REI, coupled with a rebate check of $20-something.   So the monetary incentives, combined with my upcoming hiking trip to Blowing Rock/Grandfather Mountain, were all I needed to start looking for my pack.

I headed to REI with my friend and hiking guru Q., and, after some expert help by the REI staff, came away with a maroon Osprey Aura pack.   This pack feels great on my back, though I must admit to feeling a bit overloaded when J. the salesman put 15 pounds in the pack.  Apparently I carried nowhere near that much weight during my Ireland trip!

I’ll use my pack on my June trip, and I’ll begin walking daily with the pack next winter, slowly adding weight until I reach that magical 15-pound mark.  I”m actually hoping to carry a bit less weight on the Camino, but better to be prepared than not.

So, as I find myself reading blogs of people who are currently starting their Camino, I have to remind myself that time will fly by and soon enough I’ll be the one embarking on a wonderful journey.  But until then, I have lots more training to do, and a few more supplies to buy!



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