Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Chemo to Mountain Marathon in Two Years. Boom!!!

Cora has been training hard....
Most of the 2012 GUM club teams 

So somehow we made it.

Kit Gathering, such a light bag compared to climbing!
A lot of last week was spent scrounging kit and advertising my Just Giving page.  I successfully managed to borrow most things on the kit list and also doubled the money raised in the last 24 hours before the OMM. I easily beat my target, so thank you to everyone who donated. There were many times throughout the course of the weekend where I nearly gave up; remembering the amount of sponsorship that I had raised definitely kept me going!

The first night was COLD. I was very glad to have upgraded from the £12 Tesco sleeping bag I had originally planned on using. What had seemed like too many layers and too much food in Glasgow; now didn’t seem like anywhere near enough!
Getting to the starting line, we realized from the tension in the air that everyone else was taking the race quite seriously, but at least my borrowed penguin hat made me quite distinctive! We also realized that we hadn’t a clue what Class C of the OMM actually involved… Slight disbelief when one of the officials that we would have to choose our own checkpoints, it wasn’t a totally linear race. "How many points to we have to find again?" This score element of the course made me feel a lot more positive, I know that navigational cleverness would get us through not running ability.
EXCITED! well sort of....
I fell over into this stream, a lot of people laughed... yay!

Unfortunately we didn’t get off to the best start as I miss-timed the jump through the gate 100m up the hill and fell in a very wet, muddy bog. Oh well, at least that was getting wet feet out of the way! Saturday was a perfect blue-bird day, crisp, cool and sunny. It was hard not to be happy in the hills! That is until I ran on super frozen turf across The Calf and developed achingly bad shin-splints. I had hoped to just wing the running element of the weekend and blag my way through it. It soon became obvious that maybe I should have done some running specific training. Ooops!

In spite of being bang on with our navigation we couldn’t keep up with everyone who ran past us. The sun was low, we were going very slow. It must be late. We are going to get benighted. Are we even in the right place? Doubt and weariness creep in fast. Then we found out at the 3rd to last checkpoint that it was only 3.15pm; we were going to make it after all! Probably should have a watch with us next time. Although we entered camp 127th out of 138, we were so happy and couldn’t believe we had made it before dark!
Laura and Nikki going for it!
More special GUM club people. We definitely livened the event up that's for sure!

Cora's one man Terra Nova tent was the perfect size for us to have a cozy nest, good job we are both pretty small!
Amazingly one of the GUM Club teams made it into the chasing start the next morning. We definitely weren't envious of Nikki and Laura however, as they had to get up at 6.30am. Cora and I very much enjoyed out leisurely start, loads of food and 14 hours of sleep. In fact I actually felt a lot better and more rested on Sunday morning! That is until I put my shoes on and realised that walking was going to be extremely painful as I had totally forgotten to strap up the bruises and blisters. Luckily my shoes softened up when they got wet and I couldn't feel the pain once my feet had gone numb with the cold.

The weather was pretty horrific on day 2, which suited me perfectly! Having spent a lot of time out winter climbing in Scotland I knew that we were tough enough to handle it, but I was surprised to see that 40 teams dropped out of Class C. Running even felt good today! I quickly realised that we had got our tactics totally wrong on Saturday, we had purposefully avoided rough, steep terrain in favour of flat longer distances. Whereas actually, the steep uphill walked sections and tricky contouring was where we would repeatedly overtake the most people. We also saved a lot of time by being bang on with our navigation, we somehow didn't lose a single CP in the mist.

Our day 2 route - we chose the same points as the winning team!
Wet and muddy.... but so so so happy!
Running into the Finish Line, Cora and I admitted to each other that we would probably both end up crying as we finished. Sunday had been such a battle. There were a couple of hours where the only thing stopping me from retiring was the idea that so many people had sponsered me. We had to finish it and somehow we did. More impressively, we managed to jump 40 places to finish 87th; 9th out of the Female teams!

Slightly weatherbeaten penguin...
Thanks again to everyone who donated, £663 so far! Amazing! Maybe I will do another Mountain Marathon after all....

Friday, 26 October 2012

A month of adventures

Considering how weird September was; (returning from Chamonix and the spending every day for 3 weeks either in work or hospital...) October has been much more exciting!

It started off with The North Face training trip at Glenmore Lodge. I must say being paid to wander round the Cairngorms in brand new kit was pretty cushty, somehow doing more of that in the future would be sweet! I was in a pretty mixed ability group so we just went up the Goat Track; it seems like I will never make it up Fiacaill Ridge! It was also strange to be heading up that way without either snow or a massive amount of kit to climb on Shelterstone.

Team Braehead Trek
Later we walked into a bothy to wild camp for the night. I think this is the first time I've ever been on a walk with a large group of active people and been near the front... obviously all my cycling and alpine climbing has done my fitness the world of good! Fire, whisky and stories made it pretty cosy in spite of my falling out with a Primus omnistove.

I must admit, I was really excited at the idea of the next days activity as it was drytooling! Especially as I had spent the car ride up to Glenmore Lodge trying to persuade Davey C to give me a belay at Newtyle on the way home to Glasgow. The towers at the Lodge are not quite as long or overhung but you could make them quite tricky with a bit of thought.

I did get plenty of practise with baggy torques and can openers, which actually proved to be quite useful as 3 days later I got to use them for real on one of the mixed routes on the Tacul Triangle.

The first 2 days of my trip to Chamonix were stunning! So we went and did one of the climbs paralel to the Chere. Typical Alpine start of course, we were on the route by 1...........pm! The lie in was definitely appreciated, as I had just completed 8 days straight in work, including the TNF training.

I was admittedly feeling pretty rusty and slow but managed to lead my way up a pitch of grade V, once I committed to leaving a couple of safe ledges! Somehow I also managed to successfully free a very thin pitch (VI or VII?) after Dave had aided it. But then I fell off the grovelling, bellyflop last move of the route; a reminder that it's not over until its over!

We had decided to stay up in the Perroux hut so that I could get a bit more aclimbatised and head down the next morning. All of my previous stays at the Col du Midi have involved camping on the glacier, can't believe I've never even bothered to check out the small wooden hut perched on the crag below Cosmiques. It's amazing! I definitely won't be taking a tent up to the Midi again.

The weather closed in for the rest of the week, but being Chamonix I got out bouldering, sport climbing, drytooling or running on all of the days of my trip.

Back in Britain and managed to catch some sunshine in the Peak District bouldering with Tom. I couldn't believe how busy Stanage was! I'm used to being there with only a handful of other people about so it was a little bit of a shock. We did meet a lot of friendly folk though, and there were enough mats about to make the boulders look a bit like an indoor climbing wall...

So on to the next adventure! I have very mixed emotions about the OMM, sort of nervous that we won't be fast enough and may get disqualified. I know that I've packed to much food and too many layers, but  I also know its going to be really cold and possibly snowy! I guess we just have to try our best. A group of my friends are heading up to the Norries today. Winter is definitely coming and this weekend of running/walking will kickstart my hill fitness for sure!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Less than a week to go!

Pretty pleased that I am over half way to my target fund raising! Thanks to everyone who has donated so far, hopefully we can storm the target by the start of the race.

I happened to be back home in Chester for an afternoon this weekend so decided it was probably wise to try another run in the Peckforton hills. Unfortunately I got quite bad shin splints running in my fell running shoes, which has made me a lot more sceptical about the weekend. But then again I won't be running in the middle of a 35km cycle for the OMM... I also won't have spent a morning training at Rockover bouldering wall either! Judging from this last performance, I think I may well end up walking a lot of the OMM. Luckily I am very confident of my navigating abilities! (famous last words...) I know I need to have active rest for the next week so I think this will probably be my last attempt at running.

Somehow running about Cheshire doesn't make me as psyched as running around Chamonix! But a pleasant afternoon nonetheless.
Other than last minute training/resting and advertising to psyche myself up, I am having to gather a lot of kit that I wouldn't normally take on the hill. As I normally ruin kit I tend to go for bombproof over lightweight, which isn't going to be totally amazing for my knees! So out on a begging/borrowing mission to complete my kit list; the first item of which is Brians' bag. It also slipped my mind that we would have to find somewhere to stay on the Friday night so it's a good job that it looks like 2 of the 3 GUM club girls teams have a big tent to share, yay! If anyone has an uber lightweight sleeping bag I can borrow, please send me a message....
I was just invited on a run to test out the weight of our packs, but currently my kit selection is not looking entirely complete....

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A good way to double your daily cycle....

... is to get completely lost. If this happens to be in the rougher parts of Glasgow then you keep cycling fast! My Knightswood/Yoker detour wasn't too extreme fortunately. The route will definitely be a lot easier next time. Carrying a bike over a couple of central reservations in order to avoid ending up on the M898 is a mistake you only make once! Fairly typical Roo new routing I must admit; I once spent an entire morning zig zagging in and out of the south of Edinburgh as I kept missing Morningside.
Blue is where I should have gone, red is where I actually went. Ooops.
I realised that I've become accustomed to my 5 mile sprint to work each morning so decided that cycling over the Erskine Bridge is a good way of doubling the distance every once in a while. Hopefully this will help my last minute OMM training (2 weeks left EEEK!) maybe I can keep it up for some extra winter fitness too. I had hoped to get a quick boulder in at Dumby but looks like the dampness has set in for the autumn. Really hoping that the weather forecast isn't lying about tomorrow, a bouldering trip is definitely the best way to start a day in work!
Just before it all went wrong! The bridge is definitely
easier than the tunnel. The Romanian cyclist in
front of me was getting just as lost, but then he wasn't 'local'.
My Clic Sargent fund is now up and running! Which is pretty exciting, hoping to raise £500 by the end of the OMM so dig deep folks.

Friday, 12 October 2012

An Accidental Run

A bit more exciting than running in Britain
Somehow I accidentally ran up and down a hill in Chamonix on Tuesday... Even more surprisingly I really enjoyed it! Although only a couple of km in distant, I managed 500m of ascent in 35minutes! Running back down was a bit more exciting as running downhill across wet grass in skate shoes is not really recommended.

As ever I am all about the technical kit.....

So my first proper run in about 10 years was quite successful! I obviously had a lot of energy to burn, having gotten involved in Daves Himalayan get-fat-quick diet.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

One of those days when the bottom falls out of everything, again.

Every now and again, you receive a phone call that stops your heart and takes you to the verge of fainting. Suddenly your perception of everything changes; it’s amazing how easily a sentence or two can make the bottom drop out of your life.

First thing Monday morning last week, I was told that there was a 7mm shadow on my latest mammogram. Apparently there may be a technical fault, and more tests are needed. I’ve learnt that phrases like this are often a good way to break the bad news gently. Previously, I have been given the ‘all clear’ only to be told otherwise the next day.

Though I am obviously concerned cancer will return, the phone call took me totally by surprise. Surely it can’t be back so soon? I’m only just starting to feel normal after my first rounds of chemo and radiotherapy. The hardest thing you have to face before receiving cancer treatment is the fact that you know you are soon going to be very unwell in spite of feeling super fit and healthy before it starts. The waiting game between tests and results is stressful; it always feels like I’ve stepped into some sort of half-alive limbo. This week was even worse as I know the news may be quite bad.

Ergonomic design or interesting torture devices?!
Feeling quite jaded (what was the point in going through all that horrificness last year?!) I ended up back in the Countess at home on Friday morning. After plying me with sweet tea I was shown the scans and the definite shadow, scary stuff! But thankfully after more mammograms, ultrasounds and an examine, it turns out that it was probably just overlapping glandular tissue. Definitely not a tumour whatever!

Its not every day that you get your life handed back to you; told that everything is going to be ok after all. It’s an even harder emotion to describe than faint-inducing phone calls, but Friday was definitely one of the happiest days of my life!

Anyway its hard to not be happy when you start most days by cycling full pelt down the Clyde tunnel singing at the top of your voice!

Plenty more adventures to look forward to! Ta Sam for the photo.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

2 weeks without snow is too long!

Before every particularly important hospital appointment, I try to get out into a wild place a day or two before. I find that it helps sort my head out, reminding me that life is good and that there is still a lot more to see and do in the world. However, doing White Magic the day before a Chemo meeting two years ago, made for an extremely surreal week. Even though I had to be in hospital in Chester first thing Friday, Thursday was no exception to this rule and I spent the day up on the Ben with some GUM Clubbers.

View off the summit cairn, can't believe how much snow there is already! Bring on winter
Typical day out on the Ben for Libby and I, we always seem to find ourselves tramping about up there in terrible conditions! With Jonnie completing the team we had planned on doing Minus 1 Direct; it was a pretty wet day but Minus 1 is a moist climb anyway, apparently. This didn’t happen, nor did plan B. (Route II) or plan C. (one of the big ridges). So, with much dithering we joined French newbie, Arthur, on the walk we had suggested for him, up CMD arĂȘte and back down Ledge Route.

As none of us could really be bothered carrying anything up any higher (bad training I know!) we left everything at the CIC and went for a wander up to the arĂȘte. Arthur was pretty concerned about our stuff getting nicked, but I guess this is the one advantage of Scotland over the Alps; there was no one about to do any stealing!

So I still haven’t been for a ‘run’, though we did bounce down quite a lot of the path. But I think this is the first time I have worn my Innov8 fell running shoes in about 2 and a half years so it’s a start at least! Though I don’t think I am total lost cause for the OMM as impressively we got from the CIC hut to Glasgow in just over 3 hours. This meant that I could get a few hours kip before my 4.30am train back home. Believe me, Alpine starts are even less fun when there isn’t any climbing involved in them!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Lucky number 13

Today is a pretty significant day as it was the last of my Zoladex hormone injections. How fast 2 years flies when your having fun?! In this time I've had thirteen injections into my stomach and I'm pretty glad to not be having any more! Though I will miss chatting to Stina as she tries to persuade me to relax my stomach muscles. Good core tension is amazing for climbing but not for getting an implant to stay under the skin.

Fat needle! Unfortunately it retracts after use so no photos of its proper fatness

Tomorrow is my bianual mammogram in Chester though I've had a trip to A+E in the Western Infirmary inbetween; so maybe 13 wasn't so lucky after all! Once again I went over the handlebars on my bike but luckily didn't break my hand or my shiny pink jacket. The GUM Club gathering in the waiting room greatly improved that trip, alongside watching wasted freshers wandering in. However even for me, I think that 3 hospital visits in under 24 hours is a bit extreme!
EMLA cream always makes life better. Although trying to explain the little window plaster to a the till lady in Boots was interesting.... 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


Went up to Climbzone on my lunch today to mess around with the Schmoolz. They are pretty weird things, super light ice-axe style handles with fabric loops instead of picks. This makes them significantly less scary and less likely to devastate your face when they blow. A session a week climbing with them will definitely help to keep up my dry-tooling strength! Although this also definitely won't help my running ability.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

A healthy balanced meal. One last blow out for me and Laura and then proper training starts tomorrow, we promise!