Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Dark Chocolate Pudding Cake Kind of Evening

A milestone happened this week. My partner and I celebrated our first year of marriage. It took me a while to get over the shock of how fast this date came and subsequently passed. The actual date was nice. My husband and I went for dinner. After an 8.5 hour work day, our lovely dinner at 500 feet was like stopping time. I was appreciative to look into the eyes of the person I deeply love and just recall how far we have come as a couple.

My partner reminisced our first outing, when we took the train to Wellesley college for a lecture. He laughed remembering how odd he thought it was that I wore my backpack in front. Not being a city person and having traveled and lived abroad extensively, this was a security measure in my mind but I laughed remembering it. What I also recall is that my partner was so confident, how he walked and carried himself and how the butterflies in my stomach didn't go away especially listening at how he spoke of his love for his family and experiences in Africa. We went for a hot drink, always welcome on a cold fall day. I had tea and I remember him asking me if I drank tea regularly. I answered no and that it was late and I wanted to make sure I could sleep later. Sleep is crucial for a graduate student, something I would learn very quickly. I will never forget his response. I also recall saying that I preferred coffee as my primary hot beverage. I will never forget what my soon to be partner and later husband said. “Good, because if you didn't like coffee I wouldn't be able to date you.” A deep belly laugh escaped me, and I immediately felt at ease. The rest is how we say, well history.
As our dinner ended, we made some wishes for our second year of marriage. My wish is that I work on being patient and having a more positive future outlook. My partner quickly said, “I wish that you make it to and from Kilimanjaro safely and…” I won’t include the rest of what he said until next year :) We had dessert, something we rarely partake in these days and I forgot all about training.

The next two days I didn’t train for Kilimanjaro. Lately, given the physical  issues I have been having, I have stopped using weights as I train, which helped significantly ease my pains. However, this means I am not getting the most of my training. I am willing to give that up for now. I only need to be strong enough to get up and down that mountain and my heart is very fit at this point. Eat on my friends, eat on. You only get a good dessert every once in awhile.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Siezing A Sunday Opportunity

It's Sunday, and I have been in pain most of the weekend. Herniated disc spasms and pain, sciatica, toothache, insomnia, and fatigue. A thirty-year-old body is not as quick to rebound as a twenty-year-old one. Somehow I mustered the strength to keep to my training schedule. I ran 2.3 miles on incline and completed 2 miles on StairMaster Elliptical at 17 incline and resistance.  Doing exercises on an incline slows me down. Let's face it, with a body built like mine, with all it's injuries, I am much slower than a decade ago, when I had some excellent cross country races and played walk-on defense for Castleton University's women's lacrosse team. My husband had to helplessly watch a back spasm that happened on Friday night while I was on the couch. It left me with my back 'locking up' and in tears. He helped me stand an forced me to relax. Truth is, I am super terca, or stubborn, a trait my husband and I both share (love you!).
A sweaty hot mess
While I know that I need to take care of myself, and trust me the last 6 months I have been, I can't afford to not train (literally). Every opportunity to do high altitude training has to be seized. I don't want to fail the suggested medical check to go up the mountain (each climber should have a resting heart beat of under 100 beat per minute), and I don't want to be carried back down. Plus who really wants to use their medical excavation insurance? This climb is no joke, and it is not encouraged to "forge on" as poor altitude acclimatization can result in death. All the high end gear in the world won't save someone from succumbing to the mountain.

My two biggest concerns, lack of training and acclimatization. Every year over 1,000 people are evacuated from Kilimanjaro. Click the link to learn more about the perils. For today, I will relish the fact that my resting heart rate is 72 and I did my workout with 0 mgs of ibuprofen in my system. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Looking Back Towards Ahead

I just relished a Halloween movie date with my life partner and husband. Thing is we just saw Everest, based on the true story of the 1996 disaster. The film referenced Japanese climber, Yasuko Namba, second Japanese woman to complete all the seven summits, the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. I just realized that
Kilimanjaro is one of these summits. Holy s^%$! I am going to climb one of these! After the film, in which Namba perishes on descent, I decided to have a glass of wine and reflect. Namba was not a mountaineer, in fact, she was a Fedex employee. In her spare time she climbed. She fought till the very end. I wonder what her inspiration was to climb. Was it the accomplishment, the feat of it? The pain and struggle on the body and mind? Whatever her reasons, now I am taking a look back at my 29 years and 10 months.

In this time, I am proud to say that I have moved a lot, studied, traveled, worked, loved, cried and laughed. Just in my last passport, it has an extension filled with student, tourist, and work visas. Nine (9) countries in 10 years, not including Morocco (different passport). Now starting a brand new one.

Eighteen years of my life have been dedicated to education, with two bachelor's degrees, a master’s degree, and a crap ton of debt in my name. I’ve read many good books. Two years spent in the Peace Corps living and learning in rural Morocco. I am proud to say my body is in okay shape, after the many miles I have run to maintain physical and mental health. I am a marathoner. I have been poor, and while I am not rich by American standards, my needs and some wants are met. I have hiked the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu. I have watched the stars in a Masai village in Kenya with my best friend. I have some pretty amazing friends. I fell in love and married, when I didn’t think that was in the cards. I have lived and worked in East Africa. I’ve been on a cross-country trip. I can drive in a snowstorm. I have lost all of my grandparents, and many more people close to my heart, sadly a few living. So many people have inspired, housed and fed me.    

In looking back I realize that the accomplishments are not as important as the process that achieving them was. I have been through so much; the good, bad and the ugly. You know what, I have no regrets, and while I have no idea what lies ahead, love will be there. I will have to continue to fight through the hardships that life throws my way. Character-building as my late grandmother used to say. I am feeling scared of Kilimanjaro today. This 19,341 foot mountain intimidates me, and I am crazy for doing this. I truly am.  For some reason my fear isn’t stopping me. Difficult paths ahead aren’t stopping me. Of all my accomplishments and failures, this is what I am most proud of, my fight.