A year later… and still running Feb24

A year later… and still running...

It seems fitting that one year on from the last post, as I was speedily traversing the southern hemisphere to see my sister in New Zealand, that I come back to revisit this blog and try and record once again life’s little adventures and twists and turns. It also seems strangely fitting that this new post, in an attempt to rekindle an online pubic diary of sorts, also starts with a running post, just like the first post exactly two years ago. Seems February is a chequered flag month for me, lets hope this one carries on for another lap at least ….. Last Sunday saw Han and I once again waking up with the pre-dawn calling of birds, as the sun was slowing rising up from its nightly slumber to bathe the countryside between Oxford and Aylesbury with its warming glows. Han and I were up and changed, ready for our first long distance race since I had competed in Guatemala over a year ago, and were trundling along to a small town called Wendover just south of Aylesbury. We had both entered into the Trailscape Wendover full marathon, a 4 part running series that operates a 10km, half and full marathon distance trail race series through the winter months in England. Han, being the organised girl she is, had entered months ago in the full marathon distance, where as I on the other hand had pondered whether to race at all; I had a korfball tournament the next day competing for Wales and wanted some form of freshness for that. When I finally made my mind up to enter the half distance, I logged on only to see that it was sold out, and when looking down the distance ladder, also saw...

Monteverde

After sitting at the Costa Rican equivalent of a souped up Sunday dinner style KFC for 90mins, our pre-booked shuttle screeched into the parking lot under the burning midday sun, we threw our newly lightened loads into the back, along with our newly re-energized bodies and pulled off onto the highway. Two hours previously we had said our farewells to Han’s parents, Alan and Margaret, who had come over to Costa Rica for the festive period, and we set off on a sun bleached New Years Eve making our way to the cloud forest of Monteverde. We had had a wonderful two weeks with the Agers but were looking forward to getting back on the backpacker trail, as well as heading towards cooler climates as we made our way into the highlands of Costa Rica. We arrived amidst blowing winds and trouser wearing weather, checked into our hostel of choice and revelled in the fact that our bed had 2 large fluffy covers to keep us warm in the night. After backpacking for 3 months through Central America, often sweating through nights of restless sleep, having showers only to need another one shortly afterwards, positioning noisy fans to point at the optimal point to cool both of our bodies, the chance of being able to slip into a warm bed whilst the wind rattled the roof and cool air breezed through the cracks in the wall, was a welcome relief and recuperating rest. Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery Moving away from the oh-so British proverbial talk about the weather, however, our time in Monteverde was a great restart for our backpacking lives. With an abundance of wildlife in the form of hundreds of species of birds, thousands of species of fauna,...

Lago De Atitlan

In a break from my adjective strewn writing, and with an attempt to help you all catch up with our wanderings and amblings throughout Central America, this post comes to you in the form of pictures and simple sentences, just like when you were young. So sit back, get yourself a cup of tea, wait for the page to load up the pictures and enjoy…. Arrived at Lago de Atitlan in Panajachel. Energetic small tourist town on the edge of a beautiful lake. Met Ratita, the cutest little kitten who thought she was a tiger! 1st December. Ran the Lago de Atitlan Marathon. Coined as ‘One of the top ten hardest adventure marathons’ by ESPN, this gruelling marathon broke me. 42km with some ridiculous elevation gain, reaching 2500m at one point. Amazing though, just amazing. Han got her hair braided to fit in with the typical gringo traveller. Recouped and boated over to San Marcos with Richard and Bev (two other marathoners from Canada), a chilled out hippie esque town on the lake. Han and I moved to San Marcos for 3 nights. One night in a hostel with hard wooden beds, then moved to an amazing hotel for the same price round the corner. We relaxed, juggled, swam and ate out in this intriguing, holistic, vegan strewn, home grown town. Went on a beautiful run around the nearby hills around the lake. Got the boat to another town on the lake, San Pedro, and spent one night there, visiting a Friday Market at Santiago De Atitlan. Jumped on a mammoth journey, involving 4 buses and one border crossing to make our way to San Salvador, the capital El...

Vegas and the Grand Canyon

Although I love Vegas, and Han hadn’t been there before, leaving me both intrigued and worried about her reaction to such obvious shows of financial freedom and over-the-top adventures, we also had a secondary aim; a trip to the Grand Canyon to run the Rim-to-Rim (South to North). We had booked ourselves into the aptly named Circus Circus hotel for a few nights, before picking up our hire car and heading to tackle the canyon. The hotel lies at the Northern end of the strip which meant longer walks to and from our hotel, but also no questions on which way to turn out of the doors when we did wake up. Like all first timers to the strip, we wandered up and down the boulevard, through all the major hotels, watched the magical water show at the Bellagio, took the circular escalators at Caesars, and ate monster portions of cheesecake and drinks. We even placed a few bets to some fast losses and slower wins. Han actually pulled out a straight flush on one hand, netting her the fortune of $13 back from her initial 25 cents on the video poker. We danced at the themed bar of Coyote Ugly, drank margaritas at a time of night when sleeping would usually be in order, placed a bet on red for it to come up black, saw an NBA game at the Mandalay Bay, taste tested at the largest candy wall in the world, and generally drank, ate and had a blast as much as we could on our limited backpacker budget. Vegas was all that it promised to be and more, and juxtaposedly sometimes less, and a little surprisingly Han actually enjoyed some of the aspects I was worried she would hate, and hated some of the aspects I thought she would love; who would have thought she would love a $3.50 slushed Margarita at 11pm on our way back to the hotel, or half naked Coyote girls at the Coyote Ugly themed bar? Vegas therefore confused me as much as it always does, and once again had me wanting to come back for more, more and more, yet also had me wondering if I ever need to come back. Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery And with such ambiguous paragraphs and thoughts such as the above, I found myself contemplating the city as we chewed up the miles in our hire car heading along the mind numbingly straight Route 15 North and East out of the city on our way to the Grand Canyon. Wanting to run the canyon in a day bought with it some logistical problems; obviously you end up 20 plus miles away from where you started. Not fancying running the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (ie repeat it backwards), we had organised a plan to a) Get picked up by a shuttle bus company from the North rim around 2pm the first day b) With only our running gear, a toothbrush, some money and the energy bars and trail mix we’d need the next day, arrive at the South Rim around dusk c) Stay at a lodge on the South Rim and grab some dinner there d) Wake up around 5:30am, and head out to run back to our car on the North Rim Even with a small issue of a late car pickup we made our shuttle bus in time and found ourselves gorging on ‘chilli in a bread bowl’ in a somewhat error prone meal-before-a-big-run food intake, but which was to prove surprisingly tasty and filling, energy inducing and error-free the next day. Early starts are never easy, but when you wake, put on your running shoes, don your hydration packs and look out over one of the most colossal natural wonders of the world I’ve ever seen, it certainly helps. We had decided to take the slightly longer option of descending down...

Lake Tahoe

With a tent, roll-mat and sleeping bag still crying out to be used again before we were to relieve ourselves of the camping equipment on our journey south to enter the world of Mexico and beyond, and with a spacious boot to carry the load instead of our backs, we planned to head North to camp at Lake Tahoe for a few nights. Situated on the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is America’s second deepest lake covering 191 square miles, and lies 200 miles inland from Cali’s coast, being part of both California and Nevada. We jumped in the car from the Big Sur and made the 6 hour adventure to camp on the Southern shoreline near the imaginatively named town of South Lake Tahoe. We had been told by other adventurous souls that Lake Tahoe has a ‘serious’ temperature difference between night and day. As we rumbled over the passes and down the twisting turning roads to our final destination, with the first glimpses of the largest alpine lake in North America in view whilst the sun was still glittering of its never ending surface, with a car air conditioning conditioning the air, we were not seriously worried or trepiditious about the cold. Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery We had booked ourselves into the mildly historic Camp Richardson. With a history that spanned back about as far as it could for the area (circa 150 years) the camp spanned a fairly large area, sitting a mere 100m from the shoreline of the lake and situated within a rustic untouched protected forest that we were warned we were to share with coyotes and bears. We had had our share of dangerous wild North American animals over the past couple of months, but the warming spacious lodge and sprinkling of RV’s close by stemmed any real fears from surfacing as we welcomed the warming showers and bathrooms that our more rustic campsite at Mount Tam, and previously our camping expedition in the Yukon, previously didn’t house. The main attraction of Lake Tahoe, maybe somewhat unsurprisingly, was the Lake itself and we made plans to explore some of its more well known coves, shorelines and beaches, once again enjoying the freedom and mobility that our own car gave us. We spent a luxuriously lazy day sitting on the shores of Emerald Cove and wandering around it’s shoreline; reading, juggling, throwing juggling clubs into freezing waters, paddling, snoozing and having to swim after the said club in just boxers (to the delight of the nearby women) …. the usual antics. With the mountainous backdrop, aquamarine shimmering waters, and sun dappled shores, the next day we headed out on a great trail run along a shoreline path, circumnavigating and exploring a couple of beaches and some vertigo inducing drops, before visiting a trickling waterfall and catching some beers and food back at camp. However, the warning and precursors were soon to be realised; when the sun sets the heat sets as well, and as our camp slowly became engulfed in a cold bitter evening, our freezing digits wondering why chopping vegetables numbed and froze them, and washing up involved them scrubbing pans in ice cold running tap water, my mind was confused whether to enjoy the beautiful moon dappled forest with another tea, or climb into the warming, welcoming, sleeping bag lined tent. A little of both was thrown in as we warmed water up into our drinking containers, hugging them like water bottles in the tent, and drifted off to sleep still in trousers, t-shirts, jumpers, hat and scarf. Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery With a couple more days in the area however, a little cold at night didn’t stop us from enjoying the area and planning some more trail runs and relaxing days. As the rays of the sun slowly warmed our tent...