Saturday 31 December 2011

2011- The year of achievement!

Wow, what a year this has been. At the start of the year my goal was to make sure turning 30 wasn’t the end of the world, and I think I succeeded by achieving more this year than most years. 

The year started off well on the 1st January with a good walk, followed by hot chocolate at a little country pub then home to have Champagne in front of the fire… 3 days later we hit the Pyrenean ski slopes in Cauterets for a snowboarding weekend. Ok the snow wasn’t great, in fact it rained, the slopes were reached by a long and rather windy gondola ride and the entire trip lasted 3 nights- 2 of which were on a sleeper coach, so tiredness was ever present- but the chance to snowboard with only 1 day off work definitely made it worth while. Thank you Geoff and Jersey Ski Weekends!

Following our ski trip it was on with the walking boots and hitting the cliff paths to start our training for the ITEX walk. Another of my New Year resolutions was to attempt this 48.1 miles walk around the coast of Jersey. Many people fail in their first attempt and I had never done anything like it before. Ben was fairly confident, he has taken part in cycle races and of course the 2010 Deloitte Ride Across Britain so knew how the body is so more capable than the mind.

Our training went well ( for a very funny training plan readour friend Keith’s experience of attempting and training for the walk) until my knees, which I have suffered with for a while finally decided it was time for a trip back to the doctors. Bad news, I needed an operation, but the good news was I couldn’t do too much more damage in the short term so it was back on with the training- and lots of physio and painkillers!

The highlight of the year though for both of us had to be our trip to Finland with Exodus. For 2 people who love snow and outdoor adventure, Finland – and in Particular Basecamp Oulanka – was just perfect. I could write reams here about our trip, but having already done that read our blog pages here. The husky sledding though is something that will stay with me forever. 

Back from Finland, it was on with the training again for the big day in June. Nerves didn’t even begin to explain how I felt the morning of the walk. I was so determined to finish yet I knew the chance of me finishing was low on my first attempt. I also had the fear that Ben was going to leave me on my own. We had agreed that if we hadn’t reached Grosnez by 2pm Ben was heading off alone as he knew he had it in him to finish. Suffice to say that sheer determination and a lot of encouragement from Ben dragged me round in a hideously long 18 hours and 46 minutes. Here’s the full, painful account

A quick recovery was needed after the ITEX before it was time for me to turn 30 and for us to hit Scotland and the West Highland Way. Yet another achievement on that holiday, we summited our first mountain together- Ben Nevis in a very respectable 6 hours 40 up and down. We were extremely lucky with the weather and our waterproofs and woolly gloves thankfully stayed in the rucksack while we plastered on the factor 20! 

Back from Scotland and it was time for me to spend several weeks on the sofa and hobbling around after knee surgery. A frustrating time, but I did find lots of exciting challenges for the future and read lots of inspirational stories to keep me motivated and soon I was back on my feet and at Hot Yoga. This is something else that 2011 has given me: Hot Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga, both a great work out for the body and for the mind. 

Our final challenges of the year have been the ChristmasTrio Challenge, the walk and run were not really putting us too much out of our comfort zone, but were extremely good fun. The Christmas Day swim however was yet another great achievement, for me anyway, for Ben getting in the water in the freezing cold was just another walk in the park!

So that’s our 2011 round up. We may not have scaled the highest mountain or trekked the most remote path, but I personally have realised one big important thing- the human body is tougher and more capable than the human mind thinks. We trained hard for the ITEX and I knew physically I was in the best shape I had been in for while yet the mind kept telling me it was impossible.

So with that lesson learned it’s onto 2012. We have a big project in the planning, but that will have to stay under wraps for a while longer. In the meantime Ben is heading off to South Africa for a family visit in January, whilst I spend a few days with my parents taking them climbing and to yoga. In March we hope to spend another week up in Scotland, hopefully with some time on the snow. 

In terms of challenges, we have the Run for All Leeds half marathon to train for in May, the ITEX will be attempted again I’m sure, we are aiming for 15 hours or less this time round and I have my eye on the Scotland Coast to Coast in September… I just need to learn to mountain bike- or at least stay on which is more than can be said for my last attempt in Italy!

We hope everyone has had a great year, and all the best to our readers for 2012!

The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view from the finishing line!

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