Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Walking’

A Slice of Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast – Qld

I decide to take a chance and cancel the booking for my ride on the courtesy bus. I let the receptionist know my change of plans and step out into a world of metal and rubber. I’d booked my car in for its service and this meant a trip to Maroochydore; an all day event.

I maneuvered my way around waiting cars parked in the receiving area. Efficient service attendants, preoccupied with providing their services to patient customers pay me little regard, so I make my way up the inclined driveway that leads to Sugar Road.

I snap open my iPhone’s case and activate my Google Maps App. I don’t use it often and it reacts sleepily, surprised, I think, it’s been called into action.

I sense my own rustiness at operating the App. I rely on my car’s GPS when driving and when I walk to keep fit, I track myself on my Map My Walk App, but I can’t say I use my GPS much.

Orienteering is not one of my strong points – I learned this fact a long time ago at my Year 11 trip to the snow; my first and only trip to the snow fields. I didn’t get lost on the snow, but I did manage to have a difference opinion with a fellow peer I’d been teamed with for an orienteering session.

At almost every station, we argued, possibly too strong a word, so let’s just settle for disagreed, about which direction to take next. Luckily for me his strong personality won out and I gave in at every station – and his sense of direction proved right on every account. And each time, my face blushed a deeper shade of rose. Talk about embarrassing. Who knows what he thought, but what seventeen year old cares about the ego of a guy from another school, who quite possibly, I will never clap eyes on again. Still haven’t to date, or if I have, I would be hard pressed to recognise him with the passage of time. I can’t even remember his name, or if I ever knew his name. How sad, when you think about it. He played a fairly significant role in helping me understand my weakness in this area of special awareness and my sense of direction, or lack of it to be precise.

The App fires up and after I check the address of the beach on Safari, I tap the information into the phone. Immediately the App shows my destination and a woman’s voice begins to tell me where I’m to go – north-west. Great! That’s really helpful to me; me who has no concept of direction. I feel a dilemma coming on. Do I go right, or left?

I crack open the Compass App and puzzle at whether I’ve actually ever used this App before? I have no recollection of it, if I have, but there’s always a first time. Surprise! Surprise! I manage to work out what direction to take. I should have known it would point me the complete opposite way to the direction I felt drawn to. The story of my life; I could almost bet on this, if I was a betting girl.

So, off I head and trust the compass knows where it is taking me. Reading and following along with the map proved interesting, too. For whatever reason, I couldn’t expand the map so I could get an overall picture of where I was situated and where I was headed. I had to keep exiting the App and returning to it to make the arrow point in the right direction. It is obvious to me, and it will become obvious to anyone reading this, that I know little about what I’m doing – I know it’s not the Apps fault, it definitely is the operator’s lack of knowledge in this case.

However, today’s challenge is just what I need, it seems; plain as the nose on my face and I’m thinking now that I need to explore new areas more often because today’s adventure proved to be a lot of fun.

I discover local leafy avenues I’ve never walked before and the whole experience gave me a taste of local life around this neck of the woods. The pathways I trod led me to a major road called Alexandra Drive. I continue in the direction of some high-risers and turn down Sixth Avenue, heading toward Cottontree.

I took a path leading to what looked very much like a beach access and my eyes were rewarded with a stunning sight of sparkling crystal waves gently frolicking across the wide sandy shoreline; the tide bowing down and receding back into the depths of its mother’s belly. White water bubbling and bumping onto the beach’s creamy, blonde sand happy as a glass full of champagne bubbles.

Maroochydore Beach, Qld

Maroochydore Beach, Qld                                              photo credit: Deb Smith

IMG_3469

Surfing action at Maroochy                                         photo credit: Deb Smith

Life Savers on duty at Maroochy Beach Photo Credit: Debbie Smith

Life Savers on duty at Maroochy Beach                            photo credit: Deb Smith

I snap a couple of photos to capture my morning’s expedition and decide to explore further. At this point I felt a good coffee fix was warranted and well deserved.

Rock pools - Maroochy Beach photo credit: Debbie Smith

Rock pools – Maroochy Beach        photo credit: Deb Smith

I continue my walk along an esplanade running alongside the beach until I stumble upon a quaint little breakfast bar called, The Beach Street Deli Café.

The Beach St Deli Photo Credit: Debbie Smith

The Beach St Deli                         photo credit: Deb Smith

This looks just like the perfect spot to stop in and order a coffee, a light breakfast and do a spot of writing. I wander in and order freshly squeezed orange juice, a flat white and a serving of their free-range egg and bacon Panini with cheddar, red onion pickle and homemade smokey bacon sauce.

And here I am. Breakfast is finished, my coffee drained and quite a number of words are accumulating in my notebook. Yes, all handwritten with care and devotion.

I sit at a beach-styled window bench table on a timber stool in a private corner of the café. I gaze out through slatted white colonial louvres and allow my thoughts to mull and stir around in my head, dreaming across the waves of the Pacific Ocean I see peeking through the palm trees across the road.

I head off after a couple of hours pass and explore the Cottontree area and manage to use the GPS to find my way, eventually, to the Sunshine Plaza, where later on I will be picked up by the service department’s courtesy bus driver.

Exploring Cottontree photo credit: Deb Smith

Exploring Cottontree – along the Maroochy River – photo credit: Deb Smith

I’ve really enjoyed this morning and I think that if I only challenged myself more often to do these little expeditions, I’d improve immensely in my navigation skills.

Well, we’ll see.

Until next time,

Happy hiking…

Behind the Doors of an Asian Gym

I love it when life throws curve balls. I stand my ground, stretch out and face the music head on.

I’m fourteen months out from my Camino experience and I’ve been training for the past six months from zero to something respectable. I started back in October 2012 and lost 10 kilograms and two dress sizes in the first four months from increasing my walking regularity and distance, introducing weight training and  making some life changing decisions regarding my eating patterns. I eat much more healthily, I’ve cut out adding sugar to my diet, although I have not cut foods that already have sugar added to them, and I have alcohol free periods, although I haven’t cut alcohol altogether. I am not being a ‘Nazi‘ about my decisions, but I do place restrictions upon myself. I am trying very hard to enjoy my training and dieting experience and so I limit my restrictions to moderation. I know I will enjoy a much higher success rate if I allow myself treats occasionally and approach everything with complete flexibility in order to participate in life with some sense of normality. Portion size plays a very important role in the changes I have made as well. I just know that it’s important to adopt a common sense approach.

Friends and colleagues have already started to notice the significant changes in the way I look. Losing the weight and the two dress sizes is very positive progress and of course people are curious. What is interesting to note after I’m asked how I did it, is sometimes the response of the person who asks. At first they are curious and almost seem like they are waiting for a miracle cure sort of answer, but when I tell them I achieved my results through hard work (exercise) and making some important changes to my diet and lifestyle, I can almost see their eyes glaze over. You see, there is no quick fix. It is hard work to get back in shape and the worse you’ve let yourself go, the harder it is. There are no miracles. But, if you apply yourself and stay focused and endure the times when you feel challenged the most, you will be greatly rewarded.

At my age and stage in life, I found the weight did not suddenly ‘fall’ off me. In fact, the weight has been very slow to go, but because of the type of exercise (walking, weights and stretching), I lost the dress sizes because my body toned up. I sincerely believe that you must restrict what you put in your mouth if you want to lose weight, and sometimes this can be the real challenging part.

In my last post I mentioned that I am currently holidaying in Hong Kong. I came here by myself so I could assist my N2D (Number 2 Daughter) as she recovered from hip surgery.

The challenge for me was to make sure I continued my training, even if it was somehow modified. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage that but once I got here I was able to formulate a plan. Where I am staying with N2D and SIS (Something in Something) is totally different to my home. I am blessed to live on acreage and within a short distance, I have a lovely safe space to do my long distance walks and I have some home gym equipment to help me with my weights program. Here, there are hi-rises everywhere that look identical to each other. Nothing is familiar and knowing what my sense of direction is like, I felt rather reluctant to explore anywhere by myself, let alone go for any long distance walks.

However, I couldn’t let anything stop me. It is imperative that I continue with a training and fitness program, so I decided:  When in Rome do as the Romans do. For me, this meant that I would need to attend a real gym where real people would be working out too and yes, they would see how unfit and uncoordinated I’d be. Oh, the shock and the horror of it all!

I have never been a member of any gym before and have never ventured inside a gym, other than for maybe a quick look once, a hundred years ago. N2D and SIS live in a hotel that has a gym and the guests have full access to all the hotel’s facilities. SIS was quick to assure me that everything would be okay and it was soon decided that I would accompany SIS and N2D to the gym.

I was very nervous, but I succumbed to their encouragement and decided to give it my best shot. I reasoned with myself, what better place? It’s not like it’s at home where I might bump into someone I know and my secret of just how unfit I was would be revealed.

At least here, there is a huge turnover of hotel guests. I’d just be another number and would blend in quiet well. That was my assumption, at least.

The realisation hit me that first time to the gym that most of the participants were Asian men and we didn’t really ‘blend’ in as well as I’d expected or hoped for. All of the machines were foreign to me and they didn’t come with instructions. I begun my first workout on a cross trainer (after N2D gave me some quick instructions) and watched how others used the rest of the equipment.

It’s funny how quickly you stop worrying about what others think. Everyone is working at their own level and they aren’t worrying about me after all, I found out. I’ve attended the gym now almost every day of the ten days I’ve been in Hong Kong and I am happy to report that it didn’t take me too long to learn how to work the machines. I’m not an expert, but I can use most of the machines now without feeling like an idiot.

I encountered a number of interesting incidents during my time at the gym, but one that sticks out to me was the occasion when I wanted to use one of the treadmills for the first time. I climbed aboard and studied the dashboard. I must have been there for a little while and no doubt had a puzzled look upon my face. Nothing much was happening until this elderly Asian gentleman came to my rescue. He showed me how to turn the machine on, which I did and he went back to what he was doing, but then came over for a second time to show me how to increase the speed and some other functions. He was a really sweet man and had very little English. I think he could tell how appreciative I was for his help; the universal language: body language, big smiles and appreciative nods of gratitude.

Using this equipment has allowed me to really work to develop my strength and cardio vascular areas of fitness. I am really sold on going to the gym. I never dreamed I would enjoy it as much as I have. We don’t really blend in, but it doesn’t really matter. Everyone who goes to the gym is there for a reason; to get fit and improve their health and strength.

I am including some photos of the variety of equipment I tackled over the past ten days.

Image

Deb working out on the cross trainer – 30 minute program

Image

Working on the upper body is very important to build strength when it comes time to carry your back pack

Image

Only worked out once on this cycle during my visits to the gym

Image

Really enjoyed working out on the rowing machine

Image

Working on my upper body

Greetings from Hong Kong ~ Reaching out from the Empty Nest

IMG_1089

Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong – 31 March 2013

Who has trouble keeping up with life? I know I do. Just when I think things are under control, something crops up to show me otherwise. That’s really the fun part about keeping track via this blog, hence the name, This Pilgrim’s Way. My walk is very different to others, even those whom I am closest to. That’s what makes everything so interesting.

Over the past few months or so, life has been down more times than up. However lately, I feel there has been a couple of positive shifts that have eased the pressure. Just like everyone from time to time, I’ve gone through some tests with personal and health issues, but I know I’m getting there; just as we all do, hopefully.

A couple of weeks back, my S K (Shining Knight) successfully gained a work contract that will ease some of the load we’ve been under. The economy is a little tough at the moment and many families are affected one way or another. Gaining this contract has bolstered a more positive atmosphere around home and it will certainly help us keep things moving along.

One positive outcome is it allowed me to take some time out to travel to Hong Kong to surprise our N2D (Number 2 Daughter) who has just undergone some hip surgery. N2D is living and dancing professionally in Hong Kong at Disneyland. She had no idea that a visitor from home would soon be calling, and with the help of her partner, S I S (Somethin’ in Somethin’), we managed to pull it off without a hitch.

My S K booked my flight and within a week (last Thursday) I boarded a big Airbus A380 bound for Hong Kong. Part of the plan consisted of trialing my new back pack that I’d bought for my pilgrimage next year. What better way than to test it on a 12 day jaunt? I started off so well and managed to pack the clothes I wanted to take, which weighed in total about 8.5 kg, but the night before I flew, word got out among some friends where I was headed and soon I became a courier of well wishes and gifts for N2D.

I changed from back pack to suitcase and it didn’t take very long before my 8.5 kg weight grew to 20.5 kg of well meaning wishes and extra things I thought I might need. Oh well, I’m sure there’ll be another time and honestly, how lovely that N2D has such wonderful friends. You can’t complain about that.

As a compromise, instead of trialing my back pack, I decided I’d test run my new micro fibre towel that S K bought me, along with a bunch of other things he thought I might find useful, for Christmas.

The purpose for this trip was to help N2D in any way I could while she recovered from surgery. She already had  S I S with her and from the communication we’d already had from him, he sounded like he was a rock for her. We felt blessed that someone was there for her when we couldn’t be.

S K and I  are currently going through the transition of becoming empty nesters. Our family is kind of scattered to the winds now and I’m sure anyone who has adult children who are beginning to make homes for themselves will understand the mixed emotions that go with this territory. It’s a time for stepping back from their lives as they step forward to embrace their world. It’s a time for the severing of apron strings. These statements sound very cliché and well worn, but the feelings and emotions that I, as a warm and nurturing mother feels is raw and daunting. I cannot speak for S K or for other parents, but I’m sure there will be others out there who know exactly what I am talking about. The dynamics have shifted and S K and I have entered a new season, even if in some cases it is still in a transitional phase.

S K and I have slowly become used to having N2D living and working so far away in another country, but the real test comes when your child goes through a difficult situation that, for logistical reasons, you can’t really be a part of. This surgery for N2D is the second one she has encountered whilst living in Hong Kong. The first was relatively minor, but this time, the procedure was much more involved. The lead up to the surgery was difficult for all of us. We experienced heightened anxiety and feelings that things were out of our control. It’s times like this I am so grateful to have my faith to depend on.

I couldn’t get to Hong Kong before the surgery due to work commitments, however I arrived a day after the surgery when N2D was safely ensconced in her apartment. The surgery went well and deemed successful, and by all accounts, S I S played an admirable support role. N2D was surprised and after the initial shock of realising I was standing in her doorway, we both got the hug we’d been needing. Yes, there were tears, but they were tears of joy and relief…the best kind.

I begin my fifth day here in Hong Kong of pottering around with N2D and S I S simply being a support where I can, company and sometimes entertainment. N2D has made remarkable progress and continues to go from strength to strength. We are enjoying each other’s company quite well considering we are sharing a small, two roomed hi-rise apartment, and we break any sign of cabin fever with trips to the gym, strolls through the park, window shopping at the local shopping centre and outings for food, although we do eat in as well. N2D and S I S are both accomplished ‘chefs’. I am impressed with S I S who seems to be holding up remarkably well under the circumstances. This trip for me was never going to be just another sight-seeing trip. It was always going to be about spending some quality time with N2D and S I S and helping out wherever I could … and that is exactly what is happening.

IMG_1069

N2D and SIS out taking a stroll to the hotel’s gym

I am really enjoying this special time with my N2D and her partner. It is a wonderful experience for a mother to watch her blossoming child interact in the world they are building a life in. It feels like a privilege and certainly an experience I will treasure. S K is doing his part keeping the home fires burning and is currently working out west in Qld. We try to Skype with him daily so he is part of the experience.

I will use the opportunity whilst in Hong Kong and staying with N2D to walk, go to the gym most days and concentrate on my level of fitness. I’ve already been to the gym several times and I am very surprised at myself at how much I actually enjoyed using the variety of machines to aid my levels of cardio fitness and weight training. I will write a separate post about my gym workouts.

IMG_1072

On our way to the hotel’s gym

IMG_1093

Entertaining ourselves at Ginza Park, Tin Shui Wai

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining…Even Best Plans Sometimes Need Tweaking

Brisbane has copped its fair share of rain lately, along with the rest of the East coast of Australia. We’ve experienced some exciting storm season situations along with more flooding. Unfortunately, it seems this is becoming the norm, rather than the exception. Long periods of serious rain has been known to create cabin fever in even the most patient of folks and I’m no exception to this rule.

There was a time in my past when we lived on a property an hour away from Rockhampton and we were situated in a dry belt. We’d watch the storms build all around us and then pass us by. As a family we made a pact that if it would just rain for us we would never again complain about the amount of rain that fell. I’ve always been mindful of that comment. I put it down in the never say never category as quite frankly, I’d like to have more control over when and how it rains.

The recent rain has disrupted the way I train. I don’t mind walking in the rain but I try to avoid downpours, which is what we’ve been experiencing. This has necessitated the way in which I train and I’ve had to become creative; well, for me, at any rate. This is saying a lot because  I am happiest just to walk for fitness. Until I was diagnosed with plantar faseiitis quite recently,  I never did much else except walk, for I am a walker and a happy one at that. I know there are many different ways to get fit, but I’ve just never been concerned with any of them.

However, that has changed now.

There is another saying that seems to fit in with my rainy days theme and it goes like this: It never rains but it pours! Whilst this saying was triggered by the rain initially, I make reference to it based on a few health issues that have cropped up recently.

After I got back from Sydney I finally succumbed to and paid a visit to the doctor to suss out my right knee. Over the years my knee has always been a little sensitive and flares up for a while but generally settles quite quickly. In the past, when it flared up I’d feel some pain, but I’d usually just persevere and I’d never been inclined to check out what the problem is. I can remember these flare ups as far back as when I was 18 and riding horses. I’ve just lived with it and the thought never occurred me to ask a doctor. But while I was in Sydney walking around, I think I may have jarred my knee and the result has been a more than normal painful and slightly swollen knee. When combined with my Plantar Faseiitis, both on my right leg, well I must admit, I felt a little out of sorts and had to take another enforced break. Some X-rays confirmed  mild osteo-arthritis; just great! But, I guess it is to be expected from the normal wear and tear on the body.

I am managing the Plantar Faseiitis with stretching exercises given to me by my sports podiatrist and don’t have to go back to see him till June or July. Now I am working with a physiotherapist to sort out my knee issues. I am currently learning and executing exercises that will strengthen my knee and hopefully take the current stress off it. I’ve certainly had my ups and downs with these conditions over the past couple of months, but it is all character building, I’m sure.  I have ‘rest’ days when I feel I need them. I try to listen to my body, however, there are days when my knee aches and I won’t/can’t give in to it and I try hard to push through the pain and continue on walking or exercising. Generally mind over matter can be a powerful thing for me, but I’m not advocating this to others. It really is a matter of figuring out what works for me and how much I can put up with.

I combine my walking (between 7 – 13 kilometres per day) with a 20 kilometre cycle (stationary exercise bike) workout, weights for knees and upper body, stretches for total body, sit ups and physio exercises. This can sometimes take a large chunk of time, so I play around with the combinations. It all seems to be working and I notice that I can climb stairs quite well now and in my job at QPAC, when I hold open the large glass doors and greet our guests, I can generally do this with ease now. When I first started I felt awkward and it was hard to hold the doors open. So, I believe I am seeing and feeling improvements in myself.

My repertoire of exercises and fitness program has grown from simply walking. My goal of walking 1000 kilometres along the Camino Way has had more far-reaching benefits than just getting fit for the walk. I am making some lifestyle changes that will make a permanent and positive difference to my life. I’ve cut out adding sugar to my coffee or cereal, I strictly limit my intake of alcohol and try to eat fresh, unprocessed meals in small quantities. And, it is working. I am getting fitter, more toned and slimmer.

Colleagues and friends have begun to notice the difference and often express their compliments. This is very encouraging to someone who is trying very hard to improve physical fitness levels and train for a significant journey. I really do appreciate everyone’s support and encouragement.

I always try to look on the bright side of life – even when the chips are down. The rain and the injuries, whilst I wish I didn’t have to suffer through them, I am thankful for them because they have pushed me to look for different ways to do things and I am much better off for it. Every cloud does have a silver lining – it seems…

IMG_1050

Contemplation in the early hours of the morning – 5:20am…the road is wet and quiet. I start my walk in the dark some twenty minutes before this photo was taken. The lights are still glowing. Soon the sun will peek through the trees and the lights will disappear.

IMG_1051

And as if one cue…the sun makes its appearance. Oh what a beautiful morning…oh what a beautiful day…I’ve got a wonderful feeling…everything’s going my way.

Time Spent Researching is Never Time or Energy Wasted

I returned home from my trip to Sydney and feel armed and dangerous. It’s been a couple of weeks since I flew down to do the Camino Downunder workshop and once I got back, I literally hit the floor running with the start of the teaching year, my evening work, Spanish lessons and catching up on the four days of work  I missed while I was in Sydney.

I didn’t really have a choice of whether to blog or not; I simply did not have the time. But whilst I’ve been away from blogging, it’s given me an opportunity to process all the information I gleamed from a couple of seasoned pilgrims and try to put it into perspective and implement it into my planning.

Let me first say, I had such a great time while in Sydney that I’ll probably blog about some of the good times later on. I used the opportunity to explore Sydney in such a way that is similar to how I think it might be when I’m in Spain; to get a taste of things yet to come. With a mindset of expectancy, I experienced a wonderful time meeting strangers and experiencing just some of the many things Sydney has to offer. It was remarkable and I will share some stories down the track.

It was drizzling with rain the morning of the workshop and I headed out from my hotel with brolly in one hand and Google Maps GPS on my iPhone in the other. I knew I only had to walk a street or two away from where I was staying. This sounds simple, but you are yet to know what I am like when it comes to finding my way to intended destinations. After my trip to Sydney, I realise that orienteering is just not my thing. Something internal wills me to go in the completely opposite direction to where I actually need to go. Although proven many times over, I still argue to the death with whoever happens to be with me. I object till I’m blue in the face and even after I have been proven wrong, I still feel driven to go where I feel it is the right direction. My head tells me one thing; my heart, another.

Trying to read the GPS on my phone didn’t help me either. I am one of those people who has to turn the map around so I can see the direction I am meant to take. In truth, I think my spatial awareness could use some fine tuning. My brain simply won’t process upside-down. This time I had no one to argue with, and I won. I took the direction of my burning desire, and yes, you guessed it, I ended up streets away from where I needed to be. At one point I decided to ask this girl I was standing next to at the traffic lights. “Can you please tell me where Clarence Street is?” She smiled shyly at me and held up her phone and shrugged. She had just arrived in Sydney and was using her GPS to find a street. We both laughed  and continued on once the lights turned green. Next minute, I found myself on Clarence Street and outside the building that the workshop was to be held in.

I’d given myself plenty of time and had arrived early so I decided to find a place to buy some breakfast. I headed off down the street, after noting a couple of land marks and found a little breakfast bar on the next intersection. I ordered an egg and bacon roll and a lovely hot cup of coffee, which I enjoyed immensely. I made it back to the meeting point without any more misadventures and was met by Yvonne Grossman. She took a group of us up to the ninth floor where we met her husband Marc and other members of the group; about 20 people approximately. Marc was rearing to get started. Once everything kicked off, we spent an intense morning jammed packed with information. Marc worked his way around the room and asked us all to state every concern we had while he filled two white boards with these queries. Most of the session before lunch was spent answering all the questions raised.

We spent a good deal of time looking at the book of 30 All Weather Maps of the Camino that most of us purchased, along with a print out of the cross sections and elevations of the mountains that we will meet along the way. Throughout the day we discussed topics such as: the concept of a pilgrimage, the timeline and a little bit of the history of the Camino, the walking of the Camino de Santiago, a proposed itinerary, a packing list, a food guide, health issues, resources, phrase guides and various scenarios. As part of our package, we received a very informative guide-book called, The Guide for the Spanish Camino ~ Walking the Camino Frances as a 21st century pilgrim, by Marc Grossman, as well as other information and a souvenir cloth badge of Camino Downunder.

IMG_0974

I purchased the 30 All Weather Maps produced by Camino Downunder because they are very good quality and made from waterproof plastic paper with highly UV-resistant colours to prevent tearing and fading, they show a 3D aerial view of the terrain using geographic information system (GIS), and on the back of each map of the section of the walk, there is an accommodation guide and food recommendations and finally, it has been successfully tested by pilgrims walking the Camino Frances in 2009.

The Grossman’s also provided a wonderful selection of snacks for morning tea that lasted throughout the day. A surprise treat offered toward the end of the day was some traditional Spanish liquor.

I’m glad I invested the time and energy into flying down to Sydney to participate in this workshop and I would recommend it to anyone contemplating their first pilgrimage to a land unknown, as in my case. I learnt a lot and I know I still have much more research to do.

As I said in a previous post, it is not the destination but the journey that is the pilgrimage and my pilgrimage has already begun. Attending this workshop is part of my pilgrimage. I plan to put as much time and energy into research as I can. I want my trip to be successful so I am planning for its success. None of it will be wasted.

I plan to discuss many of the things I find out here in more detail in this blog. It will be my record and reference point. I also plan to share interesting stories that crop up along the way.

So, hasta la vista amigos,

Buen Camino

Camino Downunder Workshop ~ Sydney

At the end of this week (Jan 31) I am heading off to Sydney for a workshop (short course) on Walking the Camino de Santiago run by husband and wife team, Marc and Yvonne Grossman. The course is held in down town Sydney close to Darling Harbour. It’s a hard life. But as they say, someone’s got to do it! I will spend the Saturday, beginning at 9am and closing at 5pm, covering all aspects of the pilgrimage, including: maps, guide books, discussing the gear necessary for a successful trip and anything and everything that relates to the Camino that you can possibly fit in one day!

As part of the course, I will receive a copy of the ‘Camino Guidebook‘ (5th edition and revised for 2012-13 ISBN 978-0-646-51466-6). I will also be able to purchase 30 all-weather maps (Camino de Santiago: 30 all-weather walking maps ISBN 978-0-646-52975-2), which we will be using in the workshop for practice and research. I will also receive as part of the package, paper elevation maps which will be used as part of the training and learning, plus something I’m a little excited about, the Camino Downunder cloth badge, that I will be able to sew to my backpack.

camino_stamp

Photo Credit: Camino Downunder

The participants will also be using for ‘geographical training‘ the brand new, innovative and bold overview maps (2.3 metres long – the long version) – which are oriented direction-up or forward up – replicating the anatomical way every person walks and which is in portrait design, not landscape. After crossing the Pyrenees, these wall maps go in a constant westerly direction all the way to the Atlantic coast.

It is promised that we, as participants, will not come away from the course without a ‘tsunami’ quantity of information, insights, knowledge and skills to assist us in our great enterprise of being joyous and successful pilgrim/walkers. The team promises that whatever is, or are my motivations, their workshop will be a watershed.

I’m excited about attending this course and meeting the other like-minded participants and educators. I am hungry and thirsty for their knowledge and hearing of their experiences. I have huge expectations of what I will receive out of this latest adventure.

Another bonus to the course is just one street and one block away (Kent Street) live all the recommended outdoors stores mentioned in the Camino Guidebook for Sydney. No doubt during my short stay in Sydney I will find some time to visit these outlets. It will be interesting to see what Sydney stores have compared to the Brisbane outlets I have visited.

As preparation for the course, the participants were given some homework to do. We were asked to bring along our written lists of the following:

1.

  • i.   Your concerns and/or anxieties;
  • ii.  Questions, including confusing and /or contradictory information gleamed from the internet sites;
  • iii. Unresolved issues about walking the Camino de Santiago as an independent pilgrim/walker. They assure me that no question or issue raised by anyone is ever unimportant or treated offhandedly.

2.

  • Write down your list of all your gear (i.e: walking clothes you will be wearing and clothes carried in your backpack) including your footwear; hat wear and clothing accessories. AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, THE QUANTUM (i.e: how many items of underwear, pairs of socks, etc, etc

3.

  • Write down your list of non walking gear (e.g. a torch, first aid kit items, guide-book/map and communication devices; i.e. mobile phone, etc, etc)

4.

         A Reflective & Philosophical Meditation Task:

  • i. Whilst you are undertaking the Camino de Santiago, what do you think your ‘core business’ should be? Hint: before answering this question, you will need to clearly separate in your mind and on paper ‘core business’ from ‘non-core business’. I strongly encourage you to put in writing this fundamental question.

I have completed these four tasks in readiness for my travels to Sydney. It took some time and research, but I think I got there in the end. It will be interesting for me to find out just what I need (suggested) to take and what I don’t need. I think I will add a page to my blog regarding my packing process. Then after my course I can add to it or delete unnecessary items and make adjustments.

Below, if anyone is interested, I have included the link to Camino Downunder’s website:

http://www.caminodownunder.com

Until next time…

Buen Camino

Stuff Happens – A Minor Set Back

For about ten days before my long walk to South Bank, I’d been experiencing intermittent pain under the arch in the heel area of my right foot. While I mostly tolerated the pain that radiated from my heel for most of my 37 km walk, the last few kilometres were quite excruciating to be honest. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the walk and I realised that whatever was happening in my foot was totally aggravated from the long haul. Lucky for me I am only in training and it’s the perfect time to have a break down if you really must have one.

By Sunday morning I could barely walk on that foot. I’d arranged to meet a girlfriend to go and check out the large outdoor outlets located at Fortitude Valley. I put on a brave front and drove into the city after collecting her. We got there early and found a park. No shops were open by then so we regarded the time as perfect to grab a coffee before hitting the stores.

I had hoped to buy a pair of new hiking boots. After all my research, I knew the boots I wanted and had been quite excited, however, both my feet were really swollen and the pain in my right heel would not abate. It really put a dampener on the trip for me. I could only manage hobbling around in my comfy thongs for padding. Earlier that morning I couldn’t put my foot down on the floor boards or tiles at home. I needed cushioning.

I’d been on the Internet to Google ‘pain in heels’ and suspected that I was suffering from Plantar Faseiitis, but I wasn’t certain. From the description, it certainly seemed like it might be that.

I booked an appointment with a local Sports Podiatrist and had to wait until the following Wednesday. In the meantime I had a rest from walking on the Sunday, but did two 7 km walks on Monday and Tuesday. My feet were still rather swollen, but I managed the walks at a slower pace and in some pain.

On the Wednesday I made an executive decision not to get an early walk in before visiting the Podiatrist, but to wait and see what the diagnosis of my foot was. As suspected, I was diagnosed with Plantar Faseiitis. At least now I knew what I was dealing with. Next was to develop a management plan.

My podiatrist, Will, was most understanding of the goals I had set in order to attain my main goal of walking in Spain. As I feared, he asked me to take ten days off walking, which to be honest would drive me nuts. I tried to negotiate with him, but he remained adamant.

So, how does one treat Plantar Faseiitis?

After a thorough diagnostic look at the way I walk and the condition of the muscles around my foot and calves, it was discovered that my calf muscles were really super tight. I never stretch; a big no, no apparently. I didn’t realise how important stretching is to walkers as much as any other sport. In my head I tell myself it is only a walk. Walking is not too hard to do, is it? But apparently, and I have recently learnt this: walkers and joggers are prone to constriction of muscles, making everything tight. Go figure…I learn something every day.

  • So, Will gave me some beaut stretches to do to help tame my calf muscles.
  • A friend of mine who was a high level gymnast had mentioned to me to use a rolling pin to roll my arch to help iron out the tightness in the muscles under my arch, but Will went one better, asking me to freeze a couple of small water bottles and use these in the same method as the rolling pin.
  • After close examination of my poor old Nikes, Will suggested I invest in a more appropriate joggers to assist my feet with superior support. I was keen for new joggers, so I didn’t protest.
  • Rest for 10 days – no walking…but Will said I could ‘smash up’ on the exercise bike to keep my cardio on target. After the ten days, he told me, I could recommence my walking (between 3-4 kms every other day).
  • ICE my foot.
  • Voltaren Gel – applied to my foot and wrapped in Glad Wrap in the evenings to trap the alcohol in the liniment.

I felt sure I could manage all this and probably more. I do have to be careful because Will said this condition can sometimes hang around for a couple of years! I was horrified to hear this, so it made me determined to follow Will’s expert advice.

My Progress:

Day 8 – update

I have been working out every day on the exercise bike doing 20 kms as well as stretching, weights, sit ups and women’s push ups. I am serious about getting my fitness levels up and running and every day I feel I’m gaining strength and feeling great. The first few days I pined for my daily walk but I’m happy with the way my exercise regime is going for the moment. I only have till Saturday to go and then I can do my first walk.

I’d like to introduce you to my one of my new joggers:

New joggers

ASICS Nimbus 14

ASICS Nimbus 14 gel

I think it is going to be sweet wearing these babies. They are so light and supportive. Can’t wait to give them a whirl.

I’m also watching what I eat. I’ve cut out sugar completely and I am alcohol free while trying to shift some kilograms.

So, all in all, I am viewing this set back through positive eyes. What I feared the most (needing to rest the walking) happened, but from that, it forced me to try new ways to work on my fitness levels. Ways I probably, in all honesty, wouldn’t have bothered giving a go.

I am happy and looking forward to visiting with Will next Wednesday for his report on my progress. I think Will is excited for me about my walk through Spain and is happy to be part of my team. I’d also like to thank my mates (you know who you are) for giving me tips from rolling pins, advice from a scientific viewpoint and tips on the best way to do weights, push ups and sit ups.

I’m excited.

So, until next time…

Buen Camino

%d bloggers like this: