Archive for March, 2011

Trek to Nepal – five weeks to go

Posted on March 28, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

It is absolutely amazing to be this close to a lifelong dream. I am not quite counting the sleeps until I go to Nepal, although getting close.

Fundraising is ticking over slowly – if you would like to be part of me making a difference in 2011 and helping the education and support for girls in countries less fortunate than Australia, please donate here http://gofundraise.com.au/page/MacdonaldP. It is a secure page and you will see what I mean by donations ticking over.

training programs and plansAlso ticking over is the contact with the other women going on the trek. We have all made contact now by email and are sharing a little bit about ourselves, and our preparations. It is really interesting and fascinating reading the similarities and also the differences. I suppose it is like any group or team who are just beginning to work together and who are facing a big challenge. It is also quite reassuring to know that I am not the only one going through the journey and that we are all very similar.

Our training sounds to have been very similar and we have been sharing stories of great places in Victoria and Queensland to hike and climb lots of stairs. There is talk of some of us doing a training session together befor ewe go – perhaps over Easter. Which would be brilliant as we can get to know each other a bit more before we go, and also have a first hand experience of what hiking together is going to be like.

I bought a new pair of running shoes on the weekend as my final month of training is to revert to the cardio and running. The shoes are designed for cross country which will allow me to run on both road and grass/gravel surfaces. My hiking boots are perfectly broken in and well worn – they are so comfortable it is reassuring in itself.

The diet is going well – I have not lost any weight (which is good) and am feeling pretty good as a result. Even better! My stamina has been what I have been working on for the past couple of weeks – seeing how I perform when tired and having long days. I guess that is the closest I can do to prepare for altitude – the lower oxygen levels in the air is likely to have the same fatiguing effect. Although I have also heard that it can give incredibly bad headaches too. I sincerely hope I avoid that side effect. My usual treatment for headache is water and if it’s really bad I’ll take some panadol. But this sounds pretty severe and I am not sure if drinkable water will be sufficient – or readily accessible.

And of course the last week has also involved more of the logistics: my Nepal Visa is organised. What a pleasant embassy to go to! The lady was helpful, friendly and was quite caring. And efficient! Vaccinations are happening in the next 24 hours – a little later than I planned, yet still OK. I found my old medical/vaccination record book from my last major overseas trip and will take that with me. I have heard that the innoculations are painful and am hoping I have either had that one before or that I’ll have a pain free experience! Wishful thinking possibly.

Money has been through the currency exchange – the recommendation is to take a mix of Aus $, US $ and Euros. Small denominations and I think working on $30 per day. People often spend more than they anticipate in Nepal – or on any holiday I guess, so the guide of $30 per day is really that – a guide. I am not expecting to spend a lot of money, however I would rather have a contingency than runout while over there. And the exchange rate is quite favourable at the moment. Much better than when I last went to the US and got about 60US cents for my Aussie dollar. And let’s not even talk about the British Pound last time I travelled!

Temperature is going to be interesting – apprently it will be up to 30 degrees C during the days and down to high teens overnight. So the sleeping bag I have packed will be perfect. And the clothing I have organised is looking good too. A mix of light clothing and some merino thermals. Socks of course and I plan on taking my boots and a pair of TEVA sandals. It is not a glamour trip and our bags need to be kept below 15kgs. We’ve been told it is for the porters, although I don’t want to be lugging around a huge amount of luggage either! Just need to sort the backpack – a friend has offered his 52 litre pack which I feel may be a bit big for me. I have a fantastic waterprood pack of around 30 litres which ought to be perfect for a day pack.

It’s the final countdown to departure. Hip hip hooray.

 

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Trek to Nepal – six weeks to go

Posted on March 21, 2011. Filed under: culture, Inspired Adventures, Nepal trek, personal leadership |

Amazingly there are now only six weeks to go until the journey of a lifetime begins. Am I ready? That is a question that can inspire and terrify at the same time. It is a question that cannot really be answered fully until the journey is complete and the reflection and review occurs. And pehaps even then it may not be clear as I may have been ready for a set of circumstances that do not eventuate.

One area I am feeling far from ready with is the fundraising. Please support the great work of Plan Internationald and their Because I’m a Girl Fund by donating to my page here http://gofundraise.com.au/page/MacdonaldP

Donations have been trickling in and I am well away from my target amount. That as I said is an area I am not ready in – I have been busy with work and not focused on setting up events. Lesson number one – the first thing to focus on and plan is the fundraising events when you are embarking on a trip like this. I focused initially on the physical challenge and getting myself fit – which in hindsight actually was, for me, the right thing to do. Because I have been so busy over the past month there is no way I could have managed a fitness campaign as well as the workload. My routine of exercise over the past month has been one of maintenance more than anything else. And of course me working on the blood type diet.

Visas and vaccinations are the order of the next week – organising and getting them. Making sure all is ready before the last minute. Or the last week – which is really approaching quickly now.

I’m continuing the work on steps and stamina – gave my quads a really good workout over the weekend and they are letting me know today. Short sprints uphill on rough ground. I know I am not running in Nepal however all of my research and conversations with people has really emphasised the need to be able to cope with lots of up and down work – and coping with uneven ground. That’s where the core strenght comes in. And of course we all know that going downhill is harder on the legs than walking uphill. I remember a school camp where many people got to the top quicker than I did but they had “jelly legs” on the way down so i caught up and actually arrived at the bottom sooner than quite a number of them did.

Not that Nepal is about a competition. It may well be a competition with myself and my frame of mind, yet it will also be a real test of our physical fitness and the legs are going to be key. I think I ought to book myself in for a spa and massage treatment the first week of my return. I have a feeling I am going to need it, or at least will want it as a reward or something.

All accounts suggest that the weather is going to be warm – like 30 degrees C during the day and down to say 10 degrees at night. Thank goodness our local weather has been similar so I’m a little used to warm days that cool down quickly. It presents a challenge for packing and the packs thoug – our porters will not carry more than 15kgs and I certainly do not want to be hiking with a 50kg pack just so I have enough clothes.

It will be all about layering and light clothing – of which I have plenty having bought lots of hiking wear over the years. It will be interesting to learn which fibres work best – merino is supposedly best for thermals as it does not sweat and smell like synthetics. It is hard to get and quite expensive. Yet worth it if it keeps me warm and does not smell out my room mate.

If you are reading this and enjoying it, please consider making a donation (if you have not already done so) because just $10 from each person I know on LinkedIn and Facebook will go a long way to helping Plan International. http://gofundraise.com.au/page/MacdonaldP

Thanks for reading.  And thank you in advance for your support.

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Trek to Nepal – seven weeks to go

Posted on March 14, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

What a week this one has been! So much going on in the world that on one hand has me feeling reluctant to ask people for money to support my trip.  With disasters occurring in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia it seems that everywhere you turn there is another appeal to donate to a really worthy cause.   As a result I have pulled back a little on my fundraising activity.
Then on Friday we see and hear about the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Thoughts and prayers are with those people and communities as they struggle to locate loved ones and eventually to continue their lives, albeit changed forever. The devastation that we are seeing due to the technology is incredible – people videoing events as they unfold and it being posted on the web within minutes is changing the way we experience events around the world.  I felt the same way about Cyclone Yasi hitting Queensland – being able to watch a live video stream (until the power and light went) made the disaster feel so much more real and personal.
And then it struck me – raising money for Plan International means that there are reserves there for such rebuilding when a disaster strikes.  Having money donated to a fund means that communities in need have someone they can reach out to who can assist them, rather than reaching out and being told that help cannot come until money does.  Help and resources being available when they are needed.  Immediately. That is why I am raising money.
Nepal has been and continues to go through a fair amount of political upheaval. Money raised by myself and others on this trek will go into the community so they can help themselves.

My focus is now almost completely on the challenge of raising money. If every connection of mine on facebook and LinkedIn donated $10 each my fundraising target would be reached. If I fail to reach the target then the money comes out of my pocket. So the challenge is confirmed – to raise the $6000 within the next month to help communities who need it and to do my bit.

I can accept cash donations with receipt and tax deductibility for any amount over $2.

Online donations can be made at http://gofundraise.com.au/page/MacdonaldP

And I am also running a 100 Club competition/raffle – $50 for a one in 20 chance to win a prize.

Wishing my readers a healthy and successful week ahead. Until my next post.

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Trek to Nepal – two months exactly

Posted on March 7, 2011. Filed under: expectations, Inspired Adventures, Nepal trek, personal leadership |

This week marks the countdown at eight weeks until departure. Amazingly it is only 2 months – getting easily into the realm of how milestones as motivation or notmany days to go (yet I’m not going to go there just yet)

Milestones are a funny thing – some people get really motivated by the approach of a milestone – especially if they have prepared well and are tracking development and progress. For instance, I am noticing some health benefits including my body toning up so that clothes are fitting much better than they have for quite some time. And the meditation is also having an effect although not as much as I had hoped because I am not practising as much as I had planned.
Others around me are counting down to different milestones such as major trips or events and I have been fascinated by the variation in approaches. One friend is excitedly counting down the number of days until his wedding – a simple daily statement of number of days to go. No more and no less is said yet his excitement and enthusiasm is clear. Another friend is counting down the days to a holiday and has been crafting new words to go with traditional tunes so the rest of us count down how many sleeps while humming the tune of a well known song. And yes I can tell you exactly how many days to go – she has effectively used multiple senses to lock the milestone into her mind and also into the minds of others.

There’s a tip I guess – use as many of your senses as possible to lock something into your mind and focus. If I just visualise it then that is one sense, whereas if I visualise along with sound (like music or people speaking the language) then my brain gets the message on two channels which gives it a higher impact.

So my training has been physical and mental – for obvious reasons – and I have been practising my meditation and focused attention while hiking. Attending to the feel of my feet on the ground, noticing the smells and the sounds – which I know will be very different in Nepal yet still something I treasure about hiking. I especially love the smells after rain. It’s fresh and clean. Almost as if the world has been cleansed.

A bit spiritual in a way. Just like a trek in Nepal has a spiritual element for me. It’s a chance to connect with a place of beauty and astonishing scale, that has at least the percpetion of being untouched. I am under no illusion about how hard this is going to be – and in fact the past 2 weeks as I have found it hard to fit my target level of fitness training into my schedule I have begun to feel some doubt about how I am really going to cope on this trip.

Will I make it or will I need lots of help? Am I going to enjoy it while I’m there or will it be a struggle that only becomes a positive on reflection?

These sort of thoughts have some similarities with the way we celebrate the approach of milestones. If I feel ready and prepared then I am excited. When I feel under prepared and concerned about my capability to do it then I feel nervous and may even think about delaying or denying it. Of course that is one of the reasons why a group trip is so powerful – the external drivers mean that no one person can defer the trip. Of course an individual can withdraw however the trip will still go on. Now it is about how I use those nervous feelings – to spur me into action or to generate a sense of lethargy.

Can you see the parallel with work or a personal goal (such as getting fit)? Often a small setback or variation to the plan becomes the seed that puts the whole thing off kilter.

physical and mental challengesSo where am I? Still feeling a little nervous about my level of preparedness yet turning that into a motivator to stick to my fitness plan or revise my focus – so the last 2 weeks where I have not done as much physical work as target, I have focused on mental preparation (ie some meditation) and also the logistics (ie vaccinations and visas) and my diet (yes I am following the Blood Type diet) as well as making the most of what opportunity I do have. Last week I had to be outside for 6 of the 7 days standing around. So I made sure I did lots of walking to and fro, along with squats and lunges and stretches. Building some strength in the quads and working my knees – because they are going to get a workout in 8 to 10 weeks time.

The other lesson is learning to forgive myself for not being perfect. Accepting that I can only do my best and that one bad week does not a failure make. (I will have failed if I give up now)

With eight weeks to go I believe that I have the equipment I need, and have tested it all out – with success. Vaccinations and visas are next. And then it will be keeping up the good work.

And being prepared to take lots of photos and sharing them when I return.

My journal is ready for me to make notes while I am there.

The photos will tell a picture story.

And perhaps the greatest story of all will be the one that I live while I am there and what I learn about myself and my fellow travellers.

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Trek To Nepal – Nine weeks to go

Posted on March 1, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I'll be viewing this in nine weeksWow, I’m now into single digits of the weeks that remain until I fly out to Nepal. The excitement is building as is the intensity of my preparation – which is good to have the two working in conjunction. Especially as they can often feel like they are working at odds. When you have two sets of priorities both can feel oppressive  due to the time and activity pressure that often comes when two important things coincide. Yet this time for me the two are working together and that is a pleasant outcome. Sure there is pressure as there are still many things to be done and two months to get them done in, and some of those things need to be done before the last minute!
Last week I mentioned getting a book about Eating for your Blood Type – well it arrived while I was away at Phillip Island last week and I’m excited to get into it this week and to set my diet up properly. And according to the person who put me onto it I’ll need about 4 weeks to trial it and feel the benefits – which will put me five weeks away from departure. Sounds ideal. Apparently there is a connection between our blood type and body tolerances and what we can eat and absord effectively. To use the words of Tanya – it’s important to be healthy on the inside as well as the outside. So diet is a critical factor in fitness – as we all probably know, yet how often do you see people (or do it yourself) who just exercise more without changing their diet, only to give up when it is not working. It is like putting oil in a car but no fuel and expecting it to start and run efficiently.

Speaking of running – that is also a focus starting to kick in this week. So far I have been building core strength and resilience and now I want to build in running. That will assist with endurance as well as build my lung capacity which is a key factor when at altitude. I have never been at altitude before and have little idea of what to expect. Sure I have spoken with people who have been to Nepal and read as much as I can on google – yet somehow I doubt that will prepare me for what lies ahead.
One of the experiences I have been very attuned to with this trip is how people and relevant information are appearing at the right time and in the right sequence. It really feels like serendipity. A lovely tranquil approach to what is going to be a “bucket list” experience for me. For instance, last week I wrote about speaking at a conference where I met two greta physical fitness folks who both generously shared tips and hints – Andrew Jobling and Tanya from Strive Training in Canberra. This week I have delayed blogging due to me being away and lo and behold, today I see an article on yahoo about running and increasing your speed. Coincidence perhaps? Useful – absolutely.

Inspired Adventures helping communities

This feeling of serendipity and flow doesn’t mean that things are not busy and hectic around me – some things are real challenges, however I know that will also serve to prepare me and position me for the trip. Getting busy before I go will mean that I enjoy the trip and the meditation as it will be such a contrast to my experiences before leaving. Isn’t that the case with any type of leave: the busier you get before you leave, the more you enjoy the holiday? (is there a font that you know of that says “I’m joking” as I’d like to use it for that last statement!) My expectations of Nepal are about challenge with tranquility, about space and perspective and about doing good for a great cause.

Please donate to my tally if you are enjoying this blog – http://xmasforthekids.gofundraise.com.au/page/MacdonaldP.

It is a worthwhile cause and I really need your support to do the best that I can to help people help themselves.

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