Training in the Swamp – Pride Goeth Before A Fall


A warning – today’s post is not for the faint of heart or weak of knee. As we pass the five week countdown for our Cotopaxi trip we are at the now or never stage. If we aren’t in good enough shape to make it up these mountains now, I think it highly unlikely that we suddenly achieve such a status over the next month.

So, I’m trying to keep going with what I’ve been doing – and I like to think that it’s a lot more than I did getting ready for Mt. Elbrus last year.  In a few weeks we’ll find out if it worked.

Of course, today’s training adventure was less than noble. After my regular Sunday afternoon yoga class I was planning to walk the three miles home with my real mountaineering boots (Koflach Degres),  just so my legs would remember what they felt like. No, I didn’t wear crampons as well. As it had already poured buckets during one of our typical Florida storms, I decided to wear a rain jacket also. Naturally, there was then not a drop to be seen, but the steam rising off the hot and humid sidewalks practically created a rainstorm from the ground up. So there I was, black yoga pants, black rain jacket, red backpack, and double plastic boots, hiking along the streets of downtown Orlando on a ninety degree day. I was just waiting to be offered directions to a homeless shelter.

Finally, I made it to about a block from my house. As I contemplated the ridiculousness of the interstate widening project that is going to cause the loss of several grand old oak trees that border the lake we live by, I lost my concentration and the next thing I knew I was rear down on the slippery wet sidewalk with a cracked iPhone screen in hand. (Yes, I am one of those people who run and hike clutching their phones.) A couple in a pick up truck going past stopped to see if I was ok. I think they thought they were encountering a mentally disturbed person who was going to require emergency services. Husband J was outside our house as I staggered up – he said from a distance he didn’t even recognize this all in black, sweaty person marching along.

Otherwise, my training regime generally includes the following:

Stairs – my office building is 16 stories, but since you start at 1 (unlike the English “G”), it’s really 15. Believe me, I’ve had a lot of time on the stairs to contemplate that. The building is 227 feet tall and each floor has two flights with a landing between. A couple of weeks ago, I reached my personal record of 8 times the building in about an hour and 20 minutes with a 24 pound pack. I have all sorts of ways to go up the stairs to alleviate the boredom. Every step, every other step etc. I will not bore you with the details (although feel free to ask). Doing that twice a week or so. And it’s hot in that fire stairwell – I mean well into the 90s. Surely that counts for something.

Running – historically I was not only a non-runner, but an aggressively anti runner. And as recently as last year I had only run five miles at a shot and only then because the Mt. Elbrus application asked how you felt at five miles – which at that point I had not even attempted. But now I have now worked my way up to seven miles at a time, and in a couple of weeks plan to run a five k race. I haven’t run a race since elementary school – where I was way at the rear of the pack. But I’m convinced that getting enough cardiovascular fitness is the key to these next summits.

Yoga – unfortunately my late Saturday afternoon Bikram class was cancelled so I’ve only been able to do that sporadically. But my Hatha yoga classes on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday nights are regular events. It’s the breath control that should help me on those long slogs at super high altitude. So much of mountain climbing, for me at least, is sheer fortitude. It’s how you train the brain that makes the difference between taking that one more step and giving up.

There’s a bunch more stuff. There’s extreme walking – a la the 20 miler we did in April – there’s weight lifting, which I haven’t done enough of, and there’s general fast walking with weight. Of course, general free floating anxiety should count as a training tool as well. I’m really good at that one.

I think we can do this. I’m in as good a shape as I’ve ever been – or better. Now I just have to go find the duffel bag to house all the gear. And – anyone have any training ideas? I’m all ears.

3 thoughts on “Training in the Swamp – Pride Goeth Before A Fall

  1. pscapp May 25, 2015 / 7:42 am

    The only suggestion I have is what I do in the ten days before I run a marathon which is to do nothing and not train at all. I always need time to undo all the stress that marathon training does to my body. Sorry to hear about the oaks.


    • mhoustonfl May 25, 2015 / 7:56 am

      Yes – I’m planning to start tapering down in about three weeks – and then to do nothing much at all the week before….I should post a photo of he beautiful oaks, with a pink band painted around them to signify they are to come down to make way for the “exfiltration field.”


      • pscapp May 25, 2015 / 9:01 am

        Exfiltration field sounds like bs to me. Move the road 20 feet out of the way.


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