God bless America

 

I am pleased to announce that I am writing a book. Currently 44,000 words in and going strong.

I usually turn my nose up at ‘writers’ who are sat in cafes, typing away. ‘How pretentious’ I would think. Why do you have to be in public to do that? Go home and drink copious amounts of unlimited tea and coffee. Nobody needs to see you.

Sorry guys. I take that back. I now regularly head out to cafes to whack another few pages out. If I were to be in the house all day it would drive me crazy! And you know what, the odd over-priced iced coffee is nice. Ah, I indulge in my mountain village paradise. I love looking up from my screen every now and again and watching the world go by.

A man on the adjacent table started to speak to me. He assumed that I was a local and asked me if I knew where a particular European restaurant was. “Erm. Do you know what it’s called?” I asked.

He did not.

“I think it does French food” he said.

That did not narrow it down. He then continues to chat to me, asking what I’m doing. I tell him I’m writing a book (still feels weird to say that). We chat for quite a while and then, HEAD DOWN, I’m in the zone.

“So have you been on many hikes?”

I politely respond telling him that I love hiking, running and being outdoors.

Head down.

“Which hike is your favourite?”

(Breathe in). “I like Arrow Head. Also Mammoth Mountain – that’s a classic.”

(starts to type again).

“What about Yosemite?”

I give him a really, really long answer, hoping that it will exhaust him.

(starts to viciously type again).

Does he give in? Nope. He basically demands a chapter breakdown of my book. I AIN’T NEVER GONNA FINISH THE BOOK IF Y’ALL KEEP ON DISTURBING ME.

Aside from writing, it’s been quite a week. My friend’s car was going spare, so I’m a very lucky girl and that big boy is mine for my time here. It’s Dodge Durango 4WD. It’s huge and red and I look like a right wolly being so high up and close to the wheel. I’ve had a few heart palpitations learning to drive on the ‘right’ (wrong!) side of the road, but it’s great to have the freedom.

Back on foot… I was on a hike the other day and finally saw a wild bear! I have been waiting long and hard for this moment and it’s great to know that they are real and not a myth. I sent my Mum a photo and she said: ‘Oh my! Were you scared!?”

Genuinely, not even a drop of fear was in my body. I was just happy to see him and thought he was cute. Not the smartest attitude to have…

I’ll tell you what is smart though: hot lemon and honey. It seems to have done the trick. My cold is tackling the final hurdle – I no longer feel run down. However my sense of smell is still left to the imagination and I have a cough that resembles a saggy-faced-30-a-day-smoker.

In addition, the hiking and running have turned my big toe a beautiful blackish blue. It looks gross but I also have a strange sense of pride about it.

Pride increases when, last Thursday, I went for a run with Deena Kastor. Deena is America’s best woman marathoner. She is a successful Olympian and holds the American women’s record for the marathon in an inspirational time of 2:19:36.

If you’re bored / interested in what I am getting up to in the ‘running world’ and what I am discovering about ‘altitude training,’ you can read more about that on my running blog: https://livforrunning.wordpress.com

Speaking of running, 4th July celebrations started with a race (ever so pleased to be second lady!) The rest of the day was fun-filled with parades, candy, pumpkin pie and fireworks. And then some more pumpkin pie. God bless America.

Lots of Americans are intrigued about my opinion on Brexit. It’s a sore spot, I tell them. A very, very sore spot.

Does altitude make you crazy?

I was thinking about this question as I watched back the video that I took of myself in Yosemite National Park yesterday. As I perched on a rock at 9,000ft, in my Paula-Radcliffe-style sunglasses, I sang snippets of The Lion King, whilst holding an imaginary Simba, looking onto the ponderosa pine trees and waterfalls.

I then dramatically rummaged through my CamelBak for a honey and lemon throat sweet. I was ill. I couldn’t breathe.

image1

When you’re really run down with a cold – painful chest, agonising sand-paper-like throat, nose like a snotty tap… you ought to keep warm, drink lots of hot lemon and honey and put your feet up. Why on earth did I think it would be a good idea to hike through Yosemite National Park? As beautiful as it is, pretty much every step I was taking I was thinking ‘why, why, why, why.’

Does altitude make you crazy? Does it make you make stupid decisions?

I googled.

Classic Google.

Does altitude make you fart?
Does altitude make you tired?
Does altitude make you pee more?
Does altitude make you swell?

(If any of these really interest you, please research them in your own time).

Turns out there is nothing on, ‘does altitude make you crazy?’ So, I’m going to go with ‘no’. Apparently, I just don’t know when to stop.

Some of the pictures I took were awesome. But the pictures don’t show the sheer discomfort I was in. HOWEVER, even though it made me feel a bit worse, if I could go back in time to yesterday, would I do it again?

Erm. Yes.

Consumed by wanderlust, Yosemite may have hindered my body slightly in the recovery process – but the breath-taking beauty of the place, wins hands down for me.

Yosemite. “Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.”

 So, as beautiful as it is, pretty much every step I was taking I was thinking ‘why, why, why, why.’

But then I looked up.

Closer to the clouds

The mountains were calling and I have now arrived in Mammoth Lakes, California (8,000ft above sea level).

If you have ever experienced high altitude before, you’ll know that all physical activity is more demanding when you’re closer to the clouds. Even walking up the stairs, I’m wheezing, feeling like an asthmatic 90-year-old.

In terms of running: I have been advised to cut back my mileage by at least 25% for the first week and should expect to be at least 15% slower. One of my goals is to join the Mammoth Track Club. The Mission of the Mammoth Track Club is to support athletic and academic achievement, develop professional athleticism and promote lifelong health and fitness through running in a high altitude environment.

http://www.mammothtrackclub.com

Sounds fun.

Even though I have been taking my running steady these last few days, the dramatic elevations have shocked my body – especially my little size 3 feet. A steep, fairly long downhill run has caused trauma to my big toe, resulting in painful swelling and severe bruising. Pass me the ice pack!

I’ve done a couple of mini hikes, but nothing too severe as of yet. But I have 3 months and those mountains aren’t going anywhere. It is a tad frustrating though – I have also come down with stinker of a cold.

Currently sniffing Olbas oil and bathing my foot with Epsom salts.

When messaging Anne, my soul-mate who I met in Bangkok, she said: “You manage to survive Thailand, yet Cali tries to destroy you!?”

I actually think that because the last 5 months have been so full on (sometimes dangerous, often dirty) my body has become exhausted trying to protect itself.

Now that I’m in my true paradise and doing what I love, my body has relaxed and, OH HEY VIRUS. But if I’m going to be anywhere, California is the place. Priding itself on health, vitamins and minerals galore (minus the outrageous cost of healthcare), I think Mammoth has got my back.

The landscape is spectacular. The people are ever so friendly. The buses are free. What’s not to love?

In the winter months, Mammoth is a popular ski resort. So even now, in the hot summer, it’s got that chilled, ‘Apres Ski’ kind of feel. I had a peek on Tinder out of sheer curiosity (purely for research purposes, of course). It amused me that all the men pretty much look the same. Oh, and apparently life is ‘totally rad’ and ‘gnarly, man.’