Thursday, 20 August 2015

Suffering Part 7; Climbing in the Alps/ Rest & Recovery!

Only 5 days after my ironman I found myself in our packed car, driving south towards Folkestone, and then on to Switzerland.  After a busy week at work (with minimal recovery time), I had squeezed in a sports massage before getting in the car to drive for hours on end.  Having left home at about 4pm on Friday, we arrived in Saas Grund eventually at 8pm on Saturday.  To say I was tired was an understatement!

We had been planning a trip to the alps for months; in fact it had been on the calendar since last autumn.  It wasn't until January that I entered the Cotswolds 226 race, only a week before the holiday.  I entered the race whilst away on a ski holiday without Tom.  When I rang to tell him he was far from impressed, all too aware of how tired I would be on holiday.  "I'll be fine" I told him!  How wrong was I...

I had bargained for a rest day on arrival in Switzerland, but the forecast was looking iffy.  We had an ambitious tick list of multiple 4000m peaks building up to the Italian ridge on the Matterhorn (one of my challenges).  Sunday afternoon and we walked in to the Almagellar hut, ready to climb the Weismeiss the next morning.  In reality I'm useless with altitude, and already had a headache at the hut!  We had been banking on my fitness to cancel out the altitude... unfortunately I was exhausted!!   An early start on Monday morning had us heading up to a col in the dark, ready to head up a ridge on the Weismeiss.  My legs were not working!  This was not going to be a good day!  We made a decision to turn around and head back to the valley.  Even just descending to the valley with walking poles was hard work.  Perhaps all my challenges had taken more of a toll than I expected.

After this we packed up and heading around to Chamonix instead, where Tom had other friends to climb with, and I had a chance to rest and recover; phew!!  I read a few good books, including a book by Dave Gill about cycling around the States.  Very inspiring!  I struggled to walk; stairs were horrendous.  My quads were absolutely wrecked.  The roads up and down the hills looked beautiful; I was envious that I wasn't here with my road bike.

Towards the end of my enforced rest we spent a couple of days over in Italy, as Tom climbed the south ridge of the aiguille noire du peuterey with Matt.  Unfortunately they got caught in a storm and spent an unplanned night on the mountain.  I spent a sleepless night in the valley, worried sick.  I was extremely relieved when they made it back down at 8pm on the Monday (rather than late on the Sunday).  I felt justified in buying (very cheap) gin as treat for myself!
I don't know why Tom wouldn't let me buy this cute critter!!

Our plan for the remainder of the trip had been to head on into Italy a bit more to climb the Gran Paradiso, and then the Italian ridge on the Matterhorn.  Unfortunately this wasn't to be.  It has been an incredibly dry, warm season in the Alps, with lots of rock fall.  The Italian ridge was closed indefinitely due to significant rock fall.  Another failure in my year of suffering, although this time out of my hands.  It will still be there next year though.

Instead we headed back round to Switzerland to be greeted by yet more changeable weather and had to readjust our plans yet again.  We climbed the Allalinhorn, my only 4000m peak of the holiday; a rather nice snow plod from a high lift, with some LARGE crevasses!!  I finally faced my crevasse fear and feel somewhat more relaxed!  We followed this with a nice multipitch rock route on the Jegihorn; a great way to finish the holiday.  Then a long drive north...

On top of the Allalinhorn

Alpendurst on the Jegihorn.

Back in the UK and it is 'Black Wednesday'; changeover day for doctors in the UK.  I have spent the last year in anaesthetics and ITU, with a really nice (too nice??) rota, with lots of weekends off.  Unfortunately I have now changed back to A&E (my chosen career path), with a not so desirable rota!   The last 6 months have been incredible!  I have trained harder than ever before and seen my fitness and race performance improve in leaps and bounds!  I just hope this doesn't go backwards too much during the next 6 months.

The weekend after returning from the alps I entered an Olympic distance triathlon at Whitchurch, along with a load of awesome people from TNT tri club.  This was supposed to the national club championships, but ended up not being.  We still had a great weekend!  The race was awash with a sea of orange triathletes!  This has been my best race of the season yet; I finished 7th female, and won my age group too.  My first age group win!  I put in a strong swim, a good bike, and an unsurprisingly appalling run (haha!).  What a great end to the season!

If Carlsberg did Tri Clubs... the awesome TNT!

TNT wiping the floor in women's age group categories!

I still have 2 more 'challenges' to come.  In 2 weeks time I'll be up in Scotland competing in the Loch Lomond swim-run race with a friend Anna.  This should be good fun, but a completely new experience, so we'll see how that goes!  I've then finally set down a plan for a long distance swim, and am hoping to swim the length of Ullswater in early October (hopefully before it gets too cold).

Ullswater at dawn on Monday morning.

Thanks to everyone's generosity I have already raised £2200 for Orchid!  In case you've forgotten, Orchid is a male cancer charity, and I am raising money for them because my Dad had metastatic testicular cancer last year.  If you fancy helping me reach my final target of £2500, you can sponsor me at  Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me raise this much already!