Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Hi everyone,

As an adopted American, today's holiday in honor of our fallen means as much to me, as it does to all citizens of our great nation. On days such as this, I struggle to put into words how I truly feel, therefore I will let some others speak for me and for all of us...

Apart from our national anthem, Lee Greenwood's "God bless the USA" is one of my favorite patriotic songs. I'll include the official video at the end of this post, but here are the lyrics...
"If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife
I'd thank my lucky stars to be livin' here today
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away
And I'm proud to be an American where as least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the USA
From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee
Across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea
From Detroit down to Houston and New York to LA
Well, there's pride in every American heart
And it's time to stand and say that
I'm proud to be an American where as least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the USA"
We turn now to the words of three former Presidents of the USA, Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President...

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President...

Lastly, Ronald Reagan, the 40th President...

I am so, so proud to be an American...

God bless the USA and God bless all of us.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Step by step 2014 ~ Doubling up

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by, I'm honored to have you here. Today we continue looking at my training notes as I continue to prepare for the Battling Back challenge in October/ November 2014. If you'd like to catch up with all my other training notes from this year, you can do so HERE.

Friday, May 16, 2014
The slight niggle I felt in my left bicep after Wednesday's 1-3/4 mile swim had eased a bit by this morning, so I knew today would be a very important day. It would be the first time during my training that I've had 2 pool sessions in the same week. I say pool sessions, rather than swims, because today won't be swimming. Instead, it will be an "Aqua run" session, that has been gifted to me by the sports center where I'm training. If you're wondering how you can run in the pool, you're not alone! I did too until it was explained to me, but the process, in theory, is easy. In reality it is anything but, as I was to find out...

Before getting into the pool I was given a belt with a large foam pad on the back, which acts as a float once you're in the water. The belt also has hooks on it which will attach to the lane markers in the deep end, thus keeping you pretty much in one place.

I climbed down into the pool and slowly made my way to my space on the line, then attached the hooks to the marker. Moments later the session began with some instruction of the moves we'd be using. I'll admit that they took some getting used to, but even then at slow pace, I felt the resistance of the water and knew this would be quite a workout!

The 45 minute session was interval based, a few minutes at standard pace, followed by a 30 second sprint, with 5 reps of each. YES, this is definitely a hard workout! The instructor then changed things up a bit, told us to put more power into the work as opposed to speed. The central part of the session involved foam dumbbells. They might be light out of water, but they definitely aren't when being pushed deep into it! The last 20 minutes involved a power/ sprint interval set.

At the end of the session I was tired, but very happy to have tried it and while Aqua running might not form part of my weekly training regimen, it might feature occasionally.

Monday, May 19, 2014
Today's cardio session was another Leslie Sansone "Walk at Home", this time a fast four miler, which is completed in around 50 minutes, including the warm down and stretches afterward. It was the first time I've done this particular session, which is interval based, bringing some "boosted walking" in, which in truth is jogging.

My hydration levels weren't as good as they could or maybe should have been, but I had a drink on hand and found I could continue the walk while drinking if need be. It's another great workout and I felt tired, yet very happy at the end.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
The weather here the last few days has been great, warm and sunny, if humid at times and so I've been making sure to keep my fluid intake up. Today's target in the pool was another 1-3/4 miles, or 84 laps, ahead of what will be a second swim session of the week on Friday, when I'll be aiming for 1-1/2 or 1-3/4 miles.

I quite surprised when I got down into the pool how warm it was, but it was a nice surprise. I stopped after 1/2 a mile/ 12 laps, for my first brief drink break, having once again taken it poolside. Yep, I've learned that lesson now. Within a half lap of starting again I felt a slight cramp in my left foot, but wasn't concerned about it, because I've experienced it a few times before. Today however it stayed with me for a little longer than previously, so I delayed the next drink break until 30 laps in.

Thankfully the cramp didn't return and I was able to push on. At around 50 laps, just over the mile, I felt the now familiar niggle in my left bicep, but once again it was manageable and I paced myself for a little while before kicking on, with the end in sight.

As has become my routine, I switched things up for the last 2 laps and really gave it my all. Touching in at the end of lap 84, I knelt in the water and said a prayer of thanks, before standing and once again reaching for my drink. Climbing out of the pool, my legs felt ok and I was very happy to have achieved another target.

While I ate and relaxed later in the evening, when I'd usually be writing up this week's training notes, I realized I should by now have broken through the ten mile total distance barrier. Calculating it, I happily discovered I'd not just done that, but today's swim had taken the total distance to ELEVEN miles! Yep, I'm proud!

Friday, May 23, 2014
Knowing I'd be out early this morning, I repacked my backpack last night, then had a relatively early night, trying to get as much rest as I could. When my alarm sounded this morning, at 5:00 am, I felt as if I'd only slept for a few minutes, but I felt good, or as good as you can at that hour, LOL. I hit snooze a couple times, then got up at 5:20 am.

I was out the door around 20 minutes later and on my way to the sports center, aiming to get into the water just after 6:00 am. I knew today's swim would be tough, it's the first time I can ever remember swimming twice within a few days, except for a few gentle ones on vacation and so it proved.

Having been warm on Wednesday, the pool was cooler than I thought it would be today and perhaps that affected my rhythm, but it was more likely because it was so early and I'd not eaten anything since last night. I know I should have, but at the same time I've gotta be careful of cramping more than I'm able to cope with.

Every lap was slower today, every stroke tougher than they have been, but never once did my determination waver. When I felt the niggle in my bicep less than half way through the swim, I used it to keep me going. I KNEW it would be tough, it has to be or I'll not make progress. I've not missed a target in the pool yet and I wasn't going to today. I WAS going to do 1-1/2 miles/ 72 laps. I had to.

I did! The prayer at the end of the last lap was perhaps more thankful than any that I've said so far. I was SO grateful and yes, proud of myself for having gotten through it.

As soon as I got back to the house, even while coffee was still brewing, I strapped the troublesome muscle up and it remains so now. I'll rest and relax over the weekend and be ready for Monday's workout.

Thanks again for your support everyone, it truly does mean so much to me. Monday's blog post will be a special one, marking Memorial Day, so I hope you'll join me then. In the meantime enjoy your weekend, whatever you're doing.

God bless,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Step by step 2009 ~ part 7

Hi everyone,

We continue our look back to the 2009 challenge today, focusing on just a single day, December 27, the day before the hike began.

December 27 - Walk minus 1 day!
After spending last night in my own bed, the last time for more than a week, I was up and about around 8:00 am GMT this morning. After showering and getting dressed I did a final check of the packing. If there's something that I've forgotten now, it may well remain forgotten! Seriously though, I've got everything that I'll need.

I'm now sitting here, having written the last email that I had to reply to, listening to some music and drinking coffee. Sunday morning wouldn't be Sunday morning without coffee and music and today is no different.

I learned last night that Grace has had to withdraw from the hike, I'm unsure at this time why she has withdrawn, but I do know she's still fundraising for us. This means there are now 11 of us doing it. We will be meeting at Dani's house in a matter of hours. These are the train times for the journey to the start location, both for today and tomorrow morning.

Sunday morning (12/27)
Overpool: Leave at 9:22 am CST
Liverpool Lime Street: Arrive at 9:58 am CST
Liverpool Lime Street: Leave at 10:31 am CST
Preston: Arrive at 10:37 am CST
Monday morning (12/28)Preston: Leave at 1:14 am CST
Carlisle: Arrive at 2:25 am CST
We're then getting a taxi from Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway, where we're starting. The hike itself should start no later than 2:00 am CST, I think.

As for the return journey, I'll be coming back from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I've not booked any travel though as although the hike is scheduled for 6 days, we may be delayed.
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for your love and support, it really does mean so much to me. Have a great New Year. See you in 2010!

The second entry of the day was written that evening and posted to the site the day after returning from the hike...

December 27, 2009 - Hike minus 1 day (cont)
After waking at 8:00 am GMT and making final preparations I relaxed for a few hours. As noon approached, I called and spoke to my son who told me all about Christmas.

As everyone in the US woke up, I called and spoke to a friend for a few minutes. Then, just before 2:00 pm, another sent me a text saying that he and his wife were awake and asking me to call them. I planned to leave around or just after 2:30 pm. As he and I chatted, I took a deep breath, the time was almost upon me. Before passing the phone to his wife, my friend wished me luck.

Nervous excitement was really kicking in as the conversation continued. Just before the call ended, she said "It's time you were going, lady. We are all with you, we love you." Her last words to me were "we're so proud of you, Em!"
Having put the phone down, I put my coat on and swung my rucksack onto my back. I picked up the holdall and second bag then left the house for the 10 minute walk to Overpool railway station. As I waited for the train, I struck up a conversation with a stranger about the adventure that lay ahead of me. During the conversation, he gave me a donation for the charity and we continued talking until he got off the train.

Arriving at Liverpool Lime Street station, I discovered I'd need to change trains at Wigan North Western, instead of being able to get straight through to Preston. The transition wasn't long, and in fact I arrived at Dani's house just before 6:00 pm as planned.

I was the first to arrive and as we started getting to know each other we both checked our bags. I swapped a few things into the rucksack that I'd need for Monday, as Seb's Dad, Terry, would be arriving soon to take the rest of the kit.

Emily arrived at the house next, just before Terry. Having chatted for a short time and loaded the car, Terry left and we went to fetch Grace. Even though she's not coming with us, she was coming to meet us all tonight. We also dropped Dani off, as she was meeting the others at the bus station and walking back with them.
Grace, Emily and I got back to the house shortly before Dani, Seb, Bea, Zach, Graham, Pip, CJ, Alex and Jake. It was wonderful to finally meet everyone. Having ordered out for a late supper of fried chicken, we began settling for the night around midnight. It was late, VERY late, well after 2:00 am GMT before many of us got any sleep at all...
In the next retrospective entry, I'll share with you some of the highlights from each day of the hike. That post was written the day I got back and gave me some time to type up all the other entries. I'll be back later this week with another post with my training notes from this year, so I hope you'll join me then.

God bless,

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Step by step 2014 ~ I feel great

Hi everyone,

Before we take a look at my training notes from this week, I want to remind you about an invite that I first posted in last Friday's post Invitation, review and plans...

Over to you ~ an invitationWe've all got a story to tell and I'd love to help you share yours, or those of your loved ones with the readers of this blog.
~ Have you, or do you know anyone who has served in the military, however long ago it was?
~ Perhaps, with the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One approaching, you'd like to share something of that time, or of another conflict, of which we know there have been many
~ Have you overcome adversity in any way?
If you'd like to share anything, you can contact me either via my Facebook page, or by email to emlouisef {at} gmail {dot} com. The address is written in this way here so it's not picked up spam bots, so remember to remove the spaces and replace @ and .
If you'd like to catch up with my previous training notes from this year, you'll find them all HERE.

Friday, May 9, 2014
I again changed things up today, warming up with a single 15 minute rep of the dance workout that I've been doing this far. I then switched up to a "Walk at home", led by Leslie Sansone. I was understandably a little tired after Wednesday's two mile swim, so only did two of the three miles, but I feel great! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014
Stepping on the scales this morning, I saw that I'd not lost any more weight, although I wasn't particularly expecting to, because the loss seems to have settled into an every other week pattern. Today's rest day was a very relaxed one.

Monday, May 12, 2014
Having completed a couple of miles of Leslie's workout last Friday, I did the full three miles today. I found the workout to be a great one and I wish I'd found it when I first started! You can take a look at the one I did here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Having completed two miles in the pool last week, I eased back to 1-3/4 miles or 84 laps today, the main reason being that I'll be hitting the pool again on Friday. Now I'm more aware of what the distance can take out of me, I took a sports drink to the poolside, leaving it within easy reach as I dropped into the water. 

Unusually, it took me a few laps to find my rhythm and my arms felt a little heavy, but as soon as I settled, I pushed on. I paused for a quick drink after the first 10 laps and then every 20 or so from that point. 

I was able to keep count quite easily today and having reached 50 laps I pushed on. As has become my routine, I switched up the stroke for the last two laps. Gliding in at the end of the final lap I was breathing hard, and stayed low in the water, indeed I dropped to my knees and as soon as I caught my breath I said a prayer of thanks. 

Rising to my feet, I reached for my drink and sipped it before putting it back on the side. I took my goggles off as I walked to the side of the pool and this is when I really felt the benefit of keeping hydrated; climbing out of the pool, my legs weren't heavy, for the very first time. 

Writing this post now, it's a few hours since I got out of the pool. I'm relatively pain free, although I can feel a slight niggle in my left bicep, which I have previously felt. I'll monitor it ahead of the next workout and will, if needed, stay out of the pool until next week. Having said that, I do feel great! 

Thank you!
Thanks again everyone for all your support, encouragement and indeed inspiration. It truly does mean so so much to me! 

I'll leave you with another pic from the high school battlefield trip...

God bless,

Monday, May 12, 2014

Step by step 2009 ~ part 6

Hi everyone,

Today we continue our look back at the Step by Step journal from the 2009 challenge, starting on December 21. If you've missed the previous posts in the series you can read them HERE, the link opens in a new tab.

December 21 - Walk minus 7 days! I completed my LAST 12 mile training hike this morning. I'm doing 6 miles on Christmas day, but other than that, my training is complete!

WOW it really is getting close now! I didn't get my packing started at the weekend, but here's the list of things I'll be taking. We're not having to carry everything with us, only things needed for that day. The rest of the gear will be transported by our support vehicle, which Seb's Dad will be driving.

Thermal base layer
Hiking trousers
Fleece sweaters
Waterproof jacket
Waterproof trousers
Hiking boots
Prescription meds
Pain meds
Band aids
Blister band aids
Antiseptic wipes
Hand sanitizer
Glucose tabs
Head torch
Cell phone
Spare batteries for everything
Foam mat
Sleeping bag
Plastic plate
Plastic bowl
Plastic cup
2 ltr water bottle
Day-sack (small rucksack)
Notebook and pen

I can't believe that it's so close now. To have finished my training really brings it home. This time next week, we'll have completed day one of the hike! That said, I still have a lot to get done.

* Tuesday (12/22) - Last minute shopping (for the hike, not Christmas). I'm also collecting my train tickets. I'll be up and out early.
* Wednesday (12/23) - Officially switch back to UK time. Get packing done. Finish work for the holidays.
* Thursday (12/24) - Rest day. I've got some personal emails to write and some phone calls to make.
* Friday (12/25) - I'm doing 6 mile hike that I'd planned before I knew about the hike.
* Saturday (12/26) - FINAL rest day. I intend to totally relax and check that everything is packed.
* Sunday (12/27) - After a quiet morning I'll be travelling by train to Preston, arriving around 6:00 pm GMT. All those of us doing the hike are staying at Dani's house that night. It will be the very first time I've met the other hikers.
* Monday (12/28) - HIKE DAY 1! We'll be up VERY early to get the 7:14 am train from Preston to Carlisle. From there, we'll get a taxi to Bowness-on-Solway. The hike itself should begin around 9:00 am GMT.

I intend to keep this "blog" going while I'm away, though you won't see it until I get back afterwards. 
December 23 - Walk minus 5 days!I'm switching back to UK time today, the packing isn't yet done, but it WILL be started later.
December 24 - Walk minus 4 days! I've *finally* got the packing done! I'm totally ready for Christmas too.

December 25 - Walk minus 3 days! Merry Christmas everyone! I did my last leisurely 6 miles this morning, something that was already planned before I knew about the hike. Though the hike itself starts in 3 days, I will be travelling on Sunday, so there's now just 48 hours to go! WOW! 
December 26 - Walk minus 2 days! This is it. I travel up north tomorrow ready to start the hike on Monday. In the last 30 days I've walked more than 140 miles in training.

I'm doing nothing except relaxing today, conserving energy for the next 9 days. I'll post again tomorrow, then keep writing this blog while I'm away, so you will see more of it when I get back.

THANK YOU ALL for your support, it really does mean do much to me.
I'm loving sharing these memories with you and from this point in our look back, we'll be focusing on a single entry each week, because there was so much to write about each evening.

To close this entry, I leave you with a couple more images from the high school battlefield trip...

 Please join me on Wednesday when we'll look at my continuing preparations for this year's challenge.

God bless,

Friday, May 9, 2014

Invitation, review and plans

Hi everyone,

Whereas we've focused on either retrospectively looking back at the 2009 challenge, or at my training notes for the 2014 challenge in recent posts, in today's we'll review my journey so far and look forward to this year's challenge. But first, it's...

Over to you ~ an invitation
We've all got a story to tell and I'd love to help you share yours, or those of your loved ones with the readers of this blog.

~ Have you, or do you know anyone who has served in the military, however long ago it was?

~ Perhaps, with the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One approaching, you'd like to share something of that time, or of another conflict, of which we know there have been many

~ Have you overcome adversity in any way?

If you'd like to share anything, you can contact me either via my Facebook page, or by email to emlouisef {at} gmail {dot} com. The address is written in this way here so it's not picked up spam bots, so remember to remove the spaces and replace @ and .

Battling Back 2014 ~ Review and planning
It's now six weeks to the day since my first very tentative, 15 minute workout that left me exhausted. Those six weeks have seemingly flown by, at least they have for me. Here are a few questions that we'll use periodically to review and plan, a kind of interview with myself...

Did I truly realize then the enormity of the task at hand? Yes, I really was starting from the beginning, physically, so I knew it would be VERY tough, but as I've said before, if I'd not been mentally and spiritually ready, I couldn't have gotten even to this point.

Did I think I'd have progressed to the point I'm at now? No! Although I had a rough idea of how the training would progress, I really was taking baby steps and especially with not feeling well for the first few weeks, I've surprised myself so much.

Did I have any idea that in just five pool sessions, I'd have already swum seven and a half miles? NO WAY! See above answer.

What was my expected weight loss at this point? I honestly didn't have a target for this point. All I knew was that I'd have around 15 to 20 pounds to lose over the course of the journey. I'm very pleasantly surprised to have lost 9 pounds already.

How am I feeling? I'm feeling GREAT! I'm so much stronger, so much fitter, my posture has improved and I'm a lot more toned. I'm enjoying seeing and feeling the physical changes. I'm happier within myself too and can HONESTLY say I'm loving every aspect of my journey, be it the workouts/ training or the planning and organizational aspects of the challenge, of which there are many.

Are there any changes to the already announced challenge plans? YES! If you missed the amended distance in a previous post, this has gone up from the original 23+ miles to 26 miles 385 yards, or marathon distance. Because of this, I can now confirm the start date WILL be Friday, October 10, 2014 and there will be 17 individual swim sessions, every other day, until the already announced end date of Tuesday, November 11, 2014.

The individual sessions will be of varying length, with the absolute maximum distance to be 2 miles/ 96 laps of the pool.

As of today, there are 22 weeks until the start date!

What are the next steps? This last week I've changed my workout/ training routine up from what it was. Next week it will change again, exchanging one of the cardio sessions for another pool based session. Because of this, I now need to take more notice of my nutritional needs. I've been watching what I eat since I began, adding more protein and carbs and have, for example, stopped drinking soda in favor of a lot of water. From this point I'm also introducing protein and sports drinks pre and post workout, to ensure I'm at my best and can recover quickly. I will continue to give my all during each and every training session.

I've registered the event with the UK based charity, Help for Heroes, but I still need to confirm the US based charity that will benefit from the challenge and once that happens I'll truly begin my fundraising push. If in the meantime anyone would like to sponsor me, please contact me by the details above.

Anything else to add? Once again, I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone for all your support, encouragement and inspiration. Words cannot describe what it means to me. I thank God for each of you and for keeping me free of injury and safe during each session.

God bless,

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Step by Step 2014 ~ Changing things up

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by, I'm honored to have you here. Thank you all for your support, encouragement and inspiration. Today we continue our look at this week's training notes. If you've missed the previous notes from this year, you can see them all by clicking HERE.

We'll start with another pic from the high school battlefield trip...

Friday, May 2, 2014
Similarly to last Friday, today's cardio session was a shorter than usual one, at only 45 minutes. My limbs felt really heavy and I was conscious of the few niggles I'd felt in the pool on Wednesday. I really need to listen to my body even at this stage of the training, because of the risks involved, pushing too hard could be disastrous and that's not a risk I'm willing to take.

Saturday, May 3, 2014
Before stepping on the scales this morning, I wasn't sure if I'd lost any more weight this week, partly because of the increase in muscle definition and tone that I'm seeing and feeling. So, I was very happy to see that I have indeed lost another 3 pounds, for a total loss so far of nine pounds. The loss seems to have settled into a pattern of nothing one week, with 3 off the next. I'm still some way off my target, but I'm feeling so much better even now.

Monday, May 5, 2014
I was determined to change my cardio session up today, so switched to a different 30 minute routine, at a higher pace. Instead of repeating it a second time, I did a 15 minute session of various parts of the workout I have been doing from the beginning, keeping the pace high and being sure to stretch out and protect all muscle groups.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 ~ Splash by Splash
From the moment I completed last weeks 84 laps/ 1-3/4 miles, I'd planned to complete the same distance today, because it is the distance that I'd worked out to be that which will be done during the challenge. All that changed while I was on the way to the pool this afternoon. Any distance athlete will tell you that it's better to exceed your target or race distance during training. So, the same would be true for me today. Having only ever swam 2 miles once before in my life, that was today's target!

I got into the pool just before 2:00 pm and was soon into my rhythm, although the first couple laps were perhaps a little slower than some I've done because I was focusing on my technique and position in the water. For the first half mile, or 24 laps, I paused briefly to adjust my goggles every 6 laps, but only for maybe 20 seconds, if that.

I was able to keep count of the laps today easier than at other times, I think because the target of 96 laps is enough and I don't want to do any more! This might seem strange to some, but the first mile, or 48 laps, was relatively easy for me. Say what? Yep, even for me, that sounds strange, but I passed the mile with barely a thought and pushed on.

At around 56 laps I started to feel some tension in the left side of my neck and shoulder, but it wasn't niggly or painful, instead telling me that the muscles were doing what I was telling them to do! It was also around this point that I started tiring and losing form in the water, so I focused on pulling my abs in and lifting into a better position for a little, then upped the pace again

The last 15 laps were understandably tough, but just as with every lap over the past five weeks, I gave it my all and pushed on with everything I had, once again changing up my stroke for the last 2, laps 95 and 96 today.

Touching the wall at the end of lap 96, having completed my target distance, even lifting myself to standing was difficult. I truly had given everything I have. With my back to the pool, I said a very, very brief prayer of thanks, looking up as I did so. Turning once more, I lifted my goggles, then slowly walked to the edge of the pool, took hold of the ladder and pulled myself up out of the water, pausing to make sure I could stand, before walking around the pool, grabbing my towel and heading back to the locker room.

As I write this now, I've been out of the pool for a couple of hours and have refueled. The only ache I feel right now is a slight one in each bicep, but I'm not uncomfortable. I am understandably tired, but very happy, very proud to have achieved another target. Five weeks, five targets achieved and I've gone from a mile to two.

In my next post, on Friday, I'll be sharing some more of the planning aspects of the challenge. Once again, HUGE THANKS to all of you for supporting, encouraging and inspiring me as I continue Battling Back.

God bless,

Monday, May 5, 2014

Step by Step 2009 ~ part 5

Hi everyone,

Today we continue our look back at the Step by Step journal from the 2009 challenge, starting on December 17. If you've missed the previous posts in the series you can read them HERE, the link opens in a new tab.

December 17 - Walk minus 11 days!
Today turned into an unscheduled rest day. Now I'm getting this close to the start of the hike, resting is as equally important as getting out and training. I was able to totally relax and catch up with some other things that I've been neglecting recently.

December 18 - Walk minus 10 days! I can't believe how close I'm getting now. The final countdown has really begun. I did just four miles training today, but it was great to get out there. I also got downtown and picked up the items for the first aid kit.

The weather will be colder than initially expected during the hike, so I'll be making sure I pack PLENTY of extra layers. I'll begin packing over the weekend and will, as promised in an earlier posting, give a detailed kit list.

December 19 - Walk minus 9 days! Another unscheduled rest day, as I spent time with family this morning. As it is, I'm VERY tired today. Rest is my first priority right now. I'll rest tomorrow too, then get out and do a 12 miler on Monday, it will be my last big session.

December 20 - Walk minus 8 days!Today is my last REAL rest day, as it all gets a little hectic from here. Final 12 mile training session tomorrow; last minute shopping on Tuesday with a 4 miler; back to UK time on Wednesday; short session Thursday; 6 miles on Christmas day; check packing Saturday; travel up north this time next week...

Before closing this relatively short post, I want to share another of the battlefield trip photos with you. The quality of the image is relatively poor for a number of reasons, it's been scanned and also because the light on the day was poor and I have purposefully not edited the file in any way because I want to convey as much of the atmosphere of the trip as possible.

In my next post I'll share my latest training notes and another couple of pix too, so I hope you'll join me on Wednesday. 

God bless,