Friday, January 31, 2014

Take This Winter, Please, or When Andrew Caught Cabin Fever

Snowy Sequoia National Park

I'm sure you've all been anticipating it, so here it is. Yep, It's my second annual post announcing my weariness of the winter. Unlike last year, this one seems justified, as for the first time in a while it's actually been a real winter. Here in northern Illinois, it was mostly cold from mid November through to Christmas, and it just got worse after Christmas. So far I've only sat through one truly major snowstorm (the one that dumped almost a foot on Central Illinois the first weekend of January), but there has been plenty of smaller snow events, and the temperatures and wind have been even worse.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hiking Training Plan 3.0: Week One

Week: January 17-23
Miles Hiked (Week): 0
Miles Hiked (January): 0
Miles Hiked, (January Goal): 0
Miles Hiked (Yearly Total): 0
Pounds Lost (Week): 3.2
Pounds Lost (Total):  3.2
Weekly Goal Met: Yes
Nights Camped (Week): 0
Nights Camped (Total): 0
Nights Camped (Backpacking): 0

The first week back at the hiking training plan went pretty well, as I lost 3.2 pounds over the course of the week.* This was in part due to the fact that I had hit my calorie total two of the days last week. In addition, I began my exercise regimen again, which currently is limited to about ten minutes of walking two-three times a week, some limited exercises with dumbbells, and twenty minutes sessions of WiiSit**.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hiking Training Plan: Getting Going Again

This picture of me was taken by Erin atop Blood Mountain. Not pictured was the strenuous hike to get there. Without a doubt this hike was the toughest I've ever attempted. And with good reason, as the hike from the parking lot to the summit of Blood Mountain (the third highest and highest on the AT in Georgia) was over 1,800 feet. It's one of my proudest hiking accomplishments to this day.

That hike also had significance because it came at the culmination of several months of my first informal hiking training plan. For months, I had hiked several miles, done plenty of other exercise besides hiking, and eaten slightly better (i.e. had some vegetables with those fries and cut out some snacks and weekday eating after 8:00). I was at my fittest weight I had been in a few years, and my vitals were all the best they had been for a while. Sure, the hike had kicked my butt, but I recovered quickly and was eager for even bigger hiking challenges.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hiking Training Plan: Starting Over

So I'm back to square one with my hiking training plan. Why? Well, it didn't help that I missed the hiking goal for November, and was well on my way to getting a fat 0 miles hiked in December. On a related note, I gained back some (not all) of the weight that I had taken off during the previous months. Had it just been these reversals, I would have still needed to regroup and figure out a way to get back on track.

Then it happened. It started with what I thought was just a typical cold, something I'd endure for a couple days and get over. This time, however, it didn't go away after a few days. Instead, it started getting worse, to the point that I couldn't eat most things, couldn't sleep (couldn't even lie down), and couldn't do much but exist painfully. At one point I hit a 104.7 fever, although that crashed pretty quickly once I took some pain/fever medicine. Finally, after putting it off for too long, I went a local convenient care so I could get this taken care of, as it was ruining my holidays.

Some investigation and a chest x-ray later, I was on my way to the emergency room, as I had double pneumonia. Turns out had I put off getting treatment any longer that what I did, I could have really been in trouble. Fortunately, I had caught it in time so the really, really, bad stuff didn't happen, although I certainly was in bad shape already. They started pumping me full of antibiotics and fluids, and I started getting better.

I spent eight days in the hospital, completely wrecking what was left of the holiday season. I "celebrated" the New Year trying to get some sleep, not exactly what I had in mind. At least I was able to spend New Year's Day watching football, even if it was while sitting up in bed or in the chair in my hospital room.

Finally, I was able to breathe well enough without oxygen, my white blood cell count started returning to normal, and I started regaining enough strength to walk longer distances than just from my bed to the bathroom to the chair and back. This was good enough for me to go home, where the next stage of the recovery would begin.

It's now been over a week since I was discharged, and I am still recovering. I still have trouble sleeping, mainly because it still hurts to lay on my side. But I do sleep, which is an improvement over when I felt terrible. I've walked longer distances every day, and the past few days I've been traveling up and down the stairs of my parents house. Ever so slowly I'm gaining back energy and ability to walk longer distances and just live a normal life. Still, it will take time, as walking more than a hundred feet is still pretty taxing.

Because of that, I have no choice but to start from scratch with the hiking training plan. I'm still a little ways away from being able to walk for 10 minutes (the minimum amount of time I consider being a worthwhile amount of exercise). As such, I'll have to focus for now on hitting calorie goals, and rebuilding my strength. Naturally, I am suspending my hiking goals for January and February, and will also be scaling back my ambitions for much, if not the entire, year.

That being said, I am focused on seeing this through. I don't know when I'll be getting back on a trail (hopefully March, but we'll see), but I'll be glad when I do. Until then, I just need to focus on getting my strength back, and remain committed to following the plan. Hopefully you follow along with me.