China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 2 – Gubeikou Section

After a good nights sleep we all awoke – stiff and in pain from all the steep steps of day 1 – and hobbled down to breakfast.

Today we were walking to the start point on the Gubeikou wall and so no need to get the coach, although the coach would be waiting at the end of the walk, so after breakfast we had to pack all our stuff and put it on the coach ready.

We also made our packed lunch again (same yellow bread as day 1) and filled up our water bottles ready for the trek ahead.


Great Wall of China Trek: Day 2 – Gubeikou Section

When we were all ready, at around 8.30 am we started walking through the pretty little village of Gubeikou to the start point of the trek.

China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou village
China Trek Day 2 – Gubeikou village

It was a steep and challenging ascent up to the top of the wall(especially with sore calves from day 1) but the views were amazing on the way up.

China Trek Day 2 - Hike up to Gubeikou
Views on the hike up to Gubeikou – you can see the wall on the top of the mountain ahead

The Gubeikou section of the wall was completely different from the Jinshanling section on day 1. It was not restored/well preserved. It was rugged and crumbly with uneven terrain which was difficult to walk on in parts, there were also some really narrow sections with huge drops either side, which was quite scary for some people in our group.

China Trek Day 2 - narrow section of the wall at Gubeikou
Narrow section of the wall at Gubeikou

Despite this, I quite enjoyed this part of the wall. It’s more how I imagined the walking to be on this challenge and it was far less touristy – in fact we didn’t see another soul on this part of the wall, except for another charity walking group like us.

China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou

After walking for a while we had a break which was a chance for a quick rest and to take in those amazing views. We were lucky again with the weather today, around 16 degrees and pure blue skies which meant the views were stunning.

China Trek Day 2 - rest stop at Gubeikou
China Trek Day 2 – rest stop at Gubeikou

China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou

After the break and a quick snack, there was a very steep climb up to one of the towers in the distance. This bit was very challenging as the terrain was uneven and there were some bits where we had to scramble up and over rocks.

China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou steep climb up
China Trek Day 2 – Gubeikou steep climb up
China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou steep climb up
China Trek Day 2 – Gubeikou steep climb up

After the steep climb we stopped for lunch and the views again were breathtaking.

China Trek Day 2 - Views from the top at Gubeikou
China Trek Day 2 – Views from the top at Gubeikou

Then came the descent back down, which I actually found harder than going up as it was a challenge not to slip as the path was steep and quite sandy and slippy in places. In fact, I had my first slip on the way down the Gubeikou section. Luckily I was ok but I bruised my leg and knee quite a bit.

After a long and challenging day, we headed back to the coach and the drive to the next place we were staying. It was actually a hotel tonight (Shuangyang Hotel) rather than a lodge and we were in more of a built up area rather than the middle of nowhere like the last two nights.

On first glance the hotel looked nice and quite fancy compared to where we had been staying the previous two nights. However the downside was that there was no heating because the certain parts of the city of Beijing are not allowed to switch heating on until the 11th November! So it was verrry cold.

Tonight, we had a few hours to spare before the evening meal so we showered and changed and decided to head out into the area we were staying and explore.

We had time to visit a couple of supermarkets and that was an experience as everyone was staring at us!

I fancied some crisps but it appears they only have strange flavoured crisps in China..I settled for some cucumber crisps as I was intrigued, but they weren’t great in all honesty..

 

China Trek Day 2 - Cucumber Crisps
China Trek Day 2 – Cucumber Crisps

We then headed back to the hotel for food and it was another nice Chinese meal.

China Trek Day 2 - Chinese Meal

There was no bar (Chinese hotels don’t tend to have bars which I found very odd) so we sat in the lobby and chatted for a bit before heading to bed, it was very cold though so we didn’t stay up too late tonight.

We then headed back to our rooms and packed our bags ready for day 3 and the move to the next hotel.

 

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling Loop

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 1 – Jinshanling Loop

Hi guys!

Well I’m back from China and what a fabulous experience it was. I wanted to write a blog post each day I was there but I didn’t have my laptop in China and so I thought I’d write a day by day update now I’m back.

Overall, I had an amazing time and met some truly inspirational people, who all had personal challenges to overcome.

Fitness wise, it was challenging but surprisingly I didn’t find it too bad. The bigger challenge for me was the rough terrain and the steepness, as slipping was a real concern.

I think all the running I did beforehand really helped with the fitness side though. Before I went, I was worried about how my back would cope and I was right to worry. On day 3 I managed to injure my shoulder, which was very painful for the remainder of the trip.

I think this was a result of carrying a heavy back pack while trekking. My shoulder is still very sore and it feels like I have torn the muscles there. Due to my scoliosis, I already had weakness there, as the muscles are weaker on one side. This is where I have also strained my muscles previously by running. So I think the combination of the heavy back pack and swinging of the walking poles must have been pulling on this and it kind of re-ignited the previous injury.

In all honestly, I was a bit upset by this, as I wasn’t able to carry a backpack for days 4 and 5. This made me feel like a bit of a failure, like my back let me down and it also made me feel like I’m not invincible!

Luckily, everyone was so kind and carried my kit and water for me so I could continue on with the challenge (even though it was very painful).

The best part was that I managed to raise OVER £1,000 for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund! I really can’t believe it and I’m so grateful to everyone who donated and made this possible.

I’m going to leave my page open for donations until the end of November, so if you’d like to donate and support me and others with scoliosis, you can so so via this link.  🙂


Day 1: Jinshanling Loop

We had arrived in Beijing the previous afternoon, very tired and very jet lagged! After checking into the Impression Lodge and having a brief use of the WiFi, we headed to the restaurant for a yummy Chinese meal and a couple of beers. This was a chance to get to know the others in the group a bit more (some of us had already met in the airport/on the plane) – there were 17 of us all together.

As we were all tired, after a couple of drinks and a briefing about plans for the next day, we headed back to our rooms and packed our day sacks ready for the first day of trekking.

China Trek Day 1-Impression Lodge
China Trek Day 1-Impression Lodge

On day 1, we woke up early and headed to breakfast, after which we made our packed lunches, which consisted of strange yellow Chinese bread and some fruit and biscuits, and we filled our water bottles/bladders. At this point it still felt surreal to us all that we were actually in China and about to do what we were going to do!

We then got onto the coach, taking all our bags and stuff with us, as the next night we were staying at a different lodge. This part was a bit of a pain for me as lugging my huge rucksack around was really not easy! Most of the time I dragged it along the floor or some one helped me with it (luckily).  We travelled about an hour or so to our first challenge: the Jinshanling Loop.

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling Loop Sign

We felt very lucky on the first day as the weather was perfect for walking and for getting some truly stunning views of the wall – it was sunny with pure blue skies and a high of around 17/18 degrees.

When we arrived, we had a quick toilet break and our first experience of the Chinese “squatting” toilets! Luckily they were clean but it was a strange experience initially, as we are not used to them back in the UK. We then walked up to the visitor gate and got ourselves ready, sorted out our walking poles etc and headed on for the first part of the trek.

To get onto the wall itself, we first had to walk up ALOT of steps and I think this is the first point where I (and others) realised how tough this was going to be. It took at least an hour of climbing what felt like endless steps before we made it onto the wall, but when we did, my god the views were worth it. This was the first time we had properly seen the wall itself and I was taken aback by how beautiful it was, especially as it was such a clear day and you could see the wall snaking around the mountains for miles and miles.

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling Loop

One of the main things that hit me at this point was also how steep the wall was! The word of the week was undulating – as it was pretty much constant ups and downs. I don’t think anything can prepare you for the sheer steepness, as we really have nothing like it back in the UK. The pictures don’t do it justice but I took some pictures just to try and show how steep it was. All I can say is I really don’t know how people manage to run the Great Wall of China marathon on here!!!

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling Loop 3

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling - steep steps
China Trek Day 1 – Jinshanling – steep steps
China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling - more steep steps
China Trek Day 1 – Jinshanling – more steep steps

After a few hours of trekking, we stopped for lunch and a bit of a rest and the views were just insane. We all said we didn’t think we’d ever had a better view for lunch before! Even if we did have to eat strange yellow bread 😉

China Trek Day 1 - lunch
China Trek Day 1 – lunch

After lunch, it was more of the same and after more trekking and being chased by women selling t-shirts, magnets and purses, some of the group started the walk down back to the coach and the rest of us carried on a bit further to an older, less renovated section of the wall. This was the first time seeing a less renovated part and it was sad to see it literally crumbling away in sections.

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling
Less Renovated Part of Jinshanling
China Trek Day 2 - Less renovated section of the wall
Less renovated section of the wall

We walked as far as we could until we came to a section which had completely crumbled away, so was impassable.

China Trek Day 2 - Impassable part of the wall
Impassable part of the wall
China Trek Day 2 - End of the wall
China Trek Day 1 – End of the wall

After this, it was time for the descent back down to the coach. The steps down felt like they went on forever!! When we got to the bottom, we were sweating and our legs were aching but we were pleased to see a guy selling beer in the car park – result! So of course I (and a few others) bought a beer and we sat in the sun and drank it before getting on the coach and heading onto the lodge where we spent the second night.

China Trek Day 1 - Beers!
China Trek Day 1 – Beers!

A great end to a fantastic first day! After finishing our beers we headed to the next stop – Green Lodge in Gubeikou village, as on day 2 we would be trekking the Gubeikou section of the wall.

On the way though, just as we were starting to relax, our coach got stopped for a random police check and we had to haul all our luggage off the bus and take it, with our passports, to be checked in the police station! That was a little scary and also the first time it’s happened to our guide. Everything was ok though and we all got back onto the coach and arrived at the Green lodge an hour or so later.

This first night was my favourite night of the whole trip as the lodge was really cute, very authentic Chinese.

China Trek Day 1 - Second Hotel - Green Lodge
China Trek Day 1 – Second Hotel – Green Lodge

After a brief rest, shower and packing of our bags ready for day 2, we headed downstairs for food. We had an amazing meal of traditional Chinese food and beers, and tried some traditional Chinese rice wine, which is very strong and tastes like more of a spirit than wine.

China Trek Day 1 - Chinese meal
China Trek Day 1 – Chinese meal

After a good night we headed to bed, exhausted and ready for day 2 – the Gubeikou section.

Great Wall of China

My Great Wall of China Trek is Tomorrow!!!

Hi

Just a quick post tonight!

I cannot believe that my Great Wall of China trek for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund is tomorrow. I’m so nervous it’s unbelievable. I have been packing and stressing tonight and I’m worried that I have forgotten to pack something. I’m also worried about what’s to come and because I’m going by myself. Eeek! It’s totally outside of my comfort zone.

It’s also quite exciting though and I’m looking forward to seeing China and pushing myself.

I am also impressed that I managed to fit everything into one rucksack lol.

Great Wall of China Trek

So what will I be doing?

Over the course of 5 days I’ll be trekking the Great Wall of China for up to 7 hours a day. I’ll be hiking up steep terrain and climbing thousands of steps. I’ll be trekking on un-renovated sections of the wall at height and staying in basic lodges. And I’m doing all of this to raise awareness and money for scoliosis.

There’s still time to sponsor me, if you’d like to 🙂 Just click on the link below.. All money will be donated to the Scoliosis Campaign Fund who support people with scoliosis and fund research into finding the causes of scoliosis and treatments to improve quality of life for patients. They are only a small charity so every penny really does mean everything.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=LouiseLaurie

Well, I guess I’ll see you on the other side! I’ll be sure to post updates and pictures when I get back 🙂

Bye for now,

Louise X

Snowdon Pyg Track

Walking the Snowdon Pyg Track

As some of you may or may not know, in October I will be trekking the Great Wall of China to raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund! I’m excited and terrified all at the same time but what better way to prepare than to hike up a mountain. So on Sunday, that’s exactly what I did! I hiked up Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales.

Now, I have done this trek a couple of times before and so I knew what to expect. Lots of steep steps, rugged terrain and bits of scrambling – perfect training for what I needed. I also made sure I had my back pack on my back the whole time which contained my layers, lunch, snacks and water. When I do my China trek I’ll be carrying my day pack on my back the whole time, so this is essential training. I need to know that my back can take it if anything!


Snowdon Pyg Track

We decided to hike up the Snowdon Pyg Track. The Pyg track is 5.5km, is one of the most popular/busier paths and is the track I had done twice before. The Pyg Track is relatively easy to follow and there are only a couple of scrambling parts. That being said, it’s also relatively steep, very rocky in parts and has lots of steps!

To walk the Snowdon Pyg track it’s best to arrive early, especially on weekends/sunny days! The car park gets full VERY quickly as it’s only small and the Pyg track is one of the most popular tracks. It takes two hours to drive to Snowdon from where I live, so with it being a bank holiday weekend, we left at 5am (!) and arrived just before 7am. The Pyg Track starts from Pen Y Pass car park, however even at 7am when we arrived it was already full!!

It was ok though because if the Pen Y Pass car park is full, you can just turn left out of the car park and drive for 5 minutes or so until you come to another car park which costs £5 to park and you can get the Sherpa bus back up to Pen Y Pass for £1.50 (or a taxi which is £6ish), which is what we did.

There are benefits to arriving early though, even on bank holiday weekend there weren’t that many people hiking up and it was pretty quiet and peaceful. Later on it gets busy and you literally have people right behind you at all times which can put pressure on you sometimes.

Anyway, so we were ready to go at about 7.30am at the start of the Pyg track on the Pen Y Pass car park…it’s obvious where it starts from as there is a sign marked “Pyg Track.”

 

Snowdon Pyg Track
At the start of the Snowdon Pyg Track

Snowdon Pyg Track: the walk up

The Pyg Track is fairly straightforward, it starts briefly on tarmac (as above) but this quickly turns into steep, rocky steps with a few sections where you need to scramble. This ascends gradually towards a peak (which is actually Crib Goch – another path only to be attempted by the very experienced/brave!!). If you are wondering why, Google it and you’ll see 🙂

Snowdon Pyg Track

 

When you get to the “top” of the first ascent, the path levels out a bit and there is a bit of relief from the uphill climb. The views here are amazing on a clear day (see below). I have been lucky in that the last two times I have done the Pyg track, the views have been amazing but there is often fog which obscures the view somewhat. Be sure to always check the weather forecast before attempting Snowdon. In my experience, clear fine days are best as wet days can make the rocks slippy and it can be more dangerous.

Snowdon Pyg Track - Views
Snowdon Pyg Track – Views

The next part is quite straightforward, just make sure to keep to the path marked Pyg Snowdon (as below) and not to head up to Crib Goch (which is marked on a sign to the right).

Snowdon Pyg Track

Follow this path as it ascends gradually to the summit. There are some steep parts and rocky bits that require scrambling. Eventually you come to some steep steps that zig zag up towards the top. When you reach this point you are almost there – but not quite! This is probably the most challenging part and most people have to stop several times for a rest as the steps are pretty steep. When you get to the top of these steps the view (on a clear day) is breathtaking!

Snowdon Pyg Track - Views from the top

It’s at this point you can see the summit – you are very close but still a short climb away. Follow the path to the left alongside the mountain railway and you’ll eventually reach the summit – hooray! Time to enjoy the views. We had a packed lunch at the top overlooking the amazing views. There is also a shop and a cafe at the top where you can buy hot drinks and food (and beer!) It’s usually cold at the top and so layers are definitely required.

Snowdon Pyg Track - Summit
Snowdon Summit – it’s windy up there!

Getting down: The Miners Track

Of course, you can go down the way you came but it’s good to try a different route 🙂 (Or you could always take the train!) We went down the Miners track. To get down the Miners track, you go down the same way you came up on the Pyg track, following the same path until you come to a stone marker which marks the descent down the Miners track. In all honesty, I find going down much harder than going up as you really have to be careful to avoid slipping and hurting yourself on the rocks. The Miners track is pretty steep and is more of a scramble down the rocks. I wouldn’t like to go up that way to be honest as it’s really steep!!

Once you get past the scrambling part though, it’s pretty much plain sailing and an easy walk past the lakes back to the Pen Y Pass car park. As it was a nice day, we spent half an hour or so sunbathing by the lake at the bottom of the steep descent. We figured we’d earnt it 🙂 It was very relaxing and felt like being at the beach. Some people even went in the lake but it was a bit cold for my liking.

Snowdon: Miners Track
Snowdon: Miners Track

Some tips for walking up Snowdon

  • Pick a good day weather wise, check the weather a day before you go. In bad weather it can be dangerous and is not worth the risk.
  • Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
  • Take at least a litre of water (or more on a hot day).
  • Take some change for the car park/bus (Pen Y Pass costs £10 to park and the other car park I mentioned is £5. The Sherpa bus is £1.50 each way)
  • Take some snacks/packed lunch.
  • Wear good walking boots – you need decent walking boots with grip. Trainers are a no-go unless you want to slip on the rocks/hurt your feet or ankles.
  • Take lots of layers – whatever time of year it is the weather can be changeable up a mountain. You’ll need warm clothes like a fleece/hat/gloves etc for the summit.
  • Take/wear a waterproof coat and trousers.
  • Take suncream and wear a sunhat/sunglasses in the summer as the UV rays are high up there!

So there you have it. That was my experience walking up and down Snowdon for the third time. I must say I found it much easier than the first time I tried it (at 1 year 8 months post op). I am much stronger/fitter now and I think you need good strength to scramble and pull yourself up the rocks. Plus, the weather was much better and it’s much easier when it’s not freezing cold and raining or boiling hot. My back is aching a bit today but it mainly feels like muscle pain and hopefully it will be better tomorrow.

Hopefully this experience was good practice for my China Trek, although I’ll be doing hikes like this everyday for a week back to back! I may be crazy, but it’s for the best cause possible.

If you’d like to sponsor me for my China Trek and help those affected by scoliosis, you can sponsor me here:)

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

If you’ve made it this far, THANK YOU for reading! <3

I’m now off to rest my sore back.. 😉

Until next time,

Louise X


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Walking the Snowdon Pyg Track

Great Wall of China - Fundraising for Scoliosis

Fundraising for Scoliosis: Great Wall of China Trek!

I apologise for the lack of posts recently, I haven’t been able to post as much due to holidays and general life busyness. However, I thought I’d write a quick update about my next big adventure!

After the success of the British 10K, I’m continuing to fund raise for scoliosis by undertaking a MASSIVE personal challenge.

In October, I’ll be taking on a 9 day trek of the Great Wall of China in order to raise funds for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

If you are affected by scoliosis it would mean everything to me if you could sponsor me, as I’m trying to reach a target of £500. The Scoliosis Campaign Fund are only a small charity and so every penny really does make a huge difference.

All money raised goes towards helping to support people with the condition as well as funding research into the causes and treatment of scoliosis. By supporting me, you’re helping people with scoliosis now and in the future! 🙂

If you would like to sponsor me, you can do so via the link below:

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving


So what will I actually be doing?

I’m heading to China on 21st October to take on 9 days of trekking the famous Great Wall!

Beginning 4 hours north of Beijing, the challenge takes on a series of vigorous upwards climbs of over 10,000 relentless steps over the course of a week.

I’ll be…

-Trekking for around 4-7 hours per day, covering approximately 50kms over 5 days.
-Continually hiking up and down thousands of stairs.
-Battling the heat/cold on exposed sections of the wall.
-Trekking on un-renovated sections of the wall, with crumbling steps, shrubbery and rocks underfoot, and steep stair climbs.
-Taking on sections at height with drops at either side.
-Staying in basic lodges each night.


How do I feel?

I’m incredibly nervous, as although this is part of a group challenge, I’ll be doing this challenge by myself.

I have never travelled by myself before (without my friends/family) and so this makes me very anxious. I’m also by nature a fairly reserved person and find talking to new people difficult, so this will be scary and challenging for me on that front too.

By doing this challenge, I am totally putting myself outside of my comfort zone! But it’s something I have always wanted to do and I am sure that the experience will be good for me. Plus, I really want to do something amazing to raise awareness of scoliosis and much needed funds for the scoliosis campaign fund.


Time to train!

On a physical level, although I am fairly fit I am also worried about the physical demands of the challenge and whether my back will cope with days and days of consecutive walking uphill whilst carrying my daypack! No doubt I will be in pain while doing it but I love a challenge and I am determined to do this and prove that I can.

I’m hoping I will be fit enough as I have ran 4 10K races this year, I run several times a week and also do strength training (Body Pump classes) at the gym weekly. I’m not really used to walking uphill though and so over the next couple of months, I’ll be adapting my training to incorporate long (and hilly) walks over the weekends to prepare.

This weekend, I am going to climb mount Snowdon in Wales, which I hope will emulate the wall of China fairly well in terms of the terrain and climbing uphill for several hours. I’ll be sharing my training diaries and progress on my blog so look out for this!


That’s all for now!

I’ll be checking in soon with some more updates on this challenge including my training diaries and what I’ll be taking etc.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Thanks for reading,

Louise X

 

British 10K London Fundraising for Scoliosis Race Recap

British 10K London: Fundraising for Scoliosis

So, yesterday I achieved one of my objectives for the year and ran the British 10K for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund. How was it? Much tougher than I expected!

Those of you who follow my blog may know that I have done several 10K races this year and ALOT of training to prepare for this event. I have been training since January, as back then I could barely run 5K!

But I was determined to build my distance and take part in this event to help raise money for a charity so close to my heart.


British 10K London: Race recap

I travelled down to London with my boyfriend on Saturday, a day before the race, as I’m based up north and the race started early Sunday morning. When we arrived in London the first thing I noticed was how hot it was compared to up north (!) and I was really hoping it would cool down for the race as I’m not great with running in the heat.

I did my very best to prepare for the race on the Saturday, I refrained from alcohol, drank lots of water and ate a lot of pasta! The refraining from alcohol bit was tough because everyone around me was drinking, as it was such a gorgeous sunny day!

We did some chilling on the Southbank, went for a meal and then had an early night (boring but I really wanted to do well!)


The day of the race

British 10K
British 10K

Even though we were staying in central London, we had to get up pretty early and get the tube across to the start (9.30am).

When we arrived at the bag drop area it was crazy busy (there were over 10,000 participants!) and I started to get nervous. I didn’t sleep well the night before as I was worrying about the race. This was my second race of this scale (I did the Great Manchester Run in May) so I’m still getting used to running these type of events.

We arrived in plenty of time though, so I had time to queue for the toilet and then head over to my start pen (E). I have to say at this point, that considering the scale of this event, I thought it was EXTREMELY well organised. I have taken part in smaller running events which have been utter chaos and so I was very impressed! There were plenty of signs telling us where to go which took a bit of my anxiety away.

To get to our start pens we had to walk down Pall Mall, which, lined with Union Jack flags set us up for the race nicely!

British 10K - walk to the start
British 10K – walk to the start

It was about a 10 minute walk to get to my start pen, which was a good warm up and a chance to take some pics. At this point it was already getting HOT, so I was starting to get concerned about running in it (I’m a northerner so I’m not used to the sun…!)

British 10K - Pall Mall
British 10K – Pall Mall

Once I reached my start pen, they did some warm ups and eventually we made our way to the start. Everyone was put in groups (A-H) depending on their speed, so the fast groups went first and we all gradually filtered round. I was in group E which was pretty much in the middle.

British 10K - at the start
British 10K – at the start

During the race

I have to say I really struggled with this race. I have done several 10K’s this year and I found this one the hardest by far. It was mainly to do with the heat, for me it was just too hot to comfortably run in. It was around 26/27 degrees and very humid and there were no clouds at all so the sun was burning down on us.

I have done a few training runs in hot weather but as we don’t get many really hot days up north I’m used to running in much cooler temperatures. As it was so hot, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I felt like I couldn’t really take in the amazing sights because I was struggling so much to keep myself going!

There were soooo many times where I was tempted to stop but I didn’t. I just keep thinking of the scoliosis charity and all those amazing people who had sponsored me and I didn’t want to let them, or myself down.

So I didn’t stop once, I kept going and all the way round I was just thinking – when will this end?! It was pure torture!! Most of the runners running near me were visibly struggling and there were so many who had to stop and walk.

Despite this though, the route itself was a great route, past all the main sights and there were lots of cheering crowds to keep us going! The highlight was probably running over Westminster bridge, as not only were the views awesome, I knew we were near the end!!

I definitely ran slower than I could have done in parts due to the heat. When I approached the finish line I had literally no energy to sprint like I usually do and just kept at my steady pace.


After the race

I collapsed in a heap!

Not quite… I found a place to sit down and catch my breath and wipe myself down (yuk!) After I recovered, I checked my Strava and it appeared my average pace was similar to that of the Manchester run, so despite the heat I wasn’t going as slowly as I thought!

British 10K at the end
British 10K – with my medal

In the end, I managed to complete it in exactly 1 hour, which is slightly slower than my previous 10K races (PB is 57.27) but not bad considering how I felt.

I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping to get a new PB given all the training I’ve done but I guess the elements were against me.

At the end of the day, I know I can do 10K faster but it’s not about speed. I’m just proud that I finished it, I didn’t stop and that I raised money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund, which is what I set out to do. When it comes to it, this is all that matters.

I even managed to meet up briefly with some of the other scoliosis runners who are all amazing and inspirational! It was great to meet others with scoliosis as I had actually never met anyone else in “real life” with scoliosis before.

British 10K - Team Scoliosis Campaign Fund
British 10K – Team Scoliosis Campaign Fund

Overall, I had a great day even though the run was tough. Plus, the medal and finishers pack is awesome (yes, that is a tin of baked beans..!)

British 10K - Finishers Pack
British 10K – Finishers Pack

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far, it means so much to me!

My sponsor page will be accepting donations until November, as my next challenge for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund will be trekking the Great Wall of China in October (post coming soon).

If you have scoliosis or know someone with scoliosis please consider sponsoring me to help the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

The Scoliosis Campaign Fund raises money to support people with scoliosis and their families, and fund research into finding the causes of scoliosis and treatments to improve quality of life for patients. They are only a small charity so every penny really does mean everything.
Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Thanks for reading 🙂

Louise X

Things you CAN do with a fused spine

Things you CAN do with a fused spine!

Since my scoliosis surgery almost 7 years ago, I have achieved SO many things that I never thought would be possible post surgery.  As scoliosis is in the news right now (as a result of Britain’s Got Talent) and in some cases being portrayed rather negatively, I thought I would try and put a positive spin on things.

I wanted to share my achievements post scoliosis surgery to prove that there IS life after scoliosis surgery! Once recovered, your scoliosis shouldn’t stop you from living a normal life.

Disclaimer: Please note, these are all things I have achieved once fully recovered (e.g after at least 1 year post op). Every case of scoliosis is different. I’m aware that not everyone is as lucky to be able to do all these things post surgery. If you have recently had spinal fusion, please do NOT try any of the below until you have had the all-clear from your Dr/surgeon. 


Things you CAN do with a fused spine…

Yes, living with scoliosis and a fused spine can be difficult at times. There are things you probably shouldn’t do or activities that need to be adapted post surgery. Sometimes though, it’s easy to ignore all the amazing things you CAN do after such a major life changing surgery.

I have blogged about most of these things already, but thought I’d list them all in one post and keep adding to it as I achieve more things!

  1. Climb a mountain
  2. Run 5K, 10K races
  3. Complete a muddy obstacle course
  4. Walk 26.2 miles overnight for charity
  5. Complete a MSc Degree with distinction (while working full time)
  6. Go to the gym 4/5 times a week
  7. Body Pump and light weight lifting
  8. Zumba/Aerobics
  9. Dance
  10. HIIT (high intensity interval training) classes such as Metafit
  11. Boxercise
  12. Body Combat classes
  13. Cycling / Spin classes
  14. Swimming
  15. Hike up hills
  16. Ride a Zip wire
  17. Travel all over the world
  18. Snorkel

What else?

ANYTHING you put your mind to!

Scoliosis Quote - Broken Crayons still Colour

My surgeon honestly told me there was nothing I couldn’t do after I had all restrictions lifted. (This was after about a year post op.) He even told me I could ride roller coasters and go bungee jumping (I’ll add it to my list…).

I know every case is different and I’m not saying you SHOULD do any of the above things if you have had spinal fusion. Lower impact exercise is much better for the spine than say running.

However, these are just some of the things I have achieved since surgery that I’m proud of.

I never thought I’d EVER be able to do any of the above things when I was in the early stages of recovery. But our bodies are amazing things and I believe we can do anything we put our minds to. 


What’s next?

My ultimate goal is to run the London Marathon for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund because, wow, what an achievement that would be!

The Scoliosis Campaign Fund had a team running the London Marathon this year and several team members had had scoliosis surgery. I just found that so inspiring and would love to do the same in the future.

I think surviving this surgery has really made me determined to keep pushing myself to try and achieve more things. I just want to squeeze as much out of life as possible and do as much as I can/try new things. When I first had the surgery, I was scared of causing damage to the fusion but now I am more daring.

There are so many more things I want to do, so hopefully I can keep growing this list over time 🙂


Have you had scoliosis surgery? What have you accomplished that you thought would never be possible post surgery?

Please share your stories below in the comments, I would love to hear from you!

Louise X

parkrun

Park Run Delamere Forest…a new PB!!

I’m so happy right now!

I just came home from my second Park Run at Delamere Forest and I managed to get a new PB!

Back in January, I went to my first ever Park Run at Delamere Forest. It was cold, dark, raining and generally bad conditions for running.

Despite this though, I still managed to get a time of 33 minutes and I was so proud of myself.

I haven’t managed to get back to Park Run since January as life has kind of got in the way. I was determined to go this weekend though as I’m conscious that my 10K London race for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund is coming up and Park Run is great training for that. Plus, it was a lovely sunny morning and perfect conditions for running.

This time, I was much more organised as I knew the drill. I arrived 10 minutes before the start time of 9am and made sure I was wearing my heart rate monitor and that my Runkeeper app was ready to go. I also made sure I had my headphones on ready so I could listen to my music and Runkeeper progress. Last time I didn’t get myself sorted in time and so had no music to listen to!

This time there were also A LOT more runners there, I think because it was such a sunny day compared to last time.

Park Run

I also wore better trainers this time. Last time I wore my gym trainers and they pretty much got ruined as it was sooo wet and muddy. I also nearly slipped on the mud last time and nearly twisted my ankle a few times too as it’s quite rocky underfoot and there are tree roots and things sticking out.  After my first Park Run, I bought some Karrimor trail runner trainers which are much better for the off-road conditions, like those at Delamere Forest.

park run

It was the first time I wore these trainers but I have to say I was impressed. They weren’t particularly expensive but the grip made such a difference. They are also waterproof too so if I do go on a wet day again in future, I don’t need to worry. The other thing I did was purchase a Park Run card. This is basically just a card with your name, phone number and barcode on the back. It just makes it easier as if you pop it in your purse you never have to worry about forgetting your barcode in future. I got one because on the first Park Run it was so wet that my paper barcode wouldn’t scan properly which caused a bit of delay at the finish line. So all in all, I felt like this time everything went much more smoothly!

A new PB

Last time my time was 33 minutes and 27 seconds. For me, this was a HUGE achievement! I didn’t even know if I’d be able to run the full 5K let alone finish at a decent time. This time last year, it took my around 40 minutes to run 5K, so I’ve improved so much. Today, I did push myself. I knew I wanted to beat my last time, the conditions were better this time and I was better prepared.

Today, I managed to get a time of 31 minutes!

I’m so pleased with this, although it wasn’t easy. Especially the last hill at the end! I did push myself quite a bit and I’m slightly worried how I will manage to do my 10K race as I was completely knackered after running 5K at this pace… I’m going to keep going though and will hopefully find it easier over time and keep improving. The best thing is that, even though it was a struggle, my back felt great! It may have been down to the adrenaline, or maybe the trainers I’m not sure but my back didn’t hurt one bit. I have been working on strengthening my back over the last 9 months so I feel like this is really paying off. Although, of course I have good and bad days and it will probably start hurting tomorrow!

#LoveParkRun

Overall, I think I run much better in a group like Park Run than when I run by myself. I think it’s because my competitive side comes out and I push myself more. It’s a fantastic, friendly atmosphere and I really can’t recommend it enough. I feel on a high all day 🙂

Have you ever been to Park Run? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below!

Until next time!

Louise X

Park Run

British London 10K Run - Westminster

British 10k London Run

I’m so excited!

This week it was confirmed that I have a place in the British 10K London run on 9th July and I’ll be running to raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

The British 10K London run takes runners through some of  London’s most iconic sites, such as Trafalgar Square, the Embankment, Big Ben and more.

The Scoliosis Campaign Fund raises money to support people with scoliosis and their families, and fund research into finding the causes of scoliosis and treatments to improve quality of life for patients. There is more information on the great work the Scoliosis Campaign Fund do in this useful information sheet.

Raising money for scoliosis…

I’ve been wanting to do something to raise awareness of scoliosis and raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund for absolutely ages, I just wasn’t sure what to do. When I saw an article in BackBone magazine about the British 10K London run last year, it inspired me to get involved and I knew that 2017 had to be the year.

It would be my ultimate dream to run the London Marathon for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund, but I am nowhere near ready in terms of fitness and honestly, I don’t think my back could take it.

At the moment, I can just about run 5K and will need to train over the coming weeks in order to work myself up to 10K, so I’m ready for the event.

Scoliosis Campaign Fund T Shirt
Scoliosis Campaign Fund T Shirt

10K Training

As part of my training, I plan to follow a 10K training plan online, whilst also attending any Park Run I can and doing my usual spin classes and Body Pump classes at the gym. Over the past few weeks, I have been running (or jogging!) about 20-30minutes several times a week, as I am also doing the Great Manchester Run in May.

I do find running difficult at times with my back but I am determined to do this in order to raise money and awareness of scoliosis, especially as I never thought I’d ever be able to do anything like this following my scoliosis surgery.

A personal achievement

After my scoliosis surgery, I had to learn to walk all over again. I couldn’t bathe or dress myself and had to have help just getting out of bed. Running a 10K race for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund shows how far I’ve come and I will continue to keep pushing and challenging myself further to achieve my goals.

The British 10k London Run is a major fundraising event for the Scoliosis Campaign Fun and I’m really excited to be involved! I plan on posting regular updates on here with my progress and how I’m getting on with my training.

If you’d like to sponsor me and help to support the fantastic work of the Scoliosis Campaign Fund, you can do so by clicking the button below 🙂

Sponsor me on Virgin Money Giving

Thank you!

Louise X

P.s. if you’d also like to get involved in raising money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund, there are loads of great fundraising ideas, resources and events you could get involved with available here – Scoliosis Campaign Fund – Fundraising Ideas.

Pin it and help me spread the word!

British 10k London Run - Support the Scoliosis Campaign Fund

My First Park Run

My First Park Run: Delamere Forest

I’ve been meaning to go to a Park Run for the last 6 months (since I registered last year). I’ve been putting it off though, mainly because I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to run the full 5K without stopping.

I got into running about two years ago now, when a friend invited me to run a 10K Race for Life for Cancer Research. That was my first ever organised race and I had about 5 weeks to train (from never having done any running in my life)!! I managed to do it in about 1 hour 17 minutes though and was pretty chuffed with myself.


Running with scoliosis…

After this, I got the running bug and continued to run in my spare time and at the gym. Unfortunately though, I injured my shoulder shortly after this and had to take a break from running for a while. I attended physio and was told my injury was due to my scoliosis. As scoliosis is a side-ways curvature of the spine, and mine is pretty severe, one side of my back has muscles that are more developed than the other side. The more developed side has to over-compensate for the weaker side, which means I am more vulnerable to pain and injuries.

Due to the pain, I decided to stop running for a while and focused on getting my back and shoulders stronger. I started going to Body Pump classes to improve my strength and spin classes to improve my fitness while I wasn’t running. I got a bit impatient though and signed up to a 5K mud run last year. I found the running part very tough though and had to stop a few times on the way round.


New Year, new running goals…

This year, after 6 months of body pump classes, I felt like my back was finally ready to cope with running again. So as part of my New Year Resolutions, I decided to try and get back into running. Earlier this month, I signed up to a couple of 10K races later in the year for motivation and vowed to finally make it to a Park Run.

Park Run Quote Scoliosis


The moment of truth…

The day I chose (Saturday 28th January) wasn’t exactly the best weather wise. It was freezing and chucking it down with rain. Nevertheless, I dragged myself and my boyfriend out of bed at 7am, determined to do it.

When we arrived at Delamere, I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know what to expect or whether I’d be able to make it round without stopping. I’ve ran/jogged 5K on the treadmill a few times recently but there’s a difference from being on a treadmill to being outside in the freezing cold rain and mud.

I needn’t have worried though.

As soon as we arrived I was put at ease. As we all gathered by the start line, one of the friendly volunteers asked if there was anyone there who hadn’t done it before and explained everything to us. We basically just had to run/jog/walk round and at the end they scanned our bar code and gave us our time. It wasn’t a race and there were people there of all abilities and ages (even dogs!)

I was totally unorganised in the excitement of it all and forgot to turn my RunKeeper app on until about 0.5Km of the way round. I also couldn’t get my headphones on quick enough as the run started, so I had to run with no music, which I’m not used to!

In the end though, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The weather was bad which made the track very wet and slippy but despite this, I managed to RUN THE WHOLE 5K WITHOUT STOPPING!!

Not only that, my time was pretty good (for me!) at 33 minutes. This to me is a HUGE achievement and I cannot tell you how proud I am of myself for doing it and finishing at this time. To be honest, I didn’t care about the time I just wanted to get round without stopping.

There were 280 runners and I wasn’t last! Woohoo!


Park Run Results Delamere
My Park Run Results

I have ran 5K before but a year ago it would take me around 40 minutes, so I have really improved. Plus, I think if the weather and conditions were better I may have been able to get round even quicker. We also started at the back (as we didn’t know what to expect) which made it harder to get past people at the start.

I really think the Body Pump and spin classes have improved my fitness and running capabilities. This was the first run in a long time where it actually felt comfortable, easy-ish and I actually enjoyed myself. I love the endorphins I get after a good run and felt on a high for a good few hours after I finished. I think it was endorphins that kept me going in the end.

Delamere is a lovely venue for Park Run and I really enjoyed the scenery of the forest and lake (even if it was ridiculously muddy!) There were also a few hills thrown in! The volunteers and other runners were all really friendly too and it’s like a lovely community. I especially loved how some runners who had finished quickly stayed and cheered the rest of us on.

I NEVER EVER thought that I’d be able to run 5K after I had my scoliosis surgery 6 years ago. However, I have continued to train and push myself and continue to improve as the years go on. It’s an amazing feeling!

I would highly recommend Park Run to anyone. It’s free and really well organised with loads of friendly people. I am definitely planning on going regularly so that I can keep on improving! I’ll also try and take more pictures next time.

ParkRun