Out With The Old, And (Still) In With The Pneumonia

Yesterday, the final day of 2011, I had a bad run. It was the first time I’ve been to Central Park for a workout since my Himalayan Adventure, and I had high hopes that I would enjoy a relaxed 6-mile loop. Sadly, my hopes were dashed.

I’m still battling the remnants of the pneumonia that I picked up in Nepal. And I shouldn’t have set the bar so high for myself yesterday, but that’s what I do. I met up with a couple of friends, and we started out at an easy pace. We caught up on life and chatted about our New Year’s Eve plans. Then I stopped talking, the effort was becoming too much. We tucked into Harlem hill, and my chest tightened up. I couldn’t breathe. I slowed to a walk, and I wanted to cry. This hill that I used to hate, but over the years had come to love, was suddenly back on my bad list.

At the crest I began to jog again, but the damage had already been done. I was mentally shot. I took another walk break on the next incline, and then cut off onto a dirt path to head back across the park where I started. In total, I completed about 3.5 miles. I should have been congratulating myself for getting that far, but instead I was frustrated. Mad at my lungs for being weak, angry that I’m still not better after three weeks of rest, annoyed that I got sick in the first place.

This morning as I welcomed in 2012, I realized I’m being way too hard on myself—I’m expecting too much, too soon. I’d like to say that I’ve resolved to lower the bar, to be more compassionate with myself (mentally and physically), and to stop feeling frustrated when things don’t go the way I imagine. But I haven’t. Instead, I’m looking into new training plans, new shoes, and destination races, and coming up with goals that are above and beyond the ones I set for myself last year.

I’m clearly not paying attention to the lesson I should have picked up from yesterday’s disappointment. Instead, what I have learned is that I’d rather shoot for the stars than aim too low. If I don’t even reach the moon, yeah, I’ll be bummed. But the kernel of positivity in my heart reminds me that the day I get it will be incredible.

Happy New Year!!! Have you made any resolutions yet?

Beyond Base Camp: My Mt. Everest And Annapurna Circuit Adventure

Trying to sum up 34 days of trekking in the Himalaya is pretty tough, which is why it’s taken me almost two weeks to write this post. The actual hiking wasn’t too difficult—if you can run, you can walk up (and down!) a few thousand meters. It was dealing with everything else along the journey—cold sleeping accommodations, cold showers, cold travel companions—that often proved challenging. Still, I managed to smile more often than not and I will always remember this trip as one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. Here are a few note-worthy memories:

Bonding at 17,598 feet

Picnicking at Everest Base Camp You wouldn’t believe how great a peanut butter sandwich tastes when eaten after tip toeing through a rockslide zone and crossing a glacier. Dining with my FFEs (Friends For Everest’s) made the moment even more filling.

Om mani padme hum

 

Meeting a Buddhist monk Lama Tashi is 96 years old and lives at an altitude of about 4000 meters (13,120 feet) in a monastery carved into the side of a mountain. (Ahem, hill. In Nepal, it’s not a mountain if it’s less than 6000 meters.) He charged me Rs 100 to pray for my trek, and then I gave him another Rs 500 to bless the rest of my life. Best $7.68 I’ve ever spent!

I’ve got my hands full

Counting to five Experts say chatting with locals is the fastest way to pick up a foreign language. So when a couple of little girls decided they needed my help to walk home from school, I took advantage of the opportunity and got them to teach me a few words. I will always think of their smiles when I recite: Ek, Dui, Tin, Cahr, Panc.

Flushed with fever

Catching pneumonia Getting sick overseas might seem like a bad thing, but it really wasn’t that terrible. I learned that even when I have a fever, can’t stop coughing, and might have fractured a rib (the pain was insane!), I could still hike to the next guesthouse… and the next one… and the one three days later. I feel nearly invincible! (Nearly. My body was so wrecked that I slept for four days straight when I finally got home.)

Biking to Bhaktapur File this under: “What was I thinking?” Even though I had been diagnosed with a lung infection and was on medication that warned against operating heavy machinery, I still felt the need to spend my last day in Nepal doing something exciting. After pedaling through rush hour traffic (terrifying!), avoiding potholes the size of elephants on back roads (impossible!), and huffing and puffing my way up some killer hills (spin class doesn’t prepare you for this!), I made it to the medieval town of Bhaktapur. There, I took in views of ancient temples and enjoyed a calm cup of tea. The thought of traveling the treacherous 22 kilometers back to Kathmandu was almost too much, but I channeled my inner NYC bike messenger and completed the round trip.

Now that I’m home, I’m looking forward to lacing up my running shoes and getting back to my normal routine. Stay tuned for more adventures!