Monthly Archives: May 2013



With slightly over a week left, I have become completely paranoid that I am going to hurt myself and find myself unable to complete my climb. Just today I thought, “Oh it will be a lovely weekend! I should run or hike.” but then I had a vision of falling and snapping my leg in seven places! Can you imagine? This weekend I am slated to help my dad do some home remodeling. Normally I’d be excited about this but I worry I will shoot myself with a nail gun and die of tetanus (despite the fact I’ve had my tetanus shot). 

Excuse me now…I’m to go bubble wrap my body then low crawl to bed! 

My new outfit



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10 days and a wake up!

I can’t believe that I’m only 10 days away from beginning my Kilimanjaro adventure! It hardly seems real! Six months ago it seemed so far away!

I’m starting to have real anxiety about reaching the summit. Until this week I’ve been confident in my ability to reach the top but a sudden illness, which resulted in me feeling awful, caused me to reflect upon how difficult it is to do something strenuous when you’re feeling under the weather. I started to think about how difficult it will be to reach the summit if I am feeling the effects of Altitude Sickness and how wretched it must be to push on despite headache, nausea, and sheer exhaustion. I am going to pray I make it. Not just for myself but for all the people who’ve supported my dream. 

Also, I really want to reach the summit to honor the people who’ve donated to the charities for which I’ve been raising money. Everyone I know has been so generous and it really warms my heart to know that I am friends with and surrounded by a network of people who are so generous with their money and so encouraging with their words, thoughts, and prayers. Life really is good. I hope the funds raised help make it a little bit better for children in Africa!

Speaking of donors, one of my promises to those who donated was that I’d carry their name to the top of the mountain with me. Initially, the thought was just to write them down on a piece of paper and carry it up; however, as the number of donations increased, I realized I needed to do something more. So I decided upon a flag! Tonight, with the help of my parents, I made a “Donor’s Flag”. I bought some canvas and my step mom sewed a seam around it. My dad and I put eyelets in it so I can tie it to the summit sign. It looks great! Now I just have to get my friend Tresa to help me decorate it and write the names on it. I think it’s going to be awesome. I will post pictures of it when I am finished but for now, here is the blank canvas (literally). 

My dad and step mom helped me with this. They are awesome! I love them!


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Memorial Day, Viruses, and Hot Dogs

Click Image to enlarge

I’m infected

In precisely two weeks I begin my journey to Africa! I’m a mixed bag of excitement, dread (for all the airport nonsense), and nervousness. So many things are running through my mind. For one thing, I’ve got this ridiculous illness which refuses to budge. Doctor said it’s bronchitis and gave me antibiotics but I dunno. Either amoxicillian is as effective as water OR I have a virus. I’m leaning towards the latter. I’ve GOT to shake this thing before I leave because there’s NO way I can trudge past 15K feet feeling this way.

The other thing weighing on my mind is this STUPID knee. Suddenly, I feel pains even when I am sitting. I chalk this up to effin’ with the popliteus muscle the other day before my run. Despite what the army of doctors I enlisted to help think, it’s NOT my IT band and I am NOT suffering from ITBS. Instead, I am 127% convinced that I have tendonitis of the popliteus muscle. Problem is, since it’s not a common injury and it’s not one that is either A,) easily diagnosed and worse yet, B.) not easily fixed, the doctors try to convince themselves, and me, that it’s ITBS. Thank God for Google because I’ve been able to figure it all out myself. Not sure what the fix is…but I just pray it calms down long enough for me to summit. We shall see. 

Tasty lil’ fella

I’m going to spend this weekend trying to flush the Ebola virus out of my body and work on iPod playlists for Africa…oh, and maybe eat a hotdog in honor of Memorial Day. Not sure how a hot dog honors our fallen but I’d like to think those dead soldiers in Arlington and American Cemetery in France are smiling down on me as I murder an Oscar Mayer in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave! Seriously though, I do want to pause for a moment this weekend to remember all those who’ve given their life for this country. It’s a pretty awesome thing that I live in a country where, as a woman, I am free to pursue my dreams, without the help or attendance of a man! Sure there are still things like glass ceilings and such…but I am free in the United States. Free to vote, free to speak my mind, free to own property…free to pursue happiness. I am thankful for my freedom! Now bring on the adventure!


I took this photo at American Cemetery in Normandy France 12 years ago. Every American should visit. Thank you, lads!

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Packed and Ready to Go…Sort of.

All my Kili gear

All my Kili gear

I decided to pack my gear. Whew, what a task!  I wanted to see if everything fit and also wanted to know the weight of everything. Bags must weigh less than 30 pounds at the gate or they won’t carry it. I don’t want to stand at the gate and find myself forced to either leave something behind OR carry it in my backpack because my duffel is too heavy.

Packing isn’t easy for me. When I went to Paris, I dedicated an entire suitcase to shoes! I’m definitely not Carrie Bradshaw but even a tomboy like me needs shoe options in Paris! I digress… My point is that  trying to pack for a trek up a mountain AND a safari is was no easy task, especially when you’re a pack rat!

Packing took awhile simply because I had to determine how to organize things. Also, I have Attention Deficit so every time I saw something shiny I jumped down a rabbit hole of inquiry with it. Ugh!   I had a million stuff and compression sacks to help with packing. I compressed my sleeping bag and my coat which helped a lot with space. I also compressed my clothing in a water proof sack. After divvying everything up, I then started the process of packing it into my duffel and my backpack. The biggest issue I have with the stuff sacks is that they’re all the same darn colors: orange and green. That’s going to make it confusing when I start digging through bags to find things. I can already picture the daily chaos which will take place in my tent: Clothes and gear flying, cursing, etc. as I search for something that I need (which, inevitably, will be lying at the bottom of the bag or in the last place I look).

It took awhile but I managed to get it all packed. Unfortunately, it’s all very heavy! I weighed my duffel it weighed nearly 30 tons pounds.  I’d like it to weigh a few pounds less just so I know I’m not in danger of going over but also because I don’t want to cause undo burden on the porters. I already feel horrible about the fact they’re going to cart a toilet up the mountain for me (That sounds terrible, doesn’t it? How imperialistic of me!). I don’t want to make it worse by carrying everything but the kitchen sink with me.  My backpack – wow, it’s pretty heavy too. I really need to rethink what I have in there and consider thinning things out. Once I load it up with water, it’s going to be really heavy and that concerns me. On the flip side, having a heavy pack will encourage me to drink lots of water so I can lighten it up! Genius!

My task this weekend is to sort through things once more and determine what is necessity and what is just overplanning and thus, deadweight. For example:  Do I really need a steripen? Do I need all the Luna bars and snacks? How many articles of clothing will I really wear? Speaking of clothing, it looks as if I am being sponsored by Mountain Hardwear. Seriously, almost everything I own, clothing wise, is Mountain Hardwear. In my opinion, their clothing is superior to North Face and thanks to Sierra Trading Post, I got everything on clearance. Yah! I digress…(I do that a lot…see, attention deficit…shiny things).

Finally, I need to give some thought to what I plan to wear on the planes. While it’s not such a big deal to wear dirty clothes on the mountain or even on safari, for that matter, who wants to wallow in their own filth for 13.5 hours on a plane? Also, it’s not fair to do that to the poor mug who has to sit next to me.

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Everything but the kitchen sink

24 days from departure and I’m starting to fear I have too much gear. I’m having nightmares of being turned away at Londorossi Gate for having heavy bags! Eeeeek! I’m going to have to do some serious consideration about what I plan to take and what I realistically will use. Things I think I may need to really consider are:

1. Steripen- Sounds like a great idea but honestly, they boil the water. I think. 

2. Snacks – I’m a snacker. I love to snack, especially when I am miserable. But will I really need 8 Luna bars, 7 packs of Chomps and God only knows how many packs of Gu? That also doesn’t factor in the bag of Milky Ways I plan to take. Seems ridiculous. 

3. Clothes – I’m notorious for dragging copius amounts of clothing on backpacking adventures only to live in the same outfit for days. Why would Kilimanjaro be any different? 

4. Hand warmers – I have a billion. How many do I really need? I plan to duct tape some onto my water bottles for summit night but do I need more than a dozen?

I think packing is going to be stressful. I really do. 

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Leaving the Colonies

From England to the New World

Living in Roanoke is like living in a British colony circa 1765. It takes months if not years for fashion and news to filter down and it’s next to impossible to find an efficient way to other places. Just as it took colonists months to sail across the Atlantic to Mother England, it takes ‘Noker’s hours upon hours to get to a hub such as DC or Charlotte in order to travel elsewhere. Such is my quandary for Africa. Roanoke is merely a puddle jumping stop so there’s no such thing as direct flight to anywhere. I will be flying out of Dulles to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. One would think that would be the great distance to be traversed but oh no! It’s not. The big hurdle is not the Atlantic. It’s that 250 mile stretch of Commonwealth that separates me from an international airport. 

I have several options:

1. Fly from Roanoke to Dulles – Not going to happen. It will cost nearly $400 and more importantly, the headache that results from dealing with TSA and other airport shenanigans such as making connections, dealing with luggage, etc. just isn’t worth it. Sure, it might only take 37 minutes to fly from Roanoke to DC but the truth is when you factor in all the airport drama it takes hours. Why pay $400 for hours worth of travel when I can spend less money and same amount of time (or less) going via car.

2. Train – HAHAHAHAHA. The problem with this option is that, despite living in a town the railroad built, there are no Amtrak stops within a 50 mile radius. I don’t feel like driving to Clifton Forge OR Lynchburg. Plus, they don’t go to Dulles and I’d have to take a cab from Union Station to Dulles. I’d have to sell an organ to cover the fare or enter into some sort of indentured servitude. I enjoy my freedom and my kidneys too much to consider either. 

3. Personal Car – My car is 14 years old. I love my car and it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had but….frankly, I’m not sure I feel confident soaring up the road in it. I wouldn’t want to deal with breakdowns or other car issues 200 miles from home, especially with a flight deadline pressing me for time. Plus, I’d have to park my car at the airport and the cost for that would bring me back to the “selling an organ” issue that I want to avoid. 

4. Rental Car – This seemed like the best solution. However, I will be gone for two weeks so parking a rental car for two weeks is absurd so I checked into one way rentals. Holy Gouging! A one day rental is only $20 a day UNLESS you drop the car off at a different location. Doing that jacks the price up to over $100 a day. That’s ridiculous! I refuse to pay over $200 just to a rent a car for a combined trip total of 8 hours ($100 for going up and another $100 coming back). 

Luckily my dad stepped in and offered to drive me if I rented a car (he has a brand new Toyota but doesn’t like driving it anywhere, go figure) so instead of paying $100 a day, I will just pay $20 and he will have the fun of returning it. 

I feel badly though. Similar circumstances happened years ago when I returned from Albania. My poor dad got stuck carting me back and forth from Roanoke to Dulles. So I guess I wonder, dear reader, am I just a cheapskate and a bad daughter for trying to save a few bucks, thus causing my dad to drive me? 

No Fun

Maybe in the grand scheme of this whole adventure, it’s silly. Truth is, I’ve spent a fortune on this trip but I guess I hate spending money on ridiculous things. Spending money on a safari or some other awesome experience seems like money well spent. Spending money on ridiculous things like rental cars seems pointless. I’d rather spend my money on fun and adventure and frankly, there’s little adventure to be found on I-81. 

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Broad Street Run


Love Park, Philadelphia

*Author’s Note: I wrote this a week ago and forgot to post it**

I love Philly! I lived there for nearly eight years and consider it my second home. I left only to be closer to my family in Virginia. I returned this weekend to run the Broad Street Run.  I miss my city! Originally I signed up last year but the race was a week after the Nashville Half Marathon and I just didn’t want to run two long distances back to back…and travel to do it. So I deferred my entry to this year and my friend Nik C ran (Spice girl name!) with me.

I’ve been praying and paying (co-pays) in an attempt to resolve this IT band issue so that I could triumphantly run down Broad Street but sadly, it didn’t work out as I planned. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Broad Street Run starts in Olney in North Philly which, frankly, is a pretty rough section of town. I lived there for nine months. In fact, the race starts RIGHT IN FRONT of my old apartment. I’ll never forget moving in and two weeks later hearing a guy get shot in the parking lot of my apartment. Gunshots and screams of agony and fear…ahhh, City of Brotherly Love! 😉 I digress….the course follows Broad past City Hall and down to the Navy Yard in South Philly. The weather was gorgeous but the morning was very cold. Luckily Nikki brought a thermal blanket from  the Nashville Half and and we took turns wrapped up in it as we stood over the subway grates. The extremes a runner will go just to run a race, I tell ya!  Once the sun came up and the race started we were fine.

So back to my leg….I felt great until mile 3. Then I felt my glutes getting tight. That’s when my heart started to sink.  By mile 4 I knew my IT band was in trouble. By mile 5 I had to walk. From there I did walk run intervals until I got to mile 9. At that point I just ran it in. I discovered that if I pushed out on my knee as my foot made impact, I was able to run without too much pain. I’m upset with my time. It’s a PR for WORST time; however, I am thankful I was able to finish the race. My goal is to run it again next year (the whole thing). I am also thankful for my friend who stayed with me. I feel badly that I held her back but I appreciate that she didn’t want to leave me behind. That’s a true friend!

I am tired so I will spare all the poetic details of the race but a highlight for me was running past Temple Hospital and seeing a little sick boy in a wheelchair. They rolled him out to watch. Also pretty awesome to hear 30K runners cheer for him as they ran by. I pray for good health and a long life for the lil guy.

Overall I think I just need to strengthen my glutes for now and focus on that. I also think I will just lay off running until I get back from Kilimanjaro. The last thing I need is to have my summit attempt thwarted by this evil piece of fascia that lives in my leg. Ok I am tired…that is all.

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