Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Meat and Potatoes

Sorry folks, I didn't get to blog during the climb. Having had a couple of weeks to reflect on our trek, I guess it is time to make a few final posts and shut er down. It is a difficult experience to relate though. A common theme in our post climb discussions with the team is "you won't fully understand it, or appreciate it, unless you were there."  Things that seemed miserable at the time turn into wonderful, endearing and important memories. I am going to do my best to relate the experience as best and as accurately as I can (okay, I am going to add a little poetic license!).

First, let me say that every member of Team WaterCan knew that our Kili climb would be the most physically and mentally challenging experience of our lives. And every single member will tell you that it was far more difficult than we imagined it would be.  At the same time, I don't think I have ever felt better, particularly about myself.  For the first time in my life, I felt like I was meeting, or perhaps even exceeding, the expectations I have of myself.  I was confident, at ease, and completely comfortable in my own skin.  It was like I was firing on all cylinders at all times and I knew it.  There was a tremendous freedom that came with that, which I had never experienced before, and have not experienced since.  I have never known a better version of me than the guy I was on that mountain.

For those of you who were not following our podcasts, tweets and Facebook updates during the climb, Team WaterCan did the Shira route, also known as the Western Approach.  It is a 7 day trek (6 days up and one day down) through 5 different climate zones (from Tropical Rainforest to Arctic).  If you look on the map above, on the way up, we camped at Shira  1, Moir, Baranco, Karanga and Barafu Camps.  We came down Mweka Route and stayed at Millennium Camp.

Shira is one of the longest and most physically demanding routes, but provides the most time to acclimatize to high altitude. Average success rate is 65 percent.  21 of 22 members of Team WaterCan made it to Uhuru Peak (95 percent success rate?).  The one person who did not reach the summit made it to within two hours of the summit.  She was forced to turn back because she started having problems with her vision. In the words of our lead guide Wilfred, "If you lose your eyesight at altitude, there is only a 50 percent chance that you will get it back.  It's not worth the risk."  Now that's it all done, I can tell you that summiting was not the important part.  Starting and finishing together as a team was what was most important.  And thankfully, we were fortunate enough to be able to do just that.

I have been referring to our group as a team, but it is far more profound that.  We arrived in Tanzania as 22 strangers.  We came home a family.  Of all the amazing experiences I had on this adventure, it is the people I cherish most.

Enough of my sappiness.  Let's talk about the climb.  Here are some interesting tidbits about the climb:
  • Our lead guide Wilfred has summited Kilimanjaro over 100 times and is the only Tanzanian to have ever summited Everest.  He is one of only 3 black Africans to have done it.  He did it in the Spring of 2012. 
  • Our route up the mountain covered over 100 kilometres of, sometimes hostile, terrain.
  • We hiked 6-8 hours per day, with the exception of summiting day, where we went for about 15 hours.
  • We were burning between 4,000-6,000 calories on each day's trek.
  • We drank about 4 litres, or 10 lbs., of water while hiking. When you factor in the water, tea, coffee etc. that you drink at camp, you're talking about 6 litres of liquid per day.
  • The food we ate on the mountain, was the best I had during the entire the trip and there was plenty of it.  I always went back for seconds.  Sometimes, I went back for thirds and forths.
  • I lost 15 lbs during three months of training. I lost another 10 lbs on the climb itself.
  • My resting heart rate on the mountain was consistently around 120 bpm.  While summiting it was over 180.  My oxygen rating was a 91, which my means my respiratory and circulatory systems were working very efficiently.
  • You have strange, strange, vivid dreams on the mountain. I won't share the X-rated ones (Lol), but my favourite had Ben Mulroney and I working as sales associates at Staples. We ordered in sushi for lunch and the bill was $1,700.  Ben and I were freaking out because we couldn't figure out how we could pay the bill and we thought the delivery guy was part of the Japanese mafia.
  • We were 22 climbers.  Our support team of lead guides, support guides, porters, cooks etc. was made up of 120 people.  Without them, none of us would have made it.  They are the real heros of the story, especially the porters, who not only carry their own packs, but carry an another 33 lbs of stuff on their heads and navigate difficult terrain the way most of us walk down the sidewalk.
Let me give you a sense what it is like to summit.

You've already hiked 6 hours to get to Barafu Camp, where you summit from.  When you arrive at Barafu, you have lunch, do your summit briefing, and have some leisure time.  After dinner at 7 p.m., you go to bed wearing your summiting clothes (so all your warmest mountain gear) including your boots.  You try to sleep, but you can't. Your mind is racing due to a combination of anticipation, nervous energy and the sound of howling winds.  You get up at 10:30 p.m., have a quick meal and start to summit at 11:30 p.m.  It is cold, really cold.  There are high winds and it is pitch black. The only light comes from the head lamps you are wearing.  You can only go about 45 mintues before complete exhaustion sets in.  You take a couple of minutes to drink some water, eat a granola bar and somehow you find enough energy to do the next 45 minutes. At about 2:30 you enter was is called The Cold Zone.  You know it as soon as you hit it.  It doesn't matter how much you are wearing, your hands and feet freeze and you can feel it in every bone in your body.  You start to think the mountain does not want you to be there, and you are reminded of it every time you see a pair of porters racing past you carrying someone who has been overcome by exhaustion or altitude sickness.

Somehow, after 6 and a half hours, you find yourself approaching the plateau.  Arriving at Stella Point (your first destination at the summit) it is not glamorous. You see guides literally dragging exhausted people over the top. There are people vommiting or crying uncontrollably all around.  You gulp down some ginger tea, hoover a granola bar and then trudge the last few kilometres to Uhuru Peak. When the Uhuru Peak sign comes into view, you definitely get an adrelane rush and you start moving faster than you have during the entire trip.

Before I get to what it is actually like to reach Uhuru Peak, let me tell you what I had expected. I thought I would get there, there would be some jubilation, we'd high five, hug, maybe even cry a bit, take some time for celebatory pics, then take in the view and explore the glacier and the crater before leisurely making our way back down.  It was nothing like that.

I should point out that we were lucky. It was a crystal clear morning at Uhuru Peak and we arrived as the sun was coming up. You could see forever. They call Kilimanjaro the Shy Mountain because most of the time the summit is covered in clouds.  Many people that summit never get to see their surroundings.

The main thing running through my head at Uhuru Peak was that I wanted to get the hell out of there. And that's what everyone else was thinking too.  With the wind chill it was minus 35 degrees celsius. You could see the ice crystals growing like snow flakes on peoples clothes. There was snow and sand blowing in our faces.  It hurt!.  We took pictures as fast as we could. There were banners that we had carried up for photo ops.  We only pulled out one.

Approaching Uhuru Peak at Sunrise
Here are a few my summitting highlights.
  • As the sun came over the horizon I could actually see the curvature of the earth.  It was a fleeting thought though. The real significance of it only hit me afterwards.
  • The sight of the glaciers was awe inspiring (it is actually one glacier that has split into two). It is unimaginable to think that they will likely be gone in less than 20 years. I have to thank our photographer Nick Spector for that.  I was already on my way back down when Nick asked me to stop for a photo. I took a few of minutes to soak in the view. If it weren't for Nick, I might not have thought to take in that moment.
  • The absolute high point was on my way back to Stella Point. We had been informed that three team members had not made it. That illicited both anxiety and concern. And then, as I was making my way back, there was Raj and Duncan, still working their ways to Uhuru Peak.  Happy is not the right word to describe how I felt.  I was absolutely elated!  I hugged the guys for all I was worth and offered some encouraging words knowing that they were absolutely going make it.
Looiking Down On The Glacier and Mt. Meru From The Summit
The story of coming down is every bit as interesting and even more taxing than going up. The guides tell you that all the time, but you are so focused on reaching the top, that it doesn't register until you have reached the summit.  You are completely exhausted, and then it hits you, "I have another 8 hours of treking before I get to camp".

That's a story for another day though. Hakuna Matata!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The End of Phase One. Kili, here we come!

Yesterday was a chocker block full day.  We started the day with briefing by KANAPA, one of WaterCan's local partners.  Then we were off into the wilds to meet with a Massai (sp?) village to learn about their water challenges.  WaterCan and others had helped to provide a Health Centre as well as a school.  Unfortunately, their water source is drying up.  The lack of water has deterred teachers and health officials from coming to the community.  We trekked the 15-20 minutes to go see the water source.  It's a well, about 60 feet down a very steep hole.  Women and children have to climb down to the well and fill up jerry can's that then have to be hauled up and back to the village. But since the well is drying up, they often have to walk as much as 30 Kms to find water.  That often means being away overnight.  In the last year, the Village has lost 12 women and children who were attacked by lions, leopards and hyenas while trying find water.

Making Our Way To The Well In Ngobolo
In Canada, there would be a relatively simple solution to the well problem.  You would drill a bore hole into the aquifer below (in this case you might have to go down as much as 90 metres). Then you would use electric pumps to bring the water up to the surface.  In Ngobolo Village, there is no electricity. Even if there was, the village wouldn't have the means to pay for the electricity, or the maintenance. Solar energy is completely not economical for the community.  We thought we could provide easier access to the well  and add rain harvesting to reduce the dependence on the well.  However, the Massai in Ngobolo aren't the only one's in the area in need of water.  There is already conflict over water. Improving access might cause further conflict.  But we are determined to work with everyone here to find a solution.

The people of Ngobolo were, however, incredibly gracious hosts.  They greet us song and dance.  For many in the community, particularly the children, they had never seen a white person.  After a little early apprehension, the kids all wanted to have their pictures taken and started to point out how pasty white we are, which provide a lot of laughter.

In the afternoon, we drove to another community to visit a primary school.  The school had been slated for closure due to a lack of access to clean water and sanitation.  Because of Watercan's intervention, the school is thriving. It has a student population of just under 900.  I think every single kid, parent, teacher, administrator and public official in the area came to greet us.  We were welcomed by song and dance.  Ben Mulroney and about 10 of the kids did a Skype chat with students from Kanata, Ontario.  It was wonderful to see the kids finding what they had in common (primarily a disdain for homework and chores) and also how different their lives are.  Afterwards Team Watercan members Kevin and Rynette presented the Principal with several soccer balls as gifts from Canada.  Then another climber, Devin Publicover pulled his guitar and performed a song for the kids that he wrote the day before.  They lyrics consisted of some funny Swahili idioms.  Devin was a total rock star and had the kids in stitches.  Afterwards he donated his guitar to the school.  Then it was time to meet the kids close up.  They wanted to dance, sing and high five with us. It was incredibly incredibly joyous and moving occasion.

High Fives At The School
We finished the day with Team WaterCan playing a soccer match with the teachers and staff.  It ended in a draw 0-0.  I think, however, the Tanzanians planned that.  They could have clobbered us if they wanted to.

In the evening, there was a special dinner held in our honour at Kabaya's community centre, where we treated to more Massai song and dance and presentation of gifts.  I got a personalized hand beaded bracelet! It totally rocks! WaterCan's ED, George Yap and Program Director, Kyla Smith were made honorary Massai and presented with traditional dress, which they wore for the evening. We headed back to our lodgings at midnight and were able to grab 4 hours of sleep before jumping in the Land Cruisers and making the long journey back to Arashu.

Once we arrived, we checked into a our hotel for a little R&R and pampering. Most us spent time by the pool trying to get some rest.  Then it was time for a briefing by our guides about tomorrow's Kili climb. After a quick dinner, it was time to prepare our packs. Everyone got to bed early tonight. Everyone, but me that is.  Lol.

We've managed to overcome our phone casting challenges.  You can catch my audio updates with the team at

Next posts and phone casts will be coming from the mountain folks!

Night, night.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

This Is No Rest Home

It has pretty much been three days of non-stop travel. It took about 27 hours to get from Toronto to Arusha, Tanzania and then 9 hours of driving today to get to Kabaya in Kiteto Region. Here we will see first hand the clean water challenges people face as well as some of the work Watercan is doing help to bring solutions.

A few of the highlights so far were meeting a whole lot of NGO people on the flight. I also had great travel company in a young Ethopian woman, named Lea, and her father. They were just going home after 4 months in the US.  Lea's Dad hasn't been well, so they were in the US to see family and get Dad some medical attention. To see the way Lea cares for her Dad is quite moving.

After arriving in Arusha, fellow climber Mike Wymant and I explored the city and waited for the rest of the team to arrive. In the Massai market, brilliant me knocked over a woman's stack of potatoes. I felt like a complete moron. Then a crazy woman assaulted me. Fortunately, Mike and I had befriended a couple of locals who kept us (I.e. Me) out of harm's way.

Last night, the rest of the team arrived.  We got aquainted over a late dinner and then it was off to bed.

Today was a long,  dusty, bumpy day as we jumped in the Land Cruisers and made the 9 hour trek to Kiteto. For most of the day it was like we were in the middle of nowhere.  We didn't see people or cars, just some antelope and the occasional eagle. It is so dry here that there is dust blowing everywhere and most of the vegetation appears to be dead. When we finally arrived, we were greeted by smiling kids that wanted to play soccer with us and get their pictures taken. We had a traditional Tanzanian dinner with local officials.  

Some of team has decided to grab a pint nearby. I am pooped, so I am off to bed.

Hakuna Matata  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It has been a terribly eventful 36 hours. I look forward to telling you all about h journey and our first day Tanzania. I have some great stories. I have a new Ethopian friend named Lea who illurstrates the difference between just pretty and beautiful, but will have to tell you all about it tomorrow because I am exhausted and I have t be up in 4 hours. I tell you everything as soon as I canM Hukuna Matata!

Friday, October 12, 2012

And We're Off!

While most of Team WaterCan is enroute to Tanzania via Amsterdam, Michael Wymant and I are travelling via Washington and Ethopia (it's about the Aeroplan points). It's been a great start. Mike and I are getting in some last minute work and getting aquainted over a Starbucks in Dulles International Airport.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

One Last Pre-Climb Post

Before we depart, I should mention that I will be updating this blog as cell reception permits.  I will also be doing daily phonecasts, via satelite phone.  Everyday, I will call in and chat with Team WaterCan members about our trek, so you can get a sense of the people, the experiences and the motivations behind participation in WaterCan's Kilimanjaro Climb for Life.  These audio updates (as well as a link to this blog) can be found at

See you on the other side!!!

We Raised Over A Quarter Of A Million!!!

The WaterCan Kilimanjaro Team just surpassed our fundraising goal of $250,000!!!  My own efforts have contributed over $18,000, and I understand there is a donation or two still to come in.  That means the team has raised enough money to provide clean water and basic santition FOR LIFE to over 10,000 people in East Africa. Congratulations Team WaterCan!!!  As our reward, we get to climb a very big mountain. Lol. And a sincere thank you to everyone that contributed.  To my family and friends, thank you for your incredible support and encouragement.  I love you all.  Hakuna Matata!   

T-Minus 24 Hours

It's just less than one day to go!!!  I'm all packed, but I am one pound over weight, so I have to toss something. And you know how that goes. You pull out something that you figure you will never need ... and it will become the first thing you really need during the trek.  lol.

All the cool climbers are wearing them!
So what do you think about the latest in training fashion?  I am wearing shopping bags over my hiking boots, so I can wear them inside and make sure they are properly worked in before we leave.  Thanks to Brittany Moorcroft for that piece of advice ( I have picked up some good pieces of advice by reading what the climbers are doing.

My awesome brother-in-law Jason De Luca
I also want to send a shout out to my brother-in-law Jason De Luca (pictured above) for closing out my training with a very enjoyable hike in the Northumberland Forest and donating to the cause upon our return.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Just picked up the embroidered Kili gear. Here's the light fleece. What do you think? Can you tell who my corporate sponsor is? Lol.

7 Days And Counting

The countdown is on to lift-off!  By this time next week, I will be on a flight to Tanzania ready to embark on one of the most interesting, and certainly most physically and psychologically demanding, challenges of my life ... all for a good cause.

So what's happening at T minus 164 hours?  Well, I get to mellow on the training for one.  Woo hoo!  I am going to do a couple of modest hikes on the weekend, but other than that it's just walking the dog and lots of stretching.  My quads and hamstrings are so tight I have to stretch them all the time. 

So why ease off on the training? The answer is twofold.  You don't want to get injured right before you leave ... and ... you want to pack on a few pounds because you'll lose weight on the climb.

I should mention that we are getting conflicting reports about cellular coverage on Mt. Kilimanjaro. So it may or may not be possible to blog during the trek. To be safe, I am going to have a satelite phone that I will be voice casting from. Every day, I am going to interview Team WaterCan climbers on their experiences and the audio files will be posted on the WaterCan Kilimanjaro Climb For Life webpage ( If I can't access this blog Andrea, from WaterCan, will post to let you know when there is a new phonecast.

What else is going on?  Ohhh!!!  Last night, Agi and I went shopping to pick up the final pieces of gear I need.  I already had most of what I need, or so I thought.  A $1,000 later, I still don't have everything, so I am going shopping again tonight. Ugh!!!  And to my MEC friends on King West.  I love you, I love your stuff, but for a co-op, subsidized by memberships, I thought you'd be more price competitive.  I'm going across the street to Europe Bound tonight. Sorry.

In terms of fundraising, I'm at about $16,500 right now, so more than 3 times my original goal. Woot woot!!!  I'm gunning for $17,000 before we leave (  And Team WaterCan is fast approaching a total of $250,000!!!  If you haven't been paying attention to the math, that is clean water and basic sanitation for 10,000 people FOR LIFE!  That is not insignificant.  Way to go Team WaterCan!!!!  And thank you everyone for your stellar support.

You know, in addition to the funds being donated the climbers get a lot of other support as well (well at least I do). There are the amazing staff at WaterCan that make sure that we have everything needed to prepare properly for the trip and to support our fundraising and media relations efforts. There's the moral support and advice you get from family, friends and people who have actually climbed mountains.  There are the people who volunteer at or come to events. And there are some that are unexpected and not so obvious.  You already know about my long time friend Blaise, he's been hiking with me on weekends and was rewarded with two broken ribs.  There's my buddy Mark Greenwood who is hooking Kerry and I up with some ultra chic Kili embroidered mountain wear. And then there's my pal Bill Dietrich who hooked me up with a supply of MAX dietary supplements. MAX Cellgevity and MAX ATP have been making my training easier and I am hoping they will help me get up the mountain.  So thanks Billy (AKA The Minister of Happiness).  I'm sure I missing some people, but I'll catch everyone in the end.

On October 3rd, I was at a big event in Toronto, for Brian Mulroney, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It was a great evening and I was looking forward to seeing our team leader, Ben Mulroney.  I talked to the former Prime Minister (who, by the way, wishes us much success and asks us to be careful), I talked to Mila, I talked to Ben's wife, but no Ben!!!  And apparently we were standing back to back for a bit. Doh!!!!  I did, however, get to meet Paul Smith, another member of Team WaterCan. Paul is the Chair of Via Rail.  He hasn't done any training (Did any of you catch the pun? Via Rail? Training?)  Paul is an active triathaloner (is that even a word?) so he is always match fit.  Ben and Paul are the fundraising heavyweights on Team WaterCan. We owe a lot to their efforts.

After that event, I headed over to Dundas West where Kerry Freek (the Editor of Water Canada magazine, and the friend who inspired me to join Team WaterCan) was holding a really nice Kili fundraiser.  A big thank you to my friends who came to support Kerry's efforts on behalf of WaterCan.  And I apologize to my friends who had to leave before I arrived.  The only problem with the event is that the venue had a HUGE Scotch and Bourbon selection that Kerry and I were not able to sample.  We plan remedy this grave injustice upon our return.  On the upside, I came home with a Pook Toque!!!  It's a toque made from wool socks.  Proceeds from the night's Pook Toque sales support Kerry's campaign.  It's very funny and yes, I am going to wear it on the climb (I'll try to grab a sexy snap! lol).

So much for trying to do short blog entries from my phone! I'm off to pick up Kili Climb For Life swag that Kerry Freek and I ordered.

See you soon everyone. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Resurrection of St. Blaise

In my June 27th post, I mentioned that my good friend Blaise volunteered to be my hiking buddy and on our first outing he tripped and broke two ribs.  Well, being the good soul that he is, Blaise is back for more abuse. This past weekend, Blaise and I did a 20+ Kms hike on the Niagara Escarpment, from Rattlesnake Point to Crawford Lake and back again.  I am pleased to report that no one broke a thing.  There weren't even minor scrapes or bruises.  Whew!!!  And I guess the training is paying off, because it was really no big deal at all.  I could have kept going. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Did I Mention Sheila McCarthy Is My Training Buddy?

I sure hope not, because that would be a lie.  Sheila McCarthy has no clue who I am.  That's not entirely true. If you showed Sheila McCarthy a picture of me, I am pretty sure she could tell you that we work out in the same gym, usually at the same time.  Occassionally, we even get in a "Hi, how are you?" at the start of our respective workouts.  More often than not, she ends up on the eliptical or treadmill beside me, which means I benefit from a tougher regime.  I am constantly checking out her speed on the digital screen, so I can try to keep up. The woman is fast as hell and she can run forever. 
Thanks for unwittingly helping a guy out Sheila.  Maybe one day we will run into each other when we aren't huffing, puffing and sweating.  If we do, I'll tell you the story and thank you in person.

You know what?  Next time I am going to just lie and say Sheila McCarthy is my training buddy.  lol.

25 Days and Counting

The prize is almost in sight!  25 days until we leave and only about a week and half of training left. Sorry to be scarce over the last month.  There were vacations, travel, my wife Agi getting a nasty cut on her forehead as well as a concussion, and the whole basement getting flooded with sewage thing.

Through it all I have kept training.  I'm going to hit the gym as soon as I finish this post.  Since it was a hot summer, and I was in the Carribean for part of August, I have been training mostly indoors.  One thing I now know is that training indoors is much easier than training outdoors.  I can do 7 or 8 kilometres on a treadmill or eliptical and feel like I am just getting warmed up.  A 5 kilometre run through Toronto's ravines still kicks the crap out of me.

It was quite unexpected, but I found scuba diving in the Carribean to be a helpful addition to the training regime.  It really made me focus on my breathing and heart rate, in a way I hadn't before.  On my first dive, I sucked through my tank of air in less than 40 minutes.  I actually borrowed my diving buddy's octopus (reserve regulator), so I wouldn't cut everyone else's dive short.  By the end of my 8th dive, a tank was lasting me about an hour.  Now when I am running or hiking, I try to get into an almost meditative state where I am relaxed, breathing slow and steady, and keeping my heart rate down. I'm hoping that I can translate that experience to something useful at high altitudes, so I am making the best use of less oxygen.

What else is new?  Last week, fellow climber Kerry Freek and I visited the Stormtech showroom in Markham, Ontario.  We picked out some pretty high-tech gear (i.e. appropriate clothing) and we are getting it embroidered with the Kilimanjaro Climb For Life logo.  So Kerry and I should look pretty swank for photo opps, but more importantly, it will be a nice reminder of the trek for years to come.

In terms of fundraising, I am delighted to announce that I am up over $15,000.  For those of you keeping track, that is triple the amount of my original goal.  And there are still a few outstanding pledges to come in.  I am so grateful for the tremendous support everyone has shown.  Over 600 people in East Africa will now have access to clean water and basic sanitation FOR LIFE as a result of the generosity of my family, friends and colleagues. It seems so simple, but providing those basics means better health, more education and well-being for a community. Thank you so much everyone. 

Going forward, I am going to try and do shorter blog posts from my Blackberry.  I need to practice, so I can keep you all posted on what transpires in Tanzania.

Ciao for now.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Greeting the Future With a Smile

I really don't have that much to say.  This is my favourite picture from the WaterCan website.  It pretty much sums things up.

Not That Kind of Irregularity

The one or two loyal readers of this blog likely already understand the difficulties of trying to keep to a regular workout schedule. It isn't easy to find a couple of hours every day just for exercise. I think I have mentioned before that one of my early mistakes was to completely miss out on exercise if I couldn't find a two hour window in my day.  Then one day turns into to two days etc.  You know where that leads.  Thanks to my daughter Alexandra, fondly known as Chico, I no longer do that.  Chico turned me on to the 8 Minute workouts on Youtube.  Even if I can't make it to the gym, I can usually find time for a run.  Then I just do an 8 Minute workout whenever I can find 8 minutes in my day.  I actually do the 8 Minute Stretch everyday before and after my run.  And when I can't make it to the gym, I fill in with 8 minute Abs, 8 Minute Legs and 8 Minute Arms.  They are fantastic! And there are several other workouts, including 8 Minute Buns, that I haven't tried yet.  So if you are finding yourself facing the same kind of regularity challenges I have, you might want to visit  And if you don't have access to Youtube, just ask your kid.  Thanks Chico!  I hope you have fabulous time in Cozumel.    

Monday, July 23, 2012

For Your Reading Enjoyment

I just thought I would point out that fellow climber Brittnay Moorcraft also has a blog, far superior to mine, on Tumblr.  You might want take a peak at her training and thoughts about the climb as well.  So click here:

Also, there is a great article on WaterCan's Kilimanjaro Climb for Life in the current issue of GreenLiving Online.  They even  mention yours truly, which I think is pretty cool.

I hope you enjoy the readings!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

So Is This A Bucket List Thing?

When people find out I am going to climb Kilimanjaro they invariably ask me why. Most seem to think it is has something to do with me going through a mid life crisis.  Others wonder if it has been a life long dream that I am fulfilling. The truth is I had never even thought about climbing Kilimanjaro, not even notionally. 

What I had been thinking about is getting back into international work.  My daughter has turned 16 and doesn't need her parents around as much.  And after years of working on Canadian water issues, I thought it might be a good time to refocus on work in Africa and Latin America, where clean water issues seem so much more pressing than they do here. So I had started exploring those opportunities.

Just by chance, my friend and fellow climber, Kerry Freek, who is the Editor of Water Canada magazine, announced that she would be climbing Kilimanjaro and was holding a fundraiser in support of WaterCan.  So I went to the fundraiser simply to support Kerry and send some cash WaterCan's way (The picture above is of me with my pals, and fellow water advocates, Gerald Kennedy and Anthony Watanabe from Kerry's Blue Bash fundraiser).

Well, later in the evening, probably after I had had one or two pints more than I should, and my judgement was impaired, Kerry introduced me to George Yap, WaterCan's Executive Director.  During our chat, I muttered something along the lines of "What an amazing opportunity to support a great cause. I wish I would get invited to particpate in such things."

I guess I got invited, because the next thing I know, I am waking up my wife Agi at about 1 a.m. saying "I'm going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in October!" to which she replied "No you are not.  Now go to bed."  Lol. 

When we woke up, I explained things, she understood that I was serious and by 10 a.m. I had officially become one of WaterCan's Kilimanjaro climbers.

I am sure the climb will be terribly exciting and demanding, but what I am most looking forward to is spending a week visiting communities in Tanzania to see, first hand, the clean water challenges people face and how WaterCan's efforts are changing lives and bringing hope.

You might not be aware that the climbers are all paying their own way.  So every cent donated goes toward supporting WaterCan's work.  Just $25 will provide a person in Africa with access to clean water and basic sanitation FOR LIFE.  Most of my friends spend at least double that on a single night's bar tab. 

So please open your hearts and wallets and support WaterCan by clicking here. My personal goal is to raise a minimum of $10,000 and bring clean water to over 400 people. 

So there you have it.  There's my motivation.  And when I get back I will have some new stories to tell.  I think my friends are getting a little tired of me retelling the old ones ... even though they get better and better every time I tell them. :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Developing Theme

I was just reading back through some of my old posts. Aside from consistently poor grammar (semi on purpose) I have noticed a theme developing.  To steal a term from Bruce Cockburn, it could be called "shipwrecked at the stable door" because most of the time I am drawing attention to the breaks in my training regime and the resulting consequences/mishaps. 
I should point out, however, that I REALLY am training most of the time.  I am training way more than not training.  And it's all good.  I love it.  It takes up about 2 hours of my week day and a lot more than that on the weekend.  So when I am training, I just don't have as much time to blog. It's as simple as that.

And let's face it, talking about the lapses in my training, giving in to temptations, etc. are way funnier than me going on about how much I run and hike, killer core training exercises, how much fibre I am getting, and my thoughts on how to spice up your workout attire.  Snore!!!

I'll try to mix it up a little more going forward.  If I am going to be accused of having a one track mind, I'd like it to be for completely other reasons.  I am talking about my passion for the environment of course.  Get your minds out of the gutter!

The Sound of a Hiccup

My old knee injury started acting up last Wednesday.  So I haven't trained in almost a week.  I have been just a bit too sore and I didn't want to push myself and really screw things up. I will start up again tomorrow with a lighter workout and slowly get back into the full routine (Parenthetically, that is exactly the advice our Vet gave for my daughter's horse, but that's another story altogether). Think I will replace running with something low impact like cycling or an eliptical workout for the time being.

Here is what I have noticed.  I feel sluggish, bored and generally unmotivated and I am spending more time on Facebook. Ugh!  And the cravings ... holy crap on a cracker!  I am having MONDO CRAVINGS for pizza, potato chips, pop and beer.  Oh damn, I sooooo want beer ... and lots of it.  Fortunately, my wife Agi, has been trying to keep me on the straight and narrow, well, except for the potato chips.  She loves them too.  Who knew All Dressed could be that delicious!  I really indulged the beer craving late last week too.  And it took a few days to recover, but that might be because of the Sangria the next night.  It's hot out.  So sue me!

I guess it is like a hole in the dike.  When one part of the regime goes, the rest comes crashing down soon afterwards.  I probably should have kept doing some type of exercise instead of stopping completely.  And I was getting so fond of having a six pack too.  So I am really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things tomorrow.

On the upside, one of my buddies has promised a sizable donation to WaterCan if I get a picture of myself with a lit cigar at the top of Kili (He wanted me holding a case of beer too, but I talked him down.  lol).  I don't think we will be on top of Uhuru Peak for very long, but you know it has to be done! Am I right or am I right?

The fundraising is going well.  Thank you for asking.  I am just a wee bit shy of $9,000 right now and we have close to 3 months left before we go.  So I am confident that, through your generous support, my participation in WaterCan's  Kilimanjaro Climb For Life will bring clean water and sanitation FOR LIFE to over 400 people.  And that will change lives.  I was looking at some stats.  When you bring water to a community in Africa, school participation rates go up by something like upwards of 65%.  That blows me away!

So thank you for your continued support everyone.  Please keep it up.  Fit and focused Chris should be back in no time.      

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It Ain't So Easy

I gotta tell you, keeping a regular training schedule is tough!!!  As you can tell from my lack of posts, it's been hard to find time for both training and blogging.  I kind of fell off the wagon about 3 weeks ago when I had to go to Ottawa on business.  A few cocktails and I was back into old bad habits, and the next thing you know BAM!!!, you haven't worked out in over a week and a half. 

And why is it that getting back into your workout routine seems far more difficult than starting when you are completely out of shape?  When I got back to running, after that short little break, I thought my lungs would explode and I got cramps on top of cramps in places I didn't even know you can get cramps. The good news is, after a few days of struggling, I am back at it and loving it.

Last weekend, my buddy Blaise volunteered to be my hiking buddy, so we headed up to the Forks of the Credit and did an 18 km hike.  It wasn't supposed to be that long.  We just suck at reading trail maps and got lost.  Just as we were finishing the hike, Blaise tripped on a root and went BOOM!, down on the groud like a stone falling out of the sky.  He broke two ribs.  I may be hiking on my own from now on.

What else is new?  We're up over $7,600 in donations, but things have gotten pretty quiet, so I have to renew my commitment to fundraising as well.

My daughter is about to leave us for the summer, so I am going to get in a last few hours of dad-daughter time before we become empty nesters.  I'm guessing I will have more time for everything once she's gone. See ya soon!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Paying Dividends

Just shy of a month into training and I have dropped 12 lbs.  That's all for today. Weee!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A hectic, short week has made it difficult to keep to the training regime, but I am getting in a workout where I can, usually in bits and pieces.  It is quite surprising how much I miss the exercise ... and eating healthy, slow food. I'm planning on a big hike at the Forks of the Credit on Saturday and a whole lot of cooking to get me through the next week.

The first week of fundraising has gone great.  More than $1,000 has already come in and a lot of people have made pledges.  It is really encouraging.  So please keep those donations coming in. 

A number of people who have contributed have felt the need to apologize for not being able to contribute more.  I would just like to remind people that the cost of providing a person with clean water, for life, in Africa is just $25.  That, in turn, translates into better health, an education and a chance for a better life.  So please keep in mind that your donation, no matter how small, makes a real difference to someone's life.  Feel good about that!  Thank you for your continuing support.

To donate or learn more, click here. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Training Manual Arrives

Every time I get a piece of mail from WaterCan I get the jitters.  It's true.  Today I got two pieces of mail.  Both had my mind racing and my heart pounding. The first, was an invitation to paritcipate in WaterCan's 25th Anniversary celebration in Ottawa in June.  No biggie.  I do receptions etc. all the time. I may not like schmoozing, but I am pretty good at it.  I guess practice does make perfect. The second was the Kilimanjaro training and fitness manual.  This should have given me a lot of comfort. I read through it quickly and it seems I am doing exactly the right kind of training, I am doing more training than suggested and I started earlier than suggested.  So I am golden right?  Not exactly.  I figured it out.  Every time I get a piece of mail it reinforces that this thing is real and the more I read and hear about scaling Kilimanjaro, the more I understand that the major hurtle to summitting is mental, not physical.  And let's face it, even when I am really on my game I am a bit of a flake. So mental prep is going to have to be as much a part of my training routine as physical prep.  So here's the plan: (1) Do not give into negative thoughts or fears; (2) Consistency is a key to success; (3) Vary the training routine to maximize effectiveness and minimize injury; (4) Train in uncomfortable situations.  The end result will hopefully be a finely tuned body with a mind ready to deal with cold, dirt, fatigue, headaches and the nausea that can accompany high altitudes.


Damn You Victoria Day Weekend!!! Lol

So duh! The Victoria Day Weekend messed up the training regime. You could see that one coming miles away. But no big deal. I didn't over indulge and I was still active even if it was not the usual run, weight train and swim. I probably gained a couple of pounds, but I am looking forward to a good run this evening and back to the full routine tomorrow.

And the money has started to come in. I sent out the first fundraising email last Thursday, I think, and already $800 has come in and a whole lot of pledges have been made. So I am comfident, with some hounding, I will make my fundraising goals.

I'm upbeat! 143 days to go!!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Unanticipated Consequences

Today marked the end of Week 3 in the training regime.  It is also the start of the Victoria Day long weekend.  Some changes are obvious.  I am not indulging the vices I enjoy so much, I am exercising at least 5 days a week, my diet is healthier and I am sleeping more (usually).  As a result, I have lost some weight (8 lbs), I am starting to look better and I am feeling better.  You would expect that, although I am bit surprised at how quickly the transformation is taking place. There are also some interesting changes, I didn't anticipate.  

Because of the long weekend, there was office work I was determined to get done and I missed today's workout.  It actually made me grumpy. I guess that says something about how much I am into the training and how much I need those endorphins.  And then tonight, I decided I could have a May 24 indulgence.  No, I didn't put back a case of suds.  I went to one of my favourite burger joints and ordered a double banquet burger, onion rings, fries with gravy and a Coke!  I should mention that since I started training, I have pretty much cut out sugar and caffeine from my diet.  The sugar was on purpose, the caffeine just sort of happened. I have no idea why. Anyways, remember how I said I am getting more sleep?  Not tonight, that one can of Coke got me completely wired.  That never happened before.  A month ago, I could drink coffee and Coke all day and all night ... and fall asleep like a baby for 4 or 5 hours. 

So I can't sleep.  And I have a new blog.  And now you know why. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

So My Friend Had This Idea

I guess by now most everyone I know has heard that I am going to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro in October 2012 to raise awareness about the global water and sanitation crisis and to raise funds to support the work of WaterCan.  Today, on Facebook, an old friend of mine suggested that I chronicle the experience ... the training and the climb ... in a blog. So here it goes, the start of a random collection of experiences and thoughts about the road to Kilimanjaro.