"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Old Goals and New

2012 was the first year that I set some goals to try and achieve.  I will spare you the suspense I only achieved one of the three.  My thoughts on only being successful in one goal are a mixed bag that I will explain in full.  The first goal, while technically being a failure, was sort of a success.  The second goal I totally dropped the ball on.  Whoops!  My bad.  The third goal was very much a success, and I am proud of my efforts.
Goal #1:  Get 12 bag nights
I got ten.  Several times I could have gone out and picked up the other two but I always opted to stay home and spend time with Beth.  So while this is technically a failure to meet the goal, I failed on acceptable terms.  It is also worth noting that ten bag nights is way more than I normally get in  a typical year.  Some of the nights I spent outdoors were terrible, and others were enjoyable.
Campsite on Two Branch
Here is a list, in no particular order of where I spent my bag nights this year:
3 nights spent out on the Katy Trail.  During these 3 nights everything was conspiring against a good nights sleep.
1 night camping at Carlyle lake.  The day of our arrival the lake was too choppy to have any fun paddling, the next day it was smooth as glass.
1 night camping on Two Branch island.  My nephew and I paddled down the Cuivre to the Mississippi.  Horrible stretch of river after we left.
3 nights during the Kayak100+ (MR340).  I have never been so exhausted in my life.  Paddled 340miles in 76hours.  Very little sleep.
1 night on a random boat ramp on the Missouri river.  100miles from Jefferson city to St Charles, we decided to take a nap.  Bad idea.
1 night camping on Two Branch again.  I enjoy paddling out to the river islands.  Last time we were racing the dark this time a storm.  We lost.

During Kayak100+ I was trying not to look exhausted.

ROCK Racing teammates Chuck and Robin (among others) met me at the finish of Kayak100+
    Goal #2 Increase level of fitness
I think subconsciously I made this goal as vague as possible so that I could claim success in the end.  Even with a vague goal I have to admit to failure.  It wasn’t all failure though.  Leading up to Kayak100+ I was doing great.  Then the wheels fell off and I now at my heaviest weight (can’t weight to eat?) and feel like crap.  Epic fail y’all.  Being heavy is not the only area of failure in this goal.  I am also not any stronger, but that is probably because of all the workouts I missed.  As far as running goes I am doing okay, not great just ok.  I have a plan to correct all of this though because 2013 will be one of the most physically demanding of my life.
Goal #3 Build on the foundation of the 100+Project
I would call this one a success!  While the 100+Project is not widely known around the world, I have been working hard to spread the word and draw attention to the efforts put forth.  In 2012 I had a couple mentions in the media, completed Cycle100+ and Kayak100+, and also held a very successful 12hour run/fundraiser.
Cycle100+ was 240miles on the Katy Trail.  Gary Wilson and I rode the entire length in 4days.  What a great ride it was.
Kayak100+ was a 340mile paddle from Kansas city to St Charles along the Missouri river.  Cycle100+ was a joyride compared to this.
Page of the Health in the St Louis Post Dispatch section (below the fold) 

Blurb in a local Sunday magazine.
The 12hour fun run, was a just a great day all around.  This was something that I was doing as a training event for Run100+ and decided to invite people to join my friend Cheri and me for as much as they wanted.  I suggested a $5 donation.  We started at 6am and I don’t think there was one lap that we had to run alone.  In total 30people showed up and many donated a lot more than the suggested $5.  We raised a lot of money for a good cause.  My only regret is not keeping track of everyone’s miles.  I wasn’t expecting that many people to show up and it was difficult enough keeping track of my own miles.  Maybe I can reconstruct them.
Cheri (far left) and I with some of  the people that came out for the 12hour run.
I think in the goal department I broke even.  I’m not happy about #2 but can only blame myself.  I couldn’t be happier about #3 although I have some things that I need to work on in the future to make it even more enjoyable for everyone following along.  As previously stated I’m ok with how #1 turned out.  I didn’t get 12 bag nights but I did get 10 and that is pretty good for me.
Goals for 2013
I like these goals so I will keep them for 2013 but with a few modifications.
  1. Get 20 bag nights.  I will have 8nights associated with Hike100+ so 12 would be to low a number.  Increasing to 20 cancels out the hike nights and leaves me with 12nights to get on my own.
  2. Increase fitness.  This will be measured a success by meeting two of three minor goals.  Weight 170, pass the Army PT test according to the standards when I was still serving (pushups, situps, 2mile run), and break a running PR.  Within these there is certainly criteria by which success can be measured.
  3. Build on the success of the 100+Project.  There are big things in store for 2013.  Run100+ and Hike100+ will be two of the most demanding challenges of my life.  They both have such a slim margin of error, one tiny mistake could mean failure at both.  I am thinking about adding another 100+ mile journey but as of yet haven’t decided what.  More fundraisers apart from the big events might be a good idea.  I would also like to get the 100+Project on TV in 2013.  That a lot, but I assure you it is all one goal.
That is how my year went.  Hopefully 2013 will be much better and more successful, and I hope yours is the same!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Elevator Manifesto: Part 2

In part one of the Elevator Manifesto I introduced you to the most important rule of being a responsible and considerate elevator passenger.  Just to remind you that rule is, “Exiting passengers have the right of way”.  If you only take one thing away from my frustration with elevators I hope it is that one simple rule and not that I am slightly deranged.  There are however other rules should you be interested.
Rule #2 Don’t be a Space Invader.
I’m not talking about the video game from the 80’s, what I am talking about is people that stand way too close when it is unnecessary.  Seriously give people some room.  We are passengers in an elevator together not lifelong friends.  I like to maintain my personal space, and in doing so help you to maintain yours, but some people just don’t get the concept.  Now I fully understand that everyone’s personal space diminishes as the elevator gets more and more full.  I don’t expect everyone to be jammed into the corner to accommodate my needs.  However if the there are only a few people in the car then there is no reason that someone should be shoulder to shoulder with me.  Spread out and explore the space, enjoy the ride.  That’s how I feel.
Why would strangers choose to invade your personal space?  I don’t know.  Maybe they are lonely. Maybe they are conducting a psychological experiment (this happened to me once).  Maybe they just don’t know any better.  Whatever the reason it’s not cool. 
Space Invaders come in all shapes and sizes and you never know when one is about to strike.  One time I was riding the elevator and it stopped on a random floor that we will call the third floor.  A woman in a power chair came cruising in at a high rate of speed and did not stop until she made it all the way to the back where I was standing.  Sometimes people in power chairs do this in order to have enough room to turn around so they can exit the elevator facing forward.  I get it, looking ahead is easier than trying to look behind, and since we were the only two on the elevator I assumed it was her plan.  Nope.  She did however inch her chair even closer to me so that the chair was almost touching my shoe.  She stayed there until she reached her floor and then had to back up before she could turn around and exit.
Normally I step away from the Space Invaders if there is room and sometimes I will tell them they are a little close, but I couldn’t believe that the woman in the power chair purposely inched even closer after she was already too close.  I had to see what was going to happen. 
I don’t think it is rude to ask for a little space if you feel uncomfortable, but if there is room you shouldn’t  have too.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Who is? Dave Zaple

Hello! That's me, DZ. I'm big fan of bright shorts. I was the team medic/photographer on Dave Cornthwaite's most recent expedition Swim 1000.
The final farewell photo as I left the team to head back to the UK to start working on these:
I'm a paramedic, scout leader, photographer and general adventure nut...
I haven't always been those things though. I was lucky enough to be part of the inaugural Prime Ministers Global Fellowship where I spent 6 weeks in China. It changed my life. I worked in an engineering office for a year but I wasn't that good at it. So I saved my money, worked 3 jobs to then travel the world. Then I really got the bug, the travel bug (and a significant stomach bug in India but we won't talk about that). I went to university to train as a paramedic and now I'm here, writing about myself for the wonderful Patrick Albert.
I have the best job in the world and some big plans to see it all from a bicycle. Myself and Em Bell are are planning to cycle around the world. Nearly Naked. For MCAC and Coppafeel!
I'm super new to all this technical website making stuff but stay tuned on www.davezaple.com for updates on everything. Providing I can work out how to update it!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Wife of an Adventurer

The Life Wife of an Adventurer

Often times storytellers start off by declaring that their most recent grand adventure was profoundly enhanced as the result of unplanned or unexpected happenings along the way. This too is the case in my tale. Once upon a time in a not so far away land (O'Fallon, IL) a typical tale of boy meets girl unfolds. Little did I know then that twenty plus years later boy and girl would still be as goofy and happy together as ever, having shared our own zany family adventures along the way.
It was not until recent years that my husband's passion for real life adventures flourished into what it has become today, which I'm sure is only a fraction of what it will be in years to come. I suppose the old adage "opposites attract" is true since on most things we are complete opposites. He is fearless and I worry enough for both of us. He is always dreaming up, or perhaps more appropriately scheming up, some new crazy endeavor to pursue while I quietly sit back, usually roll my eyes and wonder "what is he getting me into now". He loves being outdoors while I hate dirt and bugs and will break out if anyone around me just speaks the words poison ivy. Given that last difference, my involvement in his real life adventures is somewhat limited but I've found other ways to support and encourage him on his quests. I have been his pit crew and chief resupply officer on many an adventure. However in the end I'm typically left feeling like the biggest wimp in the world as I usually show more signs of wear and tear than he does even though he is the one who has been physically challenging himself.
My husband and I have been engaged in an open ended discussion the last couple years...I allege that he did not fully disclose his true identity to me before we married so that I could make an informative decision as to whether or not that was the life for me, while on the other hand he asserts that I knew what I was getting into. In my eyes I had met Peter Parker, a smart, loveable, relatively normal, somewhat nerdy guy. Little did I know there was much more underneath the surface. And while he is no Spiderman (...yet, no telling what will happen in the future from all the spiders he comes in contact with on the trails) he definitely has an alter-ego and will always be a Super Hero to me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Who Is?: Em Bell – the oddball adventurer

I am short. Slightly odd. I have eyes that change colour. I have hobbit sized feet. I can fall asleep anywhere. I have an impressive appetite. I love penguins. I am gullible. I have been likened to a troll. I am allergic to desks. I am Em Bell. And I am about to become a full time adventurer.
After quitting my job in headhunting back in 2009, I searched the world for my "dream job". I represented the UK on a game show, became a stand-in contestant on Ant and Dec's game show, moved to Cape Town to present a music festival, organised Bat Mitzvahs, cleaned my friends houses, worked on a McFy documentary and then landed a job writing full-time for a magazine.
Life was good. I had a super pad. I had a cracking job. But my head started wandering again. And after Dave Cornthwaite came to load magazines for his next book, he offered me the spot as the blogger on his upcoming adventure - to swim 1000 miles down the Missouri River with a support team stand-up paddle boarding alongside him.
I was in.
On it, there was a 15 minute moment with Vanessa Knight. We were paddling like nutters to reach an Indian reserve where the rest of the team were waiting; and I suddenly realised, that I wanted to become a full time adventurer. I would be able to write about adventure. I would be able to film adventure. I would be able to do adventure. Every day. The female version of Bear Grylls if you will.
So I am now living on a mattress next to my parents bed. With a train covered sheet and duvet. Working round the clock to save every penny. And planning, planning planning.
Next summer I am set to rollerblade 2000 miles around Italy. Then I'm off to Australia in November 2013 with Vanessa Knight (who you have already met) to become the first people to stand-up paddle board source to sea of the Murray River. Then I am set to cycle round the world with Dave Zaple. Lots of plans. Lots of adventures. All for CoppaFeel breast cancer charity. So watch this troll shaped space...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elevator Manifesto: Part 1

This manifesto is a response to a general lack of consideration and presence of common sense that I have witnessed while riding the elevators in the hospital where I work in the maintenance department.  Maybe these things are indicative of changes to society on a larger scale and just become more obvious in the microcosm of the elevator ride.  Maybe my place of work has been overrun by the inconsiderate and the oblivious, and the behaviors I see on a day to day basis aren’t the norm.  I doubt this is the case though.  While this is a manifesto about elevator rules, it is also a guide to living in polite society.  Having some consideration for others can go a long way to making the world run more smoothly.
Before addressing topics like, Space Invaders, Up Downs, Down Ups, Door Holders, Elevator Operators, and more I think I should address the most common source of my elevator frustration. 
Rule #1 Exiting passengers have the right of way.
Such a simple rule. 
So simple I will use an analogy to explain it.  Lets say you were filling a jar with red and blue marbles and you mistakenly fill it to the top with the red leaving no room for the blue.  You have to get the blue ones in there somehow.  What do you do?  Do you try to cram the blue marbles into the already full jar like a dummy, or do you take some of the red ones out to make room for the blue?  Most people would choose the latter rather than the former of the two options.  Why then do so many people rush onto the elevator as soon as the doors open?  Is it because they lack a basic understanding of common elevator rules of etiquette, or do they think the world revolves around them and we should all step aside and let them do whatever they want.
This simple rule and its violation is what finally lead me to writing this manifesto that I have been threatening to write for years.  It was a Thursday, a day not unlike any other day.  I was pushing a cart with some supplies and had to bring them to the the third floor.  I boarded the elevator with another person and we both got off at the third floor.  I motioned for him to disembark first because the room I was going to was next to the elevator bank and he would have had to walk around me had I exited first (consideration: it’s easy).  I followed directly behind him not wanting to leave a gap allowing someone to jump on before I could make my exit.  Seriously I was right on his heels, but that wasn’t enough to stop the woman who had been waiting for the elevator.  Without looking she tried to walk right on as in her peripheral vision she saw the first guy exit.  When she finally noticed I was coming off with the cart she had to do a jump back maneuver that almost made the guy behind her trip.  As the elevator door was closing I could hear her mumbling to the guy whom she almost tripped that it was rude of me to not have announced I was coming off the elevator.  I was rude?  Really?  I don’t believe I was, but if I was please tell me.  She said some other stuff too that was hard to make out.  My first thought was to abandon my cart and run up the stairs to explain to her the error of her ways but I knew better than to leave the cart unattended.  It was a teachable moment, and I had to let it pass, very unfortunate.
Rule #1 is simple, easy to follow, and is applicable 100% of the time.  If you have been waiting “forever” for the elevator to arrive at your floor, exiting passengers still have the right of way.  If you are only going up or down one floor, exiting passengers still have the right of way.  If you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant, if you are in a power chair, if you are rich, if you are poor, if you suspect you may have gotten that lady pregnant when you hooked up at your ten year high school reunion, remember Rule #1 and let the people off the elevator before you make things difficult for everyone.
Stay tuned for part 2 and until then be sure to put rule #1 into practice. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Who Is?: Super Kate

I actually tried to write a post like this a few years ago and failed miserably. Back then pretty much everything about me was defined in terms of others…my roles in life and the things I did. Jeff’s wife, Daniel/Nathan/Jacob’s mother, my students’ teacher. If you asked me what I did outside of those roles, I’d tell you, “Um….I read a lot.” I didn’t have my own “thing”. We watched a lot of sports and movies. We camped. While I liked to do all of those things, I was just fitting myself into what my husband enjoyed. I can’t blame him; when he’d ask me what I wanted to do I didn’t know. I wasn’t so much an individual as a mirror.

We subscribed to National Geographic Adventure and Outside magazines. I read them cover to cover, dreaming of a life of adventure that seemed as out of reach as a date with Brad Pitt. Back then, I saw life mostly in terms of what I couldn’t do. I was afraid to try new things. Without someone to lead the way I hung back, bored but comfortable with the familiar. And then, at 35, I fell in love. Yes, I was already married, but it’s ok because I fell in love with bicycling.

Thanks to a lousy sense of direction I accidentally rode my new bike 15 miles, a distance that seemed astonishing to me at the time. That ride – to another town! – was the first time I ever understood the sense of accomplishment that comes with the journey. 15 miles turned into 30, then 60 and later 100. Later came the decision to train for a 5K with my sister-in-law. I didn’t even like running; it took almost a year before I’d call myself a runner, but I did love the challenge. Running friendships led me to adventure racing and a whole host of new things: orienteering, mountain biking, paddling, bushwhacking, racing through the night.

Somewhere in all of this, I made a shift that has truly changed me life. Instead of saying “I can’t”, I started wondering, “Can I?” And for me, the process of answering that question matters infinitely more than the actual answer.

Can I run a marathon? Yes.
Can I race for 24 hours straight? Yes.
Can I rappel for the first time ever at night? Yes.
Can I ascend a 100-foot rock wall? Eventually.
Can I ride my bike 200 miles in a day? Not yet.

I don’t like to fail, but I’m no longer so afraid of failure that I refuse to try things that call to me. My circumstances haven’t changed, but my world is much bigger. I’m still a wife and a mother and a teacher and a reader…and a runner and mountain biker and adventure racer. I like a good challenge, can often be found jumping in over my head, and can probably be talked into joining your hairbrained scheme. I’m living the same basic life, but now it’s filled with adventure and adventurous people, and when I say “I can’t”, it’s most often to tell you “I can’t wait!”

I’m Kate. Who are you?
You can read more about Super Kate on her blog by clicking here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

One project finished as another begins

I actually finished a project! 
It was an easy one but I finished it just the same.  Beth wanted to install some lights on the mirror behind the dresser.  My first instinct was to schedule it for some later date that would probably never arrive, but instead I decided to make it happen.  After all being married to me is a lot of work so installing some lights is the least I could do.  She told me what she wanted and I immediately knew what to do.  Off to our local home supply superstore we went.  We grabbed a light, power cord, and bulbs, checked out and headed home.  I gathered some tools and realized that I forgot to grab some wire nuts, but luckily I found some in the back of a drawer.  With everything ready to go I realized the part of the mirror on which I was planning on attaching the lights was not made of wood but instead a masonite material.  Not cool.  If I didn’t have any nuts and bolts to go through I would have to make a run to the store again.  I know that sounds like a small thing but I was determined to not let anything derail this project.  Fortunately I scrounged up something that worked and I got the light installed.  The 60W bulbs we bought were overkill, so as they go out they will be replaced with 40W bulbs.  Finishing the project made me happy, because it was something for Beth.  I was glad to bring a little light into her life, she deserves much more but it will have to do for now.  If you read my Who Is? feature you know finishing this project is a big deal regardless of how small and easy it was.  As one project is completed another begins.
Berryman Marathon 2010 finish
Finished the Berryman marathon.
A new beginning!
The training cycle for Run100+ has officially begun.  Run, run, run.  The Kettle Moraine 100mile trail run will be here before I know it, and I have miles and miles to run.  In order for me to cross the finish line I will have to work harder and be more serious about running than I have ever been.  Riding high off the light project I feel like I am up to the task but sustaining the momentum has been problematic in the past.  One thing I know for sure though is that the trail doesn’t care if I skip training runs and slack off, likewise it doesn’t care if I train harder than ever.  To the trail I am insignificant.
I know what I need to do.  All that is left is for me to do it, and do it according to plan for the next 6months.  I haven’t failed in a 100+Project challenge yet, and I don’t plan to start now. 
The END!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Who Is?: Ness Knight

I have just woken up to the rustling noises of some fat geese waddling through the leaves right by my tent, gabbling on at one another (rather disconcerting when you are still half asleep and have no idea what is going on, mind) whilst making their way to a bubbling creek just a few meters away. The morning sun is glistening through a multitude of condensation droplets all around my tent, making me feel like I'm surrounded by a thousand little suns. This is why I am an adventurer. This is why I do what I do. It is quite likely that those stuck in the traffic and fumes on a highway just 200 meters away have absolutely no idea that this idyllic little haven even exists. It reminds me of some lyrics from a Cat Empire song I listened to yesterday which really struck a chord, "Do you ever look around and find what is here to be found?".
I'm Ness. At the moment you will find me cycling 2000 miles across the USA. Everything I need to get me across this distance fits on my bicycle.
Many have asked me why I decided to be an adventurer. There are 3 reasons, 1.) I get to challenge myself physically and mentally through endurance expeditions, pushing my limits and finding the depths of what I am capable of. 2.) I want to make sure that in 50 years time I can look back and say that I truly lived, having gathered thousands of brilliant experiences to show for my achievements, and not just a house full of stuff. 3.) We live on a phenomenal planet. My expeditions allow me to see the world from a very unique perspective. As I cycle these 2000+ miles I am taking in every single brilliant aspect, meter by meter, mile upon mile.
Next year sees me SUPing the length of the Murray River in Australia source to sea with the brilliant Em Bell. A Thames River source to sea swim is on the cards and plans are in the pipeline for a Pacific Ocean row.
I'm Ness, a dorky geek who found her passion in adventure and is living every single minute to the full. Who are you?

Find out more about Ness on her website NessKnight.com

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Accumulation: It’s a real problem

Lately I’ve been realizing that the accumulation of stuff isn’t making me happy.  I have accumulated loads and loads of crap that I rarely ever use.  On a recent TEDx talk I watched on collaborative consumption the speaker, Rachel Botsman, asked the audience how many of them owned a cordless drill.  Most of the audience raised their hand.  Then she said the average lifetime use of a cordless drill is only 13minutes.  Clearly if you are a contractor or avid do-it-yourselfer you drill usage will be much higher, but for the average person that might be pretty accurate.  The speaker went on to say, it’s the hole that you want not the drill itself, and wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to conveniently source a drill when you needed one.
The story of the drill is relevant because we accumulate so much stuff because we think we need it, again we need the hole, not the drill.  I currently own three pneumatic nailers for no reason whatsoever.  If I ever decided to build an addition to my shed or house, I have the nailer for the job.  On the off chance I felt an urge to redo all of the trim work in my house, I have a nailer for that job too.  While we are at it if I wanted to do some more detailed trim work, you guessed it I have a nailer for that also.  I bought all these for small jobs I did years ago that would have been just as easy to complete with a hammer.  At the time though, I convinced myself that a pneumatic nailer would be something good to have just in case I ever needed to use one.  That makes no sense to me whatsoever but at the time I thought I was being smart. 
Lately I have been trying to get rid of a bunch of stuff that I have accumulated over the years.  Beth and I have been selling things on E-bay, and Craigslist to recoup some of our wasted money.  Today I sorted through all of my clothes, and was shocked to discover the full extent of my wardrobe.  If anyone is paying attention to what I wear, they know that I only have a few items of clothing that I actually wear on a day to day basis.  What I found was I had 30lbs of clothes (apologies for the odd frame of reference, I didn’t realize I would be writing this post before they were already bagged up and sorted according to their fate.) that I just don’t wear for one reason or another, and another 30lbs of old race shirts that I have been saving to have made into a quilt one day (not likely to happen, quilts are expensive to have made, and I have been saving them for years).  Sixty pounds of clothing sitting idle in closets and dresser drawers, crazy right?
The stuff I have gotten rid of already is only a small dent in the amount of useless crap I own, but with every item I get rid of I feel a little better.  Happiness is an empty shelf! 
What have you accumulated over that years that makes you wonder what you were thinking?