Keeping up with the Jones’s (Fair Dinkum – What was I thinking)

Well what I should say is keeping up with the Tong’s in my case. That would be brother-in-law and partner in all things adventure and exercise.

 Recently, Ray purchased a weight-vest to wear whilst exercising, and he has been using it almost exclusively with his sprint running training.

And he has made some substantial improvement in his mid-distance times.

Okay, he is a Kiwi so there is a certain amount of Trans-Tasman rivalry that goes on between us, unsaid of course, but it is all good, after all we egged each other on enough to line up for the 243 kilometre Speight’s Coast-to-Coast race across New Zealand 12 months ago, and the gauntlet has once again been tossed down for us to line up for the 2014 event.

Ray crosses the line after racing 243 kilometres across New Zealand (Baz is coming!)
Ray crosses the line after racing 243 kilometres across New Zealand (Baz is following!)

As a matter of interest The Speight’s Coast to Coast now features in the Worlds Toughest Endurance Challenges which has just been published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Baz - Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand
Baz – Mountain Run, Coast to Coast Race, New Zealand

But on this rivalry, a casual mention of seeing how far we could walk with a back pack had us traversing 240 kilometres through the Australian bush from my home in Sydney to his in Newcastle to the north, not to mention some of the other walks we have done and Tough Mudder events…

Baz & Ray - Tough Mudder, Sydney, Australia
Baz & Ray – Tough Mudder, Sydney, Australia

So when I heard he was making all these gains with a power-vest I did the only thing one could do. I bought my own.

 Strewth, all I can say is, what was I thinking.

Twenty kilograms weighted on your body doesn’t sound like much, and after all we frequently carry that and more on our outings in the bush, but strapped to your body during an exercise session is another thing altogether.

Ray - Great North Walk, Australia
Ray – Great North Walk, Australia

 My body is aching tonight!

That’s what you get for trying to keep up with the Tong’s, I guess.

And on the vest, I purchased one from Iron Edge, a Melbourne based company who specialise in weight and cross-fit training equipment…

If you get a chance, check out the video, it gives you some idea how the weight-vest can be used.

Well, if you want to keep up with “us boys” best you go and buy one and add it to your exercise workouts…

 And hey, good luck out there!

The Shed – Font of all knowledge (And some tall stories)

The Shed
The Shed

Phew…“The Shed” hasn’t changed whilst I was away climbing in New Zealand.

It is still that grand old place where tall stories can be told, a few laughs had, a place where you can grab a coldie out of the fridge to share with mates, and importantly, it is my morning training hangout.

These past few days I’ve headed up the driveway in the pre-dawn darkness, a time of the day I actually enjoy immensely, to exercise on my C2 Concept Rower, and to lift a few weights.

Rowing in the Shed
Baz on the C2 Rower

Over the coming months my exercise regime in The Shed will revolve around high intensity cardio and building muscular endurance in preparation for my expedition to Nepal at the end of the year. Of course, there will be plenty of hill climbing with a 20 kilogram backpack, and I could never go without getting in a paddle on the lake at least once a week.

Baz - heading up "The Hill"
Baz – heading up “The Hill”

I’m always happy to be out hiking in the Australian Bush…and kayaking on our magnificent ocean beaches and inland waterways!

Baz, Terrigal Beach, Australia
Baz, Terrigal Beach, Australia

I will also be focussing  on improving muscular flexibility through yoga practice. Bikram is my preferred yoga and I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with it over the coming weeks.

Another focus of mine will be agility, something we seem to have in younger days and lose over time. Whilst I’m not too bad, my trip to New Zealand highlighted that I would benefit from undertaking some specific training, like balance beam walking with a back-pack…

And of course there’ll be plenty of rock-climbing up in the Blue Mountains to hone my rope handling skills and efficiency.

Baz - Boar's Head, Blue Mountains, Australia
Baz – Boar’s Head, Blue Mountains, Australia

Something that I will be revelling in!

And my partner in crime, brother-in-law, Ray Tong, and I are scheduled to line up for another start in Tough Mudder in early April, and he is well advanced in his preparation, so I have some catching up to do!

Ray and Baz line up for Tough Mudder
Ray and Baz line up for Tough Mudder

We are looking to improve our time from last September’s Tough Mudder event.

Mind you, I’m currently suffering from a long term achillies tendon injury which has flared once again.

My sports doctor is treating it with Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP as it is usually referred to.  It involves drawing my own blood and extracting the PRP which is then injected back into my achillies tendon to assist recovery. The process can be done in the surgery and takes around 15-30 minutes.  To date, I have had one injection and another is scheduled for next week.

I’m also undergoing a very specific stretching regime to assist in the recovery.

Fingers crossed, as failing this it will require some surgery to correct.

Baz - Crossing Swing Bridge on the Six Foot Track
Baz – Crossing Swing Bridge on the Six Foot Track

But I’m confident all will be well within the next few weeks and I can’t wait to be back out in the mountains hiking and climbing.

All up, life is pretty good, wouldn’t be dead for quids…

And remember, if all else fails, remain out of control and see what happens, or just take a leap of faith!

Baz and TomO - Just remain out of control...!
Baz and TomO – Just remain out of control…!

Strewth Mate, you gotta love Tough Mudder

Sydney had its first Tough Mudder event today, and geez how good is it! I lined up with my brother-in-law, and usual partner in crime, Ray Tong, and man did we have a good time of it.

We laughed our way through it…

Mind you, my sister, who turned up yesterday to look after the dogs while we are in Fiji, snapped this shot at the start line.

It kinda has that look about it that suggests I was saying what the (insert naughty words) are we doing here!

It was run just to the north of Sydney on a rural property, and crikey, I don’t know where they found all that mud, but let me tell you, there was lot’s of it over the 20 kilometre obstacle course…

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a couple of photos of the event, ’cause I’m heading for the showers, you know, to clean myself up…

P.S. Note to self, suggest to Janet that I’ve found the perfect beauty treatment that only costs about a hundred bucks. The last time I saw the bill for the day spa, and mud pack, it cost a multiple of this…

I’m more excited than a Bull in a paddock full of Cows

Yep, I’m pumped and excited!

I have spent the last week climbing in New Zealand’s Southern Alps with Dean Staples, an accomplished high altitude climber who has been to the top (and back) of Mount Everest eight times.

The opportunity to spend time under Dean’s guidance has been a great opportunity for me and there is much to write about…

But I need to get through Tough Mudder first which is being held to the north of Sydney tomorrow…

They say running 20 kilometres, being zapped by 10,000 volts, jumping through burning hay bales, after swimming in ice cold water is fun – I’m hoping so!

And if I manage to get through tomorrow I’ll be heading to Yasawa Island, situated in Fiji, with Janet and TomO this coming Sunday, so I’ll catch up with you from there!

Send a Saint Bernard (If you haven’t heard from me in a week)

These last few weeks since I booked an impromptu trip to climb in the Southern Alps of New Zealand seemed to have flown by, literally.  There has been so much to organise and gear to be updated that I hardly noticed time passing…

I head off early Friday morning, flying across “The Ditch” into Queenstown in the South Island, before making my way by bus to Wanaka, about an hour’s drive away.

On Saturday I will be flying into the back-country by either helicopter or ski-plane with Dean Staples, Adventure Consultants Chief Guide for New Zealand. He has a first class climbing and mountaineering pedigree with 8 trips to the top of Mt Everest under his belt, and numerous other 8,000 metre peaks, including Cho Oyu, which is my goal for 2014.

Anyway, there will be no communication access, other than satellite phone for emergencies, so I’ll let you know how it goes, along with some pictures, when I return.

And, strewth, at the moment there is plenty of snow falling and the wind is so strong it would “blow ya dog off its chain”

Incidentally, the day after I get back I am participating in Tough Mudder, which is billed as the “Premier Obstacle Course Series in the World”. I will be lining up with  my partner in crime and brother-in-law, dare I say, fellow adventurer, Ray Tong.

He’s a bit soft, a typical Kiwi, but I’ll get him through the day…and to the beer queue!

It is fair to say there is an unstated, vigorous, but friendly rivalry between us so it should be interesting. Ray will blow me away in the running, but I’ll have it all over him in the strength department…

Mind you, that is the beauty of these events, it requires teamwork to get you through.

And when I say return, what I really mean is that I will be updating from a near deserted island in the South Pacific. Yasawa Island in the Fijian Island Group.

Janet, TomO, and I fly out the day after Tough Mudder. So we’ll be lazing back on a coconut fringed beach for a week…

Okay, well TomO and I aren’t really known for just “lazing around” so we might find some adventure.

I’m sure we will…

And Janet, well we’ll make sure she is pampered in a manner deserving of such a loving partner, and mother, like royalty!

Strewth, she deserves it for putting up with all the day to day antics of “her boys” …talk about a Saint!

You don’t know how lucky you are!

I was mentioning the other day about how excited (very excited) I am about an upcoming trip I have to New Zealand. I depart in two weeks to further my climbing and mountaineering experience in preparation for some upcoming trips to New Zealand and the Himalayas in 2013.  

Mt Aspiring, Southern Alps, New Zealand

I have a whole week climbing some smaller peaks in the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s south island, along with some ice-climbing, and we might even camp out if it isn’t too cold.

Anyway, over dinner last night, Janet, my partner, casually remarked to me…

“You don’t know how lucky you are.” 

It is a favourite saying in her family, but usually reserved for occasions when you have been spoilt, been very spoilt!

I’ve heard it often!

Sensibly, I approached the comment with caution, not sure if this was serious or mischief, although odds-on it was mischief in the making. It wasn’t my birthday, it was unlikely I was getting a gift or present, besides with all the climbing gear I have bought recently even TomO, our son, remarked that I had already received my Christmas presents…for the next few years! (note to self, tell Janet about the new back-pack)

“Have you thought about all the activities and holidays you are about to embark on?”

I sensed where this was heading and there was a cheeky glint in both of their eyes, but in the interest of self-preservation I played dumb, which isn’t too hard for me!

You see, we were due to have a holiday in April this year on a tropical island located in the island nation of Fiji in the romantic South Pacific.  As it turns out on the very island, Yasawa Island, that was featured in the movie Blue Lagoon.  However, due to extreme weather it had to be postponed to this September as you could not even get to the small resort by boat or plane at the time.

The holiday was planned as a thank you to Janet from her boys for putting up with one who is rapidly approaching puberty and the other that hasn’t grown up yet…

I’m sure you’ve got it figured who’s who in the zoo here…

Anyway, this is the cool bit.

I head to New Zealand and the tail-end of its winter on a Friday. The day after I return I am participating in Tough Mudder, a 20-kilometre commando style course peppered with obstacles that you have to jump over, climb over, hurdle flaming hay bales, and even get zapped by 10,000 volts after being submerged in ice-cold water (is that supposed to be fun?) and then, get this, onto Fiji the very next day.

Mind you, our flight to Fiji is at silly-o’clock in the morning, and there is a chance, okay a big chance, there will be a few beers after Tough Mudder, either that or I’ll be in the back of an ambulance or something similar suffering third degree burns, or hypothermia…

And Janet added,

“if that isn’t enough when we get home from Fiji we are going to the Blue Mountains, just to the west of Sydney, to do some climbing and abseiling for a few days”…

I’m betting that while TomO and I climb, Janet will be putting the credit card through its paces in the quaint galleries and dress shops that are a part of the Blue Mountains scene…

And who would I be to complain!

Yes, I don’t know how lucky I am…What do you think?