Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – a Texan’s story

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How was Kilimanjaro? Here’s how it went down 😉

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One of my dear friends from Texas recently went to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Here is her story..

It feels sooooooo good to finally connect to the outside world and I’m sooooo looking forward to being home. So, this is how my journey went:

On my flight to Kili I got sick so I started my first day weak because I spent the day before throwing up. I don’t think I ate anything bad, I think it was nerves that got the best of me. Regardless, I thought the first day would be relatively easy since it was at a low altitude and we were only scheduled to do 5k. OMG!!! Was that a wrong assumption. When we finally got to camp I told Lorraine “if this is suppose to be the easy day I’m so screwed”!! Well, at dinner I was glad to hear that everybody else in the group (we were 6 total) felt the exact same way. Turns out that because of the really bad rains they had received the previous week, we started at a lower point so in total we did a bit over 10k in nasty slippery mud. Days 2-5 were long but I was feeling strong so they were fun but hard and uneventful. Don’t get me wrong you get tired of sleeping in a tent, no showers, no electricity and no toilet. It’s no picnic to get up in the middle of the night in freezing temperatures to use the restroom.

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Then around 10pm of day 5, the beginning of the end of me feeling good and confident. At 11:30pm I was desperately trying to put my boots on and run to use the restroom praying I would make it. I made it just in time just to have it followed by intense vomiting. About every hour, the same routine. Praying that as I threw up, I didn’t exert too much pressure and have an accident on the other end. It got so bad that Lorraine gave me a huge ziplock bag to throw up in that way I could do that part while sitting in the tent instead of standing in the freezing cold, and as I vomited, she patted my back. I felt guilty that she didnt sleep that night because of me. Needless to say I did not have breakfast. I sipped on water with electrolytes which I’m soooo glad Ernie gave me some of his because that would end up being the only nutrition I would get for the remainder of the trip. That day was suppose to be a short 2-3 hour trek but since I was so tired from not sleeping and no fuel, it took me 4 hours to get to the next camp. The group went ahead but Lorraine stuck by my side with the asst guide. Luckily no poops while trekking just vomiting along the way. Finally got to camp, no lunch just straight to the tent to rest. Summit was scheduled for midnight!  Later, Lorraine comes in and says that if I don’t have dinner I would be prohibited to attempt to summit because there’s no way I would have the fuel to make it.  As the hours progress, no poops and my vomiting finally turned to dry heaving.

Ene climb

Dinner comes around and I’m soooooo not hungry and all I want to do is sleep but I force myself up. Dinner is carrot soup and pasta with bean and veggie sauce. The guide walks in to check in on everybody, Lorraine is sitting in front of me. Lorraine is looking at the guide, the guide is looking at me and I’m looking at Lorraine. The guide asks me if I’ve thrown up, I lie and say I’m doing better. The guide then asks Lorraine and she lies and says that she was sleeping and didn’t hear anything. Lorraine, with her eyes signals that the guide is looking at me and nods at me to eat. I take a tiny bite and I chew and chew and chew but it just does not want to go down. The pasta and beans become this gooey nasty paste in my mouth from all the chewing and as I attempt to swallow I start to gag. Lorraine is nodding her head back and forth like saying ” you better push that food down anyway you can.” Now in my mouth there’s a nice mix of food and vomit that I quickly grab my cup of tea to drink and with that I managed to get it down. I did one more bite then the guide left so for now I was off the hook. Back to the tent to rest some more.

Around 11pm we get woken up to have one more last meal before summit. We put on all of our layers of clothing and head to the mess hall (tent) and I have about two spoons of porridge. So at this point I’m thinking I should just stay and not attempt because there was no way the electrolytes would be sufficient fuel to get me to climb 4000 feet in freezing temperatures but I think, let me just give it a shot. I’ve come too far to give up and off I went. About 30 minutes in I knew it was a HUGE mistake to have gone. It was so steep and I could barely lift my feet. Then the wind kicked in, about 40mph, nonstop, which we were later told that we got lucky because it can get a lot worse. An hour in, I was literally falling asleep as I hiked and dry heaved along the way. The rest of the group went on while Lorraine, asst guide and porter stayed with us so I wouldn’t slow everybody down. One step ahead of the other is all I kept repeating to myself and thought that once I would see some light in the sky, it would help me.

Well, it’s dark and dark and dark. We ask the guide how much longer and he says about 4 hours and I just fall apart. I start crying. I don’t have the energy to continue but now I’ve really screwed myself because I don’t have the energy to climb down either. Lorraine encourages me, she puts on a strong face and said, lets go, we can do it. So onward we go. About an hour later, we take another break and sit. Big mistake. The second I sat down, I fell asleep which then the guide is shaking me and telling me stand up. Again, onward we go and finally the stars are disappearing as the sun slowly starts to sneak in. The asst guide is trying to encourage us by saying that Stella Point is at eyes sight but still seemed so far away. Sometime after 7am we reach Stella Point. I can’t feel nor move my toes or fingers and Lorraine’s asthma is going on full force. I see the glaciers from a distance and the guide takes our picture by the congratulations sign.

Pain and misery don’t begin to describe how I felt. Summit is ONLY 100 meters away. Decision time. The only reason I wanted to proceed was ego and pride. Could I do another 100 meters. At this point I didn’t even have the energy to hike down let alone climb even further. Tears come down my face. I’ve pushed my body like I have never ever pushed it and it was time to make the decision that was best for my health and not my ego. I tell the asst guide I’ve come this far and it has already been one hell of a journey. An additional 100 meters wasn’t going to take away a weeks worth of hard work. I’m going down. I didn’t want to sway Lorraine so I started my descent with the porter. I was so tired that my legs were giving up on me on the way down. I lost count how many times I fell. When I finally got to camp I got a huge greeting from one of the porters which ran with a chair in one hand and pineapple juice in the other. I drank my juice crawled into the tent and past out. About 2 hours later, Lorraine made it in. She summited!!! We had lunch together which for me was 2 pieces of pineapple and then we packed our things. We had another 4 hour hike down to the last camp where we would spend the night before finally leaving the mountain. More dry heaving along the way and after about 14 hours of climbing, I finally got a full nights rest.  The following morning we were all just excited to think that we were hours away from a shower. As we trekked down, we reach the gate to be greeted by the entire crew singing and dancing and our last meal in the mountain and my first real meal in almost 3 days. Because I made it to Stella Point, I still got my certificate of completion;)

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I’m glad I had Lorraine, a hell of a trooper by my side and grateful that the guide made sure I was we’ll taken care of. Thanks to my honey and his electrolytes which were my only source of nourishment and was just enough to keep my body from collapsing.

I’m sure I will always wonder how things would have turned out if I would have been healthy. My ego was slightly bruised but my soul was fulfilled. That being said, I don’t ever want to see a tent, sleeping bag or bathing wipes again in my life 😉

Next vacation, a towel in one hand, a piña colada in the other, the ocean in front of me and Ernie by my side !!!;)

Well Done Enedina!

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Houston Golf Pro shares Great Advice

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After years of playing basketball, tennis, competing in sprint triathlons, and taking my share of beatings doing Krav Maga, I felt the urge to give golf a try. So, Corina and I took a lesson with Houston golf pro Carl Collura. Carl not only offered great tips and instruction, we feel we actually know how to give the club a proper swing.

Houston golf pro instructs how to grip the golf club

Even if I can’t hit the ball like Tiger Woods, I at least feel I can compete with him in golf attire. Check out the short socks with the Adidas shoes – that European look.

A bit about Carl Collura, not only does he have a great sense of humor and is a pleasure to take lessons from, Carl has been teaching at Memorial Park for over 13 years. His clientele ranges from beginner to touring professional. Personally, I felt like a 30 minute lesson with him would have been like taking 5 or 10 lessons with another Pro since I learned so much about the proper way to swing. The one great tip Carl shared with me and I am happy to share with you, is that it is not about hitting the golf ball – it’s about the swing. Forget about the ball and just focus on the swing. Once I did that, I began hitting the ball with ease. Moreover, I bought a used 7 iron and can’t wait to go back to the range!

It only took Carl 10 minutes to teach someone with no athletic skill whatsoever on how to hit a golf ball!

It’s Easy to Stay in Shape with these two Apps

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The only two fitness apps I use to keep me motivated in the gym.

It’s crazy, but I never had much care to read the ingredients listed on the packages of the food I ate, but with the My Fitness Pal app, I actually enjoy using my iPhone to scan bar codes to see how many calories I am consuming and more. With this app, you can log what you had for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. Did you know that one Shipley’s glaze donut has 217 calories!

Using this app will definitely make you think twice about eating that second donut or drinking that coke. In addition, you can log in any exercise you did for the day like running, boxing, or weight lifting, and the app will subtract the calories burned from the overall number of calories you are supposed to have throughout the entire day. And it’s not just food you can enter. Calorie count for Martinis, Coronas, and Wines are also listed.

Now for the 2nd app, I didn’t think I would ever defer to an app to look for different workout exercises, but the Nike Training Club app has got some very cool ones. Categories are listed as ‘lean’, ‘toned’, ‘get strong’ and ‘get focused’. Once you choose a category, there are about 20 different exercises that include step by step instructions on how to do the exercise and pictures to show the movements. Excellent app! I am no stranger to the gym. I usually do sets from the 300 Workout or movement that my fitness buddy Cedric Cosiac taught me, but incorporating movements from the Nike app have made my workouts a lot more interesting. Enjoy!

Team Coci helps Students compete in Triathlon

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The story of how a group of students and Team COCI athletes came together to compete in the Sugar Land Triathlon Relay.

It’s very rare to meet a student who wants to compete in a triathlon event. After all, most students are into basketball or football. This story however, is not just about one student, but rather a group of students. They don’t really swim or bike on a consistent basis, but that is not deterring them from setting their minds on competing in the Sugar Land Tri relay. Despite not ever competing in a Tri event, they have decided to give up their Sunday morning and do something that will test their endurance, will, and mental fortitude. (and I am just happy to be a part of it).

Rewind back several weeks… I’m part of Team COCI, a fun group of athletes who raise money for kids here in Houston. Many of us members don’t know each other, after all, triathlons are mostly individual events (except for the relays). Triathlons are not like softball or soccer where everyone has to work together. So when COCI leadership asked members if they’d like to participate in a relay race with some of the kids we raise money for, we said heck yea!

Now I cannot speak for all members of the group, but I am more excited about doing this race with the kids than I’ve ever been about any event I’ve ever done. Maybe it’s because we can see the excitement and enthusiasm in their eyes. For many of them, competing in this event will be an accomplishment, and to know those of us from COCI were able to help out in some way makes us all very proud.

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We won’t be able to push the pedal for them, we can’t breathe for them while they are in the water, and we can’t run for them, but we can sure as hell cheer for them and be behind they every part of the way in spirit! So now that they have had a couple of training sessions at Memorial Park with a few COCI members, we are just a few days away from race day….

Boy is it tough waking up early on a Sunday morning. Brush my teeth, drink a glass of milk, put on the shoes and check my phone to see if anyone from COCI is up and communicating via the GroupMe app. Yep, they are up. (conversation below took place at 5:15am).

The kids are psyched and ready! It’s not even race time yet and Kenneth’s got his bike gloves on already. Romie’s got his bike helmet on and DeeDee is walking around with her goggles. I check in and group with my team. Since I am running, I make sure Kenneth has his bike secured away on the racks properly and he and Stefano are marked properly. Oh yea, can’t forget the computer chip.

“Did you eat something?”. “Did you drink some water?”. “Did you eat something?”….. I must have sounded like a broken record asking my team the same questions over and over, but hey, I wanted to make sure their bodies had fuel and they were not dehydrated.

The race begins. Over 600 athletes competing, probably 8 or 9 relay teams competing. Most of the COCI relay teams are the last to get in the water. I don’t mind, it gives our bikers Kenneth, Romie, and Jada the chance to pass a lot of other riders up during the bike portion. Stefano get’s out of the pool and it’s like Kenneth is a bit shocked as if he can’t believe this moment has finally arrived. He gets the bike out of the bike area and looks at all of us COCI volunteers and athletes who are cheering him on.

“Get on the bike Kenneth!”. “Go, Go, Go!” we shout and cheer as he gets on the bike and slowly starts to pedal away. I’m excited. Soon, all of the kids running with us have either completed the swimming, or are on the bikes, or are now running the last leg. I won’t forget my first triathlon because I forgot my goggles and the swim was in a lake. (I also did the bike portion on a mountain bike). I will likely forget the other triathlons I competed in, but this day, this day will be unforgettable.

A BIG Congratulations to Sherry, Aaroma, Lakedria, Hector, Romie, Ignacia, Kenneth, Tonie, Jada, and Denetria! Also, special thanks to Team COCI members: Gabrielle, Bill, Angelica, Ramon, John, Albert, Rik, Sandy, Sandra, Chris, Beverly, and Steve for helping make this event possible!

Eric

@HoustonGreat

5 Ingredients for a Recovery Workout Shake by Eric Melchor

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The secret to consistently making a good health shake after your workout is keeping it simple. Historically, when I wanted a health shake I would go to Smoothie King, but that amounted to maybe once every few months. Going there takes time and money. However, recently one of my co-workers told me about their morning shakes that consisted of a few ingredients and I thought I’d give it a go and try making one.

There are only five ingredients and chances are you already have two of them in your kitchen – milk (preferably low fat milk) and a fruit (banana or strawberries). Other ingredients for this recovery workout shake include Kale – a vegetable high in vitamin C and K, honey, and whey protein – good for muscle building. Add them all together, blend them for about 8 seconds, and you are done!

I workout in the mornings so this workout shake has become my breakfast replacing my typical oatmeal. The fact that I have been drinking these now for three weeks straight, feel better and recovery faster after workouts, and even lost a couple of pounds has compelled me to share with you all. Feel free to experiment and share any suggestions about your recovery health shake.