I had to go to the shop today a bit further to get some food and my car had a layer of dust on top of it. I started thinking how long has it actually been since I have driven my car. I did not remember. It’s my fifth week working from home and 3rd week working from home with kids. Government just announced today (30th of March) that it will stay like this at least until mid May.
My own safe bubble
It was pretty quiet at the shop and people kept avoiding each other well. We Finns try to keep an arms length away anyway, but now you can see people taking the other aisle or stopping before passing by to keep the distance. At least at the shop where I went you could find anything you possibly need, there is only shortage of hand soap and sanitizer it seems.
It still feels like this is not real, this cannot be happening. Driving home I realized I was actually happy to get home to my own bubble where I know I am fine and forget the reality for a while focusing on something completely different. That is why running is good.
Unfortunately I have hurt my left knee (too much trail running and running in general so probably ligament inflammation) so I am unable to train or even go for a walk to get distracted. The pain keeps coming and going so have decided to halt exercise completely until it heals because it got worse after I went for a short bike ride and walk with my daughter. No need for doctor as I know he/she would just advise me to rest which I know myself I need to do. Besides they are busy with much more important thing than my knee.
Let’s see how long it takes to heal, but I am in a way happy to take a break, but need to find other ways to pass the time and every now and then get my mind of what is happening. It seems to help. You can concentrate again much better to solve pressing issues at work and help the kids when you are able to momentarily get carried away with something completely different for a while.
It used to be going to the gym, running, choir practise and singing, but all that is now on hold. I think I will start playing the piano again… have not touched it too many times since we moved and at least you can sing along… Let’s see how long the family is willing to listen to that though…
Serious or mild case?
Stories of people that have become immune to Covid-19 and have healed from the virus are very different. Some seem to get it very serious and some milder. They have had very high fever for days and days and some only a bit of cough and aching here and there. It’s scary not knowing which one you might get as it doesn’t seem to make a difference if you are in good shape or not.
Days pass by pretty quickly and there is some sort of routine already. We’ll see, maybe by the end of the week my thoughts will be different.
The virus found Finland also and is spreading faster. Government is reacting to it accordingly and encouraging self isolation and avoiding social meetings and places. Private entrepreneurs are doing their best to avoid it from spreading like we all are so my gym closed it’s doors for now. You are encouraged to keep children at home if you can so I have had my 6 year old with me (I have continued working from home) and the older ones with their father.
Training has obviously changed to mostly outdoor training and I have been running a lot this week. I have done two trail runs in the close by Sipoonkorpi National Forest, which is my favourite place around here and I already know the forest by heart. Or so I thought I did… Ran out of battery on my phone just when I was not quite sure where I am around 8k mark and then of course put on the ”find back” function on my sports watch, but due to some habitation suddenly in front of me, I had to find an alternative route and was for a while on an ”unknown territory”. Good sense of directions helps always so when you can just directly through the woods again and ended up exactly where I wanted in the end, but my 12 k’s became 14 k’s…
Found some nice new trails though and glacial remnants…
Since the gym is now closed decided to go and get some extra training equipment to be able to do some gym sessions at home, but a lot of weights and similar were already out of stock from the shops and did not have time to go and haunt for them so the ones I found will have to do in addition to what I already had. So next month my training will be done with kettle bells, step board, power wheels, functional trainer, gym ball, resistance rubber bands and training mats (also got boxing bag, but don’t really use and chip up bar which I do use regularly). I also intend to take use of the many outdoor training spots we have around here.
So strange times ahead trying to understand what is happening around here, staying indoors avoiding human contact with everyone else apart from your family. Let’s see how it goes.
OK so I ended up running A LOT more this week than I thought. This was probably my way to get rid of the stress caused by the situation in the world and around here in Finland also. I ran altogether 36 kilometers which is 10-12 more than normally.
It sort of just accumulated mostly because I needed to get out of the house. The extra kilometers suddenly after Kili backfired next week like these always do. There is never a healthy day for an athlete is there…
2 Trail runs. One 14,20 kilometers and another 6.95 kilometers
3 Basic runs. One 5,10 kilometers, second 3.22 kilometers and third 6,26 kilometers
Thought I would start a ”diary” on this situation as there are many things going on my mind and maybe writing them down might help. I will start from the beginning and hop to this day 69 (according to WHO. They started to publish the situation reports on 21st of January 2020).
When we got back from Kilimanjaro (see my Kilimanjaro challenge and journey here) first Covid-19 cases had already reached Europe and it wasn’t too long before it was here in Helsinki too. If we would have had the Kili trip two weeks later it most likely would have been cancelled, so lucky we did it when we did.
First week back from Kili I was following the global news wondering what this means for us and how long it will take before we are in the same situation. Things were getting worse in Italy quickly and China was doing pretty bad. I knew it would reach Helsinki and my suburb eventually and since I have bad lungs, I made the choice about 4 weeks ago to continue working from home.
Bad lungs meaning if I get a flu and it goes to my lungs I cough for weeks and weeks so did not want to catch this one if I can avoid it. Plus I have had pneumonia a few times in the past 10 years so don’t want that again.
Things escalated really quickly. First advice was to avoid social contacts. Then all gatherings of over 500 were not to be held until end of May 2020 (meaning our spring concert would be cancelled). Then schools and kindergartens were partially closed (those who really need can take their children to school grades 1-3 and kindergarten any age). About the same time sports venues, public spaces closed their doors to everyone. Then no public gatherings no matter how many people to pubs, restaurants and borders all closing earlier this week.
Last measure the government made was closing the Helsinki Metropolitan area from the rest of Finland last night (27th of March) as we have most cases in the country and they are trying to avoid this from spreading to the more scarcely populated are of Northern Finland where they do not have the equipment nor personnel to handle outbreaks of larger scale.
Long story short this is what has happened so far and I must say it has been frightening and unbelievable. You feel like you are watching a Hollywood disaster movie in real life. I have had bad dreams for a few weeks now and I am one of those people who remember them always. Sometimes it’s nice if the dream is a good movie, but lately they have been more horror movies than comedies. I would rather sleep during the night and not keep dreaming, but hey what can you do. I seem to have another life when I am asleep so have gotten used to that and know that they reflect my days, feelings and stress level.
Anyway today was OK and the weekend was a welcome break, but it has been tough getting used to this. There doesn’t seem to be any good news and the future looks uncertain in so many ways Everyone is struggling to grasp the magnitude of this and the consequences. I think after the initial shock next week will be already easier for me as I get used to this ”new reality” indoors and behind closed borders, but to be honest I don’t worry about me as much as I worry about others. So far we have it all good but I keep thinking how this will affect everyone in the world and how many sad stories there will be. I am sure there will be some happy endings too, but one thing is certain, the world will never be the same.
It’s an uncertain future and unforeseen things are happening. One thing is though in common this seems to affect every country around the world and every person either directly or indirectly. Sharing and caring about each other becomes more important and who knows maybe this will unify the world in a surprising way. I am hoping that anyway <3
So how is everyone?
What kind of feelings does this situation arise in you? How are you doing in your country? It would be nice to share thoughts so let me know and comment.
Getting back to ”normal” training reminded me of how stiff my muscles are and realized something must be done so decided that I will start taking Yoga classes at my gym to get a bit more flexibility and stretching to my body. I have been training so hard in the past year that I have forgotten the importance of also taking some easier exercises and flexibility. My muscles are too tight and something must be done.
So went for a Yoga class after a long long break and it was a good choice. It reminded me of many good positions and general stretches I could do just after running. I thought I must keep doing this as it opens up the muscles and is relaxing.
Did a couple of runs also, but wasn’t able to do longer ones due to my left leg muscles being probably too tight causing pain on the ligaments around the knee. It eased after rest day and was probably caused by sudden up and down hopping on a trail in the forest after a long while. It was not a long run, but after Kili it seems my muscles are not that used to that sideways movement you get running in the forest.
Anyway hoping that next week I could do more trail running as I miss my forest visits. Also my training plan is starting a bit clearer what I could aim for and fit to my week. Yoga or similar flexibility/stretching has to be a part of it and trail running.
Covid-19 is also getting closer during the week (11) and there are some cases in Finland. It’s starting to get more serious and I have been working from home which changes the daily schedule also a bit.
1 walk 3,96 kilometers
2 run 3,45 kilometers + 6,1 kilometers of which partly Trail running
Getting back to normal and a bit more training finally after a break. I still felt tired after training but it wasn’t as bad as the week before. Covid-19 virus was also spreading around the world already but there were not that many cases yet in Finland so we decided to go for a weekend getaway to a spa few hours drive from our house and stop over at Repovesi National Park for a hike.
It was a beautiful day and a good hike. New suspension bridge over the strait was ready and weather was amazing around few degrees and sunny. No snow anymore, but a bit slippery at times where snow had just melter.
It was nice to get away and thinking back it was good luck that we did it before things got worse as now it would not be even possible.
Anyway I was happy that exercising felt better again and was eager to keep going next week. I wanted to have a training plan, but have not quite made up my mind yet what my next goal would be and what kind my plan would be. That will surely come to me and decided to just enjoy doing whatever kind of exercise for now .
1 hike 13,4 kilometers
2 runs 4,84 and 7,1 kilometers
1 treadmill run 3,1 kilometers
1 stair climber to 50 floors 11 minutes and 48 seconds
I woke up feeling OK, but not good. I could feel the headache in the back of my head a bit distant though and I felt a bit dizzy. I was hoping the headache would have been completely gone by the morning, like all the mornings before, but since that was not the case I knew it was going to be a tough day and I might not be going to the summit. So I changed my mental goal to Kibo for now. I thought if I can just get to Kibo camp I am happy and I have reached my target.
First few hours were still OK. I was managing my headache, drinking ridiculously a lot of water, breathing my lungs as full every time as I can and taking one step at a time. Still it was not enough. I felt worse by the step and looking at the scenery I started to ask myself questions like ”What are we doing here?”, ”What am I doing here?”. There is nothing here, no plants, no birds, no animals, NOTHING. Not even bloody rocks big enough to go pee behind!
We should not be here. This is not for humans. This is like walking on the moon…
I could sense everyone was more quiet. It was getting harder and we were climbing higher all the time. Every single step you had to concentrate on breathing and speed being as steady as possible. There was no talking, just breathing, walking and a lot of time to think about things. Like for example if you will continue to the summit or stay at the base camp. Before we reached the next camp I had made up mine or rather the answer was given to me.
We had a break around 2 hour mark which was midway (about 2,5 kilometers) and the kitchen crew had bought some coffee, tea, cake and biscuits to us which was a really nice surprise. I put my legs up against a small rock as I felt like blood was not circulating after so many days on my feet. Fluids were gathering to my body as rings on my finger were not moving which is always a good indication of that. I felt a bit better during the break and confident that I can get to Kibo although the headache was there all the time, but still not so bad that I had to take any medicin. We were at about 4300 meters now.
400 meters ascent sound like nothing especially if you have been to Norway for example where most mountains next to fjords are higher than that and you take an evening walk up them and back in less than few hours. Here in high altitude it’s not the same. You don’t rush up. This is not a high heart rate exercise. As a matter of fact on the way up my heart rate average was 115 which equals to normal walk and my max is 198-199 so there is quite a lot to go before I would be at max level.
Still I felt exhausted, tired and I could hardly keep going. I tried to keep the heart rate as steady as possible too all the time. By the time we got to about 600 meters before Kibo camp I felt the headache getting worse. I was prepared it would probably get so bad at some point that I would need to take Ibuprofen, so took half a tablet. I don’t really use Ibuprofen so usually small amount is enough. I felt like everyone was rushing a bit to get to camp and my head just kept pounding.
About 100 meters before camp I felt so sick and like I would throw up soon. My head was pounding so hard and felt so heavy that I went straight to my tent to lie down. I could not do anything I felt so bad so I just sat there and thought about how I feel now and how hard the day had been. I weighed the options of maybe going up as I would probably again feel better after a bit of sleep and staying still.
I thought I don’t want to go up there. I thought I have come all the way here, so I should go up there. I thought I am giving up not going up there. Would the others be disappointed if I didn’t go up there? I thought maybe I will be the only not going up. Will I be the only one giving up?
I thought about my children and how I missed them. I thought about my husband and how I just wanted to be close to him and talk to him. I thought about what would happen if I would take a bit more Ibuprofen, ignore the pain and just keep going. I thought about ignoring the pain, being stubborn, keeping on going and ending to hospital. Then I thought about my children again.
I cried, I cried a lot. So much I don’t remember the last time I have cried so much. Then I thought I don’t want to go up there. I felt I don’t want to go up there. I have never had such a strong gut feeling in my life and it told me not to go up there. So I decided I should listen to it and that I am not going to the summit.
I probably could have tried, I probably would have felt better later on and with Ibuprofen kept going, but I had found my answer. Then I went to the mess tent to have lunch and told everyone. Next day it turned out to be a wise decision.
I could not eat anything during lunch though I felt so bad, but had a mug of Milo anyway. We measured our HR and CO2 levels. My CO2 had dropped to 75% from the mornings 93% and my heart rate was higher again around 96. Just the CO2 level drop was clear enough hint that I should not go so went back to tent to sleep. I think that just the fact that the decision had been made eased my mind and I knew the stressing, pain, anxiety and wondering will I get there was over.
I knew I don’t have to worry anymore, I didn’t have to have the strength to carry on anymore so I can now relax and just stay here. Stay alive for one more day here at 4700 meters and then we can go down and home. Just one more day and during the day I will hopefully acclimatize and feel better by the morning.
After the nap I felt better and managed to eat some dinner. Had to take the other half of the ibuprofen also. Pretty soon after dinner everyone head to bed as all others were heading to summit at 4 am and some were not feeling too good either, but good enough to go. As I suspected I was the only one not going, but was already OK with my decision. I knew it was the right one. Besides I wanted to wake up also to see them off.
Team Ubuntu was really strong. The only thing bothering really was the tummy aches and the runs. Other than that CO2 was great and they felt good. I was happy that I was the only one feeling so bad. They were all good to go to the summit and I did not want to miss them going.
It was already really cold, below zero degrees maybe -2 or -3, but there was no snow at base camp. Our tents were frozen stiff because of some cold rain earlier and for the first time I had to have a bit more clothes on when sleeping.
I was relieved that the decision had been made and eager to see the others off and welcome them back the next day. Fell asleep in those thoughts looking forward to the next day at 4700 meters thinking, wow, am I really here?
I was full of energy to go running and to the gym after I got back from Kili. I thought I could just return to normal, but it seemed like my body had other thoughts.
I went for a few runs, but was totally exhausted after them and they were not even very hard runs. I remember that my eyes hurt because I was so tired in the evening and had hard time staying awake.
So I did not really enjoy training and it felt like my shoes had extra iron weights or something. I thought that Kili would have increased my endurance like usually these kind of hard training periods do, but there was no improvement in sight on the contrary.
So thought it might be the Anti Malaria pills. Or maybe the journey to Kili and back was actually much more strenuous than I thought it would be?
Running two runs 5,32 kilometers and 9,27 kilometers
One gym session
Once run on treadmill 2,2 kilometers
No plan yet, suggest me one! I need to tone up!
Next week I am hoping that training will feel good or at least normal. Now my body has felt so weird and not like my usual self. I am looking forward to getting back to routine training and hopefully I will find ”good flow” when training next week then.
Second week was more trekking again up and down. We reached the highest altitude to everyone and also went almost 2000 meters down to get off the mountain. This last week was physically very demanding due to the altitude sickness symptoms, but also going downhill was in a way hard because we were going faster and it was completely different kind of movement again.
The last day was ridiculously long trek as we were told it would be 18 kilometers but it ended up being 22,63 kilometers downhill partly in rain, but we all got down, no injuries or bad aches/bruises/blisters.
To fourth camp (Kibo base camp) 6th day
Distance 9,57 kilometers
Average bpm 87 so getting higher all the time
From 3962 meters to 4711 meters, altitude gain 668
Not done at all. Everyone was getting ready for the summit.
Summit day (Kibo base camp) 7th day
I did not attempt to go to the summit. More about the reasons on my Kilimanjaro daily recap blog posts under section Kilimanjaro/Trekking in the coming days.
I did go for a walk in the morning when everyone else had left for the summit and walked 42 m higher up to 4785 which was my top. So approximately Mont Blanc ”top of Europe” so to speak 😉
To fifth camp, downhill (Horombo) 8th day
Distance 9,57 kilometers
Average HR 84 so a bit lower but still high
From 4697 meters to 3733 meters down hill, descent 925 meters
Speed 3,3 km/h
To Marangu gate, downhill, last day 9th day
Distance 22,63 kilometers
Average HR 80 which is probably still high due to the massive trek down
From 3733 meters to 2750 meters, descent 983 meters
Speed 3,7 km/h, max speed was 7,2 km/h
6 hours and 8 minutes downhill! Harder than you would think!
For obvious reasons there was no other exercise that week since I was back home on Friday afternoon. I was eager to get back to normal training routines and go for a basic run as soon as possible though.
We woke up a bit later about 30 minutes, but I was already up with the birds like usual. Sun was rising and it’s beams were hitting the snowy summit creating a postcard view which me and Rolf from Switzerland stared at for a while and took photos. We tended to be the first ones to wake up each morning with the birds. I liked to be up before the hassle and fall asleep after everything is quiet. I suppose it’s my way to unwind and relax after being social for the day and allows me to listen to my own thoughts for a while.
This morning though I woke up early also because I was so hungry. A few days of walking uphill and the bigger calorie consumption it is starting to catch up on my body. In the morning they had always hot water in the mess tent so went there to get some Milo so I would last until breakfast.
It’s the same routine every morning it seems. Camp life has it’s own schedule which was getting more familiar to everyone. The chef and his assistant(s) wake up a bit earlier to boil water and cook food just before the sunrise around 6:30-7am. Breakfast has been good so far with oat meal, toast, pancakes, fruits plus sausages, jams, honey and such with coffee, tea and Milo. I usually took oatmeal, coffee and toast or pancakes. Toast with honey, jam or peanut butter and pancakes with honey and lemon juice.
After breakfast we headed uphill again and everyone stopped on the way at the spot where we knew there was mobile coverage for a while to message home and check messages back. It was a cloudless sunny day so it was hot although it was not more than 12 to 15 degrees at daytime. Cold breeze helped a little bit but the trek still it felt like it was a really long way although it was only 3,73 kilometers and ascent 380 meters from around 3483 meters to 3948 meters.
I probably should have drunken more water again as the headache started again after few hours of walk. By the time we got close to Third cave and to our snack break spot I also started getting a bit of nausea, but forced a Snickers bar and some peanuts down my throat. Snickers bars have become my new best friend along with everything else high carbohydrate. Apparently at high altitude it’s better to eat high carbohydrate food and keep protein to minimum as it helps with acclimatization and creation of red blood cells.
After we got to Third cave camp I slept for a a while and we got some lunch. Nausea had passed also so decided to go for the acclimatization walk after all, just a short walk up the hill again. It had been really misty since we got there and we were among the clouds which kept sweeping the plain, The plain on the side of which our campsite was looked like a floodplain for rainy season or when the snow melts down they would create a river rushing down from the top. We had not really seen the views until then, but suddenly the mist disappeared presenting another postcard image view of the Uhuru peak in snowy white sunset.
It looks a lot closer now, but still 1800 meters in altitude away our camp being at 3800 meters and the walk took us to about 4000 meters. Never been that high in my life without an airplane so good on me for making it this far!
After the walk high altitude symptoms started to kick in again more and I did not feel like eating at all and the headache came and went. Nausea was definitely worse than the headache though. Managed still to eat a bit of soup, pasta and mangoes. After dinner the usual coffee and tea to get the fluids out of my body and more water to acclimatize and heaps of ”Alfresco” visit. It was getting a bit harder to find ”good spots” as there were hardly any plants and fewer rocks. I did not really like the portable toilet for number one anyway…
Going any higher felt a bit daunting to be honest as I was struggling so much with nausea and the headache coming and going. My head felt really heavy and the headache was mainly in my neck. Typical high altitude symptoms I was told. I had not taken any medication because I wanted to know when I start to feel bad. I needed to know what my body is telling me so decided not to take anything unless I have to and so far the headache tended to go away when we got to camp and stayed still and by the morning it had always been gone. So I was hoping that this would be the case this time too and fell asleep in those thoughts trying not to slide downhill on my mattress all the time.
The next day we would be heading to Kibo base camp at 4700 meters which would be our home for the next few nights before going back down.
We all had our own private ”hotel rooms”. My tent number was 9. I slept otherwise well but had to wake up a few times to go to the ”bush” because I had been drinking so much water due to being dehydrated the previous day. Guideline was to drink as much water as you can to get rid of the altitude sickness symptoms so I was just doing as I was told.
I didn’t really mind waking up and going out since it was not too cold yet and when everyone is sleeping it’s s peaceful and quiet. Most nights the sky was clear so you could see every single star shining bright. It was so beautiful that I wanted to just lay down on the ground and keep staring up. Living in the city you seldom see that view of the sky so every time I ”had to go” at night I didn’t really mind and stayed for a while to stare at the stars.
I was happy to wake up without any symptoms from the previous days headache so assumed it was caused by dehydration and not high altitude OR if it was caused by high altitude at least my body had clearly acclimatized already to this altitude (around 2645 m Simba camp).
We had breakfast at 7 am and left right after it as it was going to be a bit longer day today. Second leg was 6,12 kilometers and it was still hot, but getting cooler already so more familiar to me and I did not sweat that much. We started from around 2645 meters and climbed up to 3494 meters (according to my sports watch). Altitude gain was 746 meters so a lot more than the day before. Vegetation was getting a bit more scarce and low grown, but still above head level so not much views in any direction.
Again we were greeted by our crew at the Second cave camp with song and dance. We were all feeling pretty OK and didn’t have any bad symptoms. Some had a bit of head ache and mostly upset tummies. I only had a bit strange feeling in my head and could feel that we are now higher and my body was working harder again as my average HR seemed to creep up again a few notches being at 81 bpm now (normal around 60-65).
We had lunch and measured our HR and CO2 levels. Mine was up a bit from the morning understandably CO2 was 96 and HR 92. So about the same as the day before which was a good sign that my body is still adjusting well to the ”thinner air”.
Then the clouds subsided and revealed our snow peak destination. It looked both daunting (because it is still so far away) yet majestic and respectable. No wonder Kilimanjaro plays such a big part in everyone’s life here. It’s pretty hard to ignore!
Few hours of rest and it was time for the acclimatization walk around 4 pm. I felt perfectly fine so decided to go for it and kept my feet up during the break to get the fluids flowing which was apparently a good idea since the ”bush” called me many times in the coming hours…
Acclimatization walk was 1 km from 3500 m to 3580 m up a small hill. Atop the hill we found mobile coverage so managed to send an SMS message home to say all is well hoping that I would receive a response latest by tomorrow when we will pass the same spot going up again. Got a response from hubby pretty much straight away so at least messages did go through.
After the acclimatization walk we enjoyed dinner and talked for a while. Some played cards, but generally when it gets dark there is not much to do so headed to tent early again. Tried to read a bit but to be honest was again so tired that hit the bed early. It was getting a bit chillier, but still not cold so no need to dress up too much with the warm sleeping bag I bought.
Next day we would be heading again higher up to 3800 meters so expecting it to get tougher.