Monday, August 20, 2012

A Change is in the Air

The Ottawa Summer of 2012 is going to go down in the record books.
It was hot, it was humid, and it was dry, drought dry.

Now a change is in the air and I believe that the Dog Days are done.
Wonderful to feel the cool breeze and see the splash of rain.
Wonderful to shake off listlessness and find renewed vigor.

On we go with the energy of autumn!

Photo: Nordic Wild by Head Like an Orange

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Step by Step: Hobbiton to Bree

“It’s a dangerous business going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Bilbo Baggins

Hobbiton to Bree 135 miles; ETT: 30 days

Frodo Baggins and his fellow Hobbits set out from Bag End heading for The Prancing Pony in Bree.  Excitement is mixed with trepidation as they set out on this journey especially since Hobbits (with the exception of the "eccentric" Bilbo Baggins) are not exactly know for their adventurous spirits. 

On their second day out they become aware of the evil presence of a Black Rider that appears to be stalking them.  Despite this ominous shadow, the Hobbits still seem to have plenty of time for singing, resting, eating & sleeping.  They share a beer with Farmer Maggot, stay the night with Tom Bombadil (who rescues them from Old Man Willow) and have their first encounter with the Elves.  Updon reaching Bree, Gandalf is nowhere to be found but they do meet the Ranger Strider who becomes their guide as they continue on their trek to Rivendell.  Even though they appear to travel at a rather leisurely pace they manage to finish this first phase of their journey in seven days.

Travelling Music: Concerning HobbitsThe Black RiderAt the Sign of the Prancing Pony

The Journey Begins

No matter how many times I've previously read The Lord of the Rings, I always love setting out on this journey with Frodo and his friends.  Truth be told, the beginning is probably my favourite part of this quest.  Life in the Shire is good, the countryside is beautiful and the brand new adventure makes for excitement & enthusiasm.

Harnessing some of that same excitement & enthusiasm at the beginning of your own quest for fitness can certainly help to propel you out of a sedentary lifestyle towards a happier & healthier life.  And though I prefer to concentrate on the positives that an active lifestyle delivers, recent studies seem determined to also remind me of the negatives which I am fleeing.  Articles such as Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? lead me to believe that many of us are being stalked by our own Dark Riders and we're not even aware of it.

And so the journey begins.  Filled with our new-found motivation now is the time to start developing habits which will stand us in good stead for the long haul.  After all, Frodo (and Bilbo before him) may have gone "There and Back Again" but for us the pursuit of an active lifestyle is a never-ending endeavour.

I choose to walk 10,000 steps a day (approximately 4.5 miles given my stride) because the two hours it takes is the minimum daily requirement for an "active" lifestyle.  I supplement this basic minimum with both regular & incidental activities that do count as active time if not actual steps.  I'm not sure when, if ever, this regular activity will become a habit but I'm determined to keep working at it until it does become "hard to give up".  Step by step, as the saying goes.

If you're interested in beginning your own walking challenge, How to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day has some good tips & information to help you get started. Also, you should note that even Frodo & company take it rather easy on the very first stage of their adventure so pace yourself and remember to enjoy the journey!

Actual Travel Time

I began my walking challenge on February 27, 2012 and reached Bree on March 26, 2012 for a Travel Time of 35 days.  I'm quite pleased with this result considering that I didn't even know that I was on the road to Mordor at the time (in fact I wouldn't make that connection until I was already past Rivendell).  I was determined to start Sneaking up on Fitness but didn't know exactly what that meant in terms of steps/miles per day that could actually be accomplished on a regular basis.  As it turns out, 10,000 steps per day is something that I actually can incorporate into my daily routine.  It's not easy for me, especially on those days where I have other activities (Pilates, yoga, gardening etc.) that don't contribute much to my step count, but with planning & some extra effort it's achievable.

Previous Stage: Walking to Mordor Challenge (Introduction)
Next Stage: Bree to Weathertop
Pinterest: Walking to Mordor

I'm delighted that a number of people have joined me in this walking challenge.  Feel free to jump in at any time whenever & wherever you please.  Comments on these posts are always welcome and I would encourage you to keep your own journal as well.  If you are blogging your adventures we can cross-link our observations, tips & results.  Happy Walking!

Photos & Illustrations: Bag End; Hobbiton by Karen Spink; Bree; Middle Earth original by Christopher Tolkien

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Step by Step: Walking to Mordor Challenge

I often daydream as I walk; my mind wandering farther & faster than my feet could ever go.  Given that I'm an avid The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings fan, it's not surprising that I frequently catch myself musing about the journey that Frodo & Sam made from Hobbiton to Mordor.  Now that was quite a quest!  How far did they go?  How fast did they travel?  When did they reach certain memorable milestones?  Do those hairy, hobbit feet ever get sore & tired?

Am I the only one who ponders these questions while they pace through their local parks?

Apparently not, as I delightfully discovered in A Hobbit's Guide to Walking.  Now even if you don't enjoy the tales of JRR Tolkien I highly recommend that you read this blog post which highlights some of the benefits of walking including weight loss, stress reduction and longer lifespans.

And for those of us who have always longed to join the Fellowship there's the added attraction of the "Walking to Mordor" Challenge.  Based on The Atlas of Middle-earth by cartographer Karen Wynn Fonstad, Frodo & Sam's route has been recorded in minute detail.  Used in conjunction with The Fitness Nerd's Walking to Mordor & Back spreadsheet and a pedometer (I'm using my Fitbit) you have everything you need to begin your quest to destroy the ring.

I will be organizing my journal under Walking to Mordor Challenge and I would love to have company along the way (a two year round trip can get lonely!) so please feel free to jump in at any time.  Let's get started!!

Hobbiton to Mount Doom is 1779 miles (2863 kilometers) and it wasn't unusual for the Fellowship to cover 20 miles or more in one day.  My daily goal is much less ambitious since my experience shows that I have to work hard  to maintain the recommended 10,000 steps a day which, for me, works out to approximately 4.5 miles.  So I'm looking at an elapsed time of 395 days or just over a year to complete the outward journey.  Apparently questing is not for the faint of heart!

Fortunately, this challenge has been broken down into four distinct stages (as shown on the map) averaging about 440 miles each: Hobbiton to Rivendell; Rivendell to Lothlorien: Lothlorien to Rauros Falls; Rauros Falls to Mount Doom.  If I make it that far (when I make it ... when I make it ...) I intend to journey back again to Hobbiton which should take until early 2014.

As Bilbo says “It’s a dangerous business going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Wish me luck!

Previous Stage: None
Next Stage: Hobbiton to Bree
Pinterest: Walking to Mordor

Journal: Walking to Mordor Challenge

Illustrations: Gandalf Returns to Hobbiton by John Howe; Panorama by John Howe; Middle Earth original by Christopher Tolkien


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