Saturday, October 3, 2015


This morning I begin by quoting my own blog from April 19, 2015
My brother Andy has been trying to organize a trip with a small group of climbers for the past three years.   Two years ago his trip was scuttled during the United States Federal Government partial shut-down.  Last year, again, the trip was scuttled when the park was closed due to huge wild fires just two days before the planned summit.  Apparently, it was God's plan that I be invited and included in this expedition.  God was just waiting for me to lose 90 pounds so that I could be invited and would agree to participate.

The trip is scheduled for Thursday, October 1 in nearly six months time.  I think I have time to train and get myself physically and mentally prepared for this challenge.  The hike immediately becomes another one of my 'life-long dreams.'  (although this dream began less than 48 hours ago)
The weather forecast in the days leading up to October 1 were increasingly bad.  It was starting to appear to me that I had joined a doomed expedition.  This group of Half Dome hikers already had two consecutive cancellations in their history.  Our group was eating dinner in the Ahwahnee Lodge on Wednesday night and when we all saw that the forecast called for increasing probabilities of rain for Thursday as the day progressed, a true damper was cast over the evening.  One can hike in the rain.  One cannot climb up the final ascent if that slick granite (when dry) is actually wet.  The chance for rain by the 2:00PM hour was 100%.  None of us could actually recall seeing a forecast that was so sure of itself.  My experiences with weather reports is that the probability of rain given by meteorologists can be 80% while it is actually raining!   So, it did appear that rain was going to be part of our day.  And it was.  And it mattered not - as the rain held off just long enough for us to get to the final ascent and down again.  This trip had been 'cursed' twice before, long before I had gotten involved (cancelled by government shutdown, cancelled by wildfires)  Apparently, God, wanted to see us sweat a little bit - before allowing us to proceed to our goal.  In the end, God was cooperative.  So, I say this: Thank God. (literally)

Once we had made the summit and navigated the cables back down to the sub-dome, and managed to hike off the subdome back to the tree line, it did start to rain again.  For a little while it rained hard.  I will be honest, I couldn't have cared less.  I was still focused on thinking about what I had just accomplished.  The hike still had another 9 miles to go before we returned to our car which was parked in Curry Village.  In fact, before the day was over, we would actually see deep blue skies. which were followed by more rain.  God threw us no more curveballs that we couldn't handle.

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I checked the type of workouts that I was doing back when I initially agreed to participate in this hike.  Apparently I had already made the switch to the elliptical machine from the original workout of choice, which had been the treadmill.  On April 19, when I agreed to participate in the hike, my workout was 42 minutes on the elliptical machine and the machine was reporting a burn of just under 500 calories.  I am well aware that the calories reported by exercise equipment is not accurate.  However the statistics that these machines produce are very effective in showing relative performance and improvement.  On the very same machine that I was burning under 500 calories in 42 minutes, I currently burn 2000+ calories in 92 minutes with the resistance setting set to maximum.  Does this mean that my workouts today on that same machine requiring 300% more energy?   (500 calories compared with 2000 calories)  Actually, that is exactly what I think it means. It is clear that I vastly improved my strength and endurance in the 165 days advance notice I was given before the day of the hike.

Back then, in April I had no experience climbing a flight of stairs.  This time, I am going to quote my own blog from Monday May 25th,

My confidence started to uptick when I did nothing more exotic than bounding up five flights of stairs on the way to my workout on Saturday.   On Sunday, my confidence SOARED when I discovered that I could walk up 13 (thirteen) flights of stairs from my 12th floor apartment to the 25th floor where the fitness room is located.  If I can do this, and I can, because I did, then maybe I really can train to ascend 4800 feet from the base in the valley of HALF DOME to its Summit.  I HAVE CONFIDENCE IN ME.  It feels great. No longer scared, I am more excited than ever.  I am going to continue stair climbing. My building is 25 floors from ground floor to the top where the fitness room is located.  I will work on navigating all 25 floors prior to working out... Once I accomplish that, I may start to time myself to get better at this.  Now I also know that I don't have to be fearful of stepping onto a STAIRMASTER machine if/when I see one at a YMCA.  I should, and I will embrace the opportunity.  
It is very enjoyable for me to remember a time, just four months ago that I was crowing about my new ability to climb 5 and then 12 flights of stairs.  I was crowing about this because at the time it was only five months earlier that I remembered how I struggled to walk up three flights of stairs to visit some neighbors for dinner.  When I discovered that I could walk up 5 and then 12 flights of stairs without getting winded, I was genuinely very proud of myself.  It is important to remember that the training required to walk up 5 or 12 flights is not quite sufficient to get oneself prepared for a 5000 foot climb.  The thing is, one has to start somewhere... One has to start at the point where one is at.... I did start.  It was only three weeks ago when I successfully proved to myself that I could climb 400 flights of stairs in one day - because I did it.  After that accomplishment, I will admit that I had the greatly increased confidence that I could successfully navigate Half Dome.

Confidence though is a funny thing.  On Tuesday, in San Carlos after 'checking in' at my brothers house.  I walked with Jimmy (the photographer of the stupendous photo below) back up the hill from town with our small bag of groceries.  I don't know if the hill was 150 feet or 200 feet.  All I do know is that the steep incline of this hill was difficult and challenging. That grocery walk to 'downtown' San Carlos sapped a lot of the confidence that I had built up over nearly 6 months.  It turned out that that was my own mind playing tricks with me.  I did do almost everything I needed to do to be prepared for Half Dome.   The one thing I avoided, which I now know that I shouldn't have was working on upper body strength.  Climbing those cables for the last 150 feet required every ounce of strength in my arms.  One does not simply walk up to the summit while holding onto the cables.  One uses the cables to to advance inch by inch.  I do think that that only those who have done this can understand this.  I just did it, and I am going to be remembering and relishing this accomplishment for the rest of my life.  

Our team of six hikers included Jimmy Ferguson who is a very serious photographer hobbyist. (instagram: jrfbrooklyn) Not only did he take this picture, but he first 'discovered' that this would be a cool picture if anyone was 'crazy' enough to sit out on that ledge.  Apparently, among the six of us, I was the craziest.  The truth is, there was ZERO DANGER in getting to this spot - although it is not a great place for someone uncomfortable with looking down.   I treasure this photo.  A few weeks from now, I am looking forward to seeing the version of this shot taken with 200mm black and white film, also by Jimmy.

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224.6 lbs

I weigh 224.6 lbs.
I lost 2.2 lbs this week
I have lost 84.4 lbs in 283 days. Today begins Day 284.
I will always be at the beginning of a journey that never ends.
I weigh 224.6 (283 days ago I weighed 309 lbs)
I have lost 27.3% of my weight since Dec 24.
I have a BMI, body mass index of 30.04 
I had a 42.0 BMI on Dec 24 just 276 days ago (Class III obesity)

I had a goal set nearly 6 months ago to train for  a Half Dome hike.  Today, I have a question for myself:  Now What?
Luckily, I have an answer for myself as well: Keep Going.

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Friday MENU
breakfast  Apples/Cinammon Quaker Oatmeal, mixed fruit salad  620 calories 
lunch        SUSHI                                                                             680 calories
dinner       (during plane trip) apple, granola, toasted coconut      1550 calories
SNACKS Vanilla Powerbar, genoa salami w/provolone cheese     400 calories


calories burned
We checked into a Salida, California Marriott Fairfield Thursday evening.  In the morning, we continued to the San Francisco Bay Area in order for some of us to catch their various flights back home.  My flight was scheduled for 3:55PM Pacific Time.  I was scheduled to arrive Chicago 12:30AM Central Time.

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Friday net calories 3250 calories
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fitbit day 30
12089 steps
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after logging 54101 steps on Thursday, I simply couldn't bear looking at my fitbit hovering in the neighborhood of 5000 steps when I was at the airport waiting for my flight home.  45 minutes, marching in place solved that problem.  As goofy as I might have looked - many people knew exactly what and why I was doing this.  "Counting steps?"they asked.
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I received these two photos via email today.  These were snapped by Matt, another guy from the Half Dome expedition.  

This is what he wrote in the email:

Hi Marc.  
Here are a couple of good shots of you being crazy!

I have to be honest with you... I thought the other guys were crazy NOT to take advantage of this amazing photo opportunity!  

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