After a scaled down week of distance and workload, it was time to up the ante again, both in terms of mileage and intensity. But I also decided to make a conscious effort to notice my surroundings and capture them, like this moment above before my weekly Thames swim.
This week's distances are looking like this:
This would see me arriving at the buzzing city of La Paz in Bolivia. It was founded on October 20th, 1548 under the name of 'La Ciudad de Nuestra Senora de La Paz' (The City of Our Lady of Peace). Located in the Andes mountains, altitude of the city ranges from about 4058 meters (13,313 feet) above sea level in El Alto (where the airport is located) to 3100 meters (10,170 feet) in the lower residential area. It is also home to the world’s largest high-altitude urban cable-car system which extends to eight lines, or 17 miles.
No such luxury of cable cars for me this week though
The bike test brought it's own challenges too as I also decided to do this one outside, rather than inside on the turbo. With a prolonged spell of hot clammy weather over London just now my 20 minute all out effort around the inner circle of Regents Park left me with sweat running into my eyes, just to add to the challenge of pre-empting dozy pedestrians wandering into the road whilst fixated on their phones. Sigh....
A more scenic bike ride was on the cards on Saturday though when my cycling buddies and I took a spin out in the Chilterns. I was feeling the hills on my legs this week, but the views and company more than made up for it. (Yes it's a 'Cookie Monster' cycling top ;) )
In the spirit of embracing my surroundings I also took the opportunity to stop off at the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park en route back from a Thames swim. I can't believe how many times I have cycled around and through this park and never been to see this little idyll nestled in the middle of the park. Just taking a 30 min walk through it and taking in the colours and the peace and tranquility was a like a natural reset.
My week was rounded off with another simple pleasure - a haircut! Between us Ian and I have been doing a pretty good job on my hair over the past months, and being more mindful of money nowadays, I am loathe to go back to my previous hairdresser who now charges what I think is an excessive amount for a short haircut. I now have a new haunt however, the wonderfully named 'Barber Streisand' in Exmouth Market.
Branding itself as 'an offbeat unisex barbershop' it ticked all the boxes for me - lovely people, a great cut and fantastic price! You can take the girl out of Scotland etc.....
I think we can safely say I managed to accomplish my monthly wildcard challenge of 'doing at least half of my usual mileage, and introducing the kayaking element'.
I had to consciously try not to do as much cycling and also turn down an opportunity to go running with a friend so that I didn't tip the balance! The distance breaks down like this:
This total distance adds up to just 85km which would see me passing the city of Juliaca, one of my final destinations in Peru. Like Chicago, it is also nicknamed the "The Windy City" because of the city's location on the windy Collao Plateau. It is also called the "Sock City" or "Knitting City" because Juliaca was a major centre of sock, sweater, and handicraft production. Now the production of clothes, wool and fabrics are industrial processes for the city. It is appropriate that I would also now be crossing Lake Titicaca as I finally introduce the fifth discipline in my pentathlon challenge. This large, deep, freshwater lake in the Andes is on the border of Peru and Bolivia and is often called the "highest navigable lake" in the world. By volume of water and by surface area, it is the largest lake in South America.
My challenge to significantly decrease my mileage was definitely helped by an invitation to a friend's house in Oxford (well, strictly speaking it was a 'houseswap' opportunity) and a rare chance to unwind. This property was located backing onto the Oxford Canal, and came with it's own canoe, what a result! Needless to say I not only jumped at the chance to have a paddle through this stretch of water, but also to have a swim in the stretch of the Thames that runs through Port Meadow. I was in heaven!
It was lovely to have some downtime to spend with friends - the first time in months that I had been in such a group social situation, and a welcome glimpse of normality. Having always been a big fan of Cambridge, I am now very much changing my allegiance towards Oxford as my favourite university city. We had a great walk around the historic centre and of course the plethora of watery locations definitely gets my vote!
And as if that wasn't enough, back to my partner Ian's place in Buckinghamshire for the rest of the weekend, we kept that holiday vibe going. It was a real treat to have dinner out at the wonderful Suum Vietnamese restaurant in Marlow on Saturday night. Highly recommended!
Rounding off the weekend it was then time to indulge my waterbaby tendencies once more with some kayaking. Westhorpe Lake in Marlow was the location for this and we were rewarded with most of the lake to ourselves bar a few paddleboarders, and the odd waterskier going past to create some fun wake to challenge us. I felt like I had been on holiday for the past few days, given my body some well earned downtime and am ready to face the weeks ahead!
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.