If the Sky’s the Limit, I’m Doing the Honolulu Marathon

by Beth Whitman (January 12th, 2015)

Marathon-Runners2For years and years and years, I told myself I wasn’t a runner. If I tried jogging even a bit, I got winded easily and believed that my body type just wasn’t right for it. I could barely jog a few blocks. A marathon was the last thing on my mind.

But at 45 I wanted to start exercising more beyond the daily walks that Jon and I would take. So, I became determined to start running. I carved out a path around my neighborhood where I would run three or four miles every other day. A couple of times I ran about six miles.

But running bored me, which is why I couldn’t push much past three miles on a regular basis. I still wanted to exercise but I needed something different. Enter Monica.

New Goals

I met Monica on our Seattle Culinary Tour. In casual conversation she mentioned she had lost 75 pounds by doing P90X. She explained this home fitness program to me and how it was a combination of weight training and cardio. I was totally impressed and immediately purchased it (back in July, 2013) and started working out six days a week.

Around that time I also started thinking about doing the Snowman Trek. I figured P90X was a great way to train for the trek. Even though it’s a 90-day program, I continued working out six days a week for more than 13 months and put running aside except for a few times when I felt like I needed to run off some stress.

After completing the Snowman Trek–a 25-day hike in the Himalayas that at one time I was convinced I could never do–I started running again. I ran in Kauai. I ran in Thailand. And I ran in Laos. I then returned home and started running my usual three-mile neighborhood path.

Struggling with getting motivated to run three miles, I was in awe of my friends who ran marathons and who could pound the pavement for such long distances. Lisa completed the Twin Cities Marathon and my friend Rob has done a marathon on most (if not all) continents. Kent and Caanan have run in Hawaii and Paris. Carmyn in Honolulu and Big Sur. Dave and Matt have run the Seattle Marathon. The list goes on.

I remained bored with my three-mile route. But I also needed a challenge now that the Snowman was behind me.

So I made a decision to do a marathon. Setting the goal and intention that I was going to work toward something seems to have been all I needed to get me far past my three-mile mark.

I’ve now got a new exercise regime. Yes, I’m still doing P90X weight training three times a week but on my cardio and yoga days, I’m running. And I mean RUNNING. I’m up to 10 miles. I can’t believe it. I would never have imagined even a couple of months ago that I could run 10 miles. I just never thought I had it in me.

What changed?

Well, my internal coach. Instead of pushing away the thought of a marathon, I started giving it a lot of thought and considering how I could possibly do one. I’ve picked up a few running magazines and read about other people’s stories. This inspires me! Stories about men and women who run ultra-marathons (officially anything longer than a 26.2 marathon but there are many competitions that are 50 or 100 miles). Stories about people who didn’t start running until well into their 50s. Or those who have completed hundreds of marathons. And me? I’m whining that I could never do just one. Pht.

What’s helped me get motivated and beyond the boredom I often feel when running is that I’ve fine-tuned my “Running” playlist on my iPod. It’s now filled with fast-paced songs that suit my stride. Music has always been a very important thing in my life and running with it makes a huge difference.

I had always heard from marathoners and other adventure types (Richard Branson comes to mind), that you should always have a big goal in front of you to stay motivated. For awhile this Seattle Skylinewas the Snowman Trek. Now that that’s behind me, I’m looking forward to the Honolulu Marathon in December.

But something tells me that won’t be my last one.

Once I started running, I discovered that I loved exploring new cities (Rome, Berlin, Bangkok, Denver, Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang, D.C. to name just a few) on foot. I can see how I might incorporate destination marathons in my future travel plans–though I don’t know that I’ll get to every continent.

I have to admit that I still catch myself saying, “I could never do that” just as I did with the Snowman Trek and just as I always did with running. But that phrase figures far less into my language than it has before.

I’m starting to believe the sky’s the limit.

Be Bold,


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Photo credit:
Marathon runners: Peter Mooney

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XShot Pics on the Snowman Trek

by Beth Whitman (January 9th, 2015)

You might have missed my series of Snowman Selfies I took with my XShot camera extender if we’re not Facebook friends (and if not, why not?). Here’s the abbreviated version of photos from our 25-day trek:

Snowman Trek Day 1

Day 1. Boy, I look happy! It was a warm, sunny day when we headed out. Behind me are some of the 30 ponies that accompanied our group.

The ponies were loaded up each day with all of our personal gear, tents and food. Each morning we would depart while our horsemen (there were 5 or 6) and cooks and porters (3) would pack everything up. They were so fast that they would pass us on the trail and have everything set up at camp by the time we arrived later in the day.

Snowman Trek Day 2

That warm, sunny first day didn’t last long. On Day 2 we had rain, rain, rain. About 36 hours worth. And that led to mud, mud, mud. Really for the first week we had to slog through a lot of muddy trails.

Snowman Trek Day 5

I love snow. And I think that’s why I look so happy here. Surely I was cold as I wasn’t yet wearing my North Face puffy coat or Canada Goose rain jacket, only an Icebreaker hoodie and a poncho. But there was snow! The first time on the trek. So that made my day.

Snowman Trek Day 11

We had a rest day on Day 11 and… I got to wash my hair in our shower tent for the first time! (Actually, I attempted to bucket-wash my hair on Day 3 but couldn’t get all the shampoo out and it just left my hair feeling greasy.)

This is in the village of Laya, located at about 12,700 feet. Even though we were 11 days in, according to our guide, Tobgay, this is where the trek started (meaning where it started to get difficult).

Jon Beth Selfie Snowman Trek

We were starting to get into some high altitude but were really lucky with many sunny days after that first week of rain and mud.

Snowman Trek Day 14

My favorite photo of the trip. After leaving Laya, we started coming upon these beautiful turquoise lakes. Wow. Just wow.

Snowman Trek Day 19

Yeah. And then it starts getting really cold as we traverse passes as high as about 18,200 feet. I’m now wearing pretty much all of my cold weather gear and my Canada Goose waterproof jacket and IceBreaker balaclava. Brrrrrrr.

Group Selfie Snowman

We were a cold but happy bunch.

Snowman Trek Day 22

This is another one of my favorite photos. Mainly because it looks so surreal, like there’s a greenscreen behind me with a fake background. But, no, that was real snow.

Snowman Trek Day 25

At the end of the trek we were greeted with a bottle of wine and momo’s (Tibetan dumplings, my very favorite food in Bhutan!). Look how happy we are!

Jon and I are both returning to Bhutan to do the Snowman Trek in 2016. Incredibly, the tour is already sold out but we have a waiting list in case you’re interested. :-)

By the way, all of these images were taken with an XShot camera extender. If you want to order your own on the XShot website, you can get $5 off by using the code “wanderlust&xshot”.

Xshot camera extender

Be Bold,


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Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 Sleeping Bag ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (January 7th, 2015)

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800Yeah, it’s January. But just the other day Jon said something to me about wanting to go camping. CAMPING! I suppose all that time on the Snowman Trek makes one eager to return to the wilderness, even with the heat cranking in our home.

I won’t be heading out on a camping trip this January (unless it’s like, in Mexico), but I certainly have the gear for it, including Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed.

This is the bag I slept in for 24 nights while trekking in Bhutan. Luckily, temps never got down to 15° Fahrenheit (which this bag is rated for), but it was definitely cold enough that I really appreciated this style of bag.

What makes this sleeping bag so unique is that it does not have a zipper and, instead, has an opening fitted with a blanket-like insert. If you start to heat up (which never happened to me on the trek, by the way), you can simply pull open the blanket to allow air in and if you’re cold, you can snuggle up by wrapping that blanket around you.

While this bag doesn’t pack down quite as small as other bags I’ve had, it was still compact enough to fit in my Eagle Creek No Matter Duffel along with all of my other trekking gear.

The fill is an 800 rated down treated with DriDown. This is supposed to ensure that the down doesn’t get wet and clump. On a number of nights on the trek, I found the bottom of the bag to be a bit wet from the cold and damp (it often rained or snowed overnight) and I found that after repeated nights of this, there was indeed a bit of clumping. But just a bit.

Otherwise, I always stayed warm and liked the ability to move around rather freely, from my back to side and stomach. On uber cold nights, I pulled the top of the bag over my forehead and eyes (leaving my nose and mouth exposed so I could breathe easier) and I found this helped me stay warm.

I’ll be returning to do the Snowman Trek in 2016 and unless something else comes along that’ll knock my socks off, this bag is coming back with me.

Available on Amazon for about $440.

Be Bold,


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Disclosure: Sierra Designs provided this sleeping bag to me for review. Regardless, everything I have said in the post reflects my honest opinions.

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