I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Recreational, Procreation and Excretion, by Stevie Pro Drugs Haston

A while ago I did a blog about the first Tour de France winner and mentioned in passing that he was a cheat and was disqualified after winning his second tour. You might remember that I was not that down on the guy and the reason was that cheating is a human thing, a very sad human thing. So being human we should understand things that affect humans and show a bit of understanding for our cheating fellows. I also mentioned a couple of my heroes in the Tour and I will continue to have heroes in the Tour even if they are found to be cheating. The Tour is hard and you need drugs, full stop, end of story, about time you lot out there in La La Land understand. Lance Armstrong is not one of my heroes not because he may be proved to be a cheat but because he is a hypocrite. I prefer people who tell the truth, it easier for me to understand stuff when I have the facts, that way I don’t waist time trying to beat people who are ‘on full gas’!
In my own little sporting journey I have seen many people on drugs, some friends some enemies, and it’s much better when you know the truth. Competing against people on drugs is a waste of time and just leads to disappointment. Climbing has lots of drugs in it, they are mainly recreational, but they are still very effective because certain aspects of our sport are mental and not physical. Himalayan climbing is full of drugs! The sooner people accept drugs the sooner the playing field will be levelled. I don’t take drugs, not because I’m a saint, but more because I am romantic, and believe in the strength of Spirit. Records and high performance have nothing to do with spirit, just the way Quadruplets have a lot to do with fertility drugs. We live in a society where recreational drugs are taken by perhaps over 70% of the populace, we live in a world where some people who aren’t really that sick are on multiple medications, and even if you are like me and don’t want drugs you probably ingest them thru contaminated food. Wake up, enjoy the Tour for what it is, and climbers please don’t throw stones, cos your all on drugs anyway.  

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Valdigne mountain race, by Stevie slow-feet Haston.

The Coumayeur Trailers club of runners organise only a few races a year, but they are humdingers. As their name suggests they are based around Courmayeur and the Valdigne takes its name from the upper Aosta valley in Northen Italy were I am based at the moment. Last year the Trailers ran a short Valdigne of 49 and a long of 87 kilometres, with the appropriate amount of up and down. This year the short is 25, a medium of 55 with 3670 up and down, and a long of 100km with 5000 + of up and down. I tried a bit of the long today as it seems pretty tough and the high pastures are nearly free of snow. I ran out of Morgex the start and through some pleasant traditional Aostan villages to some flower meadows before a big big climb into the hills. I stopped at a hameau of very old farm buildings to fill my bottle and admire the traditional construction of these three story houses. First floor animals, second floor family, third floor hay, no satellite dishes, but a few painted murals on barn walls and buildings from the17th century. Any way I got going again and promptly got lost and found myself struggling up fifty degree pine needles, ant mounds, and fallen trees, I wanted to give up but luckily didn’t because after a hard hour I burst onto a grassy ridge with a 360 degree panorama of snow covered peaks. Wow, a carpet of flowers in short grass made perfect running back onto the real line and I was off again on a slowly rising traverse to a high col at 2600 meters. It was very fresh in and out of melting snow patches and I rapidly got very tired but it was well worth it. I did a bit down the other side but took a long glissade and called it good turning around and reversed my route.  Getting lost again on the way down through exhaustion or stupidity I found myself on a trail helpfully called L' Homme et La pente. They have a wicked sense of humour here so I knew this was a sadistic joke. Very steep, a quad killer, a thigh assassin, an annihilator of the hip girdle, it went on and on. After 1600 meters of descent I ended back in the valley and ran 20kms home with a couple of little ups. And here is the final cream of the jest, 2 kms from home a friendly guy in overalls decided I was looking so cooked that he would jog with me! He was a strong runner and insisting I should keep it up, so I tried to speed up, he also insisted in yabbering on in Italian, so I stuttered a spluttered back in tired French. He finally left me in a steaming heap on my doorstep with a final pat on the back which lifted me back up. Thanks Georgio! This was about the Valdigne so to continue it looks great, I have done nearly all of it and it looks like a beast, they predict under 13hrs, but good luck its very tough and the ascents and descents are gigantic for folks not used to the big hills. There are still places left I think so if you have the quads go for it, I’ll be there.  
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Saturday, 14 May 2011

Super Mellow at Mellow, by Stevie Horizontal Haston

Having a chat with Adam Ondra
The day was hard, running on empty I went bouldering with a gang of lads and lasses on perfect rough granite, sat, sometimes lied in the sun, and enjoyed the company of young alive people. I interviewed the Prince of climbing Ondra for a Canadian Magazine called Gripped in the late afternoon, which was interesting for us both I think, and a pleasure rather than a trial. I said hello to lots of friends from around the world but most famously to Chris  ‘Kinglines’ Sharma and his companion Dalia, they were mobbed by fans so I kept my conversation short, congratulated Chris on his finishing his route ‘First Round’. He said it had been a bit of a nightmare project, taking a lot out of him but finally worth it. I was a bit sad at the end of the day because I feel that the 9c standard is going to come very  very soon, and I will be a spectator, just a fan, but there you go at least I have helped. Both the Prince and the King were agreed that the Kingdom was indeed very fair this spring and the harvest should be bountiful and the people be content and prosper. Long live the kingdom of Climbing, it is huge and diverse, and encompasses everything beautiful in the world, or so I thought at Mellow in the sun with young people all-around. Bliss comes rarely to my hard heart but it doth overflow occasionally and I thank everybody who made me happy.     
The climbing festival of Mellow Bloc is over and was super good, super mellow....sympa as the French would say... a kind of Glastonbury music fest... but with a zest of Gorgonzola, and Mountains all around that should have been in the Lord of the Rings film. For those who where there it probably passed in a blur and they don’t need a report, it was hectic and peaceful in that crazy Italian way that I am relaxing into and growing to love. Of course the sun helped, last year it rained, which does dampen the spirits, but this year the sun pumped its energy into the people, and made them grow and blossom and smile. I had a job to do so it was a bit different for me, I had a slide show to do and was a little worried about it, it only had two bouldering slides in it, and the audience by definition was made up of boulderers. Indeed many people come to the festival who are beginners and come to learn, anyway you must understand my nervousness at my shows reception. It also came after the young prince of climbing Adam Ondra film presentation, it came so late in fact that I was inebriated, passed redemption, way passed ‘Go’ or ‘Stop’, but perhaps cosy in the arms of the night enshrouded gothic granite peaks. My work mates weren’t so confident or positive about my condition however, so five cappuccinos and a bottle of coke, were force fed into me. The show was over before I knew it, the slides a blur, clapping, happy smiley people around, visions of snowboarding Himalayan mountains, and bottles of beer. There had been some great reggae earlier and the night continued with more modern music in a huge crowded tent full of flashing light and young bodies writhing and jumping and throbbing. The only throbbing I did was in my brain, and it would surely get worse. But you know there is a price and I was going to pay it, this was a spring festival, a celebration as old as the history of people kind, shake off the winter, feel the sap rising, get going, Go big or Go home kinda thing. The night didn’t end for me, but the day did begin. The predawn is long at the head of the valley were I was, so I was up in the pale light all cold and fresh, and went running. I wove between huge Larch trees went through a tunnel between boulders a hundred foot high and went through flowered meadows, gawped at an array of waterfalls, and finally was at a high col, I sat down and surveyed my Kingdom, my big magic beautiful kingdom, the heavy cold breeze wiped tears from my eyes and told me to go back down. And so I did, down, down, down and finally croissants and a gallon of coffee my work mates were still asleep, all boyish and complain about being woken up.

 special thanks to Lorenzo Belfrond for his photos
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Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Mirror of Simple Souls and the Sakuru Michi, by Simple Stevie Haston

The mirror tells the truth! I don’t look like a runner; I don’t look like a rock climber! I am in deep trouble, a bog of treacle. I sacrificed a lot to become excellent at rockclimbing and it worked, I am trying to do the same at running and it’s not working. I became a bit depressed, so I took time off work to get on track with the running. It worked in a way. I did 100 mountain miles and alotta up and down. I had some tendinitis in the ankle and my patella was a bit stuck at the start of the week. At the end of the week the patella was fine and the ankle was very bad. However I was really happy, lost 3lbs and felt like I was running, then I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed. Even slept most of a day and felt like I had a hangover. It was hay fever but I didn’t know it. 
Every year my hay fever gets worse but I am always in denial about it. Hay fever is one of the reasons I like high mountains, above 2500 meters there is normally no veg. It’s ironic that someone like me who adores flowers and talks to trees, has to avoid them. In Ariège where my house is I planted a Wisteria and it loved the south facing front wall of the house, now I can’t open the windows when it’s in bloom! In Ariège I spent a lot of time underground looking at rocks that look like flowers and grow without pollinating. In Italy where I am now the Spring is full blast, blossoms everywhere, it’s a riot of sparkling colors and I feel like I have a very serious illness. Anyway that’s life for you. I can’t do much about being disabled by flowers except laugh. So my other problem is I can’t shake myself outta my body at the moment, I can’t change it, I am just too big to be a decent runner. To become a good climber I lost a lot of muscle, and some of it seems to have crept back, behind my back as it were. It’s very annoying, as I really want to do a decent time in the Tor de Geants, and get a Lake District Bob Graham or a Welch Paddy Buckley. I have always promised myself a B.G and intend to get one, but it would of course be nice to get a good one. The trouble with this terrible desire is that I really need to lose about 10kg or more and I really don’t understand the how of it. To loose weight while climbing is hard enough but your calorific needs are small, to loose weight while doing 30 hours of running a week when you need to eat like a ravenous ogre is plane crazy. And at the moment because of the pollen I can’t run. So this last week I have walked to the super market twice total 8 kms and gained 3lbs!

The Sakuru Mitchi is a road race in Japan, and I always think about it when it’s on, but this year for obvious reasons I am thinking about it more. It’s 250 kms long and only a little up (1500m), it is supposed to be one of the great runs which is unusual if you think it’s not in the mountains or the hills. It’s a great run because of the spirit of the runners and the fact that it was inaugurated because an ordinary Bus driver planted 1500 cherry trees along the way! They do love their cherry blossom in Japan and so do I. Anyway it’s such a pretty story I thought I’d share it with you, perhaps you would like to do the run, or just gain some strength and hope from thinking of that lovely man planting those cherry trees along that bus route from one side of Japan to the other. If there were more Sakuri Mitchis and why not, the world would of course be a little more beautiful. It would of course have a bit more pollen in it, bad for me, but I would rather suffer than not have flowers and great inspiring stories like this one. I hope Japan is able to overcome its time of trouble and look forward to a better spring.