Other Stuff

The Injury | From Spartan to Sofa

December 3, 2017

From oceans to mountains, I love to be outdoors trying new challenges and getting the adrenaline pumping through my veins, usually with a GoPro in my hand and devilish smile on my face.

I’m no stranger to cuts, bumps and scratches. My body is often a patchwork of different bruise colors but I wear these with pride. It’s not a badass adventure without a few near miss stories, right?!

It was inevitable that my stunts would catch up with me at some point. I know, I know. You all warned me and I didn’t listen – Stubborn fool that I am.

It happened on November 24th. My brother and I were taking part in the Spartan Super Race, a 15km long obstacle course full of jumping from 6 foot walls, running steep mountain descents on loose ground, bucket carries so heavy that feel like your biceps might rip, seemingly endless sand crawls under barbed wire, way too many burpees to count and many more crazy obstacles. The most predictable thing about a Spartan Race is the unpredictability and that is exactly the appeal for many.

I’m a pretty active person of moderate fitness, you’ll see by my Instagram page I’m always trying out new adventures and sports and no stranger to a ridiculous challenge. So last week during the race I pounded out the kilometres in the gruelling heat and approached the final stretch of the race, and only 2 obstacles from completion, you would think that you were home and dry, right? Nope..

I took my position at the Hercules Hoist (A massive metal rig where you use your body weight to pull a rope and raise a large, heavy bag to the pinnacle of the rig and slowly release it without letting it fall) like I have done in two previous Spartan Races, the weight felt incredibly heavy and much worse than usual. I gritted my teeth and hoisted the bag to the top of the rig. To bring it back down, assisted by the gravity pulls it back down to earth, you have to control the speed as the rope burns your hands. Usually I wear gloves for these events but on this day I forgot them – Doh!

As the final two meters of rope slipped through my tired hands I tried to control the bag from thumping to the ground, and a possible burpee penalty, as I jumped to my feet to use my body weight as a counter balance. Just as I planted my feet back on the ground this is when the bad luck struck. My left foot lands in a hole in the ground as I struggle to get my balance my ankle rolls over. The audible crunch was a sure give away that something was wrong! Positive thinking and many deep breaths told me it was just a sprain, “get off your ass and keep powering on” I told myself. The finish line was in sight and so were all my friends cheering me from the end.

The signature finale to any Spartan race is the fire jump right before you cross the finish line. Sounds great when your body is working well but imagine jumping fire with a broken ankle.

Thinking of the pain on landing still makes me want to barf a little.

The medical tent passed it off as little more than a sprain and a rope burn, cleaned up the wound and told me to hop on my way.

Fast forward to today and I’m in a hard cast and hopping through the town on crutches. The ugly image of me sobbing my heart out is probably still ingrained in the doctors head. Honestly, I’m cringing at the thought of the river of tears I cried as he tried to reassure me that it’s a relatively easy healing process, just chill out and rest. Of course, I knew all that but I was convinced I was just being dramatic by going for an X-Ray. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the fact that it might actually be broken!

Anyone that knows me, Resting is just something I can’t do.

So what is an adventure addict to do? This is the tricky part – I can’t swim, wakeboard, climb or run for at least 4 more weeks. I feel like a superhero who has lost their powers.
Trips, plans and work are on hold until I can get my powers back to full strength.

Now the focus is on recalculating, not quitting. The challenge is on to see where a cast and crutches can take me..

Watch this space!

Get comfy & check out my November vlog episode full of the adventures I’ve been up to prior to the injury.

Be safe out there!

Heather x

Adventure Time

Bucket List Experience | Searching For Whale Sharks

October 9, 2017

With a ‘Bucket List’ as long as my arm I’m always on the prowl to seek out new adventures and continue to challenge myself to achieve my goals.
It has been a dream on my bucket list for some time now to swim with the oceans gentle giants, the Whale Sharks. Other random experiences on my Bucket List currently include flying in a Hot Air Balloon, learn to scuba dive and visit the infamous Mount Everest.

Living in Oman offers many incredible opportunities – from mountain to ocean, there is an abundance of natural and unspoiled adventure opportunities to jump head first into. Swimming with whale sharks is one of those life changing experiences that is possible here if you put in some effort to make things happen.

Just a few weeks ago, I had embarked on a boat trip specifically in search of these famous creatures as their migration brought them off the coast of Oman. Sadly wild animals aren’t always easy to track and the trip ended without seeing any whale sharks.
Just when I thought my dream might be over for this season, my luck changed!

The call came in that a pod of 30+ whale sharks was spotted close to Muscat and was I free to join – it was a no brainer – lets go! With all systems go, I dropped everything I was doing, threw the GoPro, sun cream and some water in a bag and made the dash to the marina praying that today would be my lucky day.

After 20 minutes of motoring the boat out to sea, from the Al Mouj marina in Muscat, we quickly reached the area where these animals had been spotted. It didn’t take long for the first dorsal fin to breach the surface of the water. To my untrained eye, I wasn’t sure if these were perhaps dolphins… it wouldn’t be the first time the cheeky dolphins have tricked me with their fins!
To my luck, it was indeed the much-lusted-after sight of a whale shark! We cruised along and watched as the number of whale sharks around us grew to at least 10 at one point with many, many more on the horizon. Never getting too close to the boat, these creatures swam near enough offering us just a glimpse.
The dream of swimming with these majestic animals was getting ever closer and it was now time to get in the water quickly – but gently – before we lost our opportunity

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world. Although their size and feeding habits resemble whales, they are indeed part of the shark family. Perhaps just the slower, more chilled out of the relatives. Even though they are documented to be incredibly gentle, it is still a very peculiar feeling deliberately swimming towards a wild animal of this size… especially a shark.
Watching them glide by so gracefully, somehow I lost my inhibitions of the size and the danger of being in the open ocean with a wild animal. As I swam alongside them, I found myself desperate for the experience to last a little longer

After being in the water for around 20 minutes with these amazing creatures, it was time to give them their space and move on letting them feed in peace – not to mention it is hard to keep up at their pace!

This was an experience that will definitely stay with me for a lifetime!

Now to book that Hot Air Balloon, learn to Scuba Dive and tick off a few more bucket list items. What is on your Bucket List?

Adventure Time

The Beauty Of The Damaniyat Islands

September 24, 2017

September marks the start of the outdoors season here in Oman, well for me anyway. It’s been a long sweaty summer running from air conditioned cars to air conditioned buildings and I am ready to get back outdoors!

This week I took a trip with SeaOman to the amazing Damaniyat Islands. The marine life in these waters is incredible from swimming up close with a loggerhead turtle to our boat being completely surrounded by playful dolphins. One thing is for sure, Oman is never boring!

Instead of describing the crystal clear water and curious marine life I will let you see it for yourself;

Have a great day!

Adventure Time

Climbing Ben Nevis

September 13, 2017

Climbing Ben Nevis, the highest point in the British isles, has been on my bucket list for the past couple of years; this summer I ticked that trip off my list and after a battle against the Scottish weather, I made it to the mountain summit.
Standing at 1,345m (4,411ft), Ben Nevis isn’t considered one of the ‘Big Boys’ on the world scale but it is ranked the highest mountain in the British Isles and an iconic place in Scotland, my home country.
Combining my mountain-climbing ambition with my summer vacation, I managed to line up  the hike to include the company of a fellow adventurer, my brother. The plan was set.

Although our scheduled climb date was in mid July, the middle of a British Summer, you can never guarantee the weather in the UK as it can change in the blink of an eye; therefore, we had to pack several layers of clothing and weather proof items along with our days essentials. With a good nights sleep and a hearty Scottish breakfast in our stomachs, we laced up our walking boots and headed out for the start of the Ben Nevis trail. The ascent and descent can be attempted in one day making it a great, yet ambitious, day trip. The recommended time is 7-9 hours on the mountain to tackle the 17km/10.75mile round trip.
As we set off from the car park and headed across the first footbridge crossing the River Nevis I could already feel the chill of the wind on my skin. After 5 years living in the Middle East my body isn’t acclimatised to the UK anymore. The initial trail took us along some farm tracks and up the hillside overlooking the stunning Glen Nevis. With miles of rolling green hills, there is no denying that Scotland is an incredibly beautiful place.

Rising up higher above the Glen the crowds and wooded areas begin to thin out as the day-trip-picnic crowd separates away from the climbers with their focus set on reaching the mountain summit. With the tree line far below us we gain elevation quickly climbing the rough steps built into the mountain side – my quads are burning like fire but with my super fit brother leading the pack there is no time for rest. Our trail takes us past a large mountain lake in the hillside, made entirely of rain water running from the high slopes. The rain clouds are heavy  and threatening as we switch to our waterproof gear. As we reached the half way mark the moorland and areas of grazing sheep begins to disperse to make way for the loose rock and gravel slopes leading us up high into the clouds.

Pressing ahead climbing higher we begin passing fellow climbers wrapped in cold weather clothes and already on their descent – some warn us of the weather ahead and some simply encourage us ahead to keep our morale up – which was hugely appreciated at the time as my base layers which were wet with sweat had started to chill my core.
Entering the clouds is a disorientating experience as we walk all we see around us is a white sheet, it’s hard to tell how long we have been walking for and how long there is left to go. I pull my frozen digits back up inside my sleeves and laugh a little to myself that this is the summer season in Scotland. As the fog engulfs us the visibility is down to less than 10 meters, determined to make it to the summit we press on and sing songs to keep our minds focused on something other than the eerie mountain fog and the effort of walking directly into the forceful mountain wind.

Just at the point where my mind was starting to think that this was a crazy idea we literally stumble upon the summit of Ben Nevis like a mirage. We hadn’t seen anything ahead of us other than each other and a white fogged horizon for the past 45 minutes so we were completely unaware that we had successfully reached the pinnacle.
As we attempt to take our ‘summit selfie’, a must of course, I try my best to anchor my legs to stabilize myself against the incredibly powerful wind – especially because the visibility is so poor that I can’t see where the edges are! With the windchill at minus 6 degrees our time on the mountain summit was brief but still an incredible feeling especially that we made it in an impressive time of just 3 hours.

As we begin our descent we pass the encouragement on to other climbers on their way up to attempt the mountain summit in the unfavourable weather. Even though the weather wasn’t ideal and I didn’t manage to catch a glimpse of the scenic views from the top my adventure was still worth every minute. As for the weather, it is inevitable, it is Scotland after all.
With Ben Nevis ticked off the bucket list it’s time to start on some bigger, crazier plans!

Adventure Time, Expat Life, Family Life

Duncan Family Adventure – Anantara at Jabal Akhdar

March 31, 2017

‘Like ships that pass in the night’, this is exactly what me and my husband are like. We both have extremely busy schedules that rarely line up so recently we booked a family get away in the hope of spending some quality time together.

But where to go? Well, I have literally been bugging him for 4 years to come with me to Jabal Akhdar mountain, there is something about the mountains that just soothes my soul. However for him all he sees is just a pile of rocks but my persistence paid off, it may have helped when I mentioned that we didn’t have to camp and informed him that there was infact a swanky hotel on the mountain with a kids club. And that was it, he was sold.

We headed to the Anantara resort on Jabal Akhdar mountain, the highest 5 star resort in the Middle East. Come on, don’t judge me. If I’ve waited 4 whole years to go stay on the mountain with him we have to do it in style.

We arranged a villa with a private swimming pool to please the young man in our lives. Before the bags were set down he was already hunting for his swim shorts and ready to dive in.

After the fun of swimming I left the boys napping together as I headed off in search of what sets my soul on fire – adventures! An afternoon abseiling, climbing along the via ferrata and rock climbing were exactly what I need in my life – I can confirm that adrenaline was pumping as dangled my body from sheer rock faces and attempted to keep my footing as I peered over the ledge of the steep canyon.

Rushing back to the villa to share my adventure stories with the boys the place was still in silence apart from the odd snore and fidget, they were still sound asleep and everyone was enjoying their afternoon in their own way. Maximising the time on my own I wrote a quick note and headed off in search of the hotel spa. Adventures AND massage – If only days like this could happen every day!

With plenty of activities to chose from at the resort we decided upon a guided walk of the local villages for the second morning. Making our way along the falaj irrigation pathways and through the narrow village streets we learnt more about the local area, cultures and the famous Jabal Akhdar roses.

With spectacular mountain views, adrenaline pumping adventures and a kids club to keep the little one entertained this is by far my favourite hotel. And as the summer heat returns to scorch Muscat this shall be my perfect retreat as I head to the mountains in search of cooler climates. For once, I am actually looking forward to the summer.

Take a look at our family video from the mountain trip at Anantara;

Have a great day,

Heather x

Adventure Time, Expat Life

Kayak Mission to Al Fahal Island

March 31, 2017

Staring out to see from Muscat city I had often daydreamed about reaching the large chunk of rock known as ‘Shark Island’
I just never imagined that I would get there one day under my own paddle power.

Kayak hire was arranged and I rallied a couple of friends together for the adventure… only problem I mistakingly told them it was an easy 2km paddle each way. It wasn’t until we were on the beach ready to begin that we found out it is actually 4.5km each way – oops.

Hopping into our Kayaks packed with water and snacks we left the shore and headed into open water in search of Al Fahal island.

The large island is massive chunk of rock protruding from the water. Reaching the island in the decent time of around 1 hour and 15 minutes we were in need of a quick rest and refuel.

The island is a nature reserve that requires permits to access so instead of climbing on the actual island we were able to rest in the shallow water and devour our much needed snacks before exploring the shallows looking for weird and wonderful creatures of the sea.

The marine life was beautiful and colourful, as always in Oman, with several scuba divers in the area searching the world below. The thought of the potential sharks in the area scared me a little so I was content to stay close to the shallower areas or the brief safety of my kayak for the most part.

Watch the full adventure video here;

Have a great day,

Heather x

PS – Kayak rental from Wave Summit 97471484

Adventure Time

Road Tripping in the GMC Acadia

February 26, 2017

Adverts aren’t usually featured on my blog but when someone wants to trust me with an expensive car for a full weekend I’ll make an exception. Driving out of the showroom with the new 2017 GMC Acadia this felt like a definite blogger perk.

Thankfully this company came with no stipulation for advertising, just a simple case of “here are the keys, go have some fun” and that is exactly what I did.

What do you do when you have a free car for the weekend? You go on a road trip, of course!

The car was packed up with friends, food and Spencer joined us for the fun as we headed off down the coast in search of our next adventure.

This model is marketed as “All Terrain” which sounds like a good challenge to me. With 4 wheel drive engaged and we really did put the car to the test. Up and down steep rock hills, across the sandy beach and through narrow wadi passages it went with ease.

This car was a lot of fun to drive. With the exterior looks of a family car is deceiving and it certainly handled every situation we put it through.

It was all too much excitement for Spencer as he fell asleep on the way home.

With handy features, great handling on and off road, plenty of speed and lots of room for the family, The Acadia would definitely be a car I would consider purchasing in the future when it’s time to say goodbye to my cursed Audi, but the story of the Audi is one for another day.

Thanks GMC for the excuse for a much needed road trip.

Heather x

Fitness

Muscat Marathon 2017

February 6, 2017

You may have been lured in here by an attractive title and the possibility that I may have ran an actual marathon. Sorry to disappoint, hee hee. My little white legs only ran a quarter of that and participated in the 10km event but still an achievement none the less.

Running isn’t something that comes naturally to me so when I signed up 5 months prior to the event it felt like a big challenge and a motivation to push myself to keep training. Inspired by Hitesh, a very cool dude from Run Every City, I knew I had to improve quickly.

Lacing up my running shoes and heading out for my first practice run I was full of enthusiasm with the plan to simply just run and see how far I got before I had to stop. Preparing for a 10km event couldn’t be that hard could it? Well, yes it can.. On that very first run I managed only 3.2km (2 miles) and felt like a melting snowman with lungs bursting at the seams.

Gradually I was improving my distance and feeling less unfit with every week that passed, that alone is a great motivator. Spurred on by my running buddy, Sarah, and my choice of some very dodgy Hip Hop songs we ran on the beach at 6am before the sun was too high in the sky.

One month before the event I ran my first full 10km route, albeit not very fast but managing to reach that milestone was a great feeling and mentally set me up for the challenge ahead.

On the day we ran on behalf of ub-cool to raise money for the very deserving cause of epilepsy awareness.

Running my first 10km event was a great feeling, especially as I managed to complete it in 57 minutes which is a new personal best for me.

With a new found respect for running I don’t want to let that slip so I plan to continue to keep pushing forward. Now the decision is on for next year – do I do the 10km again but attempt a faster time or should I try for the half marathon?!

Have a great day!

Heather x

Adventure Time

Let’s fly away – Sky School Oman

February 2, 2017

This week I swapped the mountains and mud for a different kind of adventure. Getting together with Sky School Oman for my first ever experience on a tandem ParaTrike.

Flying high over the coastline of Sawadi this was a lot of fun and something I would highly recommend you to try.

Check out the fun video;

You can find them Online, Facebook and Instagram – just click your choice and book yourself in.

Have a great day.

Heather x

Adventure Time, Fitness

Wadi Adventure Race 12

January 19, 2017

What do I do for fun? I throw myself over walls and roll round in the mud, that’s what all girls do, right?? No? Ohh… Well, they should try – it is a lot fun!!

Exactly one year ago (Jan 2016) my crazy passion for obstacle course racing was ignited as I challenged myself in the Wadi Adventure Race, marking the anniversary I returned to same event to race all over again.

What is new this year I hear you ask, Returning a mere 12 months later with hugely improved fitness and being able to increase from the 5km to the 10km race category increased my confidence beyond what I could have hoped for in the previous year and this time bringing a troop of friends to join the fun.

Catch up on the original post, click here.

Running the same course that you have done previously could be boring but for me it was a good benchmark to notice improvement. Especially conquering obstacles that really challenged me last year feels like great motivation to keep going and keep improving on myself. These changes don’t happen overnight and it can become discouraging but this is the kick up the butt I need to keep me determined and working hard.

I’ll get sweaty and muddy so you don’t have to, Sit back and enjoy the video;

Have a great day,

Heather x