Geocaching and running the Goreme landscape (Cappadocia, Turkey)

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I wake up in my bivy bag to the incredible sight of hundreds of brightly coloured balloons lifting off the ground in the Red and Rose Valleys below the camping ground. It is absolutely spectacular. I’d head that there were lots of balloon flights here in Cappadocia but was not prepared for it to be this stupendous. What a sight! An invigorating way to start the day.

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After a good 4-5 hours of work I head off to explore the nearby landscape. There are a couple of geocaches hidden in the nearby area that have my name on them. The first leads me to a mammoth rocky outcrop with magnificent views of the villages and castles in the distance.

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I had to walk about 2km to arrive at this point, including quite a long crossing of prickly grasses. It seems like a good moment to get my first jumping in Turkey photo. I realise I haven’t taken one yet so now is a good time (thank goodness for self-timers on cameras).

After collecting the geocache I run down towards Goreme following some random trails through valleys and little farms. My run includes the amazing Sword Valley. I took a video, which I think shows it better than sharing a million photos.

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Though I will share this one of me climbing down one of the big drops in the Sword Valley. Good thing the rocks are grippy or it would have been scary in places.

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After a simple lunch in touristy Goreme I walked back up the road towards the camping to find another geocache hidden with a view of some gorgeous fairy chimneys.

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Instead of continuing on the road, I explored some of the trails around the fairy chimneys along the road. This is a pick your own adventure place. You can rush by tour bus to the Open Air Museum and pay money to see the chimneys or you can just pull on a sturdy pair of shoes and explore at your own discretion. There is so much free stuff to see here. I spent about two hours meandering around between Goreme and the Kaya Camping, just 2km from the town. It was magnificent. Sometimes I’d take high trails and others low ones. And at times I did both because there was more to see.

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I mean, check out these rock formations.

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And the way the area is not just an old museum; it’s a real place where people live and work. There were cattle tethered behind some of the mounts and bales of hay stored in others. Epic stuff.

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I think this is my favourite photo of the trip. Maybe even of the past eighteen months.

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If you come to Cappadocia, do it like a turtle does: slow and steady. I didn’t see any of the underground cities or museums. And I spent almost nothing. But yet I had a wonderful time. The landscapes are stunning, the atmosphere at Kayak Camping was brilliant with loads of overlanders with epic stories of crazy travels through the Far East. I could have stayed a week but decided that tomorrow I will push on north.

Sidebar: Couch to 5km week 3 (Indonesia)

Week 3 of my Couch to 5km was tough. Not because of the running but due to the gastro. This week’s regime was:

  • 5 minute warm up walk
  • 90 seconds running, 90 seconds walking
  • 3 minutes running, 3 minutes walking
  • Repeat the two run/walk sets once
  • 5 minute cool down walk.

I took videos of my sessions, which I am sharing to show you the cities where I have been.

It all started really well last Tuesday with a run through the streets of Semarang. I enjoyed running along the wide footpath between our hotel and Simpang Lima.

Then I got sick and my next run wasn’t until this week Monday when I finally had enough strength to get back out on the road. I felt lethargic running the session on Monday but I am determined to get fit again so did it.

I backed up on Tuesday with a morning run in Solo. Here the roads were busy but I again found a wide footpath for most of the run.

Sidebar: Getting fit again

Before I started this adventure of travel, I was quite fit. I trained consistently in trail running, mountain biking and road cycling. I was able to ride a 200km Audax cycle even relatively comfortably within the 13:30 cut off. I had run a marathon and completed a 50km ultramarathon. My chosen sport was adventure racing and I could get around a 12 hour course comfortably.

But over the past year I have let my fitness slip. Yes, I cycle tour. But I tour slowly. I also hike but I haven’t done many long hikes over 10km (6 miles). And I certainly haven’t done any running. It’s like I’ve had a little over a year to decompress and learn a new way of living. But it’s taken it’s toll on my body.

When I look at myself in photos I am starting to see a return of the stomach that I had way back in 2011 when I started my past journey to fitness. When I look at the scales I see that I have gained 10kg (22lbs) in the past year. And when I buy clothes, I have gone from a 32″ waist to a stage where a 36″ waist feels very snug. It’s the result of a year of travel food, treats and intermittent exercise.

Life is good and I am enjoying it. But I have to find a balance. I love feeling fit and knowing I can tackle any adventure that comes my way. I wasn’t ready to pursue my fitness again until now. But now I am motivated and have established a new routine for when I return home to help me stick to it.

To begin, I am doing the Couch to 5km program. I have been making videos of each time I go running since week 1 day 2. And I will continue to do so throughout the program. Here’s my first five videos:

Week 1 Day 2 – I ran along the beach at home. Week 1 involved 5 minute warm up, 8 x 60 secs running and 90 secs walking, and a 5 minute cool down.

Week 1 Day 3 – I ran in Yogyakarta

Week 2 Day 1 – I ran in Malang. Week 2 involved 5 minute warm up, 6 x 90 secs running and 2 mins walking, and a 5 minute cool down.

Week 2 Day 2 – Still in Malang I ran a similar route as the previous session

Week 2 Day 3 – This morning I ran again in Malang. But this time I ran through quiet streets and along Ijen Boulevard.

My next run will be on Tuesday when I will start week 3. That will be in Semarang and will involved a 5 minute warm up, 2 x 90 sec running and 90 sec walking, 3 min running and 3 min walking, and a 5 min cool down. I actually feel a bit excited about the next session because it’s an excuse to make photos and videos.