It has taken me a while to write this entry, but I wanted to do it justice and so have waited until I felt ready and there was enough quiet time available to write. This was perhaps one of the most amazing and influential days of my life.
This was a much needed rest day, especially as I was getting virtually no sleep. It had been -10 in the tent overnight, and I have to say, a pretty miserable night. As ever, after a marathon, there was a lot of adrenalin still in my system; that always makes sleep a challenge, but then add the light and the cold and it was a recipe for an uncomfortable night.
The sunshine, clear blue skies and reflected heat of the sun of the previous day had disappeared, it was cloudy with a light wind and sporadic snow shows. The cloud lay heavy over the hills and visibility was slightly reduced: rather like home really.
I stood looking at the things that were laid out on the bed: thermal base layer, mid layer of ski pants and warm top and 2 pairs of merino socks; a double layer beanie, down jacket, liner gloves, fleece gloves and down mitts, sunglasses, sun block and lip screen; snow boots.
15th – 16th November, Travelling Travelling from 13.20 – 18.20, a total of 29 hours travelling: that was tough and tiring, not to mention dehydrating.
After the heart stopping realisation en route to the airport that I had forgotten to lift my MP3 player, which required an about turn followed by a speedier rather more frantic drive than intended to the airport, my journey to Punta Arenas was uneventful.
The Scots have a good track record with this event. Wendy MacKinnon won the first Antarctic Ice Marathon in 2006. Dr Andrew Murray won the marathon last year (2012) setting a new course record. He then completed 50km in Antarctica before continuing on to do a further 50km on the remaining 6 continents in under a week. Shona Thomson who completed the marathon last year has gone on to become the first Scottish woman to complete a marathon on all 7 continents
No guesses as to who this little person is, and thanks to Alasdair (my husband) for the caption.
From what I gather I was a determined little individual from the start; and according to my Mum once I found my legs there was no stopping me. I would walk, and walk and walk, had a ton of energy and needed little sleep. Sound familiar? The photo shows a little person that is set to go and no messing.
Unlike many of my peers who are converting to low card diets and fueling I still run with carbs. As this is a product review I am not going to cover the carbohydrate /low carbohydrate debate. That said, since becoming an ultra runner I have adjusted my diet and eat less of the traditional carbohydrates especially wheat based.
My last ultra-distance run before going to Antarctica. Another milestone: the last long distance run before I start to taper, 4 weeks before I leave the UK for Chile, and just under 5 weeks until I run the first marathon.
It was exactly 10 years since I ran my first marathon, which had been Loch Ness in 2003 which gave me my marathon PB which still stands to this day. This would be my 7th run of this event. In addition this was my last formal running event before Antarctica. Emotions would potentially ride high this weekend.
Conversations with the uninitiated: back by popular demand. Banter: the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks. I think that it can be said that there is a fair amount of banter going on between my ultra uninitiated friend and myself. It is fun and it is interesting to see things from his perspective. It is probably also keeping me grounded, giving me pause for thought, and it is probably contributing to that healthy dollop of nerves that I am feeling.
Saturday was a beautiful autumn day. There was no denying it, summer is passing and we are transitioning into autumn. The dashboard display told me it was 4 degrees on my early morning trip to the supermarket and there was a definite chill in the air, not to mention the half light. Later when getting ready to go out for my run I swithered over the shorts versus tights and vest versus t-shirt decision.
The Speyside Way is a national trail that runs from Buckie to Aviemore, following the route of the river Spey, and by default the Scottish Whisky trail . The Speyside Way Ultra covers 36.5 miles from Ballindalloch to Buckie and has been run since 2012 and is well organised by race director Sarah Louise Grigor and a band of dedicated and happy marshals and helpers.
The week commencing 19th August was going to be my Antarctic Odyssey rehearsal week, and as such a fairly epic and momentous week for me. It was another milestone in my preparations. The objectives for the week were: to test my ability to run long distance on a surface similar to the Antarctic snow; test the nutrition plans; test my recovery rates; hit a new weekly mileage total. The keynote activities were to be a 20 – 21 mile beach run on the Wednesday and the Speyside Way Ultra on the Saturday.
At this point in time there are not many of my friends who have not been roped into race support to some level. This weekend, a dear friend, who has successfully managed to avoid this delightful duty, got roped in.
With only 14 weeks to go there is light at the end of the training tunnel, but things are getting tough as my training starts to peak. I have had a tired and hungry week so far this week. A 6 mile beach run on over 24 hours without food due to bad timing on one of my fast days was tough; and the planned easy session the following day (2nd fast day) was cut short as the energy just was not there.
It may seem anachronous to be posting a summer kit review on a blog that is primarily about an Antarctic challenge; however Helly Hansen kindly provided me some summer training kit that I could use for my on-going training and participation in various events over the summer months.
In 2010 Clyde Stride ultra was my first ultra. I completed it which was great, but it was not one of my better moments and there was plenty to learn from it. I entered for the following year but had to withdraw about a month before the event due to a knee injury. I duly entered for 2012 and was a DNF (did not finish) at 20 miles due to energy problems (which I subsequently found out were caused by a magnesium deficiency. So, was 2013 going to be my year?
In previous posts I have alluded to 'the perfect run'. It is one of those rare things that happens occasionally when a numbers of factors or conditions come together. My long run on Saturday was, unexpectedly, one of those occasions.
Teko has very kindly offered product sponsorship and will be providing my socks for the Odyssey. Their mission statement is to make ‘best sock on the planet and the best socks for the planet’, and I have to agree.
So, how do you prepare for running on snow in Antarctica during British summer time?
Answer: run on the beach, something that had not occurred to me initially, but which with hindsight is quite obvious. John Killingworth, a previous Antarctic Ice Marathon participant suggested this to me, so many thanks for the tip.