Friday, November 15, 2013

Will there be penguins?

What do you wear?  How cold will it be?  Will you see penguins?  How do you get there?  Where do you sleep?  How many other people are going?  What do you use to hydrate during the race?  Exactly how cold will it be?

I feel like I've become an official ambassador for the Antarctic Ice Marathon as I answer these and other questions over and over to different friends, family, coworkers, classmates, and other acquaintances that have found out about my upcoming adventure.  And of course the ironic thing is, I haven't been there yet!  Ask me again in December and you will get full details!

But in the meantime, I have gone through the marathon website over and over and also received a bunch of emails from Richard Donovan, the race coordinator, so at the very least right now I can tell you what I've read until I can tell you what I actually know from personal experience!  So let's tackle a few of these questions.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Single-Digit Countdown

I need to pack!  I need to do laundry!  I need to warn my bank that I'm traveling outside the country so they don't block my account!  I need to pack!  I need to check and double-check that I have all the info from the race coordinator so I don't get left behind!  I need to eat everything in my fridge so I don't come home to a mold laboratory!  AND I NEED TO PACK!

Yes ladies and gents, it's time for last minute panic mode.  The journey south begins in a few short days, and in EXACTLY ONE WEEK it's race time!  This trip had been on my brain for over a year, and I have been training for months, but it still hasn't really settled in.  My race gear has been accumulating on a bed in my house, and I see it every single day, but it still hasn't settled in.  I have been talking about the marathon day in and day out because all my family and friends and coworkers and classmates are extremely curious, but it still hasn't settled in.  Maybe by the time I go to the airport?  Go through security?  Get on the plane?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Songs for the Wandering Soul

Music speaks to some people.  I am one of those people.  Great songs lift my darkest mood and bring my most distracted, anxious mind wholly into the immediate present, even if just for the space of a few brief minutes.  Some songs send me reeling back into sad or painful memories with such force that roiling emotions immediately bubble to the surface, and others have the effect of making an entire day bright and happy, despite uncooperative weather or bosses or other external circumstances.  I'd say there are three types of great songs.

The first are those whose greatness lies in the notes, rhythms, and instrumentation that compose the musicality of the song.  Songs with a bass or drumbeat powerful enough to retune your own heartbeat, or a melody that makes your soul soar.  You don't even pay attention to the words of the song, because it's the music that does all the speaking.

The second are songs whose greatness lies in the lyrics above all else.  Lyrics that speak directly to you, and help you make sense of your life and the world around you.  Lyrics that define an experience or a person and allow you to replay memories as if you were watching them on film.  It may be the lyrics of the entire song, or just the refrain, or even a single line that leaps out and glues into your memory.  Sometimes, you tune out a melody that is not pleasing because the lyrics are so precisely perfect.

The third and best kind of great songs are the ones that are the overwhelming combination of music and lyrics.  When these songs play on the radio, you roll your windows down and turn the volume all the way up so the music fills the small space of the vehicle and permeates your very core.  Electricity crackles all the way through your fingertips, and you are suddenly tangibly aware of the possibilities and potential that your future holds.  It's that thunderstorm feeling of anticipation packaged up in a bundle of words and musical notes.

Sometimes these songs are cliche, and sometimes they are unexpected discoveries tucked away from the pop charts and Top Ten lists.  These are the songs that make me want to leap off my couch and GO.  These are the songs that speak to me of adventures past and adventures to come.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Farewell, Merrells

Well Merrells, you were great shoes.  No, great is an understatement.  You were fantastic.  Perfect.  The Best.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Two Week Window!

November!  Where did you come from!  How have you arrived already!  I'd say go away, but I am super pumped for this adventure, so I'll just freak out for a moment and then welcome November with open arms.

A fellow competitor commented online recently that she was having a bit of a wobble about the race.  I guess it's my turn and today is my wobble day.  I set out to do a minimum of 15 miles hoping it might end up a little longer, depending on how my route clocked out since I wasn't quite sure the exact mileage.  But it was not allowed to be shorter than 15.  First half hard running on pavement, second half easier (mandatory when the pup comes with) on trail.  It was windy and cold and drizzly and basically miserable.  Perfect training weather!  I felt fantastic for the first seven miles, and then the left hip kicked in again.  Half marathon a couple weeks ago fixed the sprained ankle, but torqued the hip.  I can't win!  Anyway, I made it home to wolf down a snack, change shoes, and grab the pup.  It was still chilly, but the sun came out and it was a gorgeous day in the woods with all the trees changing colors.  The sugar maples are in their full flaming red glory right now.  The downside was my hip continued to be a major pain (ha.  ha.) and so when I hit 15 miles and was only about 15 minutes from home, I called it a day.  No need to beat myself up more than necessary when the marathon is two weeks away!  But now I'm nervous because today was unexpectedly rough and it was only 15 miles.  I can run through quite a bit of pain, but it's not fun.  I want to enjoy Antarctica!  Ahhhh!

I did the standard post-long-run stretching and rolling and ice bath (YUCK).  And then I decided to add a new piece to the routine and obtain a pair of compression socks.  I haven't read much about the whole compression thing, although I was mildly curious if it would have helped with my sprained ankle or if it would be useful in general as my calves continue to adjust to the barefoot style.  And I had never realized it could be a recovery tool, until a friend's friend provided the suggestion.  So why not?  I have been wearing CEP run socks for the past few hours and they're great!  Feels like a hug for my calves!  I don't limp the first three steps I take every time I get up from the couch!  I may have to investigate compression gear in more detail!  More to come.

Lastly, Christmas came a month early when my last round of mandatory purchases showed up from BackCountry last week.  Face masks, balaclavas, base layers, goggles, mittens.  Can't wait to layer up and laugh at myself in the mirror!