Hello Hello 🙂
Firstly some AWESOME news to share, a bit of a milestone was reached the other day, with over £2,500 raised and now very close to reaching £3,000! 😀 Still a way to go, but such a fantastic start, and thank you so much to everyone who has helped reach this point. I really can't say it enough.
Well, it is two weeks exactly until I fly out for my final training and preparation, spending 10 days crossing Iceland (Sprengisandur route) before the big one. I’ve reached the point now in training too where I am ramping things up quite well and making really good progress. If all goes as planned I should hopefully peak at the right time too.
This trip is going to be a long game, not a sprint, and both physical and mental endurance will be key. From what I have been told, and indeed expected, the mental challenge can end up the bigger challenge of the two as well.
The main concern I have from a physical perspective is a muscle or tendon going snap or rupturing on the first day. I am not unfit, but it is one thing to be ‘gym’ fit and another thing to be ‘sport’ fit, and I have never hauled a sled of 80kgs+ before. As such, I’ve been incorporating some specific training to get my body acclimatised as best possible to the exercise it will be enduring.
Tyre dragging is an important part of my preparation, as it allows me to simulate as best possible the activity I will be undertaking. To do this I purchased myself a few climbing draws, some sturdy rope and rigged up a home-made harness which I attach to my hiking pack. During my first few outings I made sure to take it easy. I was very conscious of the fact I was doing a resistance activity my body was not use to and needed to give it time to adapt.
The first week involved only 30min sessions with a slow but determined stride, and I will admit that after my first session I was sore. There were muscles making noises I had not heard from before, and were not happy about being woken up either, at least to start with. My Achilles were making some grumbles as well. Over the following weeks though my body adapted, and I built up my tolerance, my times, and the weight being pulled by filling the tyres up with cement.
On top of tyre dragging and the sometimes bemused looks I receive from people in the park (my favourite comment so far: "hi, that's a funny dog you're walking…"), I’ve incorporated other regular types of training which I have noted below.
A little hiccup along the way as well… My training tyres were thrown out by the maintenance guy for the apartments where I live. Twice. Apparently it didn’t occur to him that if someone has taken the tyres he threw into the external rubbish skips back out and put them lined up neatly again the wall inside the residents security car park that perhaps they are being used by someone who lives there*chuckle*. We have had a chat, I’ve put a sign up, and it hasn’t happened again 🙂
During this trip I will be burning anywhere from around 5,000 to 8,000 calories a day. Probably why I was informed it is better to do this trip with a ‘little bit of padding’. I have still been eating healthy food, but I will admit to treating myself to an extra bit of cake here and there as well, and chocolate…. and Haribo… and pastries… and pizza… and more Haribo… and a couple more pizzas… Ha! I should probably take a ‘before’ and ‘after’ photo to see how much I change during the journey.
THE MENTAL CHALLENGE
There are many factors on this trip that will test a person mentally, and when put together they can all add up to quite a challenge indeed. Some of these include the following:
Wind and weather: kind of a given, it’s an arctic environment. Have to admit I had a bit of a ‘hmm…’ moment the other week when I was in the park doing some tyre dragging on a really windy day. I found my feet crossing on the odd occasion to keep me balanced as the wind pushed me around. Not really going to be as easy to do that with skis on my feet *chuckle*. If the wind reaches around 15-17ms/second (i.e. around 55-60km/hour) we will probably make camp and wait it out.
Sastrugis: these are ripple-like ridges or series of ridge lines that form all over the ice sheet from the wind and snow, similar to what you see on beaches and sand dunes. These can vary from a few centimetres to a few meters high. Hard enough to navigate these uneven surfaces in general, but throw in a heavy sled behind you… Yeah. One of those things that could very quickly test your patience 😉
Landscape and location: it is one thing to see something on television from the comfort of an arm chair and another to actually be there in real life experiencing it. Sometimes, the remoteness of such locations and knowing you are on your own can be quite overwhelming, particularly when the enormity of what is in front of you hits home. I don’t know exactly why, but I do know from experience that I tend to thrive in these sorts of circumstances and find them quite invigorating. But, I guess time will tell 😉
Time: pushing for up to 8hrs a day in arctic conditions for 4-5wks and all that entails will no doubt test the resolve of anyone. Lucky I have a good sense of humour and find it pretty easy to make myself laugh. Nothing like a good laugh to lift the spirits 🙂
…Well, it is time to distract my mind for a while before going to sleep, so I am going to kick back with a few cartoons and a tasty packet of Star Mix (yum!). A busy week coming up too, but will tell you more about that next week.
Hope you are all well and smiling!
Ciao for now!