It was 2014 when I sent my application in for the half marathon taking place in Antarctica. A couple of months later, I was waitlisted without an estimated date or time for acceptance. My assumption was it would take a year. It seemed reasonable, like most marathons, a year or a little less is about when they open. But not this one.
Four years later, I got the green light to send in the rest of my deposit. The race folks confirmed I would be running in the 2019 race. A full five years later. But, hey, it was official. I had a room on a ship going to Antarctica, and this would be my final half marathon.
The problem with such a long waitlist is I’m no longer in the marathon-running shape I was in back in 2014 or 15 or even 16. I’m older and slower and have really started to enjoy not running for hours, not training during what were supposed to be slow weekend mornings, not enduring a foam rolling after the run. No more ice on my knees and piles of sweaty running gear filling up my laundry hamper.
Come on, I tell myself, trying to get motivated, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. How can I not take it on, and try to enjoy it regardless of how old I feel, or how old I really am? Maybe with all of this training and running to come, I might feel younger again. But deep down I doubt it. It’s more likely, I’ll feel older.
So I’m starting slowly. I’ve signed up to work out with a personal trainer once or twice a week depending on our schedules, just to give myself a base level of fitness. I have a history of getting injured while training and I think it’s because I’m not really that fit before I jump right in to running longer distances. I’ve been working with the trainer for about three weeks now.
I’ve also signed up for the first 5k I’ve attempted in so, so long. It’s a hilly up and down, out and back trail race. Training for that has also begun. Training, meaning, I put on my shoes and attempt to meet the distances, but mostly I’m tired and winded.
Regardless of my fitness level, I am excited about visiting Antarctica. Not many people get the opportunity to visit that continent. For me, Antarctica will be my seventh and last remaining continent to step foot on. I’m pretty stoked.
Now, I just need to get that running and fitness thing moving in the right direction. I’ve missed a couple of training runs already this week. It’s time to get in gear or I’ll never know what it was like to complete my last half on the most remote continent in the world.
Signed up for a 5k in December. It will be my first trail race in preparation for my last, and most ambitious, half marathon in Antarctica in March.
But right now, my fitness level is embarrassing. I’m so out of shape when I run even short distances, I’m winded for the first five or ten minutes. Other runners say that will go away, but I’m not feeling it. This is my second week and I’m still fatigued. If I don’t start running now, by setting small goals like the 5k in early December, I can’t fathom being prepared for a much longer – four times longer – run in five months.
The training race I picked is called Summit Rock, and its organized from one of my favorite local companies, Brazen Racing. When I’ve run with them in the past, many years ago, I found they ran well-supported races and a good post-race spread. They have a great community of runners too. For Summit Rock, racers can partake in three distances: 5k, 10k, and half marathon. Located in Saratoga, Sanborn County Park has a challenging foot trail that increases in elevation for about four miles before leveling off.
Since I’m running the 5k, the course is straight up – about 2200 feet of elevation gain – and at the halfway point, runners turn around and head back down 2200 feet to the start/finish line. I don’t have trail running shoes, so I’ll use my road shoes and see how things go.
While I’ve sold or donated most of my possessions, oddly enough, they didn’t include trail running shoes or winter running gear, which is what I’ll need for the half marathon in Antarctica.
I haven’t started to think about the actual packing list for Antartica. When I get to it, I expect to have warm, waterproof trail running shoes on it, along with a solid race-day winter running getup, which I’ll get to test out during my cold winter training runs.
Until then, I’ll keep hitting the warm trails, working the hills, and feeling the exhaustion. Send love and support.
Went for a run today. It was the first time I had the chance to do a run in five days (so disappointed in myself) and it almost didn’t happen. Work has been crazy busy and getting in at 7am doesn’t guaranty I’ll be out the door by 4pm. When I did finally leave, the temp on my car thermostat read 101 degrees Fahrenheit. The sun was in the western sky, but it was still brutally hot.
Funny thing about hot weather, it seemed to bring out a few not-so-welcomed inhabitants into my usually pleasant running space full of bunnies and deer. First, while changing into my running gear in the ladies restroom, I noticed an enormous black beetle sharing my stall. It had to be as big as a silver dollar and yuck it was gross. It was also likely the only thing I could assuredly outrun out today, which I did, and right quick.
From there I proceeded to run three hot, long, and sweaty miles. It was in my last mile that I ran into, almost literally, a snake almost identical to the one pictured above. He seemed to come out of nowhere, emerging confidently from the depths of the long hay-like grass, towards the running path (and me). I was struck by its colors and markings almost immediately. Cool, amazing creature. Then I noticed that we were both still moving forward and on a crash course. When I realized that he didn’t see me and we were going to run into each other (he was moving a lot faster than I originally anticipated), I slowed and moved to the opposite side of the trail assuming he’d stop and turn around. It’s funny how what we visualize in our heads is often so different than what happens in real life.
The snake was visually startled by my trajectory and sudden movement to get in front of (and past) him. Instead of turning around, he pulled his head and a good portion of his body off the ground, which started to freak me out a little. Now all of this happened in a few seconds, but when you’re super present, time can almost come to a stop it moves so slow.
When I saw him get taller, I ran faster and jumped over him as he continued moving on his way. It was a weird exchange. Probably the weirdest I’ve ever had with a snake. After googling his colors and whereabouts, I identified him to be a California King snake. Kind of a stud in my opinion. And ultimately not poisonous. Thank God, but I’d be a little tougher right now if he actually was poisonous.
While jogging away, I was silently congratulating myself on successfully dodging (and leapfrogging!) a slithering snake, a serpent of all things, and would live on to tell the story. I looked back just in time to see him sort of doing the same thing. The adrenaline helped me to forget about my aching foot for a minute (blister from last week), but that’s a different story.