It’s expensive to travel to Antarctica. There is no cheap, easy way. You fly to Buenos Aires, take a commuter plane to Ushuala, take a Russian Crew ship across the Drake Passage and back. My permit to go was submitted 4 years ago and, luckily, required a deposit and periodic payments. But inflation has made this trip increase by $2800 from its original cost. I had to get creative with this unexpected increase. I put applications in for seasonal help. When I saw UPS trucks with driver helpers I went to the UPS office to inquire as to why I had not heard anything on my application. They sheepishly said,” ummm, hemmmm, hawwww…um, your app says you are a 50 year old female that weights 132 pounds. You would have to be able to lift boxes sometimes weighing over 100 lbs and you would have to be running from door step to door step. ” I returned,” and the point is?”. I have been paying to work out and train and do crossfit. I welcomed the challenge and chance to do something that physical and that outdoors. As we were discussing this, a worker came in with a twisted ankle. The manager looked at his mounting pile of constant Christmas boxes and said, “You are on. Starting now.” And I was. I, and a young guy from Jackson, got the reputation for being the first truck back…despite the co workers loading the load with labels upside down and purposely not filling the gas tank just to slow us down. He would roll through the ranch roads and I would sprint down the long driveways, dodging the chasing dogs biting at my heels, and toss that pile of ordered Santa on each porch for miles and miles…in the snow, sleet, ice, and fog. Now, there’s a story to tell your grandkids. My short career in the brown suit was cut shorter when I slipped on ice running through a parking lot while not on duty. I broke my pinkie and ring finger…and only than, could I not pick up the 50 plus pound boxes. All this shared to let you know that adventuring goes beyond fortitude. It takes planning, and just plain hard work.
February 16, 2013
February 7, 2013
It’s not because I have something to prove. It’s because we have something God given in us to live for. Inspire to. Grasp after. Just try.
I am reading “The Coolest Race on Earth” by John Hanc and getting a first hand account of what I am getting into in Antarctica. His jacket cover reads, “Muddy, cold, hilly, the race is by all accounts horrible up and down a melted glacier twice, past curious penguins and hostile skuas, and finally to a bleak finish line. Even the best runners take longer to run the Antarctica Marathon than any other. Yet the allure of the marathon running combined with the fascinating reputation of the Last Continent has persuaded…” yes, me , “to brave a trip across the world’s most turbulent body of water, the Drake Passage, to a land of extinct volcanoes and craggy mountain peaks, lost explorers and isolated scientists, penguin rookeries and whale sightings, all for a chance to run a crazy 26.2 miles…” in what is known as the world’s most difficult marathon. I am more afraid of the days at sea than what weather or conditions or arduous hills the continent will throw at us…us being 99 people who put in for a permit over three years ago and will all come to meet each other as we board the Russian crew ship at Ushuaia…fin del mundo. The end of the world.
February 6, 2013
A week has gone by and I am back to another LONG run. 21 miles today. I literally RAN into a moose this week on one of my 8 mile runs along a frozen creek on a snowed over bike path. I came around a corner and startled this, huger than a horse ,female. She never expected a crazed runner to be out in her winter territory. She stomped her hooves and puffed her sides. No question she was disturbed. These are not good signs. I did a dance around a bush with this frothing, oversized, very funky, but very mad beast. I had to plunge over a wood fence and into someone’s backyard. Only in Jackson!
But yeah Jackson. I run by deer and elk today…and cows and horses. All with their extra winter coats…and me with mine.
And, yeah Jackson, it is the workout capital. There are private gyms, yoga, and Pilates on every other street corner. I am thankful for the solid options. What I am not telling you about is that divorce is a tsunami. It is a huge wave that careens through lives and obliterates, leaving a wake of emotional, financial, and relational debris. Not only have I been training and restrengthening. I am thankful to take the time to pick through some of the aftermath. It has not been easy. This runs with me and keeps me company more than I would like.
The temperatures have risen to reasonable. Days have been between 20 to 40 degrees. We are having what I called ‘sparkle’ days. At least the hands and face can bear being bare in these temperatures… for a short amount of time. And the snow is pristine white. And the skies are deep, deep blue. And the afternoons are pink, pink, purple. And the hues harden into bold, solid, hard sunsets. I run all through the valleys and tackle a 2 mile hill that ascends nearly 2000 feet. They say we will be having to run up two glaciers in Antarctica. There is the classiest of restuarants called the Grannary at Spring Creek Ranch that I KNOW has the best perched view in our nation. That was my 11 mile turn around point. It was one of the prettiest runs and rewards with a sunset. By the way, I learned The Grannary has live Jazz, incredible musicians on Friday nights. And it was the most rewarding place to watch the SUPERBOWL. A fireplace, a vaulted glass view of the TETON Mountains and the game playing in the corner TV. First time in 20 years I was not timing a race on this ‘national’ holiday.
January 21, 2013
Living a year in Jackson definitely is adding a winter experience. I am getting ready to run my THIRD REMOTE CONTINENT marathon… in Antarctica. Not hard to simualte when this winter has dipped as low as -28. Negative temperatures can turn into negative situations real fast. They warrant caution and preparation. They are teaching me to include an avalanche shovel, emergency sleeping bag, and extra gloves, wool, and down jackets stashed in the truck and put into emergency packs whenever going ‘backcountry’. And they are showing me that freeze framed beauty is so contrast to the summer beauty of wild flowers, meadow grasses, and waterfalls. Up here, in winter the animals are furry. Thousands of elk have made their winter migration. They know digging through the snow will lead to grass . The big horn sheep are herded up on their winter bluffs. And moose and buffalo are instantly spotted, dark on a white scape , unable to hide from their hoof printed trails left in the soft snow. The lakes are frozen and steam rises from the few rivers still flowing. The Teton Range stands like a stunning bride dressed in its white gown. I wanted to see what a winter looked like. More than that, I needed to FEEL what a winter was like.
My quest to run a remote marathon with remote people on every continent would have to pardon the remote people for one continent….Antarctica. There are only two marathon opportunities on the most remote of remote places. There are only 100 slots for each of these two. Due to the popularity to do all 7 continents as a bucket list of life to dos, making the waiting list now takes three to four years. Buzz back to the origin of my blog and see that I put that permit in 4 years ago. It has just come up as ‘my turn’ to be running in Antarctica on March 7, 2013. I will share with you the training I have found here amoung a region of mountain athletes.
Going to Antartica to run is a commitment. It takes almost a month to travel to and from and involves a lot of days out at sea in seas known only as the roaring forties. Waves. Wind. Cold. Anything can happen on that one day we get to disembark and RUN 26.2 miles on a huge slab of ice. And it takes some hefty coins. Luckily, I started paying for it four years ago. But in those four years, an additonal 2,800 to go was tacked on.
So I am training in Jackson, Wyoming. Try running in this!!! I have been experimenting with what I would need in Antarctica. Good thing. Though I had a Patagonia down hoodie sweater, a Northface Windstopper zip up, and an Arcteryx shell jacket as outer layers, I ran in -2 with a cotton jog bra and cotton panties. About 6 miles into a twelve mile run I started to crunch. My sweat was freezing the under garments to my body! Wow. Really. These were not the idea places to invite potential frost bite. I now own Icebreaker wool briefs and bras. This is a New Zealand wool from high mountain sheep that does not itch…kinda. I also added Smartwood socks to my collection. Another respectable wool product company that doesn’t itch. Kinda.
Try this for a combination training goal…to run this remotest of remote Antarctica marathon and than return and hit the track and be trained for the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS in Track & Field to be held in Brazil, October of 2013. Follow the blog to see how I will possibly make that happen. But for now, blog along as I get ready for Antarctica. Im testing out clothing in these pictures. It is -15 degrees. My fingers and face are questioning my choice to do this. Watch the video below and get an idea of the terrain I will be running on.
December 5, 2012
Thanksgiving Day is the biggest results timing day of the year. Teton Valley had a Turkey Chase on the weekend and Jackson, Wyoming had a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. I had the immense privilege to get to work with the Teton County/ Jackson Parks & Recreation and Jill Harkness and crew. They put a lot of pre prep to making this a festive event for the entire community. The crowd was treated to a sunny day and unseasonable higher temperatures than normal for this time of year. Two years ago it had to be cancelled when temperatures fell to minus 20 degrees. The day prior to this year’s race it was snowing. Today, and so much a reason to be thankful for, it was sunny. But for me, I was most thankful, thankful for this year was Itz About Time’s new Techy, Nick. He is the BEST. He comes from a background in successful cinema filming, producing feature films, and now operates a high action video company. Check out www.Jacksonadventurevideo.com. He, and his identical twin brother, have put the successful rigors of Hollywood aside to enjoy this region, and we are blessed to have the talent. Check out our new website. www.itzabouttime.com. Participants were delighted to be ‘officially’ timed with RFID chip timing. Their almost standard comment was, “It’s about time we got professional timing.” Get it. The MC did, and the pun for the morning was…IT’S ABOUT TIME we got timing with ITz ABOUT TIME. Gotta love it.
October 18, 2012
This time of year, a new sport called cyclocross stages many races up here. I’ll have to explain that to you. But this Saturday, October 20th there will be a new event in the town of Jackson called the TOUGH TOWNER. This is being staged by Tim Walthers, who operates Grand Dynamics. www.granddynamics.com. Grand Dynamics works with companies in building positive personal, goal setting, confidence, and greater communication through an outdoor setting and activities. The Tough Towner is a way for Tim and his staff to give to the community that beauty of letting yourself try something new and challenging, and the reward that accomplishing that brings. They build obstacles all through town and hand out shirts that say ‘overcome your obstacles”. This will be the first staged one ever. You can contact them to bring one of these to your town. Check out the mascot. If the elephant can do the course, so can you! www.granddynamics.com
July 20, 2012
Wydaho Rendezvous, the Teton Valley’s Mountain Bike Festival is held in Mid-July. If you are a mountain biker, it is a must!! It is a combined effort of bike shops in this area to introduce their network of great single track trails. www.tetonmountainbikefest.tvtap.org. There are set times every day for all kinds of group ride at all levels to pick from. One day is hosted in Victor, the other in Driggs by that town’s bike shop. The roads are blocked and professional exhibition riders do jumps and tricks. Beer keg pull relays are in play. There’s swag, bike demos, live music, and tons of great scenery. A poker ride each evening greeted you to all the eating establishments. Now, there is my kind of a ride!! Lots of families were participating. Kid’s loved it. Best part for me, and coming off the advice of the tattooed guys that helped me learn my way down Targhee, was taking a bike clinic from a pro female rider. Amber is on the USA Endurance Mountain Bike team and races 100 mile off road races. That takes quads. She was a fun combination of pretty and pretty gutsy. On a flat surface, she coached how to guide the eyes first than the bike will follow. “If you stare right at it, you are destined to hit it. You should be looking beyond and where you need to go. Our senses do a good job taking in what we need to navigate past. Learn to use and trust them. And don’t hold onto those bars for dear life. Relax the hands, put the elbows out and ride cowboy style! “
I still fell over and down more than anyone else on the trails, but I liked my gals ride I choose. It was fun to be among giggling ladies, especially when we came upon another set of stranded females with a flat. It took 10 of us 20 minutes to fix that flat! So girl. I think we were purposely enjoying the break. You definitely couldn’t help, but enjoy the views. My cardio taps so fast when I hit a hill. I breathe like a horse. I am beginning to wonder if the bout with Pneumonia years ago got a part of my lungs. I am still under acclimated. But riding bikes is a fun break from running. And I can’t, but think this will help build strength and endurance for running.
July 10, 2012
This time I took the most indirect route to Jackson, Wyoming, spontaneously and purposely. I headed out of Los Angeles over the Grapevine, dumping into the San Joaquin Valley. The outside temperature was a searing 108 degrees. Baking Bakersfield and Fresno went by on Hwy 99. Onto Hwy 40 and after Oakhurst, I pulled off and up through the pines and headed to Bass Lake, California. I rolled down the windows and there was that spicy, sweet smell of this area’s particular pines. The lake came in view and the inviting sounds of jet skis and boats cracked a smile in my heart I hoped it could. Bass lake had been a great stomping place for me. I worked for Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp the four years I was in college. The camp was intimate and isolated, but attached to the lake for skiing. Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp took cheery, chattering busloads of campers to climbing and hiking in Yosemite. I was one of their term camp counselors that taught water skiing and climbing, and guided backpacking trips and hikes to the top of Half Dome. The summers were organized and very focused on the joys and experiences of the campers, but we counselors were the better benefactors from solid summers spent there. It was a Christian camp dedicated to providing super trips that taught kids about themselves, relationships, and who God could be in their lives. I was so impressed with how this impacted and changed lives through just being outdoors. I minored in Camp and Recreation Administration. I hoped for the opportunity to use outdoors as a means to affect lives. My husband and I had even taken positions one summer at running the kitchen and camp maintenance when our kids were toddlers. That is how much I loved this camp. And the outdoors. Someone told me as I struggled to find direction from the divorce to go back to where I think I first lost the sock. So ponder… I never lost my socks when I was in the outdoors. I was heading back to that spot.
Camp was in session so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to interrupt. I pulled into a marina and went for a short trail run. It was hot even at this altitude. Coming back very sweaty, I plunged into the lake, luckily, feet first. I was met with a surprising jar and a searing pain. What appeared to be emerald and deep water was actually shallow. I had hit a rock only a few inches below the surface. It made me mad at how stupid I was to misjudge the depth and not check first what the consequences of taking such a plunge would be. The gash could have used stiches. I refused to baby it. I deserved the scar it would leave. Stupid, Caren, to plunge without knowing what lie underneath. It was a great parallel of the reality of the same stupidity I had to face in the consequences of plunging into a relationship while still married. It looked so cool and refreshing. The pain from both my new injury and the ones the relationship plunge had caused racked my body. Tears rolled. Mad tears. Hurt tears. How could I have been so stupid? Needy. Wreckless. I rocked and writhed, wet and muddy on the dirt path. Both inflicted rightful pain I deserved. Both gashes will leave scars.
I finally grappled myself together, wrapped my wound from my truck first aid kit, changed from my soiled running outfit in the bath house, and visited the camp. I was thrilled to find it unchanged. Though years had gone by, the campers bouncing by with paddles and life vests, swinging on ropes courses, and nets, they were just the same. And the camp owner’s daughter, my exact age now, was the new camp director. We high fived each other over turning fifty. And the counselors? Many were the sons and daughters of the counselors I had worked with years before. De ju vue. It is one of the best run camps around. Definitely, in my book, one of the most effective and well rounded. I didn’t stay long, but it was a detour I needed to remind myself of. Felt like I self-imposed a scene from Scrooge and Christmas Past. Felt like it reminded me that the outdoors is that powerful teaching environment. It was refreshing to know that nature, credit it God’s creation, hadn’t changed that much.
Romans 1:20. ”For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made….” God’s invisible attributes are seen in the things He has created. I personally cannot deny that.