Caren Ware's Blog

May 5, 2013

The Look in THEIR EYES…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 10:43 pm

DSCN2619 - CopyIMG_1314 IMG_1313 IMG_1311 IMG_1306 IMG_1305 IMG_1304 IMG_1298 IMG_1292 IMG_1290 IMG_1282 IMG_1216 IMG_1208 DSCN2644IMG_1315IMG_1282            Antarctica was a lot about the SHIP…and the SHIP was the people on it; the guides, marathoners, and crew.  Remember the bonding of going to  summer camp, or being on a high school sports team that got to travel, or rockclimbing with a special mix of cronnies?  The journey to Antarctica became an adult version of that kind of intermingling magic.  I loved them. I love the look in their eyes.  I loved seeing and sharing Antarctica with them.  What our eyes got to see…I will forever agree…was priceless.  The people we got to meet will be friends forever….priceless. IMG_1382IMG_1422IMG_1388

May 2, 2013

Cuddly Duddlys

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 10:38 pm

Watch  the documentary March of the Penguins and gain the utmost respect for this species.IMG_1023 IMG_1024 IMG_1029 IMG_1041 IMG_1053 IMG_1054 IMG_1061 IMG_1078 IMG_1080 IMG_1099 IMG_1106 IMG_1109       Need I say more.  The tuxedo fellows were made for ice. It was a privilege to witness them on their own turf in their own cycles.  The buddies perched on the shore are not as happy as they appear.  They are late bloomers who are hungry and cannot go into the sea and feed themselves until all their feathers molt out…is that the right word for fall out?  I heard they mate for life.  It is so engrained in them to build a home for their mates, that the males will stack rocks and stack rocks all season in hopes that their woman will someday appear even if she was eaten by a seal or sea-lion or such.  And than the other males will steal rocks from their pile when they faithfully waddle away to pick up new rocks.  Somehow, it related all to well to our own human heartaches and situations.  What to do when that one and only, thought to be forever, relationship doesn’t work out? How long do we continue to stack rocks?   In hopes of? And how hurt we should be if we knew others were stealing rocks from our home?  Maybe I am personalizing them too much, but I sat and perched back. Hi, silly, amazing, likable, loveable birds…in all your freezerishness.  I am saddened  for you that your mate will not be returning and you are here faithfully waiting.

Ps.  It is very cold.

 

May 1, 2013

I have a crush

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 11:10 pm

969594939297Every day became more divinely beautiful, captivating, luring than the next. Each day had weather, bays, glaciers, ice calving, floating ice bergs, snow blown mountain tops, sunbeams, circular clouds, moody fog, crystal waters, reflections, sunrises, and sunsets.  The waters were teaming with unfathomable life symbiotically cohabitating in their unspoiled habitat.  Antarctica is a frozen Eden we must ferociously remain visitors, observers, and protectors of.  Huge humpback whales circled and frolicked with our zodiacs and kayaks bobbing up to eyeball us. Blow. Spout. Flip. Turn.  And a gigantic fluke appeared and dived under, leaving a circle in the sea…the whale’s foot print. Seals lay floating on icebergs after snacking on a plentiful penguin. IMG_1252IMG_1253 And the penguins who had matured were bounding across the seas in synchronized butterfly strokes. Others stood stoically on shore waiting their turn to have all their feathers molt.  It seemed unreal. Too big to take in.  Too surreal.  As I stood on the bridge in the am of one fog lifting morning, I asked the owner, “Do you ever tire of this?”.  He didn’t need to answer, but a very satisfied voice quietly said, “Never.”  Can one have a crush on a place?!  I joined his.IMG_1022IMG_123435IMG_101734IMG_0991

 

Now we know why penguins waddle. It was a waddle that second half of the marathon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 9:57 pm

282930Out the corale area and back onto the course and into the mounting wind and rolling hills and  there was that lone penguin suited runner with his flopping wings. I followed him for miles.

Okay, gals, fashion would be my least of concerns.  I was having trouble with fluids.  My stashed water bottle was frozen solid.  My camel back  tube had frozen though the Gatorade still sloshed in my pack against my body.  Have you ever tried to drink out of the pour in opening of a camelback?  It doesn’t work.  The bladder bag folds and bends and doesn’t permit the liquid to pour out straight.  It splattered and froze all down the front of my Patagonia pullover and down my neck.  Now, I was totally out of even a sip of liquid.  I actually had to beg a few drops off a fellow runner, leaving him short supplied also. I did eat the brownie I snagged from the ship’s kitchen as it was softer than my flash frozen cliff bar.  A volunteer graciously poured some fluid in my extra hand-held bottle and handed it to me for the last lap.  Within minutes, I could feel the popsicle through my gloved hands.  Bum.  I should have sipped when I could have. It was already frozen.3332

So on we trudged as the temperature played harsh havoc with our depleting bodies.  But the vastness became intoxicating and the absence of music became better music to my ears.  I was memorized by the scape.  A place that has 360 degree sunrises and sunsets and luring casts of shades and sunlight.  For now, the lure was a storm.  But it too captured a mood.  It was reminding us who Antarctica is and can be.  I was glad the ipod had been cast of because in the silence I began to hear the land.  A sea-lion barked, gulls squealed, the waves crashed against the rocks below, and metal lashings clanked like quaint chimes on our ship bobbing way out in the bay. I was struggling physically, but glorying inside.  This was definitely a place you had to feel in person.  My feeble words would never convey. I  respected the power of this place that forcibly slowed me down.

My knees did start to rebel to the undulating surface and all the sprinting downhill.  They locked up and refused to allow a full stride. “ Really, body”, I complained.  But you know, again, I am kind of thankful for the lingering time it made me take to be out there.  Someone kiddingly said, ‘I am going to stay out here as long as I can to get my money’s worth out of this trip.”  My knee was giving me no choice.  I think most of us were in the same condition.

A few fast photos at the finish and wisdom told me to put every layer I brought back on and get back to the ship. We all did. Through those choppy waters we bounced, getting sprayed by chilling water in our black fast zodiacs.  We left St George’s Island with heart-felt honor to have wrestled with Antarctica. We were humbled by it.  Tamed by it. Not taken lightly, forever changed by it.  And that was only the beginning of our epic journey to the end of the earth.

A Chilling Experience.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 9:48 pm

20The marathon in Antarctica is the hardest physical feat I have entertained.  Catalina Island Marathon had over 4000 elevation gain and shoe sucking mud.  Midnight Sun Marathon in Alaska had miles of trails, gravel, and a moose that charged us. Paris Marathon was wall to wall people on miles of cobble stone. The Hepthalon and 400 hurdles at the World Championships was pure performance pressure in front of a full stand of people.  But Antarctic was…. well, freezing.15 1614

We had been rolling, swaying on the open ocean for days and now a new storm was stirring up the bay we were to make our LANDING for the marathon.  The temperatures had been dropping ever since we entered the convergent waters circulating Antarctica.  Just getting the zodiacs with the quad runners ashore to set up the course proved heroic. High seas, wind, and snow delayed them by half a day. We circled in the choppy bay for hours and finally the One Ocean crew and Marathon Tours brazenly forged a landing despite the chilly spray that slammed into their heavily loaded zodiacs.  They knew the marathoners were here to run the race no matter what.  We had all fought just to get here, years in the planning, a month in the delay. They HAD to have a marathon. That was fact.17

The course could only be what Antarctica is…terrain.  A terrain that cemented into whatever mud groove formed during a much warmer month. Thom, the Marathon Tours director said the course was hilly.  I asked him to describe hilly.  He looked me in the eye and said .”HILLY!”.  I should have trained running ravines, gullies, maybe abysses… hopping over ponds on ice skates and thrown in running miles atop of metal grates.  The caterpillar treaded vehicles they used to get around from the science stations left the dirt road rutted in exact width to twist ankles.  It required precision strides on top of the ridges. 26.2 miles of this tip toeing, tight tapping foot work while slipping and sliding down hills turned this into a marathon that would require being out longer than normal.  Typical marathon times of 2 hrs and 30 minutes up to 4 hrs and 30 minutes became 3 hr and 50 minute lead finishes to 6 hours and 30 minutes.  Humbling.21242518

We slid up hills and down hills and cracked through ice.  Many fell including the lead runners. Knees, elbows, and chins were bloody. The course was a figure of eight  of three loops to keep us crossing a check point. It  allowed us to continue the camaraderie that had developed on the ship.  We could hooray each other coming and going.

And yet, we were alone on this vast land for much of the mileage.  I had a lone runner ahead of me possessed to run it in a penguin suit. We were reduced to a waddle just trying to tip toe the terrain, deal with the ever dropping temperatures, and keep that one stride going in front of another.   Being there later than normal, this would be the coldest marathon yet.  The two lead runners were rushed to the Russian station minutes after their finish, both in full stages of Hypothermia. Our oldest competitor, at 78 years, wisely knew to come in after only the first lap.  This would not be the year to be the oldest finisher on this unrelenting continent. It was so cold we watched a lake freeze before our eyes.

Antarctica is incomprehensible beauty with life sapping consequences.  Winter, a 14-year-old prodigy, who traveled here to be the youngest finisher ran with purpose. With the balanced backing of her mother, she started competing for prostate cancer research after losing her dad who  did not live to his 41st birthday, leaving behind a wife and four athletic, energetic children. Whether the weather bothered this young girl, she did not show it.19

For me, I never got comfortable.  Go figure.  I had lived the winter out in Jackson, Wyoming to test out and determine effective clothing layers and pit my body against the elements.  I had set my alarm at 5am many a day and ran right out into storms.  But today.  I was actually dizzy.  The ground seemed to be rolling like the ship, coming up to greet my knees and stomach.  I was LAND SICK. And that rolling did not dissipate.  Having been redirected to California and Maui prior to the event, my limbs were confused now as I forced them to function in the cold.

I fumbled with the gear I so tediously bought.  The Gortex jacket was too concealing. By the third mile I was drenched in dangerous sweat.  My craft windstopper leggings that had been so perfect for skate skiing, were tugging at my knees and pulling my wool core layer down every stride I took. The borrowed ‘flat thing that plays music” that my daughter laughingly reminded is called a nano ipod was stuck on one song.  There must be a mode that allows you to repeat a tune over and over again, say for an aerobics routine.  But hours of the same Black Eye Peas song?! I pulled the ear plugs out.  My double layered gloves were too hot layered and too cold with only the first layer.  They went on again, off again, and I continually dropped one and had to turn back and pick up a lost mitten. It was even more time-consuming to try to use the camera.  It required removing the gloves, begging a fellow runner to take a quick snap ,than trying to zip it back into a pocket with gloves in the teeth.  I inadvertently unzipped the vent to the Gortex jacket thinking it was a pocket, stuffed the portable snap shot camera in, and lost it somewhere on that frozen, grooved road. Every frustrated focus on the pants, jacket, gloves, ipod, and camera put me behind the pace pack and forced me to surge like a tortoise and the hare race.  I devised a plan to make up the distance on the down hills.  Here, I have to say, is where the training in Jackson came to reward me.  I could run terrain.  Hard, frozen, uneven ground.  Pick, pop, step, jump, twist, turn, run and not fall down. This was not any different that say running Cache Creek or the Elk’s refuge.   I was deftly confident of footing on this icy surface. Hooray.  But the downhill gain wasn’t equating to the mounting minutes dealing with my gear.26

In sheer agitation, I stripped off all the layers at the check station only 8 miles into the marathon.  Now I was running in my wool base layer!  Go figure. Working the fall at Skinny Skis in Jackson so I could get the techy gear and I was running in my underwear.  I at least had on my favorite Patagonia pull over with its hoody and whisking ability, but was now all dressed in black.  I grabbed a funky Saucony hunter orange beanie out of my gear back and declared my very funky fashion statement.

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Easter SUNRISE.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 5:09 pm

Does this even need words?   Is it the axis the Pole is on that makes the sunrises and sunsets last for hours? The hues cast and glow in an unearthly, more heavenly way.  Well done, Creator.  AWE.  REVERENCE.  RESPECT.  Quieted.  Humble. Stunned.  Everything in our overly hassled lives… STILLS.  And you just GAZE.  GAZE.  And quietly gaze.IMG_0934IMG_0923IMG_0932IMG_0927IMG_0968IMG_0963IMG_0958IMG_0948

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Pictures speak louder than words

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 4:56 pm

Before I story tell you about Antarctica, I want you to feel it…somethings words just do not paint the full, vast, immense, luring picture of a place.  My mother was a professional photographer. She always wanted to be a writer, but died of cancer before she could offer her gift in words. But she enstilled that eye of wonder in me. And I just think I was born with that heart of wander.  I grew up capturingIMG_1408IMG_1411IMG_1437IMG_1446IMG_1447 IMG_1457 life at angles and, in dedication to her, hope to put this place it into words.  But just enjoy its moods for a moment.  Antarctica…the ice EDEN.

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