Preparing for the North Pole Marathon
Holy cats, only three weeks left until the day I’ve been planning for since I first got home from the Antarctic Ice Marathon over three years ago! I’m going through my gear checklist, making some last minute purchases, and feeling stiff and sore from my exertions this weekend.
I spent Saturday romping around the White Tanks pursuing my first ultramarathon goal, which alas eluded me. Mesquite Canyon 50K – last spring I raced the 30K distance and vividly remember scrambling up the near vertical two miles of Goat Camp while the 50K and 50 milers rained down on me from above. It was my turn to scramble down this year. At Black Canyon aid station they said I looked out of it, came in bent over way to the left, and made me sit down for a rest. I’d been feeling pretty good before the descent and so thought that once I got back up over the top I’d be fine. Filled up with water and sent off with a pocket full of dates, I swore and cried the two miles back up Goat Camp and finally won over the top to a magnificent view of the cotton fields of the West Valley.
Over the next few miles I turned the decision over in my head, listening to my body and trying to decide whether I was making excuses or making a rational judgement call. If the ascent to Ford Canyon was anything like Goat Camp – and my memory of the course’s elevation profile said it was – then I didn’t have enough left in the tank to tackle that last nine miles. When I reached Mesquite aid station circa 22 miles it was well after the cutoff, but I’d effectively scrubbed the race well before. From Mesquite it was another two miles out to the nearest aid station where I could catch a ride to the start/finish area and my car.
So, while I was disappointed that I didn’t earn a finisher’s glass and an Evolution Pass series medal, I did manage to get my long run in, and a full-body workout as well! That night at the Symphony I kept nodding off during Tchaikovsky’s 5th; fortunately I’d booked a hotel room across the street as a treat.
Sunday I dragged out my Mom’s old blue cardboard suitcase that I stored my Antarctic gear in and tried it on for size. I’ve gained some inches in the butt area and needed to get a new pair of wind shell pants in a larger size – I want to be able to move, after all! Although the middle layer fleece pants still fit tolerably, I decided to get and alternate pair to wear pre- and post-race and have available as a swap during the marathon. In Antarctica I hadn’t planned on using the fleece bottom layer during the race, but found I needed it. There I’d been able to rent down-filled pants for my non-race wear from ALE, which won’t be available in Longyearbyen. Fortunately Eddie Bauer still makes the same fleece pant and wind shell, and their website is having a smokin’ sale without which I would probably have a heart attack over the price of the latter. Better than freezing my buns off, I suppose.
Goggles – yes, replaced those after leaving them on a shelf in the dining hut at Union Glacier. Hey, I was tired! Also drunk. Surprisingly I have three complete sets of long johns, so I’m all set in that area. Sufficient hats and gloves and still have my Untraced face mask. Need to check my supplies of handwarmers/footwarmers and motion sickness tabs.
Finally, I have been attempting to learn a bit of the local language, despite leaving this a bit too late as usual. So far I have mastered, in Norwegian: “I don’t understand Norwegian.”
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