Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Last Continent

Well, this is it. In an hour or so I'll be on my way to the airport on my way to Buenos Aires, and then on the King George Island and the Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon. This is my fifth time down, and I can tell you it gets better and better.

We're going on a different ship this year, the Sarpik. It's a bit smaller and a bit slower than the other ships that I've been on. What was a 44 hour crossing of the Drake Passage last year will take at least 58 hours this year. That's a LOT longer to be out there on the high seas.

The big lesson that I've learned from these Antarctica trips, and a column that you'll see later in the year, is that it's all about preparation. Preparation. Not planning. In Antarctica you can't have a plan. The island makes the decisions, not you. No matter what your plan is, the continent doesn't care.

I've tried to apply that lesson to the rest of my life. I'm focusing more on being prepared and less and less on having a plan. Whatever life plan I had when I was younger, it certainly hasn't turned out the way I planned. Even the more recent years of my life haven't gone as planned.

So, the next two weeks are the planet's chance to give me a graduate course in how little I really matter in the giant scheme of things. I will be in the presence of a power much greater than me. It will humble me and inspire me.

What could be better than that??

Waddle on.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Packing the Bags

OK, some of you may think that this is obsessive. And, you might be right. After all, how many people actually set up the start/finish line for a race in their living room? But this is not just any race. This is the Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon. Making sure that everything is right BEFORE we get to the island is not just important, it's essential. There's no place to go for help once we're there.

So, I've packed and repacked twice, so far, and will probably unpack and pack one more time. I've checked and rechecked what I'm bringing for equipment and clothes, I've laid out, chosen, and discarded, hats, gloves, fleece, tops, bottoms, and shoes. Jenny and I are spending two nights on the island, the second night alone, so there's more pressure to get it right than in other years.

We don't leave until NEXT Tuesday, but time is just flying now.

Health update: I went back to the doctor and we're going to try to figure out what medication will lower my LDL without making me feel like a mud ball. I've also scheduled a treadmill "stress test". Those tests aren't very effective for runners and walkers, but at least we'll have some baseline data.

Finally, I wanted to share this video of the twins. Jenny found out about a video camera called "the Flip". You take the video and then just plug it into your USB port. AMAZING. The voice you hear is my daughter-in-law Holly.

OK, it's back to obsessing.

Waddle on.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In Sickness and in Health

I've got a short break before we take off for Antarctica, and I'm spending some of it visiting my son and his family, including the grandchildren. Unfortunately, as it turns out, my visit coincides with all three kids being sick.

It's been a long time since I had to deal with a 3 year-old with the stomach flu. YIKES. And, I've NEVER had to deal with 2 three year-olds with the flu. DOUBLE yikes.

But, on the bright side, it's meant some quiet time, sitting and watching the new adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Yesterday was an all-day sucker. I left my son's house at 3:45 AM and drove the 6 hours to Randleman, NC to meet with the staff of the Victory Junction Gang Camp. This year's Run to Victory is December 7, so mark your calendars now. Two hours of meetings, a couple of pieces of "Sir Pizza" pizza and it was back on the road for another 6 hours.

The overwhelming thought, right now, is getting ready for Antarctica It's so hard to describe the combination of excitement, fear, anticipation, and nervousness that I feel. This being my 5th trip people think that it's no big deal. Truth is, it's a BIGGER deal because I know that I don't know what to expect.

And, Jenny and I are responsible for most of the gear this year, so there's an added element of concern about having everything we need and getting it there safe and sound. It's not like we can run to the Home Depot on King George Island!

So, in the middle of all of this I'm trying to maintain some kind of running routine. I have NOT been very successful. Life gets in the way, sometimes, and there's nothing you can do.

Waddle on,

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Grinding in out

Confession, they say, is good for the soul. If that's true, then my soul is going to feel very good when I hit the "publish" button on this blog.

2007 was, without question, the worst year I've ever experienced as a runner since I started running. I attributed most of it to the fall on the boat and the slow recovery that resulted. But, there was more.

I also starting taking Vytorin last spring. My cholestrol was high, or sort of high, and the doctor thought is was time to take action. That, as it turns out, was the beginning of the trouble.

Since nearly the first pill I felt achy and tired. I had a hard time running. I had a hard time WALKING. And trying to train? Forget about it. As I said, 2007 was the first year since 1993 that I didn't run a marathon. SAD!

Believe it or not, that's had something to do with my unwillingness to blog. It was very hard for me to write about the joy of running while scuffling my way through every run or walk and feeling like I couldn't possibly get out of bed the next day. IT SUCKED.

The confession? I stopped taking the mediation about 3 weeks ago. I've got 90 days - $450 worth - of pills that I am NOT putting into my body. If I've got to feel THAT bad to lower my cholesterol, it's not worth it. AND, if I read the research right, that particular medication doesn't prevent heart attacks anyway.

GUESS WHAT. In the past week or so I've had some of the BEST runs I've had in nearly a year. NEARLY A YEAR. I felt 20 years younger. My legs had strength. My step had spring. I didn't want to stop running.

That's how it used to be.

So, now what? I don't know. I'm going to talk to my doctor. Dr. Lewis Maharam, the "RockDoc" has suggested a different medication. I may try that.

Or, I may just become a cholesterol fanatic. Truth is, I don't know.

But running is fun again. And THAT I am NOT willing to give up.

Waddle on,