So here is Lisa's articles on nutters who do marathons for fun in the March edition of Women's Running UK magazine (See http://womensrunninguk.co.uk/ )
I met Lisa Jackson at Farnham Pilgrams. She asked me to hook up with her and told me how to contact her. I duly forgot. When I finish an event, my next focus always turns to the work I have lined up. As the hands of time tick on, I have found myself increasingly OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) about work projects and to get things as perfect as possible. Currently my favourite reason for doing events is to get me off my computer butt to face life.
So here is Lisa's articles on nutters who do marathons for fun in the March edition of Women's Running UK magazine (See http://womensrunninguk.co.uk/ )
Date: 21-22nd February 2015
Route: Circular with markers
Terrain: trail - snow and ice. Expect soft deep snow when going through two "pain in the arse" forest sections. Snow shoes would definitely be useful.
Check Points: There are 9 checkpoints at different spacing. Longest distance between 2 check points is 35 km. All except one check point has water and a fire.
Scenery: Lakes, very quiet villages, lots of forest sections. This is a very peaceful race
My housemates observe: "You sound sick".
I respond a little dismissive "maybe"
Housemate 1: "Did you race?"
Housemate 2: "You know it is dangerous to do physical exertion when you have not completely recovered from a cold. It is bad for the heart"
My mind reflected back to last week. In the past my body has been able to shake off a cold within 3 days. So when a cough eased into me on the17th Feb, I expected it to be gone by the 20th Feb. 18th Feb I had fever, 19th Feb I was sneezing and occasionally coughing......Friday I believed I was feeling better. However a Polish group of supporters/racers give me some "drugs". I readily took the Ibuprofen that day, before bed and in the morning of race day. Besides a little niggle cough I felt pretty well on race day.
Temperature range was predicted to be a warm -1 to -4 degrees Celcius. So I wore:
- Legs: Running tights and shorts
- Feet: 2 thin pairs of socks + waterproof socks + gaitors over running shoes to reduce snow entering in
- Top: Sports bra, technical vest top, pink base layer + shell
- Neck gaitor and head band
- Thin base layer gloves + one pair of glove/mitts
We (Lumi and myself) took our position with the rest of the group. There were at least 10 women participating. 2 in the 66 North and rest of us in the 150K. These women bubbled with positive energy. It was contagious.
Start - CP1 (Porohovil) = 10.9K
The start is flat and fast along the river. The sled slid fairly easily despite my tyre buddy Lumi's extra weight. This meant we could jog all the way to the first check point in 1.5 hours.
CP1 - CP2 (Sinetta) = 10.3K
The route transitions from the river into a village and then onto undulating forest trails. CP2 is a vehicle set up just before the first "pain in the arse" forest section of deep snow and pine tree obstacles.
CP2 - CP3 (Vittavaara) = 23K
I armed myself with snow shoes. Lumi had a glint in her threads. It looked like someone had dug out trenches in the snow that we would have to pull our sleds over. But perhaps these were "snow angels" and deep holes cut out by the earlier bikers. These would cause the sleds to topple over. Lumi hung on steadfast despite the bucking sled. She was awesome.
Lots of "things" were being left in this section. Someone had forgotten to take their harness with them, and was left hanging off one of the sign posts. The Englishman in front lost his roll mat when he had not noticed his pulk was dragging upside down. Fortunately there was a Spanish pair who picked it up and chased after him. I picked up a thermos flask as well as a mobile phone that was buried in the snow. Alex' (RD) reclaimed the phone, having lost it in that section the week before!
Met Simone (Canadian) who had been suffering with cold/flu before the race and in this section decided to stop before she wrecked damage on herself. Gave her a hug and decided to continue on with my journey as I still felt reasonable.
This 700m took 45 minutes to get through and then turned onto a lake.
It was suggested that there might be overflow along this area. However, being daylight, it was easy to see where there could have been possible underfoot problems. Some bikers beforehand had made cuts into the ice where the ground might have been soft.
It was here when I first met the three Belgium guys who were enjoying being out together. We would be seeing each other often as we leaped frogged each other from here until check point 7.
They got to CP3 15 minutes before me and had dinner (@17:30). I sorted out my hair (it had been annoying me for a while and if I had a pair of scissors, I would have chopped off the fringe) and got my large jacket out for the night section.
CP3 - CP4 (Morajarvi) = 15K
My mind was extremely alert however I found myself slightly disconnected with myself. As the night got colder and windier, I found that I began to cough more. I slowed down my pace as a precaution and found I coughed less.
This 15K section took 3 hours to complete.
CP4 - CP5 (Peurajarvi) = 12K
This was the second "pain in the arse" section through deep snow and "biker trenches". The sled got caught on branches and Lumi was finding it a little more difficult to get through the tree gateways. The "open seasame" password was not the same as the previous forest section. Then came the bridge section.
Lumi was too wide for the bridge posts. However the bridge was narrow and she spent a good 15 minutes being stuck on just a short bridge section. We laughed at the absurdity. Am sure Lumi was laughing with me as her rubber midriff was trapped. "Lumi you need to lose weight!"
Found another dropped thermos flask in this section.
The chest seemed to not appreciate the hauling and it felt heavier and congested. 3.5 hours later at CP5, decided to take a 1/2 hour rest. After all they say "rest is good for a cold".
CP5 - CP6 (Kuusilampi) = 10K
Just outside of CP5, the Belgium guys decided to kip down for the night. I snuck pass them, knowing I would see them later.
My mind was still very alert but my chest was indicating other things were happening and my throat felt it had a lump. However I could still breathe through my nose. 3 hours later, I got to CP6 and a strained voice came out from me. I had time so decided to rest for an hour in a hut that had a log smouldering away and an Italian participant who was in a deep slumber.
My mind was too awake. I had to get up and change my socks. I made my way back to the hut with Jaana and Olli (marshals) as it was warm. As I tried to speak, I began to wheeze. I looked at Jaana, shocked at what was happening. The last time I wheezed was over 10 years ago when I had an allergic reaction to a new carpet.
"Oh dear I might have to stop" I gasped to Jaana.
"Do you want to stop?" Jaana responded.
As the wheezing continued, I took deep breaths and thought calm thoughts so that I would breathe properly...."Let me give myself an hour to think about it"
"Be wise with your decision" Jaana seemed to warn
I dried my shoes and thought about it. I had a whole day in front of me and would prefer to be outside then back in a hotel room.
"I'm going to take a slow journey to CP7 and see how I feel." Gave Olli and Jaana hugs and I was off onto CP7.
CP6 - CP7 (Toramokivals) = 34K
I had to move slowly up the hills. Any faster caused my chest to feel tight and the congestion caused me to cough up phlegm. I didn't want to cough any more.
Josh the Italian guy who had been asleep in the cabin overtook me 5K away from the CP. He gave me a hug and continued running. I watched as his pulk smacked into the back of his legs as he went down hill. He unhooked his pulk and ran with it, pulling it along side him.
A hill + sled would seem to me an opportunity to have a bit of fun...and so woohoo. I entered a road section and saw Maria (event co-coordinator).
"Sorry can't stop and chaaaaattttt", my sled had become a road vehicle and Lumi had become a perfect seat to steer the sled.
I was having fun, but my throat was numb and felt like a fist was inside. I had to approach the hills slowly so that the chest was not being strained. I was wrestling with the thought of finishing my race at CP7. I wanted to push myself to finish this event, otherwise face regret at not "seeing if I could" but at what cost to myself? The 35K would mean 8-9 more hours.
My mind went to thoughts of my nephews who I was to see the week after. I miss those "monkeys" and I became emotional at the thought of potentially disappointing them if I became too sick after the event. I imagined my "Singaporean Aunties" telling me off for being so stupid. I had dedicated this event to all of them, and so I made up my mind 15K before the check point that I would force myself to stop even though I would make the cut-off time.
I enjoyed the final 7K of hill fun and made the check point to applause from the Belgium guys. I could no longer speak as phlegm was compressed on the vocal cords and thick chunks were being spewed out.
I was asked to continue 2K to the road to meet Maria who would pick me up. As I trudged along, I was changing my mind. Perhaps I would carry on.....and there she was ready to take my sled away. I went willingly after all there is always another time and better a living dog than a dead lion.
Thank you to the race organisers and volunteers for setting up a wonderful race.
Special thanks to
- Julian for lending Lumi to me
- Rachel for caring and looking after many of us in the race.
Note: The night I had stopped, I had coughing fits throughout the night that lasted 2-3 minutes. Had to sit up to sleep.
Lumi (name provided by Kamal, is a Finnish word for snow) is a beautiful 15kg snow tyre whose threads light up the surroundings. She would be my tyre companion on this event.
Finland population: 5.4 million
Municipal Waste (MSW)
-produced in 2008: 2.8 million tonnes
-produced in 2010: 2.5 million tonnes
Total amount recycled during this period remains at approximately 35%, although in 2010 it decreased to 33%!
Finland's goal is to reach 50% recycling rates by 2016. Finland landfills the rest of its rubbish, or more recently uses an incineration program.
However perhaps it should maintain a 2 pronged attack on rubbish:
- the reduction of MSW by reducing and reusing
- everything else is recycled.
You can read more here (pdf).
When I was a wee lass, I had friends who could play the piano. Their fingers glided over the keys filling the surrounds with magical melodious music. I imagined playing the piano like them, so my mother sent me to a piano teacher. Every week I was given music to practice and theory to learn. Every week I would deliver my homework theory and then attempt to play better than the week before with zero practice. I could get away with this when the pieces simply referred to 3 key presses, but as the music required more keys to press, I struggled. I loved delivering the theory, but unfortunately I lacked the discipline to practice playing.
My adult life seems to mirror that time. I imagine that I can get by without training for marathons. Steve Way is probably the only person I've heard of who can run a marathon in an exceptional time without any training! (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/get-inspired/27994073). I am a mediocre, average athlete, and I do have to train. The last long run I did was at the end of November.....yes that was the December Double. After that I threw myself back into 2 months of work/sorting out my tax, pretending a 5K run every Saturday morning was training. I have given myself the excuse that it is difficult balancing work and training.....and then there is Marathon Man, who eats a marathon for breakfast before going to work.
Soooo I am to participate in a 150km event in snow and ice starting from the 21st Feb. Have managed to increase my running/tyre dragging to about 10-15 miles a week in Feb.....once getting up to 40 miles. My training profile sucks however I have a special talent shared amongst other ultra marathoners. I have stubborn determination to complete once I have started.
My first attempt at Arrowhead, I was pulled off as I limped over part of the course with an Achilles injury. The second time I quit because of frost bitten fingers. My fingers are my livelihood and somehow my brain thought about the event rationally.
My chances of completion in Rovaniemi 150 will rely on experience and depend on how much my body can ignore my brain and still be rational when it matters. Rovaniemi's temperatures have been varying from week to week, from -4 to -18 Celsius this week and to -1 to -7 Celsius next week. So I might struggle, however I will be happy with the time out of life, to slow it down temporarily. I will embrace the time out, to feel and appreciate the natural world, belt out the odd song to scare the wolves and play with my hallucinations as the body repeatedly requests to shut down. It's my time out! Right I've got to purchase a pair of super gloves to be prepared for the weather.
I leave you with a video to watch on James Cracknell's challenge to be the highest placed Brit in the Marathon De Sables event.
I wanted 2014 to be engulfed in peace as the tyre now symbolises the burdens I carry upon myself. Sometimes it is the plight of other people, sometimes it is the seemingly uncaring world we live in, and sometimes it is my own past "drags", narcissistic people who delight in trying to twist your life in order to drain you of energy and then to control you.
Every time I do an event, I have to face those demons that try to rip your soul into pieces. I have to face myself. At times the tyre is a welcome distraction as it sings merrily away on another ABBA song (usually "Take a Chance"). By the end, I have normally won to claim my prize of peace.
Arrowhead 2014: Was a cold year. At the pasta dinner the night before, we all laughed nervously at the inference that it would be below -40. With wind chill, the temperatures dived below -50 and many participants (estimated 60-70%) quit the event with the freeze having gripped some part of their anatomy. With 3 pairs of gloves my fingers froze as I was relatively inactive for about 15 minutes. This year (2015), I realised it was because my gloves were too snug around my fingers.
I had a lighter sled, lighter gear and yet finished far shorter than my 2012 event when I was pulled off 60 miles into the event as I hobbled onwards with a achilles issue. In 2014, I quit at the first checkpoint (37 miles into the event), not wanting to compromise the fingers.
I treated the burn as a mild injury until a consultant from St. George's, a London Hospital told me that as I had no feeling in the finger, and it was so necrotic (went very black), it would have to be surgically removed! I suddenly become more responsible and a friend directed me towards Professor Chris Imray for some sound advice.
...advice that was backed up by a Swedish consultant and a doctor in Minnesota....leave it for at 10 weeks! Professor Imray had advised soaking in salt water and applying aloe vera on and around the affected area.
So for 3 months I was obsessed with my finger, watching it heal. I took antibiotics for one week when the finger had become a little infected and then after I soaked it in salt water and applied an oil combination of frankincense, oregano and oil sealed off with aloe vera.
I currently have 98% feeling and 100% full functionality.
27 April: LDWA South Downs Marathon was my first event after the necrotic black dactylion had fallen off my finger. This is a point to point event of 27 miles of undulation and hills and one bad, bad hill became the zombie walk for many. Despite the wind and rain, I was happy to be out there with all my fingers. This would be Red's last drag. She really does not like being pulled around.
4th May: The Neolithic marathon welcomed me over to their point to point marathon. There is always something exciting about being in this area. Perhaps it is the legends, myths and prehistoric magic that seems to envelope Avebury to Stonehenge. Totally impressed with the 8 year olds who completed 17 miles of the event.
22nd June: Cheltenham Circular Challenge also welcomed me to their event. This is a circular route with 2 laps. Having forgotten about zombie hill on the South Downs, we were tortured with 2 laps of the Hill of Dread. This a scenic area that lies within the Cotswold.
12th July: Osmotherly Summer Games is a one lap circular route in the wilds of York Moors and about 9 BIG hills....that is if you are attempting the direct route! One of them, you ascend with a scramble over the Wains Stones. This event made all the other hills seem like a little blip on the monitor!
26th July: Rock and Rowel, a circular route around absolutely picturesque parts of North Yorkshire. You will go along this route chirping "Lovely Jubbly" and the people are sooooo nice here.
10th August: Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1. I meant to do the 50 K and got confused about the route directions and ended back on the 26.2 mile route. Oh well, it was still a marathon. Started off wet and ended with buckets of sunshine.
In between time, the Cheltenham mayor awarded Reu with an award for being the first tyre on the Cheltenham Challenge.
21st September: Farnham Pilgrams is a one lap circular route. This is a mixture of single track lanes, trail, and grassy hills out along the North Downs. All you have to do is follow the monk. The marshals were amazing!
10th October: The Gandy Dancer, Luck WI is a very flat out and back course. Reu was proud to be chief leaf clearer for the runners....and this lady kept popping up all around the course taking photos. She was a journalist for the Country Ledger and put in a 4 page spread about "TyreGirl"!
One other thing.....American hospitality is totally awesome.
29-30th November: November Double is an out and back. A marathon on Saturday and a marathon on Sunday. Thank you Chris (RD) for the special number and bottles of wine.
I had finally reached a major mile stone. 50 tyre dragging marathons with 2 hand fulls of ultras.
In those 50, I have learned a lot about myself and about others. You cannot change others, but you can change yourself to react more positively towards negative situations. Negative situations have helped me to grow, to raise my game. There have been a***h**** who have deliberately tried to destroy my life, trying to fence my world with BS. It would have been easy to "forgive" them if I never saw them again. But those "drags" in my life have frequently reappeared in my everyday environment. To stop my mind wasting negative downtime on them, I now deal with them by reminding myself that they have helped me raise my game and I have better due diligence. I now encounter great people because I no longer put up with people who want to drag me back. As Bill Bradley would say - these are the "cow die people" who are jealous of where you are going and what you are doing. These could be friends or family who cannot see the treasures they have. It is better to be polite to them and simple move on to a more positive realm! You cannot put them in a better place, only they can change themselves to put themselves in a better place. When they are ready, they will ask you.
Now, I say thank you to them for "smacking" me in the face and helping me understand how to see positivity in negativity. I will always appreciate what I have; love and cherish those around me who help me; and admire those who see an open route rather than obstacles in their life.
Gong Xi Fa Cai
Thank you to all the RDs who have let us tyres join your event, folks who have encouraged the mad girly who pulls us, folks who have supported our "Reduce Single Use Plastic" motto, and everyone who has followed this blog.
Wishing you all a brilliant 12 days full of laughter and happiness.
Reu and the tyres xxx
TG is now on the next level. Tyre Lady (TL) now takes over for the next 50 marathon/ultras.
Type of Race/Course: Trail and very muddy + route directions + signs + marshals at key points
Location: Stratford Upon Avon
CPs: Water stops @ every 4 miles, food and booze midway
Weather: @6-10 degs C, misty morning on 29th Nov. Both days sunny
Start Time: Full Marathoners = 09:00; TyreGirl start time = 08:05 on 29th; 07:35 on 30th
Start/Finish: Cricket Club
Post Runner Recovery: 29th: Medal, + cider + buffet; 30th Medal + wine + buffet
Water + supplies carried: 2x 500ml bottles + sausages
30th November: The Tyre Lady Rises
This was a great route, that involved a very muddy down hill. It was AWWWEESSOME. Reu acted like an anchor and I glided down using my feet....unlike some of my fellow participants whose muddy sides told another story.
Only got lost at one spot. I forgot what stocks looked like and totally missed the turn off. Spent an hour wandering around to complete one mile.
Enjoyed this route and number 50 was completed in 7:45
The Tyre Girl has now graduated onto the next level!
Thank you to all the marshals, everyone who donated (£35 and $5USD will go to EarthWatch); Chris (RD) for putting on a great event. You wouldn't know he had broken ribs and was in the middle of a house move!
Thank you also to Jo, Simon and Chris for the use of their photos on this site.
However due to a series of events that have happened over the last couple of weeks, I thought I'd recapture what I have finally understood.
Last year my alter ego had to learn a tough third generation language to redeliver to a customer who demanded to have a female instructor. As it so happens, it appears that this language is dominated by male instructors. Being technically minded and having created many custom solutions in 4th generation languages the company continually requested me to learn and deliver. I finally agreed and learned what I could. Two weeks before leaving I developed a nagging cough but still went out running. By the time I was at the customer's venue, my nagging cough had developed into a horrible chest infection causing me to pull muscles in the chest.
So here I was in a hotel, in pain and I wanted my mummy! :(
I had no choice, despite the cough and the pain, the company wanted me to deliver the course content. I reflected on the events I had completed so far and slapped myself. After all, I have beaten my body in a 5K with 5 tyres and in a 100 mile event that year. Also I was in a strange land and the only thing I would be able to do is to sit in a nice hotel feeling sorry for myself until the flight home.
I found this to be my toughest event! I didn't sleep for the whole week due to the pain and cough and I needed to continue learning/completing my own projects to ensure I was way ahead of a very intelligent class. By the end of the week I had delivered and was exhausted. It probably was the most torturous metaphorical "ultra marathon" I had completed.
I had forgotten all of this, until one particular company reminded me that pulling tyres in marathons and ultras has made me stronger. As a facilitator of soft skills, I will coach/mentor 10 students at a time. The day before the event, I arrived at the venue and found my student numbers had been doubled and there were issues with the hardware. Many would have walked out. I stayed for 8 hours into the night ironing out the hardware issues and decided to see if I could raise my game to cope with double the numbers. After all, what's the point of sitting in despair when one can chip away at a rock to make it crumble, to move it out of the way. A strategy was created and managed to gain a magic helper, to aid with various tasks I would normally have to do myself (thank you Marta).
I have learned life changes when we continue to challenge the way we are. And challenges that hurt and feel torturous move us forward. What doesn't kill you does makes your mind stronger to cope with the "stuff" life will throw at you.
Tess is a beautiful, spiritual person who had a 13 year mission to unite all corners of the world in peace. Thus she collected peace messages from everyone and anyone who dared to share even a fragment of this vision and took them to the highest points on six continent to speak out and deliver their message to the world.
- Magnetic North Pole
- South Pole (how do you get funds? - mortgage your house!!)
- Point furthest from the centre of the Earth
- Point nearest the sun at the turn of the millennium
- running up the tallest mountain......
...........go see her and she'll tell you (see below)
It was fantastic to join her on her "final" trip up Kilimanjaro (well nothing is ever final in a world that is connected by energy).
Her attitude and resilience to continue despite the odds is inspirational to all ages. On her time off, she writes books and provides motivational talks.
So she has been offered a venue to speak at a beautiful oldie-worldie13th century hotel called the Spread Eagle Hotel on Tuesday 2nd December.
Of course I am encouraging you to take a trip over and meet this woman 'cos not only is she amazing, she is my tyre dragging buddy and the only tyre-dragging gran that is crazy enough to say "yah" to the idea of pulling a tyre up Kilimanjaro.
So if you want some inspiration to get moving, feel some peace and to be entertained go see Tess on 2nd December 2014 at 18:30 to 21:30:
Location: Spread Eagle Hotel, South St., Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9NH
Cost: £15 to include buffet supper, tea/coffee (pay bar)
Raffle: FUNDRAISING for school children in Tibet and Africa
What to wear: A big smile
What to bring: A peaceful heart
To book a place: Call Spread Eagle reception 01730 816911 More info: Call 01428 724060 or email Tess
NB: Spread Eagle Hotel will be offering special B&B rates for those attending the Peace Evening