Friday, April 21, 2017

Running in Antarctica

Well I'm finally 100 miles into my South Pole running. Only one of those runs was done outside which means, you guessed it, my running partner is a treadmill.

While I was able to get a few runs in en route to the South Pole while on the continent (see pictures), it is just too darn cold to run outside down here. The one run I went for outside at the Pole, after allowing some acclimation to the altitude, was followed by a sore knee for two weeks. I had been working hard and it was most likely just some overuse. A little rest and I was fine but by the time I wanted to run again the weather outside had certainly gone from maybe you can run in it to you might be crazy to try running in it.

So the treadmill....

I have always hated treadmills. The few times I have had to use them in life it has always been begrudgingly. Now it is the only option and it has taken some getting used to for certain. It has been tough getting used to living at 9,000 to 11,000 feet (it changes based on the barometric pressure) and my running was definitely suffering from trying to make that transition, but mostly it has just been the treadmill.


Well, the only valid option I have found is to watch a TV show or a movie. It seems ludicrous as I have never listened to music while running, but a show or movie can take the mind off of the treadmill for between five seconds and at times up to five minutes! Everything about a treadmill just irks me but in a place where the average temp is currently -80 degrees F with a wind chill of around -124 degrees F, and it's only getting colder, there are not many valid options short of suicidal running outside.

The Wire, season one, has become my good friend. Together we have finally began to cover some distance. I'm still working on getting my pace down but yesterday I ran past the 100 mile mark while the season came to a conclusion. Something about that moment, maybe the only thing in all of my treadmill running, felt right.


Well we have a walk/run/etc back to McMurdo challenge. Around about 836 miles from us is the station we all flew in from - McMurdo. As a fun way to stay fit, there is a giant piece of paper on the gym where people can chart their progress by the mile. Not only is it a fun way to compare yourself to your fellow co-workers for encouragement and such, but it also serves, like a running journal, as a constant reminder if you have not added any miles lately.

My personal goals for my time here are to make it to McMurdo and back (much like the original explorers would have had to do but in reverse), to run a marathon on the dang machine (so I can have this continent under my belt - and yes I'd rather do it outside but the timing is just not going to work out), and to hopefully keep in shape without injuring myself so I can do a few runs when back in New Zealand to see what the benefits of eight months of running above 10,000 feet feels like. I'm kind of excited about the last one but it requires the hardest challenge - no injuries.

So there you have it. Running at the South Pole during the Winter kind of sucks. But there are three treadmills and the opportunity is really quite amazing. For now it is a daily struggle to get on the infernal machine but I bet by the time I leave it will have a nickname and I'll end up missing it.

Shout out to Bryan the Mizuno man for sending me down with some great shoes, as always. Thanks!

(no pictures of treadmills - the pics from running around McMurdo were way cooler looking)