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Arrowhead 135: The Taming of the Dragon

The Ice Dragon of Arrowhead breathes ice and snow over the North Minnesotan Plains sometimes down to -60 degs F.  In those types of temperatures, the Minnesotans hide in their warm houses, except for the 135Arrowheaders.  In 2014, it brought the temperatures down to -50 degs C striking down many 135Arrowheaders.  But there are those who can play and ride the dragon and come out unscathed. I wanted to be one of them.

Dragon Picture

Meet some of the Arrowhead Racers

The Voyageur motel is the place to be for this event. It is close to the start line and the owners Sandy and Jerald are soooooo accommodating.  Nothing is ever too much for them.  Additionally you will meet vet Arrowheaders who have tamed the beast and come out every year to give homage. At the beginning of the week, we hung out with Bill Bradley and Ray Sanchez who will one day have his own Pinky dog to bring on the trails.

Bill and Ray

Bill, Rachel, Ray with the animals

By Friday and Saturday there was a full house of Arrowhead racers – mostly vets and a couple of newbies.

VetArrowheaders.JPG

The animals went out with a bunch of vet Arrowheaders

Neighbouring our rooms was Judd with the wicked pointy mustashe and his biker gang. Parker was down the hall (first man unsupported in 41:02); and the lovely Lynn and Daryl Saari next door (Lynn hope that flu bug goes away soon).  Upstairs was Jason (who brought Bisaniiwewin the tyre from Wisconsin and really wanted to play but paid Ken to stop him doing it again!) and the very fit John Storkamp (first man through in 38 hours). All these hardcore Arrowhead legends under one roof.

As for newbies: met the laid back and calm Alex Stoltz with his son at the Voyageur Café on Friday evening whilst baking some dough for the journey. Alex asked for advice, but really wasn’t one to give advice as had never completed the course.  The best I could do was share my race plan.  Out on the trail, checking the start point were also newbies Jeff and Dan. I felt like a mom showing the boys where the registration and start points were.

Back of the pack

B.P.R = Back of the Pack Racer – “Embrace the Alternate Reality”

This year was going to be different. I actually had a plan, better gear, a lighter sled (about 20kgs = 40lbs), and a bunch of animal friends to keep me company. The plan was to finish in the middle of the pack about 55 hours. However, Judd must have had an inkling of my tardiness as he came over on Sunday night to sign Bisaniiwewin and gifted a BPR sticker.

For a bikers’ look at Arrowhead you can read the BPR gang’s report here

Sunday 10pm: I lay in bed remembering the magic of Rovaniemi, wandering in the winter forest, the aurora borelis shimmering in the night sky and the frozen moisture suspended in the air, twinkling like fairy lights when the headlamp illuminated them. In this event, the meteorologists promised a lunar eclipse and the “blood moon”…. I imagined howling to the moon.

Race Day

29 January 2018, 4am: Rachel’s alarm sounded. As she got up to prepare herself, I kept still on my spot on the floor. Sleep had been patchy and I wanted more, considering that had very little the night before. Renata stirred some moments later. “What’s the time I ask?”

“Five Ten” she replied

Dang, I shot up, as meant to get up at 5am, cleared my bedding and filled bottles with hot water from what Jerald had purposefully boiled for us, as well as from the bathroom tap. Breakfast was a glass of coconut milk and chia seeds.  Well Cliff Young survived on drinking milk in his ultra:

What’s in me Sled? A travel bag with one litre of boiling hot water, a spare empty naglene bottle, two down jackets – one is an emergency jacket; food for 3 days (didn’t want to bother about a kit or food drop at Mel Georges); stove + fuel + matches; spare base layers in case; spare googles; spare gloves; spare bungee cords, spare hat; spare knickers, girly stuff; spare goretex outer legs, first aid kit, bivvy bag + -40 below sleeping bag, one snow mobile tyre weighing approximately 8-9 kgs (17-20lbs) called Bisaniiwewin, one pink dog called Pinky, one shark called Sharkey and a penguin called Princess Suma.

What did I wear? Wearing 4 layers on my torso plus a 750 ml bottle in my jacket and a Nathan bladder + food + lights + gloves for all occasions (liner gloves + gloves + over gloves) + hand/toe warmers for just in case. On the legs was a base layer and a pair of walking trousers. On the feet a thick pair of woolly socks and a pair of running shoes covered with an overshoe. Hat on head + neoprene balaclava + wool buff.

6:15am: Renata helped us move our sleds out the door into the cold onto snowy grounds. Already the ice dragon had made its presence felt, gently cooling the previous week’s temperatures to -11 degs F (-24 degs C) and a dusting of small flakes gently fell from the skies.

Start to Gateway

As snowflakes danced, fireworks lit up the dull cold morning sky, marking the start of the event. The bikers were let loose, followed by the skiers and then the runners…..and I was there on the start line.  By the time we had started, the snow had stopped and the cold had begun to wrap itself round the body with hands slightly numb.  Big gloves were donned and jogged for at least 5K to warm up. Once the hands were warm, I step it down to a fast walk to regulate the body temperature. My North Pole buddy had always reminded me “You sweat you die” – Die of hypothermia if your clothes got wet.

Walking Zombie: After a mile, Rachel passed me. She is a strong, tough lady and was sure she’d be in the top 3 women. In fact, many people overtook me, as I slowed down.  Joe Lang slowed to converse with me. I grunted some responses trying to sync the brain to understand the conversation and the body to understand to keep moving.  As Joe chatted away, I wished for a cup of coffee to kick out the sludge in my head. When he finally sped on, I was thankful for the quiet and returned to closing my eyes for a one to two second walking nap.

StraightTrail

The first 10 miles are pretty monotonous with long straight lines, nonetheless was thankful the terrain was like a frozen pavement underfoot. The trail was in the best condition compared to my previous two attempts and I speculated there would be a high number of people finishing this event compared to previous years.

After 10 miles, “eye of the tiger” Bill Bradley had caught up and we gave each other quick words of encouragement. My head was finally waking up.

Towards Gateway2

Bill and I would play leapfrog until Gateway, the first checkpoint.  Newbie Alex overtook me 10 miles from Gateway looking sturdy with every step he took.

Gateway: A Luxury Stop

17:59: At 36 miles, Gateway is checkpoint 1, a store and petrol station where we are encouraged to eat, drink and be merry. The new owners have embraced the Arrowhead event making this a luxury pit-stop with 3 types of homemade soup, multiple types of coffee, a free flow of hot water, and a “OMG from me”….shoe dryers and clothes drying facilities available.  There was a crazy merriment inside from the owners, employees, spectators, and racers. I could imagine a barn dance happening here, if it weren’t for the worn out bodies spread on the floor….

“Rachel! What’s up?” I was surprised to see her on the floor.  She was looking quite down, as she wrestled with her head.

“I’ve been here since 4pm, my stomach’s unwell and I’m bored….”  Renanta looked concerned.

“Ok rest and get something to eat. Get that mojo back” I tried to be positive for her.

Rachel forced some soup down, but I know how she was feeling, having experienced the same physical and mental attributes when mentally tired. Sometimes we just need time out to reconnect our physical, mental and spiritual selves with each other, other times we just need a reboot.

As Rachel was being well cared for, I went into “lala land” talking to other racers; catching up with Bonnie, singing my own songs whilst waiting for clothes to dry.  Lynn Saari came in, Bill followed after. He was looking anxious, wanting to get in and out to make time, and not be drawn in by negative emotions.  I considered going back out with him at 7pm, but my buddy Rachel was down.

I cajoled her and tried to lift her spirit to move on from the mental beating she was giving herself. Mike (an Arrowhead finisher and now volunteer) continued to encourage me to help her, so I patiently waited for her to get her head in order.

Facing the Ice Dragon

20:00 Rachel was ready to go….kind of reluctantly.  I was hopeful she could turn herself around and enjoy the moonlit trail, after all the trail after Gateway is more interesting with undulations and steepening hills. We headed out warm, with down jackets on + outer shell trousers, and closed down the Complaints Department.  We needed to move forward positively.  Rachel’s slow is my fast and knew I would struggle to keep her pace.  I encouraged her to keep moving at that pace as she sauntered on ahead. We both enjoy the solitude of oneself, so if she was now feeling right in herself, I was happy to let her work the trail at her own pace.  Nonetheless, I would catch up with her each time by riding the slopes.

“You should try it!” I said to her, once I had caught up with her.

Rachel was now moving at my speed and found a slope. “This one?”

“Yeah go for it”

She sat on her sled and sped off along the gentle slope.  I followed after.  As I caught up with her, she thanked me however slowed down further.

“Come on Rachel we can do this.”

She moved slightly ahead and then stopped at the side, signalling she was okay and for me to move on, she would catch up. I moved on, slowly, uncertain to stay or go, but if I hung around it would irritate. Sometimes we just need space to know what we must do. I continued hoping she would regain her composure, often looking back and soon the seemingly endless trail behind collapsed into a black void.  30 minutes and she had not appeared. I wondered if I should have stayed with her. It was too late now. She is a tough gal, having undertaken enough solo expeditions in the snow and ice…. and she is Swiss…..totally organised! She had excellent gear, so I knew she’d be safe. You can read her story here

An hour later I met Bill, he was going to bivy out and I wished him a restful sleep.  As I headed on into the night, enjoying the moonlit trail, the sound of snowmobiles would soon pierce the quiet. Eight times they passed me as they headed out and then back, each time towing someone out of the event. Sheep Ranch Road felt close by.

There, just before Sheep Ranch Road, a shadowy figure was on the trail. As I closed in, it was one of the snowmobile volunteers. We chatted away and found out that Rachel had been picked up and was safe. I decided to forego saying hello, having stopped by this bus in the past to encourage someone to go on. The air would be “heavy” with weary racers beating themselves up in an almost unforgiving way.  There was nothing more to say or do but to let each reconcile their moments out on the trail.

I was in a happy place enjoying every pain free step amazed about the amount of light was projected onto the trail.

See here for great pictures and a fantastic report from Alex Elizabeth

It would be quiet from this time onwards and in the sky was a very weak shimmering green tinge. The full moon’s light was too strong for the aurora borealis and I would have to be satisfied with playing the music of War of the Worlds in my head and remembering the aurora at Rovaniemi.

I was surprised to catch up with Alex as had figured he should have been way ahead. He was with John Taylor, who after some minutes stopped to boil water.  Alex moved on slowly, always looking back, giving me time to to catch up with him and we hung out for a while. We again discussed plans and agreed to go through the night to Mel Georges. Once there we could reconsider the time to see how much “rest time” we could enjoy. He seemed serene and happy, and I was enjoying his company as we propelled ourselves down the small slopes. On one slope, he signaled for me to go ahead, I did and marched onwards, singing a song. After about 10 minutes, I realised he had not followed and was no longer behind. I called out – no one responded.

“Perhaps he stopped for a pee” I thought.

I walked slowly, looking back every so often and after 30 minutes soldiered on, deciding he must have stopped to rest.

I caught up with two women. One was strongly ascending the steepening hills, the other moving somewhat slower.  I chatted to the back lady briefly, a pretty dark haired lady, Kari, before catching up with her buddy in front. She was a shorter maybe blonde haired lady who decided to lay down on the snow whilst waiting for her buddy to get to the top. It seemed a strange thing to do, so I checked to see if she was okay. She indicated she was okay. I asked again to make sure & she signaled to me she was fine and for me to move on.

Along the spine of the dragon, temperatures were plummeting. John had earlier on told me it was about -30 degs F (-35 degs C). Am sure it was colder and a chill crept over the body, despite wearing the heavy duty over gloves and down jacket. Time to work a little harder to warm up before stopping to find the emergency down jacket in my sled. Perhaps tiredness was in my head, but an illogical brain connection had been made as I wasted time searching through a small hole that had unzipped in the bag. As my left hand cooled down, I gloved it back up with the over gloves, ran on the spot and then changed over to the warm right hand, removing the gloves down to the liner to rummage in the bag.

After a little “dig around”, felt the jacket stuck behind some other gear. The fool me continued trying to work the jacket out from behind gear and under the bungee cord strapping with the hand that was rapidly becoming cold and numb. It would have been easier to have unclipped the cords to make the task easier. By the time I had pulled out the emergency jacket, the two women had overtaken me and the fingers on my right hand had become frozen.

“Idiot! Fool me, fool me!” – I scolded myself as I recalled 2014 and had frostbite and quickly pulled the jacket on.

I could have put my hand on my neck or down my trousers but the synaptic nerves weren’t sparking. I was going to test my warming powers.

“Fool me, fool me, fool me” I again uttered. The ice dragon smiled whispering “I got you”

“No you haven’t buddy”

I flung my hand down hard several times: “C’mon babies be strong”

I moved quickly, as the ice dragon clenched my right hand….”I got you”

“No way buddy…” I punched the air several times and semi ran pushing hard up the hills and down. I soon reached the two women at the top of a hill. By now three fingers were just come back to life, and felt a little nipped. My little “pinky” finger was still rock hard.

“I couldn’t see you.” said the blonde haired lady. “Your reflectors are all covered”

“Yeah” I was a little confused. “I’ve got my emergency jacket on. Gotta warm up. It’s cold. It’s only temporary” as I continued to try to wake up my little finger in my glove by wrapping the other fingers around it.  No way did I want to sort out anything further at this moment in time.

Kari turned to me: “The snow mobiles won’t be coming out again until dawn or when we call them. It is the early morning so I wouldn’t worry.” I thanked her for her kindness.

Blinkies and reflectors are so the snowmobiles can see you and part of the mandatory gear.

There appeared to be a momentary pause, as they seemed to be waiting for me, so I took off down the hill and slightly crashed and they followed in pursuit, with a “wheee”. I smiled. Always fun to see tough people letting their hair down.

As we were together at the bottom of the hill, and to make light that I was still with them: “Just hanging out with you gals. Hope that’s okay” and thought had heard one of them respond “Yeah sure” or perhaps I had imagined it.

I hung with them, still trying to soften my little pinky and was grateful to ascend another glorious hill up to force the body furnace to fire harded. This was the first of the big steep ones.  At the top, the little finger was finally free of the ice dragon. I looked up and mouthed thank you. It was alive, working well and not even nipped! This time I waited for the other two women to go down and followed them down, steering my sled on the twists and turns like a luge rider, finishing to the left of the blonde haired lady. She seemed somewhat annoyed with me:

“You know I really cannot see you! Your blinkers have turned over in your sled and your reflectors are hidden. It would be a shame if you were disqualified having got so far.”

I looked at my blinkers. “Ahh you’re right. Thanks”. I turned them back over and decided to hold back, pretending to get something from my sled. As they got up to go, Bisaniiwewin reminded me….so I whispered “Peace be with you sister” and let them move on ahead. She was right, I hadn’t thought much about the emergency down jacket covering my normal down jacket which had a reflective vest on, and perhaps I scared her when I slid in next to her…but well…. I sighed, ate and drank something, feeling a little disappointed….maybe I smell…speaking of which…

At Mel Gerorges

Bisaniiwewin: Pulling For Peace

I did a quick check of cheeks, ears, and nose. My nose had frozen solid under the balaclava. It had been constantly streaming on the way out of Gateway and should have taken that as a sign.

“No way are you getting this one either buddy. It’s mine”

I placed my gloved hand over my nose and got moving. After some minutes, it warmed back up and I pulled the wool neck gaiter over the nose to reduce the risk of further refreezing.

Soon I caught up with a woman and a man who had seemed so solid earlier on in the first leg towards Gateway. He seemed blurry eyed. They had tried to sleep but had felt cold and were feeling very tired.  I was kind of familiar with this part as had been picked up at this location on my first attempt for being slow.

“We’re about 8 miles from Mel Georges and we’re still in excellent time. C’mon you can do it. Keep moving,”  I encouraged.

The dawn was coming and noticed they too had their reflectors covered up with their down jackets, then tried to remove the pettiness of the earlier comment out of my head.

As dawn broke, it became warm enough to take off the emergency outer jacket.  The gloominess of yesterday’s morning seemed to melt away. Closing in on the lake, I stopped again to take my googles out of my sled ready to face the wind.  The woman, Bridget, had caught up with me, leaving her buddy about 100 metres behind.  He was moving slowly but steady.

We chatted a little, crossing the lake together and there was a calm over the lake with just a subtle light breeze and sometimes a wind behind us pushing us along.  She shared with me her feet were hurting. I told her mine were too as I could feel the blisters bubbling under the forefoot.

Mel Georges – the R & R Checkpoint

09:51 Mel Georges. It turned out mine were blisters and her toes were frostbitten. Dang! I gave her a hug, acknowledging she will complete this event the next time.

Mel Georges is checkpoint 2 with hot cheese sandwiches, hot soup and a table of salty and sweet snacks. Upstairs there are beds for you to rest. Downstairs is a fire where you can try to dry your clothes.

Rachel and Renata came in to welcome me and I was happy to see Rachel safe. She lent me her “cold avenger” mask to protect my frost-nipped nose and then left to check out of their cabin to move onto Fortune Bay, the final stop.

As the blisters were being tended to by Bill the medic, Lynn turned up with Sarah: “Come on over and see us. We’ve got a cabin”

11:05 Blood blister was drained, covered with Compeed, applied a whole lot of Vaseline to my nose, and checked out of the crowded checkpoint, to head over to the cabin Lynn and co had rented.

I was happy to have escaped the talons of the dragon.  I got nipped but was not bitten and the dragon had let me play on those spiny hills. As for the nose, it must have been to celebrate the year of the dog.

Burnt Nose

16 Feb 2018 = Chinese New Year

Kindness brings so much more joy to those around as well as yourself. I am thankful and blessed to have met so many kind people in this event who have warmly welcomed me back each and every time. Lynn and Daryl certainly went over the top for me, which I will be eternally grateful to them.

72 miles completed and 63 miles to go. Time is going good but it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.

Final Race Post: The Hare and the Tortoise

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Arrowhead 135: Connecting with My Fluffy Team

I had started this event as a girl and finished the event as a lady!

Some background

This is a 135 mile event that has to be completed within a 60 hour limit

You can run, bike or ski. Temperatures can go down to -50 degs C as it did in 2014 and bit my fingers.

It is held at the end of January as this typically has the worst weather and starts at International Falls, a town on the US/Canadian border. It should be known as Killer Frost Falls but not to put off visitors, it is called the Icebox of the Nation. The route is along a snowmobile trail, which is mostly along the Arrowhead Trail. It is very reasonably priced at $200 USD. You are expected to carry all your own survival gear and boil water if you have to. There are 3 checkpoints along the entire route and a snowmobile rescue will come out if you call for one.

Know how to use your gear and ensure you have the right gear for your own safety. The official website is here: http://www.arrowheadultra.com

I went hunting for the Ice Dragon 2012 and 2014. Both times the dragon kicked me off and in 2014 bit my fingers as a warning.

2012 attempt: http://tyregirl.com/the-adventures-of-tyre-girl/arrowhead-ultra-pulling-for-peace

2014 attempt: http://tyregirl.com/the-adventures-of-tyre-girl/arrowhead-ultra

2018 would be my 3rd attempt.

Many sprouted the “3rd time lucky” motto. I really dislike this phrase as it feels like you can keep trying and luck will somehow intervene on your 3rd attempt and miraculously make everything happen. How about 1st time lucky or 2nd time lucky or nth time lucky? Load of hash browns & fish fingers if you ask me. Am happy that I did fail the first two times. It taught me to be more respectful of the environment, and how to better equip myself in my mind, body and soul. Failure happens because we fail to prepare in areas that need strengthening. God likes proactive people. The Bible is littered with “proactive” people doing great things who have been both physically, mentally and spiritually prepared to go forward.

To prepare, I found a shorter event to complete in the form of Rovaniemi 150 (150 kilometres). In this event, Isaiah 40:29-31 and Matthew 14:22-33 whispered continually in my ear.

https://tyrelady.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/65-rovaniemi-150-luck-angels-and-lsd/

So 150K completed, and now with my newfound confidence, I no longer wanted to hunt the dragon, but was ready to tame the great Ice Dragon of Arrowhead.

Arrowhead Preparations

9 December 2017 completed my last long run along the North Downs Way of 30 miles with my buddy Paddy. December and January are administrative months with the taxman thumping on my door, so training was limited to strengthening the Achilles and lower back with stair dips and back exercises respectively, interspersed with about 10 miles a week to keep the body going.  At the same time, I visualised the route to the first two Arrowhead checkpoints, seeing what I was doing, how I was feeling. In my mind, once I had got to the second checkpoint in good time, then I could play it by ear. Rome marathon taught me the power of visualisation.

17 January 2018: Finished personal tax, dumped winter gear onto sled and flew out to the US on the morning of 18 January.

I dropped in to visit my adopted US family that has been part of this learning journey on my last two attempts; who cared for me when I limped back to them. It was also to pick up important team members:

  • Bisaniiwewin (16-18 lb tyre) – Lynn, an Arrowhead finisher, had organised the tyre to be brought up by Jason – a dedicated athlete & Arrowhead multi-finisher.
  • Princess Suma – a peace penguin and daughter of an Emperor
  • Pinky – a fluffy dog full of love
  • Sharkey – to provide aggression to help me attack the route when needed
TeamMembers

Pinky and Sharkey in the picture; Princess Suma is absent as out playing in the snow

The plan was to go to International Falls the week before to get some R & R as the last two attempts, my very jetlagged brain hated starting at 7am. 2012/2014 taught me to arrive with plenty of time to keep the mental side calm. In 2014, I was still in the toilet when the start had kicked off.

22nd January 2018: A snow storm visited Minneapolis and all flights were cancelled to International Falls. Plans scuppered temporarily and instead a snow shoveling workout would have to be sufficient.

SnowShovelled Drive

Left: Shoveled Drive; Right: Snowstorm

23rd January 2018: More snow shoveling to get out of the drive. Managed to strain a muscle in the peck. So pathetic!

Arnica

Arnica to the rescue

You’re Going No Where

I laid my cardboard boxed sled next to the rope barrier that guided passengers to collect their boarding pass and informed a “check in” service lady that I was just leaving the sled to queue to get my pass. As I went to the back of the queue she calls out:

Check-in Lady1: “Are you checking that in?”

“Yes” I replied

Check-in Lady1: “Hmm, that is rather big and will be $200 USD to go through”

“Ok” I replied a little puzzled

Check-in Lady1: “Where are you going?”

“International Falls”

Check-in Lady1: “Hmm. Come on over, I’ll check you in”

I was grateful, but as I followed her to her counter another lady who was managing the Boarding Pass line calls out to me and tells me that I need to go pick up my boarding pass first.

Check-in Lady1: “It’s okay, I’ve got this”

Check-in Lady2 comes over to me, and wags her finger at me, annoyed that I was “jumping the queue”, telling me what I was doing was not right and what I should be doing.

I looked at her, trying to give her a puppy dog confused look (Pinky’s head was peering out of my coat at the time) and she wagged her finger further. After her tirade at me, I responded “Thank you for letting me know”. She then turned away and returned to the other passengers.

In the meantime, Check-in Lady1 had taken out her measuring tape, ummed and ahhed: “This isn’t going to fit in the hold. It’s a small plane. Look it is one inch too long! I am not going to check you in because we cannot guarantee this will get on with you. You need to go to Specials and send this some other way”

Anxious and confused, I borrowed a trolley and took the sled over to Specials, leaving it near the front and joined the queue. There were two service women on one side and two service men on the other. I wished to see a man as have been “unlucky” with the check in women at St Pauls in the past. I remember having baggage of 51.5 lbs and was told to take out 1.5lbs of gear or be charged an excess weight. 1.5lbs is about the weight of a pair of socks! One of the men called me over and I explained that the other lady would not check me in as she thought my sled would be too big for the hold. He asked to see the sled. I placed Pinky and Sharkey on the counter top, introduced them to him……and he greeted each one of them as I went to pull over the trolley with my sled to his counter.

BoxedSled.JPG

Check-in man: “Yup looks no problem”

Me: “Really?”

Check-in man: “Yup and when I sign it, it will be on that plane”

My anxiety dropped and we had a nice conversation about the Arrowhead event.

Check-in man: “Now have a great event and don’t get frostbite”

Me: “I love you sir. Thank you”

Yeah I went a bit mushy as I just experienced night and day and a good reminder that an event can start off negative, but just got to believe in the positives. A pat on the head to Pinky

Catch Up and Final Preps

I would catch up with the amazing Rachel and her equally wonderful and loving friend Renata at St Paul’s airport.

Meeting Rachel

Rachel had decided to see this dragon that I had chatted about when she was doing Rovaniemi 300 and I was doing Rovaniemi 150. Her friend Renata came to support her. We shared a room and the organisation of each of us couldn’t be more different:

  • Rachel was so well organised and ready to try out her gear
  • I was still sorting out stuff, deciding on what I should take on the trail. My kit exploded into piles of mess in the room and I couldn’t find a thing….but it had been a long day and bed reeled us in early.

24th – 28th January 2018

Being part of the “Last Minute” club, I was still sorting out gear, purchasing another set of lights and carabineers, sewing on reflective tape onto my harness and gluing the over boots onto my running shoes (as suggested by Ray Sanchez – another participant). The tireless Jerald and Sandy (owners of the Voyageur Motel) were soooo helpful having all the tools to help make all the last minute adjustments. So many more thank yous to them both and hope they can find good people to work in their motel.

At the same time, Bill Bradley, whose team had helped me get around when my fingers had been burned in 2014, was at the motel. He was doing his 7th attempt and had concerns. We concluded that with the right reasons for completing an event, the negative and disappointment that can be felt from fellow competitors who quit can be deflected…..and off I went to do some sled practice with Bill. Bill is like a big brother, who I want to help just as much as he cares for others (myself included).

Video of Sled Practice

The undertaking to organise this event is huge, and so offered my services to help out. We were given a special project to put fluorescent tape on the posts.

Preparing Posts

Yup – Pinky (Ray) staples the tape onto the post, Princess S (Bill) cuts the tape and Sharkey (Me) sticks the tape onto the posts.

During the week, Ray and Bill pitched in to help create the posts that would guide participants along parts of the route, and on Saturday we loaded and unloaded two trucks of gear to Baccus – the registration area. We would have happily done more, except we all still had to do last minute preparations. I was still sewing the reflective tape onto my harness to prepare for the 4 o’clock registration.  Jason also dropped by to present Bisaniiwewin…..the animals brought her in.

The Animals Bring Bisaniiwewin to Tyre Lady

GearCheck

Mandatory Gear Check

Saturday at 17:30 had organised a dinner date with Al – a Canadian who I had met on my last 2 attempts at Gateway and always got me food. I must have looked pathetic! He would be helping and supporting some other racers this time round and great for my Swiss buddies to meet someone new.

By Sunday, my gear was finally ready to do a test run with my entire entourage. I had made some minor changes to the Rovaniemi gear, carrying more food and an extra emergency down jacket for the extra cold. It roughly weighed 40lbs (about 20kgs).

TEsting the Trail

The team testing the trail

Rachel and I ran over to the Baccus for the pre-race briefing, and I hung around after for the pasta dinner to chat with Stephen and Erv the oldest man in the event at 75 young years. Great to see the dinner now uses ceramic plates instead of the single use plastic polystyrene in previous years. In the future, hope they get rid of the plastic cups for drinking, perhaps encourage the participants to Bring Their Own Cup as provided in the goody bag!

PastaDinner

Pasta Dinner on Reusable Dishes

The only part missing now was sleep. A sleepless night on Saturday night and a chopped up sleep on Sunday night.

The difference between quitting and finishing is having the right reasons for completing an event. Without those reasons, it is so easy to quit when the going gets tough.

Next post: The Taming of the Ice Dragon

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Race To The Kings: Finale

Previously…

  • By checkpoint 7:  43 songs  accepted, 13 disallowed and 1 under review
  • CP7 to The End is about 7-9miles and 10 more qualifying songs needed to be sung, otherwise this event would have to be added to the DNF list due to an incomplete challenge.

James, my number one fan, has encouraged me to write a post to get this wrapped up. The review & compilation process has been a real challenge. Listening to the sound of my own voice has been like doing a tax return…..enough said. The latter is now done (only took 8 months to complete!)

Rules of an Ultra Singing Challenge

  1. The event has to cover an ultra distance (anything more than 26.2 miles / 42 km)
  2. The minimum number of songs sung must match the number of miles run and must be a different song so if you are doing a 50K that is about 31 miles and 31 unique songs must be sung.
  3. At least one complete unique verse must be sung from a song.
    1. If a wrong word is sung, it must still match the context of the original meaning
      1. Example 1: The word “quiet’ is not the same as “mighty”
        The Lion King song is ….”in the jungle the mighty jungle” which is different to …”in the jungle, the quiet jungle”

        However it could have been sung ….”in the jungle the powerful jungle” and this would have been accepted.

      2. Example 2: Providing changes in words means the entire song must be sung with the different words. 12 Days of Christmas song:

        “On the first day of Christmas my True Love gave to me. An I-phone and a charger” is contextually similar to

        “On the first day of Christmas my True Love gave to me. A partridge in a pear tree”

        However, in order for the verse to be ratified, the entire song needs to be sung so that the contextual changes can be understood within the entirety of the song.

    2. It should be noted a “chorus” is a part of the song that is repeated throughout the song. A “verse” from a song is unique within the song.
  4. A maximum of one children’s nursery song will be accepted
  5. All songs sung on the route MUST be recorded and a rough location identified when the song was sung.
  6. Any songs without a recording will not be accepted even if everyone says you sang the song.
  7. All songs must be uploaded and words verified.

 

Back to finishing RTTK…

By CP 7 you would have thought enough valid verses would have been sung. However, during the night portion, even though I thought my brain was lucid, it could not even remember how to sing Jingle Bells. Perhaps this was due to the darkness and lack of visual stimulation causing the brain to move into suspend mode and thus the synaptic neural system was not coonnecting. The lack of sleep temporarily corrupted sectors of the brain which would been restored in my sleep phase. Two healing hormones are produced when we sleep and we get a clean up in deep sleep, just like when you reboot a computer.

As the morning continued and the distant spark of light melted the darkness away, the song list sung continued to 19 more songs: two were repeats and again sung incorrectly and here’s the rest…

The Christmas Phase

#44 Oh Come All Ye Faithful (accepted)

Disallowed
– Jingle Bells due to being abandoned
– Amazing Grace due to the context being incorrectly sung “saved” is not the same as “blind”. Yeah harsh but the rules are there to make the challenge!

The Children’s Phase

#45 Hey Big Spender

#46 Are You Sleeping (Frere Jacques)

Disputed
2 Little Tigers – A Chinese Children’s song was sung as 3 little mice. The question has arisen as to what happened to the 3rd mouse.

Disallowed:
– 12 Days of Christmas – entire song will need to be sung if the decision is made to change a verse

Dawn Phase

#47 What A Feelin from Flash Dance

#48 I’ll Come Back and See You Again – Freddy and the Dreamers

Disallowed:
– He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands
– Singapura, Oh Singapura

The Final 3 miles

#49 I’m just a Girl Who Can’t Say No

#50 Oh Mac Donald’s – accepted as the one nursery song  allowed

#51 Sorry

#52 High Hopes

Disallowed:

– I’m a Tyre Girl – not a complete song (same as 12 Days of Christmas)

Results

At this moment in time it looks like only 52 unique verses from 52 songs have been sung. This is one short of the 53 miles and will mean a DNF of this event from the total. However one song is still under review as it is a song that the Tyregirl had created many moons ago. If this one song can be made “proper” by the end of 2018, then this event will be counted in the final total.

So there you have it…currently 52 unique verses from 52 songs over 53 miles with a tyre called Freeus-Blod and one is under review for the year.

This event will be marked as “pending acceptance” into the total count. For now we will discount it.

Tyrelady – you’re gonna have to try harder!

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A Glowing Feeling of Change

TucksmansModel

Tuckmans Model from Shift-IT 

My highly performing bunch of 40 volunteers pretty much dived into Norming and Performing. There really wasn’t time for the first two stages of Tucksman model. Cuifen and I seemed to hit it off pretty immediately and when the rest of the amazing Green Ambassadors came on board, the team were immediately coming forward with ideas and taking on responsibilities that were part of their skill set to get tasks completed.

More blessings came in the penultimate week, with Cuifen picking up a photographer, another community clean up volunteer, a much needed banana marshal and a banana mascot 2 days before the event. Yes a banana mascot. Ivan volunteered to be our most amazing mascot ever and gave trash education, cajoled, enticed and encouraged the crowd to get their banana skins in the bin or hit the person holding the bin!

BananaMacot at Play

And although everything might not have gone to plan, the Green Ambassadors dealt with it.

Expo – Bin It

Though there was some information in the info leaflets, Nicholas and Sharon took the initiative to remind runners to keep the course clear of trash at the Expo.

SharonNicholas

 

Sssh There’s a Tyre on Site

With the help of June, Greenie / Greenit made it over to the Ironman site office at the Padang, to errrr inspire and encourage the organisation. Hope Greenie GreenIt behaved herself.

Greenie

 

Banana Skin Bins

Veolia provided six bins specially for the banana skins, but it was up to us to differentiate the bins from the rest. There was a spark of light coming from an online community (Journey to Zero Waste, Sg) in the form of Wai Sen. 5 days before the event, this bundle of energy came on board and dived straight into the performing side coming up with ideas and then picking up kit for the team and scrounging around in market dumpsters for abandoned cardboard boxes to execute those ideas. Cuifen definitely was my right hand woman, and Wai Sen became my left hand woman: who brought in Kampong Sengang to support us with kit and printing as well as Funatics to happily sponsor inflatable bananas.

And tada we now had bin decorations at the Padang and funky looking banana marshals to interact with the runners to collect their banana skins.

On the Day

The Better Trails team of 5 kicked it off at 2am to prepare for the oncoming 45,000 runners. Their mission was to perform an impact assessment / green audit of the 1/2 marathon route during and after the event. It would be a long day for them.

BetterTrailsTeam

Next up were the Half marathon and Full marathon runners, Bin It bibs to the ready and their own BYOB

SiliaMax

At 6am –  Wai Sen and Jim needed guidance to find the best place to get to the banana point location. Of course I was up with my team to ensure they were all well. The internet is an amazing tool that helped me guide them to the nearest location to avoid the road closures.

BananaMarshalPickupBananaCollectionJim

Pledges

Pledges collected

And then the Trash Marshals trooped in. They handled any “issues” with perfect adaptability. After all plans are simply guidelines. A highly performing team will adapt to the situation and make stuff happen.

The runners came through and despite their very early morning start, some stayed on to double up on their role as Trash Directors and Pledge Collectors.

TrashDirectorsPadang

Trash Directors and Runners

Am proud of those 40 ambassadors who came forward to make an impression amongst 45,000 runners. We estimate about 350kg of banana skins were diverted from the landfill. This is about the fifth of the bananas that were made available to the runners that day.

How Effective Were the Contracted Cleaners After the Event?

Mechanical cleaners were used on the main route along the ECP. Sadly stuff that ended up in the grass that were not at check points were neglected. 10 green ambassadors did a cross check of the area, some having started their day at 6am as Trash Directors and ending the day as Community Clean Up.  About 3 bags of trash were picked up. Here are examples of  items the group found 2 metres on either side of 8km of the route: sponge, blinky light as this event starts in the dark, the nasty gel packets, soles of shoes, bottle caps, caffeine tablets, sun block.

This is a reminder to events to look on either side of the course. Thank you to the green ambassadors for putting up with the mosquitos!

CCUCLeanUpTeam

How Effective Were The Bin It Ambassador Runners?

Bearing in mind there were only 15 runners amongst 45,000 runners, and thus there would still be running tossers, Ambassador runners were seen. Here are some comments from sgrunners which  is a running forum.

Comment1

Comment3

Just like any fire, we got the tinder going, and then we added some kindling. Now  we need the fire wood…… The Public Health Council would like to collaborate.

May this initiative be duplicated, morphed and allowed to burn bright.

To the Green Ambassadors, thank you for your enthusiasm, passion, and energy to make this green initiative happen. Green Ambassadors you are now ready to lead….

 

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A Step Closer to No More Trashy Events

My vision is to see more effort and responsibility towards the amount of trash outdoor events generate by all parties (organisation, participants and volunteers); from the generation to the disposal and beyond. To see a clean, green attitude as a norm and not as an exception.

Earlier this year, I finally got a bite from the Singapore Marathon. Met with the organisers on the 20th October, who were open and agreed to many of the initiatives. This would mean about a month to make some changes in the way the organisation would normally operate, to the way the volunteers would encourage runners and finally the education the participants and public will receive.

At the same time, if this goes really well, other organisations will want help as they will need to raise their game! So the challenge would be to inspire as many as possible who will want to replicate the initiative in other organisations. To do this, I would need to stay away from Singapore as this would force everyone to be involved. It would also be a personal challenge to organise and build virtual relationships.

Thankfully, whilst in Singapore, this lone wolf found a buddy to collaborate with, in the form of Cuifen, an enthusiastic environmentalist who wanted to be part of the deal. Despite knowing very little about each other, we have complimented each other over and over again with being as upfront and as open as possible. It has been pure bliss to collaborate with someone who has similar goals, who wants to see a social “we” goal rather than a personal egotistical “I” goal and ideas are recognised between the two of us.

She has certainly been a huge resource, meeting various organisations on my behalf, helping me create and develop documentation. I have sat long days for a month behind a computer, tapping away on a keyboard as Singapore is 8 hours ahead of the UK. Between the two of us we have gathered a group of 28 enthusiastic volunteers who also want to see change in the way mass events are organised and allowed to operate.

And everyone has certainly played a role in progressing this forward.

Marinna conceived “Bin It” at the 2XU 50K marathon and we flew with it; Chun Yeow stepped in to make my clumsy logo look amazing; Hangzhong, Wayde, Sharon, and more recently Wai Sen have all taken action to progress the initiatives forward. I feel blessed to have this amazing, enthusiastic team as energy generates more energy.

The Initiatives

We thought that intermingling with runners to educate runners to simply “bin their trash” would help break the mentality of runners who simply follow what other running tossers do. So we got some runners sponsored and other runners came on board with their own registrations to be sign mules, as well as to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) and to be an example to disposing of their running trash in the correct manner. These runners will be spread amongst the pack, having marathon completion times ranging from 2:45 to 6:30, to help remind runners to “Bin It” plus more. After all it is about the social responsibility message that each of these runners will spread to other runners.

GreenAmbassadorRunners

To help us reduce the amount of trash that will go to landfill, the Singapore Marathon organisation will provide recycle bins at the end point (Padang) as well as special bins for banana skins. To help facilitate our request for these bins, we have “Trash Directors” to ensure the public put their trash in the right bins correctly and responsibly. At the Padang, over 50,000 500ml plastic bottles and over 50,000 cans of isotonic will be made available to participants & volunteers. If we can ensure that as much as possible goes into the right bins, Veolia (the cleaning contractors) will recycle all that goes in the recycle bins (plastic bottles and cans). Our volunteers will BYOB to again reduce the amount of trash that is generated from our involvement.

GreenAmbassadorVols

Along the East Coast Park, close to the two banana points, we will have Banana Marshals to separate the banana skin waste from the rest of the trash, so that as much as possible can go towards composting. All banana skins will be sent to community gardens / made into a composting mix.

The Padang and East Coast Park banana points will have approximately, in total close to 50,000 finger bananas provided to the runners. Only one banana point is has been ignored as we could not get enough volunteers to be banana marshals.

To encourage the Singapore Marathon’s volunteers to be proactive and help change the behaviour of “Tossers”, we hope a video will be sufficient for them to view as well as hope they will get involved with us.

At all points the Green Ambassadors will be taking videos and photos to observe behaviour during and after the event to see if the campaign has worked. Finally after the cleaning contractors have been through, more Green Ambassadors will complete a cross check of a section that has in the past had run away trash. I hope they find nothing.

And by doing all of this, we the Green Ambassadors of the Singapore Marathon hope we set a precedent for other mass outdoor events in Singapore.

Thank you to Ironman Asia, who organise this event, for believing in us and allowing us the opportunity to deliver a stronger green initiative for everyone.

https://singaporemarathon.com/towards-green-marathon/

Bring on the 3rd December, the Green Ambassadors are ready! And note this day as a turning point for other outdoor urban events in Singapore and beyond to raise their game.

Other Supporters:

Kampong Sengang: http://kampungsenang.org/

Funatics: https://www.funantics.com.sg/

 

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Achieving Beyond a Best Time

A personal record or personal best (frequently abbreviated to PR or PB) is an individual’s best performance in a given sporting discipline. It is most commonly found in athletic sports, such as track and field, other forms of running, swimming and weightlifting.

Source: Wiki Definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_record

Let’s not beat around the bush here – the majority of runners who enter a marathon or ½ marathon or 10 km run are doing it for the personal challenge. Less than 1% will actually put in the time and effort of an elite runner: that is training twice a day, doing 100-160 miles a week.

For professional athletes, a best time is nice to achieve but it is not the total measurement of how the athlete performed.

Yet if you talk to many non-professional runners, you would think the time element of a PB is the only component that defines a PB. Runners’ can be upset for days recounting the story of how they could have beaten their PB if they just ran that bit faster, or runners’ depression sets in when they haven’t seen sight of a best time for days, weeks or months.

Parkrun (a worldwide free 5K event that happens every Saturday) sets out some performance elements:

  • Personal best time
  • Personal Parkruns you’ve completed
  • Number of times you have volunteered to help the Parkrun community

Defining a Personal Best in a Run

If a PB = Best Performance, then a PB can relate to a culmination of many aspects, that can be treated like milestones. In addition to time, you can have a PB in your preparation, conduct and effort.

Preparation

This means you can have multiple PBs in an event:

  • How much preparation did you really put in?
  • Were you able to put in more than your effort on the day?
  • Have you PBed in your conduct? ….”Hmmmm” I hear you say…

Conduct

Your preparation should have included reading up on the rules of conduct for the event. Follow the guidelines below and you can say you PBed in your conduct. These are some typical rules of conduct:

  • For road events, keep on the inside close to the curb unless you’re over taking. In places like the UK & Singapore, keep on the left, unless overtaking on the right.
  • Drop all trash into a bin to keep the course clear and safe for other users and to prevent “run-away” trash.
    RunnerPutInBin

    • Dropping your trash on the floor can cause other runners to slip/skid/trip causing them injury

BananaSkin Slip.JPG

    • Dropping your trash on the floor can create “run-away” trash:

Run-AwayTrash

  • If you run past the bins, then hold onto your trash until you come to a checkpoint. There are several bins there to deposit your rubbish.
    • TyreLadyBelieve me, you have the strength to carry a couple of grams to the next checkpoint….I drag a 10kg tyre! It just takes a little more effort and 1km is short compared to the distance you will achieve! In the Singapore Marathon there are bins about every 20 metres in the ECP area.
    • If it is a gel packet, then put it into your short’s pocket/underwear or for women put it into your bra top. For the “euwwers” out there, you are smelly and sticky anyway, or carry a small bag for your trash.SuperHeroVolunteer
  • Thank the volunteers for their time and help. They’ve been out longer than you, setting up and then waiting to help & encourage you. At the Singapore Marathon, many will have been setting up checkpoints since midnight, and then waiting for runners from 04:30 onwards. Give them energy and they will give you energy back.

 

  • Look out for each other. You are an immediate hero when you help someone.

Effort

The effort you can expand will depend on both your physical and mental preparation.  On the saying “90% mental, 10% physical” Ross, a sports scientist, says:

An athlete who lacks talent is exposed, as a junior in many cases, and never reaches the Olympic Games.  An athlete who has abundant talent, but lacks the mental edge, may fade into obscurity because they don’t have the drive or discipline to train, or because they don’t compete well.

The athlete who lacks confidence or self-belief stands out among the crowd eventually – they reach the “highest level of insecurity”, if you will, before being exposed, often spectacularly.  On the other hand, the athlete who lacks talent often disappears into the middle of the pack and obscurity.  Perhaps this is why we have identified mental aspects as so crucial, the source of the 90-10 principle?

Source: http://sportsscientists.com/2010/02/the-mental-edge-thoughts-and-opinions/

And finally an element that very few seem to spend time on is visualization. This can be done in bed some days before an event. This can help you go so much further than you expected as it can keep you positive throughout the event.

So next time you talk about your PB, remember you can PB in other areas other than time.

 

Tips for Runners at the Singapore Marathon

  • Use rehydrating salt (@ 60cts a pack in the pharmacy). Found every 2 hours is good enough for me.
  • SwelteringRunner

    Sung to the melody of Eurythmics “Here Comes The Rain Again”

    If you are a 4 hours onwards marathon runner, the sun will suck out your energy.

    Carry a water bottle that you can refill at the hydration stations. You will be thankful you had one when 1.5km to the next checkpoint feels “forever” long after 30km in the hot blazing sun on the open road…and as you’re pouring water over your head to cool yourself down, you will overtake gaunt faces wishing they had brought their own bottle to do the same between checkpoints.

 

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The 2 Degree Challenge

MyTemperatureWhen I announced I was going to turn off my fridge, someone (Jess) suggested that my heating temperature should also be turned down. I decided to do it by 2 degrees.
Now you might think that perhaps I turned down my house temperature because apparently this year our carbon emissions rose by 2% and we have seen a wrath of climate issues round the world related to global warming (hurricanes, tornadoes, bush fires, massive flooding)
Source is here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2152929-bad-news-carbon-emissions-have-suddenly-started-rising-again/
And our carbon emissions are set to continue to rise. The amount of energy we burn at this time of the year for heating or cooling is pretty substantial and so wondered, what if we all tried a 2 degree challenge for at least for 1 year how much difference would that make?

No I thought 2 degrees C was a better challenge than 1 degrees C…. But now it’s been mentioned….

2DegreeChallenge

If you’re in a cold country, reduce your heating thermostat by 2 degrees C.
If you’re in a hot country, and use an air conditioner, increase the thermostat by 2 degrees C.
Currently am living in the UK and my house heating is normally at 17 degs C. I wear 3 layers on top. Have now turned it down to 15 degs C and a fourth layer has gone on when am sitting still doing nothing but looking at me compewtor. All was good on day 1, as the cooler temperature forced me to move more.
….And then I had to have a shower. As I stood in the cold bathroom on the cold floor, my brain refused to allow me to undress myself and forced me to put the heating back up to 17 degs C…..Day 1 was a definite DNF
Day 2 has worked out better when I went for a hard run. The cold bathroom felt refreshing. I’ll print myself a certificate later!
Day 3 – have actually gone back to 3 layers on top, but 2 layers on the bottom. Will do some core strength work before I try a shower later.

Benefits Of Doing the 2 Degree Challenge:

– Less carbon emissions
– Reduced energy bill
– Your body learns to adapt better (see Wim Hof and Runner Dad links below) and thus will make you stronger in your health

So how about it? Will you take on the 2 degree challenge? Tell me how it goes…The harder core folk can try a 5 degree challenge.
For the sake of our perceived comfort, what’s 2 degrees C if it shows that reducing carbon emissions can reduce global warming and in turn reduce the number of natural disasters we have seen?

And For The Extra bonus challenge: The Cold Shower

Another buddy (Gerrard) has suggested trying the Wim Hof method  http://www.icemanwimhof.com/wim-hof-exercises
Yes I will be taking the extra bonus to see if I can do a cold shower in a cold bathroom.

Other notes:

Human Biology taught me that our bodies can thermo-adapt to remain in homeostasis. When I was in -40 degs C, I felt warm returning back into -20 degs C and wore a thin shirt. 
Same in the tropics in Singapore. In the heat, am fine when it is 35 degrees C and wore a jumper when when it went down to 25 degrees. In the UK, 25 degrees C is positively shorts and t-shirt weather.
And finally for those who think am just being extreme, here is a final read of cold adaptation: https://therunnerdad.com/what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-adapt-to-the-cold/
“Try something old” to allow our natural states to adapt.
Look forward to hearing your stories or seeing your vlogs 😀
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Timeline So Far….

Am reflecting and reminding myself on what we really need to survive in this “living journey”. Am finding out that our reliance on conveniences means we begin to lose ways of doing things that once was done in generations nearly gone. And so am unlocking what we really need in my own convenient life and “trying something old”.

So what can I give up?

13 November 2017: Giving up the Fridge & Turning Down the Heat

Today I turned off my fridge for a 2 week trial period as I don’t eat diary and only eat meat when visiting my relatives. My fridge contains condiments and vegetables. Someone suggested I turn down the house heating, so it is now on 15 degrees. Yep – dressing warm.

Fridge1

Veggies and condiments are left. So time to turn off the fridge for a 2 week trial

Can’t believe we have 6 jars of mustard partly opened.

Aug 2017: Toothpaste Does It Really Help?

Made my own toothpaste

Toothpaste

Went to my dentist end of September. He told me I don’t have gum disease! Should be noted, every time I’d see him previously, he would warn me about some gum disease. Think it’s the tumeric in the mix which is supposed to be a natural antiseptic.

 October 2014: Shampoo – It’s Just Poo For Hair

Stopped using shampoo. In 2017, my scalp is in far better shape – no more dry itchy scalp. It should be noted, suddenly stopping usage made my scalp intolerably itchy and greasy.

Third attempt – decreased the frequency of shampooing my hair over 1.5 months. So instead of every day, every other day. Once the scalp seemed used to that, then every 2 days, etc.

Feb – May 2014: Surgery to Remove a Frostbitten Finger: No Way

Showed a hand surgeon at St. George’s Hospital, London, my grade 2-3 frostbitten finger. He’s eyes could not contain his excitement of wanting a black necrotic finger to add to his collection of pickled digits. It healed in 12 weeks by applying aloe vera and salt water. A one week course of anti-biotics was taken due to paranoia that the finger might have become infected but in fact was all good.

2012: Packaged Items: Tried Going Plastic Packaging Free

Kept the packaging from groceries such as the empty packaging for pasta. Found there was too much ^&*( plastic packaging. So tried to go plastic free for a couple of weeks. It is hard when everywhere sells everything in plastic…..unless I eat veggies…..hmmm

2011-2012: Surgery for Carpel Tunnel Syndrome? Saved going under the knife by a holistic masseur

Yes I was skeptical at first when a friend told me she was a “holistic masseur”.

At the end of 2010, I had a swollen hand that continued to tingle and feel numb for the whole year. The GP prescribed anti-inflammatories. They kind of worked, but not really. After a year and a 1/2, was sent to the neurologist who told me had to have an operation. This would happen in 3 months.

In that time, a friend intervened and conducted massage therapy. After one session, the swelling already began to subside. After one week, my hand was normal.

When I returned to the neurologist was told I no longer had carpel tunnel syndrome. My hand is still normal in 2017.

2010: Soap and Toiletries from Hotels: BYOR to hotels

I travel a lot in my job, and stay in hotels. The small bottles of stuff were cute but then realised a lot was chucked even if it was 1/2 empty. So now BYOR a bar of soap & my own toiletries.

2008-2010: Could Prescribed Medicines Be Making Eczema Worst?

Before going to the Arctic, I was suffering badly from head to toe eczema. In fact I’d been suffering for many years since a teenager. The doctor prescribed hydro cortisone & emollients. This used to relieve the itching and then it would come back more aggressive and spread until I was covered in dry scaly itchy skin.

April, 2008 I finally went on the war path with the dermatitis I’d been suffering from. By the end of 2008 gave up steroid creams. In 2009 gave up the doctor’s prescribed emollients. After using normal commercial creams, the itching was still there but less intense.

In 2010 my skin was “miraculously” clear. Finally I could enjoy feeling smooth patches on my body! Now in 2017, I suffer from small patches but no way as bad as when I was using the GPs prescribed steroid creams and emollients. Decided that the pharmaceuticals produce stuff that only temporarily relieves the itch and in fact exacerbates the condition. The temporary relief psychologically makes us think it is making us better. I wondered whether pharmaceuticals like this kind of condition as it is not life threatening and thus can make money on repeat prescriptions.

Note: Still occasionally take a 1/4 of an antihistamine at night to relieve any eczema itching that might flare up.

2007: Do We Really Need Disposable Plastic:  BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable) to places

End of 2006, beginning of 2007, I discovered how bad our municipal waste treatment centres really were at recycling. Horrified at the less than 10% figures for plastic.

It is now habit to carry these items when I go out

  • Thermal cup
  • Melamine plate + cutlery to the workplace (the canteen used plastic everything)
  • Take away containers
  • Reusable bag
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Undoing Trashy Events and the Battle Against Running Tossers

The streets of London are not lined with gold but lined with 1/2 drunken plastic bottles (London Marathon 2011)

A lady had stopped along the road in my street to talk on her phone. As she did so, she rolled down her window and smoked a cigarette, doing that “typical smokers’ thing” to flick ash out her window and then flick her cigarette butt out the window.
A couple walked by, would have seen what she did and took no notice of the cigarette butt that was now burning on the floor releasing its toxic chemicals. I also happened to have witnessed the event, picked up the cigarette butt and knocked on her window. She wound down her window to allow me to return her “droppings”:
“Excuse me, I believe this is yours. Please don’t litter here. Learn to put it in the bin.”
She looked at me a little embarrassed, apologised and continued to smoke the cigarette butt I had just returned to her. I can only imagine she was waiting for me to continue walking by so that she could flick it back outside. But ahhh that glimmer of guilt the second time round…..
Participants in a running event are like the smoker, acting as if it is normal to drop stuff on the floor, accepting other runners dropping rubbish on the floor. New event participants copy the same thing, even though they didn’t do this in training!
Many marathons are a complete trash festival where we see the ugly sight of plastic bottles, cups, gel packets, bananas, oranges all dropped on the floor.
Most participants expect someone to clean it up for them! So what is the issue?

New York Marathon 2017. Picture from a CNBC article

Health and Safety and the Environment
It is surprising this behaviour has been allowed to happen for so long, when places like the UK have banned children playing games that could hurt themselves (like catch, tag, british bulldogs, conkers).
I’ve watched participants slip/skid on a bottle/cup/banana skin that has been dropped right in front of them.
Additionally there is “run away” trash. Runners’ trash that has been casually tossed into a bush or into a drain, and if it is raining or windy, the trash is washed into a water way that is close by. It is always unfortunate to see the Singapore river has had to participate as a large dumpster when outdoor events like the Singapore marathon has occurred.
…And the Rubbish Has to Go Somewhere
Like in many places, in Singapore, the marathon trash is a mixture of organic and inorganic stuff and will simply go to landfill.

And Now The Change – Battle Hat On!

The Ironman organisation have recently taken over running the Standard Charted Singapore Marathon, and have agreed a change needs to happen with regards to handling trash. They have provided us an opportunity, to see if we (grassroot communities) can encourage responsible runners in the Singapore Marathon. This is an event that will have about 60,000 runners participating in the 10km, 21km and 42km events.
NoMoreTrashyEvents

Singapore Marathon in a previous year

Education

We will subtly and proactively encourage and educate runners to put their trash in a bin to reduce the run away trash that is occurring with:
a) Trash Evangelist amongst the runners in all the events. They will be directing runners to put their trash in the bin and they will be taking photographs of those that do and those that simply drop it on the floor.
There will also be participants wearing a Bin It logo on their running tops to remind runners to bin their trash and additionally will be bringing their own bottle to show you can “have your bottle and run a good time”.
BinIt
If you want to see a clean mass event, please print or draw the Bin It logo, put in a clear bag (like the one your event t-shirt came in) and pin to the back of your shirt.
The marathon organisers have also stated they will be putting out Bin It signs to remind participants.
b) Trash Directors who will be directing runners and spectators at the finish point to separate trash in specific receptacles that the organisers will provide.
Note: There will be MND (Ministry of National Development) volunteers who will also be encouraging runners to “Bin It”

Landfill Reduction

By separating the trash we will be able to repurpose some of that trash. This means some of the plastic bottles can be recycled as they will be separated and the banana skins will be collected and redistributed to community gardens for compost.
So in addition to the end point trash directors we have volunteers who will be Banana Marshals. These volunteers will be at the banana check points along the ECP and separate the banana skins from the bottles from the cups. Perhaps they might play games with the runners to see if they can run and target stuff into the banana bins!

Checking For Run Away Trash

At the same time we will assume there will still be “running tossers” who have not seen the Bin It signs, tossing their trash in any direction. After the organisers’ clean up crew have been through (Veolia), we will be doing a community clean up along a 10km section of the marathon route to see if the “same old run-away runners’ trash” will be there. They will be checking the bushes, sand, and drains especially for the bothersome gel tabs.
This means the organisers can develop an action plan in future years to ensure we “Leave No Trace”
VolSpots
If after reading this, you want to get involved in this inaugural opportunity to change a large mass event, then have a look at this volunteer form and get involved. Click here for the link to the form . If you’re a runner, then please wear the Bin It logo. This event is in Singapore.
We will close the volunteer form on the 16th November 2017.
Am also pleased to announce we have a partnership with Better Trails. This is a company dedicated to keeping the trails in Singapore in their natural state and organise “Clean Ups” of the natural areas around Singapore.
BetterTrails
Chat

Do Serious Runners Care About the Environment?

Of course many do, but if it gets in the way of getting a PB (Personal Best) or PR (Personal Record), then screw the environment. I asked some “serious” runners these questions.

Me: Do you get paid for a PB?

Typical Response: No

Me: Is it life or death to get a PB?

Typical Response: No

Me: So is a PB for your own personal happiness?

Typical Implied Response: Yes

Me: What about your trash impact?

Typical Response: The organisers clean it up!

Perhaps Brexit and Trump happened to show us how societies can slide backwards so that we would have to relearn the lessons of older generations…..(yes a long politically discussion for a long run).

Before the common use of plastics a disappearing generation remembers having to BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable). Then disposable plastic came forth. As our populations expanded, we were suckered into a disposable plastic addiction. Quiet observations have been made that our disposable plastic habit is wrecking environments; wildlife feed on our toxic rubbish, and plastic that fills landfills leach chemicals into our soil and water….and this plastic takes 100s of years to decompose.

We are totally oblivious that our convenient lifestyle does not harmoniously fit with our environment. Too many with the excuse of “I don’t have time” are really saying “I am too lazy to care. Screw the environment”. Too many companies continue on the same reckless path of developing products that are single-use and can also be pointless.

Of course there is the “money” element. Every organisation wants to minimise costs and maximise profits. It’s the law of economics. Screw the environment because profit is king. Seems the same with running/triathlons/cycling events….”Screw the environment because my PB is more important”

Many events have allowed me to do mini campaigns at their expos to encourage runners to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) on the run and some events have made some consideration towards at the very least purchasing compostable cups for their events. Some ultra events have gone further by purchasing their own reusable cups for the events or declaring zero cups and forcing participants to be responsible for at least their own cups.

But it is hard being a crazy, mad tyre-pulling lady, trying to persuade runners and event organisations to be the change & to think more holistically when they run their events.

Collaborations

Finally have understood a lone wolf can only go so far. Multi-national corporations see the benefits of having cultural diversity integrated within their own structures to strengthen their power of influence. We gain more support, enlightenment and ideas when we collaborate and form partnerships with others.

So to be more effective, this lone wolf has found buddies to help with her hunt to evolve organisations & runners to be more considerate towards other runners and the environment we all share….. and am excited to announce Ironman, Asia has allowed us to start with the Singapore Marathon. In this event, there has been far too much “run away” trash that has landed in the Singapore River and East Coast drains and sea due to poor handling of trash by runners. The cleaners are unable to pick up trash that is casually tossed in the grass, into bushes, into drains….despite there being several bins along the route. Obviously lots of very “blur sotong” runners (Singaporean saying for being ignorant).

Raise your game event runners because it’s time you learned to Bin It. People don’t like Sucky Tossers and we will be watching you!

SuckyRunnerPoster

Tabs from Gels are evil bits of trash that become run away trash