As a few of you will know I have been searching for THE CHALLENGE to supersede the Polar Challenge. It had to have a low cost entrance fee, a reasonable and achievable fundraising amount, good event support, and ooze appeal for others to want to do it with me as well as have the “Oh My God”! factor to blow your socks off.
I think I have just had my socks blown off. Five Quackathons in Five days?
Last year Dean Grimshawe of Team Warriors
asked me if I would like to be a part of his team doing the Forces March
for 2011. I declined, as I needed all my fundraising and training effort to be totally focused on the 2012 Polar Challenge. That particular challenge has now very much been drop kicked out of orbit. I can not raise the £25,000 entrance fee, let alone raise anything extra for the charities. I don’t have a network of friends and family who can dedicate their time; effort and enthusiasm to fund raising to allow me to just get on with the training.
Dean and Team Warrior completed the Forces March at the end of May. He quickly put out a twitter request asking if any one would like to be a part of a team for 2012. Wow, he must have really enjoyed the pain he endured for the challenge! Why? So I had to ring him and ask a whole lot of questions. My curiosity had been piqued! And you all know what that this Duck is like with her nosy beak! I had followed the twitters during their challenge and often saw the words “hurt”, Achilles heel gone”, “blisters”, “knackered”, “tent with no pegs”… what has made him want to go back for more?
The Forces March is billed as one of the UK’s top challenge events. Participants complete five stages in five days. 132.5 miles from Ilfracombe to Bulford. Each stage is at least 26 miles in length – 5 marathons in 5 days! The undulating all-road route begins in Ilfracombe, North Devon and passes through Exmoor, the Quantock Hills, rural Somerset and much of Salisbury Plain before finishing just outside of Bulford Camp, the UK’s biggest Army Garrison. “The Forces March is not a race. It is not a competition. It is a journey, an adventure, a life-changing experience.” Oh, that’s my clincher! Part of the entry requirement is to raise a minimum of £1000 (per team member) for The Veterans Charity. ALL funds raised as a result of participation in The Forces March must be for The Veterans CharityThe Veterans Charity
, and was founded in 2008 to provide support for the Veterans of the UK armed forces. Their focus is to support ALL Veterans and to ensure that their needs are met as quickly as possible.
The Forces March is based on a legendary march taken by men of the newly formed 6th Airborne Division during early training for D-Day in the summer of 1942. Following weeks of intensive PT the men were told they could stand down and head back to Bulford Camp where they were based at the time. However, one last task was assigned; to WALK back to Bulford. A distance of approximately 130 miles! The men not only walked back to Bulford but they completed the arduous route in 5 days dressed in FULL KIT each carrying up to 80lbs in weight!
The phone call to Dean only whetted my appetite. He assured me that everyone mingled running with walking. The Die-hards who tried to run it at speed for the first two legs did themselves a mischief. There was nothing he didn’t say, even when he honestly spoke about some of the painful moments, that I thought “Eek, no!” I want something to push me beyond my boundary and out of my comfort zone.
I am not Super Duck, just one with a passion to achieve more out of life for me and others. There was also a fantastic support crew who made life comfortable and went beyond the call of duty with motivation and enthusiastic support, keeping up morale and humour.
I whizzed down to my gym, Revive
, to see Darren (Manager and best-ever instructor) to let him know what mischief this Duck is up to… he smiled and after a cautionary word or two, has declared “Game On”!
All emotional baggage dumped at the door and the focus is back on to spend the next year getting me strong for the Great South Run, the Reading half marathon, the London Marathon (I hope) and Five marathons in Five Days! Oh, did I mention I don’t run? YET!!!!
Oh and of course I will be doing this dressed as Fibroduck still raising awareness for FibromyalgiaDean wrote a blog for Veterans Charity in lieu of doing the Forces March 2011 - have a read
I have been doing a few tests with a variety of “power foods” and "power drinks".
There are a lot of ready made protein bars, energy bars, gels, drinks, must-have shakes.
But how do they all compare with being fuel-efficient cost effective or tasty?
Have we been sucked up into a world that we must use these commercial products for improved performance and recovery?
What ever did we do before there was just a glass of milk, porridge, scrambled eggs and steaks?
A month a go I started “running”. I have decided to chase my dream to be able to do long distance running, with a view of completing an iconic marathon. I have applied to do the Virgin 2012 London marathon. But the dream isn’t to just do that one, but to be able to actually run, preferably off trail, for pleasure. However, I need to pressure of a public commitment to actually get into the focus and discipline of running, or doing anything that great demands such dedicated training regime and programme. Competing in a publicised event for a publicised cause actually gets me on track and moving! I can not ever
do anything just for me. Hence my stating I will do the London Marathon, dressed as Fibroduck for Fibromyalgia UK.
I started reading a couple of magazines dedicated to running, Runners World and Women’s Running, for advice, motivation and general information. I also subscribe to www.fetcheveryone.com for the same support and advice, but its just an online magazine, or e-zine. There is a subtle difference between the magazines and the e-zine is that one has a lot of adverts for lots of different clothes, shoes, energy foods & drinks, the other doesn’t.
I like the fun banter, common sense from Fetcheveryone. People share their successes and failures in a positive way, and that includes their own experiences with all the different “Power foods” and “power drinks”. I feel these are more genuine as they are not involved with generating revenue for a glossy magazine. Although, I still enjoy reading about all the variety of gizmos, clothing, foodstuffs that are available out in Commercial World. It brings them to my doorstep and I get to read the "science" behind them all.
But, and I am slowly getting to my point, why does there have to be a science? For me it complicates what should be a pleasurable experience. When I go for a run, or power walk I want to switch off from formulas and reasons pitted against all these different foods and drinks as to why they will make me perform better, longer and out of pocket. Just relax with natural foods and enjoy the pleasure of eating sensible food choices to enhance performance and recovery.
I am not the only one who thinks like this but often can't articulate what my dilemma and issue is. This was put into perspective by a chap, Mark Cooper (@runwithmark), who wrote a brilliant and simple blog
on nutrition for his 40 mile training run. He also had that as a feature thread on his facebook. Nutella spread on bread, jacket potato and steak, glass of milk, chocolate milkshakes, cup of coffee, water, etc, all featured in what people have as their training and recovery foods. He also shares a few favourites as me such as the 9-bar
full of seeds and filling yuminess. Ideal gluten free food with natural sources of minerals,vitamins, omegas 3-6-9…ooo science again!
Now don’t get me wrong. There is a time and place for a lot of these commercial power foods and drinks. They are conveniently packaged so you can enjoy them on the go, especially if you are participating in an event. But, I have noticed a lot of people choose to have them as a regular daily dietary requirement. They are now like a glamorous "must have" each day. The “caviar and champagne” of the “athletes”. To be seen buying them, and including them as part of a daily diet, is perhaps one’s way of stating “I am an athlete” as I have these special foods. Great! If that is what helps with your motivation and mind-set. But I am suggesting that there are cheaper, nicer and fresher ways of getting those benefits. I, however, can’t afford all those commercial brands. I am also often poorly after the gels! The adverts encourage you to have them as part of your daily diet, and people have now got out of the habit of using Mother Nature’s resources. Successful advertising campaign and promotions by the magazines, plus top athlete endorsements, will always sell you a vision – my mind’s eye will have me think I am an elite athlete if I eat and drink all those commercial products. Hehe, I know better! So, now I have aggravated a few, but the point I am trying make is, just remember good old fashion real food and drinks.
I do have a favourite 'commercial' brand. My truly own favourite is the uncomplicated power food Nakd
bars. These are raw food bars. I eat natural foods such as nuts, seeds, bananas, milk, etc. Nakd bars are ideal little bundles of "energy food" and "comfort food" in a small wrapper that doesn’t give me sticky fingers, or make me thirsty when I am out running, power walking, or back packing. Easy to unwrap and nibble at when on the go, specially if running. I favour the Gluten free range when running as these bars are very moist and don’t need water to help wash them down.The Trek bars are higher in protein so aid s recovery and re-energises me when trianing and doing a Quackathon or two. The Nakd bars are great comfort food bars, and the little bars help me if I am having a sweet tooth moment. They also count towards my fruit and vegetable "one a day" quota. Uncomplicated raw food to power me forward further, and help with recovery.
These are all I take when I am OUT and about. They compliment my training and events.
Otherwise, when I am at home I eat real food
.Conclusion? - I don't think much to all the different commercial brands.
Still love my Nakd bars and trying new recipes for lots of different meals and menus. Have a look at Melanie Ryding
's ( @nuuutymel ) website for lots of menu ideas. She is a teacher and triathlete, always training hard and conscious about gaining weight. She knows a thing or two about combining sensible food options with keeping body fueled, refueled and able to recover well from all her events and hard training.
I use Twitter as place to network. Not to just gain donations and followers, but because I learn so much from a large variety of people. What a random and eclectic group of "friends" I have from all around the world, and from the touch of a button! I learn so much from so many, and am truly thankful for all of them sharing their knowledge and being very supportive. Even today I “made a new friend” who has trained hard in the last year to run her first marathon. Thankyou @JoSmith ! Thankyou @runwithmark , @WayoftheWarrior, @MattWang83, @fatboychef, @nuuutymel, @rungeordierun, @IronmanTD2011, @Rubbish_Runner … oh so many! You are my true power foods for energy! Inspiring me and motivating me all the time!
Ooo, twitchin’ feet!
Body starting to move to the beat..
Party time at the Gym – its Zumba circuits!
I do sometimes hate the gym. It can be dull and repetitive. It’s also indoors.
But I need to use the equipment to compliment my training programme, learning to run, as a novice for my first marathon next year. I hate running too. But it’s a challenge I would like to aspire to.
Something caught my eye on a noticeboard. Zumba! “Wassat?”
Wikipedia informs me “Zumba is a dance fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez in Colombia during the 1990s. The program combines international music with dance in an effort to make exercise fun”
So I went along for a half-hour session at Curves with Bella
doing the Zumba. Oh my! Hooked! Total crazy circuits to fast Latin music using the resistance equipment and transition boards! Bella is a specially trained Zumba Instructor who was as vibrant and energetic as the music. The idea is that you are on “resistance machinery” for 1 minute, then as the 1 minute whistle blows, you move onto a “board” which is the transition area to follow her salsa moves doing aerobic style exercises, for a minute.
I have as much co-ordination as a dysfunctional giraffe on ice. However, Bella took the time and patience to help me through the steps without making feel an inferior sodden old teabag. The rest of the class also helped me out, shouting out the steps with the Instructor, Oh yeah, this baby was Zumba-ing. The class was over far too quickly. The endorphins were coursing through my body! I had so much fun, was on a real adrenaline high and felt I could go and run my first marathon there and then! Ermm, hold that thought I can only just run 3km in 20 mins at the moment!
I am now signing up for some salsa classes, and now do two Zumba sessions for an hour each, a week. What was a chore, a challenge, my monster mountain to climb, training for next year’s Quackathon Challenges, has turned into a most enjoyable Latin experience.
Everyone really must give this fast paced, smile raising, happy-soul energetic exercise session a go!
The Polar Challenge is very much my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and that of another!
I have an addition to the team, the lovely Lauren Richardson
. I shall be writing more about her later. An added to charity to benefit from the Polar Challenge training and event is the North East Wales Search and Rescue team - NEWSAR
. Lauren is one of the their volunteers.
We shall be raising the profile of the terrible illness fibromyalgia, through our training, events and ultimately the Polar Challenge Race, dressed as Fibroducks. As well as blowing the trumpet of the good work of all the volunteers in Search & Rescue, but particularly the NEWSAR.
The Extreme World Race
Polar Challenge is one of the coldest, toughest, and most spectacular endurance races on the planet. The Polar Challenge is a 320 nautical mile race to the 1996 Magnetic North Pole. This is Extreme Racing at the top of the world. The frozen ice of the High Arctic is a vast expanse of rugged sea ice, boulders and gullies, treacherous islands, and home to one of the world’s deadliest land based predators. It’s a stern test for the toughest of individuals. This is more than just a race; it is the adventure of a lifetime.
Extreme World Races believes that any person with the right tuition, guidance, equipment, and instruction is capable of competing. Their ethos is that it is in our nature to explore and to test ourselves, pushing through mental and physical barriers.
The journey will take us from our everyday life to the frozen landscape of Norway for a week of intensive training.We will be comprehensively trained by the world’s most experienced Polar Instructors in the use of the equipment. The intensive week is essential, as it will provide us with knowledge and expert guidance required not only to survive in the Arctic, but also to compete.
It is here that we will be fully equipped with the essential clothing and navigation, cooking, and survival tools that the environment demands. The training is a mixture of classroom and lecture based material, interspersed with practical, hands-on tuition. Nordic Skiing (XC Skiing) is taught and how to manage a pulk. This week is specifically designed as an intensive course to highlight the importance of knowledge, practice and demonstrate the dangers of extreme cold.
The Polar Challenge gives competitors the opportunity to experience one of the last remaining wildernesses of the world by racing to the very top of it at the Magnetic North pole.
Racing in teams of two or three, competitors set off from Resolute Bay in Northern Canada across a terrain of frozen sea ice and Arctic tundra. As well as racing against the other teams and dealing with the extremes of environment, competitors are also likely to have to factor polar bears into the game plan, the natural inhabitants of this extreme environment and the most powerful animals on earth.
The teams for 2011 have just flown at this weekend and the race is due to start next week.
I shall be glued to the incoming blogs, race updates and diary calls that come through. We are supporting Team Arktix, with close runner-ups to be Pole Position.
We shall be learning from all that they do.
Our appetite for this extreme race has been well and truly whetted.Supporting good causes
There are three good causes that are close to our hearts, and the hearts of many others. Together we can all raise awareness of them and provide funding to help their future and those they support. The beneficiaries of the charities face daily struggles and challenges. Raising the money and awareness, training for the next two years and then actually competing is but a token gesture compared to their daily struggles. 2nd May 2011 foot note added - This is written due to events in a couple of North Pole races April 2011. Due to a variety of reasons I have now shelved all plans to participate in the Polar Challenge. Instead I shall be concerntrating on other challenges. Mother Nature is veryunpredictable and I feel that the climate changes are putting the race and support in jeopardy.
I took advantage of the snow to do some resistance training,pulling a tyre - my pretend pulk!
This was a slow week with a few hiccups for work. The children are I work with all seemed under the weather and a little unhappy. I had to dig deep to keep them happy and relaxed; a hard task, which had me frazzled at the end of each session. I had to sing a lot of nursery rhymes, do a lot of walking, play some very silly tot games such as peekaboo and This little Piggy..repeatedly, over and over and over again! But that is what my job is about. Whatever it takes to make sure they stay calm and relaxed, and going home with a smile, Thus the parents know that their child is in safe hands, with an agenda just for their pleasure, giving the families true respite.
I have a repertoire of songs and things to do for all the age groups, just based on my own experiences, plus supportive television programmes and reading material. A little research is literally child’s play.
So, after my intense full on day, how do I relax and recover? It’s not always good or healthy to reach for a glass of wine or box of chocolates? I rly on walking. It truly is my therapy. Walking is my exercise and sanity too. I enjoy a few other things too such as reading, swimming, cooking, photography.. But walking means I can just put on my shoes, grab the dog and go!
As I have mentioned before, I have problems keeping my weight off. I am past the need for it to be a vanity thing; it is more about health and the benefits. Through walking I have made lots of friends, all who enjoy being outdoors and joining up with me for a variety of different sorts of “walks”. It could just be dog walk, a ramble along the river, or a power walk with Nordic walking poles to really get a good cardio and all over body work out! I also love the freedom to walk for miles, camp over night, then continue walking further on – long distance backpacking. I fit walking in daily so that it is not seen as a necessary evil to lose weight or diet! The dreaded words!!
I have the same view of eating. I love my food. I have done a thousand different types of diets! And what I have learned? Some one else gains pounds from my lack of loss of lbs!!! I have been put off certain types of food due to the faddy diets – I struggle with wet food such as smoothies and soups, due to various meal replacement shakes.
So, in order for me to get a balance on losing weight and getting fit I have a cunning plan. Embrace life and the fun things in life!
Move more and eat less! I have just signed up for the Team Warrior 90 Day Challenge
. I have set myself the target to lose a stone in weight, drop a dress size and be able to do a 10km walk in a faster time than I currently do. It is important I have fun and don’t feel deprived! I want to be able to chew gorgeous tasting food, enjoy a glass of wine, enjoy the gym, a swim and improve my levels of fitness for extra energy and strength.
I will use the Cardio tracker app on my phone to map & record my time and distance, logged on a google map. I will use a Polar Heart rate monitor to record my calorie burn and effort, so I can see an improvement in fitness. Plus I can see what my calorie burn is to know not to exceed a certain calorie amount, which I think will be about 1500 calories. I will show an indication of calories eaten, but not obsess about it. In the past I have been to obsessed with tape measures, scales, calorie or point counts etc and really it should be about a whole heap of other factors to record the results. Cook good food from scratch with minimal oils,sugars and salts; eat less, move more! Avoid processed and/or refined foods; just choose natural.
I have taken a photo of the vital statistics and will be quite brave to show them here. In 90 days time I am hoping there will be some movement on the tape and scales in a positive direction; plus a photo showing some good times for the 10km walking! With improved fitness and shedding of some unwanted pounds I am hoping to be even bouncier with more zest and energy to be out there doing as a Duck does best. waddling long distance for charity!Day 1 Weight
13st 12 Neck
115cms R. Bicep
112cms R. Thigh
Team Dogface met for their first training walk on Sunday 23rd January.
There are four of us and one dog, Shaun (who the team is named after).
The team are doing a 40km trekathon across the South Downs on the 7th May, 2011.This will be the first ever long distance walk partaken by Sarah, Neville and Paul. It will also be their first charity event. The have been inspired to do something like this by the enthusiastic quacks of a Rambling Duck who is always asking if anyone wants to do a “big walk”?
Initially Sarah and I had looked to do the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker
on the South Downs. That was a daunting challenge, with a high entry fee and an even bigger minimum sponsor request. So after a little surfing on the net, Sarah discovered a group called Across The Divide
. They do a multitude of different events in the Uk, Europe and worldwide to appeal to anyone; from a hike to a sledge ride! The entry fees are more realistic, to pay for the equipment and support, plus you choose your own charity, each event has a small sponsorship minimum or none at all. It is here that the South Downs
walk was found. And the birth of Team Dogface
! As we are a team, then it was joint decision as to which charity will be benefit and it was agreed that as Shaun was rescued through Dogs Trust, then they would be our beneficary!
Our first team training session was a short walk of 9km. We hadn’t all met so it was a good opportunity to meet, chat, learn about each other, and above all get a feel for our fitness level. I had my Rucksack packed with yummy Nakd
bars and the photogenic, publicity-seeking Fibroduck
, plus all the essential items I would actually take on any hike. Train with the weight! Neville was our designated routemaster and Satnag. Armed with maps and the machine to record our stats he then pointed North and shouted “Team Dogface is Go”! Of course, Fibroduck joined us, but just the Littel guy, not me in my suit..this time!
We put in a steady 4.3km pace, on mostly sticky muddy but flat terrain. It stayed dry, and we warmed up quickly so had an early pitstop to remove our arctic layers. Well it was only just 2 degrees when we set off! The walk was one chosen for its easy locality to all of us, close to junction 12 M4, around the Sulhamstead, Berkshire, area. Farmland, towpaths and a little tarmac, all with some great scenery. Most memorable for me was to see the early arrival of snowdrops, mostly squashed on a well trodden path, plus a graveyard who’s church had been removed, bar the porch,,gate and church door! Quite bizarre to see!
So, a little exercise, a little fresh air, some nattering and laughter! What a great way to spend a couple of hours – away from TVs, computers, kitchen sink and the vacuum cleaner. Who said getting fit and healthy had to be so much trouble? As the old Turkish proverb goes – “No road is long with good company”
Has this inspired you to get out?
I wanted to find some hilly fun places to do a lot of training in, without having to go to far from home in Berkshire. Also, it beats the gradient-training programme on a Dreadmill! I invited good friend, Graham Smith (He is a better map-reader than me) to join me. He is training to do the South Downs in the Whitsun break, so he was certainly up for some extra training, so long as I didn’t wear my Fibroduck Duck suit. But I took the mini version instead. Fibroduck gets out on all our walks.
Graham and I are all-weather kind of people and have sufficient outdoor clothes to make sure we don’t perish. He wasn’t amused by my choice of hat, but it sure kept my ears warm! The weather was very blustery but dry. We were blessed!
The adventure started in the car trying to find the Walbury Hill carpark. Satnag was struggling to locate it so we resorted to a good ol fashion ordnance survey map (174) and found it before Satnag could say “Recalculating!”
The walk itself was a very easy 9 ½ miles that took a very leisurely 3 hours. We lunched at a rather heavenly pub called the Jack Russell, in the village Fraccombe (oh we had such fun playing with that name, especially when we spotted the Village Hall!!). It was a circular walk along a section of the Wayfarers Walk, from Walbury Hill
to Pilot Hill
, then southish to Fraccombe, turning southwest to return along a road back to the car park. Had to cut out some of the more fun paths as it was getting dark very quickly. Thank goodness I had packed the hi-viz stuff! Certainly a lot more exploring to do there. I feel me a Wild Camp long weekend coming in soon.
I had an 8kg rucksack, purposely heavy for training/fitness purposes, but also I wanted to carry a few essential items – 1 litre of water, 1 small flash hot chocolate (Galaxy is perfect), camera, purse, map, compass, Garmin GPS, first aid kit, spare waterproofs (montane featherlight), spare hat and gloves (fluorescent), lightweight ripstop groundsheet (has many uses), potty bag (small trowel, hand gel, shewee, tissues, lighter), small torch, swiss army knife, emergency whistle, 2 Nakd bars, 2 Trek bars,
Firestarter (a small sparky thing ideal if lighter or matches fail), Rab storm bag, Hi-viz cycling vest….. This is my Bare Minimum List!! You must always be prepared..anywhere…anytime….
Poor Graham had to endure 6 hours of my company rambling on about the Rambling Duck idea from conception through to current status. As I spoke, and explained all the rationale, a few other ideas began to take shape..shame I didn’t have pen and paper in my Rucksack…must add that into the Bare Minimum List!!! However, despite my chatting, I felt that in such space of time I had really achieved so much; from a pressure bearing decision to finish Team Awnty to a regenerated new project that still had same goal but a lot more ambition and more fitting of Me. So, the walk was a much-needed stretch of the legs as well as a Pat on the Back.