Sunday, 27 December 2009

Happy Christmas and thank you!!!

Walberswick village shop
Trish and Ken Mayhew
Julia Rice
Drew, Deb, Simon and Dash
Andrea, Simon and Amalie
Camilla, Jeremy, Thea and Esme
Jan Thwaites
Chris Marcela, Jamie and Michaela
Helena and the Walker family
Jo and Matthew Guinness
Gil and Eddie Child
Linsey Gorham
Anjula Crocker
Claire Quilter
Luna and Mertz
Jane Kirkeby
Helle Beck-Andersen
Shirley-Ann Humphries
Sonja, Trevor and Harry
Lindsey Gray
John Ormerod
Ian, Catherine, Lily and Daisy Salmon
Warwick and Caroline Comer-Stone
Lizzie Whittenbury
June Bellis
Christa Lossin
Barney Andrews
Neo Stefanou
Hazel Church
Julie Button
Anna Colman
Tom, Sez, Flynn an Joe Hamilton
Christine and Spike Howell
John and Christine Fernihough
Dayami Amador-Espinosa
Anna Swann
Robin, Mandy, Anna and Max Merttens
Nicky PHillips
The Button Family
Nicholas and Victoria Muers-Raby
Terry Boase
Ute Towris
Mark Umfreville
Kevin Avison
Barbara Priestman
Rob Bevan
Lise Bevan
Gill and Becky
The Maynes
Mbili and her owners
Dom Gothard

And the kind anonymous donors.


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Festive weather

Today I was accused, twice, of bringing on this weather by wanting to train for the cold - unfair? Whatever... it has been good to try out my cold weather gear. Thanks to some very generous friends and family I am now in possession of wonderful undies to keep me warm, and which I suspect I shall live in as well as a down jacket.

 The ice has meant that the running has not been very safe, even the beach was solid this morning, but it didn't stop the girls. They have had to wear coats a couple of times on our walks and runs as they don't have the advantage of double fur, like huskies.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

This is where it gets real

In more ways than one. Today we had our briefing at the Dogs Trust centre in Uxbridge and it was a real eye opener. Firstly because it really brought home why I'm doing this, and secondly that there is no going back! The staff at the centre gave us a tour and introduced us to some of the animals currently in their care. Whilst they don't simply re-home dogs, this is a huge part of their work and it was heartbreaking to see evidence of the kind of abuse some dogs receive. 2 weeks ago a group of dogs were rescued from a woman in Ireland who had kept them all, at least 12 dogs, in crates for their entire lives. Most had never been outside. They arrived emaciated and some were not really able to walk, having never been allowed to. They were terrified and painfully thin, although she had obviously given them enough to just keep them alive. Within the 2 weeks at the centre they are all making good recoveries, some are even becoming confident enough to approach humans. They were being taken for short walks in the snow and were showing signs of appreciation, tails wagged.

In the words of Paloma Faith "Do you want the truth or something beautiful?' the truth isn't beautiful here, and I'm not about to say that it is, but seeing 20 families arrive in the morning to take their new found friends home was pretty amazing. I do actually have to make an admission too... I fell in love. No, not with the tall, dark, good looking bloke who leads expeditions across the arctic, who gave us the facts about what we have let ourselves in for, but with Millie:

It's not a great photo as she was so happy to see us, but she is just gorgeous, and not unlike our little Willow, who is titchy and brindle. The guide explained that brindle dogs are the least likely to be re-homed, the statistics prove this, but no one knows why. I can't imagine why! Who wouldn't want a brindle misfit like this?

Most of the dogs waiting to find home are Staffies, Lurchers or Collies. The Labs and Springers go straight away, as do the little dogs, and puppies are popular, so the 'sticky' dogs are usually older crossbreeds with brindle coats, like Leggit here.

Friday, 18 December 2009


It's been pretty chilly over here in East Anglia and whilst the snow doesn't really settle that well by the sea it was drifting badly on the A12 last night. I'm due to go to the Dogs Trust HQ tomorrow for our first 'Arctic Briefing', so I'm really hoping the weather clears up and that the roads are OK. I'm very excited about going as I can ask all those questions that have been on my mind, like 'does your snot really freeze?' and so on. Since my operation on my skull the whole nose blowing thing has been a bit of an issue as I no longer have the orbital wall to keep my eyes in the right place when I blow my nose, and they wander about for a bit - if it freezes, who knows what could happen. My consultant says it's quite normal and the really good news is that I don't have to have any more operations. I do, however, need to look after my eyes and Mertz has bought me a wonderful Christmas present - top of the range sports glasses, I can't wait for the sun to come out now.

Training is going well this week, and the girls love running about in the snow, eating it and throwing themselves about in the cold. I've discovered the joys of merino underwear and so no longer have to wear layer upon layer of fleece. I only realised this after the first time I wore the undies to run in though - nearly passed out from the heat. As part of the deal of undertaking this madness I get discount at Cotswold Outdoor clothing and now need to be held back as I am skint, what with it being Christmas and all that, but my Mother in Law is going to get me a toasty downy coat for my birthday present, so I'm really lucky.

Just looked outside and the snow is coming down again, lovely as it is, it would be ironic if I couldn't make it to the Arctic Briefing due to snow on the road....

Friday, 4 December 2009


I have an alcohol related injury - and it is nothing to do with drinking it. I was checking out the offers at our local Co-op when a wine bottle fell from the top shelf and landed on my foot, it didn't break, nor did the bottle, as the foot broke its fall, but now I have a very sore foot indeed. Determined to be back running tomorrow, so lots of arnica and putting my feet up in front of a DVD this evening.

I feel that this run of excuses needs to stop!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


I feel the need for some technology to help to inject some much needed new energy into my training regime and so I started with a couple of apps to encourage me on the runs: a distance meter and a pedometer. The pedometer is great and really helps me to plan new runs, now that some tracks are too wet, but the distance meter didn't like this part of the world and claimed that I had only run 0.19 miles - rubbish!

The biggest breakthrough was my new sounds though, normally I don't like to run with an iPod but I am ashamed to admit that I now have 'Men's Health playlist - mixed by Judge Jules' - it's actually just a continuous stream of dance tracks, for an hour. It keeps me going till I've finished the exercises at home too, I think I might suggest it to Mark - our circuit training instructor - as he threatened to take out the Christmas mix on Tuesday... please God, no.

Next stop Nike + trainers and sensor, then I'd really have some motivation!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Week off training

We were both off colour this week - either a lurgie which we managed to fight off or a result of the wind being in the wrong direction and blowing the boiler fumes back into the house... either way the nausea didn't make for a good week on the training front. I'm 99% now so back to the running tomorrow. Mertz is away on one of his walks this weekend, so the girls and I can go off for an adventure in the morning.

I'm missing the huskies - I must try to find a day when I can join them soon.

Mother found another balaclava today and also bought a brilliant beanie at an Aplaca farm - it's very, very warm. In fact it has been very cold on the coast today due to wind chill, so I test drove the merino thermals and yes, they do do what it says on the box, they are WARM.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Fundraising update

I'm delighted to say that I've hit the £2000 mark, 60% of the way there - THANK YOU!

My Mother has been amazingly generous in my Father's name and I am so very touched that the money that she has raised from selling his engineering equipment has helped me to reach this target, he's still supporting me and/or bailing me out, even though he's been dead for a year now...

Also thanks so much to Harry and Inga Edwards, John Ormerod and my dear friend Lindsey Gray, who has always felt the need to set a good example to her kids, our godsons: 

I still think you're fucking mad. I paid extra so I could swear.Donation by Lindsey Gray 23/11/09 
£50.00+ £14.10 Gift Aid

Now the task of sourcing all the equipment starts. Underwear I'm buying, but everything else is beg, steal or borrow. The outdoor shop in Norwich is having a sale so I snapped up some merino wool undies - not attractive in any way whatsoever, but very, very warm, even the fact that the box says WARM on the front fills me with reassurance. No-one I am likely to see at any time outside the Arctic shall see me in them however.
I couldn't believe my luck when I met someone at a party on Saturday night who had been to Iceland recently and had to buy some  -60 kit, which she is going to lend me, in return for my knitting one of my strange neck garments for her. This is a relief as I tried on some neoprene face masks (on my kit list) in the outdoor shop and they are the most uncomfortable things I've ever worn, so I don't really relish splashing out on one.

Thursday, 19 November 2009


The stored heat is being depleted already. Tuesday wasn't too bad, so I managed 2 short runs and a keep fit class before teaching in the afternoon but then yesterday I foolishly ran against the wind and nearly knocked myself out. It's amazing the difference it can make, today I ran in reverse and covered twice as much ground.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


A week in the warmth can do wonders for the soul, mine's been well and truly simmered in the Canarian sun for long enough for me still to be well thawed. This will be the warmest I'll feel for some time, and now I have a thermometer in my head the mercury will soon start to fall steadily towards the coldest February of my life so far, but I suspect I may get a taste for it. I am still feeling verywarmclaire

Day 1
It didn't start well. We arrived to be picked up by our 'VIP collection service' which turned out to be a shared people carrier with the owner of our Finca on speaker phone having a heated discussion with his wife about who had payed what and who should have been responsible for what, but sadly not what the status of the accommodation was. A bottle of £2.50 Cava was handed round the truck but its benefits didn't last as having been up from 4am, the last thing we needed to find was that our yurt was still occupied by a family who had ended up in hospital overnight and had not been able to check out. We felt for them as they had not even been able to get back to pack and gather they things, but being told that we'd have to go and wait on the beach because 'check in wasn't till 4pm' (even though we had been collected by the owner at 12) wasn't really what we wanted to hear.

Tila, our host, did everything he could to get the situation sorted and once he had stopped panicking and being told to fob us off, the  yurt was blitzed and we were taken back from the beach to our home for the next 6 days. It was love at first sight.

Yolanda the yurt - our haven with views of the stars, a comfortable bed and cool marble floor for lying on after a run. She's a bit like a tardis, looks like a little tent on the outside but the space inside is wonderful.

By the time our host had taken us to the supermarket to make up for the fiasco and we had poured our respective glasses, everything seemed to fall into place. Before I knew it Mertz was scheduling the whole week, planning meals, working out where he could get fresh bread and wine each day and to my surprise and delight, promising to cycle with me on my run in the morning. We feasted on home made tapas and paella with the left over Cava before collecting our solar powered lights, Moroccan storm candles and retiring to the womblike structure which was going to be our haven. She looked even more gorgeous at night.

Day 2

Started well. I could really get quite used to this personal trainer lark. I ran, he cycled, it worked really well till it came to the deep sand and hills when I usually came off best. Although the bikes provided were of the All Terrain shape, they were not really capable of coping with all terrains, as they couldn't all change gear. The first day he got lucky, but that wasn't always the case. Having been told, 2 weeks ago by a bike salesman in Suffolk, that we shouldn't buy a mountain bike because we were obviously over 28, and no-one over that age should have a mountain bike, Mertz seemed to manage quite well. There was one problem though - the seat wasn't padded and nor were the tracks, so he sought alternative solutions and shoved a cushion down his trousers (see photo best viewed full screen...).

We did discover, on this holiday, that Mertz and I have  been on a food
motorway, traveling in different directions for the last 15 years. When we met he didn't have any interest in food, and consumed very little other than Consulate menthols and Barcardi and coke, and I was obsessed with eating and cooking. Now we meet in the motorway service station, but how long for, I wonder. I feel the drag of the other carriage-way and feel sure that his interest may soon become an obsession, how that will leave us I don't know. It bodes well for my weight, as he weighed less than me when we met (he's over 6ft), but planning our new kitchen is down to me - perhaps I should hand over the reigns?

He promised he couldn't find a smaller glass.

I ran slowly to start with as the sand was quite tough, but once I had a feel for it it was quite thrilling as going down the slopes was a bit like treading water. When we got back, having stopped for a stretch for me and some fresh bread for him, Mertz had to have a bit of a lie down. After breakfast we found 2 bikes and set of to explore. I was quite nervous to start with, especially coming down the tracks, but was great to be able to go across the lava rocks and get to the cliffs.

We had a quick dip and as the waves were up and the sea was full of surfers Mertz decided to bring the boogie board down tomorrow. He said he would check with Josh, the resident surf expert about tides or rips or whatever they are and I wished him luck with that, as although he's ranked 4th on the island, Josh is only 14 and already has the blond tousled long hair and the blonde tousled look in his faraway eyes.

Day 3 etc.
It just got better and better, I fell into a routine of run (with personal trainer Mertz), yoga, breakfast, cycle, swim, eat, read, eat, drink, read, with various trips, activities and pleasures as the week wore on. Each day we met a wonderful old boy and his dog, he shouted amusing anecdotes at us, at least we assume that's what they were as he assumed we were German, but he seemed to be suggesting that I might have left my bike behind, and on the third day he offered me his. One one occasion we had to hand over our track to the boys though.

Inspired by their speed and ability to get up the mountains, we hired a car to discover Cesar Manrique's houses, gardens and art. It was quite humbling to see what in impact he has made on the island, in fact impact is probably the wrong word as he has managed to work with the island to produce work that can only be from the island, as well as laying down guidelines for what can and can't be done, architecturally.

Jameos del Agua

The Cactus Garden staircase

It was awe inspiring and although Brian, my wonderful architect friend, recommended we went, I think he might regret it when I start planning a white swimming pool with black and white rocks.

By the end of the week I was running down the hill, past the first stop of the fresh bread and around the village, where the local police hang out, watching surfers and polishing their ambulance, trying to look cool in their Raybans and uniforms. On the last day one of them finally said hola. The last day was certainly our hottest and I was grateful for the marble floor to lie on after the run, and for the pool just below our yurt, which I hadn't felt the need for till then. It was really, really bloody cold. Apparently it is fed from the well, which would explain it.

The shape of the pool was actually perfect, why are private pools usually so big? They don't need to be, this was great for lengths, but also parties - which there was one of on our last night, but we were just too happy, tired and wanted to have our last night in out wonderful yurt. It may also have had something to do with the fact that I had started the second Stieg Larsson in the trilogy that morning and had got to page 356 by supper time....

Having had a rocky start we left the island planning a return. The Finca is wonderful and Tila's charm won us over after the first day, regardless of the glitches its a fabulous experience; sleeping in a yurt, open to the stars and cooking outside either on the barbeque or the outdoor kitchen - just like posh camping really...

On my return I found that I had had some very generous sponsorship for the trip, thank you so much:

The Salmon Family, Warwick and Caroline Comer-Stone, Lizzie Whittenbury, Barney Andrews, Neo Stefanou, Julie Button, Anna Coleman, The Hamilton Family, Christine AGAIN!, John and Chris Fernihough, Dayami Amador-Espinosa and Anna Swann. I shall be running for you all tomorrow!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Grey day

A good long run today through grey skies and puddles. The temperature was good for a long run but I did have to cut it short and only did 45 minutes today, I was aiming for an hour but I felt quite unwell halfway across the common and had to stop. This hasn't happened before and could have something to do with the fact that I had 2 glasses of red wine last night, I haven't been drinking red wine for a long time, but we tried to get into a holiday mood with a bottle. A mistake not to be repeated and a great shame that I can not longer tolerate it.

Up at 4am tomorrow to fly to Lanzarote, to stay in a yurt, run on the black beaches and read.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Postcards arrived

Postcards designed by my official sponsor arrived today, via MOO cards, they are really efficient and Rob's done a fantastic job, made me feel quite proud when I saw them.

In an effort to keep the training up and deliver cards I did so at a run, around the village, and distributed the first pack in about 40 minutes. In a village like this it's often hard to know which houses are holiday homes and so I asked a couple of local oracles and worked on Hazel's maxim that if there is a car outside, then someone's there. Slightly embarrassingly I bumped into people I knew, but was able to help one couple load a bookshelf into a truck, which made me feel less guilty about handing them a 'begging card'. Another couple, who are raising funds for the Cystic Fibrosis charity were keen to take books, which I had not sold at the boot sale - they have a really good bookstall which is on the road down to the river in Walberswick, if ever you are passing and the weather is fine, you are bound to find something interesting there.

The village shop team have been wonderful and the governors have already, very kindly, made a donation as well as allowing me to have a collection envelope behind the counter. The staff have been so encouraging too, and have displayed one of the cards in pride of place. The Anchor Pub has also offered to display a poster and I hope they will take a collecting envelope too.

I'm getting carried away with the whole idea and thinking t-shirts, flags, hats, mittens - all branded verycold, perhaps that's over doing it... stop me please

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Lionel Guilt

There will be no more 'It's raining, no training' entries in my blog.

I read Lionel Shiver's article on her nocturnal runs and was wracked with guilt. How can I wimp out and not go for a run because it's raining, when I live by the sea and have the day time to run in?

I did actually end up doing some training yesterday as I remembered that there was a circuit training/keep fit class going on so I ran across the green, so as to keep dry - not for the health benefits, and joined Mark and the team. It was a good way to get back into the swing after a particularly food and drink filled weekend.

This morning I set off, with Lionel's word's ringing in my ears "The round trip is roughly nine miles and how I'd like to claim that over the years that distance has started to seem shorter. That it's got easier. But then exercise being hard is, you know, the point." And so now I have even more of an incentive than: the Dog's Trust, my health, my good and generous friends, who have sponsored me and the fact that I am going to be leaving for the Arctic in roughly 14 weeks, thanks Lionel.

Running on a good day here is a privilege. My route through the lanes, onto the common and down the river tow path onto the beach is remarkable and this morning it seemed to offer me more that the usual beauty, I'd like to think this was the result of my Lionel epiphany, and Mother Nature giving me one more reason to get out there.

The sky was clear, blue and the full moon hung low over the fields, the dogs were completely energised from an early night and the change in the weather, and of course Luna always responds to the moon. As I ran along the tow path the sun was blinding from the sky and from its reflection in the puddles that regularly span the whole path. We must look slightly batty from the other side of the river, running along a seemingly flat path but every 3 strides jumping a meter, one after each other; small dog, larger dog, human. It certainly upset the local white Ibis, who flew straight over our heads as we dropped down to the lower section of the path and squelched through the mud. The sand was hard work as usual but we kept going and took the longer circuit, increasing the time to 45 minutes. Tomorrow an hour.

My hard work was rewarded on my return when logged on to my sponsorship site at to find that I'd hit the £1000 mark, so THANK YOU ALL! Just another £2500 to go now...

Monday, 2 November 2009


Thank you to all the lovely people who have already sponsored me:

Christine Howell
Dominic Gothard
Jo King (Mbili)
Pete and Ali Mayne
Gill and Becky Jones
Rob Bevan
Lise Bevan
Barbara Priestman
Kevin Avison
Mark Umfreville
Ute Towriss
Hazel Church
Terry Boase
Victoria and Nicholas Muers-Raby
June Bellis
Christa Partington

Fundraising starting in earnest

Last weekend the fundraising began in earnest with a car boot sale, raising £155, lots of lovely people just came and gave me a quid once they knew that it was all going to the Dog's Trust, but I really must get myself organised with a proper t-shirt, poster etc next time. It was interesting to see what sold and I was most surprised about selling a load of old gauges from my Father's workshop, as I was unpacking the Landrover. A couple of people asked if the Landrover was for sale - probably would have raised the total if I had sold her.

This weekend my official sponsor helped me to design a postcard and buy the domain name so now I feel ready to start asking for support to get the necessary funds in for Christmas, otherwise it'll be no presents for anyone...

Lots of people have been very generous so far and will be getting big thanks.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Our new running track

This is the final stretch of the 3 mile loop, of the middle of the 5 miler. The dunes are pretty hard work and if it is warm, as it has been up till today, I've been getting a bit out of puff here. Luna and Willow take off at speed and run up and down the dunes, appearing between the clumps of grass every now and then.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Settled at last!

Finally settled in our new house and have a routine of sorts, which allows for fitness training, but as yet I haven't been able to go over to train with the dogs and it is hell! I really miss them all and the buzz of the morning dash - I just can't wait to find some time but it is so much further to travel now and I have my own hounds to consider.

Running by the sea is not only more pleasurable, but apparently training in the sand dunes is particularly good for snow running. The hounds are loving it here and they are getting better at running to heel, although they know, as well as I do, that here there is little risk of traffic as there are no through roads.

Today we had 4 miles of running, a short yoga session, then borrowed Mother's bike for a cycle of about the same distance. I'm looking into getting a bike of my own but I have no idea where to start. Must ask the bike oracle.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Back in the saddle

After a couple of weeks off, due to moving house and the weather being too hot for the dogs, this morning was GLORIOUS! The start is later now, as it doesn't get light in East Anglia till 5ish and having a lie in was a bonus. The big excitement of the day was that little Flint is now running in harness for the last few turns of the trail. Ali and I walked him to the meeting point, whilst Sal took the team out and we waited, Flint ears pricked and waiting for them. As they approached he almost started to run but Ali held him back and we got him onto the line with the most experienced and friendly team.

He is a total natural and the Girls are obviously delighted with his desire to pull. He had been with the team once before and so knew what to do, but had not had to make any turns, he was nudged by his teammate, Cub, and soon had the hang of what to do. He flopped down exhausted for about 2 seconds when we got back to the truck, had a glass of water, and then was demanding to go out again!

The sun rose over the forest the sky turned apricot and the mist lifted, revealing the Norfolk skies, it going to be a great day. I must bring my camera nest time as once we have moved it will be hard to train with the Girls as often, it'll be a long drive. Off to the Suffolk coast now to deal with legal stuff and get some cycling in.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Puppy training

Back out with the Girls this morning - what a beautiful start to the day - nice and cool, slightly misty on the drive over to the forest and then the sun came up slowly, perfect for training. It was just warm enough not to have to wear gloves.

Flint (the pup) has been off sick, having had an abscess, but he is back, fit and raring to go, so he gets to run along behind the teams. We took turns running with him today and I tried out one of Ali's patent human harnesses. He is so keen to run now that he will pull for quite a way. Here he is wearing his harness - I can't believe how much he has grown!

I tried the human harness with my two on our run later, and it was comfy for me but their lead is too heavy for it and swung too much when they weren't pulling. I'll have to get Ali to work something out for me. Just a short run this morning as we have a busy day and starting training that bit later (4.30am now) has a knock on effect.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Blogging again

I've been rubbish at this recently, probably because I don't feel that i am progressing enough, especially in the light of watching 'On Thin Ice' over the last couple of weeks, but actually I'm doing better now, so they have become an inspiration. As Red says: my metaphoric distance is long!

Generally the running is getting much better and I no longer feel any aches and pains on the morning run, which varies between 2 and 4 miles now. I'm aiming for 5 miles a day next week, once I can work out a road free route for my dogs. I'm going to have to get some heavier weights as the 3 kg ones I have are no longer a challenge and I keep flinging them about, so I suppose that's a good sign. The whole press up thing is sorted and I am doing 3 x 12 each morning after my run. Cutting down on food was going quite well last week, but the weekend went a bit pear shaped after watching Rick Stein and having to try the duck braised in orange juice etc...

Sheyne gave me courage as well, thanks Sheyne, by taking up yoga, having listened to me blah-ing on about it, so my morning sun salutations have begun anew.

I'm looking forward to training with the Girls this week, in the hope that this weather will turn a bit dryer as it should be nice and cool for the huskies. I've learned how to harness and attach them to the line, as well as releasing the line although I am still a bit nervous of getting it wrong as the consequences could be dire, but I've got the hang of the rest of the routine: watering, face cleaning, feeding, removing harnesses and getting them back into the truck.

Hoping for a dry morning of training tomorrow.

I've been really encouraged by the fact that some people have already sponsored me, and I still have 7 months to go, thanks guys, much appreciated.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

By the light of the moon

Setting off with the oldies

This morning there were 24 dogs and the last team we took out were the oldies and training dogs. Parry is the Alpha female and she is in the lead, training others. She manages to turn the team on a corner.

When I returned home, having left the house at 3.20am, there had been a protest - she had been into my bag and helped herself to cheque book, wool, hand cream and then found a clog to haul into her space. She'd also chewed her bed. I don't think she is keen on this part of the training, she prefers the running and yoga.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Back in training

The bruise has started to come out now and I am able to run again, still uncomfortable - at least that is my excuse for only doing 2 miles this morning. I feel that I need to start again really, but I have managed to master press ups in the meantime. Did 3 lots of 30 seconds on plank pose this morning, so will go for 40 tomorrow. Discussed running with an experienced running friend and have decided that running would generally be easier if I lost some weight too, so today I start restricting my diet. I've been very hungry recently as a result of iron tablets and exercise, which has meant that I've not lost any weight so I hope it will be OK. The big incentive is that the less there is to carry around, the further I can go, in theory.

Watched On Thin Ice last night, rather a timely programme as I now feel that I cannot complain about my training programme when I look at theirs. I'm not going to be dragging tyres down the beach, that's for sure. They did so well, coming second, especially as the Fogle had that flesh eating disease at the time.

(The 2008 Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race was the first since Scott and Amundsen's historic race nearly 100 years ago.

Roald Amundsen completed the trek on December 11, 1911, with Robert Scott finishing on January 17, 1912.)

Hoping for a call from the Girls this evening as the weather has really cooled down here and it should be OK to go out with the huskies either tomorrow or Wednesday, hopefully both, so I'm going to get a nice early night tonight.

Food: pineapple and banana smoothie, steamed shredded chicken with dark soy and broccoli

Thursday, 2 July 2009

We're having a heatwave

This weather is not good for large, hairy, excitable dogs, and so the huskies are having a little break until the weather cools down, even at 3.30am temperatures are in double figures and it has been very humid in the forest too. I spoke to Ali again yesterday and she had taken the puppy to the Norfolk show, he got second place, but they had to spend all the time in the shade with lots of other hot dogs. Apparently the pack are going out for playtime really early, digging holes and charging about, and then just resting in the shade, that is the great thing about their home being in the forest - lots of shade.

My personal training has hit a small obstacle too. I won't be running or doing any yoga that involves lying down for a couple of days as I had a little tumble yesterday resulting in a deep bruise and a bit of a pain in my arse - as my Mother agrees, it's better than my being a pain in the arse. It was as a result of trying to load a very large bench into the back of my ancient Landrover, some friends were holding one end as I climbed inside to guide it in but as they pushed I got sandwiched between the bench and a metal bar with my foot trapped. It hurt - a lot. If my arse wasn't so large I would probably be able to run today, but it bounces up and down - which hurts.
Not pretty either.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009


I haven't been able to post for a while but there's not much of an update other than the exciting fact that I ran 3 miles yesterday - I am: delighted, exhausted, a bit foot sore but generally very pleased. It was a really hot day and I was near a beach so ran through the dunes for one and a half, then dived into the sea and ran back - does that count I wonder?

I've not been able to go training with the huskies as I've been away, but looking forward to seing them soon.

The whole 'Justgiving' experience has not been great over the last few days though - friends have had problems giving - isn't that just crazy? The problems arose from thier recent upgrade I hope it's all sorted now...

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Home run

Next time I'll get the start - it's rather bumpy when we set off, especially where the dogs have dug little holes whilst they are waiting...

Back in the saddle

Yesterday was a good day for a run, as was Monday and my dogs are really enjoying the extra time out. The weights and resistance training is making a difference too as I went out with The Girls this morning and didn't feel my muscles being taxed at all. If that's just after 10 days then I am sure there is hope.

I've got my timings worked out for morning training too so I didn't have to get up till 3.20am this morning and still made it on time. It was a beautiful morning and the sun rose as we were on the second round. Ali took the racing cart out, it is very light and looks rather like a chariot, here she is coming out of the gloom

Here is the beast which the teams pull and is where my camera was found

They get very excited as they are being harnessed and my goal for next session is to be able to harness up a small team. I watched really closely today and I think I have got it - maybe I should borrow a harness and practice on Willow and Luna - they might get a taste for it.

Later I'll post the homeward bound journey - it was slow enough for me to be able to record a bit of video.

Monday - Banana, tahini and honey on oatcakes, chicken and alfalfa salad, Brie and toast
Tuesday - Tahini and marmite on oatcakes, rice with tuna and beet-root, avocado, tomato and mozzarella salad
No alcohol this week... so far!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Gorgeous day today

Sunny, breezy, great for the run this morning - 1.5 miles followed by weights. I'm missing my friends, but it is too hot for them today.

Food: yesterday - broccoli and cauliflower spicy cheese bake, salmon with lemon and couscous. Today - Pitta, falafels, alfalfa and avocado, oatcakes and goat cheese.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Training cancelled this morning

Ali called at 3am to say it was raining in the forest and that the temperature was 12 degrees. Far too warm for my four legged friends. I can't train with them tomorrow, due to other commitments, so I'll have to wait till the weekend. In fact it rained on and off for most of the day, which was good for the garden. One plant suffered though - the big smelly one collapsed.

Completed 1.2 miles - if my calculations are correct, having inputted the wrong pace measurement in the first place - at a good running pace, then walked for 10 minutes, did all the resistance exercises except the push ups, I really can't get the hang of them at all. I'm going to have to get some advice, but as I don't belong to a gym I suspect it'll be from YouTube.

Food: Salmon in ginger and soy with broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Oatcakes with goat cheese. Pineapple.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Back into the swing

Today I bought a pedometer as I really have no idea how far I am walking/running when I go over old territory, now I just have to work out my pacing. Tough yoga this evening followed by some weights. I am also going to start recording my food, this is recommended
in the pack and then tomorrow I start the official programme, this is what they sent:

The most important exercise aspect of training for dogs sledding is exercise recovery, being able to run or kick

to help your dogs up hills, through deep snow or because they just need help. They are machines but even machines need help; you have to work just as hard as the dogs to be able to explore this snowy wonderland. That’s why fitness is such an important factor with this trip.

You need to train your heart, lungs and muscles which will allow your body to recover quickly. This will mean that when you are dog sledding and may need to work hard every ten minutes for one minute it won’t be a struggle. The training below will also allow you to strengthen your body, allowing you to hold onto your sled at all times over various terrains.

Most importantly this training will allow you to really enjoy the experience of dog sledding – the fitter you are, the easier the trip will be, and therefore the more enjoyable.

N.B. Access to a gym would be the best for training but if you have no access and do not wish to use a gym we will give you an outside option.

RPE – RATE of PERSEVED EXSURTION (how hard to work)

RPE is the easiest way to gauge how hard you are working, and can be used anywhere without the use of technical equipment.











Training Program Month 1


Week 1 & 2

15 mins – walk / jog – RPE 4, 2 mins –RPE 5, 1 min RPE 7 (walk / run complete this 3 x with 1 min rest in between)


3 x 15 squats

3 x 10 – 15 half sits

3 x 6 – 8 press ups

Plank 2 x 30 secs

Week 3 & 4 15 mins – walk / jog – RPE 5, 2 mins –RPE 5, 1 min RPE 8 (walk / run complete this 3 x with 1 min rest in between)

3 x 20 squats

3 x 15 – 20 half sits

3 x 8 – 10 press ups

Plank 2 x 40 secs

Training Program Month 2



Week 5 & 6, 20 mins fast pace walk RPE 5 – 6. 25 mins walk RPE – 5 1min, then 1 min run RPE 7 – 8


3 x 25 squats

3 x 20 – 25 half sits

3 x 10 – 12 press ups

Plank 2 x 50 secs

Week 7 & 8

20 mins fast pace walk RPE 5 – 6. 25 mins walk RPE – 5 1min, then 1 min run RPE 7 – 8,

3 x 30 squats

3 x 25 – 30 half sits

3 x 12 – 14 press ups

Plank 2 x 50 secs

Training Programme Month 3



Week 9 & 10

15 mins Med pace Jog RPE 5 – 6. 35 mins walk RPE – 5 1min, then 1 min run RPE 7 – 8,


3 x 30 squats

3 x 35 half sits

3 x 14 press ups

Plank 2 x 50 secs

Week 11 & 12

20 mins Med pace Jog RPE, 5 – 6. 40 mins walk RPE – 5 1min, then 1 min run RPE 7 – 8,

3 x 35 squats

3 x 35 half sits

3 x 16 press ups

Plank 2 x 1 min

Run or Walk -can be done in side or outside use the RPE to gauge how tired you are, if you do not

wish to walk or run, other CV machines can be used ie: Versa climber, stepper, rowing machine, but

some running / walking must be done at some point.

Squats – keep your back straight, hands on your back of your head, bend from your knee’s and

hips… working your thigh, push your bum down toward the floor making sure it goes no lower that the

level of your knees, and then push back up, this is one complete squat exercise.

Half sits - lying on your back, with your feet flat on the floor, hands resting on your thighs finger tip’s

resting near knee cap , looking over the tops of your knees, keep your arms straight and locked, tense

your abdominals squeeze up and push your palms up to you knee caps, lower back down that is one

complete rep.

Press up – on knee or feet, hands on same horizontal line as shoulders, slightly wider than the

breadth of them, body in a straight line resting on either knee’s or feet, lower the chest down to the

floor keeping the body straight, bending at the elbows, then return the body to the straight arm

position one complete rep.

Plank – Elbows resting under the shoulders, palms together, push the body up into a straight line so it

is resting on the toes and the elbows, tense your abdominal, if your lower back hurts, push your bum

slightly higher in the air.

Output: Walk - 1 hour, Yoga - 1.5 hour, weights - upper body 3 x 10 reps.
Input: Whole-meal pitta, tomatoes, feta, alfalfa an mayo. Olives stuffed with almonds. Pea, asparagus, broad bean and pesto soup.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

What was lost is found!

Ali rang this morning to let me know that they had found my camera - hurrah! It had been round the forrest a couple of times since I left as it had slipped into a ridge on the quad bike and lodged itself there - pity I hadn't left it on video! I'll pick it up next week and take some more shots of the training session too.

Today has been a total write off due to rain, we went to a local show, but it was just foul, so came home and ate too much instead.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

First morning out training

Now I know what it is all about and I suspect that this thing will not end with the Arctic Challenge in February.

This morning I left the house at about 3.20am to get to the training area in the forest, meeting Sally and Ali just before 4am. As before, their directions were great, which was a relief as the whole area was crawling with police for some reason which remains a mystery. The system that the girls have for preparing to run is so slick that I struggled to see what was gong on to start with as there is a real sense of urgency that kicks off the minute that the dogs realise where they are, the levels of excitement run so high and the sounds that they make are primal.

The team train using a quad bike without an engine, and this morning we took 2 teams of 8 and one of 6. Some of the dogs were at home recuperating from cranial massage or resting injuries, and a couple are retired. The first out were so thrilled and grinning from ear to ear, their enthusiasm was enough to make me forget that it was still only 4am. Sally and Ali have different ways of harnessing the dogs as Ali has a back injury, and this gave me a chance to see both, still done at such speed that I couldn't quite make out which cord attached to which, but they talked me through everything. Each team is planned so that they swap sides and therefore avoid becoming lopsided, I didn't have a hope of helping out at this stage, due to the speed and the fact that I don't recognise the dogs by name yet, hopefully that will come.

Once the first 8 were on the line they began to strain, pull, jump, do summersaults and generally try to get going - they just want to run! I hadn't expected to be allowed to ride pillion straight away but Ali called me over, and a nanosecond after my bum hit the seat we were off. It would be foolish to try to be cool and laid back about what happened next because I wasn't, The dogs had stopped yelling and now it was my turn - what a rush! I had no idea that they could pull with such force, I have driven horses in harness before but this was a completely different sensation, a bit like driving a really fast old british sports car. You feel every movement of the dogs, their energy is so concentrated at first and they are hell bent on getting away, but once they get their stride you sense them waiting for their next command.

The girls take them on different routes each time, so that the dogs don't anticipate the turns and this means that they pay attention, even ignoring the wildlife in the path - not something I am used to with my two... With Ali at the helm we followed about 4 miles of beautiful track, through the forest, not that I noticed anything much on the first run as I was just too tense, not knowing what to expect next. I am grateful to the various friends who have given me pillion rides on motorbikes over the years, at least I knew how to stay on. Some of the turns are seriously hairy, not just the angles, but the ground is very uneven and some parts are really for trial bikes. The dogs seem to chill and get into a rhythm on the straight and do what my driving instructor accused me of in my youth, they speed up on the bends, this make for an exhilarating ride.

Getting back to the truck I was reminded of what professionals the girls are as they steered the dogs to their resting place, alongside the next team (prepared by by Sally), just in front of the water bowls (also prepared) and the quad came to rest at the perfect angle to swap lines over, although a little closer to the truck than I was expecting. Then I remembered to breathe.

The ritual on arrival was wonderful, all the dogs get an individual thank you from both girls - I had to join in of course - then they had a small bowl of water so that they don't drink too quickly, it is refreshed once they have calmed down. Those who were not lead dogs got filthy, so they were all toweled down and then given a little food and a pee break. No time for any of that for me though - off again with the waiting team and Sally in control this time. I knew what to expect now and was able to look around and appreciate the views, which were amazing, it was a really cold morning this morning, 3 degrees at the start and the mists were rising through the forest, not as cold as I will be in February, but everything in time... It was so quiet, the dogs don't speak when they run and the tyres are big so the only sound, other than my heart beating in my ears, was the chat that I now felt relaxed enough to have with Sally as we covered ground.

I learned so much in such a short time and when it came to the last team I was allowed to take a dog from the truck and put her onto the line, she was already harnessed, but then on return I removed a harness and took the dog for a pee walk. I think I will feel confident enough to put a harness on next time.

I'm afraid that there are no photos of the morning as I was so excited that I forgot to zip up my pocket and lost my Ixus on the second drive. We drove around at the end to try to find it, but no luck. Such a shame as I did love that camera, I guess I'll have to look at my insurance policy.... Next time I'll take a proper camera and leave it in the truck.

So, I am hooked. This brings together so many things that are good, speed, fear of the unknown, beautiful landscape, lovely people and intelligent, powerful dogs.

I could become a bore....

See Sally and Ali's details here: Forstal Siberian Huskies

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Looking after your feet is very important

After a long day's walk, a soak and some Weleda foot lotion, the world looked rosy.

The next day involved some serious weight lifting - carrying the full size windbreak 2 miles out and 2 miles back certainly did the shoulders the world of good. Not sure if that's what they meant in the training manual though.