What's this all about?

A new adventure beckons, and this is once again about my personal journey to make it happen.

It might make you laugh; it might make you cry, but by 'eck lads and lasses, it will be worth a quick skeg every now and then, tha's for sure.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The 12-week countdown begins

Monday (9th January 2012) saw the countdown clock hit the 12-week milestone; 12 weeks until I fly out from Heathrow to Oslo for an overnight stay, before flying onto our base camp on Svalbard in the Arctic Circle.

The arctic circle on a good day
It was also the morning I realised I need to take the next step in my immediate training regime as well as book some time on the local ski slope at The SnoZone. Hopefully that will offer some fun photos and be valuable practise for me on skis (rather than being the time I break a bone and have to trek with my leg in pot).

Back to this week though and the startling recognition in the early hours of Monday morning that I’m in danger of letting the weeks float by without increasing my tyre-dragging practise. It now seems so long ago that I took the week off work in November for that morale-boosting series of days dragging the tyre.

Now it gets serious!

I have no idea how I’ll respond to the extreme cold and whilst I have some level of comfort that I can drag the sled, I find the first 10-minutes of exercise is key to the next 4 hours insofar as if I ‘clear the pipes’ and ‘blow away the cobwebs’ in the first 10 minutes I get into a good stride. If not (as witnessed on the first tyre-drag on Dartmoor), then I struggle for a while to get my breathing, lactic acid and therefore mental confidence back under control. That’s why I started with a PT (cardio) session on a Monday night and at least one of my 3 (or 4) tyre-drags a week will begin with steep inclines.

As I said on a recent tweet “It’s not the polar ice I’m conquering, it’s my mind and body”.

Of course the cardio PT session with Becky on Monday nights (as opposed to the strength PT session with Paul on a Saturday morning) didn’t help when, just before Christmas, I got the most extreme discomfort from cramp. That though was nothing like as painful as last Monday night when I returned to the gym and Becky asked how my calf muscle was after she “broke me” before Christmas.

Oh how she chuckled. Cheeky @&^%£$> !!

(photo of Becky the trainer to follow)

Oh hang on …. when I’m cheeky back at her during PT she always adds a full twist to the resistance control on the bike/30 extra seconds on the rowing machine at high speed/more pulls on the skiing machine at the end of the session. Hmm yes, guess it’s too late to worry now if she’s read this, right?!?

Cardio is great for losing some of the 'puppy fat' I have (ok who guffawed just then??) but in the back of my mind I have to remember that it's estimated you lose a stone (c. 7kg) in weight on the Trek, despite consuming approximately 5000 calories a day.

This week also saw the start of a series of emails from my fellow polar trekkers and the trek lead, Geoff Somers, asking about equipment and the training week we have in Norway.

The location for our training week (including two nights out on the snow/ice)

One email mentioned that Deborah S who has joined the party did the South Pole trek recently so it seems that most of my fellow trekkers are a mixture of South Pole conquerers, river rafters, mountain walkers, heli-skiers and triathletes … oh yeah and li’l ol’ me.
Not sure what Peter H, Seni G or Sara C are but I have to keep reminding myself it doesn’t matter; this is my personal challenge and if I’m the oldest, slowest and weakest then that’s what I am. Thankfully I hear polar bears prefer younger healthier meat (sorry folks) and hopefully I won’t let myself down.

Unfortunately all the above comes at a price and that price is that my girls and the lovely Lucia continue to see me less than they might like. Sorry, but once April is over I’m all yours.

Then it will almost be time to plan 3 landmark birthday celebrations, all within 4 weeks of each other (and none of them are mine darn it)

And so onto my new tyre-dragging schedule.

An email this week from Douglas. He's a fellow trekker and really nice guy who worked bloody hard for many years with his brother to make their premium cheese-making business a great success, and subsequently sold it for price that meant they had a penny to spare at the end for themselves.

Douglas mentioned he was out most days dragging tyres near his home; in Portugal. How kind that he sent a photo of the miserable surroundings and dreary weather he’s suffering at the 7am sunrise. It helped he tremendously given I'd opened the email attachment (below)  in a Manchester car park after sitting for majority of my 90 minute journey in a traffic jam on the M62.

Don’t worry folks I’ll get him back if we share a tent on the Trek by snoring my head off, but seriously it’s good to see someone who has clearly put a lot of effort into work throughout his life getting to earn the rewards of his labour. After all that’s what we all aspire to do.

For me I'm currently re-stocking the coffers as the money cupboard is bare given the expense of the Trek and payment of a company tax bill, so working towards the dream of future happiness whatever that may turn out to be has to restart from scratch, but life now seems to have as many open doors as there are uncertainties in the economy.

Tyre-dragging for me has to now increase in length and repetitions so I'd already stepped up to just over 19kg of tyres but had dropped back down to 4-5 miles per drag and only one a week on top of my two PT sessions.

Now every Thursday and Friday afternoon plus Saturday morning I'll be dragging the tyres at least 5 miles. That may mean I'll probably have to drop PT on Saturday's for a while. 

I'll also instigate a tyre-drag every other Sunday as well. Such a shame the daylight hours are so short now whereas in summer I was out until 8 or 9pm.

If you click on this photo you can see people right down at the bottom of the hill, over the footbridge. Gives you some sense of the incline and size of the hill I drag the tyres up every 1.9 miles

Still, at least they're promising frost this coming weekend. Ahhh the cooler weather is here FINALLY.

I’m also planning a series of events and tasks I need to do in the next 12 weeks, so here goes the Geoff Major Top Ten countdown ……… (cue the old Top of the Pop music):

10. (a re-entry) I need to write to Tottenham Hotspur who said they would try to feature me in two of their match-day programmes provided I take a Spurs scarf and photograph it at the Pole.

9. (down 2 from last week) I have the event at Zinc Restaurant Bar & Grill in Manchester to advertise and organise; raised nearly £2k for charity last June so should be a fun night as well as a charity fundraising night.

8. Ski lessons and use of the slope for free if I can get some PR for SnoZone; planned the skiing for w/c 23rd January. Must see if my girls fancy having a go too.

7. Drive the #ontheflag activity including the collection of £pledges from those companies who said they want to be #ontheflag but have yet to pay & re-start the attempt to fill the remaining spaces.

6. (up a massive 12 places) Get the info to Alison who is following-up the 60 companies who said they would promote my participation in the trek (includes two rugby league clubs too). Have to try to source a text-donation service …. for free.

5. Get planning the stand I have at the Yorkshire Mafia Conference & Exhibition in Leeds on 21st and 22nd March (stand 24), including the stuffed polar bear, polar sled and fake snow (the latter courtesy of Santa’s Grotto at The Mill retail outlet in Batley).

4. (a non-mover) Agree a date for a farewell event at Create (an excellent social enterprise restaurant in Leeds); possibly on Friday 30th March, just 3 days before I fly out to Svalbard.

3. (a new entry) Prepare for an evening a friend has set-up with some of her contacts with ‘disposable income’; fingers crossed it’s not a 150-mile round trip for £30 but if it is that’s probably going to be my fault for lack of preparation.

2. (last weeks’ number 7) prep for Norway training event; try to light a burner without burning a hole in a tent, buy some polar goggles and face mask oh yes ... and book the flights and accommodation for Norway.

1. (and still in the number one spot …) Start working 4 days-over-5, increase training and fundraising, continue to try to balance spending time with my girls and with Lucia (hopefully better than I am doing at the moment), eat, sleep, save money whilst reducing hours, potentially find new work if this piece ends on 30th March and try to find just a moments’ quiet time for me.

And on that sobering note, it’s almost time for bed but not before a phone call with Lucia (seen below in a photo shoot). I then need to rest as I’ve not had any illness for a year and now is NOT the time to get weary and allow my natural defences to drop.

And soon into a busy busy weekend. First ‘tyre-drag triple’ for a while this Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as driving to Middlesbrough and back on Saturday to let Becky look at a car she might want to buy to learn to drive in.

One daughter now driving (well done Lauren xxx), one to go.

1 comment:

  1. Truly inspirational Geoff. Strangely, hearing you talk of torturous training makes me want to putt myself to the test. I hope I can dig deep and find the drive (and time etc) to do something of this scope in the future.

    Well done and keep up the fantastic work!