Sunday, July 21, 2013


Beat and I spent several hours on Sunday finally putting all of our Iceland stuff together: Locating our flag-adorned T-shirts, rain gear and five *required* pairs of socks; compiling med kits and a surprising abundance of required odds and ends (including but not limited to an emergency bivy, two Ace bandages and a mirror);  and packaging little daily "lunch" baggies to discourage overeating of supplies in the early stages of RTP Iceland. The final verdict for my pack with all gear, seven days worth of food, and 1.5 liters of water: 27.3 pounds. Beat's pack was similar in weight. We'll probably have two of the largest packs out there, but I bet most of the participants — save for the most competitive runners —will have starting weights ranging from 23-30 pounds. Given we packed similar stuff for every day, I can already envision what each day will be like:

Sunrise: Wake up. Spend ten minutes mulling how I can avoid climbing out of my toasty sleeping bag. Inch my way out and pull on my down coat (so glad I brought that!) Put on a fresh pair of socks and underwear (figured if I was required to bring five pairs of socks, I might as well have an equal number of underwear.) Ah. Put on same clammy shirt and tights I wore all day yesterday. Ugh.

Breakfast: Two cups of Trader Joe's coffee (100 calories), one granola bar (190 calories) and one serving peanut butter (250 calories.) Wish I could mow through all of my Snickers Bars instead of trying to subsist on this meager breakfast.

Stage begins: Looking at another 25-plus-mile day. Hopefully it's not that 42-mile day. If it is, I probably have a pit in the bottom of my (growling) stomach.

Follow the course markings into the vast open expanses of Iceland. Hopefully the weather will be gorgeous and we'll be able to see for dozens of miles in all directions. Odds are the weather is cloudy and drizzly, with the potential for low-lying clouds and heavy rain. Either way, I anticipate much soaking in of ethereal beauty as we shiver in our cheap rain gear and puffy insulation layers (so, so glad I brought that!)

As the miles grind on, we'll find ourselves among familiar faces who share our general pace. We'll chat with our new friends from Hong Kong and Singapore and Scotland. One of the coolest benefits of an organized event like Racing the Planet is meeting like-minded people from all over the world. As fatigue sets in, I'll retreat into my introspective zone. And I'll probably have Sigur Ros playing on my iPod shuffle (so glad I brought three of those!)

Lunch: Actually just a small assortment of junk food eaten on the go: Two candy bars (500 calories), one granola bar (190 calories) and one bag of happiness courtesy of Haribo (500 calories.) Really, 1,200 calories of carbs? That seemed like so much on my spreadsheet. I'm hungry. But at least I feel awesome. Yay sugar!

Stage wraps up. My knees are getting pretty achy and my feet — I don't like to think about my feet. Pretending they don't exist is really the best course of action. But at least the pack gets lighter every day. I crack into my treat — a can of Pringles — that I hoped would last the week, but by day three it's already gone. (200 calories.)

Pre-dinner: Hang wet shirts, socks and tights inside the tent with all of our tent mates' gear. It smells fantastic in there. Put on our camp slippers (so glad we brought those!) Give ourselves sponge baths with tablet towels and attempt to treat our increasingly mangled feet. If it's still raining, I'll put on my Tyvek suit and go for a walk because the tent makes me claustrophobic. If it's not raining, we'll hang around the camp fire with folks telling adventure stories.

Dinner: One Mountain House Meal (600 to 800 calories) and one hot chocolate (150 calories.) If I had a good day, I'll probably rip apart the packaging of my meal and lick it clean. If I'm deathly ill like I was in Nepal, I'll try to pawn it off on a local boy who will take a sniff, crinkle his nose, and hand it back to me. (Actually, in Iceland, we're not likely to see many people not associated with the race. So make that a sheep. I'll try to give my food to a sheep.)

Sleepy time: Spooning with eight of my closest friends.

Beat and I took our properly loaded packs on a trip up Black Mountain with our friend Martina this afternoon — ten miles round trip with 3,000 feet of climbing. I forget what a burden thirty extra pounds can be — temps were in the high 70s and we were drenched in sweat. I couldn't muster much of a run on the climb, but we put in a hard effort on the descent and ran nearly all of the five miles back. I could feel each footfall heavily in my knees — more so in my right knee, which has been my good knee for the past few weeks and is more fatigued from bearing the brunt of my efforts. But the good news is, my left knee feels strong. If it can handle a 3,000-foot descent with a 27-pound pack, well, it must be reasonably solid.

Racing the Planet Nepal doesn't begin until Aug. 4, but it feels like we are in our final days of "training." I can't really say I'm going into a taper now, since I effectively started tapering when I bashed my knee four weeks ago. But there's much to do before we leave for Switzerland later this week (for Beat's brother's anniversary party and work obligations at the Google office in Zurich.) So I suppose the taper has begun. With luck, I'll be able to escape on a train into the Swiss Alps for one final "shakedown."