PictureGerbil ready to run as cat comes a calling
Week 8: 56 days

Have stopped salt washes and still applying aloe vera straight from the aloe vera leaf. However so many people have told me my finger looks scarey and ugly. Poor finger was getting a complex so I thought I'd improve it's image.

Part of the scab helmet fragmented off, so am calling this first art piece "Gerbil ready to run as cat comes a calling"


I am expecting the scab to run away as time ticks on.

PictureSharking on the ocean floor
This second piece has been inspired by part of the scab having cracked later on in the afternoon and slowly turning into a Wobbegong Shark. I have called it

"Sharking on the ocean floor" is it reflects the menacing appearance of the finger to others, but actually is pretty harmless.

Feel free to provide comments with your own captions.

 
 
Update on the right finger: All is good and by week 6 have full use of it and can type on the keyboard.
Reflection
As I sat in a car to head to an airport in Rome, I was fretting as time was marching on and we were in thick traffic. Although I had left in good time (18:00 for a 45 minute drive; my flight was at 20:20), it was soon apparent that time was going to be an issue. My driver apologised "It is crazy! A little bit of rain and Rome comes to a stand still!" My driver would inch a little forward in an attempt to change the perception that we were moving forward, other times we would jostle and fight with other cars to move into other lanes that appeared to move forward but really was due to cars abandoning the lane. As time ticked by, I prayed silently that the flight would be delayed.

I got to the airport by 20:00! A quick check of the airport departure boards indicated the flight had been delayed to 20:45. Prior, I had done an online check-in, but had been unable to print my boarding card. So I ran over to the check-in counters and found them dark and abandoned.  A sense of foreboding washed over, I might have to stay overnight in Rome and I really wanted to be home. I talked to God, asking what to do.

I spied an information counter and sidled up to talk to the man who was dealing with a customer inquiry. I waited patiently and by the time he had finished with the customer, it was now 20:17. Calmly, I asked in my best Italian if he could speak English and was so happy when he said he could. With pressing urgency, I convinced him to help me print a boarding pass that was sitting in my emails, after all the flight had been delayed. Seeing the look of desperation in my eyes, the lovely, beautiful, wonderful customer service man helped me. I thanked him, I thanked God and continued asking God for help.

20:23 - I ran to security and there before me was a long line of passengers. Security inspected my boarding pass, and indicated I was too late. I quickly updated them on the flight status and then asked the passengers in front of me if they would help me get to my flight. Like the red sea parting, all the passengers stepped aside to let me through. I could have kissed every single one of them.

20:30 - One final barrier was passport control and one lady tutted and wagged her finger at me, so I waited patiently behind her. Once through, I ran, overtaking the "tutting" lady, and crossed the airport to dive onto a train that was leaving for the gate. I arrived at the gate at 20:35 and gave God a visual hug.

My finger is on this same journey. I had arrived late for treatment and now is to believe and trust that God will guide me through the best path. But what ever happens, I have learned that being proactive is a far better approach in life than the passive, laid back one I have sometimes been taking. Andy Chadwick's toes compared to my fingers were in a far worst state. He increased his chances of "survival" by proactively getting treatment. My initial passiveness has meant that I have put in far more effort to ensure the integrity of my finger.
Progress Update on Left Finger:
Day 28: Saw the hand doc for a review. As Gollum (Lord of the Rings) stroked the gold ring, the hand doc did the same to my finger. He stroked and squeezed my finger commenting on how hard it was. Then he decided to stab the pad of the finger with his nail. He got a yelp out of me and I snatched his hand away from my finger. He was surprised at there still being life there and I was annoyed. Despite this, he still felt it would need to be amputated. I think he has a stash of differently types of injured fingers/hands pickled in a hidden library somewhere. Decided to not return!

Was told by another competitor who had frostbite, that in Minnesota they don't consider amputation for at least 8 weeks into the injury. Additionally the doctors who I have been consulting via email have encouraged me to leave it for at least 8 weeks.

Day 30: The scab peeled a little, and I helped it along....carefully and did not disturb any part that was not lifting off.

Day 51 (when this post was written): The finger pad sometimes itches and have been giving it a salt bath as infection is still a concern and can spread. The whole scab moves, although parts are still stuck down. Am tempted to pick it off as am concerned about the rubber band effect (shrinking scab restricting blood flow to the injured areas), but have been warned to leave it for the moment.
Have been applying a moisturiser to reduce the scab from splitting up and potentially causing infection to the parts that are still healing.

Treatment from day 28 onwards has been a good dose of vitamin D3 to help skin/tissue repair, Gingko to aid circulation, thyme and oregano as an antibiotic, fresh aloe vera applied twice daily as it has vitamin E and some other healing stuff that has been found to help frost bite injuries.

For anyone affected with frostbite, this is a great document to read about the healing process of frostbite with all the gory pictures.

My guess is that there is a good chance of the finger healing completely and a small chance of part being amputated. If it has to be amputated then will look for a cool "swiss army" prosthetic finger attachment. Until that time, I need to protect it's suit of armour until the tissue has fully healed.
 
 
PictureFingers after rewarming action by Dave the Medic
Extreme cold temperatures mean you cannot afford to make a mistake, you need to pay attention and be aware of yourself at all times, because frostbite can catch you in the matter of minutes. Raynauds syndrome gives you a higher predisposition to frostbite as your hands (and feet) will shut down earlier than "normal" people even if your core body temperature is warm.

I did not pay attention in the 14th hour, distracted by trying to get a sled moving, and when I realised that a couple of my fingers were still not working, I did not take evasive action believing it was perhaps Raynauds causing the numbness and not the extreme cold (it was probably -50 at this point). I thought I would get to the checkpoint before anything "bad" would happen.  It is said that in extreme cold weather, frostbite can take hold of your extremities within  minutes. I could have put on a pair of over gloves, but thought I would get to the checkpoint soon. It was about an hour. I took off my damp gloves - probably damp from sweat and from having residual sweat that I had wiped onto the gloves earlier in the event to ensure my face did not have any water on the skin. Having experienced -30 before, sweat can freeze on the face even if it is covered...though it might be a damp covering as Al experienced! So at least I had no cold injuries on the face :-)  I had expected an injury to the right pointing finger as had spilt a bit of water on the glove and the glove around that finger was covered in ice. There was a bit of frostnip on it but all was fine.

First the "good news" finger. The right middle finger had a little bit of frostbite on the top and was quickly diagnosed as being first degree. Meaning although it was sore on thawing out (no worst than thawing out numb fingers), the damage is superficial, there was no blistering and it has an excellent chance of healing. As you can see from the following images the tip of the finger started restoring itself within a week. There is a bit of blackness on the tip of the finger and will expect that to peal off over the next couple weeks/months. In the meantime the skin of the frost nipped fingers have been peeling off. Plenty to chew on!
The other hand is a different story. The left middle finger was white, waxy and hard when it came out of the glove. Dave had warned it appeared to be a 2nd-3rd degree burn, even though it had not blistered. I thought I was lucky, though on thawing there was more pain from it than the right middle finger.Later on that night,  I continued to put the finger in warm water that Mar (a fantastic lady who took pity on me and looked after me) had provided. However, that night (8 hours later) as I tried to sleep with it under my armpit, it was throbbing and felt like it was being sliced apart. The finger tip blistered and became knarly. Checked into the local A&E who put me in a wheel chair (even though I showed her my finger) to take me to the A&E room. The nurse came round and did the normal: checked my vitals; checked my tetnus jab was up to date and offered me drugs if I was in pain. There was some throbbing but I declined the offer four times. I like to feel my pain so that I can respect the injury. By the afternoon the pain had subsided by itself (or perhaps it is just because I'm a gal and therefore have a high pain threshold!).

Advice: Leave the blister intact! Do not pop or pick the blister as this will increase the likelihood of infection. The blister will keep blistering to form a clear demarcation before any action can be taken. Call back in 4 days time (Saturday) to assess the finger. Doc also prescribed a cream in case the blister burst and thus to reduce the risk of infection.
Question: Should I keep it raised to reduce the swelling in the finger?
Answer: No, as you will reduce the blood flow to the finger
Question: Should I take anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling in the joint?
Answer: It won't make any difference (however I found it did make a difference, see later)
Question: Should I keep moving the finger?
Answer: It might help

As I was unable to call back into the centre in 4 days time, it was recommended I checked into an "urgent care" centre. So I went away with a prescription for a burn cream, that I did not pick up.

Below is the left hand side of the left middle finger. It has been a great conversation piece with everyone I meet. Of course I showed it to a queue of people and the lady at the till, who were waiting for me to pay for an item and at the same time staring at the finger and thus opened up more conversations.
The top of the finger joint continued to swell and blister as the days went by and I got to show off my finger to some of the finishers and DNFers at Fortune Bay. One of the finishers (3rd attempt) told a story of how he got frostbite last year and all of them blistered and then the skin would peel off itself. It was great hearing the stories. Heard also about Andy Chadwick, cyclist, who had black toes when his foot came out of his shoe and had blistered immediately upon warming. Again I thought I had gotten off lightly.

Day 3: Got to my friend's place on the Friday. She took one look and suggested an antiflammatory. Took it because thought I had nothing to lose!

Day 4: The swelling in the lower finger joint had significantly gone down and the blister itself felt a little softer. I decided to take advil for 3 more days until the base finger joint looked normal. I jumped into an Urgent Care centre. Unfortunately they did not look after
wounds and advised me to go to another place, but I would have to call them early. It felt an effort, so I talked to the local pharmacist who gave me some advice to keep the blister clean and also talked to the triage nurse over the phone from the local hospital. Both the pharmacist and nurse suggested getting it checked by the doc. I took that as an option so didn't bother as there was no pain, no redness, though had a slight trickle of blood into the blister.

Day 5-13: Had to travel to different states for work so monitored for infection, and talked to everyone who saw 'the finger". I
believed everything was fine since no redness, and only the odd bit of discomfort occasionally. I believed it was draining nicely and drying out to become scabby.
Day 14: Arrived back in the UK and Uncle took one look at it and took me straight to A&E at Kingston Hospital. Doc 1 looked at it, said it would need debridement and would have to see the plastics team. Nurse came in, took my vitals and said the doc will see me after. We waited for 3 hours in a little cubicle. Doc 1 had signed off without seeing me again. Doc 2 looked at the finger, was concerned about how necrotic the finger was and sent me to St George's to see the plastics team. Perhaps Doc 1 wanted a second opinion. Just wished there was more communication rather than being left in a cubicle waiting and wondering.

Checked into St George's and 7 hours later was seen by someone from the plastics team. Hadn't seen frostbite but took photos to consult with other docs. Sent me away with antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection (wet gangrene).

Day 15: Was called to see the hand specialist at St George's. The registrar decided to explain what frostbite was to me. None of them had much experience and more photos of the finger were taken and more docs came to have a look at a frostbite injury. The consultant said it would probably need to be amputated but would give it the "benefit of the doubt" and see if there would be any improvement in 2 weeks time but he would take it off rather than it withering on the bone. He also recommended not to take the antibiotics as I would be on them for a long time. It felt that he wanted to "have" my finger in 2 weeks time. Couldn't believe it as although I might be able to feel anything when it is touched, it feels I have a thimble on the end of my finger protecting the healing tissue underneath. And as more docs came to have a look and more photos were taken, I wondered if I
could put on a bikini and pose with my finger!  Andy's feet were in worse condition than my finger and thankfully he had taken evasive action when he had returned back to the UK that week, so improved his odds. See below.
I, on the other hand, appear to be playing Russian roulette and been far too blaise. Hand doc got me thinking. Although I might be late, I needed to raise my game and talk to doctors who had experience treating frostbite. Al (Candian who took pity on me at Gateway) recommended I talk to Dr Mark Seaburg, an Arrowhead racer who likes cold races and works out of Minneapolis, USA. Another friend recommended I talk to Professor Christopher Imray, a vascular surgeon, who is also a rock climber and works out of Coventry, UK.

Both have gratefully provided me their opinions and although there are some slight variations with regards to drugs to use, both of them said amputation should be the last resort and that it should be left for as long as possible. I trust both of their opinions as they both have experience treating frostbite and because it sounds better. If it is not infected why chop? The finger will never grow back....although a bionic finger might be cool! Also from research provided by Chris for me to read, frostbite can appear worst than it really is, so the body needs to be given a chance to heal the injured area. And if it does die and there is no infection, the finger top will self amputate. Hope am not eating when that happens....might think it's part of the dish.

Review session with the hand doc is scheduled for 24th Feb. All going well (no infection), I expect to be walking out with 10 fingers and reassessing at the end of March or mid-April.
 
 
Picture
Masked! (pictures taken from MPRNews View)
Someone who I had met in an ultra in England said I would enjoy the Arrowhead Ultra, as I like dragging tyres! He had attempted it on bike some years before and DNFed citing bad weather conditions and that he would never attempt again. Arrowhead starts in International Falls, also known as the "icebox of the nations" and thus has a reputation of being the coldest ultra marathon in the USA. It appealed!

So 2 years ago, I entered the Arrowhead Ultra. I was at the start line with a fiber glass expedition sled containing all the mandatory and recommended equipment plus food and water to last for 2 days. It weighed @ 50-60 kgs (@120lbs). I pulled that dead weight up hills and glided down hills. Unfortunately 10 miles away from the 2nd checkpoint (Mel George) I was pulled off the course for being too slow. Actually I had an achilles injury and had stubbornly refused to give up even though I was travelling at 1/2 an ouch mile an hour. I also remember it was the day my girly cycle had started and thus was not a great start to the event.
Picture
This year the girly cycle was thankfully over a week before the event. Mike, one of the competitors, had lent me a lighter sled with runners and I had much less gear than previously. Altogether my sled (plus tyre) weighed @ 20-30kgs (40-50lbs). This time I could actually lift up my sled off the ground! Thus, compared with my last attempt, I should be faster and should be able to go longer. However, weather conditions were quite different. In 2012, temperatures were registered at @ -12 F. This year it was registered at -24 F, and with windchill that would bring the temperature down further to @ -46 F.  We, veteran racers who had at least attempted this event before, were excited. This would mean the ground would be solid under foot.

PictureStart point and check in
The day prior, the organisers warned continuously of frostbite and keeping everything covered. With extreme cold Matty, my polar buddy, wise words had entered into my head:

- Dehydration can lead to hypothermia so make sure you drink plenty. I drank so much that for the first 37 miles I "marked" the route several times (sorry for any anguish I might have caused runners to whom I had to watch me bare flesh). 

Sweating can lead to  frostbite and hypothermia so make sure you regulate your temperature. I started the event running the first couple of miles, however I began to sweat. I had worn one layer too many out of extreme cold concern. The legs and body would have been fine with a double layer instead of the triple I had opted for. I needed to slow myself down. I took off my heated mitts and exposed my double inner gloves to the elements. My hands were hot and hopefully the cold would suck some of the sweat into the air. As sweat trickled down my face, I used my inner gloves to wipe off some of that sweat. I've had sweat freeze on my face before whilst playing on the Arctic Ocean and cause frostnipped cheeks. I was not going to allow that to happen again.

I slowed myself to a fast walk. In 2012, with my heavy sled, I had at least run the first 5 miles and reached the 10 mile mark in 2.5 hours. This year, due to the pace I was now going at, I reached the 10 mile mark in just over 3 pathetic hours. Though I could blame this on my trousers! 5 miles in, I noticed my trousers were down around my thighs. Although I had only just bought these trousers, I had tested them for a whole week without any problems. Perhaps I had overstretched the elastic in my anxiousness to drop my trousers to "pee". Several times throughout, I had to pull up my hipsters and so I talked to my trousers to behave otherwise it would cause me to fail to meet the cut off times. Removing the camera and heat pads to "lighten" my trouser load appeared to help slightly but not enough and thus continued to cause a mild irritation to my head.

I decided to concentrate on my breathing. The last time, I breathed through my mouth the entire time and ended with an awful cough (most participants do). Sarah, a friend who does holistic treatments, had told me to focus on breathing out to help reduce sinus problems. I focused on breathing in and slowly out. This action unblocked my nose and less condensation was created on my already damp face mask. I enjoyed breathing along the route.

I found I was slow moving as I tried to Pose walk and so decided to blow caution to the wind and stride it out....then it was too late, I had an achilles niggle and reverted to "Pose" walking. This was not going to stop me from at least attempting to get to Mel George (2nd Checkpoint).

PictureThe party lights are switched on at night!
With a steady pace and frequent forced "pit stop" breaks, I would get to check point 1 within the cut off time. However, I noticed my hands would shut down whenever I stopped for any length of time....yes even for a couple of minutes. Perhaps it was Raynaud's disorder which meant I would have to ensure I kept my hands moving all the time to increase circulation. After every stop, I "played the flute" on my poles or scruntched my hands frequently to get the circulation going. Sometimes I put on my heated mitts, but found it a hassle to keep putting them on and taking them off once I was warm enough, so I relied on me remembering to keep my hands moving.

As twilight merged into night, the milky way came out. I was a little awe struck and excited. I would soon be at Gateway and then back out to Gateway to enjoy the party lights and maybe, if lucky, the aurora borealis. Before getting to Gateway there are 2 steep hills. At the top of the first one I waited for a couple of snow mobiles to climb up the hill. I tend to be out of control when careering down a hill on any sled and smacking into a snow mobile was not my idea of ending my race. Once they had passed me, I sat on my sled on the steepest part of the hill......I did not move. Something was wrong. I then tried to launch myself head downwards on the sled. It again did not move once I had got on it! "Noooo" I thought "this is supposed to be the fun part". Disappointed I ran the sled down the hill. I had been distracted and broken a rule. I had not paid attention to my now numb hands. When I realised they weren't moving well, I did not bother to try to put on my heated mitts as I knew I was near to the check point and did my best to keep my fingers moving. A foolish move on my part. By the time I got into Gateway (check point one), the damage had been done.

Feeling fresh, I walked into Gateway and checked in. I needed to check my hands. I met Sue, Mike's wife who told me he had crashed out at the back and had only arrived minutes before me. He was slightly hypothermic and had later shown me a very wet jacket. I walked over to a Canadian group who decided to quit as one had frost nip on his cheek (his neck gaitor had frozen to his cheek as he had not rotated it around); another was finding it too cold and another for no reason did not want to continue. The night stretch can be a challenge on one's mind. As I took my damp gloves off, the Candian crowd, stared at my white waxy looking finger.

PictureDave the medic
"That doesn't look good" said Al. His sentiment was echoed by others in the crowd.
"Hmm interesting - looks like frostbite" I responded. I was intrigued.
"Better warm it up slowly" said another Canadian who told his story about how he got frostbite on the Iditarod.

Someone suggested putting a hand warmer on it. I knew not to from having learned about frostbite some years before. Frostbite has to be rewarmed slowly and then cannot be allowed to freeze after.

"Darn I can't believe I've got this", I responded as I placed my fingers under my armpits, declining the offer of using any other bodily parts that were offered...."Oh well perhaps I'll get a new finger!"

Al offered to get me something to eat (note to self, the food at Gateway tastes extremely salty - could not eat it) and before I knew it there was a hive of activity around me. Dave, the on course medic, came over to check me and help rewarm my fingers. I felt foolish. Todd (a super snowmobile volunteer) asked if I was going out again. I was not going to risk fingers for the sake of getting to Mel George (check point 2). I was stubborn previously, this time round I was trying to be more rationale. I was out of the race with a bunch of othes who will be returning home with their "trophy" frostbitten hands (mostly runners), face (runners and bikers), feet (mostly bikers) as well as those with cases of mild hypothermia due to damp clothing.

Early DNF due to foolishness and thus one finger with a grade 2 to 3 frostbite (it blistered a day later and continues to blister! It will most likely have more permanent damage than the rest); one finger with grade one frostbite (looks black on the tip and is superficially damaged) and the rest have frost nipped tips. Am currently creating this blog with 2 good thumbs and a reasonable finger.

Hospital advice (after having taken my heart rate and blood presssure) was do not burst the blister (to keep things sterile) and allow the blister to track down....and several offers of pain killing drugs which I repeatedly declined. I like to try to manage my own pain. The pain, one will experience when the finger is warming back up, is stabbing and throbbing, lasting until the finger is back to body temperature.

My food (cereal bars; a loaf of bread with cream cheese, jam and turkey); drink (4.5 litres of watery electrolytes) and clothes all worked well. I will be remodelling my mitts so they are easy to cool off and so I can keep them on permanently. I will need to test my next sled before it comes out with me. Bisaniiwewin and I will be back in a couple of years when there is more feeling in those fingers.

Huge thanks to Jess and her family/Tam & Jeremy for looking after me; Nicole/Mike for sorting me out with gear; Mar for taking in the "stray" me, Bill for also allowing me to be part of his team and to all the excellent volunteers especially the guy who took off my shoes to check if I had frostbitten toes (I had none) and to the Race Directors Ken and Jackie Kruger for an excellent job. Also thank you to all those who donated to my cause and to all those who signed Bisaniiwewin pledging to reduce single-use plastics. Sorry to all supporters for the disappointing end.....although frostbite is interesting and I am still intrigued!!!

Next blog, I will present a series of photos of the "bad" finger over a number of days....for those who are interested.

In the meantime you might like to check out Al's excellent write up of his feelings of AH: http://olympiacycle.com/2014/02/10/arrowhead-2014-racers-recap/

For other posts click on the The Adventures of Tyre Girl hyperlink at the top of this page

 
 
PictureA present for Bisaniiwewin from my soul sis Tess
One of the benefits of sport, is that it can help calm the mind and reduce the stress and tension one has in one's life. Certainly, after smacking a hockey ball up and down a pitch in a game or smashing a squash ball against a wall, I feel I have beaten the physical aggression out of myself so that I can approach an issue more calmly.

Running (long walks) does something else. When you are on a long run alone, it can be a spiritual journey as issues cycle in your head and you begin to battle demons. Those demons that lurk in the dark parts of your mind, can surface and challenge who you are and what you do. As the miles go by, the things that conflict in your head will pull you in different directions and, if you allow it, emotions can flow. Sure you might talk to yourself as the war continues and you try to strategically reason out what should logically happen. Sometimes thoughts are not logical, and that what you must do in order to win that battle is no longer to fight for the injustice but to allow a visualisation of peace and love to overcome your very own being so that change can happen.

A Brief Personal History
Over the last 10 years, there was a patch of darkness in my life. A disagreement between myself and someone close had arisen.
As the situation became heated we fired pot shots at each other, and then I stopped firing as he reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 from the bible.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."


Sadly he carried on with pot shots, wanting to take away for what he thought he had given me! I turned away, no longer providing fuel for him to carry on raging, no longer wanting to try to fix a relationship. Although I did nothing he allowed his demons to tell him I did, and I became deeply sad and disappointed with his continued attempts over the years to demean my personal and business integrity. I thought I had forgiven him, but really I would never trust this person again as I feel his resentment overpowers him.

I thought I'd learned a lesson from that dark moment but I hadn't. I would pray for this person, that he discover true happiness and find peace but I did not want him in my life even though we are from the same blood. Really I thought he needed to change but it is me who needs to change in order to heal properly. I still carry the scar of our battle and I have refused to visualise a time when we would be able to reconcile.

As we journey through life, more scars gather and similar situations arise until we heal the first scar so that all the others will be swallowed.

In 2011-2012, I seemed to be fighting people who wronged others and that I had tried to help. I believed in the best of them. The last case affected me most. This man is not from the country, gained European status by marrying someone from Germany and
after a brief period left her so that he could rob the British benefits system and set a web of lies to gain trust. I naively helped this person and his Polish girlfriend find accomodation. In turn, he set on a destructive path to bully individuals in the house using his race to inflict his justification to "punish" others. He would perverse everyone's sense of being PC (politically correct) by using their
PC-nest against them. One of the tenants had to call the police in as he felt threatened by this man. However, "this man" continued to force people out of the house and at the end of his time in the house he had tried to destroy the house by stuffing paper into light bulb fittings. Thankfully the central fuse box would trip each time the lights were switched on. We had to take him to court to get him removed from the house as the British system appears to give more human rights to the wrong doers than to those who also need protecting (that is how I feel at present). He legally owes money to the house owners and to the system that he lied to, but he walks as a free person proudly quoting that he forgives everyone for the wrong they have done to him! And so I carry a fresh scar. I see this person frequently enough in my environment and I am meant to forgive this person and see this person as a spiritual being. Really what I want, is to see this person brought to justice or at the least be asking for forgiveness.

The Three Beings of Human
Both stories show narcissistic personalities that bully and manipulate others. There are corporations that can also act narcissistically. I dislike bullies whether they are individuals or organisations. However I have recently become aware that we are made up of 3 parts: flesh; emotional; spiritual. As I become older and more opinionated, I have allowed those narcissistic personalities to affect my emotional and spiritual being. I have allowed the intrusion of negative emotions to eat into the positive emotions and thus how my spiritual being senses the world. 

When we are battling, we are justifying ourselves and how the other side needs to change and take responsibility. On my training runs I now understand it is not that the other side needs to change, it is us who need to change our emotional state so that we dance in light and instead of the shadows.

Arrowhead Ultra will provide me with 135 miles to sort out my spiritual side as long as the flesh holds up and the emotional side does not make me teary about past happenings. Well....depending on temperatures, tears freeze and cold cheeks can turn to frozen cheeks (frostnip) and if unchecked can give you frostbite!

I am pulling for peace. Peace in my own being and peace in the world we live. I run to "be".

For those who want to support a cause I run for see: https://mydonate.bt.com/events/rimaultra2/110890

 
 
PictureUsing spacers and bunion pads
I have searched high and low for a pair of shoes I can run in for a long 135
mile event on the 27th Jan.

Specification 1: Wide Toe box
During the "Day of the Dead" marathons, I was having a foot problem, whereby my big toes were crossing over my second toe on both feet. The right foot would feel uncomfortable and I was indenial about any pain it was also causing! On that run I met Mark, a podiatrist, who looked at my foot and said "moderate" hallux valgus, better known as bunions and immediately asked had I considered surgery.

Surgery would mean 4-6 months out of action. I said I would probably consider in about 10 years time. His buddy, Charlie, suggested wearing some sort of a splint so I searched on the web for something as seen above.
 
The discussion reminded me that the sides of my feet are painful after a 10 mile run. I like wearing sandals as I don't feel the "rubbing" bunion against my shoe as it swells and thus the inherent pain can cause me to hobble.

Bunions suck! So am trying a gel "toe separator" and bunion pads. Tried this at the last 50km marathon. This appeared to ease the rubbing action.

Specification 2: Weather
International Falls has been hitting temperatures of -20 to -40 degs C; it has been snowing buckets. Have learned that at temperatures less than -20 degs C, Goretex lacks breathability and can become an ice box. I have seen first hand, frozen sweat inside Goretex jackets at -20 in Norway. Breathability is better than waterproof.

Overall Shoe Specifications
The above provided my shoe criterias: Wide shoe box; breathable; needs to be able to walk up icy hills (I do not like yak traks); water resistant and light weight (10oz/283g or less); mens size 9.5 or 10 (1.5 times bigger than my own feet to allow me to wear multiple sock layers and for swelling)

Searching For a Pair of Shoes
After trying out whole stores of about 3 shoe shops, have had to settle on the only pair that would fit my big fat feet: a pair of inov-8
Rocklite 315. The only thing I know about it, is that it has a wide toe box and at 315g is relatively close to the ideal weight I wanted.  I had to purchase it as I really no longer had a choice despite my extensive research and suggestions from Fetchies.

The crux on the decision of my shoes is about to become apparent in less than 2 weeks time when the event happens.
Now looking into my sock system!

(Yes I know - it is less than 2 weeks away!)

 
 
2012 (apparently the end of the world) was mostly a year of forced rest for TG with only 3 marathons completed. 

For the first time in TG's short marathon event history, she was pulled out of a race for being too slow at Arrowhead. Having suffered an achilles injury in the event, meant she had time on her hands and so redirected her focus onto various building projects around the neighbourhood. However poor lifting practices whilst carrying sand bags/cement and bricks meant she would suffer
with back injuries 4 times that year and one groin injury despite the building sifu (master builder Andy) telling her "less is better".

The year also introduced a number of unsavoury characters to blight the year, forcing TG's alter ego to become more discerning rather than to trust every Tom, Dick and Harry. And finally for a number of relatives and close friends' parents the death bus came a visiting sucking those close to us into the other world. It was a sad time accepting death is part of life.
 
The turmoil of change continued with a bad chest infection. However, Dec 2012 ended with being a guest speaker at a Tedx talk to inspire other women to challenge themselves, to find out who they are and what they can achieve.
2013 was a year of US friendship and being a spokesperson for changing habits. As 2013 wriggled in, TG and the tyres had to accept an offer from the Modesto Marathon organisers. This resulted in:
a) Being accepted by 3 other marathons within a 2 week time period
b) Speaking at schools about reducing trash and providing sustainable business ideas
c) Becoming key note speakers at pre-pasta dinner events to spread a message about reducing trash
d) The inspiration for the "pledge tyre". 

In 2013 7 pledge tyres were left in different states around the USA (see Pledges)

The year ended with 12 marathons completed plus a cheeky tyre-less 100 miler, a PB that totally smashed TG's last PBs and completes 40 tyre pulling marathons of varying marathon distances. Here are the 13 listed below.
PictureThe delightful May and the awesome Donkey Boy
Feb 2013:
50K Ultra Marathon
Here we met the awesome Donkey Boy, who felt strangely attached to Red, even when he hit the wall. At the Richmond checkpoint we met the bubbly May who easily hit her target of 40 marathons before 40 and now can't stop running.

This marathon took us through the dog poo streets of London, which are lovelier on the Southern side as more dog owners are poo conscious. This is also the marathon that Red retired on and is now used as a training tyre.

PictureThe Modesto Organisers & Volunteers
March 2013
Modesto Marathon (24th March) This was Ecuder's first run, first marathon. He was in training mode. He was also thrust into the limelight at the Modesto Marathon expo.

This is a closed road marathon (couple of thousand participants) that starts in the city, meanders into the vineyard countryside and farm lands before heading back into the city. The organisers and volunteers are enthusiastic and generous, giving as much as they can back to runners. They have a brilliant expo and pre-pasta dinner that is well worth attending, breakfast/coffee in the morning, food at the end, free massages, and more! This organisation is super friendly and is a recommended marathon.

PictureDanni & Endorphine Dude with Chewy
Crazy 8 Marathon (26th March) is a 5.5 times round Lake Merced in San Francisco. It is part of a 8 or 9 day series of marathons. Here I re-met the dynamic Endorphine Dude (last met in 2011 at Santa Rosa marathon), the magnificant Danni whose cheese toasties at the end of the event were "to die for" and of course the enigmatic Chewy.

I would meet these wonderful people again in Santa Rosa later on in the year.

PictureTop L: Ray; Top R: Julia; Bottom L: Bob Schluben
Forrest Gump Challenge (30th March) is a 2 lap out and back course along the highway just outside the amazing town called Branson (yes do the marathon and visit Branson with the family).

Have to thank Ray (the RD); Bob, hope you completed your 52 marathons; and Julia for getting me to the finish line/helping me break 7 hours....a new PB at 6:59:39

Ray is doing a number of themed marathon/ultra events throughout the year....and instead of taking a tyre out on a run, he carries a cross on his runs.

PictureSigning the Pledge Tyre
April 2013
The Garden Spot Village Marathon: is an exceptional out and back road marathon. That is part closed though this was not fully closed otherwise we would not have been able to enjoy Amish horse and carriage trotting by. Rave rave rave. From the start, during and to the finish. A village style expo; pre-pasta dinner with amazing cakes; incredible hospitality from Erica and Scott (organisers); breakfast in the morning and a start tent to hide from the chilly elements; an amazing buffet display at each check point; and a brilliant welcome at the end to cheers and more food. There is no excuse to to be hungry or thirsty at any point in time on this event. Furthermore there were massages; hot tub; showers and a swimming pool that you can enjoy after. And finally there that quaint ole "going back in time" element being right smack bang in the middle of the Amish community....cute Amish kids in traditional outfits waving us on, horses and carriages plodding by, etc etc etc.

Although hilly TG would have beaten the last PB, if she hadn't decided to pick up runners' trash along the way. Also briefly met Bob again and thanks to Laurel for coming over (from Hatfield McCoy marathon).

TG has thoroughly enjoyed all her marathons but this is one she would extremely highly recommended marathon that out spoils any other marathon she has been in. There is prize money for different age categories and there is no time limit.

Picture
May 2013
Richmond Park Marathon
(5th May) is TG's local and is a lovely 3 circuit hilly marathon with deer watching, ducks/swans on lakes, views over central London, and having friends offer their local baked delights. It is a public park so be prepared to also be running along side cyclists, walkers.....and the occasional tyre puller :-)  TG pulled into another PB with a time of 6:55

As always excellent organisation, with spot prizes, massage tents and lots of friendly faces.  Thank you to Gaz and Ray (organisers) for their fantastic support.

Ridgeway 40 (11th May): is a 40 mile trail ultra marathon with a mid-point magically cake checkpoint. It is awesome and one that is hard to leave once you've stopped, salivated over the huge selection of cakes and had a cup of tea....especially when the choice is heading back out into weather that is a mixture of grey skies, wind swirls and spitting rain....or the nice warm tent with siren volunteers enticing you to stay.

TG pulled into another PB with a time of 11:45.

After the Up....Comes the Down
Feeling on top of the world, TG's alter ego decided to get back into building a drain.... and despite being told "less is better" attempted to drag several kilos of rubble around and unsurprisingly put her back out once again. This meant another forced rest and 4-6 weeks out of action.  Tyre-less she completed a 100 mile event (see here and here) at the end of June and strained her hamstring. Another forced rest for 6 weeks, though this time the focus was on IT projects, so the only other injury risk would be RSI.

PictureJoyce; Kathleen; Gaz
August 2013
Leading Ladies (18th Aug): is a women's only road marathon that goes mostly downhill. All marathons should go downhill....great for the quads. So despite having done no training from the last 100 miler, TG managed to complete the event in 07:30. Before, during and after, met so many incredibly inspiring women.

Despite hot temperature warnings, this was a surprisingly cool marathon starting in the mountains. Ecuder made many friends and managed to gatecrash some marathoners' tour of Rapid City and its surroundings.

PictureChris ensured TG did not get lost!
Santa Rosa (25th Aug): is a some what undulating road marathon that heads into the vineyards of De Loach. The expo was a cultural affair with live music especially from Albert's American Indian flutes, wine tasting and lots of exhibitors.....and a reunion with the Modesto bunch, lady Danni and Endorphine Dude. We also met the impressive Chris who has cut off the heads of so many depression demons that am sure she has enough medals to make a permanent shield to fend them off. Here TG was reunited with the animal friendly Rec who completed the event with TG.

The pre-pasta dinner was held in the exquisite grounds of the De Loach winery and is certainly well worth attending (TG likes food and cake!) with the sun setting, the occasional eagle seen (am sure it was an eagle) and the surround sound of live American Indian flutes being played. Runners are again spoilt at this marathon with fresh fruit, pancake, and cold beer after the marathon. If you're a goodies bag diva - then this one excelled with a bottle of nice wine and a jacket to celebrate their 5th anniversary.

Another excellent US marathon.

Picture
November 2013
Day of the Dead (3) and Day of the Dead (4): is a 4 day back to back marathon series. TG and Ecuder did the last two day and met/hung out with a bunch of fantabulous people (Andy, Charlie, Mark). This marathon has lots of food before, during and after and has no time limit and has a prize for the person bringing up the rear!

This was Reu's first marathon and had to endure goatshead spikes. TG was glad she had to purchase thicker sole sandals for this event (having forgotten to bring hers). For the medal squirrels, these medals are unique skeleton tiles that celebrate the day of the dead.

PictureHanding over Rizzy the Pledge Tyre
December 2013
McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50K: is a trail ultra marathon in the beautiful McDowell Mountain regional park. There are a number of other length events at the same time. There are rocky tracks; single-pass trails; steep up and downhills and throughout exceptional desert scenery. There was food before, during and after the event. Food and drink check points about every 3-6 miles.

Much gratitude to Jamil and Nick (organisers) for their most excellent support and to Paradise Valley High school for giving Rizzy (the pledge tyre) a home.



TG and the tyres are thankful to all the brilliant organisers, volunteers, amazing high school teachers, other runners and to all the new and old friends for their help and support. Thank you to everyone who has listened and heard my message and have pledged to reduce their trash by first reducing their single-use plastic trash, making 2013 a positive year of pledges to change. Now to reign in the time in 2014!

 
 
Sung backwards from 12 days of Christmas....starting from the 12th day:

12
said "looks too hard"
11 wry smiles
10 looks of confusion
9 said "a tyre's following"
8 dog's a barking
7 replied "Merry Christmas"
6 asked what I was doing
5 wanted a ride
4 hill reps
3 muddy puddles
2 asked about the arctic
1 tyre pulling training day

Yes first pull around the lake. Training is back on.
 
 
 
 
Picture
Type of Race/Course: Desert, hilly, rocky, sandy trail - some single track, some very rocky, others lots of fun. Expect uphills and downhills.
Location: McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Arizona; Entrance fee = $6 USD
Organisation and volunteers: Excellent organisation. For a change I did not get lost on the trail! It was so well marked :-)
CPs: @ every 3-6 miles with water, gatorade, salty snacks, sandwiches/bean rolls, chocolate, oranges, bananas and excellent, encouraging volunteers.
Weather: 32 degs F - 57 degs F; sunny
Start Time: 07:30
Finish: Ends at start point
Post Runner Recovery: Lots of food/drink

Event's website: http://www.aravaiparunning.com

Having been in Arizona once before, I had expected hot, dry,sunny afternoons and  cool mornings. I had not expected to find ice on my windscreen that I could not scratch off with my bare hands! Emergency shoe, well sandal, saved the day becoming an adequate ice scrapper.

Thankfully got to the park 15 minutes before the start, to a relaxed atmosphere and a breakfast banquet table. Pledge tyre in one arm, Reu in the other, we were ready to recruit runners/volunteers/spectators/others to think more seriously about the trash they generated and to pledge to reduce their single use plastics with a B.Y.O. (Bring Your Own) attitude. Thank you to the organisers for promoting the B.Y.O cause and thank you to everyone who has pledged to reduce their single use trash with B.Y.O. The tyre is now living in Paradise Valley High School to encourage the change makers (students) to find a solution to our society's apathetic attitudes towards trash.
For a slight difference in the journalling, thought you might like a video log and some waffle about the run, the weather and the location.....which I thought was "mind delicious"....could have spent a day taking photos if time permitted....I love them 1...2...3... hundred year old cowboy cactus.

Hardest part of the event was the last 5-6 miles. On 3 occasions it looked like the trail would take us back to the finish point, and then an evil bend would appear to take us further away....a mind torture. There was a final sado-masochistic short steep climb to the finish. It was awesome!

In summary - an excellent organised event and probably my favourite for the year based on the scenery.
PictureHanding over Rizzy to Jack Clark (CREST)
Monday 9th December:
Paradise Valley High School

It was time to give the pledge tyre a name and a home at Paradise Valley High School and CREST.

Here we met the change makers of the future. The generation who can make a difference by changing their ways, find ways to make it easier for their parents and relatives to change their ways.

It was time to pass on the dream to have a zero trash society:
- that reuses and repairs "trash" at home
- and what cannot be reused or repaired is then upcycled or recycled and in turn is again reused

...Thus reducing the poisons we release back into our environment as well as our demand on resources and our impact on our precious rain forest resources. Some will go for the baby steps provided with the B.Y.O attitude, and others in the school will guide the way to help their home, school and society become totally sustainable.

The dream is possible with a bit of determined effort....just as a "gal" drags a tyre in a 50K marathon.

Found dumped and alone in an alley, our pledge tyre was named Rizzy (as in Resilient) by the resident sustainability instructor, Andrew Bernier. May Rizzy inspire many more students to be the change that the world needs.

Thank you to the brilliant teachers for their support and the classes who listened.