5.55am and I'm woken by the annoying sound of my alarm. Its pitch black, cold and ridiculously early! My puss cat refuses to let me leave the bed until I give him a cuddle. With not much persuasion I give in and crawl back under the covers. I lay in bed, warm and snuggly, trying to rearrange my weekly training plan in my head so there’s no need for me to move. By-passing these thoughts and leaping into action is by far a much tougher skill to learn than I ever imagined, but I'm getting there! Albeit slowly...
Enough with the thinking, I'm up! Throw on my clothes, watch and iPod, neck a coffee and I'm out of the door. First challenge complete, hoorah!
I start sprinting down the road like Linford Christie because it’s so cold, like -9 cold. The next challenge is to get warm, quick! Approximately 8.5 minutes into my usual route, I am pegging it as fast as I can past Kilian Jornet's house, trying hard to look strong and in control, just on the off chance that he’s looking ;). About 9 minutes in I can’t help wondering what all the fuss was about and why I don’t get up to run every single
Trotting along to whatever the training plan has dictated, I can’t help but breathe in my surroundings and smile. I am happy! People often say "you’re lucky to live where you are". My usual reaction is,“rubbish, it wasn’t luck that brought me here, It was a choice!”. I must admit that
recently my feelings have changed and I feel nothing but gratitude for where I live. I count my blessings daily that I have two legs that work and a body that enables me to take me on my adventures. wherever I may choose.
For this, all of it, even at 5.55am on a cold, dark, snowy, winter morning, I amincredibly lucky!
We’ve been doing everything we can to get media coverage over the past couple of months, to publicise our fundraising efforts and draw attention to our cause. So far we’ve done an interview with Summit Radio, got an ad in Chamonix Experience magazine and have articles in the pipeline for Women In Trade magazine, Trail Running magazine, Runner’s World, various local papers in the UK and hopefully an interview with the BBC. Phew!
The one thing that people want to know, other than why on earth would you want to attempt this race in the first place, is how are you training and what preparation can you do for the Everest Marathon?
The truth is, we don't know! There are no standard training plans out there to tap into. In theory we should have a head start. We live in the French Alps at 1000m, we ski, swim, run & bike in the mountains all year-round, we regularly reach 2000-3000m of altitude during our sporting pursuits and between us have competed in marathons, triathlons & ultra-endurance races before. Surely it’ll be a walk in the park for a bunch of sporty, mountain-dwelling girls?
To be honest I think most of us are finding it hard getting back into training since the usual wind-down from summer races, Xmas & New Year break and the bitter cold of mid-winter in the Alps. It’s hard to drag yourself out of bed when it’s -9C outside, pitch black and snowy. Our favoured off-road running trails are at worst inaccessible during most of the winter due to deep snow and at best are icy, slippery and downright dangerous and difficult to run on, even with crampons. Road-running is a poor substitute for us trail runners and it’s often still pretty treacherous in the winter anyway.
The answer is cross-training. There is plenty else that can be done if conditions for running are less than ideal, and in fact it’s by far the best way to train to avoid injury, strengthen muscles to help with running and improve all-round fitness. And there are so many great sports out there.
Personally I decided to ease myself in gently in January and my rattly lungs are not a fan of the cold, so I have been staying indoors a fair bit. Training has consisted of 2 runs per week, 2 swim sessions in the pool, 1 cardio & core class and skiing when time permits. Cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing and ski-touring are excellent ways to cross-train for mountain runners and I could do with fitting more of that in, but so far I’m pretty happy with my training to date. I’ve even managed to shift my mince-pie spare-tyre!
It’s now only 3 ½ months to go until we leave for Nepal, but as long as we all follow a training plan that works for us, I’m sure we’ll be fit enough for the trip. The one big thing we can’t predict is the effect of the altitude on us all. We’re going to take advice on preparing for this and hopefully spend some time up at the 3800m Aiguille du Midi here in Chamonix beforehand. I mean sitting in the sun and drinking coffee at high altitude counts as altitude training, right?
Eight months ago I head out for my first ever bike ride in the French Alps. I got up early as I wanted to make sure that I had everything....not that I had any idea what everything was! I packed the car up (something that I still have a hard time getting my head around, we live in the Alps, yet we still drive somewhere to start a bike ride...whats wrong with riding from your front door?) and set off down the valley.
I had no idea what I was l letting myself in for, but all I knew was that I needed to learn how to ride a road bike pretty quickly as I had an ironman triathlon in 2months time!!
I arrived at the meeting point, I didn't know who was going to be there, but I was pretty sure I would be able to spot the guys and gals with bikes and sporting sexy lycra :-). The first person I saw, was a striking blonde girl, dressed head to toe in blue lycra...I remember thinking, jeez I think I'm out of my league here - maybe I should get back in the car and head back home to my turbo trainer, surely cycling on the road can't be that different to spending many painful hours on the turbo. But I had let the thought linger too long, next minute I see the blonde girl heading in my direction, she looked far to happy to be heading out on a 60k bike ride ;-). She introduced herself as Nikki.....and that's where it all started.
A 60km bike ride, with a 11.5k climb has never gone so quickly, we chatted the whole way round - hmm, well ok, maybe we didn't chat on the climb ;-). Nikki told me about this little race she was doing in 2014 - running a marathon at 5400m to raise money for a charity that helps women and children suffering from cancer to reach their own Everest! I remember thinking, wow she is crazy - but equally there was a hint of jealousy, I have always wanted to do an Everest base camp trek, how cool would it be to top it off with completing the world's highest marathon for such an AMAZING charity, pushing yourself to the limits!.
I was hooked, for days afterwards I couldn't stop thinking about it - I finally facebook stalked Nikki to see if there was any room for another crazy woman! I was in....I was so happy, but a little scared, what had I let myself in for!?
Eight months down the line, I can safely say that I am still having those thoughts - who runs a marathon at 5400m of altitude, only nut cases, surely!? BUT those thoughts are quickly banished when I think about what we are doing it for. A Chachun Son Everest truly is an amazing charity. I have been privileged enough to go to the house and see where the miracles happen - women and children doing things they never believed possible and even more amazing, doing it whilst they are recovering from cancer. The team led by Christine Janin are inspirational! If these women and children can reach their own Everest, I'm sure going to do everything I can to reach mine and cross the finish line.....
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