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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 Blogs

Building some confidence... slowly
20-Jan-2014 01:46:14 AM [(GMT+02:00) Harare, Pretoria]

This weekend was a milestone for me - psychologically anyway. I've been struggling with shinsplints for a couple of months - I've been off of running for what felt like forever, and endured what felt like endless pool running sessions in the nastiest hotel pools... note to self... Lilongwe isn't a city with large or clean or readily accessible swimming pools!... a few bouts of the squirts after inadvertently sucking in some of the murky green liquid I was 'running' in, and I begged my coach to let me get back on my feet... so now I find myself walking - a lot! I'm slowly building up my running within the walking periods, but it's a good feeling to be back on my feet. I'm getting over my pigheadedness against walking, and just enjoying the journey. I'm putting in 3-3.5hr days back-to-back on the weekends, riding, walking and a little running, so I'm definitely noticing the endurance building.... but just writing that I'm aware that one day I'll look back and laugh at myself for thinking I was somewhat fit at this point... at least I hope I will!

Since I live somewhere that has literally NO races to enjoy - okay I lied, there's one half-marathon each year - I've decided to enter a couple of other races between now and Madagascar... in 8 weeks I should be in the UK for the Jurassic Coast Challenge - I was really doubting my abilities last week, but after a great weekend of long workouts, I'm feeling a lot more confident... Like 4Deserts (reportedly), there is a group of people who (reportedly) just walk the challenge, and don't run at all... so I guess that'll mean if I do some running I shouldn't come in back-of-the-pack.... okay maybe that's my greatest fear - to come in last. I'll need to think about that some more. Someone has to bring up the rear... I just don't want it to be my rear.

So here's where I'm at with planning.....

Fueling on my feet - something salty to counteract all the sweet gels is definitely needed. This weekend I couldn't stop thinking about roasted salted almonds and biltong (extra dry jerky)... so I think I'll have to try those out next weekend and see if it helps the salt craving

Breakfasts - I never used to eat before my runs, but I've been encouraged to rethink that by my coach... so I've been looking for something lightweight but which will feel like a meal, give me energy, and not forcefully expel itself from either end an hour into a long run.... and I found it - ProNutro... does the trick, and it's gluten-free. Excellent!

Bag - hmmm... so undecided here. I need to hurry up and decide because I'm completely beyond the capacity of my camelbak for my long weekend 'runs', and since I'm venturing out into the African bush, there are limited safe water options along the way. I have to be self-sufficient. So far I really like the WAA Ultrabag - if only because of how it zips almost completely open. When I climbed Kili two years ago I took a Gregory duffel, and it was a huge bonus not to have to unpack and repack everything every night.

And a few of my many outstanding questions:
- Sleeping pad or no? - Front pack or no?
- Solar charger for the iPod or just extra iPod(s) ... and oh my kids would hate me for that! - Shoes - how many sizes too large? 1/2, 1 or 1 1/2?
- Sunblock - I've yet to resist sunburn on my long runs - even when I start out before light I get burned before I'm home.. I need something super sweat proof

.. if anyone out there has ideas or opinions on my questions, I'll welcome all input :)

Alex Chapman

Posted: 04-Feb-2014 06:50:22 AM

Hi Beth, I'll be seeing you in Madagascar. I did the Namibia race in 2009 and Nepal 2011 and have recently been reviewing my photos, training diary etc to remind myself of 1001 little things I wish I'd known before the 1st race. Re your Qs - YES to Sleeping pad; despite the best efforts of camp organisers, tents will sometimes be pitched in the dark, on rocks. I saw some competitors who decided not to carry a pad lining up around the camp kitchens to swipe cardboard boxes to sleep on. A good pad is better and lighter than cardboard (and keep it INSIDE your sleeping bag) I use a front-Pack for the first few days (it helps balance the weight as well as give more space). I use a Raidlight bag. Sunscreen; BIG hat, long sleeves and full-length tights weigh less than 7 days sunscreen for this pasty/ginger Brit. Shoes; I go 1/2 a size larger than my regular running shoes and bring various thickness socks. But this is very individual and you must work it out for yourself. Food; you must take food that you really want to eat. Lots of people throw away food because they don't feel like eating despite being extremely hungry. Pot noodles are suprisingly popular (despite being nutritionist's kryptonite) because they are lightweight and they smell great. I took gels and threw most of them away. My overall advice is to take a variety of foods that you love. Walkers cheese & onion crisps are great, pin-prick the bag and slowly squeeze all the air out and crush the bag flat. 2 bags and a cup of tea makes a lovely dinner. Good luck Alex

Sean Caine

Posted: 20-Jan-2014 11:10:29 PM

"Bullfrog Sunscreen" is made to stay put in and out of the water! Available at Walgreens and other places. I've seen friends cover their tattoos with it and it works. I'd recommend the solar charger...but that's all I know. Love ya!

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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 competitor


Lived in Malawi, Kenya, Botswana, US and UK.
Education in Public Health: Behavioral Sciences and Epidemiology

Lilongwe, Malawi

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Why are you competing?
I'm always up for a new challenge and this fits!

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