One step closer

We got negative Covid re-tests!! I’m SO relieved!! We’ve spent 6 nights in the west of Greenland, Nuuk. This was mandatory before flying to the East. Me and Are took Covid tests in our respective countries before arriving in Greenland and again, five days later in Greenland. So we’re Covid free and good to go! 

The first 5 days were spent in quarantine, luckily we had WiFi in our apartment and cooking facilities. We spent time route planing and sorting logistics. 150 waypoints are in my GPS. You can see some of them in the GPX screenshot below.

I downloaded some films on Netflix, audio books and songs all ready for the expedition. The films are there for when the storm hits and we’re stuck in the tent.

We had time to explore for a day and see some of the breathtaking views that Nuuk has. 

At the airport now, ready to fly to Tasiilaq where we will be buying all our food and fuel! We’ll be on the ice soon! 

Take your own advice

I find it’s always easier to give other people advice, not just in my role as a physio but for most things. 

We are generally our own worse critics. I sustained an injury a few months ago and kept pushing through because I wanted to train. A few training trips were cancelled with Covid, so part of me felt like I wanted to train harder. I felt like I haven’t really achieved much this year, other than winter training, polar training , first year of my MSc. It’s so easy to forget! I would tell my friends to not be so harsh on themselves, take their time and make sure they rehab. Why couldn’t I take my own advice!

I decided I needed to train smart. I wrote my programme down with sets and reps, you’re much more likely to stick to it and remember if it’s all written down, it works for me anyway. My injury (tendinopathy) required gradual loading so I took a step back, stopped over loading (by running) and started with the basics. It was frustrating not being able to run, especially when the weather has been so nice.

I’m finally starting to come out the other side and even managed to get back to some tyre dragging. Things started to improve when I started training smart and I’m ready for my next training trip. I’m still not sure what this will be as it depends on restrictions on parts of the country. I have a few back-ups plans too so I’m sure I will be doing one of them in August.

I’ve been doing my rehab exercises, working and took my little sister up Mam Tor in the Peak District for her 10thBirthday (I give the best gifts..) 

Have you ever just wanted something so much that you will do anything it takes to get there. That’s how I feel. It’s time to be smart about it. Don’t get frustrated over the small things, like when you’re tyre gets stuck around a tree in the woods. I don’t need to waste my energy on that. 

‘Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting’ 

Norway (part 2)

After Norway (part 1), I spent a busy 2 weeks in the UK which included Army work, MSc work, getting kit for my next Norway trip, a hen do and I went swimming.

I’m not a swimmer but a good friend of mine is training for an ironman (which I also said I would do..). Anyway, after no swimming for at least 2 years, I went to an hour class. It was great but tiring. Will I go back, of course I will J

After two weeks in England, I flew back to Norway. This time I went to Finse for a Polar Training Course that I booked a few months ago to make sure I had a good baseline for future training trips. 

On arrival in Finse, I couldn’t see much apart from blowing snow, at least I had the right weather conditions! Hannah McKeand runs the course and has an immense knowledge of polar travel, however she wasn’t able to stay for long as she was going on a North Pole expedition herself. Therefore we were left in the capable hands of our guides, Devon and Denise, who both have a wealth of polar knowledge and experience. Safe to say, I was surrounded by the perfect people to learn from. 

The first week we spent some time in lessons on nutrition, polar travel, navigation, camping, comms, weather and everything else we would need for the expedition phase. We practiced pulling our weighted sleds and going up and down hills, which definitely took some getting used to! We tied string on all the zips of the tent so that they were easier to open when it got very cold. Small but important things that I wouldn’t have thought of without guidance. 

Over the weekend, we packed our sleds with all of the necessities. This included enough food for 6 six days. We had freeze dried food for morning and evening meals and snacks for lunch. It is important to get the calories in but also try to keep the weight as light as possible. My favourite snack was ‘smash.’ This was created by the Norwegians and is basically salted corn covered in milk chocolate. They are so tasty! I had a mixed bag of nuts, raisins, chocolate and smash. Also, you can take cheese on the expedition so I really couldn’t complain!We packed our fuel, cooking equipment, a spare pair of clothes, our sleeping system and off we went.

I started off navigating with the compass which is attached to a holder on your chest so you don’t have to carry it. It was pretty windy on day 1 and became more difficult to navigate during a white out. For safety there was always another team member checking navigation on their gps as a backup. 

We would stop every hour for a 10 min break to recharge with water and snacks. You get into a routine quite quickly. Find a good place to stop, flatten the snow as required, put the tent up, cover the guide lines, dig out the kitchen, sort admin, start cooking. Eat, sleep and repeat.

I had a pretty epic fall on this trip, on day 2 when navigating in a white out I stepped forward and the ground just wasn’t there anymore. I don’t really remember the fall, just feeling a pain in my arm and hearing Edward still at the top of the hill shouting ‘she’s disappeared!’ I got to my feet and touched my clavicle (collar bone) and shoulder to feel for injuries and just shouted ‘don’t come down’ I unclipped my sled and ran half way up the hill and as a team we got everyone down. It wasn’t until the evening that I noticed the nice purple bruise on my arm (see photo below). Turns out my sled wacked me in the arm.. Luckily no serious injuries! It’s gone now and I kind of miss it..

By day 3, the weather had cleared and we could actually see where we were going! It was my favourite day. There was a fair amount of up and down and breaking trail which was hard work but it was so beautiful. The next few days were the same with the weather until the last day.

I’m going to finish there and my inspiration for the day came from a teenage girl, I can’t remember her exact age but she was under 15. She gave a speech about her experiences so far. She had done a lot, including the Amundsen race after persuading them to let her enter even though the entry age is usually 18. Anyway, she said something along the lines; 

It is about the journey, enjoying every day we’re out there.

How many people look at the end goal, rather than enjoying the experience on the way? This isn’t about winning anything. It is about trying to achieve something great, following the inspirational people before me and hopefully enabling me to be a role model. 

Norway (part 1)

This blog is a little later than planned and it is about my activities in January! I made it to Norway after my ultramarathon and got used to being on skis again!

I spent two weeks Nordic skiing on this trip. It is like cross country skiing, with thinner skis. The first week we went over our ski technique, waxing our skis and even had a day of alpine. I definitely prefer going uphill.. We covered a good amount of ground daily and it was nice to go on a journey. We carried our backpack which contained warm and wet kit, food (a priority) and a shovel. Falling on my backpack was not so fun, however I did have a lot of practice getting off the floor with skis and my not so light bag! 

There was a lot of going up and down hill which was good fitness. The expedition phase included staying in Norwegian huts which were incredible. I got to chop some wood (only the smaller bits that were easy to chop…) and we made a fire. The last day of the expedition phase was a very long hilly 20 miles. I was very happy to come back to some daim cake. I had daim cake for the first time on this trip and it was AMAZING! 

We went through other useful skills too such as digging snow holes and avalanche drills with our transceivers too. It gets hot when you’re digging! 

Overall, it was great to be back on skis and cover some miles. Next step: add a sled.

My inspirational quote is one that my brother sent me on Instagram:

‘There are people less qualified than you doing the things you want to do, simply because they decide to believe in themselves’

So, my message today is believe in yourself. You are generally capable of so much more than you realise.