Mainely Running
Join me as I train in Maine and race all over the world in pursuit of my goal to run a marathon on all 7 continents

Monday, February 28, 2011

Race Day!

Kiersten Pfeifer, you are an Antarctica Marathoner. The race was as difficult as I had imagined, and then some. At the race briefing last night they let us know that the glacier was unsafe for running, so we'd be doing a double out and back-course and then running the first leg a third time. We started at the Russian base, Bellingshausen, and ran out to the Chinese base. There was a series of small hills and then one really long steep hill. The hardest part was the 2 miles closest to China where the road surface was very soft and pebbly. It was like running through deep sand littered with big rocks that seemed determined to roll your ankle. We then ran back to Bellinghausen and headed towards the Uruguanian base. The hills in this part, made the hills in the first seem like molehills. This is also where the wind was the most brutal. It was a steady 20 knots all day, with gusts of up to 30. We had been warned about mud, and they were't kidding. Climbing up the hills I was sliding back in the mud, and a couple times sunk up to my knees! I think my shoes were about 10 pounds heavier by the end of the race because they were so filled with mud and water! I think they are beyond hope, so they went straight into the recycle bin on the boat. Coming back through Bellinghausen it was hard to run by the turn-off for the half-marathon. I was more tired at this point than I have ever been in a marathon, and seriously considered stopping. BUT, I didn't come all this way and struggle through a brutal winter just to run a half! I've been told the scenery was fantastic, and the few times I looked it was. The rugged mountains rose up over the ocean, which was a brilliant blue, especially when the sun came out. The glaciers were nested in the valleys of the hills. I heard that there were seals and penguins too. I was too busy looking at my feet, so the only wild-life I saw were the dead penguin and squid carcasses that were on the course. Luckily, I wasn't bothered my the skuas. I wore a bright yellow jacket to make it clear I was not a giant penguin. I didn't think it was that cold, but when I tried to take a bite of my power-bar, it was frozen solid. So, I didn't have anything to eat after 14 miles. I crossed the finish line in 5:15, with just enough left in me to cartwheel across the finish. I think I was the fifth woman to finish, which says something about the difficulty of the course. Staying on my feet long enough to walk to the zodiac was a challenge. We are now on the boat heading towards the Antarctic peninsula and the sun is bright at 6 pm. It also sounds like there is quite a social scene in the bar, but I can't quite get myself up off the bed to check it out!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 27th

Feb. 27: We are going a little toast, as they say here in the Continent.
This means that you are going stir crazy. After a lovely birthday dinner for
Nancy last night, we went to sleep and woke up in Maxwell Bay off King
George Island, where we dropped the race crew. It was interesting to watch
them load the ATV's onto the Zodiacs. We then cruised over to Robert's
point, on Robert's Island. However, when we arrived the wind was blowing
30-50 knots, making it unsafe to load the zodiacs and get to shore. Standing
out on the bow with the binoculars, we could see both fur and elephant seals
on the beach. The wind was so intense that it was nearly blowing us off the
bow. Plan B was to cruise through the Nelson Strait and look for whales. We
did find a humpback and he got so close that we could see the barnacles on
his belly.

An enforced day of rest was probably a good thing, because tomorrow is RACE

February 27th

Today, Feb. 27, is overcast and very windy (30-40 knots) - so windy that we
were unable to get ashore on Robert Point Island to see seals, etc. So we
are cruising around looking for whales - hope we find some :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Penguin Paradise

Today you get a 2 for 1, since we haven't been able to post in a couple days.

2/25 Drake Passage

Hello from the Drake Passage!

Yesterday turned out to be more of an adventure than we were expecting. The
plan was to take a 9am flight from Buenos Aires, arrive in Ushuaia at 12:30,
spend the afternoon in town, board the ship at 4 and depart at 5. Instead,
our plane made an unexpected stop so we didn't arrive until 3, only to find
that NONE of our bags had made it because our plane was overweight! Luckily,
the boat crew allowed us to delay our departure until the majority of the
bags arrived. I don't think anyone wanted to be stuck on a boat for 2 weeks
with 120 people with no clean clothes!

We had about 45 minutes to explore Ushuaia, which was lovely. It was a warm
sunny day, but VERY window. The town is built into a hill, and the Andes
tower in the background. A number of the mountains still have glaciers at
the top, which supply the town with water. The style of the buildings
reminds me of Switzerland with high peaked roofs, but the colors remind me
of Dominican Republic in that they are painted in bright yellows and blues.
Our only regret is that we didn't have time to get any crab. We saw some in
a tank though, and they were absolutely enormous. Even bigger than the king
crabs on Biggest Catch.

While we waited for luggage we boarded the ship and got our safety briefing.
The Sea Spirit is great and the crew is fantastic! All but 8 bags had
arrived by 9 pm (ours both made it, yeah!!), so we cast off around 9:30 just
as the sun was setting. We could see the southern cross directly above us,
and the jagged mountains rising into dark clouds behind us.

We made sure to secure the cabin and stick on our sea sickness patches
before going to sleep, because we entered the Drake Passage around 2 am.
There was a noticeable difference as we crossed from the Beagle channel into
the passage and we both woke up as the boat began to roll from side to side.
The “gym” on the boat leaves a lot to be desired, so I intended to run
around the deck on the 4th level this morning. However, my run was more of
a slow lurch. Between the salt water spray and the drizzle, the deck was
quite wet and I didn't want to end up overboard. The water is a beautiful
dark blue, that I haven't seen in any other ocean, but looks VERY cold.
We'll spend the rest of the day today heading towards Antarctica, but we
have lectures on birds, exploration history, and conservation to keep us

**Communications note** We won't have access to our regular e-mail while on
the boat or to view the blog. We'll be e-mailing our posts and having them
posted. BUT we do have our own address on the ship's web-mail system. So
send us messages at

2/26 South Shetland Islands

After a rough day at sea crossing the Drake Passage yesterday, we entered the calmer waters of the South Shetland Islands around 1pm today. We were not sick, like many people on the boat, yesterday, but were pretty sleepy from the anti sea-sickness patches. Today, we're feeling more lively. Kier did a nice 3.5 mile run around the deck this morning in the bright sunshine. We had a lovely lunch of hot butternut squash soup on the back deck as we watched the approach of the South Shetlands. There is amazing variability in the islands. Some are completely covered in glacier, others have green vegetation (at closer look, an ultra thin layer of moss), and some are dark rock.

After lunch we had bio-security checks. We vacuumed all of our gear and scrubbed our shoes in a special solution to make sure that were aren't introducing any seeds from our home countries into Antarctica. Every time we leave the boat we have to scrub our boots before leaving the boat and again when we get back on, to ensure that we aren't transferring anything from one Antarctic Region to another. After bio-security, it was time for our first excursion! We took the zodiacs to one of the Aitcho Islands, which lie at the northern entrance to the English Straight. As we got closer to the island, we could see, and hear, and smell PENGUINS!

Both chinstrap and gentoo penguins breed here. The gentoo penguins were on the beach where we landed. Some were lying in the sun, some were running around, and some are in the process of molting (they have to stand in one spot for 3 weeks!) They are very friendly and came right up and pecked at our boots. They really like to sqawk as they run around. The gentoo penguins have bright yellow beaks and shiny, white chests. Up the hill were the chinstrap penguins, who you can identify by their black beaks and the neat black line that runs around their chins. Some of the chinstraps were playing in the water, while others had climbed way up on a hill. There were hundreds and hundreds of penguins. Even as I am typing this, there is a small flock swimming right outside the window of the boat.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Uruguay, why not??

Today is WEDNESDAY, Kier tells me. We went to URAGUAY on the high speed ferry to a quaint little town, Colonia. We got a bunch more stamps in our passports (they almost didn't let me back on the boat because I was missing a stamp). It was very scenic, cobblestones never smoothed for paving, a dock to be shared for Yachting & Fishing, and a lighthouse! We hand lunch in a very local little restaurant down a small side street. They spoke no English, and we speak no Portugese, so once again we weren't exactly sure what we were ordering. We got to climb all the way to the top of the tower - way above the trees and houses. It was a spectacular view even though it rained lightly off and on all day.

Before we left town we bought one more round of dulce de lece gelato. We passed several stores that had the school uniforms in the windows. VERY different than what kids in the US wear.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 2 in Buenos Aires

Another great (and even warmer) day in Buenos Aires. The group went on a bus tour this morning and it was interesting to see the parts of the city farthest from the hotel that we didn't walk to yesterday. We started out in Palermo, which has big open parks (filled with dog walkers, each walking 5-15 dogs!) and elegant mansions, that now house the various embassies. We then we to Ricoletta, which is home to the designer shops and an amazing cemetary. The cemetary is huge and filled with ornate, large, above ground masoleums. We both got the same feeling we had at Pompei, of being in a place of enormous history. We saw where Eva Peron was buried, although her family's site was not one of the most ornate. 
 We finished in La Boca, which we just fell in love with. It started off as an Italian immigrant community and they painted the buildings in bright, vibrant colors.

We wandered through narrow streets, climbing up rickety steps to visit all the artists' little shops. We were having so much fun, that we let the bus go on without us. We had lunch sitting outdoors watching a tango show. The guitar players were right in front of us, so that was also neat to watch.

Like yesterday, we finished the afternoon with a work-out and then a dip in the pool. Hard to believe that in just 2 days we're going to be freezing!! Tomorrow's mission is to find Nancy her almond croissant. Kier got her dulce de lece gelato last night.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Buenos dias from Buenos Aires

We have arrived in Buenos Aires after a long uncomfortable night on the plane. The seats were closer together than any plane either of us has ever been on. The guy's head in front of me was basically in my lap! Luckily, Kier had her trusty pre-loaded french press ready to go.

We took a taxi to the hotel rather than hang around the airport for several hours waiting for the group. Taxis here drive as crazily as they do at home. The hotel is lovely. We have a cute little room, and WONDERFUL pillows on the beds.

After changing into shorts and sandals, we headed out to explore the city. We were in desperate need of some more coffee and a snack, so we made our destination Cafe Tortoni, the oldest cafe in the city.
We walked down Via Florida, the main pedestrian street. It was extremely busy and vendors were shouting and shoving flyers in our faces. It was a little much given how tired we were. Cafe Tortoni though was a lovely haven. It was a grand, big space with pictures of all the famous patrons over the years on the walls. Kier had un caffe con lece and tried the lece mereingata, which turned out to be a type of gelato with fresh cinnamon. Nancy had churros with chocolate, which are fried dough sticks. It took us several minutes to realize that the people at the table next to us were statues!

Revitalized by the sugar and caffeine, we took off walking again, stopping often to admire the crafts the street vendors were selling. We found plaza di Mayo, which had examples of architecture from nearly every culture. There was the Spanish colonial building, a traditional grand cathedral, the large "Casa Rosa," which houses the current government, and a gothic looking parliment building.
You'll have to trust us that it's lovely because we just realized neither of us has a camera cord to plug into this laptop! Hopefully we'll be able to find one here before we get on the boat. Now Kier is heading out on her first group training run (and she's very nervous because everyone else looks very hard core, and it's HOT out!) GO FOR IT, KIER!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

dinner in Miami

Dont read this one, Lindsay.  Just had a wonderful dinner of fresh veggies and local specialty Mahi Mahi mmm. (dolphin ) Soon we'll be on the plane to Argentina!

And we're off!

 The many bags are packed!
We've both done am training at  SPINNING
(and Kier an extra hour of TURBO KICK)
And the fearless duo is ready to go (provided they can lift their duffel bags)!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ready to go??

I am all packed, but I'm afraid my bag is too heavy. It's hard to get an exact weight because it won't stand on the scale. I've been through everything I have packed again and again, and I just can't think of anything else I can possibly take out! So, I decided to take break and make some healthy snacks for the trip.

First though, I needed some lunch. I was starving from a morning at the gym and packing. I decided to challenge myself to use up the few things I had in the fridge, thus was born "Kier's clean-out your fridge frittata."
-Eggs (however many ya got)
-Milk (or almond milk in my case)
-Cheese, shredded (again whatever you have, I had cheddar and parmesan)
-Veggies, chopped into bite-sized pieces (I used spinach, kale, onion, and tomatoes)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. 
  2. In an oven-safe skillet, cook your veggies in a small amount of olive oil until they are soft. I did my onions first, then added the kale, then the spinach and tomatoes at the very end. 
  3. In a bowl wisk together eggs, milk, and cheese
  4. Spread veggie mixture evenly on bottom of skillet. Pour egg mixture over spinach mixture. Use a spatula to lift up the spinach mixture along the sides of the pan to let egg mixture flow underneath.
  5. When the mixture is about half set, put the whole pan in the oven. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until frittata is puffy and golden.

Hunger satisified, I moved on the snacks. I have a feeling fruit may be scarce down at the bottom of the world, and I had a bunch of apples so I decided to make apple chips.

  1. Turn the oven to its lowest setting
  2. Slice the apples into very thin slices (I used the food processor)
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the apple slices on the sheet.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  5. Push it into the oven for 1.5-2 hours, until the apple slices are crisp 
And finally, I decided to make a batch of granola, because it's another great way to use up odds and ends.
- 2 cups Oats
-Wheat germ or oat bran (if you have them) -1/4 cup Molasses
-1/4 cup Honey
-1/4 cup Maple Syrup
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp vanilla

Optional Add-ins
-Nuts (I used pecans and almonds)
-Dried fruit (I used craisins)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil.
  2. Combine the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, and nuts. Stir together the brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through.

Friday, February 18, 2011


This mess haunted me all night (the few hours of it, I got to sleep that is.)
Thanks to a combination of torrential downpours, strong winds, and a visit from President Obama, my flight home Thursday left almost four hours late. So, I didn't get home until about 2 am. I can't go to bed without unpacking my suitcase (probably a good thing since my running clothes from the week have been festering in there for too long already). So as I unpacked I threw the things I'll need for Antarctica on the bag I had started packing last weekend.

When I got this bag 3 weeks ago, I thought it was un-necessarily large. But it was the most durable option, so I got it anyway. Now, it isn't seeming so large. In fact, it's pretty much stuffed. I am normally a pretty good packer (I certainly get enough practice, since I do it every week), but this trip is a challenge. I'm packing for 3 distinct climates, more than 2 weeks, need all my marathon gear plus heavy-duty warm clothing, and we won't have a chance to do laundry!! I keep trying to think of the things I can take out of the bag, but I'm not having any luck. I just keep thinking of other things I should add.

The biggest limitation is that we are limited to 1 bag of 30lbs on the flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia because the planes are so small. We've already been warned that the over-weight fees are very high (they like to take advantage of Americans, who like most things, travel heavy). At this point, I'm thinking I have to pull a Joey and wear 10 layers on that flight to make my bag lighter.

One that will not be taken out is this cute little iceberg that Kristen knit me for good luck.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dead Butt Syndrome

Found an interesting article in the NY Times.

Maybe this is what is causing the pain in my hip? Do I have a dead butt?

Monday, February 14, 2011

You are going to need that body later

I went to the free yoga class at Lululemon yesterday, which is something I love but rarely do. My early morning cardio/strength work-outs are non-negotiable, but I tend to see yoga as an indulgence. Too often, if I don't take the early flight out,  I leave the gym after cycle interval intending to run home, grab a shower and snack, and then head to yoga. But then I think about all the other things I need to do before I fly-out, or, I'm totally starving and want a real meal, or I stay in the shower too long.... so many excuses.

But yesterday I went, and I was feeling pretty tired and achy. I did a 13 miler Friday followed by an hour of pilates, Saturday I did an hour of intense boot camp followed by an hour and half of step interval, and then cross-country skiing in the afternoon, and Sunday morning I did an hour of spin interval and then an hour of turbo kick. So it took me a few minutes to get into the yoga mind-set. What got me there was the teacher saying "Be kind to your body. Do what feels good. You will need this body tomorrow." That resonated with me. I came off my competitive high horse and slowed down to just breathe.

It puts the whole race in perspective. It is one race on one day. I will need my body for the rest of the trip and the rest of life. Marathons aren't  quite like yoga, you can't just do what feels good. It will hurt. But, I can make an conscious effort to enjoy the race . There will be other races where I can try for a PR. In this one, I just need to come out of it with a body that can get out and enjoy the rest of the trip.

Friday, February 11, 2011

13 mile tempo and I feel good

My salad dumped in my briefcase at the airport yesterday, which meant that for dinner I was stuck with the Jet Blue free snacks. I was hungry and bored, which meant that I went a little overboard. I started out virtuously with the air popped chips and 100 calorie animal crackers. Then I got up to go to the bathroom and on the way back to my seat the basket of chocolate chip cookies was calling my name. Ditto an hour later, but this time it was the Doritos snack mix. And then when I finally got home, there was a bucket of chocolate chip cookies on the table. I made my way through a few while I sorted through the week's news.

So I though I might feel a little sluggish on the 13 mile tempo run I had on my schedule this morning. But, I actually felt great. It was cold, only 19 when I started, but bright and sunny. For a change, we didn't get a foot of snow this week, and there were some days above freezing, so the roads are pretty clear (as long as you don't mind running in the traffic). I did a route with rolling hills, and still kept my pace up. I had enough in the tank to push it up the steep hill at mile 12 and then keep cruising until I hit mile 13. I just pray that I'll have that same wonderful feeling in 2 (eek!) weeks at the end of the race.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Up and over

I was considering getting up super early to do my 13 miler that I have planned for this weekend today while I'm still in California. It would be nice to do it on clear roads and not contend with traffic. BUT I just couldn't drag myself out of bed at 4am. I'm also starting to get a little nervous about the timing of my long runs. Is doing my last long run a month before the race too early? Not to question the great Jeff Galloway, but......... So I decided it would be better to hold off and do the run over the weekend, so it is exactly 2 weeks before the race.

I decided to do a hill workout instead. There is a mini mountain behind my hotel. I thought I had been running all the way up it, until I went for a walk one afternoon and found that actually I was only going 3/4 of the way up. Amazing how much more you can see when the sun is out. So today I went all the way up, which about 20 minutes of climbing, some parts pretty steep and others pretty gradual. I came back down in half the time, and then spent the next 30 minutes doing loops of shorter rolling hills. I was feeling pretty good about myself until I looked at my garmin and realized how slow I was going. A 10 minute mile pace felt like a sprint by the end of the run. The more marathons I do, the slower I get!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I forgot to knock on wood after I wrote that last entry. Yesterday I woke up and we "only" had 5-6 inches of snow, so I decided to run anyway. It was snowing so hard that the snow accumulated on my eyelashes and they froze together! It also piled up on my eyebrows, in my hair, and even down my back. Then I fell on a patch of ice hidden beneath the snow. After the fall I decided to give in and go home. Too bad the fastest was home was 1.5 miles back on the main road, where I was forced to contend with traffic. Unhappy drivers on slippery roads who seemed intent on spraying me as much as possible with freezing slush.

Today I did the elliptical, but still got to battle with the snow as I attempted to get the solid 2 inches of ice off my car. Once that was done, my car was still stuck in a massive icy snow pile. Fun.