There are 3 classifications for when the sun dips below the horizon. Civil twilight, nautical twilight, and astronomical twilight all happen within a 12 hour period of night-time. Within the first 2 months of winter, the days have turned into a descending pattern of each of these classifications in the sky; eventually resting on the last one for more than 22 hours of the day.
South Pole has May 13th-August 2nd with none of them. That’s the difference 900 miles makes here in an Antarctic winter. The night-time is incredibly hard on your mind if you don’t have distractions and goals set in place. It makes your thoughts wander endlessly, puts you on edge, and can change your attitude quickly. Coupled with T3 syndrome, there are quite a few disgruntled people bumbling about the McMurdo hallways. I learned almost 2 years ago from my time in the Arctic that winter time anywhere past the invisible line of the imaginary circles encompassing the polar regions is a great time to bunker down and work on a project that you’re fond of. For me, it’s been working on my health and focusing on technical aspects of cooking.
During the winter, I’ve spent rigorous hours running on a treadmill to get my body ready for the “Dreadmill”. McMurdo Station puts on a winter marathon event for anyone that wants to participate. I was hesitant to start my first marathon training in Antarctica during the winter but I dove right into it head first. I found a training program online to give me a heads up, inquired about any advice from friends on the best way to get my body ready for the grueling challenge I had ahead of myself, and ordered some electrolyte replacement powders to help me recover after my long runs.
The program was a total of 18 weeks with first 8 weeks being the hardest. I’ve never done anything like this before and my body had a hard adjustment to it. My knees always hurt, I’d pull my calf muscles every couple of weeks from insufficient stretching, and I couldn’t keep up with how much water I needed to consume. Not only was I on the driest continent on Earth, I was also running an average of 40 miles a week, with the longest run reaching up to 20 miles in one day. The actual marathon was even more demanding on my body, my mind, and my senses in the end. I had a huge support system through the entire process. My best friend down here even hung out with me in the gym while I ran on a treadmill for 4 1/2 hours with posters. In total, I lost 20 pounds and I’m on the right track to being healthy, which is all that really matters. Here are some pictures a good friend of mine took while I was meandering away on the treadmill under fluorescent lights.
For some people, winter is about getting to hang out and be around people with the same ideologies as you. There’s plenty of stuff to do for social people. Bingo nights, trivia at the bar, gourmet burger bars for big events serviced by volunteered, board game nights, movie nights, video game competitions, and travelogues are many of the bustling scenes around town on any given night during the winter. I mainly worked the days everybody had off and had the early morning shift so I didn’t like to spend time outside my comfy bed past 8 PM. I didn’t mind the awkward shift, as it kept me focused on running.
A little about my travels back home. I finally figured out when my redeployment date is, which helps with my vacation plans. I’m putting together my flight plans to get back to Utah and will know more about that soon. Otherwise, I’ll be in Bangkok for my birthday if everything goes as expected so if you want to meet up for coffee in Thailand or when I get back into the Salt Lake City area, email me!