Friday, November 26, 2010

Low Motivation - time to taper!

This morning, I put in my last key session before I will head off on Monday.
I caught the train to Caboolture, cycled to elimbah and ascended Miketeebumulgrai. My motivaion was very, very low, probably due to some serious overtraining. My quad was not too happy either. The fact that I was up at 0345 to run to my mum's place and pick up my bike may have contributed. In any case, I had intended to cycle to Wild Horse, and climb that bad boy, but I felt bad enough in the saddle that I decided to cut it short at Beerburrum, and just climb that mountain. It gave me 150 more metres of vertical than I would have had otherwise, so it wasn't that much of a soft option.
I put in a few sprints on the bike on the way back to Caboolture Station as my motivation rose, to round out a fairly average but totally awesome session.
I now just have two glasshouse mountains left before I have climbed them all. Wild Horse is simply a formality - 130m. Coonowrin, on the other hand, will be the most difficult, although not the highest. I am confident that I can do it, I will just have to believe in myself!
Anyways, Saturday and Sunday will be all rest (besides backyard cricket), before I lean towards true adventure on Monday (provided my quad is ok) and set off South for five days.
The plan is to cycle down to Mount Barney on the first day, ascend/descend her on the second, cycle to and ascend/descend Mount Warning on the third, and cycle around the coast and home on the fourth and fifth.
I'm not sure how relevant this trip will be training-wise as preparation for the Kurrawa to Duranbah 50km, which will be run a week after I return. The goal is sub-4:30, which is quite ambitious, considering the fact that I have put in about two speed sessions (tempo hill-climbs) in the last month. I figure that the large endurance base attained from cycling and hiking will give me a platform upon which I may push myself very hard. Also, my last 50km pb (4:45 for 53.5km) came when I was 5kg overweight, slightly injured, had run about five times in the five weeks preceeding, and had put in a two-hour run/climb of Tibrogargan the day before. Therefore, if I go into K2D lean and mean, well rested, with a good endurance base behind me, and the right mental attitude - I will have a great chance of putting up a good time. However, the body and mind need to get through the trip without breaking down - I am under no illusions; it will be quite a test, and I expect to have to "go to the well" multiple times in order to keep going.
But as many people are aware, the well is my favourite place in the world.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another two days, another two adventures.

On Tuesday Bogdan, Charlie, Mike, Newman and I headed Northwards in the Sigma, bound for the Glasshouse Mountains. We put in off-track ascents of the twins, which involved a not insignificant amount of rock scrambling and cliff avoiding. There were a few highlights: after listening to Matt complain for the entireity of the first ascent, I said that he was like Frodo from Lord of the Rings. Bogdan replied that he was the ring itself, Newman adding "a burden to be carried". Climbing to within a couple of metres of the top of a cliff, to see a snake coiled in front of me was another, as well as Mike hitting a red-bellied black snake with a rock from about five metres away. Bogdan's shouts whenever he slipped were pretty classic aswell.

Then today, I did le tour de scum; from Brisbane to Beaudesert, Boonah, and then Ipswich, cathcing the train home from there. It was 156km of near-misses by trucks, angry tradies yelling obscenities at me, bumpy roads and inclement weather - although there were some pretty nice looking peaks along the way. The struggle would have been worth it even without the peaks.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An epic end to an epic week.

The night after putting in the PB on Mount Cootha, and watching my brother graduate from year 12, I just could not sleep at all. It wasn't anxiety or anything, I just did not feel one bit tired. It was probably because of the fact that I ate a packet of crumpets an hour before hitting the sack, to do some last-minute carbo-loading for the next day. After alternating between reading and just lying there between 11pm and 3am, I decided to cut my losses, and to treat it as sleep deprivation training - I went running.
I walked out of my front door, and ran down past Matt's house to the Greenford Street entrance to Mount Cootha. My legs were really twingey, most likely because of that fact that I had not actually had any chance to recover since the PB.
I must have seen about 20 cane toads as I made my way along the wide fire-trail; once I actually kicked one without realising it!
Pretty soon, I was into Brisbane Forest park, but I cannot say that I was able to find a rhythm. Because of the state of my body, my stride never really felt comfortable. I eventually came to a fork somewhere along the trail, turning left, and down towards Gold Creek Reservoir (although I was unaware of it at that time). Having descended a good 250metres (vertical) to the dam wall, I started to make my way around the small body of water, noticing how incredible the single-trail around it was. My left hamstring started to pang at one point, a nuisance which would stay with me for the rest of the run. The single track soon became overgrown, and I found myself trudging through long grass, at between knee and waist height. I had to keep reigning in my mind at this point, which was getting fairly despondent about a variety of things. Keeping a positive attitude was the key. I exited the long grass as the trail began to climb a steep hillside, hoping that it was heading towards Mount Nebo. It wasn't: pretty soon I was at the dam wall, the 1.5 metre-high steps of which I had to scale to get back to the starting point. I then trudged back up towards the fork, went right this time, and made my way towards Mount Nebo. The next section involved some pretty overgrown trail, and some ridiculously steep ascents and descents. I eventually decided just to take the road up the Mountain, and exited the trail. I was passed by plenty of cyclists, bikers, hoons, and families on day trips on this section, and did not really enjoy it due to the residual fatigue and the tarmac. After what seemed like a like a lifetime, we had arrived at Mount Nebo, then stocking up on supplies, and calling my Dad. I had agreed to meet him at our place at 1pm, but there was no chance that I was going to make it, so we agreed to meet for lunch on Mount Glorious. What could be loosely classified as a running cadence was maintained down the saddle between the two mountains, but as soon as the climb began, my running for this outing seemed to be all but over. Nine hours, and between 55 and 60km after I had began, I waltzed up to Maiala Cafe to await my dad on Mount Glorious.
He and Paula arrived, and we all had a really nice lunch together, before walking to a lookout to savour the view.
We all had curry at the Ceylon Inn that night, and I said goodbye most of the rest of my family, as they were heading off to Vanuatu that day. I then went out for a small party at Megan's house and stumbled into bed at 12:30.
What a week: two full days of cycling and hiking/climbing, a PB on Mount Cootha, and a very slow and relaxed ultra run/walk. The residual fatigue has not yet hit, but I'm hoping that it wont until the week before Kurrawa to Duranbah, when I put in a very serious taper.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

PB for Cootha Climb!

This morning, I was pretty undecided about whether or not I should go for a run. This was because I had only had one rest day since going on an adventure which involved 15 hours of excercise over two days. My quad felt twingey, and my foot, although better, was still suspect.
Meh, just run.
I put on the pillowy racing flats again, and noticed the pep in my stride right when I started. I debated running the traditional 8km route at a tempo pace, but then I got a better Idea: try for a sub-ten-minute on the climb of the said route. So I slowed down to warm up, and anticipated the fun that was ahead.
I started to burn it as soon as I went past the sign denoting the start of the MTB route up Mount Cootha that has become a staple. I took really long strides on the initial rolling hills, and probably pushed too hard on the ups. When the climb proper began, I really started to push, but as I kept looking at my watch, it seemed that I had little chance of coming in under ten minutes.
When the grade increased, I didn't compromise, but I noticed that I was very much in the red zone - I was about to ease off when I looked at my watch, realising that time was still of the essence.
I looked up to see the final switchback, and knew that all I had to do was push hard for the last 250 metres from there to make it. I thought about my Grandma's emphysema for inspiration - make good use of your lungs Zac! - and felt a bit like hurling in the last 50 metres.
I burst on to the road in 9:51, a new PB by 47 seconds!
The run home was lethargic to say the least, but I am now left puzzled/inspired by my body's weird powers of recovery. It was probably largely due to the massage that I had yesterday.
I am now thinking to future speed goals: sub-nine-minutes on FT, and I want to crack ten minutes on the Honeyeater track, for which my current PB is 12:33, run on very tired legs.
Physically and mentally, this has been a good week; let's hope it continues with my first serious long-run (since injury) tomorrow. Hoping to get a marathon done - let's see how my body (especially left foot and quad) hold up.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The adventure season begins in style!

After having finished the uni term on Monday, the first thing I did was to stock up on supplies. What better way to celebrate the end of term than by carbo-loading and then being outside for two days straight!

On Tuesday morning, at just before 5 am I struck out on my bike. I leant Northwards. The first 90 minutes were pretty difficult: my glutes were still sore from playing football in the park a few days before, and my left quad kept whingeing (harden the @#$% up!). I copped some magnificent views of Brisbane Forest park: it was truly beautiful. After I went through Dayboro, I started to loosen, the quad quietened down, and the glutes were unnoticeable. Perfect timing: I then had to bend myself up a 500 metre climb of Mount Mee. It was surprisingly...easy, but still hard enough for me to excorcise some demons on the way up. Then came the descent into D'Aguilar - spectacular views all around, and the boring, noisy run along the highway into Woodford. 5km North of Woodford, I turned East, heading for the coast. In the back of my mind, I was apprehensive of the short and sharp climb over the Bellthorpe range. It came earlier than expected, and was alot easier. Just under 2km with just under 200m of climb, not too bad even after five hours in the saddle. The only problem was my right knee; it musn't have been tracking correctly, as the inside of it became very sore. I felt it on every pedal-stroke. No problem - basically all downhill and flat from there. I cruised through Beerwah, resting for ten minutes (for the fourth time) and chomping down a Marmite and Chia seed sandwich. I hit a pretty deep low after that, struggling through Landsborough and over the Bruce Highway. About 5km out from Caloundra, I lay down on a bike path to get some rest. The concrete felt ridiculously comfortable, and I think that I saw a wombat in the scrub next to me. I then picked myself up and cycled over Little Mountain (very, very little) and into Caloundra. After messing around with one hotel (who wanted a $250 cash bond), I went to a small motel on the main parade. I got in at about 1pm, with 150km in the legs. I then headed to the beach for a swim, which was pretty underwhelming, and back to the motel room for a snooze. Up at 6pm for Indian, and then a bit of tv before bed.

The next day, I woke at 6:30am, had an unnecessarily hurried breakfast, bought some vegemite (for the salt) and set off. I had intended to ride straight home, but I had a better idea. I felt crappy down Steve Irwin Way into Beerburrum, and was much the same when I parked my bike in front of Tunbubudla East (one of the Glasshouse Mtns), to make a cheeky ascent. It lived up to my expectations: there was no track to the top at all. I hopped boulders, climbed up logs, and thrashed through scrub and grass, before bursting on to some flat rock, which gave me a fantastic view of the rest of the Glasshouse Mountains. I was still feeling pretty rubbishy, and was getting annoyed by the massive flies that circled me. I then went through some thick scrub, which took longer than expected, and reached the summit. After kissing the cairn, I started to descend down the other side. A big goanna scuttled up a tree in front of me, and gave me a hiss for staring at him/her for too long. It was then through some scrub, which became thicker and thicker, and steeper and steeper. At one point, I looked up from my feet; past a row of bushes, I could see ground 20-30 vertical metres below me, directly in front. This didn't make sense - I thought there were no cliffs on this Mountain! It was a good exercise in mental versatility. I panned sideways, and ended up getting to a cliff with a near-vertical drop of about 5 metres. I made my way accross and down it, being very wary of the destabilising effect of my backpack. I descended through a gully small gully onto the track, then taking the fire-trails back to my bike. I was intent on doing the Tunbubudla West aswell, but my mind shuddered at the thought of more bush-bashing. Note to self: learn to love bush-bashing. From there, I cycled through Elimbah township, and felt good on the way to Mount Saddleback/Elimbah. I found a 4wd trail near enough to the hill (it is only 100m above sea level), and followed it along to see if I could find a way up. Nope - bushbashing again. My mind came up with plenty of excuses not to: my niggling hip, my foot, what if I run out of food/water, risk of snake bite, etc... In the end, I didn't talk myself into it - there was no logical argument that I could think of - but just did it. it was mainly thrashing through long grass and rock hopping to get to the top. I then went down the other side (don't I ever learn?) and came accross a cliff. This time, I was able to avoid doing any real climbing by simply manoeuvring around it, while making my way downwards. I got to the bike, cycled into Caboolture with plenty of pep in my legs, and caught the train to mums house for a dip in the pool and a feed.

I was not that elated when I finished, but that's because I never really went to the well on this two day trip: it roughed my quad, hip and foot up enough as it was, I didn't want to put myself out for the whole summer. A great two days, with a few more lows than highs for some reason, but with the constant understanding that my emotion was pure. What a great way to ring in the holidays: a time for great adventures!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

50 runs since injury!

Continuing my prolific streak of blogging and running, I have made it to a significant milestone with my second run of this recovery week: 50 runs in the 60 days since I was last laid up with injury! I have put in 59 Mount Cootha climbs during that time aswell, and hope to get to 100 by the end of the year.
The tendinitis in my foot is persisting, even though I have been taking it easy over the last few days: maybe rest isn't the best solution? I figure that I should just keep running in the hope that it sorts itself out. Stupid, I know, but I'm an optimist.
Having reached this milestone, I will now start to concentrate mileage into a few runs per week. I'm thinking of doing something like:
Tu-4-6hr run/walk (hilly),
Th-8km tempo (flat),
F- 5km walk (steep hills - barefoot),
Sa-4-6hr long run/walk (hilly),

This would be followed by a week of 4x12km run/walk (M,W,F,Su), with weights or rest on the other days.
The rationale behind this is that, in the past, when I have put in a few longer runs per week, and had plenty of rest otherwise, I have improved the most, and have had very few niggles.
Also, a wild human (as opposed to us zoo humans) would have gone on a few long hunting runs per week, gorged on meat, and then lazed around for the rest of the time.
Thirdly, it will allow me to have some sweet adventures in the uni holidays. I'm thinking I will stick to Bribane Forest Park a fair amount, but will go up to Glasshouse or maybe even down to Mount Barney a few times.

Being Homeless

In the interests of finally moving on from my experience last holidays, I have just written the following passage of free-verse.

I sat in the pub, talking to mates, detaching myself every-so-often to return to the dread of my gut for the night that would await. 9pm, 10pm, 10:15, 10:20, 10:30pm, time to go. Wish farewell with sorrow. Get on my bike, ride to the trailhead. Rain. Up the wide trail, right, left, down the narrow, right on creek-bed, left up hillside. Get into my hammock. Difficult, cumbersome. Fear: will someone find me? What was that noise? Is that someone nearby? Burning fear coming from my gut. Sleep is poor. Lonely: I am displaced, estranged, alone with my book, my thoughts, my fear. Anxiety: I can’t wait for the night to end.

Wake up: new day. Glad to be rid of the night. Train. I love to train: purpose, direction, burn, passion, fun, love, life. Finish training: what now? Boredom, boredom, anxiety rises slowly but surely from the depths of my stomach. I go to the canoe club, open up the shed, creep behind the canoe rack, wriggle onto the filthy mattress. Fear is still present: what if someone comes early in the morning? What if someone comes now. Alone: people, lives of others, become objects, become threats. Ability to love wanes. I sleep alone, fearful.

I tell my dad when I visit him in Adelaide. He barates me, tells me I'm crazy, acts differently around me. Estranged now from my own blood. Detatched. Alone.

I have enough one night. My instinct takes over. I cry. I have given up my quest. Six months it should have been: less than three weeks did I last. But I’m going home. Home, to where there is security, people who love me and people who I love. With others, I’m safe. I’m Safe with others.

Everything is in perspective. My everyday existence is perfect. I have realized the key to happiness: having a positive perception of other people and sentient beings. Opening yourself to them, not categorizing and stereotyping. Ultimate compassion is ultimate happiness.

Now begins the road to adjust my thought patterns, so that I may be reintegrated into mainstream society and re-learn to love others, and to not fear anything, for my life is perfect.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Prolific Blogging

I know that the amount that I am posting at the moment is pretty excessive. However, the number of posts that I write is directly correlated with the amount that I run, and since I have upped my mileage this week, I have upped my posting aswell.

Following on from my post a few days ago about how my body works in strange ways, after having felt pretty horrible on the trail yesterday, and reaching 101km in the process, I went out to a barbecue last night. I had a great time, chatting to the Chileans, and keeping an eye on Keiran (she had advised me to do so). In the end, we arrived home at about 11:30pm and I was in bed at 12am. "There goes my study tomorrow," I thought. Surprisingly; I woke up at 5:30, and within ten minutes, I felt like I had slept for fifteen hours, not five and a half. So I did what I always do when I feel good - I went running. I put in 9.5km and one and a half climbs of Mount Cootha. It was a great run, the only downer being my painful foot. My calves felt pretty good the whole time, although my quads were like mush.

At 110km, this has been my highest mileage week ever, not including race week for Sri Chinmoy. Maybe it is possible for me to get up to 100 miles per week. As always, though, a slow build up is what will get me there.

Eight weeks of fun: 48.5, 55.4, 37, 67.9, 105.2, 52, 63.5, 110. Total = 539.5

Friday, November 5, 2010

Brisbane Forest Park

Today, I felt like rounding out my weekly kilometreage to 100km, but my legs were certainly not up for any ascents/descents of Mount Cootha.
As a result, I set out to enter Brisbane Forest Park for the first time in a few months.
My legs started off probably at 70%, but as soon as I hit a 1-2% uphill gradient, they felt like they were starting to swell. This eased fairly quickly on each hill, but I knew that I would be doing a fair amount of walking.
It brought back old memories when I hit the tarmac of Boscombe Road, which had been upgraded since I last ran there, I remember cruising along there before dawn, with nothing in my world except for what I could see in the light of my headlamp.
I arrived at the fence between Mount Cootha Forest and Brisbane Forest Park and hesitated for a moment, but without reflecting. I just hesistated. It was very odd, but soon forgotten as I made my way along South Boundary Road.
At the time, I felt like garbage, and my running form was absolutely horrible so I was not enjoying it as much as I should have been, but I realise now just how lucky I am to be within very close reach of a good 100 square kilometres of wilderness. It is such a beautiful place - rolling bushland and blue skies as far as the eye can see - plus plenty of wide firetrails for the keen runner/walker/mountain biker.
I was a bit disoriented on the way back, and managed to miss the turn off to Boscombe Road. My mind did not like turning around and going back the way I came, but I managed to pick up my attitude fairly quickly, although not taking a waterbottle was probably a bad idea. On Mount Cootha it's OK, as there are bubblers everywhere, but in BFP the only water sources are creeks and reservoirs - maybe I could take an empty waterbottle and some purification tablets next time?
In any case, my kidneys seem to be very well conditioned at the moment - I went for two hours without water, and I wasn't really cramping at all, although I was craving some H20.
when I returned to the Gap Creek Reserve, I did guzzle about 500ml from the bubbler there, but I probably could have made it home without it.

With my best interests in mind, I will not be running at all for the next eight days. I have a bunch of niggles that will not go away unless I do something about them now. In that time, I will work on strengthening my body - especially my calves - and swimming. It's not that I absolutely HAVE to rest, it's just that I don't want to get injured a few weeks down the road, when the uni holidays roll around, and I will want to be adventuring as much as possible.
Life is good.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Recently, the Flamenco version of the tango "Volver", sung by the beautiful and talented Estrella Morente has been been deeply embedded within my brain. I can't stop singing it while studying, and when I was running this afternoon, it was in my head the whole time. Something about the song is just incredibly catchy - I think it's the melody, and the fact that it switches from major to minor numerous times, not to mention the incredible classical guitar which accompanies Estrella's wonderful voice. The lyrics though, or rather, the title (which means "to return" in English), may be regarded as ironic to my current situation. It could be interpreted in many, many ways. Firstly, I am returning to Mount Cootha, which has become my spiritual home, every morning. I feel like I am returning to my old self in regards to my ability to focus mentally, and I have returned to fitness - to the days where I put in the largest amount of kms on the trail. I am very happy with my effort over the last three days - I have done 10 hours of training, including 70km of running/walking (1,300m vertical), and 1:15 of cycling, with a massive PB for the Cootha climb up the Flat Taringa route (see older post). The unprecedented part is that I have been splitting it into two sessions per day, which has allowed me to squeeze as much mileage as possible out of my battered body.
However, I have also been hurt, as in the past. On run #1 this morning (upon which I felt like s#!t might I add, although I am still so grateful to be out there) at some point I managed to fuddle something around my right soleus/achilles. It was a dull pain that has lingered. It seems not to be too bad though, seeing as I was able to run again in the afternoon, and it didn't worsen upon doing so. Despite my hubristic belief in my own diagnostic skills, I will not jump to any conclusions, and will rest tomorrow and perhaps on Friday, or even for a whole week if necessary. On the pain scale, it is pretty low, but I want to sort it out as soon as possible, so that it doesn't linger with me for weeks and then resurface down the road.
On a side note, I was reflecting today on how great my housemates are. The combination of Jed's easygoingness and Keiran's motherly, caring nature is really unbeatable, especially when coupled with the fact that they are always up for a chat.
Great week so far.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My body makes very little sense.

After having put in a very sluggish 21km run yesterday morning, I felt decidedly perplexed that my body had not recovered after two full days without any excercise.
After the run, I felt like trash throughout the morning, and into the early afternoon, but at just after 3:30pm, having just watched the trailer for the film "Once a Runner", I felt ready to go again, although my quads felt like mush.
For the first time in two weeks, I decided to don my pillowy racing flats; I had not worn them in a while because they seemed to aggravate the tendinitis. The run to the trailhead was pretty average, although I felt better than I had that morning. I ran quickly but with poor form down the initial wide trail, and up to the Flat Taringa route, which has become my portal to the world of Mount Cootha. However, against my better judgement, as soon as I made the right turn on to the single-trail, I started to haul ass. The extra protection of the racing flats allowed me to fly along the rolling hills, and I was able to maintain a long, strong stride when I began the proper climb. I kept running, pushing hard on the 5-10% inclines, and just soaking up the 10-20s. I knew that I had a shot at a PB for the climb, so I kept pushing, even though my hip started to niggle me a bit. I came out of the trail-head in 10:38, blitzing my last PB of 12:50. I then put in a pretty rubbishy descent of an unmarked MTB trail, climbed up the other side via the Slaughter Falls trails, and chopped my way down the Steep Taringa trail home. Needless to say, my foot was pretty rooted by the end, but I was satisfied with the PB.
I'm still trying to understand how that happened.