Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mount Kosciuszcko weekend, and the greatest 9-days of running/hiking in my life.

The best way to do this is through a day-by-day run-down:

Sat (22/1) - hard hill run - 20.5km in 2:22, 450m vert.
Sun - Track run with Nic - 35km in 3:20 gross

Mon - AM - 2 x Cootha (low intensity) - 12.5km in 1:49, 300m vert.
- PM - 3 x Cootha (low) - 19.3km in 2:41, 450m vert.
The second run was done at night, and was beautiful and scary. Saw a Tawny Frogmouth on a trail sign, and a black snake on the path (not sure what type).

Tue/Wed - Mount Barney with Mike - 18km in 9 hrs, 900m vert (at the very least)

Thu - 3 x Cootha (low) - 15km in 2:00, 350m vert. - Found a new trail!

The next morning, I flew into Canberra, and was Chauffered to Sawpit Creek at the base of the alpine territory surrounding Kosciuszcko. Dad, Benno, and I stayed in a perfectly-sized pine cabin at the Kosciuszcko Mountain Retreat.

Fri - AM - Road run - 19.5km in 1:46:26, 500m vert. - Saw a black snake with a yellow belly, and was generally pissy due to my poor form (as a result of uneven shoes) and the road. I let dad know that he was late when he came along the road to pick me up, en route to our subsequent walk.
- Midday - Walk - 18km in 4:30, 700m vert. In the mountains; sweet climbs, expansive views, singing the Lion King soundtrack as we strolled along. Doesn't get much better than this.
- PM - Run on Waterfall trail - 7km in 42:02, 200m vert. - Had some punishing little climbs considering the rigours of the morning. Despite this, I felt great, although the outside of my left foot was quite sore from being constricted by the morning's shoes. Found a big boulder and perched on top for a little while, looking down the valley as the sun was setting. Nice.

I set out guiltily on this run, as it could have created an injury. I did it in order to get to 100 miles for a seven day period, for the first time.

Sat - AM - Walk on the Main Range track & to the top of Kozzie - 22km in 6:30, 1,000m vert. - This is almost certainly the greatest trail that I have ever been on. Huge climbs in alpine terrain, with 360 degree views almost everywhere, revealing craggy peaks, lakes, and blue hills in the distance. The summit of Australia's highest mountain was underwhelming; there were hoardes of tourists who had taken the chairlift to within 6km of the peak, and were talking about having "conquered" it. You don't conquer a mountain, it allows you to get to the top. In any case, it was awesome to be there, especially with my surprisingly endurant brother and father. After descending to Charlotte's pass and having lunch, we dipped into Lake Jindabyne.
- PM - Run on Pallaibo and Waterfall tracks - 18km in 2:06:02, 500m vert. - The first "out" section was blissful; the trail undulated along the side of the Thredbo River, and I covered it in good time. On the way back, I realised why, and was hit with some pretty intense climbs. I then went back to the cabin to get some sports drink, before heading out again. I moved at a snail's pace up the only climb on the waterfall loop, eventually getting to the previous day's boulder, and perching on top of the bigger one adjacent to it. I was blessed with incredible views of Jindabyne and its lake. A descent to and drink from the waterfall marked the halfway point, before a seemingly long section of sweet flat trail back to the cabin. Good run.

Sun - AM - Mountain Run - 15.5km in 1:39, 400m vert. Ran from Charlotte's Pass to the top of Kozzie and then descended to the top of the chairlift at Thredbo. Despite the incredible scenery, terrain, and context, I did not enjoy myself for atleast the first half. This owed in part to my being really fatigued, and also to having to water the plants about six times. I pushed pretty hard in the final 2km to the top, and was internally rewarded. On the descent, I started to feel sick, probably due to the altitude and breakfast of sweet potato, lettuce, and kidney beans. Good outing though; my first REAL mountain run.
- Midday - Walk on the Dead Horse track - 10km in 2:30, 100m vert. - I met up with Benno and dad at the cafe marking the end of my run, and we made our way accross the face of the valley, before dropping into its guts and walking along the Thredbo River back into the township. Exiting alpine terrain felt quite odd. Had a great soak in the river after we had a picnic lunch. I love my life.
- PM - Run (roads, trails, barefoot on grass for 12:20) - 10km in 1:10, 200m vert. - We then drove back to Canberra, staying in Queanbeyan at a stereotypical travelling salesman motel (I'm not complaining, it was pretty comfy). I felt the urge to run, so I did. I went along the road for half an hour, before finding a wide dirt track wedged between backyards and forested hills. After rolling along this, I turned left up one of the hills, running all of a climb which I would almost always walk. It was hard, but I felt quite comfortable, either indicating a surge of adrenaline, or genuine improvement. There was a bit of a view at the top, and on the way down, I wondered how I had maintained a running cadence while ascending. I then found three adjacent grass ovals, one of which had a well-maintained running track around its exterior, allowing me to ditch my shoes and run some laps. I sat on the grass in the deep afternoon shade, made a quick phonecall, and then slowly pounded the road back to the motel. Hard but good.

Totals (running and walking) for the nine days: 240.3km in about 40:00, 6070m vertical gain.

All that I can say is, holy shit. I was unaware that my body was capable of such things. I guess it can be attributed to wearing compression tights in between workouts, stretching alot more often, and spending plenty of time with other people. In any case, I feel alot more confident for Mount Glorious and Caboolture D2D, the 12-hour event of which I entered on whim. All that is left is to eat and rest well over the next two weeks before and between the events. I might do some speedwork too.

Even more impressive, were my brother's and dad's efforts. They put in 50km with just under 2,000m of vertical in the three days that we were there. Although I carried the pack for most of the time, they each had stints with it, the most notable being dad's for the entireity of the last walk, on which he led at a blistering pace. I am incredibly proud of both of them, especially seeing as Benno probably hasn't covered more than three consecutive kilometres on foot in a few months. Future ultrarunners?
I'm so grateful to have a family which loves being in nature and doing such adventurous things; thanks guys.

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