Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mountain Blast

I smiled ironically looking down at the wrapper of the powerade bottle on my lap; Mountain Blast was the flavour that I had inadvertently chosen. I let the sun sink into my back for a little while, before looking up at the shop window in front of me. Staring back was a reflection of Mount Tibrogargan, about 4km in the distance; some 350 vertical metres of rock.

What a great morning.

On Saturday, I set out from Roma Street for the hour-long train ride to Beerburrum nice and early. I stashed a plastic bag with some water and a jumper in a drain and filled my SPI-belt (held in my hand) with a compass, a small map, a muesli bar, my phone, go card and bank card before setting off.

The first few kilometres were pretty rubbish, and I struggled to find a rhythm, in part due to the tarmac and in part due to the 98kms logged in the four days before that. Additionally, I was stopping every couple of kilometres to check the map in an attempt to follow the Glasshouse 100 course. I did so successfully around the back of the twins, but managed to miss a left turn from single-track to firetrail. No biggie - I was back on track shortly. It was long, and wide and flat, but this was actually welcome due to the intense vertical that my legs had been subjected to over the past weeks. Eventually, the trail turned upwards and became rocky and rutted, with large fallen trees every 20 metres. Turn Right, turn left, am I still on track? I was given the answer shortly, as I burst onto Glasshouse-Woodford road, where I wasn't supposed to be. No matter, I jogged up to the lookout, before running some dirt roads towards Beerwah. I found a powerline cut, and just ran through long grass beneath it, the trail having disappeared earlier. I got onto Beerwah Mountain Road, turned right, and pounded the tarmac for a good 5km.

And then I saw it; Tibrogargan was looming in the distance.
This was supposed to be a flat run, you've climbed alot this week already, you'll wreck yourself, your problem quad will be destroyed.
But I just couldn't resist.
Turn left down to the carpark, right onto the trail, and up.
Then came some crowded stairs, then small boulders and scree. I had to stop running at this point.
Then came a wall of rock.
I stopped to stash the belt, water bottle and shirt, first texting a friend. Some fat hikers coming down the mountain sneered between themselves about me using my mobile phone.
The idiots don't know that it will take me a third of the time that it took them to get up and down the mountain, and I don't need 10kg of gear or big clompy boots. I skip past them, and scramble up.
I get up the first small pitch quickly and with no problems, then I look up.
Shit, I forgot how steep this is. I'm climbing a giant fucking rock.
I search around for the best way up, panning to the right, running where I can.
Then I clamber upwards like a sun-thirsty lizard, seeking out the warmth.

Anton Krupicka gave an interview recently, in which he said that "There’s nothing more satisfying than the primal feeling of being able to move quickly and proficiently through a rugged, natural landscape...[with] the minimum of material trappings".

And satisfied I was. I could have cried in joy as I clambered up the face, feeling like my calves, my quads, my heart would explode. Soon enough, the trail flattened, and I started running properly up to the summit.

Arrive, view, turn around, descend.

I bombed down the first section, running insanely steep terrain in a sort of controlled suicide. Eventually, that was impossible, so I slip-slided on my hands and feet, passing tens of people, being cheered on by a jovial American who pronounced me "half man, half mountain goat". Eventually, the cliff-face receeded and I hit the rocks. And then the stairs, and then the flat trail.

That was truly the zenith of my existence to date.

After reaching the bottom, I ran a lap of the base, hit a part of the Trachyte Circuit, slugged along the fire roads to Matthew Flinders' Rest Area and slowly jogged the last few kilometres to the Beerburrum General Store.

I stocked up on food and drink, and sat down.
Exhausted. Satisfied.

4:15 on the feet and have no idea of the kms - probably somewhere between 32 and 36. That doesn't matter though. What does is that I experienced "the primal feeling of being able to move quickly and proficiently through a rugged, natural landscape - Mount Tibrogargan -...[with] the minimum of material trappings" .

BUT, it seems to have come at a price. I woke up on Sunday with my left-inner quad quite sore. I played touch in the arvo with friends, and it didn't seem worse. I then stood up for hours while at the Iceworks bar and it DID seem worse. Monday morning, and it is decidedly sore. Really sore. Like, I'd prefer not to walk on it sore. I'm hoping that the niggle has just been a bit exacerbated, but not turned into an injury. Then again, there is no fine line between niggle and injury - it's all in the mind.
It is just a sign to take this week easy I reckon - and I'll probably stay on flat ground the next. It depends how it progresses though - it could be markedly better tomorrow, or it may take two weeks of rest. I will take the conservative approach this time.

It's interesting that just before injury, I'll have an incredibly enjoyable run. I wonder if the run actually feels enjoyable at the time, or if my mind just frames it in that way once I can no longer run.

Stay positive and learn. The lesson is, if you intend to run flat because your uphill/downhill legs are shot, then RUN FLAT. I just need to learn to listen to the smart part of my brain.

Another positive is that I just had the best two-week total of my life - 262.5km with 5,900m of vertical gain. Hence, the need for rest regardless of the quad.

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