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.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sleepless on Mount Barney; failure and success

"Sometimes success is getting your ass out alive" - A runner in the Barkley Marathons.

It was a bad omen, when, at about 10pm, I forgot to tell Mike to take the turnoff at Beaudessert. After driving along a one-lane country road for about 20km, I knew that we were no longer on the Mount Lindesay Highway. Still, it was a beautiful night, heavily dusted with stars, and because of this I didn't really care. We then trusted the GPS to direct us Westwards, across country, to Mount Barney. After many blind corners on narrow roads, and a few near misses with farmers, we got to familiar territory, and the tarmac ended. We ground along the dirt road in Mike's Proton, until our arrival at a crossing of the Logan River forced us to park up.
Well, looks like it's time to start walking.

at 11:10pm, we forded the river, illuminating the path ahead and walking at a good clip. In very little time, we had crossed the river again, and were making our way up the ever-narrowing trail into thicker rainforest and higher elevation. At one point, we came to what looked like a set of switchbacks. There may have been a trail that continued around instead of up the steep hill in front of us, but I was confident (and stupid) enough not to check. We climbed up a pitch of rubble with at a gradient of about 60%, manoeuvring our way around what Mike believed was a Brown tree snake. After a while, I realised that we were climbing up a cut created by a landslide, but in my optimism (and cockiness) I believed that we were on where the trail should have been. I was a little less sure when we started going downhill, but I checked the compass, and we were heading in the right direction: North. Mike sort of suggested that we turn around, but I shuddered at the prospect of descending that landslide. So we pushed on, and our decision was seemingly vindicated, as the trail began to climb again. It became steeper and more rocky, until I realised that I was on familiar ground; the South-East Ridge.
I had intended to go up the tame South Ridge, ruling the South-East out due to its precariousness and our lack of experience with night-climbing. I had made a serious navigational error - we should have gone past the landslide. All it would have taken was walking ten extra metres and climbing over some fallen logs. But we didn't, and now we were on the South-East ridge. Take what the mountain gives you.
In hindsight, we should have just gone down the ridge and connected back up with the trail to the South, and would have only lost an hour. Suprisingly, it didn't cross my mind at all. We were climbing upwards, towards the peak, and that's all that mattered.
Route-finding proved especially difficult in the dark, and we climbed many spires that we probably needn't have. Mike was going pretty well, but expressed a certain unhappiness with being on an exposed ridge with a sheer and invisible drop of 20-50 metres on either side. At one point, the platform narrowed down to about two metres in width; and then I looked up.
This was what was referred to as a chimney. It's basically a near-vertical section of rock as wide and precarious as the previous part of the ridge, and there seemed to be no way around it.
"Shit," I said. "Ah well, up we go."
I told Mike that I was the one who was supposed to be scared of heights, not him. He replied that he was afraid of them aswell; I had not known at all. Great.
We managed to skirt around a few of these chimneys, but due to the lack of wider-perspective provided by the headlamps, the safest way seemed to be to go right up the middle rather than try to navigate around them and get lost or fall off a cliff.
I was trying to keep it together mentally, as I could see that Mike had expected there to be less danger, and I didn't want either of us getting into a panic.
At one point, I stepped out on to what I thought was a gently sloping grade of grass and gum trees, and the ground fell away from under me. I slid down a steep drop for most of my body-length, arresting my fall over the cliff in front by grabbing a couple of trees. If I was a cat, I'd now only have eight lives.
A few times, we arrived at the top of a chimney, and our stomachs dropping as we realised that there was no way forward, and we were actually on top of a pinnacle. I usually hate back-tracking, but after a few times, I realised that it was a necessary evil in our current circumstances. Eventually, the ridge widened, and we found ourselves crashing through thick scrub, avoiding huge boulders and cliffs. We were relying entirely on a compass and our sense of direction, unable to see the peak or the best-route ahead in the dark.
At about 1am we must have left the ridge...and wandered on to the thick, steep scrub and cliffs of the South face. The route had become hard to follow due to the wideness of it at that point, and the nature of our light. Additionally, I had been told by an experienced Barney climber that it had happened to him before, so it wasn't JUST down to our (my) stupidity.
At about 2am, we both turned our headlamps off, to see the silhouettes of the mountains above. The East peak was demoralisingly far away, but we figured that we were doing all that we could, still heading upwards despite having lost the ridge.
Relentless forward progress.
Well, up to a certain point; which came at about 2:30. We looked straight up; there was vertical flat rock as far as we could see. We looked down; there was nothing, suggesting the same as above; and because of the gradient and lack of cover, we could no longer skirt along the side of the mountan in the direction that we had been. Sleep time.
We dropped our packs and lay on the grass, Mike with his I-pod and me with my thoughts. I wavered between "holy shit, we're going to die" and "keep it together man, it isn't that bad. Don't do anything stupid, and you'll be ok. Don't take any risks, you have an EPIRB just in case". At this point, I basically decided that we were not going to push for the summit. We were only 200-300 metres of vertical below it, in line with the saddle, but we might as well have been 2,000, considering the cliff that we were faced with.
After a restless half-hour, we were up again, and back-tracking. For the next hour and a bit, we basically went downwards through scrub as far as possible, until we found a cliff, then backtracked, and found another route that got us a bit further down. Mentally, I was starting to deal with it, but Mike was using expletives to question his motives for joining me at the mountain on this clear night. At this point he really grasped it; it was no longer about getting to the top. It was about survival.
We eventually dropped into a ravine, with a creek flowing through it. Due to its cover from sunlight, this section was all rainforest, and it was spectacular. The day began to dawn, and the birds to sing, and looking down that steep canyon from its interior, we agreed that this was an amazing and special place, that few others would be so fortunate to see.
We hopped down stones and boulders, following the creek, navigating a few steep sections. The further we descended, the more sheer the gully became, until there were unclimbable cliffs on either side, and the only way down was the creek. That's when it dawned on me; "dude, what happens if we come accross a waterfall?"
My statement was proven prophetic when, a few minutes later, we encountered exactly that. Luckily, at this point the walls became a bit less steep, so we climbed Westards, into the thickest jungle that I have seen in my life. It took about ten minutes to cover less than 200 metres; we had to push through, under, and over vines, shrub and trees.
During this time, Mike asked me "at what point do we call the SES?"
Wishing to remain calm and under control, I replied: "as long as there is SOME way forward, we'll keep going". However, I was pretty confident that soon there would be none.
We came to a gully almost identical to the previous one, fearing waterfalls, but not finding unnegotioable ones. We took a few slides and falls, but were aided by the strong vines draped accross the boulders.
Step, step, step, step. With half an hour more gone, we had both accepted our circumstances. All conscious thought was subdued, eliminated at its root, and we just walked, optimising efficiency, speed and safety. These are the primal moments that I live for.
I was totally prepared to walk for another 8-10 hours, as long as we got out. And, as it always happens, that's when I saw the faint makings of a trail cutting accross the now flatter gully.
I told Mike, but he was understandably skeptical; I had misled him before...
In any case, we followed it to the East, as it became wider and more clear-cut, until we came to a slope of rubble and trees that cut it off completely. The landslide. The first big hill. The one mistake that had cost us time and security, but had provided us with an incredible experience.
We climbed over to its other side, and were back on the South Ridge trail. 90 minutes to the first creek crossing, a wash of the feet, and soon we were back in the car, bouncing our way back to the Mount Lindesay Highway, to Brisbane, to safety, home.
The thought of heading back up the mountain when we got to the trail didn't once cross my mind. This is very odd, as my ego would usually be severely bruised by such an experience, and rectifying my mistake would provide a remedy. But this time, there were no petty feelings of pride and dignity involved; we had come across potentially fatal terrain, and had escaped with our lives and bodies intact.
That's all that really mattered, and from this perspective we were successful.
Nevertheless, I am definitely going back there at night again, for a second shot.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

B2B done: hard yards on the track

Today, I had possibly the most ridiculous yet rewarding run of my entire life.
I met Nic and Mallani at Yeronga State High School's grass oval, where I planned to do an easy four hours. I failed to realise that this is impossible when running shoulder to shoulder with Nic Moloney.
I felt pretty good to start with, despite yesterday's hard hilly run, discovering that Nic had put in about 24km in 1:40 on Saturday. Sheez.
Subconsciously racing each other, we managed 12.1km in the first hour. When we stopped, both of us were pretty overheated, and this probably wasn't going to change.
Rest, turn around, and repeat.
We had intended to go for 11km in the second, and 10km in the third. With 20 minutes gone, I decided to have a little bit of fun, and give Nic a bit of a thrashing, as I had started to feel pretty good. As a result, I turned it up to atleast 13kmph for about 10 minutes, and Nic seemed to be struggling; however, I doubted that I would drop him. As we kept going and going at over 12kmph, with about 20 minutes left in the second hour, we realised that 12km for this hour was almost certain. I was lacking mentally at this point, with alot of self doubt; "you don't have the endurance, you're not fast enough, you're not a good enough runner". Then, with about 12 minutes to go I asked myself what a Kenyan would do. Just run. So that's what I did, hanging on to finish another 12km in the second hour. This reaffirms my realisation that my greatest weakness, in hard running and possibly in life, is a lack of self confidence. Suprising for an egotistical teenager. The irony is that this may also be my greatest strength; my lack of confidence in my ability causes me to train as much as my body will allow (but not as fast as I should, it must be admitted) which helps me to become a better runner. Maybe, when I get to the start-line, I should remind myself that I have put in enough miles to get through it. A bit more speed-work would certainly help though.
Rest, turn around, and repeat.
I was optimistic after 10 more minutes, believing that we could hit 11km in this third hour; Nic, being the wise man that he is, proclaimed "maybe...We'll see". At one point, both of us had become so bored of the track, that we decided to do 80metre laps of a concrete car park adjacent to the fields. There are no errors in the intended meaning of that sentence, by the way. After that became boring, we headed back to the oval, where Mallani had been jogging with serious determination for a consistent two hours; quite incredible seeing as she had raced 56km the weekend before, and had run 20 the DAY before. Plus, she only had here I-pod and our gestures as we passed her, to keep her company.
Another ten-or-so minutes went by, and Nic thought we should mix it up again, taking us onto the concrete basketball/netball courts, and running various patterns along the side/third lines. Like I said, ridiculous.
I stuck to his back, as he had the garmin, and so would be recording our distance. We got a bit more variety when Nic decided to do a tour of the school grounds, running blissfully around the covered handball courts. Suprinsingly, my calf had bothered me very little, if at all, for the duration of the run, but I felt it slightly as we farewelled the original car park with a few extra laps. Back onto the thick grass; Nic picked it up when we got to 31km total, and slowly but surely dropped me, and then lapped me. I was highly relieved when I saw him sit down at the cooler, signifying that he had covered 35km. I proceeded to run my "bell lap" barefoot, and at about 80%, finishing of with a sprint and a gumby somersault. 35km in 3:05-net, 3:20-gross.
That was one of the most enjoyable runs of my entire life, simply for the amount of concrete that I had to eat in order to stay with Nic for the first two hours and 45 minutes. Mentally, I was able to put myself in a good place: the present. I was alive.

However, it has affirmed my beliefs about my current racing endurance. I can only withstand about two and a half hours at a hard 50km race pace, before I have to drop off and jog it in. This may be due to age, but I'm guessing that if I do more runs like this, I will be able to sustain the pace for longer. They will become a staple in my training diet.

Now, with my calf a bit sore, I will have to focus on getting through the Mount Barney all-nighter with Mike on Tuesday/Wednesday, resting up, and then getting some hard runs in at Kosciuszcko with Dad on the weekend. Then I know I will be ready for both Mount Glorious, and Caboolture Dusk to Dawn. Let's hit it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Big hill Run + B2B attempt

There are some runs that are beautiful, where you are coasting along yet breathing hard, no matter the incline.

Today, I experienced one of these. After having been layed off for the week due to the lingering effects of the foot infection (malaise, fatigue, etc...) I decided, on whim, to head out this morning. Maybe and easy 8km, I thought.
When I got started, I felt great, so I upped my expectations. I ran the whole of the first Cootha-climb up the Flat Taringa track, dropped over to the Toowong side at a quick pace, before deciding to hit the back-end road ascent hard. However, my left calf had started to give me some trouble, so I was not confident in this decision at all. I churned up there, in pain, in the moment, alive,and managed just under 6-minute kms for the 2.3km climb of 200m. I then descended into the Gap Creek Road side, via the Jacksonia Track, having not yet had a walking break at all. At this point, I went into a solid funk, emerging just as I got onto Greenford Street. At this point, I was resigned to walking atleast half of the final Cootha climb, and it appeared as if that's how it would play out, as I grinded up the track at the back of Matt's house. I got to the junction with the Honeyeater track, having intended to take the steep Reservoir Track to the top, but I felt good enough to have a crack at running up the rest of the Honeyeater. As I had expected, I came accross Mrs. Newman and Sunny (the labrador), having a short chat and pat, before completing the final pitch at a sluggish running pace. After hitting the lookout for the second time in the morning, I was thinking about another climb, but as I passed some agressive-looking (but actually harmless) dogs on the ascent, my mind switched to thinking about the future. Tomorrow morning. 4 hours on the track with Nic and Mallani. That settled it; I ran home in the most direct route possible, to round out a 20-something km tempo-paced with 450-500m of vertical that took me about 2:24.

It was awesome; these runs are what the running Zac lives for.

Now, I will be attempting to turn this into a back-to-back weekend (the first real one for me), hopefully getting about 45km done with Nic and Mallani tomorrow (it may have to be extended to 45km). I say "hopefully" as my left calf is still highly suspicious, I will really have to watch it.

Found this old blog entry by Tony Krupicka on Coolrunning. It basically sums up why I love running/why I exist.
"Running up a big mountain is dramatic on so many levels. But, Mt. Massive sneaks up on you. The drama is given a chance to build gradually, first climbing easily out of the creek valley, then striding oh-so-comfortably contouring through the trees with the morning sunlight filtering through to occasionally warm my numb hands, and then the trail turns upward and I'm out of the trees and on the tundra and holy shit, THAT is a mountain, until suddenly there I am toiling up an impossibly steep slope, stubbornly refusing to give into the storm raging inside my skull, the world seems to be screaming so loudly that eventually it drowns out even the internal voices imploring me to walk, stop, sit, repose, rest.

Like I said, dramatic. If one could simply summon the presence of mind to objectively look at the situation, the absurdity and general calm would be obvious. However, stuck in my head, in my situational psychic reality, it feels as if the world is falling to pieces around my ears. A pleasant breeze is elevated to the level of howling gale, every simple rock step-up becomes a nearly insurmountable obstacle. If only the trail were always as consistently smooth and forgiving as this short stretch of sublime alpine singletrack I could emotionally bear the thought of continuing my cadence all the way to the summit. But it's not, it quickly turns back into the rock-strewn, ice-encrusted rut that is the norm.

But therein lies the beauty of grinding inexorably up a mountain face. Eventually, thought is forced to cease existence. It can no longer be born. It is the only way I can cope. I somehow even forget that I want to walk. Don't look up, don't look at the summit--for chrissakes don't look at the summit!--it's simply too soul-crushing to contemplate the objective, the final reprieve, whilst laboring at what feels to be the absolute zenith of effort. At what cannot possibly be a sustainable effort. But, of course, by turning off one's goal-oriented brain, it becomes sustainable.

Why? Because, all I really have to do is take one more calculated, perfectly-placed, as-efficient-as-possible footstep. Certainly I can take one more step? Of course, and, little by little, the ground is covered, the delta elevation is scaled, the absolute presence is experienced. Nothing else even exists but the here and now of inching my way up this goddamn mountain. And that, my friends (a phrase I will never look at the same way again, courtesy of John McCain), is an indescribably beautiful, important thing. It is living. In the end, it's all there really is.

And, thankfully, running (uphill, without much oxygen, it seems usually) is the one thing I've been fortunate enough in this life to find that reliably transports me to that psychic/emotional space of living, relentless, rife with effort (suffering?), but somehow, unexplainably fulfilled. Filled with life.

And then I get to the top. And my organism can't even express how ecstatic it is to be asked to do nothing else but BREATHE. Enormous, gulping, body-consuming breaths that each originate somewhere deep in my thorax, my spine, my soul. Hands on knees, elbows locked, praying to the decomposed granite between the toes of my shoes, I sway slightly, dizzily, in the ubiquitous mountaintop wind and, not so much inhale but consume the delicious, sweet, chilled air.

Finally, gradually again, on the downhill, making my way back into the valley carved by Halfmoon Creek between Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert, I re-enter the world where the mind wanders, thinking of other things than the task at hand, deftly stepping over roots and rocks, so unconsciously engrossed in something else that I forget to stop and drink from the spring that saturates the trail just after Willow Creek. But, that's okay, because for at least the next 24 hours, my psyche will be nourished by the fact that--for at least some, nontrivial amount of time--I was there, I was in it--life--and nowhere else. "

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Brown River Rising

Splash! Johno and I cycled hard into the dip in the road, crashing through the water, then churning our now invisible legs laboriously. Sweat dripped down and off of my face, being engulfed by the mass of brown that lay beneath. Johno had a slight advantage until we began to rise again, and I moved up a gear, cutting down his space, pedalling for my life, and emerging cleanly from the water, victorious. It really doesn't get much better than this; adventure, companionship, physical effort and competition all in one.
Looking back to where Johno had just emerged, I was pulled out of my childish joy and into the existential reality of our current situation. On either side of the submerged road that I had just raced down were people's homes; inundated by atleast a metre and a half of water. These were just a few of the many thousands in Brisbane.
And to think that just the day before...

I awoke sluggishly, deciding not to run as a result of my post-race fatigue. After eating, reading, and lethargically dragging myself from the couch to the toilet and vice-versa, I found myself considering two possibilities. Should I just have a lazy one at home and try to recover (after all, my left soleus was still suspiciously sore), or should I go down to Chelmer/Graceville to see how bad this so-called natural disaster is?
Reluctantly, and with no confidence in the wisdom of my decision, I packed my backpack and cycled down to Mogill Road. Turning left, as I had done so many times, I cruised down this usually-busy throughfare that was now lifeless. After cresting a small hill and dropping into a dip, I glanced to the right, casually surveying the suburb as normal.
Whoah. I threw on the brakes and stopped at the side of the road, my eyes fixated on what lay past the curb. A lagoon had all but eaten the Road, playing fields, houses and a small carpark. Stagnant, lifeless and menacing, that body of water remained stubbornly in place; I had expected it to disappear after I blinked a few times.
On I cycled, sprinting into a deadend in the bikeway, engulfed by the flood. I navigated my way through Indooroopilly and eventually over the bridge, seeing the source of the pain. The Brisbane river, with whom I had become so well acquainted in my many hours of canoeing, was not happy. The current flowed maliciously below me, in a series of disorganised whirls, flushes and bursts. I was mystified, amazed, and (somewhat ashamedly) excited. For once, I did not have to seek out adventure; it had come straight to me. I forded an engulfed road, and pedalled up through Laurel Avenue. The trees which line this boulevard gave me that tranquil sense of familiarity, of being at home; however, there were cars everywhere, and people scuttling about busily. I was soon to discover why.
No one was at mum's when I knocked, so I headed down to where I was almost certain she would be; Darian's - on the river. Arriving at her grand abode, I was greeted by about five unfamiliar people, walking through her deserted middle storey and up the stairs.
"What can I take downstairs?" I asked her.
Looking frazzled and exhausted, she replied: "put the pillows in the other room, and take the furniture down-stairs".
I completed my tasks mechanically, and on the final trip down, looked out of the gate down to Darian's backyard. Violent brown current. Merciless liquid lapped against the top of the basement level.
It then dawned on me; Brisbane was flooded.

I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon crusing around, seeing Zander, Cate, and Charlie; and marvelling at the mass of water that had laid seige to the city. At this point, there was really little else to do. I rode to the beginning of Coronation drive in order to get to work, before encountering a police blockade - day off.
By the time I was heading home, Moggill Road was blocked to motorised traffic, and I shakily cycled over the bloated puddle in my way.

The next morning, I went out for my usual casual 8km jaunt up Mount Cootha. I was sluggish, reaching the top in one of my slowest ever times. From the lookout, the sun shone brightly into my eyes, reflecting its golden presence in Rocklea and Graceville in the distance. These two lakes shimmered contentedly in the early sun, giving little indication that they contained the homes of fellow humans. As I ran down the hill, I stopped periodically, forcing back tears. The weight, the reality of the situation was rising within me, as I realised what this would entail. Obviously, it is not within my value system to invest my sense of identity in any material object. Even though the people who lost their homes had done exactly that, that does not change the amount of pain that would put them in. They have lost part of their self.

I rode to Darian's to survey the mess. Ten centimetres of mud on the ground of the second level; promptly I was recruited to clean out the garage. I had not expected this, but got to it almost straight away. Two fellas from accross the road came to help, and in four hours, we had relegated the mud to the basement level, hosing it and brooming it down the stairs. I was so happy to be helping someone.
I cycled to Zander's, where we sat around chatting for a while, before looking on at the carnage on the end of his road. That was when Johno proved that you could cycle through water up to your shoulders. I had to join him; we went through the dip, up to the island on the other side, then down into the immersed t-intersection at the end of Sandon Street. We turned left and left again, making our way up to the next island. We now faced another impassable dip, so we turned around, and I challenged Johnno to a race.
I went to Cate's where we watched the 'rolling coverage' for a while; then back to mum's house to sleep. As I lay in bed, I guiltily noted that this had been one of the best days of my life. I had run and then helped someone in the morning, chilled with friends around Midday, and then had an adventure and a race in the afternoon. There is not one more thing that I could have asked for today

Relatively early the next morning, I headed to Zander's so that I could help to clean his Grandma's. After breakfast and a bit of messing around, we cycled over. The door creaked open, revealing the interior; paintings were on the wall, couches on the ground, and cutlery on the kitchen bench. Someone was in the midst of living here. Nothing seemed amiss, until one looked down; brown floor; everything was stained. It was eerie, almost post-apocalyptic.
Nevertheless, we got to work, cheerily clearing the place of possessions, before sweeping and hosing the silt out. Five hours later, I took my leave, to fulfill the commitment that I had made to Darian to help at her's in the afternoon.
Entering, I found an army of helpers, forcing the thick mud out of her basement and back into the river. It had been more than a foot deep when they had got in there in the morning. I grabbed a large custom-built silt pusher, and got to it, shoving the sludge down a trench that had been bult to channel it into the river. I was nudging it hard, in an attempt to work off my massive lunch, sweating and groaning as I pulled and pushed. At one point, I felt a sharp object and a jab of pain pierce my foot. Thinking it wasn't serious, I didn't stop or look down for a while, until it started to really throb. Peering down into the inches of mud above this appendage, I saw a small, sickening stream of blood surfacing from below. Not good; but I worked on.
After a while, I became really concerned, so I headed to dry ground to get it cleaned. The whole of the skin layer had been pierced, and what I saw below was the fine mud infiltrating my live flesh. Delighted and disgusted, I raced to my mum's to get it clean. There, I had another huge meal, before sitting around, and eventually deciding to go back to Darian's to see if I could help some more. I hung around and swept water and mud for a bit (with my foot wrapped in two socks and a shoe), then cycling back to Chapel Hill. There, I gave it a much more thorough clean in the bath, losing a relatively large amount of blood (for the size of the wound) in the bath. It was surely not entirely clean, but I had given it a good dose of water and disinfectant, and was confident it would be ok.
So I went out for Indian with the boys, then chilling at the Taringa sharehouse for a while. I committed to an early morning at Lucas' dad's office, and so was keen to get to bed before eleven.
My foot did not get worse overnight, but when I awoke, I seriously debated whether or not I should be getting back in the mud. I made up my mind, and put on my feet a pair of socks, plastic bags, another pair of socks, and some volleys. I thought that I had built an impenetrable defence against the mud.
We got there after much backstreets winding in Lucas' brother's Lancer, to avoid closed roads, and went straight to work. We moved saturated phonebooks and calculators, waterlogged chairs and plastic trays; but the most enjoyable were the desks and cabinets. We kicked them appart, smiling and giggling, and carried them outside.
And then, I felt it. A pain rose slowly and surely in my foot as I continued to shift stuff, and pull up carpet, until it became severe enough that I couldn't walk on it. I loosened my shoelaces to relieve the pressure, and recognised this as a telltale sign of swelling. I started feeling faint, and getting cold tingles. Eventually, I knew that it was time to go. I was embarassed, as Lucas called his dad's attention to me, before being angered by everyone telling me to wash it. No, I thought, I had my chance at washing it, I just need to get to the hospital, have it cleaned properly and take some antibiotics. It wasn't their fault at all, I hadn't made it clear that I had been cut the day before.
One of the friendly employees gave me a lift to the Princess Alexandra, as I realised that my part in the cleanup effort was all but over.
I arrived at the waiting room with no shoes or shirt on (having taken them off on the way over) and covered in mud; but I didn't really feel out of place. I felt sorry for the woman sitting near to me, who was emitting the worst cough I had ever heard, and asked the nurse whether it was advisable to live on the street for six months in her condition.

I was eventually called in to see the nurse, and then the doctor, before being administered with a tetanus shot and an x-ray. As I sat waiting for the doctor to return to clean the wound, I noted the harsh sterility of the hospital, and wished to leave as soon as possible.
She gave me local anaesthetic (after I had, at first, declined, and then folded to her suggestion), and then scrubbed the hell out of it. A miniature hosepipe, attached to a bag of saline fluid, was then shoved deep into my foot, in order to get the remaining dirt out. I felt an odd sensation, but obviously no pain; it was as if I was cheating.
After an unexpectedly long time, it was finished, and I went to the waiting room, where I sat for a while chatting to the other people, looking forward to receiving my antibiotics and getting the hell out of there. Finally, at about 3:30pm, I left, having spent just over four hours within the walls of the Princess Alexandra Hospital. I grabbed a cab, picked some antibiotics up, and just had enough money in my account to pay the driver when I exited on the edge of the city.
It was then a geriatric, vagrant hobble to the train station, and an hour's wait in King George Square before I was able get back to mum's house to round out an eventful few days.
Well, atleast I can now say that I was affected by the 2011 floods.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Blended Smooth

Screenplay for an arthouse (melodrama) infomercial for the Magic Bullet

• Elena – Slim, handsome, Hispanic (Penelope Crúz type)
• David – Skinny, dark-eyed, hollow-faced (Johnny Depp type)
• Roberto – muscular, Hispanic (Jávier Bardem type)
• Julia – Blonde, fairskinned, slim (Naomi Watts type)
Opening Scene
Music: Requiem by Mozart
(Bird’s eye view shot of the Magic Bullet [MB] with no lid on, the blade spinning in slow-mo. It is placed in the centre of a rectangular mat divided into four equal-sized squares of different colours, which is on top of a bench.)
Narrator: How beautiful and poetic it is, when four lives are mixed, combined, blended, into a formless entity that breathes as one, exhaling fervent emotion.
(Still in the bird’s eye view shot in slow-mo, David comes on screen, head in hands, then violently knocking the MB to the floor with his open palm. Camera shows MB flying through the air, and breaking apart when it hits the ground. Then, switch to a shot facing the front of Roberto, who is on his knees, crying. Then David, slowly but with malice, picks up a MB blade. A close-up shows his hand bleeding, as a result of holding it tightly. Noticing this, Roberto also picks up a blade, and stands facing David. The face off continues for a few seconds, and the final shot of the scene shows, side-on, the two facing each other.)

Scene #2
(Elena and David are in bed, making love.)
Elena (pauses for a moment, grabbing David’s face): David, I must be sure that you truly love me before I can do this.
David: Of course I do darling, you are as much a part of me as any appendage on my body.
Elena (giggles, and looks down her body): Well, I am right now!
David (laughs): my wife, the comedienne!
Elena: No more jokes, say it to me now.
David (hesitates, then reluctantly): I love you. And I will be able to love you more when they are gone…
Elena (cutting David off): Ok, ok, that will suffice. How long until they get here?
David (checks his clock): Plenty of time…
(Camera pans up.)
Scene #3
(Roberto is standing in front of a mirror, cigarette in his mouth, fixing his tie [camera is looking directly into the mirror]. Julia appears from behind him, and embraces Roberto around the neck/shoulders.)
Julia (breathes in deeply): Hmmmm. I love inhaling your smoke, it makes me feel like we share the same body.
Roberto (turns around and, with a cheeky grin, looks up and down Julia’s body): We do, at times.
Julia (pushing herself back from Roberto slightly): Don’t be so vulgar! I hope you don’t talk like that tonight, or you’ll excite Elena.
Roberto (strokes Julia’s hair, and says, smoothly): Julia, Julia…She is married to David now, and I to you. Things have changed.
Julia: I’ve seen the way she looks at you…
Roberto: And David?
Julia (slightly indignant): What about him?
Roberto: I still see a spark when you two are together…
Julia: But what are you saying?!
Roberto: Nothing, nothing, I just…
Julia: Look, they’ve invited us in good will; let’s just go there, be polite, eat dinner, and leave, ok?
(Camera shows a close-up of the end of Roberto’s cigarette, which becomes brighter and brighter. Roberto then slides out of Julia’s embrace, and stalks into the bathroom. The camera then shows Julia looking at the floor, followed by a shot of Roberto’s shoes, the ends of which are facing away from each other.)
Scene #4
(The camera faces through some blinds, down onto the street, where a car pulls up. The camera then shows the kitchen, with two MB’s side by side, veggies inside. Elena puts a white powder in one, and then blends both).
David (calling from the other room, seemingly pestered by something): Is it in there?
Elena: Yes, yes.
David (Quietly brooding): That bastard always parks right in front of the house with his Beamer; he doesn’t even have the humility to leave it a block away.
Elena (coming out to the front room in her apron, and putting her hand on David’s back): Honey, stop being so neurotic, I’m sure he’s not trying to show you up…
(The doorbell rings, David opens, greeting Julia and Roberto [the latter is carrying a bowl of salad] “Hi there, how are you…etc…”, before Elena does the same. The camera shows Roberto looking slightly downwards, a smile flickering across his face, then the camera shows Elena’s cleavage.)
David (motioning with his hand): Sit down, sit down, Elena has just finished the soup.
(Julia sits down, Roberto hesitates)
Roberto: Do you mind if I make the final touches to the salad in the kitchen?
David (Motions with his hand): Sure, go ahead.
(Both Roberto and Elena go into the kitchen.)
(In the kitchen, Elena and Roberto are whispering in Spanish, while Elena is pouring the soup from the MBs into two separate bowls.)
Roberto (anxiously): Is it ready?
Elena: Yes, my love, everything is ready, but you must remember which bowl belongs to each person.
(They both glance around quickly, then kiss passionately.)
(Meanwhile, back in the dining room)
Julia: So, David, how is your new novel coming along?
David (waving his hand dismissively): Good, good, it’s getting there…
Julia: You don’t sound too happy about it.
David: It’s just been moving a lot more slowly than my past few works. I’m frustrated by it, but I’m in a different situation now that I have to accept, a different state of mind…
(Under the table, Julia rubs David’s leg with her foot.)
Julia (smiling suggestively): Are you sure that’s true?
David (smiling as well): I’m...I'm sorry, please excuse me for a moment.
(David goes to the bathroom to relieve himself, then as he returns, he peers into the kitchen. David sees Elena and Roberto kissing, without them seeing him, and then walks back to the dining room, stroking Julia’s hair before sitting down.)
David: Now, where were we?
Elena (from the kitchen): the soup’s ready!
(Elena walks in, followed by Roberto, who is carrying the four soup bowls on a tray. Elena sits down, and Roberto distributes the bowls before doing the same. Everyone begins to eat the soup, each person looking across at the others, glancing between them. There is a painful lack of conversation, with the sounds of the spoons hitting the bowls violently breaking the silence.)
Julia (finishing her serve): Well, that was fantastic Elena! I’ll have to get the recipe from you.
Elena (surprised, sheepish): It’s just a simple pumpkin soup, the key is the Magic Bullet.
Julia: The Magic Bullet?
David: Don’t get her started on that blender thing, or we wont hear about anything else tonight.
(Another painful silence ensues, before Elena furrows her eyebrows, looking very troubled.)
Elena (smiling politely): Please excuse me.
(Elena stands up, but then falls over almost immediately, lifeless. Julia gets up in a rush, and goes over to Elena, before collapsing in almost the same fashion.)
David (going over to Julia): Oh no, no, no. What happened?
Roberto (going over to Elena, starts to cry): Elena, mi amor!
David (Looks up from Elena’s body to Roberto): What did you do?
Roberto: It can’t be! We meant it for you.!
(David looks over at another Magic Bullet, which is on top of a bench in the dining room.)
Music starts: Requiem by Mozart
(Bird’s eye view shot of the Magic Bullet [MB] with no lid on, the blade spinning in slow-mo. It is placed in the centre of a rectangular mat divided into four equal-sized squares of different colours, which is on top of a bench.)
Narrator: How beautiful and poetic it is, when four lives are mixed, combined, blended, into a formless entity that breathes as one, exhaling fervent emotion.
(Still in the bird’s eye view shot in slow-mo, David comes on screen, head in hands, then violently knocking the MB to the floor with his open palm. Camera shows MB flying through the air, and breaking apart when it hits the ground. The camera cuts to the ground-level, where the MB has fallen; camera is on one side of the MB facing through the clear plastic to the other side, showing Elena’s lifeless body.)
Narrator: And how devastating, yet how liberating it is when half of this entity is removed, extinguished.
(Shot from Elena’s side of the MB shows an almost identical picture of Julia, who is on the other side, lifeless as well.)
Narrator: And the two, or rather, the one that is left feels both pain and ecstasy to such great levels that it is pulled into the deep numbness in the middle.
(The camera shows various parts of the interior of the house, from different angles, which is filled with modern furniture and has subdued colours. All is still. Then, switch to a shot facing the front of Roberto, who is on his knees between the two bodies, the MB in front of him, crying. Then David, slowly but with malice, picks up a MB blade. A close-up shows his hand bleeding, as a result of holding it tightly. Noticing this, Roberto also picks up a blade, and stands facing David. The face off continues for a few seconds, and the final shot of the scene shows, side-on, the two facing each other, with David above the body of Julia, and Roberto above the body of Elena.)

(Then, the standoff continues, Roberto and David looking at each other intensely.)
David: Roberto, there is only one way that this can end.
Roberto: David, please…Be reasonable.
David: It’s just you and me, comprendes? Tú y yo…
(David lifts the blade to his throat).
Roberto (Reaching out to him with his free hand): David, no!
(David drops the blade, picks up the poison, and shakes some onto his tounge. Him and Roberto embrace, both willing. Then, they kiss passionately, with the Magic Bullet on the ground in between them, and the two women on either side. The camera pulls further and further away from them as they continue, eventually showing the four bodies from outside of the house, through the window. The camera pans up to the stars, then showing the Magic Bullet logo. Fade to black, and then the following message appears on the screen:
"Use only as directed".)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hares & Hounds 50km...Or was it?

Nic and Mallani gave me a lift down to this one for the 3:30am start. We were on the road at 2am, with some serious beats blasting to wake us up. I would have preferred a bit of Chili Peppers to psych me, but who cares, really.

On your marks...Go! We were off into the dark and the rain; taking Nics advice, I blasted the first 300 metres to the end of the road, to put myself in a good position when it turned to trail. I fell into a solid rhythm, feeling remarkably good, despite running in second. As the road widened, others caught up, and soon it was Jason Sewell, Dave Coombs, another fella, and I running four abreast up the front of the field. We blasted through mud, splashed through creek crossings, and burnt it up on the road sections. My self-talk was pretty mediocre; I was constantly telling myself that I was going to blow up. I went through good and bad patches, always staying within 50 metres of Dave and Jason, while we put a decent gap on the other fella from 20km onwards. At some times I thought I would have to stop and walk, and at others I felt that I could run at that pace for the whole race. Coming up to the school at Beerburrum, Jason told us that he was shooting for a sub-2:30 marathon in 2011, and that he had pulled an all-nighter at the casino on Wednesday, hitting the rum hard. If someone ever asks me what "Carpe Diem" means, I will refer them to him.
After going through the turnaround with him and Dave, and running another few kilometres, I started to fade at about the 28km mark. This was due to my bloody hamstring insertions flaring up and restricting my stride length; I felt like, without this hindrance, I would have still been running with them. The gap slowly got larger and larger, until they were completely out of sight. Then, with about 12km to go, as I was taking a crap on the side of the trail, here came Nic. I sauntered back onto the trail, running slowly, and almost resigned to the fact that he was going to pass me. On the one serious hill of the course up to the lookout, I ran a fair amount (but not as much as I could have) and power-walked otherwise, in an attempt to show Nic that I was stronger. It didn't work; he knew me too well, and just chugged along behind, eventually catching up and then passing me with something like 10km to go. Then, Jeff, the goth guy who was running behind, passed me aswell, and at the 40km mark they were as good as gone. I came into the checkpoint that Mallani and Libby were working, and Libby had a very concerned look on her face when she saw me running. She noted that my stride looked really restricted - that was the effect of the hamstring problem. I sang to myself and took in the surroundings, thinking about "Our Sunshine" the fictional biography of Ned Kelly, and how the surroundings reminded me of the Victorian landscape that Robert Drewe describes in this novel. The temptation to walk became greater and greater, but I resisted, largely due to my good fortune with the gradient of the course. I chugged along, frequently checking my watch to make sure that I was on track for a sub-4:30 finish. Just past the marathon mark, I saw an aid-station ahead with what looked like the 10km runners. I sloshed through the massive creek into the station, up to my knees in water, was helped by Mandy and then quickly set off for the final stretch. Passing and greeting the 10km runners coming in the other direction was a real boost, and helped me to take my mind off of everything.
Before I knew it, I was ushered into a right-hand-turn by Ian Javes (the race director) who encouraged me, and said that there were only 2.5km to go. I was flattered by the fact that he hadn't seen the four in front of me and asked if I was in first (maybe he actually said fourth, I dunno), and that he remembered my name! What a servant of the sport.
I caught up to a few 10km runners, locking in with Daniel, a PhD student at UQ who looked about the age of an undergrad. We had a good run and a good chat, pushing each other along. Before I knew it, we had hit the road to the pool, and I started to give it a serious nudge. It was 4:20 into the race; I was going to complete my goal of a sub-4:30 50km! "Come on Daniel!". Running past him, I held his back, to get him moving quicker. I got to the finish, thinking about some way to celebrate. I crossed myself (why the hell? You aren't even Christian!) and then did a swan dive that failed miserably, as the grass wasn't slippery enough. Handing my ticket in to the race officials for a final time just under 4:23 - 5th place, I was a happy man.
After having a feed and chatting to a few people (Trevor who won the 5km, Dave C who won, Daniel, Jeff who came fourth, Mandy, and the fourth guy of the initial group who had had to drop out due to hamstring issues), Nic informed me that the course was only actually 47.5km, due to last-minute changes as a result of the inclement weather. What? So I didn't achieve my goal after all!
Oh well, I was still really happy with that race. This was because, despite going out way to hard, I ran about 90% of the last 10km, unlike at K2D. This was probably due to the fact that I drank and ate plenty, it was run on an interesting and curvy trail instead of a straight road, which made it alot more enjoyable, and maybe I had a little more mental tenacity.
The people working the aid-stations were fantastic, so nice and so efficient!
Ian Javes, Bill Thompson, and co. marked the course so thoroughly, even in the face of the absolute downpour. I only doubted which way to go at a junction four or five times, and I/we (when I was in the lead-group) only had to sniff around for less than a minute each time to find the right way.
Special thanks to the Moloneys, who let me have dinner at their place and stay the night, before giving me a lift up and back.
The trail community, all of the wonderful people, are the main reason that I love to race.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bring it on!!!

I have a race tomorrow - Hares & Hounds 50km (between 52 and 55 actually).
After screwing around mentally this whole week, now, I feel ready to hit this bad boy. All it took was a few "Indulgence" trailers (the film about Krupicka). Can't wait to hit the trail, and lock into the racing formation, hopefully, alongside Nic up the front!!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Goals for 2011 (take #2)

At the end of last year (sometime last week) I perused the TRAQ and AURA events for the year, cramming as many as I could find within range into an Excel Spreadsheet. I then filled the rest of the weekends that weren't penned in for recovery with races at Sherwood forest. It was going to be a year with atleast 8 ultra races, and a bunch of 6km and 4km meets.

Then, on the 31st, I was playing NFL in the park after my first gym session in ages, and copped a knock on my right calf. It was really sore, but I figured it was just a cork, so I took the next day off, and then went for an easy run up Mount Cootha on Sunday. All was well calf-wise on the way up (although my hamstrings & glutes were really bloody sore) and I reached the lookout in a fairly average time. Then, after pausing momentarily, I stepped down the stairs, and the calf became painful. After a few hundred metres I stopped to stretch it, but that didn't do much, and I ended up doing the same thing all the way home.

The pain is odd; diffuse and achy it doesn't scream but moans at me. It hurt on and off when walking for the rest of the day, and is similar now the day after. I am supposed to be racing the Hares & Hounds 50km at Woodford on Sunday, and now that is up in the air. I will only be running once more before then, and that will be to clear myself, or otherwise, for the run.

Oddly, I am pretty nonplussed about the possibility of missing out on the race. And that, I realised, is where I have gone wrong with this year's calendar. I will diminish the probability of me racing well at all of the events, simply because of the fact that I will be racing so much. What's more, I will not be recovered enough between them to get any quality training miles in to prepare myself for the only race that I really care about, the Glasshouse 100 mile in September (although the other races COULD be considered as training).

So, with this in mind, I have thinned the selection of races to three:

May: Glasshouse - Cook's tour 50 mile - Goal = sub-8:00
July: Glasshouse - Flinder's tour 50k - Goal = sub-4:30
September: Glasshouse 100 mile - Goal = sub 24:00, but failing that, JUST FINISH!!!

I know that I could manage the 50 mile in such a time without a huge amount of improvement, but the sub-4:30 5km will be quite a test, considering that the course is actually 53.5km long and has about 700m of vertical gain. For the 100 miler, I know that I can do it, and I am super hungry, but will have to will myself to a sub-24. In no way am I underestimating the distace though, that would be a massive mistake.
Although I would really like to run the Sri-chinmoy 24 hour at UQ in June, the timing is probably not too good. But we'll see, I might just get in a sneaky 6-hour there as a tune up.

As far as other goals are concerned, the obvious are: enjoy my running, do not get injured and hit big mileage. The last two are, to a certain extent incongruous, but this can be mitigated by a long, slow build up.

Possibly the biggest goal of all is to travel from the base to the top-ridge of Mount-cootha 300 times over the year.

The way I am hoping to structure my training is to start by running 8-12km consistently with a quick 6km at Sherwood every Saturday. I'll be hitting the gym thrice a week aswell. Then, when I build to about 80km per week with this regime, I will start to concentrate the mileage as follows:

Mon: no running,
Tues: am: 12-20km, pm: 5-8km (in dark),
Wed: am: 20-30km
Thurs: am: 12-20km, pm: 5-8km (in dark),
Fri: no running.
Sat: 6km fast at sherwood
Sun (week 1): 30-50km easy,
(week 2): 12-20km Tempo.
This gives a max kilometreage of about 140, which I might try to bump up to 160 for confidence sake in the month before the race.

Whenever I write stuff like this down, I tend not to stick to it, and end up just running as much and as frequently as my body can stand, or just get injured. So let's hope that I haven't jinxed myself.

In any case, I'm really f***ing excited for this year, but I must channel this effectively into a slow build-up and not run on days when I say that I wont run.