Friday, December 30, 2011

Wrapping up 2011: the trail that made me what am today

On the final day of 2011, predictably, I went running on Mount Cootha.

As a salute to the motherland and an appropriate way of putting an end to a year that could only be described as ridiculous, this morning I ran on the trail that I've covered hundreds of times over the past twelve months.

And the logical cliche' which followed was a reminiscence on the other memorable times that I've run the said trail this year:
- During the floods, looking over my shoulder to see Brisbane submerged, shedding a tear;
- During June, deep into an epic training block when I was nearly thwarted in reaching the lookout due to devastating calf cramps;
- During August, on (what I thought was) my last day in Chapel Hill.

When I feel anything; upbeat, depressed, ecstatic, enraged, serene; I run on that trail. Bar the three months I spent living in the land of barefeet, yuppies and ironic beards (West End), I've always been able to put foot to dirt on that rarely-used mountain bike track to clear my head. And for that I am grateful.

Now, continuing with the cliche' theme, here's a list of the 11 most memorable experiences/periods/events of 2011, or better, the happenings which generated the most brain chemicals (positive,negative or both) this year:

11. The night before, and the post-grog-cycle - the worst I've ever felt while doing excercise

10. Winning a race - the circumstances were nonsensical, providing me with a great story to tell

9. the C2K roadtrip and experience - Good friends, music and conversation, helping someone to achieve a monumental goal, missing out on a fantasy

8. the 167km, 29.5hr week - Waking up exhausted; running, cycling, gymming, climbing; going to bed exhausted

7. 100% for two essays - Approaching the subject matter with conscience and passion, slaving over the details

6. Lost overnight on Mount Barney - High risk of injury/death, the loss of hope, coming out alive

5. DNFing Glasshouse 100 - Not accomplishing a goal, but running fearlessly despite poor physical form

4. Brisbane Floods - Destruction and chaos, the genesis of compassion and unity across the city

3. Flinders' Tour and the adventures leading up to it - The single most enjoyable day of my life, and the most action-packed five weeks of training

2. Expanding social life - Because it was well overdue

1. the West End triangle - loving with intensity and without compromise, allowing myself to decay in the vain hope that there would be a happy ending.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mt Warning double/triple

Every time that I've tried to put finger to keyboard to describe our adventure a few Sundays ago, I've thought "I have nothing left to write" and "I'm out of creative energy", among other whiney excuses.
Today it dawned on me...Perhaps my mind has confused running with blogging, and that when I think of that morning on Warning, certain feelings are called to mind; having nothing left in my legs, or being out of energy for running, and that this becomes confused with my feelings towards blogging.
So here it goes...

Night came. Seated upon my throne over the Tweed Valley, I fell into a deep reverie, my gaze fixated on the Pacific. Ever watching, ever waiting for the first warm rays of sunlight to tickle my crown.
As the curtain began to rise, the mist to clear, I was given a start by many tiny pairs of lights snaking through the lowlands and coming to rest upon my foot.
And tiny figures exiting metallic shells, laughing, talking, urinating.
"Double", I hear. "Triple". Whispers and excited energy; some faces familiar, others previously unknown.
They begin to run upwards.
I am startled, offended even, but soon realise that these mostly unkempt vagabonds mean well. They have come here to pay tribute, to express their respect and admiration, to worship.
One, bald and slim, pulls ahead of the others, while the rest spread out.
An idiot in ripped shorts is some distance behind, leading a closely knit trio including two baby-faced backpack-wearers.
Then comes an Ashgrove ranger, a smiling man in boardshorts and two pretty women.
After forty minutes of watching their snailish upward progression with a bewildered amusement, I think to myself, "Let's have some fun".
I flick my craggy finger outwards, missing ripped shorts, my intended target, and striking the one they call Caine in the shin. He stops, starts, looks down at the puncture, deep and oozing, and stops for good.
How odd that the others wait and help him; I hardly remember friendship, I hardly remember the last time that another mountain visited me on my solemn throne.
Again, I am pulled out of my ponderance by the soft tickles of skinnyman's feet atop my crown. I have let my guard down and allowed this human to climb me in 1:03, two minutes off the endurance wizard's best time.
Speak of the devil, here he comes, floating up my tarmacked shins.
Confusion reigns among the group, some continue up and stroke my head, others turn around as their comrades are descending. Caine limps downwards, and I feel a pang of guilt.
They reach their cars, and to my astonishment, turn around! How can it be? No human should dare to cross me twice! Two slim speedmen have joined the endurance wizard, ripped-shorts and the non-injured pack-wearer, and they ascend side by side.
And again they spread and spread.
And again, some ascend above my proud brow, while others turn around early.
On their way down, the young pack-wearer and the endurance wizard lead, while the rest reform into a jovial group. Many seem to be having a blast, they leap over my hairs and stoney pimples with apparent ease and joy.
The first two reach my toes. They have a quick and serious discussion, and pick up some food. The wizard returns to his car, surely young packman will do the same.
But he turns around and runs upwards. Ever upwards.
My feelings of anger and annoyance have turned to astonishment and love. A human who wishes to spend over six hours on me, to run my length three times. I have made a new friend. Go Pacman, go.
He makes a generous offer to ripped shorts as he passes, who snaps back ungratefully, the tool.
The rest reach the bottom and bathe in the cool water at my feet, while pacman receives praise and encouragement from the walking humans on my chest.
Go pacman, go.
He reaches the top, turns around, and begins to cruise the descent, while the other runners amble around my stomach. Ripped shorts and boardshorts leave the path to scramble my unkempt boulders.
In little time, they return to my feet in their metal shells, to wait for the youngest of the group to return.
I look on in sadness as pacman takes his final few downward steps.
Goodbye new friend.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nic Moloney's C2K: Some thoughts

I think I only have a few bullet points of interest on this one. After all, it's Nic's story.

1. Crewing is alot of fun. Driving for two minutes, waiting (eating, listening to music, kicking the footy) for 20-40, then handling drinks/food and copping abuse for one is alot more fun than it sounds.

2. The main man had some great spells, and some really horrible patches. He battled a bung knee for 90 kilometres. I do hesitate when writing that he "battled" this injury; there was no war between keep going and pull out, rather an unwavering undercurrent of "I can", or rather, "I will".

3. During the race, I discovered that determined women can pee standing up.

4. Following on from 2., the equation for Nic's successful C2K was as follows:
"I will" + 240km of road = He did.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mount Tickhell, group run, and the missing blog posts

Firstly, apologies to the SEQ trail geeks for the non-forth-coming report on the Mount Warning double/triple. I've lost my blogging mojo, but will be writing something up soon. Another thing on the to-do list is a crew report from C2K...

But on to more recent adventures. Yesterday, Vett and I headed to the Main Range for the first time, to climb Mount Mitchell. My predictions about the climb were wild misjugdments; the sketchy rock scrambling that I had expected to find was replaced by smooth single-track at a consistent 5% gradient.
Beginning in lush jungle, it continuously alternated between dry grassy bushland and thick rainforest as we climbed higher and higher. In little time, expansive views West towards Brisbane, and South towards Mount Barney were granted to us:

Other highlights were:

some really oddly shaped grasstrees;

The razorback ridge just behind the summit;

a tame lizard;

and some downhill running through a flourescent green rainforest;

The only lowlights were the noise of the Cunningham Highway and the ridiculous number of ticks which we had to flick off of ourselves/eachother. It would have amounted to 40 in total!

Follow that up this morning with a 2hr group run on Cootha with Ben, James, Matt, Dan and Johnathan, and you have one great outdoor weekend.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#4: Kondalilla

I decided to skip #3 for now, as it deserves more time and thought.

The Saturday before last Eleanor, Megan and I headed North for a casual hike.

The highlights were:
a massive hollowed out strangler fig, inside which we could climb a fair height;

a massive waterfall, up which we could scramble a fair distance;

a massive rock pool, into which we could jump a fair depth;

Followed by lunch in Maleny, a barbecue at Mount Cootha with many others and the long drive to Tweed Heads with Ben and Dan; it doesn't get much better than this.

#2: Mapleton Falls

The Monday before last, I headed up to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland with Vetti for a casual hike. I say casual, as the day before (blog to come) was a bit too much fun for the body to handle.
Setting myself in motion again was somewhat difficult, and Vetti kept runing ahead and taunting me, while I sat back and whined/bitched/moaned.
After a few hours though, it was all worth it:

at the turnaround, everything felt much better. I was enjoying myself enough not to notice this big fellow, but neither of us were very concerned by eachother's presence.

Carpet pythons are so placid and gentle; they have alot to teach Taipans, Tigers and Browns.

The day finished with a long stretch in the rain and an even longer car/train ride home. I'm loving the holidays.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Retroblog #1: On the Road

Since the last update, alot has been done. Enough for about four entries in fact. Because I'm a massive hipster, I thought it would be a good idea to buck the trend and post in reverse chronological order.

So we begin with the mostly pictorial tale of an epic two-day road-trip to Eden (oh the beautiful, melodic irony). Interspersed between the photos are quotes from Kerouac's classic stream-of-consciousness novel mentioned in the title and some songs that we heard:

We were all delighted, we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one noble function of the time, move

Somewhere along the line I knew there'd be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn...

The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream

The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death

...Much like the bible suggests, Eden is pretty great; a warm, sleepy beach town with a fish and chips shop on the corner and endless rocky headlands for exploring. Nic, Mallani, Kate and I have settled comfortably into the unit...
But alas, at 0530 tomorrow we will be trading it in for another 36ish hours on the road to the roof of Australia.
For some odd reason, Nic wants to cover the distance on his feet.
The rest of us will be doing whatever we can to help.

This morning, 10k along the coast took me a good 90 minutes and required a swim as well as some very sketchy scrambling up and down cliffs. Another new experience: climbing up a face so craggy it bleeds your hands, with the roaring waves beating the rocks below. Look up and look down, sweat and stomach butterflies.

Finally, here's a bonus image which didn't quite make the clean road-trip-narrative cut. This is what happens when a bookworm student attempts to fill up a car (look at the shorts):

Friday, December 2, 2011

Beyond my means

Thursday: 2:00 on Cootha - both achilles & right quad feeling the mileage.
Friday: 1:15 on Cootha - Feet are smashed.

That brings us to 11 hours in the last six days, a very healthy total for me. I started to feel that familiar uphill comfort today, which was very encouraging ahead of Sunday. However, the achilles, feet and quad will need to be babied a bit over the next 36 hours.

To money matters, I've $51.20 to last until Tuesday...It doesn't seem like that much of an ask, but when you consider fuel monies for hiking tomorrow morning, fuel monies for the warning trip, food for a barbecue, and a date on Monday, it seems like a bit of a stretch. Will have to batten down the hatches and live on oats, salt, and leftover energy gels until then.
I don't know why I decided to write about that in a blog mainly concerned with running, I guess it's just on my mind and I have little understanding of social boundaries.