"The goal is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we were called to be." -Patricia Deegan

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Climbing Out of a Hole and Up a Mountain

It's been so long since I've posted, I was torn by whether to write about the heat acclimation/acclimatisation research I've been reading about, or the ice bath research, or ... and then I thought I just need to start at the beginning.

Spider on trail, a common sight (see his back spikes?)
It seems like the beginning. It has nothing to do with the new year, per se, but it's almost like a new start, refreshing my connection with my blog and its readers. And I rather feel like I've just gone in a complete circle and am back at the beginning.

Although I've been blogging about my "over-lifing" injury since at least April 2013, I did not realise the extent I needed to go to get my act together. One of the problems with being focussed, determined, committed, organised, and efficient, is that everyone expects that and counts me as "totally able." Me included. It's a natural expectation, as I've been "totally able" much of my life. So, although I kept making passing comments like, "I don't think I can keep this up" or "I need to quit a few projects," I just received well-meaning advice along the lines of "I'm sure you can do it. You're very [smart/organised/efficient]." I don't blame anyone for that - it was truly encouraging advice. But I made the mistake of trying to believe it and digging a deeper hole for myself.

In April, I pushed some things off my plate, as I promised, but then brought more things back in to crowd what was still a full plate. I got another stomach ache ;) The mental stresses impacted my game at World 24 Hour, and although in 2013 I set 7 or 8 new CAN and AUS records, from 50 Mile to 24 Hour, I remain disappointed with the results, when the maths certainly showed I was capable of better (the maths didn't have a factor for poor mental state). It's not a "crushing" sort of disappointment and I am not looking for sympathy or reassurance. It's just my practical mind, looking objectively, and knowing what the potential was if I hadn't "over-lifed" incessantly.

I built a ladder to get out of my hole whilst overseas July-September. (It was a big hole, so it required a ladder). I had heaps of fun running new mountainous trails in Europe and Canada, with old and new friends alike, and with my amazing partner. We set goals to find foods to forage on every country's trails and to eat sandwiches on mountain summits. I had two very pleasing races, with a Swissalpine podium and Lost Soul Ultra 100 Miler course record. Irontrail in the middle was an excellent race and well organised and I still don't regret my decision to quit, as it just wasn't worth the maceration I was doing to my feet and the overall tendon/muscle/endocrine damage and resultant recovery time another 12-14 hours of hiking was going to cause. And I was done with hiking.

Running down around Walpole with the giant trees. In love with nature.
Back to Oz and ... whoops!

Ill-constructed ladder, made too quickly. No attention to detail. Top rung bust and down I toppled, back into the hole.

Write up and submit PhD (turned Masters of Philosophy). Move house, again, second time in 8 months. Take 4 home-based businesses along. Train. Race direct. See clients. Give presentations on things running. Take running trip with mates to Razorback ultra. Volunteer with AURA. Coach.

Hey, how did I get here again? Back in the hole; got some better tools. Made a better ladder. Out of hole.

Oh, look, there's a mountain. Damn. Spit the dummy. Tantrum. Okay, I know how to climb mountains and I have all the tools for that already. Sync my breath with my step. Look up. Agh, I can't even see the summit. Look down, breathe. Use the poles. It's hot. Take in water. Wave of nausea. Slow down and rest on a false summit. Get a glimpse of amazing view between the trees. Spectators cheer, "Hop Hop Hop! Bravo!" There, up ahead, it looks like the top. Can't be sure 'til I'm there and can see over the other side. But I know now that I can get there.

Yay (I think)! I finally have a home with a bathtub!
After six weeks of training weeks in the 30-60k range,except for the Razorback week, where I snuck (sneaked) in a bit more, I was able to get a couple weeks over 100k again, plus elevation. Ramping it up quickly is a risk, so I'm monitoring it very carefully and employing all the tactics (ice cup massage, ice bath, massage, sports chiro, Udo's Oil, good food, compression, roller...and tomorrow - needles for good measure).

2014 races/plans - I've signed up for the Coburg 6hr on 23 February, but not sure I'll be in 50k/6hr form in time. There's a lot of loss that's happened over a couple months. But having the goal is nice for my brain and if I'm not ready, I won't go. Or if I'm ready and the weather doesn't comply (as in 2013 - when I ended up running Perth 32 instead, and got that wonderful experience of chasing the lead bike). I've also signed up for the Sri Chinmoy 24hr in June in Sydney. I want to do a proper 24hr. This is a major goal for my year. Razorback Run 64km (the Vic alps trail event I did as a training run with mates in November) is on the radar for March 2014. Fastpacking 5 days in the Dolomites August 2014, roughly 30km +2000mtr/day with one change of clothes. That's one's pretty much non-negotiable :)

Bibbulmun track, south coast. Do I feel like 1000k again? Solo?

And then, there's this thing that keeps coming up.... FKT (Fastest Known Time) attempt on the Bibbulmun 1000k - self supported this time. April would be the month. Burn out makes a two week 1,000km solo slog through +20,000 metres of hills, marshes, ticks, flies, sand, and pea gravel with 12kg on my back sound oddly appealing. We'll see, won't we?

Next time, let's talk about that research!


  1. "Write up and submit PhD (turned Masters of Philosophy). Move house, again, second time in 8 months. Take 4 home-based businesses along. Train. Race direct. See clients. Give presentations on things running. Take running trip with mates to Razorback ultra. Volunteer with AURA. Coach."

    You forgot to mention inspiring and motivating by spending your time running with others who take up more of your running time than they should (like me).

  2. Very kind comment. But to confirm, I'm actually conspiring to get my life back to more of that running with others, inspiring and motivating - thanks! :)

  3. Thats one of the drawbacks of being driven and successful, one takes on more than one can do very easily and only realises that when its already happened to some degree. Thats why delegating responsibilities to others (even if they do a relatively poor job of it initially) would in my opinion be advisable. Saying NO or postponing to the future instead of trying to do everything this year or next year helps. Maybe RS or a manager to look at your calender and say hey maybe you should reconsider or reschedule this or that... As Pete has said, you inspire and encourage many other runners, who in turn inspire other people, so if you overcommit, and fall in a heap/hole then we all miss out on hearing about your inspiring results, or running with you, or being a part of your events, etc. All the best with finding a tricky balance and hitting some target races well as you have already done with Coburg 6 hour this year...