Sunday, 24 March 2013

Insane - a 57km all night training walk & other rantings

Do not speak unless it improves on silence. – Buddha

I opened our Trailwalker team blog with that quote as it surely resonated with a couple of my team mates. Whereas I may like to endlessly chatter along miles and miles of ceaseless trails I do believe my team mates prefer a bit of the “silence”. How we’re going to walk 100kms with a nice balance between the banter and the sounds of the environment is going to be one of the great challenges that face us as we head off at 8.30am on 19 April this year.

The team interaction of walking with the same three people (yourself and three others) who are tired, grumpy, smelly and hungry would test the most solid of any relationship. The check in points where we’ll meet the smiling faces of our support crew will break it up a little more than the training walks, where we’ve hit the trails with just ourselves and over stacked backpacks.  Last Friday we headed on another long training walk, intending to walk from Olinda to the end of the course in Wesburn (according to the guide book 55kms or so).  You can’t accurately gauge how far your training walk will be as there will certainly be a few times where you get lost, considering you’re walking through the night with head lamps your only source of light, your Garmin only has enough power for endurance events that last 7 hours or so, and the staggering that kicks in after 50kms or so adds a bit of distance to your travels.

All up we ended walking about 57.2kms and didn’t even get to do the final 6.7km section, which we cut out as our support crew member who was meeting us to take us back to the start point, or home to warm showers and crisp sheets, needed to be back in Melbourne at a certain time and pushing out the last tough section was going to cut it a bit fine. We ended up re-joining the Warburton Trail at the Warburton Golf Course and walking back to Millgrove, the third side of the triangle as we’d gone through Millgrove a few hours earlier before heading up into the mountains for a final 8+ kilometres of pain as you push through elevation gain on bitumen roads before joining up with the Aqueduct Trail in the Yarra Ranges National Park.

Now this blog isn’t just about keeping you up to date with training insanities it also serves as a reminder that anybody who wants to put their mind to it can achieve or perform quite extraordinary things. I’m not putting tickets on myself by putting myself in a category to help people do great things, but I would like to be able to motivate anybody who believes they can’t do something, to at least stop and dwell and ask themselves “why not?” Not that long ago I struggled to run 5kms without needing a break, and within a year or so I’ve finished a marathon and am now training for another as well as training and finalising plans to do a 100km non-stop walk, with three amazing people who are also on that same journey, all to assist people who are less fortunate than ourselves as well as learning quite a bit about ourselves along the way. There is no way a team based endurance event could be completed without a solid team interaction, each team member would all go through doubts, have periods of pain, have times where they need self-reflection (where the words of others are not welcome) and without the support of each other the whole event could not be completed. This event is not just about your body’s ability to finish 100kms it is also about your mind’s ability to handle 24 hours of constant movement and team interaction. This is where our support crew will be angels from above, they’ll know to feed us, even if we don’t want it, they’ll know to encourage us, when we are feeling like we can’t go on, they’ll know to pamper us with strange food requests or long black coffees at 4am, and most of all they’ll be the glue that holds our team together when we get to the stage of falling apart.

The image below is a little hard to make out but it is of the hill that awaits you once you've completed 93kms - you have to have a final push over that - to give you some perspective the light in the middle is a street light so this ain't no little hill. I can tell you that when we saw this at 6.30am on Saturday (as the sun was about to rise) we were a little bit concerned, I don't know about the others but if I'd had any fluids left in my body I may well have cried.

At this stage we’ve managed to raise $3,863 for Oxfam through our events, sales and generous donations. And with one more event to come and some memorabilia to sell we could well push the $5k funds raised, which is a massive effort – works out as $50 per kilometre or $12.50 each per km or about 1 cent per step we each take. Not that I’ll be counting them (not out loud that is – that would certainly drive my team mates bananas).

Other training plans are centered on a marathon plan for late May (which I am yet to commit to) and includes running the Geelong Half Marathon on 7 April with a few fellow runners from Albert Melbourne parkrun. So besides the insanity of 57km all night walks I’ve been putting in a number of 7km, training runs and the weekend before last put in a 17.7km training effort. As you may know the weather in Melbourne went through a heat wave and that threw running training plans into chaos with it being too hot to run at night (35 degrees Celsius or so) and then you’d be way too tired to run in the mornings after a restless night’s sleep. Things have now returned to normal, for the time being, so the training plan will return to normal also, with an average of 40kms+ of training kicking in. Surely that will help me shed those last few kilos, you know the ones, the ones that I’ve been wondering why they won’t budge?