A possible change in direction

I’ve felt myself at a cross-roads this past week. I’ve taken time out of my training to really think about what I want from my fitness and what I want from my life.

I’ve said it before, I’m not an eat, sleep and breath triathlon kinda guy. I really enjoy the sport and value the lessons it has to teach. But there’s something else calling me – the wild. I want to be an adventurer and I find triathlon a little bit too sanitised to feed my desires. Yes, it’s a tough sport and it gets me out into the elements but I want more scenery and nature.

As the season wears on I find it increasingly difficult to focus on what I want to do after my last race. I want to get out bush. Adventure racing is attractive to me but it involves high costs (race entry is at least $100 per person up to $2,500 per person for longer races). I don’t have that kind of money to spend and know that I’m not really a team sports person. That’s not to say I don’t work well in a team but I’m more of a solo adventurer than someone who wants to commit to doing what others want. I enjoy working with a team for a specific event but also want the freedom to find my own adventures.

I’ve also become a subscriber to Outer Edge magazine and am mostly drawn to the stories about explorers who go off on expeditions. It’s the same with books – I love to read about expeditions and crazy solo adventures. Whether it’s riding a postie bike around the world or running across the Nullabor Plains, it’s adventure that draws me.

So tonight I’ve discussed the possibility of my taking 35-40 days out of my home life to walk the Australian Alps Walking Track. It’s a 650km wilderness hike through the high country of the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria. It crosses Australia’s highest mountains, including Mt Kosciusko. I want to walk from north to south leaving Canberra on either 19 or 26 March 2013. March / April is the best time of year to walk the track because it avoids summer’s heat, winter’s snow and spring’s volatile weathers. There’s still a good chance of getting snowed on at this time of year but that’s the case all year round in the alpine region. And besides, I’m a Queenslander and I love the idea of being snowed on.

All I have to do now is get approval from work to take 5-6 weeks off next year. I think I can work that out because I should have enough leave and this is our only quiet time of the year – the only real chance I have to take holidays at all. And with it being a year away I should be able to prepare so that I can enjoy the time off.

It would be a significant change to my training and racing plans because I would scrap my racing schedule after May (other than Tough Mudder) to focus on training specifically for the walk. This would involve me trail running, hiking and doing some cycling as cross training. I would also need to spend time practicing my navigation because there are large sections of the trail that cross unmarked wilderness areas.

I should know on Monday whether I can have the time off work and that will change everything. Julia Creek and Byron Bay will be my last triathlons for about 2 years because I’d miss the entire 2012/13 season. Not only for training but also so that I can save some money for a better tent, water purifier, maps, airfares and incidentals such as new hiking boots.

I’ve wanted to do this walk since I heard about it about 15 years ago and it is now more than a dream – it’s my 2012/13 training goal.

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14 responses to “A possible change in direction

  1. cool. or you could try that ridiculous ultramarathon in US through the sierra nevada!

    • LOL! I would love to do some ridiculous ultramarathons in due course but need to work up to it. I think training for the 650km hike will certainly get me close to enough kms under my belt to have solid base in my legs and feet for the following ultra season. I’m going to be running lots of the bushwalking trails in SEQ in training because like you I aren’t keen on 20km – 30km day hikes … I’ll run those thanks … But I love multi-day hikes where you carry everything and camp out in the middle of nowhere and then get up to do it all again the next day. It’s totally different to day walking and I certainly don’t yet have the legs, skills or resources to turn 650km into a ultra 😉 .

  2. Excellent! I’m waiting on some things to fall in place here to allow me to do a month or so on the Appalachian Trail here in the US. I’m a bit jealous!

    • Oh wow! The Appalachian Trail is definitely a dream of mine but I’ll have to start with long walks in Oz because airfares are expensive (and I’m scared of bears 😉 ). I also want to do the Camino in Spain …

  3. I hope it works out for you, it sounds like an amazing trip. And taking 5-6 weeks off at a time sounds amazing regardless of what you’d be doing. I’ve never managed to get more than a week at a time.

    • I’m hoping that I get the time off work … only two more sleeps until I can get it confirmed. As soon as it is I’m doing up my training program and buying the guide book / maps. My training program will largely comprise trail running and hiking with some cycling and kayaking thrown in for variety. I will also do some core, shoulder and leg strength work.

  4. I second the Ultra! This sounds like such an amazing opportunity though. I’m happy with marathon distance but my marathoner boyfriend is itching for something more “adventurous” and really wants to tackle an Ultra.

    • For ultras I say just do it. I started training for triathlon on 1 July after a long break from any sport training. I was definitely not fit (struggled to run/walk 500m). I did a triathlon each in August, September and October but didn’t have any triathlons on my race calendar for November. So in mid-October I signed up for a 45km trail/beach run that was only 2 weeks away. The longest I had every run before that was 15km and I’d only done that once. Other than that I’d done a few 7km & 8km runs. I was successful at completing the entire 45km course barefoot. It was the best experience! So your boyfriend should just sign up for an ultra and give it a bash. The best thing is that it’s acceptable to walk parts of the course and all the hills. I took 7:30 to finish 45km of which 20+km was on the beach at king high tide (ankle deep soft sand) and 500m was wading waist deep through a lagoon.

  5. Sounds great and to have that much time off work also sounds great . . . I wouldn’t want to go back lol. As I’m late commenting on this, I hope you’ve been able to get the time off.

    I’ve got to plead my case tomorrow to my boss as I want three weeks off for a bike trip next year. I’ve agreed to be part of a team to raise money for the British Heart Foundation by cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats off-road; 1,201 miles and ascending over 130,000 feet. Two weeks is usually the maximum we can take off, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed he’s in a good mood.

    Looks like we’ve both got a lot training coming up 🙂

    • Ooh, that sounds like a super exciting ride Sally! I’ll be following your blog to read that for sure! When is the ride?

      I got my leave so am now settling into almost exactly 12 months of preparation. I intend to start my walk on 18 March 2013. I have a special notebook that I’m using to keep track of all the little things that I need to think about (like food, clothing, gear, training, route etc). I’ve also been bookmarking all the blogs / websites that contain trip reports from other people who have completed the walk. The images are especially helpful for mental preparation (there are some big mountains out there!).

      Yes, there’s going to be a lot of training coming up 😉

  6. Glad you got the time off 🙂

    We’re thinking of working around Easter, which will be the end of March to give us two days bank holidays as we don’t want to use all of the three weeks for the ride. Would be nice to spend the last part of the holiday back home with family and recuperating.

    It’s nice to have something to aim for and something to look forward to 🙂

    I look forward to reading your updates as you prepare. Looks like both our blogs will some interesting stuff written in them next year lol.

    • That’s one of the reasons I’m going in late March too – to make the most of the Easter public holidays. I have also selected my start date to pick up the Anzac Day public holiday as well – that’s 4 days off work without having to take leave 😉

      We’re clever us adventuring folk aren’t we *LOL*

  7. Awesome post.
    I know that feeling, It nags and nags until you do something about it. then when its done the mind races for the next adventure.
    I come up with about 3 or 4 adventures a day and have trouble settling my mind not to run off and do them.

    Cheers

    • LOL. I have the same problem. I have to keep pulling myself back and remembering that life’s a marathon not a sprint 😉 At the moment I’m focusing on off-road fun. I really want to get into ultra running but am going to wait until the 2013/14 season – I just keep telling myself that I will have another season of endurance behind me by then 😉

      And then there’s the long-distance hikes I want to tackle but need enough holiday time from work … Hmmm 🙂

      I love your blog. It gives me heaps of ideas. I love Tassie too – It’s beautiful down there.

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