Stretching and strength

Some of you might remember that I had a terrible time late last year with my sacroiliac joint (the joint where the lower back meets the hips). Well, it’s playing up again. It’s threatened a few times over the past twelve months but somehow I’ve managed to stave it off. But not this time.

My sacroiliac joint ligaments are loose. I’ve had all sorts of tests and seen specialists. The results are always the same: a loose sacroiliac joint. The bad news is that it can’t be fixed. The good news is that I can’t make it any worse. I like the good news part.

I aggravated the joint last week when I stepped off a log awkwardly and jarred my back. I have been to the physio and that helped a bit but I know from experience that only two things will make the pain go away: time and core strength.

So today, instead of going out riding, I have spent an hour doing crunches, plank, leg raises, push ups, squats, lunges, stretches and have rolled my calves. It’s been a few months since I did any strength exercises so I’m sure my performance will improve too.

Total: 1 hour strength and flexibility.

Advertisements

Maps & checkpoints

Maps & Checkpoints by andrewgillsag
Maps & Checkpoints, a photo by andrewgillsag on Flickr.

We have a 1:25,000 topographic map, an MTB trail map, orange & white fabric, a sewing machine and lots of imagination. We have plans to use this and our intimate knowledge of our local bushland to create something fun: an adventure race training course to challenge our friends.

We’ve never tried anything like this before. But, after just a year of racing, we think we can pull it off. Besides, this is just a fun day out where we hope to give our friends a chance to practice their skills and to introduce them to our local trails.

I’ll keep you posted as plans progress. But if you are coming along on the day, don’t expect to find actual CP locations on my blog. This is the only look at the map that you’ll get. And, in this current format, it’s too old to be of much use before we update it.

Here’s some hints about why this course could prove challenging but fun:
– the highest “peak” is just 82m
– most of the “peaks” are between 18-36m
– some young sections of she-oak are almost impenetrable, with the young trees standing literally side-by-side forming a wall of wood
– all we need is a day of rain for the swamp lands to fill with water and the surrounding lands to turn into a boggy mess
– we have some fantastic flowing MTB trails
– there will be some unusual extra challenges.

Today is a rest day for my body but an exciting day for my mind.

Whoops Witch Way are back in training

Off-track exploration by Andrew Gills
Off-track exploration, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Team Whoops Witch Way took the winter off adventure racing and training. It was a way to keep balance in our lives. I walked The Great North Walk and completed Cycling for Hope. Suwati spent time with her family and did a lot of cycling with her 8yo son (he can ride up to 40km a day and still beg for more).

But the weather is warming back up so it’s time for us to get out into the bush together as a team. I never really left the bush but it’s different hitting it as a team to doing my own thing.

Today we went out for a trail run. Within 500m, Suwati had found us a wallaby track to follow and, before long, we were fighting our way through long matted scratchy reeds and then an eerie she-oak forest. It was grand fun. We just wandered into the bush for about 10 minutes and then decided it was time to find the track again. With just the sun for a compass we tracked east north-east for about twenty minutes to find the track (not the one we started on). Afterwards we checked our path on a GPS and discovered we did a great job walking in an almost dead-straight line.

After our time in the scrub we ran some single tracks and fire trails. It was a grand way to start the day.

Total: 8.2km trail run

Playing tour guide

I love the trails in the bush near my home. They are one of Brisbane’s best kept trail running secrets. I think you can run about 20km of single trails, maybe more. There’s also about 15km of fire trails and six different entry points, making for plenty of running options.

Today I took a group of three runners on a tour of my neck of the woods. We met about 500m from my home and had an easy trot. It was fantastic to have company and to introduce Bayview to other trail runners.

We twisted our way along winding single track. Had a laugh as one of the guys jumped over an MTB jump, ambled up some hills and scooted down a steep loose gravely fire trail.

Total: 10km trail run

Running the single trails

Vegemite Trail by Andrew Gills
Vegemite Trail, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Spring is for trail running. It’s getting light earlier and the air is not yet heavy with humidity. My run today wasn’t earth-shatteringly fast. In fact, it was quite the opposite. But that just means I got to spend more time enjoying the bush.

I ran a 5km loop from the Days Road end of Bayview Conservation Park. All but about 500m was single trail. There were plenty of wallabies and the bush is alive with flowers.

Here’s a video of the Fluffer trail:

What’s not to like about starting the day like this?

Total: 5km trail run

Drinking from an ocean of inspiration

Sunshine and space by Andrew Gills
Sunshine and space, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Twice a year, I reassess where I’m at in my life. I consider my health, work, finances, spiritual well-being and the way I spend my time. Those two times are my birthday in September and the start of the new calendar year in January. They’re not quite six months apart, but they are both significant triggers that mark the passing of another spin around the sun.

Since completing The Great North Walk and Cycling for Hope I have felt a little bit lost. I put so much energy and passion into both adventures that I needed to drink again from the well of inspiration. I didn’t know what to do next or where to start looking.

But, as always, inspiration strikes when you stop looking. It started with the arrival of my bikepacking gear and a decision to test it out with a weekend camping trip on 21-22 September.

Then I saw that the 2013/14 Audax Australia online calendar was published (our Audax season runs from November – October). I thought I’d like to try for the Year Round Randonneur award. So I started entering events into a calendar to tally up the necessary 200km brevet every month for 12 months.

At the same time, the XPD adventure race started. And between Geocentric Outdoor and Ridgeline Adventures my Facebook page and Twitter feed were awash with scenes of adventure racers (some of whom I actually know so could relate to) mountain biking and trekking their way through the South Australian outback. This wasn’t just the well of inspiration; I was sitting on the shores of a whole ocean of soul food.

So I went over to TriAdventure’s blog to see what Team Mountain Designs’ Kim Beckinsale and her crew up the Sunshine Coast have been up to (incidentally, Kim and Team Mountain Designs won XPD 2013 just an hour ago after traversing 700km of gruelling Australian outback). The TriAdventure Aunties are always up to something exciting and show that adventure racing is not a sport; it’s a way of life. And I got even more inspired.

I had already been following Richard Bowles’ running adventures through Twitter and Outer Edge Magazine. So the inspiration from the more recent sources was added to the ideas my subconscious had been developing based on seeing Richard complete some epic long-distance running adventures (think running the length of whole countries).

And so it is that I found myself populating the Upcoming Events page on my blog. A page that had become unruly and unkempt with constantly changing priorities. Gone is the Year Round Randonneur goal, being replaced with more personalised goals that reflect my need to explore my boundaries. I’ll still be riding Audax but it will have to fit in with my team Whoops Witch Way adventure racing and a desire to get out on more weekend camping trips, both on my MTB and on foot. I even ditched the Hobart Marathon in favour of some side trips to wild places while I’m enjoying long daylight hours on the Tasmanian Trail.

So now I am off to purchase an OMM Marathon Classic 32L backpack and OMM Trio Map Pouch 4 chest pack so that I can make my dreams of dropping tent, sleeping bag and food into a pack, and running the trails a reality.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Do you regularly reassess your life?
What are your current goals?

Lost in the Bird Cage

Choices choices by Andrew Gills
Choices choices, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

A kookooburra swoops across the track hunting breakfast. It’s big strong beak and brown wings making it recognisable, even though it wasn’t laughing. Wallabies hop away quickly as I disturb their eating grass. Horses in a paddock come to visit me as I ride by; naturally I stop to pat and talk to them.

I cruise down to the lower end of Bayview Conservation Park, keen to ride some flat sandy single track. It’s been dry and all the creeks are dried up. It’s nice to cruise Sharks Tail, The Maze and Scorpion without having to worry about getting my feet wet. I even manage to negotiate the beach sand-like dust bowls that threaten to unseat me. I am feeling good.

Then I discover that I’m lost. Well, not so much lost as riding in circles knowing full-well where I am but not quite sure how to get out of the loop. I’ve taken Bird Cage out to Kidd Road and thought I had ducked back into the bush on the new single track I found the other evening. But instead I find myself passing familiar logs and jumps.

I don’t usually mind being geographically embarrassed. But I have to be home by 7am to get ready for work and it’s already 6:55am by the time I find my way back to Kidd Road. I still have at least 8km left to ride home, even when I take the quick route along the sealed road.

Oh well … these things happen. 🙂

Total: 15-20km MTB (I broke the cycle computer on my MTB and haven’t yet replaced it)