Today marks three weeks since I left the track. Flatly, I miss it. I still remember the lost trails, jungle thick re-growth, a shin twice as large as its opposite, driving rain, dusty heat- like yesterday. But it’s waning, the vivid livingness of it – both good and bad.
I am reminded, in my line of work, of ‘life on the trail’. Several days ago, having dropped a group of international students at a trail head, I agreed to drive to the end point and walk back towards them, meeting half way. I started out walking, slowly at first, my left ankle still niggling with tenderness and poor flexion/extension. Beautiful single track, shaded and well marked turned around a brief escarpment. I couldn’t help myself, raising a trot, I shuffled along the trail at barely a jog. I had never walked/run the track before. Unfolding was new trail, new trees new undulations. After two weeks of enjoying the flick of a kettle- or more accurately the hum of a trangia, in that moment, I missed the AAWT.
On coming home yesterday, inbox full, I find several well wishing congratulatory messages. With brevity, most are short and simple, but several are more explanatory, detailing their message with their own situation or journey. Responding with personal motivations and drives, amongst others, are hinted at. An old school friend, bogged down in the midst of a PhD in Bangladesh was one in particular. I answered simply; ‘Ultimately, it is easier for me to motivate the physical ‘meat’ of me, simply because I trust my body and my brain to drive it. The slog is broken down. No real tricks other than this; looking for the beauty in the small moments and small things in everyday life (like my mother in the garden. I once heard her have a conversation with a fruit tree. She was so impressed with its budding she felt up its limb like you would a child’s forearm, beaming at its health). A PhD is a mountain of a project and needs fragmentation.’
The AAWT, I mentioned, allowed little time to think of the next day. I had to live in the moment, or at least the day. The good moments take on a bit-part in the daily rigour of distance, body and time. Mostly little things stick out; finding an extra fig in my pack when particularly hungry, an elbow of tree shaped like a sun baking lady, a face off with a wombat- both gesturing the same way several times before bludgeoning past each other in the most inconvienint way, looking forward to needing to leak for a guilt-free 20 seconds of motionless. All moments of no more than a minute in 145 hours of running.’ Maybe thats the point. You need a mountain to take notice of the rocks along the way, otherwise a rock is a rock- and not part of something bigger? Yet again, why can’t the rock simply be great in its own right. Does a lap around the block have to turn into an ultra run across the mountains? Either way, jeeze a nice piece of trail can sure make life good.
Some more thankyou’s; Alan McCubbin of Next Level Nutrition www.nextlevelnutrition.com.au for nutritional wisdom and help in the lead-up. Icebreaker and Salomon – did I mention the gear? Simply the best running/adventure outdoor gear. Pat Kinsella, Chris Ord (seed planter), Ross Taylor, Luke Whitmore and Maggie for care-taking advice, Matt O’Keeffe, Monash University, Brian Wattchow and Ryan Teasel (covering my class’s), Wynn Shooter (seed grower) Parks Vic, Mark DeFazio (summer spent together renovating and jogging) Lisa Logan and her mum (Diana Lodge Falls Creek) Outward Bound Tharwa (camping spot) Mum and Mos for Falls support- and lovely walk, Brett for setting a ripper camp each eve, Charlie and Li for everything (and bottle of French bubbly), Lesli for the jogs and home stretch, Jade and crew for abandonment, Dad for appearing at the finish line on no-sleep and Azzadine for coming along. To Jamie Magyar for continued support and several mountainous photo shoots.