This blog has been barren for months - a lesser priority in a long list of to-dos - but there has still been plenty happening. One such happening was signing up for the GOW 100km trail run on the "shipwreck coast" in Victoria.
Fast forward several months. I type this blog from home, shortly after what should have been my departure flight time from Coolangatta airport. But I wasn't on that plane, and until yesterday - heck, this morning - didn't know that. And the only thing that keeps going through my head is this particular line from the ever-insightful Step Brothers:
For the previous 11 weeks I had been training purposefully for this year's GOW100s event, by all accounts one of Australia's most scenic ultra-trail runs and one which I had been eagerly awaiting. I had been patiently balancing training, family life, work and race directing easing back my running when other commitments took over, and grasping the opportunity to train more heavily when I could. I had been smart (some would say for a change).
Week 11 - last week - began with both my children developing nasty coughs and fevers. Week 11 - last week - finished with me having possibly the worst case of man-flu I have ever had. Not pleasant sure, but not race fatal. It was a concern for me, but given I'd already banked all my training I just bunkered down and rested.
Wednesday of race week - as in yesterday, as in 3 sleeps to race day - involved taking both kids to a kindy playground. I chase our kids around parks all the time. I have experience here.
And yet yesterday, on reaching down (in hindsight awkwardly) to collect our ducking-and-dodging 1 year old daughter from the ground, my back went into spasm. Badly. I couldn't stand back up straight, and it didn't improve. I spent the rest of the day either lying awkwardly on my side in the only comfortable position I could find, shuffling around like Quasimodo, or laying on a Chiropractic table in an effort to right the wrong I had done to myself.
It didn't work.
I gave myself a very early night last night in the hope that a good nights sleep would see me wake up somewhat improved, with the plan being that as long as I could at least stand up straight I would get on my flight to Melbourne and hope for the best come Saturday.
I still can't stand up straight. So I wasn't on that flight. And I won't be running on Saturday.
So what happened? I have no fucking-fuck idea.
I play with my kids all the time, and stuff like that doesn't happen. Perhaps the past week of laying low trying to get rid of the man-flu left my back unhappy and prime for a tweaking. Perhaps. Perhaps not.
The lost flights and accommodation doesn't concern me - it's only money. I'm bummed to be missing the race, but the opportunity to run GOW100s again will hopefully present itself. The biggest frustration is for the previous 12 weeks of being smart, balancing my life to get my body in great shape to run 100km, and then within a moment - 3 sleeps out from race day - it's all for nothing.
The racing of an ultra is simply the last piece of a large puzzle, and I had worked tirelessly getting the rest of the pieces to fit, only to drop the second-to-last piece over the edge of no-returnsies. There are so many sacrifices made in preparing for an ultra, but none moreso than that of your own free time, and the "time with you" that you steal from your family when you choose to train. Ultra running is a selfish sport, and the selfish pay-off for that is the massive sense of achievement on crossing the finish line, knowing that all that stolen time resulted in something. Except this time, all of it amounts to zip. Donuts. Nada. And that sucks.
So what happens now?
At this point I have no idea, other than to work hard over the next day or two to stand up straight again.
I'm about to sign up for Ultra-Trail Australia for 2016, and I'll be running the Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon again next year, but between now and then running-wise I don't know. I kind-of don't want to waste the last 12 selfish weeks of training I've just done, but there aren't any races in the coming month that really suit my schedule - I'd love to have a crack at Blackall 100 next week, but I'm already away elsewhere that weekend so it's not an option. So I don't know.
This isn't intended as a sob-piece, and I don't need your sympathy. I'm venting frustration, sure, but if this is the worst thing that happens to me this year then it hasn't really been that bad a year. I'm alive, my family are healthy (except for a few coughs), and generally I am too.
I'm not sure what lesson the universe has tried to teach me this week, but I'm sure there's some overriding message I'll take out of all this with a few days hindsight. But for now, my question to the universe is this:
"What the fucking-fuck?"
And on that note, I'm going to go lie down (on my side) and watch Step Brothers.