Sunday, February 15, 2009

Death March 2009

What did you get up to on Valentine's day? I thought of the best present I could give to Girlclumsy. I packed my bag while she still slumbered and headed out into the world to see how far away I could walk from her in eight hours.

So began what became to be known as Death-March 2009.

To be honest it had nothing to do with GC really. I had been waiting for the right weather (cloudy, raining and cool) to attempt the eight hour walk.

Why would I want to walk for eight hours? Well, I know many people who seem to be doing interesting things such as blogs, webcomics, giving birth and raising maggots. The internet gives a thin veneer of legitimacy for any cockamamie idea you might have.

The idea had been percolating through my skull for a few weeks. I like to walk. I walk quickly and with purpose. People who know me know that I hate aimless rambling. I don't really care in what direction I go in as long as it purposeful walking. I have always been fascinated with the stories about women having to walk 20 km a day to collect water for their families or armies having to march vast distances before squaring up with a less tired force. Most of us in Australia today live rather sedentary lives. I was intrigued whether I could walk for eight hours.

Why eight hours? It was a rather arbitrary choice, to be honest. I have slept for eight hours, I have worked for eight hours (no matter what my last employer tells you), I have played games (both computer and board) for eight hours.. so why not walk eight hours?

I wasn't after a distance. I merely wanted to walk for eight hours. I decided that if I ever stopped for any reason I would have to make that time up at the end. My route was semi planned. My parents live in Strathpine, so I would set out in that direction down South Pine Road (I live in the centre of the city), if I made it that far then I would continue towards Redcliffe and a house I used to live in over a decade ago. The final destination didn't matter it merely gave me something to aim for. I am not hugely fit but I do a fair bit of walking so I was confidant I wouldn't die.

I did some research and confirmed that the average human walking speed is 5 km an hour. Distance to Strathpine from my house is 26 km... I thought I would at least make it that far. My ex-house in Redcliffe is 47 km away from where I live... I doubted I would get that far in eight hours.

I had been watching the weather over the last few days and it seemed that Valentine's Day was going to be ideal for this little jaunt. When I woke up that morning it was over-cast and cool and I knew the time for the March was nigh.

I had a backpack ready to go. It had a 2L bottle of water and 2x 600ml of water (frozen), 4x 375ml pepsi max cans (for caffeine support), a bag of mixed lollies, a bag of pistachio nuts (I am crazy for pistachio nuts). In the backpack was also a SFX magazine, iPod, sunscreen, spare shirt, spare socks, many thick band-aids, mobile phone, some writing paper and pens. All up the pack weighed about 6kg. I was going to take a camera to document the journey but the battery charger had failed in the night and I decided to push on without it. I strapped my heels with band-aids and armoured myself in my beloved black boots.

With a jaunty wave and a "I am going out for a walk. I may be some time" to GirlClumsy I headed out into the world. That was at 10:20am.

Every hour I would take out my pen and paper and document where I was and how I was feeling at the time. I have reproduced what I wrote below.

11:21am - Cnr South Pine Rd and Farrington St, Alderley - Feel fine but wet (yay rain)

12:19pm - Cnr Old Northern Rd and Chinook St, suburb unknown (Rode Rd overpass) - Still fine. I have driven this road many times but I respect the distance now. Enjoying the change in houses as I head out of the city into the burbs.

1:22pm - Cnr South Pine Road (again! sneaky road) and Bunya Park Drive, Brendale. Have officially entered Pine Rivers. Bastard bastarding hills. Rolling hills you don't even notice in a car. Bastards. Right thigh starting to ache. Blister forming on left foot little toe.

2:21pm - Cnr Lavarack Rd and Samsonvale Rd, Bray Park. Blisters are now becoming painful. Need to stop and protect my feet. Feeling slightly heat distressed for the first time. I have decided to stop and sit under a tree and replaster my feet and change socks. I will have a short break and then push on. All this time will have to be made up later. Want to walk to my parent's house nearby and rest there but I doubt I would leave again.

*In 4 hours I had walked approximately 26 km. I seemed to be making good time. It occured to me during the break that a marathon is 42.2km. I started wondering if I could make it that far. I also had a profound respect for people that run that distance in 2.5 hours!*

Set out again at 2:50pm

3:50pm - Cnr of Yebri St and Anzac Ave, Petrie (Ruth Whitfield Memorial Park). Right Hip starting to hurt. Feet not so bad. Lunch break did wonders. Had a sneaky pee behind a tree in Ms Whitfield's Park. Very yellow. Must drink more water. First time I have ever done that in my adult life... I am an anarchist.

4:50pm - Cnr Bray Rd and Anzac Ave, Kallangur. I hate Anzac Ave. Long long long looooooong road. Everything below the waist starting to complain. I officially name this trek Death March 2009.

5:52pm - Cnr Deception Bay Rd and Anzac Ave, REDCLIFFE!!! Officially have entered Redcliffe. Officially still on Anzac Ave. Officially f*cking angry at the non-ending bastard road Anzac Ave. Screw you Anzac Ave and your endless f*cking length. Was momentarily happy when I saw the Welcome to Redcliffe sign but then happiness was replaced with fear as I was swarmed by a billion hungry mosquitos that breed in the feted swamp that is Redcliffe. THIS IS WHY THE ORIGINAL COLONISTS LEFT THIS SHITE-HOLE FOR BRISBANE. I had to run from the swarm. hobble painfully... whatever. slight tunnel vision. thirsty.

16:50pm *I think I meant 6:50 or 18:50.. Mr Brain was not happy by this time* Klingner Rd across from Macfarlane Park, Redcliffe. Death March 2009 over. Limping heavily, right foot very sore inside the foot. tunnel vision worse, all water gone. GC is coming to pick me up and bringing water. Sore right arm for some reason. Yelled at by twice by passing cars on the final stretch. Huzzah for Redcliffe. You win the Bogan Prize.


When GirlClumsy arrived she told me that I looked like a injured dog as I limped to the car. She reset the travel odometer in the car and traced my route in reverse. In eight hours I had walked 40km exactly. For accuracy sake I am going to say that is 40 km (plus or minus 0.5 km). I was very annoyed that I had not gone the full marathon. GirlClumsy was very amused how annoyed I was at myself for not making it to 42.2km.

I had proved very nicely the 5km average walking speed. My speed for the first half of the walk was just under 6 km an hour and then it decreased to its lowest point of 4.5 km per hour at the end.

So, what have I learned from all this madness? 40km is a long way to walk. My heavy boots, though excellent, might have been a little too heavy for this. I get angry when I get tired. When I get angry I don't feel pain and I speed up. Unlike my trek through the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco in 2006 this didn't push me to the limits of my endurance. It was painful but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I also saw why population centres are where they are. They are all separated by the distance that a person could walk or ride in under a day. It seems pretty damn obvious when you walk the distance and not just fly by in a car.

Most importantly I learned that I am fitter than I thought I was but not as fit as I would like to be.

Am I glad I did Death March 2009? - Yes. I am happy I could plan it, implement and have the guts and testicular fortitude to finish what I started.

Will I be doing Death Mark 2010? - HELL, NO!

*Death March 2009 - Aftermath* Today I awoke and the limping has gone from bad to worse. My right foot is very sore inside. I suspect I have pulled a muscle in my foot. My right hip is extremely sore. When I try to stand straight it feels like my right leg is about 5 cm taller then my left. It must be from the swelling. Neurofen and my own mutant healing factor will fix it right up lickity-split. Muscles in the legs feel fine. Very deep blister on my right foot at the back. Right elbow is sore for no apparent reason. In fact, the right hand side of my body seems to have taken the brunt of the damage. So much for the left hand side being the sinister side. I have the oddest chaff marks right across my body from my clothes. They are numerous but not in the places you would think you would have them*

Monday, February 02, 2009

Thus begins the autopsy...

Cleanup required in the Operating Theatre!

The first series (more on that later) of the fully improvised play "Prognosis : Death!" has come to a close at the Brisbane Arts Theatre. The doctors and nurses of St Love have hung up their scrubs. Though I was aware of the potential of this production I am blown away at how popular the show became in its short six episode run. On the last night we had 95 people in the audience. Over the series we averaged 66 people per night. Every night more and more people came to see the show. Many were repeat audience members who came back to see if we were telling truth that each show was fully unscripted and made up on the spot based on their suggestions (We were and It was). It was a great experience to be a part of this show and its goes to prove the power and popularity of Theatre/Impro hybrid concepts. I think Impro Mafia will be looking more into this style of show in the future.

The sexy staff of St Love Hospital

If you missed any of the last three episodes a brief synopsis of each is below.

Episode 4 - "St Love and the Blizzard of Dreams"

A terrible snowstorm had trapped all the staff of St Love inside the hospital. The last person to make it to work was Dr Melody Carmichael (Intern) who had slept in that morning by mistake as she had been plagued with terrible dreams the night before. Before long weird and inexplicable events were happening in the hospital. Strange, otherworldy figures were seen stalking the halls of St Love as the staff's deepest dreams started coming true! Medical Superintendent Harold Dean finally fired Dr Mangold, Nurse Buble finally consummated her relationship with Dr Mangold and Dr Melody Carmichael (Intern) finally took the coveted position of "Best Damn Surgeon at St Love" from Dr Mangold. In fact, the only person who wasn't enjoying himself was Dr Burton Mangold (except for the consummation bit). He had lost a young boy patient, Bobby, to "The Sickness" (Symptoms of "The Sickness" include loss of use of legs, coughing and projectile vomiting of blood over nearby doctors) and started to realise that people's dreams and nightmares were coming true. Dr Mangold quickly worked out he needed to find the solution in his own dreams. After being shagged to sleep by Nurse Buble and helped along by punches to the face by Medical Superintendent Harold Dean, Dr Mangold entered The Dreamscape. After nearly being sexually molested by a dream ape (in song no less) Dr Mangold found out how to save the day from the dream version of Bobby. Everything was back to normal... except at that moment Dr Melody Carmichael WOKE UP! It had all been a terrible nightmare and everything was back to normal... except at that moment Dr Ludwig LeStrange WOKE UP! It had all been a terrible dream of a woman dreaming a terrible dream about the staff falling prey to terrible dreams... freaky!

Episode 5 - "St Love and the Fourth Reich"

1944 - Germany - The Black Forest. Two Nazi Officers built a time machine using the Equations of Einstein and Blood Magic. They hurled themselves into the future to make sure the Nazi Reich would rule the world forever.

Present Day - St Love. The Nazis infiltrated St Love Hospital killing off the staff members and taking their place. They even managed to replace Medical Superintendent Howard Dean (Harold Dean's identical twin brother) with an evil Nazi Doppelganger! The Nazi's hid their evil nazi plans by convincing the staff it was time for Oktoberfest. Dr Mangold and Nurse Buble became suspicious especially of their new Lutheran priest Jeremy Von Thistlewaite. Soon, however, their suspicion was proven to be miss placed as lutheran priest was slain by the real master of the Nazi's.. Dr Ludwig LeStrange. Le Strange had travelled to the future many years ago to create the Fourth Reich using the blood of a virgin. Le Strange captured the lovely Nurse Buble and the Rise of the Fourth Reich seemed assured until Dr Mangold arrived and pointed out that thanks to him Nurse Buble was not a virgin! Thwarted, Le Strange used the only other virgin blood he had close by... his own. Fortunately the blood needed to be female for the time portal magic to work properly. The two hench-Nazis were thrown back in time to 1944, England, where they were shot but Dr Mangold's grandfather BlackSmith Mangold. Dr Le Strange was also caught in the time vortex and thrown back 70 million years. He made friends with the dinosaurs and taught Tyrannosaurus Rex how to use their stumpy little hands. Once again the hospital was saved.

Episode 6 - "St Love and the Morningstar"

Dr Burton Mangold was "The Best Damn Surgeon" at St Love Hospital until the arrival of his best friend/worst enemy Dr Rik Cocksteady. Cocksteady could do everything Mangold could do but better. He was richer, sexier and a better lover and doctor too! Soon he had replaced at Mangold in everything at St Love Hospital. Dr Mangold left the hospital in disgrace. Meanwhile, the new preacher Presbyterian Minister Jeremy McThistlewaite had noticed strange and unsettling things in the hospital. The Baptismal font had turned to blood. The staff were being tempted to perform acts of lust and gluttony. Even the cafeteria coffee had turned to blood! McThistlewaite new this was the work of Satan (The Morningstar) ... read your bible! He also thought he knew who Satan was working through... the Nazi from last episode Dr Ludwig Le Strange!. Taking matters into his own hands he slew Le Strange. Unfortunately the occult occurrences continued and McThistlewaite went insane realising he had committed the sin of Wrath! Outside the hospital Dr Burton Mangold was drinking himself into an early grave when he was visited by a hard drinking, hard fighting, hard singing (in a manly way), archangel called Gabe. Gabe restored Mangold's faith in himself using song and Mangold returned to the hospital to face Satan. Back at the hospital Dr Rik Cocksteady botched a lobotomy on McThistlewaite, killing him. Cocksteady realised he had fallen to the sin of Pride. Dr Burton Mangold returned to the hospital and revealed Satan to be (not Medical Superintendent Harold Dean) none other than Dr Melody Carmichael (Intern). Melody's Satanic power was too strong however and she would have taken over the world but for one thing. Dr Mangold and Nurse Buble admitted their love for each other. This tender moment brought the attention of God to the scene who, as the Prince of Peace, enchanted the bullets in Mangold's gun. Together, Dr Burton Mangold and Dr Rik Cocksteady shot Satan multiple times in the head.

Even with everything back to normal there was still time for one last plot twist. As the lights started to fade Dr Burton Mangold fell to one knee and asked Nurse Lottie Buble to marry him! No answer was heard...

What will happen next series of "Prognosis : Death!"? Will Nurse Lottie Buble marry Dr Burton Mangold? Will Reverend Jeremy Thistlewaite ever find true faith?? Will Dr Ludwig Le Strange ever feel the tough of a woman? Will Medical Superintendent Harold Dean ever manage to beat Dr Mangold? Will people ever stop calling Dr Melody Carmichael (Intern) "Nurse Carmichael"?

Will there ever be a series two? The answer to that is a definite maybe! ImproMafia is in negotiations with the Brisbane Arts Theatre to bring the show back later in the year. We hope to have series two in July. If you have suggestion for the show feel free to drop me a line.

As I have had said before (ad nauseum!) "Prognosis : Death!" has been a wonderful experience. Impro Mafia is dedicated to exploring this style of show further. Keep an eye on the ImproMafia website for show details. Also, If you are interested in the musical aspect of the show have a squiz at the musing of our excellent musician Kris at his website

My God! A picture of me I do not hate