So….21km of trail. With hills.
21km of hills.
The more I said it the more silly it sounded. Why would I want to do that? But, as my inner voice always counters, why not? What an incredible challenge / achievement / think of all the wine I could drink afterwards.
And so I found myself at the start line, looking up at Flinders Peak. Yep, hello hills.
The race started and I seemed to fall into a pace tucked behind another woman, watching her wise steps and hoping I didn’t trip up on any of the steps like I do my stairs at home. I was actually managing to keep up with people, and I wasn’t dying.
The peak was a welcome friend, I think I squealed. And then the downhill. Trails are won on the downhill apparently. So with that in mind I basically sprinted (as fast as you can sprint down long steps) down the side of a mountain. More squealing.
I realised at the bottom that I was the lead girl, and I felt good. Quads were a little angry with me….but they’d live.
So I ran and came quickly to the single track – my favourite. In my head before the race (and probably out loud several times too) I set myself a pace of 5 minute km’s. I checked my watch….4.2 minute km’s. Oops. But my legs continued and so did I.
The scenery was…beautiful, the You Yangs are beautiful. Sometimes in races (sometimes = 90%) I’m concentrating too hard on not crashing into trees / twisting ankles / counting the glasses of wine I had the night before to appreciate the beauty of nature. But it was here, and the You Yangs is one of my favourite places.
Anyway, the race.
This was not only my first half marathon, but also my first time using gels in a race. I planned 40 minutes in to have two (one with caffeine), then another at 1 hour 20 min. So…have you ever tried running and drinking? Me neither. It didn’t work very well but I got there. I also accidentally spat on myself and ended up with very sticky gel hands. But I had sugar and caffeine in my body so I was happy.
The last 2km of the race were uphill. My hill training is much like my attempt to cut down on day drinking…a work in progress. Hills are a little hard. Hills after 19km of trail are a little harder. But I knew the finish was near so I told my legs (yep, out loud) to carry on, to speed up.
One jumping photo later (sorry random lady with camera) and I saw the finish line. I swore. I crossed the line and people smiled and clapped and congratulated me. That to me was worth the 21km of hills. The achievement.
Oh, and the Garmin watch and bottle of wine that I won. Yes, bottle of wine.
Is 21km my new distance? Maybe. Are gels my new best friend? Definitely.