Saturday, September 09, 2006

Channelling Melissa Moon

If there's someone I admire it's Wellington mountain runner Melissa Moon. I admire her mental strength and physical toughness. Melissa has also talked about her Buddhist sentiments, so we share a common interest in that area. I have seen her running past once or twice on my Saturday mornings around the Bays, and she is another passionate Wellingtonian.

A couple of years ago I was walking in the town belt on a hot summer day. I had climbed to the top of a steep hill and was puffing and sweaty. A rather fit woman appeared at the top of the path and flew past me, before reappearing a few minutes later on her way back down again. I wondered how anyone EVER got fit enough to do that! Well ....

Last night I started to get very anxious about this morning's run. I think it stemmed from Wednesday and feeling that I should be able to run faster. I was putting pressure on myself and started to worry that I wouldn't be able to pace myself and that I would crash and burn like I did in the Shoe Clinic 10km. I started to doubt my own newfound mental toughness. That feeling built this morning, and I woke feeling very nervous and a bit stomachy.

Thankfully I didn't have much time to wait around at the gym stewing on things and we set out very quickly. Things started out in a straightforward fashion - around the Bays to Baleana, by now a very familiar route. It was fifteen minutes of hell. No rhythm and the beginnings of a stitch. The mental dialogue kicked in. What was I thinking? Why did I believe I was someone who could run a half marathon? I must be crazy. I should go home and go to bed. I later found out Allie and a number of the others were feeling the same way. I think we were all feeling a little intimidated.

When we got to Baleana the mountain climbing games began, and all mental dialogue was pushed aside in the face of simply trying not to die! The first stretch was a steep climb up a path towards a road. We were all made to walk the path, then ran up the steady incline before dropping down the other side. After a few minutes we turned onto the Southern walkway, and the trail running began. From then on we ran along gravel paths that threaded through bush and above houses, climbing and falling in steep gradients.

We all had to walk some of the steeper parts of the track, but what amazed me was how quickly I was able to recover my breath and pick up the pace again once things levelled out. I decided I liked trail running, particularly on the occasions when the track opened out and Wellingon opened up below us. It was a beautiful morning, slightly overcast but cool and very still. I would have liked to have been able to stop and take in the views, but that will have to wait for another time.

Finally we emerged onto the road that we had run up on our Mt Vic run a week or so ago. We stopped to regroup, which gave me the opportunity to try my Lemon and Lime gel shot. The trick is obviously to chase it with a lot of water, but I think I could probably stand to use one again, and the energy certainly did help.

The choice was ours - up or down. We chose up. We quickly passed our turnaround point from the last run, and then suddenly we were on the summit road. We had nearly been there! If we had run only a few more minutes we would have been standing on the top. We weren't going to let the opportunity pass us by again, although we did have to walk up the last flight of stairs.

No time to admire the view or feel too much of a sense of satisfaction - it was straight back down the other side. I have discovered my new niche - downhill running. I made it my mission to catch the front runners, opened things up and flew down the incline. Great fun! Halfway down the Lake Taupo squad came grinding up the hill towards us on their road bikes. Cheering and waving to Leonie and then Nic made a huge difference and gave me yet another big boost.

Down the hill, and then down into Newtown, past the greengrocers and people out shopping, past the hospital, through the Basin, down Cambridge Terrace, then suddenly we were on Courtney Place and back at the gym.

Physical rundown - breath even, legs still feeling strong, hip good, butt good. Less of the sweaty tomato even! Just a bit of tightness around the right knee. A bit of time spent with a foam roller sorted most of that out. The more I run the better my injury gets. I really noticed the difference in Body Balance yesterday. It was the first class I didn't spend feeling frustrated about the pain. I'm glad in retrospect that I took an extra 5mg of hydrocortisone this morning. I think I probably genuinely needed it.

So, back to Melissa Moon and that woman running up the path behind me. That's me! I did it! I ran for NINETY minutes and kept up the whole way. A half marathon on the flat should be straightforward by comparison. The word for today is 'achievement', as in having an amazing sense of.

Oh, and I am now the proud owner of a size 8 pair of board shorts. I've never ever been a size 8 in my entire life!

1 comment:

Michelle Fry said...

You wouldn't beieve how exhillerated I feel after reading about your 90 minute mountain climb run. Great work. By the way, I've run 8 marathons and that feeling of nervousness never completely goes away before a race. Just keep pushing past it. That half marathon will be great.