Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happily Hunting Hobbits

Once upon a time, a couple of years ago, I was training for my first half marathon. One Saturday Duck and Ingrid took the Jog Squadders out along the waterfront, up Maida Vale Rd and then onto the City to Sea walkway. Eventually we made our way up onto Palliser Rd and from there ran to the top of Mt Victoria. We then ran down the other side to the bottom of Alexandra Rd and back to the gym via Newtown. I pounded down the mountain and that was the start of my knee issues but the run remained legendary in my imagination.

I had 10km on the cards today, in honour of my friend Deb running the Nike Human Race in the UK. It felt like spring outside and I was fuelled by buckwheat and blueberry pancakes with chicken bacon. With my Garmin strapped to my wrist I headed out with a vague idea that it might be fun to run the city to sea walkway again and somehow make it to 10km.

I had no plans to try to break any speed records. It took a while for my legs to loosen up after yesterday's ride, however it seemed to take no time at all to reach Maida Vale Rd and even less to find the entrance to the walkway on the downhill side of Carlton Gore. Soon I was on the undulating gravel and board-walk path that runs along the side of Mt Victoria.

I remember walking a fair bit of the trail a couple of years ago but today I walked only a little of one of the longer, steeper stretches. It might sound silly, but it still amazes me that I can run up long flights of stairs without dying. I can run up longer, steeper stretches of hill than I ever could have imagined. I'm still obviously on the same high I've been on for the last couple of weeks!

It was a gorgeous day in the capital and I'm going to be running this way again. The views of the harbour along the route are spectacular and, on my own, I was able to run a little more slowly at strategic points in order to enjoy them all the more.

I only got a little lost once on the way up. It took me a little bit of confused running up and down to find the entrance to the next stretch of the path where it connects with Grass Street. There is a rope swing where the paths meet and a group of locals hanging around watching me with great amusement. However I eventually found my way and kept running back towards the city.

Finally I was staggering up the final steep stretch of path to Palliser Rd. I remember that a couple of years ago it had felt like a huge distance but that today it felt like almost nothing at all. Last time I had stopped here to spill a gel all over myself. This time I stopped briefly to catch my breath then, with a fair way to go to make up the 10km, kept running up to the summit. I even ran the last steep bit and the final flight of stairs to the older lookout.

Once up top I took a little time out to admire the view as it's been a while since I was last up there. I ran over and up to the new lookout as well, being mocked extremely rudely by a family walking up the stairs behind me. Charitably I ignored them but the adults weren't exactly setting an example for their children.

After a quick stop I turned and jumped onto the walkway back down towards Majoribanks Street. It's fair to say that things got a little interesting at this point. Parts of the track where extremely steep and other sections were very wet and slippery. I didn't really know where I was going and I was happy just to be upright and not on my butt in the mud. I tried to have faith in the signs to keep me heading vaguely in the right direction.

I got a bit lost but somehow found my way back to Majoribanks Street and from there it was a quick run back to the gym. I was feeling really fresh and could quite happily have kept going. In the end I ran just under 10km in around seventy minutes, which I don't consider to be too bad given the amount of hill climbing, stopping and starting and clambering around strange trails.

Afterwards I took care to stretch thoroughly. I've got a little ITB-related pain in my knee which I think is being caused by the position of my cleats on my bike shoes. I had similar issues with Lola. The physio recommended a bike-fitter and I'm going to hunt him down just in case. I'm so injury-phobic right now it's just not funny! In any case, it seemed like a good idea to spend some time with a foam roller and a tennis ball.

Tomorrow - weights and another run. I've told Sally my legs are likely to be a little sore. It will be interesting to see how things go.

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