Thursday, May 26, 2011

Do you have days?

My training hasn't even started for Yeppoon yet and I can feel the urge to get out growing ever stronger. I have taken up going for group activities with the girls from the club. Wednesday group rides and today I did my first trail run. But firstly lets speak about the Wednesday bike ride.

Talk about windy. The weather bureau had forecasted an extreme weather warning for Sydney with gusts of winds being recorded over 90km/hr coming from the South and heading North. Which meant if we were not going to get the full brunt of it atleast we were going to get a good taste of windy weather.

I was in 2 minds about going. Firstly because I don't like wind at all and secondly because it can pose some serious risk to your health if you are caught off guard. But when all the girls turned up primed and ready to go - I bit the bullet and went along, even though deep deep down I was nervous. Did I need to be nervous? No.

Yes, the ride was windy and challenging at times but it wasn't as bad as I had expected. The route that we took was chosen to provide maximum shelter from the wind and enhance the advantages of tailwinds on the way back. The route was about 60km in distance and one of the girls Kelly decided she would like to have a crack at the Greendale route. I remember my first time and fully understood how nervous she was and I did the hills with her. She conquered those hills with such strength, resilience and a smile and everyone was so happy for her in conquering such a mammoth ride. Well done Kelly - we are very proud of you.

Then yesterday I decided to have a go at my first ever trail run. WOW, what an amazing morning. Talk about exhilarating and challenging. For the first time ever I felt like a hard core runner. I felt like one of the pack - and I will never ever forget that feeling. It was my best friend Susan's first attempt at trail running too and let me tell you she totally nailed it.
Little did I know what lay ahead in challenges for me. As Genelle turned up, then her son and his friend and then Kristen - we headed off for a warm up run before the real trail running started.
Entrance to the trail.

As we stopped at this bridge is was time for a stretch and then we got cracking up my first set of challenges. STAIRS. This was not easy - whilst I saw them all bound up those stairs like gazelles I grabbed onto the rail and pulled myself up one by one until the steep stairs levelled out and it then became a bit of a slow slog up the rest till the top. This trail running business is definitely an art form.
Once it levelled out up the top and my heart rate dropped below heart attack range - Genelle sent her son and his friend to do stair repeats - OUCH. The rest of us went for a run - a run which I can only describe as glorious. The smells, sights, sounds made my senses come alive. The crackling of dry leaves under foot, the smell of eucalyptus was thick in the air and there were some strange scurrying sounds nearby which I knew could only belong to lizards or mice as it was too cold for snakes.

I tried really hard to stay focused on the ground in front of me as there was a myriad of rocks at every placement of my foot. Some were embedded deep within the ground, others were loose and laying on top. There were big rocks, little rocks, crushed sandstone, twigs, fallen branches, roots - you name it, and I needed to not be falling on any of them. I needed to make each of my footfalls light and try to stay on my forefoot as much as possible. It worked - thanks Kristen. But I must admit the mental concentration was starting to outweigh the physicality of it all. My goal was - don't twist your ankle.

Once at the top - this was the majestic view we had to take in.
And I got to share it with these wonderful women.
The thing I like about trail running is that it is not about speed but rather the amount of time spent running. I can see the physical benefits that you would gain from doing this once a week and how much stronger I will be as a result of it. I could feel my hamstrings and calf muscles really working overtime. You don't even really realise the distance you are covering because you are just enjoying what nature has to offer.

The remainder of the run saw us meandering through some more bush but then going through suburban streets and parks. We finished off down a nice stretch of sealed road which was totally closed off to traffic. The one thing I realised running down hill is how easy it is to get a stitch. I must bounce around too much and not hold my core firm. Oh well, was a good opportunity to stop and get a photo.
So we finished up running 10.6km in about 1hr 15mins. I was so happy and proud of Susan. This was not only her first time trail running but it was also her furthest distance running. She is trying to work her way up to Half Marathon distance and at this rate she could well run a Marathon before too long. Thanks for a wonderful morning ladies. Looking forward to next week already.

"You'll never discover new horizons if you're afraid to leave the shore"

Your hard work will be rewarded.

"The path to a dream is paved with sacrifices and lined with determination. And though it has many stumbling blocks along the way, and may go in more than one direction, it is travelled by belief and courage and conquered with a willingness to face challenges and take chances" Barbara Cage