She’s mad, I tell you. Completely bonkers.
That’s me. Talking to me. I do that a lot.
I don’t listen.
Which is how I found myself lining up to run 21km through hilly rainforest* yesterday morning. Some people never learn. At least I had company. My friend Carolyn, otherwise regularly known as the Spreadsheet Enforcer, was lining up with me. Foolish woman.
(*’Rainforest’ in my part of the world does not mean ‘humidity’. Certainly not in winter anyway. It’s cool temperate rainforest.)
Called Run Forrest, it is a race described as follows: “Staged in the hinterland township of Forrest, nestled in the heart of the Otway Ranges, Run Forrest will showcase the region’s world class trails and breathtaking natural beauty – undulating hills, flowing rivers, dense fern gullies and the cool, fresh air of the Otway Ranges.”
Sounds kind of pretty, right?
It was. Pretty damned hard is what it was.
Now, before I get into the whole torturous saga, let me pull my Pollyanna act. On the plus side, for a winter’s day in one of the wettest places in the state, we miraculously scored a mild and sunny day. Also, I did not score any leeches. (That’s for Joanne.)
So, here goes on the rest of the story:
After a meandering loop that took us almost back to the start line (wow, that was a quick 21k!), we were sent up a steep rocky track. Nice.
There was some rather pleasant ferny rainforest with a bit of a hill before a quick jog along the road to the local reservoir.
The run across the dam wall was pretty easy. (Taking this photo, I said to my then-patient friend, “Sorry, this is what happens when you run with a blogger.”)
And then off we went into the rainforest proper. And it was beautiful.
And that’s it for the photos. Because after that it got nasty. Nasty, nasty hills. Steep, muddy and endless. I ran them at first until I couldn’t any more. Besides, I’d reached a point where a long-legged walking stride (I do this weird, doubled-over thing where my face is almost on the ground but it works) was just as fast as the grandma shuffle I had been doing.
At the top, we crossed a road and then! Oh glory! Downhill!!
We’d moved onto the famous Red Carpet, a well-known, heart-stopping mountain bike trail with sharp twisty turns. (No mountain bikes – the beauty of this run is the chance to take to this track without worrying about getting bowled over by Evel Knievel wannabes.)
Well, this was fun!
Until we noticed runners coming the other way. Oh, are you lost? Or are you doing the 10km run?
It took a few minutes for the truth to dawn.
We had to run back up the hill.
Here’s what went on in my head at this point:
Me: ohmygod! ohmygod! ohmygod!
Other Me: Get a grip!
Me: But we have to run back up! We have to run back up! I can’t! I can’t! ohmygod! ohmygod! ohmygod!
Other Me: Oh, for heaven’s sake, chill!! Yes, you have to run back up. But remember that nasty uphill you just ran? You get to run DOWN that one.
Me: ohmyg…. Oh. That’s true.
I wanted a photo of our loop around Lake Elizabeth at the bottom of the hill but I nearly fell in just trying to enjoy the scenery so I concentrated on my feet instead.
We made it back up that hill, actually not as bad as I’d remembered and then it was down the other side, whooping and hollering and doing the ‘flappy bird’ thing around the bends until we emerged near the finish line.
But…..but……the finish line is that way. Why are you sending us in the opposite direction?
Okay, we’re on the wrong side of the creek and you’re sending us up to the bridge. Okay. Breathe.
We crossed the bridge and looked for the markers to point us to the finish line. Nope. Still in the opposite direction.
I nearly lost it at this point. I got very sooky.
Pfft. That was nothing. Rounding the corner we saw………
……one more hill.
Really??? A hill?? 500m from the finish line??? You evil, nasty, sadistic…..
Nothing for it but to push on. Muttering obscenities under our breath.
Somehow we dug out enough energy to make a (not super fast) sprint to the finish line. I’d joked about joining arms and skipping across the finish line but that was early in the race when it seemed like a fun idea. Twenty-one kilometres later…. not so much.
Equal 70th out of 134 starters in the Female 21km runners, 21st out of 49 in our age group, 50m40s behind the winner. I can live with that.
Would I do it again?
Are you mad?
Hm. Well, you may not be but I clearly am so…………
THANKS: I’d like to express my deepest love and gratitude to my friend Carolyn who is not only the Spreadsheet Enforcer but Mentor and Encourager Extraordinaire. I think I would still have finished the race (given my inherent stubbornness), but I would not have done nearly as well and I certainly would not have had anywhere near as much fun. (Yes, bits of it were fun.)
Postscript: I got up at 6.30am the next morning to go rowing. She’s mad, I tell you. Stark, raving mad.
Postscript Two: It was my father’s birthday yesterday. Our first without him. As I wrote on Facebook that morning: “I’m not sure what he’d make of me spending it running for two hours through the Otways but I think he would smile encouragingly and bemusedly, wish me luck and then segue into a story about that time he was driving through Forrest and…”
(ICYMI: My memories of my father on the day he died are here.)