Monday, October 3, 2016

Walsh's Pyramid - Cairns, always a challenge


Walsh's Pyramid here in Cairns. 922 m high.
For the past 7 years, Euan and I have run the Pyramid Race, which involves a 3 km run to the mountain from the town of Gordonvale, a climb up the mountain, race down, then run back to Gordonvale.
We often train on the mountain, but it never gets any easier.

Although over the years my race times have improved as you can see below - there are still good and bad days where I go faster or much slower.  Today was one of those much slower days!



Pyramid Race Times over 7 Years


2009   3 hrs 15 mins 19 secs          135th place
2010   2 hrs 39 mins 32 secs          86th place
2011   2 hrs 36 mins 35 secs         103rd place
2012   2 hrs 37 mins 0 secs           102nd place
2013   2 hrs 28 mins  58 secs          93rd place
2014   2 hrs 31 mins   42 secs        112th place
2015   2 hrs  9 mins    45 secs          64th place   2nd in age category
2016   2 hrs 16 mins   19 secs         64th place   3rd in age category





In the 2 hours 40 minutes it took me today to run from Gordonvale, go up and down the mountain and run back today - I had plenty of time to think.



At the start

On the run to the mountain we took it easy and I felt good. Then came the first 5 minutes of climbing (which is just non-stop steep climbing from the word go).  Every time I climb this mountain, the first five minutes is spent thinking - 'this is hard', 'I'm not getting any stronger'  'what made me think I could do this faster'..... and other such things.  I'm generally a very positive thinker, but haven't managed to conquer the negative effects of the first five minutes of climbing this mountain yet.  Maybe when I conquer that and turn it around to positive, I'll make more progress!


Uphill slog

A slog is what it felt like today. Sometimes I feel strong, but not today. It was hot, humid and I felt old and unfit.  I spent my time thinking about the exercise and training I want to do so that I can feel strong on my trail runs and so enjoy them more.
Generally I do enjoy my runs, even slower ones, but I know that the stronger, fitter and more prepared I am, the more I will enjoy them!

I thought about how I'm going to be more consistent in my training and more careful about what I eat - to get better nutrition into my body and fewer over indulgences!

It's like the hangover where you say I'm never going to drink again!  This was my time to feel the pain and figure out how to not feel like this again!  



The Top

Reaching the top is always an achievement and worth it every time for the view out over Cairns and out to sea.



I don't always stop at the top - sometimes it's just a turn around and straight into the downhill.  Today I needed to stop and remind myself why I was doing this!





Downhill

Coming down is such a relief after an hour of constant uphill strain on the leg muscles and my breathing.  That's what I most look forward to about going down - having my breath back.

Over the years I've gotten much better at the downhill - more confident to run more and more of it as I get to know the course more and feel more sure of my legs and footing. On a good day - I love the downhill, feeling strong and flying down, plenty of (small) jumps and leaps.  

Passing people walking up the mountain as I fly down is a great confidence boost. Seeing them at the tough uphill stage, I'm reminded again that I've completed that part and that makes me feel good.  It also makes me feel good when I hear people saying, "here comes a runner" and I think..that's me!   One of the relatively few people that 'run' the Pyramid!


The run back to Gordonvale

The run back after climbing up and down the mountain is always tough.  When I'm nearing the end of the downhill - I always think that I'm looking forward to just being able to run on the flat and give my downhill muscles a break, but then when I actually reach the flat part at the base, I realise quite how tired ALL of my leg muscles are and it's not really much of a relief to run on the flat.

Today I could have run all the way back (I can't always) but it was honestly just too hard and my head was in the wrong place to push myself to do it.  Everything hurt, I was hot and tired, so I ran and walked back. I couldn't find the motivation to push on and keep running.



Now

A few hours later, I've had a nap, and some food and am feeling much better.  The motivation is still there and I'm determined to make it last and get stronger and fitter.
The weather up here in Cairns has really turned hot and humid over the past couple of weeks, which makes long runs that little bit extra tiring, but that's not going to go away, so I just have to deal with it and let my body adapt to that heat and humidity.

Running the Pyramid is one of my favourite runs to do - although today you wouldn't think so!  It's never easy, always a challenge, but there's always that great sense of achievement from having done it!  
And that's what I'm focusing on today.





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