Blame may not be exactly the right word, though, in this instance. Blame implies that something went wrong and I can't really say that anything went wrong. Nothing really bad or permanently damaging happened, There may have been pain and suffering and a B&E perpetrated by a suspicious-looking group of characters - nothing actually blame-worthy. But Rob's still going to take the rap.
You see, Rob decided to do a little bit of route-diversification the other week. And this route-diversification planted a seed in the mind of one of my group. This member of the group, let's call her Katie, just happened to be having a birthday on long run Saturday and thought it might be fun to replicate Rob's route. Just to change things up a little.
Katie, though, is not an ordinary, normal., rational hill-hating runner. She runs trails for fun. She likes hills. She's chosen, without a gun to her head or any of her children being taken hostage, to run a mountainous trail marathon in New Zealand. Katie, clearly, has a screw loose. But then, we all agreed to go along with it so maybe what does that say about our sanity?
She mentioned her idea to another member of the group and all of a sudden we had an event on our hands. I thought nothing of it at the time. A birthday run? With friends? For a couple of hours? Sweet! Can't think of a better way to start the weekend. Mt Gravatt? Yep, no worries - my sister lives out there. I kind of know where it is.
The Mt in Mt Gravatt should have tipped me off that it wasn't going to be our usual run-for-a-couple-of-hours Saturday run.
We met at 5:30. Well, most of us did. Some of us had already run for an hour before meeting the rest of us lazy slackers who'd decided to sleep in till 4:45am. And we set off on a fun suburban adventure.
And it was fun. For the first couple of kilometres. Playing spot the water fountain. Listening to Beyonce singing about the hot sauce in her bag. I'm still wondering if she also has antacids or if her stomach is still young enough to be hot-sauce proof. Looking for backdrops for picture opportunities to commemorate the auspicious occasion. See we all had smiles on our faces.
Then, just before the 5k mark, we hit the first hill. It wasn't too bad. Just went on for long enough to have the non-hill-lovers amongst us whining. Not necessarily out loud but there was definitely internal head-whining happening. But I mollified myself with the thought that the long uphill on the way out would be a long downhill on the way back.
A couple of kilometres later there was another hill. Again not too bad. Definitely runnable without having to slow the pace overly but enough to have us all breathing a little bit harder. Except maybe for Katie. Honestly I couldn't say exactly who was breathing loudly because it was hard to hear anyone else over the sounds of my own heavy panting. And it was about then that I realised the whole mountain thing and that maybe what we'd run were just the warm-ups to the main show.
We kept up the water fountain spotting and stopped regularly. It's still summer and it's still pretty warm so hydrating is important. And this is the only reason for the B&E. Actually there was no real B but we did E. A school ground. Just to make use of the bubblers. We may have had to scale a fence to get off the property but I don't think that the school was serious in keeping people out if an almost 53 y.o. can do it.
Once we'd scaled the fence there was another obstacle to overcome. A massive drop on to the road below. It had to be at least a metre and a bit. Luckily we all survived. Knees intact. We'd made it. To the base of the mountain.
I had no idea of how long the ascent was. And that was probably a blessing. Ignoring the sign that warned us of dangerous animals and plants (still trying to work out what plant could be so dangerous that it needed special mention on a warning sign) we set off up the hill with one goal - summit or die trying.
It wasn't too bad to start off with. I couldn't actually speak but I was kind of keeping up with the main pack. A few metres behind but I could still make out the definition in Katie's calves so I wasn't too far off. I kept telling myself that the top would just be around the next bend. Then the next. Or the next. Then I worked out that there might actually not be a top and that I really couldn't see the main pack any more and hills really suck but mountains suck more. But I didn't stop. Just slowed to as close as I could to walking pace without actually walking.
Then there was the sign that told me I might actually make it. 200m to go. My legs were burning. My butt was burning (that actually is a good thing because it means my butt is finally taking some of the load) and my lungs were burning but I was going to be able to say that I'd run the entire way.
Obligatory group selfie at the top to prove that we'd all made it.
Then it was time to head back off. We were only halfway done.
For a while it felt like the running was easier - after we'd gotten off the dirt goat-track that was a bit of a short-cut down. That was probably because it was easier - than running up a mountain. Then it flattened out and my legs and lungs and shoulders and pretty much all of me remembered that I'd just run up a mountain.
From there it was all about getting from one water stop to the next. I might have been extra-vigilant in finding water stops on the way back just so I could get an extra mini-break. My happiest moment of the morning was when I knew that Southbank was just down the road a little way past the the protesters and the camera crew and I was actually going to make it.
21 kilometres and change. We made it. I made it! And I'm pretty proud of myself.
Happy Birthday Katie. You're never allowed to have another birthday. You will be like Peter Pan and never age.
And Rob, next time you run up a mountain can you keep it off social media?!!