Conquering mountains

On Sunday it was that time of year again that we all love to hate, time to conquer that beauty that is the backdrop to our city in the 23rd Point to Pinnacle. Every year I ask myself why am I doing it to myself? Every year when sitting back at the Casino after the event I vow to return. It may seem completely insane running 21.1km up hill and well, maybe it is. But it’s the feeling of overwhelming achievement when you reach that finish line that makes it all worth while. It is a mental game every year. This year I struggled massively. Heading into race day with virtually no running for the previous 3-4 weeks and a head full of cold, it was never going to be my best effort. I had to get out of my own head space and accept that and then move on to a new mindset of just making it to the top. That was my goal and we achieved it, that is all that matters. We started in perfect conditions, sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. A stark contrast to the previous year when we started in rain and had to be turned around at the half way point to run back down the hill to the casino due to the atrocious weather conditions at the top. Nope Sunday was perfect. Well for those who can handle the heat it was perfect, for the rest of us it was just one massive struggle. At 8am the siren sounded and more than 1500 runners set off for either the pinnacle, 21.1km away, or the pub, 10km away. The event attracted around 3000 entrants in total but the walker set off an hour earlier at 7am. Running along Sandy Bay Road I felt ok. Pace was good, I didn’t feel too lethargic and I thought I was going to get through the race ok with the aim to run to the Springs and walk from there. What I didn’t account for was the head full of snot that was still hiding up my nose from a head cold kindly passed on by my darling Nephew 2 weeks before and the heat that would radiate from that sun. Even though it was early in the morning, without a cloud in sight and no wind it was intense. I made it to the first drink station and oh my was I relieved! walking through to ensure a took on enough fluids, I downed the water and continued on my way. It was between the first and 2nd drink station I hit the wall bad, mentally and physically. The intensity of the sun was getting to me and my lack of kilometers in the legs was starting to show. Ali ran with me the whole way and was always just ahead, keeping me focused on not loosing her in the field. I caught a glimpse of Matt Lancaster running across the road and after a passing G’day I found a 2nd wind. It lasted all of a minute! Not far past that point I heard Emma running up behind me. Now the last time she ran up behind me when we were doing this race we didn’t know each other and the words I was saying in my head as she ran past me with ease are not Facebook friendly. Ha! This time was different. Although I did feel like I was dying, this time as she passed me she knew who I was, her words of encouragement to just take it 100m at a time rang in my ears. I was on massive struggle street and was looking just to get to each road sign. She was running up hill pushing a child in a pram for the Just like Jack team! A few minutes after that I gave up. I was heady, hot and struggling to breathe. If it had not of being for Ali and her encouragement I quite possible would have called it quits this year. I wasn’t even 6km in and it just all seemed too hard. In the end I managed to run about 7km and then it was all a steady walk. After the drink stations I found a little more energy to run in sections but it wasn’t for long. I was hurting, but so was everyone else. We hit the mountain and so begun the big climb. The good thing about the mountain is that once you get on there you just count down the km’s. I know that the springs is about 3km up and man was that a welcome site! music, lollies, bubbles but the best of all WATER! and lots of it. There was a girl holding a hose for everyone to get wet, I walked straight towards her and had my 2nd shower of the day. It was wonderful! The smartest thing I did was hold onto my drink cup! It would seem that between the springs and the chalet there is an abundance of could mountain¬†water! It was a constant pouring of water over the body that regulated my body temp and helped me survive the increasing heat. Approaching the turn on big bend, someone finally ordered some air conditioning and a nice breeze was very welcome indeed! There was about 3.5km to go. With my trusty Garmin keeping me posted on time left and Ali continually reminding me that I could do it, the end was near. And then it was there! The finish line! I could see the flags, we were 2km away, it was nothing, we were there. I swear though in the last km of this race the mind takes over and almost wins. I’m not sure if it’s the emotions of actually seeing the end after the grueling 19km behind you or if it is the body just saying enough, but that last stretch carries some demons. There was a lady not 300m from the finish line struggling to breathe, competitors rallying around her to help and to get her across the line. There was an older gentleman struggling to walk about 800m out, I called him up to the top side of the road where it was flat hoping it would help ease the pain. I was in good spirits, we had reached the finish, with 100m to go I grabbed my girl’s hand and we crossed that finish line in 3hours 25minuts. That is a long time to be out in the sun walking up a hill! It was nowhere near my best time but all things considered I was just glad to get to the top. Once there the atmosphere was party like. Thanks to the stunning weather, people hung around at the top in droves and the bus convoy definitely¬†started much later than previous years. The Mo Bros were at the finish line cheering everyone through, teams gathered for photos and stories, individuals sat and enjoyed the sun, mates hugged, medals hung from the necks of all, the mountain had once again been conquered. So much behind the scenes stuff that you don’t hear about though is the organization, the volunteers that stand by the roadside handing us drinks, SES making sure everyone is ok, Tas Police keeping the roads safe and clear, the crew back at the casino putting us back together with food, drinks, massages. The P2P is in my opinion by far the best run event on the calendar. If you ever wanted to do it but don’t have anyone to do it with or you are just too scared, just sign up and do it. You will have 3000 instant friends helping you along the way. To all my clients who completed their chosen event on Sunday congratulations, what an effort. Thank you Kim and Guy for putting on such an amazing event in our beautiful city on our beautiful mountain. Worlds toughest half marathon indeed!

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