At 8am I fronted up to Molonglo Reach to join the mountain goats (Ewen, TwoFruits and Softshoeshuffle) in an off-road "hill" (understatement of the year) run. Wow - it was quite a challenge.
I haven't run from Molonglo and over those Mt Ainslie hills since I tore my hamstring there last November so it was with some trepidation that I trotted off gently towards the hills. We ran through the golf course, past Campbell Park Offices and on towards Mt Ainslie past the water tower and reservoir behind Hackett. Then we followed Ewen along a single file track and on over the roller coaster (aptly named) up, up, up, down, down, down and again and again - interesting, then on to Mt Ainslie Road where Ewen left us after 1hr40mins. He missed the best bit (hmmm)!
My schedule said 3hrs15mins so the other mountain goats obligingly led me up more mountains along a rough track which ended up in a patch of rough sticks and a decision needed to be made on directions at this point. We headed up the most likely track until we came to a sign which read "No abseilling on the Quarry" - not much danger of our doing that! Now we had to make another decision - right or left. The track to the right, although narrow, definitely looked smoother than the one to the left so I suggested trying that one. Ever obliging the mountain goats agreed and up we went - HUGE mistake!! Up, up, up until we just had to walk up the cliff face. There was no turning back, that would have been scarier. At various vantage points we had stunning views over towards the lake but looking down we also viewed a great chasm, obviously the quarry and alarmingly close if we should lose our footing. Did I ever say that I'm terrified of heights? I no longer looked down but clambered up those cliffs like a good little mountain goat and we eventually reached the top which turned out to be the top of Mt Ainslie (863m) where we were greeted by cheers and appreciative comments from a bunch of mountain bike cyclists, comments such as "you guys are machines" - YES - damn right - it was a good feeling! They were about to cycle down the Mt Ainslie track but further along from us where there was a real track. We turned and looked down at the way we had come up - sheer cliffs - sheer drops - blimey, it looked scary!
Now as we headed off again we knew that this would definitely make our km rate look bad at the end - after all we had walked (slowly) for about 15mins to make it up that cliff face but there were parts of the rest of the course where we could pick up our pace a bit so although we had taken up to 11mins per km at that stage we managed to knock some time off our average pace on the way down.
We returned via part of the Bush Capital Marathon course - a bit rough in parts but nothing compared to that cliff face! When we finally reached Molonglo again we pulled off our shoes and socks and headed for the water. Now the mountain goats are used to this but this little chick felt like her toes would drop off, then her calves, then her knees, then her thighs - but after 10mins standing in one spot the numbness set in and the icy cold worked absolute wonders. When I was given permission to walk out of that water my legs felt fantastic - not a single ache - wowee, apart from tiredness I feel absolutely fine. Here's hoping I'll still feel like this tomorrow!
Thanks mountain goat friends for your patience. The sun came out, it was unseasonably warm and the company was fantastic.
Total distance: 30.34km
Time taken: 3:23:34
Average pace per km: 6:42
Fastest km: 5:13 (on the 19th km - that must have been that downhill bit!)
Calories burned: 1766