I flew to my friend's place in Cairns on the 20th of July and 2 days later we had hopped into a local trail half-marathon. This one was taking place outside of Cairns, by Lake Tinaroo, and the profile looked brutal! We were ascending for 10.5k's, and then descending for 10.5k's. It was an out-and-back with a total ascent of 1110m (3642ft)... that's more elevation gain than most 90k half-ironman bike courses!
We drove out to the race start, got our bibs, and cruised around waiting for the start. About 15' prior to race start there was a race briefing, which only told us that
1. The mandatory hydration packs weren't that mandatory b/c there'd be water jugs at 2.5k, 5k and 10.5k (the respective turnarounds for the 5k, 10k and 21.1k). No cups, though, so you'd refill your flask or drink from the "tap". I opted to leave my hydration pack and stuffed 3 gels into my bra instead.
2. Not to get lost. No seriously, there was one turn on the course (a left on the way out and a right on the way back). The race directly REALLY wanted us to make sure we turned right instead of left in the last 1.3k stretch, otherwise we'd have to do the whole 45k loop again...
After a very quick warmup of running and drills, the race abruptly started. It was 10.5kms of very painful uphill, where my HR was about 180bpm the entire time and it felt like either my heart or my calves were going to explode at any moment. I stopped for a couple moments at the 5k mark to take in some water, but it took me a frustratingly long while to figure out how to turn on the water (it was a pump, and I was trying to turn a "handle").
It was a beautiful race, though: wide, nicely adequately maintained fire roads (so not "real trails"), and incredibly forested. Lush Australian tropical bush. I had dreams (nightmares?) the night prior to the race that there were crocodiles in the nearby waters just waiting for my blue shorts to come running by...
At the turnaround, which is at the top of Mt Haig and our max elevation for the day (1200m), I had noticed that I was in 4th place female. Laura, the friend I was staying with, who was just coming off an incredible Ironman Cairns race herself, was first. Two chicks separated myself and Laura. Being a better descender than a climber, I tried to smash all 3 of them and win. However, the moment I turned around, I was faced with debilitating side stitches, on both sides! Constant uphill running meant my core was tired, very tired, and it definitely didn't want to experience the pounding of 10.5k's downhill. I tried to breathe through it but really only got respite in the brief uphills. Nevertheless, I did smash by 3rd and then 2nd place to move my way into 2nd, but simply ran out of real estate to nab Laura in the butt. She came away with 1st female in 2:08:07, while I came in 2:14:05. I remember when a 2:14:xx was my plain old half-marathon PB, on flat courses such as Ottawa or Montreal. That was... 3 years ago? Now, I somehow manage to do that time but after climbing up and then back down a mountain. Sweeeet!
I did think I'd enjoy the downhill quite a bit, but after 15' of pounding down, I was so over it. This was killing my glutes! My feet were taking a beating! My sidestitches were ripping me in two!
I finished the race and immediately felt wobbly and like utter crap. I *needed* something, not sure what, and I needed it desperately! I ate a small bag of salt and vinegar chips, along with watermelon slices, part of homemade granola bar, peppermint tea with milk and sugar, and hoped that would do the job. I started to feel better. On the way home, I drank an entire bottle of chocolate milk, and later in the day I ate a massive burger, along with salty salty rice cakes.
I'm ashamed that I didn't take my camera for before-during-after the race. I take it wherever I go, and I had completely forgotten it in the trunk of the car in my Nathan pack.
Thus, I can only present you with one photo: my very cool Australian stone trophy for 2nd place female!
Our car cleaned up quite nicely. I'd made the trip with my friend, Laura, and one of her flatmates Ben. He destroyed the men's race, finishing ~10 minutes faster than everyone in 1:35:xx, an UNREAL time for that course. Laura got 1st female, and I got 2nd. We quite nicely owned the course!
I'm quite happy with myself for this race. I had been in a huge build up to Yeppoon 70.3, with just a few days easier training leading up to the race. My body was a tired MESS just a few days prior from 5 solid weeks of GO-GO-GO, so despite not going into the race nice and fresh, I also wasn't a complete wreck. I've got more work to do, this time exploring Cairns while training, and then it's taper and a quick trip down the coast to Yeppoon for their 70.3 on August 19. Don't ask me how I'm getting there b/c
1. My driver's license, a Canadian one, expires August 13th and I haven't been anywhere near Canada in a loooong while, so I have no idea how to renew it. I thought I might do a little campervan-ing down the coast but I can't!
2. Every single bed of accommodation in Yeppoon is already booked for the race, and I clearly had not made any accommodation arrangements as early as everyone else. I'm hoping someone on couchsurfing.org pulls through for me, because right now I feel rightly fucked!