Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Hounslow Classic - Part 3.5

I have received a complaint from an avid reader of my blog who shall remain nameless (Karin) that I have missed an entry from July.  How remiss of me.  So here is the missing chapter from July.

As part of my training for the Hounslow Classic I knew at some point I would have to do a double crossing of the Grose Valley to get a feel for what it will be like on race day.  Apparently the route is used by trekkers to train because it is a lot of climbing.  I began organising some willing accomplices to start from Perry's Lookdown, drop down to the Blue Gum Forest, climb up the other side, turn around and do it all over again.  A good sized group indicated that they might join me, but as the day drew closer, only one (fool) hardy soul remained.  The indomitable Karin, who is also crazy enough to be running in October.

Of course to make matters all the more interesting, as the day approached, the Blue Mountains were hit by a rather large snow event (that even made its way up into Queensland).  Social media ran hot with folks posting pictures like these, which made the training run increasingly unlikely. 

The day before - not promising (I stole this from Facebook)
Despite the extreme weather, road closures, and good advice from our friends,  Karin of course remained determinedly optimistic and keen about running (is that a surprise to anyone), so we didn't cancel.  We touched base on the Saturday morning just before leaving.  Apparently the highway was open again, but still closed at Katoomba due to black ice.  Deciding to at least give it some kind of a go, we added a few extra layers, and off we went.

As we hit Glenbrook and climbed to Katoomba, it was snow free, and we thought that the day might go as planned.  Of course as anyone who has run with Karin knows, she is the master of plan changing and adding extra sneaky extra bits to any run.  So when she hinted that maybe we could add a few extra sneaky kms (surprise !), I had already anticipated this - so long as we were finished in time for me to visit Mountain High Pies.  I must have my pies !!  Bargain struck, we changed our plans (to what I had already planned because I knew it was going to happen anyway and had allowed for the extra bit I knew she would want to do).

However, once we hit Leura, things changed dramatically.  We began seeing snow piles, snow men, and clear evidence of black ice on the roads.  Not good.  Suddenly the police were stopping traffic.  We did a quick u-turn back to Leura, then head off along Mt Hay Rd, having decided to reverse our planned run.

We bumped along to the Pinnacles parking area, seeing lots of patches of snow along the way.  It was decidely nippy but not cold when we got out.  We geared up, then set off on our merry way.
what all the cool kids are wearing this season
plenty of snow
The track was clear, but there was heaps of snow along the way, and our progress was slowed by playing silly buggers, photos and snow ball fights. A few extra km in the day as Karin kept making me run back and forth until she had the right shot. The climb over Lockley's was a tad chilly, and after Karin had done her best to knock over the cairn at the top (it used to be taller), we began our descent.
Rob, stand there and I'll take your photo

now run over there and I'll take your photo, then run back again

on top of Lockleys Pylon
down we go

still going down

closely followed by
At the bottom we had the log crossing.  I did my usual scaredy cat shuffle whilst Karin skipped across with twinkle toes.  A hidden talent, but it may not work so well on race day after 40km.  I may have to slog across the river if my wooden legs are any more wobbly in October.
Scaredy Cat
Twinkle Toes

For some reason unbeknownst to me, I decided that I wanted to get to the top of Perry's Lookdown in under 40 minutes.  I scraped it in, and learned two things.  Firstly, when I reached the top I was totally shattered and took a while to recover.  Secondly, as I was soon to learn, I hadn't really recovered, and was still trashed on the return climb on the other side.  I won't be doing this race day.

Karin arrived way too soon after, ruining my attempts to look all cool and calm.  As we chatted, I also tried to eat whilst not throwing up.  We admired the views for as long as we could to delay the return trip, but eventually we had to get moving.  I was freezing.  

On the ascent I had disturbed a large bird of prey.  On the descent I disturbed it again as it was finishing off what it had started.  Not pretty.  It may be what I look like in October on race day.

Back at the log, I nervously tip toed across with Tinkerbell dancing and chattering along behind.  We hit the beginnings of the climb, and as the slope increased, I could feel my climb up to Perry's Lookdown returning to haunt me.  Not that it stopped the talking.  Possibly the only person who talks as much as me is Karin.  We'll call it a tie.  We definitely do not run in silence through the forest.
still talking
clearly my best side
At the top Karin had to do one of those scary ledge shots that scare the crap out of me.  *click* now get down. Crazy person.

We just had a few km back to the car, but we couldn't go straight back to the car because someone wanted to do an extra bit back over Lockley's Pylon (does she ever get tired ?) which by now had a howling gale whipping across it and was absolutely freezing.  Eventually we headed back to the car.  However, I had devised a great plan that I would get ahead around a bend, make a snow ball, then lob it back so that it landed just in front of her and give her a surprise.  All went to plan except that she suddenly put on a burst of speed, rounded the corner at pace, and I watched as the snow ball gracefully arced through the air where it was about to smash her in the face.  Luckily it just dropped enough to miss her head, but it gave her a good whomping in the chest.  I can honestly say it did surprise her.  I apologized profusely.  I knew she would want to get me back, so I tried to slow down enough for her to whack me good.  Unfortunately, despite having twinkly toes that can run forever, she cannot throw.  Her feeble efforts were probably compounded by her giggling as well (which is hard to miss when you are trying to be caught unawares).  Eventually I got a light dusting of snow which had to suffice.

Back at the car I realised I had muddled up the time and we had plenty to spare for the trip to Mountain High Pies, thus ended a good day.  Lots of chat, lots of fun, lots of climbing, just the right amount of snow, and my blog is now up to date.

This post is dedicated to the patient spouses who sit at home pining while we bugger off and have an adventure  (but really, probably just enjoying the silence).

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