We’re all the same, us runners. Going away is just an excuse to map out a new route and explore a place in ways that most visitors never will. And sometimes it’s easy to find a suitable run and other times it takes a bit of doing; time spent over Google maps and Streetview, plotting and planning. The Boy and I went away to Majorca for a long weekend last week and the destination was one of those tricky ones; beautiful but surrounded by hills and mountains so it was never going to be easy to find a run that wouldn’t kill me. There was a run that would have taken me to the adjacent village and then up a hill to another one but I came to the conclusion that the road just wasn’t safe enough for a runner.
In the end I found what looked like a nice loop. Ok, so the Streetview car hadn’t quite made it the whole way around it but I didn’t really think too much of that. And yeah, it seemed that it would be going up a hill but I reckoned I could deal with that as well. Boom – done. I was one excited runner!
We arrived on Thursday and proceeded to enjoy sundowners of Bacos (Bacardi and Coke to the uninitiated), wine over dinner and then a good few nightcaps of Hendricks and Tonic for me and something stronger for The Boy. All these made with the very liberal Spanish measures (they have not got the time to be measuring shit out, it’s free pour all the way baby!)..
By the time dawn broke on Friday, a broken runner had her kit on was ready to head out. Sisu, perrkele! You could actually see part of the route from where we were staying. I had been looking at it the night before as we were enjoying our drinks in the harbour, lamenting on the sanity of my plan. But there I was. Sweating alcohol before I had even gotten out of the door.
The first part of the run was easy; round the harbour past the beautiful boats and the lazily bobbing ducks. I was smiling to myself thinking “yeah, I can definitely do this”.. Stoooopid. Soon enough I spotted the road that I needed to take to turn away from the harbour and start my climb. The road was beautiful and smooth and it narrowed as it dove into the woods where the proper climb started. Still doing ok though really climbing up now. Pace was… slooow but I kept on going. Face was puce but I kept on going. It was lovely and quiet, all I could hear was the music on my Yurbuds and the sound of me panting. Lovely morning noises. The road wound up and up. It had to wind as it would have been too steep for the cars to make it otherwise. This fecker of a hill made Primrose Hill look like a lump. I climbed higher and higher until about 3.5km into the run I reached the peak and was confronted by the beautiful vista of the sea opening up in front of me.
No time to be taking in the views though, Hysterical Runner is a runner – not a tourist. By this point the path was gravel but still very runnable. You had to watch your step but the going was good.
I was rather enjoying myself despite the fact that the path was gradually deteriorating. It went from gravel to rocks and to boulders. Ok, that’s fine, I just had to be careful. Oh – crevices started opening up in the path now where water had eroded it away… Ok, that’s fine – I am going downhill here so easy peasy. Just don’t get too close to the edge of the “road” as the stones rolling under your foot will soon have you flying over the edge rather than running on the safe side of it.
Hang on a minute! Downhill! But I was still in the middle of nowhere and the only way to get somewhere was to climb up the next hill. Yeah. I may have (I did) said fuck when I realised I was taken down close to the bottom of the valley and then made to climb up the hill again.
It was when the path started winding up again that it got really bad. Like so bad that I wasn’t running as much as I was picking my footing whilst trying to keep momentum. I could now see why the Streetview folks had given up. I could just imagine them going “Oh balls to this” and turning back. I considered it – laughed at myself – and kept on going.
The track kept going up, up, up. I wanted to throw up,up, up. The pictures don’t really do justice to the inclines.
And no matter how long I had been climbing, I could still see that there were (what felt like) miles to go before I would hit the peak. But I was running. Slowly and carefully but I was running. Until I hit the Behemoth. I tried to take pictures of it that would do it justice but it just doesn’t photograph well (a bit like myself). Not only was the hill so steep that I was practically scrambling with my hands to go up it but it was also made of loose boulders and rocks and trying to find a secure footing was nigh on impossible. My calves were on fire, my hams aching and the going just got so slow that I had to walk for a bit. Grudgingly. Hating it but hating the hill more.
I scrambled up the hill and as soon as it was possible again, I whipped the flank of my mental horse started trotting again. Luckily soon after the fecker that defeated me, the path evened out and after a small incline started winding down again. But not before making me gasp with the views that the climb had awarded me.
There wasn’t long left of the run in the woods before it opened up to a lovely, wide and paved (!!!) road. And best of all – it was all downhill from this point on. Though it was so steep that it was almost as slow going down as it was going up (my poor knees, they added a whole new sound to the morning now that you couldn’t hear my panting). This should give you some sort of an indication of what I’m talking about…
As I was cruising down it occurred to me that I had proven The Boy wrong; he had been pretty sure that I would get lost. Clearly has no faith in my navigational skills, bah! Mind you, it wasn’t that easy to get lost when you just follow the most established looking path.
The run wasn’t that long in the end, 10.26km but I reckoned that the hills made up for the distance (no, they didn’t!). And anyway, I was in a hurry to get back to The Boy. Not least to prove to him that I hadn’t died.
I did another run on Sunday, the same 3.5km up and then a shorter loop back to the massive downhill and then a road run to a nearby village. Only about 16km but I was running on fumes at that point. Those Spanish measures….
If you are wondering about the pictures (as you know, when I run, I run and there is no time for photography), I took The Boy up with me on Saturday morning, desperate to share with him the beauty of this run but also to be able to take it in myself. Not so easy to do when you are running and watching your footing. I think I only realised how epic it was when we went back – it was hard enough to walk it. There we were, pansying around with our take away coffees.. The hikers we saw with their proper kit (Yes! People! I would have been found eventually!) did raise an eyebrow at us. There is a lot to be said for those running hormones…
So I ran a hill. In fact I ran two hills. But the more I tell the story, the bigger those hills seem to get. In fact, come to think of it – I am pretty sure they were mountains….