2011 City2Surf Run Report

15 08 2011

It is done. The City2Surf is over for another year, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Next year I will be better prepared. Next year, I will get significantly more practice on hills and next year I will run sub 70 minutes.

But what about this year? This year didn’t start off well. Living in the country has ruined me. In bed by 10pm, I wanted a solid nights sleep. I was going to be up at 5am, but 7 hours is a luxury these days. Unfortunately I was staying at a mates house and all I could hear for the first hour was traffic noise. I used to live near two major arterial roads and traffic noise never bothered me at all, but now I hear everything. It took me a good hour to fall asleep on Saturday night. By the time I fell asleep, I had adjust to the traffic noise. Shortly after, the rain started. Heavily. On a noisy roof. In the process of trying to get back to sleep, I became acutely aware of how uncomfortable the pillows were. Or more correctly, how different from MY pillow (which I had left at home) they were. By the time I readjusted to the pillows (after trying half a dozen combinations), it was pushing 1230am. At 1, my mates dickhead flatmate came home and proceeded to watch the Rugby at full volume. Which woke me up again. In fairness, he turned it down when asked (not a lot, but enough – although it did slowly creep back up). Somewhere between 1 and 2, I fell asleep again. At 5, my alarm went off, and by 5.20 I was up.

Despite not getting enough sleep, I was in a reasonable mood and eager to go. My mood rapidly worsened when I discovered that my mate didn’t have any sugar in his house. Bloody personal trainers…what sort of hotel is this? Without sugar, my porridge was adequate (at best). Without sugar, there was to be no coffee. Without sugar, there was to be a rapid decline in my mood.

Still I soldiered on. Dressed and packed, I headed off.  The rain had stopped overnight, but the heavy, grey clouds hung overhead. Running in the rain was not going to make my day (or my mood) any better. Finding the free council car park helped, as did the free public transport to the City. Yesterday I had been stung $15 for parking at the cinemas while I wasted my money watching The Green Lantern, so finding the free parking today was a welcome change.

A quick train ride and I was there. I was at the start line at 6.50. Only 80 minutes to go! I’d planned to be nice and early so that I could take advantage of the Westpac priority bag drop which closed at 7.10am. I’d spent ages last year lining up for my bag after the race and this year I was keen to avoid both the crush and the wait. Having dropped my bag off, I headed off to the start line for the long wait. On the way there, my mood dipped again. Some idiot volunteer was hosing down the gutter. It rained all night and was threatening to rain some more, but here is this idiot mindlessly wasting water. I could see no purpose to his task and it pissed me off

On the way to the start area, I passed the portaloos. I must be early because there weren’t any queues. Last year the queue was several people deep for each one. Needing a pee, I opened one, only to discover it was occupied. I wonder how long before someone chucks this in the street in desperation before the run.

At the start area, I had a stretch and set my self to the job of keeping warm. A task I was succeeding in until it started to rain. Bugger. Mood killer number 6000 for the day. Luckily for me, a couple of ladies in front of me pulled out an umbrella, and were good enough to let those of us closest huddle in. Very grateful. The kindness of strangers always cheers me up (as long as I don’t have to enter into random conversation with them first). From the heavily C2S oriented chat, I learnt that Mr Bunny Ears (ie the man wearing the pink bunny ears) ran 70mins last year and was aiming for 75mins this year. BINGO! I set myself a mental note to keep him in my sights and use him as a pacer.

Eventually the rain stopped. The clouds hung around, but it didn’t rain again. Small mercies. At 8.10am we were away.

The beginning of the course is the easiest by far. You’re full of energy and the “rollercoaster” is reasonably flat. Unfortunately I don’t have any reliable timing info for the beginning of the course. Running through the tunnel causes GPS dropout, and so my 1km splits are unreliable at first. Still, while the pacer may not work, the time kept ticking over and I knew I’d started well. By the time I past the 3km, I was confident that the lap splits were accurate again. So I started alternating between checking my speed and keeping an eye out for the bunny eared pacer. He was a little in front, and as long as he stayed there, I was happy.

I concentrated over the next couple of kms. I was conscious of staying in control and not pushing too hard. I didn’t want to burn up too much energy before Heartbreak Hill. I’d run a couple of Wagga’s steepest hills recently and I knew how much they took out of me. I wanted to finish strong. By virtue of being in the green group this year, the run was much easier. Last year I spent a lot of time and energy dodging people. This year, I didn’t have that problem. For the most part, I had a clear path. Sure, there was the occasional mass to negotiate, but for the most part, I ran straight.

At some point, I’d also passed the bunny-eared pacer. At first I thought he’d surged ahead of me, but a quick glance over my shoulder found him off to the right. I didn’t even realise I’d past him. At some point, he was ahead of me again, and I didn’t realise he’d past me. I’d run into my own little zone and was moving along comfortably. I’d forgotten about my pacer, forgotten about the virtual partner. I was just running. And enjoying it too.

As I saw the first sign heralding the beginning of Heartbreak Hill, I looked ahead. Something was wrong. Where is the hill? I remember it being a lot steeper last year. This year, it seemed a lot shallower. I guess that is the benefit of better preparation. I felt more in control. I didn’t stop, I didn’t panic. I just kept going forward. Sure I slowed down. It is a hill after all. I passed a couple of the LEGENDS (and they are legends. 41 years, 41 C2S’s), and a couple of wheelchair athletes. They were struggling up that hill, and getting cheered all the way. Kudos to them.

I powered up that hill. And by powered I mean 5-6min splits. I was expecting to go up at 7-8min/km but I was far exceeding that. By the time I reached the crest, I was about 3 minutes behind my Virtual Partner. Damn his little digital legs. I knew he’d be ahead of me, but I expected it to be a couple of minutes more. I had worked hard on that hill. I was beginning to worry I’d gone too hard. There was still a hill to go, and then a long downhill. Downhills might be faster/easier, but if you don’t get your stride right, they can play havoc with your knees. I wanted to feel strong on that last 1.5km stretch to the end.

At some point between the double crest of the hills, I passed the bunny-eared man again. I was no longer concerned about him. It was between me and my little digital pal. I’d shown him my heels for the first few kms and now I was looking at his little pixelated butt in the distance. As we neared the final peak, he’d kicked ahead again. 3m30 behind. Oh crap, I’m fading.

On the downhill stretch, I did my best to push hard. Lean slightly forward and land on the balls of your feet. Nice even stride. Clear path. Come on! The next couple of kms flew. Downhills are always over too soon. By the time I hit the ‘1.5km to go go go’ sign, I was doing well. I’d eased off on the downhill, let gravity and decent form do most of the work and saved some energy. Now for the final push. I felt strong for a 100m then I’d fade, then I’d feel strong again, then fade. Damn it, my energy was coming in short waves. I just needed 4 more minutes of pace and then I was done. I was catching that little pixelated man with every step. As I rounded the final bend, I looked at the clock. And then I pushed again. I already knew I was smashing last years time. Come on! Run! Harder! Go!

In the end, I came home strong but ultimately missed my bold goal. I’d easily beaten my 80min fall back goal. I’d worked hard, and beaten my primary 75 min goal. I’d chased down my virtual partner as best I could, but in the end he beat me home. My final time

I am jubilant. So happy that if I could, I’d take that positive energy and take a crack at this years Wagga Marathon in 7 days time. But I can’t. I’m not free. Bugger. I’m not even free to do the half marathon which is also a shame. I’ve been challenged by a fellow runner at work to do the Wagga HM in 100minutes. Given the easier course, I reckon I could have had a genuine crack at it!

My time is 10m 15s better than last year, or if you prefer (and I do) a 12.65% improvement on last years time. This year, I fell down on the hill and the last 1km. Next year, I’ll work harder on my hills and my finish. Next year 65mins or better. I’ll have to start in the green group again, but I’ll be at the front, ready and raring to go.

After the run, I collected my gear and headed off to the Westpac Red Zone, the ‘exclusive’ recovery area for Westpac customers…or for those customers who had bothered to get a pass beforehand. Here’s mine…

The red zone was fantastic. Free sausage sandwiches, free massages, assisted stretching, comfy chairs and some freebies.

The food tasted fantastic (as humble sausage sangers do), the stretching was a godsend and the chairs a relief. I passed on the freebies, I don’t think the wife would have approved if I’d brought home more bottles though!




One response

15 08 2011

Well done Chris, great effort!

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