City-Bay 2022 TL:DR version: I wasn’t going to do it, then I did, it went well, really glad I did it!
After a 3 year hiatus due to… do I even need to say it? City-Bay was BACK in 2022 and boy were people excited! My main motivation was to erase the memories of 2019, the last time the race was run (or in my case, limped) so as soon as entries opened, I registered for the half marathon again. (That was in 2021 – that event was subsequently cancelled but my entry was deferred to 2022. Other than Pichi Richi, which I had pretty much committed to a year out, after I was finished with the 6/12/24 hour festival (Pichi being so close the 6/12/24 to that the timing had never worked out, although I’d always wanted to do it), City-Bay was my only ‘must-do’ event for 2022.
I’d run the 12km 4 times, from 2013 – 2016, and after a slightly underwhelming result in 2016 (which I would be stoked with now!) and a not-enjoyable run, I said I’d never do it again. (My PB set in 2015 was a hard act to follow!)
Then the half marathon was added in 2018 so of course I had to try that, and again in 2019 (the less said about that, the better)
I’d entered the Heysen 50k again, hoping to improve on last year’s event, but after the broken toe which then put me out of running for 8 weeks following Pichi Richi, I quickly realised that 50k was going to be a big stretch and an improved time was near on impossible, so I cancelled my entry for that, as well as bailing on my plans to run the Yurrebilla 28km again as a training run (as I had done last year).
On 8 August, 6 weeks out from City-Bay, I still wasn’t back to running, and I made the call that to go from zero to a half marathon in 6 weeks (and that was assuming I started running right away), would be a recipe for disaster, so I managed to defer my entry to 2023. Which will be ideal preparation for the Chicago Marathon (which is also what I said in 2019…) 4 days later after a couple of wines a friend talked me into doing the 12k instead, and while I was Ubering home, I was on my phone registering before my brain could figure out what I was doing!
I kept myself reasonably fit during my 8 week hiatus from running – 3 x weekly BodyPump classes at the gym (with some modifications), BodyBalance at home (again with some modifications) and after a few weeks of no cardio I decided spin classes at the gym would be a good substitute. I definitely felt like I got a good workout and it stopped me from losing all my cardio fitness but it definitely did not compare to running – it’s not particularly social, and there’s no coffee afterwards!
My first run back was a parkrun, and the next morning I felt like I’d just run a marathon! But with only 4 weeks to get myself up for City-Bay (and I’d registered as a sub-60 runner, so I was determined to get a sub-60 time) I needed to back it up with a Sunday run which I did. My next run was on Thursday and my legs were still sore! It was good to be back but it certainly felt a lot harder than I remembered!
Slowly but surely I got back into my regular routine – running Tuesday, Thursday, parkrun on Saturday and ‘long’ run on Sunday (which, after the first week, was around 12km because there was no need for it to be any longer). Prior to Pichi Richi I was also regularly running Fridays but that had now become a gym day and I felt like 4 days a week running was enough. I’d managed to get a few of my Tuesday and Thursday runs under 5 minutes per km pace which led me to believe sub 60 was realistic.
I didn’t really have a time goal, I would have been happy to get a PW as long as I went under the hour! (My previous ‘worst’ was 57:32 in my first City-Bay in 2013 so as a slightly more ambitious ‘A’ goal, it would be nice to beat that!)
The weather forecast was not so great, strong westerly winds were forecast, as well as a very high probability of rain. The rain didn’t bother me so much (especially if it started AFTER we started running) but the wind could definitely make sub-60 very difficult, as it was likely to be a headwind rather than a tailwind.
The week leading up to City-Bay, I had a good solid run on Tuesday and a short but sweet 6km on Thursday. On Saturday I did ‘parkwalk’ at parkrun with fellow C2B entrant Sarah, which was very pleasant (can’t remember the last time I did that!)
It turned out to be a very busy weekend – I had a lunch down at McLaren Vale with a group of friends who all used to work together (The Currant Shed, highly recommend) and that night I had a friend’s birthday party which was a lot of fun but unfortunately I had to bail early.
I dressed for the possibility of rain and wind – I decided that I didn’t want anything that would flap in the breeze and/or get weighed down by getting wet, so I went with a fitted top and shorts (total coincidence that my top was the same colour as my bib!) and also a hat to keep the forecast rain out of my eyes. With misguided optimism, I packed sunglasses in my bag as well although I couldn’t see me needing those, as well as a hoodie to put on at the end and slip on shoes in case I wanted to take off my runners at the end. (Previous years I had gone for a walk in the sea afterwards but again I didn’t think that was likely this time!) Instead of my everyday running shoes I thought I’d give my ASICS Noosa Tris, which I normally reserve only for a fast parkrun, a go. They’re a bit lighter than my normal road shoes and supposedly make you faster. I could do with all the help I could get! Plus they have purple in them so they’d tone in nicely with my top! I attached my bib to my Spibelt – I wasn’t planning on carrying anything in the pocket, but I did put my little good luck charm in there that I’d had at Pichi Richi. Just a little superstition!
Sunday I got up at 5:15 (it was raining quite heavily then, GREAT!) with a plan to leave home as close to 6am as possible – I needed to be at Glenelg by 6:45 and although Google Maps told me it would be 25 minutes, I didn’t quite trust it. A good thing too as Google Maps was going to send me down Anzac Highway which ordinarily would have been a good way to go, but as it turned out Anzac Highway was closed! In my defence, the last time I ran the 12k there was no half marathon and Anzac Highway would have been open at that time. I kept taking the detours but Google was pretty insistent on getting me back onto Anzac Highway – eventually it gave up and took me via the back streets. I nearly got into an accident with a car that pulled out of a side street and cut me off – I may have given the horn a bit of a workout! That probably would not have been a great omen!
My original plan was to catch the tram back to the city, as I had done the previous times I had done the 12km. However my friend Paul wanted to drive to the city and so he met me at Glenelg and I’d drive him back to town afterwards. There was a bit of negotiation required though as he wanted to get there right before the start and I like to have a bit of time to get my shit sorted! In the end I think we timed it pretty perfectly – plenty of time for a non-portaloo stop (bonus!) and to get into the sub 60 cage where there were a lot of familiar faces as always!
Not long before the start I got a tap on the shoulder and there was Beck standing behind me with her daughter Alice – Beck and I had started almost all our City-Bays together including the fateful 2019 event, so why should this one be any different? I did say to her “What are you doing in here?” implying that she hadn’t earned a spot in the cage but also I didn’t know she was definitely doing it until that moment! I also ran into Rob (who asked me to let him beat him, very flattering for me because there was not much chance I would be close enough for that to be an issue) and his brother Steve who were both wearing those fancy Nike Vaporfly shoes that lots of the fast runners seemed to be wearing and which apparently do make you faster – mental note to get me a pair of those! (They also have a nice little stabby pointy bit on the back to fend off would-be attackers!)
It wasn’t really cold (I hadn’t even put my hoodie on, it was straight into my drop bag for the finish line) and I had debated sunnies or no sunnies and eventually decided that if there was going to be sun it wouldn’t be in my eyes (as we were running away from it) so I went without. Just the hat in case of rain!
We were away at 8:00, just behind the elites and the new sub 50 category. I’ve never run from outside the sub 60 cage before but I think it has to be an advantage.
I remembered the first bit was a little bit uphill and then it was all down from there. So if I could just sit on 5 minute pace for the first little bit, I could pick it up from there. “Don’t go out too fast” I always tell myself, and of course I did. I made the rookie mistake of trying to keep up with Paul for as long as possible which ended up being maybe 200 metres? My first kilometre split ended up being 4:21. So either it was going to be a REALLY good day, or I was going to have to slow down a bit!
It wasn’t as crowded as previous years – I hadn’t run the 12k since 2016 and there was probably half the number of people there this year. Which suited me fine as I like having space around me!
There was some entertainment along the way – a few bands that were a welcome distraction! The first band was an Army band playing “You Can Leave Your Hat On” and I wondered if anyone was going to get the urge to take their clothes off, a la “The Full Monty”! There was less entertainment than I remembered, and also less spectators, but I suspect that’s all the COVID effect! Still what we did have, added to the atmosphere!
I felt pretty comfortable throughout. My ‘parkrun’ time was 22:21, which is the fastest 5k I’ve done since breaking my toe. If I’d been able to sustain that pace I would be looking at a sub 54 which would have been nice if not totally unrealistic! I definitely slowed down after that, hovering around mid 4:30s to mid 4:40s. By that stage I didn’t care anyway, I was easily going to get my sub 60 and probably even beat my PW, so I decided to just enjoy it and soak it all in!
The one bit that was not enjoyable was the f**king anti-vax protestors near halfway, at the start of the 6k event. I saw one on my left and I did not want to acknowledge him at all (even though I had some choice words and hand gestures that I REALLY wanted to use) so I turned my back as I ran past only to find the other side of the road was littered with them as well! I ran past as quick as I could, then I thanked the next volunteer I saw, and added “and F**K those guys!”. I mean really, what did they think they were going to achieve – here’s a bunch of people who are clearly into health and fitness, minding their own business, going for a nice run or walk, what did they think, we were going to stop and read the signs and say “Hmm, maybe those guys do have a point?” Heck no!
There were plenty of drink stations along the way but I ended up only needing to stop once for a drink, and by stop I mean grab and run, have a sip and tip the rest out. It was probably the coolest weather I’ve experienced for this event. And while I’m on the subject of weather, not a drop of rain! How lucky were we?
I didn’t see too many people I knew on the sidelines cheering – I did see Jim who was dressed in his Roosters gear ready for the Grand Final later that day – and only just managed to connect with a high five! (I think maybe he didn’t want to high five a Redlegs fan!)
Quite late in the race I saw Michael, a fellow parkrun ambassador/enthusiast, he was a good pacer even though he probably didn’t realise it at the time, I needed to have someone to chase so I wouldn’t relax too much – even though I knew I was going to get my goal time, I still wanted to run as good a time as I could! (I never did quite manage to catch him!)
The threatened wind hardly eventuated, the only time I noticed it was running up Jetty Road but that was so close to the end it didn’t matter!
Running up Brighton Road, just before turning into Jetty Road, I ran past a half marathon guy limping towards the finish and had massive flashbacks to 3 years ago – that was me! I gave him some encouragement and prepared for the road that seems to go on forever! Bon Jovi “You Give Love A Bad Name” was playing and yes, of course I did sing a few lines! (And promptly apologised to all those around me!) Jetty Road is good because you know you’re nearly there but it is SO LONG! And you have to be careful not to trip on the tram lines!
Towards the end I heard people cheering for me which was a great feeling – I hadn’t experienced that so much before at this event, because this was the first year I’d run the 12k when there was also a half marathon. The half marathon had started at 6 so many of the runners had finished before we had even started, giving them time to have a coffee and probably even breakfast and still have time to get to the road to cheer the 12k runners on!
Then there was the sprint to glory, onto Moseley St to the finish line! I may have experienced all the feels during this short section!
Then it was that magic moment as I crossed the finish line – such a contrast to 3 years ago!
After grabbing a quick water and getting my sweet sweet bling, I met up with Paul who had run a huge PB, we grabbed our bags and went to meet up with Sarah who had finished a few minutes behind me, and Peter who had also run a PB (given that it was his first ever City-Bay!) and found a whole bunch of other friends along the way including Nat who had run the half marathon and a whole lot of other 12k friends!
We were going to go find a coffee on Jetty Road, I’m not sure whose idea it was to go to the Jetty Bar and have an adult beverage instead but what a genius move that turned out to be – they had free scones AND free massages for runners! I ended up getting my calves done and I may or may not have almost jumped off the table several times – turns out my calves are just a little tight! I really should roll more – more than I do now, which is not at all!
After drinks and massages it was time to get on with the rest of the day, a short leg-stretching walk back to my car to drop Paul back in town (and nearly get taken out by another idiot on the road just near the Casino, not quite sure what happened there!) and go home to get ready for the footy!
What was already a pretty awesome day ended up getting even better – I had been umming and ahhing about whether to go watch Norwood play in the SANFL Grand Final (the weather was forecast to be pretty gnarly in the afternoon so although I had a ticket I was considering staying home to watch it on TV) and in the end decided to go, and what a game! The atmosphere was great, crowd around 25000 which was not too bad considering the weather! A low-scoring affair due to the wet weather, it was a thriller from start to finish, probably one of the best games I’ve seen, with Norwood trailing for the majority of the game and down by 17 points with 10 minutes to go at which point I was pretty much resigned to defeat but somehow we managed to get up and win (sorry to my North supporter friends!) by just a point – I would have loved to go to the post-match party back at Norwood Oval (my bus home went right past there) but it had been a pretty massive day already and I was wrecked! Put the Grand Final back on the long weekend, I say!
So after all that, I’m so conflicted now – I’ve rediscovered the joy of the City-Bay 12km and I would love to do it again next year and thereafter, but I still feel like I NEED to do the half marathon one more time! So I probably will, again as an ideal lead-up to Chicago, but I think that will be it for me, back to the traditional 12km after that!
At least I have a year to make up my mind!
Thanks to the wonderful volunteers and organisers for making this event happen – it’s been a long time coming! Well done to all the runners and walkers, it was great to see so many friends out there! And thanks to my friend who convinced me to do it – I’m so happy I did!