Race report – SARRC Christmas Fun Run

This weekend was the final event of the year for the South Australian Road Runners Club. I had run this event twice before. 

In 2013, just after my first ‘runniversary’, I got my first podium finish, coming 3rd despite missing the turnaround marker and probably running a few hundred metres extra (at least) and my time was 26:30. I was glad that no-one overtook me when I missed the turn, I would have been kicking myself! (In fairness, the turnaround marker was a red ‘dot’ on the ground, an inch square, whereas I was looking for something more like a cone or a flag.) 3rd place was as good as I could have hoped for anyway, as 2nd place was taken by regular parkrunner Sarah, who I had never beaten!

A year later I somehow managed first place in the 5k in a time of 22:53. That was also the ‘Club Championship’ so by default I was the Club Champion! (A lot of the regular fast runners were not competing, so it seemed a bit weird, but hey, you gotta be in it to win it!)

This year there was a different (I would say much fairer) system for the Club Championship. It was a cumulative points system, which I have no hope of understanding, with points gained for each SARRC event throughout the year. Faster times = more points. Leading into this weekend’s event I was in 3rd place for the women, but with Nadene pretty much set in first place, as far as I could tell, only needing to show up to win it!

Also adding interest and incentive to this year’s finale event was the Participation prize. One person who had participated in all SARRC events for the year (except Yurrebilla Ultra, which I did run, and the Beach Bash, which I did not) would be randomly drawn out and would win free entry to ALL SARRC events for next year – despite the fact that I will be away for at least one of those, it was a draw well worth being in! In the end there were 11 people (myself included) in the running (pun intended!)

I opted, as per usual, to run the 5k rather than the 10. As I’ve said before, I don’t enjoy the 10k distance, plus the course was a multi lap course around the Uni Loop. 5k = 2 laps (the Uni Loop is 2.2k so extra distance had been added to each loop to make it 2.5) and 10k = 4 laps. I didn’t really fancy going around there 4 times! (Which is really funny when yoi consider that in July I ran around the very same track 28 times in the 6 hour event!)

It was a warm morning so there was no need for arm warmers! I didn’t know there was rain forecast (and as it turned out, quite a lot of it!) I arrived just after 7, plenty of time to collect my number, socialise a bit and get a warmup in. Originally I was going to do a lap of the Uni Loop but decided 2.2k was too much. In the end I did 2k – running in the opposite direction to the race (I always like to do that if I can!)

The 5k and 10k started together. I saw a few familiar faces doing the 10k – Micarla and Louise – and was once again glad to have opted for the 5k (those 2 are way too fast for me!). 2nd place on the Club Champs points table, Rebecca, was also in the 10k, but Nadene was doing the 5, as was another Rebecca who I had not been far ahead of at Glenelg last month. So there was plenty of solid competition there!

The thing about the 2 races starting together is, unless you see someone’s bib as you pass them or they pass you, you don’t know whether they’re in your race or not! I had the same issue at Glenelg – although that was an out and back and we didn’t start together, there was some overlap towards the end.

I tried to keep Nadene, who finished 2nd to my 3rd at Glenelg, in sight at the start. There was another girl ahead of her – I later found out that was Belinda, I hadn’t met her before but she was always ahead of me. So once again, my only chance of a podium was to hold onto 3rd!

We went out pretty fast – my first kilometre was 4:07 and my second was 4:06. I slowed down significantly after that! It’s a trap that I often fall into in these shorter races! 

About halfway through the first lap I heard footsteps behind me, and by the sound of the breathing I could tell it was another female. I caught a glimpse of red out of the corner of my eye and my first thought was that it was Bec in the 5k – I couldn’t let her get ahead this early! This no doubt contributed to me going out WAY too fast on the first lap! I picked up the pace and she didn’t pass me but eventually, right near the end of the lap, she got away. And that was when I realised that it wasn’t Bec at all, it was Louise, in the 10k!

As a result of pushing a bit too hard in the first 2k, the last lap was definitely a struggle. The heat and humidity was definitely a factor as well as my poor pacing! At the start at 8am it was 25 degrees – not overly hot and certainly nothing like when I did the River View Run 2 weeks ago, but still warmer than we’ve been used to. My last 3 kilometre splits were (approximately) 4:26, 4:26 and 4:29. 

Didn’t even see the photographer!

I was passed by 2 girls during the second lap but I didn’t know if they were 5k or 10k. Towards the end, there was a turn where I could easily look back and see who was behind me. All I could see was one guy, no girls. As a result I did take it a bit easier in the last little bit, knowing that I could not catch whoever was ahead of me, and no-one was going to pass me. I finished in 21:55, my best time since May (just before I went to the Blue Mountains for UTA100) which was pleasing. Given that no-one said anything to me, I assumed I hadn’t got a placing  (normally they take down your name and number if you’re in the placings). I laid down on the ground for 5 minutes or so to recover – that really took a lot out of me!

Ducked for cover in the clubrooms – very happy with my time!

After that I watched the remaining 5k runners finish and the 10k runners continue to go around (did I mention I was happy with my decision to do the 5k?) before the weather started to turn ugly with strong winds and then a fair bit of rain!

That didn’t deter the kids though, who not long after, had their own 1k fun run, the ‘Santa Chase’, chasing a Santa on a bike! That was entertaining to watch, and a great way to get the kids involved, all of them getting a stocking full of chocolates at the end! And a few of them looked like athletes to look out for in the future!

Santa leads the kids out in the 1k fun run!

After the kids’ run was finished, it was presentation time. They did the 10k presentations first, then the 5k men followed by the women. The 3rd placed man was not far ahead of me, so I quickly checked the live results on my phone to see how far off a place I was. Just before I found my name on there, Nadene was announced as the 2nd placegetter, and I knew I wasn’t far behind her – sure enough I managed to scrape in for 3rd! A great way to end the year!

The 3 placegetters for the 5k – me 3rd, Belinda 1st and Nadene 2nd

Nadene did end up winning the Club Championship (well deserved) and the men’s champion was Bryn, who had been in a two-way battle with fellow Adelaide Harrier Piete for most of the year. Another deserving winner!

New SARRC president Dave Munro with the Club Champions for 2016

All in all I am very happy with my year of SARRC events. I’ve done 4 half marathons (one as a pacer), one marathon, one ultra, plus 2 × 5km, 2 × 10km and a 30km. Bit of a range there! Among all of those I got a 10k PB, my second fastest ever half marathon, and 2 3rd place finishes!

A satisfying year!

Thanks as always to the fantastic volunteers (I say it every time but it can’t be overstated – these events simply would not happen without volunteers!) This year they’ve had to deal with some very challenging conditions – including today cooking the BBQ in the rain! For those who run events regularly, PLEASE think about volunteering, even once a year. It’s possible to volunteer AND still run! And also please try to thank the volunteers out there on the day, they have given up their time so you can run (I know sometimes it’s hard to get the words out, but believe me, even a wave or a nod is appreciated!)

Well done to SARRC on a great year of events! I am proud to be on the Board of SARRC for the next 2 years, to give back to the club that has given me so much over the past 4 years! I look forward to getting more involved behind the scenes and see what goes into putting these events on!

Of course I will still be running with the SARRC groups 2-3 times a week during the ‘off-season’, and look forward to running at least some of the events next year in the lead up to Boston! (Oh and I didn’t win the big prize – that went to Peter, if I couldn’t win it I was very happy for him to!)

Time for a rest now? Maybe…

Race report – River View Run

This weekend didn’t go according to plan. And that’s not a bad thing!

I had originally signed up to do a midnight marathon on Sunday morning (ie starting at midnight Saturday night!) – for some reason I thought it might be a bit of fun! (I know. Marathon and fun do not belong in the same sentence!) I had requested bib number 6 as it was to be my 6th marathon (that honour will now go to a little event you may have heard of called the ‘Boston Marathon’).

Then my friend Tracie, who despite my best efforts is not a runner, announced she was going to have her 40th birthday party that Saturday night. Try as I might, I could not conjure up a scenario in which she would forgive me for bailing on her party early to go run a marathon! So I did the only sensible thing and withdrew from the marathon. People tried to convince me to do the 6am marathon (yes, there was a 6am marathon as well and some crazy people were doing BOTH!) but I thought that would be just asking for trouble!

THEN I heard about this new event happening on Sunday, put on by the City of Tea Tree Gully and organised by Yumigo! A free fun run, with 5k and 10k options plus a 2k family fun run, and best of all (or so I thought) the 10k started at 10:30 and the 5k at 11! So with little hesitation I entered the 5k.

As it turned out I got home at about 3:30am after the party, having been kicked out of 3 venues (only because they were closing) and having to make the decision – to go to the Casino or to go home? Thankfully we chose the latter! It was a great night!

A few of the girls celebrating Tracie’s 40th!

So I was able to set my alarm for the very civilised time of 9am, although I was awake by 8:30. I opted for the aqua lulu skirt with the extremely well colour coordinated Mekong singlet. The forecast was for 35 degrees – first hot day for a long while! And of course the 11am start would mean it would be hotter than normal for a fun run, as they mostly tend to start between 8 and 9am. The Mekong top has a mesh back which is great for keeping cool!

I got to the designated car parking spot just after 10. There were frequent (also free) shuttle buses ferrying participants to the start/finish area – it was all very well organised! At the race location there was music and an MC from Fresh FM adding to the atmosphere. The 2k run was already in progress and the 10k was about to start. I collected my bib and found a shady spot to sit for a moment and attach it to my Spibelt.

Yet another bib for the collection!

I watched the start of the 10k, once again very glad I’d opted for the 5 (and like last weekend, I lost count of the number of people who said “ONLY the 5k?”)

The start of the 10k – it had already hit 30 degrees!

There were a lot of familiar faces there, but most of the people I saw there that I knew, were volunteers rather than participants!

I went and did a quick warmup (might have seemed a little unnecessary as I was already warm, but the legs needed loosening!) and before long the 5k runners were being called to the start line. I didn’t see anyone I recognised in the 5k.

And then came the race itself. It couldn’t really have been more different from last weekend’s Glenelg Classic! Out and back on a cool morning with and then into a strong wind, versus a loop on a hot, still morning! I didn’t really have a time in mind but I set off reasonably quickly, 4:33 for the first k. It only got slower from there! After the first few hundred metres there was only one runner ahead of me, another female. She was a fair way ahead but I was happy to let her lead the way – I didn’t know the course at all so did not fancy being the leader! (Not that that was ever likely to happen!)

Along the way I saw more familiar faces as marshals – one of them, Annie, took these pics a bit before the 2k mark. 

How nice for them to make the bibs match my skirt!
The mesh back on the Mekong top made things a lot more comfortable than they may otherwise have been!

I’d opted to carry a drink bottle due to the heat. Even though it wasn’t the bottle I would normally run with  (I have one with a handle) this one was comfortable to hold and the water, albeit warm Adelaide tap water, was like the nectar of the gods!

I lost the leader after a while and got a bit confused by the kilometre markers – I saw one that said 4km when I had only done about 2.5. Of course that was a marker for the 10k event which shared part of the same course, but for a while there I wondered if I might have missed a turn somewhere! I soon got back on track when I saw the 3k marker. 

The course was easy to follow – wherever there was any doubt about which way to go, there would be a marshal.

I started passing some of the 10k runners/walkers. I was aware that there were no 5k runners anywhere near me, and I admit I did contemplate walking up some hills – been a while since I’ve thought about walking in a 5k!

We passed one drink station  (I think there were 3 in the 10k but just the one in the 5k) but with my water bottle in hand there was no need for me to stop.

Eventually, after what felt like an eternity, I got to the last kilometre, which I’d already seen when I’d done my warmup. I was checking my watch every 30 seconds and was disappointed to see I’d only progressed about 50 metres each time! The last kilometre ended up being 5:03, the first time I’ve done over 5 minutes for a km in a 5k race in a LONG time!

Finish line pic courtesy of race organiser Ben!

My official time was 24:01 (d’oh!) beaten only by first placegetter Susan (by 2 minutes as it turned out!) – and a good minute and a half slower than my windy 5k last weekend! I’d forgotten that this race also had finisher medals for all distances – not bad for a free event!

So despite being quite a bit slower than usual (the heat undoubtedly being the major reason) I was pretty happy to be 2nd – 2nd overall, 2nd female and 2nd in the 20-49 age group! 

It was a really well organised run, especially being the inaugural event and given the hot conditions. Thanks to all the volunteers and everyone who helped make it happen! My 2 pieces of feedback (and I’m sure I’m not alone here) would be an earlier start to beat the heat, and possibly labelling the kilometre markers with the relevant distance (eg ‘4k in the 10k’) to avoid confusion in the easily confused! But really overall these are just minor things and I’m sure next year will be bigger and better!

It’s not often you get bling for a 5k – but I definitely earned this one!

Race report – SARRC Glenelg Classic 2016

This was ‘just’ a 5k race (and I lost count of the people who said to me incredulously “You’re just doing the 5k?”) but to me it was so much more than that.

Last year, in one of my earliest blog posts, I touched on my first EVER fun run, the 2012 Henley Classic, which was 4 years ago this week. You can read all about it here.

It’s a good time to reflect on this because last week I celebrated my 4 year ‘runniversary’. 4 years to the day after I entered said event! (I previously ‘celebrated’ my runniversary on the day I actually RAN my first fun run, but it seems appropriate to use the date I actually committed to running it)

Email proof of the plunge having been taken!

As a non-runner at that point, and with the event 8 days away, I went out during that week and ran 3 times. The first one was 2km non-stop and by the third run I made it to 5km and was confident I would be able to replicate that on race day.

I ran 26:29 at that first event, which I was super stoked with. 24th out of 99 females, and 7th out of 20 in my age group (bearing in mind that the top 3 women overall were ALL in that age group!)

I loved every minute of it, I don’t have very detailed memories but I do remember it was quite windy and my hat blew off at one stage. And I only got one race photo which I cringe a little when I see, but it does show just how far I have come both as a runner and as a fashion icon (joking about the second part!) since then!

henley classic 2012
I finished, OK? That’s all that matters!

Fast forward to one year later, with parkrun being a fixture in my weekends and having been running with the SARRC morning groups for around 6 months, I ran the Henley Classic again and was 9th female out of 195 in a time of 23:09. And I looked much more like a runner too!

That’s me on the right, circled. Looking a bit distracted at the start!
Finally got the knack of posing for the photographer!
Ahh, that’s better. Looking like a proper runner now! Note the outfit matches the shoes!

And then a few years passed. In 2014 I had the opportunity to go to Sydney for a conference. The conference started with a cocktail reception on Sunday night, so I could have still run Henley in the morning and flown out in the afternoon, but it seemed a waste of a trip to Sydney to not be there on the weekend and make a holiday out of it as well. So I made the decision to forego the race and make the most of my Sydney trip. By all accounts it was a pretty windy day so I wasn’t terribly disappointed to have missed it!

In 2015 I was all set to run but the event ended up getting cancelled due to major work being done in Henley Square.

Which brings me to 2016. The Henley Classic has now become the Glenelg Classic (it had been the Glenelg Classic some time in the past!). I was super pumped for this event, given that it was now 3 years since I’d run my last one!

Last weekend I did a ‘proper’ parkrun on the Saturday before racing at Kuitpo Forest on Sunday. My legs felt a bit heavy, and that was probably a lot to do with Heysen 105 only 3 weeks earlier, but I’m sure a fast parkrun didn’t help! So I decided to drag Mum along to parkrun to keep my legs fresh. We went to Lochiel, my local parkrun, where I have only been a handful of times. Mum commented that the concrete felt harder on the legs than the gravel at our regular parkrun at Torrens, but other than this the courses were of similar difficulty. (I really need to get her out to Mount Barker, a nice FLAT course!).

Saturday night the weather got a bit gnarly, with a lot of rain and strong winds. Being a coastal route, winds were bound to be a factor at Glenelg, as they had been in many of the coastal races I’d done in the past. I hoped it wouldn’t rain, after the absolutely revolting conditions at the Henley to Henley earlier in the year (heavy rain AND strong winds!)

On race morning I amazingly woke up 1 minute before my alarm! My race day outfit was my Indigenous Marathon Foundation singlet (if you’re interested in reading more about the Virtual Run for the Indigenous Marathon Foundation, click here) and the only shorts I had other than boring black that coordinated with it, some nice royal blue ones. I went with royal blue calf sleeves too, probably more for looks than any compression benefit they were likely to give me! As it was a bit chilly I opted for arm warmers as well – again the only ones that coordinated with the IMF top, black and white!

Very excited to be rocking the awesome Virtual Run for the IMF top! My passenger – not so excited!

I had allowed myself plenty of time to get ready, and was out the door just before 7, arriving near the start just before 7:30. The 10k run started at 8 and the 5k started at 8:20, so I was very early, but it was a good thing I was, because I still had to park a fair way away! And as a result I got to experience the joy of the headwind that I would get to meet again in the second half of the race!

Surf’s up!

And from there I caught up with a whole lot of friends (as is always the case at running events), and as I said at the start of this report, pretty much ALL of them were asking me why I’d opted for the 5k over the 10k! Well, really there were 3 reasons for that.

  1. As my anniversary run, I always like to do the 5k because it shows me where I’m at. And that is really the main reason.
  2. I’m much more comfortable with the 5k distance. I actually don’t enjoy 10k races. I’ve done 2 this year – the Dolphin Run (which was my 10k debut in 2013, so again, I always do the 10k at the Dolphin Run) and the Parkland Loop run (as it was a week out from the Gold Coast Marathon, I went with the 10k run as part of a larger 20k training run – 5k from home and then back home again) but I really don’t enjoy the distance and find it much harder than a half marathon! Go figure!
  3. The competitor in me says that I’ve got a better chance of getting a placing in a 5k – partly because I’m better at it, and in no small part because the number of entrants in the 5k are always significantly less than in the 10.

After a portaloo stop and taking off my long-sleeved top, I watched the 10k runners start before heading off to do a short warmup.

The start of the 10k event – don’t let the blue sky fool you!

On the warmup I noticed headwinds in different directions, not just heading south along the coast. It was going to be a challenging run!

At the start I saw Nadene, who I’d met for the first time at the Victoria Park run in June, and who I knew would be there but had hoped might do the 10k! I was pretty sure she would be too good for me so if I had any thoughts of possibly winning the thing (I didn’t, really), they were gone when I saw her! I didn’t see many other females I recognised, not even any of the ubiquitous red and white Adelaide Harriers singlets (I guessed they would be mostly running the 10k) although as we were about to set off I saw Rebecca as the sole red and white rep in the 5k! Somehow I was at the front of the pack (it was a small field, well under 100).

We set off, and I got sucked into going out way too fast, trying to stick with Nadene for as long as possible. There was another girl in front of Nadene, who took off like a rocket! I later found out it was Chantel, a runner I hadn’t met before, but definitely a force to be reckoned with. Rebecca had also somehow found her way in front of me at the start, so as far as I could tell I was in 4th place with a bit of work to do to get onto the podium! But it was definitely doable!

I passed Rebecca in the first kilometre. Did I mention it was windy? Rebecca lost her hat! Of course there was no going back, but she has long hair so I’m sure it must have been annoying for her to do most of the race with her fringe blowing in her face!

The first kilometre was 4:10, much faster than I’m used to, certainly much faster than I have been doing in the past year! But it was wind-assisted. On a still day I think that would have been much too fast for me to sustain but with a strong tail wind it was manageable.

The second kilometre was 4:15 and still relatively comfortable. The course itself was pretty flat – a few minor undulations but no hills to speak of.

I’m not sure exactly what my time was at the halfway mark but I estimate it would have been around 10:30. Some of the faster 10k runners had already passed me on their way back to the finish – many of them in the red and white of the Harriers!

After the 2.5km turnaround point we not only lost our lovely tailwind but also got hit with a brick wall of a headwind! I had a look to see how far behind me the next girl was – Rebecca was still in 4th with another girl I didn’t know not far behind her, but there was a decent gap between 3rd and 4th so I thought I should hopefully be able to hang on.

To complicate matters slightly, we started to encounter more of the 10km runners. They had red bibs as opposed to our pink ones (don’t think I did the 5k just to get a pink bib!) but it was hard to see unless they were right alongside – once they’d passed there was no hope of being able to see the bib colour!

Photo courtesy of James. The girl behind me is a 10k runner – I wasn’t sure at the time!

My 3rd kilometre split was 4:29 – half of that being with the wind and the other half against it.

And then it just got slower from there – 4:41 for kilometre no. 4 and 4:46 for the final k! At some stage in the back half, I think probably in the 4th kilometre, I was passed by a girl who I hadn’t seen before – I was hoping she was a 10k runner, and I thought if she was a 5k runner she must have come home with a mighty rush because I hadn’t seen her at the turnaround. (It was the girl in the above picture so I needn’t have worried!)

As I approached the finish line I had a sneaky look behind me. I was pretty sure I was in 3rd (and if that girl was a 5k runner, she had a lot more left in her legs than I did and I was not going to be able to catch her) and I wanted to see if I needed to up the pace a bit. Looking over my shoulder I couldn’t see anyone so I went reasonably hard to the finish but I didn’t push it too hard. And as I crossed the line I was told I was 3rd female, although it took a while for that result to come up on the official results page, because due to the wind, my bib had blown up and therefore hadn’t scanned properly at the finish line! (This is because I opt to attach my bib to a belt with toggles at the top rather than pin it in all 4 corners to my top) My official time was 22:24 which was only 45 seconds faster than 3 years ago, but given the conditions, and given that it is similar to my parkrun time from last week, I was pretty happy! Plus, I got a podium finish which kind of makes time irrelevant!

Not long after we finished, the heavens opened! I happened to be near the first aid tent so I (along with a lot of other runners) ducked for cover! After the rain died down a bit I went to see about a trophy, and due to the appalling weather conditions the presentations had been cancelled, so I was about to head home when 10k runner Gary told me that a few of the Sunday SARRC runners were going for coffee nearby, so I went to join them – a perfect way to end a pretty good morning! (And really, the ONLY way to end ANY run!)

Once again a MASSIVE thankyou to all the volunteers. The conditions were bloody awful out there – much like at McLaren Vale and Henley to Henley, conditions were far worse for volunteering than for running! Thanks to everyone who made this event happen!

So, yes it was ‘just’ a 5k but it was a perfect way to mark 4 years of running, with another piece for my (as yet non-existent) trophy cabinet! There is no way I could have imagined that, 4 years ago, I would be standing on the (metaphorical) podium holding my (not-yet-received) trophy!

UPDATE: Got the trophy!

Race report – City-Bay Fun Run 2016

City-Bay, for the uninitiated, is, quite simply, an Adelaide institution. It’s been going for over 40 years and has at times boasted a field of over 40,000 runners and walkers. It is an event that pretty much stops a city, and is the goal race for so many new runners/walkers (including yours truly in 2013) – a nice flat/downhill 12k from the centre of Adelaide CBD to the iconic seaside suburb of Glenelg.

This was my 4th consecutive City-Bay. My first one was in 2013 and despite the timing issues, got me the desired sub-60 time of 57:32. Thanks to the sadly missed Brian Wyld I got the coveted sub-60 bib and that was a big contributing factor to my getting under the hour (and, importantly, making it to my 10am soccer game in time). In 2014 I also had a game to get to, and gave myself a bit more time to get there by beating my 2013 time (from memory I think it was 55:57) but unfortunately I didn’t have the luxury of starting the game on the bench as we only had the bare 11 players. I don’t think it was my best ever game!

2015 was another story altogether. Having decided to hang up the soccer boots earlier in the year, I had no game to get to. Somehow  (and I still don’t know quite how) I managed a 51:21. You can read all about it here.
Then came 2016. I have had a pretty big year. So far, I’ve had 2 marathons and 3 ultras in 2016. There was NO WAY I was going to beat, or even get close to, last year’s time. For the first time, I had to face the very likely prospect of not running a PB. I was not sure quite how to deal with that.

My preparation was as good as could be expected. I had a solid hit-out on Thursday (despite a stop at the river to check out the aftermath of Wednesday’s big storm) and a decent speed session on Friday. Saturday was an easy 5k parkrun with my mum to celebrate Torrens parkrun’s 200th run.

Gear-wise I’d gone with something a bit different – all built around the pink sub-60 minute race bib (they said it was magenta but it was clearly pink). I went with a nice floral lululemon skirt, with a new blue Skins singlet which I’d bought way back in July at the Gold Coast Marathon expo and had only had the chance to wear once so far, and had had a fantastic run that day. I’d also gone with the 2XU compression socks with which I’d done a near-PB at the Barossa half and a Boston qualifier at Gold Coast (despite nearly losing a toenail as a result) and my almost brand new Brooks Ravenna 6 shoes (my 6th pair of Ravenna 6s!). To top it all off I wore my stock standard white hat and another new addition, a pair of pink leg warmers (worn as arm warmers) which I’d bought from the Central Market the day before for the princely sum of $1. Money well spent if you ask me but one of my running buddies at the start line somewhat unkindly told me that I’d been ripped off (I’m talking to you, Mark Newman!)

It was a chilly morning so I’d donned a tracksuit top and gloves as I made the journey to the finish at Glenelg. That was a bit of a weird experience as I drove along the race route of Anzac Highway, seeing the kilometre markers which I would see again a few hours later! From Glenelg, I trammed it back to the city, arriving an hour before the 8am start. The tram ride was interesting – I didn’t know anyone on the tram but most of the people around me were clearly newbies who would be happy just to finish. It kind of put things into perspective, and took me back to 2013 when I would have been stoked with anything under an hour. Oh to be able to just go out there and enjoy it without the (self-imposed) pressure to perform!

On arrival in the city, I first stopped at the portaloo before doing a warmup, then removing my jacket and dropping my bag at the baggage drop, and quickly downing my energy drink before making my way to the sub-60 starting ‘cage’ where I couldn’t look anywhere without seeing a familiar face!

I had a few goals. My ‘A’ goal was to run around 54 minutes which would equate to 4:30 per kilometre. My ‘B’ goal was under 55 minutes. My ‘C’ goal was to retain my spot in the cage by running under the hour. I didn’t set any goals beyond that. For me, anything over an hour would be a disaster!

My regular running buddy, Peter, who I hadn’t seen before the start, was also aiming for around 54 minutes, so I was hoping to run at least part of the way with him. It is always good to have someone to run at least a few kms with!

Another sometime running buddy, Matt, had reminded me of how I’d breezed past him towards the end of last year’s race. I laughed and said that would be unlikely to happen again!

While waiting in the cage, light rain started to fall. I hadn’t experienced a rainy City-Bay before. Another reason why I wasn’t going to get a PB (or close to it). Fortunately, the rain stopped and the sun showed its face just before the start!

And before we knew it … it was go time!

I won’t talk too much about the race itself because it was a hard slog from start to finish. My first kilometre was 4:30, spot on pace. I saw Peter ahead of me but he was quickly away and I didn’t see him again until afterwards. 

There were a few other familiar faces along the way – Matt, who I think I finished just ahead of, and another Matt who hadn’t run since San Francisco Marathon about 6 weeks earlier. Also there were regular parkrunners Jacques (who I probably hadn’t seen since City-Bay last year) and Chris and Michelle, both of whom I knew I was unlikely to see again after they passed me early on. Beck was also out there but after a bad run last year she was with the main pack, outside the ‘cage’, so I wasn’t expecting to see her.

My first few kilometres were on or ahead of pace but it wasn’t long before the pace started to drop. Despite not needing to stop for a drink (I was carrying a bottle of Gatorade) and passing a lot of people along the way, my pace continued to slow.

I ditched my gloves at the first drink station. I’d worn them because it had been a bit chilly earlier, but really could have done without them. I tried to throw them in the bin but it was quickly apparent why I’d never made it as a netballer or basketballer.

I managed to get in the obligatory high five to a couple of kids at the halfway mark. There is a 6km race starting here, which would have started not long after we passed. 

Then we hit 7km and I tried to tell myself it was ‘just a parkrun to go’ but for some reason that didn’t help.

At around 8km I decided that the kilometre split times were doing my head in (because they weren’t as good as I had wanted) so I pulled my arm warmer (by now completely redundant, as the sun was well and truly out and it was lovely running weather) up over my watch so I couldn’t see it. It was time to get the head down and just get this thing done.

I did have to look up from time to time. People have a nasty habit of stopping and walking without warning, and I could easily have run up the back of someone. Still, that last 4km really seemed to drag!

2km to go. Less than 10 minutes. Head down, one foot in front of the other.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally got off Anzac Highway and onto the road that led us onto Jetty Road for the last few hundred metres. It felt like a lot more than that! A few people passed me on Jetty Road but mostly I held my spot and occasionally passed people. I stuck to the middle of the road, along the tramline, as I didn’t want to hold anyone up – I would have hated that last year!

FINALLY we turned the corner and the finish line was in sight. Unlike the previous 3 years there was no elation, no posing as I crossed the line, just pure relief that it was over! And huge disappointment when I finally looked at my watch and it was just over the 55 minutes! I’d given it everything I had but it just wasn’t enough.

I grabbed my race bag with the medal and made my way to the post-race recovery area. I hung around at the SA Road Runners Club marquee where I caught up with many of my fellow runners. Peter had done WELL under 54 minutes so there was no way I was ever going to be running with him! Beck had had an uneventful run and got her sub-60 bib back for next year. Gary had finished not far behind me and was very happy with his time. This for me was the best part of the day – getting to see all the other happy runners and forget how craptacular I felt my run was!

My response, when people asked me how I went, started as ‘Terrible’ then ‘Not as good as I’d hoped’ and finally settled at ‘Meh’. After 3 excellent City-Bays, I finally knew what it felt like to have a sub-par race. Much like this guy…

As I had lunch plans, I couldn’t stay long but I did manage to see 2012 Olympic gold medallist (and unsurprisingly the winner of the men’s 12k walk) Jared Tallent being interviewed onstage as well as Jess Trengove, also fresh back from Rio. I even managed to get a photo with Jared, as well as meeting Instagram friend Kristie who finished 3rd in the women’s walk – talk about mixing with the elites!

So, while it was not a great race personally for me this year, City-Bay is still a wonderful Adelaide event and just a brilliant day. Thanks so much to Race Director Joe Stevens and his team, including the fantastic volunteers, for making this event a ‘must-do’ for so many people every year, all the way from the elites to the back-of-the-pack gorilla-suited walkers!


And yes, despite saying ‘Never again!’ at the end of the race, chances are I will be fronting up again for my 5th City-Bay in 2017!

Race report – Bay-City Fun Run


Yesterday was the second Bay-City 12k Fun Run. I decided to do it again, after having run the inaugural event last year. I had to choose between that and the inaugural 65km Coastal Challenge, along the Adelaide beaches from Aldinga in the south to North Haven. It was sort of a difficult choice. On one hand I have a 100km ultra in just under 2 months (insert mild panic here!) and 65km would be good ‘time on feet’ training. On the other hand I have a Boston Qualifying marathon to run in 15 weeks and was due to do my first long run (21km), so a fast road run would be the logical choice! Plus, I hate sand! Well, running on it. In the end, the road run won out over the ultra.

I always like to have a goal time in mind when doing a race. It helps me work out my pacing and to know how much to push myself. Last year I did 58:28 so, as always, I wanted to run a PB. I didn’t really have a time in mind other than that. I set my pace alerts on my watch for 4:20 – 4:40 (minutes per km).

Pre-race preparation was not ideal. I had had a pretty big week mileage-wise (I’d already run 40km before Sunday) including 2 solid track races at the SA Masters championships (1500m and 3000m). I gave myself Saturday off to ensure fresh legs on Sunday (plus, I was rostered on as Run Director at parkrun so couldn’t do parkrun anyway). That was all fine, but it was work friend Maggie’s (very fun) 50th birthday party on Saturday night that meant I was a little on the tired side when my alarm went off on Sunday at 5:45am!

I had everything ready to go before I went out on Saturday night, so I could go straight to bed when I got home around 12:30. Gear-wise I went for the tried and tested – my old favourite lululemon skirt over Skins and Compressport calf compression sleeves on the bottom half, and on the top I went with my SARRC top which I had run a half marathon in (and probably will wear for the Gold Coast Marathon). I also had my small Ultimate Direction race vest – normally I would not use a vest in a race except an ultra, but to make up the 21km I needed for my long run, I planned to run back from the city to the Bay, so wanted to have plenty of hydration on board. I carried 1 litre of water and 500mL of sports drink. In hindsight I probably could have done without the water but no doubt if I hadn’t brought it I would have needed it!

After 5 hours or so of sleep I got up and had my usual brekky smoothie before getting dressed and sunscreened ready for a morning in the sun! It was a bit cool when I left home so I put my rainbow arm warmers on.

I drove to Plympton, almost exactly 4km from the start line. I parked in the same spot I did last year, next to the Mike Turtur Bikeway, a shared pedestrian/cycle path that follows the tramline. From there I ran along the path to the start line in Glenelg, the same spot where the iconic City-Bay Fun Run finishes. By the time I got there I had warmed up enough to shed my arm warmers. As with so many races I’ve done, there were plenty of familiar faces to greet before the race started at 8am. Unlike City-Bay, where there is an ‘Elite’ group, then the ‘sub-60s’, then the rest of the runners, then the walkers, in Bay-City, the smaller field means everyone starts together. The fast people still start at the front – I positioned myself behind them for 2 reasons. First, because I know they’re faster than me and will only overtake me within seconds anyway. Second, because trying to stick with them in the early stages would almost certainly derail the rest of my race!

8am came and we were away! Up Jetty Road and eventually onto Anzac Highway which seems to go on forever! I remember running through the busy Anzac Highway/South Road intersection and looking for traffic as I ran across. Somewhat unnecessary given that the road was closed – force of habit!

The first few kilometres felt a bit ‘ploddy’ but actually I ran 4:37, 4:33, 4:37 – all within my goal pace range. I actually got slower after that, my watch seemingly constantly going off, telling me I was going too slow. At the halfway mark (and no, there was no impromptu Bon Jovi singalong!) I was sitting on 28 minutes. Double that and I was on 56 minute pace. By this time I had forgotten what my time last year was, but knew 56 minutes would be a PB. I did want to negative split though, so I decided at 6km it was time to take it up a notch. I managed to get in a few high fives to the kids on the sidelines (When I do a road race, I don’t feel like I can claim a race medal unless I’ve high fived at least one kid!)

After a 4:45 6th km, I managed a 4:37 in the 7th and then a further second quicker in the 8th. When I saw the sign that said ‘4km to go’ I thought to myself, “I got this!” (In City-Bay and Bay-City, rather than having kilometre markers to show how far you’ve gone, the signs tell you how far you have to go. Sometimes that’s nice, although not so much after 1km – “11km to go!” – not very reassuring! )

Although I slowed down slightly in the 9th (according to Strava it was ever so slightly uphill, in fact the ‘steepest’ km at 13m elevation) it was around this point that we hit the edge of the city and I knew the end was in sight.

I was starting to pass more people at this point – some who were doing the 4.5km race, and some 12km runners who were struggling. (It wasn’t exactly hot, but running on bitumen with little shade, it can get pretty warm!)

I was checking my watch periodically and I was still on track. My 10th kilometre was 4:41 but other than this I had managed to keep between 4:35 and 4:40 from the halfway point onwards – I was happy to be able to maintain a relatively consistent pace.

With 2km to go, I picked up the pace again. I managed to speed up to 4:30 for the 11th, and then when I passed the glorious ‘1km to go’ sign, I forgot all about the impending run back to the car, and went for it. The last kilometre was 4:02, albeit slightly downhill. As we ran through Light Square, the Nova radio crew were there with loud uplifting music (from memory, ‘Uptown Funk’) which helped get me psyched for the finish!

I saw the clock as I approached the finishing arch, and pretty much sprinted, thinking I might be able to sneak under 55 minutes. I didn’t quite get there – according to Strava it was 55:07 – but still, a PB by more than 3 minutes – gotta be happy with that!

I didn’t hang around long – just enough time to congratulate a few fellow runners and collect my medal, before the 9km run back to the car, this time along the tramline. It was a bit frustrating, after a non-stop 12km run, to have to stop seemingly every block for traffic lights! Once I got out of the city though, it was plain sailing and I even ran into regular running buddies Beck, Kay and Alison, running back from their long run. (Kay and Alison ran the corresponding ‘City to Bay’ run with me last year – this time it was just a quick ‘Hi’ as we ran in opposite directions!)

Once I got back to the car I headed to West Beach to see some of the Coastal Challenge runners at Checkpoint 5, 46km into the 65km run. I hung around there for a while, and by the time I left there in search of lunch at 1pm, I knew I’d made the right decision. A solid, fast road run was definitely what I needed and I just couldn’t have imagined running 65km along the coast – well done to everyone that did though, makes my 12k (and a little bit more) look like a walk in the park!

I feel like it was a good first week for my 16 week marathon training programme – lots of fast running, some track runs and a nice hill thrown in too, with a total of 65km. That’s probably a bit much for such an early stage and I doubt I’ll be doing that much mileage for the whole 16 weeks, but I’d say it was a good start!

Burning rubber!


I live in Adelaide. For most of my life we have had an annual car race here which takes over the centre of the city with road closures starting seemingly MONTHS out from the event, and generally causing annoyance to locals.

First it was the Formula 1 Grand Prix from 1985 to 1995, which was kind of exciting. I went to a few, most notably the final event in 1995, admittedly pretty much ONLY for the post-race Bon Jovi concert. I recall having a uni exam the next day but no way was I missing the very last F1 race in Adelaide after Victoria stole it from us (yep, still bitter!)

Then a few years later we got the V8s. The V8s brought a different sort of crowd. I went to the first 2 Clipsal 500s (it was called something different then) – Clipsal is the sponsor’s name but I think most people would recognise the name more for the car race than for the products they actually sell! Much like The North Face 100, now called Ultra-Trail Australia, it would be hard to imagine it being called anything other than ‘Clipsal’. I had no interest whatsoever in the V8s. I just went for the socialising. I didn’t even make it to any of the concerts (until Cold Chisel last year – I wasn’t going to miss that. Still didn’t see the race at all though!) and soon decided it was a big waste of money.

But not to worry, the whole of Adelaide gets to experience the joy of Clipsal without forking out for a ticket. Conveniently situated during the period known as ‘Mad March’, perhaps unkindly described as the only time ANYTHING happens in Adelaide (and by ANYTHING I mean EVERYTHING), it’s truly a crazy time of year.

The week before Clipsal, when most of the road closures are in place, traditionally my Tuesday running group runs a section of the track during our regular morning run. Since I’ve been a runner, I’ve said every year that there should be a fun run around the Clipsal track – how good would that be? (Evidently it used to happen during the F1 years)

And finally it has happened! A 3km hot lap around the Clipsal track! Of course I signed up for it! And for the optional extra of getting photos taken on the legit actual Clipsal podium – the very podium where the top 3 drivers would be spraying (I say ‘wasting’) expensive champagne at the conclusion of the race the following weekend. It was a no-brainer!

Given that I would be getting photos taken atop the podium, I thought this called for a dress-up. As people who know me or are regular readers of my blog would be well aware, I don’t mind a dress-up. So I was straight onto eBay looking for a replica race suit. I couldn’t find any of those (well, not for a reasonable price anyway!) but found a ‘grid girl’ dress that fit the bill. I went with a neutral yellow one (didn’t want to support either Holden or Ford, so red and blue were out!) and broke the cardinal rule, don’t ever try something for the first time on race day! I wasn’t even sure if I’d be running in it, but after I saw the names on the start list, I thought I had nothing to lose – it would be just a fun run, not a race! No way was I any chance of winning – might as well have fun with it!

Did I mention ‘Mad March’? It’s not even March yet but the madness has well and truly set in. The Adelaide Fringe festival is only halfway through and 2 weeks in, prior to Sunday’s event I’d already seen 11 shows. Consequently I was a little tired and had an early night on Saturday night – being ‘only’ a 3k race I was not too concerned with preparation but I’m sure the early night helped!

On race day I put my costume on, threw some ‘proper’ running gear in my bag and headed down to the Clipsal circuit, already set up and pretty much ready to go for next weekend. It was kind of surreal getting there, with pretty much only security staff, the sun just barely up, and a sense of peace and quiet that most DEFINITELY will not be there next weekend!

I saw a few familiar faces there – most of my running friends were either hitting the trails or running what by all accounts was a very successful fundraising marathon organised by Chris, a running friend mentioned in my very first blog post. But for me, there was never any doubt. Sure it was ‘only’ 3km and I see myself as more of a long distance specialist, but I couldn’t pass up such a unique opportunity! Plus, it was the inaugural event and I won’t ever be able to do the inaugural Hot Lap Fun Run again!

The photos were taken just before the start and we were to go from there straight to the start. So I had to decide whether to run in my costume or in my running gear. I opted for the costume – why not?

We lined up to take our pics up in the 1st place position on the podium, complete with wreath around the neck (which some people hilariously compared to a Borat-style mankini – it really did look a bit like that!) and bottle of bubbly (which remained firmly closed!) After the podium photos I changed into my regular running hat (the chequered hat that came with the dress didn’t fit so well and would just annoy me) and off we went to the start line!

**SPOILER ALERT** Little did I know it wouldn’t be my only time up on the podium for the day!

I did a little warmup – about 800m. In a 3km event you kind of need to hit the ground running. I placed myself near the front, behind the ‘serious’ runners. We were led out by a classic Torana which was a nice touch. Not that I needed a car to follow –  I had all the runners in front of me for that! It was probably nice for the front runners though. It wasn’t long before the car was well out of my sight!

I went out way too fast. As I tend to do! I was only a few metres behind Lisa (my age group ‘rival’ from the Masters Games – I say ‘rival’ because we are in the same age group, but she will smash me every time, so I use the term ‘rival’ very loosely!) for a short while, which was how I knew I was going too fast. Also, my pace alerts on my Garmin were set for 4:00 – 4:15 minutes per km and I was sitting under 4 minutes for a good part of the first km. It was not sustainable!

I was conservatively aiming for sub 13 minutes. That was 4:20 per km and I expected I could go quicker than that. I knew 12 minutes was ambitious, but 13 was safe.

My first km was 4:05. I was sitting in 3rd place, behind Lisa and another girl who I didn’t know. I was waiting for the inevitable moment when someone would fly past me and take my 3rd position, as my over-ambitious start caught up with me. There were certainly no thoughts of moving into a higher position!

I got to the halfway point still in 3rd place. And it wasn’t a dead flat track as I’d expected – sure, the elevation gain according to Strava was only 18 metres, so it wasn’t exactly Mt Lofty, but I felt every one of those metres! (I should have known. Adelaide CBD is not hilly like Sydney, but one thing it is not, is dead flat. I HAVE run the Adelaide half marathon, after all!)

Passing me around this time was a guy called Dan, who I hadn’t met before but who was part of the Indigenous Marathon Project, a fantastic programme which trains indigenous athletes to run the New York Marathon. I had heard him speak at a function prior to last year’s City-Bay Fun Run, so after the race I had a chat with him about how NY went. He said it was great and he wanted to do it again! NY is definitely one on my bucket list… looks like I’m going to be running marathons for at least the next 20 years to fit them all in!

Anyway it was good to have him that little way in front of me for the rest of the race – always in sight, so I just tried to keep pace with him. My second km was 4:16, more like the pace I would have expected to run, but a little slower than I’d hoped. There was only 1km to go – easy!

I did look over my shoulder a few times during that last km. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been overtaken by another female yet!

I managed a 3:54 last km. I have a dream of running a sub-20 minute 5k – all I have to do is 4 more of those and I’m there! (Easier said than done, of course! I guess first of all I need to crack a sub-6 minute 1500, then a sub-12 minute 3000!)

One last look over my shoulder as I entered the final straight and it appeared I was safe! A final burst of speed and I was home in 12:32 (according to Strava – my official time might vary by a few seconds) and 3rd female! And to top it all off, the trophy presentations were taking place back up on the actual legit podium!

I did feel a bit like a fraud up there – the other 2 girls and the 3 guys were dressed like runners and were actual legit athletes, and there was me in my cross-between-a-grid-girl-and-driving-suit-outfit! Still – the results don’t lie! This time I was in position 3 and I didn’t get to ‘fake spray’ the bottle of champagne but I didn’t care – I had an actual legit trophy to show for it!

I enjoyed the run! Unlike last weekend’s 10k, which was a wonderful event but I didn’t exactly enjoy my run, I actually did like this one. Maybe it was the novelty of running on an iconic Adelaide race track, maybe it was the fact it was a route I hadn’t run before. Maybe it was just a sign that I should focus on the shorter distances! Whatever it was, I would definitely do this event again, and I would recommend it to anyone – it’s a short race with a generous time allowed to complete it, so it is very doable for the average weekend warrior!

Let’s hope the Hot Lap Fun Run becomes an annual event! You probably won’t get me out on the Clipsal course any other way!

10km – should be 1/10 as hard as 100km, right?


Yesterday was my 4th Dolphin Run, traditionally the first SARRC (South Australian Road Runners Club) event each year, in beachside Semaphore. In 2013 it was my first 10km race, just under 3 months after I started running. It remains the only 10km race I’ve ever run!

10km is not my favourite distance, possibly because I rarely race it! It’s funny because 3 of my regular weekly runs are usually around that distance, so I should be pretty used to it by now! But I guess those runs are usually at a more ‘leisurely’ pace, and of course also involve stopping, either for a drink or for traffic lights. I run 5km almost every week at parkrun, so I am very comfortable with that distance. I like the half marathon distance. More recently I have decided I like 1500m! And of course I am a recent convert to ultramarathon distances. But 10km? Meh!

Prior to yesterday’s event, my fastest 10k was 42:27. That was during last year’s City-Bay 12k. Probably all downhill. That is a good indicator of what I can do on a good day but I wasn’t counting that as a 10k PB. As far as I was concerned, my 10k PB was my fastest 10k race, which was the corresponding race last year – 47:19. This year, I was aiming for sub-45 minutes. I thought that was achievable. After all, my last proper parkrun hit-out, a week after the 100km, was 22 minutes flat. Plus the Dolphin Run course is very flat and Torrens parkrun is undulating.

My first Dolphin Run was 48:10. I was very happy with that – my aim had been to break 50 minutes. The following year I naturally wanted to go faster, however running the last 3km into a strong headwind put paid to that!

Last year I managed that elusive PB, but I knew I could take a fair chunk off that time this year.

I hadn’t run much during the week. Wednesday night’s annual 20km Pub Run had aggravated my left hip that had given me some trouble during the 100km. I blame the hills, not the refreshing cider I had at the halfway point of the aptly-named Pub Run!

I had skipped my Thursday run (also because I wanted a sleep-in after a late night, having hit a Fringe comedy show after the run) and opted for an easy walk on Friday morning. Knowing that I can’t do an ‘easy’ parkrun unless I am pacing one of my parents, and neither of them were coming, I gave Saturday’s parkrun a miss too.

I didn’t get to Semaphore quite as early as I would have liked, so had to park about 600m away from the start. That was not such a bad thing, as it meant I could do an easy warmup ‘jog’ from the car to the start! Immediately my hip started complaining, and I thought “Hmmm, this PB might not be happening today!” However, by the time I finished my warmup it had settled down a bit and I was good to go!

People I’d spoken to during the week, when they found out I was running the 10k, said “Oh, that should be a walk in the park for you!” – meaning that anything should be easy after a 100k! Well, I wasn’t so sure about that, and it turned out I was right. This 10k felt SO much harder than the 100!

I had my pace alerts on my Garmin set for 4:15-4:30, so if I fell outside that range my watch would let me know.

My first km was 4:15. That was a little too fast.

At the halfway point I was on 22:08. In previous races, I would try to come home faster than I went out (ie ‘negative split’), but by 5km I knew I just had to hold on. I had enough ‘time in the bank’ that I could afford to slow down a bit and still come in under 45 minutes, but it was going to be a near thing. I must admit I thought to myself pretty constantly during the few kms after the turnaround, “Should have done the 5k! Should have done the 5k!” (As it turned out, that 5k time would have seen me as second placed female – but it was the Dolphin Run. I ALWAYS run the 10k at the Dolphin Run!)

Thankfully there was no breeze to speak of! That meant that the tougher ‘back half’ was not made tougher by a headwind. It still felt uphill though! Thankfully, my hip held out OK but the rest of me struggled!

Once I got to the Palais Hotel I started to pick up the pace a little. That was only a few hundred metres from the finish line. I didn’t look at my watch except when it vibrated at me. Thankfully at this point it was telling me I was going FASTER than the pace range I’d set, not slower as it had been doing for much of the second half!

I crossed the line officially in 44:52 – I was super happy with that! I chatted to Paul for a bit – we hadn’t actually met before but we have followed each other on Strava and Instagram for a while and we were already Facebook friends. He had been aiming for sub 44 and I had kept him in my sights after he passed me in the first half. I knew he was less than a minute ahead of me so that gave me confidence I could reach my goal. As it turned out, he didn’t quite reach his goal but he wasn’t far off! I also chatted with Rachael, another Instagram friend who I hadn’t really ever spoken to before, although I had scanned her barcode at parkrun a few times!

It seems weird that I would say a 100km is easier than a 10, but it’s true! Sure, I don’t expect to lose any toenails as a result of this race, and I am able to walk normally today, but I think it’s the significantly faster pace that makes the difference. At the pace I ran the 100k, it felt (relatively) comfortable. There was nothing comfortable about yesterday’s race! I reckon if I’d slowed down more in the 100k I might have felt like I could go on even longer! Also, in the 100k there were frequent stops and walk breaks. I never ran 10k non-stop during the 100. I didn’t stop in yesterday’s run – didn’t even grab a cup of water from the drink station.

So I guess that’s it for 10k races until this time next year!

Race Report – City2Surf 9 August 2015


A brief intro for those unfamiliar with this event (stats thanks to Wikipedia)

City2Surf is a 14km road race/fun run held each year in Sydney. It is the biggest fun run in the world with around 80 000 entrants.

Legendary Australian distance runner Steve Moneghetti holds the course record with 40:03. The women’s record is 45:08 minutes, held by Susie Power. (I wasn’t intending to give either of those records a shake!)

It is a staggered start, essential given the huge field! Firstly come the elite and preferred runners, then the red bibs (sub-70 minutes), then the green bibs (sub-90) followed by charity fundraisers, the open entry group, and finally back-of-the-pack joggers, walkers and pram pushers.

The race starts in Sydney CBD and passes through the eastern suburbs of East Sydney, Kings Cross, Rushcutters Bay, Double Bay, Rose Bay, Vaucluse and Dover Heights before finishing at the iconic Bondi Beach. The most difficult part of the course is the notorious “Heartbreak Hill” at around the 6km mark, a 2 km long hill from Rose Bay to Vaucluse.

I’m not sure when running City2Surf first entered my mind, but it just seemed like the thing to do! My previous ‘biggest’ event had been Adelaide’s City-Bay, with around half the overall number of participants, but in City-Bay they are split between 3km, 6km and 12km (the majority of people do the 12), whereas in City2Surf all 80 000-odd are running the 14km.

I’ve done City-Bay twice. The first one I kind of enjoyed but the crowd made it hard to get into a good rhythm, especially early on. Then I’d get into a zone and suddenly the person in front of me would stop or slow to a walk, forcing me to alter my pace. I wanted to run sub-60 minutes – I was lucky enough to get into the sub-60 starting group which gave me a huge advantage in this regard. I managed sub-60 (without a watch, so I was really only running by feel). The following year I had a watch and managed to take a minute and a half off the previous year’s time, but I really didn’t enjoy it. That MAY have had something to do with the fact that I had to dash off straight away and play a full game of soccer! Also because I don’t enjoy running in a big crowd and having to do a lot of dodging and weaving.

I’ve done 3 marathons – 2 with several thousand participants and 1 with a few hundred. The few hundred was at Barossa and that was by far my favourite marathon experience. Not only because it seemed like I knew half the field and many of the spectators, but because of the smaller numbers.

So why on earth would I enter an event with 80 000 participants?

I spoke to a number of people in the weeks leading up to the event and they all said I would LOVE it. Just the whole party atmosphere, with live bands and DJs throughout the course. Lots of people dressed up in wacky costumes (note to self: don’t get beaten by someone in a gorilla suit!). It’s just an iconic event. Something I had to do at least once on my life!

Initially when I entered I was going by myself. It was sort of a spur of the moment decision, made in late December. I firstly confirmed that I would be able to get a red bib (sub-70) and then entered and booked my flights. However over the few months leading up to the event I discovered that a number of running friends had also entered! Most of these friends were making the trip over from Adelaide but one, Rob, was a Sydney local and a veteran of several C2S events. I hadn’t actually met him in person but we had connected via Facebook – we had a number of mutual friends, who had assured me he was not an axe murderer or a stalker before I accepted his friend request. He was also coming to Adelaide later in the year to run Yurrebilla 56km Ultra, and we would be in the same start group there, so it would be nice to meet before then! Another regular running buddy, Maree, was also running her first C2S and the three of us arranged to meet up early Sunday morning outside the hostel where Maree and I were staying, which was conveniently located within walking distance of the start line.

Having recently travelled for the Gold Coast Marathon, my race gear packing game was strong. I packed ALL my race gear into my carry-on bag, which caused minor issues at Adelaide Airport when it was slightly overweight and I ended up having to transfer my handbag into my checked baggage… no way was I letting any of my race gear out of my sight! I also cut it a bit fine getting to the airport in time – I made it to the bag drop with about 2 minutes to spare before they closed the flight! (Possibly because I had a slightly TOO relaxed coffee catch-up after my morning run… I was so excited by the prospect of not having to dash off to work that I underestimated the amount of time it would take to do my last minute packing and drive to the airport!)

I had my usual throwaway jacket ($3 from Savers – winning!) and I’d also packed a long sleeved top and change of singlet to leave at the finish line. Rob, Maree and I planned to run back to the city (a MUCH more leisurely run mind you!) so I’d also packed my small hydration vest (to carry gear and my finisher medal) and handheld bottle. City2Surf has very strict regulations about what you can leave at the bag drop – everything has to fit into the provided clear plastic bag. I had Maree’s and my gear, with the plan to drop it off at the expo on Friday to save messing around on Sunday.

Here is just some of the advice I was given pre-race:
-There is a LONG way to go after Heartbreak Hill.
-FLY down the downhill.
-When you think you’re nearly at the top of Heartbreak Hill, think again!
-When you see the finish line, there’s still a fair way to go!
-Go to the Beach Road Hotel afterwards… it’s “like Christmas Day for runners” (rehydration is very important,  after all!)

I wasn’t too phased by Heartbreak Hill as I had regular hills training in my programme. I had been assured that Heartbreak Hill was not anywhere near as bad as many of the hills we run on Fridays (including Heatherbank Tce which we ran the very day that I flew out!)

Friday night was an Adelaide reunion of sorts, catching up with fellow Adelaidians Mel and Steve, and former Adelaidian Sam (now a Sydney local) for dinner, cocktails and dancing! Saturday Sam and I hit the DFO for some retail therapy…  I gave the credit card a good workout at lululemon in particular! Saturday afternoon I met up with Maree at the hostel, and we headed out for a pre-race pizza at the very popular Macchiato. We shared the pizza in the sense that I ate the WHOLE THING! We went for a quick reconnaissance mission to the start line (7 minute walk from the hostel) before heading back to the room to get all our gear ready for the morning.

The hostel was pretty good… relatively quiet despite its proximity to the notorious George St. Rob met us there at 6:30am on race day and we walked in the somewhat chilly conditions to the Red start line (all 3 of us had Red bibs). It took a while for Maree to be let into the Red start area as she had 3 layers on over her bib! We got close to the front of the Red area, so we were just behind the elites and preferred start group. A lot of Rob’s running mates joined us, and I was surprised to see fellow Torrens parkrunner Min-Qi waving to me from the side!

With about 15 minutes to go before the 7:55am start, the throwing of jumpers commenced! Most people had brought jumpers that they were happy to throw away (and/or had purchased specifically for the occasion) and by the time we started the ground was thick with them! They would later be collected and donated to charity. Maree and I were a little horrified that one of Rob’s friends was ditching a lululemon jacket… I guessed that this one might not make it to the charity store!

The national anthem was sung, and it was go time!

The start was a bit of a blur. And definitely the worst possible start for me, getting pushed to the ground (I assume accidentally although I don’t think he apologised) by a guy who was obviously feeling threatened by my blistering pace! (I had no idea what had happened, I went through the entire race convinced that I must have tripped over the timing mat at the start – it wasn’t until I met up with Maree at the finish that she set me straight!) Both knees and one hand bleeding, thankfully Maree was there to help me up and I was off! Take 2!

The first little bit was,  as you would expect, quite congested, as we headed up towards the big Coke sign that marks the infamous Kings Cross, and into a short tunnel. (I had heard that a lot of the males used this tunnel as a urinal, and had been warned to hold my breath, however fortunately this was not an issue!)

I passed several aid stations which had first aid supplies on hand. I looked down at my bloody knees and hand and momentarily contemplated a brief pit stop but thought better of it. The bleeding had stopped and any dressings the first aiders might put on, would undoubtedly impede my movement. Every now and then I’d look down and see the blood but for the most part I put it out of my mind.

It’s hard to put into words how much I enjoyed the race! Every last minute of it! The atmosphere was electric, the cheering from the sidelines was constant and the weather was pretty damn perfect!

I only managed to get to one drink station during the race but that turned out to be enough. I wasn’t prepared for the drink stations when they appeared and I was totally in the wrong spot to get to them without having to stop and walk – something I was not prepared to do! Maybe in future I will consider carrying a handheld bottle like I did in the Gold Coast Marathon.

Then it was onto Heartbreak Hill. I was totally prepared so when I passed the 6km mark I knew it was close.

I didn’t find it that hard… I put that down to my regular hill training! People had told me I’d probably pass people going up the hill and they were right – a LOT of people were walking by then. When I saw my official results it turned out that I averaged 5:04 minutes per km for the 1.6km climb which I thought was pretty good! The view from what I would have thought was the top if I didn’t know better, was simply magnificent and I was SO tempted to stop and take a photo.  I guess that gives you a bit of an indication of my mindset – wouldn’t stop for a drink,  wouldn’t stop for a Band-Aid, but seriously considered stopping for a photo!

I didn’t stop, though. I was on a roll and I didn’t want to lose momentum.

One thing that really annoyed me, and does in every race,  is people with headphones. At one point I needed to pass between 2 people who were both wearing headphones! I was a bit cautious after my earlier fall, I NEEDED to get past them but given that they couldn’t hear me call out, I had to be very careful. Fortunately there were no further mishaps!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When it comes to road races, LEAVE THE HEADPHONES AT HOME, people! Enjoy the atmosphere… with headphones in you could be running anywhere! Be in the moment!

After Heartbreak Hill there were more undulations until the last few km which were all downhill. Some of those little uphills felt tougher than HBH!

Somewhere in the second half of the race I spotted Rob up ahead. In a race where I knew only a handful of people out of a huge field,  it was exciting to see a familiar face (well, a familiar back at that point!). I gave him a cheer, intending to run with him for a bit but I was on a roll so I just kept going.

I had gone into the race with a niggle in my left patellar tendon,  which had appeared on Tuesday. I had strapped it for my Friday run and it had felt OK other than on the steep descents. I had strapped it again on race day, this time a bit more firmly and with an extra strip of tape.

I’m happy to say I did not feel any discomfort in the tendon during the race or since! And I did fly down the downhills! Maybe the fall fixed it!

Kilometre 13 was an absolute blast… according to Strava I did it in 3:47. All downhill of course… I set a number of Strava PRs on the downhills that will be very tough to beat… I just love running fast and naturally downhills allow you to run a lot faster than normal!

The last kilometre felt LONG. I think that’s pretty normal… the closer you get to the end, the further it seems. I didn’t allow myself to look to my left where I would have seen the finish line… it was eyes straight ahead all the way.

I’m pretty sure I screamed with delight when I saw the finish line. As I like to do, I put on an extra burst of speed and flew past people as I approached the finish line at beautiful Bondi, and glory! I forget exactly what the clock said but my watch said 1:03:53 – a shade under 64 minutes – well beyond my goal of sub-70!

Rob wasn’t far behind me… less than a minute I think! Maree was also delighted to finish not far behind us in just under 70 minutes.

My first port of call was the medical tent to get patched up. Unfortunately my little spill had put paid to our plans to run back to the city from Bondi – once I had the dressings on, there was no way I was going to be able to run!

It took a while for us all to meet up afterwards… Rob and I were in communication via phone but Maree had left hers at the hostel so we couldn’t contact her. She did message a couple of times via other people’s Facebooks, and at one point messaged that she was at the ‘Lost Children’ area… ironically neither Rob nor I were able to find her there!

Note to self and potential future C2S-ers… the gear collection area is probably the best place to arrange to meet people! (Definitely NOT the ‘Lost Children’ area!)

Once we’d met up and collected our gear, we went to the Hotel Bondi, which was teeming with runners, for a celebratory drink before walking back to Bondi Junction to get the train back to town. Maree and I farewelled Rob and headed off for a shower followed by a well-earned recovery lunch (more pizza!)

If anyone is considering giving C2S a go, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough! C2S was initially a ‘bucket list’ item for me, but right now I am pretty sure I’ll be back to do it all again next year! Who’s with me?