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June 22, 2014

Often when I run in an event, I always am on the lookout to see the dates for the next year to see if I can make a return trip. The motivation for such return trips can be different, sometimes it’s to improve upon the time from 12 months ago (the scientific term I believe is “unfinished business”), occasionally it’s to use the run as an excuse to see other parts of cities where I infrequently visit. There’s also a small matter of returning to use a race as a training exercise with other events in mind.

At the time of writing there are less than 14 days until the Gold Coast Marathon which I am planning to run for the first time. I’ll reflect on the specific training runs I’ve been doing at another time, but for now I’m going to reflect on the second edition of Brisbane’s City2South run held last weekend through Brisbane City. If you would like a reminder of how I went last year, then is the place to look.

If last year’s preparation seemed chaotic, haphazard and rushed, then it was nothing in comparison to this year. With uncertainty approaching the date over when bibs would be posted, if at all, the entry was delayed until a month prior to the event when confirmation came that I would need to pick up the bib from Brisbane. Several co-workers were aghast when I told them why I had to take a day’s leave from work, and what I was planning for the weekend. Fortunately transportation and accommodation was easily organised even if the off course planning for future weekends would need to be rescheduled. Also by booking a serviced apartment rather than a motel room, I had to source food that I would need to cook myself, another small expense that I would eventually have to learn from (I only needed 3 potatoes as opposed to 4).

In the words of Split Enz, I SEE RED I SEE RED (one day at the City2Surf) I SEE RED

In the words of Split Enz, I SEE RED I SEE RED (one day at the City2Surf) I SEE RED

So after making an extra return flight to fulfil football commitments on the Saturday, it was yet another early wake up call on a Sunday morning to wander down to Brisbane’s Botanical Gardens. This year however felt a little different, and not because the ailment was a number of stiff upper leg muscles instead of a corked thigh. Upon entering the start zone, where I was placed amongst the faster group due to a quick time at the City2Sea in Melbourne last November, it felt as though there was less excitement and fewer starters as opposed to 2013. Even accounting for the entrants in the 5km event which was an addition to the program (their start line was at a separate area incorporating part of the Twilight Run course) it was later revealed that about 1000 less entries were lodged which in a way is sad given this course was one of the better challenges I had faced.

There were a few minor alterations to the course, particularly approaching the second river crossing that eliminated the need for an expanded loop beyond the University of Queensland. What didn’t change was the long drag up Coronation Drive, and the signature aspect of the course, the grind up Highgate Hill with the finish line in sight. Depending on how I felt physically, the plan was to consistently run a steady pace prior to the hill in order to save a little gas for the latter stages, the hill coming just after 11km into the run. This meant a little deviation from my usual plan which would have been useless anyway given there weren’t too many looking to use a group theory to tackle the course, also preferring individual plans.

The groins fortunately loosened up for the start, and the pace was quicker than expected. I largely ignored the water only water stations to save time, I prefer Gatorade on my runs anyway. I was a little surprised that there weren’t so many runners that took advantage of the mist tent located in the same position as 2013, but I suppose that came with being in the quicker group. After that came another change that I actually smiled about given that there’s always room for the old school remedy in the new age era. About half way up the hill there was a volunteer crew that manned buckets of SPONGES! Footballers of old will remember the old fashioned magic sponge, and this was a welcome throwback to that era. A quick squirt down the back despite the ideal running conditions, and it was onward to the summit.

In past events I have tended to coast a little downhill after expending a little more energy uphill than anticipated. This time however, thanks to the boost from the sponge, I was able to put on a sprint downhill as though I was a madman. So even allowing for a few seconds to give the kids on the fence a high 5 in the finishing chute, I was able to shave a couple more minutes off my time than anticipated. The upshot was that the 2014 time was a over 8 minutes faster than 2013, certainly a better time than I had anticipated for I was looking for a 1:10 as opposed to a 1:08. The most important thing was that the momentum generated in training was maintained if not enhanced.

These are the wheels for the next challenge, with the older Adidas pair serving me well for long enough.

These are the wheels for the next challenge, with the older Adidas pair serving me well for long enough.

Next up as mentioned earlier is the Gold Coast Marathon, the third time that I will be tackling the whole 42km distance. As this is a major event in Australia and now a big international event, I have to mention what I am mentioning to anyone who either asks or cares to listen. If you watch the TV coverage and you notice the front runners, those will be either of African or Japanese origin, none of those will be me. I’m just looking forward to finishing under 4 hours which this time seems realistic.

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