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September 18, 2015

Apologies again for the lateness of the report, been slightly busy in between work commitments and training for the yearly ultimate goal, the Melbourne Marathon. Training for that has been a little behind where I would like, but more on that at a later time, especially given that this event in Perth was being used as part of the training program.

I had first heard of Perth’s City to Surf a few years ago thanks to following another of the bigger events in Perth, the Run for a Reason. After considering going last year I made the decision to attend this year, figuring that if I was going to make it worthwhile to fly across the country I would enter the full marathon. Unlike Sydney’s more famous and world-renowned event which is a single 14km event, Perth’s run (which is part of a statewide series as opposed to being part of the Fairfax run Run Out Loud circuit) offers a variety of distances from a full marathon to a short 4km blast.

With Melbourne firmly in my mind, my goals for this marathon differed from what I would usually aim for. Finishing time for once wasn’t important, although finishing naturally was the ultimate goal. Instead I would be focusing on getting a fast time at both the 10km and mid-point (21km) splits. Consistency in Melbourne would be the major factor in my view to improve upon last year’s 3:58 time, and what better time to practice than 7 weeks before the big day, whilst there was still sufficient time to recover.

So just what were these goals I had in mind? Figuring that consistently running 5:20 kilometres would be the key to reaching the major ambition, I wanted to run a 10km time somewhere in between 51-55 minutes. Given I usually cover this distance usually in 52-53 minutes in training this probably seemed a little easy. I was also looking for a sub 1:55 through the half way checkpoint, then anything after that would be seen to be a bonus. A quick reconnaissance of the early part of the course on the Saturday would provide the final confirmation of the plans.

After a quiet pizza in the late stages of Saturday afternoon I rose on Sunday to what was a windy morning. The showers that were intermittent on Saturday Night had passed, meaning that the roads at least weren’t slick (and whatever dampness remained would be dried with the breeze). Unusually it would be a very early 6AM start time but this didn’t stop me from doing a nice dynamic warm up session prior to the start. Soon after we were off, looking to settle into the rhythm that would help me achieve the goals. The first few kilometres were smooth, as it should have been after the course study a matter of hours before. After about 4km though the left hand turn at the Esplanade train station would lead onto the motorway, and the unknown.

The first half of the marathon course was as close to flat as possible, with only a couple of small rises leading into a park and leading back into the start house where the mid-point was located. It was difficult however to find a pack that would both make it easier to pace myself to my goals and provide a little protection from the breeze. It was almost as though I was protecting others from the wind as the course wound adjacent to the Swan River. Not trusting the brand of electrolyte on offer at the drink stations, I decided to only take on board water at the drink stations I elected to utilise after the 10km marker. In the end I was pleased to reach the mid-point in 1:48, although I was concerned that I was traveling at a speed excessive to what I had anticipated.

It was tough going in the second half of the event as the course elevation changes took effect. Running through the King’s Park precinct proved to be a testing time as the many hills and the earlier effort took a toll. Even taking into account a couple of walk breaks to try to rest the legs, the time at 30km still would have me well placed to run a reasonably quick time. Sadly the body started to let me down. Both hamstrings were screaming “enough” as the course wound towards the City Beach finish. I was even joking with the course volunteers to see if I could borrow their hamstrings to finish, although I suspect that their legs were in even worse condition despite their relative inactivity. Then after a late race comfort break, the right ankle started to feel sore and upon the finish I even spent about 15 minutes in the first aid tent utilising ice treatment as a precaution more than anything.

As I have mentioned the finish time wasn’t important, although based on the first half some may be disappointed with the 4:25 finish time. What was important on a personal level though was the lessons from the event. I had achieved the personal goals I set out for, and given Melbourne doesn’t have the elevation changes that this course has I feel as though a quicker time than 2014 is within reach. I also learned that perhaps giving this course more respect was needed, particularly after half way. My training to that point did include some hill climbing, but that was done with fresh legs rather than with after several kilometres under the belt. I’m sure there will be a next time, even if it is to cover a shorter distance just as I am doing in Sydney, which is the next leg on the running journey.

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