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September 13, 2016

When many people think of the City to Surf, they’ll probably and rightly tell you that they’ve either never heard of it or they’ll associate it with the iconic event in Sydney that I’ve now completed 4 times. Yet last weekend I was able to do it all over again, this time over a longer distance and across the other side of the country. Sure there were fewer participants, but I wonder how many can say they’ve run both August runnings of the City to Surf on either side of the continent? (Yes Darwinites, I’m aware of your City to Surf and one day when the schedule allows I’m coming to conquer that as well)

The journey to get there was my typical exercise in mismanagement. Getting a train to Brisbane less than an hour after having worked a full shift sorting mail was bad enough. Then waiting around in Brisbane all afternoon before it was early enough to get to the airport with 13kg of luggage was worse. At least I got a row to myself on the big A330 although the rain upon landing at Perth on the stroke of midnight didn’t fill me with confidence. Well maybe I’m lying a little, I don’t mind a little rain, but the winds that came with it were what got me concerned.

It was a positive Saturday even though a plan to join in a local parkrun fell through (I loved the little sleep in until 9:30 local time, and I forgot my barcode anyway that would have recorded the time. Funny how I’ve never done the local parkrun yet have joined in the Cairns version once and may do the same in other cities). At least part of the mission for the weekend was accomplished. Like last year I am going to be wearing a pair of shoes not previously worn in a race (rest assured the breaking in process has begun however). Unlike last year when I opted for a New Balance pair of clogs, I found a nice pair in the Asics range that hasn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Obviously I was going to use the well worn NB pair on Sunday which served me reasonably well throughout the year.


Sunday dawned dry but cold and windy, and unlike other events I also had to pack my room given the schedule wouldn’t allow me to return before I was scheduled to depart Perth that evening. The process took longer than anticipated, and despite the short distance from apartment to baggage drop I felt I had to run in order to get a decent warm up in as well as get the baggage sorted before it blasts off to the finish area at City Beach. I always intended to leave an older jumper at the start area as well so the top would at least stay warm until about 15 minutes to go time, so hopefully someone less fortunate than myself is enjoying a little warmth from my generosity.

At almost precisely 6AM WST, the gun blasted and the small field compared to many of the other runs I do set off for the whole 42km. It is a course of contrasts, the first half basically flat although exposed in many areas to the Swan River, the sections within the carparks of the University of WA being the main exception. Then after passing through the start area with the crowds building before the half marathon and the main 12km event start, it’s basically rolling hills through Kings Park and onward to the finish. With Melbourne being the main goal and the fact I was using this as a training run, the aim was to post a decent split at the half way mark then coast to the finish without expending too much gas.

The first part of the deal was pretty easy to accomplish. Thankfully the winds that were strong in the warm up were not as bad as I anticipated and I was able to get a decent mid race split. I even remembered to lower the shades from the visor to the face as the sun rose, something easy to forget when in the midst of the run. Rather than try to sprint kilometres 19-21 on the course as I did last year, I decided to try to maintain the steady tempo to get what I wanted yet leave a little for the second half. The official 20km split came in at 1:49, which equated to a 1:54 first half. My Strava app comfirmed that the tempo was nice and consistent, so mission accomplished…..

At least the first half anyway. Now for the coast to the finish at my own leisure. I decided to walk up many of the hills before trotting gracefully down at a slower tempo. The plan worked OK with other like minded participants alongside for the ride (he sounded like an Englishman). There were also times where I came to a standstill in an attempt not to impede the lead competitors in the half marathon, whose course was much like ours for a number of kilometres. About a 8 kilometres from home I started feeling some pain in my knee, although it wasn’t the knee I was expecting to feel pain from. Before the Sydney City2Surf I actually had trouble waking up thanks to pain in the right knee. Figuring that prevention was better than the cure, I decided to go a little old school and put a brace over the knee. Little did I expect that the pain in my left knee would make the uphill sections approaching and passing the Challenge Stadium complex more than challenging. I did manage to jog some flatter sections of the course but the finish line couldn’t come quick enough.

Amazingly I even managed to reach the line a minute quicker than the previous year, but then the issues really began. Bending the knee became a near impossibility, although I somehow managed to find terra firma on my posterior. A quick session with a masseuse at least gave me some movement in the area, although the pain was still present when I limped for a coffee (I still shake my head over why I drink it) then towards the buses which were better managed this year compared to 12 months ago. It took the best part of a week before the knee became relatively pain free, and Melbourne is still on the agenda, but if the problem reappears in any of the last 3 events on the 2016 agenda (Point to Pinnacle and City2Sea are the others I’ve entered) I may have to swallow some pride to seek professional advice. In the interim the knee has pulled up well from some of the training runs I’ve managed to do, and hopefully a torture test this Saturday (2 hours plus) will ensure I can pass my own mind’s fitness test.



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