Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Conquered the hill!

I've run the City2Surf course three times now - twice as part of the offical race from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach the past two years, and once unofficially. My first City2Surf in 2011 was a few months after my knee surgery, and while I had been progressing well in learning to run again (running pre-surgery was a non event due to knee pain) I also had a bit of a niggle develop a month or two before the run, so I couldn't really train for it. My second City2Surf was last year, and occurred during a period when I found running boring. I only ran once a fortnight, which was enough to get a PB on the course (as I wasn't in pain), but wasn't actually a proper run.

On both official occasions I ran from the start to the bottom of Heartbreak Hill, and then would jog/walk (mostly walk) it. While I would then run the flat sections and take it easy downhill (especially with a sore knee in 2011), I didn't really have the fitness to get over the small climbs between the end of Heartbreak Hill and the end of the run.

Sunday was a completely different story. I may only be running a couple of times a week (I have taken up stair-running on Thursday mornings, and continue the Sunday long runs), but it was enough to run the entire length of the course. While I would wait for the others at the top of climbs, I never felt like I needed to stop running. I'm sure part of this is due to running at the group's pace, but as we approached Heartbreak Hill, I suggested that we each tackle it at our own pace and meet at the top. We agreed that was a good idea, and I took the next few minutes making sure that my breathing was under control and in a good rhythm before the hill started.

Once it came up, I was fine - I just plodded along at my pace. I knew I was fitter than I had ever been on this course, but I definitely felt the difference as I got through the first section of the hill. In previous attempts I've either walked this section (2011) or run up to this section and be forced to walk most of the rest (2012). On Sunday I just felt, well, fine. More plodding at the same pace and another section down. By the time I got to the top I still felt fine! Completely ran up it without stopping! The other girls weren't too far behind, and after a few minutes we were off again.

We might have had another few pauses and re-groups at the top of smaller climbs, but I still got to Bondi Beach at an average pace of sub-6 min. I shouldn't be surprised given I ran the half a little slower than 5:30 pace, but it was a welcome change to the City2Surf runs from the past two years. The weather was a lot nicer too - I even went for a walk in the water at Bondi Beach. The temperature actually felt fine, although I was probably warm from having run from the city!

If I was into ice baths and closer to home, I might have gone for a swim!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Back into it

I'm no longer sick, and Sydney's rain has calmed down a bit, so no real excuses to be skimping on running! Although I am going through a period in my PhD where every single task seems to be super-urgent, so I found myself not updating this blog!

Since my last post over a month ago, I have only gone on 6 runs - which means it was about one run a week! I went to one more Coogee-Bondi group run, this time covering the group's entire course from Coogee to Marks Park. I haven't really gone since due to heavy rain, or because I ran long distances the two previous days (Saturday and Sunday).

I have been keeping up my Sunday Inner West Jogger activities - well, except for a couple of days that were rained out and one run I had no interest in joining! We covered 12km one Sunday due to taking a slightly different route to the Harbour Bridge, and then finding that we couldn't take a direct route back to the start due to the Sydney Urbanathlon!

At least we had a laugh at some of the Urbanathlon contestants!
From my Instagram feed via

The biggest change to my running has been including trail running. Now, I confess to having missed the past two Saturdays due to heavy rain (after being sick for so long, I'm being overly cautious) and due to having a high school friend visiting Sydney (so I went for a coffee, coastal walk, and ice-cream with her).

My first run with the group was from Garie Beach. I found that my tendency to trip over slightly raised bits of concrete in an urban environment, meant more trips during trail running! Not that I fell over, but it was obvious that I wasn't lifting my feet as high as I should. It does make running a little more tiring, but like anything - I will get better with practice!

The trail run course from Garie Beach

The second run was from the Heathcote Hotel - I really liked this one, even if it was harder on the legs! Walking through dense bushland between the 6 and 8km marks resulted in scratches around my lower legs, but mainly my right arm as I cleared branches and foliage away from my face. Not something that happens when running in an urban environment! The other novelty (for me) was the ladder climbing after 12km - although I'm hoping that those ladders are replaced, or repaired, soon. They were a little unstable. But all in good fun!

The trail run course from the Heathcote Hotel

I'm loving the trail runs - they're a bit far from home, but I'm getting to see really beautiful parts of Sydney in relative safety (compared to the few hikes I've done on my own in the Blue Mountains). I also love the actual act of trail running, and there's not many places I can do that in Sydney's eastern suburbs!

I'm not going to bother with my pace/distance summaries - I've settled on using DailyMile for that (and I use Strava to easily track my gear use and to share runs on the web, although the Nike mapping is prettier due to the pace mapping so that's what I use on this blog... and I continue to use my Garmin Connect account due to having my FR60/FR70-based runs and cycles there, and it's the easiest to manage when looking back at older data). It doesn't take much time to log my runs on all these accounts anyway, it's just a shame there isn't one site that has all the perks of the others!