Saturday, November 22, 2014

The City2Sea

The weather on the two occasions that I ran the City2Surf was overcast and cold. So it was no surprise to me that the weather for the City2Sea would be similar, although as Melbourne is typically overcast then the weather could only worsen by raining. It doesn't really bother me, but it was a source of amusement as I made the trip into the city for the start of the City2Sea. And while Melbourne may not have the public transport access into the city that Sydney does early on a Sunday morning, you can't beat a spot with plenty of cover!

Plenty of runners waiting in the wings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
I had been weather watching all night, hoping that the rain that was due on Sunday morning would be the last dregs of the storm that was coming Melbourne's way. MetEye suggested the worst would be at about 2am - and when I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night thinking I had overslept, it was only 1.58am and the rain was heavy at the time. Perhaps it had just hit, so the intensity of the rainfall may have woken me up.

I did have plans to wake up early - a 5.30am start gave me time to make coffee, get dressed, have some toast with peanut butter and pop my contact lenses in before I left at 6am. The race started at 8.25am, and bag drop-off closed at 7.30am, but I left home early so that I could reach an inner city spot with free parking, and have time to (a) guarantee finding a spot, (b) drive out to Plan B (and C), and (c) walk over from wherever I had parked with enough time to make the bag drop-off. I wasn't sure how wet the roads would be, and I wanted to make sure I had dry socks at the finish line!

I ended up finding a parking spot in the first place I checked, so I arrived at the starting line with plenty of time to spare. I have no idea how many times I went to the toilet (the downside of Sjögrens is that I find it difficult to tell the difference between having a dry mouth, and actually being thirsty and/or dehydrated). I spent the final moments before the start chatting to a couple of red-starters and another green-starter about the importance of dry socks, the various free parking spots we each chose, and other running-related chit-chat. The green start chute began to fill, but as it was early days I stayed under one of the wings with many other green starters.

Green starters waiting for the race to start!
Hopefully the Eureka Stair Climbers found their run event's location!

The end of the rapidly growing green start chute, as viewed from the unofficial green starters undercover area.
There was a surge in the green start so I made my way over to them... I walked up the hill (others had started jogging), crossed the timing mats and began to jog... until we came to a complete stand-still. I would later notice via the Strava Labs Flyby that fellow Westerfolds parkrunner Rohan had waited for longer and had a clear run without any bottlenecks. Definitely something to keep in mind for the next event!

While the bottleneck and complete stand-still annoyed me, I was quite happy with the cruisy pace of the crowd once we got going again. I then realised I needed to go to the bathroom. Again. I knew that there were toilets at Federation Square so I slowly made my way across to the left side of the course - once I spotted someone else in front of me making the very detour I was planning I reassured myself that it wasn't an unwise decision. I didn't even need to wait for a cubicle! When I went to rejoin the race I saw Rohan go past and I thought I might try to catch him - despite knowing that he's actually a few minutes faster than me at parkrun! But he and his fluoro orange shirt were a bit of a rabbit for me, and helped me make time on the slow start and pit stop.

As we made our way to the underpass to go under St Kilda Rd, I spotted another Westerfolds parkrunner - Wendy, who is easy to pick due to her love of running skirts! I had a bit of a chat with her until the end of the underpass was near and my pace was starting to settle in. The rest of the event was fairly uneventful until we hit Albert Park lake.

Seriously, look at those splits - uneventful steady splits in the middle of the course.

I knew there would be headwinds at some point around Albert Park, but I was unprepared for them to be coming and going. If it was constant, and just for an extended section, I would have been happy to ease off and sit at a slower pace for a period, but instead I became a little frustrated and forced myself to sit at a slower pace until I knew I could commit to the 5:20s again. At this point my right hip and left shoulder (yes, my shoulder) were beginning to be a little sore, so when the final drink stop came up at about 13.5km I picked up a cup of Gatorade, slowed to a walk and had a few sips before exiting Albert Park.

I was confronted with a very slow climb, but one that I knew would make my hip worse so I took a few moments to slow to a walk again, catch my breath and be ready to run the last 1km and a bit. Once the final sharp turn to the right was made I increased my pace knowing that I wouldn't need to slow down again for another turn. I could see all kinds of sponsor flags in the distance and while I struggled to figure out which one was the finish line - I settled on the sole Adidas one and kept running. Although all thoughts about that Adidas flag disappeared once I realised I was in the finishing chute! For once I didn't worry about whether I still had anything left in the tank as I really wanted to stop once the timing mats were passed. I saw I ran 82 minutes according to the watch and then headed down the chute, following the other finishers.

Official time of 1:22:22 looks pretty nice! While the first two splits are about right. I'm not sure about that final one!

I saw some more Westerfolds parkrunners after the finish line - Gennine was the first I saw spotted a bit out of reach, but I did manage to say hello to the super speedy ones who ran the course between 63 to 68 minutes! Simon was the fastest in the Westerfolds parkrun team with 63, while Barney and Scott both ran 68, with Barney smashing his sub-72 goal. Michael was with the group too and must have been standing around for a while as he was feeling cold. As we were about to disband we came across Rohan who must have made a detour after the finish line as he was most definitely ahead of me during the run.

Bag pick-up was quick, and I eagerly threw on a few more layers before making the trip back to the start and to my car. I spotted Wendy's son and asked him if he knew where his mum was - much to his confusion as he had no idea who I was! Ooops! He wasn't sure where she was either, but I later found a photo on Facebook that indicated that Rohan had found her! :) The only Westerfoldian who missed out was Lee - although I did see her briefly during one of my many toilet trips pre-race, apparently I was the only person she saw! Later Iwona (who was chaffeur for the day for Scott and Barney) would say she saw Lee and cheered her on, but Lee was just too focused to notice!

It was a great day, despite the weather. The volunteers were all lovely (except for one who looked like he was not having any fun, and was possibly frozen solid), and bag drop-off was a cinch. The only issue was the bottlenecks - the one at the start forced a complete stand-still, and others during the run forced some onto footpaths. I think this is why some missed out on the split times. And speaking of those split times - the distance for that last timing mat must have been short as I know that I didn't run 4:18/km for 1.5km!

Next major run is the Sussan Women's 10km. My best 10km today was 53:38, so hopefully I can pick up another 10km PB in December. Also I am definitely feeling better about my fitness post-hayfever-asthma as the Smashrun SPI score for the City2Sea 15km was 563!

Boom! Back above Smashrun's Pace Trend band!
I was hoping to have a hit out or two at parkrun today and/or next week to see what my speed is like at the moment. I didn't end up following through on the 10km training program due to the Asthma From Hell, so I really had no idea how my legs were going to  feel on a quick parkrun! Answer: fine with 14:28 for the first 3.5km 3km, and then I blew up on the hill (but SPI of 547!).


  1. Melbourne weather has always been perfect whenever I've visited! Oh, except for when I was crewing for Liz in the Tan 100k - then we had 4 seasons in one day.
    Good result. Although 1:22:21 would have been better - palindromic. Hopefully the asthma won't be a problem for the 10k. You're running well!

  2. Thanks Ewen! The asthma has passed, it's just the residual effects of not having been able to run for a few weeks that's been bothering me as I knew I needed more tempo runs after fading during the Sri Chinmoy 10km.

    Hopefully you had more layers on than some of the marshalls I saw last weekend... Good spot about the 1:22:21, I didn't even think of that as I tend to like even numbers! :)

  3. Well done on a great time & I love the race recap. So interesting to hear about other people's perspectives in the same run. I didn't mind the cold or rain - to me, that's perfect running weather and I had a grin on my face the whole time. Shall keep an eye out for you speeding past me at Sussan 10km!

    1. Thanks Gill! I love reading recaps of the same races I do for various reasons - but it's always fun to find out what other people might have seen that I missed, or if there's something we both enjoyed even if we didn't see each other on the day! Which wave are you starting in for the Sussan run?