City to Surf
Last Sunday I ran the Sydney City to Surf race – the largest footrace in the world with over 75,000 entrants. I’d been training for it effectively for more than year, after having had a couple of years off running due to an ankle problem, and deciding that this race would be my next big running challenge, if my ankle would only improve enough. And gratifyingly, it did.
It was a fabulous experience. Being part of such a large group of ambitious, motivated people, all with the same goal, all labouring hard together, in such beautifully crisp, sunny weather and along such a beautifully scenic harbourside and beachside route was quite moving.
For much of the course the main sound was the pattering of thousands of running shoe soled feet. Most of us were focused on our run, concentrating on maintaining just the right pace, sometimes weaving a little to avoid collisions as the odd contestants accelerated, slowed or weaved a little. But for brief period as we ran through Rose Bay, I turned my head to gaze at the sparkling bay waters beside the stream of determined and focused runners. What a joy to behold!
Based on my training times, I had expected to be able to run the 14km course in around 70 minutes, but was delighted to find, on the day, that I was able to run quite a lot faster than I thought I could. Although this would have been partly due to the lengthy preparation, during which I averaged about 40km per week running, I felt that it was also due in part to the momentum of the crowd on the day. I didn’t feel that I was running faster than usual, but more than I was being drawn along, almsot as if swimming in a river.
I also carried my iPhone in a arm-strap, and used the RunKeeper app to track the entire run. The full results, of my run including a map of the course, graph of speed and elevation and time splits, can be found here.
As is my habit, I also wore a heart rate monitor. Typically, even during hard training, my heart rate averages around 150bpm, peaking at 160 to 165bpm on the hills. But during the race, the average rate was 160bpm, peaking at 170bpm on “Heartbreak Hill” – the big rise that occurs between the 6 and 7km marks of the course. I have to admit that I did slow to a walk for 30s or so towards the top of the hill, feeling that I was at my limit. But apart from that the level of effort was constant throughout the race, and I feel as though I achieved the best result that I possibly could have done.
So where to from here? Well, Adelaide has a City to Bay race coming up in 6 weeks or so. I’m tempted to keep up the training momentum and give it a go. But if not, for any reason, then I’ll definitely be looking towards next year’s City to Surf in Sydney. It was truly an experience not to be missed! Highly recommended.