2016 City2Surf Race Report – Mick Loehr
Race Date: August 14th Results: 2016
Mr City2Surf, we meet again…..
Going back to 2012 when I first entered this race and being the first ever competitive race for me that required payment for entry, I had no goal time but just to finish the race. Running in soccer shorts, the lightest cotton (All Blacks) shirt I could find and Nike joggers that left me with I can’t remember how many blisters, I have come a long way! Every year after, I could not have been any more excited when it was time to race City2Surf again. It truly is one remarkable run that attracts over 65 thousand people a year. Who wouldn’t want to be apart of that!
I have always enjoyed running, but after accomplishing City2Surf the first time with a result 66:20 (overall 5,622nd), much better than I anticipated, the motivation set in and I was on my way to become one with red group. It wasn’t until 2014 I was training 30 – 40km week consistently including Parkrun at St Peters with the hill of death mid-course that I accomplished a time of 51:42 for City2Surf. This was getting extremely close to the sub 50 minute mark and made me realise I am capable, it was now just a mind game.
2015 was an interrupted year for running with a 3 month trip to Europe and the UK. Lots of eating, drinking and not much training. I still participated of course and managed a pleasing time of 54:28. Time to get back on track and take it quite seriously.
I recruited a coach (you might know him) Arnold Bartlett to guide and steer me in the right direction. His first step was introducing me to flyer runs on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. As I work shift work, we tried our best to train together most of the time, with a routine of interval sessions twice a week, 2 easy runs, an easy parkrun every second Saturday and joining in on the Sunday long runs when possible. The kilometres ranged each week from 50 – 80km’s. Since we are both training for Blackmores Marathon, the training was ramped up a little more than a dedicated 14km run, but I felt there were advantages and benefits (thanks for the advice to a number of flyers) in running the extra kilometres. I found the body was recovering a lot quicker and feeling much better just by slowing down the pace of all runs (expect intervals of course) to a 5 minute pace.
Prior to the week of City2Surf, I completed approximately 6 months of solid training except for 2 weeks in June were I managed to injured muscles around the archillies. Thank fully it was not a serious injury and was back to training quite quickly. I believe this was due to excessive running the weeks prior.
The week of City2Surf, I was lucky enough to have banked up leave at work and decided to take the week off to relax and prepare for a strong run. I started the week with a long run, not having time on Sunday and running a total of 50km for the week. Friday and Saturday were both rests days.
Staying at a friend’s house in Randwick, I caught the bus into the city and warmed up with a 1.4km jog. 2km would have been the preferred but I was a bit pushed for time as the red-preferred was filling up quick.
When joining the start line, I met up with Matt, Simon, Felicity and Arnie. Matt was looking to run a similar time to my goal time which would help spur each other on to hit our target times. We had about 15 minutes before the gun would fire and we would be on our way for another fun yet challenging run ahead. The 15 minutes passed in no time and the red group joined in behind red-preferred. As the countdown started, the shuffle forward begun and the excited and adrenaline started to pump through the veins.
The gun goes off and even though I’m not far from the frontline, it feels as though there are hundreds of people in front of me. The plan was to keep far left and take the left tunnel as it is the quicker route (thanks to some pre-race advice) and avoid zig zagging through people. I was aiming to hold a 3:25 pace through to the start of heartbreak hill, however this did not quite go according to plan, as I was running with the flow of runners rather than my own race. The first 5 km’s went past so quick that I didn’t realise that my watch froze at 4.17km’s, I lost GPS, yet the timer was still running. I was not going to stop and wait for the GPS to pick back up. Instead, I ran a little on instinct and a similar pace to the runners I was currently running with. My legs were feeling a little jelly like coming into what most consider the hardest part of the run which started to make me nervous. Starting to think I went too hard to early, I continually re-assured myself that I was still warming up and the best was yet to come.
Heartbreak hill, you will not beat me. With a previous time of 6:58 from the bottom to top I took myself to the next gear and managed to take 36 seconds of my previous best beating another goal of running sub 4 min pace up HBH. Were most start to struggle and reserve their tanks, I like to push hills and running past a number of people started to boost my confidence and keep my mind on the job! Hills, I LOVE’EM!
Once I completed the hill, I knew there was another 1 and a half kilometres before the decent down to the beach of Bondi. At some point towards the top of the hill my watch GPS kicked back in yet the distance travelled was just over 4km’s. I continued to run slightly quicker than the people around me picking off place by place hoping that I was still on target for my sub 50 minute goal. I reached the 10km marker but did not know until I asked a fellow runner how many kilometres we had completed, as I could not see any numbers anywhere and my watch was obviously of the mark. I could see he was starting to feel the pain and ran with him for around 300metres and pushed him with motivation to keep going, 4km’s to go mate, you got this! Straight after leaving him for pace, Matt Hutton snuck up on me. As the hardest part of the race was over and we were on the decline to the finish line, this is where I gave it my all and left Matt behind. I reserved enough energy to pick the pace up to another gear and to finish as strong as possible racing past a number of people including a guy in a full suit, that’s right a full on suit. As I turn around the second last bend, I feel the pain in my legs as the slight incline to finish hit me a little harder than I thought it would. I reach the 400m marker to finish and come around the corner. I see the time on the finish line 49:20, this is it, and I put everything I have left into the final sprint, 49:35! I am spent, and have not run with so much commitment! I am a runner with a smile I cannot wipe off my face!
I was happy with my preparation into the race and obviously extremely happy achieving what I set out to accomplish, sub 50 minutes. Although my watched failed early in the race, I’m still not sure if this was a good or bad thing. If I was to make any changes, it would be to incorporate more hill reps into my training and cut back to one interval training session a week over two. A big thank you to Arnie for your guidance and advice and making sure I was running sensibly. Thank you for all the advice and company on the Sunday long runs as it makes it much easier to run and much more enjoyable than running solo.
P.S Anyone have advice on a new watch? :-)