City 2 Surf

City 2 Surf Recap
Did you know that Sydney’s City 2 Surf is the largest timed fun run in the world? AND WE KICKED ITS ASS. Okay, so we didn’t even come close to Dickson’s or Anna’s times, but we did manage to jog most of the distance and finish relatively strongly. We started the day off by walking over to the start (about 20 minutes from our place), figuring it would be a good warm-up. Once we got there, we were just astounded by the number of people. They’d actually closed registration a day or two before as more than 63,000 people had signed up. We fought our way through to collect our red baseball caps and then nervously joined the other 19,000 runners in the HSBC start. (That’s the “middle” group, behind the serious contenders but ahead of the walkers in monkey suits.) We heard the pistol as the elite group took off, and a few minutes later it was our turn. I’d thought to bring a stop watch so I started it once we actually got up to the starting line. (It took a while; 19,000 people don’t get moving very quickly!) And then we were off…

The initial bit heading down William Street was so fun. Everybody was cheering and I felt like I could run forever. I kept turning my head to look at the sea of red surging down the street behind me. I’ve never seen that many people running in my life. Of course, the immediate problem was picking your way through the crowd. Just as you’d start get get up some steam, you’d run smack into ten soccer moms walking abreast in the middle of the road. (I honestly bet we probably ran an extra kilometer from all the sideways dodging we had to do.) It was also tricky to stay together since the red caps made it hard to spot one another. At any rate, we seemed to be making really good time and we decided to skip the first drinks station. (We’d done a good job of hydrating beforehand; all the more remarkable considering that this guy and this guy got Snookums drunk the night before.) I remember coming into Double Bay and just starting to realize how hard this was going to be and how much I was going to hurt… when I heard pumping rock music in the distance. We turned the corner to see a full-on 80’s hair band wailing through “Paradise City” on the roof of the Golden Sheaf Hotel. It was AWESOME, like a scene out of a movie. Have you ever seen 10,000 people try to jog and head bang at the same time? I have.

The rest of the course is a blur, really. I remember passing a few jazz bands of old guys tootling away on their horns and clapping with delight. I remember enterprising little kids who’d set up lemonade stands along the route, as well as the more philanthropic kid with a bowl of ice cubes he was handing out. I remember people spraying their garden hoses over the appreciative crowds. (Did I mention how GORGEOUS it was today? Sometimes I can’t believe I live somewhere so pretty.) I remember turning a corner and seeing the crowd surging up up up… So this was Heartbreak Hill. Two kilometers pretty much straight up. We walked the steep bits and tried to run on the flat bits, along with pretty much everybody else. The church at the top had erected a big sign congratulating us on making it the top, and I could’ve wept. An onlooker yelled out “AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE” and I screamed “OI OI OI!” “I’m surprised anyone has the breath!” said the woman struggling next to me. “I’m a new Australian, and that was my first official OI chant!” I grinned. We could tell we were making good time, even with my walk breaks (which became more frequent in the second half). Our stopwatch was running about twelve minutes behind official race time. As we passed the 8K mark at the top of the hill, I said to Rodd, “There! Now this is the farthest you’ve ever run.” And when we passed the 10K, it was his turn to say it to me. I could see the ocean and feel the cool breeze as we neared Bondi. My stomach had been cramping the whole time and I started to get a stitch, but Snookums kept me moving. We were nearly there. The only accident came as we were heading down in to Bondi. I turned to tell Snookums I needed to take a breather, and a girl who’d been running right behind me swerved and tripped over my foot. She went down to the pavement and I apologized profusely as I hauled her up. It could’ve been worse; the St. Johns Ambulance people looked to be busy with folks who’d overexerted themselves.

We’d asked a lot of people before the race about their previous times, trying to gauge how long it would take us. The serious runners were all under 90 minutes, while the walkers were over two hours. Our previous 8K took us about 50 minutes so theoretically 14K should be doable in under 100, but with our lack of training (thanks to my stomach) and Heartbreak Hill, we decided to aim for two hours. Two hours, we figured, would be miraculous. Well, guess what? As we struggled around the final turn, I raised my head to the official clock. It read 1:56:00. “Look at the time!” I yelled. Screw the stitch; screw my stomach; screw my aching feet and jelly legs. I just started pounding one foot in front of the other. We crossed the line at 117 minutes, and I was trying so hard to keep moving and breathing (and not break down in tears) that I forgot to check the stopwatch. Whatever. Our time will get adjusted down anyway due to the delayed start, and we knew we were about 12 minutes off the official clock. So we’re calling it 105 minutes. Which is AMAZING. I still can’t believe it. The next hour was a haze of wandering through crowds and waiting in line to get a bus back to the city, from whence we walked back home to Chippendale. My face was gritty from the salt of dried sweat. After a shower, we headed out to the cafe for massive cheeseburgers. Then it was home for a long nap, followed by an hourlong massage (for me) and many hours of World of Warcraft (for the Snook). It’s gonna take us a few days to recover.

So man, 14K is HARD. That’s nearly nine miles. It’s the longest we’ve ever run (or walked, for that matter) in our lives. And you know the craziest part? As soon as we finished, the Snook started talking about an upcoming HALF-MARATHON. I think we’ve created a monster here…


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  1. That’s a lot of people! I can believe that it’s the largest timed fun run. Congratulations on the race! Sounds like you did great; a half marathon seems like the next logical step… 🙂

  2. I am hurting today! Any tips to ease recovery after a big race? I thought the massage would be helpful but it’s left me more sore today than the Snook is. (I suspect I’ll be better off tomorrow though.)

  3. The problem with post-race tips is that by the time you get sore, you’ve already passed the peak time to prevent getting sore, but for future races:

    – Keep moving; don’t just crash out on the couch post-big race. The more walking around, the better.
    – Soak in cold water. I’ve heard that the serious marathoners sit in a tub of ice post-run (I tried it last two marathons; it’s tortuous, but I think it helps).
    – Keep drinking water. Especially post massage.

    I love the float tank idea; I’ve never heard of anything like that.

    And remember, if you’re walking funny, it’s a limp of pride. Every now and then grimace when you walk by a co-worker and mutter something about those last 5K. 🙂

  4. If you liked the tunes, you guys should try this next year:

    You’ve got 10 months…do a half over there in the summer as part of your training and you’ll be set! We’ll totally come and cheer for you (and rock out with the bands every mile.) Sweeeet…

    Oh, and I think the massage was a good idea, but like Tricia said, always follow it with lots of water (flushes away all the toxins that all the rubbin’ brought out!) and definitely ice everything you can, even if it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be sore. Try a bath in epsom salts too, one of these days…those are good. You’ll be totally back to normal in a few. (P.S. Good plan to get the burgers afterwards…there’s about a 90-min. window after you’ve run or trained when it’s good to load up on protein and carbs. Your muscles just soak it all in and it helps with recovery.)

  5. I’m feeling pretty good here on Day Three, actually. I think the massage and all the water I had yesterday really helped. Snookums is hobbling worse than he was yesterday but I feel energetic and refreshed. I guess it worked after all! Thanks to everybody for the suggestions for next time.

    (And Sis… we’ll think about it. That’s a few months after we were planning to visit, really.)

  6. Congrats mate, we walked it and had a lot of fun. That band was awesome, I believe they were called “Bigphallica”. Megan, her sister Emily and I went and had a great greasy feed afterwards, then washed it down with a beer.

    My recommendation for recovery would be to do what we did after the beer, that is a 1 hour session in a float tank. For the uninitiated, it’s a dark tank where you float in a shallow solution of tonnes of epsom salts. Very relaxing and rejuvinating – it gets in and relieves lactic acid as well as destresses and promotes alpha brain waves and creativity and blah blah blah. Megan works there so now I know all about it.

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