2016 Perth City to Surf 12km

Hooray! Massive relief today – I ran the City to Surf 12km, and didn’t trip up and didn’t freak out with all the people around who could potentially trip me up. Abysmal time in comparison to last year’s 12km, but I don’t much care.

Going in my biggest concern was Malcolm Street; 700m into the race you come up off the Terrace, on the Freeway overpass and up the Malcolm Street hill to Kings Park Road. It’s still packed with people, and that’s where in the past I’ve nearly cannoned into suddenly stopping runners who become walkers, or people who think they’re being good by pulling over to the left when they realise that they’re going to have to start to walk, but fail to look over their left shoulder and make sure that they aren’t going to cut anyone off as they pull left.

It was ridiculously cold on the Terrace this year – there’s always a wind chill factor there, but this time it must have been in the low single digits. Jeremy and I had come in with Nat and parked under my work building, so Jeremy had headed off for his half marathon and Nat and I went upstairs to my work to stay warm. Nat was in Wave 3 and I was in Wave 2, and when the assembly time for Wave 2 rolled around we diligently headed downstairs, got halfway to the assembly area then looked at each other and decided that if I was going to stay at the back of the wave, I could afford to head to the assembly area a bit later. We turned around and bolted back to the building lobby where it was warm.

At 9.07am I headed off to the assembly area and found it almost empty. I was a bit puzzled as I’d checked and double checked the start time for Wave 2 and it had definitely been 9.15am. I trotted up William Street to the Terrace and saw Ash and Amanda talking and we stood chatting waiting for 9.15am. A traffic management bloke wandered up to us and said to Ash and I that our wave had already left, and we explained that last year anyone who had left in the time bracket for a preceding wave had been disqualified. He shrugged at us and wandered off, just as it hit 9.15am. I guess someone in charge decided that the chance of someone dropping from hypothermia on the Terrace was too great and they shuffled us off early. It ticked over to 9.15am and Ash and I headed off saying goodbye to Amanda who was heading to her walk wave assembly area.

It was brilliant; just like my Sydney half marathon run – the streets were clear and I made it up to Kings Park Road before I had anyone from Wave 3 overtake me. My left ankle only generated that parkrun-stopping pain once when near the top of Thomas Street I spotted Ash up ahead, and picked up the pace to catch up with him whilst cresting the hill and turning left onto Hay Street. When I felt the stabbing pain I eased up on pace, remembered my plan to run my race at my pace, not someone else’s and the pain immediately dissipated.

I learnt a certain amount of tolerance during the race; not of pain, but of sound. There’s a running technique called Galloway method. Developed by Jeff Galloway it’s is a genius idea – run your entire race with a specific run/walk interval. Maybe run three minutes and walk one minute, and repeat the entire way, start of race through to finish. You have a watch setting that does a quiet beep when each interval starts and ends, and thousands of people have used this method to run marathons injury-free. But this woman didn’t have a running watch, she had an enormous Samsung phone strapped to her forearm, playing music and overlaying the music some sort of app that indicated a walk break with a low rumbly sound of a basketball shot clock timing out and the run interval was indicated by this violently loud and squeaky alarm clock sound of “bip-bip-bip-beep bip-bip-bip-beep!”. Every twenty five seconds. Yes, her Galloway interval was run 15 seconds, walk 10 seconds. So every 25 seconds I heard “bip-bip-bip-beep bip-bip-bip-beep!”

For kilometres. And kilometres.

And she was running my pace. I’d come across her just after I’d turned onto Hay Street and realised that there was no escape. If I tried to push the pace my left ankle may decide to get shitty with me, and I was only 3km in. My right ankle couldn’t be called comfortable, and I knew I was pretty much on my speed limit at that point. I was going to have to deal with bleepy woman for a while. We went past the Nova Radio offices, so there was a short while where it was drowned out with music. I tried to make use of the downhills, and the Underwood Avenue hill was a delight, because she had to walk that one, but she must have flown down the other side because she popped up again at Perry Lakes.

Now I’d gone into the race prepared to have to walk at some point, but by Perry Lakes I’d not yet had to, so I’m pleased to say that the only time I had to walk was stepping in and out of a portaloo at the 8.5km mark, which meant that bleepy woman went ahead of me. Such a relief.

I carried on up the final hills and finished my 12km in 1h28m44s. My legs are good sore, my feet are a bit sore, but my spirit is well up there.

Rundown on recent events.

Righty-o. About three weeks ago I had a spectacularly shitty day at work, so I went for a run with Jeremy to take my mind off it, and 600 metres in I stacked it on some gumnuts on the concrete path, spraining my left ankle (grade 1 tear), and ripping the shit out of my right shin as I scraped it on the concrete. It hurt like fuck.

The timing was quite shit for two reasons: 1) because the Saturday beforehand I had gone to the Canning River parkrun pacer day and chased the 25 minute pacer, notching up a 25m10s, which is 11 seconds off my overall parkrun PB. What was more impressive is that I’m at least 5kg heavier than I was when I managed that, and I’ve not started training for Six Inch again, so that was just off a few long runs and fartlek sessions. 2) was because the only race that had appealed in recent times was King of the Mountain, a 16km trail race uphill from Helena Valley to Mundaring Weir, and that was July 3rd, two weeks into my healing period.

The swelling has now almost completely subsided, and I’ve now run on it four times – Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and today, parkrunday. My instructions were to try and only run on softer surfaces for a few runs.

Sunday’s run was a slow 2.5km, predominantly around the oval near our house, with reasonable success. The soft underfoot would allow me to accidentally step on a gumnut and have it pushed deep into the dirt and grass rather than tilt my foot to jar my ankle. Even still, every leaf on the ground was a gumnut in my mind and thus dodged.

Tuesday’s run was 3km at darkrun with less success, looping back after 1km and returning to the start via a lot of grass instead of the regular path and then 1km around the grassed picnic area. My immediate suspicions were well-founded, and the niggles I had were relieved by use of my spikey ball underfoot, foam roller on my quads in particular and using the muscle stick down the strip of muscle on outside of my left shin.

Thursday’s run nearly didn’t happen because it bucketed down in the afternoon and evening but when we got home it had stopped raining for a while. Because soccer training was on the oval was lit up so I felt comfortable to do laps of the oval. I stayed fairly steady on speed until I hit 3km, when I picked it up a bit and after another lap I threw in a sprint, then eased off after about 80m, jogged for a bit, then another sprint. I headed home and stopped the Garmin on 4.2km feeling immensely pleased.

There was no increase in swelling on Thursday night, but Friday morning the ankle was sore – a dull, but noticable ache that felt like it was inside the ankle structure rather than from the muscle on the outside. I ibuprofened once and the rest of the day I was fine.

This morning was Pioneer parkrun, and I was pretty trepidatious. There is so much tree cover there are usually hard nuts and sticks everywhere on the course, so having been told oh-so-helpfully “you’ll be fine, just as long as you don’t roll your ankle again” I really didn’t want to do that. This was going to be my first run back on majority hard surfaces and also the first hilly terrain I’d tried to run on, so the possibilities of something going a bit wrong were higher than I’d prefer.

Jeremy and a number of our Pioneer friends have noticed that if you run Pioneer a lot it can test your left ankle due to the excessive number of sharp left turns on the course. With this in mind my aim was to be kind, avoid rolling my ankle, walk if necessary and to stop if I needed to (at Pioneer you actually return to the start area 5 times during the course from various directions, so you can choose to cut your run short if required).

The second full lap I had to walk most of the stretch of grass behind the duck ponds, such was the amount of mud and slipping. The way I describe niggles is that you can ‘feel’ the affected area. So when my hamstrings are a bit tight, their existence is obvious, but when they’re fine they operate normally and I can’t consciously feel them. So while I could feel my ankle the whole way round, it was like a steady low grumble that can be acknowledged and then ignored. It only shouted “Oi!” when I hit the sharp left U-turn just before the final boardwalk section on my final 200m home.

34m05s and crossed fingers hopefully no issues tomorrow morning.