82 minutes, and how it changed me

So the other week you may (hopefully) have read about the 14km run I was planning to do, following the 12km trail run 2 weeks prior. The run is City2Surf and is the world’s biggest run with around 85,000 people signing up and 70,000 of those participating on the day. I was fearful for these reasons:

  • Never run 14km race
  • My hip is injured and not yet fixed
  • Crowds freak me out
  • A massive 2km long climb called ‘Heartbreak Hill’
  • Being unprepared on the day
  • Heaps of athletics types from work running.

Firstly, things started off pretty happily when the fiance said he’d drop me near the start, at Hyde Park, AND pick me up at the end! He’s a keeper that one. So that alleviated some of my nerves around missing a bus or getting the wrong one and also meant I could take things which I could then leave in the car for when I finished. These small things really matter to me! As I’ve said before I don’t travel light – I’m an OTT scout (I like to ‘be prepared’ … very prepared).

Secondly, I decided, rightly or wrongly to take Voltaren to dull any pains that might come up in my hip. When I ran 5km two days prior to the run my hip was uncomfortable by 2.5km in. I knew I needed to rest it but all I can think is that this is the first time I’ve run this race or even a race this distance so I’m very keen to turn up on the day and know I can tick it off my list. As it happens my hip was quite sore by the end as I thought it might be – but it wasn’t as bad as I thought – probably because of the painkillers. The sections that seemed to hurt the most by the end were the hills, and on the last ascent, although it was nothing in comparison to anything beforehand, I remember thinking – if there is any more uphill I don’t think I can do it. And that worried me – there was no way I wanted to stop or pull out. Fortunately the last leg is all down hill and then straight which meant I could just sprint to the finish.

When Mr OC dropped me off at the start and I stood in the middle of Hyde Park I suddenly felt very alone – almost everyone there was in a group or a pair. I started desperately looking around for someone else who was on their own. Why? – I don’t know. I just wanted to know I wasn’t the only person turning up Billy-no-mates. I think any time I’ve ever run a race I’ve turned up in a group or pair. And let’s face it, it makes no difference unless you’re planning to run together, and I don’t like to do that because it’s too much pressure to keep up/hold back. So it turns out crowds had a totally different affect on me to the one I was worrying about!

Trying to get to the start line. Stunning day for City2Surf

Which leads me to my nerves over not knowing the route and therefore not knowing when Heartbreak Hill was coming up or what it was going to be like – whether I’d really struggle and how to adjust my run to compensate. I was unsure when should I be running hard out and when to save my energy. I actually re-watched the video of the route again just now (haven’t watched it since beforehand) and it occurred to me that are sections of the route I don’t even recall – mostly during the first 5km through the city. I realised that I was running this part mostly just thinking about how to get past the thousands of people and before I knew it, those first five kilometres were done and dusted.
So, the crowds, as well as keeping me going (because they are all going the same way) also helped me not focus on the distance yet to travel. And Heartbreak Hill really wasn’t as bad as I thought – it is definitely about the endurance as opposed to the level of ascent or altitude! I had to stop and walk for maybe around a minute on two occasions but other than that I just hammered out the two kilometre climb. And the view from the top was well worth it – looking back over to Sydney harbour on such a beautiful day. However, by this time, my Endomondo app was telling me lap pace and overall time wasn’t too shoddy and I started to think maybe I could actually care about my time. Prior to that I’d just wanted to be able to complete it! Or at least, I suppose complete it in less than two hours!!

And my overall time was actually 82 minutes! Some guys at work who have been doing these types of runs for some time, some of them even running the 14km in sub-60 minutes. They all completed in around 65-70 minutes so I felt so, SO proud!! I expected around 90 minutes minimum.

I proved something to myself – not only are the things we fear, often are never as scary as we think. That overcoming something we were afraid to do is the BEST feeling ever. And more to the point – I enjoyed it. It didn’t feel awful, or scary or anything negative.

Running through the finish

So all in all it was an amazing feeling of achievement. But I did pay a price – my injured hip started to really hurt in the afternoon after the painkillers wore off. In the following week I struggled at boot camp and when I went to see the Osteo on the Friday he said I really needed to be toning down and resting my hip.

I took his advice and started to really think about recovery regimes – protein shakes, rolling out with the foam roller, longer periods of stretching and also stretching as often as I can morning and night even when I’m not training. Some other techniques I’ve read include periods of sustained squatting and crawling as well as getting in some gentle walking. Combining that with toning down the lower body work out – no burpees, no lunges, less squats, less running and mostly just upper body strength training (push ups, dips, tri-cep extensions, weights) and some ab work. The real test for my recovery was this last weekend when we did a practice part of the walk from Bundeena to Wattamolla and back – a round trip of 20km. It was a beautiful walk, a balmy 23 degrees and my hip gave off a few twinges but was much better. I did full booty camp with lower body workout included today for the first time in a couple of weeks and it felt good.

On the Bundeena – Wattamolla walk – part of the 100km

I guess it’s true to say that I learned that if something is hurting… it’s simple, just rest it.


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