Almanac City2Surf 2016: Choking like an Aussie Swimmer (Leg 2 of a Sydney Sporting Triathlon)

The following is an extract from my blog entry on my running blog regarding last Sunday’s running of the City2Surf. This was the 4th time I have completed the world famous 14km course, complete with Heartbreak Hill. For the last couple of years I have run fast enough to be able to start in the first wave, behind the elite runners amongst those who were looking to run a sub 70 minute time. As usual that was my aim for this year.


For the full version which includes a before and after section (if you will) then please visit MY BLOG HERE


We started on time and I ran according to plan pre-Heartbreak Hill. Whilst many others were either utilising their superior top end speed or looking to go like the clappers early wasn’t my concern. All I was looking to do was to get into a comfortable fast rhythm and find space by the time I reached the Kings Cross tunnel. As per the plan I steadily ignored the drink stations that many others crowded around. As is usually the case in my training, my aim is to be able to run comfortably for at least 8-10km before looking for refreshments, and it is something that if others are looking to replicate I suggest that you train to do it first before trying it in a race.


Heartbreak Hill usually arrives about half an hour into the run. For many it’s time to slow down to crawling pace if not slower. From my perspective, it’s time to keep a good tempo and pick my way through the traffic. Usually I tend to take about 8 minutes or so to complete the climb, and again this proved to be the case. The trickiest part is not so much the climbing and the elevation change, but trying to pick the quick lines up the hill whilst negotiating the slower runners and/or walkers. I know I dislike running up the middle of the hill preferring to choose one side of the road, but when hundreds of people are in the way going at variable speeds that generally are slower than your own, the ability to run close to the middle of the road is important. Practising for this however is almost impossible unless you know of a secluded hill where traffic seldom occupies the road.


Unfortunately like last year it was the section coming off the peak of the climb which cost me a decent time and has caused me disappointment (and that’s being kind). It can be a battle to find a tempo to run effectively but basically coming to a standstill at the drink station following the hill wasn’t in the plans. It was anticipated that this would be the only drink stop during the entire run (although in future years I may even consider trying to do the whole lot without a drink), and although I didn’t consume the entire contents of the cup of Hydralite, the delay probably cost me at least a minute in slowing, walking and then regaining the running tempo required.


The last few kilometres was both as expected and not as planned at the same time (if that makes any sense). I expected to make up a little time on the downhill sections in the 12th and 13th kilometre. However I wasn’t able to increase the tempo as I had liked and by the time I glanced at the clock as the final stages approached, I knew I had to try to basically sprint the last kilometre but as, I usually do on this course, I had spent too many pennies too early and could only retain tempo around the hairpin turn whilst trying to stay out of the way of the North Bondi lifesavers carrying their apparatus as a unit.


When I saw the clock at the final turn before the short chute to the finish, the reaction was one of anger and frustration. The goal time had passed, my efforts were as successful as an Australian swimmer in Rio, and having to run a qualifying time elsewhere to remain in the Red wave for the next year became a reality. Even though the chip time upon later scrutiny of the official times read a 1:10 rather than the gun time of 1:11, both times were not satisfactory to me. Sure I put on a brave face as I accepted a medal more befitting of the event than the guitar pick knock off from 2015 (and I gave the lass who gave me my medal the customary kiss, my tradition it seems is to pick out a lass that hands out medals in order to kiss them). Yes I restrained my disappointment as I collected my gear and wandered across the road for a light breakfast (calling McDonalds a light breakfast isn’t exactly accurate mind you). The bottom line is this was a performance that pride wasn’t an emotion I felt and no person can change that.


The schedule for the remainder of the year will take me to the following events and places.
August 28, Perth City to Surf (Marathon). Same day as the Fremantle vs Western Bulldogs game. Looking at a 20 hour day of being awake taking into account running, footy and making flights so hopefully I’ll at least remember what happened in the footy!- September 24, Twilight Bay Run Wynnum (Half Marathon). Same twilight slot as the Preliminary Final. I remember doing this in 2014 and frantically going for the phone after the finish to see the finish of Port vs Hawthorn.
October 16, Melbourne Marathon. The 4th time for me, the 39th time for 7 others from 39 starts (hopefully)
November 13, Point to Pinnacle Hobart. Same weekend as the 2nd test between Australia and South Africa, not sure if the run up Mt Wellington is going to last as long as an Australian innings.

About Mick Jeffrey

32 Year Old, Bulldogs Member and tragic. Reserve Grade coach after over 225 combined senior/reserves appearances for Brothers AFC in AFL Capricornia. 11 time Marathon finisher, one time Ultra Marathon finisher and Comrades Marathon competitor 2017.

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