Perth City to Surf Full Marathon 2013 – But it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Well, here it is. My ‘A’ race of the year. The one I’ve been waiting for and training for.

C2S Logo
12km startStart of the 2013 City to Surf 12km race. 15,078 people in this race alone, over 48,000 people in all events.

It was one year ago, having just turned the big FIVE-OH and wanting to prove myself that I’m not old, I entered the 2012 Perth City to Surf 12km Fun Run after a few desultory weeks of training.

I sucked.

Following the race, chatting on the train with a rather out of shape looking guy wearing a half-marathon bib, I made the decision that if he could do it, I could too, and to train “for next year’s half-marathon”. This would be the first time in my life I started to truly train for a long distance race.

And did I hit my goal of training for this years half-marathon?

Nope.

No, in typical “Myles” fashion, 12 months later, instead of a half marathon I ran my third FULL marathon in 8 months (of the, um, let’s see, oh yeah, THREE marathons I’ve run in my life).

So in the last year I’ve entered the following races (and one unofficial marathon):

[mantra-multi][mantra-column width=”1/4″]Date [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Event[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] Strava.com Time[/mantra-column][mantra-column width=”1/4″] Pace/km[/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]26 August 2012 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]City to Surf 12km[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]1:09:55[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]5:48/km [/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]23 December 2012 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Unofficial Full Marathon[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]4:52:09 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 6:55/km[/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]07 April 2013 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]ASICS Bridges 10km[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 51:27[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 5:09/km[/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]19 May 2013 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Joondalup Half Marathon[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]1:52:16 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 5:19/km[/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]16 June 2013 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Perth Full Marathon[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 4:25:12 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 6:20/km[/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]28 July 2013 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Fremantle Fun Run 10km[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 50:07[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]5:04/km [/mantra-column]
[mantra-column width=”1/4″]11 August 2013 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]Perth Half Marathon[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 1:50:44 [/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 5:15/km[/mantra-column][/mantra-multi]
Strava.com will strip a race down to it’s proper length and base times on that.

Late July and August have been incredibly busy, race wise, with an event every one of my R&R weekends. And I meant to treat them as training runs for today’s race, honestly I did! And while the PRs fell and felt good, I was quite concerned about my ability to pace myself for the marathon.

Both my previous marathon distances have been along the Perth Swan River foreshore, a flat path with only a bridge here and there to break it up. The City to Surf harbours no such niceties. The first half marathon is fairly flat, but after that it’s a climb to the top of Kings Park not once, but TWICE (note the sharpness of the initial climb halfway through), plus the always challenging Oceanic Drive.

Elevation Chart

Race Route

Before the race (and an obnoxious 6am start!!), I had my usual smoothie, actually pre-made the night before so I wasn’t setting the blender off at 4am and waking my housemates, as well as a banana. I never actually sat down and worked out a fueling plan for my race, and when I went to grab some Gu’s I found I only had two left. I was hoping for 4 or 5. But I put them on my new SPI belt with the gel and race bib holders, and put a bag of jelly beans in the pocket of it.

The first 20km went fairly well to plan. With the exception of a 5:38 kilometer for the second km of the race, the other 19 were all fairly evenly paced from 5:45/km to my goal 6:00/km. I tried to remember to eat a half dozen jelly beans every couple of km. They handed out Gu gels at the 5.5km point (foul tasting blackberry) which was a bit early for them in my opinion, but I sucked one down anyway. I tried to alternate water and sports drink at the aid stations. The weather was cool with a bit of a drizzle, which was fine with me, even if my shoes were getting a little soggy.

I was only at about 8kms, along an out and back section of the race, when four Kenyans in tight formation came flying past me in the other direction at about the 16km point (the race leaders). It must have been at least 5 minutes before I saw anyone else at all heading that way. These guys are pros, with the eventual winner, Chilemo Kipkemoi winning the $20,000 purse for the third year in a row, running a course record time of 2:13:15. It’s a thrill to even be entered into a race with guys of this calibre.

A slight climb along the 21st kilometer slowed me to a 6:05 but I made up for it on the 22nd along the flattish St. Georges Terrace with a 5:45.

Then we hit Kings Park.

Look at the elevation chart above and the steepness of the first bit at the halfway point. (It’s a shame my Garmin program shows it in miles). But, while slowing, I didn’t walk any of the hills. I took it nice and easy with my times through the middle Kings Park section of the race ranging 6:04/km to 6:45/km and I was happy with my performance there, knowing the dreaded 32km wall was looming ahead. I still felt pretty good although the legs were feeling the effects of my efforts.

C2S mid-race

Now for the final 9km stretch, Underwood Ave, Perry Lake Park and Oceanic Drive to the City Beach finish line. An undulating series of roads with one fairly nasty hill at about the 37km point. I did my best to ignore the 32nd kilometer marker going past. This has been the point where I’ve fallen apart in both my previous attempts and I didn’t want to think about the bonk. And while I was noticeably slowing, I didn’t feel like I needed to walk! If nothing else, making it past this point was probably the highlight of the run for me. They handed out another Gu at the 36.5km aid station. I never did use the ones on my belt!

I’m pretty worn out by this stage as I force myself up the last big hill. A young lady in her 20’s is running about 2-3 meters to the side of me as I focus on making the legs keep moving, and she pulls out her cell-phone about 2/3’s of the way up the hill and starts chatting away sounding like she was just kicking back on her couch!! “Hey! …Yeah, I have about 5km left. I probably could have started out faster… blah blah blah”

I wanted to trip her.

Over the crest and in the last home stretch. My times along this section averaged 6:15/km which included a 6:49 up the hill at 37. But coming up to kilometer 40, I found myself feeling woozy, dizzy, like I wanted to pass out. In hindsight, I had probably stopped eating my jelly beans, but at the time  I was concerned because I’d never felt this during a run before. So at 40.5km I finally dropped to a walk to let my head clear, walking about 500 meters. My time for the 41st kilometer was a dismal 8:48.

“But,” I told myself, “that’s gonna be it for the walking.”

A series of cramps in my left leg did cause me to drop to a hobble a couple of times over the next kilometer, but another runner kept pushing me to run it out, so run it out I did. The cattle chute at the end was about 400 meters long and I thought it would never end! Just before the finish line, a woman I was about to pass suddenly saw the photographers and must have decided she wanted a picture come hell or high water, because she cut across in front of me at a 45 degree angle heading straight for the camera-man, causing me to have to take evasive actions! But eventually I made it over the line.

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[mantra-multi][mantra-column width=”1/4″]25 August 2013[/mantra-column][mantra-column width=”1/4″]City to Surf Full Marathon[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″] 4:19:08[/mantra-column] [mantra-column width=”1/4″]6:09/km [/mantra-column] [/mantra-multi]
Again, this is a Strava.com time for exactly 42.195km. Gun time was 4:22:12 and Garmin time only a second slower at 4:22:11 for 42.66km.

It would have been nice to have someone waiting at the finish line for me, but that can’t always happen.

1,187 people completed the marathon race in times of 2:13:15 to 6:27:09, and it’s those people who take over 6 hours to complete the marathon that I really tip my hat to. These are the people that aren’t necessarily as young or as fit as the others, but they slog it out, and six and a half hours is a LONG time to keep pushing yourself! I placed 778th overall, 642nd amongst the males, and 104th for my male 45-54 category.

I walked through the marathoners tent grabbing up a muffin, banana and yoghurt and found a place to sit down in the grass, whereupon my left leg once again cramped up causing me to fly straight back up in the air hurling many an epitaph despite the young children around me. Eventually I was able to sit and even lay on the grass, and once rested I hobbled over to the buses to get back to the city and a cold, rainy, 1km walk to my car (that felt like 5!)

While my time for this race wasn’t all that much faster than my previous marathon, I was still infinitely happier with it having battled and defeated the dreaded bonk monster, and over a much more difficult course. I can now run my races KNOWING that I’m capable of running the distance.

And who knows, maybe one day I’ll run that ultra-marathon I keep toying with in the back of my mind (because there always has to be another windmill to tilt, right?). But first, a sub 4 hour marathon.

Thanks for reading, thanks for your support, thanks for being there.

-Myles the Marathoner

About Myles

"Great. We're in the middle of nowhere, miles from anywhere." - Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009)
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3 Responses to Perth City to Surf Full Marathon 2013 – But it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

  1. JP Harvey says:

    Your year inspires me! Keep it up and see you on the road and trail! (And on G+)

  2. Russell says:

    When my four courses finish in October next year I promise to run with you (If I can make the distance) or be at the line waiting proudly.

    Good work on yet another run with another breakthrough in your mental stren.. Er.. Endurance.

    From your somehow increasingly proud son. :)

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