City2Surf and Vets Half Marathon

I had heard so much about the City2Surf over the years so it was a lot of fun to actually experience the excitement of competing in such a huge running event. In fact, I believe it is one the largest fun runs in the world. Eighty one thousand entered this year but about sixty eight thousand actually completed the course which makes one wonder what happened to those who did not make it to either the start or the finish line.

I still had not recovered fully from my previous injury when I ran the 14km course from College St near Hyde Park to Bondi Beach. The day before, I thought of pulling out because I still couldn’t hop on my right leg. Nevertheless, I managed to run at a reasonable pace (5:40 per km) and I found ‘heartbreak’ hill less of a challenge than anticipated. Not a patch to some of the climbs around Canberra that I am used to.

It was a perfect, sunny day and the atmosphere was exhilarating with music and entertainment along the way. I enjoyed every moment and managed to catch up with some fellow Canberra runners at the end for a cuppa and a bite to eat. I hadn’t tapered for the City2Surf and ran 16km a few days before, so I was happy to find that, in my age group, I came 25th out of 1207.

After the City2Surf, I ran the ACTVAC (Vets) half marathon, though I must admit I was pretty tired going into this event (three laps of Lake Ginninderra) and was not expecting a great time. In fact, I had prepared myself for the possibility that I may not break 2 hours – having done 11km of hard hill training two days before the event.

So much for ‘preparing’ myself! I completed the course with heavy, tired legs in 2:01:26 and felt extremely disappointed. Last year I completed the same course in 1:57:33 and it was only my second half marathon. Frustratingly, my right buttock and calf had felt stiff and sore from about 8 km on.

After some serious foam rolling and spiky ball massage over the next 24 hours I continued to complete my scheduled runs last week. This included 8 km (slow) on Tuesday, 16km on Wednesday, 5 km on Thursday and a gruelling 16km on Saturday that included two 5 km intervals at 5:08/km pace with a 3 km warm up and cool down.

In my limited experience as an older but aspiring distance runner, this was the first time I had ever run so much shortly after a half marathon and while I found the 8 km after only one rest day a challenge, I was surprised how well my body was coping with my schedule by the end of week.

I continue to run according to my schedule for the NYC marathon in November, but what I have come to realise is that, when training for a big event like a marathon, it is unwise to interrupt training with unsuitable competition events unless they can be incorporated into training as a ‘tune up’ that doesn’t compromise the scheduled training.

For this reason I am pulling out of the Canberra Times Fun Run on 3 September. I am scheduled to run 12 km on Saturday the 2nd and 29 km on the Sunday and there is no way a 10km race fits in between these assigned workouts.

On the other hand, the two sets of (scheduled) 5 km intervals yesterday meant that I could enter the Hastings Foreshore Parkrun – a 10km event. I simply added an eight minute break after the 5km mark – it worked out perfectly and my times were spot on!


You may be wondering where the ‘assigned runs’ have come from. Over winter many of my running buddies have been away enjoying up to three month sojourns in Europe – this included Mia, (Maria O’Reilly), who has been a great inspiration to me and Bruce Graham, whose Saturday morning interval sessions I have sorely missed.

With everyone away, it meant that I needed to find an alternative training program. After some research, I decided to subscribe to an online coaching organisation called RunnersConnect. Based on information I provided about myself, including current running status, I was ‘profiled’ and assigned a program designed to prepare me for the NYC Marathon.

Not only does it include access to a personalised program that can be adjusted for tune up events, illness or injury; I also have access to coaching tips and a forum for discussion with other runners. The resources include podcasts, which have been great and research articles, which seem very balanced and up to date. I log my runs every day and receive feedback from two particular coaches and a group leader and so far it seems highly beneficial. My group leader, Peg, is two years younger than me and while not an elite runner, she has lots of experience and advice for the ‘older’ runner.

Rain, Hail or… Snow?

Today was a perfect example of how not all training runs go according to plan. I was assigned a 19km LSD (long slow distance) run and discovered it is not always possible to complete a run in any weather.

I arrived home from Melbourne at around 10am and set out at 10:40 to run around the Hawker Reserve, Cook trails and up to Mt Painter and back. It was 11 degrees with a cool breeze but not too bad and I was wearing a thermal top so I thought I’d be fine. I certainly didn’t think I would need gloves or head warmer. Wrong!

Within half an hour the sky grew very grey and it started to rain lightly. I considered going back home for a rain jacket but decided against it. By the time I reached the top of Mt Painter the sky looked dark and sinister and the wind was icy. I was sooooo cold! I found out later the temperature had dived to less than 2 degrees not taking into account the wind chill factor. I had no choice but to decide to head home rather than complete the full course. The rain increased and turned to light hail by the time I reached my street and shortly after – it started snowing! It took hours for me to fully thaw – even after a hot shower!

Even though it was a shorter run than planned – I feel it was more challenging than a longer run on a good day. Apparently the weather in Canberra today is typical of what we might expect in New York around the time of the marathon. I have read stories where runners have had to pull out due to hypothermia and thermal blankets are often handed out at the end of the race. On the other hand – it can sometimes be tee shirt and shorts weather.

For now, Spring is around the corner and I’m looking forward to running in some warmer weather. In the meantime, I will have to give some serious thought to packing for the unpredictable New York City weather.


About the Author

Jennifer Kellett established Hawker Place Physiotherapy in 1991 and is the principal practitioner of the family run practice. Jenny has served the local communities of Belconnen and North Canberra with commitment and pride for over 26 years. She is a strong advocate for maintaining fitness, health and well being across all age groups and has a keen professional interest in combining Pilates with weight training for treating postmenopausal women at risk of osteoporosis.


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