Race report – Bay-City Fun Run

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Yesterday was the second Bay-City 12k Fun Run. I decided to do it again, after having run the inaugural event last year. I had to choose between that and the inaugural 65km Coastal Challenge, along the Adelaide beaches from Aldinga in the south to North Haven. It was sort of a difficult choice. On one hand I have a 100km ultra in just under 2 months (insert mild panic here!) and 65km would be good ‘time on feet’ training. On the other hand I have a Boston Qualifying marathon to run in 15 weeks and was due to do my first long run (21km), so a fast road run would be the logical choice! Plus, I hate sand! Well, running on it. In the end, the road run won out over the ultra.

I always like to have a goal time in mind when doing a race. It helps me work out my pacing and to know how much to push myself. Last year I did 58:28 so, as always, I wanted to run a PB. I didn’t really have a time in mind other than that. I set my pace alerts on my watch for 4:20 – 4:40 (minutes per km).

Pre-race preparation was not ideal. I had had a pretty big week mileage-wise (I’d already run 40km before Sunday) including 2 solid track races at the SA Masters championships (1500m and 3000m). I gave myself Saturday off to ensure fresh legs on Sunday (plus, I was rostered on as Run Director at parkrun so couldn’t do parkrun anyway). That was all fine, but it was work friend Maggie’s (very fun) 50th birthday party on Saturday night that meant I was a little on the tired side when my alarm went off on Sunday at 5:45am!

I had everything ready to go before I went out on Saturday night, so I could go straight to bed when I got home around 12:30. Gear-wise I went for the tried and tested – my old favourite lululemon skirt over Skins and Compressport calf compression sleeves on the bottom half, and on the top I went with my SARRC top which I had run a half marathon in (and probably will wear for the Gold Coast Marathon). I also had my small Ultimate Direction race vest – normally I would not use a vest in a race except an ultra, but to make up the 21km I needed for my long run, I planned to run back from the city to the Bay, so wanted to have plenty of hydration on board. I carried 1 litre of water and 500mL of sports drink. In hindsight I probably could have done without the water but no doubt if I hadn’t brought it I would have needed it!

After 5 hours or so of sleep I got up and had my usual brekky smoothie before getting dressed and sunscreened ready for a morning in the sun! It was a bit cool when I left home so I put my rainbow arm warmers on.

I drove to Plympton, almost exactly 4km from the start line. I parked in the same spot I did last year, next to the Mike Turtur Bikeway, a shared pedestrian/cycle path that follows the tramline. From there I ran along the path to the start line in Glenelg, the same spot where the iconic City-Bay Fun Run finishes. By the time I got there I had warmed up enough to shed my arm warmers. As with so many races I’ve done, there were plenty of familiar faces to greet before the race started at 8am. Unlike City-Bay, where there is an ‘Elite’ group, then the ‘sub-60s’, then the rest of the runners, then the walkers, in Bay-City, the smaller field means everyone starts together. The fast people still start at the front – I positioned myself behind them for 2 reasons. First, because I know they’re faster than me and will only overtake me within seconds anyway. Second, because trying to stick with them in the early stages would almost certainly derail the rest of my race!

8am came and we were away! Up Jetty Road and eventually onto Anzac Highway which seems to go on forever! I remember running through the busy Anzac Highway/South Road intersection and looking for traffic as I ran across. Somewhat unnecessary given that the road was closed – force of habit!

The first few kilometres felt a bit ‘ploddy’ but actually I ran 4:37, 4:33, 4:37 – all within my goal pace range. I actually got slower after that, my watch seemingly constantly going off, telling me I was going too slow. At the halfway mark (and no, there was no impromptu Bon Jovi singalong!) I was sitting on 28 minutes. Double that and I was on 56 minute pace. By this time I had forgotten what my time last year was, but knew 56 minutes would be a PB. I did want to negative split though, so I decided at 6km it was time to take it up a notch. I managed to get in a few high fives to the kids on the sidelines (When I do a road race, I don’t feel like I can claim a race medal unless I’ve high fived at least one kid!)

After a 4:45 6th km, I managed a 4:37 in the 7th and then a further second quicker in the 8th. When I saw the sign that said ‘4km to go’ I thought to myself, “I got this!” (In City-Bay and Bay-City, rather than having kilometre markers to show how far you’ve gone, the signs tell you how far you have to go. Sometimes that’s nice, although not so much after 1km – “11km to go!” – not very reassuring! )

Although I slowed down slightly in the 9th (according to Strava it was ever so slightly uphill, in fact the ‘steepest’ km at 13m elevation) it was around this point that we hit the edge of the city and I knew the end was in sight.

I was starting to pass more people at this point – some who were doing the 4.5km race, and some 12km runners who were struggling. (It wasn’t exactly hot, but running on bitumen with little shade, it can get pretty warm!)

I was checking my watch periodically and I was still on track. My 10th kilometre was 4:41 but other than this I had managed to keep between 4:35 and 4:40 from the halfway point onwards – I was happy to be able to maintain a relatively consistent pace.

With 2km to go, I picked up the pace again. I managed to speed up to 4:30 for the 11th, and then when I passed the glorious ‘1km to go’ sign, I forgot all about the impending run back to the car, and went for it. The last kilometre was 4:02, albeit slightly downhill. As we ran through Light Square, the Nova radio crew were there with loud uplifting music (from memory, ‘Uptown Funk’) which helped get me psyched for the finish!

I saw the clock as I approached the finishing arch, and pretty much sprinted, thinking I might be able to sneak under 55 minutes. I didn’t quite get there – according to Strava it was 55:07 – but still, a PB by more than 3 minutes – gotta be happy with that!

I didn’t hang around long – just enough time to congratulate a few fellow runners and collect my medal, before the 9km run back to the car, this time along the tramline. It was a bit frustrating, after a non-stop 12km run, to have to stop seemingly every block for traffic lights! Once I got out of the city though, it was plain sailing and I even ran into regular running buddies Beck, Kay and Alison, running back from their long run. (Kay and Alison ran the corresponding ‘City to Bay’ run with me last year – this time it was just a quick ‘Hi’ as we ran in opposite directions!)

Once I got back to the car I headed to West Beach to see some of the Coastal Challenge runners at Checkpoint 5, 46km into the 65km run. I hung around there for a while, and by the time I left there in search of lunch at 1pm, I knew I’d made the right decision. A solid, fast road run was definitely what I needed and I just couldn’t have imagined running 65km along the coast – well done to everyone that did though, makes my 12k (and a little bit more) look like a walk in the park!

I feel like it was a good first week for my 16 week marathon training programme – lots of fast running, some track runs and a nice hill thrown in too, with a total of 65km. That’s probably a bit much for such an early stage and I doubt I’ll be doing that much mileage for the whole 16 weeks, but I’d say it was a good start!

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