Why I ran 23 kilometres on a late afternoon of a working day
Four months ago I switched jobs and began working for a bank located in Sydney’s central business district (CBD). They’ve got a running club called Midday Milers which has been established for as long as the bank has been around and are very active in organising runs every now and then. The name of the club is based on the strong running culture in Australia. Many people use lunch time to do their short runs around various routes in the city, some of which go by the Opera House and across the Coathanger (another nickname for the Harbour Bridge).
The club is so good at keeping records of their activities. When I first moved into the office, I discovered a small blue steel cabinet next to my desk. I decided to open it, not knowing then that it belonged to Midday Milers, and found many event brochures, old maps of running routes in Sydney, photos and record sheet of all the times people ran in these events, dating as far back as 1978! It probably goes back even further had I dug around more.
I’ve been wanting to join this club in their runs for quite some time but due to demands of work I’ve just been putting it off, and also I’ve always felt a bit intimidated to join them. So when they announced a self-paced self-timed long run of 23km which they called the “Super Series Mini Marathon”, I decided to bite the bullet and just do it. Plus I needed to do a long run before my upcoming trail event of the same distance the following weekend.
The Bank’s Mini Marathon is an annual long run which takes place on the Friday before the weekend of Daylight Savings Time ends in Australia (we gain an hour by setting our clocks back in preparation for shorter winter days), so this year it is 1st April 2016. It is considered a very challenging course with many inclines and staircases that are signature of Sydney’s wavy urban terrain.
The rules were easy. Follow the designated route, do it anytime of the day, either morning before you go to work, or after work. And it must be run on 1st April 2016 or it doesn’t count. Time yourself and give your results to the club for record keeping (did I say they were good at this?).
My colleague Venn was very kind to pace me as I didn’t know the route – and it was spectacular. I hadn’t done a long road run in ages (I prefer to do long trails these days) so I was all jelly legs after. We decided to run at 3:30PM and after clearing it with my manager that I’d leave my cubicle a bit earlier that day, we headed off.
We started at a grassy area near the bank called The Domain, then made our way to Woolloomooloo, Rushcutters Bay (my favourite part of the route, so beautiful here), then as we reached Redleaf, we U-turned, retraced our steps and made our way towards the Botanic Garden/Opera House area to cross the Harbour Bridge into Milsons Point and Kirribilli, then back across the bridge again into The Rocks overseeing Barangaroo, and then back to starting point at the Domain.
It was a bit on the warm side and very sunny in Sydney yesterday, so it made the run more challenging. On parts where we crossed open areas, there was a lot of headwind. As the sun began to set temperatures dropped so after sweating for some time, your clothes begin to feel cold against your skin.
It took me more than 3 hours to finish this challenging route, which is just about right as I had planned to cover 7-8km per hour anyway, ala my long slow distance pace. I was just thankful Venn was so patient with me and his motivational pep talks kept me going (at times I felt like throwing in the towel but I couldn’t disappoint myself or him). Venn is a fast guy, he ran this distance in 1h 49min last year so I was humbled that he’d even want to consider running alongside me.
After the run we hobbled back to office, changed and went to join the other runners at a bar for drinks. Everyone was supportive and congratulated me for completing the course, which I appreciated and frankly was a little bit embarrassed. Most of them smashed the course in like 2 hours or less.
Luke, the mailing list guy from Midday Milers, informed me that I’d be getting a giant spoon trophy with my name added and engraved on it for being last of the 3 women all runners* who ran the mini marathon, haha! The “winner” gets to keep the trophy for a year and then passes it on to the next lady runner* to finish last in the mini marathon. Apparently it’s tradition that even those finishing last gets recognition. It’s all in good fun, so okaylah. 🙂
Hopefully this won’t be my last run with the club – I intend to do more of the shorter runs and eventually memorise the routes – who knows I might want to do the mini marathon route on my own next year!
* = thanks Luke for the correction – the Spoon trophy is for the last of all runners, not just the ladies. 🙂