Last Thursday marked the shortest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere – the winter solstice. From now on, every morning will be just that little bit lighter. The cold will stick around for a while, but there is now the promise of summer on the horizon.
The Story So Far…
My running has been a little haphazard over the past month or so. I have been beaten down by a few back-to-back colds, as has the rest of the family. It seems to have been a never-ending cycle, and it’s not compatible with early morning runs in the freezing cold and rain.
That being said, I have never given up. When the conditions have been right, I have headed out at 5am and had a run. While the consistency of these runs has been a little up and down, my enthusiasm for running as a form of exercise has not diminished. I look forward to them. There is no doubt that, even with the irregular nature of recent weeks, running has had a positive impact on my overall health.
It isn’t always easy for me to drag myself out of bed at 5am on a Saturday morning. In fact, if there is any hint of rain about it is damned near impossible. The one thing that does make getting out of be so early on a Saturday just that little bit easier is the promise of a run in Cronulla.
There’s something special about running along the East coast of Australia as the sun rises. Well before the sun officially pokes its head over the horizon, the sky begins to change. The blacks of night gradually become deep blues, and pinks, oranges and yellows begin to define the horizon. On the right day, the scene is breathtaking. It’s rejuvenating, spirit lifting… inspiring.
Saturday was most definitely the right day.
When I arrived it was pitch black. The cold was confronting, but I had recently made an excellent purchase of a running jacket, so it wasn’t too bad. I did my stretches, switched on the awesome Beoplay E8 earbuds and cranked my music. Then I was off.
I had some vague plans in my mind to push beyond my comfort zone. It had been weeks since I had run seven kilometres and, although it had nearly killed me (this is possibly a slight exaggeration), I was keen to push a little harder again. After all, the City2Surf isn’t too far away.
I decided that I would run for a while and see how I went. I wanted to run at least six kilometres, but if I felt comfortable I was aiming for eight.
After a couple of kilometres I was feeling good. I had found a steady pace and my new jacket was keeping me warm. My music was keeping me entertained and the first rays of the new day were just beginning to appear. There were other joggers about and I was keeping pace with a couple of people who looked much fitter than me. I decided that eight kilometres was possible after all.
The Point of No Return
When I run near home, my course is expertly designed to ensure that I am never more than two kilometres from my house. That way, if I need to stop early for some reason, I can easily cut the run short and be home in minutes.
When I run on the Esplanade in Cronulla, there are only two options – run away from my car, or run towards my car. This means that when I am pushing outside of my comfort zone, I have a long way to hobble back if something goes wrong. When I am running away from my car, I am constantly assessing how I am feeling, and if I am capable of the return journey.
As I approached three kilometres (where would we be without GPS tracking and fitness watches?), I assessed the situation. I felt good, so on I went. I set my sights on four kilometres, at which point I would turn around and head back. It was a great plan… except I began to run out of footpath. I had run almost the entire length of Cronulla, and was heading off toward the (still very dark) sand dunes.
Thankfully, my Fitbit informed me that I had made the four kilometre mark, and it was time to head back. Remarkably, the people who I had kept pace with continued on their merry way into the dark wilderness. I was curious to see where they were going, but I also knew that if I didn’t start heading back, I would probably collapse in an exhausted heap a long, long way away from the car.
The Long Road Back
I suddenly felt a long way away from home. I began to question whether I had made the sensible choice. After all, I had hardly been consistent with my running. I found a bubbler and stopped for a drink. As I caught my breath and enjoyed the view out over the Tasman Sea, a large group of runners breezed past. I didn’t know where they came from and I didn’t know where they were going, but I did know one thing… game on!
It’s fair to say I can become a little competitive at times. I have also rarely run with other people, so I figured it was a good opportunity to see if I could keep up.
They must have just started, because what started as a tight pack of runners quickly spread out. I had no trouble picking off the ones at the back, but I struggled to make ground on the lead runners. At least they weren’t disappearing into the distance.
Things got a little chaotic when a second group of runners appeared. I lost track of who was in which group. By the end I had no idea how many I managed to overtake, but I was pretty happy that no one went flying past me. What I really enjoyed was being around other people while running. When I run at home I’m lucky to see one or two other people out and about. It made me excited for the City2Surf – for the opportunity to run alongside tens-of-thousands of other people!
By the start of the eighth kilometre I was well-and-truly spent. My left leg was beginning to feel like a dead weight and I was totally out of breath. I gritted my teeth, focused on the music in my ears and pushed through. It felt as if I was running at little more than walking pace, but I did it! I made the full eight kilometres.
I was exhausted, but I felt amazing! Once again I had managed to push myself that little bit further. Each time I reach a personal best, the 14 kilometres of the City2Surf seems a little less daunting. With less than 50 days to go, now is the time for me to keep pushing those boundaries.
I’m confident that I can be ready.
My times weren’t even too shabby!
After I finished my run, I took some time to soak in the scene around me. The sun was still a while away, but the predawn sky was brilliant. All around me, focussed people went about their morning exercise. No one was bold enough to swim in the rock pool at that time, but one or two brave surfers were bobbing up and down.
The whole scene was refreshing. I whipped out my smartphone and took a few pictures, but I was kicking myself for not throwing the DSLR in the back of the car. Next time…
There may be less than 50 days to go until the City2Surf, but that is still enough time to prepare! Entries are still open, so why not head on over to the City2Surf website and sign up? I can’t think of a better motivator right now to keep me focussed through winter.
A Little Help From My Mates (Product Disclosure)
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 headphones were provided to Blog of Dad free of charge, to use during training for the City2Ssurf. If I’m going to train for one of the best running races on Earth, I may as well use the best equipment!
The Fitbit Blaze was provided to Blog of Dad for inclusion in the 2017 Christmas Gift Guide for Dads. It has been a vital part of my running regime ever since – a constant motivator of self-improvement strapped to my wrist!
I use Tanita’s brilliant RD-953 Body Composition Monitor to monitor my inner fitness. It tells me all I want to know about the parts I can’t see.
I have been given complimentary entry into the 2018 City2Surf, to help inspire me on my fitness journey.
To find out more, read my disclosure statement.