Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Westerfolds Wednesdays: Anniversary Eve

Don't be deceived by the sunshine, parkrun on the weekend was quite fresh! It made for really good conditions for those chasing a PB - and the stats show that it was a speedy morning with 23 of the 82 parkrunners ran PBs! There were also some hooligans with some stencil graffiti...

It's spray-on chalk! Discovery of the year! The template does need to be a little bigger though...
As the most recent addition to the Westerfolds parkrun Run Directing department, the pressure was on Chris as it was his first time in the role. There didn't appear to be any problems during the morning or even afterwards while processing results, so clearly supporting RD Rohan trained him well. :)

The Westerfolds parkrun pre-run briefing.
Image from Westerfolds parkrun #53 photo album.
It's taken a while, but we're starting to have a few more additions to the parkrun 50 Club, as Brett has now joined Ehuli (and Michael, although he's a 100 Club member). I suppose it really shouldn't be that much of a surprise that these three ended up on top of the male points table for the year! We're not sure when Brett (or Ehuli for that matter) will receive his 50 Club shirt as a new supplier is currently being sourced now that Adidas are no longer a sponsor of parkrun Australia. For now we can acknowledge the achievement with the little digital badges that appear on parkrun profiles and in the results!

Brett on his 50th parkrun!
A couple of juniors picked up their Junior 10 Club certificates, and another few will be inducted next week as they were either absent on the weekend or ran their 10th parkruns on the weekend!

Our latest Junior 10 Club members!
Images from Westerfolds parkrun #53 photo album. 

My parkrun was fairly uneventful - I started with Wendy but dropped off after about 3.5km as I started to do my "Strides" workout (20s intervals of tempo running, 40s recovery) and went off-course to try and avoid the tempo intervals on the hill (which is what happened last week). I didn't calculate it well again, so I ended up doing a couple of intervals on the hill - but at least none of them were downhill this time around!

I may love Smashrun, but Strava does a cleaner run profile.
Strava activity here.
After finishing I went back along the course until I came across Leesa and Frankie. Leesa missed a lot of parkruns while struggling with an injury so she's just getting back into it, and Frankie was helping her finish in under 40 minutes. She ended up with 39:49! :)

With one week to go until the most important date of the Westerfolds parkrun calendar (the birthday/anniversary run), I spent most of the post-parkrun chat time plotting. I had a nutty idea for the cake, but knew I wouldn't be able to pull it off until I discovered that Leesa was one of those mums who attended cake decorating classes and had quite an impressive looking little portofolio on her Instagram account! If you're a parkrun regular there is no doubt that you have seen more than a few impressive cakes at parkrun birthdays and special occasions.

Lots of impressive parkrun cakes so far! As they say, "parkrun is not a race, but a baking contest".
Clockwise from top left: Kawana parkrun, Merimbula parkrun, Kalgoorlie-Boulder parkrun, and Tuggers parkrun.
Images from each parkrun's Facebook page. 

We decided that we would give the cake a go last week, sent a few messages and photos to each other during the week (which is when we decided to follow my nutty idea), and then met up again during parkrun to finalise how we were going to pull off the cake.

Secret cake plotting with Leesa, although our security was compromised by the photobombing Frankie!
Image from Westerfolds parkrun #53 photo album.
We're assembling the cake on Friday, so hopefully it will all work out well - three of us will be there, although Iwona doesn't yet know the extent of our plans! As the wife of Event Director Scott, she may be impressed or mortified! :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

8 weeks to 10km

Seven weeks (and a day) until the Sussan Women's 10km. I am not feeling prepared because the asthma really threw me out. I was tempted to just pootle along until then and on the day, but the idea of only pootling really bothered me! So I am going to try and stick to a training plan and see what happens.

The first problem when attempting to train towards something is that there is no shortage of training plans out there on the internet and in running publications. I've tried the Runner's World Smartcoach app before, but I would grow really bored of the monotony of it. Given it's a four week cycle with a taper as you approach "race day", I'm not surprised I grew bored of it. This time around I'm trying one of the 5km/10km programs in Claire Kowalchik's The Complete Book of Running for Women. I like that different plans can be connected (e.g. base level Bronze 5km to mid-level Silver 5km, or base level Bronze 5km to base level Bronze half-marathon), and that there is variation week-to-week in the interval training and that easy runs have variation in distance.

Image from its Amazon listing.

I had initially planned to play mix and match between the Silver and Gold levels as I had felt that I could handle the Gold interval training and long run despite my overall mileage being relatively low (and thus more Silver-like). While there are recommended paces in the text, I can't get my head around running the same pace for 400m intervals and for 1600m intervals - so I'm using the training paces from McMillan Running, which are faster than recommended for my pace (and faster for shorter intervals), but I knew I was capable of hitting those paces provided I walked the recoveries as I had tested for this before the asthma set in. I'm happy to walk recoveries as it means I put all my effort into the speed component of the run.

Of course this plan was completely thrown into disarray as I had to ease back on running thanks to the asthma symptoms (which oddly went away once the new heater at home was reinstalled, leading me to believe that perhaps the cold night air was causing the spasms). I did initially start at with the interval session from Week 1 of the Gold training program, but I couldn't finish the planned intervals despite increasing the recovery period by an additional two minutes each time. The plan was to complete a pyramid of 400m, 800m, 1200m, 800m and 400m. By the time I started the second 800m interval, my legs were pooped so I eased off and only really did a half-pyramid.

This week I went switched to the mid-level plan, where this week's interval training was 400m, 800m, 1200m. Yup, just an easier version of the advanced level with a one-week delay. I have to admit that it made changing the workouts on Garmin Connect a lot easier than entering them all in from scratch! The two plans look fairly similar, although the Gold Level starts with more intense interval training types. Also, the Gold Level intervals are generally bounded by longer warm-up and cool-down distances, along with longer intervals and/or more repeats. By missing the first Silver Level 400s & 800s session the Gold Level has an extra full pyramid and an extra rollercoaster.

WeekSilver LevelGold Level
1 (6th Oct)400s & 800sfull pyramid
2 (13th Oct)half-pyramidtaller full pyramid
3 (20th Oct)full pyramidrollercoaster
4 (27th Oct)rollercoastermile repeats
5 (3rd Nov)mile repeatsrollercoaster
6 (10th Nov)steep pyramidsteep pyramid
7 (17th Nov)800s800s
8 (24th Nov)400s400s
Race prep (1st Dec)300s300s
Recovery (8th Dec)half-pyramidmini pyramid

As my asthma had settled down I decided to stick to the recommended recovery time (and skip the additional 2 minutes I gave myself the previous week). I ended managing the interval perfectly fine. :) So I'm back on the right track - although I now need to build up my mileage and long run again!

What's not clear here is that I was doing laps of a wetland with a short climb on one end (and thus a descent at the other). The Smashrun plot that shows elevation just wasn't as clean as this figure!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Westerfolds Wednesdays: the week of the ill-fitting goodies

Having a Westerfolds Wednesday is going to be a little confusing on weeks when I go parkrunning in other locations, but I'm going to try to make it work. Somehow. Perhaps those weeks will be "Not Westerfolds Wednesday."

While I have a couple of other parkruns on my "hit list", I headed to Westerfolds on the weekend because I had some deliveries to make! The parkrun 10th Anniversary T-shirts had arrived from Wiggle earlier in the week, and they needed to go to their new mummies. I had a problem with my shirt: it was too big! I selected the Medium because the published chest size of the Small (96cm) wasn't compatible with my chest size (99cm, but I can get it down to 96cm if I don't breathe).

In order to reach the minimum spend for free shipping ($80) I also ordered shirts for Sophie, Wendy and Amanda. Technically I only needed another two shirts to add to mine, but three it was. Sophie and Wendy were at parkrun on the weekend, and they found their shirts small too. I have ended up with Sophie's Small one (with an Extra Small now on order for her, along with some cycling kit to hit the free shipping mark), and my Medium went to Tony, the Inverloch parkrun Event Director.

As for parkrunday? Well, this weekend was Westerfolds parkrun's 52nd event - and we had 86 parkrunners. It was also Berwick Springs parkrun's 1st birthday, but I don't think our attendance wasn't affected by that or by the Melbourne Marathon Festival. I think we have a small, but loyal, following. ;) Our attendance record of 107 was set on a day when Diamond Creek parkrun was cancelled, but we then had 103 last weekend on International parkrun Day. I'm calling the 103 our unofficial record as is wasn't "wind-assisted", where the wind in the case of the 107 was the Diamond Creek Rotary Town Fair.

The steadily-increasing population of Westerfolds parkrun since launching in October 2013. There's no monthly average for October 2013 because the inaugural run attendance distorts that statistic (especially with a sample size of one).

Saturday was a gorgeous morning for parkrun - although it was a eerie to turn up a little bit before 7.30am and find the place empty. You could almost hear the tumbleweed! I was going to head off on a recon run to see where Simon was up to in the pre-event course setup, but I heard my name being called by John, our Run Director for the day. Three flags and some discussion later (Westerfolds parkrun HQ discuss things during the week via Facebook, and John's not on Facebook), and it was almost time for the pre-run briefing!

I decided to try a "strides" workout during parkrun - 3km of easy running to warm up, and then 8 sets of 20s bursts with 40s of recovery. Unfortunately, the 3km of warm up meant that the work was done up the hill, so I needed to walk while making my way up the hill to recover through a few of the intervals. The last interval finished as I hit the bridge at about 500m to go. I heard my watch beep and I went off on another 20s burst only to find that it was now just "free-running" and thus much longer than 20 seconds! At least I had a nice strong finish - although I was definitely feeling the effects and decided to take on more of the asthma medication before it progressed to the post-run-worsening stage. I took a few snaps with my camera, but then found myself performing Run Director Department duties (collecting money for our Westerfolds parkrun birthday dinner).

Lee was today's timekeeper while Wendy handed out the place tokens.
I was also becoming increasingly annoyed by the Walk the Wall people who just kept on taking up more space for their charity event. They also had a blower vac going to "clean" the BBQ area a bit, but all that did was throw debris onto our belongings, create noise to distress some of the younger children, and increase the amount of allergens in the air. If I wasn't part of the Run Directing Department I would have had a go at Blower Vac Man, but I wasn't sure how I really should be acting in that situation. 

Adam's taken on Finish Token sorting duties in recent weeks, although sometimes he needs a little help from his dad.
Next week is our final parkrun of our first year! For those who care about the points competition: it's still a close contest amongst the men, while the women's contest was finalised a couple of weeks ago. We're not going to know until next week whether Ehuli (4124 points) or Brett (4091) will be our men's "champion", and it's undecided whether Michael (3342) or Tim (3273) will pick up third place! Riveting! The women's competition will be won by Amanda (3538), followed by Valerie (3351) and then hopefully by Nicole (2811).

"Hopefully" because I personally don't care about how I am going in the points competition. I don't go to parkrun to win medals. I don't want a medal to be wasted on me (3178 points) as I will regard it as clutter in a few weeks. I don't even want a paper certificate as it has no purpose - it's just a waste of paper and resources. I like the 50/100/250 t-shirts that parkrun have because they have a purpose (clothing), although it bothers me that contributing to the parkrun community by volunteering messes that up (unless you have your cake and eating it too by setting up the course and going for a second lap or tail-running, and then having your barcode scanned). I know that the points system accounts for that, but I don't think it should count towards your volunteer count if you also run - it gives a false sense of "giving up your run" to volunteer.

Yikes! A little off-track there, but I'll try to keep parkrun things positive in the future! Time for some Happy Thoughts! Here's a puppy!

Think Happy Thoughts! Here's one of the dogs that belongs to Sonia and Ashwin - their other dog is a poop machine.
Generally it is this lovely weekly event, it's just that there are a few things that annoy me and they happen to coincide with parkrun birthdays, where we reward/recognise those in our community - although I think the system doesn't work as well as I think that it should.

P.S. I'm serious about medals/trophies/keepsakes = clutter. I picked up more than enough medals, trophies, ribbons and certificates from little athletics, senior athletics and football. And all most of them ever were to me were dust collectors. I threw most of them out about ten years ago. I only kept my state championship medals for discus and hammer - things that I actually trained for. Further, my favourite state-level medal provides a silly story, so I've kept the whole set because I feel a bit silly getting rid of all of them but one. My age group and the younger age group competed in our respective state discus finals at the same time, and I threw the equal-third furthest out of both lots, yet I won my age group and my first/only state title. I find this highly hilarious as it also meant I had these wreaths signifying "State Champion" on my registration bib the following season).