Saturday, July 26, 2014

Frog Hollow parkrun

Frog Hollow parkrun launched a couple of months ago and I finally found the time to visit this weekend! It took me less than 20 minutes to get there by car, so I'll probably head back there again next time I feel like a change from Westerfolds (although I still have other parkrun locations that I need to visit first!)

Frog Hollow parkrun is fairly easy to get to by car as it's just off the Monash Freeway on Belgrave-Hallam Rd, which is the first exit after the South Gippy (South Gippsland Freeway) if you're heading out from the city. Parking is limited to David Collins Drive as the parking area inside the Frog Hollow Reserve is used by the local rugby club that has its junior matches on Saturday mornings too. There's plenty of on-road parking and it's very close to the start, so it's not a problem at all.

This board was at the main entrance to Frog Hollow Reserve, but there's a later point where you can park and cut through the houses on David Collins Drive that is closer to the start/finish area

There are toilets, and I spotted that the rugby club's canteen was open at parkrun time but didn't find out any more at the time. I wasn't sure of the arrangement details between parkrun and the rugby club, so I just left it alone. The Frog Hollow parkrun crew have a marquee set up for their barcode scanner, and most parkrunners threw their jumpers under a table that had been setup inside just before moving over to the start line (a little further NE than the finish line).

There was a warm-up too. I don't participate in these things... neither did these two ladies!

Frog Hollow parkrun is definitely the flattest course I've run on - it's in a wetland area and the only "climbs" are on the return from the turn-around point as you come back under the freeway, and a short climb at the north-east corner of the lake which you taken on twice (once at the turn-off for the lake-lap, and the second time as you keep going towards the finish). If you're interested in what the Strava segment for this parkrun looks like, click here.

There are a few boardwalk sections at about 1km, 3km and during the lake-lap. We were warned that they may be a bit slippery as it had been raining that morning, but I didn't notice anything on my 400km-old Saucony Triumphs. 

During the first 2km I was wondering how windy the area might become, and if there were ever horrible head-winds (which I'd experienced on my second trip to Berwick Springs). There was a slight head wind on the way back on the northern side of the lake, so I experienced that twice, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad as that last time at Berwick Springs!

The wetland on the left is the "lake" that one goes around at the end before returning to this path again and heading towards the finish.

With Run Melbourne on the next day (and the kids event on the Saturday), numbers were relatively low. Only 26 parkrunners attended, which was their lowest attendance at the time. Frog Hollow parkrun is very close to Berwick Springs parkrun (they had a strong launch, were regularly hitting over 200 parkrunners from January to May, hitting over 300 twice in February), and I think it was started to help lighten the load at Berwick Springs. It seems to have worked as the Berwick Springs numbers are back to double figures and with only occasional 100+ attendances. 

Mornington Peninsula parkrun launched at the end of June - while it's not as close to Berwick Springs as Frog Hollow is, I can imagine parkrunners from that area would have been making the trip to Berwick Springs too. Pakenham parkrun is another in the "area" that is kicking off soon, and they had a trial run on the weekend. I'm assuming all these new parkruns have reduced the attendance at Berwick Springs, but I haven't really had a chat to anyone about it.

Frog Hollow parkrun #7 volunteers

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Oh dear

Weather + Phd madness + World Cup + illness = I haven't been the most frequent cyclist!

I went out and did the Mt Pleasant loop a few weeks ago after zero riding for a few weeks and survived well enough. 55km/700m was a good start. But since then I've only gotten on the bike twice - one 30km/400m and Sunday's 65km/900m. Except Sunday's ride was awful. I felt really bad after an hour and forced myself to keep riding despite how I was feeling.

In hindsight I should have eaten more before I left home. I had two slices of toast and a banana with a mug of coffee, watched Brazil lose to Holland, and then headed off. You see the problem? The almost-two hour break between food and riding. No wonder I felt like absolute crap! I ate during the ride, but I suspect the damage had been done during the football! If I think about this enough then I feel OK about the Rapha Women's 100 that's on the weekend. But I'm also concerned that perhaps it will happen again next week during the ride! :(

Also I had hoped to have had completed a lot more PhD work before the Rapha ride so that I could go out and enjoy it. Instead I'm struggling with some of my data and long patches of writer's block. It will be a long day (getting to Collingwood, coffee pre-ride, the ride, coffee halfway, lunch at the end), and all I can think about now is how much time I'll not be writing.

Is this the awful ride playing funny-buggers or my PhD being dead serious?

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I don't normally write about my Sjögren's - it looks like I've only used the Autoimmune woes label once before. I was diagnosed with Sjögren's after I was having an extreme reaction to the apartment I first lived in when I moved to Sydney. I think the problem stemmed from the apartment being towards the back of the building, where the balcony faced the air vents of the building. There was small garden and a few base-level apartment courtyards between the vent and our balcony (and a few stories too), but it meant that regular de-dusting of the apartment was required. My flatmate had previously lived in an apartment at the front of the same building and had had a different issue there - lots of black deposits on her balcony and window edges thanks to the proximity of the Western Distributor meant she could never really open the windows or use the balcony.

After a while I found that I was having near-constant hayfever symptoms, and eventually suffering blood noses. The GP referred me to an Ear-Nose-Throat specialist who found I was allergic to dustmites (joy) and have elevated Antinuclear Antibodies. He burnt off a few of the capillaries in my nose and sent me off to a rheumotologist. After a bit more bloodwork I found out about the Sjögren's, which was the reason why I had relatively low tears (which had been noticed by optometrists in the past), a dry mouth (yes, I also have crappy teeth thanks to the reduced saliva), and a dry nose that was prone to bleeding if irritated (dustmites at this stage, but I had also developed an aversion to extreme airconditioning at this point).

The symptoms that affect me the most regularly are the dry eyes and mouth. I like to wear contact lenses when I'm cycling as I enjoy being able to just flick my head around and checking traffic. Doing this with glasses requires a more extreme Beetlejuice style of head-flick (I can't see clearly without my glasses beyond ~20cm), and I can get headlight-double-vision if the lights penetrate my lenses as certain angles. I also prefer to wear contacts when running, but tend to be lazier about this so will occasionally just wear my specs. But I can't wear the contacts for too long as my eyes just become irritated (incidentally my brother hasn't been able to wear contact lenses for almost two years now as he tore one of his corneas removing them one day and it's taken a while to heal - he wears sports goggles now and I still laugh at him when I see him on TV, as do my friends who go to his matches and know he's my little brother).

The dry mouth means that I am constantly thirsty - which means lots of visits to the toilet. It also means that I consciously try to stop drinking water before I go for a run, and perhaps having just a half-glass before I head out. I don't seem to have this problem when cycling, but it may be because my bike rides are longer are because I end up completely encrusted in salt by the time I go home.

Maybe not this salt-encrusted, but there are noticeable white patches on my face, legs and any other sections of exposed skin.
Image from here.

Melbourne has lately been windy, and thus dry. So the nosebleeds have returned. I put up with it for a couple of weeks hoping that the weather would sort itself out before I my nose annoyed me too much, but I gave up the other day. Or gave in - I'm back to sticking sesame oil up my nose, although a version that is sold at pharmacies for this purpose (aka Nozoil). I find it a bit messy to use - the initial bit's fine (sticking it up your nose), but soon after I have little bits of excess oil dripping out of my nose. If I'm especially unlucky, enough of it enters the back of my throat that I am overwhelmed by the taste and I start gagging. I'm worried that one day I will actually throw up, because my teeth are fantastic as they are let's add stomach acid to the mix! Woohoo!


In case you're wondering how I knew it was the apartment that was the problem - I moved out to a new place in Randwick (closer to uni) a little while later and my symptoms cleared up very quickly. My flatmate stayed at the Pyrmont place for another couple of weeks before she moved on overseas, so I would occasionally go back to catch up for dinner or pick up a few things, and in less than 15 minutes I'd have a runny nose and teary eyes.