Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Albert Melbourne parkrun

I should start this post by pointing out that:
  1. I was coming back from an upset tummy
  2. I made to the trip to Albert Park as some women who appeared keen on parkrun weren't keen on making their way to Westerfolds Park
  3. 11 of the women who said they'd come were No Shows
  4. I took it super easy with a First Timer who ended up walking most of the course
  5. My GPS glitched after 3.5km and so I need to go back at some point to add to my Veloviewer parkrun map set.
Most of the above irritates me. I know it had rained almost non-stop the day before and that the skies were drizzling before parkrun, but 11 No Shows irritates me. Significantly.

I've never been keen on Albert Melbourne parkrun (as there already was an Albert parkrun in the UK) as it's quite simply not somewhere I want to run. I don't like crowds and busy places, I don't like driving into the city (as I had to on this occasion due to the weather), and I've run around Albert Park on many occasions before. 

I ended up going around the course with a First Timer who was lacking fitness. I didn't mind too much as I knew I couldn't push myself around the course even as a tempo run due to my upset tummy and subsequent lack of eating for the previous three days. But I was in a foul mood thanks to the No Shows (which I think occurred because they were scared of the rain, pfft) and it irritates me when people run with iPods in groups. I just don't understand it. Long solo run, acceptable. 5kms with other people, wtf. The First Timer was carrying an iPod around, and dropped it a few times. Hence, irritation. I am known for being grumpy when sick and tired, but I think you can see that I had irritation coming at me from all kinds of angles. ALL KINDS.

So, as for the parkrun itself? Well... the morning was pleasant, and the weather perfectly fine for running. 

The First Timers' run briefing was adequate - although you then need to hurry over to the start line (with parkrun volunteers telling you to hurry up) which was about 300m away. In all honesty, I think the First Timer and I covered these 300m faster than the average speed we went around parkrun. Not exactly the most welcoming start to unfit First Timers. 

Albert Park is similar to Westerfolds Park in that a lap of the existing circuit just isn't quite long enough, so there's a little bit of overlap between the start and finish in order to get the 5km. While we can take the direct route from our pre-run briefing area to the start line at Westerfolds parkrun, Albert Park Lake stops this from being possible at Albert Melbourne parkrun. It would make a lot more sense to me if the run briefing and First Timers run briefing were held at the start line in this scenario, or if the briefing started earlier so there'd be no rush to the start line.

Then there was the course. It's mostly flat on soft fine gravel and would be a lovely surface in dry weather. When it's rained extensively you end up with puddles. I'm sure that some of the parkrunners in the main pack would have just run through it (heck, I would have), but some would have avoided it. There are also plenty of other users at Albert Park during parkrun o'clock, so the puddles didn't really help with sharing the limited space available.

There's a little bit of wildlife with tagged swans and other water birds, but they're more accustomed to humans (which always makes me sad*), and Albert Melbourne parkrun is simply not as peaceful as the other parkruns with suburban wetlands and their less-human-curious water birds (Frog Hollow, Berwick Springs). No kangaroos though. ;)

My GPS glitched at about the 3.5km mark, so I need to go back at some point in order to add Albert Melbourne parkrun to my set of Veloviewer maps. I'll likely head down during a dry spell in spring so I can comfortably cruise down and back on the bike and not worry about being cold and wet during the return trip. Who knows, perhaps I'll be in a better mood by then and thus give Albert Melbourne parkrun a more favourable review (at least they have toilets near the finish area).

*A related aside, but an aside nonetheless: While dogs that do tricks are cute, how is that any different to training a bear to dance? Domestic dogs do need some training to keep them and people they interact with safe, but "tricks" are just stupid IMO.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A recap of July

97km of running & warm-down walks this month (it was 109km initially, but I just went through and deleted the dog walks - I'm still monitoring her mileage on DailyMile, but the weather's been so awful lately I don't think I'm close to "overtraining" her and her little legs).

I'm still very much focussed on picking up Smashrun badges - I only picked up two in July (the July and "easy runner" badges), but made good progress for one of the harder badges. I'm referring to the "towering stairs" badge, which requires 6 months of increasing mileage by 16km each month. It would be easier to achieve if starting from a very low base, but that's not how I roll. :) Now I need 114km in August to keep it going!

I picked up another sub-25 parkrun this month when I went to visit Frog Hollow parkrun last weekend. It's nice to know that my sub-25 Highlands parkrun wasn't a one-off, although I just need a bit more strength (and practice) to do this at Westerfolds and it's undulating terrain! I've also started trail running again, and my long run will have to come from this session. I'm trying to only run three times a week so that I have time for cycling, although the weather hasn't been all that bike-friendly lately (according to Strava I only hit 227km in July, which is better than the 11km in June).

Aims for August

The main aim is to reach 114km of running (and warm-down walks), but I also need to increase my long run and get some speed into my legs. I also need to get back into the habit of riding twice a week on weekdays (although the Thursday Breeze ride clashes with the most regular trail running I can do), taking the bike to parkun, and then going for a long ride on Sundays. The weather is starting to look better next week, so hopefully that will give me a good start!

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