Saturday, January 24, 2015

The technological challenges of reading blogs

Reading blogs should be simple - but I find that it's not. I don't particularly enjoy reading from the computer screen as I already spend far too much time staring at it from behind a desk. So I'm trying to limit my blog reading to my tablet - I know it's just another screen, but it's away from the desk and seems to irritate my eyes less.

Since making the switch to the tablet, I finally caught up with my blog reading and am now generally up to date! Although technically it's only the "running" and "parkrun" blogs that I've listed on the blogrolls of this blog that I'm up to date with, but it's a start. As I am spending most of my time running rather than cycling these days, so I think that's enough to say I'm "up to date". And I think about 80% of my outstanding posts come from The Kitchn!

I have found some quirks with the RSS reader that I use, Feedly. It doesn't seem to like Mark's blog too much - and I hope think it's only Mark's blog. I'm not sure what Mark did to Feedly, or even if an apology will sufficce, but I only realised something suspicious was going on when I wondered why he'd only been writing single-paragraph posts lately. Of course Feedly's deception was uncovered once I checked his blog properly. I'm not sure why Feedly is taking out whatever problem it has with Mark on me, messing with my, "You've read all the blogs!" sense of accomplishment! Not cool, Feedly, not cool.

But I'm ever so slowly getting the hang of commenting on these blogs from my tablet, which is what I use to do most of my blog reading on. I don't enjoy writing from my tablet, so I had been saving the posts as "for later" on Feedly. It's just that revisiting the "for later" pile doesn't readily happen! So now I'm trying to comment as I go - all on the tablet! And so, I am also slowly chipping away at the "for later" pile.

There are a few other quirks with Feedly when it switches between the app and the blog websites (which I need to access to comment). Sometimes returning to Feedly is seamless and drops me right back where I was; sometimes it restarts the app!

So... does anyone out there recommend any particular RSS readers?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Not Westerfolds Wednesday: Return to Albert parkrun

I finally found a Melbourne-based Meetup group that suits me interests - mainly because they like parkrun and don't feel the need to commit to only the one location! Weeeeeeee!!! If you're curious, it's the Half Marathon Club Meetup group, and Saturday at Albert parkrun was the first event of theirs that I was able to attend.

A gorgeous morning for a parkrun!
It took me a little while to spot the Meetup group's organiser, Luke, but I eventually found the aqua cap I was looking for. I said hello to Luke (it helps that I was wearing the same kit as in my profile pic - my five30runners gear) and met a few others from the Meetup - although I can only remember the names of two of the four (in addition to Luke).

Soon after that it was onto the only real formality of the morning - the run briefing! John was the Run Director, and it was his first time too! The day ran very smoothly from a parkunner/non-volunteer perspective...

First-time Run Director John.

...which was impressive once I found out it was a Course Record Attendance! 355 parkrunners and no glitches does indicate that Albert parkrun is a well-oiled machine!

It was only a little bit busy...
The start was a bit congested - I had self-seeded far too deeply into the start pack. I could feel that I was burning a bit more from my legs than I would have liked as I tried to find the right spot to run the rest of the parkrun in. I spent most of the first 1.5km in a weird kind of interval run, sitting behind some people until there was an opening to overtake, which would often need to be done rapidly as the course is tree-lined. While I wasn't the only one running completely off-course and around the trees, it was more work than I would have liked to have been doing.

I paid for that fartlek-like start once we passed half-way and ran into the northerly that was blowing that day. I'm not used to running into headwinds, and while I managed to keep pace for the first 500m or so I could not sustain it. Headwinds were also something I noticed affected my effort during the Sussan 10km, and may be something I need to regularly run in if I choose to take the October half-marathon (as part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival) seriously.

As I approached Lakeside Stadium I thought about ramping up the pace a bit to see if I could salvage anything from the woeful 4th kilometre. I had started the run hoping to run comfortably under 26 minutes, but I knew that the 4th kilometre had cost me time. Just getting to 26:00 was going to require some effort in the final section of the run! I try to run by feel, and although I occasionally check the watch to see how I'm doing - I missed the 4th-km split on my watch on Saturday. I was wearing the Garmin Forerunner 610, so it vibrated but I didn't want to look because I knew it was BAAAAAD.

However, the closer I got to Lakeside, the more I thought about what a stupid idea it was to ramp up the speed. I also made a mental note that my frame of mind (chasing a time) clearly meant I was ready to stop "just plodding" during the week, and that I ought to start some speedwork again. :) I will likely not be feeling so "smiley face" about this come tomorrow evening, which is when I will likely be doing this speedwork.

As we passed Lakeside, someone came up on my shoulder and told me, "500m to go!" At this stage I had progressed from my four-step breathing sequence and calm three-step breathing sequence to a laboured three-step breathing sequence. If you hear me at this stage, it's fairly obvious that I'm struggling and not exactly feeling wonderful.

Is that me pushing off more from my big toe and not so much from the outside of my foot?!?!
Image from the Albert parkrun Facebook page, but not sure exactly who the photographer was!

Finally, I could see the rowing shed near the finish line and I knew I could commit to some stronger strides. I got closer to the two ladies I'd been sitting behind for the past 2km or so, tried to cheer them on to ramp up their speed and headed for a fast finish with "500m to go!" guy. He crossed the line first, and I hit "lap" on my watch as I finished. I had planned to go back for the others in the Meetup group and run their final hundred-metres or so with them to get me some extra kays, but ended up sitting on the grass for a bit to catch my breath instead.

I did end up getting up and finding Luke and Abigail. I was wondering if my legs were up for another fast finish, to encourage a strong finish from Luke. I can't remember how they felt, so it must not have been too bad - that's what you get for talking when running!

The longest scanning queue I've been in since I was at St Peters parkrun. Was nice to end up with a finish token greater than 100 despite running well under sub-30. Again, something that hasn't happened to me in a while!
With everyone back, Luke spotted the others in the Meetup I had met earlier and said our goodbyes. Luke, Abby and I joined the barcode scanning queue - it's been about two years since I've enjoyed waiting in line for my barcode to be scanned, as was often the case at St Peters. Fittingly, it was their birthday on Saturday - and they notched up a Course Record Attendance of 455 - that would have been SOME scanning queue!

I didn't know exactly what time I had run at the time until later, as I was walking back to the car and adding up the seconds of the km-splits (5:09, 5:06, 5:06, 5:20, 5:06 - and 0:15). 26:02 by my watch, officially 26:04. At least it's nice to know that my "run by feel" system is working!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Do the Spaniards love trail running?

I only ask because I kept finding myself on Spanish-language websites when doing research on trail shoes! I also come across German ones with great regularity, and I think this mix of search results in English, Spanish and German is Google's way of telling me that they have paid far too close attention to what I click on when the "Would you like to translate this page?" toolbar has turned up.

Thanks my status as a second-generation Australian with parents from Argentina, it wasn't really a problem. It does take me a bit more time to read the reviews, but my favourite site has been Trail Running Review. Despite it's title, it's entirely in Spanish.

Actually, I lie. Its title is in English.

But I love the little comparison charts they have.

I'm currently trying to track down the shoe on the right in a Women's 12 due to its superior "Adherencia en roca" and "Adherencia en roca mojada." It's relevant when you adore creek crossings.

And no, I'm not nearly as comfortable with German as I am with Spanish. It's just that I rarely use the Google translate toolbar - I'm sure it'll only require a few more French-language websites until I start getting French results in my Google searches too!