Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Balyang Sanctuary parkrun

Lately, I've been thinking more about cycling again - mainly because of the weak hamstring/glute coupling problem I've developed in over the past few months. It's a problem I didn't have last year, and started to think that it was because I was cycling regularly then and not now. So I decided I was going to make my way to Westefolds parkrun by bike on the weekend.

Naturally, it was raining. However, it wasn't particularly cold so I headed out on the bike in the drizzle. While I wear cycling glasses most of the time to protect my autoimmune-affected dry eyes when I wear contact lenses, they were more of a hindrance to my vision with them rather than without. At least I was able to stick them into my helmet and look semi-pro for a bit. Only semi, because flat-bar. Wearing my cycling cap would have helped, but I'm still not finding wearing caps under my helmet that comfortable. Live and learn.

It didn't take long for me to realise just how much conditioning I had lost in the many months off the bike. The short drag on Blackburn Road after crossing the freeway was always a good test of how I was feeling when I was a bit more bike fit. On Saturday, it was a reminder of how much strength I had lost. My glutes were burning, and it was a clear sign that I need to spend more time on the bike!

***

While I had initially planned to head to Shepparton the week after Albury Wodonga parkrun, I was starting to feel a bit pooped thanks to a Sjögren's flare (or "flair" as they like to say in some forums... grrr), so I headed to Balyang Sanctuary parkrun instead.

Hello Balyang Sanctuary parkrun!

My hamstring was feeling better than the previous week, so I took it fairly easy on the course. I think I would have struggled anyway if I had been run-fit and tried to set a good time as the Balyang Sanctuary parkrun course is a bit bumpier than I expected! I knew it wasn't flat and not as bumpy as Westerfolds, but the grade of some of the bumps was greater than anticipated. Although it doesn't matter when you're trying to just cruise around the course.


While the vertical scale is distorted, you can see that the bumps become progressively worse the further you move away from the start - and being an out-and-back course means that you get to do them twice! Geelong really isn't that far for me, so I am looking forward to coming back and giving their parkrun a proper go.

It's a beautiful course on a shared path along the eastern/north/Geelong-side of the Barwon River. The route is leafy and well-loved by the local community (there were plenty of non-parkrunners on the course), and is tarmac - which is my favourite sealed surface to run on.

It's not your eyes, I think I was so fatigued at this point that I didn't really have the patience to set up my glorified point-and-shoot properly.

Although I did a slightly better job of snapping the BackPedalers, probably because they actively engaged with me and tried to pose! I've sent the images to one of the admins of their closed Facebook group, but as we're not Facebook friends I know that the message has gone unseen into the rarely noticed "Other" folder.

Lots of community action on the other side of the Barwon.

There is plenty of parking in the area, and toilets too. The parkrun meets at an undercover area, so there's plenty of space for the parkrun volunteers to set up, and for you to store extra clothing and drink bottles during the run without worrying about them getting wet or getting in the way of the volunteers. There are also plenty of other spots to run around in the area - so I'll have to explore them when I come back. So many reasons to get my hamstrings and glutes sorted and firing properly!

Finally, don't forget that there are no scheduled parkrun events on ANZAC Day! Although there will be an 8am Freedom Run at Westerfolds parkrun - and perhaps others too, but Westerfolds is the only one I actively know about.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Albury Wodonga parkrun

There is clearly a connection between wanting to update the blog and running more regularly again - my hamstring is still being stupid, but I seem to be able to run as long as I don't overstride! Also, am working on getting the little one running - we're still quite slow, but there a chance we could complete a parkrun in under an hour soon rather than needing a half-hour head-start to finish before the tail-runner. Of course, I'd also have to work on her motion sickness...

I went on a parkrun tourism binge in the time between my last proper entry and now - Albury Wodonga was the first I visited (way back on February 14), and as my hamstring was at peak annoyance then, I walked the course as the tail runner and did some photography too.

Easily my favourite photo of the day.

It's a very pretty course! If you're ever doing a Melbourne-Sydney trip (or vice-versa), I thoroughly recommend timing it so you can do this parkrun on the way. Of course, you could always do it as a Freedom run!



The course follows the Murray and is an out-and-back course, with about one-third of the course in Victoria. I figured that if I was going to try and complete all the Victorian parkrun courses, that I should complete those that included sections on Victoria too. Of the "old" courses, I still have Inverloch and Mornington to complete, and Traralgon and Warragul only just launched over the past two weekends! Sale, Altona Beach and Castlemaine are confirmed to be launching soon over the coming weeks, so I still have quite a way to go!

It's a border-crossing parkrun!
The Albury Wodonga parkrun course is on a mix of concrete and tarmac, and its meandering nature means that there are plenty of spots where you can see other parkrunners ahead of you - and behind if you weren't the tail runner!

parkrunners ahead - WAY ahead!

Unfortunately, there's a pinch point on the course about 400 m courtesy of a bridge. There's really not much that can be done about this as the start point is an area that gives them plenty of space for the 150-250 parkrunners they tend to get (as well as being the best spot with access to parking and toilets).

219 parkrunners with 5km to go! 
I'll have to find time to return one day to actually run it, but I just need my hamstring to settle down first!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Hello! Long time no see!

I drafted this while lying on the bed, in the middle of a Persian food coma, and the dog decided that it was the best time to commandeer my legs. I hadn't taken her for a walk, and I wasn't planning to, so I let her be and drafted this post from the tablet that was within reach.



Soon after my last post, I had an extended Sjogren's flare where all I really wanted to do was sleep. Mileage went down, as did my capacity to stare at computer screens all day. I did manage to get quite a bit of parkrun tourism done during that period, so I have a number of reviews to add to the blog: Albury Wodonga, Balyang Sanctuary, Shepparton, Point Cook and Toolern Creek. I meant to go to Inverloch too but I was so exhausted that I stayed in bed instead. No shortage of content to write about, just energy - once I sit down in front of the computer and get a good amount of PhD stuff done, I have had enough of the computer screen and don't want to look at it any longer.

I am also still not over the hamstring niggle, but have managed to clock 25:37, 25:34 and 25:32 at the last three parkrun events I have attended (all relatively flat -  Shepparton, Point Cook and Toolern Creek). I'm not feeling fit by any means but am enjoying my consistency over 5k. Although with Puffing Billy in 6 weeks, I am a bit worried about how much I'll be able to push it. I should be able to do better than last year, when my average pace was 6:10/km. The first descent down to the overpass almost makes my hamstring hurt just by thinking about it! Along with pace, my long run has also suffered as a result of the niggle. I struggled through 13k (and 100m elevation) earlier today, but I'm hoping to build on that over the next 5 weekends! 

I'm planning on heading to Pakenham parkrun this weekend - I volunteered there at their Inaugural, but am yet to run the course. It is another flat course, so am hoping to get another mid-25 minute run in - or a little quicker if the hamstring can handle it!