Saturday, November 23, 2013

Diamond Creek parkrun

It's been a few weeks since the Diamond Creek parkrun launch, and I'm yet to write up a review of the run! I fell sick the week or so after, so have been a bit swamped with work and sleep. I didn't cycle at all for that week, and haven't run since the launch, and thus I also neglected this blog during that time!

Diamond Creek is the site of my second-closest parkrun, although it probably takes about the same amount of time to get there as Berwick Springs! As an indication of how much more convenient Westerfolds Park is, I drove past it on the way to Diamond Creek.

The parkrun begins (and ends) on the western side of Marngrook Oval. It's a fairly straightforward course as you follow the path down to Allendale Road and then return. There's a clearly marked (and well marshalled) detour at Diamond Creek Reserve in order to make the run up to 5km. Organisation was fantastic, and there were definitely coffee facilities available across the road but I had to get back home straight after the run! I didn't need have time to scope out toilet facilities either. Parking shouldn't be too much of a problem - it is limited, but there were plenty of spaces on the east and west sides of Marngrook Oval. Diamond Creek railway station is nearby too, so it should be easy to figure out how to get there by public transport!

The "old" Diamond Creek parkrun course. Feedback from the launch run now means that the T-shaped part of the
course is now only encountered once (on the way back from Allendale Road) instead of both times. To make up the
extra distance, the looped path just east of the T is now taken on the trip to Allendale Road. 

One of the incentives to go to Diamond Creek was that it would be a much flatter course than Westerfolds Park. This is undoubtedly true - but it does not automatically make it a PB course due to it's out-and-back structure. I found that I lost a lot of time and momentum on the three U-turns along the course. Since the launch, one of the U-turns has been removed, but two U-turns will still slow you down. Of course, the out-and-back structure makes this a really good High Five course, so make sure you're ready to cheer on your fellow parkrunners!

Back to the elevation - while the course is relatively flat (Strava's given it an elevation of 12m), I definitely felt the first climb back from Allendale Road at about 3km. I don't know if I would run this course again, but I now know not to bother trying to regain momentum from the U-turn at Allendale Road straight away as that little incline knocked it out of me straight away. For comparative purposes, Berwick Springs is flatter (the Strava elevation is 0m on my run, but 4m on the segment - and I would agree with the latter) and the loop structure makes it a better PB course.

Another downside to Diamond Creek parkrun is that the path is entirely concrete! It's not a surface I enjoy running on, and while I didn't experience any problems during the run, my lower back was definitely sore the next day! Berwick Springs has a mix of concrete and gravel paths, so I suppose it's a better course from that perspective - but I hate doing laps! Despite the hill and lack of regular access to coffee, Westerfolds Park is definitely winning as my preferred parkrun. Give me bitumen and plenty of parking (and good public transport as I discovered today), and I'll run up whatever hill you throw at me.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Westerfolds parkrun

The latest location to join the Melbourne parkrun family is Westerfolds Park - it is currently my closest parkrun, and so it will be the one I attend most regularly. No shortage of parking and toilets nearby give it the edge over Berwick Springs. This Saturday was the first of the month, so the Farmers Market was on - giving Westerfolds Park parkrun the trifecta of parkrun accompaniments!

Last week was the launch of the run, and only had two of these three components, but I've noted that there are some cafes south of Westerfolds Park so I will have to visit them to complete my parkrun experience. :) We had flawless parkrun weather this week - plenty of sunshine, no clouds and the temperature was warm enough. Add coffee and treats (healthy and not-so-healthy), and it could be a fabulous once-a-month treat for non-local parkrunners!

Possibly a perfect parkrun: great weather and yummy post-parkrun treats!
Like my fake Instagram-like photos? I was using my mobile and needed to hide the poor resolution.
Although I like how the orange undertone matches the orange text I use on the blog.

As for the course - I think it would be the hilliest of those that are closest to me (so that includes Albert Park, Berwick Springs, and the yet-to-be-launched Diamond Creek). According to Strava, the total elevation for course at Westerfolds Park is 48m, which doesn't seem too more difficult than St Peters' 41m (that's the current course). But what's most important is where the hills are. Like Berwick Springs and Albert Park, the course is based on loops - so there are no high-five points on these courses (the Diamond Creek course looks like it will have them). It's bitumen the whole way - so no lower-back ache from running on concrete for most of the distance.

Let's consider St Peters parkrun first.

For those who notice difference between the SportTracks elevation profile and the Strava one - my recollection of the course fits better with the SportTracks profile.

When people refer to "the hill" at this course, it's the ~9m over 300m in the middle of the course. My "tactic" for this course ended up being to start at a decent pace - the first little climb is manageable at a faster pace as it's so early in the 5km. You fly down Campbell Road and then Euston (and barely notice you're going uphill), and continue to push it up the hill. That's half of the parkrun done, and most of the nastiness done too. Recover on the way down the hill and just hold on until you reach the finish line! The last kilometre is generally uphill, but you only have 1km to go! Shut up legs, the end is very, very near! My PB for the course is 25:54 (and I did 25:05 at the exceptionally flat Curl Curl parkrun the next week if we were to compare those two courses).

Now let's look at Westerfolds Park parkrun.

Yeah. I have no idea how to run this parkrun course. Aside from being supremely fit or something.

My goal this year was to break 25 minutes for 5km (Curl Curl parkrun is the closest I've gotten to that so far). I think my goal next year would be to break 25 minutes at Westerfolds Park parkrun. Having a bit more knowledge of the course this week, I ran 30 seconds faster than at the launch run. I eased back at the start (i.e. the opposite of St Peters) as I now knew a bit more about "the hill" (the climb that starts at 3.8km) and what I will call the "pre-hill" (the climb at about 3.4km). The "first hill" of the course is the one at about 2.5km - it's awful knowing that you're halfway into the run but only just starting the climbing! Especially since after getting through the "first hill" there's a sign saying it's 1.2km to Manor House. Thanks Parks Victoria. But it's good-awful really, it's nice to get to the top after passing Manor House and knowing that the rest of the course is downhill. Except the final little bit, but it's at the end, so its elevation is irrelevant.

I'm not planning to be at (any) parkrun for a fortnight (so that I can join the fortnightly Tenax rides), so I have two weeks to get back into my running routine (I fell off it as part of the Sydney to Melbourne move) and to find some good climbs around home to incorporate into my regular runs. The only way I'm going to not suffer as much up Manor House Hill and it's pre-hill is to climb regularly.

Oh, I hope I don't put anyone off joining Westerfolds Park parkrun - it's a lovely run, you just have to figure out how to run it without overdoing it too much too early! Next Farmers Market would be 7th December - but I'll be Tenax riding (I think - depends if they stick to their schedule over the silly season).

P.S. Apparently Berwick Springs has a coffee cart now. But given that it takes me ~35 minutes to get there, I would prefer a toilet block :P

P.P.S. South Bank parkrun in Brisbane had a record of 410 attendees last week. This week they broke that record by over 500. Yup. 944 parkrunners!

P.P.P.S. Old news, but Mosman parkrun in Sydney is having council issues and is not currently operating! Hopefully the council won't see the South Bank video and panic further about how parkrun affects public space, even if it was a 7am start! Curl Curl parkrun starts at 7am too due to council restrictions.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gear review: Yurbuds

Once upon a time I used to never run with music - I would be struggling to keep normal earbuds in my ears, didn't really feel comfortable with the lack of ambient sound if I used a style that was a snug fit to the inner ear, and found those sporty headphones and ear-hook things uncomfortable if I ran with my glasses. So I just ran without music - it didn't bother me on solo shorter runs, but solo long runs would get quite dull unless I was running in a lovely area.

Eventually the earphones I was using to accompany me on my walks to uni and on public transport died, and I came across Yurbuds - so I gave them a go and loved them! That was well over a year ago - so here's a long-term review of them and the customer service I've received from the Yurbud suppliers.

I ordered mine directly from the supplier as they were not yet available to purchase from Australian retailers or their Australian website. I can't make any complaints about the customer service from the Australian distributor - they organised a pair for me straight away! My only complaint at the time was that I never received a receipt for them, but 18 months on, I haven't found that to be a problem.

First, I must confess a few things - I no longer have the original pair of Yurbuds that I bought in May 2012. The first component to fail was the enhancers - the little rubbery bits that convert the normal earbud into something that locks into your ear. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would find that the enhancers dropped off occasionally when not in use, but after about 11 months they started to regularly fall off as the rubber had stretched too much. I eventually lost one. While you can buy replacement enhancers, I was able to get a pair sent out to me under warranty. I found the one I lost a couple of days later at the UNSW post office near my PO Box (and yes, I picked it up, it's rubber and perfectly washable - even if it was over stretched, I figured it would come in handy if I lost one of the newer enhancers and needed a temporary replacement).

A few months later and the second component began to fail - the sound in the left ear was a bit twitchy and would come and go. I could sort it out by playing a bit with the positioning of the cord if I wasn't moving (i.e. at my desk), but that meant that the Yurbuds were now useless for running. Not that I minded at the time as I hadn't been doing many solo long runs at that stage.

Then the left earbud just died. After a bit of shopping on their website I found that the model I had purchased had a lifetime warranty on it, so I sent an email out to the distributor again asking if this applied to my unit (I couldn't remember whether there was a lifetime warranty on it, and I'm not one to keep packaging for small items.) They advised me to send the Yurbuds over to them for assessment. I had them dropped off on Monday morning as I had someone in the area (thanks Dad!). By 11am the same day I received an email to confirm that they had received them and that they were arranging a replacement pair to be sent to me via post, which I received the next day! If that's not great customer service, then I don't know what is!

 So... onto the product review!

Gear Review: Yurbuds Inspire Pro (AU$89.99 RRP)

In May 2012 I only had a few options to choose from in the Yurbuds range - the Inspire, Inspire Duro and Inspire Pro. The Inspire and Inspire Pro both have a rubberised cord, whilst the Inspire Duro has a fabric one that is never meant to tangle. The Inspire Pro was the only one with a three button control and microphone, so I picked that as I was far too addicted to the three button control on my original iPod earbuds to give them up. An expensive addiction, but it was a feature I wanted.

Contents of the Inspire Pro box: the earbuds with enhancers, a alternate set of enhancers and a little carry bag (which fits my iPod touch and enhancers, but which I rarely use).
The Inspire Pro comes with the earbuds, two sizes of enhancers (sizes 5 and 7), a clip, a pouch and a little instruction leaflet. I'm glad that they've changed the leaflet - the first one I received was obviously from their American market, and I needed a nickel to use as a scale if I found that neither of the included enhancers was quite the right fit.

Dear Wiggle Reviewers: please check the contents
of your boxes thoroughly before complaining
about the poor fit of your enhancers!
The Yurbuds do exactly what is promised - they stay in. While I have now figured out that I use the size 5 enhancers, I spent some time with the larger size 7 set. Not only do they pop out, but can be painful to use during the period they do stay in place! Yurbuds do say that they can get an alternate size in for you if what was included in the pack doesn't suit (and I do wish that all those Wiggle reviewers who complained about the sizing followed up on this)  - but it's always easier if something works straight from the box.

As for the sound quality - well, it's good enough for me. If I wanted excellent sound, I would go back to earphones that block ambient sound or just use a proper set of headphones. But when I'm running I only want music to accompany me - I don't go for a run to listen to music. If I want to listen to music, I stay at home and use my lovely AKG headphones. The Yurbuds are meant to allow you to hear ambient sounds so it's only logical that you would lose some sound quality. It's a compromise I'm willing to accept (and I did notice another Wiggle reviewer made a similar comment, so I'm not the only one who believes that).

While I had problems with the enhancers falling off and eventually the sound in the left ear dying, the buttons and microphone never stopped working in the 18 months that I had my original pair. I used the Yurbuds with my 3rd generation iPod Touch and 4th generation iPod Shuffle without any problems. There are a lot more colours and styles available now, and some are compatible with other systems. If I upgrade my phone and end up with a Samsung, I may find that the Yurbuds aren't compatible - although I would not hesitate in buying a compatible pair as  I have been very happy with my Inspire Pro pair so far!

Finally - if you're small, I recommend you pick up the women's version that comes with enhancers of sizes 4 and 5. I am tall and with a larger frame, and given that men's spectacles tend to fit me better than women's (due to the legs of men's spectacle frames generally being longer and thus able to reach my ears better), I am assuming that my ears are also a little bit larger than normal for women. Of course, if you prefer a style that only comes with larger enhancers - don't forget to ask Yurbuds for a small size to be sent to you!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


After taking a week off from running, I headed out to Lysterfield Lake on Sunday for a 10km run with the Casey-Cardinia Runners. I struggled. Although it was mainly due to pace as the group is faster than me, so I wouldn't have felt too bad if I checked in with my watch once in a while!

It was a lovely morning for a run, and the local kangaroos were out too. I stopped counting how many I saw during the run when I got up to 20. If you're ever at Lysterfield Lake and looking for the native wildlife you'll need to head into the narrower trails, such as the Tramline Track that we took on the western side of the lake.

There was also a mob of kangaroos on the drive out of the park, I had to wait for them to pass so that I could leave!
And apparently "mob" is the correct collective noun.

Given I haven't been running that often lately, I should have struggled over the distance. The last time I ran over 10km was in early August! My legs were feeling a bit sore on Monday, so I just stretched them out and spent some time on the foam roller. While I generally felt better on Tuesday, I noticed that my stupid inner-thigh tightness had returned. I hadn't been on my bike since the run, so it's definitely a running problem. So I spent last night self-massaging my inner thighs and now am nicely bruised! Hopefully I'll be right for the Westerfolds parkrun launch on Saturday!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Just some general parkrun plans...

My last post indicated that I would be getting more into running and cycling - instead the opposite ended up happening. Muscle tightness in the left glute and inner-thigh for most of the following week resulted in most of my exercise being walks with the dog! This week was a bit better - I had the Berwick Springs parkrun launch to look forward to, so I went out for a ~6km run early in the week. I intended to go for another run mid-week, but the tightness was more or less there, so I spent the time stretching and walking the dog!

When parkrunday rolled around, I headed over to Berwick Springs. So did another 123 parkrunners and many wonderful volunteers!

A gorgeous parkrun day!
Sorry about the Instagram filter!

As expected, parking around the finish area was very busy - but I ended up parking near the start line, which is where I parked the last time I visited Berwick Springs parkrun. At least I now know that there is sufficient parking for ~150 attendees, although I did notice a few locals staring at the number of cars! I wonder if a letter-box drop was undertaken...

The run itself was OK for me - I was aiming to run at under 5:30km/min pace, but it ended up being a 5:19 average with a much faster first 2km than the rest of the course. So I did eventually settle into 5:30, but it took me a while. Finished it in just over 27 minutes - while I am trying to ease off, I have lost quite a bit of fitness in the past month or so. I've also noticed a return of my saddlebags in the photos taken at parkrun the past couple of times. Excess weight never makes running easier!

Finishers and finish-line volunteers.
No filter used here - so you can see how beautiful the day really was!

I have two weeks to sort out my before the Westerfolds parkrun kicks off, and it's important that I pace myself there thanks to the presence of a nasty-looking hill at about 3.5km. I've only looked at the elevation profile, but I'm sure it won't be easy!

I also have a plan cooking my head to help me improve my fitness. Here's a clue:

Figured it out? Well, I am considering cycling to Westerfolds Park, completing parkrun, and then cycling home. There are a few nice climbs both ways - so I should be nicely warmed up upon arrival. I'll probably become a post-parkrun coffee regular in order to give myself a bit more of a recovery before tackling the hills on the way home - it is ever so slightly more uphill on the return trip, so I'll need to make sure I can do it!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A fairly quiet week for me...

Two runs and a ride is all I did this week - partly due to a couple of horrible mornings in Melbourne, especially Thursday (Saturday would have been OK but my plan was to meet up with the Tenax group in Port Melbourne, and the weather didn't look that favourable PLUS I had to be back home for a 30th during the day).

At the 30th I found that one of my high school friends, H, was looking fabulous! She'd been working on losing weight the last time I saw her earlier in the year, and now she looks amazing! So we all pigged out on sandwiches and cake. Ha! But it really got me thinking about being more diligent with my running and riding... but then I watched the women's World Championship road race at night and slept in today.

One of my runs this week was with the Running In The Burbs crew, and we did the same route as last time - a loop of Canterbury Rd, Blackburn Rd, Burwood Hwy and Springvale Rd. It's a nice loop due to its rolling hills, but I think I'm over the running on concrete thing! Also, I'm not sure I like running in the evening when all my other runs and rides are in the morning. Sorry, RITB, but our love affair may already be over!

Wednesday was a gorgeous day, and coupled with some calf soreness, meant that I decided to just go for a run rather than pursue the speedwork I'd started a couple of weeks ago. I headed east, knowing that I wouldn't hit Bellbird Dell but also knowing that I'd like to build up to running to there again. My love affairs with speedwork never last long once I realise I could be running to lovely places instead of doing more intense work that ultimately covers less ground!

Old Strathdon Orchard - a heritage area in Forest Hill, just east of Springvale Road. It can connect to Bellbird Dell via patches of land classified as "Public Acquisition Overlay 3". Not completely sure what that means, but it'd be lovely if it that section could all be (re)developed as bushland...

Thursday morning was meant to be a Breeze ride - I joined them last week on Thursday and Sunday and enjoyed it (despite the 5.45am start on the Thursday and 5.30am start on the Sunday), but the weather this week was horrible on Thursday. I still got up at the required time, but ended up spending most of the morning behind the computer sorting out thesis files and checking the radar. It never did clear up sufficiently to go out for a ride. When the rain did pause, the wind would make me reconsider if I really wanted to go out on the road!

I eventually did get my bike onto the road on Friday. I was alone and absolutely loved it. Riding with a group is great to get to know a new route (and my ride on Friday did follow the Thursday Breeze route initially) and a new town, but I think I do like to just ride on my own. I know how to fix a flat (I just change tubes, and I carry two spare tubes), so I'm all set really. :) There are a couple of hills in the area that I'll regularly ride - and I do love how I can automatically check my progress with each ride thanks to Strava and can select favourite segments to keep an eye on.

Strava might become my new way of sharing activities - I do like the summary it produces (the "39.8km, 01:31:15, 346m" thing) and that embedding into blogs is super-dooper easy (no need to screen grab and then upload an image onto Blogger - Strava just produces some html code that you pop into the entry).


Although I do enjoy tinkering with the data on SportTracks.... so you might get a bit of a mix of Nike, Strava AND SportTracks. Ha! 

Tinkering on SportTracks: I'm just looking at my current goal hill - going west along Canterbury Road between Heatherdale and Mitcham/Boronia Roads. The big brown thing is elevation, the blue is my speed and the green is my cadence. There's a service lane at the start of the hill that I use, but then I need to time my re-entry onto the main road (that's the first drop in cadence) and then I slowed down close to the top due to a red traffic light.

And that was about it with my exercise attempts this week. I stayed up on Friday in an attempt to watch the U23 road race (fell asleep and watched the end of it the next day in the evening), Saturday morning's weather made joining the Tenax group a gamble I didn't want to participate in (given I need to drive to their meeting point, and I didn't want to drive over for a non-ride) plus I needed to be back home for the 30th. Then I stayed up for the women's road race (and successfully stayed up, so I slept in BIG TIME today), and I'll be doing the same thing tonight for the men's road race! I was meant to go trail running this morning, but my left sartorius is misbehaving again so I'll be taking it super easy on any runs and seeing if it's cycling that sets it off (unlikely, but who knows?!?)

Here's to a more consistent week next week!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A parkrun dry run

parkrun in Melbourne will be a little bigger by the end of October with two launches coming up in the next few weeks - Berwick Springs on Oct 12 and Westerfolds Park on Oct 26. Westerfolds Park will be my closest once it gets going, but at the moment my choices are Berwick Springs and Albert Park.

While Albert Park is the closer of the two, traffic is more dense AND I need to pay for parking! So I had my eye on Berwick Springs as a local run (before I found out about Westerfolds Park), and made a note of a few dry runs they had. One was on this weekend, so I headed over to Berwick Springs for my first bit of parkrun action in Melbourne!

parkrun Berwick Springs - 2 laps of the lakes and a final bit at the end!
My GPS recorded 5.1km, but meh. It's parkrun!
The course is fairly flat, with one notable climb along Greaves Road, at the 1km/3.5km mark. The joys of a two lap course - you get to do things twice! There are some other small climbs along the way, and the one between 2 to 3.75 km is not noticed as you start halfway up it and I definitely didn't notice it when coming around for the second lap.

Parking was OK on Saturday (I think there were ~30 runners but the parkrun stopwatch had a fit and reset itself or something, so I don't know for sure), but could be a problem if numbers exceed 50. Although there are likely other suitable spots that I didn't notice on Saturday... There are no cafe or toilet facilities at the park (well, none that I noticed), although Eden Rise shopping centre is about 1.5km away from the start at the corner of Clyde Road and O'Shea Rd (which becomes Greaves Rd on the west of Clyde Road). So I suppose it's all ok if you're well prepared.

My run didn't go so well as I went out far too hard. Now, this isn't too much of a problem on a generally flat course, but it does have me worried for parkrun at Westerfolds Park as I think their hill is worse than St Peters'. And not just because it occurs 1 km later in the run at about 3.5km (out of 5!), it seems to be steeper and longer! I'll share an elevation profile with you if I have a chance to run or ride it before its launch day at the end of October.

I ended up covering the 5km loop-esque course (I couldn't call it a full lollipop!) in 25:53, which is a fair bit behind my Curl Curl PB but I'm sure I can do better with a more controlled pace!

And while I still use the Nike website to get my NikeGPS data into Strava, I've switched from using the Nike+ heatmaps on this blog (and limiting my Strava data to Nike only) as getting back into riding means that I would like to combine the GPS data with the Garmin cadence/speed/heart-rate data I collect on my rides! So I'm now using SportTracks for a variety of reasons - mainly because I can combine the data fairly easily, but there are some other cute little things it does too. :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cycling time!

I haven't been able to do much cycling this year due to my silly hand injury, and I really did miss it! I was also a bit sad that I didn't get much riding done in August - while my hands had settled down, I only got one ride in before the move away from Sydney. My first week in Melbourne was mostly bike-less, it arrived in time for me to use it to get to the local polling booth (and to do a quick test-ride to see how it coped travelling from Sydney). I then used it again mid-week to go to the post office, and I finally got out on a ride today!

Weeee!!!! I can't remember if it was the Bicycle Network forum or the Melbourne Cyclist groups, but I stumbled upon the Tenax Ride and decided it was the perfect ride for me. Fortnightly and at set speeds, with the lowest (25 kph) seeming achievable over their ~55km course. Sure there are ride groups much closer to home, but their slowest speeds start at 27-28kph, and their courses are far hillier!

The point of the Tenax Ride is to keep a consistent speed - which I think I did (except for traffic lights at the start f the ride, a puncture stop, the mid-way break, and running out of legs in the last km or two). Hands behaved well too - when I did the ride to La Perouse in August, I remember pulling out of the lights quickly and having hand pain. None of that happened today - although I did get general numbness and tingles for the last 5-10km during today's ride. I blame it on a lack of conditioning - it was all over my hands and not just where my lab injury occurred.

I was pleasantly surprised to have maintained a speed above 25kph most of the way, and now am looking forward to the next ride in a fortnight! They do more than just the fortnightly ride, but at this stage I'm inclined to just do that until I'm 100% comfortable in the saddle for the entirety of a ride - no dead legs or anything of the sort!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back home

I've had a busy couple of weeks moving back to Melbourne. I have a thesis to write, and it's far cheaper to do this at home then in Sydney, paying ridiculous Sydney rent! I went for a run last week, just to the local athletics track and back (about 6km), and then the removalist dropped off my things on Friday. So I spent the next few days unpacking.

I'd found out about a local running group a few months ago. Running in the Burbs (RITB) sounded perfect for me. While they would have a long run on Saturdays which I wasn't too keen on (it clashes with potential time at parkrun), they did have a Monday run from my closest swimming pool and they do speedwork on Wednesday nights at the athletics track. So I joined their run last night for their 8km run around Nunawading/Blackburn.

I may not have liked the course too much (pavement), but the pace was perfect, and the elevation profile sufficient to stop me worrying about losing any hill-climbing form I may have gained in Sydney too quickly. My pace was fairly consistent during the run, with the last 2 km being a touch slower than the first 6 or so.

I plan to do some speedwork at some point, but I think I'd rather do it on my own than with RITB at this stage. Also, my right hip's been playing funny-buggers (I think it's from the lifting of boxes, and then the sitting to write up thesis), so I'm not sure I want to start speedwork just yet. I'll go for another run tomorrow or Thursday and see what it feels like when I stride out. Just need to find a place for speedwork, as the local athletics isn't exactly accessible unless I start fence-jumping!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

5 seconds away...

Two weeks ago I ran a PB at parkrun St Peters, covering the 5km in 25:54. My goal for this year has been to run a sub-25 5km, so that run showed that I was progressing despite the lack of specific (or any) training! I decided to go to parkrun Curl Curl yesterday to have a proper hit out at 5km - the course is flatter and would give me a good indication as to how fast I could cover 5km without terrain getting in the way.

25:05. Yup. I'm actually very close to my goal! I only need to shave 1 second of my pace for each kilometre to get there. I think that if I ran the course again, I might get to my goal. You can see I went out a little TOO hard at the start. I think that happens when you don't know exactly where you're running, you try and keep pace with the group until your body registers that you really are going too quickly for sustain it for 5km!

Despite the great run yesterday, I'm not actually sure when I'll next have an opportunity to run the Curl Curl course. I'm moving back to Melbourne soon, so perhaps my sub 25 will have to happen at the most convenient parkrun down there - the super flat Albert Park run. No excuses given how flat it is! Although it won't be as small as the little boutique parkrun that Curl Curl is. :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back on the bike

Two posts in two days! Please, don't grow used to it!

I haven't been able to ride since November as I was a) initially away, and b) later injured. Developed the hand injury in the lab and found I couldn't curl my fingers or they'd cramp (it was very painful in the beginning and I couldn't even type!). Now I still have the occasional problem if I hold onto something too tightly, but am generally OK as long as I don't overuse my hands. Given the need to hold onto handlebars to steer a bike, you can understand why I haven't been on it!

With most of my running group away at City2Surf, I decided to attempt a bike ride. The signs were positive straight away when I didn't need to come out of my seat to get out of the driveway (there are three levels of car park - one at street-level, one accessed by a street-level ramp but is one level below street-level, and another accessed by a different street-level ramp but is two levels below street-level). We can't use the street level one as bikes would end up in the foyer and that's a no-no according to strata rules. The second car park exits onto a more busy street than the third car park with the steepest driveway, I prefer the quiet street exit.

I decided to take it easy and just go directly to La Perouse and back - it's a fairly straight-forward 20km with no significiant climbs.

Hmmm... N-S routes don't map very nicely on the Nike+ website. Also, now all my alerts for run PBs are going to be useless on my watch... but at least I get to map my rides, and I prefer having that than the fireworks for PBs (actually, it just means I need to go out for a ride in order to receive some Nike+ fireworks!

I did do a few loops inside the carpark and knew that as long as I kept my hands relaxed, I'd only have to worry about my cycling fitness! My aim was to cycle at ~80 rpm so that I could have a balance between going too fast and going too hard, and it worked as I made it home fairly comfortably. I think I'll only have the one slice of toast next time! And I only had a problem with my hands ONCE. I was trying to leave some lights quickly just to see how my legs were doing, but my hands ended up letting me down.

It was nice to get back on the roads again. I suspect my long-distance running will now become exceptionally dull...

Chilling out for a few minutes at La Perouse. I just sat there for a bit, enjoying the sunshine, the view and a few chats with locals who were also making the most of the morning!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Back to St Peters parkrun

The last time I spent my Saturday morning at parkrun was in late March - and I haven't been doing any kind of speedwork or tempo runs in the past couple of months, so I was unsure of what to expect when I turned up at parkrun this morning (and I only turned up because I happened to wake up at about 6.30am). I knew I was long-distance fitter (despite blowing up last week's Sunday morning at 13km as I hadn't quite recovered from the previous afternoon's hilly 10km hash run), but I wasn't sure if I could hold on to a faster pace for 5km.

I think my Nike pace map shows you clearly what happened.

In case it isn't obvious, my parkrun took a leaf out of the "Go out too bloody hard too bloody early" book. The fact that my last km was my slowest (despite the famous St Peters hill being in the 3rd km) speaks VOLUMES. VOLUMES I tell ya. I was about to walk at 4.5km, but then thought better of it. After all, what's the point of running too damn hard early on if not to test how much it actually hurts?!?

Ended up with a parkrun PB. Yes, this week's version of the parkrun course has 3-4m less climbing than the normal course (there's quite a bit of construction and stuff happening at Sydney Park, so the course tends to change), but I still got about a 30s PB and it was my first time under 26 minutes!

I'm tempted to try Curl Curl parkrun next week to see if I can get closer to 25 minutes as that course is far, far flatter! Or maybe I could do one more St Peters parkrun next week to get used to this whole 5km business again (and get a couple of mid-week tempo runs in over the next two weeks) and go to Curl Curl on August 24th!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Conquered the hill!

I've run the City2Surf course three times now - twice as part of the offical race from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach the past two years, and once unofficially. My first City2Surf in 2011 was a few months after my knee surgery, and while I had been progressing well in learning to run again (running pre-surgery was a non event due to knee pain) I also had a bit of a niggle develop a month or two before the run, so I couldn't really train for it. My second City2Surf was last year, and occurred during a period when I found running boring. I only ran once a fortnight, which was enough to get a PB on the course (as I wasn't in pain), but wasn't actually a proper run.

On both official occasions I ran from the start to the bottom of Heartbreak Hill, and then would jog/walk (mostly walk) it. While I would then run the flat sections and take it easy downhill (especially with a sore knee in 2011), I didn't really have the fitness to get over the small climbs between the end of Heartbreak Hill and the end of the run.

Sunday was a completely different story. I may only be running a couple of times a week (I have taken up stair-running on Thursday mornings, and continue the Sunday long runs), but it was enough to run the entire length of the course. While I would wait for the others at the top of climbs, I never felt like I needed to stop running. I'm sure part of this is due to running at the group's pace, but as we approached Heartbreak Hill, I suggested that we each tackle it at our own pace and meet at the top. We agreed that was a good idea, and I took the next few minutes making sure that my breathing was under control and in a good rhythm before the hill started.

Once it came up, I was fine - I just plodded along at my pace. I knew I was fitter than I had ever been on this course, but I definitely felt the difference as I got through the first section of the hill. In previous attempts I've either walked this section (2011) or run up to this section and be forced to walk most of the rest (2012). On Sunday I just felt, well, fine. More plodding at the same pace and another section down. By the time I got to the top I still felt fine! Completely ran up it without stopping! The other girls weren't too far behind, and after a few minutes we were off again.

We might have had another few pauses and re-groups at the top of smaller climbs, but I still got to Bondi Beach at an average pace of sub-6 min. I shouldn't be surprised given I ran the half a little slower than 5:30 pace, but it was a welcome change to the City2Surf runs from the past two years. The weather was a lot nicer too - I even went for a walk in the water at Bondi Beach. The temperature actually felt fine, although I was probably warm from having run from the city!

If I was into ice baths and closer to home, I might have gone for a swim!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Back into it

I'm no longer sick, and Sydney's rain has calmed down a bit, so no real excuses to be skimping on running! Although I am going through a period in my PhD where every single task seems to be super-urgent, so I found myself not updating this blog!

Since my last post over a month ago, I have only gone on 6 runs - which means it was about one run a week! I went to one more Coogee-Bondi group run, this time covering the group's entire course from Coogee to Marks Park. I haven't really gone since due to heavy rain, or because I ran long distances the two previous days (Saturday and Sunday).

I have been keeping up my Sunday Inner West Jogger activities - well, except for a couple of days that were rained out and one run I had no interest in joining! We covered 12km one Sunday due to taking a slightly different route to the Harbour Bridge, and then finding that we couldn't take a direct route back to the start due to the Sydney Urbanathlon!

At least we had a laugh at some of the Urbanathlon contestants!
From my Instagram feed via

The biggest change to my running has been including trail running. Now, I confess to having missed the past two Saturdays due to heavy rain (after being sick for so long, I'm being overly cautious) and due to having a high school friend visiting Sydney (so I went for a coffee, coastal walk, and ice-cream with her).

My first run with the group was from Garie Beach. I found that my tendency to trip over slightly raised bits of concrete in an urban environment, meant more trips during trail running! Not that I fell over, but it was obvious that I wasn't lifting my feet as high as I should. It does make running a little more tiring, but like anything - I will get better with practice!

The trail run course from Garie Beach

The second run was from the Heathcote Hotel - I really liked this one, even if it was harder on the legs! Walking through dense bushland between the 6 and 8km marks resulted in scratches around my lower legs, but mainly my right arm as I cleared branches and foliage away from my face. Not something that happens when running in an urban environment! The other novelty (for me) was the ladder climbing after 12km - although I'm hoping that those ladders are replaced, or repaired, soon. They were a little unstable. But all in good fun!

The trail run course from the Heathcote Hotel

I'm loving the trail runs - they're a bit far from home, but I'm getting to see really beautiful parts of Sydney in relative safety (compared to the few hikes I've done on my own in the Blue Mountains). I also love the actual act of trail running, and there's not many places I can do that in Sydney's eastern suburbs!

I'm not going to bother with my pace/distance summaries - I've settled on using DailyMile for that (and I use Strava to easily track my gear use and to share runs on the web, although the Nike mapping is prettier due to the pace mapping so that's what I use on this blog... and I continue to use my Garmin Connect account due to having my FR60/FR70-based runs and cycles there, and it's the easiest to manage when looking back at older data). It doesn't take much time to log my runs on all these accounts anyway, it's just a shame there isn't one site that has all the perks of the others!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Still ill... but at least I got a run in!

I did get out for a run on Monday evening with the Coogee-Bondi runners, but by Wednesday I had reverted to a dry cough and mild headaches that made everything but staying in bed sound horrible!

There was a bit of light rain, but I was itching to go for a run. I hadn't taken the Triumphs for a wet run yet, so it was time to see how they felt in such conditions. I hate starting downhill, so I didn't get started until I reached the bottom of Alison Road - and even by then the GPS still hadn't picked up a signal. This seems to be a regular occurrence when it's cloudy (and thus also when it's raining), but the mapping shows that it doesn't lose the signal under these conditions once it's got it.

We meet up outside the Coogee Sands Hotel, and head off at about 6.30pm. It doesn't take very long to split into two groups - the fasties and the slowies. There were really three slowies in the group of seven, but two dropped off after Clovelly (and made their way back, I assume), so it was just me and one of the faster runners who sat back with us. While the full route goes past Tamarama Beach to Marks Park, I was more than happy to run to end of Bronte Beach (to the bus stop, as I like to touch my turn around point to make sure I've reached it) before making our way back.

I did have my headlight with me - and having run this course last winter, I welcomed actually being able to see the road on the section between Calga Reserve and Bronte Beach. It's a section of road that has been cut into the sandstone (I think - I'm not familiar with Sydney geology*) so it doesn't receive any kind of moonlight and lacks street lighting. There's also a small dark section as you go into Gordon's Bay from Coogee, which was a lot easier being able to see where to go.

We made it back to Coogee Sands about 10 minutes ahead of the faster group, so I think I can push to start of Tamarama Beach (without descending) next time! Provided I'm feeling OK, of course! Then I ran home, walking up Alison Road as a warm down :P. The Triumphs were fine - didn't have any slippery moments (unlike the Nike LunarSwift, which is not fun on moist concrete downhills), and felt fine despite walking through a puddle early on while trying to deposit my rubbish in the apartment block bins!

Summary: 9.8km @ 6'43"/km

*Although I know where to find the geological maps, I don't care that much about it. In fact, I have a copy of the maps next to the office doorway at uni.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A blergh week

So much for saying that I am going to lose weight, strengthen my legs and commit to a running program, with additional exercise! I spent the week being sick, being hungry all day, and drinking lots of lemon and ginger tea. My exercise for the week consisted of a single gym session and one 6km run with the Nike Run Club from Warringah Mall (happily used the headlamp for this - and I saw someone else wearing one during the run, so I didn't feel so odd!). Am I allowed to also count multiple trips to the toilet? Thanks tea. I hate having a cold, being clogged up at the same time, and thus regularly drinking lemon and ginger tea to decongest!

I had planned to make the most of my labwork this weekend and go to parkrun Curl Curl, hoping to get a nice 5km time on their flat course. But I've been far too busy coughing and going through tissues (I usually use a handkerchief, but if I'm finding I need multiple handkerchiefs due to my spectacular mucous production skills, I go for the tissues).

At least I did get that run (and the gym) on Tuesday. Meanwhile, because I love doughnuts:

Not that I've been craving doughnuts this week - just tea and soup (so I've been having plenty of chicken, pumpkin and miso soups). I am hoping my coughing will have subsided by tomorrow night as I have been looking forward to rejoining the Coogee Runners group! 

Mileage for the week: 6.5km

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Now for some speed

When I went to collect my bib for the SMH Half Marathon on Saturday, I parked right outside World Square on George Street and paid for 45 minutes of parking. I guessed it would take me less than 5 minutes to get to town hall and back, and my experience as a volunteer for the Blackmore's Running Festival told me 40 minutes was more than enough to collect a bib if it was busy.

Once I got there I found it very empty and I collected my bib straight away. So I had a wander around the expo, bought the Nathan fuel belt with two bottles (which I used for the first time the next day during the half, and it didn't bother me at all once I moved it onto my waist) and found my way back to the start. As I still had over 30 minutes of parking left, I joined to queue for the Virgin Active InBody Tracker.

There was little information gained in doing this, but I like numbers and stats, so it was fun. The Tracker confirmed that I was:
a. a bit overweight (on all fat measurements)
b. carry my excess weight on my hips and bum (see Segmental Fat and very high WHR)
c. have relatively strong legs (see Segmental Lean) - this is why I was always better at hammer and discus than shot-put and javelin
d. well hydrated (see Body Composition Analysis) - I was being very diligent with my water intake last week, and I was happy to see that it showed.

As I said, nothing overly new (aside from the confirmation of my regular water intake last week). But now that I have completed the half marathon and want to get some speed into me, I really need to start to lose the excess - and make sure that I do not put any on, which is something that some PhD students seem to do in the writing up phase of their research. I understand why - it's easier to eat readily available food and very easy to lose track of time. 

In my case, I'm still driving all over town to get my data processed so I need to figure out the best way of avoiding peak hour traffic, getting regular exercise in (for weight loss and for strength - while my legs may be my strongest limbs, I still need to get my muscles firing better for stability purposes), and spending time preparing meals in bulk that I can keep in the freezer and defrost as required.

So here are my commitments for the next 16 (16!) weeks:
1. Follow the Runners World SmartCoach plan for 5km races
2. Go to the gym three times a week
3. Swim twice a week (depending how my shoulder's doing)
4. No excessive junk food (I can't be perfect all the time).

I'm hoping not to have to use a calorie counter as they do tend to take up a bit of time to get the most out of them. But we'll see how I am tracking after four weeks. 

As for how much to lose… that's something I've always struggled with. Even if I was fit, I would still be somewhat heavy due to being tall and big boned (not an excuse, I have a wrist diameter of 17cm and ought to stick to large sized tops due to the size of my shoulders, but am naughty and buy medium ones if they don't need to look properly tailored). The InBody Tracker recommended 6.3kg of fat loss, which means getting to about 77kg. This doesn't sound unreasonable, and will now be my goal weight.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

8 seconds...

... is how far off I was from my target time of two hours at this morning's half marathon (this is according to the official chip time). I was disappointed for all of half or quarter of a second, and then decided that it was a pretty good effort given I'd never run a half before. I learnt a lot about how to prepare for a half as a result of today. In my lead up, the longest I had run was 18km - which I think would have been enough... if I had've had more hills in my long runs!

While I went out a lot faster than expect, I did hold that pace for the first 15km. Then the hills really started to get me - I could still run on the flat, but the hills! Aaargh!

Now I'm not sure if the elevation profile Nike+ has come up with is real - but I'm telling you the climb at 15km killed me, and the elevation profile reflects this. My pace dropped in the lead up to the hill as I was trying to get some energy for the climb. Massive fail! Ha!

I had organised to meet another 2-hour-targetting runner (from the Cool Running forum) before the race, and we ran together for most of the run. It was great to have someone who wanted to push the pace early to bank time on the downhills, and to see how far we could go with that pace. She then started mini pep talk to try and keep me going through that 15th km, which I just couldn't hold. I did catch her briefly after the climb, but she was clearly feeling better than me, so we parted ways. She was telling me pre-race that she'd had times of 2:04 and 2:02 in the past - but not under 2:00. She ended with 1:57, which I think was fantastic!

I did my first 10km in 54'26", and the second 10km in 59'28". I was actually only a few seconds behind where I needed to be at 20km to finish in 2 hours. I needed to average 5'41"/km over the race to get under 2 hours (as 1:59:55), which meant hitting 20km at 1:53:40. I was at 1:53:54, and most of the rest of the run was... uphill. Yup. Definitely a weakness of mine I'll need to work on!

So where to now with my running? I still haven't broken 25 minutes in the 5km, so that will be something I want to work towards next. Hopefully this will help me gain some pace, and maintaining long runs (but making sure they include hills) will help me with the next half marathon - whether it be September in Sydney, or October in Melbourne. I'm going to get some trail running in too before I leave Sydney (although the departure is yet to be determined!) and be a bit of a tourist!

Summary: 21.5*km @ 5'34"
Mileage for the week: 30.7km

*I will stick to using the GPS measurement for today.

Friday, May 17, 2013

2 sleeps to go!

I had to double- and triple-check that it was only two sleeps until Sunday morning's Half Marathon!

I've been struggling to sleep properly lately, mainly (wholly) due to PhD madness. This morning was no exception - I had plans to wake up at about 5.45am, get into my running gear, head over to the lab in Manly, get my water samples on for analysis and go for a run. Instead I woke up at 4.30am, couldn't get back to sleep, got into my running gear, went for a run, then showered, had breakfast and went to the lab.

In hindsight, it was probably for the best that I went for my run early and headed into the lab later - someone had picked up my standards (which I use to correct my analyses) from the desk I use and I couldn't start my run without them. Ended up getting the run on at 9:40am, compared to 8am if everything was where I left it (and where I expected it). A bit annoying, especially since I had expected the run to finish at about 9.30am on Saturday - meaning I could help out at Curl Curl parkrun, grab a coffee and then head into the lab. Instead, the run isn't going to finish until after 11am - and I don't have that much laboratory cleaning to do to fill up the time in between. So I had to cancel my Curl Curl parkrun volunteering. :(

As for my run - it was my first in a long time that started and ended before dawn. I used to be a regular pre-dawn runner last year over winter, and then I became a pre-dawn gym goer (although I would be on my walk back from the gym as the sun rose - a beautiful sight given home is east of the gym!) I looked at the temperature on the BOM website and figured long tights and a long sleeve top would be enough. Popped on the Wave Riders again - I'll be wearing them for the half, so I figured I may as well have another run with them and leave the breaking in of the Triumph 10s until next week. I wore the headlamp again, this time with a cap, which was a lot more stable than with the visor. Although the route I took was well-lit, so I had no need for the lamp!

I wore enough clothes, although I needed to tuck my hands inside my sleeves to start with. The cold was also an easy way to get me to slow down - I tend to struggle with slowing my pace down at times, but I find it a lot easier when your body is stiff due to having recently been asleep and the cold. By the time I was at the bottom of High Street and about to climb up, I was relatively well warmed up so I pushed up the hill. Unfortunately my shoelace came untied, so I decided not to stop until the pedestrian crossing just past halfway of the part of the climb that goes by uni. Once I got home, I spent some time stretching and even more time on the foam roller - I hope my left ITB doesn't cause any problems in a couple of days!

Summary: 5.3km @ 6'37"/km

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

5 sleeps to go!

I've been finding that I have a sore right shoulder lately - I sleep on that side (if sleeping on a side), use that arm to push myself off the ground and to hold bottles, mobiles, etc. It was so sore this evening, I ended up texting with my left hand. It doesn't bother me when I run, so I'm not worried about it with the half marathon, but it's just another annoying niggle I have affecting my day-to-day life.

I spent a lot of time in the early evening stretching it out - I lie on the foam roller with my spine going along it's length, bring my arms out straight to form a T-shape, and let my hands rest of the floor. Like most stretches, it feels good but is also a bit painful. I ended up being quite carried away by that - just lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling and thinking of Lionel Ritchie songs not much at all. Before I knew it, it was after 7.30pm and I still hadn't gone on my planned shortish run. I also needed to head into uni briefly, so I laced by the Triumph 10s and headed out the door.

It was chilly. At least I had one of my long-sleeved tops with a zip-up high neck! It was also the one with thumbholes, but it wasn't quite that cold! I took another longer-than-necessary route to uni, although this one had far less steep downhills than the route from last week. After about 1km I realised I had done it again - laced the forefoot too tight! I really need to get it into my head that these runners are perfectly fine loosely laced. I'm not sure whether to blame the relatively narrow Triumph 10 or the relatively wide Wave Rider! I think I'll just blame the pair I'm not wearing at the time :)

Another km later, and I was at uni. Completely failed to fix what I wanted to fix, so headed back home. Only this time it was even chillier! Brrrrr! The thumbholes helped a little, but the best fix was running.

Hello winter!

Summary: 2.2km @ 6'37" and 1.5km @ 6'08" (oh the difference no traffic lights makes!)


I've never really tapered before - well, I have for hammer throwing competitions, but not for running. And not while I've been injured and not been doing as much work as I would have liked.

As a junior hammer thrower, we would ease back on the weights in the gym and in the ring (while the standard weight of the hammer was 4kg, you would also train with heavier weights to develop strength, and lighter weights for speed), and the number of sessions I'd do per week. It was never anything drastic - I always think kids are more resilient and less prone to fatigue than adults - but it was still a taper of sorts.

With the half marathon in a few days, the only thing I've really done is ease back on the distance of my running. My last long run was Monday last week, and during the weekend I had two moderate distance runs at a moderate pace. I think this is the downside to running in groups - you can't always do the training you think you should be doing. But I also enjoy running in groups - I often run in places I wouldn't normally run in on my own (e.g. the Fred Hollows reserve in Randwick, which I feel is an isolated spot, and have never been in on my own).

Saturday was the last of the Bondi Run Club runs - I like the group, but I think I was one of the most regular Saturday runners. Last week it was me, two from The Athlete's Foot, and one from Vision Personal Training. We then found two more non-representatives after the run, who were late and didn't see the map showing where we ran to. This week it was the other two non-reps were on time, but chose to stick to laps of Centennial Park, as they were still building their capacity for running. So the run to Coogee and back consisted of me, one from Mizuno, one from The Athlete's Foot, and a friend of the Mizuno representative. As I said, I like the group, but I sometimes felt like it was just me and the reps, and that if I didn't turn up, then it wouldn't be much of a Run Club!

Summary (Saturday): 9.3km @ 6'23"/km

I'm looking forward to freeing up my Saturdays now - I haven't been to parkrun in ages, and there's a trail group I would love to run with. However, my time in Sydney might be limited - in which case I'd rather go on the trails and explore Sydney than test my speed at parkrun.

My time in Sydney is coming to a close as I finish my experimental work - I might end up staying until I finish my thesis, but the only thing that is really tying me to this city is the laboratory access I need to get data. It's a bit weird trying to keep on living in Sydney while being aware that I might wrap everything up and head back to Melbourne relatively soon. I had plans to go home for a brief visit after the experiments finished, but as they have gone on for far longer than I would have liked, I don't know if a visit is feasible. I might just go home permanently.

Until then, I suppose I will still be looking after the Inner West Jogger's Sunday Pre-Run - although this week's is being looked after by someone else as I will be doing the half marathon. I like how the Pre-Run has grown and now become more like The Run - the weekend just past was the second time there was no 8am run to follow the Pre-Run. I suppose the Pre-Run needs a more appropriate name now. We had a dog (Chilli) with us this week too - the last time I ran with a dog was before my knee injury, with my family's old dog (a blue heeler). It was quite fun, and while I think Chilli didn't like uphills so much, it did reaffirm that I would love to have my own dog to regularly run with. That can't happen right now as I'm not allowed pets in my apartment, and it would also be irresponsible until I settled down somewhere!

Sunday's run was the Anzac Bridge in reverse - it was quite foggy and I feel doing the loop in reverse (in the same orientation as Nike Broadway) us safer as you are facing the traffic when running between Blackwattle Bay and the Anzac Bridge. I was back in the Saucony runners for this run, and slipped my orthotics back in. Made a significant difference to how my lower legs felt - I think I've become more reliant on them due to not going to the gym. That's another thing that will happen once my experimental work wraps up - the gym. Chilli slowed down at the bridge, so the group split in two when we hit Pyrmont - so Jessica and I did a little loop so that we would bump into our tailenders.

At the moment I end up with sore hands from the lab work, and struggle to lift heavy things. While I could probably get away with using only pin-loaded equipment at the gym, I would hate to have to use my hands to lift something in an emergency and then struggle with my labwork again. I have overstrained tendons in my fingers, so even household tasks like ironing, cooking and cleaning are a hassle at times.

Summary (Sunday): 8.1km @ 6'20"/km
Mileage for the week: 43.1km

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Keeping it easy

I had ridiculously tight calves on Tuesday night, and they were bothering me so much when I went for a run on Wednesday evening that I was limping at the start! I switched to a heel strike and after 20 minutes was finally able to get back on the forefoot. Annoying, but at least they loosened up before I had to climb out of Clovelly on my way to Coogee along the coastal walk. I quite like running along the coast - the hills and stairs make the run interesting, although the lighting in the evening is pretty bad in places.

I find I don't have as good night time vision when I wear my contact lenses, compared to wearing my glasses. And while I do run with my specs if I'm especially tired or have irritated eyes, I prefer to run with the contact lenses. I do miss the light when running along the coast after sunset! I'm also quite clumsy and can trip on the slightest bump - I've been very lucky so for the past year and have managed to get my next step in before falling completely. The last time I feel was about a year ago - a week or two before the Nike She Runs event, and my knees were disgusting gooey messes for a while... it was along one of the few dark patches of pathway along Alison Road.

I recently bought a head lamp - I am thinking of entering the night-time trail race around Manly Dam in August, so I bought one well in advance so I can get used to wearing it. I took it on my run on Wednesday night, and I loved being able to run along the section of Gordons Bay without worrying about tripping on the infrastructure. I was wearing it on top of my visor, but next time I might wear a cap and see if that helps with stability. While it never fell off, there were a few times I thought it might have been slipping.

Once I got home I spent a lot of time on the foam roller - plenty of Criminal Minds to keep me occupied while waiting for the Hannibal episode that wasn't shown in the US. I'm always better at staying on the foam roller if there's something on the TV. Hannibal is currently my favourite TV show. It's very lovely to look at, despite the content. I love a lot of the sets they use, especially Lecter's office.

Most of the crime scenes are amazing, while I won't be sharing any particularly bloody ones here, this is an example of a show that can make the ugly quite beautiful. Even the men's toilets.

Although one of my favourite sequences so far has been the stag Will dreamed about in the hospital.

While I woke up with bruises in the trouble spots this morning, I need to keep working on my legs - but there's nothing good on the TV tonight to get me into a good foam rolling session again. I will probably end up buying Hannibal when it comes out - that way I can get plenty of foam rolling done!

Summary: 5.4km @ 6'46"/km

All images from the Hannibal gallery.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The last long run(s)

After the Nike 10km on Saturday night, I didn't feel up to a long run on Sunday, so I put it off until Monday - I figured I would run into the city and then do a 10km course with Nike Run Club.

Things got off to a bad start when I was distracted writing an email to my supervisors (which really isn't a distraction as it's something that should take priority over running). I had planned to leave at 5pm so that I would have plenty of time to get to Nike, sign up, eat something and head off for a 10km loop. Instead I left at 5.10pm... I decided I needed a coffee (true, I had been doing a lot of driving, labwork and mind-numbing data entry), needed to change and hadn't prepared my bag yet. It was going to be my first run with my newish hydration bag, although all I carried in it were a few extra layers for after Nike Run Club, honey shots (what I eat during runs) and my usual money/ID/mobile phone/ziploc-bag combination.

I found running with the bag perfectly fine - next time I'll add the hydration bladder and about 500mLs of water. What went a little off was my (bad) tendency to run with the lights - even if they don't follow my planned route. Usually it doesn't matter, but I really should have stuck with the plan so that I would make Run Club in time.

I made it to Nike just as the last runners were leaving the store - I actually ran in, scrawled my name on the list as they told us off (there were a few latecomers), threw my bag into the bag storage area, and ran up to Hyde Park. I didn't bother stamping my t-shirt card (although some one else bothered - seriously, you're annoying them by being late, but you want your free t-shirt too!?!?!?) I should have had a honey shot in my pocket to eat while waiting at Hyde Park, but I didn't. So after 7km, I was going to do another 10km, knowing I would probably run out of running juice in my legs. :( Which I did.

Now I know long runs are meant to be slow - but I do like the Nike Run Club runs! So perhaps the running juice could have lastest with a slower pace... but I was already in the slowest pace group. I ran out of legs at about 8km, but I knew there was a water tap under Pyrmont Bridge. I figured I'd have a breather there, take on some fluids and hopefully hold on for the last 2km. I made it to the tap, had a drink, saw a 6'00" pace group tailender coming up and asked if he was going for the whole 10km (others had taken the stairs at Pyrmont Bridge as a shortcut), which he was and so I joined him. But I just continued to struggle - I spotted an exit point, told the guy I was completely out and made my own way back to Pitt St Mall, via stairs and the bottom of Market St. Exactly what tired legs want.

I did walk part of the way back - it was only the stairs and the first few steps up Market St... but I was a bummed about not making the whole 10km. Once I reached the first lights of Market St I bumped into the 5'30" pace group. Caught them again (although by cheating this week). They kicked once they turned the corner onto Pitt St, but I was happy to just jog along.

In the end, I'm not too unhappy about managing 15km without adding food - and I still almost covered 17km fron the run(s) - 20km if I include the morning's run in the new shoes. I also knew that was my last long run before the half, so that I wouldn't feel like that again until the half marathon!

Once I got home, I felt last week's nausea returning, this week including the post-run chills (something I am used to getting from long morning cycles). So this week I decided to start with miso soup as soon as I got home, then had a hot shower (and piled on layers of warm, dry clothes), made dinner (while googling reasons for extended post run nausea - found sugar depletion was probably the likely reason for mine), and had dinner while guzzling a bottle of lemonade I forgot I had. After a couple of hours everything returned to normal - I took off some of my layers, and I had zero nausea the next day. :)

Summary: 7.2km @ 6'35"/km and 9.6km @ 6'27"/km

New shoes!

I bought some new shoes on Saturday from The Running Company on Bondi Beach. I bought my old runners there two years ago, and really liked the store. Just like last time, I had my barefoot run on a treadmill recorded - while I overpronate a bit, it's not as bad as I thought (but still noticeable). I do land far on the outside of my foot, and moreso on my left, which was exactly what I thought. They had a look at my old shoes and noted the weirdish wear pattern I have from my outside to inside rolling, and decided it'd be best if I stuck to a neutral shoe.

While I may have felt that I needed more support, the more supportive shoes would push my feet out (to prevent excessive rolling in), but also make my landing worse over time as the shoes aged. I made sense, so I tried a few netural shoes on.

First up was the Saucony Triumph 10, which I instantly liked. The ankle cut/heel cup was lower than what I was used to with the Wave Ride, and made me feel exposed and worried about my ankles rolling! But they felt springy and far more stable at the front of the shoe than my 300km Wave Rider 14s (let's not even think about my retired 600km pair), they also felt good on the treadmill and the video showed that I was actually quite stable in them. And no heel slippage either, which I thought might happen with the lower cut!

We then tried the Asics Nimbus 14 - the second I stood up in them I found they were really firm, stiff and I felt like the heel was in the way. I haven't looked at the stats on the shoe, but it probably has a higher toe-heel differential than the Saucony pair. I tried them on the treadmill anyway, and while I was stable in them I felt like I really to fight to heel to made on my preferred mid-foot. That being said, if I was ridiculously tired or running downhill on concrete all the time, these shoes would be fabulous. The heel may have felt clunky and high, but I found that it would push down well when force was applied. The heel itself was not that stiff and firm - it had great cushioning, and if I was a heel-striking runner, I'd probably love those shoes.

Finally we tried the New Balance 890v3. My first impression was that they were really, REALLY lightweight. My second impression was that they fit more like my Wave Rider pairs, where the inside of my forefoot was slide/rotate inwards. We had a go on the treadmill, and while the heel didn't bother me, they didn't feel as good as the Asics or the Saucony pairs. The video also showed that I wasn't stable in them AT ALL, with a return of my collapsed arch/inward ankle rotation.

I ended up taking the Saucony pair home - although I will buy bright yellow laces when I see them as I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the pink (of which there really isn't much!)

I took the shoes for a spin on Monday morning - I needed to visit my desk at uni to pick up a few samples before going into the Manly lab later in the morning. I did take a slightly longer way to uni (otherwise it would have been less than 2km), and enjoyed being able to land on my forefoot downhill! No pain whatsoever - no impact and no inward ankles and knees! They felt fine uphill too :P

I know they have a narrower fit than the Wave Rider, but I have a habit of lacing the forefoot quite tightly (thanks to the Wave Rider), and this was too tight for this pair. Bearable for my short run, but something to be aware of next time I take them for a run.

Summary: 3.5km @ 5'46"/km

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

In the past week...

I went to my first Nike Sydney City Run Club, had my first serious bout of post-run nausea (it lasted 2 days), fell behind in my thesis writing (hence the lack of blogging), bought new shoes, and smashed my "official" 10km PB! Actually, it was an unofficial PB too, but I'm glad to be rid of my old official 10km PB. :)

Given how far south I am on Wednesdays, the only time I can make Nike Run Club is on Mondays - so last week I hopped onto the bus into the city, and joined the 6'00" pace group for a 12km tour of the Sydney city. Well, after 3km I was feeling very comfortable (so obviously I recovered well from my 18km long run the previous day), and when someone in the group made a run to catch the 5'30" group, I went with him!

After a couple of kilometres at the faster pace I decided that I would try to hold that pace for as much of the run as possible - it would be a great little hit out for Saturday's Nike She Runs 10km, and I could see if I could get used to my intended faster pace breathing rhythm. I managed to do this (although the final climb up from Darling Harbour was tough, especially with traffic lights breaking what little momentum you had). I only covered 10km in the end as the tailenders of the 5'30" group only covered 10km, and I had no idea where the 12km course went (aside from knowing it went into Pyrmont). Unfortunately Nike doesn't record my fastest times (only the fastest, which has since been beaten), so looking at my Strava records - I ran a 56:57 10km. I figured that with a faster first 3km, and the flatter Centennial Park course, I could break 55 on the weekend.

Unfortunately on Monday night I developed my worst case of post-run nausea. Tuesday was awful - struggled to get out of bed, and my energy was non-existant. I needed food for energy, but couldn't eat because of the nausea! Then came the migraine, so I shut all the curtains and lived a fairly dark Tuesday. It also meant I got ZERO work done on my thesis. :( I couldn't eat properly until Wednesday night (I snuck in a couple of slices of toast on Tuesday, and toast and a banana during the day on Wednesday), which had me a little worried about how I would feel on Saturday. I wanted that time! So on Thursday, I went for an easy run to Bondi Junction and back - I could still feel the nausea, but it wasn't putting me off. I figured it (and my appetite) would be OK by Saturday.

So Saturday - it was another great night organised by Nike. Last year's course was 13km, and only had 3000 entries. This year they cut it back to 10km (probably so that they would not have to block off as many roads) and had 6000 entries! I also recall that the start last year was a little different - yes, there were three waves (like this year), but they had sub-waves within each main wave to try and relieve the congestion. I didn't mind too much - I walked all the way until the start line (many had already started running), so that gave me a little space to get going. I had to do a bit of weaving here and there, but the only time I really got annoyed was at the top of the hill when people would just stop running and walk, with very little notice!

The other congestion points were drinking stations and corners. I avoided the first two drink stations - actually, I went all the way on the outside of the first one, as almost everyone came over the side I was running on and squeezing me out... hence that little bump on the course just before 2.5km. The first corner was chaos, which I expected and so intentionally took the course wide for at least the first 3km. I could hear trips and falls too, which I think could have been avoided if we had the sub-waves, as it would have eased congestion on that first corner.

Having the hill early helped to thin out the crowd - although, as I said earlier, it was annoying when people would just stop suddenly to walk. I do wish they'd just slow down earlier and maintain that pace, but perhaps that's what they always do on their runs... except there wouldn't be any crowds then! Once clear of the climbing (and the drink station), I was able to get into my intended breathing pattern and ran the next 4km at my fastest pace of the night.

I only checked my watch once during the run - at 5km, where my split was 26'12". This was faster than my parkrun PB (i.e. I had definitely gone hard once the field thinned), and was well under what I needed for a 55 minute 10km. While it was faster than what I would have liked, as there was a risk of completely losing it in the second half, I decided to approach it as "time in hand." I could run positive splits, and still get under 55!

The hard pace was definitely felt in my legs beginning to after 6.5km. I decided that the only way I could push through would be to take the next drink station, slow down, pick up my cup and walk until I had had enough water. It doesn't seem to show on the map above (there's no red near the last drink station location), but it's what I did, and it seemed to help... until the 2nd last kilometre. From afar, the 8km distance marker was a little obscured and looked like 9km (the last marker we had was 7km, and I felt as if I had run more than 1km since then). Of course, once I approached, I saw the 8km and was a bit demoralised. It was my slowest km of the race (except for the climb up Congestion Peak).

Once I saw the 9km marker, I picked up again and ran my last km in 5'03". :) I finished in 53'08" - well under 55 minutes, and while my second 5km was slower, it was still  under 27 minutes (and thus at least faster than my second-best parkrun time). Officially, my time was 53'06", which means I can get rid of my awful Run4Fun 10km of 2011 (67'47") - the only other time I entered a 10km race!

While a bit cold, the Inner West Joggers at the event met up after the race, and we had Mexican - which I have now decided is a fantastic post-run cuisine. Great run + good food with lovely people = fantastic night!

Summary: 10.3km @ 5'58"/km, 5.4km @ 6'57"/km, and 10km @ 5'16"/km

Milage for the week: 25.6km