Monday, April 1, 2013

The first long run

I don't normally run with my iPod, but when I do, it's because I'm in Centennial Park. It is so close to home that I'm very familiar with it, and it's generally flat - great for beginners, but gets boring after a while. There are a few slopes to incorporate into runs and make routes more interesting, which is great as it means one can cover a good distance on a nice surface (there are extensive bitumen paths, grassed areas, and trails) without having to worry too much about traffic (speed limits of 30km/h, and only goes in one direction on the main road around the park). There is also plenty of free parking if you happen to be in your car on your way home, or by necessity to reach the park.

On Monday, I decided to try to run 10km based on the roads and paths in and near the park. I didn't get my "long" run in on Sunday, so it had to happen on Monday. My previous Sunday runs had been a 7km group run followed by a 5km group run - so 10km in one hit was going to be my longest run so far (well, since September last year).

I didn't plan the specifics of the run, I just knew that I would go for a run on my drive home, that the start of the run would depend on where I parked, and that I would try to avoid laps - I find them incredibly tedious. I ended up being lucky and found a spot to park my car near the main cafe and toilets. So I started from the cafe and headed counter-clockwise on the main walking track.

Eventually I came to Robinson Drive which is the start of one of the steepest hills available at Centennial Park, and I decided to climb up. Once at the top, you can either go back the way you came (which I think is a bit silly) or take a left and slowly make your way back down to the cafe via a different route. I chose to go left, and continued on the main path but now in a clock-wise direction. I was determined to minimise how much ground I covered twice.

I also wanted to make the most of the tracks leading out and around Centennial Park - anything to stop going around in circles! So once I reached to the main gate, I headed out towards Anzac Parade. Eventually I was running on the path next to Anzac Parade and heading south. So far I was feeling good - not great, but good enough to maintain that pace for what I thought 10km would feel like. While I wear a GPS watch, I don't look at it regularly. I would rather get in time with my body than with a clock, and let the running come naturally. The outer path I was on goes all the way around the southern end of the park, turning left at Alison Road, and left again at Darley Road to bring you to another entrance to Centennial Park. Alternately, one could turn right at the entrance and stay outside of the park - which is what I did.

This section of the course is interesting, and I definitely notice the slow incline when I'm on my bike. It may be uphill, but it's flatter than the rest of Alison Road, and after a very long ride I prefer long and slightly uphill to short and sharp. I could also definitely notice the slow incline on the run - I began to wonder how long I had been running. Was I close to 10? Nah, couldn't possibly be - but my legs could feel that they were being worked. So I snuck a peak. 6.7km. WHAT?

In the end, I covered 10km around the park and the only thing I repeated was a hill and descent at the north-eastern end of the park! I did it once at the start of the run, and once at the end of the run. While my pace was fairly steady throughout the run, taking the hill a second time at the end was hard work and it shows. The pace peaks at the end are some intervals I did while listening to Kasabian's Fire - I can't help but be influenced by the music to run faster during their chorus. I just didn't have the energy/capacity/fitness to maintain it for the whole song!

Summary: 10 km @ 5:54 min/km

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