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.