Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Westerfolds Wednesdays: the parkrun baking contest

Westerfolds parkrun turned one on the weekend, and we celebrated by having a pyjama party! I was run directing on the day, so I've already written a run report for it (clicky clicky). I like putting formatting into the run reports (this was only my second time run directing, and thus my second run report), and while the formatting is better on this report, it's still not quite right.

Last time I drafted in Blogger and sent the html of the report to our Event Director for uploading to the Westerfolds parkrun website, and later realised it was hosted by Wordpress. This time around I drafted in Wordpress (there are subtle differences with tables and the captions on photos), but there were still a few issues - mainly the width of the photos. Well, third time lucky, right?

In lieu of a proper post about my Saturday (I spent parkrun making sure it ran smoothly, and there were no problems, so it was uneventful), I'll share parkrun eve - when we put together the Westerfolds parkrun birthday cake! We had some wonderful feedback on the cake, so it's great to see that our enthusiasm for parkrun cake is shared across the wider parkrun community.
"And Westerfolds parkrun… well, what can I say about their cake other than AMAZING!"
That's the kudos we received in parkrun Australia news today, but we also received plenty of love from those on the Westerfolds parkrun Facebook page, and also from "The Prof" who shared it on the parkrun show AU's Facebook page. So I thought it might be nice to see how relatively simple it was, and assist to bring on the epic parkrun cakes!

The finished birthday cake at Westerfolds Park on the weekend.
A "cake as a topographic model of the course" was the nutty idea I had for the birthday cake, but wasn't really sure how to put it together. I discovered Leesa was a keen amateur cake decorator with a bit of experience using fondant - which I had never used, and didn't want to use on a big project where I wouldn't know exactly how to work with the fondant!

Last week I gave Leesa the "blueprints" to the cake - stencils of simplified contours from a topographic map of Westerfolds Park. She did the cake baking on Thursday, and on Friday we shaped the layers and decorated the cake under her supervision!

The base layer (where the lowest point was going to be the Yarra), and the first layer of the park.
Second layers of the park on the cake (divided by Kestrel Creek) while Mrs Event Director Iwona mixes in the colour for our Kestrel Creek and Yarra River and I start cutting out the hill.
There was meant to be another layer on the hill, but it looked like there was enough hill already! If you're wondering, the cake is to scale horizontally, but not quite right vertically (as we just used whatever height each cake slab ended up being after baking), and so there there is an inconsistency in the scale between horizontal and vertical planes. It's also not geomorphically correct - but it's a cake designed by an environmental engineer and not an environmental engineering model.

Green fondant for most of the park! It was horrible to work with on Friday as it hit 34℃ that day - but we still managed! 

Then we added the blue fondant for the Yarra River and Kestrel Creek.

The tarmac we used for the Westerfolds parkrun course, one of the two bridges, and a simplified Manor House at the top of the hill.

Some miniature parkrun flags and kilometre signage.

Then a few fondant trees here and there that Leesa had prepared earlier.

And finished off with a little bit of parkrun branded edging! Saved how the cake looked as the weather really made it difficult to smooth the edges and side of the cake.
So that was how the Westerfolds parkrun birthday cake was made! My hands are still sore from warming up and rolling the fondant as we had to keep it in the fridge because of the heat, so it was really solid each time we started to handle it again. Don't let that put you off from working with fondant - it's just that I damaged my hands/arms doing labwork early last year. I couldn't even ride my bike for most of 2013 as I was unable to hold onto the handlebars for too long without cramping!

We've set a standard for our birthday cakes now, but at least we now have a whole year to plan for the next one. Any ideas?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's nice to be able to run again

Whatever my asthma was, it has now passed and I'm off running again. Although I am feeling unfit after having a few weeks away from long runs and tempo-like runs, it's nice to be back out and not struggling too much. This meant a return to the Mullum Mullum early on Tuesday morning for some easy trail running.

The highest point of the run - I call it "Mt Pipeline" as the mains water runs through this patch of land, a reserve that's located between houses and is not an official thoroughfare. We're not the only ones that use it judging by the mountain bike tyre marks.

After the trail run (when Jacqui and Sophie, picture above, needed to leave for work and children) I decided to go on an additional 5km run around the area. I admit it was a test to see if a parkrun could work out, although I'm not convinced it's a good route for the average Joe now that I've completed it. I knew there would be a few steps in one section (which I took on the way down as I think you'd be less likely to trip on the way down those steps than up them), but it was the section after the steps that really made me think the route would be unsuitable. I've taken that path a number of times while trail running at an easy pace, but I can't recommend taking a trail with protruding rocks on a generally downhill section at speed. I'm sure that experienced trail runners would manage, but I'd hate to find lots of twisted ankles and falls as a result of a parkrun!

The first 3km of this route is concrete and runs along (and over Eastlink). Once the "Eastern portal" is reached, there area few steps to go down and this is followed by about 400m each of rocky trail, concrete and gravel trail. The final 800m was concrete, but I needed to double back at the end (i.e. I need to start the route a little bit further west).

Between the trail run and the additional 5km I switched from my Salomon Speedcross to one of my Saucony Triumph pairs. I recall discussing with someone that I like wearing my runners loose (I can easily slip my feet in and out without tying the shoe laces), although that doesn't apply to my trail shoes as I am happy to wear the Salomons quite tightly. I just didn't realise how loose I wore the Triumphs until I switched into them on Tuesday morning after having run in the Speedcross for over an hour, and suddenly found the Triumphs too loose! Ha! I tightened the laces on the right foot and decided it looked ridiculous so I loosened them and headed off on the run without any further problems.

This photo is from a few days later, but you can see that tightening up the forefoot looks ridiculous. Bulgey bits everywhere! Although I know from experience that it doesn't actually feel good during the run, although it'd be nice if I could still have it tight through the arch (which is something I do like with the Speedcross).

While I had my shoes out and my camera, I decided to compare the two pairs of the Saucony Triumph 10s, 400km apart. The pink pair are a women's 11 and a touch small (I'm consistently a women's 11.5, and the 12 was a touch large). I found that slightly too large shoes induced black toenails, but have since found slightly too large induces black toenails too! Men's shoes are far more easy to source in half-sizes at my end of the shoe size scale, and the red pair are a men's 10 (European 44, the same size as my Salomon Speedcross).

125km-old Triumph 10 on the left, 525km-old Triumph 10 on the right.

Despite the pink Triumphs being a lot more "experienced", they only feel a little less bouncy that the younger red pair. But there's obviously a difference in how the soles look with most of the wear on the outside and middle of my forefoot, and some wear on the outer heel. I suppose that confirms how I feel when I run, where I tend to think I'd a mid-foot/fore-foot striker, although I know that I like to land on my heel a bit more when descending. The other difference between the shoes is to do with my toenails - the half-size does make a difference. So I now use the red pair for long runs (and parkrun as it matches my red five30runners shirt and visor), and the pink for shorter runs. 

I'm interested to see how long the Triumphs continue to feel good, as I found the Mizuno Wave Rider 14s I had before this became very squidgy after about 600km, and just made for tiring runs. Not fun. 

Although I'm freely running again, I'm still behind on my monthly target - 173km, which is 16km more than last month (and what I need to keep the Towering Stairs badge going on Smashrun). After 22km and 24km weeks, my legs are definitely feeling the 34km of running I did this week (43km if I include cool-down walks and dog walks). I do include the walks in the Smashrun tally, but it now means I need to accumulate 46km over the next 5 days. I have a feeling Saturday's parkrun is going to be a slow one!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Westerfolds Wednesdays: Anniversary Eve

Don't be deceived by the sunshine, parkrun on the weekend was quite fresh! It made for really good conditions for those chasing a PB - and the stats show that it was a speedy morning with 23 of the 82 parkrunners ran PBs! There were also some hooligans with some stencil graffiti...

It's spray-on chalk! Discovery of the year! The template does need to be a little bigger though...
As the most recent addition to the Westerfolds parkrun Run Directing department, the pressure was on Chris as it was his first time in the role. There didn't appear to be any problems during the morning or even afterwards while processing results, so clearly supporting RD Rohan trained him well. :)

The Westerfolds parkrun pre-run briefing.
Image from Westerfolds parkrun #53 photo album.
It's taken a while, but we're starting to have a few more additions to the parkrun 50 Club, as Brett has now joined Ehuli (and Michael, although he's a 100 Club member). I suppose it really shouldn't be that much of a surprise that these three ended up on top of the male points table for the year! We're not sure when Brett (or Ehuli for that matter) will receive his 50 Club shirt as a new supplier is currently being sourced now that Adidas are no longer a sponsor of parkrun Australia. For now we can acknowledge the achievement with the little digital badges that appear on parkrun profiles and in the results!

Brett on his 50th parkrun!
A couple of juniors picked up their Junior 10 Club certificates, and another few will be inducted next week as they were either absent on the weekend or ran their 10th parkruns on the weekend!

Our latest Junior 10 Club members!
Images from Westerfolds parkrun #53 photo album. 

My parkrun was fairly uneventful - I started with Wendy but dropped off after about 3.5km as I started to do my "Strides" workout (20s intervals of tempo running, 40s recovery) and went off-course to try and avoid the tempo intervals on the hill (which is what happened last week). I didn't calculate it well again, so I ended up doing a couple of intervals on the hill - but at least none of them were downhill this time around!

I may love Smashrun, but Strava does a cleaner run profile.
Strava activity here.
After finishing I went back along the course until I came across Leesa and Frankie. Leesa missed a lot of parkruns while struggling with an injury so she's just getting back into it, and Frankie was helping her finish in under 40 minutes. She ended up with 39:49! :)

With one week to go until the most important date of the Westerfolds parkrun calendar (the birthday/anniversary run), I spent most of the post-parkrun chat time plotting. I had a nutty idea for the cake, but knew I wouldn't be able to pull it off until I discovered that Leesa was one of those mums who attended cake decorating classes and had quite an impressive looking little portofolio on her Instagram account! If you're a parkrun regular there is no doubt that you have seen more than a few impressive cakes at parkrun birthdays and special occasions.

Lots of impressive parkrun cakes so far! As they say, "parkrun is not a race, but a baking contest".
Clockwise from top left: Kawana parkrun, Merimbula parkrun, Kalgoorlie-Boulder parkrun, and Tuggers parkrun.
Images from each parkrun's Facebook page. 

We decided that we would give the cake a go last week, sent a few messages and photos to each other during the week (which is when we decided to follow my nutty idea), and then met up again during parkrun to finalise how we were going to pull off the cake.

Secret cake plotting with Leesa, although our security was compromised by the photobombing Frankie!
Image from Westerfolds parkrun #53 photo album.
We're assembling the cake on Friday, so hopefully it will all work out well - three of us will be there, although Iwona doesn't yet know the extent of our plans! As the wife of Event Director Scott, she may be impressed or mortified! :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

8 weeks to 10km

Seven weeks (and a day) until the Sussan Women's 10km. I am not feeling prepared because the asthma really threw me out. I was tempted to just pootle along until then and on the day, but the idea of only pootling really bothered me! So I am going to try and stick to a training plan and see what happens.

The first problem when attempting to train towards something is that there is no shortage of training plans out there on the internet and in running publications. I've tried the Runner's World Smartcoach app before, but I would grow really bored of the monotony of it. Given it's a four week cycle with a taper as you approach "race day", I'm not surprised I grew bored of it. This time around I'm trying one of the 5km/10km programs in Claire Kowalchik's The Complete Book of Running for Women. I like that different plans can be connected (e.g. base level Bronze 5km to mid-level Silver 5km, or base level Bronze 5km to base level Bronze half-marathon), and that there is variation week-to-week in the interval training and that easy runs have variation in distance.

Image from its Amazon listing.

I had initially planned to play mix and match between the Silver and Gold levels as I had felt that I could handle the Gold interval training and long run despite my overall mileage being relatively low (and thus more Silver-like). While there are recommended paces in the text, I can't get my head around running the same pace for 400m intervals and for 1600m intervals - so I'm using the training paces from McMillan Running, which are faster than recommended for my pace (and faster for shorter intervals), but I knew I was capable of hitting those paces provided I walked the recoveries as I had tested for this before the asthma set in. I'm happy to walk recoveries as it means I put all my effort into the speed component of the run.

Of course this plan was completely thrown into disarray as I had to ease back on running thanks to the asthma symptoms (which oddly went away once the new heater at home was reinstalled, leading me to believe that perhaps the cold night air was causing the spasms). I did initially start at with the interval session from Week 1 of the Gold training program, but I couldn't finish the planned intervals despite increasing the recovery period by an additional two minutes each time. The plan was to complete a pyramid of 400m, 800m, 1200m, 800m and 400m. By the time I started the second 800m interval, my legs were pooped so I eased off and only really did a half-pyramid.

This week I went switched to the mid-level plan, where this week's interval training was 400m, 800m, 1200m. Yup, just an easier version of the advanced level with a one-week delay. I have to admit that it made changing the workouts on Garmin Connect a lot easier than entering them all in from scratch! The two plans look fairly similar, although the Gold Level starts with more intense interval training types. Also, the Gold Level intervals are generally bounded by longer warm-up and cool-down distances, along with longer intervals and/or more repeats. By missing the first Silver Level 400s & 800s session the Gold Level has an extra full pyramid and an extra rollercoaster.

WeekSilver LevelGold Level
1 (6th Oct)400s & 800sfull pyramid
2 (13th Oct)half-pyramidtaller full pyramid
3 (20th Oct)full pyramidrollercoaster
4 (27th Oct)rollercoastermile repeats
5 (3rd Nov)mile repeatsrollercoaster
6 (10th Nov)steep pyramidsteep pyramid
7 (17th Nov)800s800s
8 (24th Nov)400s400s
Race prep (1st Dec)300s300s
Recovery (8th Dec)half-pyramidmini pyramid

As my asthma had settled down I decided to stick to the recommended recovery time (and skip the additional 2 minutes I gave myself the previous week). I ended managing the interval perfectly fine. :) So I'm back on the right track - although I now need to build up my mileage and long run again!

What's not clear here is that I was doing laps of a wetland with a short climb on one end (and thus a descent at the other). The Smashrun plot that shows elevation just wasn't as clean as this figure!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Westerfolds Wednesdays: the week of the ill-fitting goodies

Having a Westerfolds Wednesday is going to be a little confusing on weeks when I go parkrunning in other locations, but I'm going to try to make it work. Somehow. Perhaps those weeks will be "Not Westerfolds Wednesday."

While I have a couple of other parkruns on my "hit list", I headed to Westerfolds on the weekend because I had some deliveries to make! The parkrun 10th Anniversary T-shirts had arrived from Wiggle earlier in the week, and they needed to go to their new mummies. I had a problem with my shirt: it was too big! I selected the Medium because the published chest size of the Small (96cm) wasn't compatible with my chest size (99cm, but I can get it down to 96cm if I don't breathe).

In order to reach the minimum spend for free shipping ($80) I also ordered shirts for Sophie, Wendy and Amanda. Technically I only needed another two shirts to add to mine, but three it was. Sophie and Wendy were at parkrun on the weekend, and they found their shirts small too. I have ended up with Sophie's Small one (with an Extra Small now on order for her, along with some cycling kit to hit the free shipping mark), and my Medium went to Tony, the Inverloch parkrun Event Director.

As for parkrunday? Well, this weekend was Westerfolds parkrun's 52nd event - and we had 86 parkrunners. It was also Berwick Springs parkrun's 1st birthday, but I don't think our attendance wasn't affected by that or by the Melbourne Marathon Festival. I think we have a small, but loyal, following. ;) Our attendance record of 107 was set on a day when Diamond Creek parkrun was cancelled, but we then had 103 last weekend on International parkrun Day. I'm calling the 103 our unofficial record as is wasn't "wind-assisted", where the wind in the case of the 107 was the Diamond Creek Rotary Town Fair.

The steadily-increasing population of Westerfolds parkrun since launching in October 2013. There's no monthly average for October 2013 because the inaugural run attendance distorts that statistic (especially with a sample size of one).

Saturday was a gorgeous morning for parkrun - although it was a eerie to turn up a little bit before 7.30am and find the place empty. You could almost hear the tumbleweed! I was going to head off on a recon run to see where Simon was up to in the pre-event course setup, but I heard my name being called by John, our Run Director for the day. Three flags and some discussion later (Westerfolds parkrun HQ discuss things during the week via Facebook, and John's not on Facebook), and it was almost time for the pre-run briefing!

I decided to try a "strides" workout during parkrun - 3km of easy running to warm up, and then 8 sets of 20s bursts with 40s of recovery. Unfortunately, the 3km of warm up meant that the work was done up the hill, so I needed to walk while making my way up the hill to recover through a few of the intervals. The last interval finished as I hit the bridge at about 500m to go. I heard my watch beep and I went off on another 20s burst only to find that it was now just "free-running" and thus much longer than 20 seconds! At least I had a nice strong finish - although I was definitely feeling the effects and decided to take on more of the asthma medication before it progressed to the post-run-worsening stage. I took a few snaps with my camera, but then found myself performing Run Director Department duties (collecting money for our Westerfolds parkrun birthday dinner).

Lee was today's timekeeper while Wendy handed out the place tokens.
I was also becoming increasingly annoyed by the Walk the Wall people who just kept on taking up more space for their charity event. They also had a blower vac going to "clean" the BBQ area a bit, but all that did was throw debris onto our belongings, create noise to distress some of the younger children, and increase the amount of allergens in the air. If I wasn't part of the Run Directing Department I would have had a go at Blower Vac Man, but I wasn't sure how I really should be acting in that situation. 

Adam's taken on Finish Token sorting duties in recent weeks, although sometimes he needs a little help from his dad.
Next week is our final parkrun of our first year! For those who care about the points competition: it's still a close contest amongst the men, while the women's contest was finalised a couple of weeks ago. We're not going to know until next week whether Ehuli (4124 points) or Brett (4091) will be our men's "champion", and it's undecided whether Michael (3342) or Tim (3273) will pick up third place! Riveting! The women's competition will be won by Amanda (3538), followed by Valerie (3351) and then hopefully by Nicole (2811).

"Hopefully" because I personally don't care about how I am going in the points competition. I don't go to parkrun to win medals. I don't want a medal to be wasted on me (3178 points) as I will regard it as clutter in a few weeks. I don't even want a paper certificate as it has no purpose - it's just a waste of paper and resources. I like the 50/100/250 t-shirts that parkrun have because they have a purpose (clothing), although it bothers me that contributing to the parkrun community by volunteering messes that up (unless you have your cake and eating it too by setting up the course and going for a second lap or tail-running, and then having your barcode scanned). I know that the points system accounts for that, but I don't think it should count towards your volunteer count if you also run - it gives a false sense of "giving up your run" to volunteer.

Yikes! A little off-track there, but I'll try to keep parkrun things positive in the future! Time for some Happy Thoughts! Here's a puppy!

Think Happy Thoughts! Here's one of the dogs that belongs to Sonia and Ashwin - their other dog is a poop machine.
Generally it is this lovely weekly event, it's just that there are a few things that annoy me and they happen to coincide with parkrun birthdays, where we reward/recognise those in our community - although I think the system doesn't work as well as I think that it should.

P.S. I'm serious about medals/trophies/keepsakes = clutter. I picked up more than enough medals, trophies, ribbons and certificates from little athletics, senior athletics and football. And all most of them ever were to me were dust collectors. I threw most of them out about ten years ago. I only kept my state championship medals for discus and hammer - things that I actually trained for. Further, my favourite state-level medal provides a silly story, so I've kept the whole set because I feel a bit silly getting rid of all of them but one. My age group and the younger age group competed in our respective state discus finals at the same time, and I threw the equal-third furthest out of both lots, yet I won my age group and my first/only state title. I find this highly hilarious as it also meant I had these wreaths signifying "State Champion" on my registration bib the following season).

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I've been suffering from asthmatic symptoms for the past couple of weeks. It doesn't just affect me while running - I have a shortness-of-breath throughout the day and a really tight throat whether I've gone for a run or not. I monitored the symptoms for a few days before seeing the GP, and I've been on a preventative inhaler since then. After a week of using it twice daily for almost two weeks no not thinking it had made a difference, I eased off to single puffs twice daily, and then once daily. I'd have occasional deep-breath moments, but nothing persistent.

After easing off the inhaler I was OK. For about a day. Then the deep breaths occurred more often, and the tight throat returned and progressively became worse. Then, I went for a run, because that's what runners do when running could make something worse! Naturally the symptoms became worse as I had been outside, and I ended up with a hoarse voice for a few hours.

I did have "exercise-induced asthma" about 15 years ago, but discovered it was only set off at specific athletics tracks! I suspected then (and still do now) that it was because those tracks were in open spaces and that an allergen was causing the problems. I was in my second-last season of Little Athletics at the time, and I think it was only the 1500m (and possibly 800m) that I was having problems with. The year after I moved to to a different athletics club (and thus, track) for my final Little Aths season, and never really ran again when I was doing seniors' athletics as I just stuck to my discus and hammer (with some comical dabbling in shot put and just as hilarious dabbling in javelin).

I don't know if the problem ever actually went away - by the time I started running again in 2011 I was in Sydney and I'm sure that its humidity helped me avoid these problems. I've been back in Melbourne for a year now, and this is the first full season of Spring I'm going through since I've been running.

I don't have any fun runs until November (and yes, I'm relieved that I didn't sign up for anything in tomorrow's Melbourne Marathon Festival), so hopefully this asthma thing can be sorted out this month. I did pick up a referral for spirometry if I found that the inhaler didn't help. Although it looks like the inhaler just makes things less worse, so that might become part of my life in springtime. I hope it's only for springtime and that it goes away soon as so far it has affected my attempt to train for the Sussan Women's 10km!

During my first week of the asthmatic thing I did a session with 400m intervals (with 200m rest/recovery) and couldn't quite finish it. I managed the first six 400m intervals at goal pace but just couldn't get the legs going on the seventh so gave up on it all there and then. I only planned for eight intervals, so I figured managing to do six of them was good enough. But I was in so much pain that evening with a sore back! I'm sure someone will tell me that I need to breathe properly and use my diaphragm - which I do day-to-day, but it just doesn't happen when I run! More practice is definitely required.

For the second week I had planned to find out what would happen if I doubled my recovery time, i.e. allowed myself to have 400m of recovery instead of 200m after 400m intervals, and 800m of recovery instead of 400m after anything longer. I never got around to testing this because I decided to experiment with the medication instead and, as explained above, the symptoms became worse. I'll give it a shot if my symptoms settle down by tomorrow morning (i.e. if I wake up without the sore throat).

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A recap of September

And a timely one too! ;) I'm still on Team Violet (that's what Smashrun does to acknowledge the colour you pick for your profile) but I now have the "Superstar" background! I'm sitting on 29 badges, so I should have a new background by the end of October. I can see from the preview that they are not ugly-arse "Dirty Walls" things.

With 157km notched up over the month, I'm definitely still on track to pick up the Towering Stairs. The total has been aided by far more regular dog walks, which I am now using to get me into streaking. The dog is loving it, and I get to practice my patience.

I started to get into the idea of streak-running during September, although it's streak-run/walking at this stage. The dog takes up a lot of time as she's slow (check our the Runs distance/pace chart), and is an unsuitable running buddy. Once I am strong enough to run everyday she'll be a cool-down buddy and may get more regular walks, which she'll love. I'm fairly sure she was happy with only heading out on weekends (on long 3km/1hr walks), and now goes every second day or so for 2km/40 minutes. She's become accustomed to the shorter walks now, so I don't think she'll be unhappy with shorter cool-down walks when they happen as long as they occur regularly! Of course, she may still put up a protest once in a while during a "short" walk - although she's quite cute when she puts up a protest (she sits down and refuses to move), it's really REALLY annoying.

September's Badge haul consisted of:
  • Early Bird (10 runs before 7am - thanks parkrun setups and trail running!)
  • Lunch Hour (10 runs on weekdays that started between noon and 2pm)
  • 5 for 5 (5 days in a row)
  • 10 for 10 (10 days in a row)
  • In it for September (10 days of running in September).

No real long runs in September, and I've fallen off the cycling completely now. I've more-or-less told myself that I'm not allowed on the bike until I finish my thesis. Unfortunately it now means I get "long run thesis guilt"! 

Otherwise I had a fairly "speedy" month - I ran my first mile time trial (although I think it was about 30m short), picked up another PB at Westerfolds parkrun (and ran sub-25 for the first time on that parkrun course), and also ran a PB at the Sri Chinmoy 10km.

Plans for October

I have now registered for the Sussan Classic (the 10km) so I need to train for that, and work to not lose pace like I did in the Sri Chinmoy run. I'm trying to make my trail runs my long run - although it will probably be split into two. The trail run with the group and then a change of footwear and exploring the Eastlink trail (bike path) on my own. There are some decent hills in the area, so it'd great if I could take those hills on as part of the solo long-run (and also take on Old Eltham Road before/after Westerfolds parkrun).

I'm staring to run out of "Low Hanging Fruit" Badges - I should pick up the 20 for 20, Long/Steep stairs and In it for October badges, but will have to be conscious of the Half Marathon, Roadrunner, and Fast & Slow badges. Although seeking the speed required for the latter two of those badges may not work with the training program (unless I record at least one of my interval splits as a separate activity - although I do want to run a stand-alone mile each month to see where my pace is at). And I still have two months to go for the Towering Stairs badge - I need 173km in October to keep that ticking over.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A recap of August. (Yes, I know September just finished.)

If there's proof that I struggle to keep up with things at times, this is it. A recap of my running from August in October. I have no doubt that I will now struggle with the details. Compared to July, you will find that I now have a pink Smashrun profile, and have included what the background looks like. This is because earning Badges on Smashrun unlocks backgrounds, and so the background is a bit like a progress meter. But also not as I will explain a little bit later on!

I had aimed to get some speedwork done, and I may have done the occasional 800m intervals, but there was no structure or variety to it. As for long runs, I went out and picked up a 17km and 20km run in the second half of the month. They were rather impromptu and without much planning (aside from the 17km one involving different kinds of laps around Westerfolds Park and thus the knowledge I'd be regularly passing by my car), but I pulled up fine after both of them. Cycling didn't really happen in August (did over 60km for each of the first three weeks, then nada). But I have stuck to the trail running, which helped to pick up the Chill runner Smashrun badge. :)

Looking back at the Badges, it seems that I went on a bit of a spree in August as I picked up the following badges:

  • Rocked the week (40 km in a week)
  • Rocked the month (121 km in a calendar month)
  • London-Paris (608 km recorded on Smashrun)
  • Long stairs (increased mileage for 6 months)
  • Steep stairs (increased mileage by at least 8km each month for 4 months)
  • In it for August (10 days of running in August)
  • Chill runner (10 runs slower than 7:28/km in a month - trail running really helps to slow you down).

At the start of August I had the "Corporate" background (shown above is the Pro version) as I had only unlocked 17 badges. By the end of August my tally had grown to 24 badges, which meant I unlocked the "Dirty walls" options. I think they're ugly and too dishevelled for my liking, so I stuck to Corporate. So this is what I mean by the background being a progress meter but also not being a progress meter!

I ended up with 122km in August, which exceeded the 114km I needed to keep the Towering Stairs badge going (increasing mileage by at least 16km each month for 6 months). Three months down, three months to go (well, that was at the end of August). I picked up a PB at Westerfolds parkrun on the 16th (25:12), and that was my fastest 5km run of the month (although Smashrun takes the average pace and applies it to 5km for the Overview screens). The ridiculously slow 3km was one of many dog walks that I started to include in the Smashrun tally as I became to lazy to delete them from the record. Yes, that technically affects my Towering Stairs badge chase (making it easier for now, but possibly harder later, so I think it evens itself out).

Aims for September

Pretending September hadn't yet happened, I would be discussing a target of 138km (for the Towering Stairs badge), something to do with cycling (as I was not really cycling that often in August), and the Sri Chinmoy 10km.