Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Recap

After taking about 6 weeks off from any running goals, and adding a swim to my weekly routine, I once again missed my monthly mileage target - but it doesn't actually bother me! I only started doing speedwork and hill reps again last week although I haven't quite managed a proper long run since my parkrun-based half marathon, which obviously stands out in the Smashrun overview.

In the past week I've taken up walking a neighbour's golden retriever (Miss M). 30kg of dog is obviously very different to 3.8kg of dog (Miss R, aka "The Dog"), mainly because Miss M can seriously pull me along while I can easily lift Miss R if I tug the leash! Walking Miss M turns into a nice easy run after about ten minutes - we have a tug-o-war walk down the hill to the park, then a relatively frenetic pace of about 5:30 min/km until she settles down into a light jogging pace of about 8:00 min/km, and walk the end as Miss M hasn't quite figured out how to pace herself.

Smashrun Badge Hunting has slowed down, which was expected as I've picked up most of the low-hanging fruit. I'm going to have to run a marathon if I want to go on a badge-hunting rampage! I did manage to pick up the In it for January (10 days of running in January) Half Marathoner and Perfect 100 (100-day streak), and expect to pick up another three early in February so it won't be too long until I unlock my next background!

I've also managed to survive the first month of Jantastic without needing to use a Joker, and I feel fine too. A bit tired, but not tired of running - although my calves currently beg to differ! I'm going to stick to my current aims of three runs and one swim for February's targets. I've chosen a 10km run as my distance goal for the month, which should be easily managed - although I haven't run that far since my parkrun half-marathon in the first week of January!

I'm enjoying the weekly swim, and am pleasantly surprised with how far I've come over four swims. I can now hop into the water and just start swimming without worrying too much, and accidentally taking on water doesn't cause me to just stop in the middle of the pool and stand up. I'm still taking on each lap separately, but can occasionally put two laps together with only a quick 5-second breather instead of the 30 I usually take.

Aims for February

Most obviously I really need to get a regular long run sorted - I'm hoping that it will be my Tuesday trail run, although I've been struggling with that in recent weeks! I'm hoping that by adding a couple of runs during the week, with either tempo intervals or hill reps, that leg strength and fitness will return, and that the long run will find its way into my legs in due course.

I'm Run Directing at Westerfolds parkrun next week, but I'll be going on a Victorian tourism spree for each week after that. Hopefully I can get over my hamstring niggle and tight calves (which are an artefact of the peroneal tendonitis) before the weekly road tripping begins so that I can run strongly at each course!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Return to Maribyrnong parkrun

Saturday was absolutely gorgeous down by the Maribyrnong River - and I happened to be back at Maribyrnong parkrun because the Half Marathon Club had another Meetup event that I could attend! I may not always enjoy crowds (which is why I tend to avoid birthday and inaugural parkrun events these days), but it is nice to be able to pick out familiar faces when you play parkrun tourist!

I spotted Westerfolds parkrun regular Paul at the recommended carpark (the Anglers Tavern), so I walked down to the start with him. Turns out he lives between the two, so he may not be a Westerfolds parkrun regular anymore! Although I think I can get away with it as he's done more parkruns at Westerfolds than at Maribyrnong at this stage. 

There was a minor disaster once I approached the toilets and found they were locked! Gah! Luckily the service station nearby had a toilet, so I suppose Maribyrnong still have their transport/tarmac/toilet trifecta intact! Luke and Xavier from the Half Marathon Club Meetup had arrived by the time I came back to the start area, so I said hello and had a brief chat before doing a bit of a warm-up as my right hamstring had been a bit twitchy this week. I figured out what caused it a few days later - I've recently been taking The Dog's ball when we've gone for walks, and the 100m walk to the oval is not enough of a warmup for me to then kick the ball repeatedly when we play "fetch"!

The pre-run briefing, starring Michael (I think!) as Run Director.
I'm awful with names - I was happy to have remembered Luke and Xavier whom I had only met last week.
I decided that I would go out for a solid tempo run, basing my pace on a four-step breathing routine and hoping to finish with something close to 25:30. I also wanted to get a photo during the run, and briefly stopped after the 1km mark as the field had stretched out a little and we were on a curve without a bridge or too many trees in the way. I had imagined parkrunners all along that curve, but it didn't quite work out that way as I was a little bit behind the group in front of me, which meant a larger gap by the time I took the photo!

One day Maribyrnong parkrun will have sufficiently large numbers that this entire curve with be FILLED with parkrunners!

I've been wearing the Garmin again and been having fun looking at my cadence - it's not obvious from my heart rate or pace, but the cadence data clearly shows where I briefly stopped to take the above snap!
With one kilometre down and four to go, I still felt fine with my four-step breathing pattern and decided that I might try and slowly increase the pace with each split. Unfortunately I saw that my second kilometre split was 4:59, and quickly calculated my first kilometre split from the overall time to be a touch over 5:00. While I was still on course for negative splits, I was going a lot faster than I had intended!

As it was my second time on the course, and I was neither chasing a PB nor trying to figure out exactly where I was within Maribyrnong, I was able to take look around a bit more and enjoy the course. Its lollipop nature means that you can see the speedy parkrunners heading back to the start while you're approaching halfway. The river is quite nice to run along too - aside from typical path traffic of other runners, walkers and cyclists, there were a couple of guys fishing on the banks, and also a rowing crew out on the water.

We hit the final part of the Burndap Park wetland, and made our way back north towards the start of the course. As a middle-of-the-pack-parkrunner I also get to see the tail-enders heading south once I've passed the halfway mark. But directly ahead of me were two ladies I had been keeping an eye on, thinking that my negative splits could work out if I stayed in (very loose) touch with them and didn't work too hard to chase them.  I had reasoned that it'd be unlikely that they'd both fade at the same time! My watch vibrated to indicate another kilometre had been completed. 4:56! A bit of a jump from the previous split, but at least it was still in the right direction.

Then a third lady overtook me and eventually joined the two that had always been ahead of me. I made a note that "purple girl" was running even better negative splits than me at that stage, but also recognised I had no interest in chasing the group down. My "tempo" run was enough, although I was definitely on a three-step breathing cycle by this stage and so I was happy to just keep them within sight. Another vibration, another kilometre. Again completed in 4:56. I briefly wondered if equal splits still counted towards negative splits, decided I would take it as such, and continued on my negative split plan.

Three ladies ahead, while I'm back in the distance!
Image by Brent Radoslovic, from the Maribyrnong parkrun Facebook page.

Reasons why I didn't catch them #425: Aeroplane arms.
Image by Brent Radoslovic, from the Maribyrnong parkrun Facebook page.

Before I knew it (or perhaps while I had been distracted posing and running from side to side), the group of three became four as one of the initially speedier runners had faded! It's not too often that I get to watch a pseudo-race in front of me, but I suppose it's an advantage of a relatively flat course where you don't need to start too conservatively to save legs for the hills ahead! Although there is a hill on the Maribyrnong parkrun course it's too early to cause too much bother at the start, and too late to be bothered by it at the end. If you're chasing a PB you're hurting anyway, and it's not so steep that it affects your strides/rhythm.

My watch vibrated one more time, but I was on the final straight back to the start/finish, I didn't really care to look. Just like last week, I hit lap instead of stop and continued on for a little bit longer. I walked back along the course, clapping and cheering on the parkrunners who were about to finish their parkruns.

The finishing straight!
I spotted Paul and ran the last section again with him. "Between the flags!" someone called out - likely referring to me, assuming that they had not realised that I had already finished! I ignored their advice while Paul ran through the flags, and I turned around and walked back again to find Luke. I found him as he was running down the hill, and joined him until he finished his parkrun. In hindsight, the walk/run combination at the end made for a nice warm-down and is something I'll be careful to do again! 

After scanning in I stuck around chatting to Luke and Xavier, and then to Paul for a bit. A few Maribyrnong regulars recognised me from Westerfolds Run Directing duties, so I didn't leave Maribyrnong parkrun until 9.15am! We had a chat about the upcoming Westerfolds Park handicap freedom run (7pm tomorrow, Thursday 29th January - check out the Facebook invite if you're interested), and the random things parkrunners chat about.

As for my final time and splits? Again, I was left going through the History section on the Garmin and calculating my final time based on the laps! 5:00, 4:59, 4:56, 4:56, 4:53 and 0:23 meant I was a little over the 25-minute mark and I ended up with an official time of 25:07. I cannot say it was an easy run, but it's nice to know that I am back at 25-minute pace although I probably only lost 4 seconds taking that photo!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The technological challenges of reading blogs

Reading blogs should be simple - but I find that it's not. I don't particularly enjoy reading from the computer screen as I already spend far too much time staring at it from behind a desk. So I'm trying to limit my blog reading to my tablet - I know it's just another screen, but it's away from the desk and seems to irritate my eyes less.

Since making the switch to the tablet, I finally caught up with my blog reading and am now generally up to date! Although technically it's only the "running" and "parkrun" blogs that I've listed on the blogrolls of this blog that I'm up to date with, but it's a start. As I am spending most of my time running rather than cycling these days, so I think that's enough to say I'm "up to date". And I think about 80% of my outstanding posts come from The Kitchn!

I have found some quirks with the RSS reader that I use, Feedly. It doesn't seem to like Mark's blog too much - and I hope think it's only Mark's blog. I'm not sure what Mark did to Feedly, or even if an apology will sufficce, but I only realised something suspicious was going on when I wondered why he'd only been writing single-paragraph posts lately. Of course Feedly's deception was uncovered once I checked his blog properly. I'm not sure why Feedly is taking out whatever problem it has with Mark on me, messing with my, "You've read all the blogs!" sense of accomplishment! Not cool, Feedly, not cool.

But I'm ever so slowly getting the hang of commenting on these blogs from my tablet, which is what I use to do most of my blog reading on. I don't enjoy writing from my tablet, so I had been saving the posts as "for later" on Feedly. It's just that revisiting the "for later" pile doesn't readily happen! So now I'm trying to comment as I go - all on the tablet! And so, I am also slowly chipping away at the "for later" pile.

There are a few other quirks with Feedly when it switches between the app and the blog websites (which I need to access to comment). Sometimes returning to Feedly is seamless and drops me right back where I was; sometimes it restarts the app!

So... does anyone out there recommend any particular RSS readers?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Not Westerfolds Wednesday: Return to Albert parkrun

I finally found a Melbourne-based Meetup group that suits me interests - mainly because they like parkrun and don't feel the need to commit to only the one location! Weeeeeeee!!! If you're curious, it's the Half Marathon Club Meetup group, and Saturday at Albert parkrun was the first event of theirs that I was able to attend.

A gorgeous morning for a parkrun!
It took me a little while to spot the Meetup group's organiser, Luke, but I eventually found the aqua cap I was looking for. I said hello to Luke (it helps that I was wearing the same kit as in my profile pic - my five30runners gear) and met a few others from the Meetup - although I can only remember the names of two of the four (in addition to Luke).

Soon after that it was onto the only real formality of the morning - the run briefing! John was the Run Director, and it was his first time too! The day ran very smoothly from a parkunner/non-volunteer perspective...

First-time Run Director John.

...which was impressive once I found out it was a Course Record Attendance! 355 parkrunners and no glitches does indicate that Albert parkrun is a well-oiled machine!

It was only a little bit busy...
The start was a bit congested - I had self-seeded far too deeply into the start pack. I could feel that I was burning a bit more from my legs than I would have liked as I tried to find the right spot to run the rest of the parkrun in. I spent most of the first 1.5km in a weird kind of interval run, sitting behind some people until there was an opening to overtake, which would often need to be done rapidly as the course is tree-lined. While I wasn't the only one running completely off-course and around the trees, it was more work than I would have liked to have been doing.

I paid for that fartlek-like start once we passed half-way and ran into the northerly that was blowing that day. I'm not used to running into headwinds, and while I managed to keep pace for the first 500m or so I could not sustain it. Headwinds were also something I noticed affected my effort during the Sussan 10km, and may be something I need to regularly run in if I choose to take the October half-marathon (as part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival) seriously.

As I approached Lakeside Stadium I thought about ramping up the pace a bit to see if I could salvage anything from the woeful 4th kilometre. I had started the run hoping to run comfortably under 26 minutes, but I knew that the 4th kilometre had cost me time. Just getting to 26:00 was going to require some effort in the final section of the run! I try to run by feel, and although I occasionally check the watch to see how I'm doing - I missed the 4th-km split on my watch on Saturday. I was wearing the Garmin Forerunner 610, so it vibrated but I didn't want to look because I knew it was BAAAAAD.

However, the closer I got to Lakeside, the more I thought about what a stupid idea it was to ramp up the speed. I also made a mental note that my frame of mind (chasing a time) clearly meant I was ready to stop "just plodding" during the week, and that I ought to start some speedwork again. :) I will likely not be feeling so "smiley face" about this come tomorrow evening, which is when I will likely be doing this speedwork.

As we passed Lakeside, someone came up on my shoulder and told me, "500m to go!" At this stage I had progressed from my four-step breathing sequence and calm three-step breathing sequence to a laboured three-step breathing sequence. If you hear me at this stage, it's fairly obvious that I'm struggling and not exactly feeling wonderful.

Is that me pushing off more from my big toe and not so much from the outside of my foot?!?!
Image from the Albert parkrun Facebook page, but not sure exactly who the photographer was!

Finally, I could see the rowing shed near the finish line and I knew I could commit to some stronger strides. I got closer to the two ladies I'd been sitting behind for the past 2km or so, tried to cheer them on to ramp up their speed and headed for a fast finish with "500m to go!" guy. He crossed the line first, and I hit "lap" on my watch as I finished. I had planned to go back for the others in the Meetup group and run their final hundred-metres or so with them to get me some extra kays, but ended up sitting on the grass for a bit to catch my breath instead.

I did end up getting up and finding Luke and Abigail. I was wondering if my legs were up for another fast finish, to encourage a strong finish from Luke. I can't remember how they felt, so it must not have been too bad - that's what you get for talking when running!

The longest scanning queue I've been in since I was at St Peters parkrun. Was nice to end up with a finish token greater than 100 despite running well under sub-30. Again, something that hasn't happened to me in a while!
With everyone back, Luke spotted the others in the Meetup I had met earlier and said our goodbyes. Luke, Abby and I joined the barcode scanning queue - it's been about two years since I've enjoyed waiting in line for my barcode to be scanned, as was often the case at St Peters. Fittingly, it was their birthday on Saturday - and they notched up a Course Record Attendance of 455 - that would have been SOME scanning queue!

I didn't know exactly what time I had run at the time until later, as I was walking back to the car and adding up the seconds of the km-splits (5:09, 5:06, 5:06, 5:20, 5:06 - and 0:15). 26:02 by my watch, officially 26:04. At least it's nice to know that my "run by feel" system is working!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Do the Spaniards love trail running?

I only ask because I kept finding myself on Spanish-language websites when doing research on trail shoes! I also come across German ones with great regularity, and I think this mix of search results in English, Spanish and German is Google's way of telling me that they have paid far too close attention to what I click on when the "Would you like to translate this page?" toolbar has turned up.

Thanks my status as a second-generation Australian with parents from Argentina, it wasn't really a problem. It does take me a bit more time to read the reviews, but my favourite site has been Trail Running Review. Despite it's title, it's entirely in Spanish.

Actually, I lie. Its title is in English.

But I love the little comparison charts they have.

I'm currently trying to track down the shoe on the right in a Women's 12 due to its superior "Adherencia en roca" and "Adherencia en roca mojada." It's relevant when you adore creek crossings.

And no, I'm not nearly as comfortable with German as I am with Spanish. It's just that I rarely use the Google translate toolbar - I'm sure it'll only require a few more French-language websites until I start getting French results in my Google searches too!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Splish splash

I think it's been almost 2 years since I last went swimming - my old Dailymile account suggests it was March 2013, which was when I had my last swimming lesson. Looking at my old blog, it appears I made no notes about this last set of lessons although I remember them to have been the best I've ever had! Interestingly one of my early swim-related blog posts over there was also called "Splish splash." I am obviously the highly creative sort.

To save you the trouble of reading the relevant posts on that blog, here's a history of my swimming "prowess":
  • I never got the hang of swimming when I was little - despite regular attendance with the primary-school program, and also with additional intensive school holiday programs. I just didn't get it.
  • In 2006, I took up adult lessons while I was studying at Melbourne Uni, and I remember being able to do at least one lap of the pool by the end of the program. It felt like 50m, but was only 25m. In hindsight, I find this simultaneously hilarious and enlightening. 
  • I didn't get into the pool again until 2012, when I took on adult lessons with a community college. The best bit was that the pool was 50m long but shallow for its entire length! I started with the beginners and an instructor named Claire who I thought was going to be a fantastic teacher. But I was bumped over to the intermediate group (with a lady named Katherine) when it became apparent that I my aah! water! anxiety was nothing compared to the genuine fear others in the group had.
  • Later that year I took swimming lessons at UNSW, as the community college only had their lessons on over summer. According to a blog post, I found these lessons better than my time with Katherine. Katherine's "lessons" were more about building up fitness, whereas the guy from UNSW was far more focussed on technique.
  • But it's the lessons from early 2013 (again with the community college) that I enjoyed the most. This time I was "intermediate" and ended up with Claire for the entire length of the term, and she was a fantastic teacher. She was able to diagnose and correct problems in a way that just made sense, and I know that I'd be happy to seek out lessons with her if I was ever back in Sydney.  

So with Jantastic now including swimming (and cycling), I decided to get back into the pool last weekend. And it didn't go too badly. The water was much warmer than UNSW's heated pool (which in turn was significantly warmer than the heated outdoor pool the community college used), which meant I had no "cold shock" that usually requires time to settle down. Also, I discovered that the indoor pool's deep end was only 1.65m, which significantly helped to reduce my aah! deep end! anxiety.

I started at the deep end and decided I would only try to make it to half-way on the first return lap, i.e. in ~12.5m stints. After successfully completing that I went for a "complete" return lap, resting at the shallow end. I completed the first 25m easily enough. But the aah! deep end! anxiety kicked in at half-way. Which is silly as I already knew that the deep end was sufficiently shallow for my 1.81m self. It took me a few more attempts from shallow to "deep" until I could ignore the anxiety and complete each 25m length without stopping.

This is why I now find my second bullet point above interesting - despite not being in the water for over 18 months, I was able to complete multiple laps of 25m without it feeling as if it were an onerous task. I only ended up with 14 laps in total, and with breaks at each end as I could feel my arms beginning to tire. If I had better technique I may have persisted, but I thought it would be best to just get out rather than fight on and develop crap habits.

Once my anxiety subsided and I was able to pay attention to what I was doing I noticed that I would lift my head up while swimming, and also out while breathing. So #1 on my swimming-to-do list is to keep my chin tucked in. It's easy enough to do, and helps to keep the entire body and legs in line, but not yet a habit. I also noticed my elbows were low when out of the water, so that is currently #2 on the list. I'm also sure that my strokes were rushed and that my hip rotations was poor, although they're not things I noticed on the weekend as there were other things I was far more aware of.

I'll be back in the water this week because of Jantastic (it's a fabulous excuse, really), and hopefully I'll have less anxiety and more awareness of what my body is doing!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Westerfolds Wednesday: The Anniversary Half Marathon

My first parkrun was 12th January 2013, which makes Wimpole Estate (UK), Harrow Lodge (UK) and Modderfontein Reserve (South Africa) parkruns my "spiritual" parkruns as we share our parkrun birthdays. In Australia, Shepparton parkrun helps me keep track of when my anniversary happens, although I'm one year ahead.

That being said, I have decided that I don't enjoy attending parkrun birthdays - I prefer smaller parkrun events, and thus I now avoid birthdays (and inaugurals) where possible due to the higher-than-typical numbers. So I spent my parkrun anniversary at Westerfolds parkrun.

Lately I've been planning to head to parkrun earlier to get some extra mileage out of the morning. With grey skies and light rain, I attempted to arrive at parkrun a little over an hour earlier so that I could squeeze in 10km, meaning I'd have 15km by the end of parkrun, and possibly extend to a half-marathon if I did another parkrun-lap and a bit. While I arrived at Westerfolds Park in time to do this, I realised my house keys were no longer in my pocket! After a few texts to home (I thought perhaps they fell out of my pocket in the driveway when I pulled out the car keys), and a lot of moving about in the car I finally found the keys under the driver's seat.

Grey skies = fake early morning = kangaroos!
Uuugh - that lens aberration, or whatever it is, is beginning to annoy me...
It was after 7am at this stage, and while I could theoretically fit in 10km in under 55 minutes, I was hoping to go for a cruisey run in order to give myself the chance of hitting the Half Marathon. I could also fit in the cruisey run but just start well after everyone else had gone... I started with a lap of the parkrun course in reverse, which meant covering the hill in the first km. I hoped that the slower pace up the hill would set me up into a good rhythm for the rest of the run. Of course it came undone on the downhill, although doubling back for a wet kookaburra helped.

A little after the bottom of the hill I encountered Rob, who was setting up the course, in a very hard-to-miss fluoro yellow boiler suit. I understood why he wore it (it had been raining), but I also wondered why he wore it (it was humid and thus the boiler suit would have been very uncomfortable and muggy). I then found Michael a couple of kms later at bottom of the hill which marks 1km of the parkrun course, and he commented that the kangaroo on the corner (who was munching away at what must have been some very tasty grass) was one of the largest he'd seen at the park. While there had been plenty of roos about near the start, none of them were the size of this one - nor were they as "cool" with humans. As I said, that grass must have been particularly tasty.

With my first lap complete, I started the second lap but the "right way" around. The large kangaroo was still there, so I decided to slow down, smoothen my stride, and take a video of him. I'm not very smooth going downhill, even when walking!

Keeping an eye on the time, I decided to cut through the middle of the course via the central trails that I'd been meaning to explore for some time.

The north-south trail that cuts through the middle of the park, sitting south of Kestrel Creek (although only the northern portion of this trail is on this map).
More kangaroos on the trail, which intersects the Kangaroo Views Strava Segment. Aptly named, huh?
It ended up being 9km by the time I reached the parkrun finish line. It wasn't too far off my planned 10km, and allowed me to catch the parkrunners as they moved from the pre-run briefing to the start line. I briefly said hello to Narelle, who had spent Christmas in the UK with her brother (and leaving the children here in Australia for her husband to look after - on his own!), and she told me she had only arrived in Melbourne a few hours earlier! THAT is parkrun committment! After finding my run with Wendy a few weeks ago nicely paced, I sought her out again, figuring that it would maximise my chances of accumulating 21km throughout the morning.

14km... so another lap of parkrun would get me a lot closer to that HM. By this point I was completely knackered. I had planned to have a banana between the first 10km and parkrun, but time meant that it didn't happen. I figured I would be able to complete the final 6km without the second banana... but it wasn't pretty and I needed to walk a lot of that fourth 5km split. By the time I reached the parkrun finish line again, Nicole Emma Rohan were still about packing up and processing results. I stopped and had a chat to them walking to their cars before heading off for my final 2km.

Run Director Nicole was heading off for a lap, so I thought I'd run to 20km with her and then do the final 1.1km to get to my car. I was very tired at this point so I went directly to the car rather than retracing my steps, so I still needed mileage by the time I got to the car. I grabbed the banana from my car and ate it as I walked down to the parkrun finish line... nup, still not 21.1km... back to the car... nup...  After a few laps of the carpark, I finally got it done.

My parkruns for the day were 28:56 for the reverse parkrun, [let's exclude the not-5km 4km], 32:07 for the actual parkrun, and 36:13 for the solo trip around the parkrun course. Tiredness obviously kicked in...

At least I now have a benchmark of where my HM time is at - although the lack of proper breakfast contributed to it. Also, as it was only my second HM, Strava recognised it as an achievement! Yay. Still, I'd rather that than an annual-based achievement. I know I've mentioned Smashrun having annual notables, but they're based on the past 12 months and not the actual year. It's what makes all this Strava treasure that'd being accumulated right now completely bogus, and annoying.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Westerfolds Wednesday: Double, no, Triple Trouble

6 parkruns in 3 weeks is quite exhausting - not only did Westerfolds parkrun have extra runs on both Christmas Day and New Year's Day, the New Year's Day event was a double-up with Diamond Creek parkrun! Plus Saturday's parkrun was hot. So I'm feeling a bit all-parkrunned-out!

I suppose I had it relatively easy on New Year's Day as I was the Run Director for the day! I found a ridiculous pair of "2015" sunglasses and donned them for the morning - although I have to sadly report that they did not fit under my visor when I went to run at Diamond Creek parkrun, and I don't run without a visor or cap unless I want to stop every few minutes to tie my hair up again!

I've always been the type to just chop my hair super-short when I reach this stage of length. But I am trying to persevere with it as it's virgin hair - chemically untainted. If I can grow it for another year or two (and not dye it, as tempting as being a red-head is), it'd be long enough to be donation hair.

New Year's Day, Westerfolds parkrun style
We ended up with a course record of 120 (13 more than our previous Course Record Attendance), and 85 of the 120 then headed up the road to Diamond Creek parkrun, along with a few of the volunteers for each parkrun event. One of the speedy parkrunners headed west to Highlands parkrun! No, I didn't trawl through everyone's results to dig that nugget out - he let me know on the day as he rushed off to his regular parkrun spot! I would have been tempted to do a Westerfolds/Berwick Springs double - but that didn't work out once I put my hand up to RD! Serves me right.

Despite the delayed 9.30am start, I still managed to be late to Diamond Creek parkrun as I needed to process the results before the kit was left with Emma, Saturday's RD. I was very good and didn't speed in the car, but did find myself running sub-PB-pace as I passed the tail-runner and finally spotted the familiar faces backs of Iwona and Nicole. I said hello, had a brief chat, and then rushed on to catch up with Jo, a Balyang Sanctuary regular who is a five30runner! She was at the Pakenham launch when I was timekeeping, and only ever attended Westerfolds parkrun when I was RD (our birthday party in October, and then that morning). I finally had my chance to run with her at Diamond Creek!

The late start meant I got a very nice view of parkrunners heading to the turn-around point AND parkrunners making their way back to the end! 
While I may not be the biggest fan of out-and-back courses, they do offer one thing that is pretty awesome - high-five opportunities!

High-fives (almost) everywhere!
Most people were pretty good at returning the high-fives. But a few found that wasn't their thing. Whatever - locusts and frogs! LOCUSTS AND FROGS!

And that was the New Year's Day Double! Well, mostly. I found the toilets were on the other side of the creek, near the startline (something I didn't have time to look for when I visited them the first time). There was also a post-parkrun breakfast at a nearby cafe, within walking distance if Diamond Creek parkrun, but I don't take photos of my food. And my strong long black was really just a long black. Locusts and frogs!


Two days later, and a number of us (13 if you're curious - not counting volunteers*) were at it again! It was 30℃ according to Smashrun - which doesn't actually sound all that bad, but it was the first run that felt like summer. I cruised around, chatting to Wendy, and we did aeroplane arms on the way down the hill. We still have work to do on our technique according to some Reddit users. Or we'll just go for Option B next time. Weeeeeee!!!!

Hello sunshine! Hello Westerfolds Park!
Oh, and we had our final parkrunner of the month award for 2014 announced - congratulations to Lee! She (and Wendy) are always among the first to put their hands up when we ask for volunteers at short-notice, and is a Westerfolds parkrun regular!

Westerfolds parkrun ED Scott presenting Lee with the parkrunner of the month trophy!
She's also a Tuesday trail-running regular when she doesn't have to drop kids off at school, and a real trooper when I ask, "Hey! Who wants to try that random path!?!" Or, in the case of yesterday's run - "Who wants to try that log!?!" Although it could be peer-pressure. Not sure... 

Smiling or grimacing?
And that's Valerie semi-photobombing. She's another Westerfolds parkrunner who hits the trails on Tuesday mornings!
I'm not sure what my parkrun plans are for this weekend. I intended to visit Point Cook last weekend, but I didn't really feel like it when I realised how warm it was that morning. Similarly, this weekend's forecast of rain makes being on the roads for longer than I need to be sound silly. We'll see how it plays out - otherwise I'll be at Westerfolds again, making propellor noises or yelling "Weeeeee!!!!" with Wendy down the hills.

* Because parkrun doesn't really acknowledge volunteers... oh, dang. Can't use that excuse anymore. Which is kinda awesome really! Incidentally, the whole "volunteer 3 times a year" thing means 8.3 years of parkrunning.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Just plodding along

Since the Sussan Women's 10km, I've enjoyed running for no specific purpose, which is kinda nice actually. There was a time when not having an immediate fun run would have been a disaster, but I seem to be doing well at the moment. I have a few goals to pick at throughout the year, but there's a gap until my next fun run in May (the Puffing Billy run, although I may do the Run for the Kids 15K in March). So now my Tuesday trail runs my toughest regular run, thanks to it being a group run. Oh, and the short steep climbs! It's possibly the prettiest run of the week, so it's really not a chore at all.

One of the Tawny Frogmouths at Schwerkolt Cottage, where we start our Tuesday trail runs.
I'm also trying to run with a lower heart-rate in a bid to keep my easy runs easy, and thus pay more attention to how I'm running and go back to increasing my mileage without feeling overdone. My peroneal tendonitis has definitely settled down on my right leg, but has now flared up a bit on the left. It's not affecting my foot yet, but I need to give my outer left calf regular foam-roller love.

So my average pace has slowed down to about 6:30/km, which isn't too bad really. While I'm in this easy muck-about state, I've been trying to encourage the dog to run. Alhtough so far I've found I can only do that if I let her off leash and run away from her! She seems to enjoy it though - our previous dog would be quite anxious when we'd run away from her, but the current one seems to love the opportunity to chase. I'm only doing it in single spurts as I think she has attention deficit disorder (she is easily distracted), but she's done brilliantly in the past year to learn to
  1. walk on a leash
  2. walk on a retractable leash (it's more comfortable for me when she stops suddenly because *smell!*)
  3. not venture too far when off-leash
  4. chase me down when off-leash.

I don't think she'll ever be a proper running dog, but I think she should manage short easy runs if she's off-leash and allowed to stop and follow any scents she discovers. Although she's still rubbish at being nice to other dogs - she's a yappy little thing, until the other dog shows an interest in her which is when she chooses to back off and run away.

From across the street: Yap! Yap-yap-yap-yap! *Don't mess with me, I'm so tough!* 
Upon closer inspection: Please don't eat me! *Run away! Run away!*

I'm still playing catch up with various blogs, although there are some where I have decided to skim-read to catch up! I'm really going to have to figure out a way to stay up-to-date with blogs... starting by updating my Feedly lists! (I really never recovered after the demise of Google Reader!)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year! A recap of December

I ended up sticking to English for the past month - there have been a few quirks on the Smashrun website lately so I'm using the default settings until they're sorted. That way I know it's a Smashrun thing and not a language thing (seriously, there was a time when the badges were all weird in one language, but not in others!)

I had a loose goal of continuing to increase my mileage, but I didn't quite hit it. Although it ultimately didn't bother me that I missed out on that distance goal as I'm enjoying just running at the moment! That being said, 197km of running and dog walks is more than I did in October (or any other month aside from November), so it's really not bad at all! I even managed to sneak in a nice long run one Sunday which was enjoyable despite having to effectively run uphill for the entire second half! I suppose it was inevitable given that I started by following Gardiners Creek downstream...

My pursuit of Smashrun badges continued, and I've now accumulated 40 of them! It unlocked a wallpaper that I quite like, and looks nice with my current "Team Violet" colour scheme. Over December I picked up 50 for 50 (50 days in a row), In it for December (10 days of activity in the month), and Weak not week (a week's worth of activity since joining Smashrun - 168 hours, i.e. 7 days x 24 hours).

The Sussan Women's 10km was my only fun run of the month, and it was a nice way to finish off the year - even if the lead up to the day was a bit chaotic, and I am subsequently unsure if I'll do this event again. Or anything else (dis)organised by Start to Finish events!

Aims for January

I've been enjoying just plodding about throughout December since the 10km. So I plan to continue doing that for most of January. I have my new aim of running 2,015km for the year (which I will keep track of via Strava), and so have set a goal of 2,500km on Smashrun to account for walking the dog.

I've found a Meetup group that is keen on parkrun tourism (albeit limited to those closest to the city - Albert, Maribyrnong and possibly Point Cook) so I plan to join them on occasion. There are some parkrun events that are somewhat-nearby but unlikely to be covered by the Meetup group, so am going to try and be a bit of a tourist for the next few months!