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!


  1. That was a good read. Congrats on a nice even paced 5k and by feel too. Could never do that myself. Whatever did we do when Casio's were the only watches available! I envy your parkrun setup. One day ...

    1. Thanks! We probably stuck to well-measured courses or athletics tracks and tried to hit certain times for each 400m lap! I know I did when I was race walking... *oh the shame*.

  2. Great run report! I can't imagine having to contend with so many runners at the start. Well done on the pacing.

    1. Thanks! I don't mind so many starters at big long events as it forces you to be a bit conservative... but you can't afford to waste time in the 5km! One day I will be able to run around Albert parkrun with a not-so-cluttered start and almost-unaffected by the head wind.

  3. I'm a massive fan of the "run (or race) by feel system" - but it's great to have the data to look over afterwards. As my old 305 doesn't beep or vibrate, it's easy to ignore while running :)
    On the congestion problem - we have that at Tuggers (395 a couple of weeks ago). We also have a "start chute" roped off so you can't spread out before the start. Means losing 5 to 20 seconds depending on how honest one is when self-seeding ;-)

    1. I've seen that some parkruns have seeding "bays" behind the startline, usually prepared with chalk. Unfortunately the Albert parkrun start is on grass, so that option's not really there!

      You can't spread out too wide at Albert - not that there's a limit to breadth at the start, but you need to squeeze in between Albert Park Lake and the boatsheds within the first 200m or so! Unless you WANT to fall in (and it has apparently happened, but at another section of the course - I'm still trying to figure out how it happened!)