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!


  1. Nice splits! And I'm not talking about the arm splits. That overhead shot is a good angle. I must try the bridge at Tuggers - always looking for new points of view for Parkrun photos.

    1. I enjoy being the parkrun photographer, but it's always nice to try and find a new vantage point! I've tried a few clime-able trees and boulders around Westerfolds Park, but there's usually a branch blocking the view that I had imagined!

  2. That looks like a really nice course!

    1. It is! Easily one of my favourites, I don't even mind the extra travel time compared to some of the closer parkrun events!

  3. No way! I'd say that picture cost you at least 15 seconds. I'd put money on it! Slow down, stop, lift camera up, steady, focus, snap, resume breathing, accelerate and race pace achieved. In fact the more I think about it ... 20 seconds and that's being conservative.

    1. Well I actually accelerated too much initially after the snap, so I think that probably brings the lost time back a bit!