Friday, May 1, 2015

Shepparton parkrun

The Puffing Billy fun run is on this weekend, and while I may not be feeling anywhere close to 100% thanks to my silly right hamstring, I am hoping to be able to run a PB simply because I am running more this year for the same timeframe than I was last year (which was the first time I ran the Great Train Race). Although I had more cycling fitness last year, so we'll see...

I've gone out on a couple of super-short runs this week, mainly just to see how the hamstring is going, but also to run without the tempo trainer so that I could settle into a "natural" gait on Sunday. I have changed my exercises since I saw the physio last week—daily exercises focussing on putting weight on the hamstring while holding it in the eccentric phase and on strengthening my left glute. The physio thinks my hamstring problem is a result of my relatively weak left glute, which itself is possibly a result of focussing on the right glute after the arthroscopy on the right knee. It's a bit like a game of dominoes. Anyway, the change in exercises means I have a different kind of soreness in the hamstring now - although I think it's a fatigue kind of soreness. I'll keep doing the glute strengthening through to Sunday, but I'm skipping the hamstring work until after.

I'm hoping that I can take it easy at the start of the run on Sunday for the first couple of kilometres, settle into 5:30 pace through the toughest part of the run, and begin a mini-wind-up run at the 10km mark. That last bit is going to depend a lot on my fitness and my hamstring. I'll have to be careful on a few descents (I still have nightmares from the time I slid down the gravel of this descent with a car behind me when I attempted to do a bit of route recon by bike last year), but I can hopefully manage as long as I remember to take short quick steps!


I took a week off parkrun after visiting Balyang Sanctuary as the Sjögrens flare and parkrun-mehness (sounds legit) set in, but visited Shepparton parkrun the following week.

Yes, it was a gorgeous day for a parkrun!

My hamstring had been annoying me at the time, but I had such a serious reaction to a mosquito bite on the my right calf that it numbed most of my right leg and I couldn't feel any hamstring pain. In hindsight I should not have "run by feel" and should have paid attention to my watch. It turned out that I pushed a little harder than I should have, and it was only as the inflammation died and numbing reduced over the following days that I could feel my overworked hamstring. Also, in the time between the onset of hamstring soreness and the passing of all the numbing, I managed to bruise my leg with the spiky ball by pushing into the soreness a bit more than I should have! At least this meant the podiatrist could see I was using the spiky ball when I saw him a few days later...

I figure that if you can see the inflammation on a low quality shot, then that tells you exactly how badly I reacted to that mosquito bite. I don't always react this way, and find I react to bites differently depending where I happen to be when I get bitten. #NotAllMosquitoes
Original image from Shepparton parkrun Facebook page.

It was a lovely morning for a parkrun, and I arrived with enough time to park near the local cafe, visit the parkrun starting area, scope out alternative parking options and move the car to the main road due to the limited car parking in the area around the cafe.

So that's my first bit of advice—if arriving from the south via the Goulburn Valley Highway, stay on the left-hand lane and park on the left after you've crossed the railway tracks and passed the Shell Service Station. Yes, the Shepparton parkrun website more or less tells you to park here exactly, but that Whyndam Street is the Goulburn Valley Highway isn't obvious when you're on the regional pages of the Melway. No, I don't use a GPS navigator. Also, Google Maps finds Whyndam Street accurately but only ever shows the "Goulburn Valley Highway" name. If you're arriving from the north via Goulburn Valley Highway, there's a right-hand-turn slip-lane before the railway tracks that you can use to enter Shell and then exit onto the parkrun-side of the Goulburn Valley Highway.

Coming from the north? Do what the Corolla's doing!
Yes, my only shot of the railway/Shell positioning happened to be instructional.

There are toilets near the finish area, although they're hidden from view if you're approaching from the south via the Goulburn Valley Highway because they're behind the Shell service station. There are two undercover areas immediately north of the toilets, and Shepparton parkrun meet at the second one.

This is the undercover area you should gravitate to if in search of Shepparton parkrun goodness on a Saturday morning.
The parkrun course consists of three loops - a preliminary loop that goes past that spot where we had lunch on the remote sensing ground-truthing field trip during my second-last year of undergraduate uni heads north, hugging the east-side of the lake until reaching the extension of Welsford Street before returning along the Goulburn Valley Highway, and two clockwise laps of Victoria Park Lake.

While the first lap of the lake looked to confuse travellers staying at the Victoria Lake Holiday Park as we passed them at the 1.7km mark, the second lap meant we had plenty of high-fives on offer from kids staying there (so stick to the left at 3.5km if you want some high-fives). Locals running around the lake are easy to train very friendly, with most returning my Good morning! calls even after coming across them multiple times. One even surprised me by calling out Good morning! after I'd finished running and was taking photos.

As the course is around a lake it is generally flat, with the only noticeable rises occurring after the Holiday Park bridge (at the spot where the terrain changes to gravel) and along the finishing straight. Most of the path around the lake is on tarmac, with short sections of gravel and concrete. Despite the combination of different loops, the course is easy to follow as it is well-marked and the north-end marshall who directs you to the correct path on the preliminary loop is the same one who directs you on the subsequent lake loops. It's very well organised and I didn't notice any pinch-points on the course as there is plenty of grass alongside the path and the preliminary loop helps to distribute the mass of parkrunners before hitting the bridge after the Holiday Park. And that bridge isn't really a pinch point either - I'm sure it's three-times the width of the Berwick Springs "bridge" that I'm not a fan of.

I ended up with a handy 25:37, met a few locals who originally lived in Templestowe (so they actually knew where Westerfolds was), and had a good coffee at Cafe on the Lake while other parkrunners had their breakfasts. The food looked good and the service was great, although I've noticed multiple negative reviews for the cafe that I don't agree with.


  1. Well done on your Parkun tourist debut at Shepparton. I know via Strava that your hammy wasn't so dodgy at Puffing Billy - perhaps a mosquito bite on the hammy numbed the pain?

    1. Hamstring is slowly getting better... but I have been very good and avoiding anything faster than 5:15 pace. :)