Dopey training – week 12

Training ramped up a notch this week with the addition of 1 more session – a Saturday walk. Not too taxing but a reminder that it is getting serious. As it should – this week also flipped our countdown down to double digits until we take off. Definitely getting real.

My backdrop for a lovely run around the neighbourhood after work #running #runhappy

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Tuesday’s run was an easy lap of the neighbourhood block made even easier by the fact that it wasn’t freezing and was still light when I got home from work. Bonuses all round.

Thursday was hill day and I took my friend back up the Saddle. She did brilliantly and we were lots faster than last time. It was a stunning afternoon in the You Yangs – perfect Spring weather and exactly the run I needed at the end of the week.

Saturday was parkrun or, rather, parkwalk plus a bit extra to make up the required mileage. I really like that I can walk these although take them seriously and am still aiming to keep my pace ahead of the virtual balloon ladies. I managed that very successfully yesterday, as well as having a great chat with another running friend I don’t catch up with very often.

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Today was long run day and I have been looking forward to it all week. I got my stuff ready last night and was in bed by 7.30pm, just wanting the night to hurry up and be over so I could go. The forecast was great and I headed out to my favourite trail for a few hours of zen time – gravel and soft stuff underfoot, waves crashing just to the edge of my vision and surrounded by nature bursting with Spring-ness – idyllic. The hardest part was knowing it was a run of superlatives – my longest solo run, my longest training run, the furthest I’ve been in one hit on the Surf Coast trail, my biggest total kms for the week. I think all of that messed with my head a bit in the first kilometre and I found my breathing was hard, more because of rising panic than pushing it too hard. I reminded myself that kms on legs were all that mattered today and that I could walk it all if I wanted. And I took some time to enjoy the scenery and the weather, all of which brought tears to my eyes – there was absolutely nothing else I could imagine doing at that moment that would bring me as much happiness as this. So I just got on with it.

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It was a great run. I saw a few other people – enough to feel like I was safe but not enough to bother me. Ironbark basin is unfamiliar enough to keep me distracted as I wasn’t quite sure what I’d find around each corner. What I found was more and more beauty – I really am lucky to live where I do and have this in my backyard. None of it was that hard today – all body parts were playing nicely and nothing hurt. No (obvious) chafing (haven’t yet done the shower test!), my feet felt great and my left leg was not alerting me to any new or old niggles. The most annoying thing was that I got back to car having only done 20.6km so I had to do some little circuits to stretch it out to 21.1km. So proud of myself for getting it done. I celebrated with burgers with friends in town after their half marathon efforts at Cross Country Club.

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And there’s another week done. 38.6km this week, 6 hours worth of running. Wow.

Weekly summary:

Tuesday – 5.6km (46:10)
Thursday – 5.3km (55:40)
Saturday – 6.5km (63:11)
Sunday – 21.1km (3:15:44)

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Dopey training – week 11

I’ll admit it – the rain did put me off my run on Tuesday. I’d already got wet and cold on my walk to the train station and couldn’t face having to get out of a wet set of clothes into a dry set….only to go out and get wet again. I’m sure I made up some other excuses but really, that was it. The rain.

On Wednesday, I had another excuse – I felt like I was coming down with a cold, having clearly come into close contact with some of my students’ germs however I was running out of days to defer it to so I went running anyway. It was a slow, snotty and definitely not pretty 5km but it was done.

Thursday was a whole other matter – it was an absolutely glorious run (thanks to my immune system which clearly had fought off the invasion). Running with a friend, playing mountain goat up on the hills of our gorgeous You Yangs and a window of perfect weather – what more could you ask for? We weren’t breaking any records but this one was measured well and truly in smiles and was exactly what I needed. Again, we had a close escape and watched the rain approach as we were heading for our cars at the end.

Saturday was a short ‘long run’ and was an opportunity to visit another parkrun, this time Newport Lakes. I loved the trail and enjoyed running somewhere new and different. Next week brings the first of the multiple run weekends – eeek!

Weekly summary:

Wed – 5km (45:24)

Thurs – 5km (49:44)

Sat – 5.2km (41:03)

parkrun tourism @ newport lakes

When I think of Newport, Harry Potter-ish thoughts come to mind. Before you click ‘close’ and assume I’ve gone slightly bonkers, hear me out. We caught a steam train from Newport station once and it fulfilled many childhood wishes. I still vividly remember the train going through Southern Cross station, tooting its horn and feeling like I was on a magical mode of transportation that the muggles on the platform couldn’t quite see, only hear. So Newport will forever be a place linked in my mind to positive, if slightly eccentric, memories.

We weren’t able to make the launch of Newport Lakes parkrun as it was Balyang Sanctuary’s birthday so managed to get along today to event #3. This was probably a wise move. While there is definitely something about launches, there’s something different but equally as rewarding in turning up at an event unexpectedly and checking them out ‘in their street clothes’. Every parkrun has its own feel and quirks, even though the format and rules are all the same. The first thing Newport Lakes has going for it is a dose of the unexpected – I have driven through the area on my way to a friend’s house a few times but would never have known that this gem of a park was tucked away down a short road amidst all this suburbia. When I think ‘lake’ in relation to a Melbourne suburb, I assume it’s man-made and probably has a fountain and boardwalks. But no, this one has a lake that’s real and a trail that actually feels like a trail.

The first timers’ briefing gave us an overview of the course (which sounded confusing but signposted) and it was wonderful to see so many first timers. The main briefing then gave further delights – the Hobsons Bay running group had come along and were putting on a complimentary BBQ breakfast afterwards. I love this. I love that none of this needs to be a competition, that existing events and running groups can all work together to achieve the common goal – to get more people moving. But I digress.

After gathering at the start line, we were soon off. The start is across the grass, following the cones then looping back around near where you’ve come from. We followed the outside edge of the park for quite a while before following a bit of a long zig zag through the trails and closer to the water. The signposts were great and plentiful however I still had a few moments of doubt as there was no one around me and I wondered if that was because I went the wrong way. I trusted the arrows and kept going, finding some people further along the path. The surface is gravel track with some rocks and tree roots thrown in for good measure and I was glad I’d worn my trail shoes as they just gave me a bit more grip going up and down the inclines. There aren’t any terrible hills, just a few short ups and downs but lots of turning and loops so I really didn’t know where I was at any point. Running back along the road, I was completely disorientated until I turned back onto the grass and over the finish line.

Run done, we joined in the BBQ breakfast and chatted before heading off in search of a trendy venue for coffee and second breakfast. We found Leroy’s which perfectly fit the bill. Mmmmmm.

Well done to the event team at Newport Lakes – definitely a course I’d like to go back to although I’m equally sure I won’t be attempting a freedom run on it. I was fairly sure that, if I wasn’t completely attentive, I could get lost even with signs. Without them, I may be in the unfortunate position of needing to call for help in finding my way out of a suburban park!!

Dopey training – week 10

I had hoped to join some friends for a run on Tuesday but didn’t quite get away from work in time so it was a lap of the neighbourhood for me instead. And it wasn’t pretty. I felt strong and happy but my calf and foot didn’t and gave me pain from the start. I’m sure the fact I then spent the remainder of the run worrying just added to any pain, real or imagined. I heard my physio’s voice in my head and gave it a rating of probably 2 out of 10 – not a high rating and he’d tell me to suck it up and run but I was just concerned that it was even there.

Thursday was designated as a hill day which was possibly not smart with a dodgy foot/calf but I figured it would sort out whether it really was something or whether it was my brain making it up. A friend from work had decided she wanted to join me, despite my warnings that I was running up the Saddle and it wasn’t really a hill for starting your running career on. The weather was absolutely blissful as we headed down the hill and along the Branding Yard trail, rock hopping as we went. And then we reached the bottom of the Saddle. To her credit, she made it up with far fewer stops than I had on my first time and she also did it without whingeing (which I’m absolutely positive I didn’t achieve). We had a well earned rest at the top and enjoyed the scenery then headed back down the other side. Even though it ended up being mostly a walk rather than a run, it was great. I love introducing someone else to the treasures of the You Yangs and, as luck would have it, she didn’t completely hate me at the end of it.

This weekend, I knew I had a long run looming. I was Run Director at parkrun this morning then, scared off a little by tomorrow’s weather forecast, I decided to get it over and done with today. So, after processing parkrun results, I headed off to Melbourne to ‘my’ loop. I like the diversity of scenery it offers, the perfect length it came to and the fact that, once I’m running it, I can’t escape and have to finish it. Not that there was any danger of not finishing today. The weather was a bit changeable in the first 2km but after that, I was warm enough that I didn’t care what the weather was doing. I was running my usual 2/1 intervals and all was going well up until about 10km when my feet started to hurt. Not the calf/achilles/heel pain, the ‘pounding the concrete’ pain on the soles of my feet. Realising I couldn’t really do much about it, I just tried to suck it up and carry on although every step was a serious ‘ouch’. In the last few kilometres, I powerwalked and was very pleased to be keeping my pace around 9.30min/km – ahead of the ‘virtual balloon ladies’ that reside in my head, preparing me for the minimum pace at the Disney events. I managed a few spurts of running and completed my 18km feeling not too bad. Sore feet aside, I still had energy and felt good. In hindsight, I think it was a sock issue – must get on and order some more pairs of my favourite running socks. I’ve only found one brand so far that don’t leave me with sore feet when the mileage starts to increase so I’m sticking with them.

And, just like that, another week of training is done. I’m really, really tired tonight and the thought of running a marathon the day after doing a similar distance to today does not fill me with happiness and enthusiasm. Time to trust the training and stop worrying – easier said than done 🙂

Weekly summary:

Tuesday – 5.5km (46:15)

Thursday – 5km (56:06)

Saturday – 18km (2:38:09)

Dopey training – week 9

If there is a theme to this week’s training, it’s that Spring is definitely on its way.

On Tuesday, I was home at my normal time but, unusually, it was still light enough to ditch my head torch and head out. I love how the lighter nights kind of creep up and that is one thing about Spring that definitely makes me smile. It was also warmer than normal which is not something that makes me smile – can’t I just be picky and have light filled yet crisp evenings to run in?! I managed to stick to intervals and felt pretty good – the niggle in my calf is definitely improving although I was grateful it was a low mileage week.

I didn’t end up running Thursday and have no real excuse for that – I was home very early but wasn’t feeling it. This quite often happens when I know I don’t have that many kms to do – too easy to move it to another time. I ended up doing my second run on Saturday at our parkrun’s 5th birthday celebrations and had a brilliant run. It was one of those runs where it all comes together – running with a friend, running at a pace that was enough to push myself but not enough to hurt and just felt strong and happy throughout. Obviously the cake at the end definitely helped!

Today was ‘long run’ day……with a 6km run. It is one of the things I love most about the Galloway plan that you drop right back down every 2nd week and think it is this that will get me to the start line uninjured. However it feels weird and I probably have more trouble getting out for a short ‘long run’ than I do when it’s a mega one. Longer runs require forethought, planning and logistical considerations. 5km requires shoes, my watch and little else. Luckily my running timetable coincided perfectly with a friend’s today so we ran together along the river. It definitely felt harder than yesterday – maybe being later in the day or a bit more tired? We did manage to stick to all intervals, even though there were a few where we were desperately waiting for my watch to beep. I again felt so grateful to have a friend who I am so in sync with as sharing the run makes the time fly. I also really like the 2/1 intervals and have finished all my runs this week feeling strong.

Weekly summary:

Tuesday – 5.6km (45:33)

Saturday – 5km (38:13)

Sunday – 6km (47:07)

Dopey training – week 8

Training started off a bit slowly this week – I decided to push Tuesday’s run to later in the week, partly due to work commitments and partly because my leg was still feeling a bit dodgy. So my first 45 minute run of the week ended up being on Thursday. It’s been pretty rainy and wintery all week so waiting for the perfect weather was definitely not an option – it was either run and take your chances or don’t run. I took my chances, managed to get away from work on time and headed for a park in town. I managed 2 laps before the rain started and I headed down to and along the beach to finish off my 45 minutes. As always, I grinned maniacally while the rain and wind battered me – there is something distinctly satisfying about fighting it out with the elements to get your run done. While I’m not a fan of heading out into the rain, I don’t really mind running once it starts. Although I did have some problems feeling my fingers, especially while trying to take this photo 🙂

Saturday was my second 45 minute run – this time at Brimbank parkrun launch. I had a great run – a beautiful trail and fabulous company, this one was definitely measured in smiles.

And then today I did my long run. There was definitely a time, not that long ago, when I didn’t like long runs at all. Nothing about them. I now feel I’ve moved on to a love/hate relationship with them. And I’m equally as passionate about both sides. All week, I’ve been excitedly looking forward to the weekend for the chance to do my long run. Each day, I’d deliberate about where to go, which route to take. Last night, I was looking at the clock from 7.30pm, wanting to go to bed so I could get up and get it done. The ‘hate’ kicked in this morning when it actually came to getting out of my warm pjs and into running gear but, once I was out there, I was in love again. I chose one of my favourite trails – the Surf Coast Trail from Jan Juc to Ironbark Basin – and soaked up the stunning sunshine that we’re lucky enough to have today. I took it easy today – it was about getting the kilometres done and enjoying some solitude, not cranking out PBs. I started with set run/walk intervals as per the plan but then decided to just go by feel instead. And I made sure I took some time to stop and smell the wattle. Spring is definitely on its way!

Weekly summary:

Thursday – 5.7km (47:03)

Saturday – 5.2km (43:11)

Sunday – 15km (2:18:50)

parkrun tourism @ brimbank

I’ve been to many parkrun launches. They all have something a bit special about them – like a victory lap for the event team who have put in often months of work to get it off the ground. They are full of smiling faces, expectant faces and, sometimes, slightly nervous faces wanting it all to go well. It’s always interesting guessing how many people might turn up. Those attending are usually an excited bunch – local first timers mingle with a large crowd of parkrun tourists who love nothing more than gathering at a launch and catching up. This morning it was Brimbank’s turn…with a slightly different flavour.

Brimbank parkrun is not so much a ‘slow burner’ of an event as a ‘firecracker’. While most parkruns gently brew on a back burner for a long time, this one seems to have had a much shorter gestation period, thanks in part to the generosity of Medibank’s sponsorship through their free + active initiative. It is the first of quite a few launches that have been greatly financially assisted by this. And, with the donation of what I assume to be a large amount of dollars, a reciprocal amount of advertising will necessarily follow so you could have been mistaken when turning up to this morning’s event in thinking that it was a Medibank event first, parkrun second. There were red flags everywhere, large marquees and lots of Medibank attired staff/volunteers (not sure which?) on hand to direct and manage it all. There was even a bag drop area and, believe it or not, a tv crew on hand. So it was rather unlike any parkrun launch I’ve ever attended before.

Proceedings kicked off with speeches and a run briefing with introduction to the fabulous parkrun volunteers then a warmup by Michelle Bridges. It is at this point that I want it to be noted that I was far more excited to see the now famous parkrunner Jess here than Michelle Bridges and regret not going over to say hi :). Warm up over, we headed for the wide open space of the start line. We were held there for a while and weren’t quite sure why as we’d ticked over 8am by this stage – no one minded as launches often run a bit late due to speeches and celebrations. However the delay today was apparently to do with the tv crew and their broadcast schedule – again, not something experienced elsewhere.

Soon enough, we were off and running. And, despite all of the strangeness and un-parkrun like feel of the preamble, once we were on the course, it felt like parkrun again. And it was beautiful. Brimbank park really is a hidden gem. I’ve driven past it so many times and never thought that this trailrunning gold lay tucked in between houses and the freeway. On course this morning, we traversed river crossings (without getting wet feet) and were treated to as much trail goodness as we could handle. There were undulations, a range of surfaces (all gentle) and then an impressive hill which, when you reached the top, showed you just how magical this place is – popped in amongst suburbia. The surrounding bush is gorgeous and the course wends its way through it all in a meandering fashion. In the second half, there is a loop which is great for greeting other parkrunners coming the other way and then, before you know it, you’re passing the cafe and turning into the well organised finish shute. Where we were given a water bottle (thoughtfully, already full of water – thanks).

Following today’s event, there were post-run drinks and nibbles, massages and free health checks, all provided by Medibank. I was appreciative particularly of the large marquees they’d put up as the rain had decided now was as good a time as any to show up. We sheltered, enjoyed the hospitality and chatted to the crowd. And picked up a free running singlet. Which doesn’t fit as, in a fairly standard yet annoying assumption often made by health promoting corporations, only people up to size 16 would possibly turn up at an event like this and like to enjoy a free singlet. (At this point, when I’m clearly having a small rant, I could also go off on a tangent and talk about how I feel the commercialisation of parkrun has affected things but I haven’t fully decided how I feel about it and I should stick to the topic at hand. Let’s assume it might be the topic of a future blog post and leave it at that.)

A huge well done to the event team at Brimbank parkrun – what a beautiful location with so much going for it. While it seemed like a friendly and welcoming event, it was really hard to get a feel for the local parkrun community this morning as it was an ‘event’ rather than a community. What I look forward to most is coming back to visit without all the pomp and ceremony to fully appreciate this parkrun’s spirit as I certainly loved the course.