back on the trail…

When I saw that today’s weather was forecast to be a sunny, blue skied day (coming at the end of a week of Autumn drizzle), I knew I had to make the most of it and get back out on the trails.

I headed down to Torquay and picked up where I stopped last time I went on the Surfcoast walk. There were lots and lots of families, walkers, runners and riders out enjoying the sunshine so the first part through Torquay was a bit of a ducking and weaving exercise. However, once I was heading away from town towards Jan Juc, the people mostly disappeared.

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The scenery on this part of the trail is absolutely stunning. Once you’re around the boardwalk at Jan Juc, the trail climbs slowly up onto the cliffs and you are rewarded for your efforts with frequent, breathtaking views of the Southern Ocean.

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This part of the trail is a combination of surfaces – concrete, dirt and sand. The sand parts in this section are short and easy – they were actually a lot of fun as I can’t say I have huge experience of running in sand and it took me a while to figure out the best technique (in case you’re wondering – landing on my forefoot, like I do when going up hills!). I still ended up with shoes full of the stuff – I’m assuming that’s just an accepted hazard that I’ll have to get used to!

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There are also some hills on this section but not particularly big ones and the downhills make up for it 🙂

My achilles was starting to make its presence felt on the last km coming into Bells Beach so I was glad to be stopping there and waiting for my husband taxi service to collect me. Bells is as popular as ever with the car parks full of temporary wetsuit changing techniques (mostly involving a towel and the occasional accidental flash of flesh) and the waves dotted with surfers, bobbing up and down, waiting for the next amazing wave. I can’t say I like swimming in the ocean but I found it very relaxing sitting and watching them.

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So, another section done. I believe the next part heads into much more of a traditional trail – away from civilisation and into more rugged territory. Bring it on!

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mega running weekend – pt 2 – Mother’s Day Classic

It’s very unusual for me to do 2 events on one weekend, especially since my achilles started to make its presence felt. Usually, if I’m running at something on Sunday, I’ll volunteer at parkrun so I have a rest day. However this weekend, it was hard to choose between the parkrun launch and Mother’s Day classic….so I did both!

My alarm clock went off even earlier than on Saturday and I was out of the house in the dark, heading into town to meet up with my friends. I arrived early so sat in my car, watching the rain fall down, when a police car pulled up alongside me. Not that I was doing anything wrong but I swear I have an inbuilt guilty conscience – what had I done!? As it turned out, I hadn’t done anything – it was a parkrun friend who knew we were meeting up and wanted to wish us all luck.

2015-05-10_Mothers_day_classic3After a quick photo stop, we headed off for the usual pre-race toilet break then joined the masses at the waterlogged Eastern Beach and tried to keep as warm and dry as possible until the start. Shedding our waterproof layers was hard – I don’t mind a bit of rain but the rain, wind and general coldness might have been enough to keep me away if I hadn’t been with friends.

We actually managed to miss the starting gun – the warm up and festivities at the stage area were still going on while the starting gun went and we turned at the noise to find a small group setting off across the line. We headed over and started in our own time. As the walkers and runners start together, there was a little ducking and weaving but there was plenty of room to spread out.

I ran with my friend for the first 1km and was impressed with myself as I managed to keep running, despite the steady hill heading up to Eastern Park. Knowing I didn’t want to push my foot, I switched to a 3/1 run/walk strategy after that. The rain had held off and it was just a very light drizzle which kept me cool without being annoying. And few things could take away the joy from running in this spot – Eastern Park is one of my favourite places to run in Geelong.

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The last couple of kilometres were the hardest as we came out of the park and headed down towards and beach and the brutal sea ‘breeze’.

I was pleasantly surprised at my time as I crossed the finish but then looked at the other part of my watch and realised it wasn’t really the 8km run that was advertised – my watch was registering a bit over 7.6km. I checked with my friends and found similar results – definitely shorter than intended. But an enjoyable run nevertheless.

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We stayed around a little afterwards to cheer another fellow parkrunner over the start line which is exactly when the heavens opened, ensuring all 4km runners and walkers were well and truly drenched. My walk back to the car felt more like a swim which just caused me to giggle – who the heck would not only choose to do this but pay for the privilege?! Me, that’s who 🙂

Overall, a great weekend, made even better by the friends I ran with and chatted to throughout. As much as I love my ‘alone time’ when I run, there’s definitely something to be said for being part of a supportive team of runners.

mega running weekend – part 1 – Altona Beach parkrun

I had a couple of great events on this weekend, made even better by getting to enjoy them with some fantastic running friends.

Altona Beach parkrun launch
This new parkrun is not too far away from me and the Run Director is the husband of a great running friend so I had a double reason to attend! It did require an early start but I was rewarded with crisp Autumnal weather and a pretty sunrise over the water.

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The course for this parkrun is beautiful, running through parkland, over a picturesque river (on a billy goats gruff worthy bridge) and up to the best turnaround point I’ve seen with a stunning view of the city.

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It wasn’t my fastest time but I was really happy with my run and felt good. I had stopped to take photos along the way and had ran for short stints with a few different runners, having some great chats along the way. Sometimes runs aren’t measured by the finish time but by the experiences along the way and this was definitely one of those days!

I’d love to go back to do this course again – so picturesque and not particularly challenging. The hill climb to the turnaround point looks daunting but it’s not actually so bad. Probably the hardest thing was the concrete surface – not my favourite thing to run on and it didn’t impress my achilles much. But the views and the friendly runners made up for it – I’ll be back!

After the run, a few of us went out for coffee and it was great to be able to chat about parkruns and all things running with a bunch of friendly fellow runners.

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out on the trails

On Sunday, I decided to give trail running a try, something I’ve wanted to do for ages. I headed down the coast to Torquay where the Surf Coast Walk begins. Having driven the Great Ocean Road many times, I knew how stunning the scenery was down there and looked forward to getting out on the trail.

The trail starts at the end of a dirt track at Point Impossible which is a hidden spot, popular with surfers and the odd fisherman.

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There is a good car park and a toilet at the start of the walk along with a map and information about the trail.

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The first section to Torquay is 6km and starts out on this…

wpid-20150503_134223.jpg… a loooong trail disappearing into the surrounding scrubland. I had the trail to myself and felt like I was alone on the planet, with just a few birds and mysterious animals scrabbling in the bushes for company. Bliss.

After a short way, the trail joined a corrugated road which brought back some semblance of civilization in the form of a couple of cars but there was plenty of room for all of us. Still no glimpses of the ocean with a large, scrub covered sand dune between me and it. And a ‘clothing optional’ beach on the other side, if you’re into that sort of thing 🙂

wpid-20150503_135850.jpgAbout halfway along the section, I ended up at White’s Beach and hit the outskirts of Torquay, with sneaky beach views on one side and stunning beach houses on the other as I wound through the sculpted paths.

wpid-20150503_140925.jpgI really liked this section – windy enough to make me not feel like it was an endless path and with enough variety in scenery to distract me.

wpid-20150503_142949.jpgWeaving down closer to the beach, you can detour and have some sand running (if that’s your thing!) but I stuck to the path and just stopped for a picture or two.

The last part of this section takes you pretty much past the main street of Torquay and, if you were after a break, would be the perfect place to stop at one of the tempting cafes or restaurants.

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So, for a first trail experience, I loved it. I know it was a very tame trail but has given me a taste for it and I intend to head back and pick up where I left off, taking on the next few sections. Stay tuned for more adventures!

Tail running

A few weeks ago, I volunteered as tail runner at my local parkrun event. I always get a buzz out of volunteering but hadn’t done this particular role before and really enjoyed it.

Basically a tail runner does what it says on the box – they run at the tail end and ensure everyone gets back in one piece. I was looking forward to taking it easy – I’m probably guilty of not enjoying the scenery as much as I could on regular runs as I’m too focused on breathing, not tripping over my feet and generally moving forward.

It also allowed me to hang around a bit at the start and appreciate the range of people who join in parkrun each week – I don’t normally get to see the determined looks on the front runners and it reminded me that we’ve all got our own goals (and, no doubt, our own demons to overcome), regardless of speed.

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Waiting for the start

Being a tail runner gave me lots of time to amble along and appreciate the beautiful surroundings and perfect weather.

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It also gave me more time to applaud the efforts of fellow parkrunners and give encouragement to those who needed it. In particular, there was a great mother and son combination who really showed what the parkrun spirit is all about – mum gently encouraging her son along and both them enjoying being outside and active. 5km is a long way for my legs so it must seem like a marathon to little ones and he did an incredible job.

If you haven’t already caught on to the brilliance that is parkrun, find your local course now and go along. And consider volunteering as well – such a great way to meet people and give back to the running community.