parkrun tourism @ westerfolds

In my quest to complete all Victorian parkruns, I will admit that I have been cherry picking. And Westerfolds was not near the top of my list. Before the Westerfoldians attack me, let me explain. I had heard wonderful things about the scenery (gorgeous and full of trees and wildlife) and the people (friendly and welcoming) but I’d also heard about another aspect of the Westerfolds course which made me a little nervous – the hills. I hadn’t given them too much thought until I stumbled into discussions with people after completing Wilson Botanic course about which was harder – Wilson Botanic or Westerfolds. From then, it moved a little further down the list.

Deciding to embrace hills may not be the best strategy as I get back to form after time off with a calf tear but no one has ever accused me of being sensible when it comes to running. And so it was that hubby and I headed off to Westerfolds this morning to see exactly how bad this hill was.20170325_075202.jpg

We knew we were in the right spot not only due to the parkrun flags but due to the sunglass-requiring fluorescent wear sported by the Westerfoldians – definitely a bunch who like to stand out. Run Director Rachel gave a fabulous briefing – full of all the necessary bits but delivered in a fun way which seems to sum up the spirit of this popular parkun. Milestones were celebrated, visitors and first timers welcomed and then it was time to begin.

I found the first kilometre really hard and was racking my brain to figure out why. Tired? Possibly. Dehydrated? Most likely. Or just that I was actually running faster than I had for quite some time? Definitely! With the mystery solved, I settled into it and felt pretty good. Calf was behaving itself and the ‘undulations’ were not at all terrible. Yet.

The scenery is certainly gorgeous and I was lucky enough to spot a couple of kangaroos bounding away from the mad runners, off into the bush. The path is wide enough that I didn’t encounter any bottlenecks and there was plenty of room to move around people where needed.

Another really pleasing thing to see is the number of parents and children at this parkrun, adding to the friendly, non-competitive and inclusive vibe. There was a little boy ahead of me in his parkrun 50 shirt and it made me smile the whole way around, thinking what a great thing it was that his parents had done for him, encouraging his involvement in this at such a young age.

However all these pleasant thoughts and slightly manic smiles at the scenery didn’t last as the hill I had clearly not been looking forward to revealed itself. The fact that it doesn’t reveal itself at once but just keeps stretching and stretching tells you what sort of hill it is – not huge and not that steep but long enough to give you a good kicking. I put my head down and power walked up it.

The positive is that the downhill run towards the finish was much needed as I put my legs into automatic and cruised down the hill at a lovely pace. One final push up another incline and I crossed the finish, quite pleased to have made it under 40 minutes – slowly getting back some speed and not completely wrecked on a hilly course. I clearly was still feeling ok as I headed off to do a 2km cool down on some of the trails in the park – a great place to explore and one I’ll be coming back to.

So is it harder than Wilson Botanic? Hmmmm, not sure on that one. I feel like it’s a much smaller hill which goes on for longer. However the sting in the Wilson Botanic hill is not only that it’s very sharp but that you know it’s a 2 lap course so you’re going to have to do it all over again. Based on that, I think I’m giving the title to Wilson Botanic….for the moment. It is also entirely possible that I’m a bit fitter than I was when I ran that one – perhaps it’s time to go back and do it again?!

Stepping up – my first shot at being a run director

From first registering, it took me about 6 months to attend my first parkrun. Little did I know then that it would become such an important part of my weekend and my life. Today I reached another milestone – I volunteered as run director at my local parkrun for the first time. And survived 🙂

I will admit to being nervous in the lead up to the event. Like anything that matters to us, I imagined all sorts of things going wrong and not knowing how to fix them. I prepared myself as much as I could and had great pre-event support and training from our Event director, Rachel.

I also had a wave of support from my fabulous running friends who headed out to You Yangs this morning. As much as I said beforehand that they were welcome not to come and see me mess up, I was definitely grateful for their friendly faces and never judgemental, unwavering support. Even during my initial run briefing wobble (where I very nearly welcomed people to the wrong parkrun – ooops!), they were standing by me and cheering me on. Most importantly, as always, they believe in me. Sometimes a lot more than I believe in myself and for that I am truly grateful. It’s very powerful to have people tell you that you can do something and actually mean it. It’s hard for the voice in your head telling you that you can’t to argue against louder external voices telling you that you can.

You_Yangs_parkrun-18-03-2017_56

This morning, voices or no voices, I did it. It all went smoothly pre and post event – a successful run or walk followed by a tasty breakfast and an uneventful processing of the results. As with so many things, the imagining of the event was much worse than just jumping in and getting it done – I enjoyed the experience and love being able to give back to an organisation that has given so much to me.

So, to my beautiful and caring running friends who either joined me in person today or sent positive thoughts and vibes my way, thank you. For being there this morning and for generally being the sort of people that are a pleasure to be around. The sort of people that make life a whole lot sunnier.

You_Yangs_parkrun-18-03-2017_42

parkrun tourism @ newborough

Part II in the tale of 2 parkrun launches. Apologies for the delay – life has a funny knack of getting in the way of running, annoyingly! Our second launch in a row was at Newborough, near Moe. While this isn’t a million miles away from Melbourne, it is a bit further for us and required us getting up at a time that started with a 4. Ouch. I took a pillow in the car, just in case I felt the need for snoozing along the way.

We arrived to a crisp, sunny morning – perfect running weather, as it always tends to be for our parkrun adventures. With me on this jaunt were Jo and Gary – a smaller cast than the week before but we met up again with lots of the parkrun adventuring regulars and happily chatted as we waited. The venue ticked all the boxes – clean toilets and ample parking. Tick and tick.

The launch was clearly quite popular and not just with tourists – there were a lot of locals and first timers there which was great to see. What was slightly disappointing was the number of people who seemed oblivious to the fact that the Run Director was trying to deliver a briefing and who continued their conversations regardless. Kudos to him for managing it professionally and courteously (I’m afraid I would possibly have resorted to getting out my teacher voice). He also ended with a fabulous reminder – the event team had a whole array of things to remember while we were all asked to bring only one thing (our barcode). Exactly.

So, run briefing done, it was time to go. The start follows the path and curves over the bridge before heading up a short incline to climb up onto the rail trail where it’s straight and flat(ish – there’s actually a slight incline to it but I didn’t notice until I checked Strava later). We ran along this to the turnaround point then back again to the second turnaround point (near where we joined the trail) then went and did that bit all over again. It certainly made for a friendly event – lots of passing, smiling, waving and the odd high-five although these had to be carefully orchestrated due to the 4 lanes of foot traffic as the various parkrunners and walkers moved at their differing speeds.

20170225_084012.jpg

The turnaround point. The first one.

The beauty of the out-back-out again-back again part was that it made the time go fairly quickly and I was soon enough heading back to the finish. My calf had not held up particularly well – while the trail was flat, it was quite rocky and my unsteady footing had just aggravated my already tender leg. There is also the distinct possibility that I pushed it a bit too hard so early in my recovery. So the finish line was a ‘grit my teeth and get it done’ kind of situation.

20170225_092056.jpg

Overall, another great parkrun and worth the long drive to help welcome another event to the Gippsland group. I’m constantly heartened by the way communities pull together to start these events and know only positive things can come out of the relationships built each week. Welcome to the parkrun family, Newborough 🙂