parkrun tourism @ Launceston

Friday saw my friends and I up early to trek off on another big running adventure – to Tasmania for the Cadbury half marathon. We had such a great time doing this last year that we couldn’t turn down the chance to do it all again.

Our plan had been to run Hobart parkrun (mostly to be able to have breakfast with Christine and the wonderful Hobart parkrun crew!) however early on Friday evening, this was put in jeopardy due to a severe weather warning issued for Tasmania. As Hobart parkrun takes place on TasWater property, they are subject to their regulations, one of which is closing the park in cases of dangerous weather. So we needed a plan b – either run a pop up parkrun in Hobart city somewhere with some of the other five30runners who had made the trek or jump in our hire car and head 2 hours north to Launceston. We opted for the latter.

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Dinner with other members of the five30runner family to kick off our weekend

So it was that our alarms went off at 5.30am and we piled into the car to head north. The winds were certainly whipping around and we could understand the need for the weather warning. They seemed to calm a lot as we got closer to Launceston and found where we needed to be. The Launceston parkrun course starts next to Aurora stadium and is a flat out and back course through very pretty countryside – all the ingredients for a great Saturday morning.

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A scenic snapshot of the Launceston course on the turnaround loop

The briefing done, we headed off for the start line and made sure we were at the back – this was definitely a walking kind of morning to save our legs for the half marathon on Sunday. I don’t walk at parkrun often but love it when I do – it gives you a chance to enjoy the scenery, have a chat and generally soak up the atmosphere. The Launceston course has a great diversity of scenery and is easy to follow – basically an out and back with a loop for the turnaround point. There were also lots of encouraging marshals out on the course to make sure you didn’t get lost, including one of the best young marshals we’ve encountered, confidently reminding us all to keep to the left.2017-01-14_launceston_parkrun5

It was also great to be able to cheer on other members of our five30 family who had been crazy enough to make the drive to Launceston as well. Most importantly, we were undertaking parkrun on this particular day in honour of a member of our running group who had passed away a few days before. While I didn’t know him personally, he was clearly well loved and a great loss to his family, friends and the running community and I thought of him and of how fortunate we all were to be able to get out here and do this.

All finished, we scanned our barcodes, had a quick chat to the others in our group then had to get back into our car and head back to Hobart – the planets had aligned to allow us the time to get to Launceston but our hire car would turn back into an expensive pumpkin if we didn’t get it back on time.

I’m so glad that we were able to fit in a parkrun and enjoyed Launceston very much – clearly a well organised and welcoming team of volunteers and a fun course. And I’m even more glad to have been able to be join the five30 family at parkrun (and pop up) locations all over Australia and beyond to honour Ben. Another reminder that life is precious and short and to be grateful for the opportunities and friendships we have.

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Balyang Sanctuary parkrun – happy birthday!

A huge happy 4th birthday to my favourite parkrun of all – Balyang Sanctuary in Geelong. We celebrated by dressing in fluoro colours, running and eating cake – is there a better way to celebrate? I even stretched myself by sewing my first ever tutu for the occasion and was so pleased with how it turned out.

Our #parkrun 4th birthday #running #runhappy #parkrunau #parkrunadventurers

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It’s funny to think how big a part of my weekend (and my life in general) this parkrun and its people have become over the last couple of years. It doesn’t even occur me to not to get up early on a Saturday morning and all events are planned around my permanent engagement at 8am. I was thinking as I ran along this morning how I’m lucky to have made some great running friends – some I know really well and some I barely know at all but all of them offer encouragement along the way and make me feel part of the parkrun family rather than just an attendee at an event.

So, as always, I owe my thanks to parkrun and all who make it such an amazing, supportive, inclusive and inspiring family. Here’s to many, many more years of parkrunning happiness 🙂

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running solo vs with a group

I’m linking up this week with April from Run The Great Wide Somewhere, Patty from My No-Guilt Life & Erika from MCM Mama and their ‘Tuesdays on the run’ link up. The topic today is running solo vs with a group.

It’s interesting that this isn’t a topic that would have even caught my eye a couple of years ago. When I started out on this running adventure, I was definitely a solo runner. While I like fun runs and being surrounded by a few thousand people, my headphones were firmly in and, effectively, I was still running alone. I ran my own race, at my own pace and followed my own rules, without fear of disappointing or holding someone else back.

That all changed when I actually found people I liked to run with. I don’t really have friends who are runners so it wasn’t until I joined a fabulous online running group (five30runners), went to parkrun regularly and started to meet runners who then became friends that my attitude changed. Since that, I’ve loved the opportunities I have to run with (and not merely surrounded by) others.

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The great group of parkrunners I ran with during Run for the kids this year in Melbourne

Running with a group is awesome because….

  • I tend to run further and faster when I’m not the one setting the pace;
  • the tedium of waiting around for the start of an event is so much more fun when you’ve got someone to chat to;
  • finish lines feel even more amazing when you have someone to cheer for you (or someone you’re cheering for);
  • it’s a bit like having your own personal cheer squad to keep you going. And you get to be that cheer squad for others;
  • they get it. I can’t stress this one enough – I love my non-running friends but those I run with get the whole running thing without me having to explain (eg, why you would want to hang out in the cold and rain so that you can go and run an 8km race).

This doesn’t mean that I don’t still enjoy running alone – my weekday runs tend to be alone are a chance to clear my head, turn off the noises of the world and focus on simple stuff – breathing and moving forward. But my weekends are now often taken up with running with a group of one sort or another and, despite being a generally quite introverted person, I really look forward to those times.

Do you prefer to run in a group or solo?

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.

Calling upon the force

I’ve got a cold at the moment. Not a terrible one but big enough that it has made it hard to convince myself to do anything that expends energy. So there’s been this internal conflict going on – to run or not to run? I know I’m perfectly capable of running with a cold and I also know that I’ll feel better for having done so. The hard part is mustering up the energy to get my kit on and get out the door.

Indicative of my state of ‘meh’ is that I missed parkrun yesterday. Very unusual. This morning I got up and decided to catch up on my running blogs and a magical thing happened – I found some energy. I shall, for today, call it ‘the force’ as I feel like it works in a similar way to that which Yoda radiates. Reading about all the inspirational things people are doing, all the obstacles they are overcoming and all the amazing things they feel once they’ve done their runs was enough to stop me feeling flat and make me put my shoes on.

4km later, I’m still lacking in energy but feeling much better about it. So, to those of you who blog about running, keep it up. I need you. And I’m happy to return the favour & write something inspirational whenever you need it 🙂

parkrun launch – Toolern Creek

I made it to my first parkrun launch on Saturday – at Toolern Creek in Melton. Despite the warm, Summer weather, there was a very healthy crowd, with 212 finishers.

The highlight for me was meeting up with fellow five30runners. While I interact a lot with them online and get a lot out of the sense of community that develops, it really does add another dimension to hang out at an event in person.

The course at Toolern Creek winds its way along a concrete path by the river. The area is under development and a new Community Centre has opened just up the road, providing ample parking and toilet facilities at the start of the run. They had said the course had ‘undulations’ which I was concerned was code for ‘hilly’ but it really isn’t that noticeable (which says something as I usually notice the tiniest hill). The first half of my run was pretty good – felt strong, happy and healthy. The second half was not so good – I felt hot, thirsty and tired. Therefore I wasn’t surprised to find I got my personal worst parkrun time but I really didn’t care. It was great to have some fellow five30s cheering me over the finish line then hang around to do the same for others in the group.

This run also kicked off what I hope will be a year of parkrun tourism. This is now my third different event and I’ve been looking up a few others that could be woven into my schedule. I wonder if I can make it to all the Victoria ones by the end of year?

Looking tired, hot but happy on the return leg. Photo courtesy of Toolern Creek parkrun

Looking tired, hot but happy on the return leg. Photo courtesy of Toolern Creek parkrun

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On the weekend, I ran in my local parkrun, which is something I often think about and plan to do but rarely actually seem to get around to doing. I’m not sure what stops me. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s a smaller event and therefore has a greater chance of me coming last.

Either way, this Saturday, I was there and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. The course that we run on is along the river and is absolutely beautiful. This week, it was further enhanced by rowers, cricketers, bike riders and picnickers enjoying the weather and stunning environment.

wpid-img_20141129_084553.jpgI had a great run – comfortable and without any twinges from the various body parts that like to wake up and give me grief. The first 2.5km sped by but I felt the subtle hills after the turnaround point so walked up them and ran down. I ran the last km quite comfortably and felt strong at the end. Even better, I got both a course and a parkrun personal best (by 4 seconds!) which I was really pleased about. My training hasn’t been great this week – I’ve struggled to get back into the rhythm since my injury and camp but my running on Saturday made me feel like I’m doing ok anyway.

If you haven’t run a parkrun before, find one near you and do it. Such a great, low stress concept and a bunch of supportive fellow runners – a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

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