parkrun tourism @ rosebud

It has been quite a while between parkrun launches for me. That inconvenient (but amazing) marathon training/marathon/holiday thing kind of got in the way of parkrun for a while and I missed a few around Victoria. So today, we made up for it by getting up at silly o’clock to head to Rosebud to celebrate a new parkrun baby joining the family.

Rosebud parkrun starts next to the beach and was very easy to find with parking not far away. As well as toilets and drinking taps, there is even a playground for you to let out your inner child (or do hill repeats running up the side of the slide as some of the locals were doing). It was obvious from early on that this one was going to be a popular launch and there were certainly lots of people gathered for the briefing. The run director, Nadine, did the usual welcomes with 2 things that I particularly liked – 1. for those attending their first parkrun, this isn’t just a run, it’s a movement and 2. if you’re a local and are after a fast run or PB, come back next week. With the numbers today and the fact it’s a two lap course, we were all going to have to practise some tolerance and consideration.

And so, it was time to start. The starting flags were on a wide grass area which made it easy and people slotted onto the path quite well, just before we reached the boardwalk section. This is a where it got a bit tight, particularly as the faster runners had already hit the first turnaround point and were heading back towards us. I settled in to the left and kept plodding along at whatever speed the crowd would allow. Very soon, I was also at the turnaround point and heading back towards and then past the start line to turnaround point number two. The path is concrete all the way but I moved onto the grass at different points to give my legs a break. And then, after turnaround number 2… was time to go and do it all again. I’m not the biggest fan of multi lap courses but this one didn’t feel bad at all. It’s very flat and quite pretty, running along the waterfront with the boardwalk section a nice diversion and something different to run on. Running past the finish line a second time wasn’t as disheartening as I thought and the turnaround appeared quite quickly and then it was, finally, time to run through the flags.

It was great to see crowds still hanging out and chatting while waiting for all finishers and I took the opportunity to get my pirate picture (having joined the parkrun pirate club at Clermont Waterfront in Florida without realising it). As always, we followed it with delicious breakfast – almost too many places to choose from within walking distance but we settled on the the GPO Hotel which was great.

Congratulations to the event team at Rosebud on a fabulous launch – definitely one to visit if you’re down that way and I’m sure it’s going to be a very popular one with the Summer crowds. And those looking for an ‘aaaaarrr’ for their pirate club membership 😉


parkrun tourism @ Clermont waterfront

On our recent mega adventure to the US, we were fortunate enough to visit not one but two parkruns. We initially thought we were only going to get one parkrun in as there aren’t yet many in the US and there are only so many Saturdays. Imagine how excited we were when we heard that Clermont Waterfront parkrun in Florida were holding an event on New Year’s Day! Clermont is a bit under an hour’s drive from Orlando so we plugged it into the GPS and headed off.

This parkrun is on the shores of Lake Minneola, a picturesque area on the edge of Clermont. We found it very easily, parked up and used the facilities (very clean and tidy) before moving across the road to the gathering spot. While we were definitely looking forward to partaking of another parkrun, running in general wasn’t that appealing on this particular morning – the weather was very ordinary. As well as being cold, it was threatening to rain – Florida had been having an unusually cold spell and most of the state was suffering.

Luckily, the reception was warm. As expected, there were many visitors, including some fellow Victorians who were also running at Disney. Briefing done, we moved onto the path for the start and we were off.

The course follows a path along one edge of the lake and, on a day when you could actually see things, would be very scenic. As we headed out, the drizzly rain began and the low cloud continued so we couldn’t see too much. The course is clearly in a well maintained area – good path and toilets on the way if needed. Being out and back, it’s very easy to follow and the turn around point was easy to spot (complete with a marshal ducking in and out of his car to avoid the appalling weather!).

I’d been looking forward to the return journey to get away from the rain blowing in my face but it seemed to change direction after the halfway point, like a painting whose eyes follow you around the room. And, thanks to me nursing my injured leg, I was walking this one so it felt like it took much longer than normal. Eventually I was back, crossing the bridge and within sight of the finish line. A very eager volunteer was cheering everyone in with the same enthusiasm for the first as the last finisher so I finished with a smile.

Afterwards, we chatted to the local policeman who had dropped in then made our way to breakfast where we experienced the wonderful hospitality and friendliness of the Clermont crew – moving tables so everyone could breakfast together and chatting the morning away while it continued to rain outside.

I’m so glad we were able to include this one in our trip – my husband was fortunate enough to go and run it again while we were running Disney and he confirmed that, with blue skies and better weather, it was even cheerier. However what makes parkrun is the people and the Clermont Waterfront crew are very welcoming and friendly and it has such a happy, community vibe, whatever the weather.

parkrun tourism @ Crissy Field

This edition of parkrun tourism is a special one, requiring much more than just an early start and a few hours drive. This morning I ran my first international parkrun at Crissy Field in San Francisco.

It was not a coincidence that we happened to be in town on a Saturday. There aren’t too many parkruns yet in the USA so we had to make sure, when we planned the itinerary for our Disney trip, that we were in an appropriate location on a Saturday morning. Crissy Field was definitely our first choice – the iconic view of the Golden Gate bridge while running was too much to miss.

So we actually managed a slightly later start than usual this morning – parkrun here not starting until 9am and it being a half an hour walk from the HI hostel we were staying at, we could almost have a sleep in. It was certainly a brisk walk down to the start area, somehow managing to feel colder than Seattle had been.

The welcome we got made up for it. It was obvious in the chats we had with other parkrunners and at the briefing that there were a lot of visitors from abroad however we were all given a very warm welcome and made to feel at home as part of the parkrun family. Photos taken and greeting done, we moved on to the start line and were off.

I was walking this one as I’m still recovering from a calf injury and was very soon left pretty much alone at the back of the field. Well, near the back – the tail walker and a couple of people were behind me but it was clearly a faster field today. Luckily the scenery made up for it – it is nothing short of magnificent. For the first half of the run, you have constant, glorious views of the Golden Gate Bridge and we were blessed with absolutely stunning weather. There were lots of other (non-parkrun) runners and walkers out and about as well as lots of tourists on rented bikes, taking in the sights. I was stopped by one tourist who asked if I could take her picture with the Golden Gate in the background and I obliged.

The course starts off straight then has a left turn up to a little loop around the park at Crissy Field before heading back on the same path. The return journey gives you views of the bay and Alcatraz so just as scenic to keep you amused. Today, I needed it. I enjoy walking at parkrun when I’ve chosen to, I’m not so keen when I’m forced to because of injury and that dark cloud was threatening to ruin what was an otherwise beautiful morning. However, I digress.

Finishing at the back at least meant all my friends had already crossed the line and were paparazzi at my arrival. And, more exciting, there was cake (absolutely delicious) to make up for the fact that the donut place they usual partake in coffee at was shut.

This truly is a special parkrun and I feel very fortunate to have experienced it. A friendly, welcoming team, easy to find location and the ultimate in scenic backdrops – what more could you ask for? Definitely add it to your list. Now.

Dopey training – week 26

If you caught up on my blog last week, my training is now done (whether complete or not) thanks to my dodgy legs. So this week’s ‘training’ is really more about looking after myself and doing whatever I can to get me to the start line, not easy in the last crazy week of school. So it has been a week of trying to stick to early bedtimes, foam rolling and being kind to myself.

I also went to the physio who massaged my legs (which felt fabulous afterwards but excruciating at the time) and said soothing, positive things. Like ‘look after yourself, take it easy and you might do this’. She also kindly offered to help put me back together if I came home broken.

And this morning, I did my one piece of actual exercise for the week – parkrun. I walked with my husband and a friend I hadn’t seen in ages and it was marvellous. A beautiful morning, great company and no grumbles from my leg on our walk. Followed up with a lovely breakfast with our crew. It reminded me how lucky I am to have found the running friends I have – an incredibly supportive and kind bunch of people.

So, in all, a training week without much training but very important anyway. And now, after all these months of planning and running, we’re sitting at the airport, waiting to board our flight. I’m excited, nervous, terrified but, most of all, proud of what I’ve already achieved, regardless of what happens on marathon day. But that’s a story still to come 😀

Dopey training – week 24

Last week’s entry ended with positive thoughts for an injury free journey to the start line. As I continued to feel tweaks in my leg, I chose to rest instead of run on Tuesday and then booked in to see the physio on Thursday. Even before attending, this was anxiety-inducing – my regular physio was no longer there. While that doesn’t seem like a big deal to others, it’s a huge deal to me. I’m not one to cultivate relationships with my healthcare providers – I don’t even have a regular GP, choosing instead to see whoever is available at the clinic when I need a doctor. However, once I find someone I feel comfortable with, I stick to them and I had found an absolute gem of a physio. He took me seriously as an athlete, never flinched at any of my aspirations (regardless of how wacky) and, most importantly, put niggles into perspective with a spoonful of reality and a prescription of ‘You’ll be fine – keep going’! So it was with some trepidation that I approached a new physio. It turned out, I had nothing to be nervous about – she’s great. Equally supportive and just as good at (softly) telling me to stop whingeing and get back to training. I still have soreness at the top of my calf but she massaged it and assured me it was nothing big enough to stop training for.

So, on Saturday, I got back into it with a parkrun fix, at home for once. And it was lovely. My legs felt great, my lungs felt great and it was, generally, a pretty easy and relatively speedy run. It was made even better as I was tag teaming with another parkrunner along the way and we were pushing each other – she was running continually while I was run/walking but we were pretty much the same pace. She crossed the finish line with a PB and I was so pleased for her – almost as good as getting one myself! I also tested out my new RunFaster gear and can confirm it feels as good as it looks 🙂

Today, it was time for a long run although a run of 11km doesn’t feel long anymore. It’s an interesting point really – I like the fact that it doesn’t feel long and hope it never does again but I obviously can’t keep these kms up forever. Anyway, I digress. I chose my favourite Surf Coast Trail as I didn’t really feel like running and needed something special to get me out the door. Seeing all of my friends posting on Strava and Facebook about their runs was the final push I needed and I got my gear on and went. I also saw a couple of friends at the start of the run which was great – set me off in the right mood. My leg was pretty good throughout the run – a bit pinchy on the hills but not terrible. I did take it easy but also tried not to shirk on intervals until my leg had had enough and kept up a solid pace overall.

Next week is our mock-Dopey runs and our final looooong run. I’m not 100% convinced my leg will let me do it but we shall see.

Weekly summary:
Saturday – 5km (39:20)
Sunday – 11km (1:41:31)

parkrun tourism @ Sunbury

Sunbury parkrun launched last weekend and I very badly wanted to be there. However, with a mini-Dopey to run, I had attempted to map out an additional 11km in unfamiliar surroundings to make up the day’s total and just couldn’t do it. So I gave up and we stayed local, adding to the list of Victorian parkruns to cover.

Event #2 this weekend had a bit of a question mark over it with a ‘rain event’ making its way through the state however Jo, Gary and I were crazy enough to set off for Sunbury anyway, knowing that we may get halfway there to find it was cancelled. Luckily for us, the ‘yes, we’re on’ message came out on Facebook not long before we pulled up in the car park. We had given ourselves plenty of time, in case of bad weather, however the weather had clearly scared away the other cars so we had a quiet run with the roads to ourselves.

Thankfully Sunbury has a shelter so we all huddled while we waited for briefing time, commenting on how mad we all were and hoping that this was just a passing shower. Briefing done (including welcoming at least one brave first timer), we moved along to the start and prepared to run….and get wet. It wasn’t pouring, just a light and consistent drizzle. And off we went.

The course starts by heading downhill to the creek path then along to a turn off (along a short, muddy track) to go around ‘The Nook’ before rejoining the path and going up a ‘small’ hill. It certainly warmed me up but wasn’t the worst parkrun hill I’ve come across and is over pretty quickly, elevating you to ‘The skyline’ where you get to see Sunbury in all its glory down below. It’s then flat to the turnaround point although had a headwind on the way back which I didn’t need. What was lovely was enjoying running back down the hill, making up for my slow ascent with a very quick km. And then, before I knew it, I was heading back up the little hill at the side of the bridge and turning right for the finish line.

This parkrun was as welcoming as you could possibly want with a good crowd turning out and very friendly volunteers, despite the weather. I’m looking forward to coming back when the sun is shining as the combination of the great community, varied and interesting course and blue skies would be perfect. Well done to the event team and many happy parkruns to you!

Dopey training – week 22

Settle in (again) and prepare yourselves for a long post. I had contemplated writing this post as the days happened and I wish I had – I’m sure, now that it’s done, it’ll be hard to capture the mood. Or, rather, the moods. It was definitely a ‘moody’ week.

I skipped Tuesday’s run intentionally – my leg was feeling a bit dodgy and I knew I needed every bit of health and energy for what was to come. So it became an extra rest day.

Thursday was the beginning of the mini-Dopey simulation and I was kind of eager to get it started. With the warm weather well and truly here, I chose to go into town and run around the park and along the waterfront so that I could finish with a dip in the water. The run was great. I made sure I took it easy, both in pace and on my leg and was happy with how it went. Having said that, I was still very, very doubtful that I would actually manage to get all the kms in. It’s like there are 2 voices in my head – one yelling quite loudly ‘You can’t do it! It’s too far! It’s going to hurt! You’re not a marathoner!’ and another much quieter voice, quite simply asking ‘What if you can?’. At this stage, I was listening to the louder voice and trying my best to do it anyway.

Friday had 6.5km scheduled so I got to it after work. I was hot and tired and still sceptical but I set off around the block anyway. My goal for all of the runs this week was to get them done without worrying about pace. If I could keep under Disney pace, great. If not, oh well. So this was more of a walk with sporadic bouts of running to keep the pace down. My leg was a bit grumpy at the end of it and I wasn’t confident of it holding out for the rest of the kilometres planned. I did my rituals – epsom salt bath spiky ball – and tried to think positive thoughts.

On Saturday, I needed to do 16km and wanted to do the extra kms pre-parkrun so was down at the river by 6am to set off. I ran in the opposite direction to my normal route and found a bit of a hidden gem in the other end of the river. Very picturesque and winding enough to keep me wondering what would come along next. It was also not as quiet as I thought so I felt quite safe with other walkers and runners along the path. Coming back towards the parkrun start, I bumped into friends out for their pre-parkrun kms and hatched a plan with Jo to join her for the long run the following day. I will admit to being a bit uneasy about this – I adore my running friends and have had many great runs with them but have tended to do this training alone so I don’t feel like I’m holding anyone up. The added bonus being it’s only me who has to put up with my inevitable whingeing in the final few kms. So this was going to be something new.

I made it back in time for briefing then completed a steady parkrun to finish off my kms for the day.

My alarm was set for 4am on Sunday and, surprisingly, I got up straight away and got ready. To say I was not looking forward to this was an understatement. My legs were fine despite 3 days of running and I wasn’t suffering too much from a couple of early mornings but nothing about running 37km appealed and the steady drizzle outside did not improve my mood. Husband and I drove to Kardinia Park to meet the others, took the obligatory start line selfie and then were on our way.

And my anxiety dissolved. Of course this would be ok. These people, who I am lucky enough to call my friends, were here to help Jo and I get it done and cared enough about us to get up very early on a Sunday morning and run in the rain. For once, I didn’t have to depend on my own resources, drive and determination – I could share the energy of the collective. I can’t say enough about how grateful I was that they were there and how supported I felt – definitely a different vibe to my solo runs.

Before long, we were out of town and into the countryside. I was surprised at how quickly the kilometres were ticking off although it probably helped to not really know where I was so had no real sense of distance. We were joined by another friend along the trail then another couple at Leopold where we stopped for a toilet break. Having fresh friends seemed to freshen us up as well – it still a hard slog but I was definitely buoyed along by the atmosphere this bunch created.

Along the path not far from Drysdale, we gained another 3 who accompanied us in to our temporary aid station where I changed my socks for dry ones, checked on the state of my blisters and added extra band aids and there were toilets and drinks for those that needed them.

From here, we embarked on the hardest part of the run – an out and back totalling 17km to make up the distance. And this was where having such a big group was perfect as our paces were very different. Personally, I was flagging. The previous 3 days of running were catching up with me and I was tired. I took in more fuel and did the mental checklist of body parts to find out what was hurting but really, it was just tiredness. My feet were ok and my calf was behaving itself. I walked a lot in this section but at a pace that kept me ahead of the virtual balloon ladies. I was happy with that – very happy. I’d worried about my ability to do this at all and, here I was, walking it in but still keeping the pace. Tick.

Turning around and coming back was even harder although not as bad as my last long run which I took a lot of comfort from. Having friends around helped, so did all the training. The little voice that had been quietly asking ‘What if you can?’ was beginning to gain some confidence and volume. In those last few kilometres, despite the pain of blistered feet and general aches, I believed for the first time that I have a chance of completing the Dopey challenge.

Weekly summary – 64.8km total

Thursday – 5.2km (45:06)
Friday – 6.5km (1:04:16)
Saturday – 16km (2:35:39)
Sunday – 37km (6:07:00)