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 😀

2017 goal check in time

I know it’s only halfway through December but, while I have a spare moment, it seems a perfect time to check in on my running goals for the year, set so long ago that I’ve almost forgotten what they are…

  • Run 1000km during the year
    Done. Emphatically. So far, I’m up to 1138km for the year. With my current niggles, I’m not expecting to add much to that but it’s already a total that I’m really proud of.
  • Reach my 100 parkrun milestone
    Done. Another one of those milestones that seemed so far off then appeared out of nowhere. And celebrating with the launch of Torquay parkrun with friends from around the state visiting was perfect. The next parkrun milestone of 250 is going to take a while.
  • Sub 35minute parkrun
    No, but getting closer. My best time so far is a smidge over 36 minutes so I’m not far off. Having spent most of this year working on endurance, not speed, my parkrun times have slowed down but this will be a goal I’ll continue to work on next year.
  • Walk a marathon. Not an actual marathon, just the distance to prove to myself that I can
    No. The plan had been to do this before we signed up for Disney, just to reassure ourselves that we could do it. I’ve never been known for doing things in the right order though. In training, I got up to 37km so my first actual marathon distance (fingers crossed) will be on marathon day.
  • Volunteer at running events – parkrun and others
    Yes. I became a run director at You Yangs parkrun and am very close to reaching my 25 volunteer milestone. I volunteered at Barwon River run and Surf Coast trail marathon and thoroughly enjoyed both experiences. There is almost as much joy in watching and helping others achieve as there is in running it yourself and it’s definitely something I’ll continue.
  • Give cycling and swimming a fair go this year
    Not at all. My bike is still sitting, slightly forlorn, in the dining room. It resurfaced from the garage, was cleaned up and tuned and I took it out on the roads….for 1 ride. I think I’ve been for 1 swim as well. I certainly need to do some cross training and am sure one of these (or both) will be it but it’s going to take me a while to learn to love them. Or even like them. Right now, I struggle to be in the same room as them. Must try harder next year.

So, not a bad year all round. I don’t know whether I’ll have any immediate goals when 2018 ticks over as all I can focus on right now is healing my legs and getting to the finish line at Disney x 4! I fully expect to have some post-event blues after that as the training has been so intense and consuming that I haven’t planned or thought about what might come next. I’m not even signed up to any other events which is highly unusual for me. I know I want to do more parkrun tourism next year but that’s all that’s on the agenda at this stage. So watch this space 🙂

Dopey training – week 25

I didn’t run on Tuesday – life and the craziness of my working life at the end of the year got in the way and I decided to rest up for the mock Dopey ahead of me. My first run for the week was Thursday and I set off for my usual lap of the neighbourhood. All was going well with pretty consistent and easy intervals until about the 4th kilometre when I felt the familiar tug of pain in my leg……my left leg. Not the one that’s currently giving me grief. My spare, uninjured one. I immediately toned it down to a walk for the remainder of the session and tried hard not to panic.

On Friday, I woke up mostly pain free on that side and got through the working day without any problems. I was due to do another training run Friday night but decided to skip it, just in case.

This morning, I opted for ‘just’ 5km at parkrun (rather than the 19km that my training plan was calling for) and the first minute of it was fine. The rest was not. There was definitely something not right with my left leg. The fact that its pain was overshadowing that which currently lives in my right leg said it all. I managed to walk pretty fast on the flat but going up hill was not pretty and I was thankful for my sunglasses so I could hide the tears from my fellow parkrunners.

And that’s it. Very hard to write a training recap when you’re no longer training. The taper officially begins today and to say I’m not happy about it is clearly an understatement. Tomorrow I should be tackling a 40km training run but instead I’ll be trying to quell the anxiety and enjoying having extra time to pack, hoping it doesn’t turn into a very expensive opportunity to cheer my friends on in a big overseas event. I have a physio appointment booked on Thursday anyway so will see what she says. All I can hope is that, with 3 weeks to go, my niggles can heal enough to get me over the finish line.

Weekly summary:

Thursday – 5km (48:01)
Saturday – 5km (49:38)

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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)

Dopey training – week 23

This week was, understandably, a little less intense than last week. I pulled up surprisingly well after the mini-Dopey of last weekend and wasn’t particular sore, just pretty tired for a few days. I had already decided to push my mid-week runs back so didn’t run until Thursday. As runs go, it was pretty good. I kept up the intervals and felt ok, other than generally feeling a bit sluggish.

After the run, my calf was hurting more than I like so I was a bit undecided about whether to run on it again or take the opportunity of some low mileage weeks to rest it. Decisions, decisions.

Like most runners, I don’t find decisions that involve not running easy so, of course, I chose to run again on Saturday as we headed to Sunbury parkrun. I started out running consistent intervals on this one then thought ‘why’ and walked a lot more to try to take it as gently on my leg as possibly. It wasn’t particularly easy as the course had a few ups and downs….and who can resist running downhill?!? Not I! And, afterwards, my leg was again grumpy with me.

So on Sunday, I actually listened to my body and rested. I foam rolled, I bathed in Epsom salts, I did regular calf raises and I thought as many positive thoughts as I was capable of. I’m convinced that my ‘injuries’ are worse when I have time to think about them and this has been confirmed today – with the busyness of work today, my leg hasn’t hurt at all.

The start line isn’t far away and the first challenge is to reach it, healthy and uninjured.

Weekly summary:

Thursday: 5km (44:57)
Saturday: 5km (44:14)

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!