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 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 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)

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)

Dopey training – Week 21

It’s all getting very close and very real now and I think that’s making the training a mentally much harder task. Not to mention the fact that Term 4 is the most draining of all school terms for teachers (ignore all comments about ‘Aren’t you winding down for the end of the year?’) with a constant and demanding ‘to do’ list. And, while I know neither of those are an excuse, they may go towards explaining my mood this week.

So I didn’t run on Tuesday. I can’t even remember why or whether there was a particular reason. I just didn’t. I know I was ridiculously tired and our side of the planet has heated up considerably this week so both were contributing factors. I set the alarm for Wednesday morning instead…..then turned it off and had a sleep in. ‘I can make it up’ I told myself and moved on.

On Thursday, I knew I really had to do it so went out after school, showing some resilience as it was raining when I left and built up to a drenching by the last 2 kms. I ran around the block, which I haven’t done for a while and enjoyed it. Even more shocking, I was quite speedy for the first time in ages and felt strong throughout my run. I guess that’s what the combination of long runs and rested legs do for you. I dripped my way back into the house (literally) with a smile on my face.

I was due to do my 2nd 45 minute run of the week on Saturday at parkrun and was intending to head to Melbourne for my friend’s 50th parkrun. I woke up feeling rather ill but pushed through it and got ready. Just before turning onto the freeway, feeling ill had grown into a panic attack so I turned around and headed home. For whatever reason, my body and brain had decided that it wasn’t a running day for me and had given me no choice but to listen. Would I have felt better if I had somehow made myself? Probably. Husband kindly came with me for a no pressure walk on the beach later in the afternoon to get me out of the house which helped me reset. I say it often but brains really are amazing things – who knows why they do the things they do? I can only assume, after an intense week (and with a wisdom tooth causing both pain and anxiety) that I couldn’t cope with any expectations or commitments and needed to give myself a rest day. So I did.

It clearly worked as I was back at it again this morning. I didn’t set an alarm but woke up at 5.30am feeling refreshed and ready to go. I drove out to the You Yangs and set off along a new trail for me. It turned out to be exactly the tonic I needed. There was a weird fog hanging around thanks to the humid weather which added to the atmosphere. I was alone in terms of humans but stopped counting at 20 kangaroos so definitely had animal company which made me smile. The track I followed went along the edge of the park for a few kilometres before heading through the middle and gave me a different perspective than I usually get. And, as usual, my mind wandered a lot. I was thinking about how easy this run was, not the individual minutes (which were suitably challenging) but the whole thing. There was a time not that long ago that going out for an 11km run was a major undertaking whereas this just involved getting up, eating a banana and heading out. Before I knew it, the 11km were done and I was back at the car. Tonic taken, stress levels reduced and another week of training done.

Dopey training – Week 20

Week 20 – wow. It really doesn’t feel like we’ve been training for that long. Although in other ways, it feels like it’s gone on for much longer!

I always knew this week would be tough – the week after a long mileage week always is. Clocking up 55km last week left me tired and then 3 days away on school camp sapped any energy I had left. Luckily, I haven’t got sick like I normally do while away on camp – I wonder if my stress levels were lower than usual and my fitter body and immune system from all this running helped. I shall pretend it did 😃.

It was easy to fit my run in on Tuesday as it was Melbourne Cup day (I’ve always been dubious about a country that declares a public holiday for a horse race but whatever!) so I wasn’t at work. I headed up to the You Yangs in the afternoon and ran our parkrun course which is a bit of a novelty as, despite being a Run Director there, I don’t run it very often. It was a pretty cruisy run and I soaked up the scenery. I really am so lucky to have such places in my backyard.

I then couldn’t run for a few days as I was down the beach with my Grade 4s on camp. The only option would have been to do laps of the camp itself before they got up but I decided just to be kind to myself and push it out until Saturday. It wasn’t like I got no exercise on camp – we walked on the beach, went surfing, walked all over the place and I even managed to bounce on the trampolines (much to the kids’ amusement).

I may have said a few swear words when the alarm went off on Saturday morning for parkrun – I really could have done with the sleep in. But I got up and went then ran/walked/walked some more with my fabulous friend Jo. And it was lovely, if not more than a little hard. My legs were absolutely dead and I was tired. But it was done.

Today I had my ‘long’ run of the week – a mere 10km. I pushed it out to a little later in the day as I knew it would be sunny and want to get a few runs in hotter temperatures as a way of preparing for the ‘who knows’ nature of Florida’s weather. I chose to run along the river in Geelong with dappled shade and enough variety to keep me entertained. Pulling up in the car park, I really didn’t want to be there and do it – still tired and still with dead legs. But I did it anyway. It wasn’t so bad although I only sporadically stuck to intervals and just kept an eye on overall pace instead. I expected to see a few snakes along the way but none were about today – possibly a result of my running style warning them that I was coming 😂. Overall, I was pretty happy with my pace today – just a smidge over 9min/km which isn’t bad in my world for a 10km in the heat. I had to go the supermarket on my way home and felt myself drawn towards the fridge – I have become somewhat addicted to flavoured milk beverages after long runs and today’s chocolate milk barely hit the sides as it was devoured.

So another week done. 7 to go 😳. I still don’t feel ready or close to being ready but I continue to plod along and trust the training. I know I’m certainly capable of more than I was before and have to take some reassurance from that. And, ready or not, I’m doing this. Someone let Mickey know, we’ll see him soon 🐭.