parkrun tourism @ hastings foreshore

There’s been a lot going on in my running and non-running life of late so forgive the out of order recaps of my parkrun tourism.

A few weeks ago we headed to Hastings Foreshore on, completely not coincidentally, their 4th birthday. Not that we wouldn’t have visited anyway but the lure of cake made the very early wake up call slightly easier. 🤣

We arrived with plenty of time and found the meeting point easily (having spotted a Baldwin as we looked for a car park) then took advantage of the facilities (clean and plentiful) before chatting to friends that were unexpectedly also on the hunt for a cake breakfast. The run briefing was a lovely snapshot of kilometres covered, volunteer roles filled and parkrunners brought into the family and, with that, we moved to the start to get it done.

The course is a 2 lap (and a tiny bit more) around a park path and is very easy to follow. I’m always pleasantly surprised by how picturesque suburban parks are and this one has the added bonus of being by the waterfront, giving us lovely views. It’s a flat course so great if you’re after a fast time (like the first few finishers who lapped me).

The temperature was perfectly crisp and ideal for running and, by my second lap, I was warmed up enough and running happy. So much so that I actually had negative splits which might not be a big deal for others but it’s a very big deal for me!

The finish is a little bit past the start and involves turning off and I gave it all I had. As well as the usual parkrun warm welcome to the finish line, I also partook of a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast along with a piece of the most delicious birthday cake ever – absolutely perfect way to start a Saturday. We then moved ourselves across the road for (amazing) coffee and chats.

As always, I am constantly impressed by how welcoming and inviting parkruns are, regardless of which town or location they’re attached to and Hastings Foreshore is no exception. I love that you can arrive at the set time on a Saturday and be welcomed like family, regardless of where you’re from or what speed you’re moving at. Happy birthday to the event team at Hastings Foreshore and keep doing exactly what you’re doing – you’re clearly doing it right 😄

parkrun tourism @ Gardiners Creek

I have a soft spot for Deakin University as I’ve been a student there for 3 different courses so I was very interested when Gardiners Creek parkrun started up, right next door to the Burwood campus. Despite having been to campus many times, I hadn’t really paid any attention to the area around it so was looking forward to checking it out.

Finding this one is very easy – it’s just off the Burwood Highway, tucked behind Deakin. Due to this connection, parking is incredibly easy, with a multi-storey car park across from the start area. At the back of this, you’ll also find the toilets which are clean and sparkling (I may have a bit of toilet envy as the ones where I’m RD are of the ‘long drop’ variety!).

We were welcomed and briefed, including about the slightly amended course due to some work taking place in the park. And then we gathered at the start line and were off. Despite there being quite a few parkrunners, I was pretty much on my own at the back as I was walking this one and there weren’t many doing the same. Thank goodness for the tail walker 🙂

The course is a loop out from the start line then back past it before heading in the opposite direction to the turn around point. There were signs, markings and marshals making it all a lot easier. You actually loop back on the other side of the creek and see the starting area across the way but you don’t really notice that you’re so close. It’s a very scenic park – another suburban gem tucked away. The surface you run on is more trail than path and very easy on the feet.

And then I turned around and headed back towards the finish, arriving just before the tail walker. My husband was there waiting for me, feeling very pleased with himself as the flat course had gifted him a PB.

This is another fabulous parkrun to welcome to the family – a great course with top facilities. The only negative? That it was a week my friend Wendy wasn’t there! Looks like I’ll have to come back for a second visit 😁.

Dopey training – week 19

Get yourself a cup of coffee and settle in – this is going to be a long blog post. As that’s really the only way to deal with a week like this one.

Before I tell you about it, I feel like I need to make a disclosure – I still have a love/hate relationship with running. I sometimes think my blog might paint it in a more positive light than I always feel but that’s because these posts are written while looking through the endorphin coloured glasses of post-run euphoria. If I blogged before or during a run? A whole different perspective. Most of the ‘love’ side of the relationship occurs after a run while the ‘hate’ side is before and during. It’s not always terrible but it’s certainly not always great either and I struggle as much as anyone to get my shoes on and get out the door. Anyway, with that said, let’s begin.

My first run of the week was on Tuesday and, thanks to School Council in the evening, needed to be done before work. When I can make myself, I do like that time of day and Tuesday was a perfect morning for it. However the run sucked. It was hard, I couldn’t get my breathing right and the minutes seemed to take forever. The best thing about it was that it was done and I could spend the rest of the day feeling smug. Actually another good thing was that I wasn’t tired all day afterwards like I usually am (and managed to stay awake during School Council 😃).

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do on Thursday and was home earlier than usual which gave me options. So, of course, I opted for the familiar and headed to the You Yangs although ran a different trail to usual. It wasn’t as hard as Tuesday although, being on trail, it couldn’t be compared which is probably why I did it. Trail feels more forgiving of all speeds of runner. As well as generally being tonic for the soul.

Saturday was parkrun which used to be easy as we had limited options around here. Now, with too many options, I can’t choose so I ended up at my home parkrun. I needed to get in some extra kms so I got up early, parked at the beach and ran along the waterfront before running to parkrun and finishing my run with an easy 5km. I was tired at the end but glad to have got the kilometres in early so I could enjoy the rest of my day and get ready for the really long on Sunday. I got all of my things ready, rechecked the route and was in bed by 7.30pm – such a party animal.

So, today. My alarm went off at 4.30am and husband and I were on our way to Melbourne. It’s funny that he doesn’t worry about me out on the trails but didn’t like the idea of me running in Melbourne alone so had offered to drop me off and asked me to text him every 5km. I was grateful to have somebody along for the journey. Even if he wasn’t running with me, it was really reassuring to know he was there.


We arrived at Southbank at 6am so I took advantage of a final toilet stop then set off on the Capital City Trail. The first part was very familiar as I’d run it many, many times before, albeit in reverse. I settled in well to the early kilometres and it all felt good – I was running 1:30/1:00 run/walk intervals (as recommended by my friends who ran their loooong run last weekend) and they were perfect for keeping me well under pace but not tired. I was trying out podcasts for the first time and was really enjoying the one I was listening to which also helped the time tick away. I ran along the river then over it and into the Docklands before joining up with the creek trail that took me under CityLink – a very strange experience that reminded me of being in canals around cities in the UK.


There weren’t many people around, just a few cyclists and it was very peaceful by the creek, despite the traffic overhead. The peace ended when I came to the end of that particular trail – the sign telling me where to go wasn’t there and, confronted with a busy road ahead, I had no idea where to go. I took out my phone to double check, only to find that my battery was down to 24% (no idea why – still investigating). I searched the map and tried my best to quell the rising panic attack – the thought of no music or entertainment for the remainder of the run, limited contact with Gary, limited access to maps, on top of the fact that I still didn’t know where to go next were all contributing.

Eventually I found my way back onto the trail then texted Gary to tell him that, despite being only 7.5km into my run, I was turning my phone off to conserve power and would be unreachable between my text messages. The next section of the trail heads towards and through Royal Park and is, again, quite scenic although not brilliantly signposted and I took another wrong turn before realising and finding my way back.

This section of the trail after that had much better signposts, including information about how far things were which I found very reassuring. At this point, I was still feeling pretty good and keeping up the intervals. I took a few photos when I turned on my phone to text Gary with my progress but wish I’d been able to take more. It’s a great trail and you get to see such a variety of Melbourne landscapes. I was also feeling quite lonely as I couldn’t text Gary as frequently as I wanted – I loved knowing he was out there, supporting me and looked forward to ticking off another 5km so I could message him.

Highlights in the next section included Dights Falls and Collingwood Children’s Farm, complete with strange animal noises and quaint farmyard scenes. The Children’s Farm also was my one and only toilet stop with fabulous facilities right next to the trail. There were more people up this end and I also started to come across participants in the ‘Bloody Long Walk’ which made me smile and feel a little less alone.

I don’t remember exactly where it started getting harder but my Strava file seems to show it around the 26th kilometre as that’s where my speed really slowed. I was edging closer to the city, was on more familiar paths and had had enough. All sorts of unhelpful thoughts were sneaking in and, no matter how much I looked at my ‘Run Brave’ bracelet wrapped around my wrist, they wouldn’t leave me alone. Most of them were about how hard this was and how much harder it was going to be to add another 10km to this to complete the marathon. How, despite all the training, I wasn’t good enough or fast enough. Even though I knew they were irrational, they were still there and making it so much harder than it needed to be. I think, had I had enough energy, I would have cried to clear it all out but instead just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. I constantly checked my pace – up until 26km, it had been a perfect 9:20/km but it was slipping lower and lower.

My last text to Gary said ‘30km Swan st bridge Very slow’. I wanted to say a whole lot more but didn’t have the energy to look at the screen. I wanted to say that it hurt and that it was taking every fibre of my being not to just sit down in the gutter and cry. I couldn’t even really put a finger on what hurt – it wasn’t injury type hurt, just ‘I’ve been on my feet too long’ kind of hurt. Blisters, sore feet, sore hips, tight calves – all of it. Just keep moving.

I got back to Southbank to discover I was 1km short of my target so had to keep going then, while waiting for Gary, ended up doing laps of the roundabout to finish off the last 250m. And, finally, I could press stop on my Garmin. 32km – done. At a pace that was just in front of the virtual balloon ladies – 9:58/km.

A few hours on, I still have mixed feelings on this one. Of course I’m proud to have finished it – 32km is a huge achievement that I never thought I’d be capable of. However it was far too close on pace and I am disappointed with that. I know I’ll go quicker at the event with all the adrenaline and crowds but still realise I face a very real possibility of not being able to finish this. I’ve known that from the start but tried to just ‘trust the training’. That’s getting harder. 3 weeks now until the next ‘longest run’ and I’ll certainly be reflecting on whatever I can do to start and finish with confidence.

Weekly summary – 55.9km total:

Tuesday – 5.2km (45:15)

Thursday – 5km (45:07)

Saturday – 13.6km (2:03:55)

Sunday – 32km (5:18:58)

Dopey training – week 16

First week back of term is not really the ideal week for training to go up to another level but it is what it is and there’s not much I can do about it. So I just got on with what the training plan told me. Be ready for a long post – it was a loooooong training week.

On Tuesday, I set my alarm for 5.45am, got up and ran around my neighbourhood. I am not at all an early morning runner, as much as I’d like to be. The thing that got me up was knowing husband and I had movie tickets that night that would give me no chance to run after work so it was early or not at all. So early it was. I’m pleased to say I actually enjoyed it. Now that it’s getting light earlier, I didn’t need my head torch and was treated to the soft, welcoming colours of dawn as the neighbourhood woke up. And I got to bask in that ‘I’ve already done my run’ kind of feeling all day. Tick.

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Tuesday night, husband and I did go to the movies but not ordinary movies – it was the Run Nation Film Festival in Melbourne and we had won tickets thanks to a parkrun competition. I think it deserves a blog post of its own but, in summary, it was brilliant. The films chosen were a perfect mix and provided exactly the inspiration I needed this week.

Thursday afternoon ended up being a hill day as my friend and I headed out to the You Yangs for our regular trek up the Saddle. I’d been getting a bit paranoid about my leg which had been doing what it does – flare up for no reason when I have an event coming up. However it was perfectly ok after the hills so which reassured me that it was all in my head.

Saturday called for 11km which meant parkrun plus some extra. We were going to Bannockburn Bush parkrun launch so we went out early and ran the course (and a bit) before the others got there. It was actually really, really lovely. It’s a very peaceful place and the fog added to the atmosphere. We took it easy, aiming for a pace that would keep us a bit ahead of the balloon ladies and achieved this without a problem. Completing parkrun afterwards was also very low stress and I had no soreness at the end as we tucked into breakfast. I did take it easy for the rest of Saturday – not sore, just a bit tired and knew we had an early morning this morning.

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Today was our long run – 27km on the training plan which suited us as we’d signed up for the Melbourne half marathon. We arrived early, dropped off our bags and then set off on some laps around the MCG to add on some extra kilometres. I think the people arriving for their events thought we were possibly a little insane but it was actually quite enjoyable. We then joined everyone else at the start line and were off, leaving our Garmins running to track our longest long runs yet.

I ran with a friend for quite a while and really, really appreciated having her there – I am sure I wouldn’t have had as much ‘run’ in me without her. It’s funny how, even without pushing you or telling you you have to, having someone there makes you instantly more accountable. You don’t want to let them down. And so it was today which was exactly what I needed.

The first part of the run went off pretty well and the kilometres flew. It certainly helped that we were surrounded by people all buzzing with event excitement and had glorious blue skies. Albert Park lake, the site last year of wind and bugs, was stunning today and my regular check-ins with my body confirmed that nothing was hurting. The only thing that was starting to get to me was that I was tired but that’s to be expected – a big part of this training plan is learning to run on tired legs.

Once we were back on St Kilda Road and felt like we were on the home stretch, I found it harder to keep up the intervals and set my friend free – time to knuckle down and just get on with our own journeys. My mantra today was ‘This is hard, yes but not impossible’ and that was enough to keep me going.

Clearly the fatigue and endorphins combined to leave me prone to random tearing up – cheers on the course from a parent of one of my students (who was running the marathon) made me teary as did hearing the cheers in the final stretch. I took a big gulp and entered the MCG. Last year, I remember finding I had to dig deep to keep running as I had run a PB and had nothing left. This year was very different – I was certainly tired but my legs and lungs were still well and truly strong enough to get me there.

However crossing the line wasn’t enough – I still had another 1.5km to go to reach my training plan distance so I got my medal, headed up the steps and found another friend who kindly offered to collect and carry my bag and do a couple of laps of the MCG with me to finish. 27km – done.

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48.7km run this week – my biggest training week ever. Will see how I am tomorrow but, for tonight, I feel great.

Weekly summary:

Tuesday: 5.6km (47:12)

Thursday: 5km (51:30)

Saturday: 11.1km (1:46:15)

Sunday: 27km (4:08:56)

parkrun tourism @ newport lakes

When I think of Newport, Harry Potter-ish thoughts come to mind. Before you click ‘close’ and assume I’ve gone slightly bonkers, hear me out. We caught a steam train from Newport station once and it fulfilled many childhood wishes. I still vividly remember the train going through Southern Cross station, tooting its horn and feeling like I was on a magical mode of transportation that the muggles on the platform couldn’t quite see, only hear. So Newport will forever be a place linked in my mind to positive, if slightly eccentric, memories.

We weren’t able to make the launch of Newport Lakes parkrun as it was Balyang Sanctuary’s birthday so managed to get along today to event #3. This was probably a wise move. While there is definitely something about launches, there’s something different but equally as rewarding in turning up at an event unexpectedly and checking them out ‘in their street clothes’. Every parkrun has its own feel and quirks, even though the format and rules are all the same. The first thing Newport Lakes has going for it is a dose of the unexpected – I have driven through the area on my way to a friend’s house a few times but would never have known that this gem of a park was tucked away down a short road amidst all this suburbia. When I think ‘lake’ in relation to a Melbourne suburb, I assume it’s man-made and probably has a fountain and boardwalks. But no, this one has a lake that’s real and a trail that actually feels like a trail.

The first timers’ briefing gave us an overview of the course (which sounded confusing but signposted) and it was wonderful to see so many first timers. The main briefing then gave further delights – the Hobsons Bay running group had come along and were putting on a complimentary BBQ breakfast afterwards. I love this. I love that none of this needs to be a competition, that existing events and running groups can all work together to achieve the common goal – to get more people moving. But I digress.

After gathering at the start line, we were soon off. The start is across the grass, following the cones then looping back around near where you’ve come from. We followed the outside edge of the park for quite a while before following a bit of a long zig zag through the trails and closer to the water. The signposts were great and plentiful however I still had a few moments of doubt as there was no one around me and I wondered if that was because I went the wrong way. I trusted the arrows and kept going, finding some people further along the path. The surface is gravel track with some rocks and tree roots thrown in for good measure and I was glad I’d worn my trail shoes as they just gave me a bit more grip going up and down the inclines. There aren’t any terrible hills, just a few short ups and downs but lots of turning and loops so I really didn’t know where I was at any point. Running back along the road, I was completely disorientated until I turned back onto the grass and over the finish line.

Run done, we joined in the BBQ breakfast and chatted before heading off in search of a trendy venue for coffee and second breakfast. We found Leroy’s which perfectly fit the bill. Mmmmmm.

Well done to the event team at Newport Lakes – definitely a course I’d like to go back to although I’m equally sure I won’t be attempting a freedom run on it. I was fairly sure that, if I wasn’t completely attentive, I could get lost even with signs. Without them, I may be in the unfortunate position of needing to call for help in finding my way out of a suburban park!!

Dopey training – week 10

I had hoped to join some friends for a run on Tuesday but didn’t quite get away from work in time so it was a lap of the neighbourhood for me instead. And it wasn’t pretty. I felt strong and happy but my calf and foot didn’t and gave me pain from the start. I’m sure the fact I then spent the remainder of the run worrying just added to any pain, real or imagined. I heard my physio’s voice in my head and gave it a rating of probably 2 out of 10 – not a high rating and he’d tell me to suck it up and run but I was just concerned that it was even there.

Thursday was designated as a hill day which was possibly not smart with a dodgy foot/calf but I figured it would sort out whether it really was something or whether it was my brain making it up. A friend from work had decided she wanted to join me, despite my warnings that I was running up the Saddle and it wasn’t really a hill for starting your running career on. The weather was absolutely blissful as we headed down the hill and along the Branding Yard trail, rock hopping as we went. And then we reached the bottom of the Saddle. To her credit, she made it up with far fewer stops than I had on my first time and she also did it without whingeing (which I’m absolutely positive I didn’t achieve). We had a well earned rest at the top and enjoyed the scenery then headed back down the other side. Even though it ended up being mostly a walk rather than a run, it was great. I love introducing someone else to the treasures of the You Yangs and, as luck would have it, she didn’t completely hate me at the end of it.

This weekend, I knew I had a long run looming. I was Run Director at parkrun this morning then, scared off a little by tomorrow’s weather forecast, I decided to get it over and done with today. So, after processing parkrun results, I headed off to Melbourne to ‘my’ loop. I like the diversity of scenery it offers, the perfect length it came to and the fact that, once I’m running it, I can’t escape and have to finish it. Not that there was any danger of not finishing today. The weather was a bit changeable in the first 2km but after that, I was warm enough that I didn’t care what the weather was doing. I was running my usual 2/1 intervals and all was going well up until about 10km when my feet started to hurt. Not the calf/achilles/heel pain, the ‘pounding the concrete’ pain on the soles of my feet. Realising I couldn’t really do much about it, I just tried to suck it up and carry on although every step was a serious ‘ouch’. In the last few kilometres, I powerwalked and was very pleased to be keeping my pace around 9.30min/km – ahead of the ‘virtual balloon ladies’ that reside in my head, preparing me for the minimum pace at the Disney events. I managed a few spurts of running and completed my 18km feeling not too bad. Sore feet aside, I still had energy and felt good. In hindsight, I think it was a sock issue – must get on and order some more pairs of my favourite running socks. I’ve only found one brand so far that don’t leave me with sore feet when the mileage starts to increase so I’m sticking with them.

And, just like that, another week of training is done. I’m really, really tired tonight and the thought of running a marathon the day after doing a similar distance to today does not fill me with happiness and enthusiasm. Time to trust the training and stop worrying – easier said than done 🙂

Weekly summary:

Tuesday – 5.5km (46:15)

Thursday – 5km (56:06)

Saturday – 18km (2:38:09)

parkrun tourism @ Highlands

Having done quite a lot of the Victorian parkruns, I decided it was time to make a list of what I had left. Then I marked those less than 2 hours drive away. Unfortunately, that is a very, very short list. After another full on week at school and still a bit tired from last week's half marathon efforts, I chose the closest on the list (my NENDY) – Highlands parkrun.

I hadn't been avoiding this one but I will admit it wasn't a priority. I'd seen the map and knew it was in one of the new estates. Despite being 'masterplanned' (whatever that means), they always tend to look a bit the same and not exactly picturesque. On top of that, I knew it was a 3 lap course, something I'm not at all a fan of (mostly as I tend to get lapped!). However being only a little over an hour from home, it was definitely our parkrun of choice this morning so off we went.

I will admit to being pleasantly surprised when we arrived. Once you've escaped the freeway and the airport sprawl, you head out into a weird, in between place full of both shiny new estates and older, larger blocks that have clearly been there since Melbourne Airport was surrounded by paddocks. And it's actually quite pretty, in a 'new estate' kind of way. The lake that this course loops around is lovely, especially bathed in this morning's Winter sunshine.

We met the crew at the new meeting place by the playground and listened to the briefing. Today was my 44th different course so I've heard a lot of different run briefings but today's was one of the best – a great mix of all the information you needed, a few laughs and a good sense of fun. In fact, it was very evident from the moment that we arrived that this parkrun has a great vibe – a real sense of a friendly, supportive community getting out and enjoying their Saturday morning run or walk.

Briefing done, we headed to the start line and were off on our first lap around the lake. As always, it took probably the first kilometre for us all to find our spots and thin out a bit but it wasn't particularly crowded with the path wide enough to accommodate. The surface is a combination of concrete path and wooden boardwalks which are a nice distraction. The course is almost entirely flat with one little hill (Bill's hill) taking you back up to the main footpath before starting you off on your next lap.

I wasn't sure how I'd run today as I'd already done 15km earlier in the week but I finished the first lap feeling pretty good. More importantly, I could see my husband across the other side of the lake and was determined he wouldn't be lapping me! So I put in a bit of a burst of speed to finish off my second lap. Another sign of how friendly and accommodating this parkrun is were the volunteers who happily took extra tops off people as they heated up and threw them off after the first lap.

Before I knew it, I was finishing my third lap and headed towards the finish line and the friendly faces that greeted me there. Most the parkrunners were encouraged over the line by name – another sign of how much of a community this one is and the supportive environment they've created. It was also fantastic to see the diversity of runners and walkers who participated with a huge variety of paces, all being acknowledged and celebrated.

Even better, good coffee and a tasty breakfast is just across the car park and we made the most of this before heading home.

Well done to all at Highlands parkrun for the great community spirit you've created in this event – if this is your local, you're very lucky to have such a supportive running crew to help you reach your goals.