Cottesloe parkrun Launch

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The start and finish point for Cottesloe parkrun.

You know I’m already a big fan of parkrun but this morning parkrun just got a little bit better (for me). Cottesloe parkrun launched within running distance of home. Yay! Half an hour longer in bed and a warm-up built into the journey.  Sounds too good to be true? Well good no, but tough, well hell yes!

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Part of the Cottesloe parkrun route

Cottesloe parkrun’s location is stunning, on the beachfront along a path on which I’ve clocked hundreds of kilometres in the past nine months. This morning I think there were about 55 parkrunners some of whom I was delighted to discover I knew already, and not just on Facebook or Strava:)

For the first two kilometres I think I recognised every crack in the pavement. The thing is that to avoid colliding with dogs and walkers further along the beachfront at the aptly-named Dog Beach, the parkrun route must deviate off the path down onto the beach. Almost 1km of the 5km route is in sand. Yes, in not on! This morning’s run felt like a bootcamp, trudging to exhaustion along the beach; my legs were so grateful for the solid surface of the boardwalk back onto the path that it felt churlish to complain about the very, very steep incline. It took a kilometre for my legs to recover from the sand trudging, my 5km time was almost 2 mins slower than usual, and I crossed the finish line calling the beach a b**tch BUT would I do it again?

Hell, yes! What a great workout. If nothing else, Cottesloe parkrun will make other parkruns seem easy in comparison and I’m sure that the sand running must be a great training device. Something that feels that tough and ludicrous must be good for you, right?

To be honest when news of this parkrun surfaced several months back, I was sceptical of how it would work with so many walkers, runners and cyclists already using the path. This morning though this didn’t feel like an issue, mainly I think as there were very few cyclists along the stretch of path and I’m used to having to swerve around walkers.

So, if you’re looking for a parkrun with a little extra challenge, or just want to run 5km by, and on, the beach, head to Cottesloe. My usual parkrun at Heirisson Island has been on hiatus for while but once it’s up and running again – did you see what I did there? – I will try alternate between the two locations.

As there are no parkruns in Australia next weekend due to Anzac Day 100th anniversary, the next event is on May 2  I won’t be there as I’ll be at the Busselton Half Ironman team relay, a story for another day.

PHOTOS from Cottesloe parkrun #1.

My 80/20 Update

I’ve been trying to implement the strategy advocated by Matt Fitzgerald in his book 80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slower. This week, I haven’t run any session, other than my interval session, faster than 5:50min/km which hasn’t been easy, especially when it means allowing lots of other runners to sail past. Yes, running slow means leaving your ego at home. To be honest, it’s been hard to shake the suspicion that all this slow running business is in fact making me, well, slower.

However, today I got a little boost and possibly an indicator that this 80/20 thing may be working, even though it is still early days. I took 40s off my 5km time at Bibra Lake parkrun this morning while feeling much more comfortable than on previous attempts (despite the ill-advised breakfast I’d had before heading out the door). I took it easier than usual at the start of the run – getting caught in a crowd kinda helps with that – and had enough strength in my legs to pass all the other women bar the one, a teenager whom I never even saw. She whizzed around in a ‘slow for her’ 21 mins. I’d like to come back as her in my next life.

In the meantime, I’ll stick with the 80/20 system; it still feels counter-intuitive most days, but it makes sense when you read the science behind it. I haven’t finished the book yet, but will post the salient nuggets of information, once I have.

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Not bad for an old bird.

View from the Finish Chute

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WAMC Club Rooms, Burswood, WA.

Yesterday evening I went to my first race event of 2015, not as a runner, but as a volunteer. Taking out family membership of the West Australian Marathon Club (WAMC) in Spring 2014, several months before we left Kuala Lumpur, smacked of good intentions but in reality setting up a new life got in the way of actually participating in any (bar one, on my own) event. I rejoined without the family for 2015 and one of the conditions of membership was volunteering for at least two club race events this year. The Burswood 5km Twilight Run seemed like a good option as it was an evening race and only 25 minutes from home at the WAMC’s club rooms.

It was nice to ‘rock up’ – that’s Australian for turn up by the way – without the usual pre-race nerves. Just the other kind of ‘I hope I don’t mess up’ nerves. Collecting money from non-registered non-member entrants was easy – there were only 16. My other job was to call out the number of each runner as they crossed the finish line and indicate if they were female. My fellow volunteer – now my Facebook friend who I plan to meet at a race next weekend – did a great job of noting down the numbers on the results list.

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And they’re off! The start of the Burswood Twilight 5km Race.

I think race finish lines must be some of the happiest places on earth, even if happiness comes in the form of tears of relief and vomiting. For the record there was no actual puking last night, but one lady was on the verge of retching. The majority of runners – there were 173 – wore WAMC club bibs which are made of fabric and pinned on the front of the torso. They are the kind of bibs that, if only pinned on with two pins, blow in the wind or fold over. I had to ask a few men to unfurl their low hanging bibs as I didn’t want to touch their bits. Thankfully I didn’t declare any men as females nor vica versa even though there were a couple of people, including kids, whose gender wasn’t clear until I got a close-up in the chute. It’s a short hair thing. Age-wise, runners ranged from around 6 or 7 to upper-80s. Most of the kids ran faster than I would have. Sigh.

Pencil at the ready....
Pencil at the ready….
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The finisher chute wasn’t empty for long.

All in all it was a lot of fun to greet finishers, and congratulate them on a job well done. It was also a real eye-opener into how fast runners are here.

Last night’s winner was Gerard Hill with a time of 16:21 in hot windy conditions. That’s 3:16 minutes per kilometre. The fastest lady, 22-year-old Hannah Castle, took a mere 18:41 minutes to complete the 5km (3:44 minute kilometres). I don’t think I could move that fast on a bike! Speaking of wheels, the fourth man across the line ran 17:06 – pushing a large toddler in a stroller. These elite runners made running look effortless. The winner popped over the line looking as if he’d been for an easy jog. Really, every person who ran last night was a winner, though only the top 3 finishers of each gender got medals. Even the lady who, on finishing, declared her run a personal worst was a winner in my eyes. At least she went out there and made an effort, which is more than most people (including me) did on a sunny Sunday evening.

So, it has only taken six months, but finally I think I’m doing as planned – using running to meet people. And last night, I didn’t even have to get all worked up with worry over running. I might be on to something…

Race results:

WAMC Burswood Twilight 5km

Sun going down over the Swan River at the WAMC rooms in Burswood.
Sun going down over the Swan River at the WAMC rooms in Burswood.