Parkrun review: Kawana

Shock horror! It’s been 6 weeks since I was a Parkrun tourist and as long since testing a new course. I’m well overdue for a little sightseeing. Despite the overcast weather, which turned into max-windscreen-wipers-sweep rain on the drive to the Sunshine Coast, by the time I arrived with the four dogs (my parents’ two as well as my two) the downpour had become a more manageable spitting to rain-less clouds. Where was I? Kawana Parkrun.

Kawana Parkrun commences and finishes near the Surf Club, and is a flat out-and-back course along the coastal path that loops around the Point Cartwright lighthouse before heading back along the same route. There’s a teeny incline that’s barely worth a mention near the lighthouse. It’s also reasonably shady. Today, there were approx 100 participants, with, at a guess, 95% being runners. But don’t let that put you off, if you are a walker. I walked today (I was #95 across the line; back of the pack) and as usual, volunteers and participants were super friendly, supportive and they loved my 4 dog sled. Given the shade, flat course and minimal participants made up of a majority of runners, it’s the ideal setting for anyone seeking a PB.

Photo taken by the Kawana Parkrun photographer, posted here.

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Q&A with ultrarunner Lucy Bartholomew

Last night, The Trail Co. at Bardon hosted a special 1.5 hour live Q&A session with ultrarunner, Lucy Bartholomew. I signed up due to my new interest in trail running, and didn’t know anything about Lucy before I joined the session. Lucy is a 21 year old Australian ultrarunner who began her running career after seeing her father complete his first 100km run in the Blue Mountains (outside of Sydney, Australia). She was 15 at the time. Lucy finished her first 100km run at age 16.

Even more amazing, she’s gone on to run even more 100kms and even up to 250kms, often placing first female, and has her eyes set on Western States in the US (if she makes it through the lottery process).

Other things I learnt:

  • Lucy has an amazing relationship with her family, and particularly her dad who introduced her to running, and who she often shares race experiences with.
  • Even an ultrarunner walks sometimes. What is key when walking is to ‘walk with purpose’. No dawdling; make every step count.
  • Lucy and I have the same navigational abilities, in that they don’t exist. She’s run off course, and often added many more kilometres to her race course by missing a turn.
  • And like me, Lucy wasn’t into sports or running as a kid, and I really liked her turn of phrase that she “grew into running”
  • Lucy is a Vegan (something it is hard to be in the Gobi Desert, as it turns out. Think a diet comprised solely of rice and soy sauce), but what I appreciated hearing about was her pre-race diet. She has recently switched from toast/banana/honey or porridge to eating a watermelon ahead of a race. The former foods meant she didn’t need fuel for 2 or so hours, yet by then her stomach had shrunk. On the other hand, the watermelon hydrates and offers some natural sugar, but requires her to eat within an hour, and this keeps her regularly fuelled throughout the race. Diets are very personal, but I’m inspired to eat healthier again, and keen to give the watermelon pre-race breakfast a go at my next marathon.
  • Core exercises are something Lucy incorporates into her routine about 3x a week. I’m trying to build these into my workouts, by using the outdoor exercise equipment every 2-3 days, and this morning, I even tried Ashley Conrad’s core workout on Youtube. I’m going to give this 8 minute workout a go on a daily basis. At least until it becomes a habit. Today was a bit painful, and I struggled with the planks (my right knee wasn’t having a bar of it) but practice makes perfect… and less pain.

Lucy was brilliant and very funny! I learned a lot from her in less than 2 hours, and went away inspired to rethink how I look at longer distances, and my eating habits. I didn’t hang around for selfies like many others; all the watermelon talk made me hungry for one so off to the supermarket I went, walking with purpose. Dinner last night:

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South East Queensland Trail Running Series: Round 3 Pomona review

Another fortnight has passed which means I hit the road, and then the trails for another SEQ Trail Running Series event. Yesterday’s 13.1km long course (and the short course too, but I only ran the long course) was hosted at Pomona on the Sunshine Coast. Compared to the last race, this one was only 1 hour and 17 minutes drive from home. I finished in 01:40:49, 20 seconds slower than Enoggera but not nearly as slow as Numinbah Valley. The Pomona race is capped at 300 participants, and I was one of the 253 runners to finish.

Another fun community event with happy runners in a beautiful race setting hosted by the funny guys at Those Guys Events. I was stoked to see someone I actually knew at a race for once (she’s usually at Warner Lakes Parkrun running with her husband and two cute kids). Not that I have too many issues chatting with random runners as we fidget waiting for ‘GO!’. Anyway, back to the story. Kicking off with their Flight Safety-adapted race briefing again at the local Scout Hall, then Wave 1, before I was off and running in Wave 2.

With the almost-daily storms we’ve had the past couple of weeks, it was no wonder Pomona’s trails were reasonably damp, very green, and the grass was quite long. There were no creeks to run (or swim) across, but there were plenty of hills (none as extreme as the one never-ending hill at Numinbah Valley) and a combination of single-person trails, gravel roads and rockier paths to traverse. I did jump off the single file trails a few times to allow the faster runners in the waves behind me to pass. The route was mostly out and back, except for a small loop for the long course participants only. The skies opened up and rain started to pour down as I approached my last kilometre. Oh well – I always love a cooling shower, and it wasn’t too heavy thanks to the surrounding gumtrees which took most of the brunt.

Upon crossing the finish line and high-fiving the race organiser, I paused my Runkeeper app then looked up to see the other runners were squeezed under marquees trying to stay dry. A little too late for me, given I’d been running in the rain for the last kilometre, so I didn’t bother adding another body to the tightly packed masses, instead opting to head for my car.

I wrapped up the morning with a detour via Kenilworth Bakery for a post race carb load of a 1kg donut. I didn’t eat it all in one sitting! Not quite sure I ran enough for that, but the bit I had was delicious. I did feel sorry for the servers though; having to serve a wet, sweaty, salty and very smelly runner. Next time I have to remember to pack a change of clothes!

My last race (trail or otherwise) for the year will be at Bayview in 2 weeks. See you there?

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South East Queensland Trail Running Series: Round 2 Numinbah Valley review

Yesterday I woke before the crack of dawn (seriously, the alarm buzzed at the horrifyingly early hour of 3am) to make the 1 hour, 37 minute drive to Numinbah Valley Hall for Round 2 of South East Queensland Trail Running Series. It was even more AWESOME than Round 1 at Enoggera!

First up: the event planning, communications and organisation was superb again. Parking was well marshalled in an adjacent block of land, most of the sponsors were in place and smiling when I arrived at 5:30am, and it was a very short queue (behind one person) to obtain my long course race bib. There are also ample portaloos. The organisers, Those Guys, dressed as a banana and Deadpool, conducted the same pre-race briefing as at Enoggera. I was hoping for something new, but mimicking the flight attendant’s safety briefing was still very funny! Most amazingly, the sweeper/tail collecting pink tape and other markers on the course had completed the Blackall 100 the week prior.

While it seemed more popular, this race was actually smaller than Round 1 with only 361 participants. I did hear that there were a few more injuries on this course, and several runners who forgo-ed their race to help those in need. Runners are the best people!

Second: We departed in 10 waves of approx 20-40 runners each, with 2 minutes between each wave; I was in Wave 5. This made complete sense as 40m into the race we were ducking into a one person-wide tunnel to cross under the main road and onto a thin trail in the bush. Eventually this met wider rough gravel, before heading onto what seemed to be very rough fire warden trails. Now the real fun began downhill (yes, I had the niggling thought that “what goes down has to come back up again…”) and about 4 or 5 small creek crossings. When I approached the first creek, I barrelled through while other dry sock ninnies (their words merely repeated) tried to find flat, dry, non-slip stones to cross via. They gave up on trying by the second and third creeks. At one point, I had to rethink my route as it was a tad deeper than was reasonable to cross without swimming, and I really didn’t want my phone wet. The clear water was welcome though as the day had started to warm up considerably, and it was refreshingly cool on my tight calves.

The Numinbah Valley 11.4kms took longer (01:45:24) than Enoggera 12.9kms (01:40:29), and I blame ‘the monster hill’. This felt like a sheer 400m never-ending horizontal climb, that I marched while silently repeating “left foot, right foot” to get me up and over. Then I was running again, downhill, across flats, through green forests, back on the gravel road and eventually close enough to the event zone that I could smell the sausages on the BBQ. I knew I was about 1km from home! Those sausages got me to focus again and keep my footing. Then, I was back in the tunnel running under the road, crossing the finish line and high fiving one of the event organisers. And smiling and yelling “that was brilliant”.

I finished the day with a sausage sizzle, cola and hung around another half hour for the random prize draw (no winnings though). Upon returning home, I signed up for Round 4 at Bayview. I couldn’t register for Round 3 at Pomona because I did that 2 weeks ago!

The pics are from the race day photographers (finally got some worth buying!).

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South East Queensland Trail Running Series: Round 1 Enoggera review

I ran my first 100% trail run on Sunday (Toohey was bitumen and bush) and woo-eee was it awesome! South East Queensland Trail Running Series is a set of 8 trail runs of varying distances (usually a long and short course option each round) hosted by Those Guys Events around Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast between October and March. There are also a host of great sponsors supporting the community event including North Face, Injinji, Ultimate Direction and Body Glide to name a few. Events are capped at 500 participants.

For the first round at Enoggera Reserve, there were 467 participants, all of whom had a good laugh during the race briefing which was a twisted version of the safety instructions given on an airplane. Some examples: “oxygen will not fall from the sky and while you may feel like you aren’t getting enough, you are”, and “your nearest rival may be in front of you or even behind you”. It was a brilliant way to keep our attention!

I ran the out and back long course, 12.9kms in a shockingly slow time of 1:40:29. Basically making the most of my entry fee! The course featured undulating hills (including a couple of never ending up hills, but I felt less bad about walking up these when I saw the lead runner doing the same. Turns out we’re all human; not mountain goats), rain, mud, puddles and so much fun! I even ran it without my music (by choice!). 
It’s always funny watching runners dodge puddles when the rain is falling from the sky. I just barrelled through them while laughing, and possibly splashing the competitors who were already heading back towards home. 

There were just over 467 participants all up. And as usual everyone was friendly and supportive. There were lots of cheers of “good work” and some short chats as we passed each other. 
I finished up the race with a delicious sausage sizzle and cola. Great touch!

I think Toohey did my head in with the constant bitumen to bush switches and the distance, whereas  I truly enjoyed the 100% trail experience that was Enoggera Reserve. So much so that after a warming shower I signed up for Round 2 at Numinbah Valley. Now I just need to sort my costume for the Halloween theme!

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Griffith Sport Toohey Trail Run review

I ran my first trail race (well technically they call it ‘bitumen to bush’ but it all counts!), Griffith Sport Toohey Trail Run. I signed up for the Half Marathon distance, of course. It’s a great community event that runs two laps from the local university, around Toohey Forest Park. The race runs across the finish line to start the second loop which was a little crazy but the spectators gave the necessary boost to get out and finish the final kilometres.

The Event Precinct was pumping! Music and dancing for warm ups when I arrived, bean bags for relaxing, free massages and juice and fruit post-race. Everyone was chatty and friendly.

The first lap was chaotic after 6:45am, when the 10km runners hit the course and started passing halfers as the lead halfers were on their way back. All running was on the right which is difficult to remember at times… of course, it helped that I’d been running/walking on the left in France for the last month. HOWEVER, getting back into the car and remembering to drive on the left was an interesting left/right brain switch to make. I had to focus for both.

Out on the course, runners were spectacular. I exchanged a few friendly comments and words of encouragement with pacers, volunteers, photographers and runners alike. There were kind words exchanged between everyone I passed, especially once into the second lap.

I did learn that I love my roads; happily, I returned to bitumen and immediately felt my spirits lift each time. I’m not sure if it was the lack of hills, or that I just had to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, rather than not tripping of stones or tree roots.

I’ll be sure to return in 2018 as I had a lot of fun!

Finish time: 2:18:58

Here’s one of the pics of me out on the course on Facebook.

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Parkrun review: Redcliffe

Last week I ran the third Redcliffe Parkrun event for the very first time. Now I know I already have an ‘R’ in the Parkrun Alphabet but I can’t help the naming choices!

Things to note about this Parkrun:

  • Good participant turnout. Attendees are still going strong in week three after the largest ever launch event in Australia
  • The course is a bit of an odd one. It starts at a park that’s kind of in the middle of the course. You run from the park towards Redcliffe (where the markets are hosted every Sunday) but turn around before entering the pedestrian strip, then run past the start/finish area before heading out in the other direction, across the timber boardwalk, this time turning around before the big climb up a hill. I didn’t like running past the start/finish area. It’s a bit demoralising. I like circuits or out and back courses best.
  • Great for the winter months. There are amazing views of the beach/water the entire distance, and I got to enjoy the sunrise since I arrived super early, but plan to bring sunscreen and plenty of water in summer as there’s not a lot of shade along the route.
  • Beware of the magpies. I didn’t get swooped this time but I have had issues in the past on the timber boardwalk section of the course.
  • Plenty of parking!
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