Tag Archives: Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers

Social Saturday session

Last to leave the party by Andrew Gills
Last to leave the party, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

When I count my blessings, one of the things I am most grateful for is the Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers (BRW). This amazing group of men, women and children gets together every Saturday morning for a casual run. We meet at the same time rain, hail or shine, and run the same route. There are no rules, no membership fees, no training schedules and no committees. This is a community group in its purest form. Everyone is welcome, no one is too fast or slow, and no one is too unfit.

There are over 200 BRW members and on any given Saturday, you will find any combination of 50-100 of those members at Victoria Point running along the waterfront then hanging out at the bakery afterwards. And once a member, always a member, even if you don’t turn up for months or years. Such is the family atmosphere.

I struggle sometimes to turn up to Saturday morning running. Not because I don’t enjoy it. But because I still have this lingering personal doubt over my self-worth. Intellectually I know it’s an inaccurate self-image so I work hard to overcome it. But some days, I don’t succeed.

Since my injuries, I have come to appreciate my running friends more. When no one else was willing or able to rescue me from my funk, they did. When no one seemed to understand the frustration I felt at not being active, they did. And this week, when I put out the call to find some company for my Couch-to-5k journey, I found what I was searching for amongst my running friends.

This morning I did what triathletes call a ‘brick session’, but what I just call a Social Saturday Session. A few of my running friends are learning to cycle, so I offered to share some tips. I don’t have a car so I had to cycle the 10km to running club where we were meeting for our 5:20am cycle.

A group of four of us then went for an easy 10km cycle around Point O’Halloran. During this ride, two of my friends learned how to change gears for the first time. After being reassured they couldn’t break their bikes, gears or selves, my friends experimented with finding gears they found comfortable. We even moved on to changing front derailleurs as well as rear. I’m no expert or teacher but perhaps having someone to ride with helps them gain the confidence to ride alone and use their gears.

After the ride I went out on my Couch-to-5km session. Three women from running club joined me. Together we completed Week 1 Session 3 (5 mins walking, 60 sec running, 90 sec walking for 20 mins, 5 mins walking). We talked and started to get to know each other as we completed the session. Having a laugh along the way. We decided to support each other through the 9-week program using Facebook and meeting for the club run on Saturdays. I think it’s wonderful to have this support group for the program.

I was last to leave the bakery (as usual). And I am excited about next Saturday when we will again have our cycle session and Couch-to-5km run.

Total: 31.10km cycle + 4km run/walk

I got to ride my road bike!

Morning ride by Andrew Gills
Morning ride, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

It’s been about six weeks since I last rode my road bike. In that time I had the group set upgraded and bought a new wheel set. I got to take a short walking pace ride on it the day I picked it up from the shop but nothing more. Until today.

This morning I joined my running friends for an easy cycle from Redland Bay to Cleveland Point and back. Words can’t describe the joy I felt at being back in the saddle of my old Trek OCLV. For the most part, the new group set was fabulous. It needs some adjustment but that’s normal for new gears.

We cruised along in the early morning sunlight at an average speed of just 23kph. It was slow enough to enjoy a yarn while being just fast enough to test out my back. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time. And not only because we hung out at the coffee shop afterwards.

Total: 32.5km

A morning on the bike

Riding at Victoria Point by Andrew Gills
Riding at Victoria Point, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

J arrived at 4:45am to take me to Victoria Point for running club. I’m so grateful to her for encouraging me to come along. The morning was perfect. Cloud cover tempered the sun’s heat. The world was quiet but for people doing exercise. The morning colours were pretty under the fast rising globe of gold.

I swung around the car park to take some photos of the dawn while “The Speedies” took off on their triathlon training cycle session. At 5:20am, I met with N and K who were also riding old purple mountain bikes and we set off at a slow pace to take an 8km circuit of Point O’Halloran. N and K are novice cyclists who are nervous about riding on busy roads and down steep hills, so I suggested Point O’Halloran for it’s flat quiet streets. We talked as we rode, sharing experiences and tips.

After completing the short 8km loop, N and K set off for the weekly club run. I’m not running yet and am not keen to combine cycling and walking due to the different muscle groups used. So I rode my bike alongside my friends as they ran. There must have been 100 runners at club this morning so I had plenty of different people to talk with as I moved between groups. By the time I returned to the carpark, I had ridden 15km. Sure, it took me 75 minutes but it’s still slow forward motion. After such a lengthy period of relative inactivity, it seems sensible to start out slowly. I know myself: I’ll be overdoing it again in no time 😉

Total: 15km cycle and plenty of time with friends.

Got shoes will ride

Have shoes will ride
Bike ride, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Do not fear going forward slowly, fear only to stand still”. I read it this morning on Fit for a Year’s blog. It was exactly what I needed to read at that moment. So, while my partner (who is on an inspiring journey to health) went out for her 4km morning walk, I pulled on some clothes, my bicycle helmet and my new, as-yet unworn mountain bike shoes to tag along with her.

By the time I reached my partner she was already half-way through her walk and I fear I scared her when I cruised up alongside her on the gravel road. For the next 2km I cruised slowly alongside her as we talked. It felt so good to be back out on my purple monster. My sacroiliac joint seemed to handle the gentle cycling movement well and I arrived home half an hour after I left feeling refreshed, relaxed and positive. I only rode 5km (I did an extra loop while waiting for my partner to walk along a stretch of footpath too narrow to share) but it’s 5km in the right direction.

After my ride I went out to the proverbial coffee with my running friends (I say proverbial because I drank chai tea). They realised I was slipping into depression so staged a well-timed and perfectly executed intervention. There was no heavy talk. Just “what’s going on with your back?” and “are you able to start exercising again?” and then stories about their adventures. I never realised they are off to do their first triathlon on Sunday 16th December; a sprint distance event to boot. They’ve been training hard and are excited. I can’t wait to stand on the sidelines and cheer them on.

I’m learning important lessons through this difficult period. Today’s was about the power of friendship. Tomorrow morning I will be taking a short ride with one of my other running friends. At coffee this morning the girls told me that I should join her as she’s new to cycling and would love company while the rest of the group take off on their harder triathlon training ride. J is even going to stop by my place with her car so that me and my bike can get to the ride (I don’t have a car but am not yet ready to cycle the 10km each way to and from the ride).

Total: 5km cycle, a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart.

Walking at running club

Victoria Point jetty

Victoria Point jetty

After last night’s mistake, I woke early and found my way to Victoria Point where the Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers have our regular Saturday morning run. This morning is the last Saturday of the month so we had our monthly time trial. I’ve only attended two previous time trials but turned up this morning because the club was holding a charity event for Young Care.

William Wragg (who was a special guest at our club this morning) is running 50 marathons in 50 days to raise money for Young Care.Young Care provide support to young people with disabilities and their families. The charity tries to help them get out of aged care homes and into more suitable accommodation. Both William’s epic adventure (he will be completing marathon #50 on 2 December) and his personal story of moving from being chronically injured to achieving this amazing feat are totally inspiring.  I look forward to running with him in the future because I can see so much of my own injury struggle and philosophy to running in his story (especially after chatting with him this morning). William is sharing his journey on his blog and I encourage you to have a look.

This morning at the time trial, everyone donated a gold coin (or a little more) and nominated a time they thought they would complete the 5km course in. The closest to their nominated time was the winner. I nominated 52 minutes for the 5km because I was walking it. I came close, finishing in 53:36 after enjoying a very social time with Bruce and Tony, who also walked the course.

I’m just about to head out to our annual Christmas picnic for the day. There is also a party at the pub tonight and I would like to go but also want to spend some time with my partner, who I have barely seen this week. So the picnic will have to do … I need to be around my friends right now to feel their support and share laughs rather than get caught in my own head.

Total: 5km walk

Lamington weekend

Mountain views from Beechmont

After the Past Pupils’ Mass I rode my motorbike up to to Binna Burra in the Gold Coast Hinterland to support my friends at the Lamington Classic (and to hang out drinking cider). On my way up the mountain I stopped at Beechmont to find a geocache and enjoy the view of the mountains.

The Lamington Classic is an annual two-day trail running event that is as much race as mega social. On Saturday, runners run from O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra along the Border Track. It’s 21.8km of twisting single track through the rain forest. After spending the night at Binna Burra, they then run back to O’Reilly’s on Sunday morning.

My running friends were running the event so I went up to Binna Burra on Saturday night to hang out with them. We spent the night drinking and talking. I’m not a big drinker, having been a tea-totaller until two years ago. But I enjoyed my three ciders (4.0% alcohol so very light and sweet) while my friends probably drank more beer and wine than was sensible preparation for the second day of running. While I was disappointed not to be joining them out on the course, I had a blast making memories away from running with a group of people who are quickly becoming friends; not just running buddies.

From the Binna Burra Caves Track

I woke at 4:40am this morning and didn’t want to wake my friends, who weren’t due to get up until 6:30am. Instead of hanging around, I made the most of the early morning sun by setting off on the Binna Burra Caves Track. Unfortunately, it was too dark in the rainforest for my mobile phone camera to get good pictures so you’ll have to trust me that I had a great time enjoying mountain views, rainforest scenery and the sound of rainforest birds. The caves themselves were huge and imposing holes in the cliffs and made me feel slightly dizzy.

For the second time this week, I did some light running. I walked a 10 minute warm up then did a 1 minute run / 4 minute walk ratio for 6 repeats. My foot and leg felt good during the running phases but I’m not ready to do anything more strenuous yet.

It was still about 5:50am when I completed the Caves Circuit so I also walked the 1.2km Binna Burra Rainforest Walk. I chose that walk because there is a geocache along it (there was also one on the Caves Circuit). I enjoyed the peace and simplicity of the Rainforest Walk; a short stroll through the bush with nothing to carry and no navigation required. There was no one else out on the tracks except me, the pademellons (an Australian marsupial that is like a tiny kangaroo that gets around on all fours), and the birds.

Jacarandas on the way to O’Reilly’s

After my walk I had breakfast with my friends, helped them carry their gear down to the ute that was taking it all back to O’Reilly’s and saw them off on their run. I then rode my motorbike down the range, across and back up the other range to O’Reilly’s, which took over 1.5 hours. The scenery along the way was amazing and included farmland, mountains and rain forest roads.

Motorcycling through the trees

My friends all ran well today, backing up after yesterday’s epic with a quick run. After a few hours lazing around O’Reilly’s eating and chatting we all set off back down the mountain towards home. The roads up here in the mountains are fantastic for motorcycling (though they are narrow). For the first 10km of the descent I could almost reach out and touch the trees along the road. Then the road opened out and the views of the valleys were superb.

My wonderful weekend was topped off with a 2km walk with my partner after I got home.


  • 5km rainforest trail walk / run
  • 1.2km rainforest walk
  • 2km walk around my neighbourhood
  • 7 geocaches found.


A ride with friends

Quiet roads and cheerful company

I haven’t been road cycling with my running friends in a little while. Our schedules just haven’t linked up in months. So it was a great pleasure to meet up this morning to enjoy the early morning sunshine and quiet roads together.

The girls met at a coffee shop in Redland Bay at 5:30am. I was running late so they met me a kilometre or two down the road. The sun was already rising steadily into the sky and the humidity was starting to thicken the air. For the first section of our ride, we rode with the early morning commuter traffic. Fortunately, the roads here in our area are wide so the cars and trucks could wizz by without scaring us.

At about the 6km mark we turned left down quiet semi-rural roads. We spread out across the entire road, making the most of the opportunity to talk and laugh. I used my mirror to keep an eye out for potential traffic behind us, but we had the road to ourselves for about 5km.

Back on the main road, we rode towards the commuter traffic for the rest of our loop. We passed a few horses and cattle, as well as wide empty paddocks of grass and trees. The last section of our ride took us over the seven sisters; seven short sharp rolling hills. After whooping down each hill we rolled as far up the next as possible before cranking to the top and whooping down the next hill. It was a lot of fun.

I left the girls at the coffee shop because I needed to head a work commitment to rush off to.

Total: 31.34km cycle

‘Bayside Runners and Swimmers’

Image courtesy of vorakorn / Freedigitalphotos.net

I’m part of the Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers. It’s a social running and walking group here in the Redlands area of Brisbane. I started running with the group in August 2011 and love being part of the family atmosphere.

With the running season coming to an end, there are more and more people from the group hitting the pool. This morning I turned up to find three blokes from the group already gliding through the water. It felt good to have someone to say ‘hello’ to before starting my session. To me, the social element of training makes a big difference.

Set Swimming
Warm up 400m alternating freestyle and breaststroke
Drills 100m pull buoy100m catch up

100m pull buoy

100m one-arm freestyle

Main 800m medium pace with fartlek (8 x 25m sprints)
Exercise 400m freestyle kick
Cool down 100m freestyle100m breaststroke

The 800m swim was the farthest I have swum continuously so I was pleased with my effort, especially because I was able to do the 25m sprints throughout the set.

Total: 2.2km swim

Back in the pool


Okay, so I took the photo last year before my underwater camera broke, but it’s one of my favourite photos and seemed appropriate.

I hadn’t swum since April or May so had forgotten how beautiful it is to watch the sunrise through the water droplets falling from my arms. There wasn’t barely a thin glowing orange line on the horizon when I slid into the pool at 5:45am. By the time I finished my warm up, it had spread to a broad orange and yellow band that I could look at every time I breathed on the eastern side of the pool. By my main set the big ball of orange came into view over my right shoulder and I enjoyed the sensation of it’s warmth spreading over the water. By the time I got out of the pool just before 7am the sun was high in the sky above the palm trees. Perhaps I should count myself fortunate for being injured or I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this start to my day.

As for the swimming itself, it went really well. I think it’s one of the longest sessions I’ve done, which shows how much my fitness and mental toughness have improved since I started long distance running. Last May, when I was training for triathlon, I found it physically and mentally tough to swim 1,500m – 2,000m sessions. However, this morning I found the distance and duration of the session comfortable. I actually looked forward to it, rather than counting down the laps.

I completed my first 1,800m by about 6:30am but then my running friends all started turning up to the pool so the remaining 400m took almost 30 minutes because I just had to stop and say hello to everyone as they arrived. That’s the only thing I don’t like about swimming: you can’t hold a conversation with your head underwater (though I did try).

Set Activities
Warm up 400m easy alternating freestyle and breaststroke.
Drills 400m alternating:

  • catch-up
  • one-arm freestyle stroke
  • 5-stroke breathing
Main 2 x 400m freestyle medium pace
Exercises 400m kicking:

  • 100m breaststroke
  • 300m freestyle
Cool down 200m slow freestyle

Total: 2.2km swim

Loving life on the trails

Fog and trees

I lie back in the bathtub and close my eyes. The cold water has stopped stinging my skin so I relax my legs into it trusting that this routine after my longer runs will help keep me injury free. I let my mind wander back to this morning’s run.

About eight of us met at Bayview Conservation Park to tackle the trails. We followed a fun 5km loop along rocky single track and a short stretch of fire trail. The run started with a long slow uphill gradient to a saddle. N and I talked about our decision to enter next year’s Oxfam Trailwalker Brisbane while the rest of the group held their own conversations along the line. It felt good to pick our way over the rocky trail discussing exciting plans for the future.

From the saddle we scurried down a zig-zagging trail until we reached a fire trail. We crossed the main track and continued skipping down the single track. The track has been cut for mountain bikers so it twisted and turned smoothly to the bottom of the hill. We turned right along some more single track that undulated gently along the edge of a gully. I felt strong and rhythmic as we moved; my feet picking the way confidently and my body relaxing into the bush.

We came to another fire trail but turned hard left along the other side of the gully. The trail here was less twisting and allowed me to pick up a consistent cadence for a while. At the end of the trail we crossed a fire trail to another uphill section of single track. This track was cut into the side of the hill so it dropped away sharply; not that the drop was high because the hills here are only about 100m above sea level.

At the top of the hill we turned right onto fire trail for the first time. We had to drop down a steep hill of loose gravel, which caught some of our group by surprise. This was followed by a short sharp uphill climb before we were able to turn off the fire trail back onto single track.

At the end of our first lap a few of our group had to travel home so we farewelled them and continued down along fire trail to the You’re Kidding track. We ran this loop backwards, which meant we had to go slightly uphill all the way. You’re Kidding doesn’t flow as well in reverse as it does running it downhill but it was still glorious. A slight fog rose between the trees as we made our way along the trail. It’s likely to be the last fog we see before May or June next year because our summer has definitely started.

We ran a short distance down fire trail before our group had to split again; three of us wanted to keep running while three had to leave due to family and work commitments. We went our separate ways at a point where the fire trail led those leaving safely to their cars.

We continued our run by following the fire trail to where the single track we ran on our first lap took off. We followed the trail in reverse back to our cars; picking up the pace quite a bit now that we were a smaller group of just three. It felt good to power up the hills and cruise all the way back to our cars.

Total: 11.89km. Elevation gain: 251m. Average temperature: 11’C.