27 December, 2010

To the edge and back...

So, having run Christmas morning (apparently I was the only one, but yes, I snuck out for a quickie after Santa's offerings had been distributed around the lounge room) and taken Boxing Day off, I decided it was time we all got moving. Today, the plan was that I start running and the rest of the family would catch me up on their bikes.
Hmmm...by the time I was past the Breakwater and heading to Queen's Park I figured that either I was a much better runner than I thought (highly unlikely), or something hadn't gone quite to plan.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the latter proved to be correct. I was betting on a technical hitch with the new gizmo which hubby was using to tow the 6 year old on his bike - I'm guessing not too many kids that age can say they got a metal pole for Christmas - however, it turned out that one of the other bikes had thrown a fit and it was not until all the ball bearings had been captured and replaced that they got under way.
As a result, I took the long route (12km) and they covered a rather more leisurely 5km. The weather was surprisingly warm and annoyingly windy. At the 4km mark I was cruising but by 9km I was struggling. I've not yet managed to figure out why, but I seem to be prone to getting a stitch somewhere past the 8km mark of a run. Today was no exception and much to my disgust I had to stop to sort it out and then again within a few hundred metres of my destination.
On the way however, I did note the usual array of rather more common birds. Nothing particularly unusual except perhaps for the presence of a number of small fluffy additions to the flock. On Christmas Day during a post-prandial stroll up to Queen's Park, we laughed at moorhen chicks hopping from lily pad to lily pad - making the most of it while they were still light enough to do so I guess. Then, in addition to another chick today (it seems we can expect a population explosion in coming months), I saw a couple of black cormorant chicks trying to stay on the upriver side of the Breakwater.
Not far beyond this I saw something else I had never seen before. Shock and amazement!! The greens at the Belmont Golf Course were being watered by sprinklers, and during daylight hours at that! Thanks to the prevailing wind direction, I even received a cooling shower as I passed - a pity I wasn't running as far as the Queen's Park Golf Course, maybe I could have had another hosing down there! After so many years of tight water restrictions it was hard not to flinch at the thought that every single drop wasn't staying on the greens where it should, but then I considered that much of it was probably just taking a slightly different route to get to the mouth of the Barwon - something I intend to do myself one of these days...
So, having dragged myself up the river in varying states of discomfort I then began backtracking a kilometre or more towards my objective - that being a coffee at the Barwon Edge. Quite a pleasant objective, although perhaps not too high on the list of appropriate ways to rehydrate after a run. Upon arriving I was informed of the dramas and that the crew had only been waiting about 5 minutes.
So we sat, we ordered, we drank and we (well the kids) played. I just looked at the view, which I must say is rather lush and green at the moment. Apparently, somewhere in the midst of all the trees and reeds was a river - but I couldn't see it. I decided that the weather was far more suited to drinking coffee outdoors than to running, however I still needed to get home and the quickest way to do that was to run.
So now, fuelled by caffeine, I headed for Landy Field. I have to admit that I failed to note any significant stimulant effects of the coffee, possibly in part due to the fact that I was somewhat distracted by site of the rest of the family straggling along the track. Two were on bikes which needed if not up-sizing, then some fairly serious adjustments to their seat heights before we head to the coast in a week or two while the "two bikes joined by a pole" arrangement clearly needed some tweaking. The basic principle here is that the front wheel of the child's bike is locked in position and elevated above the ground by a pole which attaches it to the rear of the adult's bike. This allows the adult to provide most of the power and all of the steering while the child is able to help by pedaling too. As it turns out, and depending on the temperament of the child in question, the small person on the back may also have ultimate braking rights which turned out to be the case here as his bike is of the variety which has pedal brakes.
As they overtook me, it became clear that the pole also needed to be carefully aligned to upright so that the smaller bike too is in that position - not at the jaunty ten degree angle I was observing. Despite this, he was doing a rather good job of pretending he had one leg longer than the other and keeping himself vertical. From my perspective it was all rather amusing...but then, if it had all gone horribly wrong, I could pretend I'd never seen them before and just keep running...ultimately I didn't have to make the choice as everyone made it back to Landy Field unscathed. Phew!
I can only guess what the other users of the path thought of the whole affair, but from the expressions on the faces of the two boys on scooters watching us pass it wasn't far from a comedy act...

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