Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Em is for Melbourne

On Sunday morning I raced 10k through the streets and parks of that most cosmopolitan of Australian cities, Melbourne. She was at her sparkling best — warm and welcoming. At 9.30am, around 4,720 similarly obsessed individuals charged off towards St Kilda Road. After passing stranded tram passenger "spectators", we turned left and ran along the lovely shaded avenues of King's Domain.

It was somewhere in this delightful park, around 2k into the race, that I became overwhelmed with the thought that I was close to moving like Christopher. I was feeling good! Runnin' like Walken. My movement was fluid — in my wild imagination I was a perfect example to children, teenagers, adults and fellow ancients, of how to run.

This is why I'm happy with a seemingly average finishing time of 46:38 — I felt strong and in control throughout the race. I was also towards the pointy end of the field. As we ran beside the Yarra River, with 3k to go, I was running in groups of two or three, with gaps to runners ahead. Before long we were racing down the William Barak Bridge, past cheering spectators, and into the stadium used for the 1956 Olympics — The MCG. I was the 211th of the 10k runners home. Not long after finishing, I heard my name called and turned to see a smiling Em. She's a runner I've always wanted to meet. It's hard to believe, but I think she loves running more than myself. One day soon, she'll be free of injuries and running well.

Bill recently suggested that I may be a better runner now than my younger self. By the numbers, I'm not. I'd need to be running around 42 minutes for 10k races. In Melbourne on Sunday the numbers didn't matter. It was how I was feeling as I was moving that mattered — fast, smooth, racy, and as happy as Em, to be a runner.

The Yarra RiverBetween 6k and 8k the race follows paths with superb views of the Yarra River


Anonymous Julie said...

Lovely report. Sometimes what the clock says at the finish is not the most important thing.

12:57 am  
Blogger Chad in the AZ Desert said...

Very well done! I'm sure Christopher Walken would be proud. Sounds like a beautiful race.

2:04 am  
Blogger Sky said...

Amen, Julie! It sounds beautiful Ewen. Just once I'd like to feel my running could serve as an example to anyone, let alone the ancients :)

5:31 am  
Blogger iliketoast said...

What a great day to enjoy a run. I saw a few "walken" by the end of the marathon.

7:48 am  
Anonymous Em said...

Hey, it was good to meet you. All the stars and moons were aligned, it was chaos on the finish line and I wasn't even on the right side and then there you were!

Such lovely words about my beautiful city as well, how could I not love running in such great surroundings.

8:19 am  
Anonymous IHateToast said...

it was a great day. sorry we missed you.
you probably would have finished faster had you not--full of spring joy--skipped and swung your arms so much.

9:04 am  
Blogger Love2Run said...

Nice report Ewen. You captured the joy of running (like Christopher) very nicely. 7th in your age group is not to shabby either!

10:35 am  
Blogger Superflake said...

Walken in that ad just popped into my head. Well at least you looked great for 10ks. Have you been reading my blog again. You ran slow just for me. Time for track season.

9:36 pm  
Blogger jojo said...

what an uplifting comment :)

ahhhh but how much more hte joy will be on the track :( when your lungs burn and you feel like hurling...gotta love it !!!

9:55 pm  
Blogger plu said...

Mate I wish I could get back to near that pace. Top Stuff.


10:46 pm  
Blogger canute1 said...

Well done in the Melbourne 10K. The answer to the question of whether or not you are running better than your younger self depends on what matters; running fluently and elegantly or keeping up with age-adjusted times. We old guys should be thankful when we at least achieve some fluency with a bit of elegance. (I am even older than you so it is an even rarer treat for me.)
Enjoy the after-glow of Melbourne. But aiming for target times is a big part of the excitement of racing. The challenge for us old guys is that if we want to keep up with age-adjusted times, we not only have to train hard to match those born with more of the gifts that facilitate greater speed or endurance, but we also have to train smarter to match those who deteriorate less rapidly with age.
Last week I asked whether you do strength training, and you said that you planned to start some dynamic drills. I will be very interested to hear how this goes. There is little doubt that in the short term dynamic drills that involve contracting muscles while they are being stretched are great for increasing strength and running speed. Maybe the reason the gains are so great is that this type of exercise maximises micro-tearing of muscles thereby inducing a compensatory reaction. This might be the best way to achieve a M50 PB for 3K in 2008/9, but I wonder whether or not it is the best way to ensure that you are still running elegantly and reasonably fast in 15 years time. I am undecided whether or not to introduce more dynamic exercise into my own training. At least for the time being my joints and muscles are not up to it anyway, so I can defer the decision. I think I probably will do so eventually, but I will be very cautious to avoid too much DOMS.
Good luck.

8:47 am  
Blogger Tesso said...

Ah, who needs to be running better at 50 when one is running happy :)

9:04 am  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

great report. great run. good photo of the muddy Yarra. Should come visit the Swan some day.

yes "running happy" or "runners paradise" "the fluency and ectasy of pure good fast running in a memorable melbourne setting", these are moments to remember fondly and enjoy, just like Em reportedly seems to. Hopefully I might catch up next year or at another race,my apologies on not making it to "the Transport" this year (or the finish for that matter)...
Well done! for sure sometimes there is something special about a race, that you don't get hitting a PB or target time. That has to be one of them. You are going well, and the target times although only helpful idacators along the way, could very well be beaten soon. Way to go !

4:22 am  
Blogger Dusty said...

Fantastic... made me want to be there. Seems like such a beautiful country - I would love to go out there some time. Sounds like a race that would be a lot of fun!

2:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wannabecoach said

I notice canute1 is a neuroscientist. Does he not realise that a simple postman would struggle to comprehend such a response?

7:01 pm  
Blogger Runner Susan said...

Great run Ewen. I'd take your seemingly average time any day!

1:32 am  
Blogger Sling Runner said...

Sounds like a beautiful run. It's a pity that I now live in Singapore, which is 8 hours fly time.

The joy of running is priceless.

9:46 pm  
Blogger Stu said...

I mustn't read Blogs well enough, I didn't realise you were visiting my 'fine' city!

10:36 pm  
Blogger bill carter said...

Hi Ewen

I really enjoyed this post. Your joy in running is so obvious that well... it brought a smile to my face. All to often when we run (and especially when we race) we lose track of the fact that running should be enjoyable. It is one of the most basic exercise we can do and brings us back to our most instinctual selves.

Best of luck and congrats my friend. One quick question... Did you enjoy running as much back when you ran those 42 minute 10k times? I wonder.

9:26 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Bill. That's an interesting question. These days I do find more pleasure in the pure aspects of running: The feeling of the movement, the joy of sprinting on a grass track, the sights and smells when out on a longer run, the changing of the seasons.

The racing (which I love) feels just the same. It's just that these days (back in the crowd a bit) I get to race more people, which is fun. In my early thirties, my average 10k time was around 37 minutes, and it was all about racing as fast as possible, running a personal best.

I still try to race as fast as possible, and achieving an age-50+ PB feels just as good as the outright PBs did 20 years ago. I feel lucky to be a runner.

10:14 am  

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