This morning I picked my nephew up in Hoppers Crossing at 7:00 and we headed off to the Tan. We had a great drive in, as there was very little traffic at that time of day. We arrived at the Botanic Gardens at around 7:30. Never having run at the Tan before, I had no idea where the actual track was. I'd looked at a couple of maps and figured that I basically couldn't miss it. For some reason though, I thought it would be inside the gardens. You'd never know I'd lived in Melbourne on and off for the past 30 years! In my defence, I'd have known exactly what to expect at the hockey centre.
Andrew decided that he would run at my pace rather than dashing on ahead. I was pleased, as the whole idea was for me to share the experience with somebody. When we got to Anderson Street, it was clear why people talked about the hill. Andrew jogged along beside me while I walked / ran up the hill. I discovered a new running goal - I'm going to be able to run the whole way up that hill one of these days. If I'm honest, I'm fit enough now but I wasn't up for it mentally today. I started the hill at a walk, but decided on the way up that I was going to run / walk the rest of it. Andrew encouraged me, cheering me on as I made each of my mini goals.
We enjoyed seeing so many people out and about running and walking. It was also fun running past the markers. If only we'd known about them at the start, as I parked just past the first one. We'd have walked back to it to start our run if we'd realised it was there.
Andrew ran on ahead when we got close to the car, finishing in 25:12 mins. I made it round the 3.827 km in 25:37 mins. That's 6:41 mins/km pace, which is the fastest I've run. I seem to be improving by leaps and bounds at the moment. I'm sure that having Andrew to chat to on the way around made it a lot easier. It certainly kept my mind off the effort involved. There may have been a smidgeon of auntly vanity involved as well.
As this was Andrew's birthday present, after the run we headed off to have breakfast and buy a book. I learned a couple of valuable lessons - the breakfast that sounds like a good idea before the run doesn't seem at all interesting after a run and the bookstores in the city don't open until 10 AM on a Saturday morning. We'd been going to have pancakes at Southbank, but that was too soon after our run and Andrew just did not feel like eating then. We wandered off to Dymock's to find it closed, then headed to the foodcourt at Australia on Collins, to find that it was pretty much closed as well. We ventured to Reader's Feast without any success. Poor Andrew was over the whole walking thing by then, whereas I was happy to keep going.
We eventually had breakfast at Hungry Jack's. I had a spicy chicken baguette, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Andrew had the Brekky Wrap, a hash brown and fries. Oh, to have the ability to eat like a 13 year old boy! Mind you, I think it's great that these fast food places have a few menu items that I can eat without feeling guilty. We tried another bookstore at Southbank without any luck, so we drove over to Highpoint on the way home and called in to Borders. While Andrew was choosing his book I checked out the running books. I nearly bought the book Sarah bought but I resisted temptation.
I enjoyed every moment of Andrew's birthday present, and I think he did too. Mind you, he has lovely manners. He told me he would have come running with me, even without the breakfast and the book offer. In fact, he'd like to do it again although we might look for a different venue, like Albert Park or Birrarung Marr, just to see what's around the place. One of his other cousins, another Andrew, also enjoys running, so we'll invite him along next time. I had thought about inviting him this time, but this was a birthday occasion and so I kept it to one-on-one.
I have visions of me taking all six of my nephews and my niece out with me for a run in future. I would never have imagined that I could go for a run with the kids this time last year. It was a great feeling being able to run with Andrew today.