Saturday, May 20, 2006

Winter has me in its grip

I know what Don McLean meant, back in 1974.
Having spent the first 13 years of my life in Melbourne, followed by the rest in Sydney, I have mixed feelings about each. Both world class, Sydney has Harbour-flashiness, Melbourne exudes class and real style. I love AFL, not Rugby League. Shopping in Melbourne is superb; so is eating out on a modest budget. Running is great in both.
Sadly, it comes down to this : Sydney has the weather, Melbourne doesn't. No arguments please.

Having first hand experience through regular business trips down south, Melbourne shines over summer - but come April, watch out. Last trip was typical: steely-grey skies, promising heavy rain. It hit at unexpected times, followed by weak sunshine. It was c-o-l-d. They say it's character building. I'd be pleased to stay undeveloped.
Perhaps two quotations sum it up. One could say they define the colder months in each city:
"Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius." ~Pietro Aretino
"Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours." " ~Robert Byrne

Still, running in Sydney's Hills Area is pretty cold this time of year. I've managed to do a few lunchtime runs during the week, along the M7.

Since last post, it's been a combination of early morning 8ks around the Mean Streets, or longer lunchtime runs as mentioned. I prefer the latter, but work often gets in the way.

On track for another record breaking month, even with a few niggles around the right knee, and left leg. Oh well, keep rotating the shoes, and aim for a >280k May.

Last week's West Met 4 Meadowbank was a nice easy flat 2k, with completion times me 8.52 and Son 8.06.
Today was West Met 5 at Dundas: a solid XC course. I did 9.55 (37th/63) for the 2k, while Son managed 8:17, finishing 9th. It's a tricky course, not unlike running through a farmer's uncultivated fields, with a couple of sneaky turns and inclines. I was quite pleased with just competing, as I managed an 18k home to work (via M7) run just before. Legs a little shaky.

This was after the Big Night Out: school rock n roll trivia night, where Mrs BB and I formed the brains behind table 9, finishing 4th/19. Mrs BB went as a Pink Lady; sadly, so did most of the others, including a table of teachers whose behaviour should have seen them up on disciplinary charges had they been in school hours. Modest quantities of beverages were consumed, and I managed to take home a selection of car cleaning products for winning "best dressed male" award: a sort of 50s rocker called Grease McSleeze.

Next week's West Met is my nightmare: competed once only, but in the interests of supporting my son, I will do for the first time since 1997. What a shocker of a course. A real XC which shows no mercy.

On the music front, nothing new to report, although a recent Robert Song post led me to spin Neil Young's "Harvest" on the car CD player. Timeless.

Book-wise, I am completing I.J.Parker's Rashomon Gate, an HM series set in 11th century Japan. Set earlier than Laura Joh Rowland's series, but just as well written and entertaining.

Previous post: the great news is that Sophie is off the critical list and out of Intensive Care, moving to a general ward. She is even expected to be able to return to school in Term 3, during July! What a fighter! Keep praying and please - keep pressure on to fix both school crossing safety and drivers' attitudes. Speed can kill. Cars bounce; people don't normally.

"Exit, stage left"

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Running may be all-consuming, but Sophie needs your prayers

As time is indeed a continuum, I will assume that -even though it's been some time since my last post - readers will pick up the thread imediately.
Running has been gooooood!
April ended up 290k, which is an all-time record for any month, and puts me YTD 45k in front of my best-ever year in 2004.
May has commenced well: 70k in 6 runs, including 16k yesterday through Rouse Hill and Beaumont Hills. Today's run was especially pleasing: 18k, backing up after yesterday's distance.
A new course, in fact probably a one-off. From home to Mrs BB's mum's house at Wentworthville. Fortunately much of it was bitumen, being on-road shared bikepath, or parts of the upcoming TWay buslink to Blacktown. Apart from a niggle in the right knee, my only other concern is mental degeneration. How else could I forget to use Bodyglide yesterday? We must have about 4 sticks of the wonder gel. About 13k into the run yesterday, I felt the results of not using it: very grazed underarm and chafed thighs. Yowee! Today, as well as the usual preparations (fill Fuelbelt, add sunscreen, pack mobile, farewell adoring family) I liberally applied Bodyglide to affected and unaffected areas, resulting in a comfortable, slick run.
Add a weights session later today, and the conclusion will be "healthy weekend".

Next week sees a couple of days in Melbourne for work. This time it's back to South Yarra for accommodation, so running will be at my second-favourite location in Australia. The Tan. Lovely course, traffic-free, great extension options if desired, and lots of other runners around to keep motivated. I'll run from hotel to Tan, do laps and return, making a satisfying 9k run. I'd love to get up at 5am and do 3 laps, but we'll see.
Saturday sees West Met #4 at Meadowbank : a great course, unlike West Met #3. It's flat, scenic, bitumen path and one that calls out for fast times. Looking forward to it.

Yesterday was YD's 6th birthday. Was it special? Yes indeed!
Presents and phone calls galore, a very special fairy party at Dural, and a 6 year old's dinner choice : cheese pizza, cordial and birthday cake. Upcoming milestones in May : BB's dad, and also BB.

On the books front, finished Sister Frevisse rather quickly and found it pretty good. It's now onto Sharon Penman's "The Prince Of Darkness", book 4 in her series starring Justin De Quincy, Queen's Man set in the reign of Richard the Lionheart. It's amazing how lovingly the British still think of Richard 1, even though he spoke French and rarely set foot in England. I still like the joke about him: rather than naming him Couer De Lion, it may have been better to have used Gare De Lyon (if only they had trains in the late 12th century).

Musically, well it's been a long 20 years, but worth the wait.
There are very few albums I still need to replace on CD, and those left are simply out of print. Happily, Harry Chapin's "Legends Of THe Lost And Found" live double album has been released by his family, and I have a copy. Just magnificent. If you're a fan, get it. If you don't know much of Harry, discover him quickly. BUT - at first just listen to him by yourself, with no distractions other than a brew or other beverage. You'll enjoy the stories, and perhaps think a little more kindly - or sadly.

And finally : while running produces heroics, and most runners would agree it brings out your character, this pales into insignificance beside the heroics of a wonderful little girl. Those in Sydney know her : Sophie Delezio. When she and her classmate Molly Wood were trapped under a burning, runaway car crashing into their childcare centre at Manly in Dec 2003, we were all shocked. Both were badly injured, and Sophie came off worst: both in hospital for ages with massive injuries. Sophie lost fingers, both feet and her right ear; burns to 85% of her body. Thirty operations. Yet she made it, and came out to greet the world, looking forward to life. The media kept up with her next two years, and she won over everyone with her infectious happiness and smile.
Sophie started Kindergarten this year. Yet somehow it all went wrong on Friday afternoon.
Sophie was critically injured again when a carer was crossing a pedestrian crossing with Sophie in a pram. A car driven by an 80 year old man failed to stop (he will face court next month), and plowed straight into her, hurling her 18 metres. She suffered a broken jaw and shoulder bone, bruising to her head, numerous rib fractures and bleeding around her left lung. At first, early reports said she would not survive.
But now, the news is better. She is at Randwick's Sydney Children's Hospital, and still unconscious in the ICU. But - and there is still a long way to go - hopefully she'll pull through.
Sydney - no, Australia - has rallied around this wonderful little angel and if there is such a thing as the power of prayer (and we believe there is) then she will fully recover.
Why not add yours to the 4,000 or more who have done so since Friday afternoon?