Yesterday I found myself down at Flinders, which is the district my family hails from. I had a few hours spare and naturally I went for a run on some of the tracks I used to use regularly.
I started out from the car park near the war memorial, which is itself one of the best bits of town: it looks down over Kennon Cove, Flinders Pier and over towards the naval facility at West Head. It's also one of the highest bits of town, so I was going to have an invigorating climb back up to the car at the finish (you know you're a runner when you say something like that).
Down off the hill I went, heading west. This took me past the gate to the naval base. From memory, the base is part of HMAS Cerberus, the Navy's boot camp, and is a gunnery range used to train sailors in ship-borne weapons systems. For this reason, the gate is graced by a deactivated bofors gun. Well, I assume it's deactivated. If it isn't one day somebody in Crib Point will be in for quite a shock when a crater appears in their street.
After the gate I was onto the mile or so of the road that runs through the golf course right by the sea. It's spectacular at any time and yesterday was no exception: the waves coming up out of Bass Strait kicked up a spray that the light caught (the photos don't really convey it). It's a beautiful stretch of coast and I love running it. I was feeling so good I didn't even flip the finger to any golfers (I don't like golf: I formed irrevocable opinions on the game after encounters with people from two different courses who made clear they viewed non-golfers as simply grubby, nasty little people who had no business speaking to their betters).
The road through the golf course leads to another climb up to King Street. I was planning to turn to the north but I saw a newish sign pointing to a 'trail' down towards Ocean Beach. I'm not a natural trail runner, but I thought 'what the Hell?'. As it turned out, 'trail' was a bit of a misnomer: it was more of a goat track down hill over tree roots and through the bushes, and eventually leading to a foot track where the steeper bits had earthen stairs.
This made things challenging for me: my knees aren't the best and downhill even on good terrain is a bit testing because of the extra impact. Doing it on rough ground was a definite challenge. Eventually the track took me to a small bank just above a cobble beach in between two small headlands. It looked like the sort of place you'd definitely go if you wanted some alone time.
I decided against going onto the beach when I saw that someone previously had tied a rope down the back to help people ascend and descend. I had the climb back up hill waiting and in any case, I was there to run rather than explore.
The run back up hill was actually more comfortable than going down; the extra effort gave my lungs plenty of work which felt good. I kept going north up King Street, and by the time I got near Cook Street (about 4 kms in) my left knee began to smart a bit. I decided to just keep going and pounded up past the Anglican church and then over a rough, unofficial track that joined King to the east-west road beyond it. It was good, open country and a pleasure to run through.
Once I'd gone as far as I needed to do a total of about 10 kms by the end I reversed the process and headed back down and around the golf course. I found myself thinking just how much running is "me-time". All the other things that fill my life and threaten to turn my hair grey drop away, and it's just me and the road and the music and the weather. When I run, it doesn't matter that I'm an A1 failure in most parts of my life: for an hour or two the world gives me everything I need.
I decided to lengthen the run a bit and make the final climb that much better so I detoured downhill near the end to take a run along to the end of the pier. There were lots of fellows there getting an early start on the weekend's fishing; I wonder what they made of my running playlist if they could hear it - it includes a reasonable amount of Taylor Swift!
The final climb up to the carpark was as good as I'd hoped. There was a real sense of accomplishment as I leaned back against the car and looked over Westernport Bay and felt the sun on my shoulders. All exercise is good, but I never want to give up running.