Secret Mission. Code-name: Flower Trail

So my wife got a promotion. And I’ve always wanted to run into the city. So the week prior to her first day in her new role I started to get a few ideas. She has worked super hard to get this promotion especially in the last 6 months or so after the birth of our son. Now I love surprising her with random displays of affection and I wanted to let her know how proud of her I was. So I decided to run into the city, show up at her work and give her some flowers.

The thing is the city from our home in a straight line is only around 15 km. That was too easy. And boring. So I diverted the route to connect with as many trails as I could. So the total return trip went from 30 km, then 45 km, then 50 km and I thought what the heck – why not push a little further and ended up with a route of around 60 km return. This 60 km however was going to be hard. Really hard for me as there was not hills! I recently discovered I  ‘belong’ in the mountains (another story) and this route had less than 400m of elevation gain (which is flat as a pancake in a trail runner’s eyes). Flat trails tend to use the same muscles consistently for a long time. Running mountains or anything with decent elevation ascent/descent you get to vary the strain and effort placed on different muscle groups. So I was a little nervous but hey, delivering my message to my wife was a pretty damn good reason to endure some flat running in my books.

I manged to keep my plans secret leading my wife to believe I was heading out for a long run when she left for work. I left just after 6am and hit the road. Literally. Road running for around 5km to the first point of access to the main trail I would be following for the majority of the run. I would be running alongside the Maribyrnong river until it almost finished at it’s mouth into Port Phillip Bay, then more footpaths and more road (ewwww) into the city. I ran through Sunshine past a shrine of flowers left for a poor girl who was murdered the week prior in broad daylight in the main street. Thoughts of her stayed with me for some time. When I knew I was near the trail my mood lightened and I looked forward to getting down and running on some dirt. This is when the rain started. And didn’t stop for at least the next 4 hours.

Maribyrnong River Crossing

Maribyrnong River Crossing

I knew this trail well and a favourite river crossing marked the beginning. I stopped here and slipped into my jacket (Ronhill Trail Tempest). I was glad I did as the first of many heavy downpours started. I don’t mind running in the rain at all and sometimes find it quite relaxing as the mood of the environment totally changes. Down the familiar trails I went keeping a comfortable pace.

I ended up making it into the city in under 3 hours, found the flower shop I knew opened early at 9am, got a fresh and funky looking bouquet made up and made my way through peak hour foot traffic up to my wife’s new work. As she works in hotels I didn’t factor in that this was the busiest time of the day with guests checking out. So the climax of my run did turn into a little bit of an anti-climax with me being able to spend about 1 minute chatting with my wife. She was however completely surprised, loved the flowers and called me crazy for running all the way from home. In my book that was mission accomplished.

So after the flower delivery I got a quick coffee then went and saw a friend Ricky who kindly let me use his apartment as a quick ‘pitstop’ and hydration point (Ricky was going to run most of the second half with me but apparently melts in the rain!). A couple of highlights of the run included weaving my way through the city in full trail gear in the pouring rain at peak hour – needless to say I got a few strange looks! I loved running in the heavy rain, this did ease up for the last few hours of my run where I managed to get a couple of pics. I also loved getting back onto the dirt trail after so much concrete and asphalt.

No-rain Ricky and me

‘No-rain’ Ricky and me

I estimated over the entire run there was around 70% footpaths/road running and 30% dirt trails/grass tracks. My total time was around 7 hours with a moving time of 5 hours 45mins. I was actually quite pleased with the average moving time in the end as I though it would be slower. The final 10-15 km of the run draaaaaagggged like nothing else as my hips, glutes and hammies started to tighten up considerably. I figured it was the constant pounding of the flat trails/paths during the run. No change of muscles. No rest for them either. I recovered pretty well from the run. And looking back it was a great experience. Especially surprising my wife 🙂

Lesson. Avoid road/footpath running at all costs! Trails are sooooo much more enjoyable and fulfilling! And pay more attention to the finer details when surprising the wife i.e. don’t surprise her at the busiest time of day at work.

A break in the rain on the return journey in Melbourne city

A break in the rain on the return journey in Melbourne city

Link to Strava details for run: http://www.strava.com/activities/132877630

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