Ten years ago: the Games

Ten years ago this month Melbourne was in the grip of the Commonwealth Games.

As I noted at the time, it was a good excuse to Blame The Games for any delay or anything else going wrong. (Including crowded trains.)

Blame the Games

But it was also a lot of fun. These photos are from the baton relay as it went down my mum’s street.
Commonwealth Games Baton Relay, Melbourne, March 2006
Commonwealth Games baton relay

Here’s a short video… note the lack of lots of bystanders holding up phones, taking photos/video. Ah, those were the days, pre-smartphone. (Mobile phones did have cameras, but they weren’t very good.)

These are from our day at the athletics.
Commonwealth Games Melbourne, March 2006
Commonwealth Games Melbourne, March 2006

Crowds at Richmond Station on the way home — an enlightened policy of no car parking at venues, and public transport included in Games tickets, as well as extra services, meant things actually flowed pretty well. Plus everyone seemed to be in a good mood.
Commonwealth Games Melbourne, March 2006

To get official vehicles around quickly, they had “Games Lanes”. See, it is possible to provide on-road priority… now, why can’t we do more for trams and buses?
Commonwealth Games "Games Lane" Melbourne, March 2006

Finally, a non-Games photo: I must have found this old pre-privatisation (1999) map at a station somewhere. Looks like it might have been South Yarra.
Met rail map, outdated but still on display, 2006

Taking up running (again)

Part two of my three part plan for weight loss… (Part 1 is diet via FebFast)

I’ve never been one for organised sport, but I’ve had a few failed attempts at an exercise regime over the years. In the late 90s, I would regularly go for a short morning run, but I kind of fell out of the habit after a few months. A couple of years ago I got a punching bag, but it hasn’t really stuck.

I do get a fair bit of walking in. But I was looking for something a little more intensive, specifically to lose belly fat, which over the Christmas period can be an issue, but which to be honest I’ve been picking up over the past few years.

Runkeeper charts

Googling around I found this page, which may or may not be reputable: WikiHow: How to Lose Belly Fat.

It suggests a number of things, but one of the exercise ideas caught my eye:

Exercise in small bursts. Research shows that interval training, or alternating short bursts of energy with brief resting periods, can improve muscle and build endurance more quickly than traditional exercise.

And it gives this example:

Sprint. Run as fast and as far as you can for 20 seconds, then slow to a walk until you catch your breath. Repeat for 10 minutes.

As someone who sometimes sprints to catch a train, tram or bus, this appealed to me. So I’ve got a routine going now, which I’ve been doing since mid-December:

  • Brisk walk or jog down to the local oval.
  • Do laps: run for 60 paces (which is about 20 seconds), then walk until ready to run again.
  • Repeat for at least 5 laps, which takes about 13-15 minutes. I’m trying to steadily increase this, but 5 is a good starting point. If you’ve done 1-2, you’ve barely started and can’t give up. If you’ve done 3-4 you’re nearly finished, and can’t give up. I figure it’s all about getting the heart pumping, which it certainly does.
  • After the laps, a brisk walk or jog back to home.

I’ve been doing this three times a week (Thursday night, Saturday morning, Sunday night — these are the easiest times at present), but more often in the past few weeks as I’ve had a bit of leave from work. RunKeeper is tracking my progress (hence the graphs above), and nagging me if I go more than three days between runs.

If I get a stitch, I gather there are ways to combat that, by taking care with what/when you eat, and warming up properly.

I’ve tried running with music, but I need to get earphones that don’t fall out… and the music means I can’t count the steps/laps properly. It would work by going at a slower, more consistent pace that doesn’t need counting.

Is the running having an effect? I hope so, but it’s a little hard to tell. Belly still round, but the “grab test” seems to be a little harder, so the signs are good.

I’ll try and keep at it.

Who else is running, or has a different exercise regime?

Aussie Sportball finals time!

You can tell it’s footy finals time — this rather impressive tribute of sugary drinks was at the Oakleigh South Safeway Woolies this week.

Spotted at South Oakleigh Woolies: grocery tribute to Aussie Rules sportball

Somehow I’ve won the tipping in Tony’s competition for the second year in a row.

I think this might mean I get to present the perpetual trophy to myself.

PS. The term “sportball” is a mildly mocking word for organised sport, in particular football — less derisive than “footbrawl”. I note in Canada it’s an actual sport aimed at children.

Nagambie’s new life-size statue of Black Caviar

On the way up to Rutherglen for the wedding, we detoured past Nagambie on family business and to stop for lunch.

Nagambie’s bypass opened earlier this year. Traffic between Melbourne and Shepparton therefore no longer goes via the town, and it’s obvious that they’ve been trying to work out how to ensure some people still come through and patronise local businesses.

Their answer? Black Caviar!

The undefeated champion horse was born in Nagambie in 2006, and for some time now there have been signs up on the highway approach into town proclaiming this. But last Thursday they went one better, unveiling a lifesize statue of the mare, in a prominent position on the main street, by the lake.

Black Caviar statue, Nagambie

As you can see, it’s an impressive piece of work, with a lot of detail.

Its spot by the lake is handily located right next to the V/Line bus stop, also used by private buses from Melbourne airport. (V/Line trains also serve Nagambie a few times a day; the station is a few hundred metres away. The V/Line buses help fill gaps between trains in the timetable.)

Black Caviar statue, Nagambie

When we stopped past on Friday, so were others. There was a light but steady stream of people coming past, taking photos, reading the plaques.

Each side of the pedestal the statue is on has a plaque, and each has different information about the horse. This one is down the back end:

Black Caviar statue, Nagambie

It appears special solar-powered CCTV has been installed to protect the statue:

Black Caviar statue CCTV

Around the town, there were still balloons and signs up, and some businesses had Black Caviar specials for the week.

Nagambie: Black Caviar colours around town

(One for the gunzels: a picture in a nearby noticeboard of a diesel engine in Black Caviar colours.)

What the national media might have missed when covering the story on Thursday was the controversy around the location of the statue.

Angry residents gathered at Nagambie yesterday vowing to fight the decision to put up a statue of super horse Black Caviar on the site of the former Chapel of the Lake.

The church, built in 1885, was destroyed in 2003 when a truck crashed through the middle of it.

Where the church stood, bricks from the original building have been formed into a cross and a small display explains the history of the site.

Shepparton News 22/6/2013: Black Caviar statue fury

One family member who is a local couldn’t figure out why the Black Caviar statue wasn’t placed further along, leaving the church memorial in place. It’s not like Black Caviar had a specific link to that exact spot by the lake.

Oh well, if you’re driving past Nagambie and fancy getting off the freeway, or are coming past in a V/Line bus, check out the statue.

(Note for geeks: Black Caviar is, of course, not to be confused with Caviar Black hard drives, now known as Western Digital Black.)