Around the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne

After doing some reading and talking to people here, one of the last things I really wanted to do here was run "the Tan". It's a 3.8 kilometer track around the Royal Botanic Gardens across the river from the MCG towards St. Kilda. I had ran from the hostel one of the first days I was here down to Federation Square and back so I knew the way and it wasn't that far but I wasn't sure how I would feel after going around the Tan track and then heading back up to the hostel. I wanted to go around the track twice, once at a slower pace to warm everything up and then once at a quicker pace to see how fast I could do it in. Apparently the fastest time is just over 10 minutes for the 4(ish) km track. I'm not sure when this was set or who did it but that's what the free tourist bus said.At first I thought I would take the tourist bus across town and then down into the gardens, do a bit of sightseeing and then run the track. I started thinking about how much training I should be doing before the half marathons in the (Canadian) fall and decided to go a bit further. I would take the free City Circle tram to Fed square and then run to the gardens, around it, and then back to the hostel. I got so excited when I started to walk towards the tram that I thought I'd warm up right away run all the way down to the track, around it and back up.After going past the tram and down into the city I decided I was warmed up enough and started to job a bit. Big fail!! Both my right ankle and left knee flared up in pain every time my feet struck the pavement. Not quite what I was hoping for but it was cold. I'll just walk quickly and get really warmed up and then it will be all loosened up and ready to go. More walking and more walking and more walking then..... more walking. It was still pretty painful to run at all, even at a very very slow pace so I kept the walking going and went all the way across the water and into the gardens.My fantastic plan to run around the gardens the first time taking pictures wasn't materializing like I had hoped. I took this as a sign and gave up for the moment and just headed around snapping photos of everything interesting I could find. The Royal Botanic Gardens are actually one part of a massive green area the starts on the North end with Alexandra Gardens. I wandered through here first, past all the rowing boathouses and into the Queen Victoria Gardens. Both very nice but still basically green areas next to the water. After this was the King's Domain. Another nice area but the good stuff was next.Still heading south I hit the shrine of remembrance. A massive monument to those that died during the first world war, the entrance and visitors center are beneath it. Heading into the Crypt from there, it's got a large statue of a couple soldiers in the middle with large columns all around and flags on top of the columns. It was very dark and dreary in here but interesting nonetheless. Heading up the stairs brings you to the main level that is ringed by a hallway filled with books of the names of the fallen. Upstairs and outside from here was a balcony around the top of the building. Nothing near the view as the Eureeka Skydeck but not a bad view of the city and the rest of the gardens.Out of the Shrine and down to the Royal Botanic Gardens I was pleasantly surprised that it was more than just another green area. It was absolutely chock-full of plans from everywhere. Every different type of plant from Australia and overseas and information about them all. There were different areas, the arid garden, fern gully, South Yarra River Environment. There's a small man-made lake that covers a bit of t gardens and is home to many different types of birds. There were a few signs explaining the low water level of the lake. Apparently the recent rain has come nowhere near replenishing the lakes to their previous levels.I was almost all the way around the gardens when I heard large booms from near the shrine. They had arranged artillery there and were firing them off at 12 for the ceremony. I headed around that way to see if I could see one of them being fired but I was just a minute to late. In my haste to see the guns firing I started to jog a bit. Finally, after 2 hours of walking, my ankle had finally loosened up a bit and i was able to jog slowly. I found the nearest distance marker on the Tan and started off as slow as I could go, feeling out everything and making sure all was satisfactorily warmed up. I'm not sure if it is the same every day but most people seemed to be running clockwise around the track. Of course, there were a few rebels jogging it backwards and we'd see them twice on each lap.Half way around, there is a killer of a hill that isn't too steep but is fairly long. It took all my energy just to get to the top. It's downhill for a ways after this so I rested up as much as i could. By this time I was almost done my first lap and trying to get myself psyched up for the all out second lap. My first lap time was definitely abysmal at 26 minutes.The second lap started much better than I thought it would. After all the pains and cramps of the first lap, I assumed the second would be the same or slower. It started well. About half way through all my energy completely faded. The fact that it was almost 2pm and I hadn't had lunch yet and only a small breakfast wasn't helping. Almost all the way around I ran past a girl about 8 or 9 running the same direction as I. I was a little bummed when I found it hard to pass her. I figured I'd just sail past her. Wasn't the case! Finally after a lot of pep talk, I made it around to the final distance marker and managed to make it to the drink fountain that was close by only to find it didn't work. Another half a kilometer around the track I found one that worked and slurped at it hungrily.After running the track, I had every intention to run back to the hostel all the way through town. That sure didn't happen. I found some lunch up Swanston Street and mished it back to the hostel with all the energy I had left.Despite the ankle problems it was a satisfying trip. The rest of the day will be spent recuperating, finding out details of the fire show tonight and resting for the footy game tomorrow!