Cody and I landed in Sydney just short of a week ago and we have slowly been adjusting to Australia. We had a long drive from Sydney to Melbourne (~13 hours), which was super tough after travelling for about 25 hours from Victoria. We covered a lot of ground and in this time were able to take in so much countryside. I’ve found that one thing I don’t particularly love about competitive running is that you’re often not able to explore destinations much. You see the hotel, track and roads in between. Often, you’re trying to stay off your feet to rest for the race and then you’re off the evening or morning after the competition. So, this drive was a rare opportunity that we could see the beautiful landscapes and make little stops along the way. We adjusted to the time change quite easily upon arrival, though we started off going to bed early (between 8-9pm) and waking up early (between 5:30-6:30am).
Our Airbnb in Melbourne has been great and I’m a big fan of the fancy coffee maker and milk frother! We’re a short walk to the grocery store, which is perfect, and a paved recreational path is just steps from the front door. Melbourne is a BIG city with a lot of cars and pavement. Fortunately, our friends Jamie and Andrea (who live here mostly full time –Andrea is a pro runner with the Bowerman Track Club in Oregon) have been able to show us around and take us to all the great running and scenic spots. Also, Andrea makes incredible homemade pesto pasta and gluten free chocolate chip cookies – YUM! We are very grateful for their hospitality and local insights! They also referred us to an awesome osteopath, so Cody and I were able to get some treatment when we got here to work out all the travel kinks.
The heat here has been no joke. It took me a solid five days to get my legs back under me and for easy runs to feel easy. I just felt really heavy, sluggish and flat before the switch finally flipped and I started feeling normal again. We dialled back mileage last week to adapt (only ~90km 😉). Cody, on the other hand, ran as much this week as he has in the last four months combined! And did quite a bit of biking, too.
On Saturday, we did our last cross country specific prep workout before World’s at Studley Park Golf Course. Cody scouted out a perfect (and gnarly) 1km loop that had a few up hills, descents, off camber and techy bits, hard packed dirt trail and grassy sections. The workout was 3k-2k-1k with 3’ and 2’ set rest between each interval, respectively. We treated the workout as a race simulation, so waited until late afternoon (race starts at 5:30pm local time) and I carried out the day as if I was racing. I feel much more confident now about the race lead in and what I’ll do day of. I was a bit nervous because the only cross-country races I’ve done have been in the morning. The workout itself felt really really hard. I cut my warm up a bit short, brought a wet towel, stay hydrated, and did drills in the shade but wow it did not take long for the heat to cook me. I probably went out a bit too hot on the first lap (which started uphill) and I’m fairly certain every hill after that got incrementally slower. That said, I recovered well on the descents and tried my darndest to push in whatever short “rhythymie” sections there were on the loop. I ran what felt close to maxing out and my splits indicated that I really was not all that speedy. So, I focused less on pace and more on effort and boy was it a solid effort 🥵 I’m really happy with how I managed the conditions and kept pushing through. It was a good stimulus for next weekend!
We haven’t had a chance to do many “touristie” things yet, as training and recovery have been the priority, but we have still been able to get out and see some pretty cool spots! I mean, anywhere there are kangaroos, tropical plants, exotic birds and sunshine, we are intrigued 😊
Some other things that we’ve learned throughout our travels so far:
- Lots of hills and valleys in rural Australia with lots of sheep and cows. From the road between Sydney and Melbourne, it looks hard to grow any field crops, so grazing livestock must be the most viable business model
- Car-truck hybrids are called “UTE’s”
- All the semis we saw were FLYING, even on the very windy and hilly roads we were on, which was slightly terrifying
- The roads are very narrow, even in our 3-speed piss pot
- Most vehicles look equipped for battle, with the pickup trucks covered in snorkels, roll bars, push plates, lift kits and heavily treaded tires
- driving on the left side of the road in a right-side vehicle takes a LOT of mental concentration. We often drift to the left side of the road but thankfully the gas and brake pedals are in the “normal” positions! I’m still getting used to it.
We start the trek to Bathurst today, which is about an 8-hour drive. We’ll take two days and meet the rest of Team Canada there. Six more days until the big show!! Let’s go!!