Falls, Week I

13 03 2011

The journey into the mountains commenced last Friday, beginning with a train ride, transferring to a bus, and finishing up with a winding two-lane mountain road in Gaz’s 4-door pickup.  Gregson greeted us in an apron and ovenmits, eagerly preparing dinner for our arrival as he pranced around the kitchen singing along to Rihanna.  We’re staying the two weeks in Falls Creek, a small ski-town about 5 hours outside Melbourne.  We got ourselves a two-bedroom apartment up against the hills overlooking a valley.  Life here quickly assumes a pattern, intentionally for the running, and unfortunately, otherwise because there’s little to do.  Every morning, we’re up at around 9, and out the door driving to our jumping off spot to start running by 9:30.  Most of our runs have originated from Langford’s Gap, about a 5 minute drive from the apartment.  Running near the beginning of the path, a frigid cold mountain creek acts as our ice-bath post run (cold enough that I admittedly wussed out on the first two occasions).  Back at the apartment, Grego and Robbo fight over who showers first, ultimately agreeing to just share the thing.  The rest of the day consists of various forms of time-killing: playing around on the computer, sharing the sole broadband internet connection (which I usually monopolize), tweeting meaningless comments, watching ripped dvds/tv shows, reading (though very sparingly, sorry ma), and eating.  5:30pm marks our 2nd “practice session” which may involve an easy 5 miler and/or a variety of drills/exercises.  Like clockwork, 9:30 and 5:30 everyday.  The most challenging part of it all, aside from the obvious physical grind, is avoiding or more likely, accepting cabin fever (that, and the utter disappointment of missing March Madness).  7:30ish and we’re sitting down to a family dinner arranged by one of the crew, rotating meal responsibilities each night…most meat and pasta I’ve consumed in a week’s time.

Training, that’s why I’m here right?  So far, I’ve successfully been dropped on all but 1 run since arriving.  The brief drive to Langford’s Gap is enough to get pumped up as Gregson cranks the volume in his cush wagon, jamming to Australia’s most popular dance themes (oh, and Mike Bublee).  If I haven’t puked by the time we arrive, I’m ready to get started, excited for a run sure to wind into the hills with a group of studs to push me and Gaz whipping us while he bikes along.  Unfortunately, adapting to the training here has proven much more difficult than I expected.  We’re sitting at about 5500ft.  Not super high, but high enough to rock my lungs and sap my legs.  Compound that with my training partners and it’s been somewhat of a shock.  But I’m loving it.  If I somehow manage to stay healthy, then this is my ideal setting, running in the mountains with a group of guys who will redefine what I consider “fitness” while blowing me up like I’m some sort of recreational jogger (that’s a soft “j” sound).

Isolated in the mountains (closest town a brutal, motion-sickness guaranteed 45 minute drive away), the gang is more or less forced into a “Jersey Shore” situation, just without the guidos, clubs, drug use, promiscuity, fights, and otherwise cable-worthy entertainment.  But it’s a good crew and I’d say definitely worthy of at least an A & E special.  We’re still figuring each other out, but the initial awkwardness has essentially been lost to ragging on one another, a sign of acceptance and general harmony.  Rowdy, justly nicknamed due to certain personality traits, is difficult to characterize; a low-maintenance, easy-going individual who doesn’t cause a lot of commotion and trains harder than Gregson dances.  Miller brings to the table a keen knowledge of random information most useful during Tuesday’s pizza and trivia night at the local (and only) pub, The Man.  Most of the blog’s readers probably already know the man behind the nickname so I’ll leave it at that.  Robbo is a quiet one who packs a vicious punch.  19 years old, but has no trouble dropping his elders as calmly as he does politely.  Equally impressive is his apricot chicken, the dinner we wish would replicate every night.  Grego is the Jimmer Fredette of Australian track and field, just younger and a little cockier, though justly so.  I’m sure most of you have seen the highlight reels or read ESPN-Australia’s homepage enough to already have the scoop on this young buck.  At 20, he owns most of Australia’s mid-distance program and is working toward world domination; I mean save for one or two other studs, the rest of us pray that we might get a sniff of his slightly overwhelming Nivea-for-men body spray as he unloads a ferocious kick on his way to another record.  Lastly, Garry Henry, our “advisor.”  A graduate of UNC-Pembroke, Gaz has been with the program since Athens 2004.  With skin weathered from decades of sun and a course voice, I think Gaz typifies that rough Australian you might find in the outback hunting poisonous snakes (trust me, more of a badass than Steve Irwin, RIP).  He’s a disciplined old bloke, making sure we’re spot-on time, joining us for every run as he navigates the trails with a pair of disc-brakes and front shocks.  Essentially, Gaz is the man.  As far as nicknames go, I started as “Bolo” but most recently the boys have been calling me “Cracker” (the “er” pronounced “ah” because the Australians struggle mightily with “r” sounds).  It’s official once confirmed by Bidders (Nic).

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5 responses

13 03 2011

Glad you’re hitting some trails!

13 03 2011
Brian Kaufenberg

Nice post sir. I’m not sure about the nickname though. Do you eat a lot of triscuits or is it a “southern” thing? Keep us updated, and tell Rowdy to settle down! Peace son.

13 03 2011

Your pictures and stories are fabulous! You write exactly how you speak… I love it. Keep your stories coming! Two things 1) that apricot chicken recipe better be coming back home with you 2) have you been eating a lot of cliff bars? (plug)

16 03 2011

Great read jack!! Sounds friggin’ awesome!! And your body will thank you for those cold creek baths…suck it up son 🙂

19 03 2011

Sounds like your living the dream, Jack. You’ve even got a personal chef most nights. Now that Fiesta Grill isn’t down the road, what have you been cooking for the crew? Keep the posts coming!

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