From Falls to the Gong

28 03 2011

North Gong Beach

I apologize to my readers for the delay in this, my newest blog post.  I spent the last 2 weeks time developing a graphic novel based on the lives of the Falls Creek participants to be released simultaneously with the premier of our reality cable special.  Unfortunately, the final week at Falls was just about as exciting as the first, unscripted and uneventful.  The training the second week was nearly the same as the week prior, runs along the aqueduct and through Langford’s Gap; although my week was cut short due to a minor hamstring strain, compelling me to spend much of the days doing what I do best, rehabbing.  We were slammed by several days of rain so despite my top priority in coming to Australia, I failed to max out the sun exposure I was hoping for and my tan has suffered until recently.  So after another week’s worth of male bonding, a consecutive disappointing second place finish at The Man’s trivia night, and a few muddy miles in the mountains, we packed up Grego’s wagon and left Falls Creek, Sydney bound.

Seven hours of scenic views later, we pulled into Sydney Olympic Park, a small village that played host to the 2000 Olympic Games.  Rowdy, Robbo, and I were all entered to race the 1500m the following evening.  After killing a perfectly good Saturday in the hotel checking NCAA basketball scores and reading (an act of desperation), I made my Australian debut.  Without going into too much detail, let’s just say the race did not go ideally.  Four weeks out, I had envisioned something memorable, which it certainly was, but for all the wrong reasons.  It’s one of those races that you’re eager to grind into the past using the Sunday long run as a tool to flush your system of regret, embarrassment, and anger.  Fortunately Rowdy and Robbo held down the fort for the Falls Creek crew, with Rowdy scoring 2nd in a very tight race and Robbo running a two-second personal best.

On Sunday, Miller and I took out our cameras and maps, threw on some “I Love It Down Under” cut-off T’s, and spent the afternoon doing the tourist thing.  After lugging 8 weeks worth of baggage through downtown Sydney, making no attempt to avoid looking as American as possible, we took our time snapping some photos  of the Sydney harbor.  We were joined by Tristan Garrett, Sydney born and raised, who acted as our personal tour guide during the exploration.  With the harbor, the bridge, a plethora of unnecessary other tourist faces, and Oprah’s house excessively recorded for future blog posts, Miller and I called it a day, going our separate ways as he prepared to board a flight the next morning for the States while I jumped a train south for Wollongong.

I’ve got a week under my belt with another to go at the Gregson home in a beach-resort town of about 250,000 better known as the Gong.  They’ve got me sleeping in a 30-foot deep well straight out of “Silence of the Lambs” but I can’t complain; it comes complete with a ping-pong table and the lotion is actually sunscreen so it’s serving an appropriate function.  But in all seriousness, it’s really cool down there.  Mr. and Mrs. Gregson (Steve and Sue) are babying me like I’m their only son (Grego’s actually adopted…shhhh).  Amazing, home-cooked, 5-star feasts every night and little treats in the fridge at all times are mere examples of Sue’s inner goddess.  She’ll even watch cheesy American TV dramas with me post-dinner, and although they’re neither The Daily Show nor Jeopardy (miss ya moms), it still makes me feel at home.  Steve, in addition to possessing some serious worldly knowledge, is a one-man Team Contador, biking alongside Grego and I during repeat sessions and providing much needed words of encouragement as if they were spare tires.  The Gregsons even have Australian-Tivo here, so I’ve been able to record March Madness games and watch them at my leisure!  They have made me feel immediately comfortable in this new setting and have allowed me to slide smoothly into a healthy training regime where I can feel my fitness and confidence growing.  As much as I joke, it’s been really important to me that I’ve had the chance to gain some momentum in my training due to the support of the Gregsons and everyday running challenges and companionship of Ryan.  Not to say that the Gregsons haven’t put me to work to earn my keep around the house; between spoon-feeding Ryan his “cheesy, but not too cheesy, eggs” every morning and forcing leftovers down my throat for lunch each afternoon, I stay busy and gratefully rappel into the safety of my hole each night.

Running under a rich Australian sun with the waves on one side and mountains on the other is about as fantastic as it sounds.  I join Grego on soft surface grass paths that stretch from town to town up the coast.  I finish most runs at the set of the Gong’s own version of Baywatch where an older, more strung out Hasselhoff still goes at it, saving the lives of cougars scattered across the shore who overdo it during pilates routines.  Meanwhile Grego throws on his floaties and grabs his goggles for a fun romp in the waves–ain’t that right little guy?? awww he’s so cute.  Besides the torrential downpour that hit the area on my first day here, stranding a few at the house due to flooding, it’s been one nice day after another.  Hot, definitely hot, but it makes the post-run ocean dive that much more glorious.  This time next week, I’ll head back to Melbourne, and the adventure continues for another couple weeks.  Check in soon for more Gong love and a detailed comparison of Australian Football athletes to the everyday elementary school kid playing spiderball at recess.

And just for clarification, I’ve been told by those who masterfully bestow these brilliant nicknames that “Cracka” is based off of Cracker Jack, the dated and slightly over-rated, sugar-coated popcorn brand.

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One response

28 03 2011

Interesting…you can write some!!! Ms. Oliver will be so proud. Saw the 3:49 – ouch. You know the answer to your injury issue – legs up and epson salts! This(the blog) is nice; allows us(me)to kind of keep up…so, thanks!!

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