Sunday, February 26, 2012

Eating Kanga and Hanging with Roo

Well, I survived the 36 hours of travel (barely) and have been enjoying the sunshine and running in Australia’s capital city.  Located amongst hundreds of miles of wide dirt trails, the running in Canberra has been amazing.  Combine that with the warm weather and my calf being on the mend, things are going pretty well.  My only complaint has to be about Canberra’s lack of tracks.  While virtually every school and playing field has cages for the discus, rings for shot put, runways for the javelin, and pits for long and triple jump- there is only one track in all of Canberra, located at the Australian Institute of Sport, and it is open to the public for a few limited hours each day.  Oh well, at least the immaculate cross-country course and thousands of trails more than make up for it.

It has been amazing to be able to see all of the little critters that make Australia famous.  My runs are inundated with mobs of wild kangaroos hip-pity-hopping from place to place.  And while I have yet to see any emus- kookaburras are constantly laughing at me, the crimson rosella parrots are stunning, magpies are everywhere and the horrid screech of the sulphur-crested cockatoo is deafening.  While all these critters are great to be able to see in the wild, usually they are even better in my belly, and as such, I have been on a quest to eat as many of them as possible.  Wild rabbit, prawns and kangaroo have already been consumed, and emu and crocodile are next.
The training has also been going well.  I have now put in two solid weeks of running only (wow!) and the legs are starting to come around.  I look forward to traveling down to Melbourne in a few days for my first race of the year.  I just hope that there isn’t too much rust on the old engine.  The race in Melbourne should be fun, it serves as the Australian Olympic Trials and will take place on a brand new track complex.  I look forward to toeing the line, and I am ready to get the racing year started!


Until next time,
Ben

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Departing for OZ

As I sit here in the United terminal at JFK waiting for my flight to Australia (and dreading the thirty-six hour travel ahead) I can finally reflect on the last few days.  Things have been progressing rapidly with regards to my injured soleus- however, not quick enough for me to partake in any indoor races and I had to heartbreakingly watch the 5km at the Millrose Games from the sideline.  But all is not lost, as I have recently been able to do a few workouts without much problems and I am hoping the warm weather of OZ-land will cure any lingering ailment.
The bright side of my current affliction (if one could spin a positive light on torment) was that due to my cleared racing schedule, I had the pleasure to be able to help coach the local high school track team through their State meet.  Being able to work with the kids for a few hours each day allowed me to glean assuagement from my lack of running and watch as the kids improved, culminating in having Hanoverians win the girl’s 4x400 relay and 600m.  I look forward to my return from Australia to continue my coaching and working with the program I helped start in Canaan this fall, brining a new running initiative to the middle schoolers of Indian River.
And lastly, any speak of the last few days would be remiss without report of my hair-raising encounter of a high speed car chase.  Yes, not just in the movies, but they actually do happen on the bustling highway of I-89 in New Hampshire.  It occurred when I was traveling to Maine to drop my pup off with my parents while I am traveling abroad.  Cruising along I first noticed a cop parked on one of the police pull outs.  I quickly glanced down at my speedometer, making sure I wouldn’t be subject to be pulled over and continued on my way, thinking it was nothing more than a routine speed check.  However, no more than a mile further up the road, as I had increased speed thinking that I had just past the one and only cop on duty for the day, I noticed a second police car lurking on the side of the road.  At this point I knew I was speeding, as I was in the lefthand lane and in the process of passing a chain of slower moving cars.  I immediately started to break with a gut-wrenching feeling that I was about to be pulled over.  Yet, as I got closer, I noticed that the policeman was standing in front of his car holding a large object.  Confused, I stared at the policeman in attempts to figure out what he was doing, and while doing so, saw out of the corner of my eye a green blur.  Before I knew what happened, a pickup truck barrels past me like I was standing still.  I watch as the truck squeezes itself between me in the lefthand lane (remember, I’m currently passing a chain of cars) and the guard rail.  An inch separates us as we speed three-wide down the two-lane interstate.  Just as the truck passes me, we reach the policeman who throws out a spike-mat in attempts to slow the perpetrator.  Seeing what was happening, I swerve hard to the right narrowly missing the mat myself- and the other cars around me.  The truck swerves as well, rocking back and forth as it continues in its attempt to flee.  I try to breathe.  What just happened?  As I slow, trying to figure out what I just witnessed and to comprehend how I didn’t just wreck, a hoard of police cars fly past in pursuit, lights flashing and sirens wailing.  A few miles up the road I notice deep cuts in the pavement and before long sits the pickup swarmed by a dozen police cars.  The truck’s tires were missing, having run on its rims for the past mile, and smoke billowed from its hood.  Driving past I could only be thankful that I was able to avoid an accident myself.  Luckily, the rest of the drive was quite uneventful, and I can now say that I have been apart of a high speed car chase and lived to tell about it.  I just hope that the rest of my travels are a bit less exciting.
Until next time,
Ben