Sunday, March 29, 2009

No Turning Back

A much better way to say "exit."

Mike in a happy travel haze.

Girls giddy from travel.

HPP & MJ - mmmm, meat pies!

Watch for roos!

5:00 am OZ time and I can’t stay in bed any longer. I am, however, feeling much more rested after a rock-solid sleep following the long day of travel. The flight over was reasonably comfortable, plus I had a chance to catch up with friends Tim and Nicole DeBoom en route. Tim looks phenomenally fit and I’m guessing he’ll have a brilliant race. Nicole is bubbly and kind as ever, and will accompany me later this week to the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie to check out one of the unique local attractions. She’ll also serve as cheerleader extraordinaire for all of us, and her smile will be a welcome sight during the race.

Once in Sydney I connected with MJ, HPP and Mike and spent several hours lugging bags about, sampling yummy food and drink (the airport food is actually good here!) and waiting for our next flight. The tiny plane that took us onward to Port Mac was miraculously able to fit all of our bikes, so sighs of relief were widespread. I was seated in back next to the uber-sweet Chrissie Wellington, so we had a fun chat and I enjoyed getting to know her a bit more. She and MJ met for the first time in the boarding area, and immediately gave each other a warm hug – which I thought was particularly classy and a genuine representation of the soul behind our sport.

Immediately upon exiting the rental car lot (and no, I was not driving, but rather slightly panicking at being on the “wrong” side of the road) I saw my first kangaroo crossing sign. No sight of an actual kanga yet, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled.

Once “home” to our apartment at the Flynns Beach Resort, we went to work taking care of the bare necessities. The guys built up all the bikes (thanks guys!) while MJ and I went shopping for supplies. We also searched in vain for a bike shop that was open on Sunday afternoon, since all four of us neglected to pack a pump. MJ and I drove around town asking anyone we could find for a shop; one gentleman was particularly kind and gave us detailed directions – only problem was that he heard my American “bike shop” as “bait shop” and therefore exuberantly described the best place in town to purchase fish. We didn’t bother correcting him; as MJ put it, he was extremely helpful, just not terribly useful.

Rather than ride on soft tires, we all headed out for a short shake-off-the-travel run. I have to say I’ve never in my life felt worse running. I mean it was pure hell. Immediately my lungs started burning and I was wheezing as though in the grips of an asthma attack. That passed after about five minutes, and after I slowed to a barely moving jog. MJ and HPP trotted on ahead, and poor Mike turned back after just a few steps. He’s dealing with an undetermined injury which hopefully is only a shin splint and won’t prevent him from racing – but his first attempt to run in over a week proved quite discouraging.

I ran (if you can call it that) for 30 minutes, losing confidence with every step. I felt heavy, bloated, sluggish and sore (my Achilles has been nagging me for some time, and it was particularly irritated yesterday). I didn’t expect to feel great, following on the heels of international travel, but I certainly didn’t expect to feel that awful. But on the bright side, it can truly only get better from here!

The rest of the evening was spent in a groggy haze. MJ and I cooked dinner and everyone tried to stay awake long enough to synch into a normal routine, but I was the first to climb into bed at 8:00pm. I feel much improved this morning, and imagine that after our morning swim, afternoon ride and one more thick night’s sleep I’ll be perfectly adjusted to the Aussie clock, and my fitness and confidence will emerge from hiding.

Did I mention that it’s raining? Dumping, pouring rain in fact. The 10-day forecast looks pretty gloomy, and we can only hope that the storms pass prior to Sunday. But ultimately, whatever the day brings, we’ll all be out in it together. What will be, will be!

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