24 January 2014

Hello from the Victoria Alps, Australia

This afternoon I had a 50min run with a build for the final 3200m down to 3.20 pace. The Rocky Valley Dam is a very impressively complex (Mainly underground) structure located minutes south of Falls Creek and 350km north of Melbourne. Today it made for a very eerie run. Fog has filled falls creek and as I ran across the dam the fog flowed over my head making all around me white. I have never had such a peaceful run workout.

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Brianna and I had one of the best pre-flight send offs. Departing from Vancouver on the 31st of December, Brianna, my parents and I took the ferry to Vancouver on the 30th, had dinner at Dynasty Chinese Restaurant in Richmond (which is one of the best Chinese restaurants I have ever been to. Delicious) and shared a hotel close to the airport. The next morning was a rather emotional goodbye for 8 months.

Once on the flight and on route to Sydney, Australia I gave Brianna a light nudge saying, "Happy New years" as the clock hit midnight in Victoria. We landed in Australia feeling a bit robbed. How did we loose 24 hours!!! I felt better knowing that I will get it back when I return home to Victoria.

We drove straight to the beach in Wollongong for a fun dip in the ocean and a run in the evening. We spent 2 days in Wollongong before joining a convoy of cars heading to our January training camp at altitude in the Victorian Alps. After six hours the road began winding upwards to our final destination, Falls Creek. In the winter Falls Creek is a winter wonderland but in the summer, runners, cyclists and triathletes take over. Everywhere you look packs of runners are heading in every odd direction.

At 1600m altitude I feel I have adjusted to well to the change in elevation. This camp has been the hottest altitude training camp I have ever attended with temperatures reaching 32 degrees C. My run focus continues here with more structure. Double runs most days with such sets as 3x15min at tempo or 4x1km pace checks (to quantify improvements and how we are adapting) plus a weekly long run at 100-110minutes through the tundra/desert like landscape. These long runs remind me of the book "Born to Run" four Aussies, a hungarian and I run through this barren rugged landscape like we are the Tarahumara running through the deadly Copper Canyons of Mexico. Half way through some of these runs I have these sudden cravings for water as I seem to dry up. I see a small stream and am so very tempted to take a sip but my better judgment kicks in.

Although we have only done it once due to extreme heat a highlight would have to be the climb from Mt. Beauty(the location where we swim) all the way up to Falls Creek. It is not the longest climb I've done nor the steepest but as a Cat 1 climb with heat it is a good challenge. The Climb is 31km long and takes about an hour and 25 minutes. At the top we are rewarded by a dip in the cool spring water.
All in all things are well in the Victorian Alps. I do get home sick here and there. I do miss runs along Dallas, rides to East Sooke Park and through the highlands. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss coaching the Uvic Tri-Club.

But, I know that this is an amazing opportunity. Coach Jamie is shaping me into the athlete I want to be. Mentally and physically.

More on that later,
Till then, ciao for now,
Andrew McCartney

Had this in my head for my run today.

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