Melbourne is my kind of city! Between its warm weather, lofty music and food standards, great running trails, and large bat population, it reminds me of Austin, Texas… but with cooler accents, cuter abbreviations, and more exotic animals.
For a summer-chasing traveler/runner such as myself, I really can’t think of a better place to be than Melbourne right now. The weather hovers in the high-70s most days (though a few days have been pretty blazing, which I love) and the shining sun offers a constant nudge to get outside and make the most of summer. For such a big and bustling place, Melbourne also has an incredible amount of green space and dirt trails. You can be right in the thick of the city one minute, and the next you’re rolling up to a national park or extensive trail system. You’re always a quick hop away from one of Melbourne’s peaceful, woodsy areas, and can easily be tricked into thinking you’re in some remote rural area and enticed to run a little further than planned.
Speaking of hopping… While I’m still waiting for my wombat and koala spottings, I was fortunate enough to endure a kangaroo-related delay on my way up to Falls Creek last week. A roo family in front of us was doin their thing, bopping all over the road without a care in the world, including the fact that a powerful vehicle was on their tails. It was by far the most fun delay I’ve ever experienced– I felt like I was in the middle of a cartoon! It also reminded me a little of this, although our guys weren’t so much mischievous as oblivious:
Another awesome part of Melbourne is its vibrant running scene. I’ve been meeting up for runs with the Melbourne Uni club (although, ironically, none of the guys I’ve been running with are students anymore but in the working world) and have loved their company on the trails and on the track. In fact, I haven’t done a solo run in over a week… some kind of record for me! Their goofy nicknames (Hamster, Animal…) and catchy abbreviations (stress fracture= stressie, Christmas= Chrissy, afternoon= avo…) suggest that my main man Aziz may have been inspired by the Land Down Under in one of my favorite Parks and Rec clip:(Les… P&R will always be funny, but way less so when you’re not beside me, one-sockin it up, rewinding all the funny parts, and seriously trying to impersonate Aziz’s dance moves.)
I’ve also had the treat of spending some time with Lachlan McArthur, former Rice runner and Manor resident, and his wife Lisa Weightman, 2-time Olympic marathoner. (Lachlan and Lisa don’t always match, but when they do, they look gooood.)
They’re about as nice a couple as they come and I am so inspired by their ability to balance full-time employment with intense training and preparation for world-class competition. The fact that Lisa is such an accomplished marathoner, yet has always held a full-time job, would blow many running minds out there and maybe even induce some sympathy. But it’s clear that she thrives in a busy and productive environment, and has learned how to manage her time and prioritize her commitments to a remarkable degree. And Lachlan, though no longer competing himself, is the model of a supportive training partner and husband, accompanying her on many runs and riding his bike alongside her on the rest. Although I only met Lachlan briefly in London this summer, it was great catching up with my first Rice face in 5 months and comparing funny stories about track and the ole Rice characters.
With all the running we’re doing, it’s a good thing Melbourne has an overwhelming number of good places to refuel and relax, whether it’s brunch, coffee, ethnic food, or anything else. Unlike many big cities, Melbourne doesn’t settle for the usual chains or predictable restaurant format. It’s full of trendy, unique establishments, tucked into narrow side streets, that are worth going to for the experience alone. Some of my favorite spots so far include an old monastery that was converted into a cafe, restaurant, bar, and petting zoo; a little noodle place in the heart of the Vietnamese part of town; and a hotel that was renovated into a bar in the style of one of Melbourne’s prototype alleyways.
That’s all I’ve got for now! I’m nearly finished with my November and December drawings from Ethiopia, so those are next on the agenda. Also, Lisa’s getting ready to race the Osaka International Women’s Marathon on January 27, so I wish her a smooth, speedy, fun race and safe travels for both her and Lachlan to Japan and back.