Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Running Down Under

This year's Holy Week was a vacation treat for my family -- we decided to visit my sister, Vicky, down under at the Gold Coast in Australia. The trip was hastily put together -- we couldn't finalize any flights until we understood the kids' school schedules -- for end-of-year and summer. Finally, we decided to leave April 4 from Manila, arriving in Brisbane April 5.

This was going to be a family reunion of sorts. I decided to also bring my mom and dad along -- together with my 3 kids, we were, thus, a tour group of 7!! The plan was to try out all the different theme parks and get a whiff of Aussie culture and cuisine (did sample Kangaroo and Crocodile meat) along the way. I wasn't planning on doing any running since we will be walking a lot throughout the day. I was also worried about the weather since the forecast was for wet days throughout the week.
Front view of my sister's place in the Gold Coast
The area was in harmony with nature -- birds and parrots freely fly all over and perch around your front and back yards.

Thankfully, the weather was relatively clear and the rainshowers were tolerable. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that my sister lived in an area that was fantastic for running. Her house was situated in a subdivision beside a nice lake. I also found a nice running area at the other side of the motorway. That gave me an excuse to put on my sneakers and go off for two runs while I was there -- each was about a 10K distance (about 1 hour 10 minutes plus duration).

A view of the lake and houses lining the running and walking path.

I love the serenity of running in this environment early in the morning. It was still a bit chilly when I start but, after a few minutes, my body warms up enough to keep me comfortable. While I did perspire, the cool weather made the running really smooth. I was more like a tourist enjoying the beauty of the place and that helped keep my mind off the running chore.

More views of the running path and the surrounding landscape and lake.

In one of the runs, I was able to go to the other side of the motorway to a nice park-like area. I was enjoying the view when another runner passed me by -- a nice, shapely lady with earphones on -- and she whizzed by me with no effort and continued running up the hill in front. Oh well, it was one time my pride didn't get in the way -- didn't even think of pacing with her! he! he!

I saw birds perched along the iron fences -- rarely do we see the maya birds we used to find flying all over Manila nowadays.
Some homeowners have their boats parked right in their front yards!!!

In the US, they have the STOP signs to manage traffic in neighborhoods without the need for traffic signals. In Australia, as in the U.K., they build roundabouts (or rotondas), to manage traffic flows. Of course, you need discipline to make this work. MMDA is trying a similar concept with their U-turn slots but is failing miserably because of undisciplined drivers.

I wish I lived in a similar spot here -- ample trees, nice lakes and comfortably cool weather. It'll make running really pleasant. Maybe I should come back and join one of the many races in Australia. That's something to look forward to. Unfortunately, our trip there was shortlived -- we came back to reality yesterday, April 14.