Sydney; capital of New South Wales, home to Australia’s most famous landmark, the most beautiful of unspoilt beaches and coast and what I believe to be the best ‘smashed avo’ in the world!
Saturday 30th December 2017
We are here! Woohoo!
A short walk took me to ‘The Pod’ Hostel just off Pitt Street, my digs for the next week or so. Staying over Hogmanay and New Year in Sydney means you have to book a 7 night minimum say in most places to guarantee your booking. I would definitely recommend The Pod. It was immaculate, good kitchen facilities, laundry and the little pod style beds are really private…all essentials on the backpackers checklist.
Because I was staying in the same place for a few days I could actually do a mini food shop and keep stuff in an actual fridge…exciting! Off to the supermarket to stock up (Coles and Woolworths aka woolies…but not as we know it, being the supermarkets of choice in Oz) and a little walk around to get my bearings a little. The location was perfect. A short walk to the station, a big Coles right on the corner, bus stops galore in the surrounding streets, coffee shops a-plenty and the park and Botanical Gardens leading to Mrs Macquarie’s chair just a few blocks away.
To quote Annie, “I think I’m gonna like it here.”
Sunday 31st December 2017
May your bubbles be many and your troubles be few!
You can’t help but be a little nostalgic and sentimental at this time of year, well I can’t. Looking back and reflecting on all the things that have come and gone throughout the year almost past, the good, the not so good and looking ahead to what the new year might bring.
This year my running shoes have taken me on the biggest adventure of my life. 2017 really has been a cracker. The races…the places…the people. The most special of times and I’m grateful for every second. I often think I shouldn’t really be ‘bragging’ about how great my year has been when I know for so many it’s been been quite the opposite, but I can think back to some not so nice ones and I think that life has a very clever way of creating a special balance in the end.
I can’t quite believe it’s almost 2018! Quite a few of the Kiwi family are in Sydney for New Years celebrations so today’s plan was to meet up with Tim for some brunch at this side of the city on our way to queue up for the famous Harbour Bridge fireworks, where we would meet up with Jess, her cousin Rosie and some of their housemates. How lovely it will be to share it with friends. The treat of Eggs Benedict, more of that delicious Aussie coffee and then a little stock up on snacks to keep us going for the next eleven hours saw us all set for a different kind of marathon…the queuing marathon. I know this would be some people’s idea of a nightmare but I kind of think when you’re in Sydney for the first time on New Years it has to be done. Plus there’s a big difference in queuing for something you really want to do, it’s not nearly as much effort. We were pretty lucky in that the queue at Mrs Macquarie’s Point (recommended as one of the best free spots to watch the fireworks) closed not that long after we joined it. It went down quickly (2 hours later!) and after a little walk around to suss out the set up, we managed to pitch up right next to Jess, who managed to get there a little earlier than us and catch a great patch on the hill. Although it was super busy, it was all very civilised. No bring your own bottle so people don’t tend to be quite so full of merriment as they might be otherwise. Some fizz to share, a little picnic and our own wee patch of sky…smashing!
There are two rounds of fireworks, one at 9pm as a little warm up, we thought possibly for people with young families who would maybe leave soon afterwards rather than staying for the late night show and then the grand finale at midnight marking the start of that brand new year. The ‘practice’ round meant we could work out where the best spot for the ‘real deal’ in a few hours time.
Before we knew it, it was ten to midnight and we managed to make our way to a brilliant spot really quite near the front with the best view facing directly on to the harbour.
10, 9, 8….ahhhhh here we go!
H A P P Y N E W Y E A R! And as we say in Bonnie Scotland, Lang may yer lum reek!
Spectacular! Just incredible. The $6,000,000 worth certainly did not disappoint. There really is no way to quite describe it and the photographs certainly don’t do it justice. I had an idea in my head of what New Years Eve in Sydney should be and it was just everything I wanted. For sure, my favourite New Years Eve yet! I really don’t know how anything can top it. What on earth am I going to do to mark the start of 2019?!
We sat on the hill for a little while to enjoy the moment and soak it all in before walking back amongst the crowds to the hostel where I celebrated in style with my first cup of tea and Tim Tam of the year. Wild!
If 2018 is anywhere near half as special as 2017 was, I’ll be a very lucky girl.
Monday 1st January 2018
2018 is up and running! A beautiful way to spend the first day of the year. An easy 10km run from Mrs Macquarie’s chair out towards the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and around Circular Quay. Very special. It was super busy so today wasn’t so much about any fancy session but just enjoying the route and surroundings followed by a lovely relaxing afternoon in the park with my book…perfect recovery.
Tuesday 2nd January 2018
This morning I followed some of yesterday’s route for a faster progression run, 10:10:10. I’m trying to include a couple of fasted runs in the week for shorter or easier sessions as it helps to make your body more efficient at utilising fat as an energy source. In the later stages of a marathon, your body is depleted of glycogen and if you are not fuelling correctly to restore these supplies throughout the race, your body will turn to the next readily available source of fuel, fat. I’m hoping that training my body to do this will be of at least a little bit of help in those late stages of the race.
Cool down and stretch then a short train ride out to Newtown to meet Nicole for some breakfast before she leaves for the last part of her Aussie adventure before heading home. It was soooo lovely to see her, I’ve definitely missed that girl!
In the afternoon…the one and only Bondi Beach! The weather was mostly sunshine and it was just what I pictured when I thought of Bondi… gorgeous water and beautiful sand but people galore! We did manage to catch a glimpse of the ‘Bondi Rescue’ team doing the rounds for filming too which was pretty cool.
One of the highlights of the visit to Bondi and a ‘must do stop off’ was Anita La Mamma del Gelato ice cream shop for thee most delicious cone.
In the evening I had a good phone-call catch up with my coach,Tom. A plan made in terms of the vision of where we are going for the next few weeks in the training build up to Tokyo. Where we are now and where we want to be.
He wants me to update him regularly every few days, a bit more than normal so we can make necessary adjustments to sessions re pace and volume to ensure we are still progressing as well as we can. He also helped A LOT with recommendations for long run routes here ahead of Sunday’s session as he has some athletes that he coached now living here so he has very kindly put me in touch with them to plan some possible options.
Huge thanks to Wendy for all of her fab suggestions and super speedy replies!
Wednesday 3rd January 2018
It seems we are all about the ‘mate dates’ in Sydney and it’s lovely to have company to explore this beautiful city. Along with the rest of the kiwi bunch, we met up with Conor and Grant for a little farewell coffee this to bid them farewell back to Bonnie Scotland. I then went for mate date number two of the day, with Lorna, a friend from home at The Clock Tower in Surreyhills. Nice to explore another little suburb before a little bit of shopping for some essentials and I just so happened to find Heaven!…Yes Sydney! Another bonus point!
Thursday 4th January 2018
Today, the long run.
Ahead of joining the tour group at the weekend when time is a little less flexible as well as the super hot (well more so than it already is) weather that is forecast, I want to bank these miles, switching up the plan to do the long run session today. Wendy gave me heaps of suggestions and I’m sorry I won’t be able to fit them all in but today I opted for Centennial Park to run laps, mostly so I could just enjoy the run without having to think about where I’m going.
Sometimes there can be a little bit of dread associated with the long run. A bit more than necessary procrastination time required to finally get ready and get out the door. A little dread at the thought of what’s ahead but today I was up for it.
The first lap was good, just concentrating a little more on the route as there were quite a few paths leading off different roads. But my legs felt great and although it was still warm, I was feeling strong all through the run. 17 miles as 10 miles easy and the last 7 at Marathon Pace (9:10-9:20).
In the evening I ticked Darling Harbour off the list and the most delicious pizza dinner, perfect post long run treats for refuelling though maybe not the healthiest.
Friday 5th January 2018
This morning a little coffee (just for a change!) at circular quay, watching the world go by. Lots of walking around the city today made for the perfect post long run active recovery. A nice chilled day before what will be a busy weekend.
Saturday 6th January 2018
Parkrun! I just bloody love it! It is about so much more than just the run.
And today, my first little spot of Parkrun tourism at Sydney park. An earlier start than at home, and wawh, for sure hotter and sweatier, 28C already at 7.30am! The usual friendly banter pre-run and a lovely but hilly course.
I stopped for brekkie on the way back…an Aussie staple…eggs and smashed avo… before having a quick wander around Glebe Markets.
In the afternoon, I took the bus out to Coogee to do the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk which takes in what has to be some of the best views in Sydney. Now you can see why I loved it so much!
That water!…….And that sky!
I had to cut the afternoon a little shorter than I would have liked as I had to be back in the centre of the city for the welcome meeting for our tour starting early the next day. But it was a nice chance to meet some of the people that would be on our trip then it was back to the hostel to pack up ready to get on the move the next day.
Sunday 7th January 2017
Having only got the finalise itinerary for the tour emailed the day before, I hadn’t appreciated that we would have time in Sydney at the beginning…bonus! We took a trip to the Blue Mountains, beautiful scenery, eucalyptus forrests and the hottest day on record in Sydney for almost 80 years! Super hot even by the locals standards.
A stop at Manly Beach and a ride in the ferry, taking in the beautiful Sydney harbour bridge and opera house once more (I don’t think that view would ever get old!) and the classic Aussie dinner of ‘throwing a shrimp on the barbie’ at Stacks, a ‘cook your on BBQ Steak’ restaurant. Lots more ticks off the Aussie tourist ‘to do’ list.
Few cities have given me the ‘Wow Factor’ quite like one; the beaches, the coast, the incredible harbour, the wonderful food. Sydney, you’ve been unreal…and I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface!