Our lazy days at Yanchep typically involve waking up early and running down along the beach before beginning our touristy activities. Since I am far from being an expert runner, heck, even an intermediate one, I dabble more in the slow jog territory, while Kate, our resident track star, will sprint ahead and then double back, bouncing up and down right in front of me, waiting for me to catch up and already eager to run some more. Huffing and puffing out a few words at a time, I will attempt to gossip and tell her stories for a spell, but will soon throw my hands up in the air (metaphorically speaking, since I am typically too tired for any unnecessary actions and barely pumping my arms by this time), and give up. “Maybe…you..should…tell…the stories!” I will wheeze and then she’s off, chatting away, running and talking at the same time effortlessly. And so goes our symbiotic running relationship.
To compromise for my slow running pace, which I like to blame on my short legs, we run down the beach two miles and then stop to attempt fun yoga poses (and give me a much-needed breather). Typically, this yoga respite of handstands and headstands ends up with us tumping over and faceplanting in the sand, but not before we are able to capture the poses on our phones, making us look like quite professional yogis. The only give-away to our collapses is the granules of sand clinging to our face, arms, and legs, and try as we might, the little grains stick to our sunblock like glue, so when we run back, we do it sand-man style.
This routine goes swimmingly, except for the day that Kate gets impatient and runs ahead. On our way back, we agree to peel off of the roadside trail and head back down onto the beach at a certain entry point, so that we can run the beach the rest of the time and then take a dip in the lagoon before going back up to the house. She sprints ahead and says she will meet me at that entry point and wait. However, when I get to our predetermined rendezvous point, Kate is nowhere to be seen, so I stand around looking like a lost dog. (Which is ironic because our meeting point is the Yanchep dog park). As I stand there, sweaty and tired, an Australian couple comes around the bend of the beach path and jumps a bit in fright upon seeing me. “Oh my! Are you all right?” The woman asks.
“Yes…” huff puff huff puff, “I’m…” huff puff huff puff, “…fine,” I manage to say.
“What are you doing?” The man asks curiously, eyebrows furrowing as he catches sight of the patches of sand covering my face and body.
“I’m running!” I state obviously. I then look down and realize I am standing partially in the bushes, wearing bathing suit bottoms (for sun exposure purposes, of course) instead of shorts, and have sand stuck absolutely everywhere. (It had been a day of extra challenging yoga poses with significant consequential faceplanting). I reach up and casually try to brush off the sand stuck to my forehead, creating a bit of a sandy unibrow.
“Mhmmmm,” they both say as they inch away slowly and try to pass me without getting too close.
“Was she attacked?” the woman loudly whispers to the man as they walk away. “I think she rolled in the sand,” the guy responds in a confused voice. “Maybe it’s a new type of exercise,” she suggests. “Yea, like adding weight to make your run harder,” he adds. “Or like natural sunblock protection,” she surmises. Their voices fade down the path as they continue to offer possible explanations for my sandy appearance.
I hustle away down the path, furiously rubbing at the stubborn sand granules, which just roll across my face, and continue my beach workout, running up and down the beach right along the waves, sprinting up the beach to avoid the big waves and then curving back down to the soft sand when the water rushes out.
The next day, running down the sidewalk, we hear a car honking and “woo-hooing” at us. I look up, expecting it to be a man, and see a smiling old woman, giving us a thumbs up as she honks again and again while driving by. “Thanks Australian lady!” we call out, and continue our run in the blistering heat.
And that’s what it’s been like, running in Australia.