Monday, December 22, 2008

Authentic Australian Experience

In between tri's and Christmas parties, I've been trying to fit in a few more Authentic Australian Experiences.

First, I went to the Eumundi Markets with my friend Julie. The markets are about an hour and half north of Brissie. According to the website they are "World Famous.". But I have it on good advice that their heyday was actually 30 years ago. Still, they were huge. Mostly arty, but also commercial. The biggest surprise there was the truly fantastic Mexican food. Sure, it's by Australian standards, but still, nice thick chips, real guac, pulled beef. I was happily surprised.

On the way home from the Eumundi Markets, we stopped at the big pineapple. Large roadside attractions (see the big lobster from my Great Ocean Road trip) are an Aussie icon. The pineapple is big - 3 stories tall. But in the end was a bit of a disappointment. It's free to climb up and the inside is filled with diaramas of a pineapples trip from the farm to the can. But there was no info on the pineapple itself. When was it built, who built it? It also was a bit of a let down that they'd clearly built this large parking lot and a special bridge across the highway to access it, and it was empty. There might have been 8 people there. Just felt a bit sad.

From there we stopped at the Abbey Museum. It's a 3 room museum, and we were the 3rd and 4th visitors for the day. The man at the front refused to allow me to pay the full price admission of $8. Instead I got the student rate of $5.50. The museum was surprisingly good. It followed civilization from cavemen times to the Victorian era. And had some pretty impressive artefacts (Mary Queen of Scot's shoe!). I am a bit more skeptical now, I mean, how does a 3 room museum in a Queensland country town get the shoe of a tragic queen? Still at $5.50 this was better than the pineapple.

Finally, I got to take part in an Authentic Aussie Surf Carnival. As part of our Christmas celebrations, my tri team broke down into country based teams: Australia, New Zealand, Rest of World. I brought my tiny American flags. Who knew how useful those would be? Some people got assigned new homelands since the Rest of World (or as I like to think of them, the American) team would be lacking. We did an ocean swim, a boogie board contest, beach flags (sprints, starting lying face down in the sand). It was a great experience. Picts are here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Race Report: Raby Bay

Can't hold it in: I got in the top 10! Not like the top 10 overall. But in the top 10 of women aged 25-29. But still. There were 31 people in my category, and I came 10th. Better than that, I ran my 5K in 24:50. It's the first time I've run sub-5 minute Ks in a tri!

It was a sprint race. The third in the Queensland Tri Series. Each race has gotten a little bit tougher, a little bit longer. This one was a full sprint 750m-20K-5K.

And it was hot. They rotate the start times of the individual waves, so though I was one of the first heats at Robina, at this race I was the second to last. The race also has a kids race and an enticer race (mini-triathlon), so though the kids got started at 7. My race didn't actually start til 8:48. On a cloudless 32 degree day.

The swim felt good for the first half and bad for the second. I just lost my guts, started breast stroking every few strokes. My overall time was still sub 15 minutes, but I know I can do better.

On the bike I could see another BTS person shortly ahead of me. It was a 4 lap course, I caught her on the second, but she passed me back. But I passed her back again. Then an official on a motorcycle rode up alongside me. He says, "Looks like you lost your friend". I was a bit stunned. Officials don't talk to you, unless you've done something wrong. This guy was just having a chat. Very strange.

Luckily to combat the heat, there were gusty winds. Unfortunately, on the bike this made the ride out near impossible and the ride in super fast. At every lap, I'd sail in with the wind to my back, turn around, try to get out of the saddle to get my speed back, but with the wind pounding my chest, I'd bow back down onto my bars to push through it.

Then the run. The wind here really made a huge difference. 5K in four laps of 1.25K, coming back in to the crowds for the half way point. It felt good. Strong. I passed another BTS person on the course, but since we were so close to the last to go, the course was clearing out.

I forgot to stop my watch, so I didn't realize til the official results were released that I'd finished the run in sub 25 minutes.

I was sorely disappointed that after all of that there were no sausages leftover. A sausage on a slice of bread is an Aussie tradition. Though there were plenty before the race, it's not the time that I'm really in the mood. And afterward, they'd already packed up. Grrr.

Also, I got a little sunburned. I mean, I put on sunscreen, but it's only good for 4 hours. And it's not really good for that after a swim. But there's not much option. I can't put on more screen during the tri, the sweat will stop it from sticking. 4 hours and 30+ is the best I can find here. Other than covering myself in zinc, I can't figure out what else to do.

But those things aside, I broke into the top 10. It's only up from here.

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