Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Australia makes news in the US

Very rarely does news from Australia make the journey all the way to our fair shores. But the New Vegemite debate has been deemed worthy of a NY Times Article. Basically, Kraft announced a new vegemite spread which is a mix of vegemite and cream cheese (sounds delicious already). The asked people to give suggestions for a name and eventually landed on iSnack 2.0 (now that puts a bad taste in my mouth). The public was outraged, Kraft ran an online poll and renamed the new spread cheesymite.

Now this is all interesting from a marketing perspective, but I'm more interested in it from the pride Australians take in Vegemite. I'll be the first to admit that it's an aquired taste. Resembling in sight, smell and taste salty leftover beer, it took me a while to grow to love it. But Australians are passionate about it. It's a national icon. It has a song.

I love that when I googled for the song the second link was a clip from Good News Week (one of my favorite programs in oz) in which the entire audience breaks out into the Vegemite song. That's how into it Australians are. Do we, as Americans, have something similar? The Oscar Mayer song? And as my officemate points out, why don't kids know how to spell bologna if this song is so popular.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Crash shatters triathlete's dream


I used to train with Keri. When I got hit by a car, she let me borrow her bike, so I could still compete at Mooloolaba. I know the exact spot where she got hit.

She is probably the most dedicated triathlete I have known. Her coach would send her 13 work outs a week and tell her she could skip one. But she never would. She never wanted to take the easy way. She saw that as a slippery slope. If you skip one work out, then you've given yourself permission to skip another.

They're apparently keeping her in the coma until her back is healed enough for it to be moved. The whole situation is just horrible, and I can't stop thinking about it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Race Report: BAA Half Marathon

In keeping with my "who needs training" philosophy, I ran the BAA Half Marathon this past weekend without running longer than a 10K practice run. My final time was 1:53:09, so almost spot on with my first half marathon. Though in actuality this one was about 2.5 minutes slower, since I didn't stop to pee 4K in.

The extension of my "who needs training " attitude leads to forgetfulness for the race itself. Sunday morning I forgot to change out the laces in my shoes. This sounds funny, but for tri's a wear elastic laces, and the previous weekend I had had issues with the right one loosening. I was able to force them closed, so it wasn't that big of a deal in the end. I also managed to forget my pre-race water bottle, my post-race snack and my sunnies. To be fair, it's tough to remember sunnies when it's still night outside when you leave the house, but I really did look at my visor and think, I need to bring that, then promptly left without it.

One thing I didn't forget was my ipod. Other races have rules against ipods, and this one does too: you can't win the race wearing an ipod. Since there's a very low risk of that I opted for the tunes. Getting to the start line, I pop in the headphones and hit play. Mmm, great song... that is not on my ipod. Turns out I had grabbed Paul's ipod (they are exactly the same model - why did I get him a different color?) So it was sorta like having Paul run along with me. Biggest surprise on the playlist: the Devil went down to Georgia. Loved it.

The race started near fenway and wound it's way along the parks of Boston's Emerald Necklace to the Franklin Park Zoo. We even did a small loop through the zoo. I didn't see any animals there, but I did note that we ran along the "outback trail," which made me smile.

What does one think about for two hours of running? I do math. I know, not a huge surprise, right? But I find that my poor ability to do math in my head is severely hampered when I'm running. This means that math can distract me for quite a while. So, I manage my watch, compute splits, convert to metric, convert back. (There is something that makes 10 miles seem so much closer to 13.1 miles than 16K does to 21K.) And though I was ready to be done running around mile 9, I maintained a really consistent pace between 8:25 and 8:30 minute miles.

Finally, two days after the half marathon my knees hurt. In fact going into the race my left knee was hurting (I blame sitting at my desk so much with this broadband paper). But coming out of the race it was the IT band connections to the knee that really killed me. Now that's settled down, left knee is still sore, but I'm pretty happy about that. Why? Cause my shins don't hurt. I ran 21K and not even a twinge. I don't think I'll ever be 100% shin splint-free, but I think having some really long recovery has made a lot of difference.

The US through Austrlian eyes

Well, it's been a while. Life's been busy. A very large report I worked on is being published on broadband.gov today for public comment. It's very exciting, but it's been taking up almost all of my spare cycles. In addition to that, my friend Lauren from Australia was visiting and I took some time off to hang out with her. And other than that, my life just doesn't seem that exciting: work, the occasional training session, football on the weekends, repeat.

It was fantastic to see Loz again. We did some shopping, visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History (which had a giant whale skeleton from Queensland), sampled some authentic (or as close as you can come) Mexican food, watched a football game (well, ok, she took a nap through the third quarter), enjoyed some Karaoke (thank you, Boston, for verifying that the appropriate response to the lyric "Sweet, Caroline" is "Bah, Bah, Baaaaaaaaaah"), checked out the Topsfield Fair (the US's oldest fair - not all that different to Australian Shows - sans show bangs), and took a walking tour of Back Bay.

I still wish we had fit in jackolantern making, but somehow it just didn't happen. Overall though we tried to do more "authentic" American experiences than tourist ones. Still my favorite moments were ones where something American would surprise her. For example, at lunch one day burst out, "Oh, look, there's a squirrel out the window!"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Race Report: Lobsterman

A few highlights and observations from yesterday's race:

1. There was no reason to get there so early. The race started at 9:30am, because that's when the tide would be in the bay. (When we got there most of the swim was just mud). But the park opened at 5am, and they encouraged people to get there as early as possible because there's only one road into the park. We got there at 7:15. I was the first bike on my rack, and then we got to hang out for 2 hours.

2. People in New England are big sissies. This was the first race I've ever done where a wetsuit was required to do the swim. The water temperature was in the low 60s. There were people there with not only wetsuits, but gloves, footies and beanies. I felt a little silly in my armless wetsuit, but once we got swimming, I felt fine in it. Not cold at all.

3. Riding the bike course before the race would have been nice. It was a VERY hilly course. With two hills that required I drop into my absolute lowest gears. Knowing about them and where they'd be might have saved some trial and error with the gears.

4. On the run, this girl caught me at mile 1. I had passed her twice on the bike and held her off. She said I'd been dragging her on the bike and that she hoped her legs would hold out for the run. And I'm thinking "Great, I drag you for 25 miles only to have you drop me at the beginning of the run." I try to keep with her, but it's no use. I don't have it in my legs. Oh, well. Then mile 3 comes up, and all the sudden, I've caught her again. This time she says, "I think you'll have to drag me on the run too". Ok, so long as she doesn't make a move in the last 200 meters. In the end I finished the race less than a minute ahead of her, but I felt strong knowing I had held her off and I hadn't dragged on any one.

5. I've got good transitions. I had the 3rd fastest transitions in my age group. Transitions won me 3 places in the standings. I should really thank my coach back in Brisbane for that. Although I still never mastered the flying mount, those fast changes meant that I finished 6th in my age group out of 37. How's that for not training?!

6. No race can compare to the post-race feast which was at Timberman. Lobsterman did have a lobster bake (for $25!). But the competitor food was just bagels and fruit. All I really needed in the end, but I think I may have been spoiled by Timberman.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Race Report: Timberman

The Timberman race was ranked the best sprint race in the US by Triathlete magazine. Thus, it was sold out months in advance. Luckily, knowing a few insiders, I was able to fill in for a friend of mine at the race. So my bib said "Sionan" on it, but otherwise, I raced as me.

The race was a slightly shorter swim (1/3 mi), slightly longer bike (16 mi), and slightly shorter run (3 mi) than an traditional sprint. The weather was warm, but a stormy. I was surprised to see how many people were wearing wetsuits. The water in Lake Winnipesaukee was around 75 degrees, but well over half of the competitors wore wetsuits. I figured for such a short distance, the advantages of the wetsuit would be overcome by the struggle with taking it off. However, they did have wetsuit strippers available, and I was a little jealous that I didn't get to utilize them.

Next came my first gumby moment of the morning. I chucked my sunglasses on my towel, cause it was starting to rain when I emerged from the water. I threw my helmet on and got moving. Out on the bike, I remembered that I had had a gu in my helmet, but I hadn't seen it when I put the helmet on, so I figured it must have fallen out somewhere. Low and behold taking off the helmet, I found my gu, still there. Nice one.

My run felt pretty good. Getting to the first mile marker, I checked my watch, 8:44. I had felt a little faster than that, but ok, I'm not in shape. A few minutes later I checked the watch again, 8:46. Ah, gumby moment number 2: my watch was displaying time of day, not lap time. Sweet, I had actually run much closer to an 8 minute first mile. The last mile, the next person to try to catch was much further ahead of me, I focused and got determined to take her down. Turning into the shoot, I passed her, and sprinted to catch the next two people ahead of me. Overall time was sub 24 minutes, which I was thrilled with, but after the fact I discovered it was not quite 5K, so my overall pace was 7:58, still not too shabby for me.

So best sprint in the US? Well it was superbly organized. Tons of volunteers. But the real kicker was the post race food: the typical fruit and bagels, then salad, pasta, antipasto, cold cuts, clam chowder, yogurt, ice cream, soda, margaritas, beers! And I got a nice insulated water bottle and mini towel! My first towel from a tri! And so appropriate that the sprint gives you a tiny towel.

Special thanks to Andrea for helping me get into the race, putting me up for the race, letting me drive her car and entertaining me on the drive. And to Sionan for giving me her number.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The beginning

In preparation for Paul's big 3-0, we're getting fit. Paul's going a bit more hardcore than I am, but I think we're both excited to get into "the best shape of our lives."

To start this journey we, like any good nerds, needed a good quantitative baseline. After some thorough internet research, Paul made appointments at the Bod Pod. Tucked away, in the one of the largest sports clubs I've ever seen in Weymouth, MA (about 30 minutes drive without traffic, an hour the day we went - Thanks, Country Music Festival!), was the space-age looking device:
Using some combination of air pressure and Jetsonian design, the Bod Pod determines your precise body fat. The whole process took about 2 minutes after the traffic and using the phrase "bod pod" about 30 different times in the gym itself ("Excuse me, we have an appointment for the bod pod," "are you here for the bod pod," "which way to the bod pod?"). We stripped down to bathing suits, and sat still in the egg-shaped machine. Then it printed out our results.

Both of us were in the "moderately lean" category. My body fat percentage was 23.1%. My weight 122lbs. I'm now very curious as to what my stats were when I first returned to the US. I certainly haven't been training or eating as well as I was in oz. I was a little surprised that I weighed so little, as I feel like I've put on more weight, but my weight in oz was consistently 122lbs.

My body fat percentage goals aren't as clear as Paul's. I'd like to get into the "lean" category which is 18-22%. I think being at 20% or so would be nice, but I don't really have much reason for that other than just seems like a nice round number.

My real goals are for the Olympic distance race in September and the half marathon in October. I'd love to do a Mooloolaba time at the Lobsterman, and a sub 1:50 in the half mara. I've engaged an Aussie friend of mine to help me write up a program. I'll be doing less cardio than I did in oz, and more weights, so it will be interesting to see how my performance fairs.

We're going back to the Bod Pod in 6 weeks and again in 12 to mark our progress. For now, it's just the beginning

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And we're back...

... With new fonts, new colors and a new title.

I'm no longer living in oz, so it seemed the right time to rebrand. Instead I'm living in... Boston. But more importantly, I'm living with Paul. Our new place is right in Davis Square in Somerville in a turn of the century school house. We adore it.

Also, I'm a year older now. So we celebrated last weekend with a lovely dinner party. Here is the slide show demonstrating both my new age and my new apartment:

Hopefully, I'll have more triathlons to report in the coming weeks and new adventures in Boston.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Skewed incentives

One of the questions I've been asking myself in this new job is "How effective is Herdict at monitoring in real time filtering on the web?" This morning I walked into the office and one of the interns asked me if I had heard about Guatemala. I had not. At the risk of over simplifying a complex situation, it seems that the Guatemalan president has been implicated in a corrupt banking scheme in the country. Guatemala recently arrested a man for his twitter comment which undermined trust in the banking system.

Yesterday it seems that Guatemala blocked WordPress, a popular blogging platform. In the past month we have received no reports from Guatemala, then yesterday that jumped to nearly 40, almost all of which are pertaining to WordPress.

This was very exciting news for me, because it means that even in a small country, where we haven't seen much past activity, when filtering does occur, it's being reported. But then, should I really be excited when a country tries to stifle free speech on the internet? Feels like I have some skewed incentives.

An official post will be available here

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What I'm working on

I've just started my new job:

Monday, June 08, 2009

On the road again

We're now halfway through our 2 week road trip, and hanging out in Asheville, NC.

We started out last week with 3 nights in Cincinnati. We visited Paul's Uncle and my brother and sister-in-law there. We also ran for 30 minutes, up hill, in 90 degree weather, got lost in one of Cincinnati's "up and coming" neighborhoods, visited the Findlay markets and went to see the movie The Brothers Bloom (which was excellent).

From Cinci, we drove down to Chattanooga. We had been planning Nashville, but our scheduling didn't work out and we were going to miss Paul's Aunt and Uncle there, so we opted for Chattanooga which was more direct to Atlanta. We stayed at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, in one of the antique train cars for the night. I went to this hotel when I was a kid with my dad. I remembered it vividly. It is exactly the same, if showing it's age a bit more since it hasn't had any upgrades since 1989. Still seems like a fantastic spot for the kids, but maybe less so for the adults.

We left Chattanooga early to head down to Columbus, GA before stopping in Atlanta for the night. My ex-step-sister (yes, that's right) lives in Columbus with her family, so we went to visit her and meet her 2 year old for a few hours before driving back up to Atlanta on Friday night. My friends in Atlanta that we were staying with had a wedding to go to that night, so we were on our own for dinner. We drove around hunting for Decatur square, but ended up stopping in a blues and ribs joint. These were the best ribs I've had in recent memory. They were huge! We couldn't eat half of them. So if you're ever in Atlanta and have a hankering for ribs, check out Maddy's. We stuck around for the live blues that night, which was a high school band. It was really cute, their families were all there to support them, and the lead guitarist was really good.

At 9pm, we decided, we'd fit in one more tourist attraction for the locals, the Stone Mountain Laserlight Show. Here's another event that I went to many times as a child, that I haven't seen in 20 years. It was just as popular as I remember it, with picnic blankets knitting a quilt along the lawn. They've done a few updates to the show, it now includes a tribute to 911, and it no longer includes "Proud to be an American". Despite these changes, the show has stuck to its roots. The main event is still 80s style animation and highlights Georgia's role in the civil war and music history. We thoroughly enjoyed this.

We spent the next day catching up with friends, grilling out and playing incredibly complicated board games. Then headed North up to my old home town for lunch with a friend from junior high school and a tour of my old haunts. It's been 12 years since I've really lived there. And the town just feels like a town now, like any other, it doesn't hold all the significance it once did, and it actually seemed, like a nice place.

Last night we got into Asheville, after taking the back roads up through the beginnings of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is incredibly green here.

Pittsburgh has been cut from the itinerary with the plan being to go direct to DC, with an extra day here and an extra one there.

All in all, a fantastic way to spend two weeks when you're homeless and unemployed.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Our new lease in Boston starts 15 June, but Paul's sublet his apartment in South Bend on 1 June, so we're officially homeless starting tomorrow.  What better to do when homeless than to take a roadtrip.  We thought about going somewhere exotic, but after two years overseas, I'm ready to see old friends and take a few trips down memory lanes.  

The stops on the tour are:  Cincinnati, Nashville, Atlanta, Asheville, Pittsburgh, DC, New York (probably).  Plan is two nights in each destination, though we're not totally wedded to it.  If you're anywhere along the way, we'd love to see you.  We take off tomorrow.

In other news, I need to decide what to do about the blog.  I think I'd like to continue it, at the very least to keep me true to my training, but I think I need a new name.  It's certainly no longer my "continuing journey through Australia".  And the title no longer fits either.  Thoughts and suggestions?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


President Obama gave the commencement address at Notre Dame last weekend, and I was one of the lucky few who go to go and see him speak.  Obama's invitation to speak at Notre Dame has been a hotly debated topic, as many Catholics feel strongly about Obama's views on abortion.  There were many protesters with graphic posters on the route to the campus, but the address went off very well.

Before the speech, I wondered what balance he would strike between the traditional commencement speech ("you are the future, go forth, but don't forget what you've learned in these hallowed halls") versus a more political campaigny speech.  In the end I was impressed that he actually addressed the abortion debate head on.  He talked about the need for both sides of the debate to treat each other with respect and to seek out common ground.  He also pointed out the role that the then President of Notre Dame played in the civil rights movement, and the common ground that was fostered then.  The speech itself, was inspirational.  The text can be found here:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/17/obama-notre-dame-speech-f_n_204387.html

But the most inspiring thing I found was the way the crowd behaved.  There were protesters who made their way into the ceremony and attempted to disrupt the speech.  They were each quickly escorted out by security.  The response of the crowd was phenomenal.  The first few times it happened it was met by Ssshhhh's, but on the third time the crowd broke into a Notre Dame cheer.  The crowd didn't break into an Obama cheer.  They cried out "We are ND".  Essentially saying that this is our community, and we will not allow this sort of disrespect in our house.

It was a proud moment for me.  One where I felt like an American again, not just an ex-pat, and a great way to come home.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Better be home soon

I've spent 688 days in Australia.

So let's go back to the predictions I made all those days ago:

The sweaters were definitely the biggest waste of space, except for when I spent those few weeks in Melbourne, then they were awesome. But I was definitely bemoaning finding space for them again as I packed to come back.

I came with 9 pairs of shoes. I'm leaving with 9. However, I think there are only 2 pairs of overlap. I also go rid of another 8 pair in the packing. I'm not sure what this says about me. Maybe that I'm a girl?

I've also visited 5 out the 6 states and 1 of 2 territories.

I've taken countless pictures and read countless books. And so far (24 hours to go) have not been the victim of any venomous attack.

Looking back, my expectations for a 6 month jaunt down under bear very little resemblance to actually living here. My adventures here have been scary and lonely, thought-provoking and encouraging, rapturous and victorious. I well and truly can't imagine my life now without the amazing friends I've made along the way. How beautious mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in it!

Lauren, one of my best friends here, said to me that now that I've lived here I will always be homesick no matter where I am. Missing Australia while in the US and missing the US while I'm here. I hope so.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Four bags and a box

I've finished packing:

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Random cheering

After the phenomenal support from complete strangers last week, I got to thinking about the art of cheering. I, myself, have been guilty of going to a race with a few competitors to support and, by and a large, ignoring the remainder of the competitors in the field. I always feel a bit awkward on the sidelines silently searching for my friends as random people go past, but I also feel awkward about cheering on strangers. As a competitor, I don't feel as weird running past people who aren't cheering for me, but I really appreciate it when they do.

This morning was the Mother's Day Classic. I really like the tradition of fun runs on Mother's Day. I have participated in one for the last 8 or so years. I think it's a great way to celebrate your mom, by getting the family out to be active together. And though I've never run with my mom, I do always tear up at some point during the festivities in her honor.

I'm not running at the moment. In fact, I'm not anything. I'm resting for the next month. But since it's Mother's Day, I decided to go out and support the people participating this morning. There was a 4.5K run, an 8K run, an 8K walk and a 4.5K walk. I got there just before the first 8K runner finished. At first it was a bit awkward to be the only person cheering on every one. I started with some polite clapping, then worked my way into a few "woo"s. Then I decided I was too close to the finish line. I moved out to the last corner. From there I just let loose! Calling out people's numbers, telling them to finish strong. It was great. I had one guy come up and ask if I was cheering on any one in particular. He thought it was cool. In fact I got two other couples to randomly cheer as well just by my example. It was heaps of fun, and I got lots of big smiles, espeically from the little old ladies.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Race day

One of the benefits of doing a race out west is that my body clock wants to go to sleep at 7pm and the race didn't' start til 8am, so I think I got the most sleep I've gotten before a race ever. The proprietors of our B&B got up early to make us toast and set out muesli and fruit. I typically have cheesy oatmeal for breakfast before a race (and many training sessions), but I thought I'd go with toast with cream cheese and vegemite. So delicious. How can you not have vegemite before your last race in Australia?

At registration I find out that this race does age groups based on your age by the end of the year. This means this was my first race in the 30 to 35 year old age group. Seems like the unkindest cut of all, when I still have a good few months of 29 to go.

I wasn't nervous. Walking out to the start, most people have full wetties on. Mine is sleveless cause I reckoned, I live in Australia, it never gets cold enough to really need the sleves. There were still a few other sleveless people like me and I thought, at first, I'll be fine. Then I realized all these sleeveless wettie people were probably from Tasmania or New Zealand. Hmmf.

I took a little warm up swim. I could feel the water seeping up through the ankles of the suit, then down the back along the zipper. Not too bad. Finally I dive in, but it feels frigid, my arms ache with cold, and it knocks the breath out of me. I came back to shore and gave Simone a quick hug and head off with the rest of the women toward the start line.

Up to this moment I felt calm. Standing there watching the wave ahead of mine get started it all hits me. It's my last race in Australia, and when this is done, it's time to go home. My eyes well up, and I start laughing at myself for crying at the start line. I must have looked a mess with tears streaming down my face and a case of the giggles. A woman next to me asked if I was ok. "yes, just excited, and trying to get the crying done now so it doesn't come on during the race" "good call, crying in the goggles doesn't work very well. I've tried it. You'll love the race"
(swim course the day before the race)

And then the horn is blowing, and we're rushing from the beach into the crystal clear Indian Ocean. The course is basically out 900m, 100m across then 900m back to shore. This has to be the best tri swim I've ever had. The water is beautiful and just gently lapping against the shore. I can see the bottom for the whole course. I tried to just stay relaxed for the swim, conserve my energy. When I could, I swam on people's feet (tapping their toes with my fingers). I never really got into a rhythm with my spotting, and I felt the bottom was moving very slowly by. I didn't feel very fast, but tried to just focus on completing each stroke well. At each of the turn buoys people bunch up to take the turn as narrow as possible. This creates a lot of kicking and swimming on one another. Coming out of the second buoy, I took several breast strokes to try to get my bearings. I still couldn't spot the next buoy, so I tried to just follow the other swimmers. Before I knew it, I was about 200m from shore. I swam right up til where my hands hit the sand, as I've been taught. I hit my watch and to my amazement I had swum a 32 minute swim. I had thought I'd do something closer to a 38-40 minute swim (usually 37 in the pool, but slower in open water). They say you go faster in a wetsuit. I can't wait for those cold water New England swims. I was rapt!(this was probably the best moment of the day when I realized what an awesome swim I'd had)

The bike course is also out and back, 15K each way, times 3. Coming out of transition there's a water bottle station where you can pick up water or electrolyte. I had brought one bottle (my Houston one) and put it in my back cage. I had a squirt of gu (Simone had gotten me a gu bottle, so I wouldn't have to negotiate the individual packets during the race), and it's awful. Maybe it's the bottle, maybe it's that I purchased them here instead of in the states, but blech! They are terrible.

Heading out of town, I get into my 30k/h pace. I get passed by people, women in my age group. In an olympic, I would not let that happen. In an olympic, I pass girls who were faster than me in the swim. But here, I have to keep reminding myself the plan is to hold 30k/h, to have something left for the 2 hour run. Do my own race. About halfway through the first 15K I realize I've never done this long of a ride by myself. This is going to be at least as mentally tough as it is physically. The course is dead flat and runs through a few developments then into bushland. Only real downfall of the scenery was somewhere, in that bushland was a very large, very dead animal, and it stunk (drop bear, perhaps?). Coming back into town I felt fast. Got speeds up to 35. I didn't want to overdo it, but I felt good with the speed, though my back was starting to get a bit stiff. I kept an eye on my average speed and at the end of the first lap, I had it up to 31. That was perfect cause it gave me a little buffer for the next two laps.

The course is dead flat, which is good for a consistent time, but not so great for variety. I think my favorite part of the course were the 20 seconds or so coming out of the corners where I could get out of the saddle.

Just after the turn around was the water bottle disposal. I tried to put my Houston bottle back into the back cage, but I couldn't manage. I had to chuck it to have room for a full bottle. :-(

I started getting bored on the second lap. I would have killed for some music, so I decided to think about songs. My number 1 pre-race song is still Wolf Parade's You are a Runner. Although this is a terrific song to belt out in the car, it leaves something to be desired in the a capella version in my head. Ok, how about something a bit simpler. What pops into my head? Henry VIII. I don't think I've heard this song since middle school, but there was definitely something appealing about the second verse being the same as the first. After a few rounds of that was the Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. Very strange.

I got to the halfway point. It was time to eat my bar. I had broken it up to 6 bite-sized pieces. However, after the first bite, it was clear, they were too big. Got it all down eventually, and all before riding past the dead animal again.

I did have one panic moment on the bike. I went to put the water bottle back in the cage and the nozzle caught on my brake cable, the bike slowed abruptly. Luckily, it didn't lock the back wheel, and I pulled it out again before any damage, but certainly raised my heart rate a few beats.

On the last lap, I tried to psych myself up, thinking how exciting it was that I was doing my half, and how sad I'll be after it's done, in 3 hours. But I wasn't buying it. I'd spent 2 hours on the bike already. I wanted to get off. Also at this point, I rode past the run course, the pros were just out on their first lap. There were significantly fewer athletes on the course. I seemed to have settled into a group of riders who were of similar paces. We weren't pack riding, as that's against the rules. I tried to be careful to maintain one Holden Commodore (7m) between me and the rider ahead of me, but we seemed to be passing each other back and forth. At the 10K to go mark, I surged ahead. I was excited to finish the bike. I started talking to myself. And why not? I couldn't talk to any one else, and no one could hear me. I started planning for the run. First few ks just turn the legs over. This is my race. I will finish this race. Just two more hours.

At about the 5K mark, 2 people passed me. I was a little miffed cause I thought I had actually dropped them. I kept up for a few seconds, then reminded myself to not be competitive, and sat up to have some water. Suddenly, an official pulls up beside me. Oh no, please no penalty, not this close. "9-5-4" he bellows "When you get passed, you need to drop back more quickly" ok "this is a warning". Oh. Thank. God. Penalties on this course are 5 minutes.

I'm back in transition. Two thirds done. I was thrilled to be off the bike. I spot Simone and tell her as much. I'm feeling parts of my butt that have been numb for hours. The run is also out and back, 3.5K each way, times 3. I brought a banana with me to have somewhere and 2 gus. (must have been first lap, there's the banana)

I hear a cheer for BTS. I'd heard several along the bike course, but was never sure who it was. On the run, i finally spot them. It was Tri Alliance people, our sister squad in Melbourne. That was awesome. it was great to have another voice cheering me on.

There were water stations at either end of the course and one in the middle. From the first water station to the middle one was packed with crowds and distractions. I have not loved the people who dress up to come cheer on triathletes more. Honourable mentions to the "Lurve Lounge", dressed up as hippies, in wigs and leisure suits with their own elvis, the 1920s style bathing beauties with sequined bathing caps and inflatable duckies, and the house blaring Eye of the Tiger"

The back half of the course was quiet though and another mental challenge. Just before reaching the turn around, I spotted Andrew (Simone's bf). He was walking. It was the first time I'd seen him all day. I patted him on the back, taunted him a bit and ran on.

My plan had been to walk at each aid station. It's easier to actually get the fluid in me, and it gives a good mental break. I had half the banana at the first turn around. I felt pretty good, completed the first lap in 40 minutes. That was perfect, if I could hold that for the next 2 laps, I might crack 5:40! And it would give me a 2 hour half marathon. Hmm, if 40 minutes was my goal time, maybe it's not great to have done it on my first lap. Or, maybe I'll go faster cause I would be running funny from the bike.

At this point, I can start to feel the chafe under both arms. I had put on body glide that morning, but clearly it had worn off. Nothing to be done, but keep running.

I made it out to the halfway point, still feeling ok. I have a gu, some water, and amazingly, I still don't have to pee. My second lap comes in at 44 minutes. Hmm, I've slowed down a lot. Gotta just push through. There's no way I'm going to run 36 minutes for the last lap so my 5:40 is out. But maybe a 42 minute lap. That would be good.

The field had thinned out significantly. My stomach is getting a little burpy, and I can taste the bar I had hours earlier. This is not a good sign. It means, I'm not doing a good job digesting, I'm not getting water and I'm not getting sugars or salts. From the middle aid station to the turn around is 500 breaths, and I start counting each one of them. About 50m from the last turn around my hands go numb and tingly. My heart rate sky rockets to 180bpm. There's no way I'll digest anything at that rate. I try to push for the last 50m, but I just don't have it in me. I walk to the aid station.

In addition to water and electrolyte, they also provide coke. I figure the coke will either give me the push to finish, or it will make me puke. Either way, it's probably better than how I was feeling. I keep walking and my lower back starts to seize. I stopped and gave it a little stretch. I could still touch my toes, so it couldn't be that bad. My heart rate was back under 150, so I started to jog back. I didn't stop at the last aid station. I just focused on the next landmark. First the bathing beauties, then the toilet block, then the Lurve Lounge, the "living the dream" posters, now it's getting close.

I turn in for the last 100m in the finishers' shoot. I hear Simone yelling at me to pass those boys ahead of me. I sprinted as hard as I could manage to the finish (and I do pass those boys). About 20m before the line, I get passed by 3 girls who are running in a team. This pisses me off. They haven't done the whole race, how dare they have the audacity to pass me just at the end. Still I like my finisher picture.

And that's it, it's over. My official time was 5:50. Which is what I thought I could do, and is sub 6 hours. But having that thought that I could do 5:40 after a strong swim and a good bike, well that was disappointing. I wandered through the competitors' area, seeking out water and food. I lied down in the shade and very slowly ate a banana. I took off my shoes and examined my blisters (not too bad). I collected my finisher hat (no towel, which is also terribly disappointing) and I found Andrew.

That afternoon we chow down on cheese plates, fries and champagne, and tell our race stories.

Overall, it was different to what I expected. I didn't enjoy it the same way I enjoy shorter races, it was mentally tough. It wasn't about going hard, it was about conserving. Throughout the race, and particularly the run, I thought to myself. Yeah, I don't think I ever need to do this again. But as my body has forgotten the pain, I'm tempted to do another. I know what to expect now. And I know I can run a 2 hr half mara.

Wow, so much to write on the race. I took notes along the way, but they seem to have become really, really long. So, how about a few highlights from the pre-race activities.

  • Packing my bike, even in its purpose-built case, is still a challenge. I ended up frantically riding the bike to the shop to get them to take the pedals off for me (I think I might have been turning them the wrong way), then putting them back on, loosely, and pedaling home. Try as I might I just couldn't get the damn box to close. I purchased a bike box a few weeks back. I figured with the impending move and the trip out to WA it was worth having a hard case on wheels. But I couldn't remember what the picture looked like when it was full. And I was having trouble with my internet. I can't imagine how normal-sized people with normal-sized bikes fit theirs in boxes. I mean mine is so small I can't fit full sized waterbottles in it. I eventually gave in and took off my aero bars which seemed to do the trick. Of course even with the wheels, the box isn't really designed for the out of doors. Even the slightest uneven pavement made it bottom out on the way to the train station, but we both made it with only minor bruising.
  • It's easy to spot triathletes on the way to the race, even after we've checked in our bikes. We're the people with the sporty sunnies, in the compression tights, wearing the t-shirt from the last race, and in some cases, with the shaved arms. I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of not identifying myself as part of this not-so-secret fraternity: my compression tights were hidden under my jeans. In fact my heart rate monitor watch wass probably my only give away.
  • In the airport I met another triathlete, from Brisbane, originally from the states, who works in intellectual property. It was just a very weird coincidence and reinforced the idea that Brisbane is just a large country town.
  • Until I got to Busselton which was actually a country town. Unlike the popular beaches of Sydney or the sunshine coast, there are no towering apartment blocks and the main strip of town runs perpendicular to the beach. There’s only one cafe on the water and it’s just at the beginning of the jetty. I can see now why it was tough to find accommodation nearby. That said, our guest house is fantastic! Literally 40m to transition and includes breakfast. We only got this room because some friends of ours had booked it a year in advance and they pulled out. The sign is our B&B, the fence is transition!
  • I stayed with my friends Simone and Andrew. Andrew raced while Simone supported. The night before the race Andrew suggested we carbo load. By which he meant have a few beers. They're both ironmen, so I figured they knew best. Andrew returned to our table with 3 "Western Australian Thimbles of beer"

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Busso Training 24 April

Another week down, and only one more to go. I'm beginning to feel less stressed and more zen about it. I think it's that there's not much else I can do at this point. A few more sessions, but really nothing I do now is going to change whether or not I finish this race and what time I do it in. Here's the wrap up for the week:

  • 18/4 - am swim, followed by massage, followed by rock climbing
  • 19/4 - 60K cycle plus mini tri (400/15/4) in the middle
  • 20/4 - am pilates, pm core strength session
  • 21/4 - am 60 min run, pm stretch
  • 22/4 - am 55K ride, pm pilates
  • 23/4 - am 100 min run, pm stretch
  • 24/4 - am indoor ride
I got something in every day. Sunday's long ride plus mini tri felt good. 75K on the bike in total that day. Wednesday morning's ride was fast loops around the uni for 30K, then I did another 25K on the river loop on my own. Thursday morning's run also was confidence building as I felt strong at the 60 min mark, and then ran some pretty big hills easily.

My swimming has been hampered by public transport this week. Tuesday I left work a bit early to get a few extra laps in. I have to take two buses to get to swimming. One into the city and one out to the valley. The city bus was fine. There are about half a dozen buses I can take to the valley, so I hopped onto the first one and was on my way. Only to discover that it was an "express" bus which meant that it didn't stop outside the city until it got to the suburbs. And "express" didn't mean that it went fast, merely that it didn't stop. I pressed the bell to get off at my stop, and we whizzed past. So I thought we'd stop at the next. Still going. And I start thinking, yeah, I can just walk back. Until we've gone far enough that I realize, no I'm going to have to get another bus back to the valley. I was on the bus for at least 20 minutes before it finally stopped in Clayfield. I got off, crossed the street and waited another 20 minutes for the bus back to the valley. By the time I got to the valley practice was already half over, so I just went home. I was pissed. I had spent, all up, 2 hours riding on or waiting on buses.

Yesterday's swim was no better. This time the bus from the uni to the city took an hour. Seriously, I had run it faster that morning. And I'd taken the long way! By the time I got to the city practice had already started, so I went home again. Lots of stretching again. Now I reckon I probably should have gone any way, even a 30 minute swim would have been nice on the legs to work out some of the lactic from the run that morning.

A few more hard efforts this weekend, then it's time to taper and sleep!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Busso training 17April

Despite the rain, I've gotten some pretty good training in over the last week. Here's the recap:

  • 11/5 - 70K ride to Redcliffe and back with 40 minute ocean swim at Redcliffe
  • 12/5 - Went for a ride, but it was raining, so ran for 60 minutes in the morning followed by 30 minute run in the afternoon.
  • 13/5 - still raining, 2K swim in 39:30
  • 14/5 - 90 minute run am, 1K swim + squad swim pm
  • 15/5 - 50K ride am, pilates pm
  • 16/5 - slept in!, 500m swim + squad swim, pm
  • 17/5 - indoor spin session + 15 minute run off the bike
So all in all I'm pretty pleased with my training this week. The rain over the weekend did dampen my training, I would have liked to have done a few more long rides. Definitely the hardest session was that 30 minute run on Sunday afternoon when my legs just had nothing left. I think I ran about 6min Ks.

I was pleased with the 2K swim. My goal is to swim sub 2 min 100m. So finishing the 2K in less than 40 minutes is perfect. And the actual swim at Busso will be 100m shorter than that!

My wednesday morning ride was a bit funny. The main squad was doing intervals. My legs were feeling quite thrashed from the Tuesday morning run, and I wanted to get some more distance in, so I opted to ride out with the beginner group who was doing a river loop. This was a nice slow ride. We didn't do the full loop. It was sort of nice to reminisce and see people with their flat pedals and sneakers on the bike (and one girl with one bike cleat and one sneaker - halfway there!). It's been almost 2 years since I converted to bike cleats, and I love them. At the end of the ride we did a 2K sprint, and I was the first one home. Sure, it was an unfair fight, but it was a nice reminder of how far I've progressed. After they finished their ride, I did the loop again at a slightly brisker pace.

I skipped my run on Thursday morning since I've already done 2 long runs this week, and my shin was starting to play up on Tuesday morning. I also thought about going for a ride, but with rides Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, I think I'll be right. There's only 2 more weeks til Busso. I won't have another morning off between now and then.

My body is feeling pretty good. I'm spending lots of time in my skins (compression tights) and eating a lot. But I feel like I may have turned a corner with the soreness. Legs are tired and they do tucker out quickly, but they're not as achey as they have been. Hopefully, this bodes well for the big race in 2 weeks.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Busso training

Keeping myself honest. Here's the training I've done over the last 2 weeks (bold are days that I actually trained, unbold are my excuses).

  • 30/3 - off (day after Mooloolaba)
  • 31/3 - swim pm (mostly drills)
  • 1/4 - river loop ride (37K) am, pilates pm
  • 2/4 - nothing, at conference (attempted swim, but got scared as I was the only person in the water, it was choppy, getting dark and I don't like sharks)
  • 3/4 - nothing, still at conference, back seized up from sitting in conference chairs
  • 4/4 - massage for the back, no training
  • 5/4 - nice 9K run with a few sets of stairs

  • 6/4 - pilates am, strength training pm (ouch)
  • 7/4 - skipped run in the morning cause it was raining, swim pm
  • 8/4 - ride (~30K) with sprints am, pilates pm
  • 9/4 - run with squad + 20 minutes on my own (14K), swim circuit plus 1K warm up on my own
  • 10/4 - ride with squad (~70K)
So clearly, I've done much better this week than last. The whole back thing was a big issue. I've never had it seize up as badly as it did. I was not a very happy Laura. But the point is, I'm cramming in my training. This being Easter weekend (with public holidays on Friday and Monday), I thought I'd get lots of training in.

This morning was a nice long ride with some of the folks from BTS. We met at a very civilized 6:30am. I actually woke up before my alarm. I felt refreshed and awake, which is a nice to change to how I've felt most of this week. I even left a few minutes early, which was lucky cause 10 minutes into my ride it starts to rain. But Tanya and I were already almost to the meeting place, we weren't going to turn around. And it really paid off. Once we got going on the ride the sky cleared up, and it was beautiful heading south toward the coast.

About 40K in, we were riding down this big hill, and I got a puncture in my back tire. I could hear it pop and feel the air escaping each time the wheel spun by my leg. We stopped. I started changing the tire. I couldn't find the object that had punctured it, but I did find a hole in the tire from whatever had punctured it. When I inflate the new tire it bursts. Bugger.

I borrow another tube and canister (of CO2) from Nadine. At this point Mike starts to give me a hand. We replace the tube again. And just as we're putting the wheel back on the bike, it bursts too. This is a bad sign. There's something in the tire causing the tubes to burst.

Now we're down to our last spare tube amongst the group. This time Mike and I pull off the tire and inspect it again. Still can't find anything in it, but Mike reckons that gash is big enough (~1cm long) that the tubes are pushing through it, pinching and bursting. Now it's time for the old $5 note trick. Australian money is made of plastic, not linen like US money. Also there are no $1 notes, only coins. The smallest note is the fiver. The idea is that you line the tire with the note, the pressure from the tube keeps it in place, and the note keeps the tire from pushing out. Great idea. Only problem is none of us has a $5 note. I have a $20. So that will have to do. Mike and I replace the tube a third time, with the note in place, and we're on our way.

I mentioned it's a public holiday, being Good Friday and all. Well, this means that no bike shops are open. I've called about a dozen in the greater Brisbane area. Everywhere is shut. The $20 trick is a good stop gap, but I really need new tires to do the 70K ride out to Redcliffe tomorrow morning as planned. Shops should be open tomorrow, but not until after the ride. This is definitely putting a damper on my weekend training.

On the plus side, Nic bought my breakfast this morning since my cash was otherwise occupied.Here's the gash, with my thumb for a size reference. Also an impressive watch tan.

Half plan

The Half Ironman is 3 weeks from tomorrow. I feel like I'm essentially cramming for a test. I had made myself a program about 5 weeks ago to try to start getting my distances up. But between the stress about moving, dramas at work, and rainfall it just doesn't feel like I've put in enough Ks. Essentially I'm hoping that I have the fitness to do the race from the months of training that I've already put in and a few longer efforts between now and then.

I'm not worried about the swim. It's 1900m, that's only 400m longer than an olympic distance swim. I feel like I should be able to conquer that in 40 minutes.

The bike is 91K. This is a long ride. Ideally, I would do it in 3 hours. Just sit on 30K/hour. I think this is reasonable given that the course is pretty much flat. My bike time at Mooloolaba was 1 hour 21 minutes, which translates to just under 30K/hour average. This included transition time (and at least 2 min 45 to run from the swim to the bike). And a massive headwind. But it was also less than half of the distance.

The run is 21K. This is the bit that I worry most about. I've done 90K bike rides many times before. Afterwards my body is generally in the mood to shower and eat. Trying to convince it to run for 2 hours. Well that will just be tough. My half marathon time last July was 1 hour 53, on fresh legs. My Mooloolaba 10K was 53 minutes, which is just 2 minutes off of my best 10K time. So... double the length of the run, does that mean I'll go 4 minutes slower than my best (and only) half mara time. I reckon I'll go a bit slower than that still. Two hours on the run would be amazing.

Total all that up, that's 5:40. Add in 10 minutes for transitions (I'm planning on at least one pee break before the run). Seems like 5:50 should be the goal time.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Here comes the rain again

Queensland has been on water restrictions since I arrived. In fact it's been on water restrictions for the last 3 years. And it has easier restrictions than states further south that are essentially deserts. Shops give away free 2 minute timers on suction cups so you can limit your showers.

This past week we've gotten buckets of rain. In fact we've gotten double our April average in just the first 5 days. There have been floods and landslides, but the real news is that our dams are over 50% full, which is the trigger to reducing our water restrictions. We are officially no longer in water crisis, now just a drought.

This means that residents can water their lawns for an hour a week (in 2 half hour increments) provided they use a hose that doesn't use more than 9 litres per minute.

Growing up in Georgia, I remember having water restrictions, and they were a huge deal. People were up at arms about only being able to water their lawns every other day. It's a bit inspiring to see that a culture can put so much value on preserving their water.

For my part, I don't own a car to wash, and I do my best to kill off any plants in my care.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mooloolaba 2009

My second time at Mooloolaba. And my one year anniversary for the olympic distance. The race this year felt different. I wasn't as nervous. I knew what to expect. Julie and I drove up on Friday night. Saturday morning we went for a spin with the squad then relaxed and headed over to register and rack our bikes. At expo we got to meet the reigning Olympic Champion Emma Snowsill. She wasn't racing this weekend, but I did get this picture with her (I was a little excited to meet her).
Saturday they also announced that the swim would not be an ocean swim. One of the things that I loved about Mooloolaba last year was the surf swim. It's one of the few races that takes place in the surf. It's tough, and I'm definitely better at swimming without waves, but it's a unique experience. Unfortunately the weather this year would not permit it. There were huge, dumping waves on the beach, so the swim was relocated to the "river" which was more of canal. Nice and salty, but not wavy. The real downside is that transition stays in the same place but the river is 600m away from transition. This means after the swim I had a 2min 45 second barefoot run to transition. They did say we could bring our sneakers out to the river, but I opted to go without cause I didn't want to have to first find my shoes, second put them on, third run and fourth take them back off again.

Triathlon involves a lot of gear. Saturday night I laid out everything that I needed for the following morning before packing it up (sans bike since it was already in transition). Months of preparation and practice were all coming together for this race.
Sunday morning we awoke at 4:30am. Between the 7 of us sharing the apartment and the 2 bathrooms, we needed plenty of time. Transition opened 5:15. Part of the preparation process involves getting the right hair. In my first triathlon in Boston the hardcore girls wore french braids, so now I do braids for each race. After doing my own Kirsty asked if I could do hers as well. Here we go. I was also trying to instruct Julie and Paul how to turn the flash on.
We set our things up in transition and went off to the BTS tent to drop off our non-race gear (extra waterbottles, dress, sandals, camera, etc). At this point I made the decision to take all three GUs with me. GUs are carbo gels. For an olympic distance I usually take 3. One before the race, one toward the beginning of the ride, and the last one at the end of the ride. Since I was taking three GUs I opted to only have water on the bike. My tri suit has little elastic pockets on the back, so I just tuck the GUs in there and have them whenever I'm ready. Kirsty and I pose for one last shot before leaving transition.
There's not a lot of space on the river, and pretty much no option to warm up in the water. They sound the horn and we're off. The swim was rough lots of swimming on top of eachother, but I pulled myself from the water in 29 minutes. Hooray, love swimming sub-thirty minutes. I did the run over to the transition area, and it didn't feel too bad except for the one pebbly bit.

I hop on the bike, and there are some hills. It's only a few Ks of hills out to the highway, but they're big, and I struggled. I get out on the highway, and I start to feel better. I start passing girls in my age group. Sweet. I decide it's time for my first GU. I reach for them, and my pockets are empty. They had swum out of my pockets on the swim. At this point I start thinking what am I going to do. I've got over 2 hours of exercise, and I have no sugar. I start to freak out a little bit. And as I'm freaking out, I start thinking of other things that I didn't do according to plan. Like pee. I didn't pee before the race. I start thinking I'm not going to be able to do it. I'm going to have to stop on the run at least to pee and probably because I've crapped out with no sugar. Then I start thinking, no this is all in my head. I just have to push through.

I get to the turn around point and get hit full on with a head wind. It's rough. I pass a few more girls in my category. But a few minutes later they pass me back, but slow down right away. So I pass them. And this is the way the rest of the ride goes. One of us makes a move and pushes forward, then gets hit by the brunt of the wind and can't break away. Then some one else pushes up. In the last 3K as we head back through the hills the sky opens up with rain.

I get back to transition, and it's decision time. Do I go to the loo? I drop off the bike, pull on the runners, and spot Tanya's bike next to mine. If her bike is already there then it means she's already on the run, and there's a GU sitting with her transition stuff. Sweet. I grab her GU and eat it on my way out of transition. I'm feeling like I'm not busting with pee. I know that can change once I get running, but for the moment I feel ok.

The run is two out and back laps with a hill at the beginning. Running down the hill for the first time the rain lets loose again, soaking me and my shoes. But the course is still nice running parallel to the beach with clear km markers. I feel good. I don't pass many people on the run, and a few I passed on the bike pass me again. At the 7K mark, I checked my watch and I knew I would make my goal of sub-2:45.

Last year I did Mooloolaba in 2hours 51 minutes, 3 weeks after being hit by a car and on some one else's bike. I did Noosa in 2 hours 48. This one I wanted to improve upon that again by 3 minutes. Ideally I wanted a sub-30 minute swim, 1:15 bike and 50 minute run, without transitions. If I got that I'd pull a 2:35. Well the swim went to plan, the bike was overall 1:21, but that includes the run 600m to transition as well as transition times themselves. And the run, well it was still 53 minutes. That's what I ran the moo run in last year. At first I was disappointed, I haven't made any run improvements in a year. But then I think back to all the struggles I've had with my running this year, and I'm pretty happy that I haven't gotten any worse. And it's still only 2 minutes off my best 10K time of 51min, which after swimming and running is a really good effort.

The night after the triathlon, we went to the post-race pub party. There they had the footage from the finish line on loop. I took a picture of it when I crossed the line. That's me in the background just as I finished. Yay. 2 hours, 43 minutes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Love that dirty water

Ah, Boston. My former and future home.

When I first came to Australia it was for 6 months. Those 6 between 9, which then became a desire to stay. I wanted to explore more of Australia than just Cairns, and I wanted to make a break from BCG. It seemed the thing to do was to stay.

I've loved living in Brisbane. It's a great city. I love the ferries, the weather, the triathlons, the coast. I love the lifestyle. I think I could live very happily in Brisbane for a long time (provided I used a lot of sunscreen).

The thing is long distance relationships can only survive when there's an end in sight. If there's no future, there's no present. One of us had to move. I have known for a while that it was going to have to be me. Australia is my dream. And in a way, I'm happy to not have to share it. Paul did ask about the potential to move his job to Brisbane, but they wouldn't do it. We talked about cities though and Paul found a job in one that I love, so it will be back to Beantown for me.

This is the craziest thing I have done for love, ever. And that fills me with excitement.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Half Ironman

Well, I've been hemming and hawing over it for too long. It's only 7 weeks away, so today I signed up for the Busselton Half Ironman in Western Australia. The 2nd of May will be my first half IM. Exciting! And scary!

Monday, March 02, 2009

The kids are back

One of the benefits and pains of working at the University is the students. Yesterday was the first day of class for uni students, and the campus is crawling with them. On the tough side it means the city buses are full, the queues for lunch are outrageous and the professors are all busy teaching classes. On the plus side, being surrounded by students makes me feel young. Only thing that could improve this effect is if I could drink their essence and turn them into drones (who don't ride the bus), like in the Dark Crystal. [cue evil laugh]

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mom's visit

One of these things is not like the others. That's right - my new helmet is not a bucket! Big thanks to my mom for my new helmet. I christened it at this weekend's Luke Harrop Memorial Gold Coast Triathlon.

The visit from my mom was wonderful. We visited the markets, made lots of tasty veggie dishes, went to Bribie Island for a tri, and drove through the Glass House Mountains. And topped it all off with a trip on the Brisbane Wheel. Thanks Mom for a fantastic visit.

Mom in Brisbane

Bribie Tri
The Bribie Tri was tough. Longer distance than what I've been doing at 1K swim, 28K bike and 8K run. Swim felt good and was nice and flat. Bike was 4 laps with lots of turns and twists. And run was long. I don't think I've run that far since Noosa. And just mentally it was tough. And I got passed in the last 800m by two girls in my age group dropping me to 11th overall. Time to get serious about the half ironman.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cairns in the news

A friend of mine pointed me back to the Cairns Post website yesterday. He makes the point that they have dedicated half of their real estate to tourist destinations, and half of it to the dangers of being a tourist. If you can't read it, the three top headlines are:

  1. Tourists tracked and raped
  2. Man attacked by shark
  3. Child eaten by croc
Ah, Cairns.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Race Report: Robina and Resolutions

Last weekend I competed in the second triathlon at Robina. This one was a full sprint distance (750/ 20/ 5). The biggest difference, of course, is my cool new sunnies. Take a closer look at them:Pretty cool, huh? They are the same style that Emma Snowsill the Olympic Champion wears.

The race itself went pretty well. All my times were slower than the Raby Bay race, but I think it was overall a slower course. I still came 7th in my age group. Though I did get beat on the bike by one of my squad members and that was a little discouraging.

I also discovered the hard way that permanent ink provides good sun protection. See, sunscreen smears numbers, and there isn't a lot of the alcohol based gel available here, so I opted for having the number written on pre-screen, then just outlining the numbers in screen afterwards. The result was that I still have a few numbers burned into my right shoulder:

I need to get other screen.

The run felt good and was pain free until two days later, when my shin splint in my left leg came back at run training. And this brings me to my first New Year's Resolution: No More Shin Splints. I've translated this into several sub-resolutions:

  1. No flip-flops, ever. This one sucks, cause Brissie in the summer is prime flip-flop-wearing time, but I can feel the impact of no support on my legs just walking to catch the bus, so they are out. (I am making one exception to the rule and that is the beach)
  2. Stretching and strengthening exercises every night. I know they should be easy to bang out every night in the hour or so between dinner and bed, but somehow TV is so enthralling, I can't move my butt from the couch to the floor to stretch - this must change.
  3. Get new running shoes. I've been wearing Nike Triax's for many years now. They were recommended by Marathon and I've trusted them, but I think it's time to check out a new shoe and see if this makes any difference. I went to a good running shop on Wednesday night, and should get my new kicks (Mizunos) today.
  4. Get my old orthotics recovered. I truly believe that orthotics are more of an art than a science. I had my old orthotics for about 5 years before I started to wear off the top layer of them, and I started getting blisters. I've had shin splints on and off since I started running, but I was pain-free in Cairns, and this new bout came in with the new orthotics, so I'm getting a friend of mine who's a podiatrist to recover the old ones, and I'll go back to them.
Kicking the shin splints is particularly important as I start thinking about increasing my distance to achieve my goal of competing in the Busselton Half Ironman in May. It's just not that far away, and there are a lot of miles between now and then.

Finally, I'm instituting a no dishes in the sink over night policy. It's far too easy when you live alone to get sloppy. Sure it's another thing to do between dinner and bed, but it's a good habbit to get into.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Highlights of the tour 'Up Above'

So if I'm down under, does that make the US 'Up Above'? I think it does.

I'm back in Brissie from 2.5 weeks back in the states. By the numbers:

18 hours flight out
27 hours flight back (there's no direct US -> Bris flight as there was on the way out)
8 flights total
22 kilos of luggage
$45 in checked luggage fees
3 hours by train
1 night at the 9s
1 ride
2 swims
3 runs
Many bottles of fine American micro-brews (good show, Portland)
2.5 lbs gained (mostly in steak)
11 discs of BSG watched

I had a wonderful time. Here are the highlights:

  • Cycling around Houston with Paul's step-dad. John was an avid cyclist for years, but hasn't gotten a chance to ride much of late. We rode along the wide boulevards into the city, and out to a large park. It was perfect weather, didn't even require a jacket in December.
  • Playing boggle with Paul's sister and cousins (and getting thoroughly beat, even though I came up with the word "eleven")
  • Getting triathlon sunnies in the "asian fit" frames cause I'm so asian, seriously though they're the first pair of wrap around style sunglasses that don't bounce around
  • Finding and being convinced by Paul to purchase a New Year's Eve dress that got heaps of compliments on the night. Thank you, Paul, and Betsey Johnson.
  • Making pysanka eggs with my mom and Paul. My mom has been decorating eggs in the Ukranian batique styel for years. Paul got to try his hand on his first egg, which given that it didn't crack was a huge success. I got to try my mom's electric kistka, very cool.
  • Hanging out with my mom's housemate Cindy. Hi, Cindy.
  • Poking fun at the incredibly practical footwear in Portland. Maybe some one told the cocktail waitresses that they'd be behind a bar, but I doubt it. Some one was getting ready for work and thought, "yeah, you know what, I'm going to wear my orthopaedic sandals with knee highs with my little cocktail dress"
  • Listening to jazz music in the VIP lounge at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland (the drink lines were less of a highlight, but overall a successful party)
  • Going swimming with Paul in South Bend (and trying to calculate how many laps of a 25 yard pool I needed to swim to cover 1K, while swimming it)
  • Watching ISU win their 14th game in an undefeated season (not making the list is watching them take the stats to 14-1 in the next game)
  • Going to the ND basketball game, getting $6 student tickets, sitting on the floor in the fourth row, and then spotting ourselves in the ESPN coverage of the game the next day
  • Spending at least one full day in jammies watching Battlestar Galactica

New Year's 2008

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