Friday, October 24, 2014

Runner Profile: Yan Leng

I first met Yan Leng during the Gold Coast Airport Marathon (GCAM) running clinic sessions early 2013. We have never raced together at an event before, save for the rather disastrous Salomon Jamboree Trail Run in July 2013. Since then, she has been running and running, improving in leaps and bounds, and recently completed her first ultra event, the inaugural Starlight Ultra 84km held in Penang, Malaysia on 23rd - 24th August 2014. She has graciously agreed to spare me a few minutes (after I virtually twisted her arm) for this interview.

At the recent BHPetrol Orange Run.
Photo credit: http://2009tonton.blogspot.com

1) How long have you been running?
I started running about 2 years ago, since September 2012. My first official race/run was Nike KL Run 10KM. I joined it with my few colleagues and since then I fell in love with running.

2) What does your family think about you and running?
My family never expected that I will love running so much. However, they always support me. I also ensure that my running plans do not interfere with my family time. Normally, I will run in the early mornings during the weekends so that I still have time with my family after that.

Jamie, Piew, Yan Leng, Nick, Gan and Yee Hoo before Starlight Ultra.
Photo credit: Jamie.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Still Alive

G'day.
I'm still here, if you're wondering.
If you're not, well, I'm still here, anyway. :)

It's been an exhausting 3 weeks since the arrival of my parents-in-law AND a new beginning - I have a job!

It's not much (of a job) at the moment, but I still have to get my ass out of bed by 7.20 am at the latest, and be in at the office by 9 am. I now have to make sure that my face is decked with war paint, otherwise I look completely washed out and deserve to hide out at home, like what I have been doing for the last year and a half.

I return home to home-cooked food and the urge to crawl into bed immediately. After-work runs have not exceeded 10km at most as we have to rush home for dinner.

I am just so knackered by the end of the day that I don't feel like doing anything after dinner. I can't even bear to sit in front of the laptop for too long!

Now that I work in the city, it feels cool to be part of the city crowd again. I need some new work clothes, that's for sure, but until I receive my first paycheck, I can't afford to go shopping!

Wearing a pair of trainers is so much more comfy.

The lobby area of the office building has mirrored walls that I can't help but to check myself out all the time, just to be sure that I'm looking prim and proper. Yeah, I take a lot of selfies, too. *vain*

I think my parents are relieved that I am employed again. They have been bugging me to get my ass back into the corporate world for so long, or at least be an employee somewhere, that a good friend told me the only way to counter their nagging is to get pregnant immediately. :P

My work requires me to converse in Mandarin a lot as most of the clients are from China. It irks me to be forced into this position where I fumble with my words, hoping that I'm making sense to the client and in return, the client would stare at me, hoping I'd make more sense by just staring hard at me.* 

The first week was rather scary as I don't like being thrown into the deep end and expected to swim to save myself. Being thrown instructions which I don't really understand and expected to deliver something immediately is not enjoyable at all. I have been on the verge of losing my temper and beseeching to the boss to make some sense to me, FFS!

My colleagues are friendly (so far) and we get along just fine. The office suite is filled with laughs and giggles on a daily basis, which suits me just fine. One of the bosses have bought me (and the colleagues as well) cups of coffee several times now. Yay to free coffee!

I had my first cup of strong latte last week and I couldn't sleep that night!

I've soon found out that a cup of strong latte has 3 shots of espresso so I've resorted to having a cappucino instead. :)

I am rambling.

I can't keep my eyes open any longer so goodnight, folks.
Have a great weekend, all.
I miss you.
I don't even know what's happening with everyone right now.


*my Mandarin is rather poor.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

So Much Eating And So Little Running

With the in-laws in town and with the weather a bit crazy every now and then, I haven't been running as much as I would have liked. I'm sure there is a way we can get around it and hopefully we'll get that started next week!


We drove up to Silvan last Saturday to check out the Tesselaar Tulip Festival. AT AUD$22 per entry, I thought it was very steep. I offered for the hubs and I to wait in the car while the in-laws went in but the MIL insisted everyone went in.

Thank goodness we had brought a picnic basket, otherwise we'd have to spend more money on food inside!

I made sure the PILs were right behind me. Heehee!

With rows and rows of brightly coloured tulips, the first one to capture my interest was the 'Queen of the Night'. So dark in colour and looking black at first glance, they are really just a deep shade of maroon.

My other favourite is the Rosalie, which is a pretty shade of purple.

The place was crowded and no one hesitated to pay the entrance fee (except us*). With temperature as high as 27'C, I suppose it was a beautiful day not to be wasted indoors.

*I offered for both the hubs and I to wait in the car while they went in to explore. :D



We spent two hours inside and eventually left the place, only to find ourselves at the National Rhododendron Garden where no entrance fee was required! We didn't manage to walk right to the end of the park as we turned back halfway through. 

The place was equally crowded and its parking area was filled with cars.

(I'm not much of a flower person but I now know what rhododendron and Chinese cedar are!)

Despite protests from the FIL not to stop by for pie, we did find drop by Pie in the Sky anyway. After driving so far, surely we had to stop at tourist traps spots to cross something off the list!


We ordered the Beef Curry, which was dry and lacked the spicy aroma one would expect from curry. It was instead rather salty and its meat wasn't tender. An extremely forgettable choice.


My favourite is definitely the Korma Chicken, and MIL thought it was nice as well. The minute I cut through the pie, its gravy oozed out, making it extremely inviting to dig in. I suspect its filling is almost creamy that makes it a delicious pie. It's a multiple gold award winner!

(I really hope I can try making it one day!)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

7-Day Project Gratitude

20th September 2014.
I was hoping I wouldn't get tagged but haha, trust an ol' buddy to tag me on Facebook!

Instead of boring everyone with a daily status update, I thought I'd chuck it here, somewhere private, where only those who accidentally stumble across this blog have the misfortune to read my mundane ramblings. :)

I'm not sure how it works - do I come up with something new to be grateful for on a daily basis or can they be the same thing over and over? Do I need to elaborate or shall I just leave them in point form?

Hmmm.



Day 1 - 21st September 2014.

1. To be alive and well!
2. For a loving family, both immediate and extended. 
No wars or rifts at the moment! Well, not that I know of ... but anyway, I miss being a kid all over again so that I can be at home with the family. That's just my indirect way of saying that I really miss my family. And to be able to watch my munchkin of a niece grow up! :)
3. To still be able to walk and run. 
Why not? I'm always thankful that my legs are still holding up pretty well. Having said that, the DOMS I suffered from Saturday's hill reps are torture! I thought by running our usual undulating 11k route on Monday would eliminate the DOMS but hahaha, they returned as a result of Monday's run. How ironic!


Day 2 - 22nd September 2014.

1. To be able to devour my chick lit novels. 
I love that the library is just within walking distance! I really enjoy spending time with novels. Seriously. It's a childhood pastime, just reading and reading and not having a care about the rest of the world. A shame that I have terrible memory and a week later I won't remember what I actually read!
2. To be able to hug my husband on a daily basis.
3. For good friends whom I know I will be able to count on when I need them. 
There are friends who would hesitate and mull over whether to assist you or not, before giving you an answer. There are others who'd agree to help without any hesitation at all. :)

Knew of the movie before I spotted the book at the library. A good read.

Day 3 - 23rd September 2014.

1. I still have hair! 
Despite the grey roots, I still have hair.
2. I still have teeth! 
I had a nightmare back in high school once about my teeth going all flappy like flap doors for pets to enter the house. It was horrible. I couldn't speak properly in my dream and my teeth would just flap!
3. Bargain $1 bags. 
Bought a bag of loose longan and another bag of french beans - what a steal! I love a great bargain!


Day 4 - 24th September 2014.

1. A smartphone. 
Although the screen has cracked and I've taped it, it still works. Whatsapp chats with friends are awesome.
2. For Skype! 
Otherwise I won't be able to watch my niece's antics and my parents won't see how fat I am. Haha! It's the only way to have decent chat with everyone, although the niece is always demanding for attention. Argh, she's growing up too fast for me!
3. For ol' friends. 
So happy that Marie will be helping me buy and bring some stuff for me - she'll be here next month to visit her adorable chubby niece who is turning 1! (Whoever plans to do their shopping in Australia when they're here, think again. Nothing here is cheap, NOTHING. Except for McDonald's soft cone ice-cream...)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

From Wombat to Surf Coast Century

The weekend after Tan Ultra was spent in Wombat land, trudging about and doing my best not to grimace in pain. I thought I had recovered OK as I was walking fine 2 days after, but a bit of climbing (500m elevation gain) was enough to smash my quads!

With Skye and Erin.
I slowed down considerably, much to my annoyance. I didn't want to be so far behind from the crazy peeps but Isaac threw in a curveball and took us down a 'not recommended' track which I thought was a shortcut.

We ended up on the riverbank, probably 1km away from Link Track (the usual track we would take). It's always cool to have a bit of an adventure but I think I was not in good shape to enjoy it that day!

It was such a relief to find even ground again, and I made a better effort on moving. It's the 2km stretch which I really dislike as it's straight and boring. 

Rock climbing Kiwi sheeps and Aussie mountain goats.
Photo credit: Bin.

Anthony and Erin were still waiting for us at the car park, which cheered me up. I offered them some of my mooncake biscuits, and I was pleasantly surprised that they liked them. 

Anyway, it's my fault for putting my legs through the torture. Robbo did ask me how I was feeling when we arrived early that morning but he went on to answer his own question, "You should be fine if you're here today!" 

Funny how they made me sound like a hero and an idiot at the same time ...

Besides, how could I resist hanging out with crazy people who said that they were TAPERING for Surf Coast Century??

Bloody hell. 

Anglesea Beach.

Last Saturday was Surf Coast Century weekend over at Anglesea, a 2-hour drive for us. We arrived before 3pm and hung around at the finish area before deciding on a spot to ambush our friends.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Possibly Mooncake Biscuits

Mid Autumn Festival was on Monday, 8th September. Mooncake fillings have evolved from traditional fillings of lotus paste, red bean or nuts to tiramisu, coffee, chocolate, etc. My favourite is always lotus paste with egg yolk, wrapped in snow skin, which needs to be kept in the fridge.


The Asian grocers have been selling boxes of mooncakes for the whole month. The only time I had mooncake was when Gary offered us some when we paid him a surprise visit last month. 

As much as I wanted to eat mooncake (lotus paste with egg yolk, please), I couldn't bring myself to buy a box. *shrug* My cravings weren't that strong.

I thought I'd make my own, haha, although not in the traditional sense. I don't have the moulds!

I went with Shanghai pastry, and followed the recipe here. I bought red bean paste as I was too lazy to make my own.

Do you think they look more like siew paus?

After making a batch sized according to the recipe, I decided to make them a bit smaller, just nice for one person to devour it in 3 bites.

The buttery pastry, although not flaky, is good enough to make you want more. This way, the paste was less sweet. Packaged paste is sadly very underwhelming and next time, I think I'll need to make my own.

I'm not happy with how pale they turned out to be, despite baking them just a bit longer. Perhaps milk should be omitted from the egg wash?

Without salted egg yolks, the recipe can make about 20+ pieces if you prefer smaller sized ones.

Ingredients:

Filling
700gm red bean paste

Pastry
250gm salted butter (mine was unsalted, so I added 2 dashes of sea salt into the flour mixture)
150gm icing sugar
380gm plain flour
1 large egg
60g custard powder

Egg wash
1 egg yolk
1 TBSP water
1 TBSP milk (will omit this the next time)

Black and white sesame seeds for decoration.

Directions:
1. Sift flour and custard powder. Set aside.
2. Beat butter and icing sugar til creamy, for 2-3 minutes only.
3. Add in egg and beat til combined. Mix in flour and custard powder and combine to make soft dough. 
4. Wrap in cling film and store in fridge for 30mins.
5. Roll red bean paste into 1 inch balls, set aside. If you're lazy like me, you'll just spoon 1 inch worth of paste into your dough later on.
6. Remove dough from fridge, roll into 1.5 inch balls and set aside.
7. Prepare small bowl of egg wash and another one with black and sesame seeds.
8. Flatten dough balls and insert paste into middle. Wrap it with dough carefully before rolling it into a ball.
9. Place on tray lined with baking paper. Gently flatten it, brush with egg wash and sprinkle sesame seed on top.
10. Preheat oven at 180'C yet? Anyway, bake them for 20 mins at 180'C.

Put them under the grill for a while (til the top turns a bit brown) to warm them up before consumption.
Yums!

Notes:
*I added some roasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds into the red bean paste to add a bit of texture.
*Baked them 5 minutes longer.
* The next day, I grilled it for a few minutes just to warm them up before having them for breakfast. It'll give a nice brown top and looked much more appetising. Very yummy when served nice and warm.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Tan Ultra - 100KM Race Report

I know, right?
Me, running a 100km?????

Which sane person would consider spending an entire day on their feet, running laps around The Tan, and 26 laps to be exact?

Hey, I wasn't the only one!


Date: 31st August 2014, Sunday.
Event: The Tan Ultra, by Trails+
Time: 7am to 7pm
Venue:  The Tan Track, Royal Botanical Gardens.
Distances: 100km, 50km, 42km, 21km, 12km, 8km.

The days leading up to the event was a flurry of nerves. I was shitting bricks and breaking out in cold sweat every now and then, I had to keep comforting myself that I could do it. 100KM is a big fish to fry, no doubt about it. Two Bays Trail 56KM was my longest distance ever and so it came to no surprise to have some people roll over in shock when my participation was finally disclosed.


We arrived just before 6:30am to Brett and team still setting up the area. I made a quick dash slow walk to the loo and made it back in time for the briefing. Pre-race jitters!

My plan was pretty simple, spending no more or less than 27 minutes per lap. Fueling was every 30 minutes after the 1st hour. Hammer Endurolytes and AFC went together hand in hand at every hour. A power gel at every 1:30 hour, bananas/power bars/a few sips of Tailwind every 30 minutes in between. Make the first 50KM in good time for a scheduled 5 minute break, and continue on to tackle the next 50KM.

As Lap 1 included an additional 500m, I still made sure it was completed in 27mins or so. I realised I was hungry and grabbed the remaining peanut butter sandwich I was supposed to have had for breakfast. During Lap 2 and 3, despite going a wee bit fast by 20-30 secs I was feeling a bit worried. My legs were rusty, forgetting how it felt like to run. Not sure if because they were overly rested during taper week!

I could feel blisters already forming on my big toes and last toes, despite wrapping them up with Elastoplast. ARGH! I pondered about stopping for a while to wrap them up with another layer but concluded that I'll do it at halfway point. By Lap 4, I was starting to forget how many laps I had done.

SCTR's fashion parade!
Photo credit: Bin Wong

Once I had warmed up, it was easy to fall back into the training rhythm and kept on moving. I had somehow messed up the Garmin Fenix which wasn't tracking my progress carefully and I was frustrated. Thankfully the Tan track has distance markers and digital clocks at the start area and halfway point (near KM1.75) so they were good reference points monitor my progress.