Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Quick Chat with Siqi WU

Two Bays Trail Run 2014
It came as quite a shock to know that our running buddy, Siqi a.k.a. Ricky, a.k.a. Smiling Assassin, was leaving Melbourne so soon (this Sunday) to return to his home country. 24-year-old Siqi has been here for 2 years and recently graduated from the University of Melbourne. 

A few of us were lucky to have the opportunity to spend a little time with him for lunch today. 

Von: What will you miss most about Melbourne?
Siqi: That will definitely be the friends here.

Von: What about the trails??
Siqi: Definitely the Alpine area! 

Von: Dandenong's?
Siqi: Yeah! Pretty good.

Gary: Surf Coast!

Von: Among the trail events, or running events you have done in Australia, which one is the most memorable one for you?
Siqi: Memorable one ... I would definitely say last year's Buffalo Stampede when I got lost and while climbing Mick's Track. It was already dark and it was raining, I couldn't see anything. It was right after 14 hours of running. I got lost with a bunch of guys.

Mucking about at Buffalo Stampede 2014.

Von: How many events did you take part in (Australia and New Zealand) since your stay in Australia?
Siqi: About 15 to 20. I have done 2 events in New Zealand. This year, I did about 2 events per month this year.

Von: If you were to return to Australia in the near future (very soon again!), which event would you like to do again?
Siqi, Oh, definitely Alpine Challenge! That's my only DNF, 'Did Not Finish' race.

Von: Which distance would that be?

Jon: He would not leave home for anything less than a 100 miles!!
Bin: Yeah!

Siqi: I think 100km is pretty good, but if I can, I might try the 100 miles. To do it now would be beyond my capability, I would say. I did not finish that 100k race and I need to finish that!

With Yuan, after they both completed 2015 TNF100 Australia.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Runner Profile: Yuanchao Cheng

Say hello to this ever-smiley friend of mine who is better known as Yuan (among us). He's pretty shy, I think, but with an ever-ready smile on his face, you'd be sure to spot him from a mile!

I have to confess that I have been dying to ask him whether his polka-dotted shorts was his favourite running attire, so ...

1. Tell us, Yuan, are these your favourite pair of running shorts? :D

(YT: If you don't know what I'm referring to, it's this one, but lately, he hasn't been wearing it so often!)

Haha. Yes they are. I’m a very boring man at my daily life. So I want to try something different while running, like wearing some colorful fancy pants...

At the 2015 TNF100 Australia.

2. It feels like the last time I saw you was when you were running towards the finish line at the 2014 Surf Coast Century 100KM. Since then, you have been hopping from one ultra event after another. What has been your most memorable event so far?

I would say 2015 Two Bays Trail Run would be the one. Even though I have done a couple of 100k events, this year’s Two Bays 56k was the hardest one I ever ran. It was the only one I had a goal to achieve from the beginning to finish. So I pushed myself very hard and hurt me a lot...


3. How long have you been running?

Nearly 3 years. I stopped smoking in Feb 2012 and noticed that I had put on too much weight. Suggested by a friend, I started running since Sept 2012.


With the family at Tarawera Ultramarathon 2015.

4. What's your favourite food? Do you follow a strict pre-race diet regime?

I grew up in North China, where noodles and dumplings are the traditional food over there. So I still love noodles and dumplings, even all kinds of breads more than rice.


No, I don’t follow any pre-race diet regime. I even had fish and chips for dinner before Great Ocean Walk 100 (GOW 100) (Siqi Wu’s idea).


5. What do you think about when you're running long distance?

During a race, I usually just focus on my body and the race itself, like my running form, pace, nutrition, hydration etc. At training, I just purely enjoy the moment to be alone, I'm not thinking too much.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Quick Getaway to Gold Coast, Queensland

Friday, 3rd July 2015

We flew into Gold Coast via Jetstar and landed at the airport before noon. As we queued to picked up our rental car from Budget, the lady at the counter asked the hubs if we were there for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. :D

We were pleasantly surprised to have been given a new red car, woohoo!!

We decided to stop by Burleigh Heads for some lunch as our tummies were beginning to grumble. Unsure where to go for food, we found ourselves outside the fish and chip shop.

Might as well!

Shared a single platter for $17. No biggie but good enough to keep our tummies happy. :)

Walked towards to beach after lunch for a quick look-see.

We were rather too chilled for words - instead of stopping by the expo to pick up our bibs, we headed straight to our accommodation to check-in, rest a bit before heading out again.

We found ourselves at the unofficial Main Beach parkrun because some friends said they'd turn up. *no names mentioned* While waiting for team McCleish to arrive, we chatted with Trish, a runner from Brisbane. She was there with her husband and running buddy, and they were doing the half marathon on Sunday.

The crowd began to build up and Tim (General Manager of parkrun Australia) kicked it off with an opening speech and introduced several people to the crowd. There were a couple of elite runners that day, but for the life of me, I don't remember their names.

SCTR represented!

The legs felt good. We were stoked to find ourselves mostly running on a track instead of a concrete pavement. Most of the run was on a track and it was pretty cool - I would say it's a light trail for beginners, with a little undulation every now and then. Every now and then, we'd catch a glimpse of the aquamarine sea beyond the trees on the route back to the start area.

The pictures I have don't do the route justice. I have to say that it's a pretty good parkrun route. In fact, I loved it!

If you're in Gold Coast for the weekends, do join their parkruns on Saturday mornings at 7 am.

After that, we rushed off to Surfers Paradise to meet up with our friends from Malaysia for dinner. We didn't expect it to be so difficult to find a parking spot!

*sigh* There is always a photobomber trying to be funny!

Bin and I were clearly under dressed for that rather breezy evening. :D

We were indecisive where to have dinner and eventually decided on Belly Busters. We took a while to decide what to order (we were pretty clueless) but after 15 minutes, we made our selections reluctantly. The whole stack of ribs was huge!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Recap of Asics Half Marathon at 2015 Gold Coast Airport Marathon

I signed up for the Asics Half Marathon at the 2015 Gold Coast Airport Marathon for 2 reasons; a post-exam weekend getaway to celebrate the end of a full-time 6 month course, and to provide myself a goal to keep fit and keep myself in check lest I lose my fitness altogether. The trip itself was also to catch up with some friends. :)

Being too busy and exhausted with studying during the past 6 months certainly took a toll on my fitness. I gained weight, felt less of a runner, and my frustration ate into whatever I had left of my confidence. Every day after work and every month after an exam, my respect for working mothers increased by a notch – how did they juggle everything??

One of the long runs with Bin and Eugene at Altona Beach.

Studying and training

When I signed up for the half marathon in April, on the last day of the early bird registration, I only had 2 months of strict training (haha) to follow. This forced me manage my time properly, giving me a perspective of what I wanted to achieve in the evenings, besides cooking dinner, studying and completing assignments.

Getting involved in running again definitely made me happier, and parkruns on Saturdays reflected the progress of my training. I was gaining my speed once again, although not as speedy as I was 2 years ago.

While waiting for a table at Vapiano for dinner the night before the race.
Photo courtesy of Foo.

The gloomy winter evenings didn’t help things. It was always easier to say, “It’s too cold, let’s skip the running!” rather than change into running gear and get our butts out of the door. It was hard work.

I told myself that even if I did minimal training, I would manage to comfortably finish in 2:15 so I need not put too much pressure on myself to chase the sub-2 finish that has been eluding me for all these years.

At Vapiano, standing in line to order your food before a designated cook.

Was my training enough?

Like the last 2 (full) marathons, I adopted a training plan which I was comfortable with. I did a half marathon trial 3 weeks before the event and despite how difficult it was for me, I was surprised to finish in under 2 hours. Granted my posture was horrible and I was panting like hell, but I was happy to know where I stood - the sub-2 was within reach. 

No more doubts about it!

Managed a group photo despite being late. We got lost in the crowd!
Photo courtesy of Jamie Pang.

Race Day – Sunday, 5th July 2015

We stood at the end of Corral B and couldn’t see the start line at all. It took us several minutes to cross the timing mat but I wasn’t sure how long it took. I tried looking for the clock but I don’t think there was one at the start gantry. Or maybe it was facing the other direction.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Surf Coast Trail Marathon Recce Run

Monday, 8 June 2015.

We were on the verge of changing our minds that early morning. It was easier to snuggle up under the covers than to get out of the warm bed, shivering.

Nevertheless, I reminded ourselves that we had to get our long run done, by hook or by crook, and we also needed a bit of a social run. :)

We made it to Bells Beach's car park in time to join the first group - we started early but ended up being the last few to finish. We were that slow. :(

Anyway, I was curious to see how I'd fare. 30KM is an unnecessary distance to run when you're training for a half marathon but I believe in hard and unnecessary work. I needed to test whether my endurance was still intact. 

Bells Beach.
By starting at Bells Beach and heading towards Anglesea, we were skipping the first 10km of the route.

Every glimpse of the sea made me go "Wow" and I was thoroughly enjoying my run.

We bumped into Robbo who was running towards us from Anglesea. He had started from there and was basically doing a reverse loop. While some of us were on our way to Bells Beach, he kept sharing photos of the surf coast on Facebook to tell us that he was on his way (to meet us)!

Photo credit: Sandra Henry

I thought to myself, "Thank goodness I decided to come out today!"

Chris Ord, the RD of SCTM.

The second group caught up with us and went ahead, thereby becoming the lead group. It consisted of 2 race directors, Rohan Day of Two Bays Trail Run and Chris Ord of the Surf Coast Trail Marathon event itself.

The trail is fairly runnable, but not when the trail starts going up, up, up. As it leads you away from the coast, you'd lose sight of the beautiful view.


I still do not enjoy running on the beach. 

It's so difficult and frustrating!

But that wasn't even the hardest part yet.

This made me smile. :)
We arrived at Anglesea, the start and finish line for the Surf Coast Century 100KM event (takes place in September annually). I forgot to take a picture, but we got our shoes wet as we had to cross a .... patch river stream.

I was not a happy cow.

In fact, I was very annoyed.
My socks bunched up inside my shoes, making my toes uncomfortable.

I should have brought an extra pair of socks!

Photo credit: Matt Hosking

We took longer than expected to reach Anglesea, missing the group photo opportunity with the other 30km group and the 15km group (who started at Anglesea).

This made me extra grumpy.

From then on, things were going downhill.

It was an extremely long stretch of beach running that was no fun at all. There was headwind - wind was blowing and sand was getting into our eyes. It took like forever just to clear the beach - after huffing and panting for a while, I'd think we would have covered at least 500m but when I checked my watch, it would tell me that I had only covered ... 150m.



So I took the opportunity to munch on my snacks.
Might as well.

There were plenty of surfers out that day. I was told that crazy weather makes it a good day to catch waves.

I was quite pleased when we arrived at the lighthouse, because it meant that the end was near! Not near enough, but sigh, it didn't matter, it still meant that the end was near.

Only that I might have misunderstood Dion when he told me that I should not be able to clock 30km+ as it could be slightly under.

I ran past the lighthouse faster, hoping that it was just 500m away to the designated finish point, but I was utterly gutted when I realised that it really was actually 2km away.

whaaaaaaaaaaaaat ...

I was just all out cranky then and wished I hadn't come this far for a social 30km run because it wasn't fun at all.

Nope nope nope nope nope.

However, chatting with the few friends and being served tea, scones and cookies after run made it all a bit better. We could whinge about it together. :)

I must apologise that I am very out of date with everyone's blogs. Exhaustion, work and studying does not leave me in a very good state of mind for blog reading. Hopefully I'll catch up with all the goss once my exams are over. :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

If Only I Was Stronger

I tend to get rather down in the dumps after attending a revision session for the current subject which is fixed for exams on 23rd of May. Every time I log off the online class, it leaves me lost and clueless, and in my head I'd imagine myself running around without a head. 

Was that a pun?
I wasn't even deliberately making a pun, ha!

That's so lame...

Why is studying so hard when you're juggling work, taking care of the house or husband (geez!!) and trying to squeeze in adequate sleep, running and a bit of relaxation during the weekend? WHY??

I wish I was a bum again, and I'd have the time to do all of the above minus the work bit.

It is always hard to stop myself from whining and drowning in self-pity because I know it's just because I am tired and terribly bad at time management that I feel as if I am suffering.

Every time I feel this low, I'd mentally slap myself in the face and wobbly bum; tell myself that I am extremely lucky to be able to study, work, and reside in Australia. The school fees are terribly expensive (it has left a dent in our savings as I was not allowed to have an instalment plan #%#&$) and I tell myself that once I am certified insane qualified, I must earn that money back.

To keep myself sane for the next 2 months, I signed up for the Gold Coast half marathon and prepared a training plan to commit to. Unfortunately, it looks like I won't be able to do what I set out to do this week. Hopefully I will have the weekend to make up for it.

And do gazillion lunges.
And squats.
And box jumps.
And planks.

In this exhausted state of mind, I wonder what I have done; how will I find the energy to do everything that I need to do?

OK, I am done lamenting to myself.

See, this is why I stopped blogging for so long, because I don't want to fekking whine and moan as if I'm a victim of uncontrollable circumstances!

I am just so bloody tired.

My birthday last Saturday was a low-key celebration, with the hubs taking me out for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. I wasn't expecting dinner out, to be honest, as I was planning on rotting on the couch at home and in front of the telly. (Well, I was hoping to study as well, but haha, fat chance.)

This was mine... I can't remember all the sashimi on this plate.

We both ordered a set each from the Chef's Degustation Menu and I tell you, we're not going to do it again. We were stuffed to the brim!

Wagyu Sirloin Tataki.

Wagyu Rump Steak was da bomb.

The steak left such an impression on us - it was so so so nice and tender and made the hub's Wagyu Sirloin Steak pale in comparison.

I am not much of a steak person, so I do wonder whether I was too easily impressed?

Assorted sushi.

By the time the 4th dish arrived, we were seriously ready to surrender. But oooohhhh, this piece of sea urchin sushi was so nice and creamy and this is me we're talking about - it was my first time tasting sea urchin! 

Loved it so much that we're thinking of coming back for more of this the next time. *drools*

Sake creme brulee with half a slice of rock melon.

Dessert was pretty good, too. I particularly enjoyed my green tea ice cream which I thought was quite intense in terms of flavour as compared to the creamy/milky versions from Haagen Daz / Hokkaido ice-cream back in Malaysia. 

The hubs enjoyed his creme brulee; not that I could taste the sake but it was equally delish. He says his dessert is better than mine. *shrug* Whatever.

I think we took a walk along the beach after dinner because our tummies were too stressed from the 'degustation'. 

Thankfully we did our long run the following day. :D

As I am turning into an eccentric old lady over here, I baked my own birthday cake but with no candles or grandeur to it. 

Mmm ... at least it was better than last year's one.

It's fattening!

I attempted to make key lime pie with our very own lime (plus 2 store bought ones) as the hubs has been bugging me to make key lime pie since ... last year. I referred to Jamie Oliver's recipe but used Arnott's Shredded Wheat for my base.

Once I get the base consistent to what I prefer, I think it's going to be a hit (with me). The slightly tangy but sweet custard is complemented by the whipped cream ... I don't know how the hubs can eat this without the cream because it is AWESOME WITH CREAM!!

I gave away 3/4 of the "pie" to friends and colleagues, otherwise I'd be having it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and turn into Humpty Dumpty.

In fact, I feel the fats in my arms rolling about right this minute - probably a sign that I'd best go do some push ups now.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Into Q2 of 2015

Time sure flies, whether you're having fun or not!

Sorry I've been busy and too exhausted to dust and vacuum the cobwebs off this blog. Every time I think there's a window of opportunity to rattle off a few words here, it disappears in a blink of an eye.

I want my old life back!!

Yet each time I yell out that phrase in my head, I feel guilty (for having such a thought) and tell myself that it's all good, blah blah blah, let's just make it work, it's all going to change soon.

*big sigh*

In a nutshell, I attend online classes once a week, have an assignment to submit every fortnight and an exam every 1.5 months. That's for 1 subject, and I have 3 more to go. (That is, if I do pass the 1st exam. Otherwise, I have to defer the last 2 subjects until I pass!)

It feels like I just sat for my 1st exam (for the 1st subject) last month and I have another one this month!

Oh hang on, it was just last month.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy studying as it is applicable to my current casual job, but I do wish that work wasn't that taxing, traveling time from home to work and vice versa wasn't so time consuming, and well, making sure that I have a 'balanced' life out of work and study is quite tough, too!

With not much time and energy for running, it's no wonder I'm looking like The Blerch's cousin sister at the moment. :(

Cranberry scones, anyone?

Someone said that I was merely making excuses (as above) for not signing up for races this year. 

Such unwarranted accusations piss me off big time.

I wanted to defend myself and argue my case but I didn't because reasoning with this person would not make any difference.

This is the same person who accused us (whether jokingly or not, I did not like it one bit) of being anti-social when we disappeared from the social running scene while my in-laws were here visiting for 2 months. We could not afford to spend 1 day of the weekend running with our friends as we were bringing the parents sightseeing - we had to make that our priority, as much as it was difficult for us to miss out on the fun of running with friends.

Hmmm, looks like I am keeping a grudge. :P

Used part of a mesh bag (from a bag of garlic) as a spice pouch for homemade beef pho. Pretty neat!

Anyway, I had tons of fun being back home with the family for Chinese New Year. It was tough to juggle time with family, running, studying, baking and babysitting my niece, and getting enough sleep.  The whole family was only together for dinner on the 2nd day as my youngest sister and husband flew in then, and we flew off the next day to spend the rest of the holidays with hub's family.

(I always knew that marrying someone from the same hometown would save you the hassle of spending Chinese New Year in two different cities! I did not, however, manage to find 'The One' from my hometown. :P)

A busy day at the office yesterday. Colleague's 1 year old rascal
preferred sitting on my lap and clacking away on the keyboard.
We couldn't get a lot of work done! :)

I am looking forward to the Easter weekend as we're having Good Friday and Easter Monday off! YAY!!! 4 day weekend, woohoo!!!!

It's going to involve studying, running, sleeping, studying, cooking, eating and catching up with some old friends. Oh, and some house chores and shopping, I hope.

Speaking of shopping, there isn't any time to go shopping at all! 
*pulls at hair*

Joined SCTR's #10 Night Run yesterday - we had a huge crowd!

We will be at Bright next weekend for the Buffalo Stampede. I'll just be crewing for the hubs and hang out with the rest of gang who'll be crewing for their partners as well. I am quite excited at the possibility of meeting some top trail runners!! Not sure if I'll recognise them but I'll try to grab some pictures with them, anyway.

I can't believe it's been a year since I ran Buffalo Stampede ... holy smokes!
I sure hope that there'll be some improvement from last year's event - re: the finish chute and time clock!!!

Can't keep my eyes open anymore ...