Friday, July 18, 2014

Runner Profile: Kirsten Maplestone

with Mr Pinchy.
Meet Kirsten a.k.a Kirk, who is a member of the crazy pants gang (if there is such a thing). This tall lass is usually decked in her bright tights when on the run, so you will definitely recognise her from afar. When she's not running, you'll see her volunteering at events. 

Didn't you spot this clown at the Rollercoaster Run this year? Or a mad woman passionately cheering the runners at Buffalo Stampede? :)

Last month, she had the spotlight focused on her when she completed her first marathon ever at the inaugural Surf Coast Trail Marathon. Talk about a huge fanfare! 


1. Ms Funny Crazy Pants, how long have you been running?
I’ve been running on and off for about three years and trail running since September. I was never good at or interested in running and only started as my work did the promoting for a 5k event and paid for our entry. Then a girl at work conned me into Run 4 Kids 14km, then quickly had me signing up for Run Melbourne half marathon (justified by saying it was just another 7kms).

I must admit I got swept into trail running too, I went on a running camp and on my return I signed up with 5 days to go for Leg 1 of Surf Coast Century with a relay team I’d never met before (BONUS I’m still great friends with you/them). SCC scared the heck out of me, battling 21kms of soft and hard sand, running through ocean water up to my waist, slippery mossy rocks and climbing sketchy cliffs with a massive drop below, all while my cheap hydropack was chaffing my back off (I’ve now invested in a quality pack). I had nightmares but signed up to battle it all over again this year for 50km.


2. In this short stint of time, do you believe you have grown as a runner? What are the positive changes you see in yourself?
Well I couldn’t have gotten worse, hahaha. I’ve always been a run/walker and struggled to get my asthma under control when I first started. I’m now finding the breathing easier and can keep a constant pace up for a while. Most of the battles are fought in my mind but I’m a stubborn cow and will NEVER give up. Quitting is not an option for me but I do like a good fight. I experienced a lot of pain as a teenager/young adult (with major jaw and facial surgery) which toughened me up. Maybe too tough as it took me over a week to realise my leg was fractured even when I heard the snap and was in denial.

(The fracture happened in January this year.)

I’ve gradually become more confident in my ability with the help from my friends...it might be a Facebook post, a hug before a race, a message to say I’ve inspired someone to sign up for a marathon (please don’t hate me after), even a special loom made by a friend's child….it all helps to make me stronger. And of course there is the training, you can’t improve without the hard work and qualifying for Two Bays 28km was my turning point. Being in a race with qualifiers and cutoffs was stressful but what an accomplishment. Crossing the line with my six year old niece holding my hand and a giant grin on her face was golden.

Crossing the finish line at Two Bays Run 2014.

3. And the negatives, if any?
Injury. I’d always been jealous of people with crutches and I took it all back when I had to deal with them in January from a fractured fibular (leg). Getting my fitness back was a surprising struggle but has made me more focused. It broke my heart to cancel the solid racing I had planned (Roller Coaster, Buffalo Stampede and North Face 50) but then I discovered volunteering and saw what happens on the ‘other side’ and it has been a blast. I’ve dressed as a clown (one of my greatest fears), strapped a cow bell to me for a whole weekend of cheering and extremely hard work, hung out with international champion runners such as Anna Frost and Dakota Jones and collected life long friends from around Australia who I’ve made plans to run with in the future.

So technically there are no negatives to running.

(Talk about extreme positivity! :D)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Anniversary of a Housebum

This month marks the one year that I have been living in Melbourne. How time freaking flies!

Boo.

It's hard to be away from familiar surroundings, friends and family. Being away from family is one of the toughest sacrifices to make, but nothing money can't help. I mean, if you spend the money on phone calls and regular trips home, you're still doing your part in being close to the family.

We miss being able to return to our respective hometowns for a short weekend trip to spend some time with our parents.

Food and drinks with Dutamas Runners in July 2013! :)
Photo credit: Andrew

We miss being able to round up a few friends for a mamak session at times, as it simply isn't possible over here. Or maybe not yet.

I am reluctant in paying AUD$7.00 for a piece of roti canai and a small bowl of curry. When I did eventually do so, my roti wasn't great. We are lucky to have found an Indian eatery that serves the same for AUD$4.50 which tastes much better, and has good teh tarek

Dinner with the GCAM gang in July 2013!
Photo credit: Jamie

For both the hubs and I, our schedules here remain similar to the ones back home. Weekends are spent running, but instead of having to wake up at wee hours for a group run before it gets too hot,  we sleep in, have our breakfast or brunch, before driving off to our designated trails for an afternoon run. In summer, if we have some things to do in the morning, we can still proceed to the trails for an evening run before the sun sets at 8ish.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Melbourne Eats: Eating Out in Mt Beauty

We spent the Queen's Birthday weekend in Mt Beauty with the main purpose of climbing up Mt Bogong. As Mt Beauty is a small town, there are a handful of eateries in the vicinity without the need to drive far.

On our drive up to Mt Beauty, we made a quick pit stop at The Provender Country Bakehouse in Yea for a light lunch, comprising of 2 pies and 1 coffee, and a sticky lemon passionfruit muffin to take away. I can't remember which pies we had, possibly a steak and cheese one and a veggie pastie. The coffee wasn't great, but the place was packed, as always!

We first stumbled upon this place when we were driving back from Bright (for the Razorback Run) and we liked their pies. The bakery has been a regular Great Aussie Pie Competition winner for years now, and you'll see a plague in the bakery stating just that.

Address: 56 High Street, Yea, VIC 3717.
Links: Trip Advisor
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Flour + Water
171 Kiewa Valley Highway
Tawonga South, VIC 3698

We were early for dinner!

We had dinner there on our 1st night and ordered a pizza and one of the specials. The roast pumpkin pizza was topped with pine nuts, feta and baby spinach and I enjoyed it very much.

The lighting doesn't do the food justice. :)

The special was creamy dreamy prawn linguine which was not very dreamy at all, in my opinion. It was bland and sure, there were a lot of prawns, but the sauce lacked depth. There was no prawn-y taste in the creamy sauce, as they may have been cooked separately and added later to the dish.

We shared a bottle of beer. With beer, wine and liquer, I was ready to fall into bed!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Weekend Run: Mt Bogong, Highest Peak in Victoria

Sunday, 8th June 2014.
Queen's Birthday weekend.


Four hours later ...

"YAY! Finally!!" I sighed with relief.

After what felt like forever, we were finally out on top in the open, eager to check out the stunning view.

Are we there yet?
We had just reached the end of Eskdale Spur. 

We looked around, squinting through the fog in attempt to admire the curves of the horizon. It was impossible to snap a decent picture of the view!


As the fog crept nearer, I wondered whether we had made the right decision for this weekend's excursion. Especially when there was no one in sight!

Probably because everyone would take Staircase Spur up to the summit instead of Eskdale Spur ...

We quickly hurried off into the fog, hoping that the summit wasn't too far away. 


Outrunning a fog was not easy, especially on a rocky track. Visibility was bad, but we could see the snow poles poking out of the fog and using that as our guide, we made our way towards one pole at a time.

It was the howling winds that freaked me out. They howled like crazy, as if asking us to get off the mountain,  what were we doing there, Mt Bogong belonged to them, and only them.

Occasionally we'd stop behind a rock (like the one on the left above) and waited for the winds to die down a while, before we continued on. I was secretly terrified of being blown off the mountain!


When it was quiet, it was tranquility at its best.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Melbourne Eats: Three Bags Full, Richmond

It is impossible to walk past cafes in Melbourne and not be curious about it. Why the queue, and why is the place packed? The food (and coffee) must definitely be good, then!

Earlier last Sunday morning, we were in Studley Park supporting a few friends who ran Race 1 of the Salomon Trail Series. (I took a few random photos at the event.) We were expecting to arrive at the cafe in time for brunch but we got there just as lunch hour began.


Three Bags Full
60 Nicholson Street
Abbotsford, VIC 3067

The place was packed to the brim but we were lucky to get two seats at the high table. Not the best spot to admire the interior and sneak a few photos, but it had to do. :)


A round table for a big group.

A waitress came and took our order for drinks before our seats were even warm. Talk about fast service!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Weekend Run: Superheroes and Villains, and Mount Juliet

Event: Wild Wombat Fat Ass 30K
Theme: Superheroes vs Super Villains
Date: 25th May 2014 (Sunday)
Time: 7.30am
Venue: Lerderderg State Park
Distance: 16km x 2

Group photo of the 7.30am runners. So many Batmans!

I had initially offered to be one of the course photographers for the day. All dressed up and hiding behind the bushes appealed to me, I suppose, seeing that I was 'retired' from running.

Wolverine and Mario greeted each other a g'day.

Then I realised that it was a bit silly to hide in the bushes for more than 2 hours until the first runner came by.

Not everyone ran in their costume. Some of them took them off just before the run!

Our photoshoot!

The hubs and I ended up doing one loop in ours before calling it quits. We weren't much in a rush, since I couldn't run fast, anyway, but it was a shame that no one ran with us!

We took our time framing our pictures carefully, waiting for the breeze to pick up our capes before the timer went off.

The 9am group returned, led by Wonder Woman!

We sat around and waited for everyone's return, munching on the food brought by Yuan, Aliona, Tara, Rachelle and myself. From vege sticks and dip to sushi to coconut ice to choc eclairs to amazeballs, it was a lovely picnic.

The winners of the best costume win an entry to the You Yangs event in July, for the 15km or 30km categories. So, we will be seeing Wolverine and Wonder Woman in their costume again, hopefully! :)

For more photos. visit Wild Wombat's Facebook album here.


p.s. My 1st fancy dress party, haha!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~****~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: 31st May 2014
Location: Mount Juliet, Yarra Ranges

It was quite late when we started, almost 3pm, I suppose. I don't remember but haha, we do have a tendency to laze about in the morning until lunch, before we decide to head out and get some fresh air.

Mount Juliet boasts of being the highest peak in Yarra Ranges with the summit at about 1120m high. We honestly didn't realise that it would be that tough when we started out.

I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from grumbling!

The track was pretty wild and busy.

It did remind me of Clear Spot as hiking up to the top required quad power!

As the track towards the top were wild, we had to be careful where we placed our feet lest we'd slip into fluffy tufts of dried grass.

The last 2km up took forever ... (to me, that is).

We met a couple who were on their way down and I asked whether the view was worth it. The lady answered that there was a giant corn.


I'm not very good at selfies. :)

That's it??
I climbed all the way just for this?

Apparently it's called a cairn, and it was built in the 1800's for a geodetic survey. I have checked for its definition and unfortunately, I still don't know what this geodacy is all about!

Just follow the orange arrows!

It was dark before we reached the bottom of the track so we had to use our head lamps. Once the steep 2km was cleared, the rest of the track was runnable and I did my best to run as quickly as possible!

To be just the only two people on the trails in the dark can be a bit spooky, brrr!


As much as I enjoyed the climb (it was a good workout), the long drive to get to the location was not worth the effort. The rest of the tracks were off limits (most likely because it's situated at Maroondah Dam Catchment Area), leaving only Mount Juliet Walking Track open to the public. With just that, it was less than 10km to and fro, from the car park.
 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Laksa Fried Chicken Is Delicious

I thought it was a coincidence.

The night before I cooked this dish, I was wondering whether I could marinate the chicken wings with some laksa paste instead of the usual garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, honey, salt, pepper, etc marinade. I thought very hard about how the laksa marinade would work.

I flicked through Adam Liaw's Two Asian Kitchens absent-mindedly, while watching Masterchef Australia on the telly, when I flicked to the right page.

My eyes opened wide.

So someone has thought about it before, hah!

And it was a brilliant recipe as he combined both his favourite food into one dish. Not bad, not bad.

Rich and aromatic chicken wings.

And who would have thought, coconut cream in the marinade, too!

The cream provides some richness to it, complementing the spices from the laksa paste. The occasional crunch from the  flour, and the dessicated coconut provides a little bit of texture.

As the recipe suggests, it is best to marinade the chicken overnight. My chicken was only marinated for about 6 hours and it was not enough for the flavours to intensify.


Adam Liaw's Laksa Fried Chicken Recipe

Ingredients for marinade:
1 whole chicken, chopped into pieces (I used chicken wings, minus the wing tips.)
1 cup of laksa paste
125ml coconut cream

Ingredients for coating:
75gm corn flour
75gm plain flour
90gm dessicated coconut

cooking oil for frying