Monday, April 14, 2014

Buffalo Stampede - The Sky Marathon

Last week was about perfecting the Frankenstein shuffle, dreading going down the stairs or seating myself onto the toilet bowl to pee,  and oh gawd, tripping over my feet (in public, nonetheless). I have been stuffing myself with so much food to silence the howling hunger pangs, allowing my weary soul to catch a hundred and forty winks everyday and hoping, just hoping, that my memory of that Sunday's race would fog up.


Waiting for the flag off.

Sunday, 6th April 2014.

With daylight savings, we were greeted with light skies at 6am and there was no need for a headlamp. The crowd today was smaller than the day before, but hey, Anna Frost was taking part.

Annoyed that I had missed a photo opportunity with her on Friday, I made faces and gestured at Isaac as he chatted with her (very smooth, dude!) but unfortunately he couldn't read my expression: Invite me over!!! 

I quickly sauntered over just as their conversation was ending and ... made some rubbishy talk with Frosty.

"Oh, hi, how are you? Weren't you running yesterday? I saw the photos you posted up yesterday! Oh, wow! How long are you staying in Melbourne? Oh, Singapore! What's in Singapore? Okayyy ... SO CAN WE TAKE A PHOTO TOGETHERRRRR PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE??"

Frosty was the 1st woman to finish the race in 5 hours.

:D

We were flagged off at 6.30am and off we went. I was doing my best to keep up with the crowd as we ran through the town centre and towards the trails. But once on the single track, everyone ahead of me slowed down to a brisk walk in the park and I was rather pleased we did!


I was expecting some guys from behind to run past us since we were trudging rather slowly but no one did.

I looked back and saw the view. :)


Everyone was relieved to get off the single track and on to the 4WD track.


At this stage, I was thinking that Mystic Hill wasn't too bad at all.

We soon returned onto a single track and there was a small steep climb which required scrambling up. A few runners stopped by the side of the track to peruse the climb while some took the opportunity to charge ahead.

More climbing, yay!

It was coming close to 4KM now and I couldn't wait to reach the top to descend as quickly as possible.

At the top of Mystic Hill.

A great place for a picnic.

It was good to run downhill after that.

Or so I thought.


We soon arrived at the infamous Mick's Track that the guys were trying to describe to Alexa and I the night before.

Because it rained the night before, the track was really muddy. Some people ran down it pretty quickly with their poles, some ran along the grassy sides, some just slid down on their bums and some cautiously made their way down.

It took me almost 30 minutes to manouvre my way down, swapping between squatting down and sliding, and running down as quick but slowly as possible. Seeing some people fall down scared me, yet seeing people running or sliding past me urged me to hurry up.

I was quite annoyed for taking too much time to get down that track! Argh!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Buffalo Stampede - Athletes' Forum and the Ultra

The banner which greeted us when we drove into Bright.

Friday, 4th April 2014.

We arrived in Bright on Friday afternoon and headed to the Senior Citizens' Hall to pick up our race packs. In our packs, there was a vest, a cow bell souvenir (red for the marathoners, black for the ultra), a Hammer gel (banana flavour, yuck) and some pamphlets regarding touristic spots to visit, etc.

The elevation profile never fails to send shivers down my spine. Brrrr!

YB took the opportunity to hand over his drop bags, and soon after, we joined some of the gang (and their families) for an early dinner.

It was so early that I remained hungry after the athletes' forum!

Our loyal supporters and cheerleaders. :)

Ready for the weekend!

After dinner, we returned to the hall for the athletes' forum which started around 6.30pm. Sean, the race director, greeted everyone and handed the mic over to Marcus from ultra168.com to kick off the forum.

Spot the elites back there!

At the start, there were several awkward pauses when Marcus asked the crowd whether we had any questions for Anna Frost, Reese Ruland, Dakota Jones, Beth Cardelli, Grant Guise and Brendan Davies.

Or we could have been too star struck.

In my humble opinion, I would have preferred the race briefing to be given before the forum so that we would have an idea of what to ask.

But that's just me!

(In my head, all I could think was was asking Frosty whether she liked chocolate chip cookies and if so, does she feel guilty every time she bit into one.)


L - R: Anna Frost, Reese Ruland, Dakota Jones, Beth Cardelli, Grant Guise and Brendan Davies.

Marcus got the runners to share with the crowd their thoughts about the course and their race strategies (or ideas) to adopt. 

To hear them say that the course was going to be a tough one and it would be good to have poles with you, gave me the shivers. Surely they were just jesting? If they found it tough, how would we mere mortals runners find it?

We were advised to take the opportunity to regroup our composure and fuel up during the flatter sections of the course every now and then. With all the climbing required (especially during Mystic Hill and Clearspot), we would not have much of a chance to do so.

We were also repeatedly advised to lower our heart rates whenever we can. 

Right.

After returning to our motel room, we (mainly YB) spent about two hours preparing our gear for the race the next day. Had a bit of a giggle with the vest, which we were requested to wear them at the start of the race. 

Preferably throughout the entire race.

Buffaloes on a rampage!

Having a good laugh was a great way to shake off the nerves and shivers, if any, before a good night's sleep.

You know who to hang out with should you be in need of a good chuckle! :)


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Trip Home

It's funny how emotions can be a bit of a roller coaster ride. One moment in January, I was disappointed that we couldn't return home to celebrate Chinese New Year with our families. Come February, I wasn't prepared for the trip home and before I left Kuala Lumpur a week ago, I felt miserable about leaving everyone behind.

We were worried that our plants wouldn't survive without us but gawd! We returned to see them flooded, probably due to a dripping tap. They are strangely, still alive and breathing. Phew!

Enjoying her strawberry
ice-cream.
I spent a week in Kota Kinabalu doing absolutely nothing besides spending time with my parents and cheeky niece (and her parents). I never knew it could be SO tiring just spending an afternoon taking care (and playing) with her, let alone doing it 5 times a week! It's no wonder my parents are always exhausted by evening, and can't get their chores done properly.

Besides playing with her teapot, xylophone, bubbles, blocks and plastic cups, my niece loves her books. She never tires of them and makes everyone read them to her. I bought her new one, The Very Itchy Bear, which she doesn't seem keen, though. *hmmfh*

As the only grandchild for both sides of the family, she gets endless attention. Everyone wants a piece of her! :)

The second and third week was spent in KL. The first part required a LOT of work in preparing my youngest sister's wedding. From tidying the apartment, to decorating, to buying things, to driving my mum here and there, to squeezing a lunch meeting and a short trail run with friends, I was exhausted.

A fab trail run in FRIM with some crazy buddies from the GCAM group.
They are so freaking fast now - they never cease to amaze me!!

The most important thing, of course, was that the special occasion brought the whole family together. The tea ceremony in the morning of the wedding was a tearful one, goodness gracious, with yours truly bawling and sniffling like I was the mother hen who couldn't part with her baby. *embarrassed*

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Melbourne Eats: Ditzy Dani's Cafe, Preston Market

We went to check out Preston Market last December, hoping to grab some decent priced seafood. We were told that it was pretty decent over there so how could we not be curious?

I found out that rainbow trouts and salmon are cheaper over there, compared to the usual fishmongers at Box Hill Centro. About AUD$10.99 per kg, I think?

Food wise, I wasn't sure what to expect. I found a couple of rave reviews for some of its eateries, but when we were actually there, I wasn't sure.

I was curious about Ditzy Dani's cafe Dutch pancakes but to my disappointment, they reminded me of kaya balls back home.


The choices were, maple syrup and butter, cream and lemon, or something like that.

But once they served us a plate with both of choices combined, we didn't know what to make of it.

So. Not. Impressed.

Meh.

A cannoli for AUD$1.50.


We shared a cannoli while waiting for our kaya balls Dutch pancakes and I'm not sure what I was expecting. The custard filling was bland and tasted more of cream. It needed a bit more sugar.

But what do I know!

Coffee was not impressive either.

Definitely a no go for us.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Melbourne Eats: Eating Out in Bright

Over the weekend in Bright for the Razorback Run that weekend in November 2013, we only ate at two places.

Il Centro Pizza House
94 Gavan Street
Bright, VIC 3741
Links: Urbanspoon 

We arrived in Bright in time for dinner and decided to fill up our tummies before making our way to our accommodation and race briefing.

We wandered around the city streets, not knowing where to go and what exactly our tummies felt like eating. We eventually settled for this place just because it was crowded. 


Shrimps, mushroom, bacon and ham pizza. I think.

Their choice of pasta was rather limited so we resorted to ordering a pizza and fish & chips.


Fish was supposed to be in beer batter, but we couldn't taste much of it. 

Despite it being busy and packed with customers, service was OK.

Our bill came to AUD$44.00 as we had some beer. Except for the pizza being a bit on the salty side, the meal was a forgettable one.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fish Noodles Soup

This post has been sitting in the draft folder since last year. I made this dish twice in November and absolutely enjoyed it. :)


Who would have thought that I would miss tangy fish noodles from home?

It was such a joy (and relief) to come across the recipe which simplified its cooking, making it possible for me attempt this dish. Otherwise, I'd just shove my cravings back into its cage and pretend it never happened.

First attempt on 22nd November 2013.

If you already have your stock in hand, your preparation and cooking time will be reduced and would take not more than 1.5 hours.

For sambal belacan and fried silver whiting, I usually refer to this recipe. I tend to make just enough sambal belacan for 3 portions as I don't want to keep them too long in the fridge. The fried fish pieces are fairly simple, and you may use your preferred choice of fish.

For the fish noodle recipes, I referred to both Kelly Siew Cooks and Maangchi and have adapted them to my own.


Fish Noodles Soup
Serves 2.

Ingredients:
1/2 litre of chicken stock
thumb size ginger, sliced thinly
a pinch of dried anchovies
2 pieces of pickled mustard green, sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 salted plum (asam boi?)
2 TBSP of Shao Xing rice wine
2 tsp of fish sauce
1 TBSP of sesame oil
vermicelli, soak in hot water and set aside.
1/4 cup of evaporated milk (or fresh milk)
salt and pepper, to taste.

for garnish
coriander
spring onion
fried fish pieces


Directions:
1. Fry ginger with sesame oil until fragrant in a pot.
2. Add chicken stock to the pot, and throw in the anchovies, mustard green, tomatoes and salted plum.
3. When it starts to boil, add the rice wine and fish sauce. Close, reduce heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Remove foam from the surface, if any.
5. Check the vermicelli to see if they are soft enough. If yes, drain water and set it aside. 
6. Shut off the heat. Remove anchovies or leave it.
7. Taste broth, and see if it requires some salt or white pepper.
8. Add milk into the broth before pouring over the noodles. You may want to gradually pour in the milk and taste it first. You don't want to pour too little or too much.

Second attempt on 27nd November 2013.

Hope you'll give it a go!
When winter comes, I supposed I'll cook this dish again. :)
 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Salomon Skin Pro 10+3 Hydration Vest - Review For Women

I've been using this pack for about 3 months now and gosh, how time flies!

It was a last minute decision to purchase the vest for me to use during the Razorback Run as I needed something bigger than my Nathan to carry all the mandatory items and some extras.
 
Full to the brim - almost!

The features and technology of the Salomon Skin Pro 10+3 hydration vest can be found on its website, so I won't go much into the details here. It is nice and light at 420gm (on empty). Without utilising the 3L expansion, the 10L is more than sufficient for general use.

Left: A smaller outer pouch to stash your smaller items.
Right: The 10L section. The blue zipper opens up an additional 3L.

Unlike some of the Salomon or Ultimate Direction vests with size specifics (based on your chest size), this vest has "no size" and is a one size fits all.  You will need to adjust the shoulder straps to fit you better.


The top of the padded shoulder straps have velcro bits allowing you to adjust the length (of the straps) according to your comfort.

However, being petite at 5'3 and liking a snug fit, I have my shoulder straps pulled up high and all the way to the edge of the velcro just to have the vest fit me properly.


Tighten the buckle straps as well and the end result can end up being pretty messy. You will need to fold/knot whatever straps that are sticking out unnecessarily and tuck them in. As long as they don't flap around and slap you in the face or neck, they won't be in your way during a run. :)