Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back At 2013

Ugh, I've always hated the year ends. It depresses me how time flies so quickly, in a blink of an eye. What have I achieved or failed to achieve? Hmmmm.

I've summarised the races in my previous post but if we are to look at the entire year, I don't suppose I can exclude them in this post, or even not mention some of them at all. :)

January kicked off with a podium finish for the 5KM MPIB Run. The race made me realise that I was still not fast enough nor strong enough to sustain a consistent sub-5 min pace. Nevertheless, I was pleased to note an improvement from last year's pace. :)

I also had my first bake date with a colleague, and we had fun trying the recipes which interest her. She's very meticulous with her measurements while I am more towards guesstimates and 'more or less'. :)

February meant spending Chinese New Year with our families. It was second year being officially married and giving angpows to our relatives/friends younger than us (or single ones). It also meant another opportunity to spend time with my niece, who is the first grandchild to my parents and brother-in-law's parents.

Not looking comfy in her cheongsam! :)

March was where I had my first road trip with Andrew, Kenny and my cousin-in-law as we made our way to Lake Kenyir for the Kenyir International Triathlon event. It was horrible (for me) as it was warm by the time I did the running leg and there were too many crazy hills. 

Photo credit: Andrew.

March also meant bonus time! Thankfully, it was not too bad and I was satisfied with my package. Some of my colleagues weren't pleased, but I think it was different across the other departments. 

I was rather nervous as the month came to an end.

In April, I tendered my resignation and explained to my bosses that I had to make a move. I felt bad for them (but why should I?) and I knew that they would understand (and had to!) my reason for doing so. 

I also hit a new personal best of 4:31 during my 3rd marathon at the Malaysia Women Marathon. It was an epic moment for me and I was pleased as punch (though a bit lonesome) for myself!

Photo credit: Bunny and Mr Bunny.

I made some new friends, too. :)

I joined my first ever company-related trip to Chiang Mai. It was a reward for the athletes who topped the charts in any inter-bank (sports) events. As I was part of the winning KL Rat Race team last year, I secured a spot for this trip. Yay!

During the last week of April, I spent it in Melbourne with the hubby, going places. We did the Run The Rock event (a personal best for a 19KM) and visited Wilson's Promontory. Oops, I still haven't uploaded my pictures yet.

Spotted some wombats at dusk!

It's a lovely place to go camping, if you're into that sort of thing. But we were tucked into a cosy cottage, so that was much better. :)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Weekend Run: Dromana To Green's Bush, Mornington Peninsula

It takes an hour's drive from Melbourne to Dromana.

Dragging ourselves out of bed was a chore, as always. Unless the body clock is used to 5am wake up calls, this will always remain a chore for us!

The trip was necessary for two reasons. First, it's the weekend and that meant a long run was in order. Checking out part of the route of Two Bays Trail Run was the second.

Yesterday, we started out from Dromana's Visitor Information Centre where the start for 28km and halfway point of 56km will be located, towards Latrobe Parade before reaching the tracks.

It was a misty morning when we arrived but the mist soon cleared before he reached the top.

It was a relief to get off the road and onto the tracks!

My camera lens was a bit foggy. Oops.

Caught a glimpse of blue and aquamarine from Port Phillip Bay through an opening.

Photo credit: Wong Yi Bin.

An easy run meant a good opportunity to muck about!
And no one to judge you. ;)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Glutinous Rice Balls - Jian Dui and Loh Mai Chee

I've learnt that playing with glutinous rice flour is a tricky thing. You need to get the dough just right, not too wet and not too dry.

A few years ago, we made tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) for Winter Solstice Festival because we were rather unfortunate to have bought yucky frozen ones from the supermarket. 

Life would have been easier if it had been yummy. ;)
Those manufactured and sold in supermarkets, I mean.

Back in 2010.

Sometimes, I get annoyed with the husband who, when feels like it, will challenge go against the norm of things ... er... whatever you may call it. He said that 'tang yuan' need not be round and proceeded to make a variety of shapes including that ring you see in the picture above.

This year, I'm glad he was too busy to help me whip up a quick batch.

Just peanut fillings this time.

I didn't realise it was the Winter Solstice Festival until friends and family started wishing everyone on Facebook. Soooooo ...

I rummaged through the kitchen racks and found that I had just enough flour to make 20 balls filled with crushed peanuts. Phew!

I love my crushed peanuts. I had some left from my earlier attempts at making 'jian dui' (fried glutinous balls) and 'loh mai chee' (glutinous balls coated with rice flour) on different occasions.

At first, I had the intention of sharing with you my jian dui and loh mai chee journeys but changed my mind and deleted the draft. Then I realised that I had to, just to remind myself NEVER AGAIN to play with glutinous rice flour.

It's too freaking sticky!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Melbourne Eats: Lim's Nyonya Hut, Glen Waverly

Disclaimer: Opinions are based on the dishes we had and does not reflect our view on its entire menu.

Lim's Nyonya Hut
240 Blackburn Road
Glen Waverly
VIC 3150
Websites: Facebook | Urbanspoon

It was one of those exhausted weekend nights where we craved for something Malaysian. A quick browse through Google for the nearest best char kuey teow, and upon checking its reviews on Urbanspoon, we made our way there.

Our first visit was at 8pm on a Sunday night (27th October 2013). We ordered their popular dishes, the char kuey teow and assam laksa.

Char Kuey Teow (AUD$9.80 or AUD$10.80, I don't remember).

It looked authentic enough, with evidence of some 'wok hei' (essence of high heat  cooking from the wok). There were three prawns and slivers of Chinese sausage in this dish.

It was decent enough for us to give it a 7.5/10. :)

The Assam Laksa (AUD$9.80 or AUD$10.80, I don't remember) is a Penang's local dish, a sour fish-based soup with thick rice noodles. The sour taste was there, and there was plenty of fish meat, although the broth was a wee bit on the sweet side.

Halfway through the dish, I was tired of the taste. Luckily I was sharing half of it with the hubby. I personally think the serving was too huge for one person and would be best shared.

Coffee pudding (AUD$4.50).

We shared a dessert, which was delightful. A bit like caramel pudding, but with a hint of sweet coffee. It also seemed like a local favourite among the patrons as we saw some of them ordering the same thing.

Sold at AUD$1.00 for 3 pieces.

The lady who served us that night offered us a free plate of onde-onde, a traditional Malay kuih. It is shredded gula melaka (palm sugar) wrapped with glutinous rice flour, coated with dessicated coconut.

It was lovely!
The burst of sweetness in the mouth was like a tiny piece of heaven.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wild Wombat Fat Ass 30 - Run Recap

Date: 15th December 2013 (Sunday)
Time: 7.30am
Venue : Mackenzie's Flat Picnic Area, Lerderderg State Park
Distance: 16km x 2, 16km, 8km

With Two Bays Trail Run in mind, I made a tough choice of being a complete Fat Ass 30, i.e. doing 16KM x 2. It wasn't going to be easy, judging from killer climbs and river crossings, but argh, one's gotta do what one's gotta do. 

Do I regret it? Not really. It was a long run (part of the training plan) which had to be done and by completing it, I realised that I had a lot to learn and improve if I wanted to survive a crazy long run in the heat.

Tim and Isaac in matching Hoka One One shoes!

To join the event, you had to send an email to Willy Wombat (organisers for the event) and tell them which distance you were planning to do. Your confirmation receipt will come in a form of a route map and course notes.

As it was a 'no fees, no aid, no awards' event, it was easy to see that it was going to be a social gathering of trail runners to run and have the barbeque going right after. Good excuse to bring the family out too!

I love how everyone patiently waited for the picture to be taken. :)

The first 2KM was nice and flat, good warm up for the legs, and throw in 3 river crossings (the picture above is at the river crossing #3). It was all fun and laughs until we realised that the killer climb started ... then and there.

There was a surprise on-the-course photographer as well, sneakily hiding behind a bush.

Why, hello there! Whatcha doing there?

The killer climb took forever, and rightfully so, since it was about 1.2KM with about 439m elevation gain.

Only halfway up Link Track No 1!

I'm not really sure how many of them managed to clamber up the hill as gracefully as a gazelle, but I lumbered on as fast as a gorilla hippopotamus I could.

Home Cooked Food And Forgotten Recipes

We-ell, remember what I said about that Protein + Vege vs Carbs challenge we were doing in preparation for the Melbourne Marathon?

I took plenty of pictures, hoping I could share with you some of the recipes and food preparation I did and tried.

From roasting peanuts for the satay sauce ...

And just how little chilli I had, which was definitely less than what is required than the recipe... (hey, I only make do with what I have!)

Chopping them peanuts ...

Onions diced/chopped ...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The End of The Racing Year

It has been an interesting year, to say the least. 5 road races, 3 mixed terrain and 4 trail runs.

It has been equally challenging for me to improve in every aspect such as speed, strength, endurance and nutrition, and despite recapping my races to identify which part requires further improvement, I tend repeat the same mistakes every now and then.


The first half of the year was spent mucking about with friends and running more. We spent more time on the road as well as the trails, and always having a bit of a laugh. It was the friends that made attending events feel like a great party, even if it was a lousy event.

Moving over to Melbourne, the second half of the year was a tough adjustment for me. It took me back to 2009 when YB and I just started running and we only had each other. Attending events on our own, shy and feeling a bit out of place with these super strong Aussie runners, I wanted to dig a hole in the ground and bury myself deep.

And then you meet a few nice ones who go out of their way to make you feel at ease. Without them, I think I would have remained hidden in the background like a sullen pock-marked face teenager at events.

Sure, finishing last is no fun at all, because I don't want them (strong runners) to think I'm a loser or a complete idiot for participating in an event out of my league. I would like them to understand that my capability differ from theirs, and it doesn't mean that I cannot complete the race at all. Just that I'll take a longer time to do so.

Anyway, putting that aside, it was a fun and crazy year of racing. Meeting new friends, learning new things, lovely scenery, and ran a personal best - what else can I ask for?

To summarise the year in a nutshell:

Uhm.. am I too early for the prize giving ceremony?

Podium finishes (because I was lucky!)

Melbourne Marathon finish.

Personal best/record
Melbourne Marathon - 42.195KM

Let's go skiing instead!

Best scenery
Surfcoast Century - Leg 4 23KM

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wild Wombat Fat Ass 30 - Quick Interview With The Boys

It was my first time being part of a fun run with a huge turnout. The hubby and I signed up for the Wild Wombat Fat Ass 30 for a social gathering with our friends, not knowing that the organisers were really serious when they highlighted 'killer hill' on the route map. I thought it was exaggerated!

Meet Isaac Walker and Tim Kacprzak, the boys behind Wild Wombat Fat Ass 30, a trail run outing which took place at the Lerderderg State Park on Sunday, 15th December 2013.

Isaac and Tim, taking a wee, I mean, dip, in the river.

1. How long have you been running/trail running? What inspired you?

Operation Blackhawk
Isaac: I'm relatively new to trail running and running itself. It was only around 5 years ago I competed in my first 10km road race. Last year Tim convinced me to try a Tough Mudder obstacle race in Sydney with a few friends and after that I was hooked.

Obstacle racing has introduced me back to nature. I am originally from NZ and used to get out in the bush fairly often hiking and finding undiscovered spots (no wombats though). I have found getting out amongst the wilderness while training, I run happier, run faster and have a whole lot more fun than running on the pavement.

My family, friends and other runners I keep meeting on this journey inspire me in different ways.

Tim: Like Isaac, I too am relatively new to trail running. I started getting serious about my trail running around 2 years ago when I made a lifestyle change to get fit and break some bad habits. Who knew this was going to be the journey I would end up taking.

Obstacle racing was a huge factor in this as I went from strength to strength competing in events like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, Tough Bloke and more. With trail running being at the heart of all these events it wasn't hard to be inspired by the amazing efforts of others and the beautiful places that trail running and obstacle racing was taking me.

Tim and Isaac, in training masks.

2. What has been your most memorable event so far?

Isaac: My most memorable event so far was completing my first 100km ultra - the Surf Coast Century this year (2013). I raised money and awareness for a disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis (a rare form of severe arthritis) which my mother has suffered with from a young age. I called this campaign 'Run for Mum' and it was a great success. I am very proud of my mum and what she has accomplished in her life while suffering from the disease.

Isaac at the Surf Coast Century 100KM.

Isaac crossed the finish line and greeted by the family.

Tim: It's hard for me to look past World's Toughest Mudder a month ago, where the culmination of a huge year of training allowed me to finish the event in 8th position overall and 1st in my age group. There have been no sweeter moments than the one I felt as I crossed the finish line 25+ hours after I started. The event was brutal, but worth every agonising minute to feel the jubilation at the finish line.

Tim and family, at the Spartan Race.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

More Sunny Days To Come

Waking up with the sun glaring through the blinds to a glorious morning is just simply ... er, glorious.

Maybe for someone who still remains a bum and has no work stress to worry about. :D

Then you peek at the time to decide whether it's time to jump out of bed and seize the day, or to continue lounging in bed til you're good and ready to jump out of bed and seize the day.

The clock tells you that it's 6am.



Ah, summer.

I pull the duvet over my head and go back to dreamland.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Perth Eats: Jus Burger and Phong Vinh, Northbridge

We were in Perth in September, he, for work and I went along for the ride to visit my friends. Staying in a city is not much fun when you don't have any recommendations for food, or you're just like me, a bit picky on the menu and prices.

So we walked all the way to Northbridge, since it promised more dinner options. We walked past Jamie Oliver's Italian which was packed to the brim, not including the queue outside. (But why??)

We ambled on and on the first night, we settled for Jus Burger. *makes a grimace* It wasn't our first choice but we were hungry and it was almost 9pm.

Jus Burger
189 William Street
WA 6003

I was shocked by the presentation. My mum would have freaked out, too!

YB ordered the Wagyu burger set.

And this is my half!

I initially ordered the chickpea or pumpkin or tempeh burger but they ran out of tempeh that night, so I resigned myself to the Mozzarella Chicken burger.

I never knew how traditional old-fashioned I was until I saw the presentation of the burgers. *roll eyes* My parents and elders always told me not to poke anything (e.g. chopsticks) upright into your food (e.g. bowl of rice) as it's equivalent to serving the food to the dead at the altar. Similar to joss sticks?

Presentation aside, my burger was salty, probably from the pesto and mozzarella or an over-marinated chicken patty, who knows. 

The Wagyu burger was so-so, nothing mouthwatering-to-die-for unforgetable. We enjoyed the fries and coleslaw, that was it.

I think our experience at V Burger was much better.

Verdict: I'm sure there are better burger places to go to in Perth.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kid Rock and Bon Jovi, Live In Melbourne 2013

Date: 8th December 2013 (Sunday)
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Docklands
Time: 5.45pm onwards
Train stop: Southern Cross (4-5 minutes walk to the stadium)

The place was bustling by the time we arrived at Docklands at 6pm. Loved the atmosphere. You could see so many fans decked in their Bon Jovi t-shirts and caps, queuing up to buy more merchandise or food from the available food trucks.

We grabbed a hot dog each (AUD$6.60 each!) and tried to finish it up as quickly as possible before heading into the stadium before Kid Rock was due to come on stage. Once we entered the stadium, we ended up heading towards the beer stall for a beer each (AUD$7.30 each!) before we seated ourselves at our places.

Kid Rock deserves a mention and applause for his performance. He appeared on stage at 6.30pm (very punctual) and spent an hour doing his best to work up the crowd's enthusiasm and excitement before Bon Jovi was due to come on stage.

Not many people may know who he is and most of his songs (besides being ex-Mr Pamela Anderson and his collaboration with Sheryl Crow for 'Picture') so it was a shame to see the stadium half filled during his performance.

I admit that I was pretty lost most of the time during his performance as I was not familiar with most of his songs. He did belt out a few cover versions of ... well, yeah, some songs originally sung by other artistes, and that got the crowd cheering.

He made fun of Justin Bieber's dance moves and that got the crowd chuckling.

But Kid Rock has a powerful voice which I enjoyed listening to, that rough sandpaper-y voice which girls would probably go starry-eyed when serenaded to while playing the guitar. To top it off, he sang with clarity so you could make out most of the words he was singing.

I'm sure you can vaguely make out the shape of Kid Rock on the screen. :)

He was very good entertainer, swapping several hats for different songs, mixing the turntable as DJ Gazelle (?). His song 'Forty' was funny and cracked us up, though before he started the song, he did warn parents to close their children's ears.

Don't know that song? Check it out on this YouTube link and the lyrics are hilarious. :)

What got the crowd to their feet and a roar of approval was when he sang 'Born Free' with a picture of Nelson Mandela on the screen.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Razorback Run 2013 - Race Recap

That's a misnomer, by the way. 
At the rate I was going, I don't think 99% of the participants would have described me as 'racing'!

Date: 30th November 2013 (Saturday)
Start/Finish Location: Harrietville Cabins and Caravan Park
Time: 6.04am
Categories: 42/64/68KM
(22KM start and finish at Diamantina Hut, Mt Hotham)

We arrived at the start area at about 5.30am as instructed. They mentioned during the briefing the night before that there would be a gear check to ensure that participants brought all items on the mandatory list.

My bag felt so heavy!

We were flagged off at 6.04am and off we went along Great Alpine Road and turn right after the General Store onto Feathertop Lane. We then found ourselves on Bungalow Spur track and that's when I thought I was going to wheeze to death.

This was a silent killer climb that caught the stragglers unawares. I walked most of it and soon lost sight of two guys who were initially 300-500m ahead of me. My breaths were short, I was panting and gasping for air so hard that at one point I told YB that it felt like I was having asthma attack.

I told him I couldn't run and it was easier for me to just walk as briskly as I could. The alpines always get the best out of me!

Every now and then, I would cough so badly that my entire body shook. I threw up a bit after an hour or so into the run.

I'm sure it was God's way of telling me that I shouldn't have started the run in the first place!

It was a lovely morning, but Bungalow Spur was not very scenic. It was pure uphill torture (for me) and I was so glad to finally reach the clearing at Federation Hut to make our way to Mt Feathertop Summit.

The view which greeted us at the clearing took our breath away. The Bogong plains that went on and on were so pretty that I wished we had more time to bask in the sun and drink in the view.

Instead, we resigned ourselves to making our way towards Mt Feathertop Summit. We met most of the runners who were making their way back to the junction (see pic above) to head out onto the Razorback Ridge.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Caring For Green Babies Ain't Easy

Caring for any babies, for that matter.

I can't even take care of myself and hubby, let alone plants. This is the stress I don't need.

Thankfully, most are surviving in my clumsy non-green hands, except for 3 coriander seedlings.

Taking care of our handful of potted plants are pretty time consuming for me. It takes practice to talk to them as nicely as possible, treating them like human beings, in hope that they'll give you plenty of flowers and fruits. It feels awkward at first but once you get the hang of it, talking happy gibberish to them will get easy.

This green post is to avoid having back to back running posts, before I share with you my Razorback Run race recap. :) My poor non-running friends are already bored to tears with my Facebook pictures and updates about running, that some of them even gave up liking my Facebook page

Bet you didn't think I'd notice!!

You've met Lemmie, our dwarf Meyer Lemon tree. He's having babies! 

Which is a relief, because I have been worrying about whether I have been caring for him properly and sufficiently. Wish I could do more about his leaves being chewed by pesky insects!

Lemmie is still a midget in a dwarf plant's world - he has only grown an inch or so since we bought him in October. 

I really hope he's healthy! *motherly worry*

At the same time, we also bought a chilli firecracker plant. I couldn't decide between Senorita HotStuff Firecracker or just HotStuff Firecracker, so YB calls her Senorita while I call her HotStuff.

And she is having babies, too!

Despite only growing about an inch or so, too. *worries*

Should I be worried her babies aren't growing upwards?