Thursday, April 24, 2014

Couple Runner Profile: Dion and Liberty Milne

Losing weight and keeping fit is no easy feat, for an individual and what more a couple. Having a partner with a similar goal however, helps to make that weight loss and/or fitness journey an achievable one.

Meet Dion and Liberty, a couple who recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. A few years ago, they decided to do something about their weight gain and together, they succeeded in shedding about 70kg! It wasn't easy but they managed to do it.

Now they are trail runners! :)

1. Tell us more about this ‘Fat Together, Fit Together’ I spotted on Dion’s profile some time ago.

Libby: It started as a bit of a joke between us. With me being 33 kilo’s heavier and Dion being 40 kilo’s heavier, we were literally fat together and now having lost that weight, we are both now fit together. But now it’s become a bit of a dream of mine to write a book about it. I’d like to share our journey and experiences and show people what ordinary everyday people like D and I can do with a bit of dedication and hard work.

Dion: As usual Lib is pretty spot on with that so not much for me to say here. :)

2. Looking back, what do you think was the hardest thing about keeping fit?

Libby: In the beginning I’d say it came down to our schedules. As we were both on the same journey, we needed to work in with one another which wasn’t and still isn’t always easy. As D is the runner in the family, I at first resented the amount of time he dedicated to his running. He would be out for hours at a time which made it harder for me to fit my training in amongst work, being a mum and trying to run a household and studying as well. I think it took us quite a few months to get on to the same page in terms of our training.

I think to a certain degree, you have to be a bit a selfish when it comes to taking time out for yourself in order to reach your goals. We were really lucky and still are, that we’re doing it together so we are able to keep one another motivated and accountable.

Dion: I’d say it’s harder to get fit than stay fit especially that first 3 months where you are trying to form new habits presumably after weeks, months, years of neglect.

Lib’s right, it was all about the balance and schedule. There had been times in the past where both of us had tried at different times but it wasn’t until we got into some sort of sync and understanding how important it was to each other. So if it was important to Lib, it was important to me and vice versa.

I’d say the hardest part of keeping fit is keeping a fit mind as we can both attest to this at the moment, both of us carrying foot injuries. It has been more of a mental battle and finding some cross training activities to keep the endorphins flowing. It’s easy to see how people go back to zero fitness after an injury.

Crumbed Calamari Rings

I absolutely miss the calamari in Barcelona!
It sounds like a farce, because it was years ago and I can only vaguely recall the fresh seafood and sangria.

And the long queue for a seat in one of its restaurants.
Oh, calamari!


I chanced upon Taste's recipe for crumbed calamari rings. I do avoid deep frying my food at home so instead, it was a lot of work to shallow fry and flip them over every now and then.  

The recipe calls for simple steps involving:
1 shallow bowl of flour, seasoned with salt and black pepper
1 shallow bowl of egg and some water, lightly beaten
1 shallow bowl of breadcrumbs

As I didn't have 750gm of calamari, the flour and breadcrumbs were estimated for my own usage. It would be a waste of ingredients if I had too much leftover flour and breadcrumbs.

For my 1 piece of squid, I used roughly about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of flour, 1 egg, and 3/4 - 1 cup of breadcrumbs. Still had some wastage, that's for sure.

Sprinkled a bit of salt on the rings before serving.

A wedge of lemon is most necessary. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Easter Weekend

Easter weekend was a 4-day weekend over here in Australia. Like what we usually do back in Malaysia, long weekends are either spent back home in our hometown with our parents, or locating a new waterfall/hiking place to explore or just running around with our friends and having meals together.

You could also sleep in and laze about at home, if you'd like.

Ever since I swapped the wallpaper on my phone to a picture of my niece, I have been missing her loads and loads. The hubs rolled his eyes when I shared this with him and said he couldn't imagine what I'd be like if it were my own child.

Anyway, I baked some cookies, using a cookie cutter for the first time in my life. 

The results, I suppose, were alright.

It was hard work using a toothpick to draw their whiskers, nose and eyes, though. I dusted the first batch with some icing sugar to hide their distorted features but instead, it sweetened the cookies too much. Decide to forget the icing sugar.

Wearing the hair clip I made for her.
What exactly is the relation between bunny cookies and my niece? She was born in the Year of the Rabbit, so that makes her 3 this year.

The only way I could share these cookies with her was showing them to her on Skype, which, if you asked me, was probably rather cruel. I was polite enough not to eat them in front of her!

I can't believe I'm going to miss seeing her grow up and all. *sniff*

My sister tells me that this little girl now chats to her dolls on a daily basis, besides monkeying about and driving my parents up the wall. :)

Last Friday, we went to Plenty Gorge for a short evening run, just to shake the cobwebs off our legs. I think we have pretty much gained a few kilos after the Buffalo Stampede, just lazing about and eating non-stop.

The Salomon Trail Series Race 2 is held at Plenty Gorge.

I felt ridiculously unfit!

On Sunday, we checked out the Brimbank Park and detoured just a bit to scour the unknown sections, which was quite fun.

In the park itself, you have a track to follow and prior to this, I never knew the park existed! There were a few river crossings which will lead you to the other side of the river. If you're adventurous enough to run wild on your own, you'll find yourself on a dirt track just like in the picture above.

Since I made too much goodies over the weekend, they definitely had to be shared. I brought some cookies and coconut candy for the runners and well, thankfully they were well received.

The coconut candy turned out too dry, in my opinion, and most likely because I reduced the amount of sugar. I did my best to salvage them with some chocolate!!

This Friday is Anzac Day, so it's another short week but a long weekend. Where are you off to?

Running on Friday, resting and cheering Jon on Saturday, and helping out at the Brimbank Urban Trail Run this Sunday! The medals look like souvenir fridge magnets, you know. How cool is that!

Ooh, I'm thinking about what I should bake this weekend!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Melbourne Runner Profile: Jon Lim

At Two Bays Trail Run 2014.
Everyone knows Jon Lim. He's like one of the social butterflies of the running community and you'll be sure to spot him at most of the trail events in Victoria. His day job involves being a team leader for a German e-commerce company.

His enthusiasm and excitement for everything which involves running is infectious and you can't help but to be in the zone with him!

YT: Hey, Jon. Tell us how long have you been running?

JL: I've been running for around 4 and a half years now and my fifth Melbourne marathon will signify my 5 years of long distance running. Initially starting with a 10km fun run in Sydney with my then girlfriend (now wife...Hi Shaun!), we eventually did a half marathon and our first Melbourne Marathon 8 months later.

YT: Besides running, do you have any other hobbies? I'm not saying that it's a bad thing to have running as your only hobby!

JL: Music has always been a big part of my life and I've previously managed singers, writers and producers. I've also been lucky enough to be involved with some big music tours and festivals and been previously involved with ARIA (Australia Music Industry Awards) as part of the industry voting panel. These days my main hobby is spending time with my wife and daughter...which I enjoy the most!

But I'd also like to say I'm involved with a truly great bunch of people at the Surf Coast Trail Runners where we foster the love of trail running and sharing our experiences with each other. I also do work at AURA (the Australian Ultra Runners Association)...Sorry couldn't help but speak about running. :)

YT: Which do you enjoy more, running on road or on the trails?

JL: Is that a real question?? :) Trails always win hands down, though I'm a terrible climber I still enjoy being out on the trails much more than the roads.

YT: We have seen you progressed so much and embracing the life of an ultra runner last year. Which event was the most memorable one for you?

JL: Probably the Tan Ultra 100k was my most memorable moment in 2013 as it was the first time I completed a 100k race within the cutoff time. And this was with 5 minutes to spare. :) I couldn't believe that my dream came true!

Completing The Tan Ultra 2013.

YT: Signing up for 100KM runs sounds like madness to me, and requires a lot of commitment. How do you juggle your time between work, family and training?

JL: Lucky my wife started on the running journey with me and she understands the time and commitment required in training for endurance events. Now that I have a young daughter, time is even more valuable to us so we always plan most things carefully in advance. Long runs may start at 6am or even earlier! :)

Work sometimes gets in the way, but I try to run at lunchtime on most days.

YT:  What's in store for 2014? What's going to be your biggest event?

JL: Tarawera which I just participated in was my biggest event for the year. Unfortunately due to Cyclone Lusi the course (100 to 70k) and cutoff times were changed during the event which resulted my race ending at 50k. No regrets and it was one of the best experiences I've ever had in an event. Can't wait to go back!

The Buffalo Stampede Ultra was also another big one which resulted in a DNF, but I'm taking that experience and using it to accomplish bigger things! I will be back for it in 2015 on my birthday. :)

In 2 weeks I plan to do my first 24 hour run around Albert Park Lake, then the next two Trails+ Ultra events at Mt Macedon and the You Yangs...always a good hit out with Trails+! Later in the year will hopefully get an entry in the Great Ocean Walk 100 which I'm really excited about!

YT:  What's your favourite carbo-loading meal before an event, if any?

JL: Pasta always, usually spaghetti bolognaise.

His girls cheering him at the Tan Ultra 2013!

YT:  If you could meet one famous person, who would it be and what would you say to him or her? He or she doesn't have to be a runner!

JL: Maybe a bit of bromance going on here :) ... but I'd be keen to meet Marky Mark (aka Mark Whalberg). I've always admired him for everything he has achieved in his life, the different careers he has had and how he has made it on so many levels in the motion picture industry. He has definitely worked hard to achieve all his goals in life.

Thanks for your time, Jon! It's always good to see you at the events. We wish you the very best for your upcoming events and will cheer you on!

To support Jon's 24 hour run around Albert Park Lake on 26-27th April 2014, head on to the Relay for Life page and donate to his cause. A little bit of help goes a long way!

To keep up with Jon, follow his Facebook page at Jon Lim - No Limits To Endurance.

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.


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 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. 


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! :)