Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Up Up and Away!

I am writing this in the Qantas Club at Canberra Airport. We are taking no chances after our experience in Perth and have checked in with plenty of time to spare! The first leg of our journey will take us to Singapore very late tonight via Melbourne. We have four days in Singapore before flying to the UK where we will stay in Surrey for a few days with Mr B's cousin and his lovely wife. While there we are catching up with friends from our working days in the UK in 1973 and 1974. One girl found us on Facebook and we haven't seen her for 38 years. It will be so exciting to meet up again. I hope we all recognise each other. On Thursday of next week we fly to Turkey for 3 weeks. Watch this space!
Yesterday turned into a lovely sunny day - cool, crisp and very pleasant running weather. I took Teddy for a last little run via two ovals where he ran free to his heart's content. We both had such a lovely run as it was after 9am in the morning and there weren't many people about.
Total distance: 10km
After that it was all go as I had Avon to deliver, a freezer to defrost, washing to be all up-to-date, fresh sheets on the bed, a hair appointment in town, tidying up, packing to organise, Teddy to deliver to his "other" family and phone calls to make. It was after 1.30am before I headed for bed but my mind was buzzing and I didn't actually sleep well at all which was unfortunate as I don't expect we will enjoy another really comfortable bed for some time and it's a long flight ahead!
We are overseas for 8 weeks altogether and may be able to incorporate watching a leg of the Tour de France in July. Some of our plans have not yet been finalised.
I do know I will miss my family and friends and a little wet nose kissing me goodnight and good morning. It does make my  mind easier, however, knowing that he is in good and loving hands.

Teddy - now 2 years old!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Canberra turns down the temperature

Ever since we returned from Western Australia we have felt the brunt of Canberra's much cooler temperatures. I was also celebrating my birthday for about a week before the day, as in eating far too much yummy food and drinking far too much wine. However, I have also been running nearly every day and have been to the gym a few times. The weekend after our return I competed in the YMCA Canberra Runners' Club (YCRC) Half Marathon. I felt good on the day and ran comfortably but unfortunately I think I must have taken it a little easier than I should have as my finish time was 5 minutes slower than the Weston Creek Half which I ran five weeks before the marathon.
Total distance: 21.1km (plus 1.5km warm up)
Time taken: 2:06
Average pace per km: 5:59
Calories burned: 1167
Running the half in my Griffin singlet
CJ and I show off our medals after the half.

Dinner in the evening with good friends 

On Thursday I celebrated my 62nd birthday. Scarey stuff being this old. I certainly don't feel any older but I have definitely slowed down over the last ten years running-wise!  
Birthday celebrations
There have been lunches, coffees and breakfasts to celebrate with friends. On Thursday Mr B took me for a lovely surprise lunch at one of my favourite restaurants and in the evening our Canberra family joined us for takeaways and cupcakes!
On my birthday morning I took Teddy for a brisk run before over-indulging for the rest of the day.
Total distance: 6km
Time taken: 34:30
Average pace per km: 5:45
On Tuesday I went to the Tuesday group run with Marg and we ran to Haig Park. I also ran with Alan and Marilyn. The three of us had run the YCRC Half so it was definitely a gentle run.
Total distance: 9.2km
It was my turn to supply champagne as mine was the next birthday and Marg had baked the most delicious chocolate mud cake - yummo!
Today I ran BBQ Stakes. I also ran it last week in an embarrassing time of 38: 08 for the 6km hilly run. Today's time was 36:41 which was an improvement although still two minutes off my PB for that course. Average pace per km: 6:02
Yesterday Saturday morning I ran with (or rather, followed) Jen and Andy from the ferry terminal. We ran the West Basin on an absolutely freezing, sleety and windy morning. It was bitterly cold although we did warm up and there was some shelter among the trees. I wore running gloves, ear warmers, running tights to my knees and a spray jacket for the first few kms and the only items to come off were my ear warmers and gloves. 
Total distance: 16km
Time taken:  1:39
Average pace per km: 6:11
Calories burned: 884
Ewen met us after his run and we (Andy, Ewen and I) headed off to meet Liz at Urban Foods for coffee and cake - a lovely catch up.
Later in the afternoon our girls and their partners came to stay overnight and take us both to dinner as our birthdays are only three weeks apart. We had such a lovely time and were happily spoilt as they bought us an ipad as a joint birthday gift. We had now better learn to share tee hee! It's fantastic and will be so easy to take overseas when we fly away on Wednesday.
This morning (Sunday) Mr B and I were rostered on duty at the Vets' Monthly Handicap in West Stromlo. It was cold to start but the sun came out and it was perfect running weather. In the mid afternoon, after the family had left, I went out for a most enjoyable run dressed only in singlet and shorts. The weather was so different from yesterday. The sun shone and I had new music downloaded. It was glorious winter weather - clear and cold but sunny with blue blue skies. These are the sort of days I love to run.
Total distance: 8.01km
Time taken: 48.44mins
Average pace per km: 6:05mins
Calories burned: 438
We have only three more sleeps before we head off for Singapore and a few days later on to the UK, Turkey, Northern Spain and the south of France for eight whole weeks! It's a good thing Teddy loves his alternative home. He knows something is going on as he follows me everywhere like a little lamb.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Western Australia Part Three - the final days

Thursday 10 May
The three of us went for a run on the rail trail this morning before checking out. It was a short run with no rain. Even Mr B was impressed with the surface.
Total distance: 5km
A quick show, breakfast, last minute cleaning up and packing then we were on the road. We enjoyed another coffee at Urban Bean and this time there were no flies! We had one more chocolate factory to visit before leaving Margaret River and this was on the way to Yallingup. Gabriel's Chocolates only opened in December last year so is very new and very modern. Ihe smell of rich velvety chocolate wafted to greet us as we stepped through the door. The chocolate was all packaged in very thin packets, ideal for travel! Of course there were lots of samples and it was very very yummy.

I ordered a hot chocolate. How could I resist?  It smelt and tasted delicious. Unfortunately it was now time to say goodbye to CJ who was flying home that afternoon. We had enjoyed such a lovely time with her and were sad to see her go. For me especially it was so good to have a running companion every single day to keep me motivated and we had all enjoyed some wonderful times together.

Mr B and I continued on to Busselton as we had a strong desire to walk to the end of the pier. It was a blustery day but it was fun walking along the pier and watching the little train chug past.

Then on we drove to Fremantle (Freo) where we had two nights booked at the fabulous Tradewinds Hotel which had been recommended to us by a good friend who lives in Freo. It was a lovely room which included a spa bath - just amazing. After checking in and freshening up we drove into the city and walked around until we found a great little restaurant serving wood fired pizza. It was so good and the service was great.
Friday 11 May
We started the day with a run from the hotel and down to the Swan River where we enjoyed running by the seaside along the little track. There were quite a number of other runners out there and it was really pleasant and warm. The weather here seems to be much warmer than in the Margaret River.
Total distance: 8km
After our shower and breakfast we went for an explore and wandered round the Freo Markets. They were buzzing and really fun.
At lunch time we met up with a friend who we worked with in London in 1973. We have only managed to get together once since then and that was in Sydney at her daughter's house about eight years ago. It was so exciting meeting up again and we spent hours reminiscing over yummy fish and chips and several bottles of wine. In the early evening another friend who has just moved to Perth from Canberra joined us all for a meal and yet more wine and it was quite late when we all said our fond farewells vowing that we would meet up much more often; in fact the plan is to meet up at the Leeuwin Estate in the not too distant future to enjoy one of their amazing concerts.
Saturday 12 May
Today our plane was due to fly back to Canberra at 11.50am. After packing up in plenty of time we drove to Cottlesloe Beach for a last look on a stunningly sunny morning and a coffee for me of course! Then we headed for the airport, at least that was the plan but somehow we managed to go the wrong way and it was a case of quickly plugging in the GPS and redirecting ourselves. We were cutting it pretty fine when we pulled up outside the departures, parking our hire car illegally as we rushed in to the queue with our bags. By the time we reached the front of the queue we had passed the deadline of checking in 30mins before the flight and were not allowed to board. Ho hum. The next flight to Canberra left at midnight via Melbourne (the flight is also known as the Red Eye for obvious reasons). At least Mr B now had time to return the hire car to its rightful place and as we had the bike in its huge box with us as well as our other luggage and could not even go to the Qantas Club until after we had checked in we were stuck. The check in could not be earlier than six hours before the flight which meant we had at least six hours to wait and the sun was beckoning us. So it was that Mr B hired another car, we piled our luggage in the hatchback and off we drove. We headed for Kings Park, bought an icecream each and wandered through the gorgeous grounds making the most of a stunning Perth day.
Later we headed back to Cottlesloe and watched yet another stunning sunset.

When we finally caught the plane home I didn't catch a wink of sleep but I was really happy that we had that last sunny beautiful day before heading back to Canberra's frosty mornings! We really had enjoyed a fantastic twelve days in Western Australia.

Western Australia Part 2

Tuesday 8 May  
CJ and I rose early and ran a short 4km tempo run along the "rails to trails" path. It was beautiful, a great surface in the forest and oh so pretty. I'm really looking forward to running a long run there tomorrow. It was a cool day (I have already had to make a quick trip to the local Target Country to purchase a couple of long sleeved warmer tops as I only took t-shirts and jackets with me).
Today we had a tour booked (the reason for our short run) which covered 5 wineries among other things. It was a busy fun packed day. Our tour group consisted of seven people in the morning and two  more in the afternoon. They were all lovely.
Our first stop was  the Watershed winery where we were taught the correct way to taste wine including the way to hold the glass and swirling, sniffing and sipping. We ordered a mixed dozen of Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (SBS for the uninitiated) and some sweet voignier to be sent back to Canberra for us. We sampled six different wines. I'm not sure how we'll still be standing after five wineries!
Next winery was the Leeuwin Estate. This was set in magnificent grounds where they annually hold concerts. Not surprisingly it is very popular as the setting is stunning. The wine was pretty good too!
Our lunch stop was at Voyager Estate. After we had ordered from the menu we tasted more wine and were also given a full glass with our meal. The food was delicious. I had lamb shank with polenta and orange gremolata and it was just divine.

Leeuwin Estate

Wineries including lamb shank at Voyager Estate

After lunch another couple joined our group and we headed out to a venison farm. Here we just sampled some venison sausage and little tasty bits before heading off to Olio Bello - an olive oil farm. There were some amazing olive oils here and some yummy tastings. Next stop was another visit to the Margaret River Chocolate Company and more free samples. Oh my, so delicious! So irresistible! More purchases before being taken to the cheese factory. We bought a few tasty pieces for the anti pasto which we decided to have for tea in our apartment that evening. After our big lunch and so many tastings we only needed a light meal!
There were two more wineries which were smaller family operated ones known as boutique wineries. We tasted some very nice fortified wines at the last winery. The winery was called Woody Nook and we bought some aptly named Nooky Delight!
It was a really good day and we were pretty tired by the time we were dropped off at our apartment. However, CJ and I decided to work off some of our excess food and wine by walking into the town to buy a few extra bits and pieces for our anti pasto. It was a yummy meal and we had a relaxing evening before a longer run next morning.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Life is an Adventure! Western Australia Part 1

As I am a long way behind in updating my news I have decided to publish it in parts as there is far too much to read all at once!

We arrived in Perth on Tuesday 1 May for a 12 day holiday including Mr B’s big event in the Busselton Half Ironman. As we didn’t fly out until 7.30pm I had time to go for a run in the morning before my hair appointment.
Total distance: 10km
Time taken: 1:02
Average pace per km: 6:14
Calories burned: 555
By the time we checked into our motel in Perth it was almost midnight but the pillows were thin and the bed the lumpiest we have ever slept in!
Next morning we drove to Cottlesloe Beach and it was such a lovely day that we went for a swim. It was really lovely. To top it off we thoroughly enjoyed fish and chips at the beach. I chose grilled barramundi and it was delicious. 

Barramundi, Perth, Cottlesloe

Thursday 3 May
Mr B came with me for a run from our apartment in the morning, over the bridge and into the city.
Total distance: 6km
After that we checked out of the motel (not one to write home about - VERY basic) and headed for Busselton stopping for coffee and lunch at Mandurah on the way. We found a spot overlooking the very blue water and it was so peaceful and pretty. Then on we drove to Busselton where we checked in at our motel not long before CJ checked in to hers. Dave put his bike together and went for a little ride while CJ went for her short run before we headed off for dinner and to explore.

Friday 4 May - Happy Birthday Speedygeoff!
CJ and I started the day with a run before brekkie. We decided to just run part of the track we plan to run tomorrow while Mr B is on his bike leg. We ran along the foreshore. It was a dull drizzly day and the rain fell heavier when we were cheering on the littlies in the children's triathlon in the late afternoon. My daughter and her new fiance arrived today with his family as Liam's nephew and niece took part in the kids' tri. It was lots of fun watching them but the swim had to be cut short as the breakers were a bit fierce. This does not bode well for tomorrow's half ironman event!

Total distance of run: 8.3km
Time taken: 52mins
Average pace per km: 6:20
Calories burned: 452

Saturday - 70.3 Busselton Ironman
The Half Ironman begins!

What an amazing day this turned out to be. During the night I was wakened several times by heavy rain, thunder and lightning. I think Mr B slept through it all and I did all the worrying for him! We were up by 4.40am, breakfasted and ready to leave well on time. CJ slept through her alarm so it was a mad rush for her but she made it with time to spare. The bikes were all checked in the night before but Mr B checked his tyres and organised everything at the transition area before we headed down to the beach. So far so good.
The morning was still dark but there was no rain and it felt calm until we were at the waterfront. Mr B tested the water and came back shaking his head saying "it's dreadful out there!" However, there was no backing down now and all the starters braved the elements and disappeared into the swirling breakers.
We joined my daughter, Mandy and Liam to watch his sister and her hubby who were also competing. It definitely took a while before any of our swimmers emerged from the water. Some swimmers pounded the air in relief that they had survived the swim, some looked just plain utterly exhausted and some did in fact pull out or were pulled out during the swim (that is, rescued and taken ashore). There were definitely some interesting stories later and the slow times indicated it had indeed been a very tough leg of the race. Fortunately there were no missing limbs indicating the sharks had stayed away! Mr B said he couldn't see the buoys and lost his bearings a few times swimming off course and perhaps covering more distance than required!
The cycle was another story. It was an almost entirely flat course and a tail wind on the way out gave everyone a good start. It was a 2 lap course and of course a battle into the wind on the return. However Mr B was extremely pleased with his bike leg time.

While Mr B was out on the bike course CJ and I went for a run. The intention was to run about 15km. However during the second 5km I tripped on the path and face planted on the concrete path - not a stone or stick to indicate what I had tripped over. I lay there for a second assessing the damage - ouch. CJ helped me stagger to a standing position but I had to lean on her for a minute as I felt dizzy. However, I escaped with very little obvious injury - a bloody grazed knee and elbow but not a scratch on my hands or head so I have no idea how I landed. It sounded like a loud bang though. We ran the remaining 4km back to the bike turnaround and managed to watch the rest of the race without incident.

The run was 3 laps so there were lots of spectator cheering opportunities. It was exciting to see Mr B finish with a relieved smile on his face and soon after Liam's sister who was also completing her first half ironman. I am so very proud of my man who was definitely very pleased to finish! He had  completed a 1.9km swim in dreadful conditions, a 90.1km cycle & a 21.1km run. And he was still smiling at the end!
In the evening Mandy and Liam joined Mr B, CJ and me at the celebratory dinner and presentations. It was a great spread - a roast, lots of roast veges followed by sticky date pudding and icecream - delicious! It was also so inspiring to see some of the video coverage and hear some amazing results from some really awesome athletes!

Sunday 6 May
CJ, Mr B and I had our final breakfast in Busselton with Liam's family and Mandy. It was lovely to catch up with everyone after the race and the breakfast was yummy.
We starred in the local Busselton paper at the awards ceremony dinner - Media Stars

Our final breakfast with all the future family in-laws

 After fond farewells to the family we drove to Margaret River stopping at a few places and passing several wineries on the way. We had fantastic accommodation at Leeuwin Apartments - far better than in Perth. There was plenty of space and it was only a ten minute walk to the main street. Later in the afternoon, right on dusk in fact, CJ and I went for a quality 4km run before showering and heading out for dinner at Wino's. This was a lovely restaurant which we had checked out earlier. It had a big open fire and exposed beams. The food was served tapas style in very small portions. It was yummy but there just wasn't much of it, not what one would call good value for money. The wine was good though!

Monday 7 May
This morning we woke to wind and squally showers. It was not at all pleasant but CJ and I had planned a long run so there was no backing out. The day would probably not improve weather wise so it was better to get it out of the way early. I had a banana an hour before the run and we set off into the bleak day just after 8am heading for Prevelly Beach. We started off wearing spray jackets but  by the first hill they were tied round our waists. The run wasn't too bad going towards the beach as we had some shelter in the tree lined trail. However as we neared the beach we became very exposed to the wind and on our return we were running uphill battling a fierce wind with sand blasting our faces and bare arms and legs. It was quite painful and we were fighting to see and to move forward, let alone stay upright!
We passed lots of burnt remains of trees from the devastating bush fires in November last year. There was an incredible amount of damage and the fires obviously came very close to a number of houses. It was a very stark landscape in parts and the smell of ash was still strong as the wind blew it into our faces. We were so happy to have hot showers after the run and enjoy a proper breakfast.
Total distance: 18km
Time taken: 2hours
Average pace per km: 6:40
In the afternoon we visited Cowaramup which was a fascinating place. In fact everywhere we went there seemed to be cows made of fibreglass or metal or papier mache. It was fun to see them in random places, even on the top of a pole in the local park. We also visited the Margaret River Chocolate Company to sample the chocolate and buy a few yummy gifts to take home including some amazing chocolate liqueur from the winery next door which of course we sampled first - yummo!

Our last stop today was Gracetown to check out the beach. It was here where a cliff tragedy happened in 1996 which claimed the life of 5 adults and 4 children. There was a beautiful memorial overlooking the ocean, marked with 9 white crosses.

Gracetown Memorial overlooking beach
We went to a seafood restaurant in the evening for dinner. Dave had a mixed grill, Cathy had dukkah coated  salmon and I had the most divine home made pasta of chicken, avocado, cashews and mushrooms - truly yummy!