We are in the middle of a heatwave here in Melbourne with the temperatures hitting 43.6 in the city yesterday afternoon and not dipping below 30 degrees overnight. El Scorchio to say the very least. Walking home from the pool yesterday my hair was sun and wind blasted dry 2 minutes down the road.
Days like these bring back bad memories of 2009 and the days that preceded and followed Black Saturday when over 100 people lost their lives in bush fires here.
Back in 2009 there was a week of temperatures above 40 degrees (or 100!). Usually familiar and safe places felt dangerous and off limits in this heat. Just heading out for a run seemed like a risk. Wildlife was dying all over the place – the family of possums that lived in a tree on Steve’s parents property just literally dropped out of their tree, dead. Too hot for too long. Climate change is here!
Last year on the Black Saturday weekend I left Steve and Melbourne for rookie camp with teamTBB. Fires were literally burning all around him. But for a wind change fire was approaching Steve’s family home and was less than an hour away at one point. It took lives as close as the next suburb away from him.
One of our favourite rides in Australia is out through Kinglake and this was one of the worst areas hit. Riding up into Kinglake after the fire was an eerie experience. Trees and anything green were gone and blackened charcoal was all that was left as far as the eye could see – and that was now a very long way with no leaves to block out the view.
So today is another day predicted to be 40 degrees plus in Melbourne. I can’t imagine how some people must be feeling now. I just really hope today or the next time there is a heat wave, catastrophe isn’t around the corner again for this beautiful country.]]>
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!
From a Railway Carriage by Robert Louis Stevenson
Thanks mum, still working on the faster than …….
I spent a total of 6 weeks in Singapore, November and half of December. Steve and I were starting to feel at home and I could actually remember my way to such exotic locations as Kaki Bukit, Eunos Techpark and the Bedok running track!
I turned 32 in Singapore
And had even mastered some of the finer points of Singaporean, eh! and la! being the most notable additions to my vocabulary – surprisingly useful when trying to describe to a taxi driver where you want to go.
In early december I was lucky enough to get a spot in the Standard Chartered Singapore marathon along with about 20,000 other people. I however waited until the day before the race before I could confirm my entry. Not ideal preparation but an experience nevertheless. Yep 26.2 miles is pretty painful in 90% humidity … duh!
But in the middle of December it was finally time to say goodbye to the Merlion, our lovely 13th storey appartment and my favourite odd shaped hotel pool (note to self – that pool was definitely longer than 25m … perfect secret off season training!!)
We celebrated our departure with a trip to our local hawker centre for one last taste of delicious (and very reasonably priced!!) spring rolls. Steve even forced me to have a Tiger beer!!
An overnight flight later and we arrived back in wonderful Melbourne. Greeted by the usual crazy Melbournian weather – day one 18 degrees, chilly, day two 39 degrees, hot hot hot!
For our first week back down under we were lucky enough to stay with Steve’s parents out in Panton Hill, a suburb about an hour outside the city. I was lucky enough (??!?) to get to swim with Steve’s dad Gary every morning at 4.45am. Incredibly he has done this for the last 30 years, a 4.45 wake up swim every morning before work. Now that is commitment to routine!
I also got to do one of my favourite runs – Watery Gully Road. It has steep hill after hill and an amazing view of the Melbourne CBD skyscrapers in the far distance. I invariably come across kangaroos, rosellas and the ever present (often squashed) much cursed scurge … the pommy introduced RABBIT!
Christmas day was spent with Steve’s family. Steve spent the morning assembling a trampoline which was nanny and pa’s xmas present to his exceptionally cute nieces Holly and Caitlyn. They spent most of the morning bouncing in their fairy costumes. Its a tough life being a toddler!
Boxing day saw Steve and I make the move into Melbourne so Steve is closer to work (The all new super duper Bike Boutique Melbourne!).
We have a lovely appartment in South Yarra a suburb where the infamous/legendary aussie running coach Percy Cerutty also lived.
I have a new favourite run – the “Tan”, a tan coloured stone 4k running track around the Botanical Gardens – always full of other runners/walkers and sometimes teams of Aussie Rules footie players.
We are also very close to the Yarra river run/bike paths which twists 40k plus out of the city.
Home sweet home for the next 4 weeks at least!!]]>
Oats with honey, oats with banana, oats with blueberries, oats with milk, oats with water, oats with golden syrup, oasts with sugar, oats with jam, oats with oats ….
I love oats. Oats without you I am nothing but grumpy.
Singapore has a population of 4.8 million and is among the world’s twentieth smallest countries (just under 682km sq) and has upwards of 10 million visitors per year. That’s a lot of people (I’m sure at least half of them must have been at the Bedok running track the other day but that is another blog altogether!!) in not a lot of space…
It has been a relief to get back into training and every session leaves me a slippery mess as my pastey English genes fight to get used to the 30+ degree temperatures and the 75% + humidity. I very rapidly came to the conclusion that if I can train well here I can race well anywhere.
Admittedly most roads are too busy and congested to train on but to make up for that there is an amazing network of bike paths along the coast and some quieter airport service roads. I am happy to report I have even found some hills. Plus there is always the trusty turbo.
As for the rules, they make Singapore the city it is. Clean and almost crime free. Littering commands a fine of up to $1000 Singapore dollars for the first offence and if you are a repeat offender you can expect to pay $2000 and enjoy some “corrective work”. No spitting, no jaywalking ($20 fine – headline news in the Straits Times was how fines were up by 1000 people for this month alone compared to last year).
Even tortoises have to do the right thing here …..
There are a few things of course I wasn’t expecting.
Turns out in Singapore I am a size XL. A blow to the ego I have to say.
Does my bum look big in this???
The food is amazing and very cheap here. Stop at any hawker centre and you are guaranteed a choice that will stagger you from Korean to Japanese, Hainanese Chicken to Thai coconut rice. Less exciting is the fact that you can get home delivery McDonalds. What a thought.
Some choices are less appetizing of course … duck feet or pig tail anyone?? No? Didn’t think so.
Finally I definitely wasn’t expecting to be living on the 13th floor in a wonderful apartment with sea views. Turns out it is pretty great getting in the Singapore swing.
First off in the incredible stakes is Julie Bradshaw MBE who swam butterfly across the English Channel in 2002. She covered the 35km in the very respectable time of 14 hours and 18 mins. Honestly, I struggle to swim 25m of butterfly and find it utterly exhausting. My Dad told me I look like I am drowning when I try to swim butterfly. Enough said. And it’s not only the stroke that causes me concern; theres also the temperature of the water, a balmy 15 degrees (no wetsuit of course), the tides (miss them and you will be swimming backwards or on the spot with land in sight) and the supertankers as you traverse one of the worlds busiest shipping channels.
Next comes RAAM or Race (or ride your bike) Across America. Now to me this sounds great in principle if you take your time and see some sights but to complete the 3000 plus miles (30% longer than the Tour de France with no rest days!!) in under 10 days averaging up to 500 miles per day with a few hours of sleep per 24 hours, well to me, thats just silly.
The third contender is not strictly a sport but they struck me as being completely insane … why would you do that?? A question I have been asked more than once by non triathlete friends when I explain what an IM is. And the craziness is those insane people who pioneered going over Niagra Falls in a barrell. Nuts. Claiming first bragging rights to this feat was a woman named Annie Taylor who in 1901 climbed into an airtight barrell (the air pressure was apparently compressed to 30psi using a bike pump) and over she went and lived to tell the tale. Then came Bobby Leach in 1911. His story is a sad one, he broke both knee caps and his jaw in the fall but went on to a full recovery. However years later apparently while touring in New Zealand he slipped on an orange peel and died from complications due to gangrene.
Walker Polly Letofsky is next up. Taking 5 years and covering over 14,000 miles crossing 4 continents and walking each day for 1825 days consecutively she literally walked around the world. That is a lot of walking.
Finally comes the Badwater Ultramarathon. Staged on a 135mile long stretch of highway where temperatures reach up to 135 degrees the route takes the runner from the depths of the desert like Death Valley (85m below sea level) to the top of Mount Whitney at 2,500m. Trainers have been known to melt during this 135 mile epic and a woman has been the outright winner of the race!!
Give me Ironman any day, apparently far from the toughest day in sport and definitely not the most insane!!]]>
Korean tourism seems based around three simple principles “Korea Sparkling” which Jeju epitomises:
“Sparkling people: passionate and warm hearted Koreans”. Team TBB couldn’t have been welcomed here more warmly. They even wanted to make a film about us and our training here.
“Sparkling culture: 5000 years of creative and unique culture” On almost every corner, bridge or roundabout lurks a dol-harrubang (or stone grandfather) enormous carvings of volcanic rock sculpted for centuries for protection from misfortune as well as bringers of fertility.
“Sparkling nature: the changing faces of Korean landscapes to the tune of the peninsula’s four seasons” luckily for us we are here in autumn. Beautiful warm days and cooler evenings … it even snows here in the winter!
Jeju is known as the honeymoon island or Island of Love to Koreans. People flock here in there thousands to experience the generosity of the people, the scenic beauty of the island and its multiple attractions, and the wonderful fruit (especially the oranges – so so good) famed throughout Korea.
For us however the honeymoon is well and truly over and the hard work has definitely begun, but what better place to do it?]]>
Our journey to beautiful Jeju went something like this:
7pm Hotel pickup
7.15pm Turn around and return to hotel to pick up new (late) passenger.
7.30pm Hotel re-pickup and we’re off …. again
7.45pm negotiations, which train station first, Colmar(for the late person) or Mulhouse (for us)
7.46pm we win, Mulhouse it is. A spectacular drive along a ridge road at over 1000m, we have a panoramic view of France
8.01pm Flashing lights and a long queue of traffic. A nasty accident. A bit of a hold up as a tow truck drags a car out of a 200m deep ravine.
8.30pm Re-start with a very stressed out french driver driving somewhat recklessly trying to get us to our train
8.50pm Miss train from Mulhouse, still in van
9.15pm Miss second (and final) train from Mulhouse, still in van
9.16pm Driver apologises profusely for missing train, c’est la vie I tell him in my best french
9.17pm Arrive in Mulhouse, unload car, check on train times. No trains. Sh*t.
9.18pm Negotiate ride with driver to next major train station which is across border .. .driver has no ID.
9.25pm Successful illegal border crossing
9.45pm Arrive Basel
9.46pm Realise French driver doesn’t know German word for train station. GCSE German kicks in, we are looking for the bahnhof (? I think)
9.47pm Try and figure out German ticket machine
9.47pm Buy any old ticket and run for train on slightly hobbly legs
9.48pm Just make train
9.52pm Change trains, platform 1 to platform 33 (unload bags, re-load bags x5 why are lift doors so damn small?)
11.30 Arrive in Zurich, hallelujah, or should I say Wunderbar
11.50pm Train to Zurich airport
4.30am Check in for flight to Hong Kong. No excess baggage charge. Phew.
7am Flight to Hong Kong, 2 low fat low cholesterol meals by special request – very delicious actually, 4 films and 3 hours sleep
6am next day arrive Hong Kong
9am flight to Seoul
12.30 pm Bus from Seoul ICN to Gimpo. I call it a bus, they call it a limousine!
4pm Flight to Jeju
6pm Boss picks us up at Jeju airport and takes us to camp
… where the real adventure starts again.]]>
Steve was a willing victim, he must trust me if he lets me loose on his hair with just the scissors and a sense of humor.
5 minutes later ….
ooooops … was I supposed to cut that much off?
The Flounder has landed!
The jury is out on my future as a hairdresser. It’s lucky I am already doing the job of my dreams.]]>
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …
IMUK 2008 was a disaster for me. I started my day over a minute and a half down out of the swim behind eventual winner Bella. I got blown off my bike and rode 90k in the little ring because I broke a gear cable, a further hour behind now. Onto the run I tried to make the best of a bad day but ended up blowing up horribly and sobbing my way over the finish line nearly 2 hours behind the champion in 7th.
IMUK 2009 was my best race so far and the whole Bayley Family was there to see me finish which made the day very special. I was especially happy with my run, a 3.01 marathon another PB for me which saw me finish in 2nd, my first podium of the year and this year only 12 minutes down on the win instead of nearly 2 hours. That’s progress I think.
The weather this year was once again typical English summer so wellies, umbrellas and arm warmers were the order of the day. I felt particularly sorry for those optimistic people who had chosen to camp at the race site. Transition was more bog than field and I am sorry to say it killed a pair of my lovely Avia Rhythms. The mud was always my favourite back in my cross country running days so I tried to think happy thoughts as my shoe was nearly sucked off in yet another muddy puddle.
Highlights of my day included:
My Dad coming prepared with his trusty steed, including obligatory plastic bag on saddle. The ultimate in style and comfort.
The age grouper I saw with the interesting combination of disc wheel and flapping rain coat tied around the waist. So English.
They even named a village after me on the horribly twisty bike course.
I am very grateful to the Boss and Team TBB for even better times to come.]]>