New Year’s Eve 2011

On a lark, I decided to cook dinner and that we would have a quiet evening at home. I think Ian was pleasantly surprised!

The table was set, a sign of the fancy dinner to follow.

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The chef brought out the dishes personally!

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The starter.

 

The main course.

The dessert.

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Verdict: Chunnie can cook! And makes a mean pannacotta too! 😀

Happy new year everyone! See you in 2012!

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Winter 2011 – London, Zermatt and Zurich

 

Europe it is for winter this year! We knew we wanted to get a ski trip in this year, and were deciding between Switzerland and Colorado in the U.S. Eventually Switzerland won given it was easier to get to, and also we could stop by London to visit Marisa – which was kind of a nice family thing to do before Christmas.

1. London

First stop, London.

We stayed with Marisa, who happened to be working in London at the time. She had a really nice apartment near Bayswater. I love the curvature of the buildings with the street.

 

In between the usual shopping (yay! new Louboutins!) and hanging out, we managed to squeeze in a Liverpool- Fulham game at Craven Cottage. Much to Ian’s amusement, I managed to fall asleep during the game – that’s 2 for 2 now, since I also fell asleep at Anfield when we made the trip there in 2004, and I apparently missed one of Steven Gerald’s best goals or something. In my defence, I blame jetlag and the dark winter night!

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We also managed to get a dinner reservation at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Food was good, interior was nice. I suppose that was expected for the price, but I wouldn’t say that it exceeded expectations.

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The most interesting thing about the experience is that because the reservation was made in Ian’s name, the server designated him as the host. This meant that everyone else at the table received menus without prices, and only Ian had the menu with prices. We didn’t know it at the time (why would anyone think of comparing menus around the table?!) but apparently Ian was mentally adding up the cost every time someone ordered something!  LOL.

2. Zermatt

Next stop Zermatt, and the highlight of our trip. Skiing!

We stayed in Hotel Cervo, which was a really neat boutique hotel. Breakfast was simple and yummy. The best thing was that we had a view of the Matterhorn right from our balcony.

 

The slopes were gorgeous, for the most part we had good sun which was really lucky. For the first time I felt like I finally got comfortable skiing in my shoes (boots?) and could somewhat keep up. Or maybe from Ian’s perspective, not lag behind too much.

Initially we stayed obediently on the Swiss side, but realised that the Italian side was much better – more sun, and MUCH BETTER AND CHEAPER FOOD. So that’s where we headed for the later days. What can I say, the stomach rules and this stomach loves Italian food.

 

PS – Little did we know at the time, but this was to be our last ski trip for a LONG TIME. Oh how I miss skiing. 😦

 

3. Zurich

Finally we had to say goodbye to the mountains in an old-school cog-wheel train and head to Zurich to catch our flight home.

 

Zurich itself didn’t seem very interesting to us, just another city. Perhaps we didn’t appreciate the food as much, and we all know how important food is to the Halls!

 

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Marcus and Ling get married in Bali!

YAY! Marcus and Ling finally got married and the family hopped across the pond to Bali for the wedding.

They rented out a really nice villa for all of us to stay in, which would be the wedding venue as well. It was amazing, I would definitely recommend it. It’s called The Istana (http://www.theistana.com/), and did I already say that it’s amazing? That view.

 

The wedding was just lovely. Very sweet, simple and tasteful. The view was an amazing backdrop, but the star was definitely Marcus and Ling who looked absolutely beautiful and radiant. Awwww.

 

Congratulations Marcus and Ling!

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A surprise trip to the Seychelles for Ian’s 30th birthday!

Challenge accepted! *in a Barney Stinson voice*

Fact #1: I like planning trips. Fact #2: Ian likes to be surprised. The perfect opportunity to make us both happy was Ian’s 30th birthday when he agreed to let me plan a surprise trip as a birthday present.

This is my greatest trip planning achievement to date. I did so well in selecting the destination and booking everything without Ian being able to guess where we were going. Before heading to the airport, we even had dinner with Marcus, Ling and Ian’s mom – by that time everyone was trying to help Ian guess the destination. Marcus got the closest when he guessed Mauritius. OH GLEE! 😀

So we got to the airport, and Ian only realized where we were headed when we walked up to the Air Seychelles check-in counter! Ahhh, I deserve a big pat on the back for pulling this off!

P/S this was back in the day when there were direct flights by Air Seychelles from Singapore to Mahe (the main island). They’ve since discontinued the direct flights, so I’m lucky that we managed to do this trip then!

Getting there

So we flew 7hrs to Mahe, and then changed to a small propeller plane to fly to Praslin Island, where our hotel was. Where’s Praslin Island, you ask?

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That’s the baggage collection counter at Mahe (not quite Changi airport!), and our little plane. They had to weigh everyone and their bags to make sure the plane wasn’t overweight! :O

 

The Raffles Praslin Seychelles was amazing. It has just opened that year, so everything was nice and brand new but service was brilliant, no sign of any teething issues. We arrived really early, way before the standard check-in time, but they allowed us to have breakfast in the restaurant first while they tidied up a villa for us. We got a villa immediately after breakfast with a pool overlooking the beach and the Curieuse Marine National Park. It was also the first time I’d been in a hotel room with an outdoor shower – while that took some time to get used to, by the end of the trip I actually enjoyed it as you could hear the birds chirping while showering. And what a view to wake up to every morning!

 

I chose the Seychelles over say Maldives because besides the really nice beaches, I also wanted it to be more than just hanging out on the beach or being stuck in one resort the entire time. The Seychelles gave us the option of renting a car and driving inland into the mountains and jungles, and also to check out the little villages and other beaches around the island. There’s one more reason I chose the Seychelles, but I’ll let you in on that later.

Wandering around Praslin Island

And so that’s basically what we did. We rented a titchy little car, drove around carefree and happy. We exploring little coves, ate at beach huts, lazed on unbelievably beautiful beaches. We also went to Valee de Mai, where the famous “coco de mer” grows. It is the largest palm in the world and only grows in Praslin. Hmm, looks strange if you ask me!

 

And whenever we got tired we went back to laze some more in our amazing villas, and as timezones would have it we could usually catch the Tour de France in the afternoon before heading out to dinner. We checked out the heavenly spa one afternoon and were gifted a free bottle of champagne. Unfortunately we were slightly too eager to finish the champagne – for future reference, drinking while soaking in a hot tub and before getting a massage, not so good. We should have just taken the bottle back to our villa for post-dinner drinks!

Ah well, can’t complain about this lifestyle.

Ian’s 30th birthday!

We woke bright and early on Ian’s birthday as I had planned more activities for the day.

First, we had a private boat arranged by the hotel to take us snorkelling around the Curieuse Marine National Park. There were lots and lots of colourful fish and a few turtles, everywhere we stopped. Being non-divers, the variety of fish were probably lost on us – we got chastised by our diver friends for not being excited enough. I thought the best thing was having such great scenery, having the wind in our hair and being able to stop and swim in beautiful water whenever we wanted. The interesting thing was that when we stopped at one spot, the National Parks Authority boat drove up to collect park admission fees – first time I’ve seen someone collecting fees on a boat, I wonder how they keep track of visitors.

 

Finally we stopped at Curieuse Island, and the boatmen cooked us a lovely barbecue lunch on the beach. Cold beer was provided too (okay we paid for them) which was nice after being out in the sun all morning. So this was Ian’s 30th birthday lunch. After lunch we took a hike around the island, getting to different scenic viewpoints.

And here’s the other reason I choose the Seychelles – giant tortoises! We encountered these lovely creatures on our hike on Curieuse Island, which is one of the few places in the world they can be found. Once again, I knew we would run into them since I did my research, but I didn’t tell Ian in order to surprise him. I loved the look on his face when he saw one lumbering across our path. So being a Chinese wife, I thought that it would be good luck for Ian to see giant tortoises on his birthday as they were a symbol of longevity. Yeah, whatever, the trip was awesome regardless of why we went! 😛

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We ended off the day by having a nice dinner by the beach at the hotel. Barefeet and happy. Turning 30 isn’t that bad after all.

 

La Digue

The next day we took an excursion to a nearby island, La Digue.

The two most common forms of transportation on the island are bufflo-drawn carts and bicycles. We chose to rent bikes and ride around the island. There weren’t that many people around the island so made for nice riding. Well, except for the hills. There were A LOT of hills, and many a time I had to get off my bike and push. Almost every glimpse of the coast was pretty.

We went in search of the world famous beach, Anse Source d’Argent. Apparently it’s one of the most photographed beaches in the world. It was pretty, but relatively crowded – I say relative meaning there were 10 people on the beach compared to some beaches we found where we were the only ones there – and perhaps that’s why we didn’t enjoy it as much and didn’t go into the water.

 

We stopped for lunch at a little shack near to another beach, Grande Anse. The food was interesting, Creole food. It was a really casual place, you brought your plate up to the counter and the staff dished you rice and whatever other dishes you chose. After eating, you simply paid at the counter before walking out.

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After lunch we went to check out Grande Anse. In our opinion, Grande Anse was prettier than Anse Source d’Argent. The waves were rough but yet so majestic, and the sign made sure you understood in various languages how dangerous the sea could be. Needless to say we did not get in the water, in fact Ian ran from the attacking waves.

 

From Grande Anse, we decided to be a little adventurous and follow a small path up and down a hill, through the trees… where we discovered another beach! Petite Anse was lovely as well, although not as majestic as Grande Anse. Ian even found a little shelter on the beach where we hid from the sun and took a post-lunch nap.

 

Ian’s challenge

Just before we headed home, I challenged Ian to ride up a really steep hill near the hotel. On a heavy mountain bike. With granny gears.

And he did it! Look at the proud look at his 30-year old face! I’m so proud.

And so starts an interest in Ian riding up hills and mountains…. you’ll see in our later posts!

 

Goodbye Seychelles! You’ve been lovely. We’ll be back, someday!

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Something Good for The Ears

Whenever I’m out running or actually whenever I’m just walking about town I’m usually listening to my iPod (or iPhone). Most people listen to music but I’m much more of a podcast listener. Perhaps it’s my old-man tendencies but I like the fact that people are talking to me and I have to concentrate to understand what’s going on.

The biggest benefit I’ve found is on long training runs. When my mind is elsewhere, I don’t notice how far I’ve gone or if I’m tired. Although with my bad knee recently there hasn’t really been much of that! Nevertheless, I thought I’d share what are some of my favorites, you can see there’s definitely a slant towards two particular areas…

1. IM Talk (previously Ironman Talk – If you mention that you might have to do pushups)

A fantastically funny couple of guys. John and Bevan are Kiwi’s that talk triathlon (particularly Ironman) and have fun segments with training tips and excellent interviews with lots of pros. One of their biggest claims to fame was their serious discussion of the tri-taboo topic of “peeing on the bike”.

2. Competitor Radio
Competitor Radio
Bob Babbit and Paul Huddle are triathlon legends, Bob raced Kona before I was born and Paul’s finished in the top ten. They’re constantly on the official coverage of the race. In the podcast they spread their wings to everything endurance sports. Compelling interviews with all the really big names, and a few other folks too that you really should know about if you’re interested in endurance sports. Oh, and the usual question is, “How much can you bench?”

3. The Age Grouper

Another triathlon podcast, but this time from just a couple regular guys. Jeff and Eric don’t always take it seriously but they enjoy talking about it. They’re from the Chicago area and find a way to squeeze in some racing, the occasional Ironman and their regular lives.

4. This Week in Tech
This Week in Tech
Leo Laporte and a bunch of the other folks from the old television show “The Screensavers” from Tech TV get together and talk about anything that’s happening in the tech world. From Google+ to Facebook, Android to Symbian it’s all here. If you have only 90min and want to keep up with tech stuff. This is for you.

5. Diggnation

Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) and his old co-host also from The Screensavers get together, drink beer and talk/laugh about some of the top stories submitted on Digg. They’re always ridiculous and have made me burst out laughing while running numerous times. They’ve now moved to a video format which I don’t like as much since I have to watch it and can’t run while listening, but still one of my favorites.

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Urban Hotel Group Ironman Australia – Race Report

THE SHORT VERSION

Swim: 1:11:29, Bike: 6:21:59, Run: 5:29:13, Total: 13:11:26
My first (and hopefully not last) Ironman completed despite injury troubles.

THE LONG VERSION

Here’s a warning – This is definitely the long version, if you’re only curious about some of the race, head to the previous post.

Lead-up To The Race
The start of the story is really about a year ago when I signed up to do the race. Triathlons and especially Ironmans are very popular nowadays and what that means is that the race filled up in a matter of hours, luckily I was able to grab a spot. So, I had the race planned a full twelve months out and when I was injured building up for the new york city marathon, instead of pushing through and doing that race I decided to rehab and try to get healthy for Ironman Australia which was a bigger goal of mine. So like the dutiful husband that I am, I cheered Chunnie through it and she did it! That was 6 hours and 4 minutes of constant motion and the biggest race so far for her. We’ll revisit that later in this…

The rehab seemed to go well with plenty of physio and slowly building up the run mileage but then a month or so out from the race it came back. More doctor visits, an MRI and still more physio let me at least get to the start line in Port Macquarie although I knew that I didn’t have a chance of actually running the marathon. With all the training I had put in for the swim and the bike including endless Changi Coastal loops, this was a huge relief.

Race Morning
The hotel we had booked was extremely near the start and finish lines which meant that I didn’t have to wake up excessively early which was great! But, since the hotel wasn’t officially part of the race (as it had been for the Ironman 70.3 Philippines) that meant there wasn’t any breakfast provided. So instead, we had gone to the supermarket to get provisions. My breakfast consisted of two slices of raisin/cinnamon bread with margarine, a banana, a vanilla powerbar and a bottle of fruit punch gatorade. All of that was eaten while sitting in the toilet since I had woken up at like 4am and wanted to let Chunnie sleep more since she was also going to have a long day! Love ya dear!

From Ironman Australia 2011

After brekkie I got dressed into my race attire and strangely this morning it included my street shoes since my running shoes had been checked-in to transition in my run bag the day before. At 5.15 we headed to the lobby of the hotel to meet Matt and Beatrice, the little plastic bags you see with me above are the “special needs” bags which you can access on the bike and on the run. I put some energy bars and spare tubes in my bike bag and gels in my run bag.

From Ironman Australia 2011

When we got to transition, I first filled up my water bottles. Conveniently, there is an aid station in transition where they will give you the same flavor of gatorade that is available on the bike leg to put into your bottles. That was good news since then I wouldn’t have some weird mix of flavors. During all the prep, it was a bit strange for me because I actually felt quite calm. I didn’t have any expectations for the race and was mentally prepared to have to walk the marathon and I guess that helped me relax. After getting all that ready I went back out to meet Chunnie and put on my wetsuit. I had just been in shorts and t-shirt and luckily it wasn’t too cold and even more importantly it was not raining! It had been raining a lot the past couple days and the carbo-loading dinner had been cancelled because the venue was water-logged.

The Swim

After a final kiss from the wife, I headed off to the start and to get into the water for the deep-water start.

From Ironman Australia 2011

Although I knew that my swim had improved a lot, I also knew that in general I was still a lot slower than most of the competitors. So for that reason I decided to wait a while and to be towards the rear when getting into the water which also meant I would have to tread water less. At the time I figured that saving that energy would be a good idea. Once I did get into the water, I realized that with my wetsuit on I didn’t even have to move in order to float! Excellent. While I was bobbing in the water I noticed the chopper that was flying above and saw how the banks of the water were lined with people. It really makes it feel like a big event, it made me excited and got the blood pumping for the start.

From Ironman Australia 2011

You know how in all the television shows and Olympics and things there’s an announcer that counts down till the start? Well, I was bobbing in the water looking around when I heard huge BOOOOM from some guns or cannon or something. OOPS! That was the start!! I frantically started my watch and got to swimming.

Usually in races I try to draft people so that I save energy for later, but in this case since there were a thousand of us starting out at exactly the same time there was pretty much no point looking for a specific person to draft since there was a mass of humanity right in front of me and no matter where I went I was drafting somebody. In general, although there were so many of us swimming at once, I didn’t find it too much of a “washing machine” which I’ve often heard the ironman swim described as. Not only was it not as rough as I was expecting, but the cool water was refreshing. The swim was actually in a river, but at the point where it meets the ocean so the water was salty but there were river banks on either side that I could see when I breathed. On one side I was even able to watch the sunrise. 🙂

From Ironman Australia 2011

My only quibble with the swim is that the swim buoys were pretty small so I did have trouble seeing them until I was relatively close to them. Because of that, on the second lap of the swim I think i went of course a bit because at one point I found myself swimming alone. But despite that when I got out of the water, my swim time was 1:11 which is an amazing time for me! If I think back to when I did my first Ironman 70.3 in 2008, I took almost 50 minutes to do 1.9K but today I had managed to go twice as far in only 20min more. Thanks SeaMonsta!

Swim Time: 1:11:29 – 92 (out of 108) in Men 30-34

Transition One

After getting out of the water, I immediately stripped the wetsuit down to about my waste and grabbed my bike bag (which was neatly hanging on the racks) and headed into the change tent. Inside the tent I dump my stuff out onto a spare chair and tried to start taking off my wetsuit. I say tried because I think blood rushed out of my head after having been horizontal for so long that I stumbled a bit and almost fell over. I then thought I’d better sit down. At about the same time, one of the volunteers came over and helped me to pull off my wetsuit. He also handed me stuff that I needed to put on like my bike shoes and sunglasses. Such good service!

From Ironman Australia 2011

Then I ran over to Bennie and put on my helmet and arm coolers. The arm coolers were brand new and I got them because I was worried about cycling for so long with my arms exposed to the sun. Given the weather (rain and more rain) the past couple days I was also glad I had them to keep me warm in case the sun didn’t come out!

From Ironman Australia 2011

T1 Time: 4:25

The Bike

As I started out on the bike, I felt really good. It almost felt like I hadn’t done more than an hour of swimming. Heading out of town, I saw Chunnie for the first time cheering and ringing her cowbell which gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. I wouldn’t see her again for another three hours.

From Ironman Australia 2011

The initial portion of the bike heading out of town was relatively hilly (for me) and I had to keep telling myself to take it easy because I could feel myself pushing a bit too hard and making my legs tired. Thankfully we had driven the course in preparation so the hills were not a surprise. We also headed down the infamous Matthew Flinders Drive (MFD) which really lets you build up some speed heading downwards which I suppose is quite ominous since I needed to cycle up it twice (at 80K and 170K).

The scenery along the route was quite amazing, the waves were crashing onto shore and the sky was clear with the sun shining down. There was tons of support with people cheering us on even at the remote locations along the course. It really keeps your mind occupied if you have scenery to look at. Between that and keeping to my nutrition plan the time seemed to pass quite quickly. I had a 5-hour bottle of Perpetuem, 3 SIS energy bars, salt stick salt capsules and whatever gatorade I could drink as my source of nutrition.

From Ironman Australia 2011

One thing that I really enjoyed at this race was how well run the aid stations were. At each station they had distinct tables set up at least 10m apart with the different offerings (water, gatorade, powerbars, etc.). Whenever you called for something, the person at the table would run with you for a few metres so that the handoff to you was smooth. In other races I have done the aid station volunteer would just stand there and if you are going too fast the impact of your hand on the bottle would knock it down and you’d miss it. They also seemed to be located at intelligent locations, like at the top of hills where you are going relatively slowly and also they were so frequent I was never really left desperately waiting for an aid station.

Once we got to the far end of the course, there was a section around a small lake and here I really felt like I was moving. There were trees sheltering us on the sides whereas earlier in the ride there was a slight headwind (more on that later). I was motoring along, feeling strong and really enjoying doing an Ironman! There was even a kangaroo sighting! It actually hopped across the road in front of a few participants who had to do emergency stops, but I think because of the novelty they weren’t too upset.

From Ironman Australia 2011

Towards the end of the first lap, it was time to attempt MFD. I tried to build up as much speed as possible and then dropped into my easiest gear and climbed. I could see people lining the sides and hear them cheering us on. “come on 161… looking good… keep up that cadence…” At this point I think most people made it up, albeit slowly. I chugged along and just as I reached the top I could feel my quads seizing up and cramping. Luckily I got to the top and managed to ride through it. Phew… 3 hours for the first lap. Another Chunnie sighting and a smile and blown kiss for her as I headed out again. It gave me a boost and I would need that for this lap…

This time, the wind had picked up. There was a long straight 15K section which had an insane headwind! According to somebody I would chat with later in the race, he said it was the worst he had seen in the past 5 years of him doing the race. The headwind came at a completely flat section but that didn’t matter. Couple the wind with the fact that the road was really bumpy and it made for a torturous section of road where I was struggling to hold 23km/h. I purposely tried to stay behind other riders (at the legal 12m distance) to gain whatever draft advantage I could get. For some reason, even when we reached the section that I thought was sheltered the previous lap, there seemed to be a headwind now. Was I hitting the wall already? Hopefully not… On the way back, I was feeling a bit tired and mostly bored of all the food I had been eating so I slacked off a bit and ate less. Luckily this wouldn’t come back to bite me.

The second time around, as I headed back into town I was half feeling happy to almost be done with the bike but also I knew I’d need to go up MFD again. If i cramped after only 80K then how would my body react after 170K? That incidentally was the longest ride I did in training. As I approached MFD, I tried to repeat what I did the last time and up until about 10m from the top, it worked. No cramps as well! But my legs didn’t have as much power as before and I had to swerve left and right just to stay upright. Behind me I could hear people cheering and also stuff like “we’ve got a walker!”. I’m happy to say that I did make it up without any walking!

Bike Time: 6:21:59 – 91 (out of 108) in Men 30-34

Transition Two

As I got off the bike and got into transition I handed my bike off to one of the bike catchers. That was a first for me, since I’ve always had to rack my bike myself. i enjoyed the service, got to tell ya!

I jogged easily into the change tent grabbing my run bag along the way. I sat down again, but this time I actually felt quite good. A volunteer asked if I needed any help and I told him that I was fine and could manage. When I got off the bike I had done a “flying dismount” meaning I left my bike shoes on the bike and just ran in my socks. That wasn’t the best move since the carpeting in transition was wet from the rain overnight. Luckily I had had the foresight to put a spare pair of sucks in my transition bag!

Now with my fresh dry socks and running shoes on I got up but didn’t head out yet. Based on my physio’s advice, I spent the next minute or so just doing some stretches especially on my IT band. After that, I headed out into the sun and some kind volunteers slapped more sunblock onto the exposed areas of my back.

T2 Time: 4:17

The “Run”

Here I was, starting the “run”. I knew that this was going to painful and I had prepared myself mentally that my knee would start to hurt and that I would have to walk the entire way. It could be as bad as 2 hours per 10K lap is what I had told myself. Because of that, my “stretch target” was actually to beat Chunnie’s NYC Marathon time of 6:04. Chunnie was NOT impressed by me trying to do that, which I think gave me some motivation hee hee hee. 🙂

From Ironman Australia 2011

Despite being in motion about seven and a half hours I actually felt quite fresh as I jogged along. I looked at my watch and I was actually clicking away at 5:30 pace. Given my knee I had to restrain myself but also the fact that this was an Ironman and I was trying to run a marathon, who knows what the repercussions of running that pace could be…

My plan for the marathon (even if the knee did not start hurting) was to walk/run the entire way. This was basically because I was hoping to delay the onset of pain and also to conserve energy since I had not been training nearly enough to run a proper marathon. So initially what I did would be to run one or two kilometres and then to walk for a few minutes. Also, I made sure to walk through every aid station so that I could grab as much of whatever I wanted. I grabbed gatorade, powerbar gels and ice cold water. But those are boring “standard” stuff. The aid station goodies that I really enjoyed were vegemite (which is fantastically salty after hours of sweet drinks), watermelon (which is just a refreshing water source) and cookies (just something fun/different to chomp on).

The support from the crowd on the run was AMAZING! They really cheered you and there were people all over the place. Little kids would ask for high-fives along the way, people would yell my name (since it was on my bib). It was at these crowded areas that I almost felt guilty walking. People would see me walking and put in an extra effort to motivate me since they thought I was in trouble, but actually at this point I felt fine but was forcing myself to walk. In fact the first couple times I went by Chunnie I happened to be at a run section of my run/walk and she thought I was feeling so good that I was actually running the entire time! But walking isn’t always slow, in fact when going up the only steep hill on the run course I actually overtook somebody who was “running” along. They were obviously suffering but had refused to walk up the hill.

At about the 17K mark though… That is when I started to feel it. The knee was starting to hurt and instead of being able to run long segments and walk short ones, the ratio started to shift in the other direction. I eventually started just using time to determine my run/walk intervals, at its worst, I walked five minutes and ran only two minutes. When the knee started to hurt I think it coincided with Matt passing me. I’m not sure what lap he was on, but as he went by I was walking along and he patted me on the back. I’m not sure what exactly he meant by it but I took it to mean something like “keep it up, I feel your pain, you can do it.” That I guess should have motivated me but it kind of made me sad since I was struggling along with my knee hurting but I had really wanted to be running along. A little while later I saw Chunnie again and I couldn’t really say anything to her other than nod when she asked if the knee was hurting.

From Ironman Australia 2011

As I headed away from town (to settlement point) on the section of the run course that is quite isolated, the sun was starting to set. At the aid station they handed out glow sticks which we were supposed to wear because we were running along the side of the road with traffic still using the roads on the other side of some orange cones. Although, with this being a small town there wasn’t much traffic at all. As the sun continued to set and full-on darkness set in, this section reminded me of the videos of the Hawaii Ironman where you see people trudging along in the dark. But this time it was me.

The third lap was the slowest because of the increased walking, but strangely as I came to the forth (and final) lap of the run course I felt slightly better. I was able to improve the ratio of walk to run. It must just be the adrenaline and the fact that I knew that the end was near and I’d get to run down the finish chute. As I got nearer to the finish (and I could hear the music and cheering in the distance) I even started to run completely, the walking was gone. At the end of each lap you would be given a black bracelet to mark how many laps you had completed. After the last lap thought you’d get a green one. It was the golden ticket to get to run down the finishing chute. As I ran past the volunteer handing out bracelets I happily yelled “green!” and it was just a few hundred meters more to go. I could hear people yelling “Almost there! Looking stong! You’re going to be an Ironman!” and that just spurred me on. I think the final kilometre was something like 4:00 pace!

From Ironman Australia 2011

When I did make the final turn into the finish chute the feeling was fantastic. The crowd was cheering there were people stretching their arms out for high-fives along both sides. I obliged them going from side to side giving high-fives, smiling huge. I saw Chunnie at the side (honestly, I almost missed her in the excitement). I smiled at her but I kept going. Speeding along, I heard Mike Reilly say my name and tell me, “You are an Ironman!”

From Ironman Australia 2011

Oh yes… And i beat my stretch target for the run with 30minutes to spare. 😛

From Ironman Australia 2011
From Ironman Australia 2011

Run Time: 5:29:13 – 92 (out of 108) in Men 30-34

Total Time: 13:11:26

After the race I got a massage, headed back to the hotel for a shower and then came back to the finish. It was just as exciting cheering in the folks coming in after 16 hours as i’m sure it was to cheer in Pete Jacobs who won the race in almost half that time.

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A couple days in Sydney – May 2011

After Ian’s Ironman in Port Macquarie, we drove back to Sydney to spend a couple days before heading home to Singapore.

We stayed at the Shangri-la, and got a really nice room overlooking the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge! The benefit is that you could always check on traffic on the bridge before heading out.

 

We managed to squeeze in dinner at Quay, which was in the list of World’s Best 50 Restaurants. The place was fancy, the food was good (and expensive), and the view of the harbour amazing! Forgot to take any pictures! Sorry.

Ian will also remember that our trip coincided with the Australian Fashion Week, so we ran into many models strutting their stuff, hanging out look gorgeous, as we walked around the harbour.

Ian will also always remember this trip as he discovered then that the Sydney Opera House had tiles. All his life he had just thought it was painted white! Unbelievable.

We took a boat ride across the harbour, under the bridge, in fairly rough seas if you ask me, to Manly. It was a nice quaint beach town. Even the waves were manly.

 

And of course we ate well and drank good coffee. One of the highlights was a trek out to the seafood market where we had cheap, fresh seafood. I even bought a few lobsters to bring home for the family!

 

Australia is firmly on our foodie-love list!

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