Thursday, July 09, 2009
Running - I finished my marathon. Was I happy with it? Not really. Did I set my expectations too high? Maybe. But it was necessary. The objective of the race was to attempt to qualify to run in the Boston Marathon, which requires a 3:10:00 time for my age group (that's really fast, btw). And that's the pace that I tried to keep but I just didn't have the legs for it. I did long runs during training but I guess it just wasn't enough.
The weather was perfect in the Gold Coast for the run and the course had virtually no hills. It was your own speed and endurance that would get you to the finish in time. The first half marathon went well and I hit most of my splits and crossed the halfway line at 1:36 (that's my second fastest half-marathon time) but then started to slow down significantly. Around the 30km mark my split times were way too slow and getting worse each km. There was no way I was going to make it. Around that time I was nauseous and my legs were dead as I continued with the slow drag across the finish line. Finish time was 3:38.
As always, it was a learning experience, though at the moment I don't know what capacity I will be running another marathon in. I'm sure I will run one in the future but the 'enjoyment' may be the goal rather than the time. For a few years now I've felt that the half-marathon is my distance and maybe I should accept that that is the case.
Training will slow down in terms of running and change fundamentally for at least a month. This month I'm concentrating on mountain biking, weights, and yoga and I'm actually going to get into the pool with thoughts of starting triathlons in November/December.
This was my fourth marathon: Toronto, Mississauga, Great Ocean Road, Gold Coast.
Bread - My new favorite hobby is baking bread. I've baked bread before but that was about 8 years ago and I never got it right. I've baked 3 batches in the past 3 weeks and I still haven't gotten it right but I'm getting there. I'm not doing the electronic bread maker or even mixing the ingredients in a mixer. Everything is done by hand so that I can appreciate the process rather than the outcome. I love the simplicity and complexity of bread and, despite its ubiquitousness, it can be difficult to make.
I'm learning through "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart. It's a very good book because instead of saying, "mix this with this and cook for this long," he explains the significance and chemistry of each step. He stresses that everything is a guideline and as a bread baker you create the formulas that suit the flavors that you want. He teaches to bake artesan bread, which looks nice as well as tasting good and having innovating ideas.
So far I've made pain a l' ancienne, which is a simple flour, water, salt, yeast recipe with no pre-ferment (a second doughy type mixture added to the main dough) three times. I've learned something new on each one and I'm getting better (though they have all been edible). From shaping, to mixing, to kneading, it all seems to be coming together. The latest batch (3 baguette shaped loaves) came out around 5 last night and though it wasn't as light as I'd like and it was a bit doughy, it was still my best attempt with better shaping and larger loaves.
Today I'm going into the city so I should get moving. Either going to the Day in Pompeii exhibit at the Melbourne Museum or the Salvador Dali exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria. Will let you know how it goes.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
How much fun have we had the last few days? My last post was Thursday and it is now Sunday night so I hope something happened. Friday I went to Ula's father's farm and, yes, I did see a baby cow, which was just under a week old. She was very cute and can run very fast. We took Pepe (the small white fluffy dog) and Grady (the bigger, working dog - he's a kelpie crossed with something that we're not sure about; a kelpie is a herding dog used for sheep and cows) because they love to run around in the fields. We're still unsure about Grady's recall so for most of the day I had him on a 10 meter rope so he couldn't get too far. A lot of times I just let him drag it without me holding it but that's enough for him to think that he can't get anywhere. He did well and came when I called him. He did this well enough that at the end of the day I took him completely off the leash and let him roam around, though not too far away from me. He did well.
One story about when he was still on the 10 meter rope. We were trying to stay away from the cows because Pepe likes to chase them and if she got too close to the calf then the adult cows would have something to say about that so we were just over a hill out of line of sight. We were along the fence and Grady found an opening and very quickly slipped through the barbed wire before I could do anything. Now we were on opposite sides of the fence with me holding onto the rope; not good. I tried to coax him through the opening but he touched the wire and jumped back. I tied the rope short to the post and went to walk the long way around (with Pepe) to get him on the other side. This paddock has been closed off to the cows and the gates are tied shut, which meant that the only way I could get to the other side was by jumping the gate (you can't jump the fence because it's just wire). I tied Pepe up, did a litle one foot on the gate and one on the horizontal pole, which gave me a bit of a flashback to jumping the fence before my last marathon (I have one this coming Sunday) and messing up my leg, and there I was on the other side. I looked up to Grady.. and he was back on the original side! Sigh.
Saturday I finished "High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby. I'll have to do a write-up for this one because it was quite good. I still haven't seen the movie. Maybe I'll do that. Right now I'm reading "How Language Works" by David Crystal, which is not what I thought it would be. I'm also going to start Dominion by Matthew Scully tomorrow.
I took Grady to obedience school and he just could not pay attention. All he wanted to do was run around and play. And this week was test week. Lucky for him we're in the beginners' class and everyone passes. Ula and I also took him through the flyball jumps (Pepe does flyball - link) and he did quite well with that, I think (as if I know how well a beginner should do at flyball).
Saturday night some friends had us over for dinner. Nice area, very wooded and hilly - reminded me of Boxford (where I grew up).
Sunday I woke up to run and had a bit of an easy one. I'm having trouble with my knee and I have a marathon this coming weekend and I'm a bit nervous.
I'm rushing through the rest of the weekend. This afternoon I met up with Tori and her friend's kids for an Aussie Rules Football match - the Western Bulldogs vs the North Melbourne Kangaroos. I have nothing invested in either team so I was fine with the Doggies winning. I got to have a few beers, hang out at the stadium; it was fun.
Last thing that I did was make some bread dough. I first started trying to make bread 7 or 8 years ago and never got back into it but here I am. It's something that I really want to be able to do so I hope that I can stick to it and learn a lot. It's not easy at all. I made some last week and it was at least edible. Tonight I made up the dough and will cook it tomorrow night. I'll let you know how it goes.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
To Begin Again
My problem is that I don't find my life very exciting. I live in the suburbs, I don't have a job, and I pretty much sit around and read, train for an upcoming marathon, and take care of the dogs. I suppose it's more complicated than that but that's how I explain it to people, why I don't call anyone, and why I don't really email anymore. Not to mention but in the employed world everything's fast paced; you have 30 seconds to push out a 3 paragraph email to a friend 10 time zones away. But here, sitting at home, where's the rush? 10 days later you get the "are you still alive?" follow up.
But (as many times before) I feel something coming out. An explosion of want and need to express myself through words. Ok, fine, it's more of a leaking than an explosion but let's get through this anyway.
At the moment I'm drinking scotch (pretty good), going through Nick Hornby's "The Polysyllabic Spree" (read it earlier this year) to see if I should read any of the books that he mentioned, and scrolling through Business Week's 'World's Most Expensive Cities 2009' (so far not shocking or exciting).
I've been doing a lot of sudoku lately (on lovatts.com.au because I like the set up) to try to sharpen my brain a little bit. I'm doing other stuff too, I'm just talking about this at the moment. I've also tried their crosswords but I'm not a big fan - they have too many answers that are plural nouns. Mostly I do the level 2 puzzles but occasionally I do level 1 if I don't have much time (I'm about to start a level 3) and usually finish in under 30 minutes (today was less than 15). When I did one on the train the other day (in the free paper) it was noticeably more difficult even though it was marked as 'novice'. (side note - No 17 on the 'most expensive list is Manhattan; does that count as its own city? Also, I'm surprised at the number of African cities on the list.) In the end I had two 3s in the same block and gave up.
This morning while I was reading ("High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby) I remembered that I had recorded a soccer match from the night before (Confederation Cup - it's being played in South Africa so comes on around 3am here). But Ula's mother was here and I didn't really want to seem as if I sat around reading fiction and watching soccer so I didn't turn it on. A few chapters later I went to the computer to check the news sites and it's plastered everywhere, "The US upsets Spain!" Damn. That's the game I recorded and the US, who was very flat in the first two games and somehow squeaked into the semi-finals (I still don't understand how) when the beat Egypt, just upset the number 1 ranked team in the world who happened to be playing with a 35 game unbeaten streak. Aside - I am not a US national team fan, nor am I jumping on the bandwagon, it's just a coincidence that I was born and raised in the country that the team that I am happy for is representing. I would be just as happy if it were Senegal or India (probably more so). They played well in that game and so did Spain and they had a lot of chances. If they beat Brazil in the final then I'll be happy again. But I'm still picking a different team to back for the World Cup next year.
Tomorrow I'm going to Ula's father's farm to give the dogs a bit of a run around and hopefully see some baby cows - they have 3 cows, 2 are pregnant and due any day. I was there last week and nothing.
This writing took about 10 minutes while being distracted so maybe I can do this regularly.
BTW - finished level 3 sudoku in 17:46. I have to go feed the dogs.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
I found a gym in Salem where I signed up for a month for $49. I then got on the treadmill and did: 5min warmup, 1 mile @ 7:30min/mile no incline, 1 mile @ 8:00min/mile 1.5 incline, .5 mile @ 7:30min/mile 3 incline, 5min cool down. Then I did light weights. I'm concerned about the running because although I felt good while running, I feel like I'm fading. Plus, I get really bored on the treadmill.
Sat - Portsmouth Brewery
Sun - early morning run at gym, dinner at grandparents' house, Superbowl at parents' house
Mon - snowboarding at Gunstock, run at night
Tues - Boston. MFA, lunch with friend, possibly the Stewart Gardner Museum
Details:- I've been to the Portsmouth Brewery just once, I think. Tonight I'll be going with the parents, Steve, and Rebecca.
- I'm not going to run today but want to get two days in a row (Sun - Mon). I have emailed my running coach and asked for a program so I should be ok for the rest of the week.
- While snowboarding my goals are to get the rust off, practice goofy foot, and smooth out the turns. I remember my last time at Buller I was not executing my turns very well.
- The MFA is my favorite art museum, mainly because I used to be a member and lived a block away so could go whenever I wanted to. Though I did live in the area, I have never been to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I think this is the time.
- Read the Eagle Tribune and the Boston Globe
- Went for a walk
- Read ch XVIII and XIX of DQ
Saturday, January 31, 2009
1) Spend 3 hours on job hunting, including finishing pages for LinkedIn and Seek.com and sending resumes to companies A, B, and C.
That should be enough for now...
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The end of the week
Tuesday night it was so hot that I had to sleep downstairs on the couch and I still didn't get much sleep. That coupled with last night and a 7am in the office meeting this morning I'm a bit tired. I'm running with Dave's group tonight around the 'Tan and hopefully I'll get to bed a reasonable hour because I have another 7am tomorrow (which is also my last day of work for a while) and then we're hoping for a big night out.
LTC needs to be finished before I leave for the US. I'll be plowing through that this weekend. DQ can go on hold because I'm bringing it with me - maybe that will help me sleep on the plane.
Pictures of the cricket that I promised ended up on Tori's facebook, which you can get to through mine because I was tagged in them. I'm also working on my goals for the year and for the trip to the US and they will be up here in the next couple of days. Only 3 more days... I'm nervous.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Running, Cricket, Rice
I then mowed the lawn and read some LTC and DQ. In the midafternoon I headed up to the city by train to meet Tori and Tracey at Riverland in Fed Sq, which is a great outdoor bar on the banks of the Yarra River. We had a couple of warmups before we went to the cricket at the MCG for a twenty20 match agains South Africa. It was a crazy match and even though both teams brought in their batters, it was mostly dominated by bowling. The Aussies lost 9 wickets and South Africa went all out - this is unusual for this type of cricket. The Aussies won in the end and it was good, fast-paced (for cricket) match. A lot of fun. I'm trying to get the pictures from Tori to post here.
LTC - 330
DQ - Finished the first part and have begun the second, which has 74 chapters plus a preface so if I keep with this pace up then I should be done by the end of March but I am hoping to increase the pace during my trip.
Plan for today:
Running group in Aberfeldie in the 100 degree heat.
Congratulations to Jim Rice for making the Baseball Hall of Fame. I followed him when I was a kid but am even more amazed now when I read about what he accomplished. Rice played left field and I remember one game in particular when he was close to the wall in foul territory and a fan took his hat and ran in the other direction. Well, Rice went into the stands after him and got his hat back.