Archive | July, 2012

Pump it

31 Jul

This Black Eyed Peas song was playing when I was doing weights in the gym this morning. So appropriate. Though when I got to the squat jumps/pushups/burpees/lunges circuit it was more like “cark it”! I take my hat off to anyone who can string together more than 10 burpees using good form because quite frankly, I suck at them!

After a really great coffee at Dead Man Espresso in South Melbourne (where you are well & truly spoilt for choice in cafes & great coffee), we met KT for lunch at World restaurant in Southbank. She is one truly inspiring woman who has had the goal of running marathons in every state/territory & will realize that goal in a month’s time in Alice Springs. And she’s doing Port Mac half ironman in October. And the best thing is it will be great doing this event with a friend!

Then it was back to the gym later this afternoon for my regular Tuesday bike intervals session for 45 mins. Those legs were pumping again! But it was a good workout. And I had worked up an appetite for dinner which was beef and red wine stew, followed by homemade apple crumble 🙂 All part of my finely tuned, nutritionally balanced, elite athlete diet 😉

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Mmmm Mamasita

30 Jul

Today we had a great lunch at the Mexican restaurant Mamasita in Collins St.

But first things first. I was up bright and early to walk to the Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre (MSAC) in Albert Park for a swim session, long overdue I might add. This was only a 15-20mins walk and a good warm up for my swim. I found out that I had just scraped in for early bird prices (before 8am I gather) and then the girl at reception said, “only the outside pool is available now”. Sorry? Did I hear correctly? The outdoor pool? It is winter….in Melbourne……not the warmest place at the best of times. She smiled ever so sweetly and said, “it’s heated.” What to do? it seemed madness to be swimming in an outdoor pool in late July but there were other people out there, swimming. And they weren’t wearing wetsuits. Ok, I’ll do it.

And actually it was ok. I didn’t notice the cool crisp air once I’d got in and started swimming. It was a 50m deep water pool. There was about 1-2 people per lane, so very civilized. It had been a while since my last swim session so felt a bit rusty and unco but managed 1.2km in total. Then after a shower and changing into dry clothes I walked home. Mission accomplished.

So as mentioned at the start we had lunch at Mamasita. They have a no bookings policy so we decided we’d get there soon as they opened for lunch, at 12 noon. We weren’t the only ones to have that idea as we were about 4th or 5th in the queue. This place is popular and we soon found out why. The food is amazing – full of fresh zingy flavours and very far removed from what a lot of people think of Mexican food. We shared a variety of small plates of foods, none of which required cutlery, beginning with elotes callejeras, which was “street style” chargrilled corn, questo, chipotle mayonnaise & lime, and was very moreish. This was followed by tostaditas de pollo (with chargrilled chicken, avocado, chipotle mayo & questo fresco), taco de pescado (soft taco with grilled fish, lime, achiole paste, red onion salsa & chipotle mayo) and taco de camarones (soft taco with marinated prawns, red chile & chipotle almond salsa). We finished with quesadilla de Cordero (braised lamb, queso criolla, mint & jalapeño herb sauce). Of course I couldn’t resist dessert & was talked into having the pastel de chocolate, a flourless choc cake with tequila white choc sauce & PX jelly. Fortunately it was a petite serve! 🙂

This was followed by some serious retail therapy! Not in Collins St mind you (not the Paris end anyway where you’ll find the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Versace, Rolex……..you get the picture). My purchases came from my favorite boutique in Flinders Lane, Miss Lau. Beautiful clothes, many Australian labels.

Tomorrow: the plan is a weights session before breakfast, lunch with lovely Keren, and a bike session later in the day. SpartaJen should be happy with my efforts. 🙂

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Running the tan

29 Jul

Will I. Won’t I. Do I. Don’t I. Yes. No. I don’t know. These were the conversations I was having with myself this morning. A tight right calf also kept butting in ;). I even googled whether running with a tight calf was a good thing! Didn’t get a definitive answer. In the end I decided that I would run but with no predetermined distance in mind, but run according to how I feel. Radical notion I know!

I decided to run the tan this morning, a 3.8km track around the Botanic Gardens. It’s official name is the Tan Track, named either for the tan-colored stone aggregate surface, because it runs around the BoTANic Gardens, or because it was once covered in tan bark. Whatever. It’s a popular running and walking venue for Melbournites. This morning I ran 3 laps and with the run to get there and return, the total distance was 17km. As I was running up that hill for the 3rd time of thought of Liz and Steve who had run the tan ultra 100km a few years ago. I don’t know how you guys did it! Three laps was plenty for me.

An indulgent breakfast followed this run – truffled scrambled eggs (made with cream, butter and whole eggs no less) and smoked salmon. What a perfect partnering. This was an amazing breakfast but not one you could have very often – the seasonality and cost of truffles ruling that out, let alone the calories! But oh what a treat!

Not much else happened today – the cold, wet and totally crappy weather took care of that. We did venture out to the movies at lunchtime and then later in the day had afternoon tea at St Ali’s.

Tomorrow – the plan is to head off to the Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centrefor a swim in the morning and then afterwards go shopping! We’re also off to lunch at Mamasita’s in Collins St for modern Mexican. They have a gluten free menu!

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A few of my favorite things

28 Jul

St Ali coffee & breakfast, halva, fresh produce and organic meat from Queen Vic markets – these are a few of my favorite things when I’m in Melbourne. And maybe after truffled scrambled eggs planned for tomorrow maybe I can add black truffle from Madame Truffles to that list.

But first I had an hour bike session to do. There were sprints, there were hard gears and easy. It was a hard session but by changing it up every now and then made the time go by relatively quickly. To pass the time I watched the traffic on the Westgate Fwy – that’s the view out the window. One other person came in while I was there to use the treadmill. In the end I had cycled 25.7km.

We had breakfast at one of my favorite coffee and eating places in Melbourne, and it’s just down the road. St Ali’s – awesome coffee and great food. I had a gluten free granola with natural yoghurt and medjool dates – yum! It was very filling which was great because I was starving. Rob had scrambled eggs with bacon & toasted sourdough bread. The coffee was top notch.

Afterwards we called into Madame Truffles, a seasonal shop specializing in Australian truffles. In fact it’s last day is tomorrow, until the next truffle season. I have long been curious about truffle, not ever having it. I’ve heard and read about truffles, black diamond as it is called (Brillat-Savarin called them diamonds of the kitchen) and often wondered what all the fuss was about. This morning the lovely Bernadette gave us a brief lesson in truffle and had us smelling different ones from Tasmania, NSW, Victoria and WA. What surprised me the most was the variation in odour. But to describe? I can’t think of any words or make comparisons with other foods that really describes the truffle odour – maybe musty, earthy, and one had a smoky odour. Anyway I bought a small amount that comes from Deloraine in Tasmania, which was found by Rex the dog. It will be used in our scrambled eggs tomorrow. Can’t wait to try it!

Later in the morning we visited Queen Vic markets to buy some fruit & veg and meat. I can’t go past the halva & bought a small chunk. Not the healthiest I know (it was the chocolate one) but given I don’t have it very often, a little bit won’t hurt. Well actually maybe it wasn’t such a little bit…….

Tomorrow the plan is to do a 16km run before a truly decadent breakfast of creamy truffled scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. A meal definitely worth running for!

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Endings & beginnings!

27 Jul

Last day of the week. Last day of the conference. The beginning of my leave commences. Woohoo!

But first things first, it was up early to go the gym for a weights workout. I could really get used to having the gym to myself!

A miserable morning weather-wise, typical Melbourne winter weather – umbrella weather. A great last day of the conference, an excellent key note speaker talking about poverty this morning. Attended other sessions on culture & healing, and child abuse & neglect. Finished with a panel discussion on child poverty.

Back to the gym later today to work off some of that pent up energy. Hot & sweaty work on the treadmill, bike and xtrainer – a total of 50mins. There was 3 of us in the gym this afternoon so other people in the apartment complex use the gym. I was beginning to wonder!

Finally, pizza for dinner. 🙂

The photo below – this is a sign in the toilets at the Convention Centre! You gotta wonder!

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From jogging to Japanese

26 Jul

Today started with a 6km run along the Yarra. What a great start to the day. There were other runners, cyclists & rowers out and about. Unfortunately it had to be a short run as I had to get back, shower, have breakfast & then show up for day #2 of the conference.

It was another long day with some really interesting sessions. But even so by the end of the day I was tired, fidgety & lacking in concentration and not really appreciating the panel discussions that were on offer.

Which is why we headed off for a much-needed drink after today’s sessions, before dinner. Then for dinner we went to Akachochin, a Japanese restaurant at South Wharf. This is a izakaya-like restaurant where the idea is to order a variety of small dishes to share. Which works fine if one of you does not have to eat gluten-free! After several unsuccessful attempts at ordering, “I’m sorry that’s not gluten free,” I ended up ordering deep fried eggplant with grilled cheese & den-miso followed by braised pork belly with Japanese mustard & shiraga-negi. This was washed down with Masumi Junmai Ginjo Karakuchi Ippon sake. And for dessert we had a mousse made from tofu, mascarpone & umeshu topped with raspberry sauce & served with umeshu-poached pears. I have to confess that this was my first visit to a Japanese restaurant & my first experience of sake as well. It won’t be my last 🙂

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Stir crazy

25 Jul

I started my day with a weights session & I had the gym all to myself! Mind you, I wasn’t bounding out of bed this morning, it was more like dragging myself to the kitchen to make a coffee and this was after hitting snooze several times on the alarm! But I told myself I would feel a whole lot better for getting up & doing something physical. After all, the rest of the day would involve a lot of sitting interspersed with coffee & food. And I was right! It was a novelty to have a fully equipped gym to myself & so I zipped through my session with no interruptions.

The rest of the day was spent sitting, listening, chatting, drinking coffee & eating. The best thing was that the organizers had catered really well for those with special diets. I had no complaints about the food available to me – it was incredibly tasty! However all the sitting was making me stir crazy. I needed to do something physical.

Which was why I headed back to the gym once the day was over, to do a 50min cardio session. The first 30min was spent on the treadmill running intervals. This was followed by 20mins on the spin bike doing 10 x 1min in a hard gear, followed by 1min in an easy gear. It was just what I needed to blow away the cobwebs.

Tomorrow the plan is to go for a run down by the Yarra before breakfast. 🙂

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Hello Melbourne

24 Jul

In Melbourne. In my happy place.

This morning I did a 40 min intervals session on my bike, on the wind trainer. It may have been 1 degree Celsius outside, but it felt a lot warmer on my bike. A good session.

The plan tomorrow is to check out the gym and do a weights session in the morning. And maybe a cardio session after a day at the conference.

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A pain in the…….

23 Jul

It was not a great start to the week – a dental appointment for root canal treatment and a crown. This involved 2½ hours at the dentist this morning, a lot of the time in the chair, mouth open and having things injected, drilled, poked, prodded and scanned. And try drinking coffee or attempting to eat when you can’t feel half your face. Which is still a whole lot better than when the local anaesthetic wears off and you’re left with the dull, persistent thumping and general achiness in the gum and jaw for the rest of the day. Oh I love dentists – not! The bonus was that I did get a free coffee at Coffee Guru while waiting for the crown to be fitted – even if it meant sipping it with a straw! 🙂

I did manage an 8.5km run before the dentist visit however, around the local streets under the cover of darkness. I am noticing that it is getting lighter a little earlier in the mornings, though we still have a long way to go. It was not a cold and frosty morning either so it was actually quite pleasant. There did seem to be a lot more people out and about, in their cars – I was forever having to jump up on the verges as cars came heading down the road.

Packing has begun for my Melbourne sojourn which starts tomorrow when my flight leaves at 5pm. Woo hoo! This week however is still a work week for me so not only will I be attending a three-day conference , but I will also be doing additional work once the conference finishes each day. Next week, however, I am officially on leave so bring on the shopping, eating and simply sensational coffee! In the meantime I am trying to pack lightly but it’s just not working………

Today I tried Barambah Organics vanilla bean with a hint of cinnamon yoghurt – wow, this is delicious yoghurt. Its natural, organic and according to the blurb on the label, is a true ‘paddock to plate’ company. The milk is sourced from their certified organic dairy farm in south-east Qld – in fact all the ingredients in this yoghurt are certified organic. Not only that, I recognise every ingredient on the label, there is not a chemical substance or number to be seen. This family owned company has also won many awards for their dairy products, including their yoghurt; the most recent being the Delicious magazine award. Their All Natural Yoghurt was awarded best product in the Dairy primary producers category for the year. Comments included “luscious, perfectly balanced yoghurt”. And I would agree with that. 

I want to ride my bicycle

22 Jul

Thankfully it was not as cold this morning as it has been for the last couple of days. It was cold but not frosty and was quite pleasant for cycling. I managed a 27km ride this morning, heading into Civic along Belconnen Way and Macarthur Avenue, then along Northbourne Avenue before heading back along Ellenborough St, Ginninderra Drive and Kingsford-Smith Drive. Riding relatively early on Sunday morning means there is not as much traffic around which also makes for a pleasant ride.

I decided against running later in the day. For the time being I am quite happy to do one training session a day. 🙂

While the day started with so much promise of being a lovely day, the cloud cover has kept the temperatures down. I have been cold all day, despite the heating being on. I’m even contemplating a bath just to get warm!

Tomorrow, the plan is a run early in the morning. Then I have a 2 1/2 hour dentist appointment for root canal followed by a crown. Ouch, ouch, ouch! (physically as well as in the wallet).
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” – Vince Lombardi