January 3rd: running, pumping and swimming.

Managed to haul myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 5:15am today.  Disgusting, right?  Anyway, after a day of inactivity I felt that I should really put in a good effort today, so I strapped on my Garmin, threw a few pieces of strawberry licorice down my throat (for the energy, OK?), and chugged half a Gatorade before slipping out the front door.  And holy shit, was it warm.  About 3k in I passed a dry-cleaners that has one of those LED displays outside with the time, temperature and price information.  25 degrees Celsius at 6:15 am.  Crap.

Perseverance led me to totting up the longest run I’ve done in a long, long time (years), and I stopped my Garmin at 8.45 miles.  Sweet.  If I could do that today, the Arbroath 10 miler and the Global Energy Inverness Half Marathon are definitely achievable, so I was feeling pretty positive.

Deciding not to shower (and therefor choosing to offend anyone within a 10 foot radius of my body), I then went to a 9:30 Body Pump class, as I hadn’t done weights for a week because the freaking gyms in this town have ridiculous holidays.  Seriously, Christmas Day I understand, and even New Year’s Day, to a point.  Nothing more.  Anyway, the muscles I worked the hardest are whatever muscles are used to create a fierce grimace – that class was mega painful.  I’ll take a mental note never to skip pump for a week, it’s a freaking killer.

Upon returning home, I had no choice but to finally shower.  I was receiving unpleasant looks from the family.  After lounging around for a couple of hours, and getting back sweat from merely sitting down (totally hot – the temperature, not my perspiration predicament), the family went on an outing to Hume lake, where my brother worked on his tan and I worked on not letting my corpse flesh disintegrate after going so long without direct sunlight.  Seriously, I am white.

Board shorts and a sports bra are a fashionable alternative to swimwear if you don't own a bathing suit. Fact.

Anyway, we have just stuffed ourselves with Albury’s finest fish and chips, washed down with the champagne that should have been enjoyed at the bells on New Year’s Eve – if everybody hadn’t crashed out and just decided ‘screw this, I’m tired’.  Next up?  Probably another shower, then some monopoly, followed by an early night, because waking up before 6am on your holiday isn’t lame enough.

On a completely separate note, I have discovered dailymile.com.    It’s like Facebook for fitness fanatics, I already love it.  I wanted a place where I could keep track of my training/total miles for 2012 without really worrying about performing basic maths and adding miles myself, so this is perfect!  If anyone is on it, you can search for Raquel P.

40 Degrees

40 degrees is pretty warm. As in the space between your fingers begins to leak sweat. Your buttcheeks don’t rub when you walk: they glide. On sweat, in case that wasn’t clear. So I am only about 12% ashamed to admit that I allowed today to be a rest day and didn’t run. I’ll run tomorrow. And probably do a pump class. And then hopefully head to the weir to throw my charred carcass into the cool water (slathered in factor 50 due to my Michael-Jackson-post-normality skin tone).
Until then? More laying about in the shade!

A Good Start!

Managed to get up at 5:30am despite staying up until after the bells speaking to my boyfriend and G-Dawwwg online, and then tolerating the extra-drunk locals cheering and partying into the early hours.  I would be lying if I said I was bright eyed and bushy tailed.  Still, I know from experience that I would have felt guilty if I didn’t power through the morning’s run, so I managed a respectable 7.41 miles (roughly 11k) for my first run of the new year.  It was a bit harder than yesterday after 2 days of long (ish) runs, and also because it was freaking roasting!

Party remnants

Evidence of last night’s overindulgence littered the streets along with the shopping trolleys (don’t worry, no more trolley shots!).  There were, however, a couple of walkers and a cyclist tearing up the streets of Albury at sunrise – good show! This guy, on the other hand, was clearly not going to be up for vigorous activity today.

Looking a bit worse for wear

The photo is a bit blurry because I was taking it on my phone, and I was vibrating by trying to stifle giggles, because I’m so mature.  And in case you were wondering, he had on boxers and failed to rouse during my total lack of respect for his privacy.

After the run, it was a shower and some food before heading off to Ettamogah Wildlife Sanctuary.  I can’t say I was expecting too much, but it was actually pretty good!  There was a tiny penguin (can’t have been more than a foot tall), loads of kangaroos, including one with a joey in its pouch, koalas, emus, dingos, peacocks and reindeer.  There was also a ‘reptile handling time’, but it basically consisted of having a small python draped over your shoulders and letting it wriggle around for a bit while people took what can only be expected to be horrible photos of you looking like a total dork.

Kangaroos attracted to the food pellets

Kangaroos are hung

Sleepy koala

A word of warning: if you are ever in the position to feed kangaroos, watch out for their talons!  Holy crap!

After all the animal excitement, it was back home to take in the washing from earlier (clothes actually dry here in Australia in like an hour, not 2 days like Aberdeen!).  I also had some time to relax and soak up some of the sun (but not too much, it was nearly 40 degrees).  I even planned some strategic chair shifting outdoors to avoid getting a trucker’s tan.

Now, fed and about ready to jump into fresh pyjamas, I’m feeling good.  I am also appreciating the cool evening breeze.  A lot.

Hogmanay, Australia: Supermarket Sweep!

Ah, New Year’s Eve.  A day full of hopes and ambitions waiting to be crushed.  Last year I was in Houston and stayed in with my brother watching trash TV and eating pumpkin spiced pancakes.  This year?  Well, it’s 8:40pm,  I’ve just stuffed my face with pasta, butter and cheese, and I’ll probably crack open the bubbly for a sly glass or two before hitting the snooze pad.  The joys of jet-lag.  At least my plans wont be detrimental to my scheduled run tomorrow.

This morning I managed 12k.  I had to leave at 5:37am, just as the sun was rising, in order to catch the last of the ‘cool’ air (24 degrees at the start).  I ran a similar route to my 11k, including the old track, but managed to run a bit further to round the run up to 12k.  Along the route I noticed the shopping trolley I had noticed on my first run.  I had seen a few more shopping trolleys during my stay, so I decided to take a photo every time I came across one.  This forced me to take more camera stops than I thought possible.  For the sake of brevity, I have omitted the photo of the shopping trolley from my last run.

Technically Shopping Trolley #2

#3 - Upside down!

#4

Double Trouble! #5 and #6

#7

The 12k today was also much easier than the 11k the day after I arrived.  Probably since I had time to acclimatize to the heat.  Probably also due to the fact that I hadn’t just stepped off of a  plane after a 30 hour journey.  My heart rate was lower, I didn’t feel tired, and when I got back to the house I didn’t feel like I was completely spent.  Good news as 12k is about 7.5 miles.  I would like to comfortably run 10 miles by the end of January.

Tomorrow morning I hope to be doing the same thing I did on January 1st, 2011: running.  As long as I can rack up 10k, I’ll be happy.  After all, it is a holiday and I’m entitled to take it a bit easy.

Running in heat!

Well, I arrived safe and sound yesterday in Australia and met the rest of my family at Sydney Airport.  We then took the (very, very bumpy) hour flight to Albury, where my grandparents live.  So far I have been gifted with sunshine and warmth, and while for pretty much everything that is amazing, for running it can make things difficult.  Especially if you’re used to dealing with limbs losing sensation due to the cold and trying not to get sleet whipped into your eyes due to gale force winds (Ah, the joys of running in Scotland).

The flights over were, while not completely terrible, long and sore.  I didn’t get too much sleep, but I did eat a lot.  Apart from the crew wearing santa hats/reindeer antlers, and a little Lindtt chocolate bunny, there wasn’t much of a fuss over Christmas, so I was a bit disappointed, even though I am still not sure what I was expecting.  On Christmas Day we stopped in Bangkok for about an hour, so I had a bit of time to stretch my legs and take an obligatory ‘Christmas Day Photo’ at the airport:

Bangkok Airport, Christmas Day 2011

When we finally arrived in Albury, we were shattered.  I had a power nap (and apparently had some fantastic photos taken of my sleeping face courtesy of my uncle’s new flashy camera and my brother’s suggestion, I’m sure) and then awoke to a lasagne feast!  Much better than plane food.  About 11pm, I could resist sleep no more and hit the hay.

Santa's stash!

I awoke at about 3 this morning to a phone call from my bank alerting me to some possibly fraudulent transaction attempt.  I had to verify that it was indeed me trying to withdraw money in Australia unsuccessfully (causing major distress at Sydney after a parched flight), and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I looked outside.  Darkness.  I checked online for sunrise times. 5:55am.  Ages to go.

I decided to stay awake and then head out as soon as the sky started getting light to avoid having to run in immense heat.  At 5:30, I donned my brand new Sauconey running shoes (courtesy of Santa), set up my Garmin and made sure that I had a map of the area set up on my phone.  I set off shortly after and managed to fit in a respectable 6.81 miles.  The pace was slow, but I decided to ease my body back into exercise after all that traveling, and allow it to get used to the temperature change.  I also had to check where the hell I was occasionally, and I stopped to take a few photos.  I got back shortly after 6:45am and it was already 23 degrees.  Ridiculous!

Below is the route I took, courtesy, obviously, of my Garmin.  See if you can spot the 400m (roughly) track I found and took a lap on!

Route: 27 December

Tomorrow and Thursday I’ll be doing classes at the local gym and taking advantage of the last two days it’ll be open this year (Mental holidays!  You wouldn’t have to put up with that in Aberdeen!).  Then more running!

Here are some snaps taken during this morning’s run:

Payphone

Lavington Literary Institute

Blurry 'action shot' of the running track I came across

Abandoned trolley

Early opening laundromat on Mate Street

A deserted Mate Street at ridiculous o'clock

By the way, the new Sauconey shoes are great!  And while I was being ultra healthy, my boyfriend was thousands of miles away indulging in a Boxing Day BBQ!

Australia, here I come!

Well, my structured gym classes would normally go out the window for a few days over the festive period, but in this case, it’ll be 2 weeks!  I’m off down under to visit family over my Christmas holidays, and I had planned on making that the time for increasing my weekly mileage, and had bought the Garmin specifically for that.  Running is still my plan, but I can’t remember the last time I ran in 30 degree heat, so I think I’ll be breaking a sweat (frequently) not breaking the sound barrier, speed-wise.

I leave tonight (Christmas Eve) and arrive on Boxing Day, so I’m kind of screwing myself out of Christmas, but also avoiding too much filling up on stacks of pre-bought junk food, so not all bad.  I have been naughty and opened a present from my boyfriend – a leopard print latex dress with black paneling that I had wanted!  I also got a present from my ‘running friend’ – Diplomacy, the board game.  It has good reviews so I’ll definitely be cracking that one open upon my return to the ‘Deen.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas!  I’ll get a stopover in either Hong Kong or Bangkok, so at least I’ll get a couple of hours of land-Christmas.  The next time you hear from me, I’ll be on the other side of the world!