Sep 19, 2019

Lovin' Life 19/9/2019: A Power Walk Around Darling Harbour.

I don't know why I get as anxious as I do on that Saturday before a race but I do.

The conveniently bundled quartets of safety pins at the race bib collection point were a soothing sight.

I know that I'm there for the fun of running.  The buzz of being part of a group of like-minded strangers as we pound the pavement together.  The unique privilege of being up close and personal with some of Sydney's most iconic landmarks and locations - without all the cars.  That feeling of being a bit special by virtue of having some major streets closed 'just for us'.

But I overthink it all.  What if I'm late for my starting time?  What if I'm sick on the day (it's happening but fortunately I'm over the worst of it)?  What if I'm slower than I hope I'll be (also happened but I've lived to tell the tale and found 'the hunger' in the process)?

So.  Many.  Questions.

So I decided to take those pre-race questions on a relaxed walk around Darling Harbour after I dropped my gear off at race HQ.

It was a first for me being in the area just for a bit of exercise.

I'm usually here in the company of Master SSG in search of adventures (or Maccas) or else all dressed up and in work mode for conferences at the convention centre.

Walking with purpose as I followed the cues of my Aaptiv audio-guided training session gave me a different perspective on the CBD's tourist hub.  With my ears tuned in to my instructor and my mind processing the information and willing my body to follow the effort cues, my eyes were free to look up and around.

With its wide walkways and gentle slopes, the harbour precinct is a perfect place for a power walk.

The scenery that surrounded me was a dynamic mix of hotels, restaurants, bridges and maritime exhibits.

It was not your average walk through suburbia.

And you know what they say about change.

How it's as good as a holiday?

I think it also went a great way towards easing my pre-race nerves.

Sep 17, 2019

Rain. Cupcakes.

So that rain is Back in Sydney and while this is excellent news for the Warragamba Dam, it's the humans (myself, specifically) that are struggling.

After the magnificence that was Sunday's weather and that it enabled me to do in the great outdoors, I've found myself scuttling from one indoor location to the next all day today.  Dragging a pesky damp umbrella after me.

It wasn't that fun doing my run this morning on the treadmill but at least the dreadmill kept me at a pain-free pace as I ease into a week of recovery.    I won't deny, though, that I did enjoy clopping along in my red Hunter wellies.

Rainy days are not without their dramas.  I got 'the request' this morning from Master SSG.  The one for a batch of homemade cupcakes for school. To be made today for tomorrow's maths lesson on fractions.  Predictably,  routine and plan-ahead driven me went nuts as I tried to work out how to find the time to bake them whilst negotiating peak hour traffic and the rubbish collecting trucks who were both out for a bit of cheeky confrontation banter first thing in the morning..  And of course, I immediately went to Google to find myself an easy and fail-safe cupcake recipe.  Which I found on the Best Recipes site, link here.

What I love about this recipe is its precise beating instructions.  It literally takes under 10 minutes to put the batter together.   With thickened cream as its base, there's no need to spend ages trying to cream that block of butter you've just pulled from the fridge at Woolies together with the sugar.

I used my bottle of Aldi vanilla extract for the first time too this morning.  Disappointingly, the extract has the consistency of essence.  It's not that lovely thick syrup that Queens' is.

Luckily, I had my trusty old school ice cream scoop on hand to enable me to neatly fill my cup cake cases with fairly equal volumes of batter.

And here we are!  9 cup cakes (the recipe is meant to make a dozen).  Just as well there are only 9 in the class.  I'm just thinking through the numbers for tomorrow.  If each boy brings in a tray of baked goods... The sugar.  All.  That.  Sugar......

I braved the slightly flooded streets of the city in search of my hairdresser while those cupcakes cooled.  My left wrist is notable for its new kind of arm party... those coiled hair ties you can get at Kmart for $4 a pack (of five).  I've been pleasantly surprised to see that they haven't been defeated by my thick hair yet and actually spring back into their tightly coiled shape after use.  Instagram tells me you can heat them gently with your hairdryer if they do get a bit loose over time. and they'll bounce back into shape instantly.

I'm all set for Paris (a mere 16 days!!!  away now... can you believe it?!?!) with not only fresh locks but a stash of EVO samples so I don't have to endure the pain of 'hotel shampoo and conditioner' bold italics to reflect the shudder in my hairdresser's voice as he handed over my stash....

Meanwhile, back at cupcake HQ...

did you know that ice cream scoops can also be used to frost cupcakes?  Is there nothing this wonder gadget can't do?

All you need do is scoop up your frosting as you would ice cream, 'unscoop' it onto the cupcake and then swoosh things around a bit with the back of a spoon.  No fiddling around with piping bags and nozzles, barely any wastage of your frosting.  I like to think that the finished product has that rustic, homespun look.  Talented home bakers and decorators, look away or risk being offended at the disproportionate amount of satisfaction I'm taking in accomplishing the task of baking and frosting one batch of cupcakes....

Thanks to the generous provision of Woolworths, this is how our cupcakes ended up looking.  There's so much fraction knowledge to be applied to the decorations, don't you think?

Are you an expert cupcake maker?  Any top tips for a novice?  I'm so inspired by this first batch I might just send a tray of birthday cupcakes to class this December.  Which isn't all that far away come to think of it....

Sep 16, 2019

Life This Week 16/9/2019: Colour All Around.

Try as I might, I just can't get life to slow down a bit so that we can both enjoy the wonder that is spring in Sydney.  We're hurtling to the end of term three (!!), I'm off traveling in just under three weeks (!!), the car's got to be taken to the panel beaters, I need to go to my routine eye check-up....  

And breathe.  

And reflect.

On the week that was.

I know I dramatize and I know that I also catastrophize but, without fail, each week on this earth never ceases to impress, humour and change me just a little bit.

I began Thursday on the road to Redfern.  I love that the mornings right now are a kind of balayage of winter and spring.  There's a crisp greyness to the city's light.

But then, after you've allowed some time to pass - take a walk through Petersham.  You'll be rewarded with vivid blue skies, immaculate red brick houses and colour co-ordinated waratahs flowering in the front garden.

More moody blue-greys for Friday morning.

Cheeky smiles and a matching green team wrist band and ribbon for running later in the afternoon.

An ($11!?!?!) bottle of dayglo orange cold-pressed juice to boost the senses and my immune system.  Why oh why did I need to get a head cold two days before the Sydney Running Festival?!?!

Back to grey... but with that red and white H&M markdown sticker we've all come to know and love.  This is my pre-race sweater.  The organizers will be collecting up discarded clothes at the starting line and donating them to charity.

A sunny corner of the play area has been transformed into a discovery garden thanks to the latest promotion at Woolworths.  Watch this space hopefully fill with green sprouts and shoots very soon.

Rainbow sponge cake is one of those feel-good afternoon teas, isn't it?   I'm positive it kicked that cold on its head as well as providing me with those all-important carbs for race day.

Sep 15, 2019

The Bridge Run Was Fun.

 Wasn't the bridge looking absolutely stunning this morning?

Fitting, given that it was the Blackmores Bridge Run today.

The Bridge Run is the 10K race of the Sydney Running Festival.  Other race options are the marathon, half marathon and a family 3K run.  Both the race bibs and finisher's medals are clearly colour coded for each event.

The total number of runners registered for festival events is about half that of the Sydney City To Surf.  There was a practically intimate total of 16000 runners for the Bridge Run which allowed for the route to be marked by several tight turns through historic areas of the city near the Observatory, Hyde Park and the Art Gallery of New South Wales that were sandwiched between surreal runs along the Harbour Bridge and up the concourse to the Opera House.

I liked that the course was relatively flat and the course didn't feel too crowded.  Both were great confidence boosters and helped me enjoy the run and not get too caught up in my niggling aches and pains and the dregs of that head cold from Friday.

I'm also counting myself as extremely privileged as a recreational runner to have had the chance to run races through some of the city's most beautiful and historic locations on the Bridge Run and the City 2 Surf this year.

The races complement each other in terms of technical difficulty and distance as well as the terrain that they cover.  And they both have such convenient starting (and finishing) locations.  I'm coming back for both next year if the planets align as they have this year.

I spent quite a bit of time wandering aimlessly under the sails of the Opera House after the run, basking in my surprisingly good finishing time.

I wandered along the Bennelong Lawn

 and looked out into Farm Cove

before my gaze returned to the Opera House behind me.

It's Sydney.

Of course there was a bar at the finish line.  Open and with lines of potential patrons at 9am.

 It's days like this that make me love this city hard.

It's not hard to momentarily forget the traffic, the public transport meltdowns and that relentless hustle when you get to kick back on a sunny Sunday morning amongst a sea of like-minded strangers who are just all there to have a good time.  And to help each other take their best post-race smartphone photos.

It wouldn't be race day without a post-race walk of pride to a purveyor of high-quality refined carbs.

These are but a few of the range of doughnuts available at the Walker's Doughnuts stand in the basement of the Galeries.  I highly rate the apple and custard filled doughnut.


And here we are.  Sunday evening and I'll be spending it the way the day began.  Doing some yoga and foam rolling to get this old lady's joints back into gear for the week ahead.  If you’ve gotten yourself a solid starter tan from the weekend’s running, it would be a crying shame if you were unable to work it because you’re hobbling around with a dodgy lower back and posterior chain. 

Be well and may Monday treat you and your joints with care.


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