Friday, 22 November 2013

Night Noodle Markets

For the next 2 weeks Alexandra Gardens has been transformed into Noodle Market. Andy and I went to check it out on Tuesday night after work. It opens at 5pm every day, and by the time we arrived at about 5:45 it was absolutely packed! However queues went quickly and there was a lot to choose from: Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Malaysian foods all well represented. We were both starving so had some dumplings on arrival before getting a few beers and a place to sit. Luckily we got some red beanbags to sit on in front of a DJ playing some great tunes. Dinner was beef massaman curry and pork sliders from Chin Chin. When we left around 8pm it was even busier than when we arrived. The lovely weather and proximity to the city makes it an attractive option for a cheap dinner after work. I am sure we will be visiting again before it ends next Friday!






Tuesday, 19 November 2013

City to Sea and Taste of Melbourne

On Sunday Andy and I woke up at the crack of dawn (5:30am to be exact) to do the 'City to Sea' 14km run in Melbourne. The route started at the Arts Centre on St. Kilda road, down to Albert Park where we did a lap of the lake, and then along Fitzroy Street and along the beach to Port Melbourne and back. What a fantastic route and race! Definitely one of the best runs I've ever taken part in, the Cardiff Half Marathon is the only route I can think of that compared in terms of how scenic it was. SO much better than 'Run for the Kids' which was another 15km run we did in Melbourne in March. (Which, I will not be doing again next year!)

Picking up our race packs the day before the race
The Yarra River, an hour before the race start. Lovely day, we were very lucky with the weather!


The route was pretty flat and the start of the race was very well organised, apart from the delayed start time. We were in the 'Red' start which meant we were expecting to complete the route in under 80 minutes. I figured I'd be right around 80 minutes so was a bit nervous that everyone else in our starting group would be super fast, so I got Andy and our friend Dan to agree to start near the back of the pack. Dan is a pretty fast runner and in great shape, so he took off like a shot as soon as we crossed the start line. Andy and I were a bit more conservative, aiming for 5:30 per km to start with.

This was the first race I've done without my iPod and a carefully selected playlist (Swedish House Mafia, Rihanna and Hot Chip usually feature heavily), and for the first few kilometers I was really regretting it! It felt pretty quiet running down St. Kilda road, the isolated sound of footsteps hitting the pavement reminded me of being on the tube in London at rush hour (pretty depressing). However once we got to Albert Park there were a few music stations along with big screens featuring Australian athletes' pre-recorded messages wishing us all luck which gave me a bit of a boost.

Albert Park Lake

In the end we finished in 74 minutes, with an average pace of about 5:15 per km, so we were both pretty happy with that given our (lack of) training beforehand. I would definitely run this race next year, and we are even thinking of signing up for the 'City to Surf' run in Sydney, as it is supposed to be a fantastic route as well.

Dan, Andy and me just after we finished

The only thing that kind of annoys me about races in Australia so far is the lack of goody bag at the end. I know this sounds silly, but I love picking up my goody bag full of sample energy bars, gels, running magazines and the odd banana at the end of a race. And also no t-shirts! (Well, no free t-shirts. You can of course buy a t-shirt from the race if you want.) Not that I ever actually WEAR the t-shirts I get from a race in public, like, ever... but still. And the entry fees to races are not cheap here... like $50-65 per race. Surely that kind of entry fee should include a free t-shirt?! Ok, I probably need to get over this...

After the race we went for brunch at The Stokehouse in St. Kilda with Laura, Dan and Dan's parents who are visiting from the UK. Seeing Dan's parents has made us very exited about our upcoming visit from Andy's parents in 2 months time!

We made a last minute decision to go to Taste of Melbourne in Albert Park after brunch (so basically, more eating to make up for the calories we burnt on the run). Lots of famous Melbourne restaurants offering small dishes for a fraction of the price of their regular menus. The sun was out and we had a great time tasting different foods and trying the different flavours of Rekorderlig cider on offer (apple and guava... yum!) It was pretty packed though, so you had to constantly queue for food, and also it ended up being pretty pricey - the dishes were between $6-16 on average but they were pretty small, plus the $25 entry fee. It was a really nice afternoon and experience but not sure I'd go again next year.

Mark, Gemma, Pete and me at Taste of Melbourne (I am still in my Skins from the race... nice)

On the way home while walking through Albert Park we noticed there was a Youth League soccer game on, Melbourne Victory's youth team playing West Sydney (soccer... ok ok we can still call it football). Of course we had to go in and watch the last 20 minutes! Not really my cup of tea - you'd have thought I would have learned to love football by now, but sadly no - however it the perfect end to a perfect day for Andy!

Just after crossing the finish line, very hot and sweaty!