Saturday, February 19, 2011

7 Weeks until the Half Marathon

As some of you know, I have signed up for the Canberra Half Marathon which is April 10th.  I've been training for 7 weeks and am at my midpoint.  Today I got up early this morning feeling a bit reluctant about the long run I needed to accomplish. I knew I needed to increase my time by 10 minutes, but after the week I had I wasn't feeling so confident. Last Saturday, I participated in my first Dragon Boat Regatta.  It was a lot of fun, but I used parts of my body that just don't get used!  I have been exhausted all week.  My runs this week have been quite "light" and easy because I haven't had a lot of energy.  As I was getting ready to head out this morning, procrastinating, my daughter woke up and said to me, "break a leg, Mom".  Well, seeing her was just the incentive I needed to get out the door.  I set out at a slow, steady pace. The day before I drove my loop to confirm it was 13km, so I just needed to add the loop around the ponds out front of my house to reach 16km. I love running through Gungahlin while the shops are getting ready to open and just a few people are out getting coffee, walking, cycling, or running. Its a peaceful scene. As I reached the center of town (about 4 km in) I knew I was going to reach my goal. I felt like I was floating over the road. My legs were strong, my breathing and pace steady. Then, it happened. As I was running my last 10 minutes my ole familiar knee pain came back. This injury has been the reason I have not yet completed either a half or full marathon (after several attempts).  My first attempt was back in 2000, I believe.  I finished the training (running 22 miles before tapering) although my knees were a problem for me for most of the long runs.  I showed up on race day hoping to make it through.  I couldn't even make it 3 miles.  It was very disappointing. Today, I thought about pushing through the pain, but decided that maybe if I take care of myself, and not push through it like I did every other time I might have a chance of reaching my goal. So, I finished my run happy with the results and hopeful that I can find some way to take care of the pain before it becomes a real problem for me. Any suggestions on healing knee pain?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dragon Boat Regatta, February 2011

Team USAwesome! Saturday was my first dragon boat regatta participating on the corporate team for the US Embassy.  It was so much fun!  When I came to Australia I was excited to see new things and try new things.  It was an early morning, overcast and cool, and the lake was relatively calm. Paddling in the boat was such a rush.  Hearing the beat of the drum keeping time with our strokes and the cheers of my daughters from the side of the shore was enough to get me to power through it. With only one or two practices together I think we did quite well.  I look forward to the October regatta.  In the picture below, you can see just a little bit of me if you look at the boat in the forefront. I am third from the front on the opposite side.

Third Times a Charm

The girls went back to school this past week.   Anabella started Year 2 with an exchange teacher from Canada.  She’s happy to be back at school with her friends and in an all-girls class.  She likes her teacher.  This term she is learning to play violin.  The first day she came home with the violin she was so proud to show me how to hold the instrument correctly.  We’ve had a weekend of “playing”.  As I said on Facebook right now it sounds more like nails down a chalk board.  I’m happy to see her enthusiasm with learning something new.  Chloe began kindergarten (preparatory as they call it at Girls Grammar), for the third time…third times a charm!  Just three days before the new school year, Chloe was accepted to Anabella’s school, Girls Grammar.  She wasn’t totally in support of our decision to send her to this school since she had started with another school last year.  My little Chloe has had quite a few changes over the past seven months.  She started kindergarten back in the states participating in 6 days before it was time for us to move halfway across the world.  Then, when we got here she was accepted to a small private Catholic school in their kindergarten program during Term 4.  Since it was the end of the year, we agreed that she would complete the full year of kindergarten in 2011.  This decision was good for all of us.  Chloe was adamantly against going to preschool or a “baby school” as she called it. And, I was happy to have her enrolled in a program for the full day.  I got the call about her acceptance into Girls Grammar when we were in Sydney.  She had been on the wait list since we found out about our move.  It’s important to me to have the girls in the same school and to be at one of the best schools Canberra has to offer.  Chloe, however, was a bit nervous with the prospect of starting another school.  When we arrived on the first day, the teacher greeted each student at the door and told them to go look for their names on the desks.  Well, Chloe did not have a desk nor was she assigned a locker.  Chloe turned to me and whispered, “I don’t have a desk I guess I don’t have to stay Mom.  Let’s go!”  Then she folded her arms across her chest.  The stinker!   She put on a brave face and got on with playing with the dolls in the room.  She’s been a very brave girl.  I am proud of her.  After three starts at kindergarten, we are finally in a place where Chloe will have some longevity (at least over the next three/four years).  I am happy to say that both girls have come home each day with smiles on their faces, and completely exhausted.

First day of school, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

First Trip to Sydney, January 30 - February 4, 2011

We took our first trip as a family to Sydney on January 30.  The drive to Sydney took about 3 hours.  We stayed at a hotel just a couple of blocks from an area called the Circular Quay (pronounced key) on Sydney Harbour.  The harbour is just spectacular.  On the left is the Sydney Harbour Bridge and to the right the Opera House.  That afternoon we strolled along the harbour making our way toward the bridge then headed down through a neighbourhood called, “The Rocks”.  The Rocks is an old historic neighbourhood that has a similar feel to it as the Old Port in Portland, Maine.  There were wonderful boutiques, some high end stores, several museums, restaurants, cafes and bars.  We stumbled upon the outdoor markets so, of course, we (as in I) had to poke around.  I was able to find a few memorabilia and then the atmosphere got the better of us.  There were several Irish pubs along the street so we decided to join the fun and have a nice cold Guinness.  Before dinner we walked down to the Opera House to get a closer view of it before heading back to The Rocks for dinner.  The Opera House is just as incredible up close as it is from afar.   
The next morning I got up early to run down by the Opera House.  The Concierge showed me a 6 kilometre (4 miles) loop that takes you down to the harbour passing by the ferry terminals and the Opera House and then around the Royal Botanical Gardens.  When I travel, one of my favourite things to do is run.  I love the feeling of being on an unfamiliar route, not really sure of how much farther until the end, and seeing the city as it is in the early morning.  And, in a place like Sydney, the sights really can’t be beat (well maybe except for the run I had in Hawaii).  I got back to the hotel after 27 minutes of running so I can only conclude that either this was not a 6 km loop or I took a short cut!  Either way, it was a fabulous run, and a great way to begin my day. 
Our trip was a business trip for Uri so while he went off to work the girls and I headed for the zoo.  We took a ferry across the harbour then a gondola ride up to the top of the hill that the zoo is built.  It was a very hot and sunny day (high 30s C/90s F).  We had plenty of sunblock, water and our hats with us.  We made our way down the hill seeing the koalas, giraffe, the baby elephant, the baby hippo and the chimpanzees.  We even saw a Komodo dragon which I took a picture of just for my mother.  She is convinced they live here in Australia, however, the only ones that do are those at the zoo.  About mid-way through the elephant show, we decided it was time to get back on the ferry.  It was just too hot!  We missed several other exhibits, but I’m sure we’ll be back.  That evening we had a delicious seafood dinner down on the Circular Quay.  We walked off our dinner by making our way up and across the Harbour Bridge.   From the bridge the Opera House was glowing.  It was a beautiful night. 
Over the next couple of days while Uri was working the girls and I did a lot of walking, sight-seeing by ferry, and some shopping.  Since we moved to Australia the girls have had a growth spurt.  I decided we should replace the crocs that were on their feet since we were beginning to see their toes sticking out of the holes.   We were all excited to find just the right style and colour…Mary Janes, one in pink and one in purple.  Off we went to the arcade (shopping mall).  Well, I have to tell you, here we are in the land where crocs are from and, guess what, they couldn’t be found!  We went to more than 5 stores from sporting goods to department stores to specialty shoe stores looking for them.  I was told in one sporting goods store that they don’t carry children’s apparel because not a lot of children live in Sydney and therefore they don’t move the merchandise.  She told me I may have better luck in the suburbs.  I really was surprised that not one store in all of Sydney had crocs.  As we made our way back to the hotel without new crocs I saw plenty of children walking along the streets and I’d say about half were wearing crocs.  Perhaps they were all tourists!  We have since found the girls new crocs here in Canberra where we live, but I have to say there was very little stock to choose from.  There was only one pair (pink camouflage and blue) and one style (not Mary Janes) in their sizes.  Do Aussie kids not wear crocs?
Darling Harbour is another beautiful part of Sydney.  It took us two attempts to get to it by ferry.  We ended up on the wrong ferry on our first attempt, but it was a welcoming mistake.  We saw parts of the harbour we never would have seen if not for the error. I really enjoyed Sydney, however, we had a difficult time doing everything we wanted to do with the hot weather.  Each day, the farenheit temperature was around 100 degrees which made it difficult for us to be outside.  I look forward to visiting Sydney again, perhaps in April when it'll be Autumn and cooler weather.  

From the gondola heading up to the entrance to the Taronga Zoo

Komodo dragon