City2Surf

Posted: August 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

Unfortunately, my blogging software is still on the fritz. I can still blog without it, but I can’t put in all my pics. I wanted to wait to post this recap until I could share the pictures, but a couple of people have been prodding me to blog (you know who you are). So here’s my (sadly pictureless) City2Surf recap!

What a fun day! Last Sunday I had the pleasure of running in the City2Surf, which is one of the largest timed running races in the world. This year was the 40th anniversary of the race, and there were over 80,000 runners in the 14K race. Wow!

The morning dawned cold and clear, which is just perfect for running. The temp was about 45F when we started, but it warmed up from there and the sun shined the whole time.

I was really impressed by the organization of the race. We were broken up into five start groups, and each lined up on a different street. This way it didn’t take near as long to cross the start line after the gun went off, although it was such a huge race.

The race started in Hyde Park, which is in downtown Sydney, and meandered east to the coast, then down south to finish at Bondi Beach. The whole course was just beautiful, and we ran along the water for a fair amount of time. Spectators were everywhere and the water stations were nice and long: all marks of a good race. What was strange, though, was the amount of people. All races are super-crowded for the first mile or so, but this one literally stayed just as crowded all the way to the finish. I was purely running this race for fun so I didn’t care a bit, but I’m sure it could be frustrating if you had a specific time goal.

And then, near the halfway point of the course, we saw it. Dun dun dun…The infamous Heartbreak Hill! It was about a 2km-long winding hilly road. But we all made it through and I got to see my favorite sign of the whole race. (The picture is great, but it says “You look SO hot right now.”)

The end of the race flew by—with a fair amount of downhills, no less!—and before I knew it we had reached Bondi Beach. The finish area was understandably crazy, but I was able to get my medal and make it over to the promenade next to the beach, which was the walkway toward the buses.

I navigated public transport and finally made it back (let’s just say I spent more time trying to get home than I did running), where I enjoyed a hot shower, the best bowl of oatmeal ever, and a delicious nap. Perfect race day!

As for my next race, there’s another running festival in Sydney in a few weeks. I’m debating between the half marathon and the 10K, but I’m leaning toward the 10K. After that, there’s a 10K in Melbourne that I might travel for and then another 10K in Sydney in Olympic Park. As for my next half marathon, I lost out on the lottery of a race I wanted to run 😦 so I’m debating another Texas half (maybe Austin?) in January or February.

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Living Down Under

Posted: July 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

We arrived in Sydney on Saturday and had a full week of orientation and such before classes start tomorrow. Sadly we don’t get the full-blown orientation experience because although this is the start of first semester for US students, it’s the second semester for Aussie kids since their seasons are switched. But we learned our way around the campus (which is lovely…it looks just like Hogwarts!) and finally got enrolled in our classes.

A normal course load for Aussie kids is four classes (as opposed to five back home( but I’m doing an internship that counts for a class credit so I only have three academic classes: a government class, a history class, and a gender/cultural studies class that’ll hopefully be really fun. And the best part is that with how my schedule is structured right now, I have no classes on Monday or Friday. Of course I will use a lot of that time for my internship, but it will be great to have more time to travel and explore.

Speaking of exploring, I’ve been doing a lot of that lately! The area of Sydney we live in is super cute. We’re right near this main road that has coffee shops and restaurants galore (many of the Thai variety, interestingly). It’s only about a 15 minute walk down to a big shopping mall with stores, Kmart, a grocery store, and a movie theater. I’ve spent quite a lot of time just walking up and down and all around this area.

We’re also pretty close to downtown. The public transit system is very extensive and very widely used here (maybe because gas is more than $5/gallon?) and there’s a bus stop super close by that’s a straight shot downtown. Last Friday I went down there with a couple of friends and saw the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House for the first time. It was awesome! We also wandered all around the Royal Botanical Gardens, which are right between downtown and the water. We saw all sorts of wildlife, including a huge spider (ick), bats, and even parakeets.  We got to eat dinner outside with a glorious view of the bridge, too. Plus a stop at a glorious chocolate shop that’s just a minute away from our complex…that could be trouble. 🙂

I went back downtown today with a friend and we went to the Aroma Festival! It was a huge outdoor festival with tons of coffee, chocolate, tea, spices, snacks, and more. The stands went on and on; I think we wandered for a good two to three hours. I spent a chunk of change today…but what can I say, chocolate is my weakness. We also saw some of the regular markets that are here on the weekends–I can’t wait to come back next weekend and explore some more.

I really do love Sydney the city. It’s big and diverse like NYC (to which it gets lots of comparisons) but it isn’t as cramped and doesn’t have that manic energy that NYC can have, which I suppose is good or bad depending on your perspective! I love that it’s right on the water and that there’s so much greenery. The city is pretty sprawling, as well, which I’m used to.

Interesting fact of the day about the University of Sydney: Sydney Uni (established in 1850, it’s the oldest university in Australia) was meant to be a combination of Oxford and Cambridge. Our coat of arms is the books of Oxford and the lion of Cambridge set on top of the Southern Cross, stars you can only see at night in the Southern Hemisphere. And our motto is Latin for “the heavens change, but the mind does not.” Very cool!

Other notes of interest: they really do have BBQ’s all the time. It’s kinda strange. They also really do say “no worries” all the time. I think I’m starting to pick it up. They also drive on the left side of the road, obviously, which is so strange. Actually, the strange part is walking on the left side at all times instead of the right and remembering to look left when you cross streets.

There’s a pretty good rainstorm going on right now, and I’m comfortably settled in my room getting ready for classes to start tomorrow. Well, class starts for everyone else tomorrow. I plan on going for a run and doing laundry (you wouldn’t believe how much $$ it costs).

Blog Issues!

Posted: July 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

Hey everyone! Sorry I haven’t been blogging…I’ve had a few posts prepared but the software I use to blog (Windows Live Writer) isn’t working. 😦 I think it has to do with the new Internet I’ve been using, I pay by bandwidth usage and therefore have to log in every time I open a browser. I don’t know how to configure the software so that it works. Also, since I have to pay for how much bandwidth I use, I imagine uploading photos and blogging takes quite a bit of that. Therefore I don’t know how much picture-heavy blogging that I’ll be able to do. 😦 Maybe if I can find free wireless somewhere and if I can get my software to work!

But I’d still like to let you know what I’m up to. Just imagine all the pretty photos. 🙂 Like I said in my previous post, I spent my first week in Australia in Cairns, which is up in Queensland and is near the Great Barrier Reef. I already told you about the snorkeling, but we also got to plant trees at the Kuranda Conservation Community Nursery, which is devoted in part to the protection of cassowaries (big emu-like birds that are in danger of going extinct in Australia).

We also visited Rainforestation, a big nature park. We learned about Aboriginal culture, got to hold a koala (not as soft as you’d think), and saw many animals, including but not limited to spiders, kangaroos, dingoes, and crocodiles. It was a really fun day. That night we went on a tour of the Cairns nightlife, also fun. Then I spent our last day in Cairns horseback riding and whitewater rafting, both of which far surpassed my expectations. Rafting was amazing, we even got to get out of the boat and go through some rapids on our backs!

We finally arrived in Sydney on Saturday, pretty darn sick of traveling and planes and lugging around our heavy bags by that point. I moved into my little dorm room/apartment–we live in an apartment complex that’s basically a dorm, and right on the edge of campus. I have my own bathroom (including a big shower with gloriously hot water), a big bed, a large desk and shelves, a big dresser/open closet, and a fridge + microwave.

What kind of sucks about it though is that it’s super expensive, yet nothing is included. No meals, no Internet, no phone, and no cable. Oh, and there’s no heat or A/C. And it’s quite cold here! It’s in the 40’s at night, which means my sleeping outfit is quite comical: pants, shirt, jacket, socks, and scarf. Plus my sheets and two blankets.

And I finally got Internet in my apartment, which is exciting. I have to pay for how much I use, though, so I’m super careful of what sites I visit and such. Because of course, it’s expensive. They don’t say Sydney is the most expensive city in the world for nothing!

Since this is pretty long, I’ll stop here and follow up next time with my adventures getting settled and my first foray into downtown Sydney!

A Week of Adventure

Posted: July 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

Hello from Sydney! I’ve been here for about a week and while I wish I could have blogged earlier, Internet access has been a little sporadic. I left last Saturday and after a 28+ hour travel adventure that involved four airports, three planes, three trips through security, and customs, we finally arrived in Cairns.

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I’m studying in Sydney but we spent our first week in Cairns for a Culture & Adventure Program through the program I’m traveling with. This week there were about 150 of us, studying everywhere from Sydney to Melbourne to Brisbane and beyond. I think about 40-50 of those are studying with me at the University of Sydney.

Anyway, we arrived in Cairns on Monday and it was a fairly hectic day getting settled in at our hostel. It was a very long day, and thanks to jet lag all of us crashed around 9. There were six of us in a room, and I had five great roommates but it was a little crowded in that little room with all of us and all of our bags!

Tuesday brought the day most of us were looking forward to…Great Barrier Reef day!

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We were on a big boat and it was a choppy two-hour ride out to the reef. But we made it and got the chance to snorkel…it was just amazing.

AustraLearnJuly10 027I wish I had pictures of the things I saw, but it was everything from Nemos to Dorys and everything in between. Everything was just right there under the surface of the water, and I felt so lucky to be able to see it all.

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(It was super windy.)

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That night we explored downtown Cairns a little bit and enjoyed some gelato.

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It’s a cute little town (about 130,000 people) and is based mainly around tourists and backpackers. There’s also a great esplanade that lines the water.

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More to come soon…planting trees, petting koalas, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting!

Pizza and Ice Cream

Posted: July 2, 2010 in Food
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The healthy versions tonight. 😉

I’m trying to eat all my favorite foods before I jet off to Sydney, and these two are definitely near the top of the list.

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First up is homemade pizza! I loooove this recipe. I’ve made it several times perfectly, and tonight was no exception. Note that the dough takes a few hours to make, but it’s super easy and totally delicious.

After I rolled out the dough, I drizzled it with a little olive oil and added a thin layer of tomato sauce. I topped the pizza with sliced zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, olives, and spinach. Then I crimped the dough a little on the outside to make a crust and attempted to slide the pizza from the pizza peel to the pizza stone in the oven. Note the word attempted. This is how the pizza looked after I topped it:

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And this is what it looked like by the time it was out of the oven:

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Yeah, there was a little issue getting it on the pizza stone that resulted in an ugly side. But it still tasted delicious!

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So, so good. The crust is just perfect. The pizza made eight slices, and I had two.

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And then it was time for dessert. 🙂

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Homemade banana-almond butter-chocolate ice cream! Three of my very favorite foods in one little bowl.

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Before you think it’s all fancy, this is the easiest ice cream to make ever. In a food processor, I pulsed together two frozen bananas. When the bananas began to break up, I stopped the processor and added a tbsp. of almond butter and a chopped up chunk of dark chocolate. Then I turned the processor back on for a couple more minutes until this delicious, super-thick banana soft serve appeared.

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What a perfect evening of foods. And the best part is, I have leftover pizza for tomorrow.

Updates!

Posted: July 1, 2010 in Food
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I added a new recipe page (for my beloved smoothies) and am trying to update one of my recipes but my silly blog software isn’t letting me do it right now! 😦 Until it does, I’ll share the new pics for my salmon salad with you here.

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Awesome! Anyway, things are getting a little crazy around here because I’m leaving for my semester abroad in Sydney in NINE days! Don’t worry, it’s going to be a fun ride. I’m training for a race and will be cooking for myself in a studio apartment with only a mini-fridge and a microwave (hello, creativity). And you’ll get to see it all! Talk to you soon.

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I actually ate this meal for lunch today, but since my breakfast was pretty boring and I think this is more breakfast-like, I’ll share this one today. One of my favorite combos is apples and almond butter on toast, but today I also wanted to use up half a banana that was in my fridge.

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So I mashed the banana half and mixed it with the almond butter, stirring until I had a smooth sauce. I toasted the bread, cut up a Fuji apple, and drizzled the sauce all over the top! Super quick and easy. Oh yeah, and tasty.

(Oh, and how I said my breakfast was boring? Here’s a clue.)

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(It was early, I was hungry, and I was not feeling creative.)

But dinner was fun! I was reading the current issue of Eating Well the other day, and I immediately flagged this recipe. Corn and basil pancakes!

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These were actually really simple to make. I followed the recipe exactly, but I halved it and made four pancakes. They spread a lot when I poured them on the griddle, which was worrying, but they firmed up and were pretty easy to flip. Plus, they were really good! I was a little skeptical because basil isn’t my favorite flavor, but I liked them! The slight peppery taste of the basil went really well with the sweet corn.

But I would have been happy with the meal regardless because of the green beans. This is one of my favorite (maybe my very favorite?) veggie side dishes. I trimmed the green beans and placed them in a single layer on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray. I massaged the green beans with about a tsp. of olive oil, then baked them at about 475* for ~15 minutes, turning once. I sprinkle them with salt when they’re done, and they’re so delicious. If you think you don’t like green beans, try them this way. Or have me make them for ya, your mind will be changed!

Race Announcement

So the San Diego Rock n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon was close to three weeks ago, so what’s next on my race calendar? Well, since I’m going to be in Australia for the next several months, I’ve selected the City2Surf race! This race is one of the largest in the world and is widely known as one of the “things to do” in Sydney. I’m super excited! The race is a 14K (~8.7 mi) on August 8. I think this will be a great distance for me because I’ve been maintaining my base since the half marathon. So I know I’ll be okay if I get held up by jet lag/transitioning/whatever and don’t get to run for a week or so. Speaking of…I should really get to sleep before my 8-miler in the morning!