Saturday, August 31, 2013

Auckland - Here I am

I finally arrived in Auckland at 2.40pm on Friday 30 August - and what a welcome sight this was  as I got off the plane....

It is always so exiting to get home and especially as my gorgeous girl, Soph, was waiting for me.  Needless to say by the time we got home and ate an early dinner I was very happy to put my head on the pillow and sleep for the next 13 hours.

Saturday 31 August and woke up to a gorgeous breakfast - 

And then it was time to head down the road to begin the big celebrations - my Dad was celebrating his 80th birthday - and an even bigger surprise was to realise that this was the first birthday party he had ever had.

There were 26 guests including all our immediate family (9 in total), and very close family friends - caterers dropped off the most beautiful seafood and champagne flowed.

It was a wonderful day of celebrations.  After the party, Soph and I headed to Milford Beach to meet a friend I hadn't seen in person since we left school in 1980 - 33 years ago, although we are Facebook friends.  Melody takes the most beautiful photos and I often comment on them on FB as her pictures often include her little dogs running along Milford Beach.  She had very kindly offered to take a photos of Soph and is my favourite:

After the photos we enjoyed a wine together along with another of our school friends, Kim-Juan Fisher:

Then once again after a long day it was time to time to lay my head to rest in readiness for another big day today.....

Sunday 1 September

The day dawned clearly and we had another great breakfast of bacon and eggs and Soph and I headed down to Takapuna Beach for the start of the 10km race which started at a civilised time of 10.10am.  It was so great to see so many friends - Olivia, Sue, Helen and Kim and that was before we started the run.  Once we started I ran in to so many others - Sheryl, Chris and Christine before being joined on the bike by another dear friend, Carron.  I said to Carron  that  I wasn't going to be the best company as I was breathing pretty fast at this point but she replied never mind she would talk and I could listen - she proceeded to tell me the funniest story about her gorgeous wee cat, Turbo, who had just been to the vet to have a tooth removed and the vet suggested wee Turbo needs braces.  Carron then told me that there is an orthodontist for cats.  One can only imagine the cost.  I need to hear later whether Carron is going to pursue this option.  Anyway as the run was veering off along the beach Carron left me with clear instructions to run harder as Soph was now less than 100 metres in front of me and I wasn't to let a 20 year old beat me. (She also told Soph not to let her mother beat her) - so the race was on -   Soph and I were both running as hard as we could and I wasn't quite able to catch her and for the first time ever, Soph crossed the finish line about 10 seconds before me - we still need to check the actual race results to determine just how close the gap was.

Then it was back to Mum and Dad's for another seafood lunch - nothing like a good protein lunch to recharge the aching muscles - actually I can barely move as I pulled a muscle behind my knee as I got off the plane and thankfully my mother massaged the knots out this morning - I probably shouldn't have run but I was too tempted and had to start.

Then it was down to the Commons in Takapuna for a catch up with Carron, Chris, Liza, Christine, Julie and Soph

and to hear about the Coast to Coast Challenge for 2015 - that sounds very exciting!  Chris and Christine are all signed up for Ironman 2014 so I will follow that race as I did last year from the couch - I might add that its actually exhausting watching from the couch as strange as that may seem.

Then onto dinner with Clara and Jason - so awesome to catch up on all their news - Clara kindly lent me some togs to join the swimming training at Takapuna pool on Wednesday - given I can now barely walk as the muscle strain worsens -  I may be better off in the pool this week.  

So another busy but wonderful day catching up with so many friends.  Off to bed - its 11 pm:)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Winging my way to Auckland

Its 1.49 am on Friday 30 August - I am sitting in my rather comfortable seat in Premium Economy on a Qantas flight from Singapore to Brisbane and we must be an hour or so away from landing. The breakfast trolley is making its way towards me and my eyes are feeling rather gritty from the very brief sleep that I have managed to get since departing Singapore less than 6 hours ago. I have another flight connection to make once I land in Brisbane.  I am heading home to Auckland to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday and am very excited to be seeing many wonderful family members and friends whilst in town for the week as well as take part in a 10 km race starting on Takapuna Beach on Sunday morning with my gorgeous girl Soph.

I seem to have deviated from my low carb high fat diet and eaten nothing but high carbs and high sugar since I left home yesterday morning having left my lunch in the fridge which resulted in bought food from a cafe close to the office followed by airplane food - a sample you can see here from the breakfast tray which has just been put in front of me.

I decided to try Premium Economy on Qantas to Auckland via Australia when I found it was the same cost as flying economy direct from Singapore - its 10 hours flying time and having extra leg room was very appealing.  So far its been a great decision - Premium Economy feels much like business class (having had my first ever experience of that recently on a work trip to Tokyo) although the seats don't go completely flat but they do recline a lot more than economy.  I also enjoyed a wonderful movie selection along with a glass of merlot (in a glass rather than plastic cup).

Then to add to the pleasures a few chocolates were delivered....

So you can see where the high sugars have come in. 

The other good news about flying via Australia is that it breaks up the 10 hour journey and there is benefit in that as being claustrophobic I really try and avoid the airplane bathrooms.  7 hours is more manageable than 10 hours. So this trip could become a very viable option.  The only downside is the flight from Brisbane to Auckland is back in economy but its only 3 hours.

Anyway, the flight is about to land - next blog update will come from Auckland - see you there :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New beginnings

As I come to the end of my first 12 months in Singapore I had begun to think about the future.  Should I go home to NZ or should I stay longer?  Decisions, decisions.  Then unexpectedly I was approached by a friend I had met through Triathlon Club here in Singapore, Chester Sullivan-Manders.  

Unbeknown to me Chester was an Executive Search Professional and he was about to talk with me about a new opportunity that would prove too exciting to ignore.  As a result of that discussion I have now accepted a wonderful new opportunity in Organisational Change Management which starts on 23 September and goes through to June 2014. So I guess I will be staying a bit longer in Singapore.

It is amazing how many wonderful friends I have met through triathlon circles and the opportunities that have come from those wonderful friendships - I bought my dream home in Takapuna from my dear friend, Clara Budd, who I met at the North Harbour Triathlon Club - and she has supported me in my half ironman and marathon events - even walking the last 17 Kms of the 2012 North Shore Marathon with me after I blew up from going out to fast (rookie mistake).  Its amazing how many of life's problems you can solve walking alongside a wonderful friend over a 17 km distance - just ask Clara.

My dream home is currently rented out to the awesome Kilding family who I met through Clara as the Kilding's are building their dream home across the road from mine and needed somewhere to rent - this was just as I was leaving Auckland and heading to Singapore - timing is everything.   

And then Chester pops up and surprises me with his profession and an unexpected opportunity - you just never know who you are training alongside in the Triathlon world and where that new relationship may take you.

I have such a lot to be thankful for and that includes thanks to Helen O'Toole who hired me at ASB in Auckland and introduced me to Triathlon and the North Harbour Triathlon Club where Steve Farrell is the coach who introduced me to Michael Lyons, the coach of Tri Edge Singapore, where Chester was a member.  What a small and wonderful world.  Thank you to all of you for the part you have played in my journey - I am truly grateful.

I wonder what will happen next ?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Massage - an essential part of any marathon build up

Leaving my drink bottle on the dining table along with my sunglasses was not a good start to my long run this morning -

although the upside was I did start at 8 am before the blazing sun was up unlike yesterday's midday run.  I think 60-70 minutes is about the longest I would want to run without water in this humidity as dehydration can have a significant effect on your performance. So 70 minutes run time it was today.

Speaking of performance, I highly recommend a good massage as often as you can afford it - time wise and cost wise.  Massage is great to stretch out those tired muscles and some well deserved relaxation.  When I am home in NZ I am lucky enough to enjoy the benefits of having a mother who is a great masseuse and has her own clinic at home.  Fortunately for me whilst I am in Singapore, there is a wonderful new massage clinic less than 5 minutes walk from the front door. Nimble and Knead.  They do an amazing massage and I usually book it for 90 minutes - absolute bliss.

The fascinating thing about Singapore is the 'packages' that every nail salon and massage clinic offer to ensure your repeat business.  For about $500 upfront you can secure yourself some great deals - the more you pay upfront the better the deal.   Needless to say I do get caught up in the hype and I have a package at Nimble and Knead.

So with all the running I have been doing I thought that today was a good day to head down and enjoy a massage.    They start with a foot bath soaking your feet in warm water, limes and then a foot scrub....

Then its on to the table for an amazing massage.

What an amazing way to spend a Sunday afternoon - and all going well I am now ready for another week of training :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

A night at Sentosa

It is the last week of the school holidays and Morag decided to take the family (which fortunately includes me) to the Shangrila Hotel at Sentosa.  Wow - what a place and so close to home. 

We sat out in the balmy evening with a bottle of New Zealand wine and enjoyed the absolutely gorgeous view - this was taken from our room as the sun was going down - how lucky are we.

This morning we were up early and down to the buffet - that was an adventure in itself - there was food for every culture and taste bud.  There were also some interesting sights wondering around the restaurant - how beautiful.

Anyway once breakfast was over we wanted to make the most of our morning so we readied ourselves for a morning by the pool.  The kids all had a great time on the water slides while Morag, Kirsty and I lay in the recliners enjoying the lime juice and sunshine.....and some other interesting sights....what was that walking by?

However, there is a marathon to run in a few months and given we were checking out of this gorgeous hotel at lunchtime I thought it would be a good idea to run home.  I checked out the temperature

and realised it was pretty hot especially given it was the middle of the day and the sun was blazing - so I put my cap and sun glasses on, grabbed my water bottle and headed off.  It was a gorgeous run out of Sentosa although I hadn't realised the pedestrian walkway would literally stop halfway out of resort park  and so I had to run down the freeway which was a fairly freaky feeling.  A policeman on a motor bike took a double take but thankfully couldn't stop as I am sure he wouldn't have been impressed.  Once I found my way out of the area and halfway home, Kirsty and the children flew by me in the taxi and waved - perhaps an air conditioned ride home might have been better than heading home on foot in this heat.....Anyway, I arrived safely home in just under an hour, saturated from the humidity and very pleased I was able to include some training as part of an amazing 24 hours such a short distance from home.

If you ever get to Singapore a to Sentosa is a must - thanks so much Morag for including me in such a wonderful treat.  I loved every minute.

Monday, August 19, 2013


The good news is that my alarm went off this morning - unlike yesterday morning.  I had set a second alarm for this morning in case the first one didn't go off and sure enough the first one didn't make a sound.  Anyway as a result of the second alarm going off, I was able to head out the door for my morning run.

At 6 am its still dark here in Singapore - so every morning all year round I head off in the dark - the good thing about it being dark is that the blazing sun isn't up yet - although at 6 am it was still 27 degrees with high humidity.

As I had missed my run yesterday I thought I had better make up for it and run for an hour - its only about 14 weeks until the marathon and I should really be able to run comfortably for about 90 minutes when the real training starts on the 1st September - 12 weeks out from the Race Day.

My run took me along the river and back through the Tiong Bahru Park - I took a few photos to show you the sights....It's amazing to see so many people up and exercising so early in the morning.....

Here is one group of people working out - there are pockets of groups like this all over the park.

Here is the path that takes me through the park - it really is pretty in the morning.

Anyway, whilst out for my morning run enjoying the sights I was reflecting on the diet debate - Mikki (nutritionist) has suggested I only eat food that hasn't been processed until I see her in a few weeks and not to mix the Dukan diet and LCHF as I am likely to pick the foods from each diet that I like the most and avoid those I don't like as much - you know me so well Mikki :). So there are a few foods that I will remove altogether and just try eating 'real' food and see what happens.  I will keep you posted.

After I finished my hours run I arrived home, had a good stretch and then enjoyed replacing all the fluid lost from training in the humidity - I have been using Nuun tablets to replace the salt.

There is nothing like starting the day with a run - it really sets you up well- but now its time to head off to work - hope you have a great day - see you tomorrow.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Meet my Hairdresser - Bebe

I want to introduce you to my hairdresser in Singapore, Bebe.  

The strangest thing about Bebe is that she won't cut my hair - which I am sure you will agree is odd given her profession.  I have never met a hairdresser who refuses to cut hair.   I have been in Singapore nearly 12 months now and she has only trimmed my hair once and I had to beg her to trim it.  She tells me the reason she won't cut my hair is that short hair doesn't suit my face and I will never find a husband whilst I have short hair.  Gosh, I didn't even know I was looking for a husband. 

The first time I met Bebe I was initially impressed with her observation skills as she asked if I was a swimmer.  Wow, how did she know I thought?  Bebe continued by saying that I must be a swimmer as my hair was green from the chlorine in the pool.  Oh wasn't because I had a lean athletic frame then.

Anyway, it was time to return to Bebe today as my highlights were in dire need of re-doing.  I arrived at midday and as Bebe seems to highlight individual strands of hair I finally left at 4pm.  Thankfully, having been through this now on more than one occasion, I had downloaded a movie on my iPad so was able to enjoy watching Denzel Washington in one of his recent thrillers.  Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.  Hope you like the end result!

Friday, August 16, 2013

The topic everyone seems to talk about - Diet


I got a bit of a telling off this morning from my good friend, Morag, who said she wanted to follow my blog but I had only posted once and if I didn't get on with it she wouldn't follow me.  I know what she means - I get addicted to reading people's blogs each day and get very disappointed if the blogs aren't updated (hint hint Chris Cox-Hancy).

Just after the conversation with Morag I bumped into someone I hadn't seen for a while who happened to say "you have put on some weight Caryn" - the day clearly wasn't going well so far.   Was she right I thought?  For 2 years I had faithfully being following the Dukan diet after I came to realise that just because I exercised 12 hours a week getting ready for my half iron man it didn't mean I could eat what I wanted (that was a very disappointing finding).  Dukan was awesome for me - its all about high protein, low carbs.  I don't know why I didn't stay on it as my weight was stable the whole time and I got other health benefits I hadn't expected e.g. my cholesterol which was about '7' dropped by half. 

Anyway, a few months ago I decided to try the LCHF - low carb, high fat.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  I had cream with my berries and nuts in the morning, cooked my veggies in butter, ate rich cheeses and finally remembered how good food tasted.  

However, my weight increased by about 3 kgs in a month (no surprises there I hear you say)  so perhaps I wasn't doing things right.  It is hard to face going back to yoghurt with no fat and no sugar after all that gorgeous cream so I am reading a lot about other diet options such as Primal and Paleo diets which everyone seems to be talking about.  Just eating 'real' food rather than processed food seems a really good idea.

I am heading back to NZ in a fortnight to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday so I am going to catch up with Mikki Williden who is a nutritionist and talk all these diet options through to try and find what is right for me.  I hear that you can run a kilometre 8 seconds faster for each kilo you lose (assuming you have some weight to lose) I have about 5 kilos to drop which adds up to 40 seconds a kilometre - that's a lot of time I can save over a 42 km run course - so well worth understanding how best to get to my goal weight.

My friend Kirsty who has signed up for her first 5km event is also going to explore a diet option so we will track our findings.  

On the subject of food though - it really isn't cheap eating good quality food - especially here in Singapore.  Have a look at the price I paid today for Greek yoghurt (I thought I would try to mix the LCHF with Dukan this week) and the price I paid for some other essential items - I have turned very patriotic since living abroad so always try to find NZ produce.  Needless to say the Cloudy Bay didn't get to come home with me......far too pricey....thank goodness for Fat Bird which seems to always be on special here - another great NZ Sav that I hadn't heard of before arriving in Singapore.  Cheers.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

New beginning....

On the 5th October 2012 I started a new adventure in Singapore.  A friend I used to work with at The National Bank in Auckland had moved to Singapore and knew of a position that she thought would be perfect for me.  As my 19 year old daughter, Sophia, had moved down to Otago I thought why not go and have an adventure - so off I went.

Thankfully my very close friend, Morag, (who I had also met 12 years before in the same Bank) lived in Singapore and she very kindly had me to stay for the first month whilst I started my new job as an HR Manager and searched for a place to live.  Morag lived in Tiong Bahru and strangely enough only 6 months earlier when I had visited her on holiday we had laughed over a glass of wine about how great it would be if I got a job in Singapore and moved next door - that is exactly what happened.

On the 4th November I moved into my new apartment next door to Morag and started my adventure.  I am a real homebody so I promised myself that I would stay for a minimum of a year as no matter what happened I could manage that - but I split it into 4 quarters to make it not seem too long.

My first quarter was spent settling in to my new neighbourhood, new job and establishing a new routine.  I got over my fear of the MRT (subway) which was jammed solid every morning and as it only cost 79 cents to ride as opposed to $15 in a taxi the claustrophobia was going to have to be gotten over.  I also had my first trip to Hong Kong for our HR off-site before heading home for Christmas.  I also celebrated a significant birthday in January with family and close friends (life does begin at 50) and managed to fit in a few swims on Takapuna Beach with my old friends from the North Harbour Triathlon Club before heading back to Singapore for the start of Quarter 2.

In early 2012 I had challenged myself to do my first half ironman which took place in Mt Maunganui which I finished in 6 hours 54 mins (not fast but I was stoked to finish) and I very much wanted to keep my fitness up.  I entered the Metasprint Triathlon series in Singapore and began training.  My new apartment complex had a 50 metre lap pool so swimming wasn't going to be an issue - I also joined a cycling group and a local triathlon club where I met some wonderful new friends who I really enjoyed training with.  The heat in Singapore was a very big challenge as it was in the 30's most days with high humidity. Quite different from the more tepid NZ climate.  However, the race series started - the sea was warm, the bike course flat and the run course scenic and I managed two podium finishes (out of three events) - 3rd in my age group - which I found it quite amusing as I was usually last in my age group in NZ - so I was very happy.

Quarter 3 took me again on work travels to Hong Kong, China and Japan - I felt quite excited by the wonderful opportunities I was experiencing including running around these great Cities. Tokyo was a highlight - the people and the food were amazing.  I also managed to have dinner with a home stay student we had stay in our home for 12 months 16 years earlier - how wonderful. 

I am now into Quarter 4 and headed to Sydney a few weeks ago for work but also managed to enter a 10 km event around the Sydney harbour.  My swimming and biking had dropped off but I was managing to run most mornings wherever my travels took me.  Given the heat I had been training in recently in Singapore I was worried whether I could run 10 km in under 60 mins which is a bit of a guideline for me as to my fitness levels.  Anyway race day dawned brightly but about 30 degrees colder than Singapore (about 2 degrees) - The course was stunning running under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and out to Darling Harbour and I was thrilled to cross the line in exactly 59 minutes - my fitness was still there.

On my return to Singapore I decided I needed another challenge - its not quite time for ironman which I had hoped to do to celebrate my 50th but the Singapore marathon which attracts thousands is on 1 December.  Whilst this wont be my first marathon (I have done London, New York and Rotorua to name a few) it will be my first in a tropical climate.  I am not likely to beat my best time of 4 hours 12 mins but I might beat the 5.02 time I did in Auckland last year after a rookie mistake of going out too fast and running a great half marathon in 2.06 and then having to walk the last 17 kms  (thank goodness for great friends like Helen Kilding and Clara Budd who helped with that).  I have now signed up for the Singapore marathon with the added fun of keeping a blog of the training - with some updates about life here in Singapore - I have also challenged Morag's sister, Kirsty, currently visiting, to do her first ever 5 km race (which also happens to be on 1 December) so will be keeping up with her along the way.  Hope to see you follow my blog.....and may be pick a challenge to join Kirsty and I.  I will be looking at a great training programme with the help of Sue Dorman and some nutritional tips and other advice which will help us on the way. 

My Tiong Bahru Apartment
View of the lap pool from the bedroom

Very happy after finishing one of the Metasprint triathlons.