Tag Archives: Perth

A few days in Perth

Cathedral in Perth

Cathedral in Perth

I’m back home after a few days over on Australia’s west coast in Perth for work. Other than Tuesday morning’s swim and an awful lot of walking, I didn’t do any real training while I was over there. I was hoping to go out running last night but had no energy. It wasn’t until I was halfway home on the plane today that I realised I had forgotten to take my testosterone tablets yesterday and today. That would have caused my fatigue. Here’s some photos from my half-week in Perth.

Pancakes with fruit and blueberry compote (I didn't eat the cream)

Pancakes with fruit and blueberry compote (I didn’t eat the cream)

We started Monday morning by eating out for breakfast. Our flight landed at midnight the night before so there wasn’t enough time to go to the grocery shop for food, which is what I usually do when I travel because I hate buying breakfast. But these pancakes, blueberry compote and fruit salad were delicious. But there’s no way I could eat the cream for breakfast.

Bike art

Bike art

As always, I had to take photos of the street art.

It'd be scary to see the dinosaur drunk ;)

It’d be scary to see the dinosaur drunk 😉

And the silly things that one sees when traveling in big cities.

Heirisson Island monument

Heirisson Island monument

The official monuments and statues were also fantastic. This strong man stands guard on Heirisson Island.

Morning tea ... Even got a tea cosy

Morning tea … Even got a tea cosy

I found a fantastic (though expensive) cafe in East Victoria Park where they even served the tea with a knitted tea cosy. The pear and vanilla cake with ice cream was divine.

Pizza and green beans. Yum

Pizza and green beans. Yum

More pizza

More pizza

We also found a fantastic Italian restaurant, Cafe Italia. It’s an unassuming old place in East Perth that I’ve walked past a hundred times during the daytime when I’ve been in Perth and never thought to go there. But this week I walked past in the evening and the place was packed. So we went there two nights in a row for fantastic pizza. The first night I was desperate for vegetables so ordered a big plate of green beans to go with my pizza. The second night, we shared two pizzas between three of us.

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Walking in a suit on a hot day

Swan River and Perth by Andrew Gills
Swan River and Perth, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I’m in Perth this week. My job takes me here regularly. While my trips here interrupt my training schedule, I also love this city on Australia’s west coast. It has a tempered wildness about it; an isolated vibrancy that’s difficult to explain.

I had a meeting in South Perth today. It ended at 4pm, leaving me with some bonus free time. Rather than catching a taxi the 5km back to my hotel, I meandered through suburban streets and along the riverside walkways.

The ground was sandy beneath my feet. In some places it was like walking on a beach my business outfit. The dry heat left me feeling desperately thirsty; I’m more used to humidity and sweat.

I enjoyed the walk and found three geocaches while I was out. I am glad I walked instead of riding in a cab. even if I was soaked in sweat by the time I reached my hotel.

Total: 5km walk + 3 geocaches

C25K Day 1

Herisson Island Perth by Andrew Gills
Herisson Island Perth, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Today is huge: I went running!

I have been anxious about my first run since I first injured myself at Perth’s City to Surf on 26 August. First it was my hamstring, shins and foot. I rested for about eight weeks before I tried to do some 1 min run 4 min walk sessions. A week later my sacroiliac joint went. So it’s no surprise that I’ve been wanting to run again but have been putting it off.

On Sunday night I decided that today would be the day. I downloaded the metric Couch-to-5km (C25K) program off the internet and made up my mind to make Perth the city of my running return. And this morning I did. Day 1 of the C25K is:

  • 5 mins brisk walk
  • 20 mins @ 60 sec run, 90 sec walk
  • 5 mins brisk walk.

I actually ended up walking about 15 mins at the end because I was too far from my hotel.

While running I tried to focus on my technique. I’m hoping to learn some chi running and so I practiced leaning forward from the hips, keeping my feet under me, landing midfoot and kicking my heels up behind me. It felt awkward so that must mean I was doing it correctly.

My sacroiliac joint and shins feel okay. I can tell that I do need some support for the sacroiliac joint but it handled this light level of running well.

Total: 4.5km run / walk

 

Wandering the Western Australian capital

Perth General Post Office

Perth General Post Office

After a long six hour flight across the continent, I arrived in Perth well after midnight last night. This morning when I woke the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the air was as dry as crackling autumn leaves. It was just perfect to be out exploring Perth (well, taking some photos between business meetings).

Crazy Irish pubs

Crazy Irish pubs

Kangaroos outside Perth Council House

Kangaroos outside Perth Council House

Alleyway art

Alleyway art

I love the crazy creative side of Perth. For a city that’s built on the back of heavy haulage, shipping and mining, it’s refreshing to see creativity at almost every turn. And for me, it always starts immediately I walk out of my hotel with the crazy Irish pub sign. Then there’s the countless statues and sculptures that adorn the city’s streets. There’s everything from people of historical significance and the kangaroos outside Council House to the whimsical paper airplanes down at the East Perth end of The Terrace. But for me, the thing I actually like the most is the alleyway art that has been placed in some strategic locations. It’s actually one of my favourite forms of art. While I don’t condone graffiti, I do enjoy a well painted wall mural; it can transform a scary alleyway into a bright, accessible space (that’s the criminologist in me talking).

The new Perth Arena

The new Perth Arena

I also love Perth’s eclectic mix of old and new buildings. This is a city where solid, almost imperialistic sandstone buildings sit comfortably side-by-side with defiant and angular modern designs, such as the Perth Arena. While many cities combine these modern and traditional structures, I think Perth’s relative youth and spacious layout allow them to be combined on a far grander scale than in some more cramped cities.

Two of my favourite things: tea and a good book

Two of my favourite things: tea and a good book

Another thing I love about Perth is the food and beverage scene. Sure, it’s hideously expensive compared with the other Australian capitals (except perhaps Hobart, which is also overpriced) but it’s still fabulous. I found a great spot to stop for lunch today. It was a brilliant tea shop in Subiaco. Tea is one of the great luxuries in my life. I love it all: herbal, green, white, black and fruit. There is nothing better than finding a tea house that actually had loose leaf tea and a menu from which to select them. Today I chose a black tea with mango and ginger infusions. It was the perfect refreshment for the 32’C (90’F) heat in which I was walking around in trousers, shirt, tie and jacket.

Where's Wally?

Where’s Wally?

Second only to my love of wall art is my love of all things quirky. Again, I don’t condone graffiti but you’ve got to admit this addition to the sign is pretty funny.

Perth Bell Tower

Perth Bell Tower

Walking along the Swan River

Walking along the Swan River

A walk along the Swan River past the Bell Tower completed my day. Sure, I had spent most of my time rushing from one meeting to the next but I’m fortunate to see the beauty in the world around me. So I could make the most of my day in the Western Australian capital, Perth.

Total: I walked 5km over the course of the day

City to Surf Marathon, Perth

Today I ran my first marathon. And I’m proud to say that I completed it in just under 4:17. It’s also my second 12-in-12 Challenge event. I’m a little tired so I’m going to be lazy and just post some photos and videos, rather that typing a lot of words. I hope you don’t mind.

Pre-race breakfast salad

I started the day with a delicious breakfast of salad. I’m finding my body loves being fueled this way. Today’s salad was mesculin lettuce mix, spinach, carrots, beetroot, broccoli stems, slivered almonds and macadamias with a creamy garlic dressing.

I got to go into the ‘marathon’ room

The marshalling room at about 5:15am

I got the marshalling area 15 minutes early, which left me time to calm my nerves with some Qi Gong.

1,201 marathon runners walking to the start

One of the cool costumed runners

It was a long walk to the start line and everyone was chatting nervously to randoms.

Robert de Castella’s motivating and rousing speech at the start of the marathon. I also filmed myself crossing the start line. I was so nervous that I had to stop about 500m down the road at my hotel to use the bathroom in the lobby for a nervous wee.

The view back to Perth at the 12km mark

The run along the river with the sun coming up was amazing!

Somewhere around the 17km mark. I was loving life at this point and running at about 5:40 pace.

I ran through the halfway point (half marathon) at 2:00.53. That’s pretty good for me.

The top of The Terrace at 22km

The 5km from the river, through the half-way point and up to King’s Park were all uphill. But then we got to enjoy running along the boulevard of gum trees that I love so much.

The half marathon runners joined us as we ran through King’s Park. It was tough because they were still fresh and were running so quickly compared with us marathoners. To be honest, it was almost disheartening. Then, just before the 32km mark, as we left King’s Park, the 12km runners came heading up the hill. I felt so emotional when it happened because here I was, settling into my own little world of pleasure and pain when suddenly I became part of something so much bigger. The sound of the tens of thousands of foot steps was surreal.

I won’t lie: I struggled from about 32km onwards. I started needing to walk a lot more; largely because my right hamstring was tight and two toes on my left foot were stinging. But I made it a power walk and still maintained a fairly positive attitude. I didn’t want to get negative like some of the runners around me.

From 37km on I started counting down the kilometres by texting both my partner and a running club friend. It made it seem so real.

And then, at 40km, just when I thought I was almost there, the course had a nasty surprise of four big hills. You can tell the marathoners in this clip: we are the people walking or shuffling. The other runners are the half marathoners.

And then I finished! This was my first marathon. I almost feinted when I crossed the line and struggled to keep my feet. The recovery tent was a long way from the finish line and I couldn’t make it. I lay down and it was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears. I asked two medics for help getting water but they just told me to stand up and walk to the recovery tent. I don’t think they realised that I was in mild trouble. But perhaps they weren’t runners.

My post-race pile of mess

City Beach Perth after the race

After I spent some time in the recovery tent (I eventually got there but it was touch and go), my partner and I walked to nearby City Beach. She waited patiently while I went down to the water and stood thigh deep in the icy cold ocean as a pseudo ice bath.

We then caught the free shuttle bus back to Perth CBD. While waiting in the queue I needed to use a toilet to urinate urgently (for the millionth time since finishing). The bus monitor man got all angry with me telling me that the toilet I used was for staff only. I simply told him that had I not used the bathroom I would have urinated on his bus. He got angry with me so I walked off. I wish I’d taken the inappropriately behaved man’s name because I would have reported him to TransPerth for his behaviour. There were no other toilets anywhere and it really was a matter of use a toilet or wet my pants. And given that I do not have a penis, I can’t just find the nearest tree.

All in all, it was a brilliant event. I had a fantastic run and surprised myself with my time.

Total: Marathon run in 4:17 (gun time)

One final run and packet pick up

Perth Royal Yacht Club, Fremantle Annex

My body woke me again at 2:30am and then at 3am. But I manage to go back to sleep until just before 5am, when I decided to step outside and head off for one final pre-marathon run.

Stars shone in the sky as I ran down to Fremantle’s fishing boat harbour. The town was quiet but for cleaners and street sweepers tidying up after last night’s Friday night excesses. It’s a scene that I’ve seen repeated in cities around the world where I’ve run or walked in the early hours of Saturday mornings; something that binds us all together.

I ran to the end of the Mew Street harbour wall and found the ‘Evans Above geocache (GC2KZZV). While there, I marvelled at the expensive boats moored in the Perth Royal Yacht Club, Fremantle Annex marina under lights. I took a cute little travel bug from the geocache, which has traveled from the US through the Middle East and SubContinent; I’ll move it along throughout my travels here in Western Australia.

From Mew Street I ran to the Round House and down to the Fremantle Passenger Ferry Terminal where I found two more geocaches. My run was very light today. I just ran slowly from cache to cache, not wanting to overdo it on the day before my first marathon (and second 12-in-12 Challenge event).As I ran back down South Terrace I had a giggle at the cyclists sitting at one of the many cafes. They were all wearing their lycra outfits but had clearly not yet been out cycling because none of their bikes had lights on them (the sun was not yet up).

Breakfast of champions

I have recently started eating salads for breakfast. I was inspired to try this dietary change after reading Born to Run. Despite being away on holidays, I am still eating my salads because without them I actually feel pretty ordinary. The other bonus (as mentioned in Born to Run) is that I know I am getting my five serves of vegetables a day. Today’s salad is mesculin lettuce mix, spinach, carrots, beetroot, broccoli stems, macadamias, slivered almonds and a creamy garlic dressing.

Packet pick up … I’m number 550

I wrote a sign for my partner to hold up

After breakfast my partner and I made our way to Perth where I am running the City to Surf Marathon tomorrow. I collected my race packet, which is just a race number and clothes transfer bag. I also picked up a sign provided by the sponsors. The sign is for my partner to hold when I run past her. I wrote my name and a silly message on it. She’ll only see me at about the 500m mark and then the finish but that’s okay. I like the sign.

Total: 4.2km in unknown time. 3 geocaches found.

Perth River Run

image

Dawn at the Windham Bridge

I set off before the dawn to run about 6km this morning. I don’t have my GPS with me so I decided to just follow the Swan River from East Perth past The Causeway, across the Windham Bridge and back to East Perth along Plain Street. Without knowing exactly how far I was going to be running, I just figured that I’d make sure I ran for 35-40 minutes.

This was my first run along the Swan River on the far side of the Causeway. I don’t know why I’ve never run there before; it’s beautiful. The eastern side of the river houses the Burswood entertainment and casino complexes, which have pretty lights that reflect off the dark river. And then, around 6:15am, the sun started to rise just as I ran across the Windham Bridge. At the exact moment, as if planned, a rower made his way down the river so that I could get one of those quintessential river dawn photos. Later, as I ran back across the Windham Bridge, a group of stand-up paddle boarders were making their way down towards me; their silhouettes striking against the sky.

It was a beautiful run this morning. So much so that I have finally found that barefoot rhythm I’ve been searching for this past year. Sure, I’ve been running barefoot (and now in Vibrams) for over 12 months but I’ve been struggling to find that rolling forefoot rhythm that makes bare footing look so graceful. And this morning I found myself able to do it. Sure, not for the whole run, but for entire 10-15 minute sections of running. It was magical. All that practice and focus I’ve been putting into the style is finally starting to pay off. I think having the Vibrams is helping with it because it means I don’t have to focus as much on avoiding rocks and glass; I can focus more on technique. When I found that forefoot rhythm I felt my speed increase … so I’m just going to keep practising until it becomes second nature.

Total: 8.1km in 46:10 (5:41 pace).