A look back at 2013, another amazing year (purposely keeping work out of it).
Biggest achievement:Â Running the Melbourne Marathon
In early 2013 I was convinced to sign up for the Melbourne Marathon which give me 4-5 months to train and prepare. Run in October, the Melbourne Marathon finishes inside the MCG and is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest marathon event. After a bunch of research the training plan I setÂ my goal atÂ a finish time of sub-4hours. In July I ran a Half Marathon event to ensure I was on track with my fitness but what I didn’t account for was injury! My knee hurt quite badly after running the Half Marathon event too hastily and I soon learnt I have strained my ITB which was affecting my knee.
Determined to not let this setback get the best of me, I did physio 2-3 times a week, creatively used gym equipment to keep my cardio and strength up, and generally took it easy anywhere else possible. After 6 weeks I was back on the running track. That left about 4 weeks of one long run each Saturday (up to 36-38kms) which meant that I was just ready in time for the big day.
I slept well the night before the big race and felt great. The weather was cool and overcast – perfect conditions. After starting well with a nicely paced group, I hit the 35km mark and fatigue and self doubt started to creep in. Knowing Nikita and my support crew were waiting at the finish line was enough to suck another energy gel and push on through. A heavy downpour began at 38kms and I somehow got a second wind. Coming into the MCG was special moment where I knew I was going to hit the sub-4 hour mark and I could really just enjoy the final moments before crossing the finish line.
I was so great to have Nikita and our friends there at the finish line braving the rain in support. The drinks shared at the pub afterwards tasted amazing. I was so hungry I ate a whole pizza and aÂ chicken parma for lunch. Ah, theÂ spoils.
Official time: 3h 56m 45s
Bring on the next one!
Best place travelled:Â Ruakaka Beach, New Zealand.
We spent my 2012 birthday, New Years and early Jan 2013 away at Ruakaka Beach. After a year of travel limited to just Australia & New Zealand, it’s still the best place I’ve travelled to this year. It was the first time I had been to that part of New Zealand and it blew me away. Under 2 hours drive from New Zealand is a spot away from New Year’s shenanigans you would find at the Coromandel beaches with just as much charm. The time spent with great friends was very special. Ruakaka Redbacks for life.
Favourite album:Â Pure Heroine – Lorde
Let’s be honest – she smashed it. Joel Little’s contribution is understated as well. 10 back-to-back tracks of great songwriting, minimal beats and awesome melodies. It’s been fascinating to watch the whole thing blow up from a single track posting on soundcloud.com to top of the charts in multiple countries. Here’s hoping she gets that Grammy.
Favourite song:Â Retrograde – James Blake
A stand out track from his second studio album Overgrown, Retrograde gets me with it’s mix of falsetto and well placed snare. The production details are incredible (listen with decent headphones for proof) and after learning that the song was written, produced and recorded under supervision of Kanye West and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) it’s not hard to see why.
Most played song (via iTunes):Â Running for Cover – Ivan & Alyosha
Ivan & Alyosha is a folk-pop/indie/rock-ish band from Seattle and Running for Cover, from their first EP All The Times We Had, is a harmonic bliss overload. While listening it feels as if the song was written without much effort and the live recording below shows how great Ivan & Alyosha really sound.
Best live act:Â Cold War Kids – The Hi-Fi, Melbourne
After 7 years and 4 studio albums I finally managed to see Cold War Kids live and they did not disappoint. “Miracle Mile” came quite early and set the crowd off nicely with a huge reaction and massive singalong. The rest of the set was quite considered with a solid mix of old and new favorites. â€œHang Me Up to Dryâ€ sounded great!
Biggest sporting moment:Â The 2013 All Blacks perfect season
On Saturday 8th June we went along to Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand to watch the All Blacks kick-off their 2013 season against France. With McCaw on his sabbatical, Kieran assumed the captaincy for a rematch of the 2011 Rugby World Cup final. The All Blacks won 23-13 that night and went on in 2013 to overcome France another three times, Australia three times, and South Africa and Argentina twice. They also beat Japan, England and an incredible overtime win over Ireland sealed 14 wins from 14 tests.
2013 All Blacks: The first side in professional rugby history to record a perfect season.
Most personally improved:Â Golf: Shooting 12 over par
My personal quest to shoot under 80 in a single round of golf continues. The closest I came in 2012 was a 15-over 83 at a par 68 and in 2013 I’ve managed to lower that to a 12-over 82 on a par 70. With continued focus on “keeping my head down”, not hitting in more than two putts per hole, and playing at least two or three times a month, 2014 could be the year.
Best food discovery:Â Kick Ass Beef Burger – The Lounge, Swanston Street, Melbourne
Burgers are a big deal. They’re easy to stuff up and hard to nail. Ever since moving to Melbourne, The Lounge has always been a solid spot for a beer and pub meal. 2013 has seen the introduction of new kitchen management and a rebrand to “Gloria Swanston’s Kitchen at The Lounge”. This has added new life to the dining experience at The Lounge and the Kick ass beef burger is a stand out. The simplicity of 200g ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onion plus some sort of cheese, mayo and a sweetened bun comes together for cheap burger heaven that is hard to forget.
Lesson learned:Â Bureaucratic processes are alive and well
We learnt this year that applying for any sort of residency or Visa takes, as everyone says, forever. We gave ourselves plenty of time (over 6 months) but it still took quite a bit longer than expected. At least approval was given in the end. Patience is a virtue that we need to keep in mind when picking up the next step to become Australian citizens in 2014.
Smartest decision made:Â Giving ourselves plenty of time to organise the wedding
We made a joint decision to to give ourselves all of 2013 to plan & organise the wedding. This meant setting a marriage date over 20 months from our engagement date which felt like forever! This is the best thing we could have done as it’s allowed us to take our time with the key decisions and we’ve been able to spread out our trips to New Zealand for venue hunting and meeting people about all aspects of the big day. Now we just can’t wait for Feb 22nd, 2014!
Biggest risk taken:Â Building a website as or wedding invite/info with digital RSVP only. Hopefully those family & friends have moved on from IE6.
Room for improvement:Â Tennis!
I continued my tennis efforts in 2013 playing in local competitions at the Powlett Reserve tennis club in East Melbourne. I’ve noticed an improvement in my serve and forehand but my backhand shots are really slacking. The goal for 2014 is to improve my placing at the end of each 7 week competition and to finally hit a decent backhand!