Sunday, January 30, 2011

City of Perth aka "THE MELTDOWN"

“City of Perth: Cyclones & Bloody Heat”

   Sunday was an epic day to put simply, it meant so much and so little at the same time. This would be my first Olympic Distance race since August when I had a stupendous swim, solid bike and a great run, today’s race was slightly different in several ways. My conflicts began pretty early on when I could tell the Tylenol sleeping pill was still holding its effects on me and I felt as if I were in some dream world while warming up with my mates. All the heavy hitters were in attendance, Macka, Jimmy, Sean O’Neil, Ryan Baugh, Jason Nuttman, Brynt, and a relay team of Matt Illingworth and Cody, so I knew that the race would be up to the caliber as it was at the Western Australia sprint championships. Now the funny thing is that I had no clue that this was the Western Australian Olympic distance championships until I received a text message from Ryan Baugh after the race.

   The good news for me was that I actually won my first age group award while in Australia shockingly to me, especially after I got hammered at the sprint championships. As it lay out at the finish I was 3rd in my AG, missed 2nd by a mere 1 second and was off of 1st place by 1minute exactly. This is a huge confidence boost for me, because I can firmly say that if my T1 and T2 difficulties would have been avoided, I would be neck and neck with 1st in my AG. Now I include my recap of the overall race experience as well as the many conflicts I faced in transition from the officials.

    Starting off at 8am were the elites, wait, its 8:06am and they are still talking to all of us about the race course changes and etc. The longer we get behind, the hotter it is going to get as it is going to be a scorcher at 38-39 degrees (100-101 for you Americans). The course has about 10% of shade otherwise it is completely exposed to the sun and its brutal effects on the body. Finally in the water around 8:15am, about the time I am supposed to start, and then I make my way to the start buoys. People begin to sneak in front of me just before the gun goes off and its chaos. Kicking, pushing, bodies on bodies and as usual, I resort to just falling behind instead of fighting my way through. Falling behind a couple guys for the 1st half of the race, I am thinking to myself, “you aren’t even swimming hard, this may qualify as going through the motions at BEST”. I could tell that I needed some body glide in a bad way as the salt combined with the rubbing of my tri top ended badly. Finishing up the swim at the very end I have one person from the wave behind me blow past me, the last thing I wanted to see.

    Out of the water, running to T1, I have my gear ready to rock, and hopefully rock out my best bike portion yet. This week I put in over 400k on the bike, as I have recently moved to the other side of town and ride to work everyday. My legs were not super fresh, especially Friday and Saturday but I just had to get over it. While I nearly doubled my highest bike mileage ever, this also gave me more confidence with the time on the bike. Back to the race; I have the fastest T1 ever it seems and I am essentially out of transition when I hear people yelling at me. Official -“You need your bib number, your race belt”, Me – “no I don’t, that’s for the run, why is my body marked with numbers all over me then?”. Official – “its required, go back and get it or you are DQ’ed!”, Me- “this is Bulls**t, WTF, this is crazy” (imagine a very livid picture of me after a horrendous swim) . So I run back, with no bike to look for, but simply a navy blue towel, “oh that’s the wrong row, wait where was my bike mounted, uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”, I finally find my transition area pop my # on and head out to my resting bike.

     If any race officials are reading this, I wanted to issue an apology for the explicative language that I used. Alright onto my bike; about 1k into the ride, I hear “come on Lamperski”, it’s Jason Nuttman, whom earlier said he would pass me on the bike and I said NO WAY. He proved me wrong quickly as did Ryan Baugh who passed just seconds after Jason. I regroup and decide to commit to their rapid pace, we are going 46+ on some portions and I am able to hang with them for 2 of the 5 laps, then kaboom, I somehow lost them in the crowd, out of sight. Nuttman was on a mission to spank everyone while Ryan held on as long as he could. Despite everything, I believe this was my best bike section in a triathlon, I finished strong and was ready to catch some people on the run.

Nuttman in Action, attempting and succeeding in Buring me.

      Heading into T2, I am running around the other bikes and the same official screams at me, “you need to stop and buckle your helmet again, it’s a safety issue!”. I am inside the damn transition area, jogging with my bike in hand at a not so rapid pace, after my best running dismount EVER. Of course I stop and have to buckle my strap again, before she lets me move. After a quick shoe change thankfully I am running out of T2 and needless to say I am still irritated slightly. Unfortunately the explicit language intensified at this point while I am running out of transition basically bagging the whole Australia Triathlon rules system to any and all who could hear me.

    Onto the run, by now its about 36 and the sun is nearly unbearable, Cody yells out to me “everyone is dying on the run”, so quickly I decide to back my pace off and keep it at 3:30’s because after ½ way everyone will die and I should be able to maintain. Passing at the turn arounds, I see Ryan and Jason a nice bit in front of me, could I catch one of them? I kept the pace consistent all the way through and even used Cody once his relay caught up to me in order to catch Nuttman and give him a “good job” pat on the butt. Ryan outdistanced me a bit and I was unable to catch him, but there is always NEXT time Ryan! At every stop I tossed a cup of water on my head and neck to keep my core temp down and it was fairly effective. Once we entered the last straight away, I had a guy in my sights, which I know I could blow away as he kept looking over his shoulder, but for some reason at that point of pain and immense heat exhaustion, I decided to let him go. That in fact was Mr. 2nd place in my AG! After crossing I get dizzy and luckily get escorted to a nice shaded seat where I can relax with an ice pack.

     All in the entire race was great; it certainly left me with some notes for my memory bank going forward. It was motivating to feel a butt whooping out there with no clue as to my finish placing. The heat was just crazy intense and reminded me of the 2009 Duathlon national championships, its indescribable, as I thought about those people who run 26.2 miles like this is Kona, sounds INSANE. I had to rush off to work after the race and BARELY made it in as I was pumping up the hills with all I had not to fall off of my bike. After several calls and text, it made my exhaustion feel much better once I found out I placed in the Western Australia championships and infact won a 6-pack of beer, that I could not collect and they even pronounced my name correctly at the awards. Going forward I will be training with the PAUL MACKAY INSTITUTE OF SPORT, (he was 2nd in the elite race) which sounds like it will be very pressing with all of the training in preparation for the Busselton Half Ironman in May. After sending my weeks status on training, my new coach quickly pointed out how I tapered amazingly for this race with doubling my cycling mileage, increasing my swim distance and managing an insane treadmill 5k 4 days out, when most people were tapering. Crazy how motivation works huh, what motivates you?

Shout out to Janna Angell for a great race even through the heat, keep it up girl!!!

PS: sorry I have no real pics available of the race due to that fact I wrote this from work the day of the race. If I get ahold to some I will post, hopefully they will show how miserably hot it was.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australia vs USA: Compare and Contrast (2 videos even)

           Australia Day, oh what will come of this? I have been told by many that it is a day of pissed blokes (drunk guys) whom often are looking for a fight and specifically often with foreigners, such as myself! What a good way to start off this most recent post, as today January 26th is Australia Day, essentially the exact replica of USA’s red, white and blue extravaganza which we called “Independence Day” on the 4th of July. This leads me into a possibly misinformed, debate able, skewed version of the way Dr. Lamperski(sounds good doesn’t it?) see’s it “AUSTRALIA vs. UNITED STATES”….(cue music) DUhh DUNN DUHH DUHNNNN……(bomb drop). Is it a coincidence that United States has more letters, I think not…
So all joking aside, let’s look at a serious comparison from country to country and I must also point out that I am focusing in on the Western Australia side of the country as I have not been over East to the tourist traps in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. From what I can tell, Australia as a whole is very much influenced by the United States in terms of style and music but not so much religion or work ethic. I knew before I ventured over to this distant land, that the price of “runners” aka running shoes to you Americans was nearly double the price back home, so I was preparing myself for a wealthy economy in which the cost of living was substantially higher. After I purchased a “triathlon” magazine at the airport for $13 I quickly caught on that I may be in over my head.

           The list below is strictly based upon my simple observations in my 3 month tenure while in Perth, Western Australia. Examples were used from first hand experiences and could be slightly off in some standards. (WA- Western Australia)

  • Minimum Wage- 

Ø  WA: $15.00
Ø  USA: $7.25
  • Median Household Income- 

Ø  WA:  $72,800
Ø  USA: $52,029
  • Dining Out- 

Ø  WA: $22 Cheeseburger w/beetroot and chips (no drink) in Fremantle, side note you get a glass that typically holds about 6 ounces of water and never get refills unless you do it yourself.    
Ø  USA: $9 for 2 burger mini’s, chips, and an all you can eat DELICIOUS salad bar at “Ruby Tuesdays” yummm, $2 soda (500ml) unlimited REFILLS!
  • Dining In-

Ø  WA: $4.99 per Kg(2.2lbs) for Bananas, Shredded Cheddar Cheese $7 for 500ml   
Ø  USA: $0.45 per lb of bananas, Shredded Cheddar Cheese $1.99-$2.39 500ml special at HT always!
  • Rent/Lease- 

Ø  WA: living in a decent area near the city and sharing an apartment/flat with 2 housemates, expect $200 per week + utilities. ($800 a month).
Ø  USA: I lived in the sedgefield neighborhood, which was close to town in a big house, huge deck and yard for $370 a MONTH, with having my own bathroom and balcony!
  • Mortgage/Real estate-  Based upon a location that is about 5-6k from the center city and I have included 3 examples pulled from a local add. 
WA: 1bd 1ba w/one parking bay $409,000; 4bd 1ba(wow) w/garage $1.369 million!; 3bd 1ba w/carbay $900,000 as noted in the add a “perfect starter home” 
USA:  My neighborhood back home was about the same distance to the center city and most of the homes sold for $200-$300k, that being said, they were family homes w/3-4bd and 2ba w/garage and a small piece of land.

  • Top Sports- 
Ø  WA: Cricket, Footie (AFL)
Ø  USA: Football (gridiron), baseball
  • Spending Habits- 

Ø  WA: circa USA 2006(can’t go wrong mentality)
Ø  USA: much more conservative after the recession hit us hard in recent years.
  • Cycling Cultures- 

Ø  WA: Literally 100’s of miles if cycling paths to travel. On a normal day I will pass 100 cyclist while cruising about 20-30k
Ø  USA: Cycling paths HAHA (North Carolina) we have one loop called the “booty loop” which is somewhat safe and short of 5k in total length!
  • Petrol/Gas cost- 

Ø  WA: $5.00+ per gallon(but sold in liters)  
Ø  USA: $2.60 per gallon?
  • Cars- 

Ø  WA:  drive on the left hand side of the road with the steering wheel on the right. 
Ø  USA: Drive on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the left.
  • Cycling equipment cost- 

Ø  WA: Standard Tube $10, helmet $190
Ø  USA: $5, helmet $110
  • Running equipment cost- 

Ø  WA: Asics Gel GT 2160 $209.95, Yanks $19.95 
Ø  USA: $114.99, Yanks $9.99
  • Internet- 

Ø  WA: bloody horrible, everything is ran on a data plan using GB and you have to “recharge”, even YouTube is considered downloading
Ø  USA: everyone has wifi (very high speed) and its cheap, around $30-40 a month? Plus you can download music ALL DAY and it never runs out!
  • Air Conditioning- 

Ø  WA: some people have it but very few seem to use it. It’s hot as heck, 100 degree’s out and people just sit and sweat it out somehow.   
Ø  USA: A/C is a must pretty much everywhere. If you don’t have A/C then you are in a bind of some sort, it’s cranking all day at your house and in your car.
  • Food choice- 

Ø  WA: Lots of Thai and Indian food, as well as subway and McDonalds!  
Ø  USA: Mexican food, I miss it so much! Sesame Chicken, nothing compares to this real Chinese crap down under.
  • Beer- 

Ø  WA: extremely overpriced! $9-10 for a normal pint! It seems that the some of the beers are only 3% alcohol as well? Why bother?
Ø   USA: $4 for a pint sometimes $2 on specials, geez I miss you Ed’s Tavern!
  • Wine-

Ø  WA: loads to choose from as wine country is just down the road, price is equivalent to the USA amazingly!  Still haven’t seen 2 buck chuck
Ø  USA: Standard, seems like less choices in some places, but Harris Teeter brings the heat in the wine section.
  • Fun Runs/Road Races- 

Ø  WA: $10-12 entry fee’s usually and $3 for club members! We did a New Years Eve 8k, it was $15 but included basically all you can eat sausage sizzle, muffins galore, 2 beers, lemonade and chips!   
Ø  USA: $20-25 for a 5k! We always get shirts back home but after awhile they pile up.
  • Weather- 

Ø  WA: HOT, HOT, HOT. 2 seasons, summer and rainy season. 100 degree’s (38) here at this and people casually walk around in business suits.  
Ø  USA: 4 seasons. I missed them all I think actually. North Carolina is a perfect moderate temp MOST of the time.

                Oprah Winfrey, recently made an appearance out east and there was a huge uproar about it down under. People absolutely loved her, it was pure insanity actually, and she packed out the Sydney Opera house which boosted the tourism to come by 5 fold I am willing to bet. Before you head over here with your “USA” money keep in mind the cost of normal daily functions, they add up quick, as I soon realized while I arrived over here, found myself jobless and wondering where to go. I dropped $200 on a simple cart of groceries at the store one time and that didn’t include a package of thick steaks, a big honey ham or ever a couple bottles of wine, we are talking, rice, some frozen chicken, some ice cream, just the normal purchases.
BBQ in Jurien Bay

Western Australia is amazing, while most people truly are very friendly and outgoing, they all seem to assume I am from Canada; I am getting past that, simply because Steve Nash (NBA player) is the man.  Ever since arriving I have been engrained into the coffee culture and it could be a death sentence for me. If I get near “Express or Epic” café’s I am done, how could I not walk in, order a $4 or $5 Flat White or Latte, accompanied with a delicious warm raspberry muffin? My remedy has been in the form of a drip/percolated coffee maker, along with the wonderful taste of fruit muesli cereal in the mornings. So all of this being said, it’s very expensive here but it appears that most people tend to make more money and often take extensive travel holidays all around the world, where as American’s must work work work and never enjoy the experience life has to offer while they slave away at a desk to make enough fake $ to build that 3 story home on the lake that they really can’t afford.

                Another valid point to this extremely long but very interesting dive into culture, I think the Australians got something good going on here. Every full time position entitles you to 4 weeks paid holiday leave from the get go at a job. It’s insane to think as an American starting with that much leave honestly, plus they have a superannuation fund (essentially 401k) that you must deposit 9% of your check into for your retirement. After 7 years of employment you get 7 full weeks of holiday leave and someone told me that once you get to 10 years you get about 10-12 weeks of leave, utterly AMAZING! I could see how so many people have arrived in Australia, then get perks such as this and never make it back “home”. Asia and India are fairly close for travel as well, so it’s common for many Western Australians to fly over and live like a king for a couple weeks.

In CLOSING, Each country has its own strengths and weaknesses of course; our political structure is a completely different issue, while politics in Australia doesn’t seem to have that “politically correct” stamp of approval on everything. As another point, people do not randomly sue someone to hope for that easy meal ticket here. If you spill coffee on yourself, you feel like an idiot and then people piss on you (not literally) for doing so and you have a laugh. Back home it’s a law suit waiting to happen because you were texting while trying to drive your car, change the radio station and attempting to stir in some sugar, and in some indescribable way you spill a bit of coffee on yourself and feel the need to file a $6milllion law suit. I love the attitude of the people in Australia, typically upbeat and enjoying life, guns are banned here so that’s one less issue to deal with “ I have the right to bear arms”. Take it for what it’s worth; I hope that I have given some sort of insight on the cultures and how they operate in a different setting from one country to the next!

Below is a recap of my recent weeks Down under written by pictures....
Tree Top Walk: kings park

London Court

G$ the original gangsta aka G Star Raw 
In thought at Sunset

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Next Blog: What to write about?

Its about time to update my blog, does anyone have any suggestions or perhaps an idea they would like me to write about? It's the 1st time I have asked this but I figure if anyone is reading my blog why not see what would be the most captivating to my 2.3 viewers out there.

I have had a couple suggestions so far including:

  1. australian beer 
  2. the state of the economy in australia
what's next???

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rottnest Island: Adventures in Snorkeling and Sunbathing

After my arrival to Australia a couple months ago, I was greatly encouraged to visit some phenomenal place called "Rottnest Island" which is 19k off the coast. In short, this place was amazing as several pictures show below (if you want to cut to the chase you can simply scan for pics).In a brief summary of the island, here are a couple exerts from our friend Mr./Ms. Wikipedia:

The island was given the name "Rattenest" (meaning "rat's nest" in the Dutch language) by the Dutch fleet captain Willem de Vlamingh on 29 December 1696. De Vlamingh described the indigenous marsupial, called a quokka, as a large rat.[6] Ten Aboriginal prisoners were sent to Rottnest Island in August 1838. The Colonial Secretary announced in June 1839 that the island would become a penal establishment for Aboriginal people, and between 1838 and 1931, except for the period 1849 to 1855, Rottnest was used as an Aboriginal prison to "pacify" local natives. Aboriginal men were imprisoned for offences including spearing livestock, burning the bush or digging vegetables.
It has been estimated that there may be as many as 369 Aboriginal graves on the island. Rottnest was the site of an internment camp in both World War I and World War II. In WWI it was mostly used for German and Austrian enemy aliens, before being closed towards the end of the war due to poor living conditions 

   Upon researching information for this post I didn't realize that some many people were basically captive and/or tortured on the island getaway, crazy what they can turn into a vacation hot spot huh? Moving FORWARD, my good friend from the states Glenn came to Australia for a visit just a couple weeks back, so I knew we had to make a trip to Rottnest while he was around, after all when would he be able to do this again? After a very hectic couple of weeks, the decision was made to head to the island since I actually had a day free, so BOOM here we go! Screw planning this trip out days in advance as most do, we were going to wake up, walk to the train station, hitch a ride to Fremantle , buy our ferry ticket and spend the day hopping (not literally) around the island. Of course with this lack of planning we managed to miss our 1st train, then the ferry we planned on was full so we waited a bit longer, but all in all we still managed to make it in the AM time frame.

  Upon arriving to the island, we noticed heaps of large boats just anchored next to the island were most had small rafts to take into shore after they finished off their floating margarita's. Next stop was finding a bike hire and after some frustration of losing our way, Glenn and I found the shop to hire some sweet single speed bikes. My bell was broke as well as my seat kept sliding down, what an awesome piece of machinery! Glenn was the navigation expert, so trusting his eagle scout instincts, I followed suit. We noticed loads of people walking their bikes up the hills and basically decided that we had to ride up the hills harder while making it look as effortless as possible, CHECK.

Great Hangout area

    On to our adventure, we managed to ride the entire island by bike and then come back for more racking up 36K+ on these rag tag bikes, all the while toting around our full back packs, wearing sandals aka "thongs" in down under slang, and rocking it shirtless. The water was amazing and so clear, heaps of people were at the beaches, it was time to hit the water. After bailing out on paying another $25 on snorkel gear, we decided that our swimming goggles would be just fine, so we hit Little Salmon for the dive of a lifetime. I was hit by a small wave walking into the water because it was so clear it caught me off guard and nearly knocked me on my A$$. Upon further inspection (going under water) I took a single stroke and saw a school of fish in front of me, "WOW THIS IS AWESOME!". I found Glenn and mentioned that I wished we had a snorkel because I just can't hold my breath underwater like some people and then I hear a nice English woman say, " I have a snarkel on the beach, let me fetch it fa you!!!". Sweet I got a snorkel and manged to suck in about half of the Indian Ocean up my nose because I breathed w/o clamping my nose shut, OUCH, BURNING, BURNING!

Little Salmon Bay {favorite snorkeling spot} G$ on the far right

  I figured it out thanks to my above average intelligence level and then explored. Without an underwater camera, the scenery is impossible to accurately describe. The corral and the varieties of fish were amazing, to simply put. We lost time and snorkeled for quite awhile before exploring the remainder of the island. We also realized that because we were caught up with exploring we completely missed lunch and hadn't ate since 7am!  By the way there was only one water spout outside of the main jetty, so we were drastically dehydrating ourselves into nothing. After snorkeling a few other spots, we made it back to our 1st snorkel spot, where we were told promptly not to go because of the waves crashing against the rocks in the afternoon was dangerous. Naturally, Glenn and I had to dive in and see what it was all about, the warnings were pretty accurate as the waves really pushed you around especially if you stayed near the crest of the water line. Fortunately we were able to snap a few pictures of us snorkeling and even a funny video of Glenn falling onto some rocks.

Myself snorkeling against the waves
  All in all this trip was great, we rushed back to make our 5:30pm bike drop off time and decided we should jump over to the hot showers in the villa section of the island. SUBWAY it was for dinner, along with a JUG of orange-mango juice we found at the grocery for $2 and a Mocha milk for $1!!! We decided to change plans and not take the late night 9pm ferry back into existence, so we managed to hop on the 6:30pm ferry home. The ride was rough with the boat bouncing from side to side, but our fatigue began to set in at this point, as well as our sun workout, which mostly soaked up my back. On the way back we were able to witness some amazing drunk ramble from some locals to the police as well as make new friends with 3 women, 2 whom were from Germany visiting and another who works at the mines and encouraged us as everyone else does to apply for a position within the mines to BANK some serious money.

  In recap, this was an amazing trip, the pictures will do little justice, but I am fortunate to be able to say that I have experienced this island with one of my best friends. I hope to continue my adventure around Australia moving forward if things line up in order to allow me to do so. Up next, maybe a trip to Asia? Who knows, once I find that money tree, I will pick it dry!!!