No full trip report on yesterday’s trip down to LAX for Dorkfest but just a brief overview of what was a pretty good day.  I got to go down to LAX last year for Dorkfest and at the time, David joined me.  However this time it was just me on my own.  I didn’t mind, there was plenty of Avgeeks around to chat to etc.  I had picked up the flights super cheap so again like last year it was just a same day turn.  But this year I was going down on Virgin, coming back on Delta.  Not only would I get to try out Delta’s new service on their own metal between LAX and Seattle, I would have a double wammy in that I would be starting my requalification off early.  30 status credits in the bank (which is just under 10% towards requalification) within 2 days of starting again?  Sign me up!

The flight down with Virgin was pretty average.  The onboard crew were not the usual you would expect from Virgin and in fact felt more like flying United.  The whole morning with Virgin America was a shambles.  No recognition of status with Virgin Australia so that meant if I had not of even pushed for it, I would of been stuck in the giant security lines.  The person who checked me in even said and I quote “This line is for those flying First Class only, you shouldn’t be here unless you wanted to upgrade”… ummmm I don’t think so!  The little Gold Card in my hand should be worth something!  The only good thing about SeaTac in the morning is that they seem to have expanded the amount of coffee outlets in the terminal and there is now 2 in the B concourse so it means that the one right out at the end of the pier is empty when the close one fills up.  Perfect!  The funniest thing was my TSA experience which was pretty good considering the usual suspects, but one of the guys working the bag scanner had a good joke about my camera gear telling me I “need more lenses”.  I commented back that I was only going for the day so didn’t want to bring them all.  He joked back “Well you sure as hell brought one that is big enough”.  Ahhh the Bigma… getting comments everywhere!

Dorkfest was great, and it was great catching up with some people, getting some tips and just generally talking shop.  I did manage to score myself the new Boeing Calendar.  No one else seemed to want it and I was going to buy it myself anyway, so figured why the hell not!  Also scored an Etihad A340-600 model… that made me happy.  The days spotting was hit and miss though.  I missed out on the KLM MD-11 because it went North when I went South.  I did catch a couple of One World aircraft and also got the Eva Airlines Star Alliance, so the day was not a total failure.  National Car rental made it a tough morning as the variety on the lot wasn’t that huge, but there was a number of Challengers to choose from.  Though next time I might try the Kia Optima that they had (some of them were Hybrids).  The weather was amazing, the sunburn was avoided.  It was a great day out!

The flight back with Delta was probably one of my highlights for the day.   Security at T5 was pretty empty and the TSA screener even wished me a “pleasant trip Malcolm” which was nice.  The SkyClub staff were great and we had a little discussion about how nice and handy the new Virgin cards are.  At least with Delta being a Virgin Aus gold means something.  T5 is a bit of a mess though, can’t wait for them to hurry up and finish all the work that is going on.  I left the Skyclub a bit early (After snagging Salmon 30 Salmon in REALLY nice light) to get a better seat and was told “take my pick.. its wide open”.  Exit row it is! I was originally slated for a CRJ-900 flight, direct back to SeaTac.  Though for some reason as I stepped onboard it was 3-3 and my brain didn’t even flag it for a good 3 or 4 minutes and then it went…. umm WHAT THE HELL!  We must of been equipment swapped.  The crew had mentioned onboard that tonights load was 33.  That is one EMPTY plane and it made for the best service onboard.  Hand service of snacks and drinks, crew who wanted to do everything to please you cause they had nothing else to do.  I had a full 3 rows of 6 seats to myself.  Two of those rows were exit rows!  Having 18 seats to spread out on is a bit much.

By the end of the day we were early into SeaTac, and I was hopping off my flight and things just timed well. I managed to make the light rail back to the station within seconds of it pulling out and within half an hour of that I was driving into the Apartments driveway.. Can’t beat that for a day in the sun!

Crankyflier Dorkfest 2013

Well as i mentioned yesterday I got to go to the first flight of the 787-9 and instead of talking more about it… just check out the prettyness

click for bigger images 😉

Yep, I have been slack lately, but there has been good reason. The last two weeks at work have been so full on that I haven’t had much time to do anything else but work, sleep and eat. It has been a rough week as I was averaging 12 hour shifts at work (that’s actually at work, doesn’t add in the travel time or the mile and a half walk home from the Park and Ride) but I got through it. I managed to get myself up to speed and I should be ok this week. I probably won’t be leaving work on time most of the week but at least I won’t be starting work at 730am every day.

I have also been battling some personal demons this past week, trying hard to get through that, while working has been tough and it has meant I could distract myself from those demons and push through it, dealing with them on the weekends is tougher when I have more downtime, so keeping myself busy is a must… but I would rather not talk to much about that. One thing that did keep me happy this week was that on Tuesday I got to head on up to Paine Field and down to Boeing Field to cover the action of the 787-9 First flight. Awesome day and I loved every minute of it.

Getting to see the first flight, take heaps of photos and tweet it all out. Since I had Bernie with me as photographer for the day I could focus on the social media side (though I didn’t miss to many photos) but I also got to focus on getting the story out as well. So while Bernie drove between Paine Field and Boeing Field down I5, I was writing the story on the laptop. Doing 60 😉 down I5 writing on a laptop is a little bit wierd, but hey… it works!

Photos to come!

With the triathlon over, my life returns to normal, if you could ever call it that. It is kind of wierd not swimming or having to push hard in my runs or training and a week of recovery, so far, has been good to me.

I have been running the last three mornings on my old 5k routes something I haven’t done in a while. My body is taking it in strides, though sometimes it isn’t to happy. Come down from the triathlon was fairly good and after the day of rest Sunday I actually felt pretty good on Monday. Though for some reason my finger feels like it’s broken, no idea why.

Looking forward to a slow week training wise, but work has been insane and I’ve been pushing extra hours as usual (so much for taking it easy this week). At least I have the weekend to relax and get away with a trip up over the border planned again.

Today being September 11th, a lot of people are making the usual statements about rembrance etc, but I won’t do that. I was in Australia 12 years ago and although it didn’t really affect me directly, it did in some ways, but over all today doesn’t have the impact on me that it does on others. So I will just make it short. A lot of people died that day in vain, and they deserve to be remembered. Those who have served since then to right the wrongs caused that day have my utmost respect and admiration. Now back to your average blogging about crap and stuff.

A week full of hard training and sacrifice paid off really well. I was super nervous last night when I showed up at Cottage Lake to pick up my race packet, and I explored a little to scope out the scene for this morning. I was especially nervous about the swim but when I saw the buoys out in the water, I calmed down a little because it didn’t look to far. I signed my life away, picked up my stuff and headed on home to set up my gear and get myself some sleep.

From Seattle Life 2013

Fast forward to this morning after I barely slept and in the end, I just packed it all up and headed on out to Cottage Lake. It wasn’t the best weather, definitely the usual Seattle grey, however I wasn’t to worried, as long as it didn’t pour down, I would be fine. I spent most of the time setting up my gear, walking around scoping things out and trying to adjust to the cold cold water. The lake was DAMN cold and even a pre race quick dunk didn’t help, I think it just made me even more colder.

From Seattle Life 2013
From Seattle Life 2013

I had scored a pretty good space for transition, my race number was 24 and I wondered what it meant from the start. However what it meant was that I was in the first Wave behind the elites (aka crazy people who do two tris back to back), so my race number had me on the first rack for the transition area inside the entry!! However I didn’t quite score the ideal spot that was nabbed by someone else but I was still pretty happy with what I had. Race time came about and the nerves kicked in. When the elites hit the water, we were less than 60 seconds behind them. Nervous as hell when they gave the 10 second warning, I had a little bit of a thought of “what the hell am I doing” and then “Bang” off we go. I waited back a few seconds to let the rest of my wave hit the water ahead of me, and then I hit the water, starting my first ever Triathlon.

The swim was just wierd. I had to stop at one point because the water was really cold. But i sucked it up and kept pushing. The sensation of swimming in the lake was really weird as at times I had fish swimming against me, or some seaweed below me. Just random. When I turned the second buoy heading into the final portion back to the start I was passed by the lead elements of the wave behind me. O dear! I got out of the water when I reached the end and got moving quickly. Focusing on transition and as soon as I got my stuff, I threw my stuff on and got on that bike. The swim went well and I figured I had done about 12 mins or so and my transition though slower than I had trained for (if you call it training) was not to bad.

The ride was much better than I expected and although there was a hill at the back of the course and had me in the lowest of low gears on my bike, at a couple of points I was in the highest gears struggling to get more speed had it been possible. I was FLYING at a couple of points. The two laps just flew by and before I knew it I was pulling off. During the ride I was passed several times by lots of different people. I was lapped by an elite rider about 1km out of transition, he was on his 2nd lap of his bike while I had barely started. Those guys are freaking NUTSO! I passed a number of people and they passed me back a few seconds later. I was contending with an older guy from the wave behind me who had saddle bags on the side of his bike. That was shameful I swear, getting beaten by a guy on a commuting bike!

When I was out riding my first lap I rode past a checkpoint and thought I heard someone say my name. Not really sure if I saw anyone or anything really, I just kept on riding and put it out of my mind. When I got off the bike though and hit the run, I saw Shanwa so I knew I had friends around! My Bike to Run transition wasn’t as smooth as it could of been but I shoved my wet feet in my shoes and kept on moving, knowing that now was my time to move. Move I DID! I started passing people left and right and knew I had it in the bag. When I looked at my watch (which I hadn’t till tht point), I was SHOCKED. I was WAY ahead of the time I expected and pushed even harder, knowing I could possibly make a really good time.

The run went flawless and as I turned the final corner to the end I saw my friends, threw them a wave and focused again. It was then over the line and done!!!

From Seattle Life 2013

The post race set up was great, and whoever’s idea it was to have Peanut Butter and Honey sandwhiches for the recovery food choices deserves a freaking medal. It was epic and just what I needed. Caught up with my friends for a bit and packed up my stuff and headed off, medal and some swag in hand.

From Seattle Life 2013

Looking back at the Tri Now, I am ecstatic with my time and when I got my Final Results this afternoon I was even more happy. I ranked 115th out of 220 overall. Pretty good if you ask me for my first Triathlon. Considering just over 2 years ago I had never even ridden a bike, I couldn’t be happier. But breaking down the stats is where you see some goodness. Although my swim was nothing special, my Bike was 35 minutes, a solid 10 minutes FASTER than anything I had done before. Next up the Run stat just made me happy. I placed 46th overall in the Run Leg, 4th in my Age group! With a time a few seconds shy of 13 minutes, that puts me in 5k race pace.

Would I do a try again? Right now… no. I am going to rest up and slack off before I pass out. Next year? well, time will tell. I think a mixture of adrenalin, stupidity and just downright force of will got me through this race, as I almost gave up in the swim. Part of me thinks that I could definitely do it again, just not sure if I will.

The final training for the Triathlon is completed!!! I did my final swim session tonight after solid daily swims since Monday. My arms are killing me but meh.. the things you do. The funny thing is I have had less people in the Gym pool (a real pool mind you) than at the apartment pool. Not having to dodge children, having marked lanes and everything was like shear bliss. It was even heated to a reasonable temperature. What is this world coming to!! Funny thing was even though there was a lifeguard on duty, they had no idea. I asked a few different staff how long the pool was and none of them had any idea. One of them said and I quote “It’s a pool”. Wow… smart! With tonight though that ends my time of ripping off Golds Gym in Woodinville. thanks guys.. its been grand! The gym was good, had great equipment and facilities but it was just a factory for workouts really. To big, filled with meatheads and didn’t at all feel personal, add on the fact that it wasn’t 24 hours. Not my kind of gym.

With the big day now approaching, tomorrow i taper with only a 10k ride on the exercise bikes at the apartment gym in the morning and tomorrow night is packet pick up ready for race day. I will get a chance to scope out the transition area and also scope out the ride course (as I forgot to do that on Monday). For anyone wanting to come support me on Saturday or to just come laugh heres some information for you all.

The Triathlon is based at Cottage Lake in Woodinville which is here. Transition is located in the park, while the swim will be in the lake itself. The ride and run in the local area based out of the park. The race maps can all be found here.

On Saturday morning the transition area opens up at 630am and I should be there between 630am and 7am but only competitors are allowed in there. I won’t have my phone on me more than likely (As theres no secure facilities) but the whole area should be open enough if you want to see me. I should be at the swim starting area around 745am and my wave hits the water at exactly 8:01am. I will be marked with my race number (24) so if you need to see me, just look for the number. I expect to take about 90 mins all up for all 3 legs and transitions so should finish somewhere between 8 and 9am I hope. where in that time I have no idea. The only thing I ask is if you come see me… Take heaps of photos for me!!

If you want to try and spot me easily just look for me in my tri suit which looks exactly like the one I mentioned in a previous post. It won’t look pretty but it will do the job, during the run though I will have on a white tank top but you should be able to see my race number pretty easily then. Right now it’s time to start to rest a little, get at least SOME sleep before the big day Saturday. After the race on Saturday, I swear I am not getting in the water to do laps again for at LEAST a good 12 months… hopefully.

Since Yena left me on Saturday afternoon, it was time to get back to the grind. The goal for the weekend was to get in a number of training sessions prior to next weeks triathlon. Pretty much the rest of my weekend after all of the shenanigans was just going to be boring. So other than the training for the triathlon I was intending on catching up with all the missed work from Friday (and there was quite a bit) and doing the usual weekend chores along with a few extras.

First though let’s look at all my “training”. The pool was still closed unfortunately so that just got me really pissed off. Sunday morning was another Bike & Run training session with a Bike to Run transition thrown in for good measure. The ride went well and the servicing done was a smart idea because I knocked a good 15 minutes off my time. Ahh the benefits of actually having a working bike! I have the transition narrowed down now and things are looking good. On Monday morning I did the same two sessions BUT this time I added a pre bike transition. Normally this would be a Swim to Bike transition, but without a swim I just tried to replicate what it would be like. Running barefoot across the car park to my truck and getting going from there was the idea and although my transitions aren’t exactly perfect, they are good enough to get me through it without taking forever.

Without a pool though, what was I meant to do? I need to get some swimming in before next Saturday or things are not going to go well at all! So after a friend gave me a little push to check things out, I found a local gym (about a 10 minute drive away) that has a pool, along with a free week trial. Sorry to say but I am just going to use them for their pool for 4 days. I took my first swim at the pool on Monday and man it felt weird swimming in a proper pool, with lap lanes and everything. Totally not something I am used to at all, but I only have 3 more days of swimming left.

My training plans for the rest of the week are pretty much to focus on a run in the morning on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, with swims every evening. Then Friday I will go into hold back with just some time on the exercise bike Friday morning and then nothing Friday night other than picking up my race packet. Final week of training planned!

The rest of my weekend was spent cleaning up the house after I tried to unclog my bathroom sink (it hadn’t been draining properly for a week or two now) and with lots of frustration, a boat load of baking soda & vinegar, a bottle of draino (that didn’t do much at all), a little bit of elbow grease and a whole lot of disgusting crap, I got it cleaned in two hours. I also spent a good portion of Sunday working from home and some time on Monday in the office working as well. The things you do to stay employed!

A big week ahead, I don’t expect to get much sleep this week, so Will head to bed early tonight (hopefully) to try and get a least one night of half decent sleep. The rest of the week is going to be full on!

2 years ago during my trip around the world, I was visiting Seattle with Brad & Corey and we had planned to head out for dinner. I am a pretty fussy eater at times, so was brad, being that it was only my second time in Seattle, I didn’t know where to go and I had really just been starting to get into twitter just prior to that trip. So I thought I might try something out. I tweeted out for some help on where to eat. I was given a recommendation of a restaurant by someone on twitter. The recommendation was for Steelhead Diner down by the market place. I instantly fell in love with the restaurant and when I returned for my interviews with my job later that year, I returned (it was restaurant week). I also got another recommendation for Skillet Diner from the same person. Who would of known at the time, but that person to this day has never failed with their recommendations to me.

@Seattlemaven on twitter (or you can just call her Ann which is her real name) was the person who gave me that first recommendation. Since there are so many places to eat in this city, I have needed help to find the best places and Ann has never let me down… EVER. So many of the places I have eaten at like Barrio, Hudson, Steelhead so many more, all have been suggested by Ann, all of them I have loved. When Yena came to visit me, she told me she wanted a night out on the town. I had no idea where to take her, so I turned to the one person who had yet to let me down. I reached out and got some tips of the places that fit what Yena had told me what she wanted.

In the end we only had time for one place out and we went with what was a favourite. If @seattlemaven loves it it HAS to be good right? That bar was Suite 410 and Yena loved it. It was as though they combined two of her favourite bars from back home into the one place over here. With Yena loving it so much, I felt that I had to reach out and write this blog post, because a simple thank you would not convey just how much I am grateful for making one of my friends so happy.

Funnily enough Ann works for the Seattle Visitors Bureau (@visitseattle) and all I can say is that if you EVER need any help in seeing or doing something in Seattle or need help in finding out where to eat, drink or be merry, They can help. In this day and age it is tough to find out who to trust with recommendations. Sites like Yelp, Urbanspoon etc are good, but it is tough to work out the real from the fake. I know now who to trust and I suggest you all listen when you see a suggestion from these guys, because it is spot on!

So to Ann I must say a big, giant THANK YOU! For being the fantastic wealth of knowledge of all things Seattle that you are, but most of all I want to say just how grateful I am that you can make me and my friends happy, that you are kind enough to share your knowledge and passion for this city, asking nothing but kindness (or maybe the occasional bit of food porn) in return.

Well the big day finally arrived yesterday morning. The culmination of all the Breakfast “research”. I gave my friend Yena all the options with one Extra one, another recommendation for something new to try that apparently has the best Biscuits & Gravy. Yena had no real idea what that was, so we went with it. Something a little bit different right? Hudson is down in the Georgetown area of Seattle which is near the Port/Boeing Field area. Pretty much its all industrial and it is fairly basic. Absolutely dive bar location and in the middle of no where, bring it on! Funnily enough its located next door to a Haunted House.

From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013

We took a seat at the Bar (not a counter, a real bar) and the menu was left for us and some water. The Menu was fairly basic really, but there was a good range of Booze options. This is more a bar than a restaurant so that is understandable.

From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013

I took the biscuits & Gravy and a side of hash while Yena went with something that was just crazy++ a Monte Cristo sandwhich made with French toast! Seriously! Sounded pretty awesome. Food was quick and I was barely into my first cup of coffee when it came out (ps they use Umbria coffee, so the coffee is gooooood).

From Labor Day 2013
From Labor Day 2013

The food was good, the biscuits were light and fluffy and the gravy was nice (though it has been a while since I have had country gravy). Prices were really reasonable and the portions not overly huge but not tiny tiny rip off. I would say that it was a good score.

Was it the best breakfast in Seattle? Probably not… however the reason I was there wasn’t all about the food, but the company. Keeping alive a tradition that the two of us have had for many years. The Brunch buddies were back in action and I made the agreement (and hopefully Yena will continue it as well) that I will keep having brunches out even if it is on my own. Going to keep trying to find the best Breakfast/Brunch in Seattle.. even if I have to do it on my own… without my buddy.