Won a 10km race on the weekend

As previously mentioned, I entered the 10km version of the Wagga Wagga Trail Marathon on the weekend.
Much to my surprise the field was very small (probably only 30 runners) and not very competitive.
Subsequently I finished first, by at least 1 minute I reckon. Not sure of the actual time yet, but apparently I finished the run somewhere in the 46 minute range. Given the cold conditions (I almost lost feeling in my hands for a little while), and the 10 styles we had to climb over, I thought that was a reasonable time, although a good 7 minutes slower than my quickest time for a 10km. However now it appears that the 10km distance was actually more like 11km. Not surprisingly, this is a very, very pleasant surprise. I don’t feel quite so awkward about my ‘victory’ now.

I just ran 9.4km in 42 minutes

That works out at basically 4:30min per km over a flat and easy course. For a training run, I am happy with that. It indicates to me that I have returned to a reasonable base fitness. From here, over the next few months, I need to start doing a few things:

  • A tough weekly interval/fartlek session
  • A weekly/fortnightly long run building from 10km up to about 25km
  • Compete in a few running events such as the 10km fun run as part of the Wagga Wagga Trail Marathon and the Lake to Lagoon
  • Regularly (but not every week) attend Wagga Road Runners
  • Continue to do plenty of cross training (bike riding) and at least 60mins every day of stretches/core strength work

My 29th birthday…

…is now done and dusted and I am officially in the last 12 months of the last year of my youth.
Here are some highlights of how I spent my birthday weekend (Saturday’s are easily the best day to have a birthday as it’s so easy to justify spreading the celebrations over the entire weekend).




I’m running again, slowly but surely. And not exactly without limitations, but I’m getting there, ever so slowly.
I reckon it will be well into spring before I am satisfactorily ‘fit’ again, as long as I stay injury-free. I had forgotten how awful the process of ‘getting fit’ is, and so I have a new appreciation for those people starting out on an exercise regime only to give up because it is all too hard.
Short term goals:
* 2 August, 2008
29th birthday – 1hr of constant easy running
* 17 August, 2008
10km Wagga fun run – complete event in 45min-ish
* 14 September, 2008
9km Wagga Lake to Lagoon – respectable time
Recent performances:
* July 18, 2008
Distance: 8.55km
Duration: 40′ 5″
Calories: 633
* July 17, 2008
Distance: 6.80km
Duration: 30′ 46″
Calories: 503
* July 16, 2008
Distance: 6.73km
Duration: 30′ 9″
Calories: 498

5 steps to get the best deal on gadgets at Officeworks

The recommended retail price for an Asus EEE PC ultraportable laptop is $479 (June 2008). I just bought one from Officeworks for $303, and here’s how:
Do you know that Officeworks claim to offer the lowest prices?
Do you know that if you can find someone else offering a lower price for a stocked item, then Officeworks will beat that price by 5%?
Do you know that this deal applies to online prices as well?
With this information, I present to you a step-by-step guide to getting the cheapest price on your gadget of choice:
1. Go to an Officeworks store and confirm they stock the item
2. Go online to http://www.staticice.com.au and find the retailer that offers the absolute cheapest price.
In my case, I found a website called www.itestate.com.au which offered the Asus EEE laptop for $319 (plus delivery).
3. Take this information back into the Officeworks store and present the website to employee
4.They will then confirm that not only will they match that price, but they will beat it by 5%.
In my case, that meant $319 x 5% = an additional saving of $15.95 i.e. total cost $303.05 PLUS I saved having to pay shipping costs!
5. Purchase your heavily discounted item. Well done – be content that you have got yourself a real good deal.
Note: even bargain basement sites like Catch of the Day have only gone as low as $319.95 plus $14.95 postage for GREEN Asus EEE machines. And they only offer limited numbers of the product for a 24hr period.

Review: Paintball Albury Wodonga

is fun…
In an unexpected answer to an unasked prayer, I ended up a bus to play paintball in Table Top on Sunday with a bunch of other radio competition winners (read: a mostly expenses paid trip).
I’ve wanted to do this for quite a while, and the experience didn’t disappoint. In my head I was picturing large clunky guns shooting big clumps of paint, but in reality, the guns are lightweight and the paintballs are small marble-size ‘bullets’ that make all the authentic ‘ping’ ‘whoosh’ noises that I expect real flying bullets make.
Paintballing would certainly be more fun playing with a bunch of friends (e.g. bucks party), or at least with people who’s names you knew. It made it difficult to strategise and communicate with each other on the battlefield when we didn’t know each other.
200 paintballs was included for free as part of the deal, but 200 paintballs is not nearly enough! In a striking parallel to real warfare, the team with the most resources (read: most money to buy the most ammunition) usually wins. I managed to scrape through 3hrs of fun with only 300 paintballs, but that was only by being ‘sniper-like’ and playing a gun-less medic for one round (which was actually really fun). Extra balls cost $22 p/100 and are available throughout the games. Some of the other players spent up to $200 on extra balls (discounts are available for bulk buying). Most players bought at least 200-300 extra balls. So with this in mind, buying a 500 ammo deal up front is probably the best way to go.
The guns don’t shoot 100% accurate, but that becomes part of the fun – learning to work with the random arc of the paintballs.
There are 7 or 8 different courses to play through, each suited to a some kind of scenario e.g. capture the flag, defend the POW, stalk the fortress etc.
The balls can sting and I walked away with 3 or 4 small bruisey welts. Some of the other guys ended up dotted all over with little red rings. I am glad I didn’t see the need to invest $5 in a crotch guard, but at least one of the guys was glad he did when he ended up with 3 bullseye gobs of paint splattered across his groin.
The little Round Hill Hotel in Morven proved a great spot to drop in for an ale on the way back to Wagga. And it was only then, much too late, did people slowly get to know each other a little better.

Happy tree-changer on the radio

I was interviewed for 1502 2BS Gold radio this afternoon. Being a regional radio station, they wanted to get my perspective on the challenges and opportunities in moving from a capital city to a regional centre.
A colleague from work arranged the interview as a follow-up to a media release she distributed that talks about the appeal of working for CSU – how CSU campus locations offer the best of city living with the benefits of a regional lifestyle.
The interview was short, but I think it went well. It may even be airing as I type this. The conclusion that my interviewer drew, and with which I agree, is that I’m a happy tree-changer.

How to tune your TV…

In 4 easy steps.
Step 1. Give up in frustration trying to find the auto tune button on your TV remote control.
Step 2. Give your toddler the remote control to play with.
Step 3. Turn your back for a minute to do something else.
Step 4. Turn back around when you hear the TV tuned in correctly.
I can’t guarantee it’ll work for you, but it sure worked for me. And I still can’t find what button Maisie pressed – but whatever button she pressed was surely the right one.

Lake to Lagoon

Update: Placed 14th.
A great event. I ran well enough, just under 37mins. I’ll find out my place later in the week, but definitely top-20, out of 1300 or so runners. My cheer squad did a good job of encouraging me towards the end. I still can’t believe it’s a free event. Found myself in a couple of the group photos in the local paper. And it was good to run against some familiar faces from the Wagga Road Runners.

5 reasons why working in Wagga is better

1. I spend less time commuting and more time at home with my family.
2. I ride my bicycle or run to and from work every day. If the weather is bad or I don’t feel like the exercise I can catch a lift with a colleague or pay $1 to catch a shuttle bus. 
3. I am surrounded by bushland, not skyscrapers and traffic.
4. Morning tea is compulsory.
5. I look out the window from my desk and see kangaroos.

Game Sporz Wireless TV Boxing

Thanks to a spontaneous early-birthday-present buying decision, I am now the proud owner of a Game Sporz Wireless TV Boxing game. I have used the product several times now over the course of a few days and so I feel qualified to give it a fair and accurate review.
game sporz wireless tv boxing #1
The system plugs straight into your TV. You control your boxer by gripping 2 infra-red controllers wrapped inside cheap plastic ‘boxing gloves’. Your boxer knows whether you punch with your left or right hand. But it doesn’t seem to discern what type of punch you throw (jab, hook, uppercut etc). However it does increase the fun and exercise factor if you ‘mix-it-up’ regardless. There is a small button on each controller which you press to block. That’s basically it – you can punch and block.
Overall verdict

  • It is fun to play in short bursts, but the game play is VERY limited.
  • It provides a decent upper body and cardiovascular workout, so long as you exert an authentic amount of effort.
  • Therefore, I would recommended this product for those looking for an alternate style of workout as part of an otherwise good exercise program, with just a little audio/visual fun thrown in as a bonus.

game sporz wireless tv boxing #2

  • It’ll give you a decent workout. My heart rate got up to a decent rate, probably equivalent to a steady jog. My arms and shoulders and back were quite tender for 2days after my first few games.
  • Lost in translation. Although not an intended selling point for this product, the instruction manual and product packaging contain some mildly entertaining Chinese/English translation issues such as:

“Battery got polarity and the children may can not recognize it.”
“It happened that some children play the similar Cables and cause serious damage.”

  • There are 23 additional games built into the system that use the included hand held controller. These are all very basic tetris or space invader style games. Some of these are 2-player games.
  • It may be possible to increase the intensity of the workout by replacing the cheap boxing gloves with heavier gloves.


  • Limited game play. You can only choose between 2 opponents with no variations in skill level.
  • Your computerized self seems to randomly choose what you type of punch you throw.
  • I find it relatively easy to KO my opponents before the end of the 4th round. Given that each round is 90sec, that’s not an awful lot of game time.
  • This is a cheap product: The gloves seem like they will easily fall apart if treated roughly (by kids), occasionally the game play will freeze requiring a reboot, the sound often cuts out for a few seconds and the graphics are equivalent to somewhere between Atari2600 and (original) Nintendo gaming systems.

I’ll leave you with a sample of the descriptions given for each of the “Deluxe 23 Games play!” Classic…
game sporz wireless tv boxing #3

Fujitsu: my bad customer experience

I bought a Fujitsu external hard drive on the weekend. Good price, good timing just before the end of the financial year and a good decision… or so I thought.
It arrived in the mail on Tuesday, which was a pleasant surprise. However soon after plugging it in, I realised it was faulty – I don’t think hard drives are supposed to make clunky stop/start whirring noises and not respond at all once you plug them in.
Anyway, would you believe I made more than a dozen phone calls today just trying to speak to somebody who could at least listen to my inquiry, let alone suggest how I should go about returning the faulty product?
It seems either nobody at Fujitsu wants to help, or nobody at Fujitsu knows how to help, or nobody at Fujitsu has a clue what’s going on. A customer service representative would refer me to another number. A recorded message would ask me to enter an extension number!? A voice-mail would ask me to leave a message. At one point I found myself speaking to a secretary in the Fujitsu air conditioning arm of the business. She confessed she often deals with disgruntled customers who have ended up being redirected to her with similarly unrelated issues. Sometimes I would insist on a verbal assurance from the voice on the other end that they knew who I needed to speak to. Several times I was assured but ended up disappointed.
Here is a list of unhelpful numbers I was given to ring.
1800 288 284
1800 288 283
1800 226 347
1300 364 484
Needless to say I finally found somebody who answered my inquiry – and quite quickly at that. The hard drive is in the mail on it’s way to the Fujitsu warehouse where it will be (hopefully) swapped for a replacement product. Let’s hope for Fujitsu’s sake that this story has a happy ending.