Some of you know I've been in New Zealand for the Ironman, but some of you may not have known! Well, to catch you all up, I was in NZ for 2 weeks and now I'm here, in Australia getting ready to race in 2 weeks.
Allow me to recap you on my adventures and such! My apologies for boring any of you! I really need to BLOG once a week so I can get my thoughts out clearer and more concise! But, before I forget - I would love to hear from you all and miss home (the great United States of America) a lot!!
To recap NZ: left the US on 23 Feb and arrived on 25 Feb in Auckland...here was my traveling for that:
3 hour drive from Green Bay to Chicago O'Hare (snowing...yes, left Wisco while it was coming down...how appropriate? Took a video just to remind myself when I would get home sick that it was SNOWING in the northern hemisphere!) Then got on a plane for LAX (4 hour flight) - then a 3 hour lay over, then a 13 hour flight to Auckland, NZ followed by a 3.5 hr drive to Taupo, NZ - which...might I add...I had a quick learning curve to adjust to as I drove on the OPPOSITE side of the road on the opposite side of the car...yes, in NZ and Australia they drive on the right side of the car and on the opposite side of the road...so, everything...absolutely everything you learned from little on...just gets thrown out the window! I was CONSTANTLY turning on the wind shield wipers every time I wanted to turn on my "turn signals"! I stuck out like a sore thumb indeed! Oh...and traffic lights? What are they? Everything down under is a traffic circle or "round about" - Dad would be having a fit! For those of you who don't know...one of the last things I remember my Dad complaining about before he past away was he HATED traffic circles! I remember him saying: "This isn't Europe!!!" Ahhh, gotta love the man and his stubborn ways!
After finally arriving in Taupo, I drove to my "home stay" I was connected with by my agent. I was staying with the wonderful "Docherty" family! All I really knew about them was what my agent told me - that they were a lovely family that she and her hubby have stayed with in the past and they were awesome and would take great care of me! I was connected via Facebook with Fiona, the daughter, as she was a professional marathon runner back in NZ for the summer while she resides in Boulder, CO during our summer months...I was told she was going for the Olympic Trials for the NZ team, however, when I got to talking with her, I unfortunately learned she's had to put that dream on the back burner for a bit to take care of an injury that needed surgery this past week. Well - to my surprise, as I walked into the home I was amazed by the beautiful photos all over the walls...photos of Fiona racing and running on all over the world and then there was a pic of this guy holding up a NZ flag and a silver medal at the Athens games...holy hell...I was staying in the home of Bevin Docherty...yeah, the silver medalist in Triathlon from the Athens games. As you can imagine I felt like an idiot for not knowing this sooner and then I soon realized that HE was the guy that beat Lance Armstrong in Panama 70.3 just about 4-5 weeks ago....ha, ha, ha...ignorance is bliss! None the less...Fiona, and her mother, Irene and father, Ray treated me very well and I don't think it matters to them WHO they are, or WHO I am...it's about who you are as a person and how you treat one another...look...I could be a total jerk, and at the end of the day - no one is going to remember your accolades, but, they'll remember how you TREATED them! I always tell myself that when I'm talking to people...at the end of the day...it's not about your accomplishments, but your 'tude! (Can't learn that in a text book!!! Well - wait...maybe you can if you consider the Bible a textbook?!?!?)
So, on to the race - I was in Taupo to do Ironman New Zealand...however, as the weather reports were shaping up for race day, the frantic mood of the race organizers and participants was becoming very unnerving. I kept looking online and in the news and it wasn't looking good. I'm not a type of athlete that gets really bent out of shape about weather (cold, hot, wind, rain) - but, when you see the waves crashing into the water front and the wind kicking up...you begin to wonder, "is this race going to get off the ground?"
Well, as race day approached and the weather got seemingly worse and worse - the final verdict was in as the winds were reaching 100-120KMs an hour and temps as low as 9-12 degrees C. The race was cancelled. However, as a silver lining - we were going to race a half IM the following day. This put ease to many racers that traveled from 47 different countries, but I really felt bad for the over 500 "ironman virgins" out there that trained long and hard for probably 6 months to a year just to hear Mike Reilly say, "You are an Ironman" - but, mother nature has a mind of her own (as most woman do!) and she is not something we can control. Safety first is what the race organizers had to think about and I applaud them for that decision. I would NEVER want an accident, or heaven forbid, a death on my hands if I were a race director. I can say with certainty, there would have been a lot of bike accidents in those winds and I don't even want to think about the inevitable drownings that could've occurred - (not to mention the poor volunteer kayakers that would've gotten thrown from their boats!) For me, it was a little heartbreaking as I too have been training for an IM...not a half and although as a professional I must always "roll with the punches" I was really looking forward to completing my 19th IM on NZ soil! But, as a "cup half full" kinda gal, I looked at it like this - I was still going to make up the same amount of points and money in a half as if I would if it were a full AND not put as much damage onto my body, which would help with my recovery for my next IM 3 weeks later. This was all good! The whole purpose behind racing these 2 races (NZ and Australia) so early in the season was to knock out 2 big points races early and get those points for Kona...then train, train, train all season (summer in the states) without having to worry about "chasing" points all over the US and Europe! My goal is to get to the World Championships fresh and ready to race - but, that would be very difficult to do if I would have to race all over the world in the summer...traveling can really burn you out and racing long course can also create a lot of havoc on your body as well...you have to be very smart with your racing and training schedules if you want a long career.
So - on race day, in a nut shell I got my points I was working toward and added another 1,400 to my already existing 2,000 - so, right now I'm sitting at 3,400 (15th place) in the KPR (Kona Points Ranking). For those of you who don't know...as a pro, you have to get points at races throughout the year, the top 30 women and 50 men go on to Kona...bottom line, you either race a crap load, or race the right races. I get asked a lot, "How many points do you need?" - but, that's the million dollar question! You just race, race, race and get your points and hope you have enough to move on to the next level! Last year was the first year of KPR, so my coach and agent told me a good number to have was 5,000...I think that that must have been the "magic safe" number to have...so, with that...I'm aiming to go over 5,000 to secure my slot to Kona.
I stayed in NZ for 5 days after the race to enjoy the country a bit as it's nearly impossible to really soak in the country and culture the week leading into a race. Jake (hubby) showed up late Friday night before the Sunday race and was able to watch me race as well as stay in NZ and then come over to Australia with me - yes, we get a whole month together before he goes back to Texas to train up for his upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in July! He'll be gone for a 9 month deployment as Kasey (daughter) and I will stay in Wisco living with my mother...once he returns in April of 2013, I'll hold off till Kasey is out of school (early June) and we will once again be a family under the same roof...it will be 2 years since that will have happened! Ahhh...gotta love the Army life! So, although we miss our little "Kas-adilla" aka, daughter, Kasey, we're doing our best to enjoy each other for a month. Jake and I went to "Huka Falls" (imagine an abridged version of Niagara Falls), and went White Water Rafting on the Tongario River in New Zealand...it was the cleanest water I had ever seen...and cold as we jumped off a cliff and into it half way thru rafting. Truly beautiful and serene - gorgeous God's country!
On Friday we were SUPPOSED to fly out of Auckland to Brisbane...but....well, let's just say that I'm normally the laid back one on the time schedule and I depend on Jake to be very structured and on top of things when it comes to when to leave, how long it's going to take to get to the airport, where to drop off the rental car and so on...well, I honestly don't know where that man was on Friday, but...we didn't make our flight out of Auckland...so, we had to stay the night and rebook for an early flight out the following day. Oh...what am I going to do with that man? Get him out of his uniform and he all jacked up! :) Jake and I finally got into Brisbane yesterday after a 4 hour flight from Auckland, but then we had to take a 2 hour shuttle bus to our condo in Noosa, Australia, where I'll be training for the next 10 days prior to my race in Melbourne. Noosa is beautiful and right on the ocean...yes, I jumped in the ocean yesterday and swam in the lovely salt water and loved it!! Today, I got to spend the day navigating my way on the Aussie roads during a 4 hr ride. I saw a traffic sign that had a kangaroo and koala bear on it and it said, "Crossing" - haha...I chuckled to myself and thought, "Yes, I'm in Australia!"
It's incredibly humid here and was 30 degrees C by 10am - I think that's like 90 degrees in Fahrenheit. So, needless to say, I was in a little shock today with the temp changes from NZ to here...most days in NZ it was overcast and patchy - temps around 15-18 degrees C....which is like, 50s-60s. I loved New Zealand, as it was very naturally beautiful and serene - but I really like it here in Australia for different reasons also! Both places have incredibly friendly people and I feel completely safe too...it's expensive though...allow me to give you an idea:
Oh - by the way...USD isn't as strong as the Aussie Dollar, but it's a little stronger than the NZ dollar - however, that didn't matter a whole lot when you would go out shopping or eating...see below! :(
Coke Zero 24 pack: $24.00 (AUS) -
Pack of turkey meat at the grocery store for about 1 sandwich: $5.00
Cereal: anywhere from $5.50 - 8.00 a box
Milk: $3.99 a liter (or looks like a half gallon we would get in the states)
Eggs: $2-3.00 a carton
Chips: $2.50-5.00 a bag
Candy Bar: $2-5.00 (depending on the size and brand)
Going out to dinner: Regular pasta meal: $24.00, 2 pieces of garlic bread, $3.50; coffee (small): $3.50
Gas is cheaper here than in NZ - but still $1.49/liter, which would be about $4.50 a gallon in the US. Gas in NZ was around $2.12-2.16/liter
Here's a little story for you to love! Jake and I were walking back from the beach yesterday and saw a little gelato shop...Jake got all excited for a little spoonful of heaven...1 scoop? $7.50! I told him he would have to wait for his spoonful of heaven back in the states! HAHAHA!
Miss you all, hope I didn't bore you too much with my chatter!