Bondi / Sydney Bridge Walk

10/30/2012

Well the last two days have been action packed.  I don’t think I’ve sat down other than for about 3 hours from 6:30 am till 11 pm yesterday and today has been much the same.

I started yesterday with a great ~7 mile run around the streets and water paths of Sydney.  I keep surprising myself with how good my runs are going considering ALL the walking I’m doing during the daytime.  Unfortunately, My heal has been giving me fits for a few months now and all of this running and walking is certainly not helping, so that’s top on my priority to figure out when I return.  For now, I will ignore in typical Kim-injury-fashion 🙂

After a quick breakfast, Dawn and I parted ways and she and Kevin ventured to meet up with his cousin while I trekked to the local bike shop to rent me a cruiser to head to Bondi!  The ride there on my cruiser was fun / interesting / long / scary at times but I still loved having the mobility of a bike.  You can just get everywhere so much faster and cheaper than walking or cabs.

Once I finally found Bondi, it was magnificant!  The beach is surprisingly small, but I couldn’t quit reminding myself I was at one of the most famous / beautiful places in the world!  I rented a beach chair and parked my rear end there for a good ~3 hours.  The sand on Bondi is like powder and felt so good between my toes.  The weather was absolutely perfect….just warm enough to be out in a bathing suit, but no signs of sweating, humidity and even a chill breeze that blew threw every few minutes.  It’s crazy how 6 days ago I was bundled in a North Face vest, scarf and boots and now I’m in a bikini!  I stuck my toe in the water for exactly 1 second before scurrying back to my chair with chills…yet people were frolicking around like it was 80 degree water!?   Bondi again reinforced that Sydney is 100% somewhere I would consider living.

I spent the whole ~30 min bike ride back contemplating seriously taking 1 year off from work and moving here.  I thought about all of the logistics of my house, car, dogs, family, etc….and I honestly think I could make it work.  I would never do anything like that permanently, or at least wouldn’t plan to at first, but the notion of it is seeming more and more appealing the more I get out and see new parts of the country / world. I plan to spend a lot more time thinking about this possibility for the next few months.

We finished last night with an awesome seafood dinner on the Floating Restaurant which is an old restored boat that has been turned into a restaurant.  And….Gelatto for desert, finally!  I’ve wanted to have some Gelatto everyday since I arrived but have restrained.  I was hell bent on Gelatto last night and it was worth every bit of the $8 and billion calories 🙂

Today was the most interesting experience I’ve had yet.  Maybe in my whole life.  If you aren’t aware, I’m afraid of heights, and this fear seems to be growing more fierce the older I get.  I’m not afraid of flying, or being on solid grounds up high, but I’m afraid of open stairs, in particular.

That said, what better activity than climbing over the arch of a bridge 150 meters above the ground!?  What.  Was.  I.  Thinking?!  Dawn was bound and determined to do this climb and I figured I had to do it because, I guess, I just did?  I don’t know.  I’ve been apprehensive and scared about the doing it since we’ve planned it, but I didn’t realize JUST how scared I was until it was time to get out there.  You’re VERY well secured, the bridge is obviously very stable, but when you have a fear of heights, that doesn’t matter.

I cried.

I can’t remember the last time I cried in fear of something.  I remember as a child getting trapped in a tight space and crying because I was getting claustrophobic, ad I remember getting lost with my best friend from High School (Jess Areman) in the woods while venturing off the designated ski paths at Stratton Mountain and maybe crying then (and maybe peeing my pants!)…but as an adult????  I couldn’t believe how not-well I handled the situation!  Dawn was a trooper, as was our guide, trying to make me feel better and I definitely got better as the climb went on, but it’s certainly nothing I will ever do again!  The site from the top was truly magnificent, when I could actually look out and enjoy them.  I spent much of my time up there death-gripped onto the rails counting down the minutes till when we’d turn around and head back.  The total climb was about an 1 – 1 1/2 hours and I’ve never been so relieved to be done with something.  We went immediately to the Opera House bar for a cold beer after leaving the bridge.

So tonight is our last night here and I’m feeling emotional about it….shocking.  I’m sad my vacation I’ve been planning for 14 months is over.  I’m excited to get home.  I’m ecstatic to see my doggies and kitty.  I’m depressed to have to go back and catch up on 3 weeks of work.  I’m scared to look at my bank account.  I’m thankful for this experience.  I’m excited to get back to a regular workout routine.  I’m dying to sleep in my own bed.  I’m dreading leaving Sydney and this beautiful part of the world – there is still so much more I want to do.  And, most importantly, I’m hungry and in the mood for another cocktail – so with that, we’re off to party it up on our last night at Sydney!  Thanks for checking in everyone over the last few weeks.  See you all when I return!


Sydney Part 2

10/28/2012

Today was our 2nd full day in Sydney and it was just as enjoyable as the first.  I was up bright and early and at the pool by 8am for a lovely 3500 meter swim.  That part was, um, one of the less enjoyable parts of the day.  😉  I was reminded how “old” I am when there were still Halloween parties going on from Saturday night when I was walking to the pool.

We decided to spend the morning at the Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife Park seeing so many animals!  I was in heaven!!  My favorites were the koala’s, the wallaby’s with Joey’s in their pouches and the kangaroos….they are all so adorable.  We walked for nearly 3 hours around all of the exhibits before making our way over to the Harbor Bridge to check out the scenes.

We plan to do the skywalk over the Harbor Bridge on Tuesday, which is apparently well worth the $220 they charge!   We walked for quite some time to get to the bridge so we stopped and I enjoyed a fabulous glass of wine at a little cafe.  The wine here has not disappointed.

I ventured back to the hotel alone and decided to do a bit of shopping on the way.  There are a lot of American stores here, but they offer much different products.  I picked up an adorable pair of flats at a local boutique and set my eyes on a few things I want to try on when Dawn and I shop on Tuesday.  I think we must have walked at least 6 or 7 miles today…funny how running 6 or 7 miles is NBD but walking wears me OUT!

Tomorrow we’ll be out bright and early and head to the Sky Tower that overlooks the city and then rent bikes to ride to Bondi Beach.  We planned on the beach today but the weather is looking nicer for tomorrow.  I’m excited to see the beach!


Chrischurch / Mt. Cook / Sydney!

10/27/2012

As I sit here writing this blog entry I am underneath the Opera House in Sydney overlooking the most beautiful (romantic) scenes of my life. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is to my left, the crystal clear blue water in front of me with huge yachts and cruise ships passing by. I had to sit down and capture the moment – at least in my mind and for my friends and family who read.

Rewind to yesterday where we were still in Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand. We stayed in a tiny little apartment outside of the city on Thursday night and went to a hip little pub for dinner and an awesome beer which I can’t remember the name. We were up bright and early yesterday morning to walk around downtown Christchurch to see the damage from the earthquake, which is very evident. The city is pretty much all blocked off and is a construction zone thus we didn’t get to see much. We spoke to our waitress about the quakes a bit on Thursday night which was very intriguing.  There were 3 quakes in the last 2 years which have taken a toll on the downtown, but the suburbs seemed to have survived quite well.  The little suburb we stayed was adorable, “Dilworth-like” with its restaurants, boutiques and “motels” which we’ve discovered are actually not “motels” like we’re used to.  Thank god.

After our walk around town and a quick breakfast, we hit the road en route to Mt. Cook – the highest peak in NZ. The ride was about 4 hours, but well worth every minute spent in the car.  The sites along the way, including Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki were breathtaking. I have never seen such blue lakes completely still as no boats were present. For this non-swimmer, all I wanted to do was throw my wet suit on and dive in.  Miles of endless, flat, crystal clear blue water would have been very liberating.  Driving the roads around the lakes and into Mt. Cook made me wish I had my road bike with me very, very badly.  I may have built it on the side of the road just so I could go for a ride!

We arrived at Mt. Cook about 2pm with enough time to hit one long hiking trail after lunch. We opted or the 3 1/2 hour trail with no information previously about what kind of trail it would be. Come to find out, it included no less than 10,000 steps to the top of a very, very tall peak where the top was fully covered in several feet of snow.  As we set out on our hike, we thought it’d be cool to get as high as the snow caps, but had no clue we actually would.  I used the hike as my workout for the day and hit the stairs pretty hard.  It was very very challenging but the scenes from up top were well worth the climb.  We ventured down the mountain shortly after as we certainly weren’t dressed for snow and sleet and headed back into the lodge at the base before hitting the road.  We chatted with a handsome gentleman from Seattle who was in NZ for 10 weeks backpacking after graduating grad school before getting back into the real world.  He was awesome to chat with and I wished we exchanged information.

I drove us home, on the left side of the road, for the first time and it was totally fine. I was apprehensive about driving on the opposite side but had zero issues, thankfully, and we were back safely by about 11pm in time for our 5:00am alarm for our flight to Sydney!

That brings me to now.  I decided I needed a “solo day” upon arrival so I dropped my bags at the hotel, changed and immediately set out for a run around the new city.  One of my favorite things to do as I’ve mentioned several times before.  There’s no better way to see a lot of sites in a short amount of time, then running.  I planned to go for 30-40 minutes and ended up going ~90 minutes.  Not only did I feel surprisingly good after our strenuous hike yesterday, but the sites were utterly amazing.  I love killing two birds with one stone!

I ran by a pool/ health club /cafe right on the water, with a 50 meter pool overlooking the sea.  I know I’ll be spending a bit of time there the next few days.  I saw the Opera House, Botanical Gardens, fountains, museums, and all sorts of other amazing sites. I made my plans for where I’d want to revisit after my run post shower and I knew the cafe overlooking the water and the pool would be top of my list.

I just finished a wonderful salad with fresh fish and capers and a light tasty glass of wine.  I continued walking for a while where I decided to sit and mediate, for the first time in my life.  Hearing the water in the background, the ships, and most of all, the various chatter and languages taking place was more soothing than a massage.  I mediated for over 25 minutes, when I sat down planning on about 5.

As I listened to all the tourists walking by and talking, I took a moment to be thankful and appreciative once again that I have the opportunity to be here. I’ve heard Aussie, British, Scottish, French, and tons of Asian languages and accents.  What i have not heard a ton is American accents, making me that much more appreciative knowing how much more rare it is for Americans’ to visit.  This trip is EXPENSIVE.  I might have to eat lettuce for the next 6 months to save money and drop the few lbs I feel like I’ve gained from so much eating out, but it’s worth every red cent I’ve spent and every pounds I might or might not have gained – these 2 weeks are my “off season”, after all, and we’ve experienced parts of the world many people never will in their lifetime. I’m savoring every moment!

My impressions of Sydney so far:

1.  This place is uber romantic. I would love to be here with someone special.  🙂

2.  All men wear Speedo’s. All men who wear Speedo’s don’t look that awesome in Speedo’s.  of the men who wear Speedo’s, wear white speedos. I’m praying this trend does not catch on and make its way to America. Some of the men who wear white Speedo’s have tattoos and piercings in and on and around places that startled even me, someone who is not offended by anything.

3.  The weather at this time of year is AWESOME here, from what I can tell. I hate to diss NZ, but the weather certainly put a damper on my love for the place. I’m in a tank top and shorts right now, and could put on jeans and a light sweater and be fine in both get-ups. Perfecto!

4.  This place is all tourists.
5.  I wish Charlotte was on the water. Cities located on water are just a step above the rest.

6.  The people here are extremely active. I felt like I joined a local running race while I ran along the water because there were so many people running. I made sure to our run all those that looked like they cared. 😉

7.  I add Sydney to my list of Santa Monica and Boulder, CO as the only other places I would consider moving.


Auckland / Christchurch

10/25/2012

Hey gang-

just a quick check in from overseas.  We spent 2 days after the race in Auckland and had a great time.  The day after the race I was totally exhausted with a nice headache from several post race cocktails so I decided to take a “chill out” day to pack my bike, take a nap and spin out my legs.   We finished the day with a really nice dinner at the Sky Tower which overlooks the whole city of Auckland and rotates 1 full circle per hour.  The weather was crystal clear for the first time all day so it was awesome to see the beautiful city.  I love all cities that overlook water and Auckland doesn’t disappoint.

Yesterday was our last day in Auckland so we took a road trip to Rotorua which was about 3 hours away.  We did a gondola ride, two luge rides down the mountain and Dawn and I put on our adventurous hats and did a Sky Swing.  The Sky Swing is basically a little chair 3 people can get strapped into, you get lifted 40 meters off the ground (feeling like your going to fall out forward the whole time) and then you pull a chord which releases your little chair and you swing through the air over a cliff.  It was so fun/scary/exhilarating and the video they took of us was classic.  Dawn is screaming and I am stone faced in fear!  ha.

After the little adventure park, we drove to the Redwoods where we hiked for about an hour.  The redwoods are unreal and the hiking/running/walking trails were absolutely spectacular.  I wished so badly I had my running shoes with me.

Today was our flight to Christchurch.  Given the earthquakes they’ve had here, the city is pretty much in shambles, which we didn’t realize when we booked our flight.  So, we decided a few days ago we’d fly into Christchurch and then rent a car to make the 6 or so scenic drive to Queenstown.  All went smoothly with flight and car rental, but about 2 hours into our drive South to Queenstown, we realized we’d gotten on the highway going North!  DOH!  We only have 2 days here on the South Island so it wouldn’t have made sense to turn around and drive 8 hours back to Queenstown from Kiakura.  We made the best of our snafu and enjoyed a day in Kiakura seeing the beautiful beaches and scenery, ate some (more) wonderful local food, and then visited the seals at a lookout.  There is nothing cuter than a fat baby seal!

We’re back in Christchurch tonight and are planning on venturing tomorrow to Mount Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand for some hiking and exploring.  We’ve had a great time so far.  There’s been absolutely no shortage of good food, great wine and delicious beer.  I’m looking forward to our trip to Sydney on Saturday…I will try to check in when I can!  Wi-fi is hard to come by!


Survive, Don’t Crash, Run

10/22/2012

While this race is fresh in my mind, I will provide the skinny though this one will be hard to forget!  🙂

The sprint race was first in the morning making my start time after 9am and it was nice not having to be up and out and the butt crack of dawn for once!  After  setting up my transition area, I came back to the hotel gym to stretch out well, spin on the bike and do a quick 5 min run to get the juices flowing.  I felt really really great and loose and giddy with excitement for the adventure ahead!

I arrived at my corral in plenty of time and was anxious to get in the water.  It was very cool to be around 100 girls all my age wearing wet suits that hid the different countries we all represented.  At that moment, we were just 100 girls all feeling the same anxiety of the day ahead and it was one of my favorite moments of the day.

Swim:  The 59 degree temperature of the water that we were so anxious about leading up to the race was the least of my concerns at this point.  Given I’d gotten a good warm up in and we’d been standing in our wet suits for 30 minutes, the cold water actually felt quite nice.

The swim course was like a T in block lettering, if that makes sense.  The vertical part of the T was about 300 meters within a wharf where you were “protected” by the huge docks on either side.  The rest of the swim was out past the wharf in the open seas.  I was with the main pack for the whole first 300 meters and was swimming very good for me!  Wet suits and really salty water seem to bode well for me.

But that didn’t last long.  At about 350 meters, we hung a left at the first buoy and, there’s no other way to say it other than “shit got crazy”.  As I sit here almost 24 hours after the race is over, I’m still rocking in my seat.  With having only ever swam one other time in the ocean in my triathlon “career” at my FIRST triathlon in 2008, and having not done much actual free style swimming in said race, I was literally a fish out of water.  I made it to the right turn buoy with minimal issues but the best was certainly yet to come!

As we rounded the next buoy, shit got really interesting.  A HUGE barge/cruise ship came by us about 500/600/700 meters away, which upped the ante quite a bit on the already 3 foot swells.  I’m not sure how the girls who swam “normal swim times” navigated through these conditions.  I was swimming, but it was ugly.  I remained calm and tried to remind myself that I wasn’t the only one in these conditions, but after seeing the results, clearly they affected me far more than the other girls.  I don’t know how you train for conditions like this, but apparently I need to step that up if I plan to do any more ocean swimming in white cap waves.  The rest of the time out on the open water was horrific and felt like a race of survival.  All I wanted to do was get the hell out of this water.  Little did I know, the next hour or so would be just as interesting.

T1:  The run to T1 must have been at least 1/2 a mile.  On frozen feet, it felt even longer.  As I mounted my bike, my foot slipped getting into my left shoe which resulted in the strap flying open.  I couldn’t get it threaded back through the latch while riding so the first mishap of the ride occurred 1 min later when I stopped, pulled over and latched my shoe.  Ugh.

Bike:  This goes down in the record books as the craziest, scariest ride of my life. I am not a fearful rider but I rode scared, because I was.  I have never hated my very expensive, beautiful Zipp 808 wheels as much as I did for these 25 miles.  The wind here, like most islands, is not steady but rather random gusts of winds from all directions.  And it’s frightening.  Those without race wheels were much better off than us with them and I wished I had my road bike for the entire ride.

The course was a 2 loop “P” shaped course, more or less.  The round part of the P included 3 steep climbs, about 1/2 – 1 km long, with very technical descents on the backside.  I really enjoyed the climbs with all of the spectators lining the streets and it was also the only time of the day thus far that I wasn’t mildly afraid for my life.  I stuck to my normalized power goals, more or less, and felt great while climbing, but was clung to my handlebars pumping my breaks for every descent with my bike flailing all over the road like a leaf.   I passed a lot of girls which felt good, but knowing my swim time, I knew it really didn’t matter.  I also got passed by three or four 35-39 year old girls who presumably went on to win their age group.  I’ll admit, getting passed riding is unusual and was quite humbling.

On the 4th climb of my first loop, my stupid chain fell off.  I have no idea why, honestly.  I don’t think that has ever happened to me on this particular bike but it did.  And I don’t think with Di2, you can just shift to your big ring and pick it back up but I’ll have to look in to that.  So I pulled over yet again to get that taken care of.  Double ugh.

The second loop was much less of a disaster, as a whole, but by then I didn’t feel as if I was actually racing….more damage controlling.  Overall, I wished I could have enjoyed this beautiful ride more than I did, but I did the best I could to take in the scenery and remind myself of this once in a lifetime experience.

I couldn’t wait to run.  Five words you will not hear me say very often.

T2:  I hopped off my bike and made the 1/2 mile long trek into transition feeling a wave of relief wash over me.  It was at this point, I was certain October 22nd wouldn’t be my last day on this earth.  🙂

Run:  it took a few minutes to get my legs under me – thankfully it took no less than 2 minutes to run out of transition so by the time the run course actually started I was good to go.  From that point on it was just run with whatever energy I had left.  The mental exhaustion of the swim and bike certainly took much more of a toll on me than the physical.  My legs felt great, and I ran the first 4 miles strong.  I faded a bit at the end, but I think I somewhat subconsciously slowed down to try to savor the moments.  I was suffering, but I was also enjoying the crowds and the support of everyone out on the streets a ton.  I battled back and forth with an Aussie girl for about 4 miles which made it feel like I was actually racing for the first time during the day.  The wind was also very present on a few parts of the course.  Though it was flat, running hard along the water into 20-25 mph winds made it feel there were actually hills on the course!  Regardless, the run was the most enjoyable part of the day for me.

I met the cameraman who would be compiling all of the age group race video in the gym earlier that morning.  He told me if I did something cool at the finish line he would put me in the video.  So for the last 1-2 miles I contemplated what I could do that would be cool.  I contemplated a cartwheel, but I was feeling a little queasy by that point and was afraid a cartwheel might make me toss my cookies.  Laying down sounded much more appealing.  So I decided to mirror one of my favorite triathlete’s signature move (Chrissie Wellington) and do a Blazeman roll over the finish line.  The man who took my chip said it was the best finish he’d seen all day 🙂

By the end of the race I had come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t actually competing for a place or a prize, but proud of myself for enduring the conditions, the bike mishaps and finishing the race mentally strong.  I didn’t expect to be a top contender by any means, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect to finish slightly higher than 48th out of 98 in my age group.  Sans my transition and chain mishap, I may have finished 40-42nd or so, which is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

What it boils down to is these girls are some of the best in the world – the Kiwi’s brought a very strong team considering the race is local, and the Aussie’s weren’t far behind – and quite frankly, I’m not.  I’m realistic to realize I don’t train in these conditions and I certainly wasn’t prepared for them, but I also realize that I’m simply not as strong or well rounded as they are.  Some people will look at it from the prospective that I was better than 50 other girls in my age group.  The realistic / competitive / pessimistic side of me, however, looks at it from the 47 girls were better than me prospective.  Which is what keeps me training hard I suppose.

As I’ve said many times this week, I was beyond thankful and appreciative to just be out there representing my country.  Hearing “Go USA” time and time again as I passed spectators nearly made me tear up nearly every time. Running down the finishing shoot with an American flag waving and the crowd cheering is truly something I will never forget.   Congrats to Sandy on a great race and for being able to run the full 10k despite a hamstring injury for the last 5 weeks!

Go Team USA!!!


Auckland Part 3

10/20/2012

So today is Sunday at 12 noon and I am feeling ready to race.  More importantly, I’m feeling ready to not be tapering anymore, and ready to be done “schleping” my stuff all over Auckland for pre-race activities.  🙂

Yesterday was a great day all around.  Sandy and I were able to ride the whole bike course, mostly with Team USA, which is going to be fun and very interesting.  There are four steep (16% at parts) climbs with four fast, technical descents, which we will ride twice on the two loop course.  The remainder of the course is flat with ~20mph winds.  I’m glad I have a power meter to be sure I keep it within the lines on the climbs.

After our ride we hurried to the pre-race meeting where we had the pleasure of laughing at the ridiculousness of the questions of our fellow USA teammates…for a while it felt as if this might be many of their first race.  Confusing, yet entertaining.

The women’s ITU finals started right thereafter the meeting where we got tickets to the grandstands.  The race was fun to watch up close and personal and it was awesome to see Gwen Jorgensen, who I had the pleasure of training for a week with in Tucson last year, race her heart out!   Gwen was with the lead group out of the water but fell off the front pack on the ride a bit.  She was picked up by the second group of cyclists and rode well within the 2nd group.  She was over a minute behind the lead group off the bike but ran the most impressive 10k I’ve ever witnessed to take the silver medal.  It was so very exciting, and beyond impressive, to see her in more or less a dead sprint and putting 10-15 sec per kilometer into the lead pack!

We took it easy last night and had a relaxed meal in our hotel room which was nice to be in sweats and enjoying good company.  I think the cold and wind wears me out a little because I was utterly exhausted by 8:30 last night.

Sandy and I were up early this morning and headed to the local pool called Parnell Baths to swim in the outdoor, long course, salt water 59 degree water.  Upon arrival however, it was closed so we trekked a bit further down the main road to hop in the open water.  Its not only the coldest water I’ve ever but also the choppiest with ~3 foot swells with white caps!  We swam about 10 minutes and decided we’d had enough.  Getting out was way worse than getting in, but we survived .

Dawn and I took a bus tour after our swim around Auckland and got to see some of the sites.  The tour is a “hop on hop off” at your leisure kind of tour, but considering it was down-pouring the whole time, we opted to just do a riding tour .     It is unfortunate how much the weather can impact your experiences.

We are preparing to venture down to the men’s Elite finals here shortly – in the rain again – and I’m excited to see the likes of Bevan Dockerty, Javier Gomes and the Brownlee brothers go head to head!!

My wave is tomorrow at 9:09 am which will be 4 pm on Sunday for you guys back in the states.  There are over 100 girls in my age group!  It’s hard to decide how I’m feeling because I’ve put a lot of energy into just staying warm while I’ve been here and the conditions (traffic, wind, etc) haven’t been all that conducive to really strong workouts- particularily on the bike.  I’ve done a lot of spinning and had a few really good, short hard runs, but I’m banking on being rested to carry me through the race tomorrow.  I’m going to lay it out there in hopes that being a stronger cyclist in the poor conditions and on the tough course, will bode well for me.

I’ll be sure to check in after the race!!  Thanks for all the well wishes everyone!


Auckland Part 2

10/19/2012

Howdy friends!  Here we are day 3 in Auckland – I still can’t get used to the time, I have no idea what day it is and the weather is still freezing and windy as all hell.  But we are managing to have a great time!

The main event of yesterday included the Parade of Nations and the Opening Ceremony for the event.  The Parade was very cool to be a part of – there are over 5,000 athletes here for this event which makes Ironman events feel small.  It’s really awesome to see all of the country’s represented and to be a part of the “most popular” nation, if you will.  We are continuously amazed at how much New Zealanders are plugged into the American way – there is constant news coverage on the election, American football, sports, etc.

Sandy and I got up today and attempted our second ride on the bike course.  With my disk removed, this ride was much more successful than the first, however, my Di2 battery died mid ride which decreased the success level a bit.  It made climbing interesting.

The bike course is really great.  It is super flat and fast along the water, which is beautiful, but certainly adds to the wind factor.  There is one curve in particular on the way back where the wind hits at such an angle that it leaves you white-knuckled on your bike for about a mile.  There are three climbs on the course which we will ride two loops.  A perfect course in my book.  I’m looking forward to hitting it hard on Monday with less traffic and no intersections (with traffic going the “wrong way”) to worry about.

After our ride and run, we took a short ferry ride to Waiheke Island for an all day tour.  The tour started at the estate of a (obviously very wealthy) couple on the far side of Waiheke Island – they own an entire cove including about 60 acres of water front land.  The couple commissioned different Kiwi artists to create various abstract sculptures along a long walking trail through the estate.  The couple  was very down to earth and walked with us to each of the 30 sculptures.  It was very interesting to hear the story of each one.  After we left the estate we stopped at vineyard for lunch and a delicious glass of wine before making our way to an art and music museum.

It was great to see a different side of New Zealand – the more green, tropical, less populated part – more of what we envisioned.

My thoughts as of today include:

1. I’m not a huge fan of riding my bike in a major city

2.  New Zealand is a very diverse, beautiful place

3.  People here are really really nice

4.  Wind is annoying

5.  Auckland is pretty expensive

6.  Baby sheep are adorable

7.  I still love Kiwi / foreign accents

Until I get time to check in again – thanks everyone for reaching out and all of your well wishes!!