Monday, January 28, 2013

Queenstown & Wanaka

When I last left off, I had just gotten to Queenstown on the South Island.  Since then, I have NOT gone bungee jumping, but I have taken about a million-and-a-half pictures, because really, this country is just one big postcard.  I've also been at accommodations where I've had internet, but limits to the megabytes and what not, so I've fallen a little behind on blogging and have quite the backlog of pictures.'s some pictures!

Lake Hayes in Queenstown
Although I worried a little bit that getting back into Ironman training would undermine my enjoyment of travel, that has not been the case.  Travel-training is really the way to go.  The towns I'm visiting are amazing because of their physical beauty, not because they have the greatest museums or restaurants or whatever, so exploring them by bike or foot has really been ideal. 

For several days post-race, I eased back into training and things were a little light while I (unsuccessfully) attempted to feel human again.  We're not quite there yet, but soon (I hope).  So I did a little light running and some riding and some swimming here and there, but I was mostly sightseeing as I did so.  For example, this is Lake Hayes, the clearest, most reflective lake I've ever seen, and also the sight of an average run and an absolutely outstanding open water swim (not words I've ever put in the same sentence before):

Lake Hayes

And since, through Friday, I was still a little bit in celebration/recovery mode and not as much in Crazy Healthy Ironman mode, I figured a super huge burger was in order.  Enter Fergburger, a Queenstown institution.
Hard to tell perspective, but that burger pretty much covered my lap
Some may call it gluttony, but I call it sampling the local fares and topping up my iron stores.  After that burger, I was pretty much sweating iron.  And, just so no one thinks I'm an absolute pig, that was lunch and dinner.  (But, shhh,  there may have also been dessert)

On Saturday, as much as I attempted to ignore the inevitable, it was back to clean eating and back to work.  TrainingPeaks offered up a nice 7+ hour training day.  I decided to do my swim in Lake Hayes (above), and scoped out an "epic" ride for my return to mega cycling mileage -- the road from Queenstown to Glenorchy, which is widely considered one of the most scenic rides in this area -- so as much as one can, I was sort of looking forward to my big day.

Lake Hayes was amazing and the cycling route certainly was scenic.  I had these views to keep me distracted:

It was also, however, extremely hilly.  Problem is, I haven't gotten the Kiwi language with respect to hills down.  When Kiwis say a ride is "undulating" (and they say that a lot), it's hilly.  When they say it's "a little hilly," it's a lot hilly.  And when they say it's "quite hilly," well, just....ouch.  This one fell in the "quite hilly" category, at least compared to what I'm used to.  I should have been prepared when the guy at the bike shop heard I was going to do that ride, and said, "great, so you like hills?"  Not particularly, no, but it's hills I got.  My Garmin measured about double the climbing of any of the long rides I did in Madison last year and that's not exactly a flat course.  So, needless to say, I struggled a bit.  

I found one flat section for about 30 minutes and I could finally take a picture
The struggle wasn't helped much by the fact that I had mechanical issues the whole time.  At first, I noticed a rattling when I was riding in certain gears, but (stupidly), I ignored it because I had no idea how to fix it.  Towards the end, I started dropping my chain repeatedly.  Annoying, but I didn't know what to do about it, so I just kept putting it back on and continuing forward.  Then, six (very hilly) miles from the car, my chain broke altogether. 

So I stood on the side of the road, angry, annoyed, concerned, but maybe just a little happy that my suffering ended 6 miles early.  Cell service was spotty, and who was I going to call for a pick up, anyway?  I started hoofing it back to the car, but six hilly miles in bike shoes?  I took off the shoes, but barefoot was no better.  So, I thought about it a little, and then (Mom, I'm sorry) put a hesitant thumb out and started hitchhiking.

I never, ever would have done that in the States or anywhere else I've been, but there's something about New Zealand.  There are hitchhikers everywhere, mostly young backpackers who come here without a plan or a car, and just hit up random towns along the way.  And everyone is just so flipping nice.  So, I did it.  And it didn't take long before a lovely Kiwi lady named Jody with her three kids in a campervan took pity on me, drove me back into town, and directed me to a good bike shop. Kiwis.  So darn nice.  
Encountered this completely ambiguous sign 75 miles in, when I was running low on water.  Quite the conundrum. 
Turns out, by the way, that I had one of those things wrong with my bike that makes the mechanic say, "how in the world did you do that?" (i.e., the cassette was not attached all the way).  I feel like mechanics say that to me a lot.   That is a problem.  
From there, it was on to Wanaka, which is much like the Boulder of New Zealand in that it's a hot bed for triathlon. 
See the buoys?  Wanaka's always ready for a swim race
It was long run day, but thankfully, the long run was split (roughly half-ish in the morning, half-ish in the evening).  Run #1, on trails, offered up some excellent views, as per usual.  And let's just say that the views were absolutely the highlight of that run, because the actually running itself.....nothing to write home about.
All of the lakes are so clear.  And you can drink the water.

Then, like any good moron, I decided not to rest between my two runs, but instead to go on an almost 4-hour long hike in Mt. Aspiring National Park.  It destroyed my legs and, because I'm not only the kind of idiot biker that goes out on solo rides without basic mechanical skills, but also the kind of idiot hiker that goes on 4 hour long hikes without food or sufficient water,  resulted in a second run that was one of those runs you'd rather forget ever happened.  Still, totally worth it.  For these views: 
Had to ford a stream (actually ten of them) to get there.  Memories of Oregon Trail.

Quite a detailed run down of the fording process.  I stood for a good 10 minutes deciding whether to go forward

Don't mind me

Animals everywhere.  I'd get within feet, but the sheep always ran away (so sheepish)

One more fun story:  I wrapped up Wanaka with a little swim at the local community pool this morning.  Now, I'm not saying I'm the best swimmer out there, I'm most certainly not, but I swam when I was little and can usually hold my own in my age group in triathlons.  Quite honestly, when I hit up random community or gym pools, and I've gone to quite a lot in the past several months, I'm usually one of the faster ones there.  (I'm still a little bit on a high about the guy at my local XSport in Chicago, who said to me, completely, 100% seriously, "what, were you in the Olympics or something?")  So to go to the Wanaka local pool during normal open swim, and among the 11 people swimming laps, to be the 10th fastest swimmer (I was only faster than the 8-year old girl because I had about a foot of height on her), was...different.

Then I found out the other 9 swimmers there were the members of the New Zealand National Triathlon team.  Like, the ones who were actually "in the Olympics or something."  They are in Wanaka for a training camp, and it was totally coincidental that I visited the pool when they were there.  Such a cool run-in.  Such a cool town. 

So that's Wanaka.  Now I'm in Lake Tekapo, and tomorrow off to Christchurch.  More later!

1 comment:

  1. Your TrainingPeaks logs have to be the most entertaining ever. :)