Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Grinding it Out

Since I returned to Auckland from my South Island vacation, it's been a little uneventful.  I'm right at the peak of my build-up for the upcoming Ironman, and as much as I thought I could still do lots of things while in the midst of peak training, I was perhaps overestimating my own energy levels.  I'm tired, a little lazy, and at times, a little grumpy. 

I'd be lying if I said my training was going perfectly -- it's not.  Recovering from the Auckland race wasn't as smooth as I might have hoped, not helped at all by my decision to use that recovery time not to actually recover, but to fly away and start driving across the country, hiking and kayaking and all that stuff along the way.  Still, that was the deal I had with myself....I'd continue the training, but I was not going to sacrifice my trip, so that's just the way things are and I don't regret that decision.  There have been minor "niggles" and pains that are, in fact, minor, but that hasn't stopped me from freaking out about them, so I've been making trips to physios and massage therapists with my fingers crossed that my travel insurance will cover the cost.  There have been some epic meltdowns and temper tantrums in training (the wind! the rough roads!  the heat! the unfamiliar routes! training alone all the time! I can't take it anymore!), and a lot of times questioning, "why the heck am I doing this?" when I've already sorta accomplished my big goal.

From a ride.  I like it because 1) it reminds me of Madison; and 2) there are no sheep.  What??
But all of these less-than-ideal feelings are normal I think.  I'm glad I have this blog and I'm extra glad that I've been diligent about logging every single one of my workouts, probably in way excessive detail, over the last year-and-a-half since I started working with my coach.   I can look back and see that at this point in my build for my last Ironman, I was pretty much in the same place....tired, cranky, ready to be done, no longer having "breakthrough" workouts but instead just grinding them out.  It's easy to remember those times when everything's going well, but I tend to block out and forget about those inevitable rough patches.  So I'm putting my head down and and just getting through it and trying not to over analyze anything.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel. 
After the race it'll be Cookie Time! (popular brand)
Plus someone, in light of the ridiculous cost of sports nutrition here, very, very kindly shipped me this from the States:

So I guess I better keep on training if I'm going to work my way through that stash.  Or, perhaps I can start selling off gels on the New Zealand black market for the bargain (for here) price of $5 a pop, and use those profits to fund my return flight.  I kind of like that idea (kidding).

In light of the lack of fun stories (you don't want to read about my last six-hour ride that I did, nerve-wrackingly, without a spare bike tube because one of my tires blew out  due to heat while I was driving to the start point, or the time I mistimed my arrival to my favorite pool here and had to circle swim with a group of 7 random Kiwis of differing swim skill and lap-swimming etiquette, that's all interesting to me but not to you), here are just a few New Zealand observations that have amused or interested me and a few random thoughts:
  •  Every place I've been in my travels has been surprisingly tuned into all-things-America (I was particularly struck, when in Europe during the election time, how interested Europeans were in the outcome), but New Zealand often feels like the 51st state.  American shows are on the TV,  U.S. news is news here, too.  The radio is constantly playing songs that are/were popular in the States.  Favorites are Taylor Swift, Pink, Of Monsters and Men (yes, I know they're not American), the Lumineers, and, of course, Bruno Mars (please, please, please for the love of God, make it stop).  I watched the Super Bowl just as you all were, too, except it was Monday afternoon here and that was weird.  And I didn't get the commercials, which diminished the experience significantly.
This is me watching the Super Bowl on a Monday afternoon
  • Kiwis are really laid-back.  I haven't encountered any ridiculous rules, like I saw in the UK (where my local gym would not allow me to use any of my swimming equipment for no discernible reason).  However, there are apparently weird things going on in local locker rooms, as I've seen some of the strangest rules, there: 

  • I won't get political here, but I will say, I have never, ever, once, at any time, felt uncomfortable or unsafe at any place I've been in New Zealand.  I cannot say that about the U.S. (granted, I live in Chicago, but you know). Crime, especially violent crime, is virtually non-existent here.  Working hours seem sane, it's typical for a new mother to get a year of maternity leave, and people's identities aren't as dominated by their careers as at home.  And, wealth distribution is far, far more normalized.  I think it's tough to get really rich in New Zealand, as traditionally "high-power" careers just don't pay as much....but poverty (and the significant problems associated with poverty) is much lower.  Everyone's going to have a different view on whether that's a good way for society to operate, and I'm not telling my view (I'm sure you can guess it, though), but it's interesting, at the very least.
  • I'm pretty good with the driving-on-the-left now, but 5 out of 6 times, I still try to enter the car on the passenger side.  I have a good little "I meant to do that" routine pretty well perfected whereby I pretend to check the tire pressure of the car's front, passenger-side tire, but really, why can't I remember that one?
  • There are no scary animals in New Zealand.  See this cool article.   This makes my Ironman training so much happier. 
  • While scoping out cycling routes and running routes can stress me out, especially when I'm trying to be so good about doing my training right, I actually enjoy finding new pools to swim in as often as I can.  I couldn't sleep the other night, so I counted out the number of pools I've done workouts in since July 1, 2012.  I got to 29.  TWENTY-NINE pools.  That's awesome.  Maybe that's worth it's own blog post (I'm sure you're all right on the edges of your seats in anticipation of that one!).  Here's the latest.  And why I so much enjoy new pools, I do not know.  I am weird. 
This is ancient but a cool shot of Piha Beach which is just outside of Auckland
Adam and Pip, progression of the evening at Piha

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