Friday, May 25, 2012

The last days...

(The Opera House, Sydney) My time in Australia has come to an end. I depart in just a few hours back to Auckland for the finals days of my trip. The last couple of weeks have been relaxing and I am ready to get back to life in North Vancouver. I am over joyed to be seeing Peter and my family again. Really looking forward to that pancake breakfast Jules! The last time I wrote I was heading back to the Blue Mountains with Gretel and her mom Greta, for the North Face 100km. This is probably Australia's largest (in #'s) ultra marathon with around 1000 people taking part. You can do the whole thing solo or do it as a relay, 50km per person. I got to see a lot of familiar faces from back in March when I did the Tarawera 100km.
(Me, Amy, And Vicki, the 3 podium girls from the Tarawera 100km) Many were racing and I couldn't help but think about what it would have been like if I were in fact healthy enough to toe the line this day. However, I was here for Gretel and was more than happy to be making her the focus of the day. Over the course of the weekend, we had the opportunity to spend some relaxing time wondering the streets of Leura and Katoomba, 2 beautiful little parts of the Blue Mountains. Both these small communities have amazing window shopping and a large selection of cafes. Sadly, Gretel ended up getting sick quite early on in the race and pulled out around 40km. I know this was a big race for her and she had big expectations and was very dissapointed to be pulling out. However, she is such a champion and we both spent the rest of the day cheering on her Salomon teammates. I am really looking forward to following her success over the summer and into the fall as she has some amazing races ahead.
My running has been consistant, perhaps a little too consistant. I seem to have done something to my right foot...again. The feeling feels all too similiar to when I fractured it 2 years ago. It all began when I decided to run to the zoo during my stay in Manly, which took about 80 minutes and after I was done walking around the zoo for 3.5 hours, it was quite sore. I thought it was sore from having been on my feet the whole day. However, when it was still sore the following day, I knew something was off. It seems as though every summer for the last few years I have been faced with injury and it is becoming increasingly all too familiar and quite frustrating, especially when I'm on this awesome trip! It's hard to imagine why this has happened over here because although I have been running most days, my runs hardly exceed an hour. Luckily, I have an appointment scheduled with my sport med doctor the day I get back and hopefully I figure if it is indeed a stress fracture or not. In the meantime, this will give me the chance to get back on my mountain bike (when I get back home) and do some much needed cross-training! Thanks again to the Fortmann family for letting me stay at your amazing residence for the last 3 weeks. I am going to take so many amazing memories away from this experience and time spent here. Thea, Gretels younger sister, taught me how to make Cinnamon raisin bread and oh my it's delicious. In fact, I have loaf in the midst of rising right now! In Auckland, I am going to be stay with a couple, Andrew Howse, and Amy Campbell. Amy came in right behind me at the Tarawera 100km and I think Andrew came 6th overall. They have generously offered up their home to me and I'm looking forward to visiting my favorite little organic bakery in Parnell, which is where they live. I hope this blog posts finds you all well and safe travels to Gretel as she heads to the Czech Republic today to live & work with Jan, her boyfriend, for the summer.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Alright, so apparently it's catch up time as it was ages ago that I was in Hamner Springs. After I departed Hamner, I spent one night in Kaikoura. I went for a nice sunset walk, had dinner, and was gone the next morning. I ended up hitchhiking to Picton which is on the North end of the South Island. Along the way I saw baby seals and simply enjoyed the amazing coast line. Picton is home to the Queen Charlotte Track which is one of the great walks. Once there, I quickly made plans and departed for the track the next morning. The great thing about this track is that there was a boat that brought me my bag with all my food/clothing to my pre-booked accommodation so all I had to bring was a day pack (or running pack in my case). I got dropped of at Ship cove and hiked and ran about 30km the first day. The track was stunning and the views were amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better day. This night I stayed at a homestay with a lady named Noeline, who is this 81 year old wonderwoman. She houses people (up to 6/night) for 9.5 months of the year and uses all the money she gets from that and travels for the other 9.5 weeks. The next morning was just as beautiful but I decided to get off the track this night instead of staying another night. I did about 55-60km of the 71km track and was very satisfied with the venture. Getting off the track a day early meant I could get a head start on heading to Nelson and seeing part of the Abel Tasman track. Again, I hitchiked to Nelson and stayed at the sister hostel to the one I had just been staying at. The beauty of this hostel and the main selling feature was that they served hot chocolate pudding and vanilla ice cream every night. Wow! Simply heavenly I tell you! The Abel Tasman track was the closest I have ever been to Paradise. There were so many white sand beaches with turquoise blue waters and it was just one WOW after WOW. Words can't describe the beauty so I will leave it at that. I ran a lot of the track today and it felt so good to let the legs go. I just did 28km of the 55km track but I don't think I really missed out on much as the scenery is pretty similar all the way along. The following day I took a bus to Christchurch and I would be on the bus for the majority of the day. There was a drunk guy on the bus which made the ride very entertaining, until he got kicked off. My friend James, who I meant weeks prior in Taupo, came and picked me up and I stayed with him for the next 2 nights. He took me all around Christchurch the next day. I got to see the "red zone" which is what remains of the city center- nothing- complete destruction. It's really sad what happened over there. However, it was Anzac day (public holiday) and it was nice to see people out and about, smiling, laughing and having fun. I would fly to Melbourne the next day. I landed safely in Melbourne and before I knew it I was letting myself into my cousins flat in the CBD (central business district). This flat could be described as the ultimate bachelor pad and had a killer view. I quickly went for a run to get my barrings and before I knew it I was at a free yoga class at the local lululemon. It was nice to finally have a home base for more than a few days and it was great getting to catch up with my cousin Jordan. On the weekend we took a trip over to Philip Island where we went Go Karting (I drove like an old lady), saw the most amazing little wild penguins, went to a wicked Italian restaurant and finished the night off with some bowling. Jordan is training for a marathon at the end of the month and having joined him on a few runs, I think he is more than ready to kick the Ottawa marathon right in the mouth (anchorman). I then took a train to spend the next 3 weeks with my good friend Gretel. I have been fortunate to call her family home my home and they have been such a pleasure to get to know. Not only is her family incredibly full of character, they are loving, and cook up some amazing food! Most mornings are spent with a morning run, followed directly by an ocean dip and a great cup of coffee at the local coffee shop. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to spend time with them in the Blue Mountains my first weekend there as Gretel's parents had rented a house in Blackheath. Gretel and I went for heeps of runs, hikes with the fam, ate like queens, and embraced some R&R. I saw my first python which was lying beautifully on a rock wall next to the trail. This snake was not poisonous but I was more than happy to move quickly passed it as snakes are just not my thing! After saying goodbye to Gretel's boyfriend Jan, who sadly had to go back to the Czech Republic, we took off to Thea's (sister) boyfriend's family's farm. This was a real treat and I did/saw a lot of new things here. The first day Nick took me into the fields and showed me all the wild kangaroos that hang out there. There is just nothing quite like a kangaroo and it's just mind blowing to see them hop about. The next day I got to shoot my first rifle- I think my brother would be proud :) And lastly, on the last day we picked grapes straight off the vine (with Nick's family) which they will send somewhere to be made into wine. Nick, Thea's boyfriend is Lebanese and we got to sample a lot of traditional Lebanese style foods. We arrived in Manly, a surf/beach town near Sydney yesterday because today ,Gretel had a Salomon meet and greet/gear testing with Ryan Sandes and the Australian Salomon team. It was fun to take part and meet a lot of new people. Thanks to Gretel's aunt and uncle for letting us stay at their house here in Manly! Gretel has since gone back home and I am staying here in Sydney for a few days solo to explore the CBD and the surrounding area. This weekend we will head back up to the Blue Mountains where I will crew Gretel for the North Face 100km race. Another noteworthy thing to add is that the weather here has been extremely phenomenal- it's kind of blowing my mind. With everything said though, I am really looking forward to being back home in North Vancouver. I miss everyone dearly and can't wait to catch up with friends and family very soon! See you on the trails!