Friday, April 15, 2011

I am off to NZ!!!

I can't believe how quickly time has flown. I left NZ mid-February and was missing it SO much, more with every passing day. But the time has come for me to return -- I'm flying back to NZ (ChCh) tomorrow morning and I will be spending 2.5 weeks in the beautiful South Island. I'll revisit my home (Wanaka) for a couple days, but also traipse around the island, hike, mtn bike, run my heart out. I'll live in a campervan, wake up to sunrise wherever I choose to park and soak up the beauty that is New Zealand.

I've fallen in love with this country and I know it'll be my future home; I plan on returning Dec 2011, first on a working holiday visa and then either getting sponsored to stay or doing a masters there. Either way, it's the country I can truly call "home".

Wanaka, here I come!!
Town of Wanaka at the southern base of the lake. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Quiet on the home front...

It has been pretty quiet on the home front lately. I've actually had to sit down and *gasp* study these last 2 weeks. There's been minimal traveling. But I did have 2 successful long runs, both this week and last. Long runs are the epitome of freedom. I know I'll be out on the trails (or roads) for several hours, and I always try to make them into mini-adventures.

Last weekend, a group of friends and I went to Torquay, a surf spot about 1.5 hours outside of Melbourne. They all (attempted to) surf and I went for a glorious long run under moody clouds and ferocious winds.

The run started in Torquay, along the beach. Windy, cloudy... very very moody!!

I take the most unflattering photos of myself, but look
at my braids, it was so windy I was being choked by
my own hair!

Here I cut inwards into a bay, where the waters were calm. This is
the sunniest it ever got. But it was pretty cool, the water looked
like it glistened!

Once I had cut inland, I passed an amusement park/golf course
of some sort. They had these fabulous painted wood creatures.
I had to get a photo with them!
I had been in a bit of a rush to start my run and had completely forgotten to put on sunblock. It's cloudy, you say? In Australia, IT DOESN'T MATTER. You will get ferociously sunburnt (and even more so in New Zealand). The strong sun and the ozone hole really do a number on your skin. It's something that is actually quite worrying. I've been wearing sun block religiously but every so often the sun out-strengthens my sun shield (yes, it is just like a battle), and I get another unnecessary and damaging dose of UV rays. It's noticeable here... when I moved over to Australia, and then New Zealand, I noticed that people aged quicker than their Northern Hemisphere counterparts (even those living in the deep south). The sun is STRONG, and even if it doesn't feel like it's beating down on you, trust me those UV rays are still hitting you hard. I'm indeed quite worried about the state of my skin - many many freckles and sunspots have popped up on my arms, face, and legs but even more dramatic is the gentle lining of new wrinkles. I'm 22, how is this possible???? So if I intend on moving over here permanently (which I do indeed plan to do, December 2011 will be my permanent return to NZ), I'll have to take skin protection very very seriously. Now, back to pretty pictures!

This is the last one from my Torquay run. There are many small
inlets from creeks, streams and tiny rivers linking inland water
to the ocean along the Great Ocean Rd. This was just one of them.  
This week's long run had me on home ground in Melbourne for the first time in months. I wanted to head over to Yarra Bend park and catch the flying foxes in action. In Melbourne, in one of the last urban forests of the city, is a massive flying fox (think large bat) roosting colony. And by massive, I mean MASSIVE: thousands of them! They make grumpy sounds all day long, and they look like upside down hanging bags of flesh. When you are under them looking up, they stare back at you with their big eyes. I have a very active imagination, and I was really quite certain that they'd all echo-communicate with each other to swoop down and drag me off to their lair. Having studied them a bit in some ecology classes here, I know they don't have a lair... but the danger felt very very real. Photos below.

Before entering the park. Notice the graffitied sign - it doesn't
make sense, but cyclists rarely are sensible, especially if they
are of the mountain biking variety. 

Look at them bats! They're huge!

This is where they swoop down and kill me!

I tried to get a photo of myself AND the bats, but all I got was
this blurry shot. Lame. Notice the bugs that died all over my arms and neck. I can't be the only one that this happens to!
Anyway, all in all my swimming and running have been progressing well. I'm getting stronger, and I can feel it. My biking, on the other hand, has always been a struggle and although I'm pushing my limits and getting to be quite a good climber, I just can't handle my own or find that "second gear" on the flats, or on windy days. The discrepancy between my swim/run strength and my bike strength is massive, and I DON'T KNOW WHY. It's easy to just blame the bike, but I never never never blame the bike. Something else must be going on, and I intend to find out. I'm sure it's a combination of not having been in the saddle long enough (2 years now), and that I'm a girl and massive bike legs just won't come as easily. It don't matter -- I'm going to stick with it and be a cycling BEAST one of these days.