Amelia Rose Watkinson - The Last Month of Contiki

February jipped us a little with its mere 28 days, but the month still managed to be busy enough that I needed to scroll through my iPhone photos for a memory jogger to write my blog post. Spent in Auckland, Queenstown, Greymouth, Christchurch, Wanaka, Bangkok and Phuket. It was another month of getting in some big kilometres, lots of gym work, a few hard sessions for Challenge Wanaka but the undertone was enjoying that it’s still early season. Since making the decision we needed to find a home (Noosa to be) it sort of feels like a countdown until we get there (27days). Not that I’m not fully enjoying a couple more months of gypsyish lifestyle. It's just a bit like waiting for Monday to roll around before you start your healthy eating plan.

Auckland

I spent a good chunk of time at Mums house in Westmere. It's comforting going back to your family home, you sort of just know how everything works. I got in quite a few solid bunch rides, where I was reminded how hard you accidentally work just to keep up (beats a solo interval session), also showed Alex some of my favourite old run routes, even if its 5 laps of the dog park so your shoulder stays in its socket.

I was pleasantly surprised that the local bakery still does the best ciabatta rolls out. Though I am enjoying getting creative with salads; it's a good challenge to pick 5+ veggies, 1-2 grains or beans, some seeds, spices and homemade dressing and see what you can come up with. I did my annual postage mail read, it featured my student loan account which despite my compulsory payments for the last 5 years, has increased due to my overseas borrower interest rate. After this news I did have a really good run session, which is my new favourite; 2x(5x2min) hill repeat efforts, where you have to get further each time and back to the bottom in 2min also.

South Island

One of Alex’s friends asked us to be his support crew for Coast to Coast so we headed south for a couple weeks and included Challenge Wanaka the weekend after. Coast to Coast is a pretty epic combination of trail running, road cycling and kayaking and has actually been on my bucket list since before I did triathlon. Despite it being summer we managed to score ourselves a 5-degree night in Waddington, it wasn’t so bad as our Airbnb house had a potbelly fireplace and we had marshmallows. For a couple of nights before the race, half a dozen of us stayed at a Chapel converted into a backpackers lodge, it wasn’t until a signup list was pinned to the toilet door the night before the race, that the owner informed us there was more than one toilet. It was inspiring watching a 12hr race day from the other side of the fence for a change, but I also felt I earnt my post-race fish burger and chips just as much being a spectator.

Wanaka doubled as National half distance Champs so a key race on the NZ calendar. We managed to find a mini Mazda that squeezed in two of us and our luggage for $24 a day and got over the crown range. We’ve developed a bit of a tradition to try the local beer pre-race and can recommend the Wanaka Beerworks Jabberwocky pale Ale or if you like a coffee flavoured stout that's apparently good too. Even though I’m a New Zealander (though a south islander will probably tell you that the north island doesn’t count) the natural beauty down there meant I did find myself taking just as many photos of the landscape as the tourists.

Amelia Rose Watkinson with pro field Wanaka 2018

Race day; it had been pure sunshine for the past month with such huge highs (35degs) that the airport had to close for a day. Yet race day threw us a speciality, with cold fronts and rain (not my thing). I’m really struggling on my start speed and hyperventilating at the moment, especially in cold water, I found myself in no-mans land until the last 500m where I managed to catch someone's feet, exiting the water 4th. I went to trouble of putting on cycling gloves in T1 which definitely turned out a worthwhile move, as I was still cold 30km in, when Laura Siddall also came past, I managed to hold on for another 20km or so but I was a bit of a wuss on the down hills and the wooden over bridges and had a lonely day on the bike. The sun and a nice spectator vibe came out for the run. I was in 3rd, with Annabel Luxford and Laura 2mins up the road, although with a 1 lap trail run I didn’t know the split. I ran consistently but nothing special and held my place. Was awesome to hear about a sprint finish for 1st and 2nd in both the men and women's race at the finish line. Happy to get a spot on the podium and to be first Kiwi home. Special thanks to Matt and Tanya for taking us in for the week, and Sofie for my handmade congratulations card.

Thailand

The following weekend was Tri-league Bangsaen Tri. We needed to head back to Phuket to collect our stuff anyway so this was perfectly timed. As expert packers by now, we loaded our carry-ons up with everything small and heavy including my helmet stuffed with gels which totally counts as a laptop bag. A mini goal this year is to reach Qantas Gold status, so I don’t have to hold half the weight of my bike bag when it's on the scales to avoid pay exorbitant excess luggage rates. The key excitement when arriving was a Thai massage, I had a lady that must’ve been in her 60s, it's not often you need to take your poker face to a massage, but she was getting great pleasure out of pushing harder if I made any sign of a grimace.

These races always turn it into a party with serious strobe lighting, music, coconuts and pad thai at the finish line and soft toys as part of the finisher medals. Fully closed roads and literally 100s of monkeys on the run course, hanging off power lines and stealing aid station water cups made this a stand out from the crowd kinda race. I also really had to push the limits, with 500m till the finish the camera mans facial expression changed, I turned around and Dimity was only a couple of meters behind me, I managed to find a little bit of extra leg speed from somewhere and held the win. Next year its got the contract to be a 70.3 race.

To finish the month its back to what’s been home away from home for the last two years - Phuket. The simple way of life here is nice to come to for training camps and Thanyapura has everything you need from a training facility. They say there are only 3 seasons in Thailand the cool, hot and rainy. March is the start of the hot, great for us less good for the farmers. We came back to a cleaned and reorganised (including all our washing perfectly folded) apartment (thanks, Nui). My Thai style scooter still started. The Local market was on to fill the fridge with fresh mangos, watermelon, papaya and a heap of veggies. And its back to rice and eggs for breakfast.

I also wanted to share a page from my current book;

“and that's why I asked you to come to this room today - the Michelangelo Room. He was quite an impressive man, I’ve discovered.” …. “…one of his organising principles as an artist was his realisation that many magnificent masterpieces began as raw blocks of marble. But through daily carving and sculpting with a steady hand and a dedicated eye, through endless industry and toil, this raw material could evolve into a sight to behold, a true work of art.” “A true wonder of the world,” I added. “Right. Michelangelo once said that “The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.’ But the real key to his greatness, I believe,” observed Julian, “was his remarkable capacity to execute on his own vision. He was a man of action. He recognised that is is not enough to dream big dreams and to think great thoughts. The heart of life mastery lies in doing whatever it takes to bring the dream to life.”… ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma.

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