time for an update.
After a great Christmas visit (thank you Mhairi and Tim for a great week) with family and some time to relax with festive foods I found myself on a plane New Years eve headed to New Zealand.
An experience I have been looking forward to ever since it was mentioned has lived up to the expectation and more.
When you fly into Queenstown, it is a landing you'll never forget. The landing pattern takes place between two mountains that two planes would have trouble squeezing through. Upon arrival Marilyn Adams, team physio extrodinaire, picked Simon, Matt Sharpe, and I up. Climbing the 13k dirt road up to Snow Farm I think we were all thought, "where are we headed here???"
Snowfarm, @ 1600m, is a nordic centre / winter car testing site by winter and an NZ altitude centre / lord of rings / 10,000 BC movie site by summer. Welcomed by some of the NZ crew here we settled into training and the culture quite quickly. Ginger brews and driving on the left went down smoother than pepto.
On the first ride i took down 4 to 5 flies as the jaw hung in awe. The riding is brilliant, amongst others we've climbed the highest sealed road in NZ up Coronet Peak, a 4.5hr Crown Range Loop each sunday, and a windy windy out and back towards the wild west coast.
Running up at the farm is ideal. The surface is soft dirt with almost a 'tar sand' feel (possible exploration?? patent pending). Loops within loops within loops that can be done. You could literally choose loops from 15' to 2h30. Down from the farm the running is unreal. Whether along lake wanaka or lake Wakatipu in Queenstown you have hundreds of km of trails to run on. Today we ran West Wakatipu which included flat shoreline, single track pine forest, rolling gravel golf course, and rugged bluffs.
Swims have been at the Wanaka pool and wetsuit in the lake. The lake has given us varied conditions from glassy to ridiculous chop. Having to change your stroke over these varied conditions has been great practice. We did have one swim that took place at a Hippie Commune which i might take back. Many had quite the battle with that pool, including scars to show from the cheese grating lane ropes. For me it got personal with the pool quite quickly. I began to personify the ropes, the walls, the bottom which had no black line, as they were all 'out to get me'. With 7k on the board the pool had plenty of time to get under my skin and have me tap out. By 4k i had experienced all that it could throw at me. Over the last K it was quite rewarding to rub it in the pools face I must say.
Perhaps the best part of this camp has been the ability to see how these kiwi's and dutch train. A common difference to N.American programs is that the training is done without compromise. The hours in the day are there to simply get the work done.
The volume here is higher. Weekly totals I thought were unreachable are routine to them. There is no fear in 'overtraining'. I could write on and on about the differences i've seen, but the last thing i'll mention is the approach. With the amount of hours done here, the only way I see the athlete accomplishing the training and hungry for more is by it being enjoyable. With ever-present banter amongst the group, the miles click by. It is a job and they enjoy it.
When within a 20m radius of Kris Gemmell, you've got a comedy club, gossip girl, and trivia pursuit 24/7.
It's no secret that companies research how to improve their employees job satisfication. The more you enjoy your job, the more productive you become.
This Friday we will all be racing the Tri NZ Wanaka Contact Sprint Cup. Nicknamed 'The Doddsy International' from local NZ international Tony Dodds, the race will take place at 8pm in front of Friday night pubs along the lakefront. Cannot wait for this one!