I’ll go back to the start.  I came out to train in Christchurch, New Zealand with the Dutch national team in January.  My camp didn’t exactly get off to the start I had wanted after picking up an illness on the plane ride over.  I managed to get over that sickness but my training suffered.  I tried to ease back into it slowly but that’s tricky when your healthy, young , training partners are pushing you around every corner, kilometer, meter!.  After a couple weeks post sickness, we raced an ITU points race in Kinloch on the North Island.  It was my first trip to Taupo/Rotarua and it was geological heaven—volcanoes, geysers, pumice floating in the lake.  As for the race, it was what it was.  My swim was controlled and front pack, my legs protested the entire ride and my run was not great due to the way my legs were feeling on the bike!  In hindsight, it was a descent race for early season and coming off being sick.

Next we returned to Chch for another block of solid training.  Then on it was off south to Wanaka on Feb 18thfor some altitude training at a facility called the snowfarm.  In the winter it is a XC ski hill, with tracks contoured into the hills…Richard and I may have to come back in the winter to test them out with snow on them!  We had only been here for a couple days when the earth moved violently in Chch.  Our little home away from home was in rocked to the core. 

It was really sobering to realize that we were downright lucky not to have been in the city at the time of the quake.  Our house was rocked good, the roads we rode on were destroyed, the harbor town where we swam was at the epicenter of the quake and destroyed, and the slopes we ran on are now unstable.  Our coach went back to be with his wife and see if he could help out as well as check on our little yellow house in New Brighton.  After a couple days, the rest of the Kiwi Chch athletes started to arrive, Chch was clearly not fit for any form of training and many of them were very shaken and hadn’t slept in a few days.  Coach returned to us a few days later with his wife and some of our gear that we had left in the house.  We also had a sit down and talked about everyone’s experiences with the quake (from witnessing the horrors in the CBD, to being thrown down a cliff while out running!)  and how they were coping.   It has been a time of sadness—In Chch, we had created a little community of friends and support, for our last night in town we had athletes, massage therapists, coaches and new friends over to our house for a BBQ, I guess it was a fitting farewell to our house and the city as we had come to know it.  There has been a lot of uncertainty with the plans going forward, but as they say, the show must go on. 

One week after the quake, there was a national 2’ of silence at 12:51pm (the time the quake hit).  We happened to be on a bike ride and stopped on the side of the road for 2 minutes; the girls, our coaches, and a random stranger all stood in circle together and remembered the lives lost and lives forever altered and how lucky we were to be away from the devastation at the time.  I found it quite emotional and it put life into perspective.  After those quite moments, we began the 45’ climb up the Crown Range road back to the snow farm.  My mind was deep in thought the whole climb and before I knew it, I was on the top.  Perspective is everything.

Now, my plans have changed a little.  Next week, we move down the mountain, then it’s time for a little heat training with the Lifesport crew in Noosa, where I’ll stay until the first World Championship race in Sydney.  After that, it’s still being worked out.  Returning to Chch is not an option, so the plan has to be revised.

That’s all for now–below are some pictures of our Chch house, post quake, John saving our race wheels from the wreckage…on bike no less, and pictures from the Wanaka area. 


The stairs going upstairs, note the cracks in the wall!


The front room of the house, the fireplace is pushed inside and cracked


Our kitchen...I swear we cleaned before we left!!


A rock fall on a car, on the way to John's house


John saving our "valuables" by bike!

New Zealand 2011 093

A view from above...the road down from the Snowfarm

New Zealand 2011 098

The contours of the XC ski tracks, great for running!

New Zealand 2011 107

Mount Aspiring from across the valley

New Zealand 2011 101

A calm day on lake Wanaka

Will keep you posted on any changes in the training and racing schedules.