After 142k on the Central Otago Rail Trail, we landed in Alexandra, where Vanessa Smith, who we met on the Routeburn Track, lives. We were warmly greeted by Vanessa, Simon and their 3 kids, Sophie, Ruby and Max. Over the next week plus, we were spoiled, fed, housed and entertained like family in town for a catered vacation.
Alexandra is an awesome quiet little town along the Clutha River down-stream from Cromwell and Wanaka. Alexandra has some fantastic trails along the river and in the mountains that surround the town. Alexandra has a very dry (700ml annual average rainfall) and sunny climate afforded them by being in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps. Just on the other side of these mountains, not 80K away, is a full on rain forest(where we are now). Alexandra, along with Wanaka, is the most active, outdoor oriented, “cool” towns we have been to in New Zealand. Missing from this list is Queenstown, which is just too much of a teenaged campervan circus, despite its phenomenal mountain surroundings.
Here is just a sampling of the laundry list of fantastic things the Smiths spoiled us with:
-Fresh, local, delicious cherries from their neighbor’s tree
-TWO magnificent steak dinners (to include phenomenal wine, world famous “whitebaite” and desserts) at Simon’s parent’s beautiful house
-Catered camping on the lake
-Waterskiing and tubing on the family boat
-A ride on Simon’s buddies Jet Boat
-A ride to a track along the lake for a run
-A mountain bike ride (on his spare awesome Mtn Bike) with Simon and his buddies
-Housing, showers, food and a bed to sleep for multiple nights
-Dropping us and all of our gear via a trailer to re-start our bike tour from where we left off
We felt like we were on a vacation/holiday… from our holiday. We are forever grateful for the generosity, friendship and effort the Smith’s gave to really show us a magnificent time. We plan on meeting up with the Smiths at the end of February to watch Simon and his partner Doug, compete at the New Zealand national championships in Twizel. Simon, along with being one hell of a cool guy, is a phenomenal rower that is beating up on all the young guys in New Zealand .
Easy run along the river for 45 minutes; 50k bike tour.
Biked 8k up to Blue Pools, for a tempo workout on the trails to and then up the Young river in Aspiring National Park. Felt pretty good, but the trail was fairly rough so I didn’t go “tempo” pace, rather tempo effort for 5.5 miles. Biked 60k to Hasst.
9 mile easy run from Hasst village to Hasst Beach. 50K bike.
Thursday- Easy recovery run. 50k bike.
5th week of Jack Daniel’s speed workout with plyos. Did 5 sets of 400, 400, 200, with equal distance recovery (walk half, jog half). Did 2 sets of plyos after the 1st and 3rd intervals sets.
My splits on the paved road for the 400s were between 71 and 73 and between 34 and 36 for the 200s. I was faster and felt better than the previous speed session, which is encouraging. 2 more weeks of this workout.
I hitched a ride from Fox for 30K to the start of the Copeland Track to do my long run. After getting to know some climbing guides who gave me a ride, I was off and running up to the Welcome Flat hot pools… in the rain. The run up to the hot pools was 18k of rainforest running. The track crosses a river right at the start and then meanders up the river through amazing forests. The track had tons of water crossings and a lot of up and down rough trail. For the most part, the track wasn’t as muddy as I would have thought, which was a nice surprise. The going was slow as there was a lot of tricky footing along stretches of the trail that was on the river bed, climbing through dense, rocky forest and then quite a few bridges over creeks.
After 2 hours and change, I made the 30 person hut at Welcome Flat, to find that no one was home and furthermore, no one was in the hot pools… something that never, never happens at hot pools back home. I enjoyed the tranquil soak as the clouds thinned a bit to reveal the stunningly steep mountains draped with waterfalls and snow fields. There were two or three pools and it didn’t appear there was much damning or digging to create the pools, which is pretty neat. On the way out, I did run into the hut warden, had a short conversation and was on my way down. I felt really good on this long run besides not having enough Vitargo for the last hour of the 4 hour run.
I am encouraged by this week’s running. I am coming to terms with the fact that I need to cut the volume of my recovery runs to maintain quality hard workouts and a long run while biking 40-80K almost every day. The speed session was quality this week and it felt good to do a longer 4 hour run as well.