Saturday, March 14, 2015

Man vs. Food Hawaii Style!!

'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' asked his phone where the top 10 places were to eat in Honolulu and we choose the first one that was still open. It was also on the show Man vs. Food, so we figured it had to be good right?! ;)
It wasn't too far from the airport, which was great because we were all starving! It was a really nice restaurant. David decided he was going to attempt the Man Vs. Food challenge- which was eating three HUGE pancakes with toppings. He picked the Elvis version of pancakes which had a peanut butter syrup and 3 banana's on top- no joke! The plate was so heavy I couldn't even lift it off the table!!

'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' and I both ordered regular regular sized, boring dishes off of the menu. But he Did say that his Ramen with Spam was the best evr! ;)
 He gave it great try but barely made it a third of the way through. It was a beast! I can't believe there's been people who have actually finished it before!! 
We hung out at the restaurant for a  little while and then drove around. We went up this HUGE, super steep hill through a neighborhood and the view at the top was awesome!

At this point, it was about 1:00am and we had nothing else to do. I was falling asleep, and they were both tired. We decided to go back to the airport and 'try' to sleep in the car. It was extremely difficult to get into a position where we could sleep because the car was so full of luggage. The entire trunk area and backseat were full-- and I was having to sit in the back seat holding 2 backpacks. And since the backseat was so full neither of the boys in front could recline.

I remember dozing off and 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' saying he was getting out of the car to sleep on a nearby beach so he could lay down- we were totally those people at the airport. ;)

Eventually, the sun started coming up and we unloaded the car, returned the keys, and made our way back into the airport. We got checked in and tried to sleep a little more before our flight.

Back on a plane, I think I tried to watch a movie but just kept falling asleep. I felt like I blinked and they were telling us we were beginning our descent into LAX.

We arrived, got our luggage, met Jamie and Todd who arrived 2 minutes after we did, got our mini van rental car, and loaded the car again for the last time (!!) and started the 5 hour drive back to Phoenix.

We got to Jamie's house (where all our cars were) about 10pm and then had another hour drive home from there.

I was so happy to get home and not be in a car or plane! We took showers and passed out- it felt great to sleep in our bed again.
Someone was super excited to see us when we got back! :)

*Have you ever done a food challenge? 

*What's your favorite thing about coming home from vacation? 

Traveling day from hell...

We finally found a place to stay in Auckland- apparently a band named 'The Eagles' were doing a concert and every single place was sold out. ;)

Once we got there, and unloaded the van (such a process with 5 bike boxes, 5 heavy suitcases, and 5 backpacks! I am so ready to be done hauling everything!) it was pretty late and the only thing we could find for food was McDonald's- we literally drove around for over 45 minutes and couldn't find a single restaurant! We ate back at the hotel and went to sleep- knowing we had a long day ahead of us when we woke up....

Once everyone was up and we loaded up the van- AGAIN! we made our way to the airport. Jamie and Todd were on a different flight later on so they dropped the 3 of us off curbside.

The struggle of trying to keep the bike box, suitcase, and backpack all balanced on one of those airport carts in a busy airport was SO infuriating!

When we reached the baggage check everything rapidly went downhill.... We printed out our boarding passes and luggage tags and when we went to drop our bags off they told us our bags were too heavy and we had to go wait in a line (that was extremely long). Okay- no problem. We waited in line for what seemed like forever, and had to pay $300 dollars for both of our bike boxes being over the limit, and then I had to pay another $100 for them being over because we were flying 2 separate airlines and they both charged for it. (At this point, I was frustrated. We had being dealing with this for well over an hour and our plane was going to start boarding soon. Not to mention, I did not anticipate the extra charge and we had no problem getting the bikes here. It's not like our bikes gained any wight while on vacation...)
We then made our way back to the baggage drop, and they informed us that our suitcases now were too heavy and wanted to send us back to the line to pay- the same price we just paid.
This is where I went Joey from 'Friends' and opened my suitcase and started putting on every piece of clothing in the middle of the airport. Yup! I was not about to pay another $400 dollars in bag fees. The man sent us back over to the line, where we spoke to the same sweet lady who understood our frustration and though that $800 in bag fees was a bit excessive- we aggreed. She decided to wave her airline fees and only charge us for the second airlines fees (which she couldn't control) if we promised her that if we ever came back to New Zealand we would fly Air New Zealand again. We laughed as we agreed, and told her we were already planning to come back in 2017.
She left her desk and walked us over to a special bag drop and made sure our bags got accepted. FINALLY!! We thanked her a MILLION times and then quickly ran through the airport to our gate. We made it right before they started boarding, thanks gosh!!
The whole flight I napped and watched movies, watched more movies and napped. It was great. We had lunch and dinner on the plane and both meals were surprisingly really, really good- especially the dessert!!

We finally arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii at 9:30 pm. We made our way through customs and had to retrieve our luggage and then drop it off with the next airlines. Since it was so late, the airport was pretty dead and we had no problem dropping the bags off- YAY!!
We had a 9 hour layover, so we figured we would get some food and maybe go to the beach.

((When we initially purchased the tickets back from New Zeland, we purposely stopped in Hawaii because my mom lives there and we figured we could hang out with her and it was a lot cheaper. But my mom had to travel to Arizona for work- so she wasn't there. huge bummer!!))

As we took our bikes over to the 'oversized' area, we asked some of the workers where to go for some good food. They gave us a few suggestions and we thanked them as we headed out to catch a taxi. As we were walking out, the airlines lady came chasing after us saying our flight wasn't until tomorrow morning. We told her it left at 6:30am the next day. She told us we could not drop the bags off since it wasn't the same day. So much for leaving and getting food....

She gave us all of our luggage and bike boxes back and we were- once again, struggling to balance everything on those tiny airport carts! If we had a nickel for every time everything fell off the carts we would have been able to pay all the baggage fees and upgrade to first class!! We were exhausted, hungry, and lost.

We asked some locals how close the nearest food was, and they told us there was a McDonald's about a mile away. David offered to make the trek and bring us back something- but we just had McDonald's and it would have been cold by the time he got back. We thought we were for sure stuck at the airport for 9 hours with no food (the airport completely closes down at night, and there was nothing open).

We decided to go down to ground level and see if we could find anything to help our situation.  Getting in an elevator with the tiny carts was damn-near impossible! David went first and the bike boxes would not fit in on the cart- so you had to take it off, quickly put it in the elevator and then wheel the cart with you suitcase on it in- all while wearing your backpack. We helped him shove everything in as the doors closed.
'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' went next and it was a shitshow at best. The cart would not go over the lip to get into the elevator. So we tipped it up and got it in, I shoved the suitcase in and he heaved his over-the-limit bike box in. We took too long and it started beeping at us only making the situation worse.
He finally shuffled in with his bike box and the door closed. I prepared to load my elevator, hit the down button again, and waited.
Almost instantly, 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter's' elevator doors reopened and he quickly starts scurrying out.

Standing there confused, I ask him what he's doing and he looks up shocked to see me and not David. Realizing he hadn't gone anywhere, hee said a few choice words before shoving stuff back in the elevator. I immediately starting laughing at the situation, and once he was back in the elevator I reminded him to hit the button and he shouted for me not to touch anything as the doors closed.
I literally could not stop laughing for the rest of the night about this, only to upset 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' who did not find the situation funny at all.

I waited a few minutes and then finally made my way down the elevator as well. We got there, and there was nothing- no taxi's, shuttles, nothing.

I saw a rental car place and said we should just rent a car. The boys seemed shocked at that idea and 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' headed over to check out how much it would be while David and I wrangled the luggage as it kept sliding down the sloped sidewalk.

'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' returned so fast, I thought for sure they had been closed or he got turned down. He said they had a SUV and would charge us $60 dollars. To be able to get food and not have to stay at the airport, I would have paid double!

*What's the worst thing that has ever happened to while traveling? 

*What's the best?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Glow little glowworm!

Happy Friday the 13th!!

Today we sadly had to check out of the Rainbow Hostel and head back to Auckland (we fly out tomorrow morning). BUT on the way to Auckland we took a fun little detour to the Glowworm Caves!!
From their website
When we first decided we were going to New Zealand, I started browsing through Pinterest for fun activities, ideas, places, things to do while we were there. One of the first things that came up wasThe above picture of the Glowworm cave and I immediately thought it was fake. (I mean- does that picture look real to you?!)

After several different pins kept popping up, I finally decided to click on it and was totally shocked when I realized it was a real place! It immediately jumped to the top of my list of things I wanted to do. 
((Funny side story:: We all got together a couple months before leaving to plan out flights, hotels, rental cars, etc. and we started taking about all the things (besides the race) we wanted to do- and everyone brought up the Glowworms Caves!!)

We got to the Glowworms Cave and realized we should have planned to spend an entire day there because they had SO much more than just the Glowworms! (We will definitely be coming back here when we return to New Zealand in 2017!!)
We randomly saw this guy riding a horse and they stopped at the stop sign! haha! 

We bought our tickets for the tour and anxiously awaited our guides arrival- which ended up being slightly delayed because he called and said he had a sheep that got out of the gate and he had to put it back. He apologized, but I thought it was the cutest thing ever! :) (Our guide was actually one of the owners of the caves- technically, his son owns it and he works for his son- haha!!)

((Fun fact:: In New Zealand, when you purchase land you own that land to the earths core. So if you happen to buy land, and realize there's a huge cave underneath it- it's yours! (And that's what happened to his son! Isn't that crazy?!?!)
We all piled into a van and made our way to caves. There was no one else on our tour- so it was really like a private tour and our guide was AMAZING! 

((Fun fact:: we passed a field of bulls and the guide told us that if a farmer ever has aggressive bulls that fight, they will put a billy goat in the field with them. Billy goats will not tolerate fighting and will nip the 'bully' in the bum with it's horns!! Isn't that the cutest thing?! They're little peacekeepers!!))

We reached the caves and as we were walking in, he showed us the Silver Fern. It's a fern that looks like a regular green tree, but if you turn the leaves upside down the bottom of them are a shiny silver color! Apparently it comes in handy if you ever get lost or need to leave a trail because it's really easy to see with a flashlight at night. 
See how silvery the bottom is?! Crazy!!
Walking down to the caves was unbelievable! There was water dripping down the rocks and moss on the walls.

Once we were finally inside, the guide turned off the lights so our eyes would adjust and we immediately started seeing the little glowworms!! 
Another picture from their website. I decided to use the pictures from their website because this really is what it looked like. All the pictures we took came out like this:
You're welcome! Haha!!

We walked through the cave looking at all the stalactites and stalagmites (which really were amazing) but the glowworms really stole the show. There were MILLIONS of them, everywhere! I loved it!
See the little blue dots in the upper right? More glowworms!! 
At the end, he showed us how they used to light the tours with a huge flair- then let me hold it for the picutre! It was insanely bright!! Once we made our way out of the caves, he lead us to a little gazabo where he gave us tea that they make there using the some of their plants and it's supposed to have a ton of benefits- it was really good too!! 
((Last fun fact:; as we were driving back, he told us that his wife runs a petting farm at their house a mile up the road and the main attraction is a bull that is 24 inches tall! Can you imagine a 2-foot-tall tiny bull?! I wanted to go SO bad, but they were closed))

*Do you like doing touristy things while on vacation? 

*What's your favorite animal?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Is it open yet?!

We went to bed pretty late, but set our alarm for 2:45am....

Why you ask? Well, the half Ironman that we've done the last past 2 years (I think 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' has done it the last three years) was switching to be WTC event (an event sponsored by Ironman) and this was the first year.
Naturally, we all wanted to do it and were excited for the switch (not so excited to the price increase....). Although, there had been SOO much hype about the change and how different it was going to be, we were sure it would sell out shortly after registration opened. (Remember how Ironman Arizona sold out in 40 seconds two years and last year I think it sold out even quicker than that last year!)

So, once we realized that registration opened at 7am (Arizona time), we realized that would be 3am New Zealand time. We set our alarm clock 15 minutes early, to check and see if it opened early.

We all slept with our laptops beside our bed and when the first alarm went off, we all woke up and checked to see if it was open- it wasn't. We set the alarm again for 5 minutes, and began rotating checking to see if it was open. I swear I asked 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' and David if it was open yet over 20 times!!

Finally they said it was and I quickly sat up and tried to register with one eye open while still trying to fully wake up. I swear the little numbers on my credit card shrunk, they were so small. With one eye closed, and the other squinting, I managed to get it entered in and registered for the race!

After that fantastic fiasco, we all tried to go back to bed for another hour before we had to wake up to say goodbye to 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter's' family. They are heading to the South Island of New Zealand for the next 2 weeks to do some killer hiking!
It was barely light out, so we hung out with them while they had some coffee and loaded up the car. Then we sadly said goodbye and headed back to bed....again.

We woke up for good, and just hung out the rest of the day. We had to pack everything back up since tomorrow we head back to Auckland. :( I'm not ready to leave!! But we did all manage to go watch David bungee jump! It was crazy- he actually jumped and got 'dunked' in the water before 'bungee-ing' back up!!

What's the craziest thing you've done to sign up for something? Race, concert, etc. 

Would you ever bungee jump? I don't think I could, I'm too scared of heights! ;)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

13 hour hike!!

Yesterday, we spent a majority of the day breaking down our bikes and packing up. We stayed in a suite at the Hilton the first week, since it was close to the race (it was along the bike course) and the 5 of us would have plenty of room to put bikes together, unpack, get ready for the race, etc. But yesterday we packed up and switched to a hostel. (I know what you're thinking- and I was terrified too.) But it really was nothing what I thought it was going to be. It was run by a bunch of young college kids. There were rooms set up to hold between 3-6 people. We filled 1 room of 3 and Jamie and Todd were the brave ones who bunked with strangers. :)
The rooms were small with twin beds but nice. I imagine it's probably what a dorm room is like, with bathrooms and showers in the hall. We all really enjoyed it! It was $25 dollars for the whole week (and $5 of that was for the Wi-Fi!) and we met a bunch of awesome people doing really cool things. I would highly recommend a hostel in New Zealand- we really couldn't beat the price or location.
But anyways, moving on to today.....

Remember that one time, we did a hike before my brother's wedding and I said it was "Literally the hardest hike I've ever done!"? Well, that hike has officially been changed to "an easy walk in the park!"!!
Today, we all hiked Mount Doom- aka Mordor for any Lord of The Rings fans. ;) It took us 13.5 hours to hike the 9.5 miles. It. Was. Brutal. That being said- it was absolutely gorgeous and I am SO glad that we did it!
The night before, we all packed sandwiches, water and snacks for the hike and woke up early to catch the bus for hikers. (You leave your car parked at the end of the hike, and they bus you over to the start. So you basically go up-and-over the mountain back to your car.)
Once we got there, we set off. We were already completely blown away by the scenery and I couldn't have imagined it getting any better. (Spoiler Alert:: it totally got better!!)

We stopped after about 2 hours and had a snack before beginning the intense part of the hike. Then the real fun began. Since this was a few days after Ironman, I thought I was in pretty decent shape and this wouldn't be anything too difficult- nope! This hike totally reminded me how out of shape I actually was!! I was huffing and puffing the whole time. (Then me and Todd came up with the most brilliant plan I've ever had-- we would "stop to take a picture of the oh-so-beautiful scenery"-- but really, we were just stopping to catch our breaths!! Haha!!
Still going up....
Once we reached the top, it was incredible! The view was amazing- I've never seen anything like it. We were above the clouds. It was awesome! We stopped again, and had another snack and took some group photos before heading down.
From my Instagram
The downhill was probably the hardest part for me. It was so steep at some parts I literally just sat down and slid through the sand down. (Embarrassing- yes, beating the alternative of falling off the mountain- worth it!;) )
Even though the downhill was harder- the view made it worth it. The whole way down we were in 'aw' of everything.
Above the clouds
We made it to the second bathroom and stopped again for more snacks- I completely ran out of snacks and became the mooch of the group.

After a little while longer, the scenery completely changed and it was like we were in a jungle/Forrest. we were surrounded by greenery everywhere- we couldn't even see the sky because of the ginormous trees above us. It was so crazy!
It was at this point we all started getting a little tired/hungry and we were ready to be done. We stopped taking pictures and just kept moving forward talking about how we must be getting close.... any minute now we were see the exit.... any minute now...

We finally, FINE-A-LEE, made it to the parking lot. I don't think I've ever been more excited to see a dirt lot filled with cars! We waited for the rest of the group and then made the drive back to the hostel, tired, dirty, and hungry.

On the way home we stopped at the grocery store and got stuff to cook dinner at the hostel. (The hostel had a large kitchen with several stoves and ovens as well as a grill outside- that took us way too long to get working.) We made a ton of food and everything was SO delicious!
After dinner we were all so exhausted, we hung out for awhile and then went to bed. Only to wake up every few hours.... more on that in the next post. :)

Do you like hiking?

What is your bed time? 

Monday, March 9, 2015

More New Zealand fun!!

We woke up somewhat early today- everyone's still trying to recover from Ironman. Kelcie, 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter's step mom, wanted to check out a geyser that was close by. We all piled into our cars and raced to get there in time to see it go off.

We were running so late, the guy who ran the parking lot waved us through and told us to come back to pay or else we would miss it. So we quickly parked, and RAN to get there in time. Once we got to the area- thinking we were late, we waited around for a few minutes waiting for it to start. Haha!!
A guide came out and explained that this geyser is one of only a few in the world and was found by mistake. Inmates were washing their clothes in some water nearby, and one of them accidentally dropped their soap into the geyer and it exploded!
 He dropped a bag of stuff in the geyer and we all waited. It first started smoking and had a little water shooting out of it- I'm not going to lie- I was a little disappointed that it was such a huge attraction for a little water shooting out of a hole with smoke. But then- all of a sudden the water shot out like a rocket and went SOO high!! It was crazy! I was definitely amazed and 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' asked me what I was doing when I started clapping...for a geyser..... yeah. Haha!!
Once the geyser settled back down, we made our way into the actual park and walked around the hot springs. The smell was horrible, but it was pretty incredible to see all the natural hot springs boiling in the ground.
The smell was so bad and I never got used to it. It smelled like rotten eggs the whole time. haha! I was really surprised at how big the park was and how much there was to see. I thought it was so crazy that they had the boiling water only blocked off by tiny wooden fences that anyone could easily step over. (They must really trust us! haha!!)
The water was different shades of green and yellow because of the sulfur that was in it.
After we walked around the entire park, we got back into our cars and started the 2 hour drive to Hobbiton!! To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement, I was SO pumped to get there and see everything.

We arrived in a small town, and easily found the bus stop for the Hobbiton tours. ;) We bought our tickets for the next tour and walked around the town to kill time before our bus came.
We loaded the bus and made our way about 10 minutes to Hobbitton. Holy cow, guys! Just driving up, it looked exactly like the movies- everything was SO realistic (and so, so many sheep! I loved them and totally tried (and failed) to touch them!)
We walked around to all the houses as the guide explained to us that some of the doors didn't even open, and the ones that did- only opened about 4 feet. (All the scenes inside were shot in Hollywood).
She also told us how particular the director was for this movie and how everything had to be perfect. See this gorgeous tree?
Pretty isn't it? (Everyone was taking pictures of it and commenting on how amazing it is...)

It's FAKE!! Yup, not real. Not only that, but every leaf was wired on by hand! And if that's not enough, once they finished building it, the director felt it wasn't the right shade of green, so had them hand paint each leaf a different color!
Once we made our way through the whole tour, we ended at the Shire, where they had food and free drinks.
Everything was so green and so pretty!
 Before we headed back into town, we got to stop at the gift shop and I bought the this sign. :)
Love it! I want to find an old wooden antique frame to put it in.

Today was SUCH an amazing day! We did so much and had an absolute blast!

How long do you usually go on vacation for? 

Where has been your favorite vacation? 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ironman Aftermath

It felt so good to take a hot shower and crawl into a warm bed after being soaking wet the entire day. We all slept in (minus Jamie- Jamie does not sleep! haha!!) and then headed back down to the 'Ironman Village' to pick up our stuff and so the boys could buy finisher gear.

It was such a gorgeous day- sunny with a cool breeze. Once we had everything ,we headed back to the hotel and all the bikes wouldn't fit in our van so 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' decided to ride his back back to the hotel. (Who does a ridiculously hard Ironman and then volunteer to ride the 5 miles back to the hotel-- which included the toughest hill on the course?! He's crazy!)

Once we got back to the hotel and ate lunch, 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter's' family came over and we decided to go hiking. (Again, who does a rediculously hard Ironman and then go on a hike?! 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter is rubbing off on us! haha!)

We stopped for gas along the way, and everyone went in and grabbed snacks. I found Spicy Thai Dorritos (purple bag) that they used to sell in America but no longer do- oh my gosh-- SO good!! 
We ended up going to Huka Falls. It was insanely beautiful. The water was so clear and so blue it looked fake! 
This is also where they shot the part of The Hobbit- where they were going down the waterfall in barrels. 
We found a pretty trail we thought would take us to the water, but it ended up taking us to an industrial area. So we made our own trail and found a great shallow place to get in the water. The cold water definitely felt refreshing on our sore legs. 
Scary story: We were all hanging out in the very shallow, close to shore, part of the water and there was a tour boat that went by super fast, to take people up to the rapids- we yelled and waved and they all waved back and took our picture. We had the GoPro our and we were taking turns jumping in the water and seeing how deep we could go. 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' decided to swim across the water and then when we came back we all got out. As we were drying off, the tour boat came flying back by and cut in- creating waves and a HUGE splash of where we all were just sitting (I think they thought they were going to soak us) but it was literally right where 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' was swimming less than 3 minutes ago. The boat was going so fast, there was no way they would have saw him or been able to spot. 

The hike was so green and pretty- I've never seen anything like it. We made our way back to the car and then headed back to the hotel.

We went back to Pub n' Grub for dinner- seriously, it is that good! Everything was so fresh and so delicious!!
Still tried after Ironman, but excited to be at Pub n' Grub! 
Once we were back at the hotel after dinner, 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter', Jamie and I decided to head down to the hot tub! We got down there and walked in and ended up scaring one of the workers (he screamed) and he informed us that the pool was closed. :(

*Have you ever been to a movie set? 

*When hiking do you follow the path or make your own? I pretty much always stick to the path. :)

Ironman New Zealand Race Recap

'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter's' dad, step-mom, stepbrother and his girlfriend, got in the night before the race. They came by the hotel after we had dinner to say hi and then left so we could get some sleep.

His dad and step-mom came back at 4:30am to pick us up and drive us to the race, even though it wasn't that far (10 minutes away) we weren't sure what the parking situation would be and didn't know how long it would take to find a spot. 
We got to race and we all went out separate ways to do any last pre-race checks and prepare for the day ahead. 
Having 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' double check my tires.
**SIDE NOTE: Everyone in town had been talking about what the weather would be like and everyone told us to be prepared for rain and that it was definitely going to rain at some point during the day. We went into this race planning for the worst- but hoping for the best. Now that we had a chance to experience the course and knew the weather conditions, I think we all threw any goals out the window and set our sights on making it across that finish line. 

Time flew by, and before I knew it we were in our wet suits walking in a sea of athletes towards the lake. We all wished each other good luck, told everyone to 'Harden Up', and got into the water. 

The few minutes we had in the water felt like seconds and BOOM! the cannon fired and we were off. Just before starting, I overheard someone say not to use the buoys and to sight off the large mountain directly in front of us and then to turn at the red buoys, and use the boats to sight on the way back. I wish I could have thanked him because it worked like a charm! I never felt like I was off course and only looked up to sight every 10-15 breaths. 
The swim was really great- I felt completely relaxed and comfortable- I did not push it at all, knowing the day was only going to get tougher. There were a few times I had to stop to let a swimmer cross me- I think it was the same swimmer the whole just swimming left to right in front of me. 

I got out of the water and couldn't help but smile at the huge crowd cheering so enthusiastically. I began to jog the loooooooong way to transition (seriously- it was about a half mile!) and the entire way was lined with cheering fans complimenting my smile or pace. 

Once I climbed 4 flights of stairs, I was finally in transition and called out my number and made my way to the changing tent. The volunteers helped me get my bike gear on and took care of putting my wet suit away. 

I grabbed my bike and took off through town. The sun was barely up and it was cloudy- but it wasn't raining. I was still soaking wet from the water, but the air wasn't too bad. I thought it would feel good if it warmed up. :)
Riding all through town was amazing- the amount of support from the town is unreal- seriously, like nothing I've seen before. It feels like every person/business fully supports every athlete in the race! It was incredible!!
We hit the largest hill by our hotel and I smiled, thinking how nice it would be once we were back in our room. :)
Not too long in, we were out in the country- complete farm land. I kept reminding myself I was riding my bike, in an Ironman, in NEW ZEALAND! It was surreal. I was shocked by how much support was out there- I literally felt like we were in the middle of no where (which was GORGEOUS!!) but there were a ton of people out there cheering us on.

About half way through the first loop, I started getting really cold with the wind, so I stopped at one of the aid stations and used the bathroom and put my rain coat on (AKA, the rain coat I borrowed from 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter'), and kept going. I felt great and literally could not stop smiling.

I finally reached the turn around point and headed back into town. ((Side note: Ironman New Zealand had about 1,200 athletes, whereas Ironman Arizona usually has about 3,200. So there were a lot fewer athletes than I'm used to.) I felt like I was dead last all by myself, other athletes were few and far between. Until the pros came back on their second loop and lapped me. ;)

The sun made it's way through the clouds and it was definitely warming up. I stopped again and took off my rain coat. Only to stop again later to put it back on.... the weather was definitely playing games with us....

I got back into town and was pretty concerned because I still hadn't got my first bracelet. (They track the laps by handing out 2 bracelets, 1 on the first loop and then another on the second loop.) At one point we merged with athletes starting their second loop and they all had bracelets- I freaked out! I started asking them where they got it and they responded with "back there". What?! I missed it?! I slowed down and came to a stop thinking I was going to turn around, when I saw another rider without a bracelet. I asked him where we get the bracelets and he said he thought by the 'Special Needs' bags up ahead, but he was concerned too. THANK GOSH!! I quickly took off again, made my way through town, and received my first bracelet. Yay!

Once again, I was back out in the middle of no where, with a lot less supports this time around and even fewer athletes. This time around there was an extremely strong head wind (that would occasionally switch to a cross wind. I saw 2 people get blown over on there bikes.) It was brutal and I was desperately searching for the turn around point.
When I finally reached the turn around point, which now consisted of 3 people cleaning up and handing out bracelets- I have never been so happy. I figured it would be a slight downhill the way back and I would have the wind at my back- PERFECT! Or so I thought...

Once I turned around, I was ready to throw a few gears on my bike and use the wind to my advantage and make up some time.... yet, I still had major head wind?! How is this possible?! An older athlete who I passed right before the turn around caught up to me and said "I thought we'd be on the right side of the wind this time, but welcome to New Zealand weather!!" What?! Seriously?! Seriously...

It was definitely mentally tough knowing I had to make by way back into town facing a head wind with the unpredictable cross winds. I tried to continue to remind myself I was in New Zealand and this was awesome, but I was getting frustrated and tired and it wasn't working like it had before.
This was the bike course by our hotel-- on a different day with WAY better weather. 
I started watching every mile slowly tick by on my watch and continuously calculating how much further I had. (It's hard doing math when you're 100+ miles in ;))
I was SO incredibly happy when I only had single digit miles left. The wind was not letting up like I desperately hoped it would.
I knew I just needed to make my way back through town and I would be off the bike and unto the run, I just had 6 miles to go. I could this, it's just a 10K left....
About a mile after realizing I was going to make it, I saw a truck pulled off to the side of the road and a guy waiting for me. (I thought it was an aid station- because ever since the turn around ALL the aid stations were GONE!) But he was saying something and motioning that I was cut. With the wind, I couldn't make out what he was saying, so I slowed down as I approached him and he again motioned that I was cut.
Thinking this was impossible, I looked down at my watch and realized I had 5 miles to go and just over 30 minutes before the bike cut off. I told him I only had 5 miles to go and I knew I could do it in less than 30 minutes. He again, motioned that I was cut and said that Medical was pulling everyone from the bike because of the wind and rain in town. (It was not raining where we were.) I again pleaded, that I only had 5 miles to go! He said Medical couldn't let us continue without poncho's and they cannot issue ponchos on the bike (because they could get caught in the chain, etc.). At this point, as upset as I was, I knew there was nothing more I could do to change the situation, and I handed him my timing chip.
I waited on the side of the road with another lady who got cut and a guy who came after me. We waited over 45 minutes for the SAG vehicle to come get us (the whole I was thinking, I could have biked myself into town by this point....) Everything about waiting sucked. I began replaying the whole day and thinking of everything I could have done differently to not have ended up in this situation. The guy who also got cut asked me if this was my first one, I told him it was my third. To which he replied, 'oh, then it's okay.' I tried to smile, but I really wanted to say 'No, it's absolutely NOT okay, I trained hard for this and flew half way across the world for this, and this was definitely NOT okay.' I think he could see I was extremely upset/disappointed and talked to me the entire way back into town about how he has DNF'd at 4 Ironman's, but it was OK because sometimes he was just having bad days.
Looking back, I really appreciated this- if he hadn't talked to me the whole way back, I probably would have been crying and feeling extremely sorry for myself.

When we finally got back to the transition area, I thanked him for keeping me company and we went our separate ways. At this point it was raining pretty hard and I desperately needed dry clothes (I was still in my wet tri-kit from the swim. So I changed into my morning after clothes and put my rain coat back on, and began the impossible task of trying to find 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter's' family in the massive crowds.... no luck.
Since I didn't have my phone, I waited by the run turn around hoping to see the guys and be able to cheer them on. Luckily, there was a public restroom that had coverage, I could stand under as I watched (and I could run in every few minutes and use the hand dryer to warm up! ;))

After a few hours, I saw 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' making his way to the finish line. I ran to the gate and screamed so loud cheering him on. He seemed so confused to see me and asked what I was doing. I told him I would explain later and to hurry up and go finish! I took a short cut to the finish line and saw him cross-- he looked completely toast.

I waited for him to finish in the tent- getting his medal, food, etc. and when he came out I gave him a huge hug! He didn't look happy though- I asked what was wrong and he started to tear up saying this was the hardest race he'd ever done and there were SO many times he wanted to quit and give up, it was SO hard. He said it was so hard that if this had been his first race he probably would never do another. It broke my heart, but I told him that made the finish that much better because he didn't give up and he finished!!

He changed into some dry clothes and we found he stepbrother and his girl friend, who informed us 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter's' dad went to the hospital! (More on that later...) and we went to watch for the other guys.
'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter's' medal and finisher shirt. Both were SUPER cute!! 
We saw them all coming and cheered our butts off for them (all looking so confused to see me- haha!!) and 'Mr. Sprinkles and Glitter' actually ran the last couple of miles  with our friend David to the finish.
Once everyone was finished, we waited in the tent- hoping the rain would let up (it was just a downpour at this point) and trying to stay warm. Once we watched the midnight finishers, we decided to face the wind and head home. (Ironman New Zealand let's you leave your bike and everything and then pick it up the next day- which was so nice for us, since it would have required multiple trips in the rain.)

We made our way to the van and headed to the only place that was open that late- McDonald's!! It was so, so good! They used all organic, grass fed, never-frozen, beef and you could definitely taste the difference!!

Once we finally made it back to our hotel room, we all quickly ate and went to bed.
This is our whole group the morning after Ironman. :)
*What's the craziest weather you've raced in? 

*Have you ever not finished a race?