Ironman Race Day: the rerun

29 04 2017

It’s become a tradition.

The Ironteam supporters from our training squad – those sane enough not to be doing that crazy Ironman thing – gather photos and video footage from the day to be compiled into a video memento.

In 2016 I volunteered at Ironman NZ and helped gather footage from within transition for that year’s epic.

At the time of that unveiling I felt rather inspired. But at the time I still said nope. Uh uh. No way. Not me.

Fast forward a year and I’m one of the many stars in our squad’s 2017 edition. And I’m so glad I changed my mind.

I’ll be back again one day. To hopefully feature in another edition.


A Big Deal

7 10 2013

So finally, after three years of living here, we’re buying a house here.

It’s not the first house I’ve ever owned (it’s actually the 4th). But it’s the first one outside the UK. And that’s A Big Deal.

It solidifies our relationship with NZ. It makes things more permanent. It sends a message to friends and family back home that we aren’t planning on coming back. Not that they thought we were considering it. But it just confirms it. Once and for all.

Of course nothing is ever permanent. Even tattoos. But it means that we’re putting down roots (if I’m allowed to say that in NZ!). Becoming part of the scenery.

Settling down.

Hello. My name’s Annalie and I’m a runner

19 04 2013

There. I said it. I’ve published it for all to see, forever and eternity. Or at least until I decide to delete it.

I don’t know how it happened though. It was all rather accidental. I’ve never been a runner. Never been very good at it. I had neither the speed for sprinting, nor the stamina for anything other than a run to catch the bus. So how did I end up here?

Well, for a starter, I’m over 16kgs lighter than I was 7 months ago. That might have helped. But I hadn’t always been that weight either.

In late September, I’d signed up for a Biggest Loser style competition at the gym, comprising of 2x a week PT sessions and the potential to win some cool prizes at the end. Give me a carrot and I’m no Eeyor. I stormed to victory, losing 9.5kgs and 26.74% of my starting body fat. I was on a roll.

I’d signed up for the Wellington Round The Bays (RTB) 7km fun run, taking place 2 months after the Biggest Loser finished, deciding that 2 months wasn’t enough time to train for the half marathon run. I was wrong.

My training rapidly progressed into double figure runs, and I started to think 21.1kms by 17 February was actually achievable.

And I did it. Despite suffering a race-threatening injury just three weeks earlier, I completed the course easily. I’d deliberately taken it easy, buddying up with a much slower runner to stop me from going off too fast, and leaving me plenty in the tank to finish strong and feel good about it.

My time was 2 hours 14 minutes. OK so i’m no Usain Bolt. But it was within the target time I’d set myself. And I’d done it! I’d run the furthest distance I’ve ever run. Ever.

My appetite was whetted. I wanted more. The sense of achievement as I clocked up the kms, increasing my pace and decreasing my times, became addictive. I even looked forward to my next “hit”.

So I started to plan my next challenge. Plenty of options emerged, but I struggled to make my mind up about my strategy. My long term goal was always the Wellington Half Marathon in June, but I needed other runs to keep me focused, otherwise I’m likely to fall off a rapidly moving wagon with little chance of hitching back onto it.

As luck would have it, a sneaky entry into a Twitter competition saw me win a free entry into the Great Forest Half Marathon in mid-April. With two weeks’ notice. Good job I’d still been training.

I’d been nervous as hell before running RTB. I’d never run that far so didn’t know if I could make it. This time, I knew I could last the distance. But I was running on my own with no buddy to guide me and make me stick to my game plan.

Needless to say, with no conscience running beside me, my game plan went out of the window early. Instead of sticking to my intended pace, I just listened to my body and went with the flow. The run was a very different experience to RTB too, being more of a cross country course rather than road, and much more undulating as opposed to sea level flat.

The result however was a sub-2 hour run. That was my intended goal for the June race, but I guess I’d better set myself a new goal for that.

So, I guess I can call myself a runner now.


Introducing our bach

18 04 2013

So, for many kiwis, a holiday home by the beach is a way of life. In most other countries, owning one home is an achievement worthy of celebration. Here, owning two homes is virtually expected.

But we’re not the types to return to the same haunts time after time. Preferring instead to get out and explore more of this beautiful country we now call home.

Plus we don’t even own our “home home”, let alone have a need to buy a “home away from home”. Besides, where on earth would we buy one?

Or long-held dream, following our first holiday to NZ back in 2009, was to own a campervan that would give us the freedom to roam these fine shores as and when, and how we choose. So that’s what we’ve done.

We’re the proud owners of a little 2-berth Toyota Hiace van with all the trimmings. It allows us freedom to take our pooch on the road with us too, giving us flexibility and no strings. And boy does it feel good.

The worst thing for us is trying to decide where to go.




Tough choices at work

29 08 2011

I came to NZ on the back of a job offer that I obtained while still living abroad. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have got that and I’ve been with the same firm for nearly a year.

Part of the original interview discussions centred around the possibility of buying into the said business as one of the two partners was planning to retire. It all sounded very exciting. A business ownership proposition along with a new life in the country we wanted to be in. Doesn’t get much better.

Fast forward nearly a year. The ownership discussions have been taking placed over several months but, do you know, the person selling up hasn’t even spoken to me about what she’s selling and what she wants for it. All talks have taken place through the remaining partner, and I think this is where the matter gets complicated.

The story we get about what to buy, how much of it, at what cost, and how, keeps changing. Different requirements keep popping up and new criteria keep being added.

Except for buying a house, this would be the single biggest purchase we’d make. We want to be damn sure that we want it and that it’s going to give us what we want. So when the goalposts keep moving, you start to wonder if it’s the right thing to do. From being certain this was what I wanted to give us a secure and profitable future, I’m starting to feel like I don’t want the hassle.

Added to this has been some frustrations with work. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been outsourced from work on a contract at a government department. Now that would be fine on its own, but my “real” boss wants me to keep doing work for him and the agency. This means that I have to work on evenings and weekends, which I don’t think is fair.

But I know what my “real” boss’s reaction is likely to be – when it’s your own business, you work as and when required as you’ve got more skin in the game.

I get that. But I’m not there yet. I don’t own part of the business yet. I don’t get time off in lieu and the ability to claim a bonus on any of the work done “out of hours”. And this doesn’t even include the fact that I’m not likely to make my bonus threshold while I’m on contract anyway (a whole other story).

So I feel like I’m at a bit of a crossroads in my new NZ life right now. The partnership was part of the attraction to me when we originally came. But it’s been such a frustrating process, I’m not sure I want to commit to it right now.

Add to this the fact that a fantastic job has come up with the one company I really want to work for and, well, that’s really thrown the cat amongst the pigeons! I’ve thrown my hat in that ring too, just to see what might come of it. It might end up making the decision for me.

Cutting ties

28 03 2011

When we left the UK three years ago, it had been our intention, at that point, to probably return. So the house that we owned was put up for rent and we changed to a buy-to-let mortgage.

Those three years are now up. And the bank is telling us we have to take a new mortgage product to allow us to keep renting it out.

But it also appears that they’ve had us on a phenomenally low rate. Possibly one we shouldn’t have been on.

Imagine our surprise/shock/horror when we rang up for a new quote, only to be told our monthly payments would be going up by £400 a month. That’s a lot by anyone’s standards.

So we have been forced to a crossroads. We didn’t believe our new mortgage was a fixed term. We thought it was ongoing. But it apparently isn’t. We thought we’d have the benefit of our low rate until the Bank of England decided to increase interest rates again. But we don’t.

The new mortgage payments are covered by the rent, but it doesn’t leave us much room for manoeuvre if anything goes wrong. But it’s not costing us anything either. And if it’s not costing anything, why get rid?

But is having the house also a noose around our necks? Being a landlord in another country is hard. You haven’t got the same control, you don’t have cash automatically coming into your account with which to make mortgage payments. Or to pay any bills. You’re not there to sign any paperwork.

But then there’s the housing market. Our next door neighbours have both got their houses on the market, which probably isn’t a good look! But one has sold (and quickly). So is there hope?

It’s one of the hardest decisions to make. We always thought we’d dictate the timing of when we got rid of it. We thought we’d hang on to it for a few more years. But the bank has backed us into a corner and now we’re in fight or flight mode (keep or sell).

My natural instinct, like a caged mother tiger, is to fight for my house. To protect my rung on the property ladder. Regardless of where it is in the world. But hubby says some sensible stuff too. We’re not planning to move back to the UK, let alone this part of it. So why bother keeping it? Why not release release the equity and stick it in savings so it’s ready when we need it. When we want to buy here?

Not the nicest decision to make. And mentally it feels like we’re cutting our ties with the UK. It makes the move seem even more permanent. Even though it was always intended to be. But the psychological things are bigger than they seem.

Our first visitors

4 03 2011

We’ve been in NZ for just over five months and this week we had our first visitors. Personally I think that’s quite good considering we’re pretty much half way round the world from nearly everyone we know.

Our first house guest was supposed to come and stay with us last weekend. An ex-colleague and friend was on a work trip to Christchurch and was due to call in on his way to Auckland to fly home.

At 12.51pm on 22nd February, he and his travelling companions were jolted by the Christchurch quake. They didn’t stick around, naturally.

Still, they passed through Wellington on 23rd February and I was able to help them let their hair down a bit after their experience.

This week, a couple of ex-colleagues who have recently taken early retirement stopped off on their five-week campervan adventure around NZ.

Whilst the weather wasn’t the best in Welly, they got the chance to sleep in a proper bed (the first thing they said upon arrival!) and eat some proper food.

We treated them to a true Kiwi dinner of roast lamb and kumara, which seemed to go down very well!

It is nice to share our new life with people we’ve known for some time, who can see the attraction and understand our reasons for wanting to move. They recognise the beauty of NZ and what it has to offer from a lifestyle perspective. What we have on our doorstep.

We didn’t come to NZ for financial gain, although it may well come along, in which case, bonus! But we came to find somewhere we could lay our hats and call home. We’ve moved around a fair bit, across the UK and USA and we’ve not always felt the same towards a place. One had felt at home while the other felt alienated or out of place. We’re hoping Wellington is a shared feeling of being home. And things are looking good so far.

Next visitors in two weeks. My parents. Will they take more convincing?