I have been remiss in not mentioning in all my blogging that my Flat Friends have made the trip with me.  They have spent a lot of time hanging from my window curtain in the room, but they got out today for a little bike ride:

Flats on bike with campground ducks outside my door

Then it was back into town and back into the lake (for those wondering, I stuff the wetsuit into a backpack, along with the swim cap and goggles).  Today’s swim was much much MUCH better; I swam about half the distance.  There are 24 buoys and I turned around at 6.

Can't hardly see them, but that is an endless row of orange buoys...

I have to admit that I am an emotional athlete; I can get caught up in the joy or despair of the moment.  My coaches have always tried to get me to overcome that.  It can work in your favor when times are good – your pace quickens, you perform better when the crowd is with you, but it can destroy you when it goes badly.  In the excitement of the competitors, always on race day, my adrenaline surges, my heart rate speeds, my breathing increases – not so good if you are about to embark on a 2 hour swim.  I have worked so hard on focusing, removing the distractions, listening to the bubbles (swimmers know what I mean), and today I did that beautifully.  Which was easy, since there were about 10 of us in the lake at the time.  When there are 1200, not so easy.

I have met some positively lovely people since I’ve been here.  I’ve already mentioned Didymo Dave, Jim and Susie from Auckland.  I’ve also met up with Liz and Allie from Canterbury, England (insert obligatory small-world comment here – that’s where daughter Glenda’s boyfriend Sam lives), and Leo from Hawaii, and Bill and Ginger from San Diego.  Everyone seems, like me, to be having the time of their lives.  Today when I was fretting over the swim, Liz and Allie invited me for coffee and a scone (a scone!!  During training!!).  I am sorry that I declined in my edginess to get in the lake.  If I find them tomorrow, I’ll invite them for a beer!

You just have to see this to believe it

So, this picture of my foot may not seem amazing…until you realize that I’m taking it underwater!  I’m in water up to my chest, I bent over and put my fancy waterproof camera into the water and snapped this picture.  You can’t imagine what it is like to swim in this!  I told my daughter Glenda today on Skype that it is like swimming in an aquarium.  I haven’t seen many fish (Taupo is the trout capital or something) but we stay relatively near the shore.  We pass one of those floating golf greens, where the tee is on the shore, and I can’t help but chuckle when I see all those golf balls on the bottom – some of them WAAAY away from the green (shankapotomus, I guess).

Then I wandered through town again, because I just can’t get enough of seeing everyone having coffee on the sidewalks, and seeing the other triathletes biking, walking, running through town.  I don’t have an explanation for this picture:

2nd airplane on a stick at a restaurant on this trip...what's up New Zealand??

After my jaunt through town, I stopped at the info booth to buy a ticket to the Women’s Breakfast on Friday (can’t wait for that), and didn’t mean to stage this shot, didn’t even see it til I came back out:

that UT orange is supposed to be Georgia red...it's a little faded

Finally I headed home to my shower, my green salad, my glass of New Zealand red, and the comforts of my little home.  I’m about 3k from town, and every day on the way home I see two things:

NZ roadkill. I pass this little skwushed (squshed? squushed?) hedgehog every day
NZ cattle. I pass these guys every day too, and stop and chat a bit.

So, in summary, I’m having the time of my life.  I’m still both wildly excited and wildly apprehensive about Saturday.  Tomorrow the Expo begins — FAO Schwartz for triathletes.  I plan on spending most of the day looking at all the toys.  Bike Tires!  Running Shoes!  Wetsuits!  Heart Rate Monitors!  Riding Jerseys!  Red Blinky Lights for the Bike!  Gu Gels in Every Flavor!

As always, and most humbly, thanks for reading.