Can we talk about how exhausting it is to try and get in shape? Good lord. I thought marathon training was tiring, but combine running with personal training and I am dead. So very, very, dead. It’s a good feeling, though – I know I am accomplishing a lot, and it’s gratifying to watch the weights go up (very slightly) and see myself getting stronger! I definitely hit it hard this week. On a somewhat related note, I do not go to the type of gym where people take selfies…so I’m sorry to say that you may have to miss out on this element of my life. It will be sweaty, red-faced, running selfies only. SAD!
Monday, 6/19/17, 5 mile run, personal training – legs: My morning on Monday started with a 5 mile run with my friend Pearce. The air in the mornings is now just completely saturated, and while running in 100% humidity is not my most favorite thing, I’m continuing my hypothetical transition to a morning runner. Thank goodness for Pearce giving me a reason to actually get out of bed! When I got to the gym, my trainer said he wanted me to come 3 days in a row and then see how I did the rest of the week, so we started with leg day. I think leg day is my favorite, probably because my legs are realistically the strongest part of my body.
Tuesday, 6/20/17, personal training – arms/shoulders, 45 and 30 minute walks: You know what is not my favorite training day? Arms and shoulders. Specifically triceps. Why do we even have triceps? More importantly, why does my trainer love working them so much? The worst. I got my steps in with a morning and an evening walk, so all around, it was a good day.
Wednesday, 6/21/17, 5 mile run, personal training – full body, kickball: Another humid morning, yay! Thank goodness I have a running buddy now or I might not ever run at all until September. Personal training went great, and I am just starting to feel the effects of a few days in a row. My trainer said to see how I feel the next couple of days and if I’m feeling good, come to the gym, and if not, stay home, so we’ll see! I unexpectedly ended up playing kickball tonight, too, since our team was short on girls. I decided to just be an alternate this season since I had so much (ridiculous) anxiety about playing last season, but it turns out, I was needed. Thankfully, we won our game and are still undefeated and I made no fatal errors.
Thursday, 6/22/17, personal training – chest/back, 1 hour walk: Nope, I do not hate arm workouts the most. I hate chest workouts the most. I felt fine this morning so decided to head back to the gym. This whole personal training thing is fun. Each day is like a new competition to find the exercise I like the least! Fortunately, there is a wide variety to choose from. I got up to do my walk in the morning and felt like I had been hit by an exhaustion train, so I must be doing something correctly. I’m not really sore, just overall tired, and I can tell I’ve been working hard.
Friday, 6/23/17, 4 mile run (speed work), personal training – full body: I was supposed to get up early on Friday morning and do my speed workout, but that did not even come close to happening. I was exhausted when I woke up and just decided to do my speed workout after personal training instead. Truth be told, I was feeling pretty intimidated. I don’t think I’ve done a true speed workout in over 3 years! It ended up being a great decision to wait and do it after training. I hopped on the treadmill at the gym (another thing I was dreading) and decided I would just try it and see if I could hit the paces Bobbi had suggested. If I couldn’t, I would modify – no big deal. I was doing quarter-mile repeats – just four of them – but trying to do them at 8:00 pace seemed crazy. Well, spoiler alert – I not only did it, I did it pretty easily. I finished the workout feeling like I had a few more intervals left in me, but I needed to get back to work. I’m so glad I went for it!
Saturday, 6/24/17, 1 hour walk: Nothing too exciting today! It was a rest day, so I just took a 1 hour walk to try and get as many steps in as possible before we headed to AJ’s parents house to visit for the day. I was definitely ready for a day with no hardcore workout!
Sunday, 6/25/17, 6 mile run: Another day where I was supposed to get up run and just ended up ignoring my alarm. I need my sleep, ok? I ended up running after we had done errands and I didn’t head out the door until around 12:30. While it was hot, it’s been cloudy today so it wasn’t that bad. That makes 20 miles run and 5 personal training sessions survived for the week – not too shabby!
LEAVE A COMMENT: Do speed workouts intimidate you? What is your favorite (or least favorite) one?
Before heading to Africa, I knew very little about Botswana. I knew that it was a rising star on the African safari scene, but I couldn’t have told you why. I did know that on our trip, we would be bush camping in the Okavango Delta – one of the experiences I was most excited about! What is bush camping? Well, I had no idea, but I knew I was going to like it.
What I would later learn is that “camping” in Africa consists of mostly what we would call “car camping” in the U.S. Namely, you drive to a campground with a variety of amenities (bathrooms, maybe a restaurant or bar, swimming pool, etc), and set up your tent. “Bush camping” is what we would call “camping” and basically just means you are not camping at a campground. It’s not the post-apocalyptic scenario I was envisioning, which is a statement I can make about pretty much everything I’ve ever panicked about in my entire life.
My very first exposure to the Delta was with a flight over it the day before we went camping. Scenic flights are extremely popular in the area, and they’re about 45 minutes long. I figured the plane would be tiny, and I was right – they fit 5 people plus the pilot! I ended up sitting in the front and had my own set of controls to the plane. The pilot offered to let me fly it, which I did not even remotely entertain. Despite what people may think because of how much I travel and the fact that I like to try new things, I’m not an adrenaline junkie. I’d like to live long enough to see at least another 50 countries, thank you very much.
My pictures from the Delta didn’t come out that awesome (we were 500 feet above the water, after all!) so you’ll just have to trust me that it was spectacular. We were able to see elephants, zebra, a lion, hippos, cape buffalo, and more from the air!
Our camping adventure started by meeting our “polers” on the water. Polers are people native to the Okavango Delta area who navigate the Delta using dug-out canoes called makoro. They get their name from the 15-foot long poles they use to propel the boats along. If you’ve ever done stand-up paddleboarding, it’s kind of like that, except in a shallow canoe and using a pole instead of an oar. There were about 20 polers waiting to greet our group and help us transport our tents, belongings, and ourselves to our campsite!
My roommate Gabby and I got lucky and had Richard, the lead guide, as our poler. We set off through the Delta and I couldn’t believe how smooth and comfortable our ride was. Thanks to the excellent placement of our camp mattresses inside the canoes, we were extremely cozy and able to enjoy the 2 hour ride. I got the chance to ask Richard a ton of questions about what it was like to grow up in the Delta. I learned that navigating through the Delta can be challenging and dangerous for kids, which means that many of them are sent to live with relatives on the mainland while they attend school, only heading home on weekends.
Richard’s parents lived about 2 hours (by makoro) away from his school, so he stayed with his aunt during the week. This arrangement continued through high school, after which he left to attend training to become a tour guide. It reminded me of the 2-hour trek my guides in Nepal had to make each way to attend school as kids, and I once again marveled at the dedication of children in other countries to their education.
We had been warned not to expect to see animals and to just enjoy the experience instead, but in fact, we saw our very first elephant in the Okavango Delta! A big bull was roaming along on his own through the reeds and grasses, and it took my breath away. Nothing makes you feel small quite like sitting in a little canoe in the middle of a seemingly endless swamp while staring at one of the largest animals in the world!
As our boat ride continued on, we started hearing strange noises and stopped at a large (for the delta) clear area of deep water. All of a sudden, we saw heads popping up and fountains of water shooting into the air – HIPPOS! I was so excited that I almost fell out of the makoro. Then, I realized we were just a few feet away from the animal that kills more people in Africa each year than the Big 5 combined! Still, it was pretty magical to watch them popping in and out of the water as they came up for air – as long as they stayed a few feet away, of course!
Finally, we arrived at our island campsite. The island was beautifully shaded and the perfect place to set up camp. We even got to set up a camp toilet, which was far more elaborate than anything I’m generally accustomed to when camping! It had a seat and everything.
It was still early in the morning, so we had the whole day ahead of us. I really wanted to get to know Richard and some of the other local people that were camping with us, so I decided to ask if he would teach us how to play a Botswana card game. Pro tip: a deck of playing cards is a great way to connect with locals pretty much anywhere you go. I played cards for hours with my guides in Nepal! A group of us all got together and attempted to learn the rules of some very fast paced games, which Richard almost always beat us at. I would never make it as a card shark in Botswana.
After that, it was time to try our hands as polers! Well, mostly me. The rest of my group was initially feeling a big nervous about it, but perhaps in my quest to soak up every single moment when I travel, I was a bit ambitious. Richard climbed in the makoro and instructed me on how to pole. For me, the hardest thing about it is the giant pole! Obviously totally necessary in deeper water, but quite cumbersome most of the time. It turns out I am a natural poler and Richard asked if I want to be a guide one day! Obviously, I am only good at things that are in no way applicable to my actual life.
For a couple of hours right before sunrise, we headed out on a bush walk. We split off into groups and Richard led us around on another large island, talking to us about different wildlife and traditions. It was here that we saw our first zebra of the trip!
The bush walk was more a way to see the beauty of the environment as opposed to seeing a ton of animals, and we got to witness an incredible sunset! There’s no such thing as a bad sunset in Africa, I’m pretty sure.
After a delicious dinner, it was time for a campfire with some incredible entertainment from our guides. We had all been told to think about a song or dance from our home countries to perform after the locals did, but uh…that idea quickly faded after hearing them sing and watching them dance! For a full 30 minutes, they performed traditional songs and dances in perfect harmony, and it was absolutely enthralling. Unfortunately, with the light around the campfire, it didn’t make for great photos or video, so you’ll just have to trust me. It was an experience I’ll never forget!
A few brave members of our group attempted to sing and dance as a “thank you” to our guides, but I think we can all agree that the greater gift was for us all to stop singing. I told our group leader that in the future, we should probably perform first so that we aren’t all immediately put to shame by the uber-talented locals 🙂
We rose before the sun to go on another bush walk and experience the sunrise on the delta. A couple antelope, a warthog, and some zebra made for a beautiful morning and an unforgettable experience before the 2 hour makoro ride back.
Bush camping in the Okavango Delta did not disappoint! One of my favorite parts of traveling internationally is always interacting with the local people, and this was an awesome way to do that. If you’re in Botswana, don’t miss the Delta!
LEAVE A COMMENT: Do you like to interact with the local people when you travel? What has been your favorite experience?
This week was my first week back from Africa and my first since recovering from my bout with pneumonia (which started as an upper respiratory infection and progressed). I hadn’t run in nearly 4 weeks by the time I got home! While sometimes it can be hard to get back into a routine after a trip, I was ready to jump back into it.
The truth is, I’m not really happy with my body and how I feel at the moment. I’ve gained about 10 pounds over the past two years and although it comes and goes, I decided that the summer is the perfect time to do something about it hopefully for good. Since summer running is challenging for me due to how much I sweat, it seemed like a good time to focus on building my strength, losing a few pounds, and not worrying too much about super long runs.
All that to say: I decided to join a gym and hire a personal trainer! Bobbi encouraged me to get access to a treadmill and it kind of spiraled from there. I decided to immediately jump into training and joined the gym on my first day home!
Monday, 6/12/17, TRAVEL/OFF: After 37 hours of traveling (but who’s counting?) I arrived home from Africa on Monday night. Obviously, my main workout was exercising my self control and not killing any of my fellow travelers.
Tuesday, 6/13/17, 3 mile run, personal training evaluation: I was worried my first run back would be ugly, but I actually felt as good as I could have in the heat and not having run for almost a month. I was able to run the entire thing at a 9:45 pace and I can’t complain about that! That evening, I headed to the gym for the first time and had my personal training evaluation. I basically learned that my range of motion is 70 percent on my best muscles/joints and 50 percent on my worst (hamstrings, obviously). After going through my history with my trainer, he told me that he wants to work first on improving my range of motion using lighter weights and then add more weight later. Sounds like a plan!
Wednesday, 6/14/17, 4 mile run, personal training: Pearce and I got together in the morning for a run! It was nasty hot and humid and I had to take a walk break (thanks to non-stop Africa story telling) but overall, it wasn’t too bad. That night was my first real training session and we focused on biceps, triceps, and shoulders. I really like this gym and trainer because he is extremely focused on doing the movements perfectly. He watches me carefully and gives great instruction. PS, I really hate working my shoulders. Necessary evil, though.
Thursday, 6/15/17, 1 hour walk: I am really focusing on being active even on days I’m not running or heading to the gym, so I started the morning with a walk. Not much else to say about that! I’m just proud of getting in 15,000 steps on Thursday throughout the day instead of sitting on the couch like usual.
Friday, 6/16/17, 5.5 mile run and walk, personal training: It’s just worked out that my runs and training have fallen on the same days, but it won’t always. Pearce and I ran 4.5 miles together in the morning and I walked a mile roundtrip to and from the place we meet up. It was a little cooler so this went much better! I can definitely feel myself improving. Personal training was at lunch and it was an intense full body workout! I really hate the tricep dip machine. I was sweating a ton by the time it was over, and I feel like I am building a good relationship with my trainer so far.
Then, something super embarrassing happened. I had just exchanged numbers with my trainer and was leaving the gym when I decided to text AJ. He makes fun of what he calls “gym bros” and was joking with me that I was going to become a gym bro now that I have a trainer, so I sent him a GIF of a giant weightlifter lifting weights and a text that said “Bro I lifted so hard today.” Umm…except I actually texted my trainer that instead of AJ. He did not respond. AWKWARD.
Saturday, 6/17/17, 45 minute walk: I am working on becoming a morning workout person…and that means waking up and doing something even on weekends! I was super impressed with myself for getting up before 7 am and going for a walk, even though I didn’t have to. We had a busy weekend with my parents visiting and helping us with things around our house, so I knew I wouldn’t have much time and needed to make the most of the morning!
Sunday, 6/18/17, 45 minute walk: Same deal as Saturday! I’m happy with myself for getting my steps in.
LEAVE A COMMENT: Have you ever worked with a personal trainer?
I’m back from Africa and so excited to tell you all about my trip! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (well, hopefully not) and one I’ll never forget. Brace yourselves for more pictures of animals and perfect sunsets than you ever hoped to see in your entire life. It might take me a while to try and put some of these experiences into words, but I’m doing my best. First up: tracking rhinos!
When going on safari in Africa, everyone is in search of the “Big 5”: elephants, lions, cape buffalo, rhino, and leopards. As I learned on my tour, most people don’t know why the Big 5 are called the Big 5, or what they even are (the majority of our group thought hippos were included). I personally thought the “Big 5” were the animals that were the most rare to see on safari, but in reality, the Big 5 are the animals that were considered the most dangerous to hunt back in the old colonial days. Now you know!
Our very first game drive (where you go out looking for animals) took place at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary near Serowe, Bostwana, where we had camped the night before. Because of the huge poaching problem in Africa (despite serious efforts from the government to stop it), many rhinos are being moved from the huge national parks to sanctuaries that can be better protected, in order to keep the animals safe. Interesting fact: Botswana’s army does not fight any foreign wars. The entire force is deployed to stop poachers! Anyway, the sanctuary was absolutely beautiful and it was crazy to think that rhinos were free to walk through our campsite at any time! And they did, too – we found footprints! I guess that’s why our guides were so serious about us never walking around by ourselves at night.
Game drives typically start either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the animals are the most active. We had a 5 am wake up call for our first one so that we could be on the road by 6 – before sunrise! It is winter in the southern hemisphere right now, so it was freezing cold. Safari vehicles are open air, 4×4 trucks, so this time of year, tons of layers (and blankets) are required.
It was unbelievable to watch the sun coming up as we headed off on our drive. Since we had seen very few animals at this point (on the second day of the trip), even animals that would eventually become common sightings were very exciting! I think we all took about a thousand pictures of the first impalas we came across, which eventually would not even turn our heads. You get spoiled quickly in Africa.
But of course, the real purpose of our drive was to find rhinos! There are two types: white and black. The white rhinos prefer open spaces and are larger, while black rhinos typically hide in the bush and are smaller. We headed out towards a large field and immediately found 5 white rhinos, farther in the distance!
I can’t really explain what it’s like to see these animals in person and in the wild. I was more overwhelmed than I expected. I mean, imagine just walking into your backyard and seeing a rhino or an elephant the same way you see a squirrel or a rabbit! It’s nuts.
We kept driving further on, and came across a mother rhino and her baby just a few feet from the road! If I thought it was crazy seeing rhinos far away, try seeing them from 20 feet.
I could have stayed and watched them all day, but we had more safari-ing to do. That’s a verb, right? We ended up seeing quite a few animals at the sanctuary, including a wildebeest that was also very close to the road. By the way, I use the term “road” loosely – it’s just a dirt track that the safari vehicles often drive on.
The hours flew by and we also saw warthogs (Pumba!), a bunch of different kinds of antelope, and some birds. I immediately decided I’m a safari junkie and my new favorite animal is the rhino. Maybe I bought a shirt from the rhino sanctuary because I want to work there and live there and follow rhinos around all day. Maybe I didn’t. You decide.
If I was less of a psycho when I travel, our game drive at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary would have been the last time I got to see rhinos on my trip. Lucky for me and you, I had to do ALL THE THINGS while on this trip and could not stand to pass up a single optional activity. So, the day before the last day of my trip, I opted to head out on another game drive. This time, my friend Jon and I headed to the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe in search of the elusive black rhino. With just 3,500 left in the world and only about 500 in the wild (the rest are in captivity), seeing one is a REALLY big deal. Stanley and Livingstone has 11 on their 6,000 acre property (this is considered the wild since they are in their natural habitat and able to roam), so we hoped that we would be able to see at least one.
I’m not going to lie – the morning was rough. Our group had a late night out and although I tried to head to bed early in advance of the 5:30 am wake up call, I was woken up a lot by people coming back to camp. So yeah…it hurt a little to hop in another open-air vehicle and face the cold! Fortunately, we were rewarded when we immediately came upon a sleeping giraffe – the closest one we had been to one at that point!
When we were asked on the first night of the trip what animal we were most excited about seeing, I said a giraffe. I mean, how can you not love them? In reality, my favorite animal ended up basically changing to whatever one we had just seen. They’re all captivating and beautiful. But giraffes are pretty damn cute.
And then there was…nothing. For basically the next two hours, we drove around with not even an impala in sight. That’s rare for game drives – every other time I headed out, we saw animals constantly! Between the cold and my exhaustion, I was struggling to stay awake and overall not feeling terribly thrilled that I had paid a considerable amount of money to wake up at the crack of dawn and see nothing. Of course, that’s no one’s fault – it’s the luck of the draw – but that doesn’t mean I was very happy about it. Then, all of a sudden, our driver got a call on the radio and took off!
Two black rhinos had been spotted! We raced over to where they were and were absolutely stunned by how beautiful they are. I know beautiful might seem like a weird word to describe rhinos, but that’s how they appeared to me. They had come over to a large holding area where the dominant male rhino of the herd was being kept before transferring to a new park. Essentially, in order to keep the gene pool diverse, the sanctuaries work together to swap the dominant males out and limit inbreeding. It’s particularly important since there are just a few rhinos in each group. So these two had come over to visit the male – saying goodbye, perhaps?
We got to stay and watch for a few minutes before they ambled off into the bushes. At that point, I knew the whole thing had been worth it. I mean, we saw two of the rarest animals in the world! Incredible! Little did I know that a family of three was waiting just down the road. We started off and hadn’t been on the road five minutes when we pulled up right next to a mother, baby, and father rhino. Literally, right next to. We were not five feet away from them!
Although we had heard that black rhinos can be aggressive, these were not. They didn’t seem to notice that we were all sitting in a truck right next to them! The mother and baby were using their horns to dig into the clay in search of salt and minerals, while dad was hanging out nearby. We couldn’t believe our eyes as the mother got up, crossed right in front of our truck and then tapped it with her horn.
She headed off into the bushes, leaving the baby on the other side with the father. The baby became impatient and eventually ran across the road after her, leaving dad alone! He eventually decided to get up, too, and wow – he was absolutely massive!
He finally headed off and we could not believe our luck. We had seen 5 of the 11 rhinos at the sanctuary in the span of about five minutes! Safari really is just the luck of the draw, and we happened to be very lucky that day. We headed off to enjoy a delicious bush breakfast and got lucky again. We pulled up to a herd of zebra right next to where we would be eating breakfast. They didn’t budge when we parked the truck! Although we had seen zebra, they were never this close before.
On our way out after breakfast, we came across more giraffes! We got to watch as they ate out of impossibly tall trees. It was the perfect way to finish out our safari. I mean, you can literally never see too many giraffes.
Rhinos are definitely one of the harder animals to see while you’re on safari! In addition to their rarity, they can be reclusive, so if you have the ability to do a game drive at a rhino sanctuary that specializes in knowledge of these animals, I definitely recommend it! Those game drives were once in a lifetime experiences I will never forget, and rhinos quickly took the top spot on my list of favorite animals. Well, until I saw elephants…and hippos…and lions…more on that soon!
The Prague Marathon is less than two weeks away! I am starting to get so excited, but of course, I’m nervous too. Since I’m trying to up my mental game, I decided to write a post that focuses on the positive and tell you about all of the stuff I’m looking forward to the most!Read more
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Marathon training is a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I suppose the same can be said for any type of distance training, but I find marathon training to be especially mentally exhausting. Take, for example, my feelings about cross training. A couple months ago, it felt like there wasn’t enough time in the weekRead more
After successfully surviving an 18 mile long run last week, this week was a cut back week. Monday, 4/10/17, Outdoor bike ride: I used to ride my bike outside all the time when I lived near Columbia, despite the fact that I lived in a tiny town and the roads were insane. People drove fast,Read more
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