The NYC marathon is only 3 months away! OMG. I truly wanted to train while I was studying abroad, but it proved more difficult than I anticipated. For one, there were very few hours of daylight, basically 6:30AM to 5:00PM. Secondly, we had way less free time than I had anticipated. Traveling and completely structured weekends meant long runs were kind of out of the question. I also did not feel comfortable running alone. While I never felt unsafe (everyone I met in town, on the street and doing my research was unbelievably nice friendly, open and helpful), we were advised to stay in groups of two or three at night, and thus I didn’t run or walk alone early in the morning or after dusk.
So while I didn’t do as much running as I had hoped, I did do some. I did four or five runs with classmates or about 30-40 minutes. We also often ran to the gym and sometimes back. I typically ran with my friend Nico, who is much faster than me, so I had to run at a pace out of my comfort zone, so he wasn’t bored to tears. That ended up being a really good thing for me.
One of my favorite runs was to the Union Buildings—photos taken on a previous trip, not on the run.
The Union Buildings sit overlooking a park, high on top of a hill, and once you tackle the hill, there are easily over 100 stairs to the overlook.
Which offers a beautiful panorama of the city
and tier after tier of pretty landscaping, even in the winter
I must say after my Rocky-style run up the stairs to the top, I kind of thought I would lose my afternoon tea. It was the toughest run in recent memory!
So, at first, I thought the gym was going to be this amazing deal. However, the gym was probably the most expensive thing in South Africa. It took us three rounds of negotiations to get the price to a reasonable amount. Considering how comparably cheap the cost of living in Pretoria was, the fact that a gym membership is $69 a month not including initiation, surprised me. For comparison purposes, my average grocery trip in NYC is around $30-40 for 4 days worth of groceries. In South Africa, it was $6-7. A mea (salad, entree and drink) l that would cost $50 in NYC, cost $6-7 in South Africa. An hour and a half massage in a nice spa cost $35—we were obsessed with the spa! It was so affordable. The salon actually became a hangout and I really felt a part of the town when I walked in to the salon in the Woolies plaza and knew people. I got my highlights done for $20! That would be like $100 in the city.
Anyways, we ended up paying like $6 a visit to the very nice Virgin Active gym. I went 8 times over the course of 3 weeks.
Inside, it looked a lot like the picture below, with a nice pool and a spa, etc.
While the class schedule was awesome, I only had time to take one class, V-box. I did like that they had set of bleachers to run up and down in the gym, which I have never seen before.
Coming back, the first week of workouts has definitely been a challenge. I was so so sore after my one session of lunges and squats! Just going up stairs the next few days, I felt like I had run a marathon! I took it really easy yesterday to give my body time to adjust.
Nevertheless, doing 4-5 hour long workouts a week kept my running base at a better level than I expected. I ran an easy 10 miler today with Katherine and it was far less strenuous than I had imagined. I didn’t even think I would make it past 6 miles, since I haven’t run more than 4 in almost 6 weeks. But the first 6 sailed by and the last four were not too bad. Today’s run reinvigorated me and renewed my confidence in my running ability; I can’t wait to get out there again. I have decided to treat 10 as my base and building about 2 miles a week per long run from there. Thanks for the great run Katherine, I don’t think I would could have done it without you!
Besides workout catching up, I have been pretty busy with social catch up—poor poor me lol, so I must run, but have a fabulous Saturday.