Monday, December 15, 2008
Back from Africa
I am back from a whirlwind inspection trip in Botswana and Zambia, having visited 8 different camps in as many days, plus an overnight in Johannesburg en route, and two days getting there and back on South African Airways via their Dulles/IAD gateway. I traveled with a great group of tour operators from all over the USA - the trip would not have been nearly as fun as it was, if it were not for the endless stream of jokes, anecdotes, Swahili phrase book highlights, stories and witticisms coming from Kili, Gretchen, Greg, Jennifer, Hema, Sherie, Sherine and Andrea.
The highlight? A visit to Livingstone Island in the middle of the Zambezi, where some of our party swam out to a rocky outcrop, from where we jumped into a small natural rock pool, literally on the edge of the abyss. It was most exhilarating to feel the cool waters of the Zambezi flow around you, only to plunge over a cliff right behind you! Some of the more daring group members (not including yours truly!) even peeked over the edge, with one of the Livingstone Island guides holding their ankles. While 'sitting' in the rock pool, little fish tug at loose bits of skin on your feet, so I suppose if you stayed there long enough, you would get a pedicure in addition to the thrill of a lifetime...
It was also nice to see my family again, albeit briefly, in Johannesburg on the first night. We had dinner at a restaurant in the Emperor's Palace complex not far from Oliver R. Tambo International Airport, from where we were to depart to Maun in Botswana, the following morning.
I am writing a trip report and will post some of it, together with lots more pictures (if I can only figure out how to get the pics into the body of the post, and not all at the top...!!) soon.
As for running, I couldn't run anywhere for fear of being trampled by elephants or attacked by something else, so had to settle for a single treadmill workout of 5 miles, at the Chobe Game Lodge towards the end of the trip.
Today is Day 1 of my 18-week Boston training program. With a cold front coming in later this afternoon, I went out before work this morning, logging about 6 miles including 6 short hill repeats, at an average pace of 9:16, average heart rate 142. It felt good to be running again!
For once, I came back from a trip a couple of pounds lighter than when I left. No doubt the vegan diet had something to do with it, and of course there are not many opportunities for idle snacking when you are out in the bush. At around 160 lbs. right now, I would like to shed another 5 lbs or so - it would be great to line up for Boston close to 150. I know only too well that heavy marathon training and 'dieting' (as in caloric restriction) do not go hand in hand, so I won't be obsessing about this. I'm hoping that upping my weekly mileage, together with continued sugar avoidance - and much reduced bread intake - will take care of this naturally.