My 2018 Travel Wist List

Friday, 22 December 2017
I've changed my approach to how was I going to write this post. I have two bucket list travel posts planned for 2018 and wasn't sure if it was necessary to do three. I know this is my travel wish list, but I think I'm going to use this post to plan my travels realistically for 2018. My schedule continually makes me question my sanity. I want to be able to travel during 2018, but I want to be smart about it. Adding more stress from travel would be an unhealthy thing for me. So I've come up with one destination per month that I think is attainable. Here is my 2018 Travel List (in no particular order):

Wilsons Prom
This is another quick little day trip from Melbourne. It would probably be better spent on a lovely weekend getaway camping with the pupper if time allows. This is another destination I've wanted to visit since moving to Melbourne but always put it off.  

A couple years ago, my best friend and I decided we would go to Fiji for our 30th. Thanks to the delay in my visa getting approved, we weren't able to schedule that trip. It would seem the universe wants me to visit Fiji this year because I have an extended layover in Nadi and fully intend to explore the island with my time. 

Phantom Falls Walk
Waterfall hikes are totally my jam. I love the uniqueness of every falls. In Victoria, the walk to the falls can often be just as beautiful.  Another great aspect of this trail, it's located extremely close to the Great Ocean Road. It seems like it would be a nice little stop on a Great Ocean Road adventure! 

Giant Ned Kelly
About three hours outside of Melbourne, you will find a giant statue of Ned Kelly. Australia seems to have a thing for giant statues, but this one looks like the most fun to visit. I had only briefly heard of Kelly before moving to Australia. Since living here, I've wanted to find out more. Something about his story reminds me of the old wild west back in the US. 

I WILL get to Cairns this year so help me God. I've been living in Australia for almost 4 years now and have yet to visit. If you haven't visited Cairns are you even Australian?

Grampians National Park
I briefly went to the Grampians about a year ago. However, the Grampians is a vast national park with so much more to explore. I will definitely need to make another trip to enjoy this national park a bit more. 

New Zealand
This is another trip that is so close to Australia, it makes little sense that I have not visited yet. There are always fantastic flight deals to New Zealand, and I want to see where the hobbits are from. Plus having a few friends in New Zealand gives me an excellent excuse to visit. 

Kinglake National Park
In case you haven't guessed yet, I'm big on nature. Hiking, swimming, exploring are all my jam. It's rare that I will go on holiday and want to sit and relax. Even on remote islands, I want to be swimming and snorkelling with the fishes and doing laps of the island. There are so many amazing national parks in Victoria, you could go hiking every weekend if you wanted! I need to start exploring more!

Hanging Rock 
Up near Mount Macedon, there's a unique little rock formation named Hanging Rock. While the hike to the summit is relatively short, there are many unique features about this rock formation that draw people annually. Most of Mount Macedon is pup friendly which is why Hanging Rock has made my list. 

The US
I think its due time I made a proper trip back home. I've planned a long trip back to the US for 2018. It will be nice to see friends and family and hopefully explore the US a little. I still haven't done the Hollywood sign hike. Hopefully, I'll have some time between catching up with family and friends to explore a little bit. 

Tower Hill 
Another nature expedition, Tower Hill is located a fair bit outside of Melbourne, but you can still manage to make a day trip out of it. This wildlife reserve is the remnants of a, now inactive, volcano. There are 5 different walks which means there's plenty of adventure!

Swan Hill 
This may seem like a childish place to want to visit, but Swan Hill looks adorable to me. Every time one of the kiddos I work with mentions Swan Hill, it reminds me of a tiny mining town named Columbia in California. Growing up we used to go on field trips here frequently. It is still a place I love to explore so Swan Hill seems like it would be right up my alley.  

It doesn't seem like much, but with my schedule, this is pretty attainable. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to add a few overseas destinations this year. If money wasn't an option, where would you travel in 2018? Share your top travel destination in the comments below. 

And until next time...
Stay curious

Never miss an adventure by following along on social media:

Bright Trifecta Weekend: A Weekend of Insanity

Monday, 11 December 2017
I had set a goal for myself at the beginning of 2017: I would get my Spartan trifecta this year. With a plan set in place to do each of the three races throughout the year, I knew I had this goal in the bag. Unfortunately, life got in the way and my carefully planned out year compacted all three races into one single weekend. (Let massive panic ensue) I was terrified, but I was also so excited. I knew my Bright weekend getaway would not only be a challenging one but a beautiful escape from bustling Melbourne. 

Preparing for a trifecta weekend is no easy task, but that is a story for another post. Somehow,even with my insanely jammed packed schedule, I managed to get everything together. Driving to Bright reminded me of my long drives from San Diego to my hometown. There was a butt load of nothing to see but farmland and the occasional servo. When I finally made it to Bright, I picked up the keys to the cottage and then went to pick up my race packet. 

At first, I was disappointed all of my friends bailed, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The alone time allowed me to mentally prepare for the weekend ahead. I woke up well rested and excited to take on the first of my three challenges, the Super. 

As I arrived at the arena, I became overrun with fear and anxiety. Why on gods green Earth were they saving the Beast for day 2? Wouldn't it make more sense to go from the longest race to the shortest? I was recently listening to a podcast, where John De Sena was interviewed, and I believe I got my answer. Mental toughness. You'll rarely find a Spartan race that is the length stated on your sign up. This is because Spartan is supposed to challenge you mentally and physically. Why put the Beast on day 2? Because you're challenged yet again to get up and force yourself to run the longest of the three races exhausted. 

Leaping over the first obstacle to get into the starting area, I was excited. I knew I could rock this race. I would worry about the Sprint and Beast later. Right now, my goal was to finish the Super in under 4 hours. I ended up making a friend along the trail. This is something I love about Spartan races. If you're not racing in the elite or competitive waves, everyone helps each other out. We were rocking the course until we reached the mountain. Oh. Sweet. Lanta. I was so underprepared for what the Bright mountain held in store for me. 30 was the number that stuck in my head. 30 steps; then you can take a break. Somehow, this worked. I made it to the top! I silently panicked about how I was to repeat this climb twice the following day but pushed that fear aside to keep going. With a little more running, climbing, jumping, and swimming I finished my first Spartan Super! 

I quickly grabbed my bag, ate my lunch, and stretched on my foam roller before entering the starting area once more for my Sprint. My body was aching, screaming at me to just go home and rest. But my mind was yelling louder, "You can do this! You've already run this trail; it will be easy". My mind won. During my Super, being the clutzy person I am, I fell down the mountain landing on my wrist. I did not realise how severely I had injured myself until I was halfway through a burpee penalty about 5kms into the course. My wrist was throbbing; I couldn't put any body weight on it. I convinced myself to finish the Sprint and do the burpees. I was worried I would get disqualified if I didn't. After about 2 hours on the course, my slowest Sprint to date, I was 2/3 of the way to my first trifecta!

Returning to my cottage, my muscles screamed with fatigue, I found driving difficult with my busted wrist, and all I wanted was a nice Epsom salt bath. Imagine the horror when I realised that the cottage was not equipt with a bathtub. I instead opted for a steaming hot shower and a solid hour upon the foam roller. I was praising all the gods that I had made my dinner the night prior. All I needed to do was warm it up and force myself to eat. That night, I slept better than I ever had. 

In the morning, I awoke, sore, drained, and every muscle in my body and brain were screaming at me to go back to bed. 
"You should rest. It isn't smart to run a race injured." 
"You're too sore, too tired, just go back to bed. No one will blame you if you do not run today." 

I messaged my friend I made the day prior asking if she was still going. When I received the message that she was almost to the arena, I jumped out of bed and rushed over. The entire drive was a war raging in my mind. 
"You won't be able to finish." 
"Just try and make it to the mountain. If you're in too much pain, just stop."
 "woman are you insane? You injured yourself, your autoimmune disorder hates you, and you're limping!"

I made up my mind. I would run until I reached the base of the mountain. There I would assess my injuries, and if I needed to, I would tap out. When I made it to the bottom of the mountain, my mindset changed. Just make it up the mountain and assess from there. I kept setting small goals where I could check in and evaluate how my body was responding. My wrist injury was worse than I thought so I did have to sub my burpees for squats halfway through the race. Somehow, I made it up that crazy mountain twice. I became elated once I reached the sandbag carry. I knew I was less than 5kms from the finish line. I could do this! With the help of other Spartan's shouting words of motivation, I powered through the last bit of the course. Upon crossing the finish line, I turned to the volunteer handing out the medals, confessed that I had to switch to squats due to an injury and shouldn't be given my medal. He laughed, put the medal over my head and said, "You earned this damn medal. Most men could not accomplish what you just did. Fantastic job!"  

Words cannot adequately describe the overwhelming feelings of joy and pride I felt after completing my first trifecta weekend. Best of all, I finished my Beast in under 8 hours! I met the time goal I set for myself. After collecting my bag, I returned to my car and cried tears of joy. Yup, I am not ashamed to admit I cried after the hell Spartan put me through that weekend. It was then I told myself, never again would I run a trifecta weekend. 

I fully understand how Spartan races are so addictive. They push you mentally and physically in ways you could never imagine. Yes, not all Spartan races are created equally, but each race will challenge you differently. No less than 24 hours after my trifecta weekend, I sat down and planned out my Spartan races for 2018. Guess what? I signed up for another trifecta weekend, and I cannot wait! Have you ever ran a Spartan race before? What drives you while you're on the course? 

And until next time...
Stay curious!

Never miss an adventure by following along on social media:

5 Tips for Running a Race: the Run Melbourne 10K

Monday, 4 December 2017
With the Spartan Trifecta close around the corner, I've been trying to find creative ways to train and stay motivated. Determined to challenge myself continually, I've started signing up for races at least once a month (October may be the death of me). After signing up for my first 10K, I began to panic. Sure, one could easily Barney Stinson a 5K, but the longer races may require a bit more training. As I signed up for my first 10K two weeks out, what could I possibly do to ensure I didn't keel over mid-race and collapse to the floor? I turned to some of my gym addicted friends for some advice and here are some of the tips and tricks suggested:

1. Vary up your runs.
If you're doing the same distance, at the same pace every single day, there's very little room for improvement. The runs will become more comfortable, but you won't get faster, and you won't be able to run for extended periods of time. Try varying the workout for faster results. What is the best suggestion for improving the distance and time of your runs? Rotate between endurance, HIIT, and active recovery runs. You'll see faster results and build the confidence to run faster and for longer periods of time. 

2. Don't forget to warm up and cool down.
I am notorious for not warming up or cooling down. Even when I was dancing hours a day, nearly every day of the week, warm-ups were not my jam. This has resulted in significant injuries throughout the years, and my old body is paying the price. When I warm up and cool down properly for a run, I find I'm able to run faster, I don't tire as quickly, and my recovery time is shortened significantly.

3. Do some strength training.
This may seem counterproductive to running, but strength training helps heaps! By adding strength training to your exercise routine, you reduce the risk of injury, help improves your form, and it can actually help you run faster. That's right! Having more power in your muscles can definitely aid in moving more quickly.

4. Have an accountability buddy
Life sometimes (often) gets in the way. It can be easy to hit snooze on your alarm, skip a workout because of the weather, or take your friends up on plans. By having an accountability buddy, you're helping one another to achieve a goal. You're there to support each other through the good, the bad, and the downright dangerously tumultuous relationship one can have with long distance running. There will be days where your buddy will push you through your slump. There will be days that you bound and leap in excitement whilst your buddy cries. No matter what, you're there to help each other succeed!

Archer is the best accountability buddy!
5. Just sign up
Sometimes the best way to kick-start your running program is to throw yourself into the deep end. Maybe don't start with a full marathon, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to complete a 5k. Start with a smaller race and eventually you'll be able to build yourself up to long distance running. For me, just signing up for a race is enough motivation to get my booty into gear. I know I'll pay the price if I'm unable to complete the race. Plus then I just wasted some hard earned money for no good reason.

I get that running isn't everyone's cup of tea. Heck, it isn't even my cup of tea. But I continue to do it because I notice the mental benefits of doing so. I find I gain so much more from my runs if I have a running buddy. What's better for your mental and physical health than getting out there and working out with a friend? Did you run the Run Melbourne race? What races have you run? Share your stories in the comments below!

And until next time...
Stay curious!

Never miss an adventure by following along on social media: