Our second day of double days was again, sweltering in the morning, but I definitely felt better than I did the morning prior (see Blog 1). Marcio arranged for a Brazilian team we didn’t know to be at this practice, which was great because it makes you focus on what you’re doing since there’s no way you can know the other team’s tendencies if you’ve never seen them before. We went longer than normal, and we would have kept playing, but Marcio made us stop because we still had lifting and another practice later.

Immediately following practice we showered and changed for the gym. I thought taking a cold shower would cool me off enough after practice, but I just kept on sweating. As soon as I put on my workout clothes I sweat right through them. I had to keep wiping my face with my sarong because sweat kept dripping in my eyes; I was a mess. (Good thing I brought my Gatorlytes! If you’re sweating that much it’s really important to add electrolytes and potassium to whatever you’re drinking!)

So after I got myself together and downed some yogurt with granola along with tons of water, we drove over to the weight room. ‘Off the court’ training varies SO much from country to country, it’s always interesting to see how different national teams train. In this facility there were a lot of machines and hardly any free weights, one platform (kind of), which is mainly what I use at home, but you learn to use what you’ve got and we both got good lifts in.

Post-lift it was so late we decided to go straight to Sugar Loaf Mountain (our chosen tourist activity of the day), which is the iconic two-peaked mountain you see at the end of the beach in every picture of Rio. There are big gondolas that take you initially to the first peak and then on up to the top. When we got into the first gondola I was still sweating. It was still sweltering. There were a ton of people bunched into this non-air conditioned small space. And they made us wait inside for what felt like forever. Once it started moving, though, I forgot all about that stuff because the views were immediately breathtaking.

We got to the stop on the first peak and had a much needed lunch break. We were surprised when little monkeys started coming at us out of the woodwork from all angles to try and get a nibble of our food. They were everywhere and if they weren’t so tiny and cute it would have been annoying, but I couldn’t get enough of them! One sat on the shoulder of Marcio’s chair for about three minutes just listening to our conversation. I think I have a hundred blurry pictures of them.

After lunch we took the next gondola up to the top. I could not believe how amazing the panoramic views were — it made all the sweating easily worth it. I highly recommend doing this if you’re ever in Rio. We took in the scenery, got some pretty cool photo opps and then needed to head down as it was getting really late and we still had another practice to go.

We got back to the hotel at 5 p.m. (we had left that morning at 9 a.m., just to put it into context). Thankfully, though, our second practice wasn’t until 7 p.m. under the lights on Copacabana Beach. I had just enough time to shower, snack, Instagram, tweet, and Facebook (yes, these are verbs) my favorite shot from the top of Sugar Loaf, and get in a light half-hour power nap before it was time to go again. I use the term “lights” lightly, since once we started practicing it was extremely hard to see, but it was a test of resiliency, patience and overall mental strength.

When we wanted to be frustrated, we just stuck with it and figured out a way to deal, and it turned out to be another great practice. Dinner at 9 p.m. after all of that was a struggle. I tried so hard to convey that I wanted grilled chicken instead of breaded chicken with my dish, but alas, my signing skills are not good enough the waiter did not understand, so I had breaded chicken for dinner, which is NOT in my diet, but what are you going to do? It was delicious. (I have since learned how to say, “I want grilled chicken” in Portuguese.)

Today was a bit more mellow. We had a mandatory press conference with all the American and Brazilian athletes, which was WELL attended by the media, followed by the technical meeting. After those obligations I had a massage scheduled (hey, it’s part of the job), which I could hardly wait for after the wringer I’d been putting my body through. Later in the afternoon, we took advantage of our time slot for training on center court where we will play tomorrow and ran through some drills with Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat. Seems like it’s going to be a fun atmosphere. Our matches are at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., so we’ll be playing under the (real) lights, which is always exciting.

I’m so pumped for this competition. We’ve only been training a short time, but it’s been a long time since we’ve competed and I’m ready to put it on the line. I don’t know how we’ll do as we are in the middle of sorting out our system and fine tuning things that need fine tuning, but we are going to give it our best and leave it all on the court! Go USA!

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