Monthly archives: May, 2014

Traveling Tips, Running & Otherwise

I’m traveling this week (coming to you live from a hotel in NH). Travel, regardless of the reason, is always a bit stressful for me due to my special dietary needs and other quirks, like being a creature of habit and routine to a huge extent. I thought it might be interesting or helpful to others if I shared some of the things I do to prepare for trips and while I’m on the road. Some of them are related to running, some to travel in general. Some of what I do varies depending on whether it’s a car trip (like Shamrock was) or a plane trip.  This trip’s a solo trip, plane & rental car, to visit my Dad in his new digs in Nashua NH, and see my sister who’s here also. I’m lucky in that I’m able to telework in my hotel room for part of the time.


I book a hotel with fridge & microwave in the room, and a fitness center with at least one treadmill – and I call to make sure it’s working! I happen to find hotels in the Marriott chain (Residence Inn a fave, Courtyard/TownePlace also good) are usually pretty good for this, especially if you are a rewards member of some level. Be aware that most hotel fridges don’t have a decent freezer compartment, so don’t count on it.

If you’re an outside runner go online to look for routes (try mapmyrun), look online for running stores, clubs, or groups and get in touch with them before you arrive. You can also check localleiki (app) or ask for recs on twitter. If all else fails, you can ask the hotel. I’ve done loops in the parking lot when nothing else is available, but it is a bit of a grind. I plan to hit the local running store tomorrow, buy something small – a treat for me and I love to support the small independents.

I program the hotel’s direct phone number into my cell phone under HOTEL. I call them with questions, if I get lost, if I need to know where something is in the area. I can’t always get what I need from them, but they’re where I start.

I make sure GoogleMaps & any other helpful apps on my phone are up to date, like the RoadID app. Google maps has already saved me a couple of times here.


I research local grocery stores (prefer Whole Foods, will go with Trader Joe’s and regular stores depending on location), printing out maps, directions and phone numbers. That way I know where I’m going to get the food I’ll stock in the hotel room.

Some grocery list items (quantity & packaging depend on length of stay, how much I feel I’ll need to eat or conversely control my eating).  Being in a hotel room far from home with lots of snack food can be problematic. I try to keep in the room only things I’d be pleased with myself for eating, but sometimes I don’t succeed. It’s helpful to check the hotel room prior to hitting the store to see if there are any supplies like plates, microwaveable containers, can opener, eating utensils (Residence Inns are great for that). If not, you may need to buy some if you haven’t brought any, or add to/alter your purchases. I try to stick with produce that I can cook and proteins/produce that don’t require refrigeration or heating (though I will usually heat my food and will refrigerate things that require it). Before you shop, check the size of the fridge (and whether it has a freezer, this one doesn’t) and make sure it seems to be chilling properly.

My list:

  • sweet potatoes (orange and Japanese)
  • asparagus
  • nut butter – packets if possible (sometimes I’ll bring some, but they need to go in toiletries kit) or smallest possible jar (I hate to I wound up getting MaraNatha sunflower seed butter – a jar for $3.50! I pay twice that – as everything else had added sugar or was too $$)
  • cans of beets, artichoke hearts, sardines – to avoid having to buy a can opener, look for the ones with pull tops
  • cans/packets of tuna, salmon, chicken
  • spinach or kale, shredded carrots, mushrooms, zucchini (the latter are great as filling low calorie snacks if you just have to put something in your mouth)
  • hardboiled eggs – sometimes if I’m at a Residence Inn I’ll get a container of egg whites
  • protein powder or prepared drinks like Muscle Milk
  • bananas (if I can freeze them)
  • berries/melon
  • veggies I can cook like Brussels sprouts, shredded carrots as well as some romaine or kale to use for wraps or salads (or heated)
  • mushrooms – can be cooked, also a very handy, filling low calorie snack
  • smartwater

I also bought some plastic utensils, paper plates/bowls and items to heat water/food in. I try to buy the least I have to and leave it behind as a donation (or I may be able to leave some of this stuff with my sister). I bring a plastic water bottle (athletic style) and a Klean Kanteen for my tea or other beverages. I bring tea bags, stevia, protein and other type bars and jerky, maybe some nuts/dried fruit (all things that make it through security ok) as well as all my supplements. I’ve also found that I can bring a cooked sweet potato with nut butter in a sandwich container (hard shell) through security no problem, good snack on the plane. I carry packages of Clorox wipes to wipe down the hotel room, car, etc. and Purell wipes for travel (don’t have to be in the toiletry kit, I can pick up sanitizing gel at destination).

This time I hit the Walmart SuperCenter, then a nearby grocery store which was as good as the hotel clerk had said and far better than Walmart for food items….they had Japanese sweet potatoes and kabocha (sad face, no way to cook it).

Working out

I knew I was flying on a small plane (tiny overhead) and only here a few days, so I brought less in terms of the stuff to support my running and other activity than I might normally. I’m not sure how I feel about that now that I’m here, might be worth using a small rolling bag and gate checking it.

I brought my trigger point ball, foot rubz ball, a spare stretching rope and a theraband. I wish I had a foam roller, stick or my roll recovery device.
I signed up for a free trial of with the intent of doing a class or two with my fave Sage Rountree (my laptop doesn’t have a DVD drive or I would have just brought her DVD). Haven’t had time to do that yet. I plan on using a hotel towel as a “mat” along with my gloves/socks from yogatoes.

I made sure my shuffle was loaded with carefully chosen podcasts and made a list of what they were, with times. I have other ones on my phone to listen to while driving around.

It’s Tuesday evening as I’m writing this…I managed two treadmill runs today, one before work (added some strides outside after to cool off) and one at lunch, which I combined with five minutes on the elliptical. Did my chiro exercises after the first run and my Wharton flexibility after the second. I got a lovely 45min walk in with my sister before dinner. Tomorrow, I’ll do core and run in the morning and either run at lunch or do a yoga workout. Wharton will come in somewhere. Thursday, I plan to run before work and at lunch, fit Wharton in somewhere if possible given work, a family care planning meeting, and dinner with my sis and her hubs. Friday will be more challenging as it’s usually a bike/XT day for me – the workout room has a bike, but I’m not sure I like the style. May need to try it out tomorrow. If nothing else, I can walk on the treadmill, maybe with some incline or walk outside before heading to the airport mid-morning. I might have time to bike when I get home on Friday, but I don’t want to rely on that.

Things I wish now I had brought or had room to bring

Something to roll my legs out with – I could buy something and leave it with my sister, but I don’t think I’m going to do that this time – but I’m feeling the lack!

My CorrectToes to help my bunion (wear them in the evening)

My eye mask for sleep (the thing I forgot, I always forget at least one thing)

What are your tips and tricks for traveling, running and otherwise? I’m always looking for ways to improve, and I have more travel lined up, so I’d love to hear from you!

Weekly Recap – Week of April 28, 2014

Here’s the recap of last week’s training:

Run: 41.35 miles
(back over 40mpw and 16 mi long run…progress! I know, shouldn’t matter, mileage monster. I need to be like Meb, who doesn’t know his mpw. Go read this!)
Bike: 2 x 1h ez spin (M/F), plus 20 min after Saturday’s run
Pool run: 25 min (Sun)
Core: 4 (M/W/F am, T PM different routine)
Wharton flex: 3.5 (need to get this up to 5 or more)
Yoga: 2 x 1 hour long Sage Strength workouts (M/W)
Chiro exercises: 2 (T/Th)
Calf stretches: 4 (falling behind on this)

Details below if you’re interested. Happy Monday!

Mon: AM – core workout, 60 min ez bike spin PM – Sage’s Strength Yoga. The yoga was tough, in that I haven’t done the routines for a long time, am much less flexible than I used to be and have weak foot muscles – plus the bunion on the R foot really does make it hard to balance.

Tues: AM – walking warmup & drills pre-run, RUN 9.25mi at increasing ez pace zone, with brief hill and decline at end; immediately after, did some of my chiro strength exercises and 2 yoga stretches; on a conference call, rest of chiro strength exercises; after work, some McMillan core strength exercises, Wharton flex routine, some trigger point. Iced my knee twice – chiro didn’t like bruising, e-stim’d it and told me to keep icing.

Wed: AM – core workout, walking warmup & drills pre-run, RUN 5 mi at ez pace. Notice my glutes, hams & hips are sore either from M yoga or Tues strength exercises. Immediately after (before leaving for work) did half of my Wharton flex routine. PM – Sage’s Strength Yoga and other half of Wharton.  Tonight I used the CorrectToes spacers while doing yoga and it helped. Have to be more careful with foot placement. Noticed my arms were tired during the evening’s yoga – I did a LOT of downward dog and plank today, both in the morning and the evening. Splitting up the Wharton this way may make it more workable with my schedule.

Thurs: AM – walking warmup & drills pre-run, RUN 7 mi at ez pace. Noticed tightness in outer upper R calf, not where I’d had previous pain. Was there at start of run and didn’t get better or worse during run. Still, I decided that there was no point in pushing it (one could argue that I should have stopped right away) and decided not to go to 10. That’s also because I was incredibly sore, probably from the extra yoga and strength workouts! Took some SportLegs after the run (usually I only do that on long run days) and was amazed when, 1 hour after taking them, the pain in my legs eased significantly. Did manage to do all my chiro exercises immediately after, then headed to chiro appt #2 for the week. Got my Wharton flexibility exercises in before an afternoon massage. (skipped afternoon core)

Definitely need to get on a regular schedule with massages. MT asked if I ever take a day completely off exercise (no, with the exception of illness like the stomach virus last week – 2 complete days off). She suggested I do so (I do bike XT on “off” days – doing nothing makes me crazy) and also suggested upping my foam rolling and getting a Thai massage. Apparently my inner R quad was quite tight – and thinking about it, it has been a bit sore feeling. She said Thai massage was sort of like assisted yoga stretching; the MT gets you into the position you need to be to stretch, they do all the work. Not sure about it. (Anybody out there had a Thai massage? If so, what did you think?)

Fri – AM: core workout, 60 min ez bike spin, Wharton flex exercises.

Sat – Rough tummy night on Friday, awake from 3-5, up around 6:15. Not ideal amount of sleep, possibly less than most weeknights (and that’s not good). However… myself poking along, walking warmup & drills pre-run, then RUN 16.1 miles at ez run pace with that extra 0.1 at stride or faster pace! Longest long run since pre-Shamrock (though on my back to back Sat/Sun runs I was over that). Still felt somewhat sore, and it was some mental effort, but I got it done – 2.5 podcasts worth. Was only going to do 14, but I really wanted to hit 16, which is sort of the magic “shortest” long run in most marathon training plans. It’s important to me to get my mileage back up as I’m only a couple of months away from starting my next marathon training plan. 20 min of cooldown on the bike, wore my CorrectToes most of the afternoon, and got the leg portion of my Whartons in before dinner. Was sorer than I’d have liked to be or expected to be, in view of using SportLegs and my 110% compression full tights with ice, but it’s probably reasonably given my ramping up mileage and a rough last couple of weeks.

Sun – Somehow my body has decided that sleeping in means getting up at 6am on the weekend. I’d like to officially register a protest. I gave up, got up, and after walking warmup and drills, RUN 4 ez pace miles on the treadmill. Probably should have gone outside, but decided due to fatigue & soreness to stay inside. After a quick snack of applesauce mixed w/ protein powder, headed off to the pool with DH, first time since December. Unfortunately, couldn’t find my mask, took my backup goggles, which immediately leaked. So I switched over to pool running using one of the pool’s belts (not as tight as mine). Got 25 min in, my muscles appreciated it (seems tendons don’t benefit as much, and boy does my bunion/big toe bone hurt on the underside of my foot). The belt always rides up to my hernia and kicks up my reflux. However, overall I think it is generally beneficial, so maybe I’ll make tagging along on Sunday a quasi-regular thing. I did go online and order a replacement mask or two as well as a couple of two piece swimsuits to try. I’m not usually a fan of two pieces (I think I’ve worn one once, maybe 25 yrs ago), but one pieces don’t fit me well and always cut into me somewhere, even the long torso suits. Current one causes significant shoulder pain from straps. Went with swimsuit and warm rash guard shirt instead of full neoprene kit. Just didn’t feel like dealing with all that sopping wet gear after.

In the afternoon, spent a demoralizing amount of time packing for my trip this week before grabbing a little bit of porch time. I’m headed up to NH to visit my Dad in his new assisted living digs, which are very close to my sister, so I’ll get to spend some of my visit with her too, which is great. I’m also fortunate in that I’ll be able to telework at least part of the time, reducing the amount of leave I use. There may be a post this week about me traveling and what it takes, tips, tricks and the like. I’ll be fairly connected except when in transit or with family.

Have a great start to the week!

Friday Five – 5 Things I Love About Running

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps
Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
This week’s theme is “5 Things I Love About…”  Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages.

Here, after much thought, are 5 of the many things I love about….


Identity – I am a runner. It’s a huge part of how I see myself, how I approach much of my life, and one of my major priorities. The flip side of this strong identification is that a twinge or a hiccup in training or an injury to deal with can cause me anything from annoyance to stomach-clutching, tear-filled deep fear. But I love who I’ve become and the life I’ve built, and who I have become as a runner is a big part of that.

Community – What does the start line of a race feel like? Like running, it’s both a deeply individual and thoroughly communal experience. There’s a hum of excitement, nerves, runners comparing notes on the race, the course, their training. People who’ve never met suddenly finding someone who shares their goal and will keep them company through the miles to come. Runners can bond on a bus, online, in a running store, on a trail, wherever. Commenting on someone’s running shoes or asking for a good running route or nutrition tips can turn a stranger into a friend. We share so much in our pursuit of this sport we love, and those bonds – that ability to understand what someone else is going through, to empathize, sympathize, support – help us all have a “place” we belong.

Inspiration – Runners, including many I’ve never actually met (love the internet!!) restore my faith in the goodness of people, and I’m honored to belong to the tribe. And what a tribe it is, with so many people doing extraordinary things and pushing themselves to achieve despite significant challenges. When I talk about extraordinary things, I don’t just mean jaw-dropping ultras, back to back marathons or running across the country, I also mean people who get off the couch to run a 5k or marathon to support a cause. When I say “pushing themselves to achieve despite significant challenges,” I don’t just mean running a marathon a week for a year, or a 4-minute mile in Alaska, or a marathon at the North Pole, I mean the people who struggle with physical, emotional or psychological challenges most of us can’t begin to imagine living with, who fight every day just to get out the door and run. On top of that, so many runners are instantly, instinctively generous with their time, knowledge, effort, resources and kind words, helping people they may never get to know. I see heroes everywhere in our wonderful, worldwide family.

Unlimited goals – There is always some new goal I can set for myself. I can increase distance, speed or both. I can take to the trails or the track, I can place in a new age group, I can run (literally) for days at some races. I can even make up my own challenges, uniquely suited to me, to push myself in ways I want or need to. New goals can be scary, whether because I might reach them or because I might not or because of the hard work and uncertainty involved. But trying for the big goals I’ve set for myself in my life has given me back so much and helped make me who I am. Even little goals – one more repeat, one more mile, adding a day of a different training, trying a new route – enrich my life. “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” (John Shedd)

Structure – I love structure, routines, plans and planning! I’m happiest with multiple goals lined up, one leading to the next, and plans to achieve them driving my days and choices. Right now I know what my racing schedule looks like for the next year, and I’m starting to work on training plans. Those will funnel down (already have actually) to what I do on any/every day. This approach means most things I do have a “why” behind them that supports my plans and goals, from what my run will be to what I’m eating. If there’s not a direct relationship, a good test for an activity or choice is how will it affect my progress and achieving my goals or fit in with the life I’ve built around those things. I do realize that occasionally it’d probably be good for me to break pattern, be spontaneous, make a leap….so I do try to plan that in (kidding).

Possibility – This is linked with all of the above, but what I really mean is that sense of possibility I can get on a long run. Whether I’m listening to a podcast or just letting my mind wander, I feel my thoughts become more relaxed and expansive. I start to feel like I CAN do things I may have questioned my ability to pull off. I see problems or challenges from a different perspective, like turning the wheel on a kaleidoscope. Sometimes the view shifts just enough that I see there’s an approach, outside the little box I built, that can work. I feel like I know more of the good parts of who I really am, can see the best version of me, and have an idea of how to keep on track to being that me. It opens up my mind, my heart and my world in a way nothing else ever has. It’s one of my absolute favorite things about running, and I hope it happens for you too.

What are your five favorite things about running? Leave a comment or tweet me.