Tag: travel

My First Boston Marathon – The Day After

Let’s start with the night of race Monday…..after Ultragen and some hot decaf tea, realized we needed to get something to eat, for DH if not for me. Having scoped out safe restaurants and locations, we knew our options. Checked into a delivery service, but as all the restaurants were close to the race, some had eliminated delivery on race day.

So, DH and I walked – in the colder worse rain – to Five Guys and back for dinner around 6pm. It probably did my legs good. We were able to walk inside for all but a couple of blocks. Those couple of blocks were pretty unpleasant – dark, cold, very wet and very windy. I hoped Dave McGillivray was done! (Little did I know this impressive gentleman would be out on the course still moving toward his 20 hour finish.) After that, we just hung out in the hotel room. I snacked some because we had stuff and was pretending I needed to eat, but not hungry. I tired but so wired from the race or gels or both that I was online past 10:30, up past midnight.

I slept ok thanks to Benadryl and other sleep aids. I was able to make it to the bathroom multiple times (DH stayed on me about post-race hydration) without cursing or running into things or needing to hold on to anything. Woo hoo! Woke up a number of times, finally around 7 am, so not nearly enough sleep.

I want to share this lovely decoration DH bought for me Friday  – I added my own touch of decor Monday afternoon!

yellow roses & medal

yellow roses & medal

Stuff that hurt/was sore the morning after – less than I’d expected! (maybe the extra walk in the cold rain helped) The usual: hips are a little tight, upper hams at attachment just a bit (way less than normal thanks to sleeves), calves tight or knotted. Upper arms, even sore to the touch (happens to me after races). The new: a little above knees – thought it was only R, but it’s actually both (that makes me feel better that it was related to course/effort rather than a potential injury) probably tight VMOs. I should have iced/stretched, but didn’t. However, they improved over the next day or two. And, I knew my chiro appointment Thursday would address any issues. Overall, feeling pretty good – thanks to the sleeves, the cold and my slower pace, I imagine. Can’t really take much credit.

DH went out for a run and I went for a 1/4 mi swim in hotel’s saline pool. My first time in a saline pool, I liked it. I was tired by the end.

Whether because of swim or something else, the food we have in the room suddenly seemed appealing. Last night I ate because I needed to, and though things were tasty, I didn’t enjoy it that much and my stomach was still off. Not queasy, just very cranky when I ate.

I brewed tea while I took my first post-race shower. No chafing issues, no needing to hold on to anything, no real pain. Score!

I ate my breakfast of bacon, turkey on gluten free bread, asparagus, fresh berries and mango and some tasty gluten-free coffeecake. DH brought me a decaf Americano. I controlled myself but still ate quite a bit. I was hoping it would hold me over to our planned very early dinner.

Then, it was off to Newbury and Boylston streets to shop! We first went down Boylston, stopping at Marathon Sports and the Adidas RunBase. We took a few photos of the finish line area and decorations. We walked down to Mass Ave and then headed back on Newbury. We hit the Asics store as I’d seen some cute items there while at the fun run. They happened to be having a sale, so I added to my collection of running gear.

While out and about, got this photo of one of my favorite intersections

Hereford & Boylston

Hereford & Boylston

Below are photos from the very cool RunBase. If you’re in town, it’s worth a quick trip. They packed a lot of info into a small space that also contains an Adidas shop. The course profile sculpture (for lack of a better term) with additional information scrolling on it and graphics is really neat. They have interactive video display screens too. I asked them to please put the course video you can watch on a DVD and sell it – would be something many of us would buy, I think. (right? feel free to tweet them about it, maybe we’ll get it in time to train over the winter)


Adidas RunBase window

Adidas RunBase window

unicorn in RunBase window

unicorn in RunBase window

why the unicorn

why the unicorn

The super cool course profile sculpture in panorama

course profile in panorama

course profile in panorama

sculpture snippet 1

sculpture snippet 1

sculpture snippet 2

sculpture snippet 2

Bobbi Gibb quote

Roberta Gibb quote on course profile sculpture

Each town the race passes through has a blue placard on one side of the sculpture that has a symbol, the distance the race spends in the town, and a bit more info.

sculpture with some town placards

sculpture with some of the town placards

Here are quick photos I snapped (it was crowded and I didn’t want to be in someone’s way, though people were very friendly).

IMG_0772 IMG_0773 IMG_0774 IMG_0775 IMG_0776 IMG_0777


While we were out, we looked high and low for the Boston Globe, since in the past they’ve printed a special section listing every finisher and I’d been looking forward to that. Couldn’t find it. According to the very knowledgeable woman in the hotel gift shop – who was a bit beside herself about it – 2015 is the first time in 100 years (aside from 2013) that the Globe didn’t print the section, and they didn’t tell anyone ahead of time. She said the Kenyan delegation had come over from the Fairmont Copley looking for papers thinking the ones there were just missing the section. I was quite displeased with this decision, and I bet I’m not the only one. (goodness knows the gift shop clerk was, on all our behalf!) I bought the paper to read the coverage anyway, but imagine my disappointment if I’d been leaving town Tuesday morning, grabbing multiple papers at the airport thinking I’d be in them and planning to give them to people, and then finding out once I got home that there wasn’t one.

The “people’s Olympics” deserves its own special section, even if they put it in a commemorative edition and charge more. I’d surely pay for one – especially for this my first year – and I think others would too. Tell the Boston Globe via twitter, email or phone to bring back the section next year!

While on the hunt, saw this banner

Meb - There's Only One banner

There’s Only One banner

We went back to the hotel for a break, then headed back out. We went back over to Newbury to a cute coffeeshop that made me a decaf AeroPress Americano (!) and decided we wanted to go find the Make Way for Ducklings at Boston Common. Sadly, their race bibs were already gone, I was hoping for a picture. We then rode the carousel there (carousels are a thing for us). We made our way back to the hotel again, strolling on Commonwealth. I did a little bit of sorting and packing while we discussed dinner options.

We went out for dinner around 5 to a nearby dosa restaurant – I’d never had dosas and thought it would be cool. It was – they were huge and tasty. The manager was very helpful in keeping me advised of the gluten free options, of which there were many. I’d definitely eat there again or eat dosas elsewhere. I only wish I’d had room for their kheer, a favorite of mine.

Our dosas – mine was chicken tikka (near), DH had roasted eggplant (far).

our dosas

our dosas

The inside of mine

chicken tikka dosa

chicken tikka dosa

“Carrot cake” dosa for dessert- dosa filled with carrot halwa, drizzled with honey – outside and in.

carrot cake dosa outside

carrot cake dosa outside

carrot cake dosa inside

carrot cake dosa inside

We were so full we decided to walk for a while longer after dinner, headed over to the path by the Charles River, just like the fun runs did.

Welcome Runners sign on Charles River Esplanade

Welcome Runners sign on Charles River Esplanade

by the Charles River

runners by the Charles River

I was surprisingly fine with all the walking, I think I was actually more comfortable strolling than sitting, and it was probably good for me. My iPhone app clocked about 6 miles on Tuesday!

Then back to the hotel so I could do some packing and call my sister. She’d been unable to make it into Boston while we were there – she was under the weather and didn’t want to share germs with me, much appreciated. After packing and chatting, decided it was time to try to relax as pre-trip stress was kicking in. Snacked and read, and tried to get to sleep early, avoiding thinking of leaving Boston and that this wonderful experience was about to be over for this year.

Next post, the trip home and recovery week 1!

Arizona and after – What I Ate (the treats & the experiment)

Long post warning!

Faithful readers have patiently read (put up with) my discussing/analyzing/obsessing about my food plan post-race, a potential gluten free (GF) experiment, and what I’d do after. So this is to share what I actually did pre and post-race, what I learned, and what’s next.

(I actually wish I’d taken MORE photos and some I am sure I took seem to have gone missing. However, I’ll say it was weird to be taking photos of so much of my food, especially in restaurants. I found it a bit disruptive, got annoyed with myself at times. While I enjoy blogging and tweeting and connecting with you all, I’m not a “professional blogger” and I don’t live to blog/tweet. It felt like I was breaking the flow of actual life somehow and putting priorities in the wrong place. Anybody else run into that sometimes?)

Pre-race, I stayed on my Paleo diet plan. As always, not the easiest of plans to follow when eating out, but research, grocery shopping and being able to tolerate very limited options made it mostly work. (Thanks and kudos as always to DH for his patience and support!) I am gluten-free (GF) because I’m gluten-intolerant if not celiac – so out of need. I’m Paleo by choice due to other intolerances and a desire to limit carbs and sugar. I’m not Paleo because I believe we should eat what cavemen ate or anything like that, though I do think the less processed foods and sugar in one’s regular diet, the better. Paleo is just the easiest shorthand for the combination of foods that seem to mostly work okay for me – though I also follow the GERD diet for GERD/hiatal hernia and past ulcers, don’t eat nightshades for autoimmune reasons, though I do eat eggs, and am inching toward lower FODMAPS as I seem to have issues with some veggies, especially raw. The Venn diagram of what I can/do actually eat would be amusing.

After the race however……I’d decided to go wild and temporarily abandon Paleo tenets (no dairy, legumes, etc.) after almost two years of following them. I also allowed myself to eat foods that are prohibited on the GERD diet (spicier foods, carbonation, caffeine, citric acid), a bit risky, and I did have some acid issues, especially toward the end of the two weeks. I continued to eat gluten-free as the pain of not doing so would be not literally intolerable, but severely miserable, and not worth it. (I did contemplate trying the gluten-containing Tammie Coe cupcakes and other yummies – we had the Ooey Gooey cupcakes at our wedding, or naan at our Indian restaurant, but decided the risk/guarantee of pain was just too high. If you can eat gluten though, make sure you eat Tammie Coe products while you’re in Phoenix. Amazing.)

One reason for this “break” is that for the last year or so, the Paleo diet had felt like deprivation more than a positive choice. We had some problems over the 2013 holidays while visiting DH’s family that caused stress for everyone, and it seemed everywhere I looked was something I couldn’t have or chose not to have. It got to be kind of upsetting. Another reason I chose to do it after my ultra is because so many of my favorite foods are in Arizona, places that handle GF well (and my favorite brand of ice cream). It would have been best if I stuck to only restaurants for higher quality food but I did pick up some GF packaged foods like Glutino’s pretzels (ate while crewing), some bars I wouldn’t normally eat (Hammer Whey and Picky) and discovered – thanks to DH – the amazing Tim’s Salt and Vinegar potato chips. You may think you’ve had good salt and vinegar chips, but believe me, these are THE BEST. (and, dangerously, available directly from the manufacturer – not sold in our geographic area).

Tim's Salt and Vinegar Chips

Tim’s Salt and Vinegar Chips

Here’s how it went…..

Thursday 12/25 (left home 5am ET, ate my own food on plane, arrived at the hotel around noon local, which is MT)

Ate our holiday “lunch” at the hotel restaurant, beet and spinach salad with candied pecans and small chunks of steak. We went to Walgreens to pick up SmartWater and snacks, but there wasn’t much available. I believe I got a fruit cup. Our shopping was limited as all the grocery stores near the hotel were closed on the holiday and even Walgreens had limited hours.For dinner, room service burger with bacon (which got remade as they’d put GF bread on it) and sautéed veggies.

Friday 12/26

Breakfast – in the room, Paleo bread sandwich and nut butter (I carried these on the plane)

Lunch – salmon and asparagus along with another beet/spinach salad (no meat) at the hotel’s spa cafe

Dinner – spinach/spring mix salad with mushrooms, chicken, bacon, nuts, strawberries and fig balsamic dressing at Picazzo’s (if you eat gluten-free, this is a place for you…only 2 items on the whole menu not available GF)

Picazzo's spinach salad

Picazzo’s spinach salad

We went to a favorite local grocery store and found kabocha! DH pushed me to get it. It IS possible to cook it in a hotel room microwave, but it takes forever and doesn’t turn out as well….also, I think it wasn’t quite ready to be picked.We also went to Whole Foods and picked up sweet potatoes, fruit, asparagus, turkey lunchmeat, a new loaf of Paleo bread, strawberries and some nut butter. I think we also got some GF treats in preparation for my post-race “indulging”.

Arizona kabocha

Arizona kabocha

Saturday 12/27 (day before race)

Breakfast – in room, asparagus, Paleo bread and turkey sandwich, kabocha, some strawberries

Lunch – grilled chicken and asparagus at the hotel’s spa cafe

Dinner – PF Chang’s steamed Buddha’s Feast with chicken – this was a bit disappointing as while I was very clear with the server, some “unapproved” (can’t eat) veggies wound up in my meal. I chose to pick them out as it took so long to get the order in the first place and I needed food in me early, but it was stressful and not the first time it’s happened at PFC. It makes me think I’ll have to re-evaluate them as my go-to option.

Snacked on frozen bananas w nut butter (yes, managed that with a freezer compartment) and Terra sweet potato chips.

Sunday 12/28 (race day!)

Breakfast – none. I did my regular BeetElite and FRS chews in the room before we left. I’d debated about trying to eat something before the race as it was a 9am start (11am ET) but I just didn’t want to risk it. I was pretty hungry at the start.

During the race I had a craving for flat Coke (DH said aid station didn’t have, but post-race they had flat Sam’s Cola which is remarkably similar and was yummy). My brain translated that into also wanting fries and a burger.

Post-race – my usual Ultragen immediately after. Then we had to pack the car and get back to the hotel, get cleaned up, etc. Fortunately, racing usually kills my appetite and the Ultragen held me for a while.

Let the binging begin……

Dinner – Five Guys…..so glad they have gluten-free fries! First time I’d had potatoes in almost 2 years. I got a little burger w/ bacon (no bun) and a medium fries to split between me and DH, and Coke Zero. Turns out all I really wanted was the fries, at a bite of the burger and a little bacon and ate about 2/3 of the fries. Went to Picazzo’s and picked up GF skillet chocolate chip cookie and coconut milk ice cream.

Picazzo's GF skillet choc chip cookie w coconut milk vanilla ice cream

Picazzo’s GF skillet choc chip cookie w coconut milk vanilla ice cream

Monday 12/29 

Breakfast – Went to the AMAZING Jewel’s Bakery and Cafe where EVERYTHING is gluten-free and almost everything is unbelievably delicious! This place is uber-dangerous. Have the pancakes. Trust me. The texture is a revelation in GF pancakes, and they have a “buttermilk” syrup – I don’t know what’s in it, it has a hint of sweetness but not necessarily maple, but it will become your new favorite. (think it might be butter and agave)

Jewel's biscuit and pancakes

Jewel’s biscuit and pancakes

Donuts, oh, donuts, puffy yeast donuts. I loved the cinnamon sugar (but I love cinnamon sugar on its own, so that’s an easy one) but I think I loved the glazed more.

Jewel's donuts

Jewel’s donuts

Also got scones (blueberry, maple pecan, chocolate chip, all excellent – made from their biscuit dough I think), cookies (terrific molasses, dense and subtle oatmeal raisin, okay peanut butter), cupcakes (Elvis – banana cake good, pb frosting good, fluff and bacon overkill, Vanilla birthday cake only okay) and a sample of a swoon-worthy pecan bar.

more Jewel's yummies

more Jewel’s yummies

Dinner – Chelsea’s Kitchen, owned by LGO, which owns other restaurants we’ve liked. I had smoked trout dip (cream cheese, ok, not great, good tortilla chips though), kale salad unique and pretty good, short rib tacos and seasoned fries excellent – great tortillas, amazing fries and nice sauce on the meat (which reminded me of pot roast). They’re pretty good at GF, but always make sure to double-check details with the server as modifications may be required.

Tuesday 12/20 (day before race for runner I was crewing)

Breakfast – leftovers in room

Lunch – kale salad leftovers

Dinner – Picazzo’s again…..sauteed spinach as I was trying to include veggies (even a half order was too much, and a lot of olive oil)

Picazzo's sauteed spinach

Picazzo’s sauteed spinach

and this beautiful GF flatbread/cracker crust pizza with BBQ sauce, goat cheese, chicken and artichoke hearts

Picazzo's pizza

Picazzo’s pizza

Wednesday 12/31 – 24h race crewing day

Breakfast – in room before leaving at 7am.

Rest of day, night, into next day, was food I brought to the race along with a couple of chunks of cold boiled potato with salt. (I’ll put more detail in my crewing post)

Thursday 1/1/2015 – 24h race continues…still crewing (until 9am, then getting everything to the hotel, getting showered, etc.)

Dinner – picked up from Picazzo’s – an even better GF pizza! Cracker crust, BBQ sauce, artichoke hearts, bacon, mushrooms, 1/2 white cheddar, 1/2 smoked mozzarella. And of course another cookie.

Friday 1/2/2015

Lunch – Waldo’s BBQ – a LOT of food. I had pulled pork and a different type of rib than I’m used to…pretty reasonable. Side of a baked potato and lettuce salad (no dressing, unapproved veggies removed) as the GF options were….a baked potato/sweet potato and lettuce salad. (I saw onion rings and mac-n-cheese pass by.)

Waldo's pulled pork and rib

Waldo’s pulled pork and rib

baked potato and salad

baked potato and salad

We’d tried to go to Little Miss BBQ which smelled amazing, but after waiting in the parking lot line for 15 minutes, it became apparent we’d have to stand at least another hour to even get in the door, so we left. Perhaps another trip. Both BBQ places were helpful in answering my question about GF options via email or twitter. (I always research and try to confirm ahead of showing up.)

Stopped by Gluten-Free Creations, which had been my favorite GF bakery and cafe (prior to Jewel’s). I had a couple bites of their English muffin, which needed to be toasted more and wasn’t quite as good as I remembered. Had a bite of a holiday cookie (meh). Ordered their pumpkin pancakes, ate one and took the rest back to the room (think I only ate one more). Bought their buttermilk biscuits (making trip home to be frozen), maple walnut scone (one of these going home too) and a huge iced cinnamon roll (which I’m eating over 3-4 days). Being able to compare them to Jewel’s makes them overall less attractive, though they do offer more breads (bagels, buns, English muffins) than Jewel’s. I think I actually liked GFC’s cinnamon roll better – more Cinnabon-y but with sugar icing which I prefer. Both ship so I could get more if I wanted. Both are worth checking out.

We went to Whole Foods to get Sweet Republic ice cream (best ice cream, IMO) from their gelato counter there (rather than going to the SR standalone store, also this way could get more flavors by the scoop). All flavors were incredibly yummy: eggnog, pumpkin spice (like pumpkin pie), cinnamon (different than fave Maggie Moo’s – good thing I didn’t realize they were in Scottsdale or we would have had to have a taste-off) and Belgian Chocolate (like Lee’s from Baltimore but Lee’s had chunks). I tried a taste of the peaberry espresso, it was terrific too. I’d say DH and I shared them but I’m sure I ate most of them.

Dinner – accumulated snacks, bakery, produce and leftovers in room

Saturday 1/3/2015

Breakfast – some Paleo bread with nut butter in the room

Lunch – buffet at Indian Delhi Palace (hugely recommend, we visit them every trip to Arizona) THE BEST Tandoori chicken I’ve ever had. Excellent chicken tikka masala, goat curry, palak paneer. Very good kheer and a dish of ground lamb, peas and spices. They do their rice with ghee and saffron, unique and works well with their entrees. Unfortunately, no naan for me (I miss naan) but DH assures me it’s still good.

Dinner – the leftover pizza from Thursday and other accumulated snacks, bakery, produce and leftovers in room – we were pretty full from lunch.

Sunday 1/4/2015

Breakfast – Jewel’s again where I ate more than I’m willing to tell you (but you MUST have their pancakes and one of their donuts, whichever kind is your favorite of cinnamon sugar, glazed, white/chocolate iced – the cinnamon roll is okay

Jewel's cinnamon roll

Jewel’s cinnamon roll – that glob is cream cheese icing

but I think the donuts are better) and picked up scones, cookies (chocolate chip, also good), a loaf of their flax bread and pancake mix to take home. Also got some pancakes for breakfast Monday – since we have to be up and out earlier than they open, I wanted breakfast to be something yummy to soothe the pangs of leaving. I wound up eating one pancake and bringing one on the plane with me, then deciding to save it and freezing it to have Saturday morning (Jan. 10) after my run.

So full from brunch that no lunch was required and there was barely room for dinner….during the afternoon while we were packing I did, however, take a little bit of peanut butter from some DH had bought and remembered how much I loved peanut butter.

Dinner – Tottie’s Asian Fusion, a new-to-us Thai/Vietnamese/Chinese place reputed to be able to handle gluten-free and other special needs. They seemed knowledgeable and answered my questions well. The spring rolls and chicken satay were both outstanding and a bit different. The rolls were heavy on veggies including mint, and the satay marinade had a hint of lemongrass in it, which I loved. The peanut sauce was only okay. The appetizers would have been enough for a meal for both of us but we didn’t know that when we ordered.

Tottie's satay and summer roll - 1

Tottie’s satay and summer roll – 1

Tottie's satay and summer roll - 2

Tottie’s satay and summer roll – 2

I had Pad Thai with thin rice vermicelli (how they made it GF) but wasn’t fond of the sauce, not what I’m used to. Ate some of the noodles but mostly the chicken and fresh veggies. DH had a red curry dish that he let me taste which was excellent – I even put some of the sauce on my noodles and it improved them significantly. A good find and one that we can return to again as it has a pretty big menu and can handle my needs.

Tottie's GF Pad Thai

Tottie’s GF Pad Thai

Sunday evening, did some in-room snacking to finish off some pastries, enjoy a few more tortilla chips, pretzels, etc. One day I had a handful of DH’s microwave popcorn, tasted just like I remembered.

On the plane home Monday, I had a Paleo bread and nut butter sandwich, part of a Quest bar and some dried bananas. I brought some Jewel’s treats on the plane but decided to save them for when we got home.

In the week of vacation back at home in Virginia, I continued the binge…. had 2 varieties of GF BBQ chicken Naked Pizza both excellent. Got Pad Thai from the place near us where we get my Chinese food (they changed the noodles and I didn’t like it as well).I checked out Happy Tart GF treats again, European-style bakery goodies – including this flaky apple turnover

apple turnover - 1

apple turnover – 1


along with some okay regular chocolate and chocolate chip cookies, and some yummy cake pops! (lemon, a really good red velvet, and chocolate)

I also stopped by Buzz Bakery (the GF brownie is tremendous). I made plenty of toast from AnnaB‘s multigrain and cinnamon raisin breads (bought at Richmond and frozen) as well as the flax bread from Jewel’s. I ate all the treats from Jewel’s other than the bread (saved some). I tried and liked goat’s milk yogurt both as yogurt and as a sour cream type dip. Wish it wasn’t so expensive.

I ate one Reese’s peanut butter cup, but was much more interested in the new spread DH had purchased. My rec: don’t get it – it’s way too dangerously delicious to have in the house. I’m not kidding.

Reese's spread - dangerously delicious

Reese’s spread – dangerously delicious

Once home, I also tried additional packaged things I’d missed or thought I wanted like GF clam chowder (Progresso). Okay, not great. Packaged GF oatmeal – over sugared and sticky. Didn’t get to the Annie’s GF mac & cheese we bought. (DH may be eating this leftover stuff, or I might take it to work and leave it out for folks.) Tried Swiss Miss instant hot chocolate. I did enjoy it, but it’s one of the suspects in a tummy ache I had that day. Enjoyed some Cape Cod salt and vinegar potato chips (we brought Tim’s back, but they’re hidden for the future) and some Green Mountain Gringo tortilla chips (wow, they were excellent!) as I’d been craving tortilla chips. I enjoyed the bizarre chemical taste of PopChips Salt and Vinegar chips quite a bit – you know you’re not eating real food, but it’s addictive. I also discovered that Harris Teeter (local grocery) makes their veggie “sushi” summer rolls with tapioca paper, not rice paper, so I can eat them even when Paleo. Yay! I did have some of the regular rolls with rice while I was off Paleo, as well as some yummy brown rice from our Chinese place – amazing what you miss, toast and brown rice. (By the way, goat cheese on toast is quite yummy.)

So what’s the result of all this? What did I learn or get out of it, other than probably a record for caloric intake in a 2 week period? (a record I am not proud of holding, btw)

I learned that I do still love the GF stuff – though I’m sure some of it was just the wonder of “look at all I can eat!” after so long of ignoring so much food I see (you should have seen me at the grocery store). I was reminded how much easier it is on me and DH if I’m only restricting to GF. I remember when that used to be difficult – it’s still limiting, but there’s so much more awareness and availability so I feel a little bad imposing Paleo on him.

I also learned that it can still be hard for me to stop with the sugar and carbs – at some point I seem to keep eating them whether I want to or not or whether I’m hungry or not (or even enjoying the food or not). Within the first couple of days I was feeling over-sugared and over-carbed, a bit bloated but decided to carry on with the treats (though i should not have eaten anything near the quantities I’ve eaten – it was a fairly stressful and sleep-deprived vacation but that’s not really an excuse).

I had treats every night after we got back and tonight (Mon. 1/12) is the first night I won’t be doing that, but I can feel the pull. “Fortunately” I ate almost all the treats and have frozen everything else out of sight and will ask DH to hide anything else. Making do with frozen bananas (no nut butter for a while, probably) and blueberries/mango/cherries is going to be a bit rough, though my appetite on Monday is really minimal. It’s 4pm and I think I’ve taken in maybe 600 calories, a chunk of that in a purple sweet potato I just ate. My system is really out of whack now.

Strangely however, given how sensitive I’ve seemed to be to carbs like sweet potatoes – I’d get sleepy and a blood sugar drop resulting in huge hunger 1 hour after eating them – I had NO blood sugar issues or sleepiness at all during my GF grain carb fest. Truly bizarre. My system did start to crave veggies though, and let me know that it was getting a little sick of all the junk I was eating. I also didn’t notice any big boost of energy from all the grain/carbs I was eating, which makes me think I was doing just fine on my prior plan (as my performances would indicate, but I’d been concerned about recovery, etc.). Of course, the real test would be to eat – moderately! – GF grain during a training cycle, but given past good results NOT doing so, I’m sticking with what’s worked.

At this point, I’m thinking of keeping white potatoes as another carb source (even though they’re nightshades) in my diet. I had forgotten how much I liked them. I’ve read they’re considered Paleo/Whole30 ok now – and supposedly if you peel them you address the autoimmune concerns, though I think I’d eat the peel for the nutrients. I doubt the intent would be to let me have baked/regular chips and fries, but that may happen as well as baked or boiled or mashed potatoes. (boiled/cooled have resistant starch, a good thing) It’s easier to be able to have those things and a bag of baked Kettle potato chips is less calories and fat than the straight up Terra sweet potato or Terra chips…yes, I know the answer is “don’t eat them” but I’ve got to be realistic….sometimes it’s just choosing the least bad option. I might also keep the goat’s milk yogurt – like yummy sour cream – and goat cheese as I didn’t seem to have any lactose/dairy reaction. I’m debating that. I’m not a Paleo purist, but it can be easier for me to just say no than have to repeatedly make decisions. (I’m also saving a can of GF chicken noodle soup I didn’t get to…in case of a cold or something, sometimes you just wanna open a can of soup and not have to make it yourself!)

I think not having GF stuff in the house (or hiding it so I forget it, freezing it so I have to think about eating it) is how it has to be. I’ve also decided to try to – next time I do this, possibly post-Boston – go with something I did a few times this trip: is take a bite and if it’s not exceptional, get rid of it. It’s wasteful of money and food, and both those things are problems for me (if I’ve bought it, I feel obligated to eat it) BUT better to waste those things (if I can’t resist buying them) than be in the position I am now, where I’ve overindulged and need to lose weight.

It was yummy, but it wasn’t all great or worth it. I didn’t need to eat as much or as often as I did, and some of it I’ll be regretting as I now have to lose whatever weight I’ve gained and get my body back to feeling normal. (I’m not going to weigh myself – I think I’d just get too upset and it wouldn’t change my approach in any good way.)

Thanks for reading! Hope you found something interesting or enjoyable in the above, whether it’s places to eat or the details of my experiment in informing your own food choices.

What, if any, “rules” do you follow about what you eat, and how did you arrive at them? What experiments have you tried?





Arizona – Where I Went

Many thanks to Tara for graciously allowing me to cover multiple weekends (and the days in between) as part of her Weekend Update linkup!

While most of my time in Arizona was spent in the “Across the Years” zone – preparing for, running, recovering from, crewing, recovering from crewing the race – we did manage to see some sights and enjoy some favorite and new places. Note, there is some crossover between this and the “what I ate” post that’s coming soon.

Friday 12/26 – Hit up the great folks at Tribe Multisport for an extra flask of my gel in case I needed it. Turns out I didn’t, but I am glad I was able to get it. They have the largest section of nutrition products I’ve seen anywhere! Their friendly folks talked to us about races, trails and the general area. Also went to the iRun running store, again, great folks. Really enjoyed talking to people in both stores. What a terrific endurance sports vibe and community in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area!

In the evening, we went to the Desert Botanical Garden – a place we’ve enjoyed before for the plant life and the Chihuly exhibits. They were running a holiday event called “Luminarias” in which the garden was lit with hundreds of luminaria and “fairy” lights on trees, and various local musical groups were playing at different spots on the property. It’s a hugely popular event, we ordered tickets well in advance. I was captured by some great jazz music while walking the path through the garden….it drew me to a tent where I heard a great jazz group – the Adam Roberts Jazz Ensemble (he’s the saxophonist and appears to be the leader, and he has some stuff on youtube). I actually recorded their version of Holly Jolly Christmas (which the leader said was their “demented” version, seemed perfectly fine to me) but it’s too long to embed and I haven’t figured out how to clip it. Perhaps for next year.





tree at Luminarias

tree at Luminarias

more Luminarias lights

more Luminarias lights

star lights, jazz band

star lights, jazz band

Adam Roberts jazz ensemble

the jazz group I liked – Adam Roberts jazz ensemble

Saturday 12/27 – Across the Years (ATY) race packet pickup started at 2pm. After a lazy morning at the hotel, we drove the 35-40 minutes to the race site. We were able to get our bibs and race belt, and the extra swag bag (purchased, got some nice logo stuff!). Here’s the registration tent (white, on left).

ATY registration tent on left

ATY registration tent on left

Below, on the right you see the edge of the red medical tent (not shown and closer to me would be the white warming tent) and the blue/black large aid station tent where the vast array of foods and drinks provided by the race organizers were available during the race (they even changed some of what they served during the race, depending on time of day and across days so people would find something they liked and wouldn’t get bored). The volunteers were uniformly terrific, whether at the registration tent, the aid station or anywhere else. Friendly, welcoming, enthusiastic, helpful.

aid station on the right

aid station on the right

We scoped out the “tent city” – you could order a tent of different sizes, a cot, and tables. We ordered a tent big enough to stand up in the center (smart move by DH), a cot and a table. To our delight, the tents were set up, sparing us the (planned) time and stress of doing it ourselves, and cots already inside. Brilliant! One more reason Aravaipa Running ROCKS! We chose a tent right next to the track, across from a light, and put our name on it. We also put the table up in front of the tent, next to the track.

tents for runners & crew

tents for runners & crew

We even got a chance to walk part of the course (the part that wasn’t inside the Camelback Ranch gates, which were closed to us until the race). I saw this 30 times in the course of my race (this is the way the last 90 minutes or so went, the first part of the race I was going the other way).

part of the ATY course

part of the ATY course

Sunday 12/28 – my race! In case you missed it, here’s the recap. The only places we went other than the race were to Five Guys and Picazzo’s to satisfy post-race cravings that evening. I’ll share all the food details with you in an upcoming post.

Monday 12/29 – Recovery day, so nothing was planned. I did some light biking in the hotel gym before starting the gluten-free binge with breakfast out at the tremendous Jewel’s totally gluten-free bakery/cafe. (more on that to come, just let me say….pancakes) We spent some time at REI shopping for rain and cold gear due to the race forecast. We hoped that by doing (as I called it) the “credit card anti-rain dance” and dropping a fair amount of funds, the rain wouldn’t show up for my runner’s race. No such luck, though it could have been worse. (more on that in an upcoming post on crewing a 24 hour race) For dinner, a new yummy place called Chelsea’s Kitchen.

Tuesday 12/30 – aka the day before crewing my runner’s race…..I had a massage while DH went out to breakfast to a non-GF friendly restaurant. For dinner, we hit Picazzo’s again.

Wednesday 12/31 – Up at 5am, at race site by 7am for 9 am start – enjoyed crewing the race!

Thursday 1/1 – (still) Crewing the race till 9am, then getting runner & car full of stuff back to hotel, not a trivial task given all the supplies we’d brought. Got back to hotel. slept, got up and ate (I don’t even remember what!) and tried to get more sleep, which was tougher than you’d think.

Friday 1/2 – DH & I both got massages. I was so tired I almost fell asleep in the lounge afterward (the massage therapist suggested I lay down for a while). We went out to eat BBQ – tried one place that smelled fantastic but after standing outside in line for 15 minutes, we decided not to wait for what looked like another hour to get in the door to order, and found a second only okay BBQ place. Later we went to Whole Foods and got some Sweet Republic ice cream/gelato.

Saturday 1/3 – Started the day with my first run since the race, 6.5 miles on the hotel treadmill. We visited the Japanese Friendship Garden, lovely, fairly peaceful, and interesting. Apologies for forgetting the names of the stone sculpture structures (we didn’t keep the pamphlet). I even bought a packet of food to feed the 300-500 koi that live in the pond (some gorgeous colors, especially a blue/white and a blue/orange). It took both DH and I multiple attempts and a combined effort to get the food to the koi instead of the really pushy ducks (who’d peck at the koi, follow you around….they get a lot of practice at stealing food I think).

Friendship Garden sign

Friendship Garden sign

castle guardian fish

castle guardian fish




stone sculpture

stone sculpture

stone lighthouse

stone lighthouse



We also walked in the neighborhood as it had interesting houses, more like Portland or Craftsman type – with green grass lawns, not the norm in Arizona! I didn’t take any photos, just enjoyed the stroll.

We made a quick trip to Walmart for a luggage strap, with a stop at Jewel’s for pastries. I think we just ate leftovers in the room for dinner. The iPhone Health app tells me I managed 6.5 miles of walking on Saturday.

Sunday 1/4 – Our last day in Arizona (sad face). After a quick 3.5 miles on the hotel treadmill, headed back to Jewel’s for one last breakfast and to pick up pancakes, mix and a variety of pastries to bring home for my next week of GF binging, ahem, recovery. We walked the neighborhoods around the hotel a lot – another 6 miles according to my iPhone – and up and down a hill near the hotel. Some lovely views.

house overlooking golf course

house overlooking golf course


view of Camelback Mountain from neighborhood behind hotel

view of Camelback Mountain from neighborhood behind hotel

cactus lit by the setting sun

cactus lit by the setting sun

sunset our last night there

sunset our last night there

Monday 1/5 – We headed to the airport before 7am, saw a lovely sunrise from the rental car center, and flew back to DC/NoVa. Here are a few photos from the plane, which came out surprisingly well! I don’t really know what any of them are of, though….

Phoenix from plane

Phoenix from plane

river in canyon

river in canyon

snow-capped peak

snow-capped peak

Hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of my trip – posts on what I ate and on crewing the 24h are likely coming sometime relatively soon. (ICYMI, I updated my podcast list.) I’ll also be getting back to more “regular” posts on training (here’s an update) and such, as the day job, life and training permits. I’m toying with putting up a page of book recommendations and a 2014 recap as well.

Happy Monday and have a great week!



Baystate Weekend (non-race) with pictures

Since my race recap was a LOT of words (thanks for reading and commenting!) I thought I’d go picture-heavy for the non-race stuff. I don’t have any photos of the race itself as I didn’t carry my iPhone and didn’t have anyone waiting for me at the end. I’m sure there will be photos of the race online at some point (though not of me) if you want to see what it looks like. You can also check out Nicole’s recap and follow-up posts. I may still have one more race-related post coming, thinking about it.

Here’s what greeted me on arrival

fall at Manchester airport

fall at Manchester airport

I didn’t take any photos of the expo on Friday, so let’s move on to Saturday.

I got up to do a shakeout run to the start/finish and back, in part so I would know where I was going on Sunday! After warming up on the hotel treadmill and doing drills in the small fitness center (yes, even for a shakeout run, you know me and my routine), I checked my map one more time and the guidance folks at the expo gave me and headed out the back door of the hotel, to be greeted with this terrific view:


canal behind hotel

canal behind hotel

Lowell - The Venice of America

Lowell – The Venice of America

another canal view

another canal view

canalway/walkway toward the race venue

canalway/walkway toward the race venue

I headed up the canal way – that little ramp you can see is where I started my 2.3 mile shakeout run. The first mile felt loose and good, the second was tighter in my hams/glutes. My hips were painfully tight from the super-pillowy-soft bed, making me wish my chiro was handy. They hurt almost all day, making me worried for the race! I even thought about sleeping on the floor, but decided not to, and was fine on race day.

I ran over to the Tsongas Center (finish) and high school (start) – which are across the street from each other. I ran what I thought from the course video I’d watched was part of the finish (it was, just in the other direction!) noting that the pavement had a lot of potholes and rough surfaces in it, reminding myself to be careful at the end of the race when I’d be tired and perhaps my foot placement less careful. I headed back to the hotel on the other side of the streets I’d run, so I could look at different shops. I saw a running outlet store and decided to swing back there later.

Once back at the hotel, ate my usual weekday (pre-long run day and thus pre-race day) breakfast of asparagus, paleo bread turkey sandwich, sweet potato. Then showered and did my Whartons, arranged to meet up with my sister later. I walked over to the running outlet store I’d seen, only to find it closed (someone had been in it on my run) and figured out that they were closed because they were part of Marx Running, and thus at the expo. Oh well. Saw a t-shirt I’d seen at the expo and decided against getting for DH, but took a pic to send him, and he concurred I’d made the right choice not getting it. Walked around a bit more, found the place I planned to have dinner post-race with my sis & BIL and a coffeehouse I’d seen online. For some reason, being in the Northeast was making me crave coffee more than ever, and I thought I might take the risk of a little on the day before the race but I decided to wait for my sister.

My sister arrived and we headed over to LifeAlive, which had been highly recommended by Nicole and others. I didn’t want to load up on veggies by this point in the day (1:30) so wanted to try the famous FoMu coconut milk ice cream they served. I liked the vibe of the place, but the service was a fail. It took 10-15 minutes for me to get my little cup of ice cream, which it wasn’t all that great anyway so I only ate a few bites. (I like pints I’ve gotten in the store better.) Also, no coffee for me here as they didn’t make decaf! Fortunately, I’d called ahead and knew this so avoided being surprised on site. I also noted that they do their dishwashing by hand – which I can appreciate – but it raises a cross-contamination risk for me, so they’re off the list in the future. The food I saw being served looked quite good, and cute decor. I did get a Not Your Sugar Mama’s chocolate bar (oh, to eat gluten-free oats! look at the chocolate chip cookies on their web site!) and a Budi Bar that I will try once I’m back running decent mileage (both are in fridge now).


LifeAlive restaurant

LifeAlive restaurant

Not Your Sugar Mama's Salted Caramel bar

Not Your Sugar Mama’s Salted Caramel bar – gluten, dairy and grain free! from a place on Martha’s Vineyard

Not Your Sugar Mama's Salted Caramel bar  - back label

Not Your Sugar Mama’s Salted Caramel bar – back label of ingredients, nutrition info


Budi Bar - front label

Budi Bar – front label – another gluten, grain and dairy free local treat

Budi Bar - back label

Budi bar – back label with ingredients, nutrition info

From LifeAlive, we wandered over to a “coffeehaus” called Brew’d Awakening, small and funky, even had a live musician on Saturday afternoon! Another service fail however, as they left the chocolate out of my sister’s mocha and my Americano tasted burned. They fixed my sister’s by adding some syrup, but we were both disappointed. I seriously thought about buying some of the local gluten-free, dairy-free treats they had on display – if I were eating “just” gluten-free, they would have gone back to the hotel, no question! But rice, sorghum and pea flours are among those I’m currently not eating and didn’t want to tempt myself. The apple cinnamon donuts, blueberry pie (!) to bake/micro and the HOMEMADE POP-TART were super tempting though. Took the picture in case I go back to eating GF grain and want them to ship me some yumminess. Looks like Something Sweet Without Wheat may not ship all their items, but I bet my sister could be persuaded to pick me up any goodies that they won’t ship like the pop tarts and pies and ship them anyway!

Something Sweet Without Wheat treats

Something Sweet Without Wheat treats – blueberry pie and pop tart!

We took our less-than-sublime coffee beverages back to the hotel and sat outside being soothed by the rushing water and chatting, until we were chilled by breezes turning into gusts and adjourned back to my room.


chillin' with my sis by the canal

chillin’ with my sis by the canal

We chatted a bit longer, then it was time for me to start cooking my pre-race dinner: shredded carrots, baby bok choy, sliced mushrooms and coconut aminos along with more of the smoked turkey sliced lunchmeat I’d had for breakfast. (I’m a pretty decent hotel microwave cook by this point.) Also on the evening meal plan were dried bananas, the rest of the vanilla maple Arctic Zero from the night before and some so-so sweet potato chips that I had to keep salting – I mistakenly bought the no salt version.

I spent some time laying out my race kit (see race recap for those pix) and talking to DH about singlet v. short-sleeve and other consuming thoughts. He said he thought I hadn’t eaten enough calories during the day (he was probably right, due to timing I wound up skipping lunch) and convinced me to cook another sweet potato, but after I got off the phone with him I decided it would sit too heavily in my stomach and put it in the fridge, where it came in handy post-race – after my recovery drink, while getting cleaned up.

Sunday, the race!

I’d researched a restaurant called Fuse Bistro for post-race that looked to be very gluten-free friendly but turned out to be something of a fail. I’d planned on getting their burger (BBQ sauce on the side, no bun of course) and sweet potato fries and maybe one of their two rib appetizers. When I stopped in the day before to make sure that we wouldn’t need a reservation, I asked about some of the GF items, to be told that making, for example, the short rib appetizer GF meant leaving off the sauce. Boring, no thanks.

Turns out I should have done more research. Fortunately, on Sunday, even in my post-race depleted (physically and mentally) state, I thought, “hey wait, what else do they serve that’s fried?” I asked the server if they fried the GF items in a separate fryer and she said “no, but not much of the flour stays behind, and we have a guy here who’s gluten free and fine with it and we’ve never had any complaints”…..I worked really hard not to cry or lose my temper. (remember, this is something like 3h post marathon!) I just explained to the server that they didn’t really understand GF and they needed to tell people all these details. I also said that if I’d gotten sick after eating there, I wouldn’t call them to complain – I just wouldn’t go back and I’d tell other people about the experience. (She was nice and well-meaning, but this gives you some idea of the risks I have eating out – imagine this kind of oversight for a pre-race dinner!)

So I wound up with a (tasty enough) burger patty, one piece of bacon, and some spring mix (didn’t eat the lettuce/pickle/tomato/onion as they don’t agree with me). I got the huge side of fries and truffled salt that came with the meal for my sis/BIL, who said they were excellent, took the rest home with them. The BBQ sauce resembled no BBQ sauce I’d even had (BIL concurred) and wasn’t that good. I didn’t bother to try the sherry vinaigrette, just ate the spring mix dry. Not the best post-race meal, and not the one I’d been craving.

my burger and bacon

my burger and bacon – the burger is under the bacon, which is broken into multiple segments but is only one piece

On the other hand, both my sis and BIL really enjoyed their meals and plan to put the restaurant in their regular rotation, as they’re in the area fairly often. I will say that the prices are quite reasonable for the quality and quantity of food.

My sister’s meal: fried chicken breast, pumpkin waffle, red gravy, butternut squash with port-soaked cranberries.

fried chicken and pumpkin waffle

fried chicken and pumpkin waffle

My BIL’s ahi tuna burger with “tater tots” which turned out to be huge deep fried “coins” of yukon gold mashed potatoes and cheese.

ahi tuna burger with "tater tots"

ahi tuna burger with “tater tots”

He also got a “blueberry beer”, from a local company. Both he and my sis said it was good, subtle but not overwhelming.

blueberry beer

blueberry beer

They were full enough that I couldn’t entice them to have any of the dessert so I could live vicariously. Warm pumpkin cake or an ice cream sandwich with housemade salted caramel ice cream sounded really good to me (even though I wouldn’t be eating any), but they didn’t go for it.

We dropped my BIL off at the hotel, then my incredibly kind sister drove me 10 miles each way to a Whole Foods for more vanilla maple Arctic Zero and some taro chips so I could at least have some treats in the evening in the hotel room while I watched Netflix and read.

Monday morning, up and at ’em around 6am, got myself down to the fitness center for an hour on the comfiest, smoothest, quietest exercise bike I’ve ever ridden. It was Matrix brand, like the treadmill I walked on for my warmups and the elliptical (in the picture) I tried momentarily on Monday till I thought “bad idea right after a marathon”.

great exercise bike

great exercise bike

I enjoyed the fall leaves in Massachusetts and New Hampshire on my way back to the Manchester airport. After only a brief delay, I was safely back in Northern Virginia. But wait….there’s one more thing… when I dragged my suitcase up the front steps, I was reminded once again how lucky I am to have DH….new Boston flowers to celebrate my new BQ! (and because the other ones keep dying in the unseasonably warm temps)

new Boston flowers!

new Boston flowers!

more new Boston flowers!

more new Boston flowers!

That’s all, hope you enjoyed the photo tour of the weekend!

Hills, Spills & Thrills: Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half recap

Hills  – that’s really the point of the event, to run on the infamous Newton hills….here’s the course profile according to my Garmin:

Heartbreak Hill Half course profile

Heartbreak Hill Half course profile per my Garmin

Spills – well, only one – we’ll get to that, but if you follow me @readeatwriterun you know what I’m talking about

Thrills – finishing strong AND under my goal time (and not far off my half PR) despite a challenging course (especially for a flatlander), heat, humidity, not perfect food or rest the day before AND the spill….and getting to run part of the Boston Marathon course before April. It was a terrific opportunity!

AND my pace wasn’t all over the place, despite my lack of pacing experience, the hills, the heat, etc. You can see one problem water stop though – it was more of a pace hit than the fall!

Heartbreak Hill Half pace top faster x axis zero

Heartbreak Hill Half pace top faster pace, x axis zero

Quick take: Good race, well-organized especially for the first year (but I’d expect nothing less from RW and Dave McGillivray). The hills were hills, but – dare I say this, knocking wood – not as terrifyingly hard as I’d thought they’d be or I made them out to be in my mind. That said, they weren’t coming in the last 8 miles of a marathon, so I’m not taking them lightly and plan to continue hill training.

Though it’s much later in the year than I normally race (I don’t like heat), I’d do the half again. I also find myself vaguely tempted by the Hat Trick (5k & 10k Sat, half Sun). So many people did it, but I know at least one who’s going to only do the half next year to focus on it. So we’ll see what next year brings.

Now on to the details! (get a cup of coffee/tea and a snack, this is a long one)

Saturday – the race-related parts (more on the expo/festival in a later post)

Up at 3am to get in a warmup and 2 mile shakeout run before a snack, tea and heading to the airport for a 7am flight. All went fine at the airport and on the flight, and had a really nice flight attendant.

Grabbed a cab after my flight landed around 830, not realizing I’d be approaching campus while the 10k was still going on. The road closures caused traffic backups and detours which gave me plenty of views of the lovely houses of Newton (yowza, and what landscaping), and a cab fare that was more expensive than I’d planned. I got in a little extra walking as a cop at one of the detours told the cabbie it’d be easier to let me walk. Cabbie kept driving around for a bit after then gave up and took me back to the cop. So I walked a block (me and my backpack of food, race gear, etc.) and then walked along the 10k course, probably the last 0.5miles or so, clapping once in a while. At about 930, it was over 80 and sunny, and walking up the hill toward BC, I thought, “this is not gonna be good tomorrow!”

Saturday on fast forward: expo; seminars; lots of eating the food I had brought throughout the day – was so hungry I ate about every hour;  a failed attempt to get to my hotel mid-afternoon which had me walking almost an hour and a half with my backpack on in the heat/sun; dinner of food I’d packed and convenience store purchases at tables outside the building where the pasta dinner was being held; listening to Sarah Reinertsen’s amazing story

I finally got to my hotel via cab around 845pm. The cabbie was so nice – when I mentioned my struggles to find a cab earlier and find food I could eat, he insisted I take one of his two bananas. The hotel couldn’t find my gel for the race which I’d shipped ahead though they’d confirmed receipt via phone multiple times. I went up to the room and they brought it up within a few minutes. (Turned out to be the pattern with this hotel – I encounter some minor problem, but they solve it quickly.)

I started “unpacking”, pulling everything out of the backpack I’d been lugging all day. I knew I had to get race prepped and then get as much sleep as possible. I put a bath towel down on the couch and laid out my full race kit on it including ipod, Garmin, and loaded fuel belt. I find the white background of the towel helps draw my eye to remember to look there and makes the items stand out. I made a list of the things that HAD to come with me to the race in the morning – I don’t trust myself to remember. Then I set up my post race (hot pink, from Eukanuba at the expo) bag with Ultragen, bottled water, empty water bottle, sportlegs and a few other items. I’d been crashing and feeling sleepy but getting everything laid out and the bib pinned on – with emergency info on the back, of course –  woke me up. I made some hot water in the coffeemaker (didn’t drink much because it tasted like coffee) and read a little before trying to go to sleep around 1015. I don’t think I slept much between then and 1am when I had to get up briefly, but I slept pretty well between 1 and 4am….

Sunday – race day!


I woke just before my 4am alarm in the hotel room and turned off the alarm. I thought perhaps I could get a bit more sleep before the next alarm went off at 445, but nope, so I got up around 420. I’d actually set 3 alarms: my usual 4, then 445 and 5 as backups. Given that the charming & gracious Alana Bonner @alanadbonner was picking me up at 6, I wanted to be sure to be ready! I got up and started puttering around, taking my usual pre-race (and pre-long-run supplements, including my BeetElite).

It felt awfully quiet in the hotel room and I knew it would be easy for me to get distracted and lose track of time, so I listened to an old Endurance Planet podcast episode I have stored on my iphone. It helped keep me moving, kind of like background music (but endurance sport focused) and it was one where Tawnee mentioned my BQ, so that helped pump me up. (thanks Tawnee & Lucho!) Also sent some tweets, DMs and IMs to various folks while I was getting ready. I so appreciate everyone’s support and encouragement – it helped to know you were thinking of me!

Slathered on lots of sunscreen, then added a bit more, recalling the full sun of Saturday. The RiteAid sport version I got (it came in a travel size) smells just like Coppertone sunscreen from my teenage years. I got lucky that my skin tolerated it okay as I hadn’t tested it before – I know, violating the rule. Heck, at this point with my eating and hydration on Saturday, I was pretty far past the “nothing new or different” rule. Got dressed and still had plenty of time, so back onto twitter for a bit. Alana was right on schedule, and down I went.

It’s a lovely gift from the universe when you meet someone you’ve only corresponded with and they’re just as nice and cool and interesting and fun as you hoped/thought, as well as generous and thoughtful. That’s Alana! So glad we got to meet, looking forward to our next time together!

We very quickly got to campus (thanks googlemaps! weird to hear distances in k, for my Canadienne driver) and parked. Alana had done the 5k & 10k the day before, so she was more familiar with the athlete’s village and start areas. She graciously offered to grab my bag from the car after the race – since she’d finish ahead of me – and bring it to me at our designated meeting point, building steps in sight of the finish. (see what I mean?) She put on some sunscreen and we threw stuff in the trunk.

My Garmin made its usual pre-race dive for the concrete in the garage but I caught it this time. At least it wasn’t at the start like it was at Shamrock and the Parkway 10 miler, where it picked up a ding on the edge.

Re the Garmin: The problem is the plastic band broke, and I replaced it with a Garmin velcro band, but my wrist is so small only a little of the velcro loops meet. It’s very easy to knock it apart if you hit the end of the strap, which sticks out – I’ve even done it on the treadmill. The watch face (610) is bigger than my wrist as well, so the watch always moves around. I think perhaps this third time was the charm and I’m really going to get the 620 before my next race, sooner if possible so I can train with it. (the question is white or black – I’m leaning white like Meb!) I’m also thinking of selling my 610 with HRM and footpad on ebay. Hey, why not?

We strolled toward the start, with a stop at the outdoor facilities, chatting and having fun. We stopped by the water table for a while and met up with a friend of hers (whose name escapes me, sorry!) and talked some more. I should note that at this point, I was comfortable in a super lightweight tank, running bra and shorts, especially if I was in the sun. So….I knew it was going to be a warm one. (my Garmin says 70 and sunny with 69% humidity at the start) Alana’s Garmin didn’t want to play and apparently died. Fortunately, she had a different Garmin in the car, albeit with less charge, so she went back to get it. I headed back to the portajohns but happily discovered there were campus buildings (with indoor bathrooms!) open. That just rocked. (not sure if it was intentional, but much much appreciated)

I headed back to the water table. I wasn’t going to take any, but decided to take a 2nd dose of Endurolytes (had one at the hotel) just in case. Swigged a little water with it, stuck an Energy Surge tablet in my mouth and went to find the pace group I was going to run with. The pacer was an energetic woman, tiny (didn’t come up to my shoulder!) and very experienced. She explained we’d try to run even effort not even pace, she’d take water at every stop and suggested we do too, and said she’d talk during the race and hold the pace sign the entire way. (helpful because of her size, but that’s gotta be tough) A little chat within the pace group about races we’d run, times, goals, nerves and all the fun stuff that comes up when you pack runners in corrals, and then it was time for the National Anthem. You could hear the silence roll back through the corrals as the notes carried on the warm air. It was a lovely rendition. Then the front pack was off, and shortly thereafter, so were we!

The Race 

The start was quite crowded and of course everyone wanted to stay close to the pacer. So there was a fair amount of jostling, weaving and bumping. I remember turning right after heading out the gates, and running down a road I’d walked yesterday, then heading toward a downhill and thinking, “don’t go out too fast” (echoes of Dave McGillivray in the strategy seminar). I did remember to start my iPod but couldn’t really hear it until we had gotten on the road. I kept turning it down to hear the pacer or a conversation or up to try to get the music in my head.

There were so many people it wasn’t really possible to get into your own rhythm/head and just run your own race in the early miles. It would have been almost dangerous to do so given we were limited to half the road in many places, so if – like me – you tend to run in the middle of the road, you need to sidestep the cones meant to keep you to your half. (I need to get better at this, the lateral motion is wasted energy.) Runners needed to pay attention to the hills, to manhole covers and occasional poor pavement (spoiler alert!) and to where everyone else was. I know I bumped into one runner trying to pass and though I apologized, saw from her shadow behind me that I’d unbalanced her momentarily and felt horrible about it. I was grateful it was on a flat section, not on a downhill.

According to the pacer, we were doing well on our pace even with the hills. The road we were on had some trees on it so there were little patches of shade, but not much. It was mostly full sun.

The Spill

Somewhere around mile 4, perhaps a little before, I was running uphill and caught the toe of my right shoe on something in the road. Not sure if it was a manhole cover edge (they’re recessed, so there’s an asphalt lip) or some other pavement oddity, but whatever it was, it was enough. I felt the catch and realized I was going down, and got my hands out in front of me. I slammed hard into the pavement on the heels of my hands and my knees (especially the R knee) and my right shin (road rash & bruise). Thoughts flashed through my mind about runners being “trampled” after a fall, and I moved my body to look behind me. All I saw were legs from about shorts’ end down coming at me, and I was scared. Then I heard two female voices saying “are you ok?!” and saw hands reaching down. I grabbed the hands and they pulled me up. We almost immediately turned forward and started running again.

My rescuers were two women – one whose name I didn’t get, a blonde in a blue sparkle skirt over shorts, and Runner’s World editor Meghan Loftus. (note to David Willey – having the staff in shirts so they could be identified was a terrific idea) I was a little bit shocky – first the adrenaline rush, then the pain, then the feeling shaky and like you’re going to cry, all typical after such an incident – but I didn’t want to stop. I’d been so nervous about the race, and had the stress of travel and food worries the day before – now I was running it and I didn’t want to DNF, couldn’t stand the thought. My saviors asked me repeatedly if I wanted to stop, if I was ok, told me the medical tent wasn’t far, and offered to go get medical personnel.

As we were running, I looked at the palms of my hands and saw red, so figured I’d scraped them up. I couldn’t really see much of what happened to my knees/legs given the angle, but I didn’t see blood running down. I asked them how bad it was, and Meghan ran ahead, looked back and said, “not too bad”. She wasn’t totally convincing; the look on her face conflicted a little with what she said, so I figured she was trying to give me the choice to keep going. The places I’d met the road hurt, but not in a way that suggested an injury that would affect my running (though my right VMO twinged for a minute or two, making me think ‘uh oh, the chiro’s going to have to fix that’). I didn’t feel like my gait was different. Every step just hurt my knees in a new and different way, but I didn’t think I’d be doing myself long-term damage, so I said again that I didn’t want to go to the medical tent. (I figured they’d just clean me up, but it would take a while to clean me up and then my race would be over and that was unacceptable.)

I realized after the race that I had these clots/scabs of blood on my right knee, lots of red on my right shin and a red spot on my left knee. 

legs after RW HHHalf 06-08-2014

legs after RW HHHalf 06-08-2014

Explains why the medical personnel at every aid station looked at me carefully as I passed. Very pale runner with blood on her leg? You’d be keeping an eye on her too. I can’t wait to see the on-course photos. I really want one of me that shows the injuries.

We were chatting a little, trying to get my head back into the race. Having a water stop at 4.5 (soon after the fall) helped, I had to focus on that. I knew it was hotter and more humid than any conditions I’d run in since last summer, and since I’m not an outside runner by any stretch, I thought I was probably at higher risk of dehydration. I think just prior to this station I took a swig of my gel, figuring the sugar would help not only energy but my mental recovery from the injury. I swallowed the water I could and kept going. I lost the blue sparkle skirt runner pretty soon after, but Meghan and I stayed sort of together or in the same area for a while longer.

Water stops seemed to collect bunches of runners more than they usually do – you had to be careful where you stepped and to not knock into anyone. There were plenty of stops – about every 1.5 miles – and except for one, they were well stocked. Everyone seemed to be using caution and taking water or Gatorade (offered at all stops but the first), and I saw some people carrying liquid in belts, handhelds and even a few Camelbaks – good day to do that. I don’t remember if the stops were consistent about whether water was first or Gatorade, my recall is they weren’t and if that’s the case, that could be improved. Shamrock had a water table, Gatorade table, water table order at every stop, and they publicized that pre-race, worked great.

For the rest of the race, I remember snapshots or moments over the rest of the race, and where certain things happened may be mixed up, which seems to happen to me when I try to go back through the miles:

  • starting to dump water on myself, down my back – first time ever – at the mile 6 water stop, and every time I took water after that
  • hearing the pacer, shortly after the 10k mark saying “halfway there!”
  • the water stop at 7.5 (I thought it was 9, but my Garmin thinks otherwise) that was overwhelmed – I kept yelling “water” and got to the last table, had to keep going, stopped and turned back trying to get water only to be handed about an ounce of Gatorade by a frantic young woman; I tossed it, knowing it was only 1.5mi to the next stop – I really was thinking water stop to water stop, and then “only x miles to the finish” at each one
  • lovely flower scent wafting from some of the beautiful yards on the course
  • patches of shade from leafy trees that were so much cooler everyone tried to run in them, and one breeze for about 10 seconds in the last 3 miles
  • the nice houses and yards in the neighborhoods
  • seeing the Heartbreak Bill gorilla high-fiving runners and the HHRC Newton store on a corner on the course
  • a few spectators out on the course with signs or dogs – not that many and in some places none, but there were enough runners to keep the energy up
  • the famous Newton fire station (mile 17.5 on the marathon course I think) with its Boston Strong sign up – I waved to the firefighters out front but got no response
  • the “frontage” road we ran on alongside Commonwealth for the last few miles – the pedestrian crosswalks had a foot-wide strip of concrete, maybe 8-10 rows of flat cobble-like bricks and another strip of concrete; I was already trying to be really attentive to anything in the asphalt that could be a problem like manhole covers, holes, overfills, dips, and then got the added concern of these crosswalks as I figured the bricks might be overly smooth
  • appreciating that I’d had to walk the last bit of my trek to campus on Saturday, because I recognized when we were getting fairly close to campus and paused my iPod – I even high-fived one guy I’d seen the day before (who I swear I know but I can’t place him) and another woman
  • turning into the gates of campus, then heading toward toward the finish and everyone speeding up, like when a jet surges just before you land
  • speeding up myself, seeing the long straight line to the finish, and moving to the left to try to not be behind anyone but not necessarily pass anyone
  • the announcer (not Bart) announcing my first name, pausing (my last name isn’t easy) and just moving on to the next runner
  • realizing too late that I was stopping my Garmin right in front of the finish line photographer, then double checking I’d actually stopped it
  • getting my medal a few steps later, then seeing photographers who asked if I wanted a picture with my medal (yes), then heading to the food tent and the steps to meet Alana

Post-race, Alana continued to be a terrific running buddy. She kept asking if I wanted to go to the medical tent, and I said maybe I would but after I got my drink in me, found a bathroom, etc. She went and got a security guard, who looked at my legs as I sat on the steps and said he’d get medical. Apparently in addition to all the medical support people on the course and at the medical tent at the end, they had roving medical staff too (big kudos to the race organizers, best med support I’ve ever seen). A guy came over with a bag and checked me out. He sprayed something on my right knee to clean it (guess in addition to the blood there were little pavement stones in the skin/blood) but it didn’t hurt too badly. He didn’t work on it a lot since he said it had stopped bleeding and clotted nicely. He saw things were bruising and suggested I go get ice and told me to clean it well back at the hotel. I said I’d ice it back at the hotel too. (I still haven’t iced it, and it’s Tuesday – just didn’t feel like I needed it)

Alana took this photo to share our triumph over the heat, hills and humidity (triple H threat – hey, HHHalf)

HHHalf medals shoes photo courtesy Alana Bonner

HHHalf medals & shoes photo courtesy of Alana Bonner

What I don’t remember but wish I did: the Johnny Kelley statue. I’ve seen photos of it and the course description as well as the strategy session mentioned it. I don’t remember seeing it AT ALL.

Music – I don’t recall hearing that many of my songs. I could probably only say for sure I heard less than 10 of them, identifying them in my mind with particular snapshots of road and sun. I think had the volume pretty low. I felt like the course had enough people that I needed to be paying attention and be able to hear runners around me whether or not I was talking to them. Given that we ran near a hospital with ambulances going in, and at once point a fire truck & ambulance were brought onto the course, I think it was the right decision. I prefer to take the “change the volume” approach rather than go completely without a player, that way I can make the decision real-time and the music is there if I need/want it. No song reached the 5x pinnacle of Wild Wild West in Shamrock, but I do recall playing Tusk twice – good beat for the uphill section I was on – and Raise Your Glass twice, mouthing along with the words.

Thanks for reading! To come, probably Friday – my thoughts on the festival (expo, seminars).

Read on if you want info on my race kit and lots of detail on my fueling.

Race kit
Brooks Adrenaline GTS13 with custom orthotic
Feetures socks
The North Face Better than Naked shorts
The North Face Stow-n-Go bra (iphone in ziploc)
The North Face Better than Naked tank
UltrAspire Quantum fuel belt
Garmin 620
ipod shuffle with yurbuds
The North Face visor
lots of sunscreen!

Race day fueling & hydration
Pre:  The usual supplements – Hammer Endurolytes, Endurance Amino, and Anti-Fatigue Caps, Wobenzym, Acid-Ease, glutamine, MAP.  2 FRS chews and 1 packet BeetElite (mixed with about 6oz of SmartWater). Also made sure to take my regular meds (4a), my Prevacid and my Allegra. Just before race start, I took 2 more Endurolytes with a sip of water, and a Hammer Energy Surge.

During: I think this went well. I took water at all but one stop though I wasn’t really ever thirsty. I think I got down probably 14oz of water total. I am better at drinking from a cup on the run now! Calorie-wise I took EFS First Endurance Liquid Shot (vanilla) at 4.5, 7.5 or 9 (I think, whichever stop I missed water at because I remember thinking how glad I was that it goes down ok without water) and maybe 10.5. I was trying to make sure the fall didn’t mess with my energy too much and keep up on electrolytes which the gel has. So though I didn’t feel like I desperately needed it, I made sure to take it regularly and wound up taking the whole 400calorie/5serving flask. (BTW, I don’t like the new flask tops but the new shape is ok. I’ll still use Hammer flasks at home though.) During the race I wasn’t really thirsty, I wasn’t hungry – my stomach did “re-announce” a few of the water/gel inputs but that’s fairly normal for me so I wasn’t concerned. I wasn’t queasy and my stomach wasn’t rebelling. All good.

Post: I think this went well also. I grabbed a bottle of water at the post-race food setup and took a few sips. I wasn’t really that thirsty but knew I should drink. Alana was incredibly nice and grabbed my gear bag from the car after she finished so that she could meet me and I could have my recovery drink immediately. I think it was less than 10 minutes after I finished the race when I started mixing it. I used a full 2scoops (travel packet) of EFS Ultragen cappuccino (only for races, at home I use 1-1.5 scoops) and about 12 ounces of water and swigged it down in maybe 5 minutes along with 3 sportlegs. I had a few sips of plain water as well.

When we got back to the car to head to my hotel, I opened the 11 oz bottle of Zico coconut water I’d put in the gear bag. It was warm but not hot, and still palatable, so I sipped at it and eventually finished it back in the hotel room. I got back to the hotel and took 5 MAP and 2 more Endurolytes. I brewed about 12oz of tea using SmartWater. I drank the tea, finished the Zico and ate the rest of my last JSP with salt. I had a second Zico, which I opened and started drinking; I wound up taking it in the cab and finishing in the airport. I filled up my 12oz Klean Kanteen with water from a drinking fountain for the flight. On the flight I ate a Quest bar (protein/fiber). I really think having the Ultragen immediately and taking in so much fluid made a big difference in how I felt and recovered (well) and that my Saturday hydration and eating helped as well.

Saturday fueling – different than usual so thought I’d log it since the race went well
Pre-flight – 12oz tea, 2oz chicken breast
Flight – Quest bar (protein/fiber), JSP with sunflower seed butter, 12oz matcha tea
At expo – 12oz water from fountain, coconut bread sandwich with almond butter, dried bananas, a bite of a JSP
After first seminar – half an Epic bison bar, half an apple/mango fruit bar, more water
After second seminar – other half of bison bar, more water then
1.5hours walking outside carrying my backpack looking for a cab and finding a convenience store, followed by half of 11oz of Zico coconut water, serving of kale greenola, more dried bananas before last seminar
Dinner (530pm, after second trip to convenience store, sitting outside) – Muscle Milk (vanilla), second serving of kale greenola, remainder of JSP and salt, 3/4 of a (6 serving) bag of Terra crinkle cut sweet potato chips, dried bananas, rest of the Zico, probably some more water
Hotel before bed – maybe 4oz hot water with stevia
I felt REALLY hydrated and somewhat overly carbed, but I had been getting hungry about every hour, really hungry, so I just went with it. I probably ate 1000 calories over what I’d normally eat or had planned, but it sure seemed to work out for me on race day!


Ready or Not, The Heartbreak Hill Half is Coming…

Some tweeps have been asking me if I’m ready for Sunday’s race. The answer is “I really don’t know”….and I’m a bit nervous about that. I suppose it all depends on your definition of “ready”.

I haven’t trained for hills or in warmer weather, but I am used to covering the distance. The intent of this race is to be a learning experience for me (my only chance to run on some of the Boston course before the big day) and a hill training run at a good pace. I am struggling with my expectations knowing it won’t be a PR (there’s just no way that’s gonna happen), trying to keep a “just run strong and have fun” mindset. I don’t really think of myself as competitive but I have been told (by DH) that I am, especially with myself.

I’m trying to decide whether or not to run with a pace group. At the moment, I’m thinking yes, because I don’t yet have a good feel for my pace on flat roads, much less hills. A pace group would let me just follow people familiar with the course, and help me learn a little by watching them – as well as, hopefully, keeping me from imploding from rookie mistakes.

In preparation updates, I shipped my preferred gel to the hotel today, but will bring packets of a second choice and an empty flask as backup. I also have to carry bread, nut butter, bars and some other food since my dietary restrictions mean not much of what’s readily available works for me. If I want lunch or snacks, I’m on my own. I’m not looking forward to lugging the whole kit & caboodle around all day and night, but that’s what’s got to be. I won’t hit the hotel until after Sarah Reinertsen’s speech, cabbing it there and then back to the race start the next morning. (then back to hotel post-race, and airport to fly home!)

Still TBD: what’s on my iPod, music v. podcasts. I’m leaning music, faster-paced to help me keep pushing. I love my podcasts, but I might unintentionally slow down listening to the interesting discussions. I realize the race “discourages” headphones, but I need all the help I can get! I’ll keep the volume pretty low, and if I’m with a pace group, that should mostly allay concerns about missing instructions or announcements. Of course, this means a bit of playlist tweaking and syncing has to happen in the next (gulp) 3 days as well as laundry and packing (list-making!). Hoping to have a semi-regular/relaxed Friday night, even if an early bedtime, means everything needs to be done by COB Friday. Yay for teleworking!

Also TBD: whether i get up even earlier on Saturday (need to leave the house around 5:45am) so I can get in a quick 3mile max shakeout run. Right now I’m leaning yes, but we’ll see. I find the shakeout runs help me – so do drills and a brief run before race start. I won’t have any other chance to do a run on Saturday, and while walking to dinner and back will help, a lot of Saturday will be standing and sitting (including the plane), not ideal for the day pre-race. If I don’t want to do it Saturday, I’ll need to run Friday instead of bike or my body will be even more confused as it will have had two days between runs, something that only happens post-race.

If you’re going to be at the race, the expo or the seminars, I would love to meet up with you. Get in touch ahead of time, or if you want to look for me there, I’ll probably be the only one attached to a bright green Speedo swim backpack (aka my carryon luggage). My “schedule” such as it is, is below.

Current Saturday Plan:

I expect to get to the expo around 10. (7am flight lands around 830, cab to expo) I’ll do packet pickup and see what goodies I might “need” (and what fits in my backpack). While I love that they’re doing book (and autograph card) signings, I already have many of the books, so not sure I’ll do more than wander by.

12pm Women’s Running seminar (if that doesn’t hold my interest, I’ll move to the Masters seminar)

12:45 Bart Yasso’s seminar!  (if possible given the previous seminar, not sure how long sessions last)

1:30 How to Get Faster and Go Longer

(looks like I might have some free time between these two to chat, probably not enough to get to my hotel and back)

3:45 Course Strategy – How to Run the Heartbreak Hill Half (a must, and probably helpful for me for Boston too)

I would have loved to attend the 3:45 blogging session – and hope to meet some of the panelists – but course strategy has to take priority. I’m actually surprised they scheduled anything else at the same time.

Then, I’ll walk a mile or so off campus to a casual restaurant called Boloco (seems Chipotle-like) that assures me they can meet my dietary constraints with a salad and chicken, and then walk back for the 7pm Sarah Reinertsen keynote. Can’t wait, I’m reading her book now, amazing woman. If anyone would like to join me for dinner, I’d welcome the company!

Whether or not you’re going to be at the race, sending strong and speedy thoughts my way on Sunday morning (race start 7:30 ET) would be much appreciated! If you’re racing, in Boston or elsewhere, know i’ll be sending some good vibes your way too.

Weekly Recap – Week of May 5, 2014

Here’s the recap of last week’s training….recall I was on travel M-F, so training was a bit different than my “usual” weeks. My recap suffers a bit from my logging while on travel, so I’m going to make this a shorter than usual post.

Run: 43.65 miles (over 40 again, yay!) Tuesday was a double run day – while on travel – haven’t done one of those in a while. Saturday I was tired so cut long run short. Felt less fatigue on Sunday, so put the miles back in then.

(hotel treadmill T-F)
T – 6.4 in the AM with a little bit of faster running, 4 at lunch at long run pace
W – 6 in the AM, long run pace
Th – 6 in the AM, long run pace
Sat – 10 (home treadmill!) long run pace
Sun – 11.25 long run pace

Bike: 1 hr ez spin M, 30 min ez spin F after arriving home, 30 min after Saturday’s run
Core: 3 (M/W/F am – added in Lauren Fleshman moves on F)
Wharton flex: 7 aka daily!
Yoga: 18 min Sage hip video from yogavibes site, Standing Hip Openers once (didn’t have as much time for this as expected)
Chiro exercises: 2 (T/Th)
Calf stretches: 3 (falling behind on this)
Elliptical (new!) – 4x: 5min, 6min, 7min, 10min after my runs! (did before one day, definitely NOT the way to go) Thinking I may try to do elliptical workouts on office days before lunch. My quads can use the help.
Walk: 1hr on hotel treadmill F AM. Increased incline by 0.5% every 0.5mi for the first half hour, then reversed that but every time I decreased incline, increased speed 0.1mph. Followed that with elliptical and a quick walk outside around the hotel to cool down.

Did pretty well while on travel, especially given I was teleworking during the day and spending time on family stuff in the afternoon/evening. Worked out every day. Didn’t get as much yoga in as I wanted, but adapted and tried some new things, a point of pride, especially when they worked well! (strides outside after runs, doing some sort of activity before eating lunch, elliptical).

So glad I had my footrubz ball, trigger point ball, theraband and stretching rope. Wished I had a roller of some type (stick, grid, roll recovery). Not perfect on food, but certainly not the worst I’ve been on a trip. Got way down on sleep due to my body’s habit of waking up around 3am, for whatever reason. That hit me hard Th-Sat. Felt a bit less tired on Sunday, and got in a massage to close out the week.

Happy Monday!

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 waste..here 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 yogavibes.com 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!