Road Trip and Hotel Fitness Centers

Holiday break is over and back to our old routine.  My 5 year old returned to school today and husband is back at work.  Surely, my toddler is happy to have Mama all to herself for part of the day.  And it feels good to sleep in our own beds after 9 days of being away from home.

A couple of months ago, we received an invitation from our friends to visit them in Colorado.  It’s been 3 years since my husband and I went snowboarding and our toddler has never played in snow so the perfect opportunity was for us to take a road trip during the holiday break.  Our girls, a 12 yr old dog, my husband and I in our SUV with approximately 16 hrs of travel time (plus a couple of hours more to include potty/fuel/lunch stops) – not exactly a pretty picture but with all the luggage we have, it was easier more practical to drive than fly.

9 days without any type of exercise  would probably drive me insane so I knew it had to be a part of my schedule during this trip. Fortunately, most of the hotels that were dog friendly also had a fitness center and reasonably priced.  Our first overnight stay was at a Comfort Inn in Cedar City.  We arrived late afternoon and after we were all settled in,  I checked out the fitness center.  To my dismay, the hotel was in the middle of an upgrade as they had boxes of new equipment unopened.

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An elliptical and a 25 lb dumbbell was all I had to work with, but it was enough to complete a full-body workout – a HIIT on the elliptical followed by a few hybrid-type exercises with the dumbbell (squat to press, lunge and rotate, renegade rows) + bodyweight exercises (push-ups, burpees, mountain climbers).

 

 

The following day, the girls peeked out the window to be greeted by snowflakes.  First sight of snowfall was their excitement for the day as we still had a long road ahead of us before our arrival in Colorado.

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We spent 4.5 days in Colorado with a day of snowboarding at Winter Park Resort.  Our friends had a condo in Fraser where we stayed for a few days.   It had a spacious well-equipped fitness center.  I braved the cold (30 deg at 5400ft altitude in Arvada) on New Year’s Day when I ran 5 miles.  However, Fraser at 8500ft and much much colder with snow/ice on the ground, I settled for a treadmill run where it was warm and comfortable.

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My view from the treadmill.  BRRRR, looks cold out there.

We all had a blast on the mountain.  The girls spent an afternoon on the bunny slopes, skis on their feet for the first time.  My 5 year old did a really good job, but we couldn’t convince her to take lessons the next day.  Our toddler was a bit unsure but seemed to enjoy it nevertheless.

I was a little anxious to go snowboarding as it’s been a few years.  I guess it’s like riding a bike – once you learn how to balance and pedal, it’s a skill that can be re-learned quickly with practice.  The beauty of snowboarding is I can control the speed and I will admit I was slow and too careful.  Guess I didn’t want to cause an injury that would prevent me from running.  The only pain I experienced was soreness in my legs that felt better by the next day.

Our trip back, we decided to divide our trip into three days with a stop to Moab, UT to view the arches at Arches National Park.  It was only a 5 hour drive from Fraser, a much more tolerant drive than the 8-10hrs we did.  I loved the changes in landscape from the towering snow-covered mountains in Colorado to the magnificent red rock formations in Utah.

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Arches National Park

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We stayed at a La Quinta  in Moab.  Out of all the hotels we stayed, this one had the best fitness center with plenty of equipment to choose from.  3 miles on the treadmill and a quick full-body workout before dinner.  I’m certainly lucky to have a supportive husband and kids who gave me some free time to get it done.

Fitness Center

After Moab was another 5 hour drive to St. George with a detour to Canyonlands National Park.  Unfortunately the weather prevented us from continuing on with our drive as the visibility was only a few miles and we figured it wouldn’t be worthwhile.

Last night in a hotel room – the Days Inn.  It had a very small fitness center with a treadmill, an elliptical and a recumbent bike, as well as a pulldown machine.  It was late around 7:30pm before I had the chance to run.  I expected to be alone but actually had to share the gym with two other people.  I had to start on the elliptical first as the treadmill was occupied.  The cool thing about the treadmill was it’s IFIT feature with workouts at specific places you can view on the screen.  One was a 5 mile course along the Monterey Coastal trail.  I lived in Monterey for a few years and ran the trail many times so it was awesome to see the familiar views.

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Screen a little hard to see…

On the 9th day, we were HOME SWEET HOME.  The drive from St. George to San Diego was the longest but we treated ourselves by stopping at the Wicked Spoon brunch buffet in Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas.  Definitely worth the stop!  The girls liked all the glitz and glamour.  This entire trip was definitely a feast for their eyes – many interesting sights.

7 of the 9 days, I successfully managed to include some type of workout by making it a priority.   Without the support of my family, it would have been a more difficult task.  And I made sure I did my workouts within a reasonable timeframe  that didn’t interfere with our overall schedule.

What’s the longest drive have you done?  Do you specifically pick a hotel with a fitness center when you travel?

Outdoorsy Weekend

In America’s Finest City, to be specific San Diego – finding an outdoor activity to enjoy with the family is an easy task.  The kids love the water so that every weekend you can find us frolicking either the bay or the beach.  However, this past Saturday we ventured out for a family hike, an activity we haven’t done in awhile because we were too busy cooling off at the beaches. Since we are now experiencing the fall weather, a trek on the trails was a welcoming change to our usual beach days.  We had a friend visiting who used to live near Mission Trails so this is where we decided to go.

Mission Trails Regional Park

It was only a 20 minute drive from our house but we didn’t leave until late in the afternoon. We selected a short loop from/to the visitor’s center – Visitor Center Loop Trail, a 1.4 mile leisurely moderate trail perfect for the kids.  Looking at the map, we were hoping for a better view of the river but it was further down the trail.  We did catch glimpses of it along the way.

The girls surprised me as they walked almost the entire length of the trail.  At first, my 5 year old was unhappy about hitting the trails instead of the beach but once we started walking, she became more interested in her surroundings, although she did wish it was more adventurous rather than “just walking!”  My 2 year old on the other hand enjoyed every second making delightful noises as she purposely stepped and jumped off every big rock she saw on the trail.

 

With a half mile to go, we reached the part of the trail where we had to climb up a hill.  I encouraged the girls to race against me – the several strides I ran is actually the most I’ve done since Marine Corps Marathon.  The past two weeks I’ve ran ZERO mileage 😦   My right ankle has not completely healed so in the meantime, I’ve been spending time at the gym strength training.  I did tell myself I need to take a little break from running to fix my muscle imbalances – it’s been a work in progress and need to focus on it more.  Yet not running makes me feel incomplete…

Hill climb Back to the hill climb, Eyva was determined to make it up to the top reminding me of myself when I attack a hill during a run. And when she reached the top, that’s when she finally realized she was tired, needed a break and eventually wanted to be carried.  We all had a great time and would definitely explore the rest of the kid-friendly trails!

Lucky for us, we still had Sunday to finish the weekend basking under the sun on the beach.  Our choice was Silver Strand beach inside the Naval Amphibious base.  Only a few other beachgoers were there so it felt as though we were on our own private beach.  And the best part of our day was hunting for sand dollars – we found several live ones crawling on the sand velvet in color and threw them right back in the water.  The white ones with its beautiful intricate design we kept for ourselves, of course.


It was another glorious weekend in sunny and beautiful San Diego!

How was your weekend?  Any time spent outdoors? Would rather hike in the mountains or play in the sand on the beach?  Anyone else taking a long break from running after recently finishing a marathon?

Let the Kids Run

Forecast of rain threatened today’s big event for my kindergartener.  Yet the sun peeked through the stormy clouds and delayed the downpour indicating a go for this morning’s Ultra Fun Run – a jog-a-thon fundraiser program held annually at the school.  The kindergarten class started practicing for this day back in September where they all lined up at 8am and run/walk as many laps they could for 5 to 10 minutes.  I loved watching their tiny feet scurry, right-left right-left, breathing in the morning air and awakening their minds before the start of a busy school day.  The run was originally scheduled in mid-October but was postponed due to rain.  Some of the kids, including my daughter were so disappointed when they discovered it had to be rescheduled.  Much anticipation has built up to this day and I was relieved to see the sun shining!

Stage is set

Part of the “Fun” incorporated into this run is being doused by different colors.  However, my daughter did not perceive the color as fun and wanted nothing to do with it.  I reminded her to speak out regarding her aversion to the colors but all it did was build up her anxiety – she was “worried she is going to forget to say NO to the colors”.  As it turned out, all she needed to do was cross her arms and I reminded her every lap to do it.

Warm up stretches

Standing in the grassy field, the kids waited patiently for the indication to start.  They had 30 minutes to run as many laps (the most time Eyva has ever ran!)  The emcee directed them to start walking first, then gradually speed up to a jog/run.  I was standing by Eyva’s class when they started but as they moved further away to run the lap, it became more difficult for me to spot her as there were at least 100 participants from kindergarten to 2nd grade .  This time my anxiety grew since Eyva is the smallest girl in class and I was afraid she will get trampled by the bigger kids.  However, each lap she ran past me unscathed and focused to do more.  Her motivation dwindled a little after several laps but I provided an incentive by giving her an M&M (halloween candy stash).  Sugar = energy right!?…


As I watched these young children run, I noticed their playfulness and carefree attitude.  Many enjoyed being covered in color and ran as quickly as they could to be doused with more.  Some held hands with their friends, walked, and cherished a fun moment together.  And a few were completely focused to run as many laps as time allowed.

Being a mother runner, I was delighted to see the kids have the opportunity to experience a Fun Run.  We all know the importance of exposing children to physical activity especially as they age and most of their day is spent inside a classroom.  Through this experience, hopefully they as well as their parents will be inspired and motivated to incorporate a bit of active play in their everyday lives.

Finished and not a spot of color!

Family trip to Washington DC and Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap

3 days post marathon, I am sitting on my couch right foot propped up with frozen cherries on a swollen ankle, replaying the race in my head mile by mile.  Fortunately, much of the swelling has already gone down and I can finally walk without a limp.   The aftermath of chasing a sub-4:00 finish which I proudly achieved!  Let me backtrack to the day when we arrived in DC. Continue reading “Family trip to Washington DC and Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap”

Traveling with kids

Time to pack for my weekend race frenzy!  This is the second time I am heading out of town for a race.  First time bringing my family to involve them in my marathon experience.  Of all the aspects of travel, packing is my least favorite thing to do and I usually start 2-3 days beforehand to make sure I don’t forget anything.  With the kids in tow, it’s more of a challenge as I brainstorm what to bring on the plane to keep them entertained for the 5+hr flight.   It’s been 6 months since our last plane ride.  Now my youngest is 2 and constantly testing her independence.  I’m not sure how she’s going to react being strapped in a car seat for several hours.  Hope they keep that seatbelt light off so she can freely move around.

Airplane travel (and long road trips) is when I lift my restriction regarding screen time (2hrs or less daily) so I need to have the IPad, Kindle and Leappad charged and ready with their game/shows/movies, hopefully enough to occupy their time.  Unfortunately, I know my kids will prefer something else to do besides having their eyes glued on a screen, so I also need to have paper and markers (5 yr old loves to draw), puzzles (2 yr old’s current obsession), books and cannot forget their snacks!  I’m sure more will be added to this list.

I am excited for my family to witness me running in a race.  Our hotel is conveniently located blocks away from the race course so they can see me a couple of times along the National Mall route prior to mile 18 and right after mile 19.  Seeing them will be the boost I need to power me through the final miles.

Disclaimer:  I copied this part of the map from an article written by Philip Runco “An Ipod Runner’s Guide to the Marine Corps Marathon”.  Interesting read for MCM newbies like me.

5 DAYS TO GO!!

The Taper Blues

10 days until race day and I’m going through a funk.  Last week is what I would consider a non-running week as I struggled to complete an easy 7- mile run, followed by an emerging series of aches and pains (ankle/hamstring/IT band).  I’ve heard of “phantom pains” surfacing during this period which could be the case since I didn’t have as many issues the past several weeks of training.  Yet even with the knowledge, I can’t help but feel a bit discouraged.  Thursday, I only managed 3 miles – I could have pushed for more but common sense pointed to rest and recovery.  Then unexpectedly when I felt ready to run on Saturday, I went through another hurdle of being sick from something I ate the night before. A severe stomachache and eventual vomiting caused the worst body aches the following day.  I managed to sleep most of the day (thanks to my husband who watched the girls!) and felt better in the afternoon.  

Sunday, I was sitting next to my 2 year old happy and content playing in the sand.  It’s been a week since she had the unfortunate event of fracturing her left humerus.  What’s amazing to me is her sheer resilience, absolutely unfazed by this bandage wrapped around her arm to minimize its movement.  Rather, she focused on her strengths so she could continue to enjoy her daily activities.  This particular observation uplifted me.  Instead of brooding over one bad week, I should be celebrating my achievements up to this point and BELIEVE my goals are within reach. 

 

Save a Heart

Valentine’s Day – what better way to spend the morning but to sit in a room with a comical instructor to learn how to administer CPR, use an AED and assist a choking victim.  Cardiac arrest is a serious matter, of course, but having an instructor to keep the subject lighthearted made it more enjoyable.  As an ACE certified personal trainer, I have to keep my CPR/AED credentials current – last time I took a class was a couple of years ago and the procedure for administering CPR has actually changed since the Hands-Only CPR was introduced.  The Hands-Only CPR basically is CPR without the breaths.  A bystander who witnesses a person under sudden cardiac arrest can be hesitant in administering CPR to protect his/her own health. Without the pressure of giving breaths to a complete stranger, the witness can apply chest compressions proven that even without the breath, an effective way to revive the victim.  Of course, there are exceptions to the rule and it’s still important to know the skills and steps of CPR.  When my first child was born, I made it a priority to take an infant CPR class – you never know when the knowledge will come in handy.  I’m thankful I’ve never had to use it all.

The class ended around lunchtime and it was time for me to go home to my love bugs.  Saturday is when I usually go out for my long run but since my injury I went to the gym before the CPR class for an hour’s worth of strength training.  My hubby and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day but because of the girls we made an effort to make it a little extra special by showering them with simple gifts.  But to my surprise, I came home to a red vase filled with sweet smelling roses and lilies!  My daughter also gave her Dad and I a gift she crafted in school – it was a butterfly with a special note inside. The thrilled expression on her face as she watched us open her gift was probably better than the gift itself – PRICELESS.

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