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Running, Reggae, and Finding Release in Jamaica

I’m not entirely sure what I expected when I received an invitation from the Jamaica Tourist Board on a press trip focusing on the Kingston City Run. I mean, sure, I expected sunny weather, some spicy food, and a chance to check out a new city in pretty much my favorite way in the world. […]


I’m not entirely sure what I expected when I received an invitation from the Jamaica Tourist Board on a press trip focusing on the Kingston City Run. I mean, sure, I expected sunny weather, some spicy food, and a chance to check out a new city in pretty much my favorite way in the world. So I guess I did go in with a few expectations.

But I did not expect to get it so thoroughly. Jamaica is a country, a vacation destination, the home of Usain Bolt — but you guys, in my experience, it’s really an experience with an energy all its own. And it hit me hard.

I didn’t expect to break down crying in a yin yoga class after the instructor whispered, “Let go, just let it all go,” in her gentle, soothing, lyrical accent — but oh, I cried. I didn’t expect to be moved to hug the owner of the raw vegan café we visited for lunch, but I hugged him tight. I didn’t expect to run — actually run — 3.5 miles after a few months on the bench, but during the Kingston City 5k, I found myself fueled by the determination of the other runners, and my feet simply didn’t want to stop.

I definitely didn’t expect to develop a love of reggae, but after a visit to the Bob Marley Museum, guess what’s currently pumping on my playlist?

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Jamaica, you are full of surprises. And I pretty much loved them all.

Running Kingston

The Kingston City Run was the event for which I was invited (along with two fellow journalists from the States: Teresa of Veg Travel and Fitness and Sarah of JetSetSarah), and it offered a 5k, 10k, and half marathon. As far as races go, I’d consider it a really good option for newbies for a few reasons: There were a couple of fun events leading up to it (a welcome party at Devon House on Friday night, which I missed because I’m not a night owl, and a carb party on Saturday on the rooftop of The Jamaica Pegasus, which was where I stayed and if I were to do that race again, it would certainly be my pick for accommodations), and the race itself offered plenty of wide spaces so people could easily go their own pace without being in the way or getting stuck (with just a few exceptions).

The vibe was joyful, inclusive, and celebratory — especially at the start and finish, where there were drummers, dancers, stilt-walkers, and so much amazing music. I loved it.

Finger guns right back at you, tall sir.

(That said, you should know that the big buffets that we see after races in the U.S. are not necessarily standard everywhere, so, unless you were hooked up with a corporate group in this race, you only got a water bottle — no biggie for me, but could’ve been rough for the 10k and half marathoners. Also, if medals are important to you, ask whether there will be one for every distance, as the 5k did not get them. Again, fine for me, but if it’s your first race and you want a medal? Train for a 10k, baby!)

Our fab four: Teresa (first 10k ever!), Sarah, yours truly, and Lisa.

Interesting side note about running in Jamaica that I learned from our incredible tour guide, Lisa Adelle-Jondeau, who’s a fellow fitness fanatic and runner: training runs are typically (and pretty much exclusively) done in groups — and runs take place very early in the morning because it becomes so hot out so quickly. (I’d bet it’s also done in part to avoid traffic, because Kingston traffic is no joke.) Groups rotate who leads each week, and whomever is leading plans the routes, provides water stops, and also even coordinates a police escort to follow behind the runners. I will never take my ability to step out my front door and get in a quick, unplanned solo run for granted again!

Soaking Up the Culture

I’ve already talked a bit about my fun day of food and fresh air over on Fit Bottomed Eats, and I’ll share more soon (because you guys have to hear about the vegan cafe I mentioned earlier — just incredible), but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Jamaican people. I was really fortunate in that our tour guide, Lisa, was from the area (so when she took us to Afya Yoga, it was because it’s a studio she knows and loves. The gorgeous open air studio, the incense, the focus on releasing muscles, breath, sound, everything — it was perfection). Sarah, my fellow journalist, had also spent part of her life in Kingston, so we didn’t just get the tourist treatment — we saw the area through the eyes of locals.

Ocean behind me, Blue Mountains (yes, where the coffee is grown) in front of me.

And we met loads more, because, as large as this capital city is (and it is large — it’s the seventh largest natural harbor in the world, as well as the fifth busiest harbor in the Americas), we didn’t turn a corner without running into someone who knew one of the two women (or in some cases, both). That certainly added to the warm, friendly vibe I got, but it didn’t only come from the people I met as the friend of a friend — it came from all around, and I soaked it up.

Now, I have to say that when I told friends and family that I was heading to Kingston, I was met with a few cocked eyebrows. Kingston? Why not, say, Montego Bay, Negril, or Ochos Rios, all of which are more well-known as tourist-friendly resort destinations?

And it’s a fair question — Kingston is a capital city, and like many big, industrial cities, it sees its fair share of crime and there are areas that tourists should avoid. Some mentioned the fact that there’s a travel advisory for parts of Jamaica, including areas in Kingston — but, let me point out that it’s at the same travel advisory level (Level 2) as Turks and Caicos, United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, Italy, and loads more countries that I don’t think most people would bat an eye at. I certainly didn’t receive the same response on this recent trip.

So, basically, here’s my thing: One should always use caution when traveling somewhere new. In regard to Kingston specifically, I will say that I wouldn’t drive myself around there — there are plenty of official taxis available, and I’ve talked to numerous people who simply hired a private driver for the day when they wanted to get around the island. It’s also not a city I’d aimlessly walk around all by myself (although, really, I don’t do that anywhere).

But there was never a time when I felt unsafe with our group, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. Maybe I’ll have to keep an eye on the Reggae Half Marathon, yeah?

I’m going to ask you guys a question that Sarah asked me: When you travel, what kinds of quirks, habits, or superstitions do you have, if any? I don’t have a ton, but years ago, when I rarely flew, I got in the habit of picking up the types of snacks I’d never eat otherwise — like Combos. Now, even though I fly many times a year, I find myself craving those damn crunchy bits of salty, cheesy goodness. Kristen



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Packing for Workouts When You Travel

Deciding what to wear for a workout when I’m at home isn’t hard. I have types of clothes I prefer for different types of workouts, and I know what undergarments work with various fitness tops and bottoms, and I can pick which shoes I want to wear based on activity or distance. But when I’m […]


Deciding what to wear for a workout when I’m at home isn’t hard. I have types of clothes I prefer for different types of workouts, and I know what undergarments work with various fitness tops and bottoms, and I can pick which shoes I want to wear based on activity or distance.

But when I’m traveling on a plane and space is at a premium?

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Different story.

But I’ve gotten pretty decent at it over the years, so I thought I’d share my top tips for ensuring that I’m never without workout-appropriate gear … and still have space to pack my snorkel. (And, reminder, some of the links below are affiliate ones, so if you decide to purchase them, you’re helping to keep this site going — thanks!)

Do double duty.

Instead of a sheer tank, I might opt for a top  (like this) that would also work under a cardigan for a casual day early in my trip — or even on the flight. Solid leggings can be worn for loads of non-workout situations if they’re nice quality, fully opaque, and you pair them with a tunic, long sweater, or go with a full athleisure look. One note on leggings, however — if you have a possibility of being upgraded on your flight or are flying on an employee’s buddy pass, you might want to stick to true street clothes depending on the airline’s rules.

I avoid bringing more than one pair of sneakers when at all possible, so I’ll often choose a pair that also looks good with a cotton dress or jeans and will work for workouts. (I wore an older pair of gray Brooks PureFlows all over London and Italy while walking, cycling, and running, and I think the Revel is pretty much made for just what I’m talking about.)

Ditch accessories.

Running shorts might be less versatile than leggings, but they don’t take up much space and probably don’t require you to pack undies for them. Plus, in most cases, they’re pretty quick drying, so you can easily give them a rinse during your post-workout shower and hang them to dry so you can wear them again for your next workout. Tanks with built-in bras can be great options for lower-impact activities like yoga, but I would recommend having at least one sports bra with your usual support on hand for just about anything else. A mile into a 10k isn’t the time you want to realize that your top wasn’t made for this.

Strip down.

Even if you’re not comfortable running in just a sports bra at home, doing so when you’re in a new location might be different. You’re not seeing people you see all the time, and, if you’re visiting a beachy area, chances are good that you’re getting sweaty surrounded by loads of people wearing far less. Being able to leave a few tops at home can free up quite a bit of space — especially if you’re able to rinse and dry your sports bra every day or so to rewear it!

Wash up.

Maybe you aren’t comfortable with just a basic rinse of your clothes after a killer workout. I get it — I’ve been there. In that case, if space is truly an issue, it might be worth inquiring ahead of time about laundry facilities wherever you’re staying. If we’re talking about a long trip with many clothes that require serious washing, you might want to check out the Scrubba Wash Bag. I used one the first time I went to Hawaii and it saved my socks after some incredibly muddy hikes.

Bag it.

I am obsessed with my space-saving travel bags. There are all sorts of options out there (travel cubes, vacuum sealed bags, etc.), but the ones I got don’t require any additional tools, seal tightly, and are small enough to serve as organizational tools, too. I use one for workout clothes, one for socks and undies, and one or two for my other clothes. As I work (i.e. sweat) through what I’ve packed, I switch one to a dirty clothes bag so I can easily keep things separated without sacrificing space. Plus, because they seal, if you’ve gotten a few items real stinky, you can keep them from smelling up your clean clothes, easy peasy!

Got any other hot tips for packing light? Whatever I pack for sleeping also doubles as workout wear, just in case I happen to run short. Kristen



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6 Creative Ways to Get Your Workout on While Traveling

Ever feel like it’s impossible to get your workout on while traveling? There’s packing (did I forget something?), getting to where you need to be on time, delays, outings, social gatherings, food temptations (I mean you’re on vacation, right?), among many things. With so much working against you, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s […]


Ever feel like it’s impossible to get your workout on while traveling? There’s packing (did I forget something?), getting to where you need to be on time, delays, outings, social gatherings, food temptations (I mean you’re on vacation, right?), among many things. With so much working against you, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important — taking time for yourself.

Whether at home or on the go, make yourself a priority. It’s a choice you need to make to research the resources available and put in the effort. Don’t know where to start? Check out these creative ways to get in your workout while traveling.

6 Creative Ways to Get Your Workout on While Traveling

1. Be picky where you stay. You (and your pocketbook) are in control of where you stay. Most hotels have some sort of a gym. Make sure that you’re filtering your search criteria based on accommodations that offer a workout facility. It doesn’t have to be the most glamorous gym. Most hotel gyms aren’t, especially if you’re on a budget. But don’t let a small outdated gym discourage you from reaching your goals. Make the most of what’s available. Something is always better than nothing.

2. Check out the local gym scene. Many gyms offer reasonably priced day passes. Some even let you join in on group classes (which may or may not require a drop-in fee). Don’t have a car? That’s okay! Hail a taxi, grab an Uber or hop on local transit.

3. Pack that running gear. Running, although physically challenging, is one of the simplest ways to work out while traveling, not to mention, it’s a GREAT way to explore new places. Packing your kicks and an extra outfit won’t take up too much space. Try rolling your clothes instead of folding. It makes a world of difference. Still a tight squeeze? Ask yourself what you can live without. Do you really need that extra pair of heels?

4. Set up a circuit. Not comfortable venturing out in a new place by yourself? Don’t! Set up a circuit where you’re staying. Hit the parking lot (who cares that people can see you!) or grassy area, grab sticks or rocks for markers, space them a good distance apart and run from one to the other doing an assortment of moves in between (jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, burpees, step-ups on a curb, bear crawls, etc.).

5. Make the most of that computer you’re lugging around. I get it — sometimes we just don’t want to leave the hotel room. Heck, most days I don’t even want to get out of my pajamas. You don’t have to! You can get an internet connection just about anywhere. Boot up the computer, navigate to YouTube and find a workout video that meets your needs (we’ve got some great ones!). Staying in the boonies and not sure if you’ll be able to find a connection? Pack a workout DVD and pop it in your laptop or download a video on your tablet before hitting the road. Enjoy working out in the luxury of your own room and top it off with room service if you like.

6. Make the airport your own personal walking track. Stuck in the airport? Two-hour layover and not sure what to do with your time? It’s way too easy to sit around and munch on all of that ridiculously priced airport food while waiting for your flight. Don’t be a victim! Get up, get your walking shoes on and make your rounds. Luggage in tow? No problem. Consider that carry-on a bonus weight to your workout. Think ahead and consider your situation (although not always expected) so you don’t over-pack. Pack smart and no matter the situation, you’ll be ready.

What’s your favorite travel workout? —Nichole



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5 Things to Love About the Chicago Marathon

I love the marathon. As I write this post, I’ve run 16 of them and No. 17 is only eight days away. I would say I have a “problem” but I really don’t see it as a problem (my husband might tell you otherwise). Having run most of the marathons near where I live, I’ve […]


I love the marathon. As I write this post, I’ve run 16 of them and No. 17 is only eight days away. I would say I have a “problem” but I really don’t see it as a problem (my husband might tell you otherwise).

Having run most of the marathons near where I live, I’ve been branching out a bit over the past few years and starting to run more marathons around the country. And since I’ve never really been good at choosing when there are so many options on the table, I’ve taken to letting the marathon gods decide my fate — entering lotteries for the races I’m interested in and simply letting the chips fall where they may. So, at the end of last year I started plotting which lottery I would enter for 2017.

I had only ever been to Chicago once and that was 19 years ago when I was a senior in high school. I figured what better reason than a marathon to return and check out the city. So I threw my name in the hat for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and figured a few years from now, I would be selected — I mean, it took me six years of attempts to get into the New York City Marathon. Imagine my surprise when I got the notification that I was confirmed to run Chicago on my very first try.

Honestly, when I entered the lottery to run Chicago, I figured — if nothing else — it was one step closer to earning the coveted World Marathon Majors Medal (a medal awarded to runners who complete the six world marathon majors, which are Boston, New York, Chicago, Berlin, Tokyo, and London). I truly didn’t expect it to be one of my favorite marathons — but it totally was.

Here are some of my favorite things about the race.

5 Things to Love About the Chicago Marathon

1. It’s flat. I live in a town full of hills. Everywhere you run, it’s hills. Because I’m used to training on them, I’ve never really sought out flat marathons. But, wow, it makes a difference! My pace throughout the race was far more consistent than many of my other marathons. It’s so flat that this course boasts four world record times — not that I’m in the running to get close to any of those.

2. It starts and ends in the same place. The course is a giant loop that begins at the northern end and ends at the southern end of Grant Park. In between, you run through 29 distinct neighborhoods, getting a full tour of all this city has to offer. Logistically, this was a dream for an out-of-tower like me. I was able to book a hotel that was only a mile away — an easy walk to the start and back from the finish.

3. The crowd support is otherworldly. There are something like 1.7 million spectators that line the course, and when you’re out there among all that cheering, it’s totally unreal. There were only a few small stretches of quiet among the huge pockets of noise, which made me glad I didn’t wear headphones for the race.

4. You get your name in a major newspaper. After you complete the race, be sure to grab a copy of the Chicago Tribune. The day after the race coverage includes a Marathon Commemorative Section, including a full race recap and the names of every runner who finishes the race times in under 6:30:59.

5. Chicago’s a really cool place to visit. I’m an East Coast gal, born and raised. I’ve lived in the Washington, D.C., area for the past 15 years and New York City is still one of my favorite cities to visit. With that said, Chicago really surprised me. It had all the city offerings with a splash of Midwest charm. There’s so much to do in this city, so many open spaces and diverse cultures but with a more mellow vibe than what you’d find on the East Coast. I really enjoyed my time in this great city and would love the opportunity to return.

What’s your favorite city to run in? —Alison



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Workout I Did: Learning to Surf

We all have that one thing that we’ve always wanted to try to but for whatever reason we just haven’t. For me, that thing is surfing. I grew up in the mountains of central Pennsylvania with a family that wasn’t big on beach vacations. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I started spending any […]


We all have that one thing that we’ve always wanted to try to but for whatever reason we just haven’t. For me, that thing is surfing.

I grew up in the mountains of central Pennsylvania with a family that wasn’t big on beach vacations. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I started spending any time near the beach. And yet, the idea of surf lessons still seemed far off.

Then, on a recent trip to Myrtle Beach, my chance finally came — at age 37, I was finally about to check surfing off my bucket list. For having this on my list for so long, I still hadn’t even Googled how to surf. On the plus side, when we arrived on the beach for our morning lesson, I had zero expectations and was open to anything.

We were greeted by our surf instructors, Jack and Nick, who had laid out a variety of longboards on the beach for us. As we looked out at the ocean, Jack pointed out that there was some good ground swell from Hurricane Irma, which was approaching but still a couple days out. But, he pointed out, these are perfect wave conditions for learning to surf. One very important variable was in our favor — yay!

On the beach, Jack walked us through how to position ourselves on the board, paddle out and “pop up” from a belly-down position to standing on the board. Then we worked on refining our stance on the board — which foot goes in front, optimal distance between our feet, and how to find balance.

For people who’ve spent some time working out, the popping up maneuver should seem pretty familiar. I mean, look at this slow-mo video of me and tell that this doesn’t look like a cockeyed burpee.

Once we got that down, we headed out into the water with our instructors. We paddled through the breaking waves close to the beach and settled into a relatively calm pocket of flat water not too far off shore. Our instructors stood beside our boards as we hung out on top, waiting. And when a suitable wave approached, they would give us a push on the board toward the shore and tell us when to start paddling. When the moment was right, they’d tell us to pop up.

To my shock and surprise, on my very first wave I made it to my knees and rode the wave to shore. By my second run, I was up on my feet. From there on, I was on fire. I even caught one wave and rode it all the way into shore until I (literally) ran aground.

At this point, I was grateful for my fitness. It was exhausting to work your way through breaking waves, heave your body up onto the board, and then paddle out using only your upper body fighting the water every step of the way. If I was lucky, I’d get a minute to catch my breath before being pushed right back toward shore and popping back up onto my board. So much upper body and core work went into this process. But as tiring as it all was, I was drawn back out over and over again — totally hooked.

Despite all my success on lesson one, I don’t pretend to think I’m prepared to go beyond the safety of the breaking waves near the shoreline just yet. Everything I’ve read and heard since talks about how long and frustratingly slow the learning process is. But I do wonder — why did I wait so long to give this a shot?

Curious to try it for yourself?

Three Things You Should Know

1. Be prepared to be humbled. Surfing might look pretty, but the reality is that it’s far more difficult than it looks. I found that it was easy enough get up onto my knees out there but it took a ton more power (and courage) to get my feet on the board and then stand up. Wipeouts are inevitable — even for seasoned surfers. You’ll get tossed about by the waves and clobbered over the head with your board — it’s foam, you’ll live.

2. Wear the leash. If it’s not securely fastened, your board becomes a projectile. When you’re up on your board, the waves are trying to rip it out from under you. On a few occasions as I was going under mid-wipeout, I could feel my board being launched forward. The leash was only thing keeping me from losing my board and potentially taking someone out.

3. Start small. You begin by essentially learning to ride the whitewater, the smaller and more frequent breaking waves near the shore. This was plenty for me to deal with. What looks like a small wave from the beach looks massive at it approaches you in the water. Over time, as you get more experienced and build confidence, you’ll move farther out and away from shore.

A huge thanks to my friend Jennifer Mitchell for catching the awesome video of me!

What’s on your fitness bucket list? —Alison



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How an FBG Does Myrtle Beach

My husband and I have very different ideas of what constitutes a successful beach vacation. He sits squarely in the sit-on-the-beach-and-do-as-little-as-humanly-possible camp while I prefer something a little more active. The reality is that my body actually doesn’t feel refreshed and renewed after spending a week sitting or lying around (on the beach or otherwise). […]


My husband and I have very different ideas of what constitutes a successful beach vacation. He sits squarely in the sit-on-the-beach-and-do-as-little-as-humanly-possible camp while I prefer something a little more active.

The reality is that my body actually doesn’t feel refreshed and renewed after spending a week sitting or lying around (on the beach or otherwise). In fact, I often find myself feeling lethargic after too much do-nothing vacationing. This isn’t to discount my husband’s style of beach vacation as “bad” or “wrong”, it’s just not always for me. But I do it every once in a while for the sake of compromise and my marriage.

However, recently I was extended an invitation to go to Myrtle Beach and experience a different side of the area (they paid for all my travel, lodging, food and activities) — a wellness getaway. As you can probably imagine, I jumped all over the chance to take a beach trip that was more my speed … sans husband. Turns out Myrtle Beach is an FBG’s dream!

What Makes Myrtle Beach So FBG-Friendly?

Fall is a fabulous time to visit the Myrtle Beach area because during the months of September and October you’ll still experience awesome summer-like temperatures and warm ocean waters without the peak-season prices and large crowds. During these months, the area becomes far more peaceful, spacious, and affordable.

This place is full of active things to do for the adventure seeker in you who doesn’t want to sit still. You can take surfing lessons, practice yoga on the beach, tackle the tree-top ropes course, give cable wakeboarding a try, tour the area by bike, or jump into a kayak.

And when you do feel ready to settle down for some reflective time, Myrtle Beach offers 60 miles of beautiful beaches to catch a sunrise (like this one) and the most serene settings to take a stroll. Myrtle Beach also created five meditation zones throughout the area, each representing one of the five senses which you can visit while listening to this free 16-minute “Senses” guided meditation from their website.

So many great ways to move in new and interesting ways, celebrate all that hard-earned fitness and focus on your mental health. Here’s a look at how I spent my time in Myrtle Beach.

Hitting the Beach: FBG-Style

DAY ONE: I arrived at the airport in Myrtle Beach in the afternoon. A short drive later, I was sitting on the balcony of my room with an amazing view of the ocean at North Beach Plantation in North Myrtle Beach.

That evening, we took a short drive to Conway, one of the oldest towns in South Carolina, for a walking tour along the Waccamaw River. I was immediately struck by the huge oak trees covered with Spanish Moss and Resurrection Ferns — little details you might miss if you weren’t walking it.

DAY TWO: I headed out early in the morning for a quick run around the neighborhood where I was staying. My running route was just off the beach so, of course, I made a few stops along the way to sneak another peak (and pics) of my gorgeous surroundings. After my run, it was time for yoga on the beach. Meditating on the sand to the sound of the ocean is sublime.

Then, we were off to see the Boardwalk and Sky Wheel. Normally the thought of the touristy sections of a beach town make me roll my eyes. But this time of the year, it wasn’t overcrowded and I even managed to snag a boardwalk handstand shot before going up on the Sky Wheel.

From the top of the 200-foot high observation wheel, we could see everything — including the storm clouds approaching from the west and knew that sadly, this meant our plan to go cable wakeboarding had to be scrapped. But no worries, there’s plenty to do here and Plan B would take us to a local winery.

After lunch, we headed to La Belle Amie Vineyard where we walked the vineyard with the owner Vicki and heard all about the rich family history. We even got to taste the grapes straight off the vine. Then it was inside to taste the wine. Not too shabby for a rainy and overcast afternoon.

DAY THREE: I’ve always wanted to try surfing and what better time? I arrived on the beach wondering if all that yoga and stability training I do regularly would pay off and it totally did … in a big way. Mad props to the awesome instructors at Jack’s Surf Lessons for their part in helping uncover this hidden talent of mine. It was such a blast!

After lunch, it was off to Brookgreen Gardens — home to a fantastic sculpture garden of more than 1,000 sculptures by American artists, a zoo for native SC species, walking trails, and a labyrinth. We started with a 45-minute boat tour of the historic rice fields where we were visited by a gator swimming along side our pontoon boat in the lagoon. Then, we walked the breath-taking grounds — all of which was so zen-like that I couldn’t help but handstand with joy.

The day ended with a nature walks through the marshes and trails of Huntington Beach State Park. There’s a long boardwalk that takes you straight out into the middle of the marsh where you can watch crabs, hundreds of species of birds, and all sorts of other interesting wildlife in their natural habitat. This was truly mesmerizing.

DAY FOUR: Up early to walk to the beach and watch the sunrise — that never gets old. Then it was off to Cinzia Spa for a Hot Lava Shell Massage and Micro-Collagen Facial which left my muscles relaxed and my face glowing. Just in time to pack and head to the airport. I left feeling refreshed, inspired and energized. Mission accomplished!

Thank you Myrtle Beach for showing this FBG such a fabulous time! Can’t wait to do it again!

For more reasons to book a trip or a complete listing of all the great stuff to do, check out this site.

What’s your favorite way to move on vacay? —Alison



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Sightseeing on the Run: My London Running Tour

I truly believe the best way to get a good feel for a city is by exploring it on foot. I didn’t fall in love with New York until I had an opportunity to stroll the streets from the Lower East Side up to Central Park — but from that day forward, I totally got […]


I truly believe the best way to get a good feel for a city is by exploring it on foot. I didn’t fall in love with New York until I had an opportunity to stroll the streets from the Lower East Side up to Central Park — but from that day forward, I totally got it.

My husband and I recently visited London for the first time, and it didn’t take nearly so long for that city to claim my heart — but maybe that’s because, from the moment we stepped off the train from Heathrow, we spent a lot of time walking around, sometimes getting a bit lost and constantly finding cool new corners of the city to explore.

But, you guys know me — I wasn’t entirely content to just walk. The second I laid eyes on Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, I knew I had to run those paths. Our time was a bit limited, but on our last full day, I set an early alarm, laced up my sneaks, and headed out to get in a few miles.

kensington palace
Kensington Palace — gorgeous view and hey, free wifi!

Running as a tourist is much different than running in your own city. For one, obviously, you are less familiar with the area, so I had a map pulled up on my phone and kept it handy so I could make sure I didn’t get too lost on the way. (And good thing I did. London is amazing, but it’s not exactly laid out like an easy-to-follow grid.) The going was extra slow for me because, not only did I have to navigate loads of crosswalks, but — well, they drive on the other side of the road there, you know, and if you’re thinking that’s only wiggy to someone behind the wheel, let me assure you that it’s also something you need to be mindful of as a pedestrian. There’s a reason most of the busy crosswalks have “Look Left” or “Look Right” written in big letters on the street! So, every time I crossed a street, I stopped for longer than was strictly necessary to make sure I wasn’t darting out in front of a double decker.

But those aren’t the biggest differences. For me, at least, the biggest one is the fact that I tend to stop every half mile or so to look at things. Buildings, flowers, people, pubs that I definitely want to stop in later … I didn’t know when I’d be going back, so the whole time I ran, I was looking, watching, taking it all in, and stopping to really soak it up when needed.

Big Ben and the London Eye
Big Ben and the London Eye. (Not seen on this specific run, but I walked by both numerous times.) If you look closely, you can see the “Look to Your Left/Right” notes on the street.

What’s quite cool about this is that, all in all I ended up logging about five miles — which is considerably more than I’d really planned to do. It wasn’t speedy, and the only time my heart rate really shot up was when my wifi connected in front of Kensington Palace (thank you, FREEPALACEWIFI) and I received a notification that my flight home had been canceled (but I made it home eventually — don’t worry), but my legs got a killer workout, and I experienced a bit of zen at the same time.

With all that in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips for having a super successful, totally touristy run the next time you find yourself in a new city.

london phone booth
If you can get past the flyers for escort services pasted all over every single one of these in the city, they’re awfully picturesque!

Tips for a Sightseeing Run

Safety first. If you’re traveling with someone, either have them join you or tell them where you’re going — and approximately when you expect to be back.

Know where you’re headed … at least somewhat. I LOVE getting myself lost on a run … but only to a certain point. Be aware of areas you might want to avoid, and have at least a loose idea of the direction you want to go. If you’re not sure and are staying at a hotel, ask the concierge. Some might even have pre-planned running routes available for you. If you’re capable of logging some miles, you can often see a lot of sights within a city while you get in your run!

And know how to get back. Sounds obvious, but make certain you know the name or address of where you’re staying. It’s one thing to come back via the same route you took when you left, but it can throw you off if you come home a different way!

Don’t go empty handed. If you don’t know the area, take a map or your phone (make sure you have a map available to use offline if you don’t have data available; there are loads of map apps with that functionality, often for free or pretty darn cheap).

Have a backup plan. In addition to my phone, I had a credit card, my ID (but not my passport) and my public transportation card (pro tip — if you’re visiting London, get a Visitor’s Oyster card. You are welcome) so that if I got way off track or hurt or the weather turned, I’d be able to pop into a cafe, at the very least, or find an alternate way home if needed.

Be aware. I know that, as my heart rate soars, often my cognitive faculties … don’t. Even if you’re sticking to safe areas, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out so you don’t get pick-pocketed, followed, or worse.

Don’t miss a thing. This isn’t a hardcore training run. This is a sightseeing jogging tour that you can take at your own pace, so make it what you want it to be. You can sprint from one spot to the next or take everything in at a slower speed. Just be sure you take the opportunity to really see it all, because hey, that’s why you’re there!

In hindsight, I kind of wish we’d spent part of the previous day running the city at a leisurely pace together. We walked the bulk of the day anyway, and you can get in more running miles than you’d think when you’re stopping to gawk as often as we did. Oh well — next time! (And there will be a next time — I can’t wait to go back!)

Have you ever taken a running tour? Where, and what did you see? Got any tips you’d add to this? —Kristen



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Race Recap: What It’s Like to Run Up Pikes Peak

13.32 miles. 7,815-foot vertical incline. 14,115-foot elevation. Holy crap, this flatlander ran up a mountain! You’d think that the final moments captured in this picture were epic … and you’d be right. They were, 100 percent. That moment you trained sooo hard for … the sweat, the emotions, the anticipation. After all, I could hear […]


13.32 miles. 7,815-foot vertical incline. 14,115-foot elevation.

Holy crap, this flatlander ran up a mountain!

You’d think that the final moments captured in this picture were epic … and you’d be right. They were, 100 percent. That moment you trained sooo hard for … the sweat, the emotions, the anticipation. After all, I could hear the announcer starting at mile 9! That’s a long ass time considering mountain miles aren’t your typical road-mile pace. Longest mind game EVER.

Although a joyous moment, what you can’t see in the photo above is that the altitude had completely depleted me: my oxygen, my strength, my ability to think. Just lifting my leg was the most difficult task. All I wanted to do was lie down and close my eyes (this started at mile 8). But I wouldn’t allow it. I kept shaking my head to snap out of it, squeezing my hands to regain circulation and telling myself to put one foot in front of the other. I just tried to breathe in whatever I could, which was next to nothing. It was one of the most daunting challenges I’ve ever experienced.

But enough about the end. Rewind! Let’s back this crazy train up to the beginning, shall we?

Pikes Peak Ascent Recap: The Days Before

With the race being Saturday, it was recommended that I be in Colorado at least 48 hours before the race (that was, if I couldn’t be there two weeks prior to acclimate … which I couldn’t). Talk about jumping in feet first!

I managed to keep it together until I laid eyes on the massive peak I’d soon get in the ring with. Intimidation is an understatement when you’re staring down — I mean up — a 14,115-foot peak.

I anxiously arrived at the cutest little cottage I’d call home for the next few days. It was just a half mile from the start. Now what? I couldn’t sit still, so off to the expo I went.

Packet pick-up? Check. Race merchandise? Check. Contemplating my sanity with other nerving athletes? Check.

In the days before (why does that always sound so eerie?) … nothing really exciting went down. Just a couple of girlfriends hiking the Garden of the Gods, reading the day away and carbing up. (All you can eat spaghetti dinner? Yes, please.).

Gear prep was its own adventure. I had to pack light but smart. Mountain weather can shift at any given moment. It’s not uncommon to get caught in torrential rains or snow storms (in August!). As a result, I monitored the forecast like a hawk until the moment I fell asleep and immediately again upon waking. Race officials warned that if the weather turned and we didn’t have proper gear, they’d pull us. Heck, no. I didn’t come this far to let that happen!

Pikes Peak Ascent Recap: Game on

Before I knew it, I was standing at the start line. Surprisingly, I felt really good. I had done the ritual porta potty line and felt light as a feather. (No shame here!) I hydrated beyond belief. In fact, I didn’t think it was physically possible to drink as much as I had.

Prior to the gun, I looked at my girls and said, “Don’t go out too fast. Pushing the jogging stroller, ladies!” They laughed, which eased the nerves for maybe a second and then 3, 2, 1 … BANG! We were off and running.

When you spend countless hours training together, of course you want to stay together. We even practiced finish-line poses (as if we really thought we’d have energy for that!). We stuck together pretty well through the city streets, but the moment we hit the narrow congested trailhead with 15-percent incline, we were forever separated. I couldn’t help but feel guilty as I quickly learned how to weave around others in order to pass. It was a constant “On your left!” The “I’ll never let go,” Titanic scene replayed in my head as I could no longer see my crew. However, I knew this crazy burst of energy wouldn’t last forever and I was determined to take advantage of it while I could.

Surprisingly, I felt awesome when I reached the first cut-off point, Barr Camp (7.6 miles). HECK YEAH, I MADE IT! Shocked by my pace, I thought, “This is sooo much fun!” Note the smile in the photo …

Pikes Peak Ascent Recap: Reality Check

Little did I know that my pace and strong word choice of “fun” would be shorted lived. Things took a drastic turn from Barr Camp to A-Frame (second cut-off point, mile 10.2). The course got sooo steep and the air was crazy thin. I started to struggle taking in nutrition and hydrating. My lips were beyond dry (fail on packing that lip balm), I was lightheaded, and my fingers were swollen like sausages.

Yet I kept pushing forward. Mileage signs had disappeared. (Oh wait, I was just moving slower.)

There it was … !

Where’d the trees go?! Did I miss A-Frame? Everything was a blur! The sun was beating down yet I was shivering. All I wanted to do was sleep. I have a whole new respect for those stories you hear about people falling asleep on the mountain and not waking up. It’s like there was a voice in my head encouraging me to just close my eyes and rest. Something to ponder … If nothing can live above tree line, how on earth are we expected to breathe?

Pikes Peak Ascent Recap: What the BLEEP?!

When I saw the “3 Miles to Summit” sign I tried convincing myself that this  was like running a 5k. Whoa. Who was I kidding?! Switchback after switchback … and where in the hell did the air go? And then I remembered: yep, this was that 2,050-foot elevation gain everyone warned me about.

Decomposed rock with dirt and loose gravel combined with my inability to think straight made for an interesting wobble. It was a recipe for disaster, causing me to slip and slide everywhere.

Athletes were nipping at my heels, but I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t passing. It was because they physically couldn’t. I wasn’t the only one suffering, after all. People were sleeping on rocks, cramping, hyperventilating, screaming … yes, screaming! I remember passing one girl leaning up against a rock holding her leg and yelling at the top of her lungs “I CAN’T MOVE IT!” I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t grateful to the individual ahead of me that stopped to assist, as physically and mentally, I don’t know if I could have. I couldn’t even speak. Thankfully there were search and rescue teams everywhere. Volunteers are amazing. Not only were they there to help, but also they were singing, cheering and even playing a finish-line rendition on a kazoo. (Think about how impressive that is with little to no air!)

I was sooo close to the finish, yet sooo far away. Then came the sixteen Golden Stairrock step-ups. Wait, wait, wait … you expect me to lift my body weight and scale these ginormous boulders?! With what strength?! I felt as if I were moving in slow motion. No — let me rephrase that — someone paused the DVR. It was ridiculous! I was in complete Grim Reaper watch. The last mile took me 35 minutes!

The overall race cut-off time was 6.5 hours. Us newbie flatlanders were told not to expect to finish much before that. Although I proudly finished in five hours (seriously, just happy I finished), I laugh when I recall the moment I looked at my watch and actually thought I might finish in four hours. I had no clue what I was in for!

Pikes Peak Ascent Recap: Yes, I Can!

Did I think about quitting … HECK YEAH. Like every second from Barr Camp on. Why didn’t I? What kept me going? Sometimes it’s the smallest thing. Mine was the back of a shirt: “COURAGE to Start, STRENGTH to Endure, RESOLVE to Finish.” I thanked that complete stranger as I passed for keeping me going. She responded “I wore it for you.” *Insert sappy “I can overcome this” song.*

August 19, 2017 is a day that I will not soon forget. But without a doubt, I am a better person because of the journey that brought me to Pikes Peak Summit. Why would I do something as crazy as running up a mountain — especially being a flatlander? The answer is simple: self-growth.

 

Challenge yourself in ways you could never imagine. NOTHING is impossible! —Nichole



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This Bodyweight-Only Workout Is Great When Traveling

The morning of the eclipse, I woke up with the desire to move. We had traveled to a friends’ house in Columbia, Mo., to see the total eclipse, and I hadn’t really planned on fitting in a workout, but I really, really wanted to the moment my eyes opened that morning. (Side personal thing I’m […]


The morning of the eclipse, I woke up with the desire to move. We had traveled to a friends’ house in Columbia, Mo., to see the total eclipse, and I hadn’t really planned on fitting in a workout, but I really, really wanted to the moment my eyes opened that morning.

(Side personal thing I’m just now realizing: I tend to like to work out the morning of any any milestone-esque day. The day I quit my full-time job to do FBG … the morning I found out I was pregnant with Gwen … before I did this speaking engagement. A good workout clearly just sets a good tone for a good day — which is even more important on the big days, ya know? You know.)

And so I did! I only had workout clothes and a pair of running shoes — no equipment and I wanted to do some cardio and some strength training, all in about 20 minutes. Here’s what I did!

Travel Workout 1: 12-Minute Tempo Run

It’s pretty self-explanatory: just go out and run or walk fast at a faster-than-normal pace for 12 minutes.

It gets you nice and sweaty — in not a lot of time. And then, if you want more …

Travel Workout Two: 8-Minute AMRAP

For this one, you set a timer for 8 minutes and then see how many times you can get through this circuit (AMRAP = “as many rounds as possible”):

  • 12 walking lunges (do 12 on each side)
  • 10 plyo squats
  • 10 plyo side lunges (also called super skiers)
  • 10 push-ups

This one will get your legs burning like whoa, get your heart rate up and still work your upper-body and core with the push-ups. Talk about a full-body travel workout! AND, you have just 8 minutes to see how many rounds you can get, so push yourself. (Obviously, it’s made a touch more challenging after that 12-minute tempo run!)

After doing this, I felt great. Totally accomplished and energized. After a quick shower, I grabbed some food and water, and was treated to this later that day — alongside a glass of wine because balance. (Although the photo does it no justice — my phone simply couldn’t capture the ring!)

Thanks, Mother Nature. YOU ARE SIMPLY AMAZING.

Wanna follow along live during more of our workout and life adventures? Follow us on Instagram at @FitBottomedGirl! And tell me what your eclipse experience was! I expected it to be cool, but, guys, it was, like, mind-blowing cool!Jenn



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How a Flatlander Trains to Run Up a Mountain

FBGs, welcome our newest contributor: Nichole Curran! Nichole is a thrill-seeking two-time Ironman triathlete and Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualifier, and today she’s sharing the new challenge she’s taking on — Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon — and how she’s training for it even though she lives far from the mountains! According to the Merriam-Webster […]


FBGs, welcome our newest contributor: Nichole Curran! Nichole is a thrill-seeking two-time Ironman triathlete and Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualifier, and today she’s sharing the new challenge she’s taking on — Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon — and how she’s training for it even though she lives far from the mountains!

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, flatland is defined as “a region in which the land is predominantly flat and lacks significant variation in elevation.”

Wiktionary breaks it down further, describing a flatlander as “a person who lives at low altitude (used by those living at higher altitudes).”

Now I may be mistaken, but this Kansas City girl thinks walking to the mailbox and back is quite the uphill climb … no?

So a flatlander I am.

Let’s Do Something Crazy

Apparently finishing two Ironmans and a handful of half Ironmans wasn’t enough. What’s a thrill-seeking, endurance-junkie, always-looking-for-the-next-big-challenge FBG to do next?

If you’re me, you find yourself out on a leisurely group trail run with your girls, talking about life, taking in nature, thinking about what you’re going to eat later, and then out comes: “Let’s run a up a mountain!”

A mountain? Where is such mountain?

This particular mountain is Pikes Peak, located just outside Colorado Springs, Colo. It’s the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

What could possibly be going on there? Only the toughest half marathon in America: Pikes Peak Ascent.

Halfmarathons.net breaks it down for us: “You’ll run literally up the side of a mountain at this race, which starts at 6,300 feet above sea level and climbs all the way to 14,115 feet.” A fourteener! “Temperatures at the start can rise to the 90s during the day, while runners might face near-freezing weather at the summit.”

Game on.

How to Train for Running Up a Mountain (When You Have No Mountains Around)

Being a flatlander, how on earth do you train to run up a mountain? Raw answer: the best you can! Here are a few more tips …

1. Utilize any and every resource you have available. You know that friend who randomly has an altitude-training mask (yep, the one that makes you look like the evil Bain character on Batman)? Borrow it!

I’m pretty sure I gave many children nightmares, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! Strap it on, turn up the altitude and go for it! This thing will literally leave you breathless. There were times it caused me to have minor panic attacks. ripping it off as quickly as I could. But you know what? I didn’t give up. I put it right back on and I went further the next round. Push yourself!

2. Train on stairs. How about those Rocky Balboa wanna-be stairs downtown? Run them … REPEATEDLY! Wake up those muscles that have been hibernating and climb your heart out! Want a more intense stair workout? Skip a step and stride! It’s a killer.

3. Hit the trails. Lots and lots of trails! Look down. Trails make you focus by eyeing each and every step. You never know when you’ll encounter a rock, tree root or animal(!). Hence, running trails trains you to be alert and aware.

4. Stay safe. Safety first! Never run secluded trails alone. The buddy system doesn’t just keep you safe from other unsavory characters, but also, if you were to take a tumble or roll your ankle, you’d want the comfort of knowing someone was there to help.

5. Train in the heat. The temps are still hot. Take advantage! Lather up and (safely) get your heat training on. Check out this Runner’s World article for more.

6. Fuel properly. All that training (especially in the heat) can be hard on the body. So be sure to fuel properly with these tips and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with these tips.

7. Focus on mind over matter. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely terrified to take on this beast of a race. I mean shaking-in-my-boots, wanna-run-away-and-hide kind of terrified. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my years of racing, it’s all about mindset. Yes, it’s going to be hard. Yes, it’s going to hurt (like hell). Yes, I’m going to want to quit. BUT I didn’t come this far and train this hard for nothing.

I’m a true believer that if you think positive, positive things will happen. Vice versa, if you think negative, negative things will happen. The moment those “I can’ts” start to creep in, shut ’em down. YOU CAN! Of course things will happen that are out of our control and we must know our body well enough to listen when it’s talking. Push your limits, but know your limits.

With that being said, put your go-getter attitude on, check your fears at the door and get it done! You have three options … give up, give in or give it all you got.

And stay tuned for the upcoming race recap … I can’t wait to share how the race goes!Nichole



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Fashion From the Depths of My Gym Bag

Over the course of four months, I’ll be flying from Florida to New York, Las Vegas, Michigan, California (for our retreat — will I see you there?) and Italy (by way of London). And, while it’s not unusual for me to travel a fair bit each year, this definitely exceeds my typical time above 10,000 […]


Over the course of four months, I’ll be flying from Florida to New York, Las Vegas, Michigan, California (for our retreat — will I see you there?) and Italy (by way of London). And, while it’s not unusual for me to travel a fair bit each year, this definitely exceeds my typical time above 10,000 feet … as well as the number of times I’ll be packing and repacking my bags.

Oh, and did I mention that I’m refusing to check a bag for any of these flights? Yep. So, my packing game has gotta be on point, which can be tricky because for most of these trips, I have at least one event where I need to look … nice. Not, like, athleisurely nice (because that’s a piece of cake for me!), but more on the dressed up end of the spectrum. Meaning a dress, and nice shoes and no wrinkles — which is tough because the only iron I wield with any competence is that of the curling variety. Well, and I guess also the iron you pump. But you get the idea.

via GIPHY

Happily, the universe seemed to hear my call and I’ve had a couple of super stylish product cross my desk in recent weeks — and you guys? They make packing so much easier. Get ready to fall a little bit in love with the two newest additions to my closet (and an oldie but goodie that I purchased years ago but can’t help but share here).

I love, love, love a wrap dress, but have historically had a tough time finding one that works for me — something about my broad shoulders and bust size generally leads to a lot more being on display than I intend. But this dress is a faux wrap, and while the v-neck comes low, after numerous wears, it’s never even hinted at showing my bra. And that’s not even the best thing about it. This dress is legitimately wrinkle-free. No, really. It was in a ball at the bottom of my bag, I pulled it out, put it on, and five minutes later went on a date with my husband where multiple people stopped me to compliment me on or ask me about my dress.

My thought is that, if you’re wearing a lovely dress in a bright color or bold print, you rarely need much more in terms of accessories, which is why I think the “perfect” part of this dress’ name is super accurate. Leota sent me the Alhambra Fern print, which I adore, but the brand is known for its bold prints that are hand-painted in house. If wrap dresses aren’t your jam, they have sheaths, rompers, caftans, maxis, shirt dresses, cocktail dresses and more (including maternity and styles designed for fuller figures). Also, if you’re on a budget, be sure to check the sale section — there are some pretty sweet options in there for an awesome deal.

Nobody gets more use than I do out of those cheap drawstring backpacks you get at races. I use them all the time. And when I’m not using one of those, I generally have either my backpack (because laptop = life) or just my small wallet, which, now that I have a big ol’ phone, just barely holds the essentials. If I need an extra lipstick or something? Totes out of luck. Which is why having a cool clutch is ideal (and if you need inspiration, here you go!). The one that Neely and Chloe sent me — No. 23 The Large Clutch Suede — is compact enough to fit in my backpack (or my suitcase without taking up much space) but has enough space to carry just about anything I might need for an evening or an event. This particular style has nice, sleek lines, so it’s dressy enough for a big night, but it’s not over the top, so it can easily be paired with jeans and a tee. And if I’m spending my money on something other than running shoes, I need it to be multi-purpose, you know?

And speaking of spending money on shoes …

In theory, I love a super high heel. But when it comes to me actually having to walk anywhere — or even stand on my feet for any period of time — I just can’t do it. Between my creaky knees and weak ankles, spending an evening solely in stilettos is a disaster waiting to happen. Plus, big heels take up a lot of space, so with the packing challenges I’m staring down, they’re just out. But what’s not out? Foldable flats, and happily, I invested in a pair of Tieks a few years ago — a move for which I’ve thanked myself over and over again. Now, these are a little on the high-end side, but I’d worn through so many pairs of lower quality foldy flats already that I felt it was money well-spent. These shoes are made to be comfortable and durable, and they come in 58 prints and colors, so you can opt for bright, neutral or shiny shiny (which I believe goes with everything — Metallic Pewter has yet to let me down).

What’s your biggest packing struggle? Overpacking? Forgetting things? I find overpacking incredibly easy to do, but I’m really working minimizing! Kristen



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My Surprising Trip to Charleston

This post is sponsored by Marshalls. Find more on our sponsored post policy here. If you’ve been following us on Instagram, the cat is out of the bag. But in case you haven’t (well, you should — follow us here!), I went on my Choose Surprise trip for Marshalls. And it was everything. EVERYTHING. The one […]


This post is sponsored by Marshalls. Find more on our sponsored post policy here.

If you’ve been following us on Instagram, the cat is out of the bag. But in case you haven’t (well, you should — follow us here!), I went on my Choose Surprise trip for Marshalls. And it was everything. EVERYTHING.

The one thing I love most about Marshalls is exactly what they are best known for — amazing surprises in each of their stores at incredible prices. That element of surprise makes shopping FUN, and I love knowing that even though I don’t know exactly what I might find, I definitely know that I’m going to walk away with something (or several things!) that I love. I took this state of mind with me to Charleston, and it inspired every aspect of my trip — from my shopping trip to Marshalls to get me packed and ready, to the amazing things I did/saw/ate over the course of the weekend (more on that below!). Trying new things and making surprise a choice is pretty liberating — and I actually learned a lot about myself after a weekend away with just me! And it all started with a little inspiration from Marshalls to find out what would happen when I really step out of my predictable routine.

Wanna hear the play-by-play? I thought you’d never ask!

First, as I headed to the airport, I opened my sealed Pack Up + Go envelope (at last!) and found out that I was going to — surprise — Charleston! I’ve been to a lot of U.S. cities before, but never had I been to Charleston. And I was pumped. I’ve watched travel programs and food shows all about Charleston’s beauty, charm and food scene. And, guys, it lived up to the hype.

So, on a plane I got with all my awesome Marshalls finds. Did you know they even have great deals on luggage, totes, accessories, beauty supplies and travel must-haves — like the eye pillow and headphones you see below? And that they get new stuff in all the time, so you never know exactly what you’re going to find — but you can be totally confident that you’re going to love it? True story!

After two quick flights, I landed in Charleston and immediately got that Southern hospitality that the town is known for. As I got off the plane, one airport employee asked me how I was doing. I said, “Good!” and asked him how he was. His response? “Ma’am, I am loving life,” with a huge smile on his face. I came *this close* to high-fiving him because that, my friends, is how to live.

That first night in, I got settled into my hotel room (I stayed at Belmond Charleston Place — so nice!), unpacked and then spent far too long figuring out what to wear to dinner at Prohibition (I had SO many great options from Marshalls that it was hard to choose, but I settled on a long, flowy black dress with sandals, jean jacket in case I got cold inside, hat and a clutch that was just the right mix of cute and comfy but also totally suitable for where I was going) and had to power walk down King Street to make my reservation time (bonus cardio!). There I had a great cocktail and some amazing roasted carrots and fresh grouper.

That next morning, I went for a leisurely jog down to the Battery and ran along the seawall, admiring both the views of the water and the gorgeous homes. Along the way, I took plenty of walk breaks, stopping to read about some of the historic buildings (and there are a lot of them!) or slowing down just to admire a beautiful garden, flowering tree or cool antique or hat shop. It was so fun to go jogging in a new place, but also to slow down and soak in the city. Charleston has the kind of beauty that just makes you want to stop and admire it. Truly, a surprise around every corner.

After my run, I cleaned up and went on a walking food tour. Charleston is known for being a foodie’s dream (and everywhere I went they had fantastic gluten-free options!), so I had mini meals or snacks at five awesome places. It was so fun, and I, quite literally, got a taste of what Charleston is all about, plus lots of history. From hash to pralines to grits to collard greens to spices and tea, it was delicious. (I’ll write all about that in a second post on Fit Bottomed Eats later, so stay tuned for that!)

And I knew exactly what I wanted to wear for the food tour. I picked up this romper at Marshalls before my trip and I knew it would be PERFECT for the hot, humid weather. It’s totally comfortable and can be dressed up or down depending on what shoes and accessories you wear with it. Seeing that I’m normally in running kicks, the gold wedges were quite the fashion departure for me, but it felt really, really good. I felt like a true Southern belle (and got lots of compliments on my outfit!).

After the food tour, my belly was full, and I headed back to the The Belmond for spa time. I had a massage, manicure and facial. IT. WAS. GLORIOUS. I hadn’t had my nails done in about a year, and I haven’t had a massage or facial since I was pregnant with Gwen … and she’ll be two-and-a-half in September, so, yeah. It was totally outside of my norm and absolutely amazing. The food tour filled my belly with goodness, and the spa filled my spirit with calm.

After getting my zen on, I put on another amazing find from Marshalls and went to one of the hottest restaurants in Charleston: Husk. The pink ruffles are perfectly Southern and perfectly right for a night out. This is yet another instance when I walked into Marshalls, tried on something new and was surprised with how much I LOVED it on. Paired with a cute little clutch I picked up at Marshalls, too, it was great for a night out on the town.

And the food did not disappoint. Oysters … tomato salad … Carolina Gold rice … catfish … peanut butter chocolate shake … bourbon. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. You know when they talk about being able to taste someone’s love or passion in the food? Husk has that. If you’re going to Charleston, book a reservation as soon as you know your dates (I was told by a number of locals that they couldn’t believe I got a reservation), get there early to sit on the gorgeous front porch, and order everything on the menu. You won’t regret it.

That next morning, I took a leisurely stroll down King Street to another recommended restaurant: Stars. I’d learned on my food tour that brunch was a big deal for Charleston folks — just about everyone goes after church (they don’t call it the Holy City for nothing!). So clearly I had to do brunch right. And Stars had a great buffet. It was a nice way to try a little of everything: local fresh fruit, shrimp and grits, kale salad, omelette, roasted potatoes, and sausage. Plus, coffee. Always coffee.

My last stop in Charleston was at Mira Winery. The wine is actually made in Napa, but one of the owners has a home in Charleston so they decided to open a tasting room. Lucky for me, I could get in a tasting just before my flight home. These are my kind of pours …

And it was great. I sat outside on their back patio, under the shade of a big umbrella and beautiful sprawling oaks, and leisurely sipped on some seriously GOOD vino.

And I mean leisurely. I sat there for almost two hours, and enjoyed every second.

And, to be honest, that really surprised me about the entire trip. I’ve flown alone plenty. But vacationed, fine-dined and wine-tasted alone? Not really. Not ever. I’ve always been with someone or going to visit someone or meeting up with someone. But it was really nice to just sit back and have a whole table to myself. Sometimes I’d chat with fellow diners or have a longer conversation with the server about the food or wine, but quite often, I’d just relax, enjoy and take it all in. I was surprised by how good that felt.

I was also surprised with how much fun I had dressing up for, really, no one else but myself. I was in a new place, doing new things, and it was freeing to wear clothes I didn’t normally wear. I saw myself in a new way. Not better — just different sides of myself. And, in a lot of ways, it was a total confidence booster. I liked spending time with myself. I liked looking good and dressing up. I liked treating myself to dessert and a glass of wine. I liked mixing things up. I liked slowing down. I chose surprise — and I saw myself in a new way.

A huge thanks to Marshalls for sending me on this amazing trip and helping me to break out of my everyday routine. A huge thanks to the people in Charleston for being so nice, welcoming and making some darn delicious food (and taking my photo so often!). And a huge thanks to — corny as it is — surprise itself. Surprise itself surprised me with how much one trip could make me see myself in a new way.

Have you ever been on a trip and found yourself changed from the experience? Did it surprise you, too? —Jenn



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How I’m Preparing for My Surprise Getaway (Plus, My Best Packing Tips!)

This post is sponsored by Marshalls. Find more on our sponsored post policy here. You know how we’re always talking about busting out of your comfort zone? Well, I am about to do just that by giving up all control, planning and logistics and just letting surprise take over. And you know what? Even though I’m […]


This post is sponsored by Marshalls. Find more on our sponsored post policy here.

You know how we’re always talking about busting out of your comfort zone? Well, I am about to do just that by giving up all control, planning and logistics and just letting surprise take over. And you know what? Even though I’m a bit Type A (actually, probably mostly because I’m Type A), it feels awesome.

Wondering exactly what I’m talking about? I’m talking about choosing surprise!

We’ve partnered with Marshalls and they’re sending me on a surprise trip this weekend via Pack Up + Go. That’s right. I don’t know where I’m going or exactly what I’m going to be doing. NO IDEA. Total surprise. Ahhh!

But, I did get a list of what I should pack. Which required a little shopping …

This baby is about to get filled up!

Because — let’s be honest — my wardrobe consists of mostly workout clothes and running shoes. Which is great (and, for the record, Marshalls has a great selection of activewear), but this is all about choosing surprise.

For me, going shopping for dresses and wedges and sunglasses and beauty products and handbags is a serious fashion surprise. And, turns out, really, really fun.

It’s also heart-warming and nostalgic for me, as Marshalls has been a part of my shopping life since I was a little girl. My grandmother used to take me there when she’d go shopping, and I have so many fond memories of tagging along with her, searching for the best designer and brand name items at unbelievable prices. (If there’s anything that Grandma Shaver loved, it was scooping up a deal on the same quality stuff you’d see in the department store!) And, even cooler, Marshalls doesn’t just get its merchandise seasonally like a lot of stores — they get new items several times a week. So every time you go in there, you find something new and awesome.

My grandmother could shop like no other (like, for hours), and while normally I’m not a big shopper, I think she’d be proud. I really embraced the Choose Surprise feeling and tried on SO many styles that I normally wouldn’t. And I fell in love with so many things that, had I gone in with a different mindset, I’d have never considered putting on. It’s funny what happens when you try something new, huh?

And it felt really great. Almost like I was discovering a new side of myself. I love the side of me that’s active and sweaty and ready to move, but I also like the side that’s game to glam it up, be on trend and just have fun with my look. Just like trying a new workout, you ALWAYS feel awesome when you bust out of your shell and mix it up. And I was SO pleased with all of the amazing stuff I found!

And now overflowing with goodness!

I left that store with a cart filled with goodies. And not just sandals and dresses and jeans — I got headphones, a travel pillow, new suitcase, hat, headphones, snacks, relaxation and beauty products, a romper, a sleep mask and more (which I’ll be sharing with you in a post that recaps my surprise trip later!).

I cannot wait — not only to see where the heck I’m going, but also to wear all these outfits and put all of this new gear to use! I mean, where am I wearing the below (adorable) shooties to? I NEED TO KNOW!

Which leads me to my best packing tips! Because, of course, I’m already mostly packed. I’m just that excited for the surprise!

My 5 Best Packing Tips

1. Roll your clothes. I picked up a number of cute, flowy dresses and tops at Marshalls and there’s no way I want to arrive at my surprise destination and have to iron before I go out to do whatever amazing surprise things that are planned. I’ve found that if you roll your clothes (rather than fold), they not only take up less room in your suitcase, but also they really don’t wrinkle. Such an easy thing to do that makes unpacking a thousand times better when you land!

2. Choose your flight outfit strategically. There’s no way I’m going to crush that cute little hat I bought in my suitcase, so I’m going to wear it on the plane. I’m also going to wear comfy shoes and the bulkiest stuff I’m taking — jeans, jean jacket — and I’ll carry on my largest tote with a smaller bag inside.

3. Carry on your fave products in smaller sizes. I picked this up at Marshalls and will fill it up with my beauty essentials — including some new oils and bath products I found there, much to my relaxation-loving delight!

4. Pack earlier than later. Packing is the one thing you don’t want to procrastinate. I’m always afraid I’m going to forget something, so packing early gives my brain a little extra time to make sure I got it all.

5. Create your own zen on the plane. Traveling can be stressful, so make sure you’ve got what you need to enjoy the ride: snacks, a travel pillow, sleep mask, suitcase tags with your name and number in case something gets lost, chargers, sunglasses, headphones with chill tunes and — most importantly — a good attitude. You’re going on an adventure!

And then, just be ready to surprise yourself with how good it feels to try something new! How can you surprise yourself today? A trip to Marshalls might be in order, right?! I’ll get the reusable bags … —Jenn



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Everything You Need to Know About the FBG Retreat

How you heard that we’re hosting a two-night/three-day live FBG retreat in the beautiful California redwoods? True story! Have you also heard that right now through May 15 you can save 20 percent on registration* by using code “LOVE1440”? Another true story! What Is 1440 Multiversity? Haven’t heard of 1440 Multiversity? That’s cool. It’s new. And […]


How you heard that we’re hosting a two-night/three-day live FBG retreat in the beautiful California redwoods? True story!

Have you also heard that right now through May 15 you can save 20 percent on registration* by using code “LOVE1440”? Another true story!

What Is 1440 Multiversity?

Haven’t heard of 1440 Multiversity? That’s cool. It’s new. And awesome. (Like, we are in some very good company. Other people holding retreats this summer at 1440 include Elizabeth Gilbert, Jessamyn Stanley, and Sage Rountree, just to name a few!) Here’s what it’s all about:

Where Is 1440 Multiversity?

Here’s where it’s located (spoiler: near Santa Cruz!) and how to plan your stay:

What to Expect at the Fit Bottomed Girls’ Retreat

Whether you want to kick emotional eating, stop yo-yo dieting for real, lose a few pounds, or simply find your inner fit and healthy rock star (we know she’s in there!), come learn how to be a Fit Bottomed Girl inside and out with us (FBG Jenn and Kristen). We’ve led an internet revolution promoting positive body image and healthy living to millions of women throughout the world — and we can’t wait to do just that in a small group setting at 1440!

Through aha-moment-provoking presentations, powerful journaling exercises, engaging group discussions and fun workouts, this retreat will help you to tap into your inner power while you have a ton of fun with like-minded women and learn:

  • How to make peace with your body
  • Recipes for eating well and ditching all the diet drama
  • Workouts for awesome results in a short amount of time
  • Willpower-boosting tips
  • Healthy habits that stick
  • Join the supportive, fun-loving, and innovative community of FBGs and design a healthy life you don’t just like, but love living

When Is It?

The program is two nights (Friday-Sunday), August 11-13, 2017.

How Much Is It?

Tuition is $315, plus 2 nights all-inclusive accommodations priced separately here.

The Fit Bottomed Line

Basically, we’re going to have an AWESOMELY GOOD TIME while we bring out the best and healthiest version of you! Join usJenn & Kristen

*This limited-time offer applies to new bookings made between 12:01 am Pacific time on April 15th, 2017, and 11:59 pm Pacific time on May 15th, 2017, and does not include: Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive with Michelle Becker and Christopher Germer; Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification program with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach; and Brave Magic with Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed.



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5 Ways to Make a Sucky Commute Better

Commuting to and from work can eat up a significant portion of your day. Drive time becomes even more cumbersome if travel is a vital and expected part of your daily routine. Finding ways to make the most out of your commute can make your day more rewarding. If your commute is dependent on public […]


Commuting to and from work can eat up a significant portion of your day. Drive time becomes even more cumbersome if travel is a vital and expected part of your daily routine. Finding ways to make the most out of your commute can make your day more rewarding. If your commute is dependent on public transit, you have even more ways to kill time. Here are a handful of healthy ways to reclaim your commute.

1. Listen to a Podcast

Finding a longstanding podcast is an excellent way to make your commute more enjoyable. Whether you want to listen to the news, catch up on the latest digital marketing strategies or be inspired, there’s likely a podcast for your niche interests. And if you’re wondering where to start … how about ours?! Get it here.

2. “Read” a Book

If you are driving, reading a book is not possible but an audio book certainly is. Dedicating time out of your day for a good book can easily be achieved during your morning and evening commute. Books stimulate the mind, expand vocabulary and provide valuable knowledge, all while entertaining. Begin and end your work day with an enjoyable mental exercise. Reading before work will get your brain moving for the day ahead.

3. Get Ahead

If your workday is packed, get a head start. Answering emails and setting your agenda is a great way to accomplish more. Entering the office with your game face on will keep you ahead of schedule. Know your work strategy before you enter the office and accomplish more in less time. This tactic just might push you out of the office before rush hour strikes.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Public transit or your car may sound like a strange place to practice mindfulness, but it may be the perfect place to meditate. Meditation can ease mental tension making it an ideal daily practice. Mindfulness teaches the importance of being present. Instead of focusing on bumper-to-bumper traffic or a crowded subway, revert into your own body. Focus on your breathing. Send good vibrations to the people around you. Making your commute a peaceful time for self reflection and good vibes will transform the burden of traffic.

5. Call a Friend

Catching up with friends and family is a great way to use your commute. Chances are your loved ones are also on their way to or from work. Give your sister a ring, ask her about her day. Call your best friend who lives across the country. Make sure you use Bluetooth so your eyes are on the road and your hands are on the wheel. Scheduling time for our loved ones is important in maintaining healthy relationships. It is one of the best ways to show we care. Your commute is a great time to reach out.

Americans spend an average of 293 hours — just over 12 full days — behind the wheel every year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. For most of us, commuting is a part of daily life. Learning how to use our commutes effectively is a great way to carve out more time in the day. Changing our perspective of commuting from wasted time to free time can make our days begin and end much better.

How do you spend your commute? —Alex



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Smells Like Team Spirit: Altitude Training at Camp Brooks

The FBG/Brooks Running connection isn’t anything new. We’ve been part of their blog ambassador program for years (and that means you’re likely to find some affiliate links here, so if you see something you like, we’d be honored if you purchased through our link! Each year, either Jenn or I have attended the annual trip Brooks […]


The FBG/Brooks Running connection isn’t anything new. We’ve been part of their blog ambassador program for years (and that means you’re likely to find some affiliate links here, so if you see something you like, we’d be honored if you purchased through our link! Each year, either Jenn or I have attended the annual trip Brooks puts on for us (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013). I’m not alone in saying that we’ve formed a really tight knit community with the other bloggers in the program — seeing them each year is an absolute highlight.

brooks bloggers
I adore these women SO HARD. (Find all their blogs at the bottom of the post!)

But what I hadn’t realized until my recent trip to Albuquerque for Altitude Camp with Brooks is that this feeling of being a team? It’s not unique to the bloggers. It’s a huge part of the Brooks culture — a part that we saw firsthand while spending a weekend training and learning with the Brooks Beasts (a group of middle-distance professional athletes based in Seattle, but attending a few weeks of Altitude Camp in New Mexico).

(Before I tell you all about camp, let me be clear — Brooks generously paid for my travel and accommodations, and also hooked me up with some sweet gear that I’ll share later in the post, but I’m under no obligation to write about it all, so anything you read? That’s all me, baby. If I say it rocked, it rocked. The end.)

Meet the Camp Counselors

The weekend started on a hilarious note with an introduction to the Beasts who’d be our “camp counselors” for the weekend. They introduced each other, sharing their teammates’ accomplishments, some funny and surprising facts (like, I now know who really likes spending time in their robe, who will feed you pancakes … but only if you catch them in your mouth, and who’s been detained in a foreign country for unwittingly crossing the border on a long run without a passport), and the affection (not to mention admiration) they felt for one another was evident.

The introductions were followed by a fascinating presentation on the benefits (and risks) of altitude training by the team’s physiologist, Dr. Corey Hart. There was a whole lotta knowledge dropped in a short amount of time, but one of the key takeaways for those of us living at sea level is something I’d also learned in my USAT training: if you’re gonna race at altitude, either show up less than two days before your race or plan to be there for a minimum of 10-17 days prior to race day. In between? Nope, nope, nope.

Track Time

Then, it was off to the track, where the team building really got going. We were broken into several teams, each with a couple other bloggers, some other athletes/influencers/editors, and two Beasts as our coaches. Team Yellow (which was NEVER mellow) totally lucked out with Jess Tonn and Izaic Yorks — they were positive and encouraging gave us some great dynamic stretches, which you know I am all about.

track workout

Here’s the gear we were provided: Pick Up Tank (although, sorry, had to be there to get the Altitude Camp graphic), Juno Bra (not pictured but hella supportive) and 5″ Chaser Running Shorts — I’ve been wearing the heck out of my 3″ Chasers, and found the 5″ to be a nice option for days when I want to flash a little less booty. We also checked out the Greenlight Running Capris (not pictured here), which were a huge hit with the group.

I really loved having a chance to go all out in a group like this. There were some elite runners there, as well as some runners who were more my speed, but there’s something about giving absolutely everything you have in a workout — and knowing others around you are doing the same. We might not have run the same pace (lol forever), but we were all there, sweating and cheering each other on, and the energy was infectious.

(This is where I probably need to give a shoutout to my teammate Dan — who I’d known for all of maybe five minutes — for forcibly keeping me upright after that last 200m effort. Otherwise I might still be flat on my back on the track.)

brooks running shoes on track
Hey, it was St. Paddy’s Day — what was I gonna do, wear normal shoes?

Launch 4 pictured here. You can’t get the special St. Patrick’s day design anymore, but there are still a bunch of fun colors (plus Boston Launch 4)!

(Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing the workout with you guys soon. Stay tuned.)

After the track workout, we had a group dinner at the hotel while listening to Coach Danny Mackey talk about how he works with the Beasts, and how each one of his athletes works differently and it’s his job to bring out the best in them.

The most powerful part for me — and I think for a lot of people, really — was how passionately he talked about that team atmosphere, and how important it was that any new athlete joining their team not only bring the required athletic talent, but also the right attitude. That’s not to say there are no egos — this is an elite team of professionals, with Olympians and world record holders and people who are very much used to winning — but when you bring that kind of drive and pour it not only into your own workouts, but into your teammates’, you get some real magic. I’m so excited to see what the Beasts accomplish in the coming years.

Running Trails With New and Old Friends

I think everyone was seriously excited about the trail run at Michial M. Emery Bear Canyon Trail, but I’ll admit, I was also a little nervous. This is a fast group and even if I could keep up, I also wanted to enjoy this run and take in the scenery. Fortunately (for me — less fortunately for some of them), a few of my fellow bloggers were running a little slower than usual (pregnancy and injuries), so I had a photography-friendly group with me as I kicked up dirt and searched for sunbeams.

trail running group
All of us were ready to run … and all wearing (mostly) the same gear!

All suited up here in the Caldera Trail-Running Shoe, which everyone seemed to really love (myself included) and Cascadia Shell Running Jacket, which — fun fact — has tons of ventilation and packs down into its own front pocket.

Running mountainous trails at an elevation of over 6,000 feet is not the easiest thing for a Florida girl who lives in a city with literally one hill, but I’d be shocked if I stopped smiling at any point. It was just too beautiful.

shoes and cactus
Cactus: not recommended. Calderas? Definitely recommend.

Well, maybe once, when I almost ran into a cactus. Pro tip: When running in the desert, don’t touch the cacti. You are welcome.

mountain trails
#WORTHIT

Lunching and Learning

After an inspiring run (seriously, the weather was just perfect, the company sublime … I wish I could bottle that feeling and take it home), we wrote down how running made us feel (I went with “invicible”) and headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and then lunch with Brooks Beasts’ nutritionist Kyle Pfaffenbach. His primary message: every body is different, so it’s important to find nutrition that works for you. And it’s not only about what makes one’s body function best — he also puts a serious focus on what each athlete wants, because forcing them to follow a diet they hate, even if it benefits their performance, won’t work in the long run.

But, as Dr. P said, you can’t outrun a bad diet — and that’s not only true at the elite level. (So eat yo’ veggies and protein, guys, and don’t skimp on the recovery drink. I’ll have more on this on Fit Bottomed Eats coming soon.)

running jump

The learning continued in breakout sessions. We shared our favorite running gear and apparel, discussed why we run, and then got the scoop on what really goes into designing new Brooks shoes. Hint: some of the athletes wear test and provide feedback on them, which not only helps the finished product rock, but also gives these world class athletes a real feeling of ownership over the shoes they’re wearing when they walk up to the start line.

Elite Runners.
Okay, granted, they don’t look super jazzed here. But I SWEAR it was a really lively conversation, and it was awesome to hear how passionate these runners (Nick Symmonds, Katie Mackey, Drew Windle and Garrett Heath) are about their shoes and the Brooks Running brand.

Eating Like a Champ at the Beasts’ House

Our final event was a trip to the house all the Beasts were living in while in New Mexico for a cookout. But first, we broke up into our teams one last time for an energy bar contest. Team Yellow came in second place (although I maintain we were robbed — who’s gonna vote against our Balls From Heaven?), and were rewarded with a prime spot in the beer line. It was definitely shaping up to be my kind of night.

new mexico house
Nice digs, huh? Wait ’til you see the view.

We enjoyed chips and guac, burgers (veggie with green chilies and cheese for me), but, most importantly, conversation. I chatted with lots of the Beasts about all kinds of things — Drew Windle about what he wants to do when he’s done running professionally, Katie Mackey about her 11-mile tempo runs (ZOMG), Garrett Heath about … how hard it is to find beach parking in Florida? Ugh, I am so awkward. I swear I’m more interesting than that. But hey, he was totally nice about it (and probably learned some very valuable lessons, right?). I also learned that Cas Loxsom has super fast reflexes during a heated game of Left, Right, Center. But this shouldn’t be all that surprising given what he does for a living, I guess.

sunset in new mexico
It probably won’t make you even more jealous that I snapped this pic surrounded by a bunch of super-friendly pro runners, right?

If this seems like a long recap, let me just say that the amount I had to leave out is probably double what I wrote. Those Brooks peeps sure know how to pack in a weekend! But if you want to read a little more about our Albuquerque adventures, check out what the other bloggers on the trip had to say.

Jesica: rUnladylike

Anne: fANNEtastic Food

Janae: Hungry Runner Girl

Lora: Crazy Running Girl

Tina: Carrots ‘N’ Cake

Ashley: Healthy Happier Bear

Emily: Daily Garnish

Meghann: Meals and Miles

And I’d strongly recommend heading over to Instagram and checking out the #CampBrooks hashtag — you’ll get an inside look at the weekend, and I can almost promise you’ll find some fun new people to follow. I sure did!

But before you go, drop a comment below telling me why you run. Bonus points if you keep it to five words or less! I’ll go first: Because I CAN. —Kristen



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Winter Running: How to Not Freeze to Death

With the right gear, humans can run safely in temps down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. I know, shocking. I’m not suggesting that you want to (or should) do that though. I absolutely love to run in the winter but even I find that my comfort cutoff is well above 20 below, mostly due to the limitations of […]


With the right gear, humans can run safely in temps down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. I know, shocking.

I’m not suggesting that you want to (or should) do that though. I absolutely love to run in the winter but even I find that my comfort cutoff is well above 20 below, mostly due to the limitations of the gear I own. There’s also the fact that I usually have other options when the temps dip way low — like simply waiting a few hours to see if it warms up a bit or hitting the treadmill.

As intimidating as it might be to run in the cold, the most common problem with winter running is actually over-dressing, probably because we’re all afraid of freezing to death, which is a totally valid fear because there are very real dangers involved with working up a sweat while braving the cold. However, most of us go a little too far by dressing for the temperature we feel as soon as we walk out the front door. So, here’s what you need to know to run safely in cold weather.

What to Wear

A good rule of thumb to avoid over-dressing is to dress the way you would if you were not running and in temps that are 10-20 degrees higher (use the lower end of that range if your run is at an easy pace, shorter, or if you always tend to be cold). For example, if the temperature outside is 50 degrees, you should dress like you would on a 60-70 degree non-running day. Make sense?

Or just forget all the math and let me provide my personal cheat sheet.

For temps in the 40s: A long-sleeved moisture-wicking (absolutely no cotton) shirt and capris or long tights will do the trick. For the low 40s, you might also opt for a vest and light gloves.

For temps in the 30s: Go with a long-sleeved moisture-wicking shirt under an insulated half-zip pullover or jacket, long tights, warm gloves and a headband to cover your ears.

For temps in the 20s: Choose a long-sleeved moisture-wicking shirt under a mid-weight insulated layer and a jacket, cold-weather tights (or layer two thinner pairs), warm gloves or mittens (possibly two layers) and a hat. Also, consider wearing thicker cold-weather running socks or layering a thin pair under a regular mid-weight pair.

For temps below 20 degrees: Unless you’ve got specialized equipment, consider skipping or delaying the run. Without something covering your face and warming the air that you’re breathing before it hits your lungs, breathing becomes difficult and the cold temps can burn. This can leave your lungs feeling it for hours after your run is over.

Other Safety Considerations

Wind and wind-chill factor: The cheat sheet above doesn’t take wind into consideration. For windy days, I recommend a wind-resistant jacket on top of your warmth gear. This will help keep the wind from reaching the wet, sweat-covered layers underneath, which would otherwise make you much colder.

Reflectivity: As the days get shorter, be sure that you wear reflective gear or illumination if you’ll be spending any of your run outdoors before dawn or at dusk. Most running gear has some reflectivity to it, but having more doesn’t hurt. Blinky lights that clip onto your clothes and headlamps are also great options. You want the cars to see you from a distance but also ensure that you have adequate light to see the surface you’re running on to avoid falling or twisting an ankle.

Time of day: If you’re a morning runner, temps will most likely rise during your run. Conversely, in the evenings, the temps will fall during your run. Factor that into your choice of layers.

Ice or snow: If there is snow or wet conditions, consider all-weather shoes (like GoreTex). When conditions get icy, I use Yaktraks on my running shoes for extra traction.

Do you run year-round or hibernate over the winter? —Alison 



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What My Relaxing Maui Vacation Taught Me

Don’t hate me, but I just got back from a really relaxing* Hawaiian vacation. *Let’s be clear — “relaxing” probably doesn’t hold quite the same meaning for me as it does for a lot of other people. This was pretty clearly evidenced by the fact that every time I met someone and talked about what […]


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Don’t hate me, but I just got back from a really relaxing* Hawaiian vacation.

*Let’s be clear — “relaxing” probably doesn’t hold quite the same meaning for me as it does for a lot of other people. This was pretty clearly evidenced by the fact that every time I met someone and talked about what I’d done that day, I’d get the same reaction: “You’re so … active!” Sometimes it was said with admiration, often with a look of confusion, like they really wanted to ask me whether I was aware that I could have fruity frozen drinks delivered to me poolside. (Oh, I’m aware. Don’t you worry.)

Now, this wasn’t my usual active vacay. Normally, I do massive amounts of planning (as you may recall) — I love finding the best places to hike or run trails, and I’m always seeking out adventures that test my limits. But this trip was different. I went with my husband because he had a few days of sales meetings in Maui and the company offered to fly out spouses and partners, too (score!). We had several days to ourselves, and then I had a few days when I was more or less on my own, and we were doing the whole thing on a budget — so no car, no guided tours, no pricey adventures.

Or, at least none to which I couldn’t walk or take the local bus. Happily, it turns out that an FBG can still find plenty of ways to get active (and get her adrenaline pumping) in and around Lahaina. I surfed, I paddleboarded, I swam, and I jumped off a really, really big rock. It was hard! It was terrifying! It. Was. Awesome.

Over the course of my Maui adventures, I learned a few lessons that I thought were worth sharing. And I’d love to hear whether any of them ring true for you in the comments!

maui ocean
File this one under “Things I maybe should’ve read before doing 18 different types of ocean-related activities and getting knocked on my ass repeatedly.”

Patience is seriously a virtue. I learned a lot about surfing on this trip, but the biggest lesson was to be patient. Be patient entering the water (because otherwise you will get knocked on your keister over and over and that’s how you end up with huge, hideous bruises all over your legs. Ask me how I know.). Be patient getting out of the water (because getting beached and thrown off your board due to poor exit timing has the same result as entering the water at the wrong time). Be patient choosing your wave (because otherwise you’ll wear yourself out by paddling after every wave that looks surfable, and by the time a decent one comes along, you’ll be too tired to do anything about it).

Can’t see the photo above? Click here.

You can do just about anything with the right support. I have a crippling fear of heights. Like, I have trouble climbing step ladders. Going out on certain balconies take real effort. But our hotel was right down the beach from the world-famous Black Rock, and while I knew it would be really frightening, I also knew that jumping from the top — which many people do, every single day — was something I wanted, or maybe even needed, to do.

maui black rock
Skeptical AF. Jared’s all, “Smile for the camera!” and I’m just like, “Yes, yes, I’m smiling. BUT WE ARE VERY HIGH IN THE AIR AND ALSO DO YOU SEE THOSE PEOPLE JUMPING FROM THE TOP OMG I WILL DEFINITELY DIE UP HERE BECAUSE I CANNOT MOVE.”

Jared, my husband, knew how hard it would be for me and, since he’d done it before on a previous trip, he told me right off the bat that he would do whatever he could to help me (including supporting me if I chose to back out). We snorkeled first (and saw turtles!!!), then he led the climb up, waiting patiently every time I got stuck and took five minutes to take a single step, and once we reached the top, he literally held my hand and helped me with my balance prior to the jump. Leaping off that cliff (yes, it’s totally a cliff) was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I don’t know that I’ll ever do it again, but I’m so, so glad I did it — and I don’t think I would’ve been able to alone.

Can’t see the video above? Click here.

When you’re open to new possibilities, you get so much more out of any adventure. My plan was to learn to surf. I figured, hey, I’m athletic and I’ve got a week. I’ll rent a board for a few days, maybe take a lesson or two and be killing it by the time I left. Well, spoiler alert: I’m not good at surfing. I caught some waves, was somewhat able to stand up a couple of times, but between my lack of experience with any board sports (I don’t ski, skateboard, wakeboard, anything) and having less than stellar knees, it never completely clicked. I’m great at paddling and rather adept at falling, though, so if you want a lesson on any of that, you just let me know.

However, I still loved it. I loved being out on the water. I loved watching (and reading) the waves, paddling around and looking at the sea life swimming around below (I saw turtles, guys!), and I loved the camaraderie I experienced with some of the other people out there learning to surf alongside me. And I realized that even though I didn’t exactly reach the goal I’d had in mind, I was coming away with just as incredible an experience. I’m so glad I didn’t let myself get too hung up on not being “good” at it, you know?

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Other important Maui lessons:

  • Save your frozen drink purchases for happy hour. You will save SO MUCH MONEY.
  • Always watch for rainbows. They’re everywhere.
  • POG is delicious. It has really has no redeeming nutritional qualities, but it’s so tasty in mimosas, as a splash with vodka soda, or just as a quick, sweet sip to start the day.
  • Seeing sea turtles swimming by your board or whale spouts off in the distance never gets old. At least, not over the course of a week.
  • There is a reason surfers tend to be hella fit. Like, I’m still sore and I haven’t been out in days.
  • If you ever have the option to do an unlimited board rental (ours was through 1-800-Snorkel, FWIW), do it — it really made a huge difference to be able to go out at my leisure vs. feeling like I had to get as much as I could out of a two-hour rental.

What do you prefer on vacation? Do you like to have activities scheduled out when you travel, or does this type of trip, where you make decisions on the fly, appeal more to you? —Kristen



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9 Apps to Help You Stay Healthy Through the Holidays

There are two ways to approach a situation that throws you off your normal, healthy schedule. The first — and maybe more common — way is to say, “Oh, well! It’s out of my control so I guess I’ll just do the best I can and know I’m going to slip up.” The second way is […]


There are two ways to approach a situation that throws you off your normal, healthy schedule. The first — and maybe more common — way is to say, “Oh, well! It’s out of my control so I guess I’ll just do the best I can and know I’m going to slip up.” The second way is to see it as an opportunity to incorporate new healthy habits — and as you might have guessed, this second way is the way I like to roll.

Take, for example, vacations. In some cases, vacay means you have loads of free time, which means that, yay! You’ve got all kinds of opportunities to get active and sample interesting, healthy foods.

Now, holidays are, admittedly, a little different. Typically we still have to get our normal duties done, but are adding more in (like parties, shopping, travel, etc.). With all of that, it’s definitely easy to throw in the towel and say you’re gonna “try.” And that’s okay — really, it is! — but if you’re gonna try, set yourself up for success with a plan and the right tools.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, when you’re filling in your calendar with the holiday parties and travel days and work deadlines, add in the healthy things you want to make time for. Pencil in an hour for your workouts, or make an appointment with yourself for 10 minutes after work so you can meditate, or make a date with your oven to get those healthy breakfast muffins baked so you’ve got an easy grab-and-go breakfast all week long.

As for tools … look no further than your smart phone. There are loads of apps out there that are designed to help you live your healthiest life — wherever you are and whenever you have time. Here are a few that we’ve used and/or heard good things about. And you’ll find a few others here and here!

9 Healthy Apps You Can Take Anywhere

Want workouts on the go?  Try an app that allows you to do workouts at home or helps you find workouts near you when you’re traveling, like:

Need to get your mind right? Get your meditation on with apps like:

Looking for a little help in the healthy eats department? Use your phone to find local restaurants that suit your needs, shop for healthy ingredients and discover delicious new, healthy recipes:

I am very well aware that there are so, so many other awesome ones out there. What are a few healthy-living apps you use on the regular? —Kristen



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Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon Recap: Wine at the Finish Line Helps

Sometimes, a race is about the amount of time it takes you to go a certain distance. Sometimes, that number … well, it’s not the main takeaway. Not necessarily because you’ve performed horribly, but because there’s just so, so much more to it. That was certainly the case for me at the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon. […]


Sometimes, a race is about the amount of time it takes you to go a certain distance.

Sometimes, that number … well, it’s not the main takeaway. Not necessarily because you’ve performed horribly, but because there’s just so, so much more to it. That was certainly the case for me at the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon.

You might remember that this isn’t the first time I’ve run a Wine Country race. I ran the Santa Barbara race a few years ago, earning a PR and running what I still consider my first successful half marathon. I went with a group of friends and stayed in a lovely vacation rental home and thoroughly enjoyed the area, so, when Oregon came up, I got a few friends together to do it all again. And we definitely it up right.

We picked up our packets at the Evergreen Aviation Museum (super cool place — I got to walk around inside the Spruce Goose!) and took advantage of the props to take a few fun pictures. You know, like you do.

wine country half marathon
Obviously I befriended the Official Race Doggo immediately.

 

After we finished up, we kicked things off with the VIP dinner at Sokol Blosser— a gorgeous winery that set the tone for a really picturesque weekend. We sampled wine (not too much, of course — we had a race the next day!), chatted with other runners and ate pasta. We saw a tremendously beautiful sunset on the drive home, so, all in all a pretty perfect night.

Race Day

Race day began nice and early — something we were thankful for, as the weather was considerably warmer than many of us had been hoping to experience at an August race in the Pacific Northwest. The point-to-point course began at Stoller Family Estate, and although we probably could’ve spent a little extra time warming up, Megan and I thought our time was better spent taking advantage of the sun’s first golden rays hitting the vineyard while playing around with Boomerang since neither of us was really in the hunt for a PR.

Things started off well. I knew I wasn’t as prepared for the distance and hills as I’d wanted to be — I’d gotten in one fantastic 10 miler a couple of weeks before the race, but it had been at a very easy pace on a flat route. Still, I tend to do pretty well on hilly courses, so I figured I’d set off at a comfortably uncomfortable pace and adjust if the wheels began to fall off. I gave myself full permission to walk up any hills I wanted, as long as I took advantage of the downhills and picked up my pace when gravity gave me that boost.

Turns out that, although that’s been a good strategy for me on courses with real climbs, it’s far less effective when you’re running miles and miles of rolling hills. They don’t feel hard enough to warrant walking on the way up, and they don’t provide enough of a decline to give you much help on the way down. They’re just hard.

I stayed on track for a PR for about eight miles, but it was at more of a cost than I’d anticipated. My pacer passed me as I walked up a fairly steep hill, and when the corresponding downhill proved to be a really gentle descent that led into another climb … I knew the PR was out. My legs didn’t have much left so I vowed to just do the best I could, take a few pictures, and try to enjoy the fact that I was in wine country.

wine country half marathon
This is my “I’m no longer running very happy” face.

By the time Lora (who’d finished about half an hour earlier — so speedy!) came jogging back my way to run me in, I was in a bit of a dark place, but she helped me push through to the finish. And while I didn’t come close to a PR this time, my final time (2:18:34) was actually the second fastest finish I’ve achieved in the half marathon distance. Who knows what would’ve happened with proper training!

wine country half marathon
Easy to see where I was having a good time and where I was … not. Kudos to Destination Races for making race photos free! Because these are HILARIOUS.

Post-Race Fun

It took me 20 minutes or so (and a lot of coconut water and fruit) to start feeling human again, but that’s when the real fun began — the wine festival! Right by the finish line, tons of booths were set up housing people from wineries all around the area — all of them pouring samples from two or three types of wine, many of which highlighted the grape the area is best known for, the pinot grape.

wine country half marathon

It requires considerable dedication and a bit of standing in line to fully take advantage of a festival like this, but I’m happy to report that my friends and I were totally up to the task. We stayed until almost noon, chatting with many of the owners and proprietors of the different wineries. It’s fascinating to learn how they got started — while some were old family businesses, quite a few people had stories to share about how they came to the area, fell in love and started making wine.

wine country half marathon

We grabbed lunch (and maybe another glass of rosé) at a nearby restaurant there in downtown Carlton — we’d heard good things about The Horse Radish and those things were not wrong, that’s for sure. After an epic nap, we went for another delicious meal at Zippy’s Pizza, which was near the house we’d rented — we spent a long time talking with the owner, and she made some very excellent wine suggestions. Why don’t I live in a place where even the pizza joints have a killer wine list?

The Day After

The next day, we took advantage of the fact that Stoller Family Estate was on the way back to Portland, so we stopped off for a proper tasting — couldn’t very well do that before the race the morning before. Megan had a late afternoon flight, but before we dropped her off, we had one more adventure — hiking Horsetail Falls! Short hike, but fantastic views. Plus, it’s always awesome to have an opportunity to swim beneath a waterfall, no matter how chilly the water is, right?

wine country half marathon
You don’t want to know what was involved in my climbing up onto that ledge.

And if you’re wondering how hiking on post-half marathon legs felt? Well, yeah, it was a little tough — I had a few areas that were hella tight, but I think hiking was probably one of the most helpful things I could’ve done.

wine country half marathon

Don’t Forget Portland

Lora, Kevin and I all booked flights later in the day on Monday, so that morning we headed downtown with plans to hit Voodoo Doughnuts (they loved it, but I … well, I’m not a huge doughnut person, so hey! It was a fun experience that now I never have to repeat, right?) and a couple of breweries: Base Camp, which had a super cool s’mores stout I’d recommend, and Cascade Brewing Barrel House, which had about a million things I’d recommend — they specialize in sours and offer tiny tasters and, man. I could’ve stayed there forever and ever.

voodoo doughnuts

base camp brewing

Except for the fact that I had a yoga date with my girl Jamie over at Flex & Flow Yoga, and no way was I going to miss that (or show up tipsy), so I exercised serious restraint with just a few tasters at Cascade and headed over for a killer yoga workout that left me totally drenched with sweat and super blissed out. And that’s close to what you want to be before you catch a red eye home, right?

Are you big on turning a destination race into a mini vacation? If so, what’s your favorite one you’ve done, or what do you have on your calendar? Clearly I’m very into packing as much into a trip like this as possible. Do all the things! —Kristen



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Hiking in Breckenridge in My New Favorite Kicks

Back in June, I went hiking for the first time across three states: Colorado, Utah and Arizona. Again, it was my first time. Wanna know how much we hiked? 117 MILES. I thought my feet were literally going to disintegrate. But pain aside, I’ve found that I really, really enjoy hiking. Every single time I literally […]


Back in June, I went hiking for the first time across three states: Colorado, Utah and Arizona. Again, it was my first time. Wanna know how much we hiked? 117 MILES. I thought my feet were literally going to disintegrate.

But pain aside, I’ve found that I really, really enjoy hiking. Every single time I literally say to myself, “f*ck this.” But every single time, I also say to myself when I get to the top, “that was so worth it.” So, I guess you could say it’s a love/hate relationship.

Recently, my boyfriend and I, plus two other couples, took a road trip out to Breckenridge, Colo., where we decided to set up camp in Arapaho National Forest.

breckenridge hiking

The view was stunning (obviously). Right before my trip, Merrell had sent me a pair of it’s new 1Six8 Lace hiking shoe ($90) in Sedona Sage.

Upon arrival, I tried them on — they were a tad big, but OMG. They were so unbelievably comfortable. They’re almost like a sweatshirt for your foot, which doesn’t sound ideal for hiking, but that’s partially not true. I was concerned that they weren’t waterproof and so thin, but I knew I had to try them out.

breckenridge hiking

On my previous trip, I had quite the experience with my shoes (majority of the reason my feet almost fell apart). I had a pair of mid-ankle hiking boots that made my ankles kill the entire rest of the trip and then I had a pair of trail running shoes, which weren’t too bad, but I still knew there was something better for me out there.

The 1Six8 Lace were super comfortable. They do run about a half size large in my opinion and ideally probably aren’t best for extreme hikes. We hiked only about five miles. It was pretty steep most of the way and I had zero pain or discomfort.

breckenridge hiking

Halfway to the top, we came across this badass cabin from the 1800s that was filled with old books and notes from other hikers 30 years ago. Oh, and quite a few beer bottles.

breckenridge hiking

This was the beautiful scenery that made the hike totally worth it. We sat by the water for quite a while and just stared at how beautiful it was.

breckenridge hiking

I know many more hiking adventures are to come and I will be bringing along my 1Six8 Lace shoes (as long as we’re not hiking too far). Do I absolutely love them? I LOVE them for everyday wear, but only like them for hiking. Mainly because they’re not waterproof and a little thin — especially if the temps are below 40 degrees. But again, the comfort is hard to beat.

With that being said, I’d give these kicks a four-star rating and the hike itself five stars for sure.

I’m trying to figure out where my next hiking adventure will be — any suggestions? —Erika



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