Category: Vacation

Working Out on Vacation

After posting about my vacation last week, I received a few comments about fitting in working out while on vacation. The two things I personally struggle the most with are logistics/safety (finding a safe place to run, etc) and guilt (taking time away from vacation, not spending time with people). I’m by no means an expert on this topic but I’ve learned a lot in the past few years about making time for training so I thought I’d share what works for me. I hope this is helpful!


  • One of the most important things when running on vacation is to make sure you’re safe. If you’re running in a new-to-you location, research the area to identify any running trails or well-lit, populated areas. Look for resources like map my run to see if others have saved routes nearby. I also find that the people working the front desk at hotels can be great resources as well. When Ian and I went to a wedding in Michigan in July, I asked the concierge for a recommended route and she sent me through downtown Chelsea because she knew there were sidewalks.


  • Make sure the people you’re with know where you’re going. Often, I’ll verbally explain to Ian or my family where I’m running and then bring along my phone in case I get lost or have an emergency. I know some people use an app called Glimpse which allows someone else to track you through GPS which sounds like a great idea.
  • If you’re running and start to feel unsafe — don’t risk it! You don’t know the area and there’s clearly a reason you feel uncomfortable. For example, I went to Mexico with my mom once and was uncomfortable running too far. We mapped out a 2 mile loop and my mom left the hotel with me and grabbed coffee at a cafe in the center of the loop so that she’d see me pass fairly often.

  • Bring water! If you’re running in a new area you won’t know if there are drinking fountains, if it’s shaded, etc. It’s better to be prepared. I always travel with either my handheld and/or my fuelbelt just in case. Also, all normal safety precautions apply. Wear sunblock (if you normally do), bright colors if you’ll be running along the shoulder of a road or if it will be dark out, reflective gear, RoadID, etc.


  • My family knows how important running is to me and I’ve made a point to explain that running is my “me-time” and a really healthy, mind-clearing way for me to start the day. They also know I’m much less likely to be crabby if I can fit a run in first thing :P. Make sure to explain this to the people that you’re traveling with, most likely they’ll understand!

  • Even though my family is completely fine with me running while on vacation, I still try to accommodate everyone’s schedules when planning a run. Usually this means running first thing in the morning. My family wakes up fairly early and likes to start the morning reading the paper and drinking coffee before launching into vacation activities. I also know that Ian will never turn down an extra hour or so of sleep. I make sure to get up and run while they’re participating in their normal morning routines so that my workout doesn’t cut in to any activities.
  • Running through different areas can be a fun form of exploring so if you feel guilty for leaving family to go for a run, invite them along by foot, bike, roller blades, etc. My mom biked with me around Mackinac Island and even though we weren’t chatting much, it was fun to have her along and I felt better knowing she wasn’t sitting around somewhere waiting for me.

  • Find an activity that everyone can enjoy like yoga on the beach, a walk, or hiking.

Other Things

  • Before I leave for vacation, I try to prioritize my runs. This is especially critical if I’m training. When I went to northern Michigan two weeks ago, I knew that fitting in my 12 mile tempo run and my two 10 milers was more important to me than running the 6 mile recovery run on Friday. I made sure to take Wednesday easy on my legs so that they’d feel okay for my Thursday tempo run and then was super active on Thursday because I knew that I’d be okay skipping my run on Friday if I was too tired. Skipping didn’t end up being necessary because I woke up feeling fine but I would have been okay with missing my run if need be. You can also rearrange your schedule so that you only have easy runs or shorter workouts on vacation.

  • Sometimes it’s not possible to run on vacation and that’s okay. When I went to Nepal in 2010, I barely ran. It was hot, I had to be covered up, and it wasn’t very safe. I think I ran three times in three weeks. It happens. I picked a half-marathon a few months after my trip as a goal race to get back in shape and ended up PR-ing. Sometimes a break is a good thing.
  • If working out is really going to stress you out or make you unhappy, don’t do it. Like I said above, a break can be good, and everyone needs one from time to time. If a complete vacation is what you need, then by all means take it!

Do you work out on vacation? Have any other tips?


On Friday, after my run around St. Ignace, my mom and I packed up her car and started the drive south to Watervale, a small “resort” in Arcadia, MI. The drive is only about 3 hours (I think?) but I made sure to drag it out to about 5 hours by nicely demanding we stop in Petoskey (coffee! farmer’s market!) and Charlevoix (lunch! Cherry Republic!). Good thing “up north” is beautiful and the drive was easy!

Growing up, my mom and I would spend a week at Watervale with family friends. We’d all rent one floor of a cottage and play at the lake (Lower Herring) or the beach (Lake Michigan) all day, enjoy dinners at the inn, and then have campfires, play tag, etc. on the beach until night. Once I entered middle school we stopped going for a full week and tried to go for a long weekend every other year or so until the end of high school when we stopped going altogether. When my mom and I were planning our “nostalgia trip” earlier this summer, we knew Watervale had to be on the list of places to go.


We arrived at the inn a little before dinner, “checked in” aka found a sheet of paper with our room numbers on them and put our suitcases in the rooms, and then headed down to the beach to look out at the water.


Dunes for miles.

We had made our reservations on the later side, so we were seated at the earlier dinner and unfortunately didn’t have too much time to spend on the beach that first afternoon. We did make sure to return after dinner to watch the sunset though.


Ian arrived late that night so on Saturday, after I finished my run, Ian, my mom, and I all went down to breakfast at the inn. The weather was gorgeous – low 60′s in the morning expecting to rise to the high 70′s by mid-afternoon – so we decided to hike to Mt. Baldy, a huge dune about a mile down the beach.


However, the hike doesn’t take you down the beach, you actually climb up the dune from the backside, walking along trails, climbing up mini dunes, and hiking through a lot of sand. It’s a fairly short hike (3ish miles) but it’s definitely not easy.


The views from the top though are spectacular and 100% worth it.



We played around for a bit before starting the descent down. The dune is incredibly steep so there are only two ways to make it to the bottom safely – you can walk sideways on an angle or you can “run” down letting your feet catch in the sand which is much more fun but a little scary.


We walked back to Watervale along the shore of Lake Michigan and then headed in to downtown Frankfurt to get some lunch and pick up other necessities from the local grocery chain. Once we got back to Watervale it was finally BEACH TIME!


We walked about a mile down the beach away from Baldy toward “the outlet” where Lower Herring Lake runs into Lake Michigan. This was always my favorite place to play when I was younger and my friends and I would always try to build a dam to keep the water from flowing into Lake Michigan. The water in the outlet is usually a lot warmer than Lake Michigan too which makes swimming much more comfortable. Lake Michigan was freezing this year- I took my obligatory dunk under water and then rushed out to warm up in the sun.

After a few hours, we headed back to Watervale to shower, enjoy a glass of wine, and then have dinner at the inn.


We relaxed for a bit, packed up our rooms, and then headed down to the beach to watch one last Lake Michigan sunset.


It got cold pretty quickly after the sun went down and we were all tired from our busy day so we headed back to the inn and crashed early.

I wish I had more to say about Sunday but I don’t. I got my run in, we all ate breakfast together, walked around Watervale a bit, and then headed out. I actually enjoyed the drive home along the west coast of Michigan but was too tired to appreciate it enough as a tourist. I just wanted to get back to Chicago! Fortunately, we only had to make 2 real stops (ice cream for Ian and then lunch + gas) and we arrived back in Chicago around dinnertime ending my traipse across Michigan.

Have you ever been “up north” in Michigan? Did you go on many family vacations as a child?

Wednesday Workouts {08-21-2013}

Wednesday – OFF

Thursday – 12 mile tempo run with 8 miles at marathon pace (mp miles – 7:38, 7:36, 7:33, 7:35, 7:20, 7:22, 7;25, 7:30; average pace – 7:48 min/mile).


Friday – 6 mile easy effort run (average pace – 8:33 min/mile).


Saturday – 10 mile easy effort run (average pace – 8:18 min/mile).


Sunday – 10 mile easy effort run (average pace – 8:18 min/mile).


Monday – 8 mile easy effort run (average pace – 8:40 min/mile).

Tuesday – 11.5 mile strength run with 6 x 1 mile repeats @ 10 seconds faster than mp with 400 m recovery (strength miles – 7:24, 7:09, 7:12, 7:17, 7:17, 7;22; average pace – 8:00 min/mile).

Total – 57.5 miles


  • I was able to run in so many different locations last week. On Thursday I ran around Mackinac Island, on Friday I ran through St. Ignace, on Saturday and Sunday I ran around Arcadia, MI/Crystal Lake/Frankfort area, and on Monday and Tuesday I ran in Chicago.
  • My tempo run on Thursday was so hard. I think my legs were tired from walking around Mackinac on Wednesday and my mind was definitely on vacation. I really struggled to motivate myself to run! I ended up taking a desperation gel with caffeine around mile 6 and then pushing myself to run faster so my workout would be done sooner (subconsciously). I knew something was wrong when I cruised through downtown Mackinac at a 7:00 min/mile (slowed after I noticed). I also forgot water and was really thirsty. Definitely not my run but I was due for a mentally tough run anyway. The views were gorgeous though and it was really cool to see how far I’ve come as a runner. The last time I went to Mackinac Island was after my freshman/sophomore (can’t remember) year in college and I think I was training for a half marathon so I ran one lap of the island (8 miles) and it was hard! This year, I ran 1.5 laps as a midweek run.
  • On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I ran out in the boonies in Michigan. The runs were all easy effort so I tried to enjoy my peaceful surroundings and go easy on my legs. I loved running around all of the lakes and seeing some wildlife -deer! I ran the exact same route on Saturday and Sunday at the exact same pace too. Amusing.
  • In addition to running this week, I did a ton of walking, biking, and hiking. On Thursday, my mom and I rented bikes and biked 10+ miles through Mackinac Island and on Saturday, my mom, Ian, and I hiked through the woods and up the dunes to the top of Mt Baldy, a huge dune near where we were staying. We ran down the front and then walked the mile or so back to the “resort”. We also walked a ton on the beach.
  • This past week was the first week of “strength” runs as opposed to “speed” or track workouts. The goal is to do a certain amount of longer intervals at 10 seconds faster than marathon pace. As you can see, I failed. I totally blame it on the fact that on Monday night I raced over to Road Runner Sports to pick up a new pair of Mizunos because I was greatly in need and I found out that they discontinued the Wave Inspire 9 and I needed to grab a pair before they became impossible to find in my size. Running in my new shoes felt amazing and I just wanted to take off. To be honest, had I not been concerned about the AQI in Chicago, I probably would have run faster. Sometimes a speedy run is all you need.
  • On a different subject, today is my mom’s birthday — Happy Birthday Mom!!

Mackinac Island

Last Wednesday morning, my mom and I started the drive to Mackinac Island.


We were planning on staying in the UP (Upper Peninsula) so once we got to Mackinaw City, we took the bridge over to St. Ignace. The Mackinac Bridge is 5 miles long with amazing views but it is a little freaky to look over the water when you’re in the middle.


We wanted to head over to Mackinac Island for lunch so instead of checking into our hotel, we hopped on the ferry right away. The ferry ride only took 30 minutes so before we knew it, we were eating lunch on a balcony overlooking downtown Mackinac.


Mackinac Island is completely car-free which means there are a ton of bikes, horse drawn carriages, and people walking everywhere. I love it. The island is also relatively small (8 miles around) so lots of people rent bikes and ride around the island.


We decided to go for a short walk and then visit Fort Mackinac one of my favorite, nerdy spots on the island. The fort was built in the  1700′s by the British and used to control the Straights of Mackinac. After the Revolutionary War it was given to the Americans and was used as an American military outpost.


The British captured the fort in the War of 1812, the Americans tried to recapture it in the Battle of Mackinac Island (1814), and then eventually the fort was ceded to America in 1815. Lots of history on this small island. Many of the fort’s original buildings still stand and have been refurbished and the fort now serves as a museum.


My love of the fort is actually a long running joke in my family. It is not quite my mom’s thing so at one point she instituted a “visit the fort every other year” rule. Considering we skipped visiting Mackinac Island for quite a few years, I got to visit the fort this time :).


One thing my mom can’t deny is the view from the fort. Beautiful.

We spent quite a bit of time at the fort and ended up going straight to dinner afterwards. One of the best and freshest things to eat up north is planked whitefish and that is exactly what I had.


Along with a $2.75 Oberon because when in Rome…


We rounded out the day with some shopping including a visit to our favorite island bookstore and trips to the fudge shops.

On Thursday morning, my mom and I woke up early and caught the 7:30 ferry to the island. My mom rented a bike and rode along as I completed my weekly tempo run (more on this tomorrow). Afterwards, I took a quick baby wipe shower (it was in the 50′s so I didn’t get too sweaty) and we grabbed breakfast at The Pink Pony overlooking the harbor.


I had my usual vacation breakfast – oatmeal with a side of sausage. Hit the spot.


After breakfast, we did some more walking around and then rented bikes to ride through the island. We headed up to the cliffs above Grand Hotel and I found my future house…


I wish.

We explored quite a bit. We stopped at Arch Rock, Fort Holmes, and the battlefield. It was a beautiful day for a bike ride and so much fun to explore for a few hours.


After biking 10+ miles, we were wiped. We did a little more exploring by foot but ended up taking an earlyish ferry back to St. Ignace and grabbing an early dinner.


More whitefish for me… although this time it was of the broil variety.

As much as we wanted to go straight to the hotel, no trip to St. Ignace is complete without a stop in Indian Village, the best worst gift shop ever. I found some classic souvenirs…



And ended up purchasing a classy mug for myself.



Overall, our time in St. Ignace and Mackinac was great and it was so much fun to go back to the island and visit it again!

Have you ever been to Mackinac Island?

Weekend Things {08-12-2013}

1. On Friday night, Ian took me out for a date night at Two, one of the nice restaurants near our not-so-new-anymore apartment. We hadn’t been to the restaurant before so we enjoyed quite the feast – we tried their faro salad, the pork ribs, scallops, and Ian had the duck egg pasta. Everything was fabulous and the date night was a great way to kick off vacation and spend some quality time with Ian before I headed to Michigan.


2. I woke up fairly early on Saturday to squeeze in an 8 miler before catching the Megabus.


Sigh. Chicago is really beautiful.

3. A week or so ago, I received a package of bars to sample from Erica (thanks girl!). I’ve been saving them for my vacation and decided to try this Simple Squares bar crumbled in almond yogurt for a quick breakfast on Saturday. It was really good and not at all what I expected- it was packed full of seeds and nuts. It also kept me full until my mom picked me up in Ann Arbor at 2 EDT which is definitely a sign of a substantial snack bar!


4. Oh, the Megabus. My ride wasn’t bad at all actually. The bus was really empty and I was able to sprawl out and attempt to take a nap. I forgot how much of a pain the one stop is though. It’s only an hour from Ann Arbor and they always give you so much time. I was ready to go!


5. By the time I got to Ann Arbor, I was hungry so my mom and I grabbed lunch at Grizzly Peak. We split polenta fries and I had a cherry chicken salad that was pretty amazing. I <3 Ann Arbor.

6. Dinner on Saturday night was chicken pad thai from my favorite Thai restaurant ever, Siam Spicy. I like to have Thai the night before a long run (carbs, salt) but I could eat this pad thai every day. It’s so spicy and not sweet at all, just the way I like it.


Plus, their portion size is large enough that I always have leftovers!

7. After dinner my mom and I took my mom’s 80 lb “puppy” for a walk.


This dog has sooo much energy it’s unreal and even after multiple walks and lots of play time she’s still a handful.


Good thing she’s cute ;).

8. I actually slept through my alarm Sunday morning and headed out for my 15-miler an hour later than planned. Fortunately, it was overcast and actually kind of cool so it didn’t matter too much. I ran a big loop through the Detroit burbs and felt really strong.


This is where we all the cool kids hung out in middle school and high school.

9. After my run, I lounged around, tried to sunbathe, and ate some leftovers before my mom and I headed out to run more errands. Our intentions were to pick up some stuff to grill but we ended up running into Hansons Running Shop, Target, Dunhams, Kroger, and even stopping for a quick treat at TCBY.


They now have Silk Chocolate Almond almond milk froyo and I had to try it! And yes, I know the cone has wheat in it. I only took a few bites (paid for it later) but getting froyo on a cone is so much better than in a  cup!

10. We relaxed at my mom’s house for a bit, fired up the grill, and made some corn, BBQ chicken, and zucchini on the grill. It was fabulous. We chased dinner with a walk with the pup who proceeded to lay down in a huge puddle of muddy water forcing us to cut the walk short and give her a bath. Crazy.

11. This morning I woke up early to beat the rain and get in an easy run. Even though it was overcast and drizzly, the neighborhood is so green right now it was gorgeous.


I <3 nature.

12. I’m on vacation and off work this week so my mom and I are planning on grabbing lunch at one of my favorite deli’s today and then hanging low until the rain stops.

How was your weekend?