Just What I Needed

For the first week after Marine Corps Marathon I went into recovery mode and exercised very little. I spent a lot of time stretching, foam rolling, icing and heating. Then another week went by and I still hadn’t gotten myself out for a run. I did do plenty of spinning, yoga and strength training though, so I wasn’t too worried about it.

At the start of the third week I felt fully rested and recovered, picked out some winter/spring shorter races and was ready to get back into full-on working out. For some reason, though, I still didn’t feel like running.

Lingering disappointment hangover from MCM? Fear I’d lost my fitness during my two-week run hiatus? Just being lazy? No more daylight after work? I don’t know. Whatever it was though, I was in a funk and I needed to bust out. An early-morning Wednesday workout with the November Project did just that!

Last Wednesday I saw a tweet about the November Project and clicked through to learn more. It sounded awesome. Then I saw that a DC group had started up. Even better! Over the weekend my latest issue of Runner’s World arrived featuring the November Project on the cover. Read the article if you haven’t already, you won’t regret it. Now I had to try this out.

The November Project is a free, grassroots workout group started in Boston by two former college athletes looking to stay in shape through the winter. Now it’s blowing up. It’s roughly an hour filled with a hard workout, hugs and a few curse words.

I showed up at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday morning at 6:30, and it was everything I expected and more. An obvious newbie, I was greeted with a hug and introduced myself to a few others there…more hugs.

lincolnnovproj

Close to 40-50 people showed up to sweat, shared some hugs and dropped a few F-bombs. About 10 people were given tennis balls that instructed them to do push-ups, burpees, squats or sprint to Abe! If you didn’t have a tennis ball, you started running what they call Lincoln Logs – up to the top of the steps and back down to the reflecting pool. When you finished your tennis ball workout, you started running, handed off your tennis ball to someone while introducing yourself and they were off to do the workout.

Doing some push-ups... photo stolen from the Nov. Project DC Facebook page

Doing some push-ups… photo stolen from the November Project DC Facebook page

I had a blast and found myself smiling through parts of it even when I was exhausted. I lost count, but I think I completed 12-13 Lincoln Logs, 30 push-ups, one sprint to Abe and about 30 burpees. We wrapped things up splitting into teams for a relay race and taking a group picture. It was so much fun and just what I needed to start enjoying running again!

Post-workout Group Photo from November Project DC Facebook page

Post-workout group photo from November Project DC Facebook page

If you live in D.C., check it out for yourself next Wednesday, 6:30a.m., on the steps of the Lincoln. I already can’t wait to go back. Hope to see you there!

Marine Corps Marathon Course Preview and Race Strategy

Three more days! Yikes! The Marine Corps Marathon is almost here. Having run this marathon twice before and being lucky enough to do many of my training runs along the course, I feel like I know every inch of it.

Sometimes knowing what’s ahead is good. Think the rush from the crowd as you run the final stretch down 110. Other times I wish I didn’t know what was just around the bend. Think that final hill up to the finish line.

Here’s my advice and a preview of the course for first timers.

As the race starts adrenaline kicks in and emotions run high. Remember to keep your breathing in check and don’t go out too hard as you head up Lee Highway. The good news is you get to come back down along Spout Run before heading over the Key Bridge and onto M street in Georgetown. M Street should be loud and lined with fans so feed off of their energy as you get ready to turn down Wisconsin and loop onto Rock Creek Parkway.

MCMdrive

Rock Creek is back after several years absent from the course and I for one am very excited about this. I wrote about the course change in an earlier post if you want to check that out. This stretch has a slight incline, but it’s really beautiful and a great addition in my mind.

The next big challenge is Hains Point. I’ve written often about my love-hate relationship with this stretch that has been a part of so many of my races this past year including the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, Nike D.C. Women’s Half and the Navy Air Force Half Marathon. The crowds can be sparse and the winds can be brutal, but as of now anyways, the forecast looks to be in our favor. If it is windy, try to tuck in behind another runner or a group. If you start to feel the lack of crowd support, let yourself enjoy the views of the water. It’ll be over in just a couple miles and you’ll be on your way to miles 15 and 16.

Soon you’ll be gliding (or hobbling – whatever it takes) past the monuments. Take it all in as you approach the Capitol Building – it really is a special view and so much history. You’ll see a big hill ahead by the Capitol, but don’t worry, the course turns just before sending you up and brings you along the Reflecting Pool before heading back down the other side of the Mall. Also, photographers are usually ready and waiting to take your picture here with the Capitol in the background, so get your race face ready.

Screenshot of the course map from the MCM website

Course map screenshot from the MCM website

Next the course turns cruel again as you try to “Beat the Bridge” crossing 14th Street Bridge back into Arlington. Crowd support wanes again. The bridge seems to go on forever. There’s no getting around this, but don’t let it get you down. Fight it. Summon up all the mental energy you can and keep yourself going through mile 20 and 21 along the bridge.

Once you cross the bridge and enter Crystal City the crowds will be back and you’ll start to feel like the end is finally near. Dunkin Donuts is usually stationed around here handing out munchkins. I remember thinking this sounded awesome before the race, but then wanting to throw up just at the sight of them during the actual race, so I passed by without enjoying one.

The Crystal City portion is slightly different than the last time I ran when it was an out and back on Crystal Drive. Instead you do more of a rectangular loop heading down Crystal Drive, turning right on 23rd and taking another right back on S. Clark St. toward the final stretch.

You’ll pass the Pentagon including the 9-11 Memorial and make your way back to 110 along Arlington National Cemetery. No matter how bad you’re hurting, seeing this here and knowing what kind of sacrifice so many people made for this country will help propel you to the finish.

The energy and excitement boils over as the cheers from the crowd get louder and louder as you run the last half mile. The final point two takes you up a cruel hill toward the Iwo Jima Memorial and the finish line. This is your last test until you become a marathon finisher and receive your medal.

Iwo Jima Memorial just beyond the trees

Iwo Jima Memorial just beyond the trees

My biggest advice if this is your first marathon or first time running MCM can really apply to any race…smile at the crowds, thank the volunteers, make friends with other runners and enjoy the heck out of it!

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

This week was fairly light as I spent Monday traveling and didn’t want to go too hard with my half marathon on Saturday. Here’s the day by day breakdown. To be honest I ended the week feeling a bit down with a less than stellar time for my half, but I’m going to keep pushing forward so I can get after that BQ at Marine Corps Marathon in six weeks!

Monday: Travel Day.

Tuesday: I hit the track for 7X1000 meters with a 1 minute rest between each repeat. This was the first week back at my tempo pace as opposed to my faster interval pace with a longer recovery, so even with the shorter rest period I felt pretty good. This was the bright spot of my week for sure. Splits (Goal: 4:38 each) Actual: 4:33. 4:31, 4:35, 4:35, 4:34, 4:34, 4:33.

Wednesday: I got up before dawn and hit the dreadmill for the long run I didn’t fit in over the weekend. With the half coming up at the end of the week I didn’t want to go too far, so I got 13.5 in before calling it a morning and getting ready for work.

Thursday: Core workout.

Friday: Rest day.

navyAFhalf

Saturday: Race day. Despite my time not being where I feel like it should at this stage of my training, I really did enjoy this race and it was a perfect day to run in D.C. Full recap coming soon – time was 1:50:11.

Sunday: Recovery Day.

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Last week started off pretty rough as I was fighting a cold and despite sleeping 10 hours a night still felt exhausted and missed a few workouts as a result. I came back strong over the weekend though to get myself back on track. I’m hurting pretty good today from all the weekend miles, but here’s hoping lots of stretching, rolling and some cross training today will help take care of that.

Here’s the day by day breakdown…

Monday: Spin on my own – 25 minutes, Elliptical – 35 minutes, Full-body strength workout

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Rest

Friday: I hoped to get my track workout in today, but ran over to the W&L track to find an event going on, so I just kept going and got about 45 minutes in. I felt great on this run, but was just wearing a regular stopwatch so I have no idea how far I went.

Saturday: I put off my run for most of the day wasting a really beautiful August day in D.C. and landing in the gym that night for 12.3 treadmill miles.

Sunday: Not my smartest move… after the 12 treadmill miles the night before I got up early to get most of my long run in before meeting up with a few of my new Oiselle teammates for a few miles along the Mall. It was a bit of a rainy morning, but still warm enough out that it felt good. I got 12 in on my own running through Arlington, Georgetown and Hains Point and was so relieved to have some running buddies for the last 5 miles along the Mall. I’m not sure I could have kept going on my own!

Rainy Run with some members of the Oiselle flock!

Rainy Run with some members of the Oiselle flock!

Rough Day Running: Nike Women’s DC Half Marathon Race Recap

My race day started off with a 4:44 a.m. alarm, and unlike I usually do when early alarms go off, I popped right out of bed. Exhausted from a long week of travel for work I actually went to bed early Saturday night and didn’t feel like I needed the snooze button Sunday morning. All my race gear was laid out, so I was quickly ready to go.

The first sign of a bad day struck when I grabbed my Garmin. The display screen was blank. I had just charged it the night before, but I think it went into it’s protected mode which I’ve had trouble with before. I pulled up the email from Garmin support on how to bring it back to life, but after I did it beeped that the battery was low. NOOOOOO! I had a minor panic attack before Ian calmed me down and assured me this wasn’t the end of the world. I was going to have to wear a regular stopwatch for the race and not have instant feedback on my current pace or beeps with mile splits at all the markers. I haven’t done an outdoor run without my Garmin or before that my Nike Plus wrist band in years. I convinced myself not to worry about it and headed toward the metro.

I was really early, so there was barely a line for the porta potties. I was one of the first people in the 6:30-7:29 pace corral, which turned out to be pretty sparse. I had to go to the bathroom again, but stressed out about whether or not I’d have time so I decided not to go. I think I might drink too much water on race morning sometimes. This was a bad decision and would come back to haunt me as I really couldn’t hold it anymore and had to find a porta potty just past the 10k-mark wasting about 90 seconds.

Other than that little bit of TMI, everything seemed perfect for the start of the race. Temps were in the low 50s, so I wasn’t freezing like at the start of the Cherry Blossom, but it wasn’t going to be too warm to run in either. The Nike trainers kicked things off with some fun active stretches to get everyone warmed up and pumped up, and then to top things off they introduced Shalene Flanagan and Joanie Benoit Samuelson. The two both sporting Boston tees were going to “jog” the race with us.

At the start, ready to go.

At the start, ready to go.

With so few people in my corral and even fewer in the one ahead of us, I was very close to the start line. I didn’t have any issues with overcrowding or weaving in and out of people at the start, which was awesome. I’ve heard some rumblings on social media that this was a bit of an issue for others further back however. We headed out for the first mile that led us through a tunnel with drummers and strobe lights reverberating off the walls pumping up the energy. From there the course was very similar to the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler running along the Mall, out and back over the Memorial Bridge, past the Kennedy Center and through Hains Point.

Coming out of the tunnel at mile 1

Coming out of the tunnel at mile 1

Right from the start something didn’t feel right. It was hard to breathe even during mile 1 – like that out of shape, out of breath I’m running way too hard feeling. I wasn’t running way too hard though. I ran my first mile right on pace in 7:30 and my second at about 7:27. It felt hard though. Really hard. I desperately tried to stay positive though, and told myself it was good that I wasn’t going out too fast. I didn’t want to let my mind beat me when I’d trained so hard for this race.

My next two miles slowed to about a 7:50 pace even though I felt like I was pushing to keep at my 7:30 goal. Again I told myself to stay positive and that I still had energy in the tank to make up for it. This was not a fun way to run. I wasn’t taking in any of the sites or enjoying the bands and cheer sections along the course that were all really great.

I entered the long, lonely stretch that is Hains Point and told myself this was my spot to make up some time. I’ve been running these roads so much this year and there was actually no major headwind to deal with on Sunday…this never happens at Hains

Point! Instead I got even slower. Nike did a great job of filling this four-mile-stretch with motivational signs that I tried to use for motivation. By mile 9 though, when I realized I’d slipped well below an 8-minute pace and was only slowing more, I almost broke down and cried.

Leading from start to finish...wow!

Leading from start to finish…wow!

Mile 10 brought the first real hill up an on ramp, but it wasn’t even that tough of a hill when you think about the course for the National Half Marathon also here in D.C. At this point I wanted to just run off the course and hide somewhere to stop the struggling. Mile 11 brought us back through the tunnel and into the final stretch down to the Capitol Building and back towards the finish on Pennsylvania Ave. I swear that loop around the front of the Capitol took days. I saw Ian just after the 20k mark and tried to smile as I ran by, but just wanted this race to be over.

Just get me to the finish line!

Just get me to the finish line!

You can see the finish line of this race from a long ways away. The fact that I didn’t have any energy to even kick to the finish made it seem like I was never going to get there! I did finally cross the line though and got high fives from Shalene and Joan Benoit – the highlight of my day. I broke down a little when I saw my friend Lindsay who was handing out water at the finish and told her I felt awful and had a terrible run. Being a runner she just gave me an understanding hug and told me there’d be another chance for a PR.

Only highlight of the race...getting high fives from Shalene Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson at the Finish!

Only highlight of the race…getting high fives from Shalene Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson at the Finish!

I kept moving through the finish area collecting my Tiffany’s necklace from the ROTC guys in tuxedos and then grabbed my super cute finisher’s tee. Well done Nike. I met up with Ian and immediately lost it and started sobbing in his arms. I realize this is a ridiculous reaction to not getting the time I wanted, but I was exhausted emotionally and physically and it just came out. I’d trained so hard for this race and was really disappointed that I’d had such a bad day. It wasn’t just that I was mad about my time on a day and a course that were tailor made for a PR, but that I’d hurt for the whole race and hadn’t enjoyed any of it like I usually do on race day.

ROTC guys getting ready to hand out Tiffany's necklaces to the finishers

ROTC guys getting ready to hand out Tiffany’s necklaces to the finishers. Kudos to Ian for getting them to do the prom style picture!

Finishers Tee and Necklace

Finishers Tee and Necklace

I had a goal of finishing in 1:38 and ended with a time of 1:47:48 putting me in 812 place overall and 236 out of 3,744 in my division. It’s funny how relative running can be. A few years ago I would have been over the moon with that time, but after the training I put in, I know I could have done much better. In the grand scheme of things it’s just a race time. Nobody other than me really cares what time I come in. Even my goal time wasn’t going to win me any awards. I finished another half marathon and that’s something to be proud of.

Also, one of the best things about running is that there’s always another chance. I’m thinking about adding in another half marathon to give it another shot, but am trying to give myself a few days to see how I feel before jumping into a new race. I’m looking at the half in Alexandria on Memorial Day weekend or the Zooma half in Annapolis on June 1. Has anyone done either of these? What are your thoughts? How do you deal with a tough race?

Nike D.C. Women’s Half Marathon Expo

I can’t even believe my half marathon is TOMORROW! It’s time to put so many weeks of training to the test. I’m not particularly thrilled with my last two weeks of training, but am hoping the foundation I built will be strong enough to still go for my goal. Yesterday I headed into Georgetown for packet pick-up and the expo, and thought it was a great experience!

Ian dropped me off around 3, and I headed straight to the packet pick-up tent since I’d volunteered to help out for a shift there.

Packet Pick-Up Tent

Packet Pick-Up Tent

I was really impressed by how many volunteers they had an how organized it was. No matter how many people poured in, there never seemed to be much of a line if any at all. I got my volunteer shirt, went through a quick training session and sat down at a computer to check runners in and assign their bibs for the next three hours.

Bib Pick Up

Bib Pick Up

The time flew by. It was really fun to see how excited everyone was for the race. Before leaving I picked out a bib for myself and saw that I may have been a bit ambitious when I registered placing myself in the 6:30-7:29 pace group. I’m hoping for a 7:30 pace so I’m debating whether it’s smarter to start near the back of this group or drop back and start at the front of the next group. It’ll likely be a game-time decision.

Bib and Pace Corral Bracelet

Bib and Pace Corral Bracelet

From there I headed to the Expotique on the Waterfront. I thought it was pretty cool. It was fun, loud, energetic and crowded once I entered the tent. I breezed through pretty quickly since I was starting to get hungry and had a dinner date with Ian planned at Pizzeria Paradiso coming up, but I did make time to stop and test out several of the Nuun Hydration flavors. They were all pretty awesome, but I especially liked the Cherry Limeaid and Fruit Punch varieties.

Expotique

Expotique

You could also get a quick hair style from Paul Mitchell stylists and a free makeover with Bare Minerals make up – the only kind of make up I wear. I love the natural look it gives and the fact that it never feels caked on. I took my card from my packet that gave me three chances to win Nike shoes and gear and tried my code on all three walls with no luck…bummer! Then I took a quick look at the wall of sneaks, selection of sports bras and inspiration wall where everyone was free to write why they run on it.

Fun things to do at the Expo

Fun things to do at the Expo

There was still more to see at the Nike Store, so I made my way up Thomas Jefferson St. towards it with a stop at the We Run DC wall. This was so cool. It had the names of every participant on it.

We Run DC Wall

We Run DC Wall

I even managed to spot mine!

Finding my name on the We Run DC wall!

Finding my name on the We Run DC wall!

The Nike Store in Georgetown is pretty great with three levels of awesomeness. They even had a DJ in the store. It was a mad house and they had tons of NWM DC specific gear.  I found a black tank with the DC race logo on it. I actually have the same style tank in three different colors so I knew what size to get and knew I’d love it!

During my Sunday stop at Pacers to pick up my Gu and Body Glide for the race I asked about the special Tiffany Blue Nike Frees I’d heard had been designed for this race. They only had one pair of size 8’s left in stock…my size! I figured it was a sign I just had to get them.

Nike Frees - DC edition

Nike Frees – DC edition

Now it’s time for some spaghetti and meatballs and hopefully an early night! Good luck to everyone running tomorrow!! See you out there!

Blogger Ride at Revolve

Last Thursday I was invited to a special spin class Revolve hosted for D.C. area fitness bloggers and enthusiasts. It came together out of a group of bloggers featured in the Washingtonian chatting on twitter and turned into a big event. I go to Revolve regularly and love their classes, and am also a huge fan of a lot of the bloggers that were going so I was really excited to take another class there and actually meet some of these people who’s blogs I’ve been following.

BloggerRide1

I stole this shot from Anne’s at fANNEtastic food blog.

Francina Segbefia taught our class with awesome energy, a kick-butt Vegas-themed playlist and a flair of style. She kicked things off by having everyone introduce ourselves and the name of our blog so we could know each other in the real world too. It was so much fun. She had the whole class singing along to Gold Digger and other songs and pushed us all the way to the end where we wrapped up with some weights to work on the upper body. Their body ride classes are fast becoming my favorite type of spin class – it’s a great change of pace and this one was an absolute blast.

On the bikes next to me were Melody from Will Run for Margaritas – love her blog – and Laney from Running On Veggies – I hadn’t seen her blog before, but it’s great and definitely worth your time to check out. Turns out Melody and I used to teach boot camps at the same site – small world D.C. for you. Some other bloggers I really enjoy reading were also there including Melissa Romero who does the Washingtonian Well Being blog, Ashley of Coffee Cake and Cardio, Workout Wonks and DC Fit Crasher.

Blogger Introductions

Blogger Introductions

After class we had some time to mingle and post-ride refreshments from Gouter. I was a bit skeptical that I would like something labeled raw, vegan and organic, and I’m not really into juices or cleanses, but these were surprisingly tasty!

Post-Ride Refreshments

Post-Ride Refreshments

Overall it was a great night – fun to meet other bloggers excited about health and fitness in D.C., and get a great workout in too!

Out and About D.C. Style

One of my favorite things about living in the Washington, D.C. area is that it never gets old to play tourist. Whenever someone comes to visit, it’s a great excuse to get out and explore. My parents were coming down for a visit recently and since they’ve been here many times, we wanted to come up with something we hadn’t done yet.

Amazingly in all the years they’ve been coming down, we’d never gone to the National Archives. I haven’t been in years either, so we decided to make an afternoon of it. The highlight of the Archives of course is that it houses the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Seeing these documents in person as opposed to them just being some abstract thing you learn about in history class is unbelievably cool. Yes, I’m a total nerd!

Our main reason for visiting the Archives on this trip, however, was to see a new temporary exhibit called To The Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The exhibit looks back at the crisis and features real-time White House recordings from Kennedy’s meetings in October of 1962. Also at the exhibit are chairs used by President Kennedy and Soviet Premier Khrushchev during the June 1961 Vienna Summit. It has personality studies of Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, satellite photos of missile sites under construction in Cuba,  a map of Cuba used and annotated by President Kennedy,  secret correspondence between Kennedy and Khrushchev and a synopsis of a speech that never had to be delivered that President Kennedy drafted if he had to announce an attack to “destroy the nuclear build-up in Cuba.”

The exhibit was great – full of information and cool pieces of history. I could’ve spent hours more there listening to all of the recordings from Kennedy’s meetings and hope to get back before the exhibit closes. If you’re planning on being in D.C. between now and February, this is a can’t miss museum.

Fun in the District

I moved to Arlington for grad school six years ago now. It’s so hard to believe I’ve been down here that long – time has absolutely flown by. I instantly fell in love with this area and am still blown away by how many cool things there are to do in Arlington, D.C. and even occasionally (usually begrudgingly) Maryland.

I’ve gotten to a couple Nats games already this season. Nats Park is a great, new stadium with some awesome stadium food options too! I’m a fan of the Ben’s Chili Bowl spot, but might have to try out Shake Shack on my next trip there now that I’ve finally gone to their restaurant. I was lucky enough to go to opening day here during the Nats inaugural season and have attended several games a year since then, even getting to sit in the Diamond Club seats once.

This season I caught a Saturday afternoon game with friends in a packed stadium to watch the Nats beat the Phillies and got out of work for a weekday game as part of a department outing. We got to see Strasburg pitch, but unfortunately it wasn’t his day as the Nats lost to the Padres.

My parents made a trip down to D.C. to visit in late May, and having visitors is always a good excuse to get to play tourist in my own city. They’ve been coming down for years now, so we’ve already done most of the usual touristy things and joke that most of our visits are planned around food, but with all the great restaurants down here, you can’t go wrong doing that! We ate at some of our usual favorites, Rhodeside Grill, RiRa and Brooklyn Bagel Bakery (best bagel spot in the greater D.C. region!). We also got a deep dish and a thin crust at District of Pi Pizzeria, which my Dad had never been to and wanted to try after I’d been raving about it for some time. It didn’t disappoint. Their specialty seems to be the deep dish pizzas, but both of ours were delicious. The service left a bit to be desired, but fortunately the pizza was so good it made up for that.

On our past visits to the National Mall, we’ve never made it all the way down to the Capitol Building so I decided to start on that end this time. I get to run around this area a lot and it’s such a great site to take in, so I was excited for them to get to see it up close finally. I waited too long to try and get tickets for a tour unfortunately, but we walked all the way around the outside and passed by the Supreme Court and Library of Congress as well.

My favorite museum to visit in D.C. has always been the Newseum. Working so close to the National Mall now, I have no excuse not to visit some of the Smithsonian museums I still haven’t managed to get to in my six years here. I’ll share some future posts on my experiences at them and which ones I think are most worth visiting.

On The Move

I’ve been neglecting my blog for far too long, which usually means I’ve been travelling a lot. And, that I have been. Since the beginning of May I’ve been in Orlando, Chicago and Minneapolis, and I also hosted my parents for one of the weekends I was staying in town. My whirlwind of travel looks like it will continue throughout the summer and into the fall with trips already planned to Hoboken/NYC, St. Louis, Boston, Canada, Syracuse, Annapolis, Providence, the Outer Banks, NYC (again), Connecticut and Lake Placid. It’s going to be a busy few months!

The Canada trip is a recent addition. I decided a few weeks ago to try and take advantage of the speed gains I’d seen throughout the April 5ks and take a shot at qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I still plan to go for this at the Marine Corps Marathon in October, but that race is too late to qualify for Boston in 2013. I signed up for a small race called the Niagara Marathon that starts in Niagara on the Lakes and runs along a path by the Niagara River towards the Falls on the Canadian side. It’s a bit quicker than I would have liked, but was the only one I could fit into my busy schedule. I ramped up my mileage pretty quickly and have seen this hurt my pace a little, but am hoping all the miles I put in will be enough to carry me to the finish line in under 3:35 at the end of June!

The Orlando trip that kicked things off was for a work conference. It was my first work trip with the new job and it went pretty well. It was a small conference, so it was good to get some experience at this before our big convention in Boston this June. I did things like work in the media room, attend sessions and write blog posts. If you have any interest in biotech, you can check them out on my company’s blog.

One of my favorite things about work trips is getting to stay in nice hotels. One of the coolest I’ve been to is the W in NYC. For the Orlando conference, I stayed in a Gaylord Resort. I’ve been to the restaurants and conference areas at Gaylord hotels in D.C. and Nashville, but this was my first time staying at one. Unfortunately all of our meals were already set for us so I didn’t get to try out any of the restaurants, but most of their catering was pretty good. Their cheesecake was particularly great, and I think I ate more desserts in a week than I usually do in a year! Good thing for me, their fitness center was also superb. It was by far one of the nicest hotel fitness centers I’ve seen.

They had a great pool area with a section for adults who wanted some peace and quiet with their sun and a more fun-filled area with water slides. I unfortunately didn’t fit in a visit to the pool, but it was nice to look at when I’d sneak outside to warm up during the day. The conference, also held in the convention center of the Gaylord, was absolutely freezing! The rooms on the hotel side, fortunately, were much more comfortable. I had a spacious room with comfy beds and a nice, clean and big bathroom. Check out some pics below!