June 21, 2018

Travel


From about 2000 until 2010, I didn't get on an airplane. Prior to 2000, I had only flown a few times. I had severe anxiety about flying, and as my anxiety got worse through my 20's, I refused to get on an airplane at all. I missed out on countless opportunities and trips because of my fear of flying.

The irony? My brother is a Delta pilot.

Back in the day when he started, I could fly for FREE if I wanted by using a buddy pass. Even now, I can use a buddy pass to fly much cheaper than purchasing a ticket (the caveat is that I have to fly stand-by when using a pass, so purchasing a ticket is usually preferable).

Anyway, in 2010, I was visiting my brother in Minnesota (a long road trip from Michigan), and he took us to his friend Steve's hanger. Steve had a few small airplanes, one of which was called The Breezy. The Breezy was a fitting name, because it was an open airplane--no sides, roof, and barely a floor to speak of. 

Having lost 100+ pounds at that point, I had been pushing myself out of my comfort zone more and more. And to make a long story short, I convinced myself to face my fear of flying by taking a ride on The Breezy. I was so terrified that I was actually retching over the toilet before my short ride. 

It was breathtaking in a good way. I can't even describe with words how I felt once the plane left the ground. I loved every second of it, from wheels up until we touched ground again. Just a few weeks later, I was boarding a commercial plane back to Minnesota to run a Ragnar Relay with my brother. After a few glasses of wine, I didn't even feel very nervous.


Ever since that flight on The Breezy, I have stopped letting my fear of flying hold me back. I was still terrified of airplanes, but I knew I could handle it (with a little liquid courage before my flight). And I started going places... I discovered just how much fun it was to travel and see different parts of the United States (and even in the Dominican Republic).

My very favorite trips to take are to visit friends (most of which were Runs for Cookies readers that I became close to one way or another). I don't typically do the touristy things when visiting; I love to do the things that my friends enjoy on a day to day basis. I want to try their favorite restaurants, walk around their favorite places, see the things that they think are worth seeing, etc. 


To read the posts about each race, just click on the dates to the left. Happy travels! :)

Trips Involving Races

Indianapolis, IN : Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathon
Joliet, IL : Warrior Dash
Winona, MN : Great River Ragnar Relay
Cleveland, OH : Cleveland Marathon
St. Paul, MN : Women Rock Half
Miami/Key West, FL : Ragnar Relay Key West
Rockford, IL : Rockford Half Marathon
Chicago, IL : Chicago Marathon
San Diego, CA : Ragnar Relay SoCal
Lake Cadillac, MI : Lake Cadillac 10K
Portland, OR : Shamrock 15K
Portland, OR : Blooms to Brews 10K


Trips Involving Work (Blogging)

New York, NY : Guest Appearance on The Dr. Oz Show
Dayton, OH : RRCA Certification Course
St. Louis, MO : The True Nature of Cats at Purina Headquarters
Boston, MA : Runner's World Festival; Heartbreak Hill Festival of Races
New York, NY : Better With Pets Summit with Purina 2014
Bethlehem, PA : Runner's World Half & Festival at Runner's World Headquarters
St. Louis, MO : Meet Purina Event at Purina Headquarters
New York, NY : BlogHer Conferences (I was a panel speaker)
New York, NY : Better With Pets Summit with Purina 2015
New York, NY : Better With Pets Summer with Purina 2016


Trips for Pleasure/Family Vacations


Pigeon Forge, TN : Cabin Rental 
Harrisville, MI : Renee's in-laws' house on the lake 
Rockford, IL : Jeanie's House 
Madison, WI : Downtown 
Phoenix, AZ : Sarah's Wedding 
Indiana : House Rental for Family Vacation 
Sandusky, OH : Cedar Point 
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic : Dreams Palm Beach 
St. Paul, MN : Brian and Becky's Wedding 
Grand Rapids, MI : Overnight Trip for Fun (Jan 2015) 
Grand Rapids, MI : Overnight Trip for Fun (Apr 2015) 
Portland, OR : Last-Minute Weekend Fun 
Rockford, IL : A Visit with My Sister 
Seattle, WA : Visit with Laurel and see Seattle 
Virginia Beach, VA : Family Vacation 
Lake Cadillac, MI : A "Just Because" Getaway 
San Diego, CA : Winter "Sunshine Therapy" 
Boston, MA : A Weekend Seeing Boston Sights 
Portland, OR : Hiking in Central Oregon 
Ewen, MI : Camp Fireside (Jeanie and Shawn's) 
Seattle, WA : Showing Jerry the Pacific Northwest 
Portland, OR : Showing Jerry My Home Away From Home 
Boston, MA; Salem, MA; Waterbury, VT; Portland, ME : Family Trip 
Kansas City, MO : A Girls' Weekend 



Trips Involving Races

Indianapolis, IN : Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathan Weekend
(May 2008) - Road trip with Mom, Jeanie, Stacie, Wendy, Sue, and Vicky
(May 2009) - Road trip with Mom, Jeanie, Brian, Mandie, Audrey, and Karen
(May 2010) - Road trip with Mom, Jeanie, Brian, Renee, and Jen
(May 2011) - Road trip with Jerry, Jeanie, Brian, Renee, Jessica, Jen, and Cathy
(May 2015) - Road trip with Jerry to meet my Sole Mates for the weekend!
(May 2017) - Road trip with Jerry to meet up with Runs for Cookies readers!


The Indy Mini (a half-marathon) is a fantastic race! The course is interesting, there are a lot of bands along the course for entertainment, it's very well supported, and the course is great for walkers or beginner runners. 

Joliet, IL : Warrior Dash
(June 2010) - Road trip with Jerry, Sarah, Renee, and Dave


I hated everything about the race! But with the exception of the race itself, the trip was a blast. And the area of Joliet was nice. 


Winona, MN : Ragnar Relay Great River
(August 2010) - Air trip with Stacie; race from Winona to St. Paul along the Mississippi River.


This course is my favorite of the Ragnar courses I've done. It was beautiful! Especially at sunset. I think Minnesota is one of the prettiest places I've visited. 


Cleveland, OH : Cleveland Marathon
(May 2012) - Road trip with Jerry and the kids; met Jessica, Renee, and Andrea there


My first full marathon! I wish I'd picked a different one for my first, for several reasons (weather, weather, and weather). Jessica and I trained hard for this race! I had been to Cleveland a couple of times before, and I enjoyed it then; but the marathon course was not a good representation of the city. 


St. Paul, MN : Women Rock Half
(September 2012) - Air trip with Renee to St. Paul


Again, Minnesota is beautiful! This was a point-to-point course, which was fun. I enjoyed the scenery, although the hills and heat made for a tough race! 


Miami, FL; Key West, FL : Ragnar Relay Florida Keys
(January 2013) - Air trip with Jerry; met my From Fat to Finish Line team--the start of it all!


I'd been to Florida several times before, but it was my first time in Miami. I was impressed! I always pictured it to be--well, not very nice--but I thought it was great. The Keys definitely stole the show, though! Duvall Street is a blast in the evenings. The odd part of the Keys is that there isn't a public beach. Our hotel had a very tiny beach, but that was it. I was really surprised by that! Oh, and did I mention less than 286 times that our Ragnar Relay is now a documentary? ;) You can find it on Amazon: From Fat to Finish Line documentary


Rockford, IL : Rockford Half-Marathon
(May 2013) - Solo air/train trip to surprise Jeanie by running with her for her first half!


Jeanie lives in Rockford, and I've always enjoyed going there to visit. My favorite thing to do there is go to Shogun, a Japanese Steak House. It's a chain restaurant, apparently, but the first time I went was when I was visiting Jeanie and Shawn. I feel nostalgic for it when I think of Rockford! On this trip, her husband, Shawn, and I planned the whole thing secretly. Jeanie was going to be running her first half-marathon and I certainly didn't want her to do it alone. So I surprised her by showing up the day before the race. 

Chicago, IL : Chicago Marathon
(October 2013) - Road trip with Noah and Eli to Jeanie's; Solo train into Chicago.


I drove with the kids to Jeanie's house, and they stayed with her while I took a train into Chicago. I was totally overwhelmed when I got there, and had a panic attack in the train station. If it weren't for Caitlin (who I hadn't even met until I was in Chicago), I would have turned around and left. But it ended up being a fantastic trip! And now Caitlin is one of my very best friends.


San Diego, CA : Ragnar Relay SoCal
(April 2014) - Solo air trip to meet my SoleMates team and run from Huntington Beach to San Diego.


While I absolutely loved the trip and spending time with my SoleMates, the SoCal course was definitely not my favorite. It was along the coast, but you didn't get to see any of that while running. Regardless, Caitlin, Colleen, Thomas, and I stayed at a nice hotel in San Diego--and for the life of me, I can't remember what it was called--but we had good times! The zoo, the beach, the sunshine--great trip. 


Lake Cadillac, MI : Lake Cadillac 10K
(June 2014) - Spur of the moment (manic?) road trip with Jerry


This was a last-minute road trip up north, and holy smokes--Lake Cadillac was gorgeous! Of all the places I've seen in my lifetime, Lake Cadillac makes the Top 5. It's a hidden gem in Michigan. 


Portland, OR : Shamrock 15K
(March 2015) - Solo air trip to meet up with Thomas for what was supposed to be a 15K race--but I ended up getting injured, and I wasn't able to race. So, it turned into a tour of Portland, which turned out to be much better than any race ;)


From the moment I could see the Portland area from the airplane, I was in love. I never expected Portland to be so pretty! The city and the surrounding areas are so green. I adore the trees--they are probably my favorite part of the beauty that is the Pacific Northwest! I knew that I was going to have to make Portland an annual trip, at the very least. 


Portland, OR : Blooms to Brews 10K
(April 2016) - Solo air trip for Thomas to pace me to a PR of 49:22 or better.


Another trip that did not disappoint! Portland has become my home away from home. And best of all, I actually hit my 10K goal on this trip! I was aiming for sub-49:23, and I finished in 49:03. I worked my ASS off to run that race. I'm super proud of myself for accomplishing a goal that seemed impossible when I made it. 



Trips Involving Work (Blogging)

When I first started blogging, I had no idea that people actually made a career out of it. People were paid to write blogs? I never expected to make money from blogging, but when my blog started getting a lot of traffic, a prominent blogger (who I looked up to, and had no idea she was even reading my blog!) said that I must put some ads on my blog. She said I would be crazy not to monetize my blog with the traffic I was getting. She led me in the right direction, and sure enough, I started earning money for writing. I couldn't believe it.

I felt so blessed by that; so imagine my surprise when I was offered a trip to St. Louis (expenses paid) to attend a day-long seminar about cats. Yes, cats. I really though it was too good to be true! Free travel? Cats? Sold.

Ever since then, I have made sure that I never take these blessings for granted. I am so grateful to all of you that read my ramblings. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a writer. Blogging isn't exactly what I had in mind, considering the internet didn't even exist then, but because of all of you, I am able to do what I love. I just wanted to express my gratitude before this post. It's because of you that I was offered these opportunities! xo


New York, NY : The Dr. Oz Show at Rockefeller Center


(November 2011)
During this trip, I felt a bit like Cinderella. The whole thing was a whirlwind of activity. I didn't get to see the city at all, because I was picked up from the airport (I had my own driver, holding a sign with my name and everything!) taken a studio to record my voiceovers, taken to try on dresses (which resulted in my crying later), taken to the hotel. The following morning, I was picked up to go to the studio very early, and right after the filming, I was driven to the airport. Like I said, it was a whirlwind! My thoughts about the experience have changed a bit since the filming, but here are the links to The Dr. Oz Show filming Part 1, and The Dr. Oz Show filming Part 2. For more posts surrounding the experience, you can check out this page about my being a guest on The Dr. Oz Show 400th Episode.


Dayton, OH : RRCA Certification Course


(March 2013)
This was a solo road trip to Dayton to take an RRCA certification course, which would make me a certified running coach. (This trip and certification was self-funded, but blog-related). My friend, Carly, who was in the From Fat to Finish Line documentary with me, lives in Dayton. I asked her if I could crash at her place for the night and finish my course the next day. It was fun getting to see her again!


St. Louis, MO : The True Nature of Cats at Purina Headquarters


(March 2013)
This trip was the first blogger trip I made, and probably my favorite overall. As a cat-person, I was totally in my element during an entire weekend all about cats! I learned so much about cats and their "true nature"--what their instincts are and how to replicate their ideal situations at home. I wrote a four part series about this event. Here are links to The True Nature of Cats Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4. I was so impressed with the Purina employees, as well; and because of that, I started a working-relationship with them, occasionally writing posts and attending summits.


Boston, MA : Runner's World Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival at Boston College


(June 2014)
This trip can also be filed under "pleasure", because I was able to visit my friend Caitlin in Boston! I arrived much earlier in the day than I needed to for the Runner's World trip in order to meet up with Caitlin and see some of Boston. That evening, I met up with the other bloggers and Runner's World staff for an amazing running-filled weekend. Here are links to Day 1Day 2, and Day 3; and Race Reports from the Heartbreak Hill 5K and 10K as well as the Half-Marathon.


New York, NY : Purina's 2014 Better With Pets Summit at the Skylight Modern


(October 2014)
I absolutely love working as a Purina Partner. The employees are very generous and kind, and extremely genuine in their love of pets (or animals in general). I have also met some fantastic bloggers/vloggers/Instagramers through Purina events. I was excited to go to this summit after having such a great time at the True Nature of Cats event. And it didn't disappoint! Here is the link to my post about Purina's 2014 Better With Pets Summit.


Bethlehem, PA : Runner's World Half & Festival at the Runner's World Headquarters


(October 2014)
After seeing this event from previous years on other blogs, I was thrilled when I got the invitation to attend myself in 2014. The whole weekend was filled with running-related activities. My favorite part was getting to tour the Runner's World Headquarters! And I even made s'mores over a campfire with Bart Yasso--yes, THE Bart Yasso, well-known in the running world. I ran the Hat Trick, which was a 5K, 10K, and Half-Marathon in two days. Exhausting, but fun! Here are the links to the Runner's World Half & Festival Days 1-2 and Day 3 (the race report).


St. Louis, MO : "Meet Purina" Event at Purina Headquarters


(June 2015)
Yet another amazing Purina event! I absolutely love the Purina Headquarters. The campus is beautiful, and I'm jealous of all the people that get to work there. They even get to bring their pets to work whenever they want! There is actually a dog park on campus, too. This event was to tour the headquarters building, the production plant, as well as Purina Farms (which is open to the public, should you get the opportunity to go there). Here is a link to Meet Purina Part 1, and Meet Purina Part 2.


New York, NY : BlogHer's Conferences at the Hilton Midtown

This was a weekend trip to NYC for the BlogHer conferences. BlogHer is the advertising network that I use for my blog (I know nothing about advertising, so it's nice to have someone else do all the work for me while I earn a passive income! On second thought, I shouldn't say "passive"--I actually do a LOT of work behind the scenes as a blogger). I was invited to speak on a panel for Prudential Financial about earning money while blogging (something I didn't even know was possible when I started blogging). Jerry came with me to NYC, and we met up with our friend Mike for some fun outside of the conference. (Unfortunately, it rained on the second day, hence the photo above). Here is the post about our weekend in NYC and about my speaking on a panel at the BlogHer conferences.


New York, NY : Purina's 2015 Better With Pets Summit at the Brooklyn Expo Center

My second Better With Pets Summit with Purina. I arrived in NYC early, and spent the day with my friend Mike. I shadowed how he spends a typical day, and it was so fun! The theme for Better with Pets was about how pets can improve our mental health, which was something I was very interested in (for obvious reasons). I enjoyed it very much, and the venue (the Brooklyn Expo Center) was fantastic. My favorite part of the summit was the "cat room"--literally a room with several kittens and cats to play with! I could have spent the entire weekend in there ;)  Here is a link to the post about my time in NYC and the Purina Summit.


New York, NY : Purina's 2016 Better With Pets Summit at the Brooklyn Expo Center


(October 2016)
I was so happy to be invited to another Better With Pets Summit! I have started looking forward to these every year (although I was told the next one won't be until 2018). Jerry came to NYC with me, planning to spend his time with Mike while I was at the summit. Purina chose a gorgeous hotel called The William Vale, and I couldn't stop exclaiming about how nice it was. I have to admit, I always get a little "star struck" at these events--I get to see the people behind "Cats of Instagram" and "Dogs of Instagram"; some famous YouTubers like Melissa Trippy, or "Mel" on YouTube (she is SO so nice); and some Instafamous dogs like Tuna the Chiweenie; and Marnie the Shih Tzu. Those dogs have more followers than most Instafamous people I follow!



Trips for Pleasure/Family Vacations

Pigeon Forge, TN : Cabin Rental
(April 2011) - Road trip with Jerry and the kids. Vacation in the mountains with Mom, Dad, Jeanie and Shawn, Brian, and Nathan. Tennessee Part 1Tennessee Part 2Tennessee Part 3.



Harrisville, MI : Renee's in-laws' house on the lake
(July 2011) - Girls road trip with Renee, Jessica, and Rachael for a wine festival. We took so many goofy pictures using the camera's timer!



Rockford, IL : Jeanie's House
(July 2011) - Road trip with Jerry and the boys to visit Jeanie and Shawn. The drive was terrible, but the rest of the trip was a nice little getaway.



Madison, WI : Downtown
(July 2011) - Road trip with Jerry from Jeanie's for an overnight in Madison. Part two is here.



Phoenix, AZ : Sarah's Wedding
(October 2011) - Air trip with Jerry to Sarah and Ne's wedding. Here are links to Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.



Indiana : House Rental for Family Vacation
(December 2012) - Road trip with Jerry and the kids. Family vacation with Jeanie and Shawn, Brian and Becky, Nathan, Mom, and Dad. Here is Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.



Sandusky, OH : Cedar Point
(August 2013) - Road trip with Jerry and the kids. The kids' first Cedar Point trip.



Punta Cana, Dominican Republic : Dreams Palm Beach
(August 2014) - Air trip with Jerry and the boys for a seven night vacation at a resort! Jeanie met us there for five nights. I stepped entirely out of my comfort zone and wore a bikini for the first time in my life. Here is Part 1 and Part 2 of the trip.



St. Paul, MN : Brian and Becky's Wedding
(September 2014) - Air trip with Jerry and the boys for Brian and Becky's wedding



Grand Rapids, MI : Overnight Trip for Fun
(January 2015) - Road trip with Jerry to Grand Rapids (I was supposed to go to Phoenix, but was flying stand-by, and didn't get on. So we went to Grand Rapids for a consolation trip.



Grand Rapids, MI : Overnight Trip for Fun
(April 2015) - Road trip with Jerry, Nathan, and Kendall. Just a fun time at the B.O.B.!



Portland, OR : Last-Minute Weekend Fun
(August 2015) - Air trip with Becky; met Brian and Nathan in Portland for the weekend.



Rockford, IL : A Visit with My Sister
(October 2015) - A road trip with the kids to see my sister for the weekend.



Seattle, WA : Visit with Laurel and see Seattle
(April 2016) - Train trip from Portland to visit Laurel after the Blooms to Brews 10K.



Virginia Beach, VA : Family Vacation
(September 2016) - Road trip family beach vacation... during a tropical storm.



Lake Cadillac, MI : A "Just Because" Getaway
(June 2016) - Road trip; Jerry and I loved Lake Cadillac so much we wanted to go back.




San Diego, CA : Winter "Sunshine Therapy"
(February 2017) - A very spontaneous air trip to John's; a desperate attempt to help pull me out of depression.



Boston, MA : A Weekend Seeing Boston Sights
(April 2017) - Air trip to visit Caitlin, and a mission to get a piece of Mike's carrot cake.



Portland, OR : Hiking in Central Oregon
(May 2017) - Air trip to Portland, then hiking all over central Oregon--much different than the greenness of the western area!



Ewen, MI : Camp Fireside (Jeanie and Shawn's)
(July 2017) - Road trip with Jerry and the boys to the upper peninsula. The rest of my family met us there and we had a great fourth of July!



Seattle, WA : Showing Jerry the Pacific Northwest
(October 2017) - Jerry and I took a trip to the Pacific Northwest so I could show him all the things I love about that part of the country.

Seattle Space Needle


Portland, OR : Showing Jerry My Home Away From Home
(October 2017) - In the same trip, I showed Jerry my favorite place I've ever visited!

PDX carpet


Boston, MA; Salem, MA; Waterbury, VT; Portland, ME : Family Trip
(March 2018) - Family trip to Boston, with road trips to Salem, the Ben & Jerry's Factory in Vermont, and a couple of nights in Portland, Maine.



Kansas City, MO : A Girls' Weekend
(May 2018) - Meeting up with Bonnie and Caitlin in Kansas City, where we stayed with Andrea.






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