My Big Fat Solo-Cation in Ireland

As a housekeeping note, I’ve extended the giveaway on my last post until 9PM 11/17.

O'Brien's Tower Cliffs of Moher

I survived my first solo vacation.

It was everything I expected.

It was nothing I expected.

I found power not in getting on a plane alone to fly 3000 miles away to a country where I knew nobody; I found that strength in driving on the other side of the road. Alone. At night.

I found power switching hotels when the AirBnB I’d booked sort of on a whim didn’t work out for my goals (…of being able to walk to a pub.)

I found power not having a plan and allowing the days to take me where they may (no easy feat for a crazy New Yorker.)

When that meant returning to the Cliffs of Moher on a sunny day (even though I’d already been there two days earlier), I honored that.

When that same visit brought me to my knees in tears from beauty and grief, I honored that.

I spent a good amount of time enjoying my own company and curiosity, and I spent time frustrated with my own company, spiraling and reflecting on what I didn’t have in my life.

But I let that spiral pass, as they may. And it did.

Doolin Cave Preppy Runner

(Also, in a totally last minute decision, I realized I should probably bring some sort of raincoat with me…and, like, probably not a Burberry trench kinda raincoat, so I grabbed my 15-year-old ski jacket and took out the liner. Smartest thing I did all trip.)

The keys, I found, to a successful solo trip:

  • a journal. I’m a pretty introspective person to begin with, but good lord, a lot of feelings come up on a solo trip, and it’s nice to be able to get them down on paper and out of your head sometimes. I was hoping to reach some level of clarity on professional goals while I was there…but I actually found it on the 7-hour-flight home. WHY are flights so good for getting stuff done?! BRB looking for next flight.
  • a good book. Sometimes I talked to other people when I was eating, but when I didn’t, it was nice to have a book to keep me company. There’s only so much time you can spend attempting to memorize the labels on bottles in the bar…
  • sitting at the bar, rather than a table — that way I could talk to others at the bar, the bartender, etc
  • having someone at home to check in with when I was feeling lonely. Because, yeah. I was alone, so I did feel lonely sometimes. My dad called a few times, because I think he was pretty worried about me traveling alone after so much had happened this year, and I think he’s developing that same sixth sense my mom had — he called to check in just as I was starting to feel really sad and lonely walking down from the Cliffs of Moher, and I had a few friends who I think were equally concerned, and I checked in with them a few times, too.

But I’m proud of myself for doing this first solo trip, and I know I might not have had the guts to do this a year ago. This year has sucked, but it’s given me so much strength — and perspective. Traveling alone to another country (with no language barrier) is hard? Nope. Watching your mom die is hard.

Have you ever taken a totally solo trip like this? I’ve traveled alone on business or to a wedding or something, but that’s not the same.

I can’t remember if I’ve linked the piece I wrote on grief travel, but here it is if not. One of my favorite things Claire Bidwell Smith, my expert for the piece, told me in our interview: travel feels good during grief because everything in your life feels new anyway, so it can be comforting to experience those feelings in a place that’s new too, rather than a new reality in your same surroundings.

4 Hurt-So-Good Running Recovery Methods ( + Giveaway!)

Still, every single time I run a marathon, I can’t believe that I actually did it. 

HOW did I cross the finish line of my seventh last weekend?

The older I’ve gotten, the more value I’ve put on recovery — because I love running and the joy it’s added to my life, so I want to be able to do it as long as possible.

Over the past few years after doing things like relaysrunning festivals and two marathons in one month…I’ve needed to learn how to recover for real.

4 Running Recovery Methods That Really Work

Marathon Celebration

1. Celebrate.

Duh. Even/especially the pros do it.

2. Epsom Salt Bath.

 When I was younger, I used to be more hardcore and take ice baths…but I just can’t hang like that any more and prefer the coziness of a warm/hot bath. (Apparently I’m right on trend; a recent study found that heat is more helpful than ice on muscles. SWEET.)

The Stick Recovery


I know, this thing looks like a torture device…and it sort of is. But man, does it help get into muscles to relieve restricted blood flow so that your muscles can grow and repair. And it feels a little easier to roll this over my muscles rather than putting all of my weight on top of a foam roller. It’s also awesome for traveling.

AND! You can win one by commenting below with your favorite recovery techniques.

4. Compression Boots

I meannnnn, Ryan Hall did it, and he has the fastest U.S. half marathon record, so…

But I first tried these babies after Chicago a few years ago, and I really think they’re why I was able to go on and do a long run that weekend and then run NYCM two weeks after that.

Compression Sleeves Custom PT NYC

My friends at Custom PT are offering a Fresh Legs special from now until December 31 — buy one, get one 50% off. Their Fresh Legs includes 15 minutes in these babies and 30 minutes of hell soft tissue work. 

IMG 6379


But…10/10, would Fresh Leg again. (Though, full disclosure, I got a free service to tell you about it, but I probably would have done it anyway.)

Tell me for a chance to win a Stick — what’s your fave running recovery method? [This will stay open until 9PM EST on 11/15)