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Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. No one even knows I am writing it. I didn’t get any bonus, incentive, or anything else to write this post, and every single word is mine. I’m a proud “Brew Crew” member, and since the March and April events are rescheduled and it’s for a good cause, I signed up for the qua-RUN-tine too.

It’s a qua-RUN-tine!

Logo for the Oregon Virtual Distance Challenge

Yeah, so this just started today, and I’m still figuring out how it works, so if this part is wrong, oops. Since we can’t have our usual Oregon Brewery Running Series runs right now, this is what we’re doing. It’s $45 to enter, and the charity partner is Oregon Community Foundations’ COVID-19 Relief Fund. After you sign up–do that here–you join the group on Strava (which is how they track your miles). Strava is free, and you can connect it to your running watch or other gadget as well as a bunch of other apps.

There are prizes at 10, 25, 50, and 100+ miles, plus weekly giveaways. Even if you don’t join the qua-RUN-tine, the Oregon Brewery Running Series is having virtual Happy Hour (or should that be hoppy hour?) on Saturdays in April. Basically you go for a run, and then have your cool down (and a beer?) using videochat. Get on the mailing list, so you can join in via Zoom.

The 2020 Brew Crew Season

Last year I bought a ticket to the season opener, a party at the Oregon Historical Society (or was it the museum of Oregon history? something like that) and an exhibit on the history of brewing in Oregon. I didn’t go because I didn’t know anyone else who was going, and I wasn’t feeling up to a big party solo. This year the running season kicked off with a Brewfest at the Run Pub. Yup, you read that right–Portland Running Company has a Run Pub. During the kickoff everyone could sample a variety of beverages from the hosts of this season’s events. There were a variety of local eats and a food truck too. Now I know a lot of runners balk at paying to run an untimed event, especially if it’s a 5k-ish, and extra-super-especially if there’s no medal. But trust me this is $30 well spent. (If you were smart and bought a multi-pack, you paid way less than that.)

Bib decorating at LEVEL

The Venues. Each event starts and ends at a different Oregon brewery. The course is a loop through whatever is nearby, so you might be running a neighborhood, or you might be running around industrial parks. So far in 2020 we’ve run four places (though I’ve only made three). LEVEL beer is an old-school arcade game themed tasting room in NE Portland with a gigantic outdoor space (currently a heated tent); it hosts food trucks in the parking lot and has super cute merch. HUB–the Hopworks Urban Brewery–in Vancouver has a full service restaurant with a variety of food (though if you don’t get the pretzel sticks appetizer, you’re nuts). Baerlic has a small tasting room in NE Portland with an outdoor event space (heated tent–which I loved since it rained and was chilly!) and a pod of food carts.

Pre-Race “Registration.” This is the antidote to “packet pickup.” Ticket sales are through Eventbrite (which conveniently sends you reminders in case you’re like me and forget what you signed up to run and when and where.) Show up as early to get your ticket scanned and decorate your bib. The event bibs look the same for each event, and you can personalize them with a variety of sharpies (or even bring your own decorations). There’s usually coffee, and sometimes there are pre-race snacks (I hoovered a donut at Baerlic). If you’re really worried you’ll get lost (you won’t) there’s a map you can study (or snap a pic).

The Starting Line. All the people, and dogs, and strollers head out to the big inflatable start/finish line for a quick but energetic warm-up–think squats and range of motion type of movements–and an explanation of the course. After a few group photos everyone takes off running.

The Course. Each course is a loop, making logistics easy. It’s not a closed course and you’re supposed to obey all of the traffic laws. This means you’ll spend most of the time running on sidewalks or paved park trails, though in some areas there’s basically no traffic and it’s safe to run in the street. Every single corner or turn has a cheering volunteer holding a big arrow sign and giving directions. No course-markings to worry about–there’s always a real person to show you the way!

After party at Baerlic

The Finish Line. The official photographers will snap more pictures as you cross the finish line. Then it’s time to get your wooden nickel–redeemable for the pint of your choice–and turn in your raffle ticket. (If you want more raffle tickets, you can visit with the sponsors and vendors.) Don’t forget to grab your swag –your choice of what’s available that day, usually pint glasses, coffee mugs, and more–and some snacks. The Franz bakery is one of the series partners, so there’s often bread or bagels to take home with you too.

The After Party. I only know one reason people run: they like to eat! Some of the breweries are brew pubs that have their own kitchen. Others host food trucks. Either way, I’ve never gone hungry. Some people bring their own food in–once a family did a whole birthday party! Of course there is beer for sale, too. The fastest man and women are recognized with “The Golden Growler” award, which they sign and redeem for their very own growler (contents included!). There are a few announcements, and an introduction to the charity partners for that season, then there’s the raffle. There’s live music too! Of course my favorite after party entertainment is petting all of the dogs, but you probably already guessed that.

Honestly, it’s pretty good value for $30….but if you’re smart, you bought one of the Oregon Brewery Running Series Passes. Unlike other race series, this one lets you share the races in a multi-pack. The Pint is six races ($139), The Growler is twelve ($249), and The Keg is a twenty-pack ($359). So if you got The Growler, you could run twelve races, or run six with a friend, or run one with an entourage. But really, the best way to do it is to join The Brew Crew at the beginning of the season ($279). Brew Crew members get an entry to every event, but you can’t share. That shouldn’t matter, as who can run all 26 events? Even if you can’t (and I can’t) there are other perks: a special series shirt, a second pint at every race, and four entries you can share with your friends. (So it’s really $279 for 30 races–26 for you and 4 for friends!) But really, that’s $10.73 per race, so even if you only run half of them, you still end up way ahead!

Not in Oregon? The Brewery Running Series exists in OTHER states too! No matter where you run, the series motto is the same: Be Active, Have Fun, Give Back.

Top Reasons to Run the Oregon Brewery Running Series

Excellent Value. Did I mention there are also free race photos? If you want to mug for the photographers they’ll snap as many groupies as you like.

Everyone-Friendly Events. Speedy runner? Slow-poke walker? Stroller-pusher? Couple? Singlet? Entourage? Doggo? This is something you can do. The volunteers are out there until everyone is done.

The Beer is Optional. Yeah, I know, I’m the weirdo running the BREWERY running series who doesn’t like beer, and I get two pints per run (one for the event, and a bonus for Brew Crew). So far, the venues all have tasty local cider as well. HUB usually has cider (I had one last year) but they were out this year; fortunately they also have wine on tap!

Happy running doggo!
My favorite reason to run: the doggos. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Brewery Running Series

Have you attended any of the Brewery Series Runs in Oregon, or another state? Or been to a brewery run? Tell me about it!

VERSION INFORMATION

All, there are now several groups in a much better position to do this work than I am. Because of this, I am now promoting their listings instead of mine. (I don’t have help updating this. Both of these organizations do. Plus if I dedicate my time to helping #2, we get more done. #WeBeforeMe) Both are searchable, and both have a way to enter in the specific need/ask for each organization. I strongly suggest you use these resources:

  1. Deaconess, after being inundated with masks following their call for help, has a searchable database. It covers more than the United States.
  2. COVID Mask Crafters is a facebook group where I stumbled into being an admin. It’s now a website: https://covidmaskcrafters.org/ We are US-based and focused.
  3. Healthcare workers and allies created this site to crowdsource both traditional, full-on PPE and homemade masks: https://getusppe.org/

FINAL UPDATE for location-specific info below: 3/23/2020 10:40 am PDT

INTRODUCTIONS

WARNING! Please DO NOT go sewing a bunch of masks and randomly taking them to a hospital!! No matter how good your intentions are, it is not helpful, and may be very unhelpful, to drop of supplies that are unacceptable or not needed. (Imagine if someone showed up on your door every day and gave you a bag of stale potato chips. They’re just trying to help. But now you have to deal with all the stale chips.) BEFORE you start making things, make sure they are (1) wanted, and (2) made to the requirements of the intended recipient.

WHERE TO DONATE MEDICAL-GRADE MATERIALS

Donate any N95 Masks You Have At Home. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that medical staff across the country are facing a shortage of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). This includes scrubs, goggles,, face shields, gloves, and face masks. You’ve probably read about N95 particle filtering masks. Hospitals are desperate for those. Medical staff are literally asking on NextDoor and Facebook. (If you have any, please call your nearest medical center to see if you can donate them, or check your local news coverage.) Why are N95 masks hard to get? NPR explains. NEW!! Link to spreadsheet of hospitals seeking medical supplies–not homemade masks, but professional PPE and supplies–and how/where to donate them!

ONLY DONATE HOMEMADE MASKS WHERE THEY ARE WANTED!!

I am only listing the facilities that have confirmed they actually WANT masks. PLEASE read carefully, as each has a different need. If there isn’t one near you, try calling a local nursing home, as many nursing homes will want masks for their residents (and a colorful cheery one might be nice).

decorative image of thread
Mask-making can be a way to use up leftover materials in your stash.

WASH YOUR PERSONAL MASK DAILY IN HOT WATER

If you’re only looking to make a mask for yourself/family. There are some lovely tutorials on this page: https://www.sewcanshe.com/blog/5-free-diy-face-mask-tutorials-using-fabric If those are too fancy/advanced, scroll down to the Deaconess (Indiana) link and watch the video–the Turban Project mask is easy to sew. Please be sure to wash your own fabric masks in HOT water and dry thoroughly in the dryer. Otherwise, they might harbor bacteria. Ew.

Details Listed By State

Universal Suggestions: Pre-wash your fabric in HOT water. This is to ensure against future shrinkage. READ CAREFULLY. Every facility has different rules.

For facilities that do not have any specifics listed, my suggestion–based on the ones that do want something specific–is to use the Turban Project pattern (video on the Deaconess page, under Indiana). Use 100% cotton fabric, pre-washed in hot water (to prevent future shrinkage). Make the inside and outside different colors/patterns (so the user can easily distinguish one side from the other). Package in plastic bags or boxes, clearly labeled with the delivery information.

Got Masks To Send Now?

If they don’t match a specific ask below, please email Janie. She is generously distributing among her personal network (because even when a facility doesn’t solicit them, they may allow their employees to use them). janiehamilton86 at gmail dot com

Connecticut

Sharon Hospital (Sharon). The only details I have right now are that the drop-off point for sewn masks is Cotton Candy Fabrics, 457 Federal Road, Brookfield, CT 06804 https://www.cottoncandyfabrics.com/ I have been told they would like The Turban Project pattern (see Indiana, video on the Deaconess page).

Florida

Longwood Health & Rehabilitation Center. They are looking for 500 masks. No specific ask at this time, so please see my suggestions above. Send to: Longwood Health & Rehabilitation Center, 1520 S. Grant Street, Longwood, FL 32750 Attn: Randy Few

Georgia

Phoebe Putney hospital in Albany, GA. If you want to help, they need volunteers to sew covers for N95 masks, (These are worn over the N95 masks, so that each person can reuse the same mask for aweek.) To participate, call volunteer services  229-312-4336. To give you an example of what’s going on, they burned through a 6-month supply in a record time of like 5 days, and only have a couple days worth left. https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/News/video/volunteers-stitch-masks-health-care-workers-69681106 for a video on their efforts

Tanner Health System. This project is being coordinated by the Southeastern Textile and Quilt Museum. Full details are available on their Facebook page, including the TWO acceptable patterns (USE ONLY THOSE), drop-off location, video how-to and more. Must be 100% cotton fabric..

Illinois

Illinois Cancer Care. They are asking for the Turban Project pattern (see listing in Indiana for Deaconess there’s a video tutorial too). Full details here. Deliver to the Peoria location 8940 N. Wood Sage Rd, and pre-arrange pickup via email to [email protected]

Indiana

Deaconess Hospital (Evantston, IN which is nowhere near Chicago, sorry!!). Deaconess is welcoming home-sewn masks. They put together a resource page on how to make and donate masks. This one has an easy-to-follow video using a pattern from The Turban Project. They want 100% cotton masks–this has to do with sterilzation. Please note that this mask is not universally acceptable—you must find out what your facility wants–so call if you are going to make this one for your local facility. https://www.deaconess.com/masks A volunteer coordinator from Deaconess suggested these types of masks are always in demand for other uses too, such as for chemo patients receiving infusions. UPDATE FROM DEACONESS: Update: We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and kindness from our community, the country and the world. We now have plenty of masks coming our way. If you are from outside the Evansville, Indiana area, consider reaching out to a hospital, nursing home, cancer-related organization, etc. near you, as many other health care facilities are also experiencing shortages in masks.

Owensboro Health. See below under Kentucky.

Iowa

Unity Point Health (Cedar Rapids). The request is for a very specific pattern; the full masks (which will include a filter) get assembled at the hospital. For more details, go here: https://www.unitypoint.org/cedarrapids/sewing-surgical-masks.aspx The specific pattern and instructions on where to deliver masks is on that page.

Kentucky

Owensboro Health (serves Kentucky and Indiana). This facility has a page with spedific guidelines, including the two specific patterns they want, and the exact fabrics, etc. to use. It will be updated with drop-off information early next week. https://www.owensborohealth.org/news-events/news-media/2020/fabric-surgical-masks-information/

Maine

Statewide. Collecting masks for distribution to hospice patients, families, workers. Accepting both The Turban Project (see Indiana listing for Deaconness) and N-95 covers (see Washington listing for Northwest Kidney Centers). Requestor emphasized these will not be used in place of Proper PPE for healthare providers, or for COVID-19 positive. (These will free up the precious PPE for those who really need it!) Please send to Christii Maquillan, 42 Cedar St., Bangor, ME 04401

Massachusetts

Burlington, MA (Boston area). The only information I have right now is this post: https://patch.com/massachusetts/burlington/coronavirus-lahey-hospital-seeks-volunteers-sew-masks

Michigan

Henry Ford/Alliance. They have just made their own prototype, and will be looking for volunteers to make masks and face shields. Their model is quite different from the home-sewn ones. Here’s the video of their prototype: https://www.michiganradio.org/post/its-controlled-chaos-healthcare-workers-mask-supplies-dwindle-0 As of March 20 they had distributed a somewhat complex pattern to use (which I have). This morning I was notified the project is ON HOLD. Henry Ford is NOT accepting ANY masks at this time. I will update as I learn more.

McLaren (Bay City and Macomb). BAY CITY location is currently accepting masks, according to coverage by WNEM. I do not have any further specific information. Drop off at the McLaren marketing building, 503 Mulholland Ave, Bay City, MI. Drop off from 8am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. MACOMB location is accepting masks, 1000 Harrington Street, Mt. Clemens, MI 48043. Please deliver masks to the ER entrance. FLINT location is collecting volunteer contact information, which they will use if they need to ask for masks later. To sign up, call 810-342-3895.

St. Joseph Mercy (Ann Arbor). Accepting 100% cotton masks made using the Turban Project pattern (see Deaconess listing under Indiana). Deliver to the hospital screening staffat St. Joseph Mercy, 5301 McAuley Drive, Ypsilanti, MI 48197 Attn: Lisa Friedman, Please DO NOT call Lisa—she’s slammed with work right now.

St. Joseph Mercy (Oakland). They are accepting masks with pockets for filters (see listing under Washington for Northwest Kidney Center for pattern) or those made with fusible interfacing. Elastic or ties are good. Rectangle style is fine. Take masks to ER entrance 4405 Woodward Avenue, Pontiac, MI 48341 Attn Dana.

Kalamazoo County Government. This is an ask for masks for first responders and community. They are requesting N-95 covers, which are the same pattern used by Phoebe Putnam (see listing for Georgia). The mask pattern is sometimes called “The Phoebe.” For a .pdf with complete details including how to drop off, CLICK HERE.

Bronson Methodist Hospital (Kalamazoo). Bronson is accepting donations of the Phoebe Putnam pattern N95 covers. Please see listing for Kalamazoo County Government for a link to the pattern. Drop off is Monday through Friday from 9 to 4 at the Health and Community Services Department, at 311 East Alcott Street.

Northville. The principals of Northville Public Schools are supporting a mask drive. They want the Phoebe Putney mask design, or the Turban Project mask. You can also make face shields. Drop off at any of the NPS elementary schools (there is a box outside the main entrance at Winchester) and the Old Village School, north entrance where they will be collected and distributed as needed.

New Hampshire

Dartmouth-Hitchcock. This medical group sent out a call for N95 masks and gloves. They are now asking for the Turban Project style masks. Full details on their website.

North Carolina

UNC Health. No specifications as to which masks they want are available at this time. I suggest the Turban Project (Deaconess) or The Phoebe (Phoebe Putney) models. They are accepting homemade masks at four locations:

  1. UNC Health Learning Street, 2001 Carrington Mill Blvd., Morrisville, NC 27560. Drop-off times: March 23; Noon – 4 p.m., March 24-27; 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  2. UNC Wellness Center at Meadowmont, 100 Sprunt Street Chapel Hill, N.C. 27517. Drop-off times: March 23 – March 28, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  3. UNC Wellness Center at Northwest Cary, 350 Stonecroft Lane Cary, North Carolina 27519. Drop-off times: March 23 – March 28, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  4. Rex Wellness Center of Raleigh, 4200 Lake Boone Trail Raleigh, NC 27607. Drop-off times:March 23 – Friday, March 27, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

WakeMed. They are NOT accepting homemade masks. Please DO NOT give them any!

Oklahoma

Stillwater Medical Center. This is the message on their Facdebook page: “THESE MASKS WILL NOT BE USED FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS OR ANYONE DEALING WITH COVID-19 SITUATIONS. We are looking for seamstresses who can sew cloth masks to help with the nationwide shortage. They must be 4 layers of fabric for filtering. (Edited to add emphasis!) Here are some pictures of ones that have been made. They need to be adjustable. Our preferred pattern is from [link below] Spread the word to all seamstresses. Thanks so much. This is a perfect time to use up your fabric stash.  The donated masks will be used in other NON CLINICAL OR WORRIED WELL PATIENTS NOT REALATED TO COVID-19. This will allow us to save our N95 masks & other PPE for Healthcare Workers. Donated masks can be dropped off at our Stillwater Medical Plaza building, located at 1201 S. Adams from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. All donations will be laundered before dispersing to our various areas where they are needed. “The pattern they want: https://buttoncounter.com/2018/01/14/facemask-a-picture-tutorial/

Oregon/Washington

Providence Medical Group. There is currently no information on the Providence page about the 100 Million Mask Challenge. I requested information to publish here and will update as I am able. As of 3/20/20 9:30 am Providence has not released the details regarding what they want or where to send it. Stay tuned! https://blog.providence.org/blog-2/volunteers-making-homemade-masks-to-combat-shortages-caused-by-covid-19

Providence in RENTON, WA. Kits with enough materials to make 100 medical masks will be offered March 26 from 12-4 p.m. at Providence St. Joseph Health, located at 1801 Lind Ave. S.W. in Renton. BUT ACCORDING TO THE PROVIDENCE SITE THE KITS ARE ALL CLAIMED: https://www.providence.org/lp/100m-masks GREAT NEWS!! They got so much media coverage that local businesses stepped up to make ALL the masks! Kit distribution is canceled! I’m on the people-who-sew-and-can-help list and will update when I get more information.

Maryville Nursing Home. Their ask was for people to sew scrubs and masks. There are several ways to help. If you are NOT local, you can make the Deaconess pattern masks and mail them to: Maryville, 14645 SW Farmington Rd,, Beaverton, OR 97007. If you ARE local, they need help with the following projects: (1) people to cut fabric and N95 material to make mask kits for the seamstresses (this can be done at home–you pick up fabric and the patterns there, but work at home); (2) seamstresses to make the masks from the kits; (3) they are about to receive the polyester fabric they need to make their washable gowns and will soon need help assembling those kits and sewing the robes. Please contact mgarcia at maryville dot care if you are local and can help.

Tennessee

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (Memphis). They need mask STRAPS for the kiddos. This is an entirely different project: https://www.stjude.org/get-involved/other-ways/volunteer-at-the-hospital/how-to-become-a-volunteer/at-home-projects/mask-straps.html Please use soft flannel.

Texas

Wise Health System (Decatur). The Auxiliary is sewing masks, and they would LOVE for you to help. They require 100% cotton fabric, 2-ply masks with ROUND elastic (not flat). You can use the Turban Project pattern (above, see Indiana, Deaconess for a video) but use ROUND elastic. Once completed, please mail to:

Wise Health System
Attn: Customer and Patient Relations
609 Medical Center
Decatur, TX 76234

Parkland Memorial Hospital (Dallas). Currently accepting homemade masks. Please direct your masks and your questions to: Parkland Memorial Hospital, 5200 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, TX 75235 Attn: Karen Watts

Washington

Northwest Kidney Centers (Renton). Information obtained from this press piece. They are asking for 100% cotton fabric, pre-washed, and ROUND elastic. They prefer this pattern–scroll down to the section that says “Face Mask With a Pocket for Filter Insert.” The main fabric must be cotton, but the lining can be cotton or flannel. There are two ways to donate. One, via front door drop-off to Renton Kidney Center, 603 Oakesdale Ave SW, Renton, WA 98056 (call 425-251-0647. You can also call for a porch pick-up: Deanne Young, RN 425-203-5208

Wisconsin

The Electric Needle. This shop in Madison is a drop-off point for a specific pattern, which can be used over an N95 mask (to prolong the life) or worn alone. For more information and a link to the specific pattern they want: https://www.electric-needle.com/sew-for-a-cause.htm They are located at 4281 West Beltline Hwy, Madison, WI 53711

UW Madison Hospitals. They are currently working on a pattern. You can add yourself to the volunteer list by sending an email to [email protected] I will update as more information become available.

Nationwide/Other Resources

Operation We Can Sew It. Distributes updated information by email. You can sign up at their website https://operationwecansewit.com/

photo of sewing machine
My rig is a classic

Which other facilities are asking for masks?

What is their specific ask?

Here’s looking at COVID-19

New resource: https://www.howardluksmd.com/sports-medicine/covid-19-update-3-14-2020-concerned-physicians-unite/ This one has pretty good explanations of how the virus spreads, and why as a country we need to act now. #CancelEverything #SocialDistancingWorks

If you missed yesterday’s post, it’s here: Don’t Panic, Do Act Responsibly.

How About That Last Week??

Greetings from not-quite Ground Zero, West Coast. When I first started this post (which is now a series of posts) I had no idea how annoying I would find this new block-based WordPress editor. (We hates it.) At that time, OHSU had just announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 (short for “COronaVIrus Disease 2019,” also known as the novel coronavirus) in Multnomah County, and Oregon had 14 confirmed cases. Oregonians who had a legitimate reason to believe they had been exposed to COVID-19 were just starting to learn about the frustrating inability to get tested–our whole state can currently process 80 tests per day–and reading stories like this one.

Testing capacity is still pretty limited, by the way. This means there are not enough test kits to go around, and not enough lab facilities to process them. Do not expect test-on-demand any time soon. These facts mean we also do not have an accurate count of actual infections. First, people who die who may have had COVID-19 but are unlikely to be tested. Second, people with “milder” cases (those who are not sick enough to need hospitalization) are unlikely to be tested, at least for now. Numbers from Italy and other western European countries indicate we should expect to see exponential spread unless we practice social distancing PRONTO. Please read this article in The Atlantic, and start to be St. Louis.

Law firms and courts started getting nervous last week. Well, more nervous–my firm’s Seattle office is closed. Early in the week, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington effectively shut down the Seattle and Tacoma courthouses. (Logic: these are relatively high-traffic spaces, people travel to them from all over the place, with many high-touch surfaces, where people are in close-proximity to each other.) Email from the Washington Supreme Court (deferring to the counties) soon followed. As you likely know Seattle’s King County has the largest number of COVID-19 cases. Monday they had a 50% no-show rate for summoned jurors. That means the there were not enough jurors to cover the criminal trials (which have priority due to the Constitutional right to a speedy trial), and the court warned us that no civil trials would go forward until further notice. I don’t blame the jurors, as the seating arrangements don’t allow for even 3′ in between seats. In the Pierce County Superior Court last Friday, I noticed an abundance of boxes of tissues and hand sanitizer everywhere, plus a giant bottle of Clorox wipes on the shelf (though I didn’t check to see if the bottle was empty). Defense counsel greeted each other with fist bumps, not handshakes. I started tracking Washington and Oregon numbers, since we have upcoming trials and therefore need jurors. Various legal news outlets reported office closures and even the death of a Washington paralegal.

The Day-to-Day Impact on Actual People

Some of us can work from home; others cannot. My Seattle friends who work at Nordstrom HQ and at Fred Hutchinson who shared their work restrictions two weeks ago (e.g. no air travel, no meetings of 5 or more people) are on mandatory work-from-home for the remainder of the month. My own Portland office is on a “Level One” plan, which means if you feel you’re at risk you can work from home, and the firm will pay for parking if you usually rely on transit but feel unsafe. Cancellation of large sporting events means that the hourly-employees who work there are out of work and going unpaid (think large basketball arenas). While some team owners (Mark Cuban, for example) and NBA players have stepped up and pledged to cover some of the lost wages, not all have. Baristas, bartenders, and waitstaff cannot do their work at home. Neither can drycleaners, hairdressers, and many others,

Many races and events are cancelled. In my personal universe, the Mercer Island Half Marathon and Portland Shamrock Run were canceled. The Oregon Brewery Running Series postponed all of their March events. My friend Jim Diego has started a spreadsheet of distance races (half marathon and longer, with some inherently famous races of other distances). You can access it too. In the rest of the fitness world, the IHRSA trade show was canceled, and SCW’s California Mania event was canceled. While COVID-19 is not transmitted through sweat, larger gatherings pose an inherent risk.

Independent contractors are taking a hit, especially in California. The spread of the coronoavirus hit my friend “Alex,” an executive business coach, with a double-whammy. First, she’s fighting California’s #AB5, a law that labor unions promised would target gig-economy workers but threatens the livelihood of all small business owners from certified interpreters to entertainers. The Grinch AB5 even took away Santa’s job! Worse, the federal government is trying to replicate it, which would run Alex out of business. Alex has a California LLC. She’s worked a corporate gig, but prefers the challenge and flexibility of project-based work. California companies are afraid to hire her and run afoul of AB5. Out-of-state companies are less excited than usual about bringing in someone from California, a state hit early by COVID-19. With the self-quarantine and social distancing recommendations, Alex isn’t thrilled about getting on an airplane and living in a hotel, either. Yet when she doesn’t work, Alex doesn’t get paid.

Outside of California, contractors also suffer. My friend Jennifer Canale is a professional spokesmodel who works trade shows and promotional events as an independent contractor. While she wasn’t scheduled to work the recently cancelled Natural Products Expo West–a gathering of 85,000+ people in Anaheim–every single one of her March shows has been canceled. This means Jennifer is losing a significant chunk of her income each time a spring show is canceled or postponed indefinitely. Jennifer and her colleagues often book shows six months to a year in advance. As independent contractors, they make and pay for their own hotel and travel reservations, and don’t get reimbursed for until a month or so after the show. In addition to losing income today, some of them are also eating big cancellation fees.

Act Practically, Act NOW.

There are things you can do to help everyone affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. I’m assuming you are already on board with social isolation (see The Atlantic), washing your hands like your grandma’s life depends on it, and not hoarding resources. So now what?

STAY HOME. I know not everyone can do this (because we have systems of employment and education that make that impossible, and even in ideal situations we’d still need first responders and medical personnel). The best thing you can do is prevent the spread of the virus, and the best way to do that is to stay away from people. Please take a minute to read the article linked at the top of this post. #CancelEverything #SocialDistancingWorks

Again, DO NOT SHARE FAKE NEWS. I can’t say this often enough, as so much bad information is circulating. (So much that entire cities went out partying for St. Patrick’s Day, putting huge swaths of the population at risk. COVID-19 can stay alive in the air for up to 3 hours, and lasts for days on hard surfaces.) My last post had a brief list of resources generally, but you can also pay attention to your local and state department of health. Your governor may also have a website with the latest recommendations and protective measures locally. Don’t panic, be informed!

Share knowledge: What’s for dinner? Jennifer Canale has been posting photos of her creative (and super cheap!) dinners. A recent Mexican-inspired dish was under $5, and could have been stretched to feed more people inexpensively by adding tortillas and more vegetables (more steak optional). That was a splurge dinner, too–several meals have been $3 or less per serving. Not everyone has mad cooking skills, and what Jennifer is posting are easy-to-cook, non-fussy recipes that don’t require measuring. Check out twitter and the #QuarantineKitchen tag for more ideas.

Share knowledge: Where are the resources? Locally, I’ve seen many people share what is available and where via social media. Even better, I’ve seen people post that they need something specific (e.g. hand sanitizer) and watched people who have extra respond and offer to share. I’m not an expert on how to apply for public assistance programs, but maybe you are, or have time to help a friend or neighbor figure it out. Same with unemployment–which sadly lots of people may be facing.

Look out for your neighbors. Not everyone is financially able to stock up on the supplies you need to stay home for two weeks, especially if they are facing cuts to their income. If you can help, please do. You can cook extra food for people you know (it’s not hard to make two casseroles/lasagnas instead of one). You can help your elderly neighbor sign up for Meals on Wheels. (You can also donate cash to your local food pantry or food bank–they can stretch dollars better than canned goods. I can pretty much guarantee that every non-profit that feeds people needs help.) Depending on what’s going on where you live, your neighbors may need help removing snow from the walkway so it is safe to collect the mail.

PLEASE Support food charities. If you can only give $5 to help others, please give it to a charity that will fill empty tummies. Food insecurity is still a big problem in the US. Many kids rely on federally subsidized school lunches–and for some that is their only meal of the day. Others have school breakfast too. When schools close, those kids go hungry. It’s not just a few kids: 22 million children rely on free or reduced-price school lunches. Some schools and area food banks have a backpack program that provides kids with food so they don’t go hungry over the weekend. Check Feeding America to see if your area has one. In Oregon, please give to the Oregon Food Bank.

Give blood if you can. (Yes, I understand our blood donation rules–set out by the federal government and not the Red Cross–are outdated, and that sucks, and now would be a great time to leave the 1980s behind and learn to science.) If you can give blood, schedule a time and do it. The Red Cross has a website that makes this really easy. In general, very few eligible people donate blood even though blood has a limited shelf life, there is no substitute for it, and the need for blood is constant. The donation network suffers any time there is a major illness (as the need increases, and fewer people give so the supply decreases). I’m terrified of needles, and I signed up. You can do this too.

Call, email, or write to your friends, family, synagogue/church/temple/coven members. This is basically free, and can make a big difference in someone’s day. Introverts are joking about how they’ve been preparing to self-quarantine since birth, but your extrovert friends are probably going nuts. Reaching out to the senior population is something a Girl Scout troop could do remotely–and so can you. People who live alone are at a higher risk of feeling depressed or anxious due to social isolation. Reach out and let them know you care. If they are struggling, please point them to virusanxiety.com (if it is COVID-19 specific), or to other appropriate resources (USE GOOGLE!) including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 and https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Support your local businesses and small businesses. This one is more of a challenge, perhaps, as you’re supposed to be staying home and engaging in voluntary social distancing. Think creatively. Can you shop online? Order dinner for pick-up from that local restaurant? Place an order for pick-up over the phone elsewhere? Big box stores are going to lose revenue too, but for most of them your business is not a matter of life and death–but for your local wine shop, no income means no business. P.S. if you like the stickers I’m holding up, those came from Pixelated Science on Etsy.

Finally, keep your sense of humor (and your wits) about you!

What are your best ideas on how to help during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Borrowed from the CDC.

This started as a single post on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. When I started on Wednesday, I thought I’d hit “publish” on Friday. We are now living in a different world, and that single post is MUCH too long to be a single post. (Click here for the second one, A Practical Guide to COVID-19.)

Top Five Tips for COVID-19 Sanity

1. Get news and information from reliable and trustworthy sources.
Your two best sources are the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and your state or local (county, province, city) health authority. The World Health Organization (WHO) is another reliable resource. Unless your people are citing to similarly fact-checked and reliable sources, skip Facebook. Skip the well-meaning mommy bloggers. Skip the fear-mongering fake news sites. Sadly, skip any source that reports the current president’s public statements about the virus are credible (because, in fact, they are not—we’re well behind the ball on developing and implementing effective testing, a vaccine is only just now starting phase 1 human trials, and you only have to read about the experiences of a few travelers to learn we have not “closed the border” and kept COVID-10 out). Skip anyone who is peddling a cure, too–there is no cure, and megadoses of vitamins and other fake cures promoted on YouTube can make you sick.

When you’re sharing information about COVID-19, whether online or in person, stick to the known facts—what you’re reading on the CDC website, your local health authority website, and MAYBE (sadly, also not a given) MAYBE your local news affiliate. Spreading false information doesn’t help anyone, may incite more panic than is reasonable, and has the potential to hurt others. This includes well-meaning but false statements that imply COVID-19 is just a flu.

2. Save your money. Skip the slick marketing campaigns, and the snake oil.
This past week, the FDA and FTC issued warning letters to Vital Silver; Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd.; Xephyr, LLC doing business as N-Ergetics; GuruNanda, LLC; Vivify Holistic Clinic; Herbal Amy LLC; and The Jim Bakker Show. All of these companies were claiming they have a product that can prevent or cure this virus. Read more here.

There is currently no vaccine (they’re working on it), no reliable (evidence-based) preventive lotion or potion or pill or serum or drug or herb or anything else, and no “miracle cure” for those who are already ill. (This doesn’t mean everyone who gets sick is going to die—far from it. It just means it’s not like an ear infection where you can take an antibiotic and it will go away.) You can’t prevent yourself from getting sick by mega-dosing on vitamins (though megadosing vitamins can make you sick), or diffusing “thieves” essential oil blend, or putting potatoes in your socks, or slathering your body with “flu cream” (thanks for that ad, Instagram), or whatever else people are proposing on Facebook.

Sadly, health and fitness professionals are sending out misinformation (Jorge Cruise just sent an email titled “The superfoods help fight coronavirus”), nutrition companies including Nuun, FNX, Kuli Kuli, and The Feed are holding sales on their “immunity” products (none of which have evidence that the enhance your immunity in any way, and none of which and even some doctors are trying to make a fast buck by claiming their test can diagnose, or their magic powder can cure, COVID-19. Many companies are not saying/writing “this product will protect you from coronavirus” but are implying it by serving up ad campaigns and sales on products for “immunity” (I’m looking at you, nuun: there’s no evidence that adding all the trendy ingredients du jour to your drink will do anything to help your immune system stave off COVID-19!). If the pleasant scent of lavender essential oil calms you, great. If drinking extra vitamins in your water makes you feel better mentally, great. If you’re buying it to “protect yourself,” save your money. You’re better off using it to stock your pantry with essentials in case you need to stay home.

3. Don’t panic—and don’t panic buy anything.
It started with face masks, even though the most effective thing to do with a face mask is to put it on a sick person to help them not spread germs. There hasn’t been any credible recommendation that the general public wear them for COVID-19 prevention, and there is little to no evidence that they are effective in the general public for keeping healthy people from catching the virus. Yet try to buy any type of mask—from the hospital face covers to the white 3M masks intended to keep dust out of your mouth—and the stores have none. In some places gloves were similarly popular, and I saw at least one article reporting people buying condoms to put on their fingers so they don’t have to touch elevator buttons.

If you’ve been in Costco lately, you’ve noticed the shelves that usually hold toilet paper, tissues, and hand sanitizer are bare. Why? Did people just suddenly start wiping their noses, butts, and hands? Look, I understand that people associate being sick with running from both ends…but unless your last name is Duggar, you don’t need a truckload of toilet paper to make it through the next two weeks. While we’re at it, why are people panic-buying bottled water? Did I miss the CDC announcement that COVID-19 has the power to turn off the municipal water supply or something? Look, you’re not doing yourself any favors by stockpiling cold and flu medication—and at the moment, people who are actually sick can’t buy those things because the shelves are empty! If you’ve got to spend money to feel like you’re prepared, stock your pantry and fridge, refill your prescriptions early if you can, and set aside money to pay the bills

Remember that hoarding doesn’t help you, and it hurts your community. Personally, I’d like all of my neighbors to have enough toiler paper and soap. Oh, and while we’re at it, please DO NOT support virus profiteering. Yes, there are people hoarding-for-profit.

4. Stick with the basics.
The first lesson of kindergarten? Keep your hands to yourself! Unfortunately as the #MeToo movement illustrates, some adults never got the memo. We currently understand the COVID-19 spreads primarily by coughs and sneezes that propel little water droplets into the air or onto other people. It’s also possible to share those droplets by shaking hands or being in similarly close contact. While it isn’t the primary manner of spreading, current best knowledge also says that the virus can live on surfaces for quite some time after contact. (This is why you keep reading about “deep cleaning” or “enhanced sanitation” and seeing pictures of workers wiping down concert venues and shutting down schools and office buildings for cleaning.)

If you are currently healthy, your very best course of action is to get a little germophobic. Wash your hands like you’re Adrian Monk—and if you’re tired of singing “Happy Birthday,” look on Twitter for dozens of other options—using soap and water. Do it often. Wash ‘em after riding public transit, after handling things other people touch (like door handles), after going into a bathroom for any reason, and before eating or touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth. When you can’t wash, use 60% alcohol hand sanitizer. Use bleach wipes or similar to wipe down your home and office (keyboard, phone, and door knobs among others). Wipe down your cell phone too—what’s the point of washing your hands if you phone is filthy?

Gotta sneeze? Cover your nose and mouth! If no tissue is handy, use your elbow—NOT your hand. (BTW, regular ol’ runny noses are not a known symptom of this virus.) Speaking of hands, did I mention to wash them? Consider a fist bump or elbow bump instead of shaking hands.

5. Be kind to others: if you are sick, stay home!
If you are a generally healthy person, be kind to those with weaker immune systems. Chances are good that someone you know has a weakened immune system that makes them more susceptible to viruses. That’s anyone who has had chemotherapy, for example, or who is elderly, but also anyone with an autoimmune disorder like lupus, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, Guillian-Barre syndrome, Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and more. Evidence to date shows that “older adults” (which appears to be anyone over 60) and those with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or high blood pressure, are at a higher risk. The best things you can do to help those who have weaker immune systems or are known to be at a higher risk? Stick with the basics (wash your hands, etc.) and if you are not feeling well, stay away from public spaces and gatherings—stay home if you can.

BONUS TIP: Be kind to others: help if you can. (more on this in Part 2)
The most common advice in circulation is to prepare in advance by stocking your home with at least two weeks of supplies, and staying home if you feel sick. This is sound advice, I’m following it—maybe you are too—and I’m glad to see it being repeated. If you can join me in following it, you’re facing this virus from a place of privilege. No matter where you stand, I encourage you to remember those who don’t share in that privilege.

Millions of Americans do not have paid sick time or paid vacation. This means they don’t get paid for time they don’t work. Worse, if they are not working because they are sick, there are probably medical bills and other costs stacking up too. Two weeks of lost wages might be the difference between paying the rent and getting evicted.

Even with some paid sick time—let’s be real here, most of us don’t get three weeks of paid sick time—or paid sick time and paid vacation (because some employers are telling workers they need to use vacation if they get sick—that’s right U. Conn, I saw your notices), lots of people don’t have the ability to stock up for two or more weeks at home. Looking just at medication, if you are in the early phases of a methadone treatment program you are required to go pick up (and take) your medicine at a clinic. Some medications are restricted by federal law, and that’s not just limited to opioid painkillers; you might have to go see a doctor in person to get a refill, or wait until you have taken your very last dose before you can get more. Other drugs are limited by insurance coverage that won’t allow you to refill “early” (which is anywhere from 5 to 10 days before the medication runs out) unless you can afford to pay the full cost out-of-pocket. Some drugs, including some injections, have a very narrow window between opening the container and the expiration (loss of effectiveness of the medication).

Please don’t think I’m implying that only the economically disadvantaged are going to need help. Plenty of people are facing reduced hours and cancelled shifts as concerts are postponed, flights get canceled, tourism is down, conventions are nixed, and the economy takes a nose-dive.

Reliable Resources:

  • Simulator that explains why “social distancing” works. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator
  • How I’m tracking today: https://projects.oregonlive.com/coronavirus/
  • For those who are visual learners, a compilation of charts that explain the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/3/12/21172040/coronavirus-covid-19-virus-charts

Disclosure: while this is not a sponsored post, and contains no sponsored content, my ticket to BlogFest—just like everyone else’s—was generously paid for by the BlogFest sponsors. I’m thankful for that. As is my editorial policy, all of the opinions and words below are my own. The giveaway prize is sponsored by me–I ate all the yummy snacks in the swag bag, but decided to share some of the ones I picked up during BlogFest–though it includes some of the non-edible cute swag given to bloggers at BlogFest.

For the Love of Snacks!

Let’s talk about snacks. I love snacks. I would happily trade breakfast and lunch for snacks all day. Sadly, my go-to snacks are not always the healthiest options, or the optimal building blocks for my body and fuel for my workouts. In world of Snickers bars and Twix ads—not to mention a wide selection of junky choices always at arm’s reach—what’s a girl to do?

Enter BlogFest. #SnacksForDays should be the official hashtag of BlogFest, because we get fed well! This year, like all others, we had a number of great sponsors in the snacking business to keep us going.

Be Better

four different flavors of Be Better protein crunch bars, one of the BlofgFest snacks
Photo Courtesy of Shenie Bento

Even though bars—snack bars, granola bars, protein bars, candy bars—is a pretty crowded food category these days, I like to stay on top of what is available. Let’s face it, most of us don’t cook all of our meals every day, and some of us frequently find ourselves in situations where a satisfying snack is not easily at hand. To avoid office vending machines, my solution has been to keep a drawer stocked with lunch-able items (canned soup, Tasty Bite meals, etc.) at my desk. Bars are a key component of this, and no matter how much I love one type of bar, I also get bored easily…and if I’m bored, whatever junk is in the vending machine looks much more appealing than what is in the drawer.

But back to Be Better.  Be Better is a brand new line (which explains why I’d never heard of it). There are two Be Better products: a flaky protein wafer bar, and protein squares (two per pack). During BlogFest, the Be Better table in our conference room kept a full stock of all of the flavors, and we were able to try them at our leisure. I naturally gravitated towards the coconut flavors, Coconut Trail Mix protein squares, and coconut crunch protein wafer bars. I found the protein bars to be a little bit messier to eat than I had anticipated; due to the flaky layers that give the bars their light and satisfyingly crispy texture, it is possible to eat the bar and wear the bar at the same time. (As someone with zero natural grace, this is how I ate the first bar.) By the time I ate the second bar, I had learned to be a little more delicate in my chomping, which greatly cut down on the resulting mess. By the time I hit the third one, there were just a few crumbs. The protein squares surprised me for two reasons. First, they have chocolate in them and remind me very much of a gourmet type of candy bar. Second, despite my first observation and their delicious flavors, I found that I prefer to eat them one at a time (as opposed to eating both of the squares in the pack).

Be Better follows the current bar trend of being higher in both protein and calories than many older snack bars (think of anything from the very misguided 1980’s low-fat era), and I found one bar was the perfect size for a snack that sated my hunger and made me feel like I’d eaten something of substance. The Hazelnut Crunch protein wafer bar has 200 calories, 17 grams of total fat (largely from the nuts), 4 grams of fiber, and 11 grams of protein, for example.  The caramel & almonds with dark chocolate protein squares have 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of protein PER SQUARE (each pack has two squares).

You can learn more on their website, https://www.beingbettermatters.com which is also the only place to buy them right now. (Or at least I checked Amazon and found nothing, and Google didn’t return anything.) At the time I’m writing this post, there is an offer to get a hat, a sticker, and another sample with your first order if you subscribe to the Be Better mailing list.

Psst! My friend Christine is giving away a WHOLE BOX of Be Better bars! Head over to her blog to enter to win!

Jimmy Bar

Bain with a Jimmy Bar in her mouth, in an IDEA session and armed with snacks
Saturday IDEA World session, snacks at the ready

Jimmy Bar sponsored our BlogFest swag bags this year and while they weren’t hanging out in the room with us, they put some bars in our bags and were super welcoming at their Expo booth. It might sound odd to have two sponsors that both make bars, but Jimmy Bar and Be Better seem more like separate categories to me. (That’s probably because I’m a snack conneisseur.) While Be Better features chocolate and a light and flaky texture, Jimmy Bar has does not feature chocolate (though there are some chocolate flavors available) and has a texture that I describe as like a Rice Krispies treat where someone pulverized all of the Rice Krispies before making it and then allowed it to harden up a bit after it cooled. It’s snacktastic. (I bought two boxes before I left the Expo.)

Jimmy Bar’s protein bars also follows the higher calorie, higher protein trend I’m seeing in snack bars now, so one bar is plenty for a snack. For example, the Birthday Cake flavor Jimmy Bar has 260 calories, 11 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbs, and 21 grams of protein. Depending on how your other meals are timed, I could also see eating a bigger breakfast and dinner, and having a Jimmy Bar as a lunch (with a piece of fruit or something, to make sure I get produce in that meal).  I’m planning to add Jimmy Bar to my running stash as well, because the solid texture of the bar means it will be easy to open and eat while I’m out on a run or at a race. Jimmy Bar makes multiple varieties including some that are vegan, nut-free, and in smaller sizes. You can learn more about Jimmy Bar at their website.

Jimmy Bar has been around since 2013, and is more widely available than Be Better. There is a store locator on the Jimmy Bar website, and you can also buy them on Amazon (that’s an affiliate link, but it doesn’t cost you anything extra to use it and Jimmy Bars are eligible for Prime, so…). They have a Dog CEO, and currently offer free shipping on orders over $40.

La Croix

Sweat Pink squad with foam rollers and yoga mats at the La Croix booth
Carleeh and Some of the Sweat Pink Squad at the La Croix booth. Photo courtesy of Carleeh.

While not present in the BlogFest conference room, La Croix also played a major role in my BlogFest and not just because they sponsored the BlogFest Networking Happy Hour that marked the official end of BlogFest. In addition to being a BlogFest sponsor, La Croix is a staple in my fridge. (Friends, 24 cans at Costco for around $7.) Also, they always have a great booth at the IDEA World Expo, and this year was no exception. The photo booth has been a staple for the past few years, and they supply fun props to use. This year each side of the La Croix booth had a color/flavor theme. In addition to their photo booth (tangerine), they had a set of punching bags and pink boxing gloves on one side (berry), and yoga mats and blocks and foam rollers (lime). Each corner had a big fridge filled with every flavor of La Croix, including the new key lime (which was also included in our swag bags).

If you’ve been living under a rock, you can learn more about La Croix on their website, which also has cute pictures of some of their other sampling booth layouts from other events. If you can’t find La Croix at a store near you, try Amazon (affiliate link, and some combinations are available on Prime).

Unfortunately this year the Expo was not in the same building as most of the IDEA sessions—one reason I hope IDEA does not return to San Diego–it was at the far end of the San Diego Convention Center. Since it took a good 15 minutes to walk from one building to the next, I didn’t get to spend as much time in the expo as I had hoped. This won’t be an issue next year in Anaheim, thankfully.

Fizzique

display box of four cans of fizzique
Fizzique sparkling protein water

While not an official sponsor of BlogFest, Fizzique did include some product in our swag bags, and I know they have worked with Sweat Pink, so I went out of my way to find them at the Expo and see what they are all about. The description–sparkling water with whey protein–sounds weird and questionable, but the product is actually quite tasty. First, it’s clear. (I had expected it to be milky-looking due to the whey protein.) It’s only 80 calories, which is about halfway between a diet soda and a regular one. All of the calories come from the protein, as Fizzique has zero carbs.

Fizzique is at the intersection of two very popular categories of consumer packaged goods: sparkling water and protein. The idea behind Fizzique is to curb hunger between meals by giving your body some protein but not many calories. (It is NOT a meal replacement drink.) Each can also has 45 grams of caffeine, which is about the same as a cup of green tea. There are currently two flavors, Tropical Limon and Strawberry Watermelon. I tasted both, and I like them both. In a toss up, I’d pick Strawberry Watermelon.

Fizzique currently has an offer on their website where you can get 10% off if you subscribe to their email list. Or you can order from Amazon (affiliate link, but if you’ve read this far you probably don’t mind supporting the blog?) and it is eligible for Prime.

Win BlogFest Goodies!

There are two prizes for this giveaway: Snacks and Sips.

Snacks. This prize features the brands that sponsored BlogFest, Be Better and Jimmy Bars…though I may just have to sneak a few more things in there to fill up the box, you know?

Jimmy Bar and Be Better bars prizes
Snacks Prize!

  • Be Better drawstring backpack
  • Be Better protein squares in Coconut Trail Mix, Almonds & Hemp Seeds, Honey Oats, and Caramel & Almonds
  • Be Better protein wafer bar in Hazelnut Crunch
  • Jimmy Bar tote and sweat band
  • Jimmy Bar clean snack bar in No Bluffin’ Banana Muffin
  • Jimmy Bar high protein bars in Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter Ice Cream, and Coconut Cream Pie

Sips. This prize features La Croix-themed items, because seriously, who doesn’t love La Croix? Drink it straight, use it as a mixer, make it into a mocktail. There’s enough swag here to share with your bestie, too.

La Croix swag prize
Sips Prizes!

  • La Croix printed tote
  • La Croix embroidered hats (one for you, one for a friend!)
  • La Croix enamel keychains
  • La Croix decals
  • La Croix enamel pins
  • La Croix branded workout bands

Enter using the widget below. But first, start by leaving a blog comment to tell me which prize you’d like to win! Two winners will be randomly selected, the first winner gets to choose their prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was able to attend Natural Products Expo West 2018 as Media Support because I am part of the New Hope Blogger Co-op. I paid the going press rate for my conference badge, and received absolutely no compensation (I paid for my hotel, meals, etc.) from New Hope 360, or any other company, in exchange for my attendance or coverage of Expo West. (I only had access to the press room for the blogger happy hour, too.) While I did receive product samples and swag from various exhibitors and companies, ALL opinions are my own. Per my integrity policy, all sponsored content or affiliate links will be clearly disclosed.

100% vegan mochi “ice cream” (and these guys supply restaurants!)

Natural Products Expo West—or Expo West as the insiders call it—is the biggest business to business trade show for consumer products in the “natural” and “organic” markets. (“Natural” is in quotes because it has no legal meaning when used to describe a product, or on a product label, in the Untied States. I opted to put “organic” in quotes because there are several organic standards including the USDA organic label and the Oregon Tilth organic certification, and I’m not necessarily referring to any specific organic protocol. Since too many quotation marks are annoying, just assume I put both in quotes from here on out.)

Attendees include grocers and retail outlets seeking the newest innovative products, marketing firms, businesses with products to sell, businesses still in the development stages, and all manner of business support services from importers and exporters to label makers to packaging companies to product formulators to third party testing laboratories and much more. At the same time, and in the same space, there is a big show called Engredea, where businesses and product manufacturers can learn and do business with the companies that make and process ingredients—literally everything that goes into a product from maple syrup to every kind of oil to stabilizers and emulsifiers and sugars and lentil flour and anything else you can imagine (as well as a bunch of stuff you only know about if you work in food production).

Excited to see this–a blend of apple juice and Gerolsteiner sparking mineral water.

The companies that attend cover the entire range of consumer packaged goods brands. There are nationally-known names like General Mills, Kashi, Bob’s Red Mill, Clif Bar, and Now Foods. There are companies you’ve likely seen on Shark Tank, including Chapul (the cricket protein people), Ice Breakers candy, Jackson’s Honest (potato chips and other chip made with coconut oil), and Brazi Bites (Brazilian cheese bread). There are companies you may not have heard of yet, such as The Nutty Gourmet (they make the very best walnut butters ever—in my least humble opinion), Petchup (nutrition supplements for pets in the form of gourmet sauces), and Frill (a creamy and delicious frozen vegan dessert). There are kombuchas, colas, and coffee; food wraps, no-FODMAPs, and maple saps; pastas, pretzels, and probiotics. The products are vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, and carnivore; fresh, frozen, shelf-stable and every other possible form. As a result, you see attendees wearing attire that ranges from full-on lawyerly suits to shorts and Birkenstocks, polyester to organic cotton, tye-die to spandex.

Pet products are an increasing aspect of ExpoWest. Pets are a $61 billion industry.

The show currently takes up all of the available convention hall, meeting room, and hotel space at the Anaheim Convention Center and surrounding hotels. There are so many attendees that on Friday night Expo West crashed the Uber app, making hundreds and maybe thousands of people late to business dinners, public relations pitches, and social events. This is despite a sophisticated network of (free) busses to transport attendees from the Convention Center to Angel Stadium (there is nowhere near enough parking at the Convention Center, so many attendees park at Angel Stadium) or to dozens of hotels in the surrounding area. Hotel space near the

Birdie is a spray hand sanitizer with wipes hiding in the bottom. Cute enough to put on your desk!

Convention Center sells out within minutes—more than 80,000 people attend the show, and companies often reserve blocks of rooms for those working the show on their behalf—and I met people staying as far away as Newport Beach because they couldn’t find any hotel or even an Air BnB that was closer (and not $1,000/night).

Expo West is broken down into several distinct sub-spaces. This year, Hot Products (meaning new or hot on the market, and not meaning “foods that you eat while they are hot” as I mistakenly believed during my first Expo West!) occupied the North Halls. The Arena, Convention Center Halls A through E, and the third floor had exhibitors, including Engredea. Thursday’s Fresh Ideas Marketplace (meaning innovative products, not salad bars and fresh produce as I thought my first year) is housed in a giant white tent near the Marriott. The main plaza between the Hilton and the Marriott had food trucks, multiple exhibitor booths, a stage with live music, and roaming promoters, while the smaller plaza near the North Halls had a few food trucks and additional seating. Finally, a section of the parking lot between the Hilton and Morton’s restaurant had food-truck style Expo exhibitors as well as a few food trucks, and more tables for lunching.

Outside of those spaces, there are also several other things going on in the Convention Center spaces. There is a pitch-slam where new products can pitch to established brands and companies (think Shark Tank, but without the made-for-reality-TV aspects). One of the medium-sized hotel ballrooms hosts a variety of speakers, including the designated keynote speakers. (This year’s speakers included Jennifer Garner.) The smaller conference rooms host educational sessions on topics from the most recent FDA regulations to the exploding market for CBD-based products, new studies regarding sleep and nutrition, and more. Some of these are sponsored by exhibitors, while others are not. In addition to these session, which are open to all attendees, there are also specialized tracks that serve as a business school crash course for entrepreneurs, and more. There is a sort of job fair too. Other on-site events include sponsored breakfasts, daily early morning yoga, private business meetings, and after-hours parties. I have no idea how much of the rest of Anaheim hosts additional, private/invitation-only events (which cover the range from happy hours to multi-course meals, and even branch out into a 5k race!).

One of my best finds: PORTLAND-based kombucha that tastes delicious! (I find 99% of kombucha tastes like old socks.)

Despite the app, website, and printed brochure, it can be overwhelming to navigate Expo West. It isn’t always obvious which hall a given booth is located in, and travel from Hall D to Hall A can take 30 minutes due to pedestrian traffic—even though they are attached to each other. The scale of this event is so enormous that even if you did nothing but walk the show floors’ spaces—something few people do, due to meals, meetings, appointments, lectures, speakers, and other events—you still couldn’t see everything in the show’s four days. This was my third year at Expo West, and I finally feel like I figured out the best way for me to cover the show as a blogger. (Which included: make appointment with brands I wanted to spend time with, make a list of priorities for booth visits, stick to my top product categories, and get to the Fresh Ideas tent BEFORE it opens.) Over the course of several posts, I’m going to share what I saw, tasted, and learned, with the goal to help YOU live YOUR best life now.

Curious about a particular type of product, a brand, or a trend? Drop a comment or shoot me a tweet, and I’ll make sure to cover it in an upcoming post.

Disclosure: Bain here. I didn’t run Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans this year, so I didn’t write this post–it’s a guest post by fellow Rock ‘n’ Blog team member Gretchen Schoenstein! (I did write the headline, so don’t blame her for that, okay?) Gretchen ran this race as a Rock ‘n’ Blog team member (which means she didn’t have to pay the entry fee) but all of the content (including the pictures) and opinions are hers alone. Enjoy!

What better way to celebrate New Orleans 300th Anniversary than to run a Rock ’n’ Roll half marathon! RnR NOLA has got to be one of the most, if not the most, colorful race weekends out there. And the most energetic. And most beaded for sure. Those colors, that energy and of course those beads were on full, enchanting display this past weekend.

It might seem a bit odd to celebrate a city known for amazing food and drink to bring a bunch of runners to town to join the hometown runners–had more than one cab and ride-share driver remark on “y’all aren’t the usual crowd”–but where else are you going to celebrate your finish line with a sazerac than in the city that invented the drink?

For me, it’s a city I’ve been aiming to get back to to run since I first ran #RnRNOLA back in February 2011. Back then, it was only my 7th half marathon, and my 3rd Rock ’n’ Roll event. This past NOLA race was my 64th half marathon (54th RnR half!) and oh so worth the effort to finally get to run it in New Orleans again! It’s such a unique place to run–the history, the food, the people. Folks who are from New Orleans have a pride that is nearly unmatched for their city, and they’re so grateful to have all us runners come to town and not only enjoy a beautiful course that shows off some of the best parts of the city, but also make a point to really celebrate in a city that knows how.

You could sum up RnR NOLA for a lot of runners as: Run Hard, Play Hard!

And when I say run hard, here’s the great news, it’s not necessarily a hard run. Meaning, it flat, fast, and below sea level. Which is beautiful. You can’t help be hopeful and expectant for a happy finish time. Not only that, but the music along the course is unique to the city and some of the most dynamic you will hear on any course. ‘Kingfolk’ standing on the bed of a pick up truck playing vibrant New Orleans jazz while shouting and whooping it up with runners as the pass by? Yes please! Or how about looking up and around and seeing the history surrounding you in the churches, buildings, and homes architecture. And if you keep looking up, you’ll see beads just about everywhere.

Speaking of music–the speakers in the new mile markers signs? You have to hear them! Especially when you hear a song again along the way, like it’s your own soundtrack following you.

Run hard and you may just get a PR. Like I did seven years ago. Here’s the thing: it’s still my PR. And so I’d had aspirations of aiming for that PR again–ended 2017 races on an upswing, so why not? Well, the flu and pneumonia got in the way in January and February, so I had to shift my goal a bit. This you can do in NOLA. It’s a low risk, high reward kind of race. You can go for it, and this being the first of 12 halfs for 2018, I decided to get curious and use it as a way to kick the tires or test the water of what my body is capable of at the moment. Within the first few miles, I thought, hmmm, if I fight for every second I can on this course, I might just beat ALL of last year’s race finish times.

And so you take in the whole course, the amazing runners (eager in sequined skirts, green purple and gold shirts, sunglasses with the sun beaming) along the way like the woman running backwards, or the two guided blind runners inspiring everyone around them, Kathrine Switzer, or the Darth Vader wearing a Saints hat cheering people along. And the spectators? New Orleans might just have some of the best out there. So loud, so fun, so delighted to see us running towards them.

Speaking of seeing things coming – you cannot miss the NEW SIGNS along the course! New signs for water, gel and SiS support. I’d heard about these coming up but until you experience them you cannot begin to know how helpful they are. First, they’re super obvious from down the way, so you can much better navigate moving to the right or left or staying in the middle without tripping over runners making last minute decisions. The flow of runner traffic is much smoother through there.

Plus, seeing the signs way up ahead allowed me to finish a gel or make a thoughtful decision about water, yes or no? And if yes, which side? And also if yes, how much? My fueling was far better managed which made for consistency that I know helped keep my pace and health along the course.  These signs are a game changer. As always, there was stellar volunteer support at those water and gel stations–people working so hard to make sure runners have access to things they need–the determined commitment they have makes you shout out THANK YOU as you run by.

When you finish in City Park, it’s nearly an instant party. How could it not be? It’s New Orleans, c’mon! There were even food trucks nearby and I’ve never seen so many runners lined up for delicious offerings with Soul Offerings and Cowboy Mouth raging on stage–if you’re a food truck, you did extremely well serving a lot of hungry runners. That afternoon and evening, after everyone had crossed their finish lines, the bars and restaurants were buzzing with runners eating and drinking their way through the city; you could spot them, they had a hobble in their giddyup and a big smile on their face.

Oh, as for me? Just being in New Orleans and recalling some of the familiar course, including running down and back along St Charles Avenue, a bit along Magazine Street, down by the Mississippi river with it on your right and St Louis Cathedral on your left, past Cafe du Monde, and up onto Esplanade Avenue and entering into City Park past the huge fountains was worth the travel and the effort. And yes, I pushed myself because I could and because the course allowed it. And so, happily, I crushed ALL 10 of last year’s finish times by nearly three minutes. Couldn’t have done without the New Orleans course and the Rock ’n’ Roll support.

Happy 300th Birthday New Orleans. Laissez les bon temps rouler indeed!

About the Author. With half marathons being her preferred distance, Gretchen Schoenstein has run 64 of them since April 2010. In late 2006 she was unable to walk, diagnosed with a debilitating auto immune disease that resulted in doctors telling her she’d never run again. For 3.5 years she listened to them and then decided to run despite their protestations and laced up a pair of running shoes and hasn’t looked back, running 64 half marathons in eight years, with a goal of 75 total by the end of 2018. It doesn’t mean there haven’t been challenges and flare ups, including being diagnosed with asthma, but as every step is a gift, Gretchen is grateful for every day she gets to run and every step she gets to take. 

Psst! Bain here. Why not follow Gretchen on Instagram and Twitter? Her handle is @rungrateful, in case those links are giving you trouble. You can also find her blog at iwonderwoman.com

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Disclosure: absolutely nothing in this post is sponsored content. Every single word and idea is my own. The giveaway in this post isn’t sponsored either, except by me, and neither are any of the associated upcoming giveaways. I have clearly labeled the affiliate links, which give me free stuff if you subscribe (and you get extra goodies too).

Can I Stuff Your Stockings?

Christmas stockings were a HUGE deal in my family growing up. Grandma had knitted each of us a fancy stocking: the kids had green, white, and red with our names and a different Christmas-themed item in each band, with a giant pom-pom at the toe; Mom’s stocking had a grandma figure with soft fluffy hair, and Dad’s had a Christmas tree with little sequined ornaments.

As a kid, the Christmas stockings were the only things we were allowed to open on Christmas day before Mom and Dad got up. There were traditional Christmas-y items like candy and little toys, but also practical things like toothbrushes and socks. Once we got older and moved out–and effectively moved the Christmas celebration to the Friday morning after Thanksgiving–the Christmas stockings had all the goodies (and a check).

This year, I’m celebrating the holidays by stuffing YOUR stocking! My plan is to post a different giveaway each day (be sure to follow @TrainWithBain on Instagram) but don’t hold me to it–we’ve all seen what can happen when you get too attached to a plan.

On the 1st Day of Christmas: Subscription Boxes?

Subscription boxes are everywhere these days–there are even entire blogs devoted to nothing but subscription box reviews. Some boxes are monthly, while others are quarterly. The least expensive boxes start around $10, while some of the quarterly boxes cost $100 or more. There are subscription boxes for every niche, and even sub-niches within those. Need a dog subscription box? There is BarkBox for dogs, or maybe PoochPerks is more what you need; if your dog chews stuff there is BullyMake for dogs who are heavy-duty chewers, if you prefer to get a box from your usual pet food supplier then Chewy.com has GoodyBox. For runners, there is Runner Box, Stride Box, Runner Crate, Challenge Box (aimed at FitBit users), Fun Run Box, 5k Crate, and more. Whatever you are into, there is a box for you.

Birchbox was the first box I tried. As a woman who has always sucked at the “girly-girl” stuff, I basically had no idea how to buy makeup. My basic routine was set by the drugstore makeup I bought in high school, and the one or two foundations I had sampled at department store counters. (Remember when that’s where all the cool kids bought their makeup?) I liked the idea of getting to try samples of products and discover what might work for me before committing to full-sized products. Since I hate wasting money and creating garbage, it pains me to buy a full-sized product and then discover I hate it and end up wasting the rest of it. Birchbox seems focused on high-end brands, many of which I had never tried. My samples often included perfume (and despite my lack of girly-girl knowledge, I love perfume). Anything you like, you can order a full-sized product from the Birchbox shop.

These cute bags are in this giveaway! I use mine for travel and sorting plugs and electronics accessories.

Later I found ipsy (this is an affiliate link), which includes a makeup bag with the goodies each month. Ipsy seems more customized than Birchbox, and samples change based on your ratings of prior samples (including what you think of the brand, type of product, color, and more). I’ve loved some of the pouches, and sometimes use them instead of gift wrap for small presents and gift cards. The brands in my ipsy often include K beauty brands, and are generally brands I’m unfamiliar with–it’s good to broaden my horizons. Like Birchbox, you can opt-out of a category of products, and edit your profile to emphasize what you like. Also like Birchbox, the products in your monthly box are a surprise until they show up–though you can take a sneak peek by clicking through the email. Each month there are special deals on products featured in ipsy bags that you can find on the website. Ipsy also has monthly giveaways. Ipsy has the option to pause for a month, but only for one month. (I currently have a few invites to send a free glam bag, so let me know if you think ipsy might be for you–I’ll happily send you one.)

Somehow Julep (this is an affiliate link) found me. Julep started out as a nail polish subscription box, with two polishes and accessories such as buffing blocks or quick-dry drops in each box. Julep has since branched out to skin care and a full makeup line. With Julep you take a quiz that assigns you a style. Each month there is a curated box for each style. On the 20th you can peek at your curated box–if you do nothing, it is automatically sent to you. You have the option to take your box, choose another style’s curated box, or mix and match to make your own box. You can also skip your box, or have it sent to a friend instead, but you have to choose before the selection window closes. (Otherwise, your box is auto-shipped…and when you get busy, it’s easy to miss that window.) I’ve built up quite the color collection, so I also branched out into their makeup and skin care lines. I’m a huge fan of the gel eyeliners, and the solid face cleaners (great for traveling because they are carry-on friendly). Some Julep products are now available at Ulta.

The one problem I have run into–and more with Birchbox and ipsy than with Julep–is that sometimes I get things that I can immediately tell are just not for me.  Or sometimes my preferences are so clear that I get multiple items that are very similar (like eyeshadows in the same shades, or two different brands of the same makeup brush). Generally my friends score when that happens. Some things make great stocking stuffers and mini-gifts, too.

Guess what friends? Time for YOU to score. Before I moved I barely had time to breathe, much less sort through my stuff before I packed. When you move and start working the new job immediately, that doesn’t leave much time to unpack and sort and arrange, and I have continued to travel all over the place to run, so it wasn’t until Thanksgiving that I had the opportunity to sort through the beauty stash. It’s bigger than the space designated to hold it, so let me stuff your stocking?

Brand new! Never opened! Shiny new hair dryer for your new year’s beauty resolutions!

The first item in this stocking stuffer package is a brand new hair dryer. While I still use the hair dryer I got as a gift with purchase when I bought some leather sneakers (a la the Reebok princess line) back in 8th grade, I do have a backup (which I bought from Birchbox). I then got a super nice one as part of a thank-you box for being a Women’s Health Magazine Action Hero–and I haven’t even opened the box! There’s a list of what else is in the prize below, but let’s get to the good stuff. Here’s how to enter:

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also in the prize package:

  • Panasonic nanoe Hair Dryer, model EH-NA65-k
  • 4 ipsy cosmetic bags (bags are empty and unused)
  • TrainWithBain’s favorites from Julep, all full-sized!
    • Glow highlighting powder
    • Love Your Bare Face detoxifying cleansing stick
    • It’s Balm—2 colors!
      • Flamingo pink crème
      • Electric coral crème
    • Color that treats nailpolish—2 colors!
      • Katherine (a dark purple cream)
      • Channon (a shimmery full-coverage white)
    • Kaolin Clay konjac sponge
    • When pencil met gel eyeliners in gilded gold shimmer and ultraviolet
  • Toni & Guy casual sea salt texturing spray 2.5 oz
  • Makeup brushes
    • Clinique eyebrow tamer and eye makeup combo
    • Bare Escentuals retractable brush with cover
    • Shmissglam small contour brush
    • Beaute Basics contour blush
    • Beau Gachis smudge brush
    • Crown Brush pointed crease brush
    • 3 brushes from Luxie Beauty:Pap
      • Medium angled shading
      • Blush
      • Flat top
    • Paper masks:
      • Nature Recipe Honey
      • 2 Etude House Olive
      • Sephora rose
    • Versace single-use perfume samples
    • Calvin Klein euphoria perfume samples (2) spray
    • Elizabeth Arden pure finish mineral bronzing powder
    • Derma E hydrating day cream with hyaluronic acid 0.5 oz
    • Ruffian nail laquer in nake (neutral beige/cream) 0.17 oz
    • LAW nail polish in Peri Or Whatever (light periwinkle cream) 0.37 oz
    • Ole Henrickson truth sugar glow polishing mask 0.3 oz
    • J Browza brow pencil
    • Make Up For Ever Aqua XL in black
    • Ciate London Wonderland gel kohl liner in black
    • M skin Y Theorem Repair Serum 0.35 oz
    • Tarte Tarteist lip paint in delish (a neutral rosy brownish pink)
    • Nomad highlighting powdwer (sample size)
    • Elizabeth Mott, Whatup Beaches matte bronzer (sample size)
    • FAB First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream 1 oz
    • The Organic Pharmacy lip and eye cream 0.35 oz
    • Clinique samples:
      • Dramatically different moisturizing lotion+
      • Turnaround Cream
      • Moisture Surge
    • SK-II facial treatment essence
    • Crystal body deodorant towelettes
    • Sweet Spot wipes
    • Nano2 natural deodorant

Maybe a few surprise bonuses!

 

The cardboard palace, that is. I just moved from Alameda, California back to Portland, Oregon. While it is absolutely glorious to be back in Portland in the summer, can I take just a moment to whine? Moving sucks. My advice? Don’t ever move. (Seriously. The next time I move, it better be because I just bought the house I plan to die in.) All of the best moving advice on the internet talks about moving like you have several months to plan–I’m not sure who this applies to, exactly. When you move in a hurry (especially after living in the same place for more than five years), nothing is organized. I mean, the first few boxes are carefully packed and labeled, and the label matches the contents. Towards the end, you have a crapload of boxes marked “miscellaneous.” What’s  inside? It’s a mystery! At times I feel like I’m shopping in my own boxes…

One of just three broken things (all of which I packed). Two broke because I mistook one box for another and dropped it.

 

Speaking of which, opening the boxes leads to even more “fun” surprises. This includes the “treasures” (Advil that expired in 2013, expired coupons for San Francisco eateries) and the “interesting facts” (like how my silverware holder thing is about 1/16″ wider than my kitchen drawers, and how the bra I bought a few months ago but hadn’t worn yet has a dud strap that needs repaired).

The Professor, keeping a paw on me so I don’t wander away unattended.

My life is still mostly in boxes, save for me, Professor Nick Sterling, the cat accompaniments (water fountain, litter box, food dishes, cat treats…), and the laundry (from which I am currently dressing myself). It turns out that unboxing in an apartment is a cascading process. So, for example, I can’t unbox the books until I unfold and stack the bookcases; that requires both finding the hardware to stack the bookcases and moving the boxes out of the way, and placing the China cabinet…which can’t move until I clear a path, which requires moving the sofa and dining table, which requires moving some boxes out of the way… When I packed for Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle, I literally could not find my half marathon running shoes and just bought a new pair at the expo. (Brooks Glycerin, size 11. Pulls no punches, fits well, #runhappy.) It’s a little insane. The high point, to date, has been finding the box that had the bed sheets and pillows in it, since nothing beats sleeping in my own bed.

In case you missed it, I moved back to Portland for a shiny, new, full-time day-job.  So far, I’m loving it, and thrilled that I made the move. It’s fairly scary to leap into a new job, especially if you’ve been at the same employment for years, but I’m confident I will continue to love my “new” life. Work has had me very busy and traveling out of town (I’ve been on three out-of-town trips requiring airplanes, and that doesn’t count visiting relatives in San Diego), as I wasn’t in a situation where I could afford to take an extended vacation and my new employer would have loved it if I could have started the day after I accepted the offer. (Which I could not have done, move aside, as I feel it is important to live up to your own integrity when making choices. I wanted to leave my former employer in a good position, all my files/work in order, upcoming events covered, etc. No need to burn bridges or be a jerk–I was there for years, like the people, and do wish the firm well.)

My computer, while found, is lifelessly awaiting the day I open the box containing the power cords. (Meanwhile my computer at work won’t support a browser I can use with Co-Schedule. Not that I’m supposed to be using my work resources to blog, but…) I have partially drafted posts on Hawaii, Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco, The Blue Ridge Marathon (my BEST, ever, DNF)…and I probably should have written about Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle by this point. While I have connect the iPad to the internet, a certain pushy kitty-cat has been making it very difficult to type on the Bluetooth keyboard. (Someone needs to invent a cat snuggle pouch with a built-in petting device for the cat that also serves as a “laptop” desk. Seriously.)

Favorite sign from the 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon

While I feel like I should  be blogging and tweeting and instagramming All Things Healthy Lifestyle, in reality my kitchen is covered in partially unpacked kitchen goods and forwarded mail, any my healthiest meals have been Click for breakfast (and oh yeah, I totally have a post to write about that…and a super overdue book review that I would write now but I’m still trying to figure out which  box it is in, and this great paleo-vegan protein powder). I took a Pure Barre class, but that doesn’t quite balance out the amount of pizza I’ve eaten since moving. If life is an 80-20 proposition, I’ve been eating and living in that 20…and the 80 is asking for payback!

Just to make matters more chaotic, I’m largely working out of Seattle for the next two months or so. This means unpacking happens on the two days I am home, in between loads of laundry and spoiling the cat.

If you’re in Seattle, share your best tips on where to eat healthy vegetarian and where to work out?

If you’re not in Seattle, got healthy living tips for the road warrior?

Disclosure: For the past few years I have been a member of the Rock ‘n’ Blog team, the ambassadors for the Rock ‘n’ Roll series. I’ve tried to blog about each of the races I’ve run, but I do have a day-job and there are only so many hours in the day…and thankfully posting about every race is not a requirement. The 2017 has not yet been selected (applications close on February 22nd, so if you are interested click HERE for the application), but I did apply. Just in case you’re not already aware of any potential bias I may have.

In New Orleans, bling happens

Don’t skip this one. I almost didn’t go to Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans due to stress at home and at work (and travel is stressful too) but man I am glad that I did! My flight left Oakland unreasonably early, and I arrived around 1 p.m. Pro Tip: if you’re just jetting away for the race and coming back again, pack light–check the weather first, but always pack something warm and dry in case of rain.

Friday I took a brief nap before my roommate arrived. We stayed at the Aloft, which is within walking distance of the half marathon starting line and not far from the marathon starting line. It was just a short walk to the convention center–and then another 2k to get to the other side of the convention center (it’s HUGE). Just before the convention center we picked up free samples of Monster’s new “Mutant” brand soda. I think this is supposed to compete with Mountain Dew, as it is a citrus-flavored soda in the standard 20 oz. soda bottle and packs 115mg of caffeine. Before cracking the lid I read the label–it also packs 290 calories and 70 grams of sugar! No, no thank you.

Rock ‘n’ Royalty

The Expo wasn’t huge, but it definitely had a New Orleans flavor, and more local participation than I see at many Rock ‘n’ Roll expos. Of course the ubiquitous green, gold, and purple of Mardi Gras featured prominently, and local running clubs and events had booths. I appreciated the healthy New Orleans resources (New Orleans is known for great food, but not necessarily health food), the bakery sampling (looked like King Cake, but was really a tiny croissant filled with cream and covered in sprinkles). As a New Orleans Mardi Gras krewe has its king and queen, so did Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans, complete with a coronation, confetti, and beads.

Missing our Hall of Famer, @matmilesmedals

Following the expo it was time to look for dinner. As I perused Urban Spoon and Google in what used to be the nook where the pay phones lived, a woman interrupted our discussion. “Excuse me,” she said, “are you looking for a place for dinner? Would you like some suggestions?” From a local? In a town known for amazing food? Heck yes!! We ended up at ___, which had a pan-Caribbean menu and everything from red meat to vegan dishes, plus a bar and amazing drink specials.

Like every other runner at Aloft, we too Lyft to the 5k. The location was perfect for a run, but less than ideal for actually getting there. One suggestion I’m sure LOTS of people made: provide transportation from central points in the various neighborhoods to the race start. We arrived as part of a convoy of Lyft and Uber and taxis. The starting line was just a short walk away. Also, it was freezing. I had packed for the weather that happened earlier in the week, and didn’t have an extra long sleeve for the 5k. Oops.

Me and “Gracie”

It was great to have Ann back to announce the races (she’d been out on maternity leave and while the guy who announced in her place was trying and did okay, he just wasn’t Ann). Prior to the race I ran into Derek, a Team RWB member who is continuing his quest to do a 5k every month, and my friend “Gracie” and her husband. The latter was something of a miracle, as we have repeatedly been at the same race but not managed to see each other. In lieu of trying to run any of it, I decided to walk to Gracie so we could catch up and have photographic rvidence of this monumental event. (Selfies or it didn’t happen, right?) The 5k was entirely within the park, whiich is freaking enornmous, The weather warmed up a little, but not too too much–my friends who ran were cold as soon as they stopped. The course passed by public art, a museum, and (of course!) music. I don’t claim to know what “the New Orleans sound” is, but I can tell you what the “I am a tourist here” music sounds like.

Obligatory hurricane in a geaux cup

I took a shower and a nap while my roommate did the swim and bike sections of his triathlon preparation workout, and then we wandered off to grilled cheese and a Rock ‘n’ Blogger meet up. From there I played tour guide–despite the fact I hadn’t been to NOLA since I lived in Austin–and we walked the French Quarter,  checked out the insane line at Cafe du Monde, and gawked at architecture. Tourist day, for certain. There were snacks, some down time, and dinner, and then it was an early night to bed for us.

The next morning came too soon, and it was off to the races–literally. There was what looked like a great turnout for the half marathon, with plenty of silly costumes and Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit. Miraculously, I saw Gracie again, and we started to walk the course together. Since I was still feeling tight and regularly seeing my sports med person, I didn’t want to try to kill it. This means I missed the mimosa “aid stations” but I can’t complain. I decided to Instagram as I walked the first six miles. Perhaps the rest of the story is best told in pictures.

Preventing waffle crush

This was voted “best race sign” by virtue of being all over social media pretty much instantly

 

Stately architecture

Enjoying this? Why not share with friends. 'Did you see these highlights at #RnRNOLA? @runrocknroll and @trainwithbain rocked it!'Click To Tweet

I found Touchdown Jesus!

 

Runner buffet with bloody mary bar

 

Fun fact! Milk punch = milk + half and half + bourbon = no pain for at least 2 miles #questionablehydrationstrategy

 

Mobile bunny-petting aid station

 

HQ for the Mystic Krewe of Hermes, the longest-running night parade krewe

 

Cheer signs both political and traditional

 

Beer and Wieners aid station

 

Bet you didn’t know NOLA has a vibrant Celtic music scene, and many Irish dance schools!

 

Mobile disco party complete with dancers, DJ, and a disco ball!

 

Finish line at the park–check out the tree canopy!

 

Parting airport shot with @funnerrunner (telltale signs of runners: @addaday roller, @sparklysoul headband, matching @runrocknroll shirts)