Running with Westin’s Gear Lending Program and RunBoston

This marks the final post recapping my trip to Boston earlier this month. I did not get much exercise in during the conference because the conference organizers were a bit disorganized and did not tell us that we had access to a gym until after we had already arrived.

Since I only packed a carry-on bag for my trip, I did not have room to pack my running shoes. But I knew that I would be able to get some workouts in after I switched to the Westin Copley Place because of their partnership with New Balance. Westin and New Balance recently created a Gear Lending Program, where for a fee of $5 you can borrow a pair of running shoes during your stay. Along with shoes, you can also borrow shorts, tops, sports bras and socks.

After I checked into my room, I called the Service line and requested my shoes. I also asked for a top and shorts. After a short wait, this drawstring bag was delivered to my room. You need to be there to sign for the items.

On Saturday night, I was able to use the hotel fitness center. Since I had already walked so much during the day, I only did one mile on the treadmill. 

I love the Gear Lending Program! It makes it easy to workout without having to worry about how you are going to fit your gear into your luggage. Westin also has a RunWestin program, which you can request running routes from the hotel’s “running concierge.” Also, guided runs are available to join during the week. Westin is doing a great job in supporting a healthy lifestyle.

On Sunday morning, I booked a private running tour of Boston with RunBoston. Just before 7:30 am, I met Erin from RunBoston outside of my hotel and we started the tour. I requested a 4-ish mile route that included the Charles River and the Boston Marathon Finish Line. During the week, she sent me two different options and had me pick the one I preferred.

We started north towards Boylston Street and passed by the Trinity Church.

Then we headed through Boston Public Garden, where we stopped at one of the statues that I had missed on Saturday: an equestrian statue of George Washington.

 The majority of our route was along the Charles River and it was perfect because it was still too early for the crowds and there weren’t any stoplights along the riverfront path.

We ran towards the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge and stopped in the middle of it to snap some photos.

 The Mass Ave Bridge’s length is marked by the number of Smoots. This was an MIT prank, where a student named Oliver Smoot lied down over and over again across the bridge while his fraternity brothers marked how long the bridge was. One smoot is equal to 5′ 7″, the height of Oliver Smoot. The bridge is equal to 364.4 smoots plus one ear!

As our run winded down, we returned to Bolyston Street and passed by the adidas Boston Marathon RunBase. In addition to selling adidas and Boston Marathon gear, the RunBase has locker rooms and showers and displays historical Boston Marathon memorabilia. I wish I had time to visit the RunBase during my trip, but sadly, was not able to.

Nearby is the Boston Marathon Finish Line. So many years of history and, of course, the horrible event that took place just a few years ago!

Erin ran back to my hotel with me, which is across from the original Boston Public Library

 I had a great time on my run, Erin was very informative and always told me what was coming up, from hills to where we needed to cross or wait at lights. I am glad I did this run. Otherwise, I am not sure that I would have woken up so early this Sunday morning.

I also got a nice souvenir from my tour, a cool tech shirt, which was an additional cost than the tour.

Well, that is all from Boston! Not sure when I will be back.

How I (Accidentally) Walked 14 Miles in Boston – Part 2

Meanwhile, back on the Freedom Trail….
I dragged myself out of the comfy hotel room and back onto the sidewalks of Boston. I meandered my way past Boston Public Garden and Boston Common, towards Beacon Hill and spotted the beautiful gilded dome of the Massachusetts State House. It is hard to make out but the dome is topped with a gilded pine cone.

Located on the edge of Boston Common is the Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment. If you have seen the film Glory, you know who Shaw and the members of the 54th Regiment are. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it. Glory is one of the most heartbreaking and beautiful war movies I have ever seen. I actually read that the inspiration for making the film was visiting the Shaw Memorial in Boston!

The 54th was one of the first all African-American units of the Union Army during the Civil War. These units were commanded by white officers, and Shaw commanded the 54th. Shaw, along with many of his men died in battle but were praised for their valor and honor. I could probably go on and on about this…

Shaw Memorial in Boston Common
Moving back to the American Revolution, I next visited the Old South Meeting House. The meeting house is also an old church building with similar box pews as I saw at the Old North Church, but what this building is famous for is being the place where the Boston Tea Party was organized. 
Old South Meeting House exterior
Old South Meeting House interior

Nearby is the Old State House, one of the country’s oldest buildings and the seat of the British colony government and later the seat of the state government. One of the coolest features are the giant lion and unicorn, which are symbols of the British monarchy.

Old State House – Council Chamber

Behind the Old State House is the Site of the Boston Massacre, marked by a stone circle. It was here where British soldiers killed five colonists in a riot in 1770.

Boston Massacre Site

Next, I visited Granary Burying Ground, the graves of many notable figures are buried here.

Including Samuel Adams, Founding Father, signor of the Declaration of Independence and beer company namesake.

John Hancock’s tomb can also be found here. Another signor of the Declaration, like his signature, his tombstone is large and fancy! 

Paul Revere’s grave can also be found in Granary Burying Ground. Other notables include the victims of the Boston Massacre, members of Benjamin Franklin’s family and a third signor of the Declaration of Independence, Robert Treat Paine.

Continuing on, I made my way back to Boston Common and Boston Public Garden. It was a beautiful day and lots of people, families and doggies were out enjoying their weekends. 
Boston Common is kind of like Boston’s equivalent to Central Park. It is a large public park in the middle of the city. It also happens to be the oldest city park in the United States. 
The park also has many notable features, including the beautiful Brewer Fountain.

Just north of Boston Common and Boston Public Garden is Beacon Street, where Cheers is located. This is where the exterior shots of the bar, featured on the tv show Cheers were filmed. The bar, originally called The Bull & Finch, was not named Cheers until 2002, which I think is pretty funny or perhaps business savvy? Must be business savvy because I went in and bought a t-shirt for Raisin Bread. I am such a sucker!!

I headed back south and walked through Boston Public Garden. There is a set of statues called Make Way for Ducklings that I saw the first time I visited Boston. But this time, they were all wearing knitted bows or bibs! So cute! 

Boston Public Garden is a very popular spot for wedding photos because I saw at least three different wedding parties as well as a quinceanera around the pond.

After all of that walking, it was time for dinner. I desperately wanted to have some seafood, but since it was Saturday night, lots of places were packed.

I eventually found Summer Shack in Back Bay. I started with a half dozen oysters. So delicious!

Then I had the one thing that I just had to eat while in Boston: a lobster/lobstah roll. Yum!

Wow, that was a long day! Good thing I could go back to my lovely hotel room! 

How I (Accidentally) Walked 14 Miles in Boston – Part 1

My conference ended on Saturday, so that gave me half the day to see some of the sights of Boston. I decided to walk the Freedom Trail, and somehow wound up walking 14.5 miles throughout the day, according to my FitBit…and my tired and sore feet and legs.

View of Charlestown

For those who have not been to Boston before, the Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile long path that goes through downtown Boston, from Boston Common to Charlestown, and has 16 historical locations along it.

I started from the north end of the Freedom Trail and stopped first at the USS Constitution. The USS Constitution, aka Old Ironsides, was first launched in 1797 and is famous for her service during the War of 1812. Today, it is a museum, docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard.

USS Constitution

Visitors are lucky enough to be able to board the ship and check out some of our country’s naval history.

Crew members aboard the USS Constitution are all active duty U.S. Navy Sailors and they are available to answer questions from visitors.

The Constitution is currently undergoing a 3-year restoration project, but is still open to the public.

The Freedom Trail is marked by red brick or a painted red line, so one would think that it would be easy to follow. I, however, managed to take a couple of wrong turns throughout the day, which added to my walking distance!

Freedom Trail red brick path
Cute buildings in Charlestown

My second stop on the Freedom Trail was Bunker Hill Monument, which commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill, fought in 1775 during the American Revolution. It is not actually located in the Bunker Hill section of Boston but in Charlestown. Confusing?

The monument stands 221-feet tall and you can climb its 294 steps to the top. For some reason, 294 steps didn’t sound like a lot but it was quite a hot and tiring journey!

Once you get to step 294, you are afforded beautiful views of Boston!
View from Bunker Hill Monument
Leaving Charlestown, I headed back to the North End of Boston to continue on the trail.

I visited the first of three graveyards on the Freedom Trail: Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.

Copp’s Hill is the last resting place of patriots, like Robert Newman, as well as horrible characters from early American history, like Cotton and Increase Mather, ministers of Salem Witch Trials fame. 
I loved the detailing of the tombstones. 
Speaking of Robert Newman, next up was the Old North Church
It was here that Robert Newman, along with two other patriots, hung two lanterns from the church steeple to communicate the movements of the British Army before the Battles of Lexington and Concord. If you recall from the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, “one if by land, two if by sea.” Once the signal was given, riders on horseback, including Paul Revere, disseminated the message.

Interior of Old North Church

I thought the church’s box pews were so cool. They were even labelled with family names and dates, mostly from the 1700s.

Next door to the Old North Church is The Ebenezer Clough House, which houses Captain Jackson’s Chocolate Shop and the Print Shop of Edes and Gill.
It was super touristy, so I just snapped a few photos. 
Chocolate making demonstration 

Colonial printing press

It was getting to be time for some sustenance, but first, I visited Paul Revere Mall, which features a statue of Paul Revere on horseback. 

Since I was in the North End, which is Boston’s Little Italy, Italian food was a must-eat. I popped in to Locale for some delicious pizza. I had the parma with prosciutto, figs and arugula. It was so good, but way too much for me to eat.

Even though I was stuffed, I had to stop in to Mike’s Pastry for a cannoli. I am usually not a huge cannoli fan, but who knows when I will be back in Boston. There were a ton of different cannolis but I went with the chocolate dipped to eat later. 
Chocolate-dipped cannoli from Mike’s Pastry

I was now carrying around half a pizza and a cannoli. Oh and Raisin Bread was calling me. It was time to head to my hotel to rest my feet and drop off my food.

First though, I saw that Paul Revere’s House is right in the middle of the North End.

I hopped on the T and made my way to the Westin Copley Place in Back Bay.
After four nights of sleeping on a twin-sized dorm room bed, I was grateful to be able to come back to a hotel room with a king-sized bed. 

Dorm room in Northeastern’s International Village

King room in the Westin Copley Place

This post is getting a little lengthy, so I’ll split it up into two posts. More of the Freedom Trail next time!

Pretty Views and More Boston Eats

On Thursday night of the conference, we had a lovely dinner on the campus of Northeastern University. I think we were on the 17th floor and had amazing views of Boston.

We were even treated to a sunset!

Dinner was an amazing buffet dinner that included beef, clam chowder and crabcakes. I was surprised by how delicious everything was.

For dessert, we had huge Boston cream pies! I could only eat half of it even though I wanted to eat the whole thing!

On Friday night, I met up with an old friend/co-worker who I met at my first job after college. We had dinner at Eastern Standard Kitchen. The place was ridiculously busy because there was a concert at Fenway Park that night.

I enjoyed the Daily Special, which was saffron fettuccine with shellfish, tomatoes, peas and uni butter. Yum!

Boston is very upset about this whole deflate-gate thing! 

Greetings from Boston…

Except that I am now back home in Albuquerque. I started this post when I was in Boston for most of last week and never finished it.

I took a red-eye flight (upgraded to first class between Albuquerque and Charlotte. Woohoo!) and arrived in Boston on Tuesday morning. I was in town for a professional development conference and we were told that we wouldn’t be able to check in to our rooms until noon, so I had a couple of hours to kill.

I decided to stick around the airport for a bite to eat because I didn’t want to lug my suitcase around with me and had nowhere to store it. I grabbed a mug of New England clam chowder from Legal Sea Foods. Clam chowder was definitely on my extensive “must-eat” list even though I eat it all the time, especially at Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes!

The conference took place on the campus of Northeastern University and our lodging was in the dorms at International Village. We had single rooms that shared a bathroom with a second room, but I wound up having no one as my suitemate. Score!  It was still odd sleeping on a twin-size mattress though.

So blurry, sorry!

On Tuesday night, I went with some of my fellow conference attendees to dinner near the Prudential Center. It was a beautiful night and made for a nice walk.

Buildings in Back Bay, including the Prudential Building 

First Church of Christ, Scientist

During the conference, we also took most of our meals in the dining halls. It brought me back to that one year that I actually lived in the dorms at UCLA!

One day I had a huge pastrami sandwich from the dining hall’s kosher station.

One weird thing about the conference location was that they were doing construction in the building where all of our sessions were being held. I hope the conference organizers got a discount!

The conference had nothing planned on Wednesday night, so I could have either hung out with my conference attendees or skip out on my own. My loner self, of course, wanted to explore solo.

The Museum of Fine Arts is open late on Wednesday nights and also admission is by voluntary contribution that night as well, so I took advantage of the fact that we were only about a 5 minute walk away and spent a few hours at the museum.

The museum has a world-class collection that includes American Art.

Impressionist paintings like Claude Monet’s Water Lillies.

Asian art, including a Japanese temple room

Contemporary art

Even a collection of Egyptian mummies and sarcophaguses (is that a word?)

and John Singer Sargent murals.

The MFA was holding a huge exhibition on the works of Katsushika Hokusai, the first internationally recognized Japanese artist. The works were almost entirely woodblock prints and were so detailed and beautiful to look at. 
The combination of it being a voluntary contribution night and the last week of the exhibition, it was almost impossible for me to enjoy the works. I was also getting hungry, so I quickly browsed through the galleries. I wish I had had more time to really take all of them in. 

My long Wednesday was capped off with a gyro sandwich and baklava from Boston Shawarma in my dorm room while watching some Netflix. So sleepy….

Rave Run: Redondo Beach

Last week, I was in LA for the weekend and had an 8 mile training run on the docket. Since it has been too hot for me to run outside in Albuquerque, I decided to hit the pavement while I was in sunny Southern California.

I ran from where I was staying in Torrance down to Redondo Beach.

Look at all of the palm trees!

OMG! It’s the Pacific Ocean!

One of the most amazing things in Los Angeles is the 40-mile long ocean-front beach path that goes all the way from Malibu and down to Torrance Beach. When Raisin Bread lived in Manhattan Beach, we would run or ride our bikes along the path on most weekends.

A significant portion of my run took place along the Redondo Beach portion of the path.

You can’t tell from my photos but there were tons of walkers, runners and bikers out on this beautiful Sunday morning.

I ran south along the path, where you could see the hills of Palos Verdes.

I did an out-and-back route and headed back towards Redondo Landing to make my way back to my starting point.

As I was running, I kept thinking about how my run was so typical of my previous life, living in LA. That is when I saw the most cliched hippie LA thing: a guy…sitting by the beach path…playing a didgeridoo! I almost starting laughing and desperately wanted to take a photo of him.

I made it back to Torrance and decided to detour to my old stomping grounds: my high school alma mater! Go, West High! It has been a long time since I graduated in 1998!

It was a gorgeous, if warm and sunny, day for an outdoor run!

Activities at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa

Our weekend at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa was super active. There are tons of things to do on property to keep both adults and kids occupied all day long! In fact, Tamaya was recently named one of the “10 Best Family Friendly Luxury Resorts” by USA Today.

Here is a look at some of the activities available at the Hyatt Tamaya.

Walking / Running / Biking Trails
The resort is home to an elaborate system of dirt trails that run along the Rio Grande and throughout the surrounding area. The first thing we did when we arrived at Tamaya was borrow two beachcruisers and bike helmets and enjoyed a 2-mile bike ride along the trails.

I loved biking among the cottonwood trees.

We had a lovely view of the mountains and the river.

Along one of the trails are a series of exercise stations (like chin-up bars, climbing walls and ladders), I remember playing on similar equipment when I was a child, so we had some fun on our bike ride and stopped at the ones we came across to have some vacation silliness!

The resort has three pools and a whirlpool for all of your outdoor water needs. The Plaza Pool is the main pool with its two-story water slide. There are plenty of lounge chairs as well as a bar adjacent to the pool.

Secondly, there is the Oxbow Pool, which looked to be a shallow depth kiddie pool.

Finally, the Kiva Pool is the adults only pool. This is a circular pool surrounded by a high circular wall, which is supposed to protect from the wind. I spent all of my pool time at the Kiva Pool because I wanted quiet, away from the screaming/splashing children, and it was heaven!

Outdoor movies are shown on a big screen at the Plaza Pool during the evening. On our first night there, they were screening one of the Toy Story movies. 

The Stables at Tamaya 
When we booked our trip to Tamaya, we purchased a package that included our hotel stay plus either two rounds of golf or two horseback rides at The Stables at Tamaya. Since neither of us enjoy playing golf, we decided to do the horseback rides.

Before our scheduled trail ride, we met at the concierge desk and were shuttled to The Stables.

In addition to the horses, there were lots of other friendly animals like these goats.

The horse I was assigned to is called Hollywood. He was gentle but loved to be at the head of the pack! We enjoyed a roughly two hour ride on the grounds of Santa Ana Pueblo. The brush was much taller than usual because of all of the rain we had been getting. It was like walking through a salad bar for the horses. 
After our ride ended, we headed back to The Stables. Look who else has visited! Jessica Alba!
I’m not one to have celebrity crushes, but if I were, my celebrity crush would be this guy: Tom Hiddleston! 

Evening with the Artist
On our first night at Tamaya, we attended this happy hour of sorts, only that we got to view beautiful sculptures by a local artist and speak with him, if we wanted to. It was near the tail end of the event, so after we looked at the art, we decided to grab some of the refreshments and enjoy them al fresco.

Pueblo Bread Tasting

Our last activity of our stay was attending the traditional bread tasting, freshly baked in the outdoor oven.

Along with the bread, delicious butters, like cinnamon, red chile and green chile, and jams (my favorite was the apricot) were used to accompany the light and fluffy bread.

Fitness Center
Located next to the spa, the fully-equipped fitness center is open 24 hours. It has everything from treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, free weights, kettlebells, stability balls and exercise mats. I stayed in the fitness center for two hours and no other guests used any of the equipment. There were a few people who stopped and poked their head in but no one else worked out.

Yoga classes are also available for a fee, but I was not able to attend any of the classes.

Other Activities
There is so much to do at the Hyatt Tamaya, and we definitely were not able to do everything. The weekly Tamaya Times  details all of the activities for the week. Many require an additional fee and include cultural and art classes, like leather stamping and jewelry making.

As I mentioned before, golf is available at the Twin Warriors Golf Club and there is a full-service spa.

With so much to do, you will be at a loss for how to spend your time at The Hyatt Tamaya!