What if I told you your all-time favorite vacation would be SOLO in the mountains of Northern California?
My 2019 trail running season ended with a trip to California to race in The Emerald Bay 7 Mile Trail Run. The Lake Tahoe based race takes you around Emerald Bay and includes a section of the historic Rubicon trail, giving it a well-deserved rating as one of America’s most scenic trail runs. I boarded the plane in Atlanta filled with excitement and two servings of my favorite superfood protein shake. Having done my research, my training had prepared me for this race all season. I crossed the finish line at Lester Beach with a huge smile and some seriously shaky legs. Knowing this race would be rewardingly tough did not prepare me for how much I would learn overall from my West Coast adventure. Here are four things worth considering if you plan to run in Lake Tahoe or traveling somewhere your body is not accustomed to.
- Preparing Your Skin for Travel is Key
I hate to burst your glam travel goals, but flying should be a bare-faced affair. Research shows that the humidity level drops 10 to 20 percent lower during flight and skin cells will attempt to attach to water molecules in your makeup which are not the moisturizing agents your skin truly craves. Also, transitioning from a humid to a dry climate location can increase dry skin and cause acne to flare up. Flying make-up free as well as applying a night mask and SPF before wheels up can give your skin a fighting chance to maintain that healthy glow when the plane touches down in your destination. For my California trip, I came prepared with my favorite night mask (Youth of the People Superberry Hydrate +Glow Dream Mask), resurfacing product (Herbivore Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask) and acne spot treatment (Real Acne Healing Patch). Lastly don’t forget to maintain your normal skin care regimen as much as possible and introduce any new products you intend to travel with at least two weeks before departing for your trip.
Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge
Experiencing my first alpenglow over dinner at Sunnyside in Lake Tahoe was surreal. I still often think of the pink glow over the mountains and the amazing fried zucchini.
- Altitude Change is No Joke
Within seconds of exposure to high altitude, increased ventilation occurs causing you to breathe more, while your body seeks normalized oxygen levels. Despite this overcompensation of breathing by your body, less oxygen is circulating through your system meaning less oxygen reaches your muscles which will ultimately affect your athletic performance. At the 2-3 hour mark of altitude exposure, water loss also increases, often leading to dehydration. Altitude can also increase your metabolism while suppressing your appetite. You’ll have to eat more than you feel like eating to maintain a neutral energy balance. If you are one of the unlucky people who experience altitude sickness, you can expect that to kick in 6 – 48 hours after exposure. Acclamation to altitude exposure tends to occur within several days, but can take up to two weeks. As soon as you get off the plane, track down the biggest bottle of water you can purchase or refill your eco-friendly jug. Do not participate in high levels of physical activity for at least two days. Pay attention to how much you eat, and don’t jam your schedule with zero cancelation policy activities for the first 48 hours.
Emerald Bay Lookout
Highway route 89 runs through Emerald Bay and has some of the most breath taking unobstructed views. Riding this route on a motorcycle was one of those experiences thats scares you half to death but leaves you wanting more!
- You Are What You Eat
Let’s be real, the airport restaurant cheeseburger always looks better than the kale salad! Being away from home and your daily routine can tempt even the most seasoned travelers to fall off their nutrition game. Long flights and car trips can mean being stuck in one position for hours with boredom and snack temptation leading a full-on attack. When you go for long periods of time without eating you’re far more likely to pick up something unhealthy. Live by the golden rule of eating something nutrient dense every 2-3 hours and drinking water as much as possible. Try to score a hotel room with a mini fridge and download a healthy food locator app to your phone (Happy Cow App) so you have a fighting chance at finding healthier dining options. Also, maintain natural sleep habits and add in a high potency probiotic to help with digestion (Flora Super 8 Hi-Potency Probiotic).
The Emerald Bay Trail Run was strategically titled with "run" instead of "race" because the race production manger believed the views were more important than the "win". After experiencing the tracking first-hand I couldn't agree more!
- Traveling Solo is Good for the Soul
For many people the idea of traveling solo is a real challenge because we’re not used to our own company for long periods of time. It can make us uncomfortable, bring about too much introspection, forcing you to face your fears alone. These are some of the exact reasons why you SHOULD solo travel at least once. Solo traveling allows you to meet more locals and experience things around you on a deeper level. Facing unavoidable circumstances and difficulties in an unfamiliar environment challenges you to learn and adapt to things outside of your comfort zone. Solo travelers often report instances of mundane happenstance and can offer up strong and memorable emotions. My trip to Northern California was filled with these moments! I found myself eating out on restaurant patios, people watching, and listening to some of the most interesting background stories from locals and fellow travelers like me. When I landed back in Georgia, I had a new-found confidence, cherished memories, a better relationship with myself, and a sense of peace that I haven’t felt before.
I think Patrick Rothfuss said it best when he wrote, “Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler than mirror-glass. A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet introspection.”