A Letter to a Hotel

NOTE: This is an open letter to Ramada Worldwide/Wyndham Resorts. It’s not the typical type of blog post for me, but I am greatly upset by how my mom and I were treated on my last day in New York earlier this month.

Dear Ramada,

On Monday, November 6th, I called your general reservations line inquiring about booking a room that evening near Macarthur Airport in New York. The man on the other end of the phone was very nice, informing me that the hotel offered an airport shuttle, and asked me if I would like to book a room. Unfortunately, the price he offered was not as good as the price I was able to find online through the discount website, Priceline. I thanked him, and proceeded to book the room through the discount site.

My mom and I then headed from our location in Queens, NYC to the subway station with all of our luggage in tow. The travel adventure to get to the LIRR station in Manhattan was less than a fun experience, as I was sore and tired from running the NYC Marathon the day before, and my 64-year-old mom wasn’t feeling well to boot. None-the-less, we made it to the train and couldn’t wait to get onto Long Island and settled into the hotel.

Upon arriving in Ronkonkoma, I called the hotel’s front desk, inquiring about the airport shuttle. Mom and I would have to take another shuttle from the LIRR to the airport for $5 a piece, and I wanted to see when we needed to let the hotel staff know we needed a pickup. This is where things started to go downhill. The front desk clerk told me that there was no airport shuttle offered, and she apologized that we were wrongly informed this.

The Girl's Got Sole - Ramada Hotel

Being so exhausted and just ready to get to the hotel, we allowed the sweet clerk to call us a cab that would take us to the hotel. She informed me that I could get a receipt and speak to the hotel manager about the issue the next day when we checked out. This worked for mom and I, as we were sure this would be easily taken care of the next day.

The taxi cab that picked us up was very nice, he even mentioned that he had heard of this same issue before from other travelers. He stated that he has picked up others who were told about a shuttle, but in the end, there was none for this particular hotel. The driver dropped us off at the Ramada Holtsville, wishing us well, and letting us know that he could pick us up the next day when we needed to get to the airport.

Mom and I checked in, the desk girl being very nice, again telling us the manager would be in the next morning. We headed down to the room, which was on the first floor (I did appreciate that). Once inside, it was a basic hotel room, no frills. There were also quite a number of stains on the carpet and furniture. I went to look out the window, only to discover a view of a storage area full of tables and chairs. Not exactly what you’d expect to see outside of your hotel room window. During the night, as we tried to get some much needed sleep, the air conditioner/heater continued to go on and off with an awful high-pitch squeal. So much for a good night’s rest.

The next day, mom and I gathered our things, and headed toward the lobby to check out. I arrived to the desk first, and was greeted by another friendly female clerk. I told her about my issue with the shuttle and cab fare, and she went to the back to speak with the manager. She came back out twice, trying to show me apparently print-outs of their website listing before the actual manager decided to emerge and approach the counter. It was about that time that my mom came to the counter beside me.

The Girl's Got Sole - Hotel window

The view from our hotel room window.

The manager immediately seemed to have a not-so-friendly attitude as he told me he heard about the situation from the desk clerk regarding the shuttle. I replied, that yes, it was an issue because we were told something by the hotel corporation’s reservations line, and after booking, the location could not provide the shuttle. I told the manager, that all my mom and I wanted was for the hotel to pay for the cab fare for the night before and the cab we needed to now call to get us to the airport.

Right away, the manager seemed to become defensive, informing me that that this offering is not on their website, and that he could not accommodate the request for cab fare. I admit, I was not willing to accept this response. I told him that we expected Ramada to take care of us, and it wasn’t my problem that someone at reservations provided us wrong information. The manager replied that he was not going to pay for the cab. It was about this point that I mentioned that if he didn’t want to take care of his customers and make this situation better, that I would go online via social media and tell everyone that they should not give Ramada or Wyndham any of their business. I told him that I was a blogger and runner who had a good deal of connections and friends who travel a good deal.

The manager then told me that I was threatening and blackmailing him. I told him that it wasn’t blackmail, it was called if I don’t get properly taken care of as a customer, I will let others know about my upsetting experience. At this point, the manager decided he no longer wanted to speak to me, and tried to eject me from the counter area. He told me that he didn’t want to speak to me any longer, and that he would only talk to my mom.

I calmed enough to let my mom do the talking, but I told him I would not leave. He agreed to call the Ramada reservations line with us standing there to see what a rep informed him about an airport shuttle. When he did, he actually received correct information from this rep. He was told that there was not one offered by this hotel location. He passed the phone to my mom who spoke calmly to the rep on the other end and then asked to speak with a supervisor. After a brief period of time on hold, the rep returned telling mom that some phone reps are giving mis-information to guests. When my mom asked the rep to please inform the hotel manager of this, the manager told the phone rep he needed to find out who would pay for these cab fares, because he was not going to do so.

As we were all standing there waiting for the reservations folks to find out about this, the manager told mom and I that we didn’t really book with his hotel anyway. Booking through Priceline isn’t giving Ramada business. What? Are you kidding? Of course the hotel gets money from a discount site, it’s just through a third party. He continued to disagree with us, insisting that we had a Priceline issue, not an issue with Ramada.

At some point during this hold period, I asked the manager for his business card. He refused. Wow. Mom then asked him for his last name, he refused to provide that as well and actually put his hand over his name tag so that she could not read it. We only know his first name, Steven.

Steven then decided he no longer wanted to hear me, so he threatened to hang up the phone if I said another word to him. What was he, my parent? I said something (which I don’t recall), and he said, “that’s it, you blew it,” hanging up the phone and telling us both that he wanted us out of his hotel. I told him I would not do that, it was like 47 degrees outside! He insisted that we remove ourselves from his hotel property. I was pretty darn upset, and mom told me that we should just go.

Now, I don’t applaud myself for the curse words I threw in Steven’s direction as we were leaving (it was an F- you), as I feel bad in hindsight saying such a thing. I try to pride myself on being nice and a Christian does her best to not get down to such a level. Unfortunately, it was said. The shocker was that this manager, Steven yelled back at me, “I wouldn’t give you the pleasure!”

What? What kind of manager talks that way to a customer? Sure, I said something that wasn’t at all nice, but that stunned me. I have never been treated so rudely. I emerged into the cold weather in tears. What a horrible way to treat your guests. From the moment Steven approached us at that counter, I felt he had a chip on his shoulder. It was as if he had no intention of making us leave with a pleasant experience.

When I filed at compliant with Ramada Worldwide, I was told that someone would be in contact with me in about a week. Not hearing back from anyone, I called. The woman on the other end informed me that the case was closed, the company spoke with the property and doesn’t think they did any wrong. Ramada will not be doing anything for us.

I guess there is no such thing as customer service anymore. No one even called me or my mom to further discuss this issue, they just blindly believe that the manager was in the right in treating a guest in this manner. Until and unless Ramada/Wyndham decides to do something for us, I will no longer be giving you any business. Furthermore, I will be advising all of my friends, a lot of whom are runners and travel a good deal for marathons NOT to give your chain business. If you treat me this way, whose to say that you won’t treat them with the same disrespect?

My next step will be to lodge a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

Shannon Chenoweth

261 Fearless in New York City

**This blog post covers days one and two in NYC, which was Friday and Saturday before the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon.**

Girl's Got Sole - 261 Fearless Team NYC

Last weekend, I was in New York running the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon for 261 Fearless. I arrived in New York late Thursday, but didn’t meet up with the team until Friday around lunchtime. From that point onward, it was the start of my incredible extended weekend with 261 Fearless.

I was staying at an Aunts home Thursday and Friday, so on Friday morning, she drove me to the Long Island Rail Road station. The ride was about an hour and 20 minutes long to Penn Station. When I arrive at Penn, I headed out to the street to walk to the Adidas store where we were having our Team 261 Fearless meeting. The walk to the store would take me over 20 minutes, so I figured I would stop along the way for a snack of some sort. I found a Vitamin Shoppe a few blocks before I reached my destination, so I grabbed a protein drink and some bars for future snacking.

The Girl's Got Sole - Team 261 NYC meeting

photo credit: Horst von Bohlen

When I arrived at the Adidas flagship store in NYC, I was immediately greeted by Deb, our team contact. We hugged and she told me that the team was meeting up on the third floor. Heading inside, immediately I noticed how huge the flagship store is. It is definitely impressive. In hindsight, I wish I had pictures of how neat the place is. I made my way up to the third floor, and not knowing where I was, an employee helped me find the meeting room.

Meeting my team, and Kathrine Switzer was SO great! I got the biggest hug from Kathrine and it made my day. She is the sweetest person. I am blessed to now know her. The meeting was filled with info on our weekend plans, including race morning of course, as well as some neat photo and video opportunities for Adidas and media. After that, we headed downstairs for a 261 meetup.

The meetup was a chance for any 261 Fearless ladies in the area and/or who were running the NYC Marathon to meet Kathrine and the 2017 Team 261 Fearless NYC. Kathrine spoke, and then we heard some stories from a few Fearless ladies. It was then time for Kathrine to go, as there was going to be a Fearless AF panel with Adidas.

The Girl's  Got Sole - 261 Fearless group

photo credit: Horst von Bohlen

Team 261 Fearless got seated, and we were able to hear all about Adidas awesome new Fearless AF campaign that involves Kathrine Switzer, Robin Arzon, Jesse Zapo, Mary Keitany, and Jen Rhines. If you have yet to see this super awesome video, head over here to check it out. We got to see it at the panel, and it’s sooo good!

Unfortunately, the shakeout run with Kathrine had to be rescheduled until after this panel, so I had to miss it due to having to catch a train back to Long Island. Disappointing to be sure, as I was looking forward to that run with the team and all the 261 Fearless women who came out. But, since my Aunt had generously agreed to pick me up at the train station in Riverhead, I would have to miss out on the run.

The next morning became a bit of disappointment for me. The team had a trip to the Top of the Rock scheduled at 9:30am. I had gotten Lyft scheduled to pick me up in time to get to the LIRR in order to arrive in time to get to Rockefeller Center, but the driver cancelled on me that morning at the last minute. Upsetting to be sure, I was very much looking forward to that Top of the Rock experience. As it turned out, I got into the city about 9:30am via the Hampton Jittney, but there was no way I could get to Rockefeller Center in time (not to mention that I had all of my luggage in tow). Sometimes, life just doesn’t go as you’d like it to.

The Girl's Got Sole - NYC Marathon expo

So, once I got off of the Hampton Jittney (it’s a bus that you can ride from Long Island to Manhattan), I got off and took the subway to Queensboro Plaza, which was the closest subway to the hotel my mom and I would be staying in on Saturday and Sunday nights. That was three stops, and I got off, and dragged my noisy suitcase (the thing was squeaking like crazy, needing to be oiled) along with my other stuff down the sidewalk as I walked the 15 minutes to the hotel. I was unable to check in until after 1pm, but was able to leave the squeaky suitcase and my duffel bag with the hotel clerk to hold and I went back off to the race expo.

The expo for the TCS NYC Marathon is huge. I remember how much that fact stood out to me when I first ran the marathon in 2015. So, upon arriving at the Javits Center, I was not as surprised this time around. With the change in major sponsor though, from Asics to New Balance, it was different than I recalled it being before. But, maybe it wasn’t so much, as it was two years ago that I had been there.

The Girl's Got Sole - 2017 NYC race bib

Immediately, I got in line to pick up my race bib. It was a fairly quick process, but the expo floor was quite busy. After I picked up my bib, I got in another line to get my race shirt and bag for the pre-start village. That too was an easy process, and before I knew it, I found myself in the midst of New Balance gear land. I had told myself that I wasn’t going to buy anything in there (which I did well at), so I maneuvered through there to the main vendor area of the expo.

I didn’t check out many of the vendors, but I did hit up Generation UCAN, JackRabbit NYC (for the 2017 NYC Marathon OOFOS), and found the Runner’s World booth. The last one was where I got to meet the wonderfully inspirational Mirna Valerio! I also finally met fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador Mary Sutter who was over there meeting Mirna as well. Meeting Mirna, getting a hug from her and a few minutes to chat was a highlight of my weekend. I love, love her book, and I can’t recommend it more. If you missed my blog post about it, please do check it out and be inspired.

The Girl's Got Sole - Mirna & me

Somehow, I emerged myself from the expo, and back onto the streets of NYC. I then headed toward Penn Station. My mom was on a train coming in from Long Island. I had time to kill before she arrived, so I wandered around Kmart a bit. Once she got in, we both headed for the subway to go to our hotel in Queens. I was finally able to check in.

After changing my clothes and hanging around the room a bit, I again hit the streets to go to our team pre-marathon dinner. The dinner was in Manhattan at Becco restaurant on 46th street. It was a great dinner with my wonderful 261 Fearless team. I enjoyed getting to know some of them better as we laughed and just had a nice evening.

Once I got back to the hotel, I took a quick shower (a pre-race ritual), laid out my flat runner, made my Generation UCAN gels, and headed to bed. Before I knew it, it would be race morning and time to hit the streets of NYC!

The Girl's Got Sole - Flat runner

Come run in Mt. Dora!

Disclaimer: I’m promoting Mt. Dora Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The Girl's Got Sole - Mt. Dora Half Marathon

Are you looking for a fun holiday-themed half marathon in December? Come out and run the Mt. Dora Half Marathon on December 17, 2017. Now in it’s 6th year, the race is always a popular one in Central Florida.

The race has both the half marathon as well as a 5k option. The half marathon is a USATF certified course, and the finish line will remain open until the last runner completes the race. So, no matter if you are a fast runner, or if you are a walker, you won’t be left behind!

The Girl's Got Sole - Mt. Dora Half Marathon medal

The 2017 race medal

The half marathon is limited to 1500 runners/walkers, so with just over a month until race day, you don’t want to wait too much longer to register (also, prices increase on 12/1). You can save 15% off the half marathon or 5k with discount code BIBRAVE15.

To register to join me at the Mt. Dora Half Marathon, head over to http://www.mountdorahalfmarathon.com/

Featured in local newspaper

On November 2nd, I was featured in a front page story in my local newspaper. The Orlando Sentinel did a great piece on my running the NYC Marathon.

The Girl's Got Sole - Orlando Sentinel story

photo credit: Joe Burbank

It was a neat experience being contacted by Orlando Sentinel writer, Steven Ruiz for the article. I met him and photographer, Joe Burbank one evening in Baldwin Park. We had a nice chat about my running, weight loss, 261 Fearless, and the NYC Marathon.

A fellow Orlando Galloway runner friend actually saw the article before I did, and it was really nice hearing from a number of friends and even my family doctor of over 25 years with congratulations on being in the paper. I think it came out great, and I’m appreciative for the story.

You can check out the article online here.

From Hospital to Marathon

Just days before I was set to leave for New York, I would find myself in the hospital. On October 31st, I had begun to have stabbing, burning chest pains on the left side of my chest. The pain began late in the morning, while I was working. I didn’t think much of it at first, assuming it was heartburn or something.

But, when the pain had only continued through the rest of the day, I called Ask a Nurse. The nurse advised me to call 911, which I didn’t do (I admit, I’m stubborn), but I did get in the car and drive to the nearby Centra Care. They hooked me up to an EKG machine and told me that my readings were abnormal. So, off I went to the hospital.

The Girl's Got Sole - Hospital's are no fun

Not a happy runner being in the hospital.

When I arrived at the ER, I checked in, and within minutes I was brought back to a triage nurse. My blood pressure was in the 190s over something (it was really high, that’s all I recall), and they got me into a bed. I was hooked up to a heart monitor and got an oh-so-fun IV put in. After they ran a few tests, the doctor told me that they wanted to admit me overnight for observation. They weren’t sure if I had experienced a heart attack or what was going on.

I was not expecting that at all. Admitted to the hospital? I had just thrown on a t-shirt and shorts and went out of the house thinking I would be back in an hour or so. But, what was I going to do? I still felt like crud, and I had to figure out what was going on. I mean, I had a marathon to run in five days!

Mind you, I told every single hospital employee I met about my upcoming NYC Marathon. I made sure they knew the importance of it, and how I had to be able to fly out for my trip on Thursday. They were both impressed with my upcoming marathon goal, and unsure about it since we needed to figure out what was causing my chest pains.

The Girl's Got Sole - Running injury meme

Once I was admitted and taken up to the third floor and into my own room, I tried to tell myself I had to think positively and pray that nothing was wrong. My parents who were over an hour away, were obviously concerned. My mom and dad told me that they knew the marathon was important to me, but my health was first and foremost. If the doctor didn’t clear me, they didn’t want me going to New York.

While I understood my parents were right, I wasn’t ready to give up on the NYC Marathon. In the grand scheme of things, one race isn’t more important than my overall health. Even if I’ve been training and working toward it for over six months. So, I told them to please pray and we would see what the doctor said.

Thankfully, I didn’t end up having to give up on New York. After 24 hours of tests, including lots of blood work (taken from both arms), X-Rays, and a CT Scan with contrast, I received the green light from the cardiologist. He said that all of my tests came back great. Not only did I have good blood work tests come back, but the CT Scan also came back normal.

The Girl's Got Sole - I can still run doc?

What a relief it was! My heart and arteries were in great shape. What caused my chest pains was something called costochondritis. That is an inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage that causes localized chest pain. Not a clue how it happened, as I didn’t recall any strenuous exercise moves or having a respiratory issue. The only possibility that I could come up with was reaching for stuff in my bedroom closet the day before.

I was so happy to finish packing and get ready for my Thursday afternoon flight. I would literally be leaving Orlando for New York less than 24 hours after being released from the hospital. Between my Plantar Fascitiis injury and this craziness, the taper for my 6th marathon was sure the roughest one yet. Goes to show that you just never know what could happen during the taper period.

Stay tuned for my NYC Marathon recap and 261 Fearless posts from NYC.

Great Candy Corn 5k Virtual

NOTE: As a member of Gone for a Run’s Virtual Race Team, I receive a free race entry to each virtual race. No other compensation was received, and all opinions that are stated are my own.

The Girl's Got Sole - Great Candy Corn 5k

Happy Halloween! Are you someone who loves to run holiday races? Gone for a Run makes that love possible with virtual races like The Great Candy Corn 5k. This one sold out quick, so unfortunately, it’s been unavailable for registration for awhile. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t get into an upcoming virtual race with Gone for a Run!

Each virtual race has it’s own goodies, as well as a bib and most importantly, bling! The races are super easy to sign up for. Here’s how it works –

The Girl's Got Sole - Virtual races

The Great Candy Corn 5k came with an awesome pair of Yakety Yak! knee high socks with the bib and medal. Definitely fun to wear out on your virtual run or even another local Halloween race. And, who doesn’t love a fun pair of knee-high running socks?

A big part of the virtual race series is that each race benefits a certain charity. The Great Candy Corn 5k benefited the New Pond Farm Education Center. The organization helps provide hands-on field trips and programs for kids to enjoy nature.

The Girl's Got Sole - Candy Corn 5k

Get in on the next virtual races! Register for Run Now, Gobble Later 5k or Run 5k Wine Later 5k. Both races have some awesome goodies! The Gobble Later virtual race includes Run Now Gobble Later Gloves, while the Run Now Wine Later comes with a cosmetic bag.

Head over to GoneforaRun.com and sign up for a virtual race and add some fun to your training runs!

The Girl's Got Sole - Gone for a Run Virtual Race Series

Supporting this blog

You may have noticed the new little paypal donate button to your right. I’ve considered adding such a thing to the blog for some time now, but wasn’t so sure about it. A number of friends and family have asked me why I didn’t have something like it up on the blog, and I’d always shrug an “I don’t know” in reply.

The thing is, I am not one to ask for hand-outs. I was raised to work for what I need in life, and that became the uncertainty that lingered for many months. I wondered if putting a button like that on the site was the right thing to do or not.

The Girl's Got Sole - Thank you for your support

After much debate with myself, I decided to add one. If you believe that the blog has helped, entertained, or provided any kind of inspiration in your life, the support this site button is there for a donation. That doesn’t mean I’m expecting anything, but it is always appreciated. The honest truth is, the site takes time and yes, money to run each year. So, if you feel like you would like to support the blog (and me), that is awesome.

Just wanted to make a quick post about it so that everyone is informed about the new addition to the sidebar. Thanks! 🙂

Workout Recap: W/E 10/28

What a week last week was! After realizing I had injured my left foot, rest was key for half of the week. I rested Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. I was hoping to hit the gym on Tuesday, but when I woke up barely able to hobble to the bathroom 15 feet down the hall, I knew I had to rest. Thankful that I am feeling better.

The Girl's Got Sole - Sat group run

Sunday, October 22nd – REST DAY.

Monday, October 23rd – REST DAY (cortisone shot that evening).

Tuesday, October 24th – REST DAY.

Wednesday, October 25th – Cross-training on the bike at the gym. SO happy to get back to my workouts. I took it easy, but I got in a nice 7.5 miles.

The Girl's Got Sole - Oct 25th bike workout

Thursday, October 26th – Back running with my group! I was so glad to get back out on the road with my group. Had an easy 3 mile run in Baldwin Park.

The Girl's Got Sole - Oct 26th run

Friday, October 27th – REST DAY.

Saturday, October 28th – Ran 8.5 miles with my group. This was my last “long” run before the big race in NYC next weekend. Felt pretty good, my foot was a little numb, but overall good.

The Girl's Got Sole - Oct 28th run

How were your workouts last week?

Turning Worry Over to God

With a week to go until the TCS NYC Marathon, it’s normal to be full of emotions. Most of mine are having to do with worry. Not so much worry about running the race itself (although that is in there somewhere), but more-so about my plans and money while I am in New York.

It’s been a rough year for me, and this trip, running the NYC Marathon is the one thing I’ve looked forward to through all of the hard times. It’s kept me on track, looking ahead at what I considered a light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, I’ve had some unplanned financial issues come up the last few weeks, which leave me nervous about going on a trip at all.

The Girl's Got Sole - Worry about tomorrow

On the positive side, I’ve got my plane ticket paid for, and my amazing 261 Fearless team is taking care of us in many ways while we are in NYC. But, I’m nervous about the fact that I’m arriving in New York so close to the cuff, with barely enough to cover hotel and such while I’m there.

I’ve spent the day worrying, being depressed about the situation. That said, I can’t let that stand. Worry is not only unhealthy, but it’s not from above. God knows my struggles, and I know He will take care of me. So, I’m working on turning the worry over to God. He knows what tomorrow brings, and worrying about it does nothing good. I’m blessed in many ways, and I need to remember that. I will turn my worries into prayers.

The Girl's Got Sole - Turn worries into prayers

Verdict is: Plantar Fasciitis

If you read my post on Saturday, I was having heel pain issues. I spent the remainder of the weekend resting, icing, soaking and rolling. Today marked two days of no working out (that is hard for me, LOL). Called the sports doctor this morning and got an appointment to be seen after work.

They did x-rays, and the doctor examined me. The verdict is, early Plantar Fasciitis. He said, my home treatments (icing, epsom salt soaks, rolling, compression) helped it for sure. With the NYC Marathon in 12 days, he suggested a cortisone shot, and wearing a boot to bed.

The Girl's Got Sole - Plantar Fasciitis

Let me tell you, if you’ve never had a cortisone shot, they are NOT fun. It was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve been through. I’m sure it lasted only a minute or two, but it sure felt like forever. LOL! But, I was willing to do whatever I had to do to get better before the marathon. Sometimes, you’ve got to take a deep breath and deal with it.

I’m thankful that I should be able to run in 2-3 days again, I just need to take it easier this week. What’s nice is that he cleared me to do cross-training at the gym on the bike. So, I will be hitting the gym the next couple of days to get in some workouts. I may or may not run on Thursday, I am going to see how the next couple of days go, and let my body tell me the right thing to do. If I need to wait until Saturday to run, so be it.

So, while this isn’t the happiest news, I feel blessed that I am going to get better and be able to run on November 5th in NYC. God is good!