Friday, June 24, 2016

2 Days in Savannah #VisitSavannah

A few weeks ago, my husband Gabe and I went to Savannah GA for my Birthday. Savannah is a very easy drive from Florida and took us less than 5 hours (including a few stops). We had a fantastic time and wished for a few additional days of exploration. If you find yourself in Savannah for only 2 days, here are a few must visits:
Explore the Squares!
After arriving in Savannah, Gabe and I took a walk down Riverwalk. We grabbed a drink, visited some of the shops and made our way up to the many squares located in Savannah. There are 22 squares throughout Savannah (originally 24), all of which have a piece of history behind them. I do however, strongly suggest wearing closed toe shoes in Savannah. The cobblestones are no joke and my big toe lost a battle against it. Two weeks later, I still cannot wear sneakers, meaning my marathon training has taken a major delay. More on that later!


Take a Trolley Tour
Trolley Tours are a fantastic way to see the city. They have a hop on hop off route through all the cities landmarks and give you a piece of history throughout your drive.


Go on a Ghost Tour
Savannah is one of the most haunted cities in the US so you cannot visit without taking a Ghost Tour. Even if you don't believe in the paranormal, ghost tours do give you a bit of history and hear stories of Savannah's most interesting families and events. You can take ghost tours in the day or at night. We did two different ghost tours - a ghost pub crawl and a ghost trolley tour. I do wish we chose more of a paranormal experience vs. the tours. The Pub crawl was more about going to the next bar vs. hearing stories where the trolley was very long drawn out stories. That's a fun part of Savannah, there are so many different tours, there is always going to be something for everyone.


Take a River Cruise
A River Cruise is a great way to see Savannah by water. Savannah Riverboat cruises offer a few different options, lunch, brunch, dinner, narrated harbor sightseeing cruise, sunset cruise and moonlight cruise. We did the harbor sightseeing cruise and even saw a canon being fired from a fort.



Visit Forsyth Park
During your trip to Savannah, be sure to take a trip over to Forsyth Park. You can even have a picnic while there. We stopped by on our way out of town on Sunday. The park wasn't too crowded and it was the perfect time to go.
EAT!
There are so many different restaurants in Savannah. I had two amazing meals - both of which names may not blow your socks off.
A.Lure Meatloaf, ground filet mignon, foie gras, caramelized onions, roasted garlic cauliflower puree, black truffle mushroom madeira demi glace. I ate every bit of it.
On the second night, we dined at Girabaldi's, what was my favorite restaurant in Charleston. The dish, Crispy Diamond Scored Flounder was every bit as delicious as I remember it with Apricot Shallot Sauce, Orzo Provencal, Julienne Vegetables.
We had a slice of Pizza at Vinnie Van Go Go's which was was delicious and now I want Pizza for lunch.
You cannot come to Savannah without getting Ice Cream at Leopold's. Yes it is worth the 45 minute line. Yes, their ice cream is that good.
We also tried two of the 200 martini's served at Jen's and Friends.

Other places not to miss are The Olde Pink HouseMrs. Wilkes Dining Room, if you can't make it to Mrs. Wilkes (not open on the weekends) you can get a delicious southern buffet at Paula Deen's Lady and Sons restaurantVic's on the River is always a crowd favorite and Rocks on the River has the best sunset you will find in Savannah - grab a cocktail up on their rooftop.

Check out the Sunset
We saw two spectacular sunsets on our trip. Be sure to check out what time the sun sets as it seemed to set much later than in does FL. Odd!


Thursday, June 16, 2016

#OrlandoUnited 5K and Virtual 5K

It's been a hell of a week for Orlando. However, with all the devastation, I've witnessed the community come together and be strong during this awful time. Today, I learned there will be a 5K on Saturday June 25th and ALL funds are going to the One Orlando Fund set up by the City of Orlando. If you're a runner or a walker - please sign up for this. The virtual option cost $20. If you're in Orlando, I encourage you to attend the event. Let's turn this 5K into the largest organized running event to date.

Join us Saturday, June 25th in Lake Mary to fight back, give back and take control of our emotions! Shirts, Finisher Medals and Virtual Option!

7:00am start time

All funds are going to the One Orlando Fund set up by the City of Orlando.

7:00am start on 4th street in Lake Mary.
Shirts, Finisher Medals and Virtual Option!
Register online: Click HERE

USATF Certified 5k Route

Event details and schedule Early Packet pick up is being offered Friday, June 24th at Front Running Sports in Lake Mary located at 1061 S. Sun Drive. Noon - 5pm

Wine Dinner at Council Oak featuring PlumpJack, CADE and Odette Estate

Last week, my husband and I were honored to attend a Wine Dinner at Council Oak, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa. This amazing 4 course dinner had wine by PlumpJack, CADE & Odette Estate.
Prior to this meal, I had never tried any of these wines. I can say, it was some of best wine we've ever tried. 
Photo rights: Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
Upon entering Council Oak, we were greeted with a cold glass of CADE Sauvignon Blanc. I am typically not a Sauvignon Blanc drinker but can say this was a delicious glass of wine. Three passed hors d'oeuvres made it over and we enjoyed Grilled Apricot, Formage Fort and Fried Zucchini Blossom. 
Photo rights: Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
The First Course was something I have never tried before - Wild Boar Sugo. Guys, this was my favorite dish of the night. The Wild Boar Sugo had fresh handmade Pappardelle Pasta (I need Council Oaks pasta recipe stat), pine nuts, asiago cheese and shaved fennel. It was a delicious course and I would order it off the menu in a heart beat. The first course was paired with PlumpJack Syrah
The Second Course featured Mushroom Encrusted Hogfish, a very mild white fish in the Snapper family. With a shitake mushroom bisque roasted turnips and grilled yellow endive, this was a truly spectacular dish.
The Hogfish was paired with a delicious glass of PlumpJack Merlot which honestly blew my socks off. I typically pair fish with white wine, however this full bodied Merlot was a perfect pairing.
Photo rights: Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
The Third Course was a Braised Veal Shank over a white bean hummus, charred ramps, gremolata and a watercress salad. This was a very tender piece of meat and full of flavor. The hummus was such a unique twist and I loved every bit of it!
The Braised Veal Shank was accompanied by a glass of CADE Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, my favorite wine of the night. Luckily for me, this was the selected wine to go home with us at the end of the night.
Photo rights: Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
The Fourth Course, an 8 Way Tasting in Chocolate literally blew my socks off. I must start this with I do not have a sweet tooth. I do not eat dessert - I will taste it but it isn't something I seek out at dinner. Recently, Seminole Hard Rock got a new pastry chef and he arrived by dropping the mic. Guys......this dessert - I ate every single bite. I couldn't stop. It had milk chocolate ginger cremeux with Manjari chocolate mousse, lime curd, fudge sauce and a micro sponge. 
Photo rights: Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
The spectacular mind blowing 8 Way Tasting in Chocolate was paired with Odette Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. This glass of Odette was incredible and I drank every bit of it.
Photo rights: Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
Be sure to follow Seminole Hard Rock Tampa for their next pairing dinner, which will take place in July. Blog |Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Monday, June 13, 2016

#OrlandoUnited

I have struggled with what to say about what happened in Orlando yesterday.
I have lived in Central Florida my entire life. My office is in Orlando and I travel there on a weekly basis. Orlando, a city I relate to as my second home was attacked yesterday and I sit here confused, heart broken and in shock.

I look back to 9/11 and remember the nation becoming strong and united following the tragedy. Sadly, that is not what is happening right now. STOP with the hate and politics. What happened at Pulse Nightclub was an act of terror and a hate crime. It was horrific and unthinkable yet people are arguing online. We need to unite as a country once again and be there for the city of Orlando and the LGBT community.

I saw a fantastic post on Facebook yesterday shared by my brother and sister in law. I do not personally know the person who wrote this but I had to share it. Via Shannon Payne:

"I keep reading and hearing that Orlando is now "home to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history." Forgive me for being pedantic, but words do matter and I would like to propose a small correction to that statement.

Orlando is home to many things. It's home to Orlando City Soccer, Orlando Pride, the Orlando Magic, the Solar Bears. It's home to the University of Central Florida, second-largest university in the United States. It's where life-changing concepts, like 3-D printed prosthetics, become reality. Orlando is home to Knight-Thon, which raised over a million dollars last year for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. It's home to Arnold Palmer Hospital, one of the top pediatric hospitals in the nation. It's home to Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, where every year thousands of children with life-threatening illnesses choose to make their most magical memories with their families. Orlando is home to some of my dearest friends, the experiences that have made me who I am today, and a large piece of my own heart and soul. It is home to an incredibly diverse array of people, places, and opportunities. And it is home to a vibrant and tenacious LGBT+ community, which deserves more love and support than ever in the wake of this tragedy.


The City Beautiful is home to so many amazing things. This kind of hatred is not allowed to call my city home."


We need to come together as a country once again. Stand strong and support one another. Stop fighting about politics. Stop the hate.

If you are in Orlando, you may find the below information useful.
  • Hotline for Victim Family Members: 407-246-4357.
  • Grief Counselors through The Center, serving the LGBTQ community, is open and offering grief counseling in English and Spanish. Located at 945 N. Mills Ave. or 407-228-1446
  • Website with the names of the victims, after their next of kin have been notified: cityoforlando.net/victims
  • Hospital - anyone visiting Orlando Regional Medical Center needs to check in at 52 W Underwood St. and provide identification and verification of your relationship to the victim. 
  • The City of Orlando asks that people seeking a location for memorial items please use the green space in front of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando.
  • The City of Orlando is coordinating all volunteer efforts through its website cityoforlando.net and click on #OrlandoUnited. 
  • In social media posts, hashtag #OrlandoUnited to demonstrate our solidarity with those who seek to bring peace and healing to our community.
Throughout the country, you can help by:
  • Donating blood oneblood.org/donate-now (if you're in Orlando, check first to see if you need to make an appointment due to the overwhelming support of donors)
  • Donate to the official Go Fund Me account for The Pulse Victims Fund
At the end of the day, we are all human's. Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation and Political Orientation shouldn't be used for hate towards one another. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Training Begins today for Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

It's hard to believe we are a little more than three months away from heading back to Europe. When we visited Paris as part of our European honeymoon in 2014, I never thought we would get a chance to go back. Yet here we are, planning our third trip to Europe within 2 years to run the inagural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon! I'm blessed for our many travel adventures together and grateful to have married someone who equally enthusiastic about traveling as I am.
There will be some things I will do different for Disneyland Paris Half Marathon.... it all starts revamping our training.

Since I ran the Dublin Marathon with ASICS last year, I am well aware of the toll it takes on your body to fly international and run a long distance race. While we can't do much about the jet lag, we will be sure to train hard leading up to the race. Training has always been my downfall and I do just enough to finish uninjured. However, being we start our trip with the half marathon, we have to be fully conditioned and I don't want exhaustion or sore muscles to ruin any part of our trip.

Our training plan was supposed to kick off this morning with a 45 minute run but Tropical Storm Colin had different plans. Instead, I will visit my old friend the treadmill later this afternoon. The plan we will use is a modified version of Jeff Galloway's Wine and Dine plan for intermediate runners.

One of the many reasons I love Galloway's plan is that it doesn't take up too much time during the week. I am traveling for work now and 45 minutes is easily doable on a treadmill if need be. Our biggest change will be waking up in the mornings and getting the weekly runs over with before work.
We chose to start our training over from scratch vs. going from where we are currently conditioned. When we first started running in 2012, both of us were fully committed to the training plan. Over the years, we would easily skip a short distance and eventually end up winging our training plan. Starting over from scratch will hopefully keep both of us on track and dedicated to training.

We are also incorporating bi-weekly speed work starting in July. This is new for us - although we've done interval training in the past, it wasn't set up on a 800 meter distance.

Have you ever started over training from scratch?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Visiting Orlando? Dine at Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse

A few weeks ago, my husband Gabe and I had a quick stay in Orlando for a charity event. We had no plans on a Friday night and decided to dine at Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse located in Hyatt Regency Orlando on I-Drive, across the street from the Orange County Convention Center. This low key date night turned into one of the best meals we have had in Orlando. The food was incredible, the staff was professional, polite and knowledgeable. Overall I give Fiorenzo 5 stars and look forward to my next visit.
We left our meal in the hands of Fiorenzos Manager Menelik Tefera and Executive Chef Will Walters. They created the menu selection and our amazing server Laura Ardon chose our wine pairings. Knowing the wine was out of my hand, I took a few minutes to look over Fiorenzo's extensive wine list and was very impressed with the selection. They had a large variety of wine in many price points. It was as if Laura could read my mind when the white wine came out - a delicious cold bottle of 2013 Cakebread Chardonnay - AKA my absolute favorite white wine. Laura quickly became my wine BFF.
When the appetizer came out, the first thing I thought was this is typically somethign I wouldn't choose - Fried Calamari ($15). After first bite, I immediately took back that thought. This was calamari unlike any other, in fact I will go on record by saying this was the best calamari we've ever had. What set this apart was the peperoncini rémoulade and an aged balsamic glaze. It had a perfect light and crispy batter and full of flavor. We were aware a huge meal was coming our way but that didn't stop us from stuffing our faces with the appetizer.

Up next were salads. One great thing Fiorenzo does for guests is allows half portions on a variety of dishes. Since we had so much food coming our way, we received smaller versions of the Caprese and the Baby Greens Salad.
The Caprese had local heirloom tomatoes with imported buffalo mozzarella, micro basil, aged balsamic, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper (full sized portion $16). Gabe devoured it - oh and he doesn't like tomatoes....until this night. He told me this salad changed his view on tomatoes. Now if only Fiorenzo can help me with making him like squash.
The Baby Greens Salad had red endive, arugula, frisée, chervil, hazelnut vinaigrette, espelette sunflower seeds, local citrus supreme, robiola bosina cheese and candied hazelnuts (full sized portion $13). The dressing was perfect on this salad and I loved the variety of greens. Plus you can never go wrong when candied hazelnuts are involved.

Our second wine pairing came out right before our entrees. This was a new to me bottle - Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. It was absolutely delicious and if you are a Cab fan, I strongly suggest giving this one a try.

Our entree's started arriving and boy did we have a ton of food.
Gabe received the 20oz Prime Bone-in Rib Eye ($58). I am a filet girl but this Rib Eye could have made me switch steak parties. It was seared and cooked to a perfect medium rare that melted in your mouth. Gabe was freaking out. I am quite sure he swallowed the steak whole as it was gone in less than 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, my 8oz Filet Mignon and Scallops arrived to the party. I had a very short love affair with Gabe's steak and I quickly apologized to the filet, giving back my loyalty. The filet has been getting some bad national press lately and is being called as a flavorless meat due to the lack of fat in the cut. I assure you that anyone stating a filet is flavorless hasn't been to Fiorenzo's. It had a perfect salted charred crust and cut like butter. PERFECTION.
Fiorenzo's is known for more than their steaks. The pasta is handmade made locally and they've got a great seafood selection. We got a small portion of the Linguine with jumbo shrimp, crab, roasted garlic, zucchini, fresh peas, tomato, lemon and basil (full size portion $30). The pasta was a perfect al dente and the shrimp delicious. If you find yourself dining at Fiorenzo's, I strongly suggest getting a half order of pasta as your side dish.
We also tried the Branzino, a delicate white fish served over roasted cauliflower and red endive with a parsnip puree and cured lemon salmoriglio (full sized portion $36). My full belly could only handle one or two bites of this fish but I would absolutely order it again.
Then dessert happened and I considered renting a wheelbarrow back to the hotel as this was the only way to get me from point A to point B. We tried a lovely port to go along with the dessert, a perfect Tiramisu. When we were in Italy, my husband ordered two orders of Tiramisu at this lovely quaint restaurant in Rome. Two. This was the closest thing we've had since that night in Rome. Espresso soaked lady finger cookie with creamy mascarpone - simplicity at it's finest.
If you are looking to experience dining at Fiorenzo, be sure to check out Hyatt Regency Prix Fixe Menu. It's an amazing deal, where you get three courses for $55 a person and a wonderful way to try a variety of their delicious dishes.

Hyatt Regency Orlando provided this meal to my husband and I. As always, all opinions are my own.

Why do you run? #WeRunJune1

In honor of Global Running Day, I wanted to share my story. There are a few questions runners always get but the most common one is "Why do you Run"? Why I run is a story, not an answer. Be sure to check out the bottom of this post to see how you can win a free pair of ASICS shoes today!
I hated running. There, I said it. I couldn't run a minute straight and made a million excuses why I couldn't run....my knees, my heart, my hair. I played multiple sports growing up and was always active so when running didn't come easy to me, I instantly black listed this sport.
First 5K, First Full Marathon, First (and only) Dopey Challenge
Everything changed in February 2012. Long story short, my best friend trained for the runDisney Princess Half Marathon. I signed up for the 5K to take part in the weekend with her. I had a blast at the 5K and stayed the weekend to cheer her on at the half marathon. After watching her and 20,000+ other runners of all shapes and sizes finish, I became inspired and knew this was something I had to do. 10 months after my first 5K, I ran my first half marathon and few months later, I ran my first full marathon.
Walt Disney World Full, 2014 NYC Marathon, Rock n Roll Nashville Half
Fast forward to today - I have completed 5 full marathons, one runDisney Dopey Challenge and 17 half marathons. So don't ever tell yourself that you can't do it. Running has taught me many things but most importantly, that my body is capable of far more than I ever imagined possible. I will never be the fastest runner but that is fine with me.
#TEAMASICS
Along with achieving goals I never thought were possible, running has also given me amazing friendships I would have never gotten otherwise. Through ASICS, runDisney, Rock n Roll Marathon Series and Fit Fluential, I have met some amazing people over the years. I cannot imagine my life today if I never picked up those first pair of running shoes.

June 1st is Global Running Day. Even if you lace your sneakers up and run 1 mile, I encourage you to get out there. To celebrate Global Running Day, ASICS will be giving away 1 pair of shoes for every 100 uses of the hashtag #WeRunJune1 on Twitter. Here is a link to the terms and conditions for the contest -> http://www.asics.com/us/en-us/terms-and-conditions