Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fueling Tips and a First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon Giveaway

My friends at First Watch have provided me with amazingly delicious fueling tips for running and training to share with my readers! I suddenly have the urge for Avocado Toast and a Mimosa fresh squeezed fruit juice. My favorite breakfast restaurant happens to be the sponsor for this weekends First Watch Half Marathon in Sarasota. Along with the fueling tips below, they are also giving away an entry to First Watch Half Marathon, winners choice of a 10K or Half Marathon! Click here to enter the giveaway through Instagram. You can also still register for the First Watch Half Marathon, click here to run one of our favorite races in Florida.

You’ve heard the saying before – Food is Fuel. For everyone, fueling your body daily with nutritious and delicious meals is important. For a runner, it’s even more vital to fuel up for your training runs and leading up to a big race with foods that will give you the energy and nutrients you need to achieve your goals, keep a clear mind and take care of your hardworking body!

We wanted to share a few tips to help you prepare for this year’s First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon.

Eat more! – As you’re powering through those longer runs and getting closer to race day, this one is important. While you’re training for a longer race, your body is likely burning many more calories than it was before. You need to replace these calories with nutrients that will help you run your best race. So what should you eat?
Eat carbs – Your body breaks these down to make glucose, which is burned to provide jet fuel for your muscles. Try our whole grain artisan toast – topped with some almond butter and Maldon Sea Salt!
Eat fats – Body fat is an important energy source for endurance exercise like running, and dietary fat helps your body absorb vitamins. The best source of healthy fats? Dark meat, coconut oil, seeds, avocado and fish. Try our Avocado Toast for some tasty polyunsaturated fats. Yum!
Eat protein – Protein is a muscle builder, and for runners, it’s vital to re-build, re-shape and re-condition your muscles as you train. At First Watch, try our Farm Stand Breakfast Tacos, full of great proteins like eggs, chicken and chorizo and served with a size of black beans.

Eat fruits and veggies – It’s great when we can get our vitamins in a natural way, and fruits and veggies are the best way to do that! They also have anti-inflammatory benefits, which is an added bonus. Try our Sunrise Granola Bowl, or our Superfood Kale Salad!

And most importantly, don’t forget to reward yourself for all the hard work and training hours you’ve put in! We’ll be waiting for you at the finish line with cold water, high fives, fresh fruit, Sunrise Cocktails with our housemade granola, and (drumroll please…) multigrain pancakes fresh off the griddle!

We wish you the best of luck during your last few weeks of training, and we can’t wait to serve you on race day. Happy running!

-Your friends at First Watch

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

2018 runDisney Princess Half Marathon Recap

Last Sunday, my best friend and I participated in the 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon. This was a special weekend for both of us, as we celebrated milestones together. In 2012, Keri ran her first Half Marathon and I ran my first 5K during Princess Half Marathon Weekend. I spectated Keri's first half and at that moment, I decided to start my blog and journal my running. Needless to say, if it weren't for that magical weekend in 2012, this blog would not exist.
We made this a girls race weekend and spent time at the parks on Friday and Saturday. While I always tell people to be cautious and not overdo time at a park prior to a run, I didn't take my own advice. We ended up walking over 10 miles on Friday and 8 miles on Saturday. Oops. We had fun though!

I had such a hard time sleeping the night of the race, more than the normal "did I set the alarm clock" anxiety. When the alarm clock went off at 3:15am, I had already been awake for 30 minutes. Something I haven't talked at all about on this blog is that I went vegetarian the month of February. Well, the night before the race, I ate Bolognese Pappardelle. To say I wasn't 100% prior to the race is an understatement. I vomited more than once prior to starting the race and felt so sick - dizzy, heart racing, etc. I honestly thought there was no way I would make it to the start, let alone finish 13.1 miles.
We got to Epcot and started making our mile long walk to the start line. The crowd was so dense and multiple people around me were saying the same thing. We hadn't even made it to the split of the corals when the gun went off for the wheel chairs. I knew right then and there we wouldn't make it to Corral D in time for our start. We were pushed to the very back of Coral E. This was 100% our fault for not being in the Corals at 5:00am like race instructions state, but there were quite a few volunteers let us walk up to D, only to be turned around. It was a cluster.
We finally crossed the start line, decided to do the Galloway 1 minute run, 1 minute walk and not stop for any photos prior to getting inside of Magic Kingdom (with the exception of the entrance of the TTC). I will say, knowing now what the rest of the race would be like, I 110% regret not waiting in the very long line for the Evil Queen and her Cauldron.
Our pace time was much slower than we should have been at, even with maintaining a steady 1:1. We ended up falling in with a 30:30 Galloway group around mile 4. Due to how packed the race was, staying with them made it a lot easier to get through the crowd.
The course has changed a little since we last ran Princess. Being the 2017 WDW Half was cancelled, I realized it had been over 2 years since we last ran this course. We had to make a quick stop to take a photo with Bay Lake sunrise behind us. We quickly caught back up with our new pace group and ran through the entrance of Magic Kingdom. I truly loved this change to the course!
After running through Main Street, we stopped for a few castle photos and at that time got separated from the pace group, which was fine as we planned on taking some photos inside of Magic Kingdom.
I spotted a long line near Gaston's Tavern. I noticed Gaston right away (I mean, how could you not), then I saw Belle. I told Keri we had to stop. We were told the line was about 15-20 minutes but knowing how rare this photo opp was, I really wanted to take advantage of it.
Do I regret waiting in line 20 minutes for that photo? Yes and no.... I will get into that later. We got to the back of Cinderella's Castle to see the Evil Stepmother and Stepsisters. The line wasn't too long so we stopped.
Then we ran through Cinderella's Castle and waited in line another 5 minutes for the Castle Photo. This is the epic runDisney race photo of all race photos.
We stopped for one last photo inside of Magic Kingdom which was for Cowboy Goofy. This was around mile 7 and I already knew we were looking at a 3+ hour Half Marathon. We decided not to take any additional photos until we got inside Epcot. What we weren't expecting is to be forced to walk for nearly 2 miles.
That 2 mile walk is the only reason I regret waiting in line for the photos at Magic Kingdom. For those familiar with the course, miles 6-8 were far narrower than I ever remember and there was zero chance at running during the majority of this time. Once the course widened, we had already been walking for those 2 miles and it was difficult getting back into it. We decided to do the 30:30 the rest of the course but almost everyone was walking and at times, doing such a short interval was impossible.
Did I mention how hot it was? I am talking nearly 90 degrees with near 100% humidity. It's February!! By the time we got into Epcot, I was beyond overheated and didn't realize how red my face was until my Mom responded to this photo.
I love Epcot - it is my happiest place on earth. However, I cannot remember the last time I was so happy to see the Epcot Ball.
I was mentally and physically over the day and wanted to take a nap, drink a glass of champagne, take a shower and drink a margarita....in that order.
We finally got through and saw mile 13. I was so happy to see that finish line.

A few thoughts after the race.....


#1 The Crowds: Why was it so crowded? I have ran MANY runDisnsey races and never experienced anything like this before. There weren't additional runners.... so odd.

#2 SO HOT: I am not looking forward to this summer in FL.

#3 Long Distance Running: At this point, I think I am done running anything longer than a 15K. This may change....I've said this before.

#4 Judgmental Friends: I am not going to call anyone out, and can write an entire post (or two) on this.....but when did running turn into a judgmental sport and when did friends become our judges? It doesn't matter how long it takes someone to finish a race. They are out there for their own reasons and if that reason is to take it easy and enjoy the experience at Disney, you should still support them. Running is personal and it is not a platform to make fun of others because they are slower than you.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon - New distance, Updated Course and a Giveaway

One of our favorite races in Florida is taking place in less than four weeks - the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon and Relay. We ran this race for the first time in 2013 and this year will mark our 4th time running this beautiful and fun race.

There is a new distance to the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon - a 10K! 
There is a new, dedicated 10K course route to this year’s race. The 10K runners will start with the rest of the field and follow the course up and over the John Ringling Bridge, around St. Armand’s Circle and then back to the start/finish line. Registration for the 10K, with special pricing to the first registrants is now open at www.sarasotahalfmarathon.com.
Special 10K Pricing
$50 – first 150 registrants
$60 – 151-250
$65 – 251-350
$70 – 351-1500
We love the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon for many reasons. It is super runner friendly and the course is amazing. You start off running over the John Ringling Causeway then through St Armands Circle and loop back over the Ringling Causeway. During this time, the sun rises and you find yourself with the most amazing scenery Florida has to offer.
The First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon medals are the largest half marathon medals in the state of Florida. They are GIANT.
Check out the size of last years medal if you don't believe me!
The course support is one of the best I have seen, with aid stations every mile/mile and a half with water, Gatorade Endurance and restrooms. Runners get FREE photos, which is amazing - thanks to Athlinks (which also has an amazing real time gps runner tracker app).

There is on course entertainment throughout the 13.1 miles including live music, dj’s and more. Let's talk about the after party, which is sponsored by First Watch. This is the best post race breakfasts and finisher parties I have been to. Bacon, pancakes, fruit....and beer. Only thing that would make it better is mimosas (hint hint).


I am giving away an entry to either the Half Marathon or a two person relay. Click here to enter on Instagram. I hope to see you there!

Register for the First Watch Half Marathon and Relay here
Follow the First Watch Half Marathon and Relay for updates!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Rez Grill at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

I cannot remember the last time I dined at a restaurant twice within 5 days. Especially one that takes 30+ minutes to drive to. Well, this week exactly that happened. On Friday night, my husband Gabe and I went to The Rez Grill, the new restaurant located inside Seminole Hard Rock Tampa. We were expecting a good meal but what we got was beyond that. It just so happens, that just today, Tampa Bay Times named The Rez Grill one of Tampa's top 50 restaurants.
During our two visits over the past week, each item we ordered was vastly different from each other but equally as good. Last night, Gabe said it was the best restaurant in Tampa and that the only restaurants that rivaled it are in New Orleans. He later told me it was his favorite restaurant. On Friday night, he stated that the Benton's Ham dish was the best thing he has ever ate in his life (go to Rez Grill and order this, you're welcome). Those comments say it all, coming from a guy who isn't vocal about food the way I am.
Benton's Ham with house biscuits, cherry-pepper jam, red eye aioli
The Rez Grill is fine dining in a casual atmosphere - think elevated comfort food favorites. The Rez Grill menu has a variety of different entrees without being overwhelming in choices. You will find Shrimp and Grits, Lobster Rolls, Fried Chicken, Veal Milanese. Hand Made Pasta, King Crab, Lobster Thermador, Maryland Crab Cakes, and so much more. We tried one of the steaks on the menu - the Ribeye Cap. It was delicious! They also have Wagyu on the menu!!
Ribeye Cap with turnips, broccolini, shallots, chive, béarnaise, demi
One of the awesome things about The Rez Grill is their table service style dining options. There are 4 items on the menu meant for sharing family style: Whole Fried Chicken served with Waffles; St Louis Ribs served with Fries & Texas Toast; Veal Chop Milanese; Lobster Thermador. The table shared prices range from $34-$55. We were going to split the Whole Fried Chicken last night but changed our minds when we arrived. Gabe ordered the Shrimp and Grits and I am here to say, this is the BEST either of us have ever had in Savannah, Charleston and New Orleans.
Shrip and Grits congaree and penn farm grits, country ham, soft egg (you can add caviar) 
I went meat free for the month of February (more on that later) and decided to make my final meat meal a cheeseburger. Seminole Hard Rock Tampa is well known for their burgers. From the Council Oak burger to the massive selection at Hard Rock Cafe, you will always find a great burger dining here. I always order mine Medium Rare, so when our server mentioned that the burger was served well done, I was shocked but trusted the talented kitchen. I was beyond impressed - how could something cooked Well could still be so juicy!?
The Rez Burger - cheddar, american, tomato, caramelized onion, magic sauce
The cocktail menu and wine list are equally as good as the food. Innovative is what comes to mind with their skilled mixologists who create made-to-order drinks using house-made syrups and juices. They have drinks that change color, drinks that come in a lightbulb, drinks that are an adult version of a capri sun.
Nacho Libre - prickly pear vodka, house-made sour mix, hibiscus & mezcal ice
Oh and the best espresso martini I have ever had, made with Lavazza espresso. I am wanting one of these right now!!! The wine list is also impressive and you can choose between a regular pour, 12oz or bottle.
Machiatto - vanilla vodka, patr´n xo, lavazza, chocolate soil
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa's new Creative Culinary Director, Frank Anderson's talent shines on every dish. His pedigree includes running the kitchens at James Beard-awarded, Los Angeles-based restaurants, Animal and Son of a Gun. Let's talk about his desserts for a second. I do not have a sweet tooth and dessert isn't something I would normally order. However, after seeing the Lemon Curd on instagram a few weeks ago, I knew I needed to order it and I would order it on every trip. We also tried the Chocolate Bundino which was excellent!
Lemon Curd - burnt meringue, blueberry purée, crumble
The Rez Grill is exactly what Tampa needed. Affordable fine dining in a wonderful atmosphere. It goes without saying we will be back.

The Rez Grill is open Wednesday - Sunday for dinner starting at 5pm. Reservations can be made through Open Table (I suggest making them, it was pretty busy both of the nights we dined at The Rez Grill).  Here are some photos of the restaurant!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Key West Wind & Wine Sunset Sail - Danger Charters

I had an incredible time during my girls trip to Key West. Keri, Tara and I had a relaxing (and fun) long weekend while in town running the Key West Half Marathon. It had been nearly 10 years since our last trip down there together and it was interesting to see how much we've changed in that span. We didn't find ourselves running to Duval Street to bar hop and we were in bed every night before midnight. #Adulting.
My favorite experience while in Key West was the Key West Wind & Wine Sunset Sail by Danger Charters. We did a bit of research on the various Key West sunset sailings that are offered and Danger Charters came out on top due to the fact that they served upscale wines and had amazing reviews.
We tried to find out which wines were served prior to boarding but later found out they frequently switch them up. Our particular sailing offered varietals of Brut, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Cabernet. If you aren't in the mood to do a wine tasting (they give you as much as you want), you can opt to drink your favorite, like I did - Grenache for the entire sailing.
From the moment we boarded the historic Key West Schooner to the time we stepped off, it was an incredible experience. From the wines to the staff, everything was top notch. They serve small bites on the sailing (crudites, caprese, etc) along with 3 reds, 3 whites, 1 sparkling and craft beer. For those who don't drink alcohol, they had soda and water. Although I was there for the wine, I was very impressed by the selections of craft beer offered.
The two hour sunset cruise sails around the harbor waiting for the sun to go down. There is nothing like experiencing a Key West sunset - except for being in the middle of the ocean while experiencing it. We passed yachts, parasailers, cruise ships and even a few dolphins.
If you are prone to getting seasick, don't be too concerned. I usually cannot go on a boat without taking Dramamine or an entire bottle of ginger pills. However, I went on this sailing without being medicated and didn't feel sick once.
I would do this sailing again in a heartbeat. In fact, I made my family book a sailing later that week. It was truly a magical experience. It's no wonder that this sailing has been rated the #1 Thing To Do in Florida on TripAdvisor.com for three years running. It was also named one of the top two Sunset Sails in North America by Coastal Living Magazine

I received complimentary sailings through The Florida Keys. As Always, all opinions are my own. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Key West Half Marathon Recap

Hello from freezing cold Florida. Seriously, it was in the 20's when we woke up this morning. I am back from a recent girls trip to Key West. It was an amazing 5 days and we did not want to come home. During the girls trip, we ran the Key West Half Marathon. I will share all the other amazing activities we did while on the trip but first, let's talk about the race!

The girls trip included by best friend Keri and my former roomate Tara. We have been friends for over 20 years and know how to have a great time together. This was Tara's first half marathon since she had her daughter and being the 20th anniversary of the Key West Half Marathon fell on her birthday weekend, we decided to make a girls trip out of it.
My Outfit: 
Shirt: Help Me I'm Sober by Buy Me Brunch - Similar

FL has been hit with a few crazy cold fronts over the past month (including what I'm experiencing right now). While I realize it's nothing like my friends up north are experiencing, this is not weather Floridians are used to. On Sunday morning, we woke up with 20mph winds with temps in the 50's. I will take 50's all day for running but not the headwinds. We rode our bikes to the start line and we were freezing. 
We did not bring throw away clothes so Keri and I ran our first few miles of the course with our race finisher shirts on. I will NEVER again give anyone a look for wearing their race shirt before they finish a race. Being the first part of the race was on Duval St, we were luckily able to ditch our shirts at our hotel!

Keri and I were running the 13.1 miles for fun. We did a 1:1 and took a ton of pictures, enjoyed the beautiful scenery and had a great time together. We chose the 1:1 over other intervals because we've had success with it in the past with not being tired or sore following the race. Since we were on vacation, that was important to us. Tara came with another plan as she wanted to leave the island with a PR. 
The first few miles were on Duval Street and brought us out to A1A. We passed The Southernmost Point, South Beach, and other popular spots. Those headwinds decided to join the party and we had them until the turnaround point at mile 7.
Around our mile 5, we saw Tara who was with the 2 hour pace group. She needed to finish under 2:04 to PR and I knew at that point, she was going to do it!
Oh this shirt......we had an average of at least one person a minute commenting on our shirts. I will say, this shirt brought more attention than any other we've worn during a race.
Between miles 9-10, we got the text from Tara that she had finished with 2:03! She did it!! We ended up running down White Street Pier for mile 10, ran back to the Southernmost poinnt and found ourselves on Whitehead St. Keri wanted to grab our shirts from the house and made another detour. I told you we were in this for fun!
Before we knew it, we were at Mile 0 with a mile left to run. We ran into my Mom and Aunt who had located Tara. Tara crossed the finish line twice so we could get at least a few race pics together (which all came out god awful lol).
Overall, I have nothing but amazing things to say about the Key West Half Marathon. The course was gorgeous and flat. The course had a ton of entertainment on it and the volunteers were incredible. I would 100% come back and do this race again.
If this race is on your bucket list (which if it isn't, it needs to be), I suggest signing up for 2019 as they have a limited time race registration discount for only $73.99! Next years race day is Sunday, January 20th. Click here to head over to the 2019 Key West Half Marathon registration page.

Disclosure: I received a free entry into the Key West Half Marathon. As always, all opinions are my own.