Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Getaway 5K and 10K is Coming to St Pete - Plus a Discount Code #SunFunRun

There's a new family friendly fun in the sun race coming to St Pete next month! The Getaway 5K, 10K, one miler and family Fun run will take place November 5th at Albert Whitted Park.

Following the race will follow the Sun Fun Run theme with a beach-themed post-race celebration. You can expect live music, food, beverages, vendors and a play area for kids. Plus the series is donating to Feeding Tampa Bay to assist in building back the food banks in the areas after the recent  hurricanes.

Discount Code!
You can save 15% off the registration with my Getaway 5K discount code: Blog357! Click here to register for the The Getaway 5K

The Getaway 5K & 10K Medal
You know I am all about the bling. This one is one of the nicest 5K/10K Medals I have seen. It's larger than most Half Marathon medals I own and doubles as a beer opener, which has a magnet on the back!

Getaway 10K Race Perks:
1/4 zip, sweat-wicking pullover jacket, with thumb-holes and an embroidered logo
Getaway 10K Race Medal

Getaway 5K Race Perks:
Race event t-shirt
Getaway 5K Race Medal
When signing up for the Getaway race series, you can make a donation to Feeding Tampa Bay. The Getaway series is matching donations and will assist on restocking the foodbanks across the bay after our recent Hurricanes.

The Courses:
All courses will have the same start and finish line in Albert Whitted Park! The courses run along Tampa Bay with beautiful views of the water with Tampa in the distance.

Getaway 10K Course
The timed 10K run will start and finish at Albert Whitted Park. The route will travel an out-and-back course in beautiful, downtown St. Pete. Participants will run along the water, past the 5K turnaround point, before returning to Albert Whitted Park for the finish line and the post-event party. The 10K will have three water stops on course with water and Gatorade product. All ages welcome!

Getaway 5K Course

The timed 5K run will start and finish at Albert Whitted Park. The route will travel an out-and-back course in beautiful, downtown St. Pete. Participants will run along the water before returning to Albert Whitted Park for the finish line and the post-event party. The 5K will have one water stop along the course. All ages welcome

Family Friendly Fun!
I've been blessed to do many races over the past years including international and the majors. One of my favorite experiences however was a small town 5K which I did with my family. There were about 25 of us, ranging in ages of 2 to 70. Some walked, some ran and some pushed strollers. Overall, it was the best time I've had on any race course in quite sometime. It was all about the experience.

This is a great opportunity to check out a new race series, collect an amazing medal and bring home some gear. Registration prices will go up soon. Remember to use code Blog357 & Click here to register for the The Getaway 5K.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Carnival Steakhouse on Carnival Conquest, Sneak Peek of Carnivals new Steakhouse Menu

Whenever we book a Carnival Cruise, the first thing I do is make reservations at Carnivals Steakhouse for our first night at sea. Having a delicious, memorable experience is the best way to to kick off your vacation.
The Steakhouse on Carnival Conquest is an additional fee of $35 per person. This will get you a starter, salad, main entree and desert. Not a bad deal at all!!

If you're a wine lover like yours truly, I strongly suggest booking your meal on the first night as they offer a free bottle of house wine OR half off any bottle of wine. That's right friends - this lovely bottle of 2012 Silver Oak only set me back $55. Carnival Steakhouse is the proud recipient of the coveted Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine, bestowed upon approximately 2,400 restaurants each year.

For our starters, I ordered the Ahi Tuna Tartare. It was delicious dices of sashimi grade yellow fin tuna belly, full of flavor and I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who loves tuna!
Gabe got the Beef Carpaccio which consisted of thinly sliced raw beef tenderloin and shaved Parmesan cheese. This particular one had unadvertised truffle oil on it - um yes please!!!!! I stole a small bite and it was fantastic.

Carnival Steakhouse will allow you to substitute a salad for an additional starter and Gabe did just that with the Lobster Bisque with Vintage Cognac. My husband is a lobster bisque connoisseur and said this was top in his book (I agree 100%).
I went with a Classic Caesar Salad which was prepared at table side. It had the perfect amount of flavor and not too much dressing. This was not a soggy salad my friends!

While I was very excited about dining in the Steakhouse, I had one problem....I am not eating steak at the moment. I didn't turn vegetarian or anything like that - but steak and I haven't been the best of friends lately. So instead of ordering my go to at the Steakhouse (surf and turf), I ordered the Australian Double Cut Lamb Chops and for the first time in a while, I was thankful for my steak aversion. This was hands down the best lamb dish I've ever had!!!!!
Gabe ordered the Cowboy Ribeye, a 18oz monster piece of meat. It surprised us a bit when we were told the recommended cooking temp was Medium - this was to do with the amount of marbleization. Gabe was very happy with the outcome of a cooking temperature we would typically never order.

For our deserts, we both ordered the cheesecakes to-go which I may have had for breakfast the following day. Never, I repeat, never skip the dessert. They offer it to go and many of the cruise ships have mini fridges in their rooms.
Overall, this was a fantastic meal. On this sailing, I overheard a people people say they wouldn't pay additional for a meal since the food on the ship is free. However, if you're a fan of going out to dinner, this experience is well worth the minimal cost. We've spent over $200 for a meal that wasn't near this quality and quantity. Plus the dining room is just like a normal restaurant and you have a nice quiet night to yourselves.

Lastly, Carnival is in the process of revamping many of their menus, steakhouse included. I was able to snag pics of the new Steakhouse Menu to be rolled out over the next few months.
I was happy to see they kept the Tuna Tartare. There are quite a few new additions and modifications to the starters - the Beef Carpaccio is being replaced by a Bone Marrow & hand cut Beef Tartare. There are now Oysters (!!!) but most impressive is on the entrees - 10oz A-5 Wagyu!

I WILL be over my steak aversion by the next time I cruise on Carnival. What do you think about the new menu offerings?

Special thanks goes out to Carnival for hosting me and my husband on this cruise. I was not compensated to write this post and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Carnival Conquest Recap and Photo Tour

Hi friends! My husband Gabe and I just got back from our 6 night cruise on the Carnival Conquest. We had an amazing time spending our 3rd wedding anniversary at sea and creating new memories together.

The Conquest has one of my favorite layouts of the Carnival family of cruise ships. I cruised her sister ship (the Valor) a few years ago and love the ease of all the amenities. There is quite a lot to do while on the boat.

The Carnival Conquest has two pools and a large slide located on the Lido deck.

Aside from the main pool on the lido deck, the other pool is the Sky Pool which had a retractable roof covering the pool and two hot tubs when it rains (which it did nearly everyday).
I wasn't so sure about the retractable roof when I first saw it but it became my BFF on the rainy day at sea! Along with the various pools you can also play putt putt golf, basketball, win at the Casino, rent books or board games from the library or participate in a variety of cruise organized activities.
You also must watch a Dive in Movie at Sea - they provide the popcorn and two movies nightly under the stars. We watched Guardian of the Galaxy II which made me regret not naming our kitten Groot.

One thing is certain - you won't go hungry on the Conquest. I am all about specialty dining at sea and choose my cruises based on what is offered.
I was thrilled to learn that The Conquest had a Steakhouse, Guy's Burger Joint, Blue Iguana Cantina, Seafood Shack, Ol Fashioned BBQ and Sushi at Sea.
On our 6 night cruise, we had dinner once at the Steakhouse, once in the main dining room, enjoyed Chef's Table on our anniversary, two dinners at Seafood Shack and one night eating sandwiches, soaking up the too many margaritas we consumed in in Cozumel.
I strongly suggest all cruisers to at least book the Steakhouse one night. Here's a pro-tip that I talk about frequently - book your Steakhouse on night one at sea. You can choose between a free house bottle of wine or get 1/2 off any bottle - this delicious bottle of Silver Oak only set me back $55!
If you are a foodie, please try to get in the Chef's Table. You have to book this far in advance - and I finally got to experience it after 5 failed attempts. It was one of the top dinners I have had. I will be doing a blog post on both of these dining experiences.

There are quite a few bars on the Carnival Conquest with an abundance of talented bartenders. I never get the drink of the day and you'll rarely find me with a frozen drink.
Instead I love the martinis and craft cocktails found on the ship. The Conquest had my favorite watering hole, the Alchemy Bar along with Red Frog Rum Bar and Blue Iguana Tequila Bar where we purchased a pitcher of margaritas to go along with my Taco salad and Gabe's burrito (not pictured).
We also spent a lot of time at the Sky Box Sports Bar this trip. We even got on the boat first thing so we could catch some Sunday football! Be warned, this place gets BUSY during football season. Be prepared for a crowd and get there early for a prime seat.

I must mention that on this trip, I did not buy the Carnival Cheers package. When my best friend and I go on cruises, it makes sense to do this - but being my husband isn't a big drinker, I couldn't justify the spend. So we brought on one bottle of wine each that is allowed by Carnival and I bought extra bottles at half off on night one at the steakhouse. Not buying the Cheers Package actually worked out in my favor this time.

Balcony Rooms:
We stayed in a Balcony State Room on the 6th floor and ended up switching rooms after the first night due to an AC problem. Carnival was quick to move us, without us asking for a different room.
Our second room was on the 9th floor right in the middle of everything and we loved it. The photos below are from our original room but they looked exactly the same.
The room was 220 SqFt and we never felt cramped for space. The couch converted to a bed if you had a larger family. The room featured a mini fridge which we were very thankful for!
Most cruises, I watch the sunset with a glass of wine. This cruise, I woke up on my own and caught my first sunrise at sea! All I wanted to do was relax on those 6 nights and I got just that.

Carnival adjusted quite a few of their itineraries after Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Ours was impacted and our new course brought us to Ocho Rios Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
While I was looking forward to experiencing three brand new ports (Ocho Rios, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos) I was excited to share Cozumel and Grand Cayman with Gabe.
Cozumel, Mexico
The Conquest currently sails out of Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas.

The Carnival Conquest designer Joe Farcus used the works of the French Impressionists and other 19th century French artists for the ships decor.
Most of the art you see throughout the ship are from popular artists and you will recognize their work within the murals. Gabe and I are both art collectors and love going to museums so we both enjoyed the murals throughout the ship.
Speaking of art - we attended the first art auction, won a piece of art and spent a lot of money on some Daniel Wall pieces. That's another story for another day!

Carnival Conquest spa offers a large variety of treatments and offer specials throughout each day. We planned on getting a couples massage but ended up passing on it this time around.
However, we did visit the gym a few times which you access through the spa. Along with tons of treadmills and cardio equipment, you will also fine a sauna and steam room that are free to use.

Overall, we had a great trip on the Conquest. The staff was super polite and attentive. Although it was raining, the seas were calm and I never got seasick once (whoop!!!!!). Everything we had to eat was really good and I may be on a Guy's Burger Joint detox as I type. I am already dreaming of my next Carnival Cruise!

Special thanks goes out to Carnival for hosting me and my husband on this cruise. I was not compensated to write this post and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

2018 Key West Half Marathon Discount Code

I haven't talked much about running on the blog for a while. There are many factors on this but the main reason being I lost my drive. I needed something new, something fun, something different to bring me back to the running game. Well I found it!

Friends, I have wanted to run this race from the day I ran my first Half Marathon. Timing hasn't worked out until now since I was always on a cruise the weekend of this event. For the first time in 6 years, I am sitting out WDW Marathon Weekend and not going on my annual January girls cruise. Instead, I am headed down to Key West to run this beautiful race.

Want to join me? Use this 2018 Key West Half Marathon Discount Code to save 15% LOVEWINE

Here are five reasons why you should run the 20th running of the Key West Half Marathon

The Course:
The 20th anniversary of the Key West Half Marathon will take you through historic Old Town and the waterfront. I couldn't think of a better place to run a flat 13.1 miles! The race begins at 7 a.m. and will be very scenic. The location of the 2018 Key West Half Marathon is the Key West Historic Seaport at the foot of Margaret Street.

Key West Half Marathon
I've traveled to a lot of races, even twice internationally (Paris & Ireland). I love finding new locations to visit and scheduling the trip around races. It gives me a lot to look forward to while training. This trip will be a girls trip!! I will be running this race with my best friend Keri and my former roommate Tara and we're turning it into a girls trip. The three of us spent mine and Keri's 30th birthday in Key West and we cannot wait to get back. There are so many things to do in Key West. Stay tuned over the next few months with recommendations

Participant Perks:
2017 Key West Half Marathon Medals
Being this is the 20th Anniversary of the Key West Half Marathon, there will be an big celebration for all runners. A 20th anniversary post party and concert, 20th Anniversary Finisher Medals, free beer, unique fully sublimated gender specific race shirts, race bags, lots of free giveaways, great raffle prizes and winner's awards. In the years past, the medals have been wine corks. You know I am all about that!

photo from keywest.com
Key West is home to dozens of bars and restaurants. You can create your own pub crawl or join an organized one. From nightlife to people watching, you are sure to have a great time in Key West. My favorite martini resides in Key West - the Key Lime Martini at White Tarpon. I've tried many and none have compared to this bad boy - be careful, it's sneaky strong!

5K & Padleboard Option!

For those not wanting to run 13.1 miles in Key West, there are options to either do the 5K or padleboard race (or even a combo!). That sounds like a ton of fun to me.

I also must ad, as a lifelong Floridian, Key West was never a destination I would say was easy to travel to - until now. 8 hours in the car, 4 of which are spent on a bridge and tons of traffic is not my idea of an escape! We were very pleased to learn that Silver Airways flies direct from both Tampa and Orlando. For less than $200, we will be to Key West in 45 minutes. So worth it!

Have you ever ran this race before? I would love to hear all about it!

Friday, August 4, 2017

We're Cruising Carnival Conquest - Anniversary Cruise 2017

I cannot believe it has almost been three years since my husband Gabe and I got married in New Orleans. A peek back to that perfect September day.....
To celebrate our anniversary, we are going on a 6 night Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Conquest! This will be our first time out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale!!
A few of the specialty dining options on the Conquest are  Guys Burger Joint, SteakhouseBlue Iguana Cantina and Seafood Shack, home of the best Lobster Roll at sea.
The Carnival Conquest also has my favorite watering hole, The Alchemy Bar. Other bars I'm sure we will frequent are BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar. I know without a doubt we will be spending most of Sunday at  SkyBox Sports Bar as it will be Football Season (luckily the Tampa Bay Bucs have an away game that week and we won't be missing a home game)!
The 6 night Caribbean Cruise will take us to 3 ports with 2 days at sea. All three ports are new to us and I cannot wait to explore each of the locations. We are still deciding on which excursions we will do but wanted to share our top selections below.

Stop 1: Ocho Rios Jamaica
photo from Margaritaville Caribbean 
I was supposed to visit Ocho Rios on my cruise in January while on board the Carnival Vista. Weather had other plans for us that day and we got an extra day at sea (discounted bingo and drinks). I happened to win a Ship on a Stick that day so all was not lost. However, I was very bummed we missed out on going to a new location. I look forward to finally seeing Jamaica! Here is what we are considering (although we will be enjoying at least one drink at Margaritaville before we get back on the ship):
Adrenaline Tubing and Blue Hole
Horseback Ride and Swim with Dunns Rivers Falls

Stop 2: Amber Cove, Dominican Republic
photo from Carnival.com
We will spend our Wedding Anniversary at Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. There are so many different excursions to choose from and I am at a loss. The adventurist side of me wants to go zip lining over the ocean yet the I'm in dire need of a vacation side of me wants to spend 8 hours in the above pictured beach bungalows. This decision is one that we need to make but for now, the top four are:
Wild Ride, Zip Challenge and Beach
Lifestyle Serenity VIP Resort Getaway
Ocean Cabana
RIU Resort Pass

Stop 3: Grand Turk
photo from Carnival.com

Grand Turk is a place I have wanted to visit for a very long time. However, when it comes to figuring out what we do while visiting has me at a complete loss. Grand Turk is one of the worlds top dive destinations. I am unable to dive but love to snorkel. The waters are pristine - mix that with Coral Reef, snorkeling is a top choice of activities.
photo from Jack's Shack

Whatever we do, we will not leave the island until we visit Jack's Shack, a popular bar with an famous Dog named Topher
Reef and Rays Beach Getaway
Catamaran Sailaway, Beach and Snorkel
Rays, Conch and Reef Snorkel
Stand Up Paddleboarding, Snorkel and Beach
Gibbs Cay, Stingray Encounter and Beach

Our cruise fare is being covered by Carnival, however all thoughts, posts, and opinions are my own.