Friday, February 26, 2016

Win a trip to Napa Valley - ASICS Vine Body Sole Half Marathon Weekend

Hey ladies! Here's a chance to win a trip for you and three friends to NAPA VALLEY! Running, Wine, Best Friends, Yoga, Fashion Shows.....Talk about the ultimate girls getaway! 

ASICS inaugural Vine Body Sole Half Marathon weekend is taking place in Napa Valley on May 12-14. 
Pick three friends to run away with you to ASICS #VineBodySole half marathon and training weekend for a chance to win a trip for the FOUR OF YOU! 

Here's how: 
1) Mention 3 friends in the comments on the first photo of the above photo collage on their Instagram page www.Instagram.com/Asics
2) Use the #VineBodySole hashtag. 

Details on the grand prize: 

- Round trip travel for 4, economy class, in the continental US to SFO/OAK/SAC (up to ASICS discretion)
- Registration for Vine Body Sole half marathon, relay or training challenge for 4 taking place May 12-14, 2016 in Napa, California.
- Accommodations for 2 nights, two double occupancy rooms in Napa, California.  

Full terms and conditions: 
http://www.asics.com/us/en-us/terms-avbs-instagram-contest

It's as simple as, one, two, pick three friends! Good luck! 

ASICS Vine Body Sole has options for all runners including a half marathon with individual, team and relay options. Along with the run, there will also be training events, yoga, other fitness activities AND of course wine tastings. Along with running for wine, ASICS will have a fashion show, a wine- and music-centric finish line festival and special appearances by Team ASICS elite athletes, including Deena Kastor.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Four Years of Running Anniversary!

Four years ago today, my friend Nicole and I crossed the finish line of our first 5K. I remember the day like it was just yesterday. Waking up at 2:30, dressing up as Minnie Mouse, freezing, thinking we lost our minds. Waiting for the race to start was a surreal experience.....nerves, excitement, something new.
Fast forward to present day, we have both have accomplished more than I ever thought was possible. One piece of advice I have for those looking to get into running - think about why you are out there. Don't compare yourself to others. Run for you.

Let's take a look back at the past four years!
2012
2012 was the start of it all. When I returned home from the Royal Family 5K, I signed up for another race - Tower of Terror 10 miler. The following week, I signed up for Expedition Everest. I got bit by the runDisney bug. In the Summer, I decided to sign up for my first half marathon which I completed 8 months after running my first 5K.
Royal Family 5K (first 5K)
Expedition Everest Challenge
Firecracker 4 miler
Hospice 10K
Tower of Terror 10 miler
Santa Hustle Half Marathon (first half marathon)
The Color Run

2013
2013 is the year I lost my sanity. I started off the year with three back to back half marathons and then runDisney changed the game by announcing the Dopey Challenge (48.6 miles in 4 days). I signed up for it without ever running a full  marathon. I also entered the 2013 NYC Marathon lottery and got in, marking 2013 as the year I ran my first full. Five days after returning home from NYC, I ran the Wine Dine Half and two weeks later, the Women's Running Half. I thought nothing could top 2013 but boy was I wrong, very wrong....
Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Rock n Roll St. Pete Half Marathon
Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon
Sarasota Half Marathon
New York City Marathon (first full)
Wine Dine Half Marathon
Women's Running Half Marathon

2014
Oh 2014.....This was my game changing year. I completed the Dopey Challenge, which is still insane to me when I look back on those 4 days. I did the Glass Slipper Challenge 4 weeks later and nearly quit running. I took on too much. It was the summer of 2014 that I got the email that changed it all. ASICS reached out to me asking if they could send me a pair of shoes. A month later, they asked me to be part of their 2014 NYC Marathon Blogger Challenge. I am presently one of their Ambassadors. 2014 was truly a game changer.
Family Fun 5K (Dopey Challenge)
Walt Disney World 10K (Dopey Challenge)
Walt Disney World Half Marathon (Dopey Challenge)
Walt Disney World Marathon (Dopey Challenge)
Cinderellas Royal Family 5K
Enchanted 10K (Glass Slipper Challenge)
Princess Half Marathon (Glass Slipper Challenge)
Sarasota Half Marathon
New York City Marathon

2015
After the whirlwind of 2014, I started focusing on racecations. After running the Disney World Full Marathon with my best friend (her first!) and doing the Princess Half with Nicole, my husband and I did a couple of traveling races - the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans and the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in DC. I was also asked to go to Dublin with ASICS for the Dublin Marathon. That was an epic experience. If I asked myself 4 years ago today if I thought I would run a marathon, I would say never. If I thought I would run an international Marathon? Never in a million years.
Walt Disney World Marathon
Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon
Princess Half Marathon
Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon
Dublin Marathon

2016
2016 kicked off with the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. My husband and I are leaving today for New Orleans to run the Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon. We also recently signed up for Disneyland Paris, runDisney's first international race! It's going to be an exciting year and I can't wait to see it unfold.
Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Monday, February 22, 2016

What to do while traveling in New Orleans

Four years ago my husband Gabe and I went to New Orleans for his 30th birthday. Fast forward to 2016 and we are preparing to go on our 10th trip to the big easy. I have a few friends from high school who have mistaken that we live there due to how often we check in on Facebook. If our frequent travel to New Orleans doesn't speak for itself, we love the city so much that we got married there!
Gabe and I are headed back to New Orleans to run the Rock n Roll Half Marathon. I'm frequently asked by friends and complete strangers for NOLA tips so here are some of my favorite things to do I. The big easy!


Take a tour (or two)
The French Quarter is one of the oldest cities in the US and you will find history on every corner. We have taken many tours over the years and they never grow old. Ghost tours are a great way to take in architecture, learn history of the city and hear stories of ghouls. This Friday, we will do the New Orleans Pharmacy Tour, something we have wanted to do for our last 10 trips into the city but could never make it work. 
Be sure to take a cemetery tour in NOLA. You can visit on your own time but you will not hear the stories of the families who were laid to rest. Ghost tours are always a lot of fun. 
We've even encountered some crazy things on ours. Horse drawn carriages are a great way to learn about the city and they will even show you some local celebrity houses (ahem.....Jolie-Pitts)


Stroll Down Royal Street
We always start our trip off strolling down Royal Street, where you will find an abundance of antique shops, art galleries and street performers. Make sure you bring some cash to tip the amazing talent that lines the street. You may be lucky enough to witness a Second Line Parade, New Orleans Celebration of life and death!

Tour the Garden District
Do yourself a favor and make reservations at Commanders Palace. If you can go during the work week, take advantage of their Pix Fixe lunch and $0.25 martinis (limit of 3 per person). If you book early enough, request to be sat in the Garden Room. 
Be sure to check out their James Beard wall. This restaurant has been home to many talented chefs including Emeril Lagasse and K-Paul. Following your delicious meal, take a self guided walking tour of the Garden District (walk off those martinis!). You will see incredible houses including a few famous ones.

Shop and Dine on Magazine Street
Magazine Street is a great place for unique shopping and dining, 10 minutes from the French Quarter. We love going there for lunch and strolling down the street, jumping from store to store. Do yourself a favor and visit Sucre for some Macarons.

Take a trip to a Plantation
Plantations are a short 45 minute drive from the French Quarter. We visited Oak Alley Plantation on one of our earlier trips to NOLA with both sets of our parents. This plantation has been in many TV shows and movies. It was Tom Cruise and Brad Pitts house in Interview with the Vampire! 
After our first visit to Oak Alley, we left stunned and came back the following year to do our engagement photos. Oak Alley's restaurant is also well worth a visit to. Aside from Oak Alley, there are many neighboring plantations so unless you have a car, I'd suggest spending a day doing a multi-plantation tour. 


Jackson Square
Throw yourself an impromptu picnic in Jackson Square. This is my favorite place in NOLA to take everything in and it's the best people watching place in the Quarter (besides Bourbon St. at 2am). Head to the go-to window at Cafe Du Monde, order beignets and a cafe au lait or get a Muffulata and an Abita from Central Grocery. Grab a seat in the park and enjoy the scenes! Following your picnic in the park, take a loop around the square and check out the local artists. We have purchased four pieces of art from local vendors over the past 4 years.
Be sure to visit St Patrick's Cathedral and be prepared to get awestruck by its beauty. We considered getting married at this church but decided to have it as our backdrop instead.

Take a Steamboat Cruise
A great way to see New Orleans from the Mississippi is to take a Steamboat Cruise. We took a dinner Jazz cruise on board the Steamboat Natchez and had a fantastic time.
The dinner was great, the entertainment was fantastic and the drinks were strong! They also offer a daytime Jazz cruise and a lunch cruise as well. 

Frenchman Street
Spend a night partying like a local. Frenchman Street is a long stretch of local musicians without the craziness of Bourbon Street. We love bar hopping on Frenchman Street and have heard many talented artists. The Frenchman Art Market is open from 6pm-12am nightly and it is always worth a trip.
Right off of Frenchman Streeet is Port of Call, home to my favorite burgers in the US. I'm not the only one who thinks highly of this burger. It's been named featured on many TV shows, Epicurious called it one of the best burgers in America and I crave this burger throughout the year. 

Restaurants 
I could do an entire post on the incredible restaurants located in New Orleans. It's one of the best culinary hot spots in America and you will never find yourself hungry. If it's your first visit, there are some local staples you must try. Some may be perceived as touristy but you've got to experience New Orleans. 

Restaurants
Willie Maes Fried Chicken (take a taxi). Named best fried chicken in the world. This is our first stop on Friday!
Antoines - this restaurant is super famous and they have an incredible bar menu. Be sure to order the Souffle Potatoes 
Acme Oyster House - Charbroiled Oysters and the Peacemaker Po-Boy. Sure Acme is a tourist staple but it has some of the best food I've had in NOLA. Just grab yourself a to-go drink from one of the bars and be prepared to wait in line. 
Coops Place Jambalaya, Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice (get the combo plate)
Restaurant Revolution (death by Gumbo) 
Root (Foie Gras Pops)
Court of Two Sisters (Jazz Brunch)
Broussards (Sunday Brunch, Endless Mimosas) 
Mr. B's Bistro (BBQ Shrimp)
Crawfish - there are many places to get Crawfish in the city during season. We have two favorites: J's Seafood Dock (check the hours) and the French Market Restaurant

Bars
Bars are a dime a dozen in New Orleans. Over the years we have found our favorites. 
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (oldest operating bar in America)
Erin Rose - Frozen Irish Coffee
Bar Tonique - Craft Cocktails 
Tropical Isle - Hand Grenade (you have to fit in on Bourbon St.) - warning, very strong. 

Bourbon Street 
When most people think of New Orleans, all they think is Bourbon Street. The city is so much more and this is why I left Bourbon for last. I do suggest going down Bourbon Street at least once during your trip so you can say you've done it. 

Drinks are 3 for 1 in many bars and you'll find live music in many locations. One of our favorite bars is the Bandstand - the house band is great and has been there everything we've visited. 
If you like sweet drinks, get a hand grenade from Tropical Isle. Beware, this sweet concoction is made with 151.  However there is much more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street. 

Safety 
In our many trips to New Orleans, we've never felt unsafe or threatened. We  are asked about the safety of NOLA quite often from those who haven't traveled there before. Just like any other big city, be aware of your surroundings and don't be flashy. Also if a guy comes up to telling you he can guess where you got your shoes, smile and tell him he's gotten you before. He will start "shining your shoes" with a dirty cloth and tell you that "you got your shoes......shined in New Orleans" and now you owe him $20. Speaking of shoes, don't wear flip flops on bourbon street. You'll thank me later. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

runDisney Disneyland Paris Half Marathon, Here We Come!

One year ago this weekend, runDisney announced Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. I instantly starting thinking of ways I could convince my husband that we had to run this race.
When the dates were stated, I knew it was meant to be and there would be no convincing needed. Disnelyand Paris Half Marathon Weekend is taking place during our two year wedding anniversary weekend, September 23-25, 2016.
We went to Europe for our honeymoon in 2014 and started the trip in Paris. There was so much we wanted to do but only had two short two days there, one of which we spent jet lagged. I knew in the back of my mind that we would one day find our way back to Paris.
When registration opened up this afternoon, I was a little shocked at how low the prices were. For those located in the states, our fee is $78 (USD) an adult for the half marathon. I texted my husband and he said let's do it! After a stressful registration thanks to Capital Ones fraud department, we barely made it in. Bib only registration was capped at 3,300 people and it is at capacity. There are still other ways to get in, click here for travel packages.
I love destination races and over the past three years we've have ran through some pretty amazing locations: Dublin Ireland, NYC (twice!), New Orleans (three times!) and Washington DC to name a few. I am so excited to add Disneyland Paris to the lineup and collect my Castle to Chateau medal at the end (a special medal for those who complete a half or full marathon in 2016 at Disney World or Disneyland).
Now that we have registered, it's time to pull out my handy Honeymoon planner and figure out what we want to do this time around since we missed so much in 2014. Oddly enough, Disneyland Paris was on that list.

If you are going to run Disneyland Paris, be sure to spend a few days in the city. We had such an amazing trip and look forward to returning. We did a run/walk tour of the city, following the same route that the hop on hop off bus offers. If you're up to trecking 15 miles (or training for a marathon) this is a great way to get your steps in!

What to do in Paris? 
Here is everything we had on our list, including what we had to skip in bold:

Eiffel Tower & River Cruise Combo - great way to see the city & save time in line. Be sure to get a glass of champagne at the top of the tower.
Book a reservation at 58 Tour Eiffel, you're welcome.
Visit the Lourve (vs. take pictures around it) - be sure to get Queue passes
Walk up the Notre Dame (we didn't have Euro with us and the line was long so we skipped this)
Climb up Arc de Triomphe (we had passes for this and couldn't locate the line - we still got to see this amazing structure)
Eat Macrons all day everyday. Visit the legendary Laduree
See the Red Light District (I promised Gabe if we ever returned we would make sure this happened)
Rent a bike share and cycle through the gorgeous city
Visit Champagne France and do the Moet and Chandon Dom Perignon Tour
Visit The Palace of Versailles
Hot Air Balloon Tour

See you in September Disneyland Paris!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Day at Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan Honduras #CruisingCarnival

When my best friend Keri and I went on our post half marathon celebration cruise last month, one of the reasons we chose the Carnival Valor was that it went to Mahogany Bay in Isla Roatan Honduras. We have seen so many amazing pictures of the crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches and we knew this spot would make the setting for the perfect beach getaway we needed.

Mahogany Bay was built on a backbone of volcanic rock and is home to the world's second largest coral reef. This is a great spot for diving and fishing but we chose to have a relaxing beach day!
One of the great things about the Mahogany Bay Cruise port on Carnival ships is the proximity to Mahogany Beach. You can take the Magical Flying Beach Chair (a ski lift on the beach) or a short walk to the beach.
Carnival offers a 3-in-1 Relax on the Beach Package for $40 a pair that includes two beach chairs, a clam shell, all day passes for the flying beach chair and two floats. Sadly, this was sold out before Keri and I could purchase it so we opted for a beach day outside the port. Be sure you book this early as it is the best deal on the beach.
Once we got through the cruise terminal, Keri and I got into our taxi and headed to Mayan Princess, a resort on the West Bay. We had a beautiful 30 minute ride through Honduras and reached our paradise for the next 5 hours and were greeted with drink.
The water was so crystal turquoise and I felt like we were living in a post card. We are both from Florida and beautiful beaches are something we are accustom to. However, Isla Roatan was unlike anything we had ever seen in real life.
Along with being set on a gorgeous beach, Mayan Princess has a 250ft blue lagoon pool and 8 person Jacuzzi. They offer a one day beach excursion for cruise passengers that has unlimited adult beverages and unlimited food for $99 a person. We opted for the day pass and got food and drinks on our own.
There was an abundance of water sports for guests to participate in at an extra cost. We saw everything from banana boats, kayaks, jet skis and even a jetpack!



One of the things that was great about the Mayan Princess staff was that they kept the vendors at bay. There were many locals selling local cuisine, fresh fruit and souvenirs but they were not permitted to close to the guests unless we asked them to come over.
We ended up buying from two vendors:
Homemade empanada and....
A fresh coconut which Keri poured rum into.
It was truly one of those days where you didn't want to leave. We both agreed that we would be returning back to Roatan Honduras with our husbands at a very near date. It was the perfect day. We headed back to the ship for the sail away party and snapped a few photos before we left this gorgeous place.
We even saw a pirate ship!
Here are some excursions not to miss while in Mahogany Bay, Roatan Honduras (under $100):
Relax on the Beach Package for 2 $39.99
Mayan Princess All Inclusive $99.99
Horseback Ride & Swim $79.99
Extreme Zip-Line & Beach Adventure $79.99
Snuba Adventure $74.99
Jolly Roger Catamaran & Snorkel with lunch $89.99

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dining at Scarletts Steakhouse on the Carnival Valor #CruisingCarnival

It's hard to believe my best friend Keri and I were sailing on our annual girls cruise a month ago! Every January we take a girls cruise together and this has been a tradition for 5 years. Our 2016 cruise was a 7 night cruise on board the Carnival Valor. On the third night of our cruise, we decided to eat at the ships on board restaurant, Scarlett's Steakhouse.

Scarlett's Steakhouse
If you are on a Carnival ship that offers steakhouse dining, I 110% suggest it and you do need reservations (we tried going a second time and couldn't get in). Carnival offers a wide variety of restaurant style dining on their fleets. They range in price and cuisine. The Steakhouse was a $35 charge per person and so worth it. The wine list was very impressive and on select nights, you can get half off a bottle!!
Upon sitting down, you are presented with a tray of meat. Literally - a tray of meat. You select which cut of meat you want, choices being: 9oz Filet Mignon, 18oz spice rubbed Ribeye, 18oz Grilled Cowboy, 14oz Broiled New York Strip, Double Cut Grilled Lamb Chops. There are other options as well - Surf and Turf, Broiled Maine Lobster Tail, Broiled Rosemary Infused Chicken, Maine Lobster Ravioli, or Grilled Filet of Fish.

Starters
Included in the $35 a person charge, you get starters, salads and desserts along with your choice of the entree. The starters are something you would find yourself paying $15+ at another steakhouse. The price is so worth it for the quality and quantity of food you receive. Keri and I decided to split a couple of starters.
Beef Carpaccio - Sliced raw beef tenderloin with shaved parmesan cheese and marinated mache lettuce. Keri and I are both big fans of Beef Carpaccio and this hit the spot. Interesting fact - if it weren't for my father, Keri would probably be ordering her steaks well done. As kids, when we dined out or had Keri over for dinner, my Dad would not allow her to order steaks Well done. She had to get it Medium Well and eventually she graduated to Medium and finally Medium Rare. Now she eats Beef Carpaccio which is raw. 
Ahi Tuna Tartare   - Dices of Sashimi Grade Yellow Fin Tuna Belly. This was so fresh and full of flavor. I nearly devoured it but I had to share it with Keri.

Soup (& Salad)
One of the great things about cruise ship dining is you can go outside of a pre-set menu. For instance, I did not want a salad, I wanted Lobster Bisque, but the Bisque was on the starter menu. Not a problem!
Keri ordered the Baby Leaf Spinach Salad. It came with blue cheese and warm bacon bits.
I ordered the above mentioned Lobster Bisque with Vintage Cognac. It was delicious!

Entrees
Although we had a wide variety of choices, Keri and I ended up with the same thing
9 oz broiled Filet Mignon. It sliced like butter and was perfectly cooked to a medium rare. A month later, Keri is still talking about this steak.

Dessert
It's hard to imagine eating dessert after all this food but how can you turn it down? We also asked if the bartender could make us an espresso martini, which was not on the menu. They made an excellent one and this drink started a trend for the rest of our cruise. Why haven't we thought of ordering this before?
I got the Cheesecake and Keri got the Chocolate sampler (bittersweet chocolate cake, banana pannacotta, tiramisu and chocolate marquise).

Overall, our dining experience at you can view Carnivals Steakhouse Menu by clicking here.