October 16, 2013

If invited to Datz Dough, go!

Some words of advice: if someone ever invites you to Datz Dough, GO.

I was recently invited to attend a tasting there with the Tampa Bay Bloggers (organized by the fabulous Denise), and I went. I'm not stupid. And, I was not disappointed.

Tampa Bay Bloggers photo by Gerardo Luna

There was bacon brittle involved, people. Bacon. Brittle. Don't ever pass that up.

When I arrived, I was greeted with a Prickly Pear Mimosa. Yeah, that was as good as it sounds. It included sparkling wine, mandarin/tangerine puree and prickly pear syrup. And, it was pretty.

Next up was the Passport Salad. Reading the description, I was not overly excited about this salad. After tasting it, I was overly excited about this salad. It was made up of Belgian endive, Spanish olives, Turkish figs, French goat cheese and crispy Italian garbanzo beans. The sweet, the salty, the crunchy. It was all good.

I was excited about the next dish: Not Yo Mama's Mac & Cheese. It definitely wasn't. Well, the only mac and cheese my mama ever made was the kind out of a Kraft box. This was about 1,000 times better than that. It was cheesy with a crunchy cayenne panko topping. The topping was my jam.

Are you ready? Are you really ready? Because it's bacon brittle time. The bacon brittle came on a pan-seared scallop in The Sea & The Swine. It is as awesome as it sounds. I loved this. Loved it. But, when you think about it, what is not to love about candied bacon?

Steak is one of my true loves in life. You probably think I'm kidding. I'm not. So, when I saw steak on the menu, I was pumped. Then, I read that it involved a valronah chocolate coffee sauce. And, I wasn't as pumped. I'm a salt and pepper on my steak kinda girl because it's so delicious it doesn't need anything else. But, I will admit to being pleasantly surprised by the sauce. Plus, it wasn't like the steak was drenched in it. You could dip as you wanted. The steak came with a blue cheese cheesecake. I was hesitant on this one, too. I'm not a blue cheese fan. I don't hate it, but it's not my favorite. But, I'm all about trying everything. So, I tried it, and I'm glad I did. It was rich and blue cheesy and I couldn't eat it all, but I was happy with my few bites.

Top left: Passport Salad; bottom left: Not Yo Mama's Mac & Cheese;
top right: The Sea & The Swine; bottom right: The Steaks are High

In the midst of this deliciousness, another drink arrived: the Bobby Boucher Spritz. I loved this drink before I ever tried it just because of the name. It included cherry heering liqueur, overproof bourbon, Benedictine and sweet vermouth. I like Bourbon (thanks to a bourbon schooling by my Kentucky friend, Erin), so I liked this drink. If you don't like bourbon, you probably wouldn't. You can just give yours to me.

We also got the opportunity to try Chef Domenica Macchia's speciality, duck fat fries. Wow. Just wow.

To finish off this delicious night, we ended with a Banana Foster Boozy Shake.  I like banana foster. I like shakes. I thought I'd be crazy about this. When it arrived, I knew I wouldn't. It had ... whipped cream on the top. Ick. That is one thing I really, really don't like. I'm weird, I know. So, even though I tried to scoop it off, I still felt like I was drinking it.

Whipped cream doesn't deserve to be photographed.

Have you ever had bacon brittle? No? Do it. Now. Have you ever been to Datz or Datz Dough? If you were there, what was your favorite item? If you weren't there, what do you think would be your favorite?

October 15, 2013

This "week" in running: week 5

So, this week in running is pathetic. I shouldn’t even call it a week in running. It was one day. Just one day. Sheesh. I think that’s the least I’ve ever run in a week while training for a half marathon. I guess being sick will do that to you.

After last Saturday’s disastrous 10K-5K challenge while getting sick, I didn’t run again until Thursday of the next week. Exerting any more effort than required to get to work, return home, walk the dog and return to bed was about all I could manage.

I was still a little iffy on Thursday about running. I still was feeling weak, but I figured I’d give it a shot. I’d either have success or collapse in a wilted pile on the ground. It seemed worth it to me. Thankfully, the wilting pile did not happen, and I actually had a really great run. Like the best run I’d had since the Spring. Yes, that long. Why? It’s finally a few degrees cooler than the surface of the sun. This makes a big difference, people. Huge.
So, while the 800-meter repeats were tough (as they always are), I did not feel like puking when I was done (like in the past). And, the hill repeats after that were tough, but not unbearably so. And, the run back was not horrible either. In fact, it was actually pretty good. Thank you, Fall!

Are you a hot or cool weather runner? Ever have a pathetic week in running?

October 8, 2013

This week in running: week 4

If this week could be summed up in a word, it would be “sick.” And, not the good kind of sick. The actually sick “sick.” Ugh.


I woke up not feeling great. I thought I’d sleep it off and run later in the evening. I attempted this. I made it 1.5 miles before I had to walk-crawl 1.5 miles home.

1.50 miles


I had grand plans of running 8 miles after work. Problem: I still wasn’t feeling 100%, but I thought I’d give it a shot on the treadmill at the craptastic gym. If I didn’t feel good midway through, at least I was close to home. I made it one mile (one measly mile) before the heat got to me. I called it and headed home. Failure again.

1.0 mile



I finally felt better, and I was able to run a slow 3 miles. The view was nice, and I felt pretty decent considering the previous two days.

3 miles


Due to Running Buddy Lori being injured, she gave me her bib for a race on Saturday. This made Thursday an easy speed work day with the running group to have fresh legs for Saturday.

1.5 miles


I woke up not feeling great (different than earlier in the week). My throat was on fire, I was on fire (temperature-wise), and I had a headache. I shook it off, got ready and headed to the race (I actually don’t feel great a lot of mornings because mornings and I just don’t get along, so I was hoping it was just that … but I really knew it wasn’t). I proceeded to run the worst 10K of my life. Then, I walked the 5K portion of the 15K challenge. Yuck. I spent the rest of Saturday getting sicker with Sunday being spent debating how important drinking liquid or going to the restroom really were … because both involved a 10-foot walk.

RunKeeper's version of my 10K

6.2 miles

Do you try to run while sick? Ever have to cut runs short? Do you panic like me about not being ready for a half marathon in three weeks?

October 1, 2013

This week in running: week 3


The first half of this run was awesome. You can probably guess where this is going ... the second half was not. It was probably because I forgot fuel and felt myself slowing fading toward the end. I ended up walking more than I wanted and cutting it 0.5 miles short. I'd love to see what would have happened if I had fuel, but I didn't. And the run is what it is. And I saw a beautiful sunrise.

7.5 miles


I felt like running, but it was raining, so I headed to the craptastic gym. I picked the wrong treadmill, and it stopped mid-run. I tried everything, but it would not restart. So, I had to switch treadmills. This is why I call it the craptastic gym, people. I listened to Katy Perry's "Roar" on repeat the entire run. I envisioned myself roaring to the condo board about their crappy gym.

2.5 miles

It should not have to be like this.


It seems like I either love speed work night or hate it. This week, it was love. Maybe I got all my hate out at the craptastic gym. The 800-meter repeats seemed tough (per usual), but manageable (not always the case). It was one of those times that everything seems right with running (these periods are usually short-lived, so I try to savor them when they happen).

3.0 miles

Ever have a treadmill quit on you mid-run? Anyone else obsessed with "Roar," too? Do you have a love-hate relationship with speed work?

September 30, 2013

October Instagram Challenge: #Octogram with #Parkesdale

Disclaimer: This Instagram #Octogram #Parkesdale photo challenge is a sponsored collaborative effort between the Tampa Bay Bloggers and Parkesdale Farm Market. Other than prizes to be awarded as giveaways for the Instagram photo challenge, the Tampa Bay Bloggers did not receive any compensation for this campaign.

Halloween is kind of my thing.

So when discussions began among Tampa Bay Bloggers about co-hosting a Halloween-themed Instagram challenge, I was totally in.

Starting on October 1, I'm co-hosting my first October Instagram Challenge with the Tampa Bay Bloggers

Follow each of these bloggers on Instagram and the hashtags #Octogram and #Parkesdale.
The #Octogram Hosts – Blogs and Instagram IDs
Denise of Run DMT @Run_DMT
Jenny of Metamorfit @metamorfit

To join in the freaky October Instagram Challenge photo fun, add your Instagram ID to the linky collection below. Then each day in October, snap a photo using the suggested photo prompt for that day and upload it to Instagram with the hashtags #Octogram and #Parkesdale.

Everyone who Instagrams and plays along will be entered for a chance to win a gift fruit basket from Parkesdale Farm Market valued at $65.90. TWELVE lucky winners (only eligible to USA and Canada residents) entered in linky tool below will be randomly selected on November 1.

We’ll be watching for your photos from the shadows of Instagram. 

Do you like Halloween? Are you going to join in the challenge? Let me know!

September 29, 2013

HOT Run 5K and 10K, St. Pete Beach, FL, Sept. 19, 2013: race recap

I may have mentioned a time or 50 that summer running kind of sucks for me. So, when an inaugural summer race came about, I really debated if I wanted to do it. I thought about volunteering. But, after the majority of my running group signed up for either the 5K or 10K, I decided to go for the 5K. Maybe it would be motivating? Maybe I could finally shake my horrible running streak?
The race was on a Thursday evening, which was a nice change from the super-early Saturday or Sunday morning. But, it also had the potential to be hot and humid. And, it was.
It also had some sprinkles, which caused a slight delay in the start.

Scary sky before the start

The course was a totally flat, rectangular-shaped loop. For the 5K, it was two loops. For the 10K, it was four loops. The course went along Pass-A-Grille Beach, east to Boca Ciega Bay, north along the bay, west to the beach and south again to complete the loop. So, incredible views the entire way.
The idea with the 7:20 p.m. start time is that you’d see a 7:30 p.m. sunset over the Gulf and at 7:36 p.m. full moon rising over the bay. Unfortunately with the rain, you didn’t really see either. 

Sunset trying to show through the clouds.
I should have gone into this race with the idea to just have fun and enjoy my running group pals. Instead, I got some crazy idea in my head that some miracle could occur and I could finally get that under-30-minute 5K.
Fun before the race

I started off “fast,” and boy did I regret that. I felt pretty miserable the entire race. There’s no need to analyze each mile or figure out where things went wrong. I just wasn’t ready for a personal record (PR) 5K. That sweet previous time of 30:09 seems so far away.
Aside from my performance, the race itself was fun! They had DJs stationed along the course. They had fun lighting and even a station that blasted out cryogen (cold air).
After sweating like a maniac and crossing the finish line at 33:21, I got this sweet medal. 

HOT is from a local radio station (HOT 101.5) not based
on the temperature or the people wearing the medal.
I actually had to towel off (well, napkin off, technically) before this
photo because I was so sweaty.

The Hurricane Restaurant provided the post-race food (the race began and ended there), and it was pretty sweet, too.

While this personally wasn’t a great race for me, it was for so many people in my running group. There were PRs and age group placers galore. These peeps are amazing! And, having that group support makes a personally poor race so much more bearable. If not for celebrating others’ successes (or even commiserating about others’ bad races), I would just dwell on my poor performance and take that turn to negative town.

Fit2Run St. Pete represent!

Thanks to some of these great running peeps, I learned so many things this race:
  • An injured runner is a bitter walker.
  • Fourth place is a very bitter place.
  • No matter how long the wait for beer is, it’s worth it.
  • Watch out for piles of puke on the course.
  • Celebrate others’ successes.
I also learned that the HOT Race was a blast, and I’m looking forward to running it next year.
Do you ever run races for fun? Have you ever done a loop course? Did you run the HOT Run? What did you think?

September 25, 2013

Island Boost review: a long-run fueling option

Disclaimer: I was provided three packets of Island Boost at no cost for review purposes only. All opinions are my own.

When you’re running a long distance, you need some nutrition mid-run unfortunately. I write “unfortunately,” because most of the stuff they make for this is dreadful. Gels that are funky textures and tastes and gummy things to chew (chewing and swallowing are not something I should be doing while running). Both make me feel ill either later in the run or later in the day. Blech.

I've used both types, tried multiple brands and ended up with the same result: ummm, no. I'd like them for a time, but it never failed that I'd still get that ill feeling. Yuck.

Enter a new player in the game: Island Boost.

Island Boost was created by a runner with a sensitive digestive system who got sick using the traditional options. This sounds familiar.

Some features and benefits of Island Boost, according to their website: it contains no artificial sweeteners or flavors; it's vegan and gluten free; there's no need to drink water to dissolve the carbohydrates since they're readily absorbed via the coconut water in Island Boost; and it's quickly absorbed in the bloodstream to fuel muscles.

Sounds good, right?

Well, I put three different flavors to the test on three different long runs. I used two flavors mid-run and one before the start of a run.

What did I think?

Texture: I liked the texture more than any gel-type product I've tried. It went down easily without feeling like it was sticking to my throat (please tell me you know what I mean). It was almost as easy as drinking water.

Flavors: The flavors were surprisingly sweet. I really like sweet, so I liked them. But, if you try them, be prepared for a kick of super-sweet liquid. I can see them being too sweet for some people. My favorite flavor was Passion Fruit, followed by Strawberry-Orange and Blueberry-Pomegranate.

Feeling: Island Boost delivered the nutrition I needed to keep running or the nutrition I needed before a run. But, the best part? I didn't feel sick during the run or after. I kept waiting for the miserable stomach issues I used to get, and they never came.

Want to try Island Boost? It's available via REI (in stores and online).

Have you tried Island Boost? What did you think? Do you have stomach issues with other products? What is your go-to fuel?