Friday, May 23, 2014

Time to Relax!

My view for the summer

I don't know about you guys but I'm SO READY for a long weekend. Being the good Jersey girl I am, I'll be headed down the shore for Memorial Day Weekend. All last spring and summer my Dad and Bryan spent a lot of time fixing up our shore house after the effects of Hurricane Sandy. We were very lucky in that our house was still standing but we had a great deal of water damaged. So most weekends down the shore last summer I spent helping to paint and get things back in order. This year we'll really be able to enjoy the beach and relax!

The shore is also one of my favorite places to go run and is where I did the bulk of my Wine & Dine training. There's always a slight ocean breeze, everyone is out being active, and it's pretty darn flat! I'm itching for my orthotics to come back in from getting adjusted so I can go for my first summer run! 

Happy Memorial Day and I hope everyone enjoys their long weekend, I know I will!

QOTD: What are your plans for the long weekend? Are you running in any Memorial Day races?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Where in the (Walt Disney) World Wednesday-Henna in Morocco

One of my must do activities while I'm in EPCOT is to head on over to the Morocco Pavilion for henna tattoos! Firstly, what exactly is henna? 

"...Henna is a paste made out of crushed leaves and twigs of henna plant...When this paste is applied in skin (just like writing from a marker) and left for few hours, it leaves orange to dark maroon stain in the skin which fades away in 7 to 14 days." [Source]
There are 2 spots in which you can get henna while at Morocco. The first spot, and the most well known used to be located on the water where Spice Road Table is now. Since construction, it's moved across the way closer to Tangerine Cafe. The second, and lesser known spot is back in the bazaar area. 99% of the time there is almost no wait back here compared to the artist out front on the main walkway.

I love the beauty of each henna design and that all have a meaning behind it. There is a book displaying the available designs with prices starting around $15 and going up to $60. The price will depend on the size and complexity of the design. Each design can usually be re-worked to fit whichever area of the body you would like it placed on. The display may show it on a hand but it can easily be translated to be put on your foot instead.

It typically takes 5-10 minutes to do each tattoo. The henna looks and feels like puff paint as it's going on. It will dry, and eventually crumble off over the next 24 hours. Once the paint has crumbled off your design is left on your skin in an orange tint. The tattoo continues to darken for about a day after the tattoo is applied. Depending on how you care for you tattoo it can last anywhere from 7-14 days. 

If you love real tattoos, are afraid of needles, or just can't commit, henna is a great option! It's fun and most importantly not permanent. It's a great souvenir that you can show off during your trip and when you get home.

QOTD: Have you even gotten a henna tattoo while in WDW? 

Thursday, May 15, 2014


My gym happens to be one of the gyms that offers Les Mills BodyPump. It's a class I've been wanting to try for a while and finally got around to it on Tuesday. BodyPump is described as, "one of the world's fastest ways to get in shape as it challenges all of your major muscle groups while you squat, press, lift and curl." Naturally, I dragged Bryan along with me and boy are we both still feeling it. 

The class had about 30 people in it total so it was packed. I asked the teacher what I would need to get started. She set me up with a barbell, weight plate, free weights, yoga mat, and step platform-that's it? I managed to get all the stuff back to my acquired spot and we jumped right into the workout. 

My arms were tired within the first 10 minutes. This class is no joke! A lot of the movements are similar to lifts I had learned in my brief stint at crossfit which helped me tremendously. Had I not known the proper technique for these moves prior I might have found it a little more difficult.

What I like about this class compared to crossfit is it that instead of lifting the heaviest weight possible a few times, you lift a lighter weight a greater amount of times. All sections of the workout are paced to upbeat songs which really helps you power through. 

The class was broken down into multiple sections, each section targeting the specific area we were working on. Before each section the teacher would briefly explain it, let us know where we could make modifications if we need to etc. 

Overall, I loved the fast paced feeling of this class. It's exactly what I've been looking for as cross training for running. Not only does it help strengthen my legs with moves like squats, it also adds in core work, and of course plenty of arm movements to make sure they're looking good for summer! I can't wait to go back next week and see what this class can do for me in the long run.

QOTD: Have you even been to BodyPump? What were your impressions?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Recipe: Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas

My Mom, Grandma, and Aunt...and all our desserts

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day with the important ladies in your lives! Our family headed over to my aunt's house for lots of food, sangria, and beautiful weather. My mom and I were in charge of desserts and we came across a recipe for frozen chocolate covered bananas and knew it would be perfect! This happens to be one of my aunt's favorite treats at Disney so we knew we had to make it. 

Recipe adapted from

Frozen Chocolate Bananas
Makes 12


  • One Bunch Bananas
  • 12 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (we made some of each!)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (we used coconut oil instead)
  • Peanuts, Toffee, Sprinkles, whatever you would like to top your bananas with
  • You'll also need popsicle sticks


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Peel bananas and cut in half. Insert popsicle stick into each banana. Line on baking sheet and freeze for at least 15 minutes (I would suggest 30-minutes to an hour).
  3. Before pulling the bananas out of the freezer, melt the chocolate chips until smooth.
  4. Roll each frozen banana in the melted chocolate. I used a spoon to cover the bananas and found there was less of a chance the popsicle stick would come out of the banana
  5. Immediately sprinkle toppings on chocolate dipped banana. Place back on baking sheet.
  6. Freeze at least 30 minutes until chocolate sets. Serve out of freezer or store in freezer in airtight container for up to one week.

Viola, your own chocolate covered frozen banana! These will be great treats on the warm summer days that are coming!

QOTD: What's your favorite frozen Disney treat?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wear the Cape 5K Race Recap

Last Saturday, I was asked by a family friend to run a local 5K. One of their friends has started this wonderful charity, The Kidkind Foundation, to raise awareness and prevent bullying, while building heroes in our community's youth. It even has a board of students to help spread awareness. It was the first year they were putting on a race and I was happy to participate! 

Wear the Cape

Normally, I scour the race website and read every piece of race literature I can beforehand. This time I was very casual about it and signed up that morning at the race. I was able to rope Bryan into running with me (yay!). He typically won't run anything longer than a 5K with me, and of course if there's a race shirt involved, how can he say no?

The race took place at the municipal fields the next town over from me. So a quick 10 minute drive and we were there. You have to love that race commute. After the race there was a fair with activities and vendors going on all afternoon. Most of them were already there in the morning to get set up. 

I kind of knew that this race was a semi-trail race but I didn't really seem to process that part too much. Mind you, it'd been raining for 2 days straight earlier in the week, so lots of mud would be waiting for us. 


Just before 8:30 we grouped up around the start line and then the announcer set us all off at once. We started on a pavement road but headed straight for the woods. The path getting through the woods was narrow, you couldn't run more than 2 people across and even that was pushing it. So with a big group trying to move through a small space we were kind of at the mercy of whatever speed the group was moving. 

Just for good measure, there was also tons of mud, big, deep piles of squishy mud. So people were dodging around the mud, off the course, through trees, around branches etc. There were volunteers throughout the entire course pointing out big roots in the path, rocks etc. Trouble spots had also been spray painted the night before to draw attention to them. The organizers did a great job with this, but unfortunately I learned I don't think I like trail races. 

Yum, mud!

Did I also mention that we were going uphill the first half of the race as well? All I could think was, I can't wait to get to the downhill part! But then going downhill through wet, slippery leaves proved to be a problem within itself. 

I don't know if you guys have picked up on this but I'm not the most graceful person. 15 years of dance did nothing for me, I trip up stairs daily, am always spilling things on myself, I'm a mess half the time. Of course, about a quarter of the way through I rolled my ankle going over a rock-OW! I yelled to Bryan to stop and took a quick walk break. Being as stubborn as I am I decided to push on, we had to be coming out of the woods soon, right?

Luckily I was right and we got to a softer, flatter path. Yes, we're almost be done! I saw the mile 2 marker a while back...wait a minute why is there a mile 1 marker there? Does that mean 1 more mile to go? Must be. Through the parking lot back towards the start area, where's the finish? Wait, why is everyone else going back towards the woods? We have to go through the woods AGAIN!?!?!?! 

Guys, I thought I was going to cry. Give me 13.1 miles of flat paved road any day. This trail thing was kicking my butt BIG TIME. The mile 2 marker that I saw early on in the course was correct...if you were on your second lap. I was not a happy camper. Me and my rolled ankle just wanted to finish and not have to dodge more tree roots again. 

I sucked it up though because I'm stubborn and would rather finish slow than not finish at all. We made it through the woods the 2nd time around, back out onto the road (ah familiar territory) and pushed our way to the finish. 

Trying to look smiley while catching my breath!

I was wiped out. Didn't a just run a half marathon the weekend before? How come a 5K was kicking my butt worse than that!? Either way I was happy to finish and happy to have participated for a good cause.

Shortly after the race there was a ceremony for overall and age group winners after that we stuck around for. There was also plenty of water, bananas, and bagels for us post race. I have to say, for this being the race's first year it was run impeccably. 

Unfortunately, I found out that day I'm not the trail racing kind of girl. Bryan on the other hand loved the trail part. To him it was like an obstacle course which kept him more occupied. Once we got to the road he was not loving all the pounding on the pavement. Just another way in which we're complete opposites. I'd take the road over the trail any day!

Made it out of the woods! Now where's my bagel?!

I'm not sure if I would run this race again next year just because of the trail aspect, but maybe volunteer instead since it's such a great cause. 


QOTD: What's your experience with trail races? Do you prefer them to traditional road races?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Where in the Walt Disney World Wednesday-Magic Kingdom's Kiss Goodnight

I'm feeling the need for a little Disney magic in my life, so today I'm featuring the Goodnight Kiss at Magic Kingdom. In true Disney style, you don't just leave the park, the castle sends you out in style. The Goodnight Kiss happens every night at park closing. Enough typing, I'll let the video do the talking.

QOTD: Have you ever stayed long enough to watch the castle's goodnight kiss?


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Nike Women's Half Marathon DC - Race Review

Ready for Race Day!
My alarm went off at 5am and I woke up feeling a little nervous. I couldn't believe race day was already here. I ate my pre-race breakfast of a bagel and peanut butter and kept hydrated with water and gatorade. I had laid out "flat Lauren" the night before just to be sure I had everything and wouldn't have to think about it that morning. Right around 6am Bryan and I made our way out of the hotel towards the starting line. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt which was only a few blocks away, a quick 5-10 minute walk. 

One of the 3 gear check areas
I decided not to check a bag and would just have Bryan bring flip flops for me to change into after. If you did have a bag to check the areas were divided into 3 separate locations depending on bib number. Since we had some time to kill we just looked around to see where everything was located and to figure out a good spot to meet up after. Soon enough they were asking everyone to get into their corrals to get ready. Both Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson were there to kick off the race but unfortunately I couldn't really see or hear them from where I was. Right at 7am the race started with the first wave. There were 3 waves total which started about 5 minutes apart each. I began in the 3rd wave just about 15 minutes after the race start.

The view form my corral

They were AWESOME

We started out heading towards The Capitol and already there was tons of on course support. We passed this bad ass (there's no other way to describe them) all women drum line. They were AMAZING and really got you pumped up. Right after that I passed a spectator with a "may the course be with you sign" dressed up as Princess Lea. The FULL get up people, side buns and all. Bravo Princess, I applaud and thank you for your dedication.

This video doesn't even do justice to how
cool this section was
Around mile 2 we went into "the tunnel" that I've heard about. All I can say is WOW, this was my absolute favorite spot on the course. You go in and immediately you can feel the drums reverberating off the walls and completely engulfing you. It put a HUGE smile on my face and I decided I was going to just enjoy this race. I knew I was under trained so I was just going to enjoy all that the course had to offer me at whatever pace that may be. The "We Run" sign was also here, glowing for photo ops.

The We Run sign made its way into the tunnel 

Just past mile 2 I spotted some port-a-potties that didn't have a completely ridiculous line and jumped in. I waited about 5 minutes but I'm glad I went when I did because the lines were long at pretty much every stop throughout the whole race. It's a women's focused race, we've been hydrating like nobody's business, and we always have to pee all the time, of course bathrooms were in high demand. One thing that I did love that I think all races should incorporate was Nike had flags at each bathroom stop stating how many miles until the next stop- GENIUS! 

Photo: Nike
I quickly got back on the course, kept going past The National Mall, then out and back towards the Arlington Cemetery. I had started my intervals right after my bathroom stop and was feeling pretty good. I was tailing these 2 girls dressed as Aubrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany's and loved seeing their outfits the whole time! How had I not thought of that? I love anything Audrey, oh well next time. Right up until Mile 6 the crowd support was phenomenal. There were people cheering everywhere and it kept spirits high. Mile5/6 is usually where I find my groove and was feeling confident at this point. 

I kept trucking on until, uh-oh, my calves were cramping WAY early. Like mile 7 1/2 early. I said some curse words to myself because I knew this was the part of the course where there wasn't as much spectator support. I text Bryan "I think I'm going to walk a lot more than I wanted to." I was really annoyed at first but then I reminded myself, this race is more about the experience than the race. I knew I didn't put the training in to PR and wasn't expecting to. It was an absolutely beautiful day so I was going to walk/run as much as I could and take in as much as possible. 

I would run until I cramped, then switched to walking until that hurt and started cramping, and just kept repeating the vicious cycle. There was this one woman on the course around mile 8 1/2 that was handing out Oreos. Guys, I don't really even like Oreos but I had never been SO HAPPY to eat one in my life. I yelled "thank you" to her and loved every bit of sugar and chocolate that was being soaked up into my body. 

So close!

At this point I just kept telling myself "make it to mile 10 then you only have a 5K left." Once I made it there I felt like the end was in sight. I tried to run/walk as fast as my legs would let me. Around mile 12 the crowd support picked up again and this was what I needed to help push me through. I knew I was getting close so I text Bryan to see which side of the road he would be on. I headed back through the tunnel again, the drumming was not as intense this time since so many racers had already passed through. 

Bookin' it to the chocolate milk & Tiffany's

Outside the tunnel I knew I wasn't that far away. There was a giant screen greeting us by name like at the Expotique with words of encouragement. I was going to wait to see my name but then decided to just push through and get done. I saw Bryan in the crowd, made my way over long enough to yell "my calves hate me!" get a kiss and run off. At this point I could see the finish line in front of me so I took every ounce of energy left, powered through the finish line and threw my hands up in the air with excitement. 

I was exhuasted but so happy to be done. Some sweet woman who finished next to me said "good job!" and put her hand up to give me a high five. Me, still not being completely coherent looked at her like she had five heads, realized she wasn't talking to someone else behind me, realized what a jerk she probably thought I was, and said thank you and high fived her back. Real smooth Lauren. If you high fived me at the finish line THANK YOU and congratulations on your race, sorry I was so spaced out! 

My official finish time was 2:52:56, just 9 minutes behind my Wine & Dine time. For how early my calves started cramping, being sick withing the 2 weeks before the race, and how much more I should have trained, I was more than happy with that time. There are plenty of races for me to try and PR in the future, this was not one of them. 

Option 1

Option 2

After the finish line there was a good sized crowd that you unfortunately had to wait with. The first table you had to wait for was where they handed out water in reusable bottles that had the Nike Women's Half and the Whole Foods logo. I thought this was a nice touch and I'm sure helped with water bottle clean up after the race. The next table was food, which I was really disappointed in. We got some dried fruit, some nuts, a mini luna bar, and some other stuff I wasn't really interested in. Honestly, for a race of that size I think you should at least have bananas to offer your runners when they're done. I'm not sure if there was at one point but they ran out by the time I crossed. Either way, volunteers were scrambling to get everything into the bags to hand out to runners. Once we got our food and chocolate milk (YUM!) there was heat sheet distribution which was much needed at this point. 

Can you hear the choir of angels?!

Then, the moment we had all been waiting for-TIFFANY FINISHER NECKLACES! You could either go through a line where the guys just handed the box to you, or you could go to the line where the guys were holding the boxes on silver platters. Since I was feeling worn out and my calves did not want to stand in any more lines I chose the quicker option. 

Finisher area pre-race

There was also a finishers tent with mats and foam rollers-I completely missed this but probably would've taken advantage of it had I know. There was also another tent for finisher merchandise. The lines looked long to get it so I decided to skip it, I had spent enough money on merchandise for one weekend already! I finally located Bryan and my friend Colleen who had come to cheer me on. I switched into my heavenly gel flip flops to slowly stroll around to cool down. I was a happy girl and couldn't wait to celebrate my accomplishment with mimosas at brunch with my friends later!

Photo: Nike
Thanks for making me look so legit! Hopefully I'll be back next year!
Considering this is only Nike's 2nd year in DC, I think they listened to runners last year and made improvements for this year. Hopefully, this will only continue to happen as the race goes on. For a $175 race fee where you get a Tiffany's Necklace as your medal, I think this race is absolutely worth it and I would love to run it again in the future.

QOTD: Have you ever run a Nike Women's race? Would you ever consider running in DC or San Francisco?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Nike Women's Half Marathon DC - Pros & Cons

I'm still waiting for some race photos to come up for my full recaps. Plus it's Friday, who wants to read a huge long post on Friday? So today I will leave you with my Pros & Cons of the Nike Women's Half Marathon DC.

Lets start with what needs improvement.


  • Expotique Crowding: Fitting 15,000 runners plus their guests into a few tents in Georgetown for the expotique seems like a logistical nightmare. It was so crowded I could barely move to see what was going on.
  • Port-a-Pottie Availability/Lines: Lets be honest, women have to go to the bathroom all the time as it is. Make that 15,000 women who have been hydrating for race day? Yikes. 
  • On Course Crowding: A wave start was implemented this year but I felt the course didn't really thin out until mile 7. Even then I was still weaving through people.
  • Preparedness at Water/Food Stations: At some of the later water stations I filled my own water cup because the volunteers couldn't keep up. After the race the volunteers were having trouble getting all the food bags ready to keep us moving as well.
  • Availability of Merchandise: You could pre-purchase a lot of race merchandise online which I thought was great, but if you didn't order right away a lot of it sold out. Luckily most of it was available at the Nike Georgetown store. Things like finisher gear was only available at the finishers tent after the race where I head a lot of gear sold out early. There was also some online, but again, it sold out quickly. If you're a local, you could head back to the Nike store for finisher gear in the days after the race but unfortunately that isn't the case for everyone.
Now onto the good stuff!


  • A Race Specific App: This is where you can find everything from course info to your race pass to pick up your packet. Later it held your results & finishers photos. 
  • Fast/Easy Packet Pick-Up: Scan my race pass from my phone, check all my info on the screen in front of me. Done. Easy.
  • Perfect Weather: I know you can't control this one, but it really just made race weekend that much better. Temperatures were beautiful for walking around Georgetown on Saturday then cooled off just enough for the race Sunday. 
  • Fast and Flat Course: There was minimal elevation change throughout the course.There weren't any spots that suck out as making me think "OMG I can't make it up this hill." 
  • On Course Support/Entertainment: Except for the stretch on the Potomac Golf Course, there were spectators cheering you on everywhere! In addition to the spectators were awesome drum lines along the course to get you pumped up.
  • Volunteers: All the volunteers were so helpful and friendly throughout the entire weekend. 
  • Water/Fuel: On course fueling and food was fantastic. There was water or Nuun every 2 miles. Whole Foods handed out orange slices and chocolate on the course in addition to there being mini Luna bars and Cliff shot blocks.
  • Marketing/Branding of Race Weekend: Nike knows what they're doing people. It was an event not a race. From personalized message boards with your name, to race merchandise I'll actually want to wear again.
  • Free on Course Photos: Kudos to Nike on this one. All your photos are delivered directly to you We Run DC app and can be downloaded for FREE from there.
  • Finishers Necklace: Come on, did you really think I was going to forget about the best part? The Tiffany's finishers necklace! It's beautiful and I never want to take it off. 
QOTD: Have you run a Nike race either in DC or San Francisco? What do you think is done well or needs work on?


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Nike Women's Half Marathon DC- #RunnersLove Meetup & Expotique

I can't believe race weekend has come and gone already! Last Friday night, Bryan and I made the drive from New Jersey down to Virginia. A few of my friends from college live in the area so we were able to stay with one (and her new dog!) Friday night. 


Saturday morning we drove into Georgetown around 10:00/10:30 for the #runnerslove meetup at Sprinkles. Just driving around you could see the masses of runners making their way to packet pickup and the Expotique. As we got to Sprinkles, there were even more amazing #runnerslove ladies taking over the cupcake shop. A huge THANK YOU to Kristy and Meg for organizing this get together. We all chatted for a bit, ate cupcakes and got to know each other. Since it was so beautiful out we moved outdoors to a cute garden down the block. After a while we all parted ways, I needed to go pick up my packet!

Nike Women's Half Marathon everywhere!

We didn't make it down to packet pick up without a pit stop at the Nike store. I had pre-ordered items online but there was still a water bottle that I had my eye on. I got into the store and to the right was a wall lit up with the course map and the TIFFANY NECKLACE that we'd be receiving the next day! Sidenote: I've been so obsessed with this pattern, I wanted to get my nails painted with in it. You can't imagine how excited I was when I saw it was going to be our medal!

I'm famous!

After snagging my water bottle, I headed outside to find my name on the We Run DC wall. Holy crowds batman. There's girls everywhere with their eyes fixated on the wall scanning for their name crossing up and down the sidewalk in front of it, guilty! It took me a few minutes, but there I was!

Everything moved quickly even though there were a good amount of
people in each area

Now that that was done, on to packet pickup! I was expecting a HUGE line to get my bib at noon on Saturday, but I was in and out withing 5 minutes, it was seamless. First, you'd go to the packet pickup tent, there you scanned your race pass from your We Run DC app and all your information appeared. Once you confirmed all the information was correct, you were given your bib, pace bracelet, and all other info, then directed to go to the next tent to pick up your shirt. Again, I walked right in, up to the counter, the girl checked my bib for my shirt size and I was off. 

Unfortunately for me, that's where the "busy but moving quickly" stopped. We passed the "We Run" sign on the way down to the expotique. The line to take a picture with the sign was 45 minutes long. I won't even wait that long for character pictures in Disney! I kept moving down to the expotique tent which was PACKED. I did love the personalized sign with your name when you walked in. Besides that there were so many people I could barely move, let alone see what was going on. If I wasn't visiting friends as well I might have stayed a little while longer and tried to check out the products. I decided I got what I needed and it was time to go catch up and relax with my college friends. 

Photo: Taking a 13.1 mile tour of our nations Capitol tomorrow. Half #2 I'm coming for you #werundc #nike #nikerunning
Ready for race day!

Nike knows what they're doing when it comes to race weekends, but my biggest problem was SPACE. You have 15,000 runners plus whoever their traveling with and there are only a few tents and a store for expo/packet pick up. Georgetown can be a logistical nightmare before you add that many extra people in. I would've loved to have been able to actually move in the expotique and not feel like I was fighting crowds almost the entire time. In hind sight, I probably would have taken Friday off of work, come down early, and gone to the expotique Friday afternoon. I would imagine the crowds would've been much less then. Besides that I really can't complain. Nike is a marketing/branding genius and knows how to cater to the women running their races. 

QOTD: Have you ever experienced an overly crowded expo? How does it effect your race weekend?