Oh Hey, I Raced a 5K!

17 04 2015

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a fitness related post, but I can finally say that I’m back in the swing of things!

The last time I checked in about my fitness (or lack thereof) I was  just starting to get back to running. Yoga was my go-to workout, but I was definitely getting the itch for more cardio. Slowly but surely I’ve started to get in some swimming, biking and running. My mileage is still relatively low (for me), and I’m definitely not Ms. Consistent like I was last season, but I’m happy if I get in 4-5 workouts during the week.

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Having some rad new SOAS gear also helps with the motivation.

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Yes. Definitely helps.

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You’ll be seeing a lot more of this awesome teal this season:-)

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(get some gear for yourself- you won’t regret it!)

Anyhow, last weekend, I was looking for something to do. Most of my friends were out of town, so Meghann suggested I run the IronGirl Clearwater 5K. Without hesitation, I said ok! A 5K would be fun! My last time running there was a distant memory; had I remembered, I may not have been so quick to agree (hint: Florida runners go here to run the bridges aka Florida hills). Great.

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Sunday morning, I woke up bright and early to get myself over to Clearwater for the 7:30 start. I was a little worried about parking, so I arrived close to 6:45. Parking was a breeze, so I had time to putz around, stretch and do a (half-hearted) warm up. I watched the half marathoners start at 7 and then milled into the corral for our 7:30 gun time. I really had no expectations for myself- I just wanted to have fun. I lined up close(ish) to the front and waited for the gun.

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As soon as it sounded, I took off. I pressed play on my iPod and started to run.

Hmm…I’m not sure I have any other pace than my Ironman goal pace (5:30/km)…Steph, that’s way too slow for a 5K pace.

This is a 5K- you have to run FAST Steph.

This is gonna hurt…but it’s supposed to!

The pain will only last 25 minutes Steph. You did an Ironman, you can handle 25 minutes!

I quickly found my rhythm, and started passing some people right away. Before we had even hit the bridge, I noticed that I was near the front of the pack. Don’t get too excited now;  just take it one K at a time, left, right, left.

My first km ticked off and I saw a 4:XX.  Really?? Haven’t seen that pace in quite some time! Just keep it up, don’t die now!

I started up the bridge and felt pretty good. I actually passed someone, which gave me a little mental boost. Don’t let her catch you on the downhill Steph!

Before I knew it, I was actually at the top of the bridge! It wasn’t quite as tough as I remembered, but I knew I still had to come back over it, so I couldn’t get too excited. I took advantage of the downhill, and when another km clicked by with a 4 in front, I was getting pretty excited. But, I was also really nervous that I would crash and burn- my runs lately have been between 4-8K; with many more on the 4K end of that spectrum, and all the mileage after 3K feeling way more difficult than I wanted it to feel.  At the bottom of the bridge, there was a short straightaway before the turnaround. I looked over the median to see the girls who had made the turn already. 1…2…3…4…5…6…I couldn’t see the girls directly in the turn, but there were definitely a few there. I figured I was definitely in the top 15, but I might be able to squeak into the top ten if I can keep it up!

Right after the turn, we were hit with a headwind. This was both a blessing and a curse, since it made it feel cooler (stupid Florida humidity!) but it was a darn headwind. A little flat and then up the bridge we went. Oof. It was getting hard at this point. Really hard. My lungs were burning and my heart was pounding. Gosh I miss my Ironman fitness! I saw the girl in front of me, maybe 10 meters or so and I really wanted to catch her, but I didn’t want to end up passed out on the top of the Causeway bridge…so I pulled back a tad. Once I had reached the top of the bridge, my heart rate had settled some, and I knew it was time to bring it home. With only a km left (and some of that downhill), I kicked it into high gear. Lean forward Steph, take advantage of that bridge! 

As I headed down the bridge, the girl in front of me got closer. C’mon, do it Steph! I caught her at the bottom of the bridge, as we were making the turn onto Osceola Avenue. Yes! Now hold on Steph!

Down Osceola, and then a left onto Cleveland and into the finish chute! Yahoo! I did it! Finish lines are so fun!

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I grabbed my bling and took a photo with Meghann while I waited for results to be posted.

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I was so surprised to see that I had won my age group and was 11th OA! Totally unexpected, but totally awesome!

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I mean, check out these awesome awards:

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Wow! It was so much fun to race IronGirl. It was a beautiful morning (though a little on the humid side), a challenging course, and such an amazing event that empowers women. I loved watching women of all shapes and sizes cross that finish line! The race was super organized, the vendors and expo was great, and it was great motivation for me to keep getting back at it. (So much so, that I signed up for an OWS race this weekend! Oh, and I’m doing a triathlon relay at the end of the month!)

I’m back friends!





FonDONE Take 2!

13 04 2015

At the end of March, I was lucky enough to get an invitation back to The Melting Pot for another round of FonDONE! The kind folks at Front Burner Brands saw my first post about FonDONE and reached out to see if I could come back for a media event they were having. More cheese and chocolate? Yes, Please!

Bill and I headed over to St. Pete to the only Melting Pot that is serving FonDONE right now. I had no idea that this particular restaurant was so special- they often will pilot new concepts here and oh, and it’s also supposedly haunted:-) We didn’t see any ghosts while we were there, but we did get to meet up with some other bloggers/media who I had only ever interacted with via social media. I shared a table with Carlos Eats, his friend from the USF Foodies club, and Crystal from Thrifty and Frugal Living. There were two other tables of bloggers/writers, but unfortunately I was too busy eating to really get to talk to anyone else. We had one more special guest at our table: Mike Lester, THE president of the Melting Pot. NBD.IMG_8803

(not the most flattering picture, I apologize)

He was really cool; very passionate about what they’re doing at the Melting Pot, and clearly a leader who is respected by his staff. It was easy to see that the Melting Pot really fosters a sense of inclusion and “we’re family” among the staff, and he’s a key player in bringing those values to life.

We also got to meet the head chef, who has a very impressive resume, but of course the one thing he always gets asked about is that time he was the personal chef for Ludacris!

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I hadn’t really thought of it before, but Melting Pot restaurants who wish to bring FonDONE to their restaurant need to undergo a kitchen makeover. There’s no need for a cook top or oven right now (since you do it at your table)- but with FonDONE you need a chef and a kitchen in which he can work! That’s quite the investment, but I’m pretty sure it will pay off for sites that choose to add it to the menu!

For our event, they were highlighting a few speciality cocktails, so of course I had to try one (or two). I started with the Love Martini: malibu, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, and fresh strawberries. It was a little sweet, but if you like Malibu, you’ll LOVE this martini. IMG_8788

I sipped my martini while we got started on our appetizers. We began with the Wisconsin Trio and the Classic Alpine. I had never actually had the Classic Alpine before, which is a Gruyere, Raclette, and Fontina blend with some wine wine, garlic and nutmeg, but I definitely found my new favorite! The nutmeg just brings it all together (who knew? I guess the Swiss!) and it is dynamite on apples, carrots, bread, or some of their premium rosemary fries (new!!). Oh- and did you know that they have a charcuterie plate with accoutrements? Put together a dipper with salami, cornichon, sweet pepper, and bread- you won’t regret it!

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After we got our fill of cheese, it was FonDONE time! The FonDONE menu offers small plates from a variety of categories: Beef & Pork, Poultry, Seafood, Pasta, and Vegetarian. We were offered 5 of the different dishes- and man, were we spoiled! We got to try:

The Filet Mignon, served on a small pile of wasabi mashed potatoes

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Lemon pepper chicken (served with a side of tri-color quinoa salad),

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Jumbo grilled shrimp (on a corn salad),

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Lobster tail (YES!!)

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and (my favorite) the Wild Mushroom Sacchetti in a marsala sauce.

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Now THAT’s a MEAL!

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As if that wasn’t enough, we obviously needed to have some side dishes: quattro macaroni and cheese (how can you go wrong with mac n cheese??) and the fresh asparagus risotto.

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Of course, the FonDONE is served with the trio of dipping sauces: Goat Cheese fondue, Marsala, and savory Cabernet. Yup, the Goat cheese was still my favorite!

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As I was filling myself to the gills with delicious food, it was time for another beverage. I had planned to wait until dessert to get my drink, but I just couldn’t wait. Enter: the Yin & Yang Martini:

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Godiva white chocolate Liquer and Stoli vanilla vodka blended with ice cream then topped with chocolate shavings. Oh, and served in a beautiful yin yang shape! This is probably the prettiest drink I’ve ever been served, and though I didn’t want to destroy the beautiful artwork, I just couldn’t wait to dive in.

O.M.G. Absolutely delicious. Dessert in a martini glass. It reminded me of the black and white milkshakes my mom used to make when I was younger (no, hers were not spiked). I would absolutely come back for that drink again. And again. And again.

When I didn’t think I could eat (or drink) anymore, I had to find a little more room for dessert! It was chocolate fondue time! We got two of the Melting Pot’s most popular chocolates: the Flaming Turtle (chocolate, caramel, and candied pecans, a la flambe, obviously!) and the Creme Brûlée (white chocolate and caramelized sugar).

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If you know me, I’m a dark chocolate fan. The darker, the better. I’m honestly not really a white chocolate person, and would probably never have ordered the Creme Brûlée fondue, but man, was it amazing! It definitely won a place in my heart (not overtaking dark chocolate, but a close second). I kept coming back to it, dipping all of the different dessert dippers (including one of the premium dippers: the raspberry cheesecake).

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Yes, please!

And if the evening wasn’t special enough already, the servers brought out plates that had been decorated with our blog names!
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How awesome is that??

I was absolutely overwhelmed by the hospitality and kindness of the folks at the Melting Pot. They’re really excited about this concept- and it shows. They’re also SUPER open to feedback- they just want customers to have the BEST dining experience possible. I definitely think they’re doing something right, and I really hope that FonDONE takes off. It’s a great idea, and I can’t wait to go back for more! Thank you Front Burner Brands for the invite!


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(FULL DISCLOSURE: My meal was comped, but all opinions are my own!)





I Went to The Melting Pot and I Didn’t Have to Cook My Meal!

17 03 2015

A few weeks ago, Bill and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Melting Pot with some of his friends. I haven’t been to the Melting Pot since I lived in DC, so I was really excited to visit their St. Pete location. If you’ve never been to a Melting Pot, it’s such a fun dining experience. If you choose the typical 4-course menu, you’ll be treated to a salad, a cheese fondue appetizer, your entree, which you cook in a delicious broth at your table, and then the pièce de résistance: the chocolate fondue for dessert. All the food is delicious, and if you’re in the mood for a romantic, casually-paced meal (and if you’re super hungry!) you definitely need to check it out.

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Our dining experience was going to be a little non-traditional. We were lucky enough to get a sneak-peak of The Melting Pot’s newest menu: FonDONE. The FonDONE still provides you with your salad, cheese fondue and chocolate fondue, but the one difference is that you order an entree (or several, as they are more like small plates) and sides that will be prepared in the kitchen and delivered to the table, done! No need to wait for the bowl of cooking sauce to boil or for your meat/vegetable to come to the proper internal temperature. The cooking is done for you, and you just need to eat!

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For our party of 6, we started our meal with two different cheeses: the spinach artichoke and the tomato basil cheddar. Served with apples, veggies, and some crusty bread, both of these warm, gooey cheese were winners, though I think I preferred the spinach artichoke a tiny bit more. We also ordered one of the new sides (typically served as a pair to an entree) to dip: rosemary fries. YUM! Crispy with just the right touch of rosemary and salt, these were great by themselves or dipped in cheese!

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We moved on to the salad course, where I enjoyed the pear and gorgonzola salad. Sorry, I didn’t grab a photo!

Finally, it was FonDONE time! Since we were there as guests to try the new menu, we didn’t have a full selection of the FonDONE menu, but it didn’t matter- the options we had all sounded so delicious! I went with the filet mignon and wild mushroom sachetti.

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All the entrees are served with 3 warm dipping sauces: Goat cheese fondue, marsala (a sweet marsala wine sauce topped with Gorgonzola crumbles), and savory cabernet (a red wine demi glace reduction).

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We also ordered the remainder of the shareable sides to try out: quattro macaroni and cheese, seasonal roasted vegetables, and the fresh asparagus risotto.

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Wow. Everything was SO DELICIOUS. My filet was cooked perfectly and laid atop a pile of mashed potatoes. And the sachetti, which was a little purse (sachet) filled with a mushroom blend- so savory, so good! The sauce- I’m not entirely sure what it was- but it was out of this world! I really enjoyed the three additional dipping sauces too- of course the goat cheese was my favorite! My only challenge was that the sauces were shared and I didn’t want to double dip- so I had to cut, and then switch to my fondue stick, dip, and then put back on my plate to eat with my fork. It was a little bit of a process, and I think I’d prefer to actually have my own cup of sauce so I could just dip with my fork. I’m also not sure I really needed the sauces- the entrees were wonderful by themselves! Other than that, I was super happy with my two entrees. It was definitely enough food too, especially with all of the other courses we had!

The sides were great as well- I think my favorite was probably the macaroni and cheese, but the risotto was a close second. I like that I got to try a little of each side, rather than just have the one I ordered.

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For dessert, we ordered a dark chocolate with Grand Marnier, and the turtle (chocolate with caramel and pecans). I barely had room for any more food, but who can pass up chocolate, especially warm, dark chocolate?? This is always my favorite course at the Melting Pot, and our choices did not disappoint. I really liked the turtle fondue, since we requested dark instead of milk chocolate. Mmmmm. SO good!

I left the restaurant with a full belly and a smile on my face. What a great dinner!

I really enjoyed the FonDONE concept. Sure, I like the experience that is cooking your own food, but when I go out to eat, it’s usually because I don’t want to cook! So, it was great to have a high-quality, kitchen-prepared meal delivered to the table. I really like the “small plates” idea, since I love to explore and try different things. I could see myself coming to the Melting Pot for just a few of the small plates alone. Of course, I’d also return for the full four-course option, but I think next time, I’d only get one entree because of all the other food. I’d highly recommend checking out the FonDONE option if your Melting Pot is offering it!

Full disclosure: My meal was comped (Thank you Dan and Jewell!) but all opinions are my own! 








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