A Run Through Hilton Head Island

imageWhat’s better than relaxing on the beach soaking up some vitamin D? Doing that while taking a day off work and visiting Hilton Head Island.

A few weeks ago I took my first true relaxing day off work this year. I know. Sad. But the wait made the vacation even better!

Even though I only stayed one night in Hilton Head, I took full advantage of the two days of fun in the sun!  Here’s a recap of my trip and the most delicious parts of it all.

Stay: Hilton Head Marriott
This hotel really has everything you need. Bike rentals near the pool deck, lawn games and comfy pool chairs. Plus, they have hammocks to relax on and listen to the motions of the ocean! Although this hotel is a little outdated from the outside and halls, the rooms are super clean and modern. The beds are comfy, bathroom and room spacious and rooms with balconies have chairs to chill in. Oh and the hotel is right on the beach.
Traveler tip: BYOB. The drinks have hefty price tags so bring along a little cooler with non-glass refreshments. 😉

Play: Run, Bike, Explore
Hilton Head is a very clean, pretty town.  I went on a 5 mile run in the morning along the beach and nature trails and it was beautiful! A lot of people rent bikes for the hour or day. It seems like a very bike friendly town.
Traveler Tip: figure out which way the wind blows and run/bike against the wind so the route back is a little easier!  I made an amateur move…

imageEat: Anywhere
Trying to find a place to eat in Hilton Head is challenging because the options of great food are endless!   This is where I ate:
843 Restaurant – a charming establishment with tasty sandwiches.  I got the 843 club because it had bacon and brie.  Need I say more?
Dinner at Redfish – This place is a little bit of everything.  They have a retail wine shop, outdoor seating and multiple rooms for dining. One way I judge a restaurant is on the preparation and taste of their salmon.  I got the Seared Scottish Salmon with the apricot glaze with lemon garlic orzo, asparagus, grape tomatoes and toasted almonds.  This place is the cats meow.  The cats meow.

Travelers Tip: do your research and find someplace that really sparks your interest. I love using opentable or Yelp for recommendations.

If you have time to stop in Savannah, this is another little southern gem with great food, drinks, people and history. Did you know Savannah allows open containers?! Ask your bartender for one to go and they will give you a drink in a plastic cup! Exploring the town, enjoying all the old architecture, homes and history is much better sipping on a cold beverage in the heat of summer!


MS150 & The Power of Pickles

MS pre race cassie

I completed my first 150 mile, 2 day Bike Ride!!!  September 28-29 marked the 2013 ms150: Cycle to the Shore Ride!  I hopped on my bike at 7:15am from St. Augustine and started the trek to Daytona! Almost 5 hours of bike time later…. hello DAYTONA!  Yes, FIVE HOURS ON A BIKE! But wait, that was just day 1…

Let’s recap my awesome ride/weekend with a few highlights and pictures I took along the way….

  • WHO:  Me, 2 friends, 3 bikes and a lot of pickles
  • WHAT: 150 Miles – 2 Day Route – Start / Finish at the St. Johns County Airport in St. Augustine
  • WHEN:  September 28-29. 2013
  • WHERE: The Sunshine State
  • WHY:  To raise awareness and funds to help create a world free of MS. Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic, often disabling disease that affects the central nervous system. Donations raised through this event benefits the North Florida Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and its mission to mobilize people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenge of everyone affected by MS.

The ride started out damp.  It had rained earlier in the morning so the roads were wet.  When you’re on a bike, this means you get wet.  It’s inevitable.  We started out the ride with the sun rising and it was absolutely beautiful.  Every 12-18 miles or so there is a rest stop.  This is where you can get off the bike, go to the bathroom and the most important – eat snacks!  All sorts of snacks – peanut butter, cookies, bananas, oranges and PICKLES.

MS scene

When we stopped for lunch, we had fresh PB and banana sandwiches.  Can I just tell you how amazing PB&B is?  Especially freshly made!  YUM!  I also learned a new way to prepare PB&B…slice the bananas lengthwise.  The slices don’t fall out… GENIUS!  And of course, more pickles!

The last stop of the ride on day 1 could possibly be my favorite stop of the day… snow cones!  I can’t tell you the last time I had a snow cone.  After biking 60+ miles, this take-me-back-to-kid-days treat was absolutely perfect.  Coupled with pickles, I was one happy girl. 🙂

MS team picHere’s a picture of the fearless-and-slightly-crazy trio!  Daytona Beach was beautiful but I think I was in a daze to much to take it all in.  Partly from knowing the fact I rode a bike 85 miles.  Partly from my aching butt.  OH MY ACHING BUTT!  Partly from my burning (yes, burning!) and bloodshot eyes.  Lastly from my pickled out self.  I must have had at least 5 pickles…..

MS day 1 time

Day 1 was such a success!  We took a quick dip in the pool to cool/rinse off then ate a delicious spaghetti and meatball dinner.  I think I went to bed around 8pm but it felt like it was 11.  Great Day.  Repeat tomorrow.

MS sunriseDay 2.  When I woke up, I initially thought, “oh crap, I have to do THAT again?!?”  But when we got to the beach, it was all worth it.  The sunrise was absolutely amazing.  Breathtaking.

Then I sat on my bike.  Breathtaking.  Literally.  And not in a good way.

Day 2 was only around 60 miles so I thought, easy peasy.  I can do it!  As long as the rest stops have pickles I’m in good shape!

And so the ride began!  Starting in Daytona and backtracking our way to St. Augustine with a few route changes and we were off!

MS cassie seth

The ride was tough.  I felt like the wind completely cancelled out any drafting that a cyclist should take advantage of.  At about 20 miles to the finish, I lost my balance when my bike wasn’t moving and did a little fall.  (Note: Yes, I am admitting that my bike wasn’t moving when I fell – amateur move) It was on dirt and you know the saying, God made dirt so dirt don’t hurt…. well so not true!  I was still clipped in and my knee twisted a little or something.  The next 20 miles were even tougher, but I pedaled through with the help of my teammates.  Oh, and the pickles!  They were at every stop!

MS finish cover

Finally, after another 4 hours on the bike and 66 miles later, the ride was done.  DONE!  This was awesome!  Even though I felt like I just road 150 miles, my butt felt like I just rode 150 miles and my sweaty jersey smelled like I just rode 150 miles, it was so worth it!  This is was farthest I’ve ever rode, for the longest and I felt the best I’ve ever felt.  What’s the secret?  Let me introduce you to, the power of the pickles….

The Power of Pickles:  So I have had (now that it’s proven) a theory.  In the past, whenever I would run over 9 miles or cycle over 3 hours (ok, honestly I’ve only done this a few times), I would feel horrible the rest of the day.  Horrible as in a migraine and exhausted.  I would eat gels and drink a ton of water during exercise but that still wouldn’t help.  After some research and consulting with a few trusty friends, I tested a salt theory during my ride.  So my theory is that pickles are the key to the sodium balance in my body.  At each rest stop, I had a few pickle slices, a few pickle pieces, a few pickle wholes… yummmm


PSA- next time you see me exercising for a long period, I will be carrying pickles! Call me weird, say I smell like pickle juice, but I’ll recover faster!

MS day 2 time

What’s your pickle story?  What do you train with that’s strange?

Boulder, Co: Mile High Travels

Good morning! As I am writing this post, I am sitting in the JFK airport – Jet Blue terminal. I just got off a 3.5 hour flight from Denver… the red eye flight (1am!). If you ever wondered why they call it the “red eye” flight, wonder no longer. I look like a hot mess, and yes, my eyes are red. I got an eye cover up masky thing on the flight and boy did that come in handy! – Until I realized I slept through snacks! – pretty much the best part about flying. Then I realized I normally sleep at that time so probably a good thing I didn’t have a snack.

Analysis of my state of being: tried? – exhausted, hair? – static mess, eyes? – burning, breakfast? – it’s only 5am in Colorado so I think I’ll wait a little, head? – ouch, Starbucks? – nowhere to be found (I asked)….. HA yes, I’m sorry anyone who makes eye contact with me, this is true jet lag.

boulder road tripHowever, I’m remembering the last 5 days of my life and thinking… man I am lucky! I might be completely exhausted but it was-so-worth-it!!! I spent the last 5 days in Colorado. Colorado in the “summer.” Who cares about the exhaustion, headaches from altitude and red eyes that look like I’ve experienced all the mile high city has to offer. I mean, I got to spend the past few days visiting my step sister and traveling all around one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, the Colorado Rockies!!

boulder activities bike YThe adventures began in Boulder, Co. If you’ve been catching the new lately, you’ve probably heard about the Boulder County Flood that happened last week. The damage from the insane rain was, well, insane, for lack of a better word this early in the morning.

All trails were closed, streets destroyed and houses completely evacuated because they were under water. Luckily, Susan’s house (my step sister) was fine but not all units in her complex made it out unscathed.

Something really awesome was how the community was reacting to this tragedy. Bakeries, like Piece, Love & Chocolate, had special “flood relief cupcakes” where a portion of the “mudslide” dessert went to the relief efforts. Stores were having round-up days where you can round your purchase to the nearest dollar and that goes to the relief. Sprouts Farmer;s Market was doing this.

I also got to visit the Y in Boulder Valley which was also aiding in the relief efforts. The Y has partnered with the American Red Cross to be a shelter! So many people came in and out of the Y with supplies and smiles on their faces. Volunteers were actively engaged and everything was so organized. Without people and organizations like the Y and the American Red Cross, the flood victims would have nowhere to go.

Here’s a few pictures I snagged after my workout. — Note: working out in over a mile above sea level was tough!

boulder ymca

Colorado is absolutely beautiful!! If you read my Chicago post, you know that’s one of my top fav cities. Well, Colorado is definitely one of my top fav states (in the summer).

I arrived Thursday afternoon and adventured through downtown Boulder where I saw the really cool biking system in the picture above. EVERYONE bikes. I know that’s a generalization, but I think it’s appropriate. I think everyone owns at least 1 bike and people are biking all day long. It’s wonderful!

Friday morning, Susan and I hit a HOT YOGA class. Yes, Florida girl here goes to cooler weather, freaks out about the cold and finds herself in a hot yoga class… Floridian problems…

boulder red rocksThen it was off to ASPEN for the weekend!!! We loaded the car with my overstuffed suitcase and 2 of Susan’s friends, Jen and Erin, and hit the road. Susan and Erin were doing a half marathon trail ride and Jen and I were along for the ride. We stopped by the Red Rock Amphitheatre!! This was absolutely amazing. The views were breathtaking, if you didn’t already lose your breath from the hike and altitude combo. 🙂

Then we passed though Independence Pass which is a really pretty road that is only open in the summer.

Let me side note here and say I have been to Colorado a few times. In the COLD-FREEZING-TONS-OF-LAYERS-REQUIRED-WINTER. It was so refreshing to visit in September, see the leaves starting to change and wear shorts (well only one day).

boulder foodI can’t forget about the food. I ate too much. But it was-so-worth-it. There are so many healthy choices, local, fresh choices. Frozen yogurt from the Boom Bar Yogurt was yummy and dessert from Whole Foods was a fun treat too. I had pizza from Pizzeria Locale and it was AMAZING. Definitely a must visit place in downtown Boulder.

In the little town of Basalt, I ate the yummy eggs, potatoes and sausage you see here. The place was called Bernard’s Cafe and guess what, Bernard was a cute little old guy! Sorry I don’t have a ton of food pictures. In the moment of all the goodness, the camera was the last thing on my mind!

Friday-Sunday we spent in Aspen, then Monday I had a chance to explore Boulder. I went to the Y, to yoga (again) and just enjoyed the weather before my 1am flight to JFK!

I must say, Colorado exceeded all expectations and I can’t wait to go back and explore more, in the summer/warmer than cold seasons, of course!

I land in Jax around 11am and vaca is officially over! Until next time Colorado!

Thank you so much Susan for making my trip awesome!!