Run For Fun Cruise 2016 Recap

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Three months ago, I embarked upon an exciting journey. It was a runcation with Black Girls Run! through Run For Fun Cruise Tours. Yes, Run-Cation! I know it sounds like an oxymoron but I had a fabulous time. Run For Fun Cruise Tours (RFFC) is a family run business that provides structured runs/races in various Caribbean locations. This year RFFC partnered with Norwegian Cruise Line to drop the runners off in: Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico. First of all, I have to say that the scheduling of the trip for this Northeast resident was perfect. There is no love lost between winter and I, so by the time February rolled around I was completely over the winter elements and was ready for some fun in the sun.

Pre-Cruise: Now before we even set foot on the ship, many of us ran the A1A Publix Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon. It was a lovely sunrise race with a great post race party at the end. I’ve never seen so much food at the end of a race. This will go down as one of my favorite Half Marathons. And check out the bling.

A1A Medal

Ocho Rios: One stop driver!!! I loved Ochee. After the ship docked we gathered in the downtown area and picked up our numbers and timing devices. Yes, this was a timed 5K race. RFFC are no slouches. While we were waiting for the race to begin I saw people gathered around a store across the street. I went to investigate because whenever I would see these splintered groups there would be rumblings and rumors of WiFi. But alas there was no WiFi, they were lining up to use a bathroom – the original runner’s treasure. Soon enough it was race time. The going was a little rough because it was 86 degrees and my body was still used to running in freezing temperatures. We ran through the city and there were hydration stations with nifty plastic baggies filled with sports drinks. I actually really liked the baggie concept better than the cups we usually get. Things were going well and after the first two miles it was time to run the mile long hill that we had heard about. They told us that it was steep. But hello, I just wasn’t ready for this hill. Not at all. First of all, it wasn’t a hill. It was a mountain … namely Mystic Mountain. All running ceased after ten steps and I hiked that final mile. But of course I ran the last 50 yards to the finish line because that’s mandatory. You always, always, finish like a champ. There was a nice little party at the top of the mountain and I got a chance to relax before heading back down … on a chairlift. The other three options were, to zip line down, take a rollercoaster or walk. For the condition that I was in, the chairlift seemed to be the most civilized, until my buddies and I got on it. It was pretty high and I screamed like a baby. We spent the rest of the day eating (at Mama Marley’s) and shopping. I enjoyed Jamaica there is a certain energy there that just isn’t present anywhere else. Good Riddims and Vibe.

Chair Lift Ride
Chairlift Ride


Grand Cayman: It was my first trip to Grand Cayman. What a breathtakingly beautiful island. We did a three mile run through Georgetown’s busy downtown and a residential area. The finish line was on a quaint little beach. It was great, you could literally just run right through the finish line and into the water. We hung out at the beach for a while and then headed off to Stingray City. Not my idea. I was duped. The Stingray City excursion coordinator said we would go to seven mile beach afterwards.The boat ride to the sandbar where the stingrays are found was beautiful. Since I had no intention of getting up close and personal with the stingrays, I stayed on the boat and took pictures of my friends, who were having quite the time kissing and canoodling with the stingrays. I’ll pass. Steve Irwin anyone? Anyway, there was no Seven Mile Beach for me, we barely had enough time to make it back to the ship.

Beach at the finish line
Beach at the finish line

Cozumel: The island officials were excited to see us and created a great race atmosphere with music and announcers. I felt as though I was at a big race. We arrived in Cozumel later than our other destinations and the run didn’t begin until around 11:00 A.M. The sun was blazing but at 2.25 miles, the run was nice and short. This was my first visit to Cozumel so I knew I would do something exciting with the rest of my day. You might be wondering if I visited the Amazing Secret River or the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. The answer would be a resounding “NO.” I spent a inordinate amount of time at Starbucks. And not because the service was just that slow in Mexico but because there was WiFi at Starbucks. YEEESSSS!!! So my buddies and I sat in air conditioned loveliness and made lots of contact with the world we had left behind. We wound up having a nice relaxing day strolling around the area shopping.

Cozumel

Costa Maya: There was a 5K slated for Costa Maya and much of it was run along side the beach in Mahahual. We ran by an array of vendors and ended our run at a wonderful establishment where they gave us a room to change into bathing suits so we could enjoy the rest of the day on the beach. And enjoy I did. I ordered some nachos from my beach chair and they were hands down the tastiest nachos I have ever had. I’m salivating right now just thinking about it. Some of the more adventurous members of the group did some paddleboarding. You should know by now that I am not in that number. However, I had signed up for yoga but it didn’t happen because I became one with my lounge chair. This was another beautiful day in Mexico. Run and lounge. What could be better than that?

CostaMaya

The Getaway: I had bumped into an elderly couple at the airport on my way to Miami. They asked if I was cruising and informed me that Norwegian is for older people and for that reason they were cruising on Carnival. Well excuse me grams and gramps!!!  That said, I enjoyed the Norwegian Getaway. There was lots to do on the ship between ports and at night. One of the highlights of the ship was Bandaoke. When I saw it on the schedule I gave it the stink eye. What happened to good old Karaoke? But Bandaoke turned out to be the cat’s meow, the dog’s bark and the bird’s chirp. Yes!!! Instead of performing to a track, you sang with the house band. And what a band!!! And that’s all I’m going to say about that. Oh and in light of the old timers referenced above, I have to mention that Norwegian’s embarkation party in Costa Maya blew Carnival’s out of the water. No pun intended. The Carnival cruisers were looking really pitiful watching us Wobble our way back onto the Getaway. Ha!!! Norwegian also arranged for the RFFC group to tender before the other passengers in Grand Cayman. That was pretty cool.

getaway

In conclusion, this was a fabulous trip. The Newton Family aka RFFC took great care of us. And even as I type they are cooking up another great trip for 2017 that will include the ports: Roatan; Belize; Costa Maya; and Cozumel.

 

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My Experience with J.J. Smith’s 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse

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The fact that this is my first blog entry of 2016 is not indicative of how active I have been. In fact I have participated in some interesting races this year. I may just backtrack and provide a summary at a later date. But another interesting thing that I have done is J.J. Smith’s 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. Someone asked me to blog my experience and I aim to please my one and only fan. So here it is.

First let me start by saying that this is not a review of the book 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. So you will not find any scientific critiques of the methods and claims expounded in the book. And let’s be clear, I am not recommending this cleanse, so if your hair turns green on Day 5, please don’t call, text, or message me. Just don’t. I won’t be there for you. This is merely a recap of my experience while attempting to do the cleanse.

Those who know me are well aware that I am not about the diet life. I like what I like and and I eat what I like. I’m more of a portion control chick because I cannot be denied my foods or else binging will ensue.

I have no idea what that is on her face.
I have no idea what that is on her face.

Anyway, I had gotten to the point where I could not shake my winter hibernation. I had packed on some serious pounds and was trapped in a vicious cycle of losing and finding what seemed like the same five pounds. So after an online group decided to do this cleanse, I thought why not? I was feeling gross and it was time to try something different. It helped that this procedure is marketed as a cleanse rather than a diet. It focuses on detoxifying the body so that it will work more efficiently. After doing my reading, I decided that this was a more civilized cleanse than my mother’s “wash-outs.” Although effective, the wash-outs consist of a foul tasting homemade concoction, cause abdominal cramping and keeps you chained to the bathroom for two days while you pray for Jesus to take you.

toilet

This cleanse promised 10 days of delicious smoothies. The sticking point was that there is no food, just smoothies and limited snack options. But no problem. I was ready be clean and detoxed.  So off I went to the supermarket to pick up my smoothie ingredients as instructed in the book.

DAY 1:  Not too bad. Since I was hyped up to get going and I’m no stranger to green smoothies, I had no problem slurping down my Peachy Green Smoothie. Although Smith recommends that you make your day’s worth of smoothies at once, I embarked upon a twice a day routine. I blended all of my greens in the morning and stored half of the blended greens in the refrigerator for later. Then I added the fruit provided for in the recipe to the other half of blended greens. Why these shenanigans you ask? Because I have found that greens tend to overtake the taste of the smoothie when left sitting for a number of hours and I just cannot get with the grass flavor. I got two servings from each batch and had four smoothies per day. Apples and crunchy veggies were recommended as snacks along with sugarless peanut butter, boiled eggs and raw nuts. Let’s not kid ourselves, I was not trying to have anymore fruit and vegetables so boiled eggs and nuts became my snacks of choice. Besides, I needed that protein. I felt pretty good after day 1 and was really proud of myself for successfully completing the day.

DAY 2: Interesting. I started my day with some ginger tea and tallied up my calories from the day before and realized that my caloric intake was way too low. So I added Greek Yogurt to my smoothies to help ramp up the calories and the protein. I decided that I was not going to use the optional protein powder, so I needed to get it elsewhere. I also added another boiled egg to my snacks. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved my boiled eggs. However, I was starting to feel fatigued and irritable.

Bring on the eggs.
Bring on the eggs.

DAY 3: Take me now because surely I am dying a slow death by smoothie. This was by far the worst day of the cleanse. Everywhere I went I smelled food. I was craving hotdogs, burgers, pizza, ANYTHING. I was salivating over the meal I had prepared for my family. And the very thought of my smoothie was making me want to retch. They all seemed to taste the same and I was not a happy camper.

hangry

I complained to any and everyone about the cleanse. This turned into a good thing because I received a lot of encouragement and stayed the course. By the end of the day I figured that maybe I’d hang on to day five as that would constitute a valiant effort.

DAY 4: Not sure what all the fuss was about yesterday. I was feeling berry peachy, just like my smoothie.

DAY 5: Ohh ohh, we’re half way there, Ohh ohh, living on a prayer. I weighed in and I was down 7 lbs and had lost two inches off my ample waist. Whoo hoo!!!! But even with this victory, I had a little slip up. I had a two cups of popcorn that I made on the stovetop with a little olive oil. What? Don’t judge me. I just felt the need to clear my palate of the smoothie mouth that I had.

DAY 6: So today I made the conscious decision to modify the cleanse. I had a lunch date with a friend and didn’t want to be a Herb and not eat. So, I substituted one of my smoothies for a salad and nixed the dressing. I didn’t even touch the bread. I mean really. I didn’t even sniff it. I was so proud of myself.

no-bread-basket

DAY 7: I think I’m going to actually finish this thing. It was the weekend and I wasn’t even feeling bad about the smoothies. In fact, I found myself looking forward to my smoothies. And today’s Pineapple Berry smoothie was delish. I picked up more supplies today and realized that this cleanse is pretty pricey. I almost shed a tear when I dropped the pomegranate kernels into my basket. But onward and upward.

DAY 8: So close but yet so far. I don’t think I’ve discussed how much I despise kale. I really hate the stuff. It’s for people who enjoy eating grass and weeds. Today’s smoothie was heavy on the kale but I got through it.

DAY 9: Oh. My. Gawsh. I’m almost done. I’m super excited and I’m making post-cleanse eating plans. I’m going to have a Panera Greek Salad in two days. Yes I am!!! I have NEVER been so excited about eating a salad in my life. Today’s smoothie was really tasty.

DAY 10: I couldn’t believe it was the last day. I kept calculating the days to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. I did steal a couple of french fries from my daughter. She shouldn’t be eating that anyway. Aside from that I was good and by the end of the day I was a 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse Alum. Whoo Hoo. Happy dance, happy dance!

Running man

 

Now THAT is the Running Man.

The big question is, was it worth it? The is answer is, “Heck yeah.” I lost 11.5 lbs and 3 inches off my waist, 1.5 inches off my hips, 2 inches off my chest (back fat be gone). My sugar cravings were gone and I was no longer seeking a cow to devour. I see some improvement in my skin but I never got the increased energy that was promised. I have been waking up more energized but that surge peters out by noon and then I just feel tired. But I would definitely consider this cleanse a success.