Update: I’m Running The Nike LA 13.1 Half Marathon! (Cancelled)

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When you are a runner, life can throw you so many obstacles throughout its course, but you are still a runner at the end of the day. I must admit that I have known that I am a runner since I joined my high school track team in my sophomore year, but over the past eighteen years, I have had a love-hate relationship with the sport. Starting is always the hard part, right? I often say when I go on longer runs that the ‘first two miles are the hardest’, and rightfully so. It generally takes me about two miles to get out of my own head and focus on my run and the miles ahead. The weather can be a drag, my gear can be in less than spectacular condition, my mind can be all over the place, etc, but one thing that remains constant? I always feel better after a run.

Since last year’s Brooklyn Half, my running and training have been on somewhat of a downward spiral. Less training and more working and focusing on building my businesses. Sure, with less fitness in my schedule I have been allowed more time for production and events, but there is this underlying feeling of unease. You see, when I don’t move my body in the sense of fitness or dance, anxiety can take over when I least expect it. It is not something that I enjoy, but recognize as I grow more self-aware.

For some time now, I have wanted to run a race in Los Angeles, but haven’t registered for any or not made time to just run the streets while I am there on my frequent trips. I have run with Nike run club over the years and noticed a few weeks back that they were planning a Nike LA 13.1 and I was stoked! I was interested in registering, but as business has been a bit slow for me as the new year began, I decided to wait it out a bit. My patience was deemed successful on the day my good friend Ashley called me up to invite me to be on her team for the race. She, along with a small list of female entrepreneurs in the LA area were chosen as team captains for the race, and allowed a few complimentary registration codes for those that they wanted to have on their team. I was in!

Over the past few weeks, I have started to run again, pacing and reminding myself that I am in competition with no one but myself. As a naturally competitive person, I have definitely been that person who would run past folks in the park just to pass them, but now I realize how important it is to be present and run at my own pace. I am excited as the race course has finally gone live, which you may see below.

LA13.1course

The race is Sunday, April 5, 2020 and spots are are still spots available. You may register here. Looking forward to running the LA streets with friends old and new from both coasts! Look out for me.

*Photos courtesy of Nike

#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados: Jammin On A Catamaran Atop Crystal Blue Waters

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Sail

#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados. In my last post, we explored the natural wonder of Barbados’ Harrison’s Cave, and in this final edition, we are back on the water having some good old fashioned island fun. I am always up for hopping on a boat and taking a little trip on the waters, so when Lauren mentioned that there was a catamaran day trip, I was on it. In a similar fashion as Harrison’s Cave, we signed up for the Jammin Catamaran Cruise via our hotel activities desk, and placed our deposit. We chose the Sun Blast Cruise, with a length of 5 1/2 hours starting at 9AM, serving breakfast, lunch, unlimited rum punch, and proper Caribbean tunes.

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Close-Up

On the morning of our trip, a van greeted us at our hotel and picked up other guests along the way until we reached the dock of the catamaran. Once out of our shuttle, we paid the remainder of our package in the company’s office on the dock, and were then set to board our home for the next 5 1/2 hours, the 63 ft Jammin catamaran. The girls and I immediately found our spot on top of the net, and placed our things down for maximum sun exposure. We applied our sunscreen and proceeded to have a light breakfast of a muffin and some juice.

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Hills are Alive

I love the sea and ocean immensely, so to be sitting on top of the catamaran with the deep blue water in perfect view was icing on the cake. We made a few stops along the way. Our first stop was snorkeling with the turtles. Unfortunately on our day, the turtles were not out in plain view, but we were guided to sites of shipwrecks in the area which was awesome to see. I kicked myself as I did not bring my GoPro to capture the underwater moments, but seeing with my bare eyes was probably more special.

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#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados: Exploring Harrison’s Cave

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Coconut tree at the grounds of Harrison’s Cave

#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados. In my last post, I introduced you to the beautiful Rockley Beach, and shared some lovely photos romping around the seashore. I love the beach immensely, but aside from R & R, what is a vacation without a little adventure? Travel without adventure is something that I do not do. It is so exhilarating to experience natural wonders in various locales, even if it involves getting a little dirty or wet in the process.

On day three of our trip, we ventured to Harrison’s Cave.  Named after Thomas Harrison who was a prominent landowner in the area in the early 1700s, the cave is a limestone underground live formation in St. Thomas Parish in the heart of Barbados. I am fascinated by the natural design and history of caves, so I was really excited to partake.

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Spiky ting

We had booked our outing in advance via our hotel front desk, and were all set to go with a tour guide on that bright Saturday morning. We met our van out front of our hotel at minutes after 8 AM, joined by a few other tourists, mainly families. We took an approximately 30-minute drive out to the site of Harrison’s Cave, all whilst getting a little local history of the nation of Barbados from our driver and tour guide.

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#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados: My Beach Is Better. Rockley Beach Is Better.

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A gorgeous view of Rockley Beach

#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados. In my first chapter, I gave you the lowdown on my travel experience, and first day on the island. Story time continues. So it’s day two and I woke up hungover and a bit ruffled. I get myself together and head down with Lauren and LeAndra to breakfast. I sit at the table slightly mute because I feel horrible. The breakfast options were only of the American sort (eggs, bacon, hash browns), most options a little too greasy for my liking. I decide to have ginger tea and ginger ale as it is a cure-all, and it definitely worked. I stormed out the restaurant to the nearest restroom to throw up. I felt super weak, so I decided to go back to the room, hydrate, nap, and get better.

After a little bit of time, Lauren and LeAndra came back to find me hiding under the covers because I didn’t know how to adjust the AC (I laugh at this now because I realized the remote was right next to me the whole time). They said they wanted to go to the beach, to which I obliged. I felt a little better, and if I know anything about myself, I knew the sun, sand, and sea would make me feel better. I drank more water, changed into a new cheeky bathing suit for maximum tanning exposure, lathered on my sunscreen, and got my things together to head to the beach.

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Stepping out

Accra Beach Hotel is situated right on Rockley Beach in the Christ Church district of Barbados, so we literally had to walk a few steps to experience paradise. Let me tell you this, Rockley Beach was one of the most beautiful, clean sand, and clear water beaches I have ever experienced in my life. The beach is on the south coast of the island on the Caribbean Sea, offering calm turquoise waters. I was like a kid in a candy store, letting the sand sink between my toes, rushing in and out of the water. The current did get a bit strong at points, but nothing to worry about. There was hardly any rocks or seaweed, so it was easy to play around in the water barefoot without the worry of stubbing or scratching a toe.

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Tying the hair up

Whilst playing around in the water, we saw swimmers of all ages around, and a few folks on boogie boards and surf boards. The waves were a good size for the surfers as not far from Rockley, the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea merge. Because of this, I can say that my bathing suit shifted a bunch of times, but I was in the water, so no flashing!

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#ALifeInTheDayInBarbados: Shout Out to CARICOM & Rum Punch!

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The view of Rockley Beach from Accra. Photo: Accra Beach Hotel

Travel for me serves so many purposes. For one, it is to get away, to break the monotony that can be everyday life in NYC. On the other hand, it can be a search for what is the same, for what feels familiar, and like home. In the beginning of December, I went on a tropical escape to Barbados with my cousin Lauren for her 30th birthday along with her lifelong friend LeAndra. I was extremely excited to go Barbados, as I had never been, and it was my first Caribbean (CARICOM) nation outside of Belize that I visited. I usually do a lot of research for new travel destinations, but I knew Lauren had it handled as she consulted co-workers and friends of Barbadian/Bajan descent. It was different for me, and a bit of travel anxiety lifted from my plate as I did not have to plan our trip day-to-day.

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A cool view of Lagoon Bar. Photo: Accra Beach Hotel

We had a non-stop Jet Blue flight from JFK to Bridgetown, the capital of the country, and arrived in the early afternoon. Barbados is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST), so we were an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). Upon landing and walking down the stairs to the ground with the sun beaming on my face, I immediately felt at home. The airport was small and reminiscent of Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City, and I was so excited to flash my Belize passport on arrival. Belize and Barbados are members of CARICOM, the Caribbean Community, and with a CARICOM passport, travelers are able to wait on a shorter line and stay for longer periods of time in Caribbean nations sans visa.

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LeAndra & I being proper millennials, Instagramming our food

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In Photos: The Immeasureable Beauty of Grand Canyon West

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Grand Canyon West, in all its glory

When it comes to traveling the cities, states, and countries on our vast planet, many do so for a multitude of reasons. You may travel to escape your reality at home. To become inspired. To learn something new. Or simply, to just see how a different community lives. I travel for all of these reasons, and often times find myself in the most fulfilling experiences abroad when they are not planned. This happened to me just recently when I visited Las Vegas.

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Joshua Trees along the road

A group of ten family members, from both my generation and my parents’ generation, hopped on a plane to Sin City to celebrate a milestone birthday of one of our cousins. Plans were not solid in regards to what activities we would partake in whilst there, and for those that know me, no plans or general ideas of plans can give me a bit anxiety. I am all about maximizing my time when I visit different places.

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A view from the tour bus

So we do the Vegas thing, right? Walk the strip, eat LOTS of food (that at points did not agree with our stomachs), find the best deals on those ridiculous giant frozen alcoholic cocktails you can drink in the street and consume them, catch a live show, breeze through the casinos, and get a little shopping in. We skipped the nightlife bit as my cousins Lauren, Ashley, and I were a bit jetlagged from the three-hour time difference, but we were able to hop on the High Roller, the worlds tallest observation wheel which soars 550 ft above the City of Las Vegas.

What Up Though?

Obligatory “Brooklyn we OUTCHEA” pose

On our last full day in Vegas, we took a little road trip to the Grand Canyon West. I had never been, and was super-excited to hit the road and get into nature. I love the topography of the desert as much as I love tropical zones, so viewing tons of mountains and Joshua Trees along the way was great for me. The total drive was just about two hours to the site, which is in Peach Springs, Arizona, on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. Grand Canyon West is not located in the Grand Canyon National Park. The native Hualapai people run and manage all tours and vending on site, which was very important to me.

These Sandals were Made for Walking

These sandals were made for climbing

Once we arrived on the grounds, we noticed a chill in the air, despite the weather reading over 80 degrees. We parked the car and took a little walk to the Visitor’s Center. Lauren and I were unprepared for the chillier weather (Ashley’s a thug and was fine in her tank top), so our first stop once inside was to purchase sweatshirts to wear during our little excursion. I found this cool Grand Canyon West, Joshua Tree sweatshirt (seen below), and of course Lauren copied me, because that’s what cousins do, right?

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#ALifeInTheDayInBelize: In Times of Chaos, Respite in Tobacco Caye

A view of Tobacco Caye

Writing about my travels is one of my favorite topics to cover on A Life In The Day of Andrea as I always include the photos I shoot whilst abroad. I must admit, I have not been very inspired lately in the realm of photography, and I knew that another trip with family to Belize would solve it. For ten days in August, I visited Belize with my parents, making it my eighth trip to the motherland. I brought my computer, but for the first time ever, I did not turn it on, and really took my time in the country as a serious vacation.

We had not made any concrete plans, but knew we would stay in Belize City for a bit of time, and venture south to Dangriga, where my mother’s cousin Sherry and her husband Warren live. For me, the spontaneous trips are some of the best. Whilst in Dangriga, enjoying nature and sipping on the freshest of coconut water, we were able to set up a day trip to Tobacco Caye with family friends; one who chartered a boat (as that is the only way to get there), and one who owned a property on the caye. My parents and I had never been to the caye, so for me, it was something new and exciting for us all to experience together.

Broken dock at Tobacco Caye

Belize as a nation was hit pretty badly by Hurricane Earl in early August, and its path was seen throughout the city and towns, with a plethora of debris, damaged docks, and structural damage to houses and buildings. Despite this, the people remained resilient, carrying on daily life and working through the destruction. At Tobacco Caye, Earl was present, mainly in the damaged docks, but aside from this, it was quite peaceful. Unlike larger caye destinations like Ambergris Caye where San Pedro is, and Caye Caulker, Tobacco Caye is tiny; stretching approximately three acres in the protected waters of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve which is a part of the Belize Barrier Reef.

After Earl

We took the approximately 10 mile boat trip from Dangriga to Tobacco Caye in a group of eight family members and friends. As it was a day trip, we brought all of our provisions to make a proper Belizean breakfast, juices and coffee included, as well as lunch. A standard Belizean breakfast consists of fried jacks (a fried bread similar to bake in Trinidad) with a side of guava jelly, refried beans, scrambled eggs, juice and coffee.

Making fried jacks

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#ALifeInTheDayInRhodeIsland: Historical Luxury for the 21st Century at Ocean House

Facade of Ocean House

When in Rhode Island, there are many places that one must visit, and one architectural gem that is a must-see is Ocean House. To continue my #ALifeInTheDayInRhodeIsland series, I had the pleasure of visiting the grounds of the hotel on my press trip for bloggers to South County, RI.

Grand entrance

Located in Watch Hill, Ocean House is a historic independent hotel along the coast, originally opened in 1868 right after the Civil War. Boasting a signature yellow facade in the Victorian architectural style, the hotel welcomed guests for 135 years, closing in 2003 when its state was beyond repair. In 2004 a new structure was born which replicated the original exterior, and required a full demolition of the original structure.

Ocean House as we know it presently opened to the public in 2010.

Fireplace

The immaculate attention to detail is seen in every nook and cranny of the space. Take the fireplace above, for example. Prior to demolition, the stones of the original fireplace were saved for the new structure. As you see it, every single stone was reset to mirror the original design, from 1895.

Waiting in the Living Room

We took a load off in the Living Room area in front of the fireplace to re-energize with caffeinated beverages & water after our substantial lunch at Matunuck Oyster Bar before we began our tour. The space was perfectly cozy, filled with tons of couches and cushioned chairs, throw pillows, and coffee table books and magazines to peruse for your leisure.

Our guide arrived back and we started our tour of the expansive grounds at the hotel’s famed restaurant, Seasons.

Bar in The Bistro

Divided into two unique spaces, we began our tour in The Bistro of Seasons, which features a more relaxed dining environment with teal leather stools surrounding the sit-down bar area, and a mix of tufted leather and rattan seating throughout for larger parties. The bar is fully stocked with a plethora of wine and spirits offerings, for whatever you may fancy.

Open kitchen at Seasons

In our walk back, we came across the open kitchen for Seasons. For guests or visitors that crave a unique culinary experience, they offer a Chef’s Counter Experience, which features a prix-fixed menu consisting of eight small plates, lasting approximately three hours. You can choose to add a wine pairing at an additional cost.

In addition, every Sunday the restaurant hosts a Sunday Jazz Brunch with live music from musician Greg Piccolo, and a delicious a la carte menu featuring a raw bar, charcuterie, and all your breakfast favorites.

The main dining area for Seasons is on the oceanfront, and the view from the window is just astounding. This is an unedited photo, above. The intimate setting is perfect for a birthday or anniversary celebration just for two, or a larger group if you please. How can you have a bad time when this is right outside your window?

Al fresco dining

In the summer months The Verandah Raw Bar is open for service, offering al fresco dining on the south facade of Ocean House overlooking the croquet court (below) with views of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to various dining spaces, Ocean House guests can partake in classes at the Center for Wine & Culinary Arts in house, as well as have meals cooked by a chef in the privacy of your own room.

Croquet court

Leisure and rejuvenation is omnipresent at Ocean House, featuring full service OH! Spa which offers body treatments, skin care, massages, and nail treatments, and the OH! Salon which offers full service hair cutting, styling, and treatments. Fitness and wellness classes by appointment.

With room rates starting at about $850 upwards of $10,000 a night for signature suites, Ocean House is definitely a splurge. The thoughtful design, services, and staff are a testament to its history, and willing of the treat.

 

Ocean House

1 Bluff Avenue

Watch Hill, RI 02891

(855) 678-0364

 

*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

I received a complimentary trip, tour, and meals for my review

#ALifeInTheDayInRhodeIsland: Farm To Table Amplified At Matunuck Oyster Bar

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The summer season is finally upon us, and you know what that means; time to plan travel and getaways while the weather is nice. As a Brooklyn girl, I have been spoiled over the years with all the free summer programming NYC has to offer throughout the season, but sometimes, you just need to get away. A getaway does not necessarily have to be a flight or week away, but even a day or two in different scenery right here on the East Coast.

Just last week I was invited by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation for an exclusive day trip for press to explore the attractions in the South County district. Focused on food, shopping, and luxury accommodations, the itinerary was filled with great attractions that were just on time for me as I was in need of a getaway. I was really excited that it was a small group of four bloggers in total, along with our guides Alexa and Jennifer from Havas PR.

I took the Amtrak train into Westerly, RI from Penn Station and was greeted by the crew in a black sprinter van. It was there that I met Alexa and Jennifer, as well as fellow bloggers Asha of Fork Spoon Knife, Martha of A Family Feast, and Richard of The Passionate Foodie. We chatted a bit and were right off to our first destination of the day, Matunuck Oyster Bar.

Located in South Kingstown, Matunuck is special as it is not solely an oyster bar & restaurant, but an oyster farm as well. Upon our arrival, we met with Perry Raso, an oyster farmer for decades and owner of the establishment. He took us on a tour of the restaurant and gave us the history of the land and the oyster farming industry as a whole.

On the boat with Perry

After our mini-tour of the restaurant’s interior, we headed back outside to Perry’s boat that he takes out on the water to farm and catch oysters. The weather was pristine, sunny and in the low 80s, making the temperature on the water somewhere in the mid to high 70s. We set out and got a firsthand glance of all the different types of oysters that the farm raises, as well as a select few scallops.

Fresh oyster

The water itself was quite shallow, with Perry jumping in every few minutes to show us the different types of oysters, along with the method in which they are raised. We were able to hold oysters in our hand, which I thought was really cool, before we put them back in the water.

On our tour of the oyster farm, Perry informed us that the grounds had a vegetable farm as well, making Matunuck not only pond to plate, but farm to table as well.

Vegetable farm

We took approximately a ten-minute ride up the pond to the vegetable farm, enduring a few splashes en route to our destination. Once off the boat, we took a short walk up the hill to be greeted with a sprawling green pasture of fresh, organic vegetables. The farm was so serene, and I snapped away to capture the moment.

Rows of greens

There were rows and rows of greens, including spinach, mustard greens, arugula, lettuce, and edible flowers. Walking around in awe as one day I hope to have my own farm, Perry gave us a sample of a variety of purple asparagus straight from the Earth. I took a bite and was immediately wowed. It was so fresh with a bit of sweetness towards the root, unlike the normally bitter green asparagus.

I could have personally ended the tour after the farm, but you know what was up next, LUNCH!

Like it raw?

We took the boat back to the pier and were seated shortly after our arrival on the outdoor deck for dining al fresco. The restaurant is very popular and had filled up while we were on our tours, on a weekday afternoon at that. Our waitress poured us all glasses of water, and Perry informed us that he would send out a few appetizers for us to try.

We started off with the oyster sampler, which included twelve raw local oysters. The freshness was exquisite and the brininess of the salt water was just perfect.

Trio

Next up was a trio, including from the left, the Clams Casino (eight littlenecks with a buttery bacon & bread crumb topping), Oysters Rockefeller (six oysters baked with Pernod, spinach, bacon, breadcrumbs & fresh herbs), and Bourbon Oysters (six broiled Matunuck oysters with a Bourbon chipotle sauce). The flavors of all three were quite enjoyable, but the Bourbon oysters were by far my favorite as they were a bit lighter than the others, and had a unique, smoky and sweet aftertaste.

Rosé all day

A meal is not complete without a good wine. As we were eating mainly seafood, I felt a rosé would pair well with all the offerings. The rosé was a dryer variety, not too sweet, similar to the varieties of Provence, and paired very nicely with my appetizers.

Scallop ceviche

Now it was time to place our individual orders. I didn’t want to get too crazy, so I figured an appetizer, salad, and a main would suffice, and would save me from a food coma. Up first was the Scallop Ceviche. Being Belizean-American, I am a ceviche snob as my family makes shrimp or conch ceviche when it is in season. When I tell you this scallop ceviche was OUT OF BOUNDS, I mean it.

A generous portion of scallop was served atop a clam shell, paired with mango salsa that included cilantro, lime, and peppers, and crispy wonton chips. The scallop melted in your mouth as you ate it, and the chips provided a perfect textural mashup.

Arugula Strawberry Salad

Up next for me was the Arugula Strawberry Salad, comprised of some of my favorite things: Matunuck Farm’s arugula, fresh sliced strawberries, sherry black pepper vinaigrette, balsamic reduction and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The flavors were splendid and refreshing. As it was a bit breezy out, some of my Parmigiano flew off my plate. I laughed, and continued eating.

Lobster Roll

I went back and forth deciding on a main because the normal menu and specials menu had so many incredible offerings. As I was in New England for the day, I decided to keep it local and go for the Lobster Roll. The meal consisted of chilled lobster meat, lightly dressed with mayonnaise and chopped celery on a grilled buttery split top roll. My eyes widened when I was served as the amount of lobster in the roll was astounding. I took a bite and it was like a lobster explosion; chunks falling onto my side salad and hand-cut fries.

For my first lobster roll in New England, this was off the chain! The lobster was so fresh, and the accompanying flavors were incredibly light, making the lobster the star of the show.

My experience at Matunuck Oyster Bar was just lovely, from Perry and staff, down to every offering on a plate. This will be hard to top! When in Rhode Island, definitely stop by. You won’t regret it!

 

Matunuck Oyster Bar

629 Succotash Road

Phone: 401.783.4202

 

*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo for A Life in the Day of Andrea

I received a complimentary trip and meals for my review