By Toni Carey (@toni_carey)
It’s not a big island, but it has plenty to offer. I’m talking about Jamaica. Just 146 miles long and 22 miles wide, Jamaica is home to rich history, culture, scenic views and delicious food. Just a few weeks ago, I headed there for the MoBay City Run and instantly fell in love. But, in case you need more reasons to visit, here's what had me at hello.
STAY: At Secrets at St. James all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay. The property is absolutely beautiful. Surrounded by the stunning Caribbean, you won’t have a problem relaxing oceanside….or by the pool…whichever tickles your fancy.
Word of advice: spring for the extra hundred bucks for Preferred Club which gives you a few very important extras like 24 hour room service, complimentary snacks and a mini bar constantly restocked with water, Red Stripe, rum and my personal favorite, banana chips. The rooms are also swankier and include an outdoor soaking tub. Did I mention it’s a AAA Four Diamond resort? As the young people say, “Yaaaaassssss!”
RUN: The MoBay City Run 5K & 10K, which was the actual reason for my trip. One of the newest races for Montego Bay, proceeds from the event go to helping students continue their education.
First things, first: keep in mind that this is a fun run, so don’t get caught up with your race time or the lack of amenities (like portable toilets) or the organized chaos pre-race. Just go with the flow.
The vibe the morning of the race was like any other race you might run, but the post race party was absolutely epic. Reggae music was blaring as you entered the post race area. I scooped up some ugly fruit for my post race snack and later chowed down on jerk chicken, yams and collards while we waited for the awards ceremony to begin. Huge shout out to David Alm, fellow journalist, for placing third in the 10K and also winning the “first Non-Jamaican” award. Seriously.
Photo credit: David Alm
An out and back course, as I continued past the 5K turnaround, it thinned out quite a bit and it felt a little lonely with very few runners and no crowd support. The scenery is a bit dull, but you finish (and by finish, I mean as you go into the post-race area), by the ocean.
One very important thing to note about the running conditions. It gets very hot, very early. The race starts at 6am (we started a little late) and by 7am the sun was beaming down on me as I finished the race. But, race organizers did a fantastic job with ensuring there were more than enough water stops along the course. Don’t be freaked out by the colorful pouches of liquid they toss at you. It’s actually a sports drink and you’ll want to drink a little bit of at each water stop. It’s very easy to overheat and become dehydrated, particularly since you will have probably consumed a fair amount of alcohol leading up to the race.
Oh! I forgot to mention the pre- race pasta party the night before, dubbed the “Rasta Pasta Party”. It was “eh”. It can be summed up by American 90s hits and very tiny plates of pasta. The upside was that the pasta was VERY delicious, but the let down was the portion size. We ended up ditching the party early to head back to the resort for a legit dinner.
DINE: At Scotchies, where, you can get authentic Jamaican food! From jerk chicken and pork to sea bass and bammy, this might be the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. They DO take credit cards, but be sure to tip in cash.
Photo credit: David Alm
SHOP: On HipStrip, where there are tons of local shops. But skip, Margaritaville. If you've seen one, you've seen them all.
PARTY: At Pier 1. It’s the place to party if that’s what you’re looking for. I didn’t go, but I heard nothing but good things!
EAT: As much local food as possible and by local, I mean not at the resort.
DRINK: Rum Punch. Home of Appleton Rum, it’s only proper you have at least one rum punch while you’re there. If not, definitely toast up a Red Stripe.
WATCH FOR: Sunburns and mosquitos. Sunburns are no fun. Do your due diligence and always slather on sunscreen before stepping outside and invest in a lip balm with SPF. Also, you’ll want to spray yourself with mosquito spray pretty regularly.
SPEAK: The local language Patwah, which can best be described as broken English. While Patwah isn’t taught in schools (“proper” English is), it is what is commonly spoken. I received a brief lesson in Patwah and I’m so intrigued by it. Listen to it and ask questions if you don’t understand or need a translation. I finally had to ask someone exactly what President Obama meant in the video below.
SPLURGE ON: A catamaran and snorkeling excursion via Dreamer Catamaran Cruises.
SUPPORT: The locals. Tip in US dollars.
EXPLORE: Via private driver. While, staying at a resort is absolutely amazing, there’s two problems I have with them. They often give you a watered down version of the country, and two, very few of the dollars made by resorts go back into the community.
The great thing about having a private driver is that it is WAY cheaper and more reliable than getting a taxi and you are directly supporting the local economy. Also, they’ll be able to give you a more authentic perspective on the city.
Your best bet is to put together a list of attractions or things you want to do, find a private driver and they’ll help you schedule and plan your excursions during your trip, including pick-up and drop-off at the airport, which could cost you about $40-$50 USD one way. A driver for two days could cost you somewhere around $80 USD a day.
If you’re not that adventurous, you can also book excursions at your resort. But, the bottom line is just don’t stay on the resort. There are so many other things to see or do!
NO NEED TO: Exchange US currency for Jamaican dollars. Most businesses take American money or credit cards. Just be sure to always double check the math when converting from Jamaican dollars to US dollars (or vice versa). At the time of my travel $100 Jamaican dollars were equal to $1 American dollar. IF you are going to exchange your money, don’t do it at the airport. You’ll get a better rate elsewhere.
DON’T: Be shy. Get to know as many of the people as you can. I learned so much about the country and culture just from chatting up natives. By the time I left, I had exchanged information with a few peeps so when I come back, I can connect with them to show me around.
DON’T: Be shocked that many slave plantations are now tourist attractions. Another journalist and I had an extensive conversation about this, which I will save for another day, but ultimately it boils down to this:
Instead of allowing slavery to be the dark little secret in Jamaica’s closet, they freely talk about it and own it. They understand its part of their history and helps to define who they are as a country. While it may be uncomfortable to talk about, I think this ownership of their past has allowed them to move beyond it and is a constant reminder to younger generations of their heritage and the sacrifices their ancestors made. Comparatively speaking, in the US it’s the complete opposite and I believe why race relations are in dire straights in America.
So, if you're looking for a low key runcation, check out the MoBay City Run. Registration for 2016 isn't open quite yet, but you may want to start saving your coins now!
Photo Credit: Rance Elgin Photography
By: Toni Carey (@toni_carey)
If you follow me on social media you know that I was having a major freak out about going on the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage Cruise. Eight days without WiFi and what seemed like all of mankind. But, I was grateful for the opportunity to be a apart of such an amazing event and being able to connect with thousands of women to spread the BGR! gospel.
Photo Credit: Rance Elgin Photography
I enlisted my good friend Andia Winslow, fitness professional and all around one kick-arse woman (ask about her. no, seriously. ask about her.) to join me aboard the 8-day cruise via the Carnival Breeze to the Cayman Islands, Montego Bay (Jamaica) and Isla de Roatan (Honduras).
If you have never been on the TJF Fantastic Voyage, I encourage you to book your trip for 2016 NOW. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced and is literally a 24/7 party for 8 days. Andia and I hosted morning runs sponsored by Wal-Mart , as well as a workshop on how to start running.
The Tom Joyner Foundation supports Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with scholarships, endowments, and capacity building enhancements.
While the rest of the ship was sleeping in (because, literally there’s a concert at 2am every morning), we had a core group to show up each morning to hit the track with us! Can you say impressed???
It was the perfect way to start the day! The sound of the ocean crashing against the boat while you run laps was priceless. Not to mention the view! I can’t think of a better way to get the day started.
Andia led the group through a set of pre and post run stretches, which admittedly, I’m TERRIBLE at doing. It was a great reminder of the importance of warming up your body and stretching to prevent injuries. She also was on hand to answer questions about running form and overall health and fitness.
We met so many amazing women (and men) on the cruise! We can’t wait to do it again next year!!
Photo Credit: Rance Elgin Photography
Running in the colder weather is no easy feat.
Sometimes it’s challenge enough finding the motivation to tie up those laces, let alone having to consider the chilly air that greets you when you open the door.
Thankfully for us at Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon & Half Marathon Presented by CareFirst, our event falls in early springtime, when the sun peaks out and the beautiful cherry blossoms have begun to bloom.
But we get it, we need to train beforehand, so brave the cold we must! Here are 6 cool tips to keep you warm and prepared to kick butt:
We look forward to rocking with you in DC on March 14 where we can celebrate all your hard work and winter training!
Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon & ½ Marathon presented by CareFirst is on March 14th and is the only marathon course that runs entirely within the District of Columbia. The event also features a 5K and for the first time this year participants can take the #DC2MX challenge and run Rock ‘n’ Roll DC and Rock ‘n’ Roll Mexico City in the same weekend.
By Shana Adams (@bbgtonline)
Whether the weather be hot, whether the weather be cold, we will run whatever the weather, whatever the weather may hold! For runners and those who just enjoy working out in the elements, you need to be sure you dress for the occasion. Winter weather can be a beast and depending on where you live, you may not be able to run outside. But for those of us who have moderate winters, here are running essentials you must have to keep yourself warm and functioning.
When running in winter, you have to protect yourself against any opportunity to get sick. That’s why thinking in layers is essential. Protecting yourself ultimately prevents catching a cold while getting a great workout.
Shana is a 25 year old communications professional who took her health into her own hands and started her weight loss journey mid-2010, but really took charge when she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2012. She is the creator of the health and fitness blog Big Boned Getz Toned!
By JayEll Alexander
Summer is in full swing and let the travel begin! Ashley and Toni have been on the road quite a bit for the Preserve the Sexy Tour and preparing for the Sweat With Your Sole in Atlanta in September! REGISTER NOW :-)
There is no doubt about it, traveling and working out is hard. Hotel gyms tend to be small and there is but so much mileage you can do on a treadmill, so sometimes you have to venture out in to unknown territory to make sure you stay on your training plan.
Brooks Running has provided us with some fun and handy travel tips, just in time for our next trip to Houston on July 26th for the Preserve the Sexy Tour!
Kira Harrison, a footwear merchandising associate at Brooks Running, is a lifelong runner who travels the world to gather insight, build award-winning shoes and to help people everywhere run happy. She has mastered the art of traveling as her job requires her to pack up and go quite frequently.
"With so many people taking summer trips and weekend getaways with the warmer weather, we want to make sure you’re prepared and can still squeeze in the run in between all the fun of vacation." says Harrison. "I’ve included the tips below. Enjoy!"
1) Get out the door in the morning before your day starts. When you are on the road, your schedule can often be unpredictable, by running in the morning you guarantee getting your run in and it energizes you for the rest of the day.
2) Use your run as a sightseeing opportunity. Running is a great way to see a new place and the run becomes an adventure vs. just exercise.
3) Pack fast drying apparel, made of synthetic fibers. Because you won’t be able to do laundry on the road, you want your gear to dry before you have to pack it back into your suitcase. Also, a plastic bag to wrap around your shoes is helpful to keep dirt and smell away from the rest of your belongings.
4) Connect with a local running store for advice on routes. They also may have running groups that leave from their store which will provide you with running buddies. If crunched for time, the hotel concierge is also a great resource. Many have pocket-sized maps with recommended running routes, making it simple to get in a good run right out the front door.
5) To keep your legs fresh, wear compression socks on the airplane. This helps maintain blood flow and your legs will feel better on your run. Let us know some of your travel tips below for working out and running 'on the go'!
By Esta Fiesta (@EstaFiestaPR)
Sometimes getting sweaty before work just can’t happen and you’ve got to squeeze in a workout on your lunch break. Stash these five items at your desk to make sure you’re always prepared.
Cleansing Wipes Make cleaning up post workout a breeze by keeping cleansing wipes on hand. These also come in handy if you need to wipe off makeup before working out.
Baby powder If nothing else, keep a travel size bottle of baby powder at your desk. Baby powder can be rubbed onto thighs to prevent chaffing, double as a deodorant, and triple as a dry shampoo if you need it!
Bobby Pins An intense workout may ruin your do. Fix stray hairs or create a new look altogether with a few bobby pins.
Portable Fragrance Baby powder alone isn’t enough to make you smell fresh when you return to your desk – keep a roll-on or travel size of your favorite perfume on hand to reapply post workout.
Tube of lipstick You probably won’t apply a full face of makeup just for the second half of your workday. Stash a tube of red lipstick to touch up your look, or apply it pre-workout for a confidence boost! How often do you workout on your lunch break? Do you keep these, or any other products stashed at your desk?
Esta Fiesta is a New York City based lifestyle writer who focuses on fashion and beauty with a pinch of pop culture. In addition to managing her own blog livingfiesta.com, Esta has penned pieces for Glamazons Blog and been quoted in People StyleWatch and The Associated Press. When she’s not hunting down the best fashion and beauty deals you can find Esta trying to beat her best mile or perfecting her overhead in Pilates. Follow Esta’s tweets at @EstaFiestaPR.
By Esta Fiesta (@EstaFiestaPR)
Once in a while, my department decides to do a “30 Day Challenge”, pledging to cut our personal choice of toxic food, alcohol, or overspending, but one month I decided to change it up and add something – a salad a day – and it turned out to be more beneficial than I’d thought.
I have to admit, I selfishly chose to add something because I wanted to still be able to buy clothes and eat ice cream. Besides, a few extra veggies can’t hurt right? The rule was I had to have at least one salad, defined as a dish in which the main ingredient consists of raw vegetables, each day and could eat whatever else I desired - ice cream and sugary drinks included.
Adding a salad a day wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be. Especially since I was still allowed to indulge in whatever else I wanted. So for thirty days I ate a salad for or with my lunch and dinner daily. What did I find? The more salad I ate the less junk I consumed. When I ordered a burger I’d substitute the fries for a side salad, or at lunch I’d get a salad instead of a sandwich, reducing my carb intake and eating enough filling vegetables to keep me satisfied longer. Sometimes after having a salad for lunch I didn’t want to ruin my eating for the day with junk food so I’d pass up any desserts offered.
Even though I didn’t officially give up anything, by adding a salad I ended up eating less bad food! I’m unsure if there were any pounds shred or inches lost since I didn’t check, but I definitely started feeling lighter and my body got used to craving salads on a regular basis. In previous challenges when I’d give up fried foods or sweets, resisting was hard, and I often ended up substituting one fatty food for another. By adding something healthy to my diet I had less room for fatty food and even learned to stop craving them as much, leading to better health. Who knew?!
Esta Fiesta is a New York City based lifestyle writer who focuses on style and beauty with a pinch of pop culture. In addition to managing her own blog livingfiesta.com, Esta has penned pieces for Glamazons Blog and been quoted in People StyleWatch and The Associated Press. When she’s not hunting down the best fashion and beauty deals you can find Esta trying to beat her best mile or perfecting her overhead in Pilates. Follow Esta’s tweets at @EstaFiestaPR.
By Esta Fiesta @EstaFiestaPR
Let’s be real – most of us don’t have a Lululemon budget, and we don’t want to be limited to the generic Nike pieces sold at Modell’s. Where else can you go to find cute and affordable workout clothes? More and more stores are adding performance gear to their collections, so no matter your financial or style concern, there’s somewhere to find what suits you best. Here are eight fashionable stores where you can pick up running gear that fits your style, body and budget:
The Gap/Gap Outlet The all-American brand doesn’t just sell denim – they’ve got an extensive workout collection as well. Their GapFit legging styles cater to runners, dancers or yogis, and you can almost always get them 20-40% off. Check out their outlet store for even cheaper finds!
Old Navy Gap sister company Old Navy has it’s own workout line as well, and you know a place that sells jeans for as low as $19 will have affordable options! If you shop here, take a look at their sports bras. American Apparel Stick to solids from American Apparel. Their prices are closer to Lululemon than H&M but every now and then you can score a Groupon deal for 50% off.
Express Express launched a complete women’s workout line a few months ago, which is just as great as their other clothes. Between sales and coupons you can ALWAYS score a deal and since performance gear is sold online and in select stores only, they offer free shipping and returns with no minimum purchase required. Got large hips and an itty, bitty waist? Their leggings were made for you!
Forever 21 The mecca of cheap trendy fashion, Forever 21 recently launched it’s own active wear section as well. Find leggings in any color other than basic black and mix and match with their tops for a fashion-forward workout look. TJ Maxx/Marshalls If you like Nike and Adidas but don’t like their prices TJ Maxx or Marshall’s is ideal. You can snag the same pieces available at Sports Authority but for a Forever 21 price.
Nordstrom Rack A step up from TJ Maxx/Marshalls is Nordstrom Rack. They’ve got active wear from traditional brands like Reebok and Puma but you can also score pieces from more high end designers like TART or Splendid. Where do you find workout gear? Have you had any luck at any of these stores? Sound off in the comments section below!
Esta Fiesta is a New York City based lifestyle writer who focuses on fashion and beauty with a pinch of pop culture. In addition to managing her own blog livingfiesta.com, Esta has penned pieces for Glamazons Blog and been quoted in fashion articles for the Associated Press. When she's not hunting down the best fashion and beauty deals you can find Esta trying to beat her best mile or perfecting her overhead in Pilates. Follow Esta’s tweets at @EstaFiestaPR.