End Summer Right: Yoga with a Twist & Splash Sundays At the Epicurean Hotel

End Summer Right: Yoga with a Twist & Splash Sundays At the Epicurean Hotel

*Disclaimer: As a member of the Tampa Bay Bloggers I was able to attend Yoga with a Twist and Splash Sundays for free in exchange for this blog post and social media love. All opinions are my own.*

Hey Friends! A few weeks ago I was able to partake in a monthly event, Yoga with a Twist, held at the Epicurean Hotel in South Tampa. Currently living in South Tampa myself, I never had a reason to go to The Epicurean, but as soon as this opportunity came up, I said it’s time!!

Now, I’m not great about doing yoga. I like it, but haven’t found that sweet studio or instructor I clicked with. I did it regularly during my undergrad because I loved loved loved the instructor, the type of yoga, and the timing of it in my schedule. I wouldn’t call myself a yogi, since I don’t do it regularly anymore, but will for sure give my damnedest when I do get a chance to go. It is definitely one area I always need to work on. Remember my post on yoga for runners and my foam rolling routine? I explain my struggle of recovery there, and am pleased to say I have been MUCH better at fitting it into my schedule. Still a work in progress but its happening—in case you all were wondering.

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Enjoying champagne with Caitlyn post yoga!

The thought of yoga makes me feel excited even though it’s not my fav. When its combined with my friend, Caitlyn, who is also into fitness-y things, plus heading to the Splash Sundays pool party after, I said YES!

Yoga With A Twist, the official name, is a once a month event held during the last Sunday of the month at the Epicurean Hotel, a local boutique hotel located off South Howard. A good way to get in a one hour yoga class, hang out at the Epicurean, and cheers with Champagne with fellow yogis is fun and a popular way to enjoy the morning.

Reservations are required and are $15 for the class and $20 for the class and glass. Each class is offered by Kodawari Yoga, Bodywork, and Wellness Studio. Make sure to bring a mat, water, and a towel. Refreshments were available during the event and cool towels were given right before Savasana (cool-down pose). A nice refreshing way to end class!

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Cheers to a great class!

There was about forty people participating in the yoga. Each person brought their own mat, water, etc. and was done under a huge white tent near the roof of the hotel, at the Garden Terrace on the second floor to be exact. Although it was hot, the tent was beyond helpful as well as the ice water and tea that was available during the class.

The class was done in a vinyasa-type style. In case you’re not familiar with the different types, I’m meh on my yoga let alone knowing the different kinds, LOL, but basically this was a flow type class. With a few variations to add a challenge, it was definitely a good class with a mix of challenge and easy. I’m right in the middle and found there was a good balance. It was also nice knowing there were two spotters nearby who help correct as needed. Since this event was once a month, I’m not sure it is always run by Kodawari Studio or has the same instructor each month. I’ll have to go more then one time to see if it is or not. ;P Have I mentioned that guests participating in the yoga get 10% of Élevage brunch menu items and 15% off spa treatments? I haven’t been to Élevage yet, but have heard it’s pretty tasty and requires a reservation.

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Post-yoga conversation to end our practice

After class it was super chill and everyone got champagne for a toast. After the toast, everyone hung out and chatted or in mine and Caitlyn’s case, headed to the Splash Sunday pool party!! WOO!! Did I mention the Tampa Bay Bloggers hosted Splash Sundays that week?!

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The two events don’t work together, but anyone who wanted to join in the pool party could join in for the afternoon. However, a reservation is needed and requires $15 entrance fee. Splash Sundays is offered July 3rd to September 4th from 12-5pm and includes pool time, lounge chairs, umbrellas, and DJs that provide music as you chill in the pool or get your tan on. Drinks are also available but are not included the in the reservation. Depending on if you’re getting a group together, a cabana is an option for larger parties.

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A super fun way to end your summer or way to enjoy the Epicurean, their pool, drinks, and music! I know not having a pool, this was a great option that I’ll keep in mind for next time!

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Enjoying this sweet pineapple float 😉

YOUR TURN:

-Do you participate in yoga?

-Do you prefer a fruity cocktail or a light and refreshing spritzer by the pool?

-What is your favorite way to spend a summer afternoon?

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What I’m Loving Lately: Trader Joe’s Cocoa Nibs & Three-Layer Hummus

What I’m Loving Lately: Trader Joe’s Cocoa Nibs & Three-Layer Hummus

*I’m not affiliated with Trader Joe’s and have not been sponsored for this post, I just love sharing my recent items with all of you!*

I’ve always loved shopping at Trader Joe’s! Or what I like to call TJ’s 😉 I love it there because of the wide variety and creative products they sell as well as the quality of their produce, meats, coffee, etc. Basically TJ’s knows what’s up. I actually like it better in some ways over Publix. Although Publix is great for quick, essential items, I feel most creative with my grocery list when I go to TJ’s. It’s like they promote being creative! Which I like. Don’t get me wrong, Publix has a place (namely their pub subs), but my go-to for big grocery trips will be at TJ’s.

We got our TJ’s here in Tampa a couple years ago and we have one in the Tampa area. Best part is that it’s not far from me either! However, if you have been to TJ’s then you know the parking is TERRIBLE but well worth it every time. Over time I’ve learned to accept it the distrastrous parking and go when it’s less busy during the morning or in the evenings. I found a pattern when I went into the TJ’s in Delray Beach (where I’m from) and in Portland, OR when I went for the first time and BOTH places also had small parking lots. Hmmm…anyways, they may not have the parking situation down at their locations, but they sure do have the food part down!

When I go into grocery shop, I keep in mind the grocery shopping rule: stick to the perimeter first. If you haven’t heard of this “rule” basically it means all the healthy, quality type foods (produce, meat, dairy, etc)  are around the outside and the “less quality”(processed snacks, bread, chips, soda, etc) for lack of better words because its all good in moderation 😛 is in the middle isles. I find this consistent in all grocery stores, and believe quality still exists in the middle to an extent. Nut butters, whole grains, canned beans, nuts, dried fruit, etc. are also there! You just have to pass the various types of cookie butter to get to them in some cases. *begins drooling*

So according to the topic of today’s post, I did have to pass through the middle isles a bit to explore a couple new items that I’m really excited to share! The first item being cocoa nibs. OMG. I love love love chocolate and when I saw these little morsals, I thought of a few things they would go SO well with beyond just keeping them as a sweet. If you haven’t seen them before, they kinda look like the nerds candy. They’re crunchy and delicious and satisfy that sweet crunch. Even without putting them in or on top of anything, I’ve poured some straight into my hand and throwing them into my mouth as is! Simply delicious.

When I’m not just eating out of the pouch, I’ve put them on top of plain yogurt mixed with peanut butter for a little indulgent snack, put some in trail mix for a salty sweet taste, or on a mug cake! (blog post still TBA on this one, can’t quite get it yet). The list goes on, but this is basically what I’ve enjoyed the most using them for! Putting them on oatmeal, baking with them, smoothie bowl toppings, ice cream, etc. A decent amount in a pouch too and not too expensive either. A good buy to make whatever you eat a little more indulgent without going overboard.

The other item is three-layer hummus. Now this wasn’t in the middle isle because of refrigeration (of course) but the idea of three flavors in ONE container got me. I really enjoy their beet hummus as well, but hummus can be flavored so many ways, I figured I’d give this one a go. IT WAS AMAZING! To be honest, I’m more of a traditional hummus fan. However, I love garlic flavored anything too. Garlic though was NOT a flavor of the three. From bottom to top: spicy, cilantro jalapeño, and traditional on top. No so much into spicy, but it was tolerable and something I did get used to! Cilantro Jalapeño also spicy, yet tangy, and somewhat savory at the same time. Lastly, traditional because it’s just my favorite and also a winner.

Perfect for dipping carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, celery, etc or dipping tortilla chips or veggie sticks are some of my favorite things to dip into! Using hummus as a spread in place of mayo or replacing the yolk in a hard-boiled egg are some of my favorite combinations. One of my favorite breakfast go-tos is to use hummus on toast with an egg on top! A feel-good easy breakfast idea.

So many variations for both items, each to pair with something different! Enjoy!

YOUR TURN:

-Do you have two new grocery items you’ve been loving?

-What are some items you’ve been pleasantly surprised with or have been ultimate disasters?

 

Kick Off Summer at the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival

Kick Off Summer at the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival

*Thanks to affiliations with the Tampa Bay Bloggers and Big City Events, I was able to attend the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival and fun run for free as well as give away two tickets in exchange for blog posts and social media love. All opinions are my own.*

Happy Post Memorial Day weekend! I was at the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival this weekend kicking off summer with a cold margarita in my hand. I mean it’s the drink of summer, how could you not?? It was hot as HELL here in Tampa Bay so it is definitely feeling like summer. It got hot and humid quickly, so the ice cold drink(s) and water hit the spot.

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I’m not always a big drinker, but this event also came with a run which was a fun way to kick off the festival plus a drink for participating so I couldn’t say no! A 2.5 mile run along the Tampa Riverwalk plus a complementary drink and medal that doubled as a bottle opener…totally joining in! However, it was pretty steamy at 11am when it started so there was a fair share of both runners and walkers. Everyone got a medal, cold water, snacks, plus a t-shirt, and drink. A fun way to get a workout in and earn your margarita. I got to meet up with a few other Tampa Bay Bloggers post race which was fun too. It’s always a fun time to catch up with other bloggers in real life then from screen to screen. 🙂

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Tampa Bay Bloggers killed the fun run!

After the run I cleaned up and my mom and I went back down later in the afternoon to enjoy our complementary drink and enjoy the festival. They had at least fifty types of margaritas to choose from each from a different brand, flavor, or frozen or unfrozen. I had the Tito’s classic margarita and my mom had the watermelon one. Both we’re awesome and oh so refreshing! The music was great too, all local bands throughout the day, including Blue’s Travelers from 9pm till close.

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I’m not even a huge fan of vodka, but the Tito-Rita was really good

When you weren’t enjoying the margaritas, you could take the water taxi on the Hillsborough River to bar hop down the Riverwalk and be able to re-enter the festival for a second (or third) round if you chose 😉 Even if you needed a break from the heat, the breeze from the ride felt refreshing. Although the water taxi wasn’t part of the admission to the festival, it was pretty cool seeing the other parts of Tampa via the river. My mom really enjoyed it and so did I!

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Aside from the tasty drinks, they had a great selection of food and had plenty of places to sit down and chill, either under an umbrella or on one of their outdoor couches! If you didn’t sit in one of their seats, you could have brought in one of your own and snagged a spot in front of the stage.

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Besides the hot weather, the event was definitely worth attending again. Music was good, people watching was great, and of course the margaritas were THE BOMB. A perfect way to kick off summer! Next time they’re in town, I’ll be there!

All The Coffee: Enhance Your Endurance & Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival

All The Coffee: Enhance Your Endurance & Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival

*Disclaimer: Thanks to the Tampa Bay Bloggers I was able to attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival with a friend for free in exchange for social media love and this post. All opinions are my own.*

This past Saturday, I was able to attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival! As soon as I got word on this opportunity, I knew I had sign up! I mean it’s COFFEE plus tastings and demos, art, live music, and food, you can’t go wrong! A portion of the proceeds went to Bay Area Foundation for the Arts (BAFA), a organization that helps students and teachers further their knowledge in fine and performing arts. I brought a friend and we both had a great time. Great tastings and brews. It was from 6-9pm, first thought: “YES! Coffee!” and second thought: “Late night coffee?…not gonna stop me though.” Took on the brews like a champ and didn’t have *much of a problem sleeping* 😉 worth it though!

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It was inside at the Noise Box, a local venue in Brandon, FL . They had a variety of local vendors such as pottery, art, books, home decor, etc. They had a corner with baked goods to pair nicely with your brew too! All good looking options of course because what else would you pair it with? At each corner of the venue they had four tastings. All unique with different flavors. I tend to like medium roasts, so my favorite was the Colombian.

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They featured a local company, Zeal Coffee Roasters. My first time having their coffee and their cold brew was AMAZING! I don’t always go for the cold brew since it is a little strong for me, but their ‘s was heavenly with a little cream that made me melt–PUNS… get it cold brew, melt…okay I’m done. SO GOOD!

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After having walked around, tried the tastings and had our drinks, we were ready to head out. Since it was a three hour event, the event really took us an hour and half to get through because it was on the smaller side. I heard that it sold out, which I wasn’t surprised about considering a great turnout! However, there was only one roaster, which I feel wasn’t enough. Adding a second or even a third roaster each offering something unique would make it good to compare to. Overall, I would attend this event again because it offered great coffee culture, something I really enjoy and appreciate. Coffee really is an art!

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If you haven’t already noticed, I LOVE coffee. Hence, me jumping at this opportunity to blog about my experience! Aside from the tastings, demos, and info sessions, coffee has other benefits besides the caffeine kick. Although they’re are many benefits to your brew (a load of antioxidants, lowers your chances of certain types of cancer, fights depression) this reason is my favorite: Enhances endurance and improves workout performance! <— Can I get an HELL YEAH??

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For particularly tough workouts either running or a strength day (like a HIIT workout), I grab a cup a couple hour before if I can. Having that boost of energy before your workout puts that energy kick to work! When you have as little as eight ounces, the caffeine travels into your bloodstream and surpresses neurotransmitters in the brain. Once kicked in, the caffeine takes over and masks the effort you’re putting into your run or workout. Result, you can push longer and harder. Read more about it here.Who needs pre-workouts right? Pair coffee with some easy digestible carbs and a little fat and you have the perfect pre-workout snack! My favorite is pretzels and peanut butter and an 8 oz cup of plain coffee with a little stevia. During my marathon, I made sure my GU contained some amount of caffeine and I saw a noticeable difference in that, just as I did when I tried the ones without caffeine. LOL. Wasn’t quite on my A game during those training runs.

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I’ve noticed an equal kick in a grande latte from Starbucks too, so amount is dependent on you. Make sure you have water along that coffee though! Coffee is a dehydrator so I tend to double fist my Camelback thermos with water and coffee in the mornings.

Make sure you attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival the next time, enjoy your coffee, then workout afterwards and kill three birds with one stone (or cup) ! 😉

Enjoy!

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Fitbit: Who Does it FIT?

Fitbit: Who Does it FIT?

*Disclaimer: Thanks to the Tampa Bay Bloggers and AT&T spokeswoman Karen McAllister, I had the privilege of getting to use the Fitbit Charge HR for nine days in exchange for this post, social media love, and tickets to Lowry Park Zoo. All opinions are my own.*

After being in touch with Karen from AT&T and Tampa Bay Bloggers, the Fitbit Charge HR was a great product to try for over a week. It gives being active a new sense of awareness. It was nice being able to see my numbers throughout the day and it gave me something to push for during my workouts! I had secretly wanted to see for myself what the hype was all about and I’m really glad I did. It was a pretty cool product and a worthwhile nine days seeing how it worked with me throughout the day while teaching my classes, training clients, and incorporating into my own workouts.

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Fitbit HR has a sleek design and felt light weight when I wasn’t checking my stats.

I specifically had the Charge HR band that tracked my heart rate on top of all the other features it came with: sleep tracker, calories burned, stairs climbed, distance traveled, active minutes etc. It read the heart rate via the radial pulse on my wrist and tracked it at rest and throughout the day. That part alone was especially cool! It was a great way to keep yourself motivated during an intense cardio session alone. During my spin class at Soho Cycling Studio it was handy to look down and check periodically throughout the class how I was doing and to see my total calorie burn post workout. As a group exercise instructor, I especially loved seeing the calories burned and steps tracked throughout my classes I teach. All the little movements and walking around really do add up to more calories burned and distance walked. Once you reach your step goal, mine was 10,000, it vibrates to notify you. From there you receive badges and can see your collection as it grows!

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A day I incorporated a strength day into my routine (note the 26 active minutes) among classes I taught and clients I saw

I would say that the Fitbit is a great tool for many people. Its a great fit for people returning to exercise after an injury, newbie to the fitness world, athlete or regular exerciser, individual with a nine to five desk job, and a cross trainer. Having this tool is great for anyone who needs that extra reminder, motivation, and awareness of their numbers at their fingertips to keep goals in check.

For the individual who are returning post injury and getting back into a routine or is just getting into fitness, this is a great first step. A few of my clients have them and I love asking how their steps are, what they burned during our workouts, their sleep, etc. It’s funny since even a few people in my group classes I teach always report to me how they did post class or even funnier–ask during class, “can we do more cardio? I need to get my steps in.”  In cases like these, I LOVE utilizing it THROUGH my clients and class participants to keep challenging them even more! 😉 From what I have learned about it through myself and others is to WEAR it, otherwise it doesn’t work. Sounds silly making this comment, but if it isn’t charged and ready to wear, don’t count on it doing it’s job. Less time wearing it = less motivation.

For the athlete/regular exerciser, this is great for the constant added challenge through the heart rate feature. I learned I could push harder throughout my spin class, so I continued to increase the intensity and after looking at my stats post class, I TORCHED about 800 calories! WOWZA!! I thought to myself, “I wonder how many I would have burned if I didn’t add the extra resistance?” Yeah no regrets there. 😉 In terms of strength training, my heart rate during the workout was not as high as it was during spin or a run, but it did take note of my elevated heart rate during my half hour strength workout. So, YES males/females that like to strength train and crank it out in the weight room–this is for you too!!

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Badges earned each time you make your goal!

Even when not active, the Fitbit HR keeps the numbers going even at work during the day. Checking resting heart rate during the day and after a few cups of coffee (like I did) I saw a small increase in heart rate! However, it does not vibrate as a way of notifying you to move…which I thought was odd. It does track active minutes, so even though there is no obvious way of notifying you, being motivated to get up and walk around during your lunch break or throughout the day does count. The calories burned and distance traveled stat will soon be your friend.

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I’m pretty sure this was rest day for me, but I did go for a walk with a friend. Tracked my heart rate even during our walk!

What if you’re not a high intensity fitness freak but still enjoy being active–in a less intense way? Maybe yoga/pilates or cross training is your thing? That counts too! Again active minutes and a jump in heart rate counts as a workout and automatically tracked in active minutes. As mentioned above, looking at calories burned is another great way to track as well!

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Each week I got a daily “progress report” on my activity. Great overview to keep me motivated!

As a runner, I LOVE/LIVE by my Garmin Forerunner 15. It tracks my pace, speed, and includes a GPS. It also has a built in heart rate monitor with a strap. I feel the Fitbit would be a good fit for someone who wants to track their overall healthy habits and activity and isn’t necessary focused solely on running. I had this product during my half recently, and chose not to wear it simply because it did not track my running stats–specifically my pace. However, it was GREAT for other activities I participated in.

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Fitbit made it to the Gasparilla Expo!
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Had to take a selfie with it after getting it from Karen!

Throughout the week I used the Fitbit, I did learn a lot about myself and confirmed some things I wasn’t sure of. I learned I can really challenge myself MORE which is exciting to know (via the heart rate feature), I really do need eight hours of sleep..lol, and I have a low resting heart rate. Aside from it being an overall positive experience, in a technological way (the app and way it worked was super easy) and motivating sense, I would recommend this product to everyone looking to enhance or maintain their fitness.

Taps At International Plaza: Beyond Just a “Bar”

Taps At International Plaza: Beyond Just a “Bar”

**Disclaimer: Thanks to affiliation with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was able to experience complementary menu items from Taps at International Plaza in exchange for this post and social media love. All opinions are my own**

I frequent International Plaza mostly for shopping, specifically Fit2Run, but now since I’m affiliated with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I was able to experience more then just shopping! My first official event with the Tampa Bay Bloggers was at our Holiday Swap at Taps Bar & Lounge at International Plaza. We got to try a variety of different menu items as well as sampled some signature drinks. SO fun! I loved getting to know other bloggers all while eating and drinking complementary of Taps!–Thank you TBB!

Between a variety of drinks to choose from, the food was amazing and we were able to sample a few from each part of the menu! Check out a few of the dishes we sampled! SO GOOD!

Top left to right: Filet Mignon Brochette, Roasted Pomegranate Salmon, Sailor’s Shandy, Chocolate Lava Cake

Bottom left to right: Beets Beets Beets, Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños, Honey Badger

Not only is it a casual place to dine and drink, but was far from the “bar scene” vibe. More then just a place to drink, they have a great menu of various appetizers, salads, mains, and desserts. All ingredients are fresh, well-prepared, and have a variety of flavors everyone can enjoy. For their beer and wine options, they have over 100 varieties of wines and up to 60 choices available by glass as well as a wide selection of craft beers and imports. Drinks are paired with outstanding food with quality flavors, among a fun, casual ambiance.

I can’t wait to bring family and friends here the next time we want to switch it up! Taps is definitely on my list for a crowd-pleasing night out.

Save the Wildlife, then Play All Day!

Save the Wildlife, then Play All Day!

This past weekend, I participated in the Save the Wildlife 5k at Busch Gardens with a friend from the Y and her family. A great turnout and race, it is definitely something I would do again. Not only did I help promote YRUN, but was able to catch up with my Fit2Run friends too! The weather was cloudy and cool…perfect weather for a run and day Busch Gardens. I felt good too and was really looking forward to a run of a short distance!! Knowing the race was 3.1 miles not 6+ was a relief haha. If anything, this marathon has been a good reminder that shorter distances are good for a change too as well as prep my mind for being race-ready! It had been since Gasparilla that I had done my last race, so it was time for something new. I will say, I do not race often so this one was a special kind of race. Aside from the crowd at the race, the crowds at park weren’t bad either, probably because it looked like it was going to rain the whole day, but didn’t! YAY for short-ish lines! The most we waited was 45 min for Cheetah Hunt (BG’s newest coaster as of about four years ago), but even that was do-able. Too cool for water rides, but all we wanted was to ride the coasters anyways! Sheikra never disappoints!!!!! 😉

A great turnout and race, Save the Wildlife 5k definitely something I would do again. I signed up with a friend from work and her family and we ran it together. The packet pickup and race was well organized and fun. Both easy locations to find on Busch Gardens property. Packet pickup was offered Thursday and Friday before the race. The course was flat with small inclines thrown in around the park. We ran throughout the park, near the animals, and around the roller coasters. The race started and finished in the same place. There was about fourteen hundred participants…which seems like a lot, but they did a great job “containing” us (making it sound like were a bunch of caged runners LOL) within the parking lot making the start convenient to where we parked. The goodie bag was simple but just enough: a race shirt and ticket to the park for the day complete with reusable bag 🙂 (no extra clutter yay!) Besides perks of a ticket to the park for the day, free parking, and a medal roughly the size of a dinner plate, this race benefited the Wildlife Conservation Fund. Not only was this just a pre and post race type race, but a fun event and day experience for everyone. Seeing proud runners wear their shirt and medal around the park made for a memorable and good way to connect with other participants during the day. I’d say a win-win for everyone! Check out the pros and cons of the race below! *Note: my opinions and thoughts only*

Save the Wildlife 5k Medal
Save the Wildlife 5k Medal
YRUN Tampa and Fit2Run representing at the race.
YRUN Tampa and Fit2Run representing at the race

Pros:

  • Well-organized packet pickup and race
  • Perks with registration include: ticket to the park for the day, free parking, and medal
  • Good time of year
  • Flat course (minus a few inclines throughout the park)
  • Family friendly
  • 7:30am start (early but not too early)
  • Entertaining—animals out for petting and holding at the finish
  • “Tailgating” from your own car experience post race before park opening

Cons:

  • Pricey-er registration than the average 5k ($35-$50)
  • Cotton shirt
  • No recyclables (water bottles were given out at finish)
  • No race day pick-up
  • No strollers
  • Not advised that if left after the race and came back for park opening, parking fee ($17) would be enforced (see “tailgating” pro above)