Coast-to-Coast Trip Part 2: Los Angeles, CA

{Part I here}

Hi all!  Hope you’re having a great day!

Gosh these past few days have just flown by. Since I had been eating like there’s no tomorrow during our month long vacation, I’m back to working out and running again! Yup, back to our normal routine and I have so much catching up to do!

Ok so here’s a recap of our next stop…

July 6-9: Orlando, FL  {recap here –> Coast-to-Coast Trip Part 1: Orlando, FL}
> July 9-11,14-15: Los Angeles, CA
July 12-13: Boulder & Las Vegas, NV (& a little bit of Arizona :P )
July 16-19: Jackson Hole, WY —> BREATHTAKING!!!
July 20, 26-27: Seattle, WA
July 21-23: Spokane, WA
July 23-25: Vancouver, BC (Canada)

Los Angeles, CA

After our fun trip to Orlando, we flew to La La Land next. 🙂

I’ve been to L.A. several times long time ago before I even moved to the U.S. During my vacation from school in the Philippines, my family and I would fly to the US for vacation and California was one of the places we would visit. I had a lot of fond memories back then. After many years, it was nice to visit LA again. Going back this time with my husband and friends was definitely exciting. New set of people, new memories! 🙂

We landed at LAX late at night and starving. Our first stop in Cali…

In N Out Burger!
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Hmm …fast food, while on vacation? Sorry, but it had to be done. There wasn’t much open  in Palmdale after 10pm. Plus I had to try this fast food chain from all the hype I’ve heard. I got the double cheeseburger which was ok. I don’t exactly know what I’m missing here but in all honesty, it was just a burger. There wasn’t anything too special about it or maybe the built up expectations from all the rave reviews let me down. People seem to love it as if this would be some blow your mind, can’t live without, amazingly delish burger. But …it’s not. I’m sorry to those who loves it but for me it was just an average burger. It’s decent, but no more, no less. (*sorry* :|) Well, at least I got to try it …and that’s enough for me. 🙂
Related: Great American Bites: Is In-N-Out Burger overhyped?

What do you guys think of In-N-Out Burgers?
Do you love it? Or do you think it’s overrated?
What’s the best burger place you had so far? Please do share! 🙂
– For me, nothing has yet beaten Wham! Burger. It’s the best I ever had so far!

We stayed at my husband’s aunt’s place in Palmdale. We slept right away after having our “most overhyped” dinner and woke up early the next day – too early because our body clock was still used to Eastern Time. 🙂

I loved the time difference though. It seemed like I was a legit morning person there. Haha. My husband and I would be wide awake by 5am and ready to roll. 😛 So, what did we do wide awake early dawn?

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We went for a run.

Hubby and I would go venture out her aunt’s neighborhood streets.

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And during our runs we discovered this scenic route that goes up to the desert mountains.
I was pretty amazed of the desert-y landscape you get in the Southern California.

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As we reached the top of these desert mountains, we were greeted with
a gorgeous sunrise and a nice view of the neighborhoods of Palmdale.

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There’s no better way of touring a new city than running it.  🙂

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Then, I had a deep conversation with this dog after our run. I was telling him about this beautiful place I went to. He’s been living in Palmdale all his life and had no clue where that place was. LOL! 🙂

Ja on the RUN

We started off our first two days here meeting up with friends and family. I have a couple of friends and relatives who live in California and one of the things I looked forward to coming to LA was reuniting with them. Since this was only a short visit and our schedule was pretty hectic, we only managed to see a few of them.
(TO THOSE WHOM WE DIDN’T GET TO SEE, NEXT TIME WE VISIT, WE’LL MAKE SURE TO MEET UP WITH YOU. :))

On our way to visit friends and family we had to go through a lot of LA traffic. It’s endless! I lived in the city when I was in the Philippines and I think the traffic in LA is just as crazy as there already. I am not used to it anymore. I would sometimes complain here in Cincinnati about our “traffic” which isn’t bad. After seeing LA’s, I have nothing to complain about! Nothing! LOL!

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First, we visited one of my best friends back in the Philippines, Aiko.

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Her babies are are too darn cute! Aiko moved to California with her family a few years ago. It was definitely fun seeing and catching up with her and her super kind family. 🙂

Next, hubby and I met up with our dear Godparents. 🙂
(Remember the story about the origin of my name? I wrote about it here.)

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Gave them personalized Cincinnati Bengals beer mugs. Gotta represent! 🙂

 They knew we don’t get much Filipino food here in Ohio so they invited us for dinner and prepared delicious Filipino food for us. Awww-some!!!

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I had to save my appetite the whole day for that. It’s been quite a while since I had good Filipino food. I can only cook the simplest ones (like adobo) but other Filipino dishes are just too meticulous to make so I don’t cook them. LOL! 🙂

Soo good! 🙂

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My favorite was the pancit palabok (bright orange dish in the middle). It’s a Filipino noodle dish with shrimp sauce topped with cooked shrimp, boiled pork, crushed chicharon, and hard boiled eggs. It was very tasty that sure relieved my hunger and cravings. I had a couple of servings of that! So good! Oh and the crispy pata! That one was good too! Mmmm. Creating this post is now making me hungry! LOL!

Our friends, Tammy and Paul arrived that night too. They flew in from Houston to join us on this trip. I was beyond excited when I learned that they were joining us! Our trip was even more memorable with them! We definitely had an awesome time together! 🙂

My husband left for a bit to pick them up at the airport, then back to our Godparent’s place with them.

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They too enjoyed some good Filipino food for dinner! 🙂

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It was awesome catching up with all of them that night.
Great food, great company, what more can you ask for?! First few days in LA – definitely a thumbs up!!!

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The next day was our trip to Hoover Dam and Las Vegas, which I will have to recap on a separate post. 🙂

Before heading to Nevada that day, my husband and I talked about bringing Tammy and Paul to that scenic place we discovered in Palmdale. We just had to bring them there. It was too beautiful for them not to see. 🙂

So we woke up early and we took Tammy and Paul for an early morning desert run and stroll. 🙂

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Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

We didn’t stay out too long. We headed back home after a few hours, ate breakfast, freshened up, and prepared our stuff for our trip to Hoover Dam and Las Vegas. We were so excited!

Stay tuned for a separate recap solely dedicated to our adventure in Nevada! 🙂 This post is just all about LA! 🙂

We stayed in Las Vegas overnight and headed back to LA the next day early morning. I told you, our schedule was hectic! We got back in LA and planned to roam around the rest of the day! 🙂

We went to grab some lunch first at a Filipino fast food chain, Jollibee.

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I was actually amazed as to how popular this fast food chain was there. They have Jollibee everywhere in the West Coast!

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Since my husband and I are so deprived of Filipino goodies here in Ohio, we splurged a little bit here. 😛

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Halo-halo 🙂 – so good!

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Peach Mango Pie, a dessert made out of baked flaky pastry
filled with mangoes and peaches – YUM!!!

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Filipino sweet spaghetti!

My husband got the Amazing Aloha burger which he devoured right away before I could even take a photo of it. That burger was actually featured in Anthony Bourdain’s show <– must watch! …must watch! 🙂

My husband’s uncle and aunt actually took time off from work for us so they can drive and tour us around. Aren’t they amazing?! They were such awesome hosts! They took us around downtown LA, to Beverly Hills and a little tour of some stars’ homes. Yeah, tourist stuff! 🙂

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

We visited Venice Beach per Paul and Tammy’s request. They have never been and were ecstatic to play in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. 🙂

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It was already late in the afternoon, a little chilly and gloomy. The water was freezing cold, but we enjoyed playing with the waves and walking around on the beach.

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

After numbing our toes to cold water, we decided to walk around a bit on the the strip along the shore. There were mini amusement parks, restaurants, and shops around the area. There wasn’t really much to see actually. The street was lined with small shops selling pretty much the same things; clothes, jewelry, and souvenir items. For me, Venice Beach is something I’d go visit just to see, but I wasn’t moved enough that I’d need to go back again. 😐

We had a quick dinner at a Korean restaurant, Genwa, went home and called it a day! 🙂

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Onto our last day in LA, we did more tourist stuff!

We had breakfast first at this diner, Crazy Otto’s!

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I LOVE this place! I love their decor of license plates all over their walls. I love the ambience, it’s very homey and their food is delicious! I ordered the Chorizo and Egg and was HUGE!!! They have great service too! I love everything about that place. 🙂

Leo’s uncle made everything so convenient and possible for us when we were there. They made sure we hit all of the “Hollywood Must Sees”!

First we headed down to Hollywood Blvd to look at the famous hand prints in the cement and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 🙂

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

The boys are a big fan! 🙂

We also went to Griffith Observatory to get the best view of the Hollywood sign.

Ja on the RUN
Ja on the RUN
You’d also get a nice panoramic views of the whole city from up there. I remembered this place being too crowded when I first went here years ago. Good thing it wasn’t as busy this time. :). We were able take a lot of pictures without other people photobombing our pics. LOL! 🙂

Ja on the RUN

Ja on theRUNThe Observatory itself is beautiful, and so were the views. I remembered going to a planetarium here before and they have like an open telescope in the dome to view stars in the sky. We were obviously there during the day, so we missed that, but I’m sure that would be a cool experience with them.

And of course Universal Studios Hollywood! 🙂

I said hello to this place once again. It was like a travel down memory lane. First time I went here was when I was in high school and I remembered the Jurassic Park ride being my favorite back then. It was pretty much the same when I rode it this time. They still used the same mechanical dinosaurs that spit on you and when you look another way, you get spit at from another. Haha. I thought that was pretty funny and entertaining.  I liked it because the ride is pretty lame at first and you won’t expect the big drop at the finale. Of course this time, I knew about it already and that we would end up soaking wet. It was still fun though. 🙂

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The crowd that day made us so thankful we got the Front of Line passes. We didn’t have to deal with waiting in long lines in the heat of summer days …of CALIFORNIA!!! We got to do literally everything at a good pace. Front of Line passes are definitely the way to go! 🙂 It definitely saved us a lot of time and got pretty much done early. 🙂

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Along with In-N-Out, Randy’s is another LA staple. Arriving at Randy’s, we were greeted by this huge donut on top of the place. That was actually very appealing! It makes you wanna get some doughnuts! 🙂

Ja on the RUN

I got the apple fritter which was delicious! That was actually a great way to cap off our long, fun day! 🙂

So that about wraps up our time in LA.

All in all we had a great time exploring the city and spending time with wonderful friends and family. This visit with my husband and friends was definitely a complete different experience from my previous visits.  It was fun, fun, fun!

Bless you for getting to the end of this. That was uuber long! I wanted to get everything of LA into this post. 😛 Stay tuned for the next part!!!

Much love,
Ja

Other places to legally stalk me:
> My blog’s facebook page: Ja-ontheRUN Blog
> Check out my silly photo adventures on Instagram: @ja_ontherun

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Coast-to-Coast Trip Part 1: Orlando, FL

Hi everyone!!!

I’m back …I’m back …I’m back!

I’m back from my break – a.k.a “vacation”. It was fun!

SO.MUCH.FUN!!!!

That was more than a month of absence and I am finally blogging about this after plenty of procrastinating because I wasn’t ready to admit it was over! Haha!

But on the other side, I did miss my blog so much! I had a super amazing adventure and I can’t wait to share my little get-away with my hubby and show pictures of the places we’ve been to. 🙂 If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know by now that we went a little crazy traveling.

> July 6-9: Orlando, FL
July 9-11,14-15: Los Angeles, CA
July 12-13: Boulder & Las Vegas, NV (& a little bit of Arizona :P)
July 16-19: Jackson Hole, WY —> BREATHTAKING!!!
July 20, 26-27: Seattle, WA
July 21-23: Spokane, WA
July 23-25: Vancouver, BC (Canada)

There were a lot of pictures to go through and a lot of activities to recap, so out of courtesy to my readers and their assumed short attention spans, I will try to be as quick and concise as possible.  It was a fun month full of adventure. Squeezing everything in one post would make it uber long and overwhelming. So, I’ll cover one place at a time per post.

So let’s start shall we.

First stop…

ORLANDO, FL

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We left Ohio on a chilly Saturday (July 6) morning and arrived Orlando past noon. The first thing that came to my mind stepping out of the airport – “oh it’s warm here …and very sunny”. 🙂

We were picked up by our good friends Scott and Jennifer. Scott is one of my husband’s good childhood friends from Houston who lives now with his better half, Jennifer, blogger behind dearhealthierme.blogspot.  She’s a very talented artist who talks about healthy lifestyle. So if you like art, healthy living, and into gluten-free recipes, you’ll definitely find a friend in her. Go ahead and check out what’s cooking on her blog!

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It was definitely fun seeing friends again. They dropped us off at our hotel,
unloaded our stuff, freshened up, and prepped for our first day, out in FLORIDA sunshine! 🙂

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loving Orlando’s sun and their palm trees. 🙂

I also got a chance to meet my cousins who are living in Tampa.
We had an early dinner with everyone in Ceviche at St. Pete. 🙂

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pic grabbed from Jennifer!

I absolutely love their sangria and tapas! 🙂
Our server recommended their top selling tapas and
we all decided to get the full sized plates of them to share with the table.
That way we get to taste everything. 🙂

It was a fun dinner and nice catching up with all of them.
After the sumptuous dinner, we decided to walk around downtown St. Pete.

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As the night approached, Scott brought us to Old Town
to get some booze, hung out some more and before calling it a day. 🙂
FUN FIRST DAY so far!

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me and my cousin.

On our Second day, we went to Disney World!!!

As a Disney World newbie, figuring out which of the 4 parks to hit first was really overwhelming. We planned to do a day of Magic Kingdom, and a day of EPCOT. 🙂

We arrived at Magic Kingdom at around 10am. Walking down Main Street toward the castle was congested, as expected, but still magical nonetheless.

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It was hot (90′s), humid, and 40% chance of rain (according to our weather forecast app). NICE! :/

Next time, I think I’d like to visit in the winter months, when it’s nice and cool, as a raincoat or poncho on a hot day is really not my best look. 😛

I asked a random lady to take our mandatory photo in front of Cinderella’s castle before we proceeded on with our day.

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We immediately headed over to Fantasyland to check out all of this new area at Disney. I loved it! I was very impressed. Ariel’s Grotto is beautiful!  Belle’s home, her father’s house, and the Beast’s castle are AMAZING.

Of course, the kid in me didn’t let the opportunity pass dining-in at the Be Our Guest restaurant. We had dinner here that night and the experience was amazing!

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The Grand Ballroom was full so they let us in at one of the rooms called West Wing. The details of this castle restaurant were fantastic! They also made it look like it was snowing outside the windows – exactly like the set up in Beauty and the Beast movie. 🙂

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The magical cup.

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Mix of cold cuts and cheese for appetizer.

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I got shrimps and scallops for main course. I forgot what’s it called but it was delicious! 🙂

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The Beast was actually there entertaining and taking pictures with the guests. For such a beast, he was actually quite hospitable. LOL! 🙂

We didn’t actually go crazy with meeting the characters on this visit. I feel like I have to save that for next time we go hopefully with our future kids. Those things would be more awesome to do with kids. I like the idea of our children having the perfect Disney experience with us. 🙂

My husband and I spent the day riding the classic rides — Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain (TIP: Hit all the mountains first!), Monster’s Inc Laugh Factory (loved this!), Lilo and Stitch, Pirates of the Carribean, etc. It was that day we mastered the art of using Disney’s lingo – “Fast Pass“. 🙂

We also found the Disney iPhone app to be a great resource for maps, parade times, wait times, and other park info. Disney World Parks have free wi-fi which is pretty cool. We were able to access the app the whole time we were there! 🙂

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Ja-ontherun.com

Of course, I didn’t miss this ride of my all time favorite character
– Ariel from the Little Mermaid!

When it was time for the Magical Parade, lucky for us, we were able to get a good (…and shaded! Ugh thank you, the heat was killing us) spot. The parade was amazing. The characters looked exactly like the ones in the cartoons. It was exactly like them coming to life! They all looked unbelievably sooo real! 🙂 I enjoyed the music, the dancing and their floats. Everything looked so magical. Some of the characters even ended up coming super close to us during the parade which was pretty cool.

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Ja-ontherun.com

The most “magical” part for me was the fireworks show later that night. Seriously the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I was in such awe that it almost made me cry of happiness. 🙂

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The sky was absolutely FILLED with fireworks synchronized to Disney songs! There was no black to be seen, only dazzling fireworks everywhere you looked.

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And, that, my friends is why they say Disney is magical.  The ability to generate memories for ALL ages. Pretty cool!!! 🙂

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We also caught some of the light parade before we headed back to our hotel. 🙂

It was a long day of riding rides and walking.  A little over fourteen hours of walking at Magic Kingdom. We returned to our room exhausted and sore. The humidity was awful even at night. 😦 But all in all, I’d say Day 2 in Florida was a success!

EPCOT was our Day 3 destination. I love EPCOT! It stands for Environmental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. If you are childless at Disney World, go to EPCOT! 🙂 It’s just kind of more grown up and futuristic but still very Disney.

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I wore my CEP compression sleeves that day since I already knew it will be a long day of walking again.

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Florida was still a billion degrees and humid like the Amazon rainforest that day. Apparently the locals thought the weather was lovely, but not for Ohioans. We don’t do well with the heat. 😦 I woke up to a burning neck and shoulders the next day. 😦

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Well, aside from bathing ourselves with sunscreen and bringing our CamelBaks, we decided to hit the indoor rides first to beat the scorching heat and walk around in World Showcase late afternoon when the sun would be milder! The “Fast Pass” was still the way to go to skip all the long lines to all major rides. 🙂

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We hit Test Track, and Soarin’ first! Loved both!

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The Seas with Nemo and Friends which was cute!!! 🙂

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Spaceship Earth which was fun and was cool inside so …win! 😛

We got a preview of our future at the Spaceship Earth.

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Apparently, in the future, we are still running. 🙂

All the rides people had been raving about – Soarin’, Spaceship Earth, Test Track – lived up to the hype.

Next, we stopped at Club Cool, which is like a mini World of Coca Cola.  We got to try sodas from around the world. My favorite was the soda from China. It had a sweet lemon tea taste. 🙂

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Then off to the World Showcase!

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China.

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Italy.

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In Norway, where I discovered this cool brand for running clothes! 🙂

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Cool Mexican restaurant. 🙂

I learned that this part of EPCOT has the best food and variety of restaurants. We went for something different for our “dunch” (late lunch, early dinner). We dined-in at Marrakesh for Morrocan food. I like the ambiance of the restaurant. They even had a belly dancer which made the whole thing come alive and gave the restaurant an “authentic’ feel. 🙂

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After our “dunch”, we walked some more to visit other countries. We rode Maelstrom, a boat ride in Norway where you travel in a Viking ship and learn about Norway’s history. Pretty cool!

As the sun set, we noticed people were already settling in for the Illumination fireworks show.

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As we were looking for a spot for us, we saw people having this ginormous drumstick of meat.

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We got curious and devour on one while we sit and wait for the show to start.

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There is absolutely no sophisticated way of eating this massive carnivorist delight! LOL! It was tasty and satisfying. It is so huge that my husband and I had to share one. We didn’t even finish it.

The Illuminations was again another incredible fireworks show.

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And the end of Day 3.

I feel like we didn’t get to really enjoy the World Showcase because it was scorching hot the day we were there. Hopefully, the next time we visit, which I’ll make sure will be in the colder months, we’ll get to do more in this part of EPCOT. 🙂 We surely got plenty of sunshine from the “Sunshine State” and I left Florida with a tan, unfortunately not from the beach but mostly from our time at Disney World. 🙂 LOL!

The following day was our flight to California!

So ’til my next post for my recap of my California adventure.

Stay tuned!

Have a great day, everybody!

xoxo, JOTR

Other places to legally stalk me:
> My blog’s facebook page: Ja-ontheRUN Blog
> Check out my silly photo adventures on Instagram: @ja_ontherun

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How was your spring break? Did you go anywhere fun? Did you stay at home?

Have you ever been to Disney World? How old were you when you first went?

Who is your favorite Disney character? I love Ariel! 🙂

{Part 2 here}

“SUPER” Saturday!

We have a lot of catching up to do. So many things happened to me and it was hard narrowing it down to just some, at least for now. I am at the airport and I still have time before I board.

So, here’s the best of the best things worth sharing so far!

1.) SUPER fun!
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know I ran the Cincinnati Color Palooza last Saturday with friends and we turned into human tie dye projects. I registered back in April, so it’s been something I have been looking forward to since.

It was SO much fun… and also about 90 degrees H-O-T! I honestly can’t believe how hot it was for being so early in the morning. I think I’m going to stay away from summer races in the future. It was hot but was still a ton of fun.

Here are the pictures from our epic Saturday morning adventure:

Us looking like our angelic selves all clean and white. 😛

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After we finished the race, we were handed a packet of color to throw up in the air as a group.

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I have to say, that was fun, and it is a memory that I am glad to have!

Have you ever ran in a ‘color run’?

2.) SUPER awesome!
A few weeks ago, hubby and I went to watch the Vectren Dayton Airshow! It was awesome watching different airplanes do tricks in the air!

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If you are a fan of planes or not, this is a fantastic experience for the whole family to enjoy. This event is completely free and there are tons of planes, armored vehicles and other military equipment on display. You can pay for an entry into one of the tents for guaranteed seating or you can just pack some beach chairs and umbrellas and park in the huge open field which what we did.

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What a fun day! It was hot. Although we brought an umbrella and lots of sunblock, we still got roasted.

3.) SUPER excited!!!
I’m in the airport right now, about to head to Florida! Hubby and I are off to our month long adventure! 🙂 We’re on a coast-to-coast trip! When I’m on vacation I usually don’t spend my time in front of my laptop, but you can legally stalk me on Instagram or Facebook to follow my adventure! It’s going to be crazy… and fun!

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Time to board! ‘Til my next update! Have a good weekend, everyone!

Xoxo, JOTR

Adventure in the Smokies

Hello there everyone!

It’s been forever since my last update. What can I say? My vacation took it out of me! Plus, I am one of those people who can’t blog while on vacation. I enjoy every moment of it. 🙂

Here I am now, back on the grind again after days of much needed rest. I am so ready and excited to share my adventure trip with you all. 🙂

That’s right. I was on an adventure trip the past few days. And if you follow me on Instagram, you probably know this by now. I went on an adventure in beautiful Gatlinburg, Tennessee!

It was actually my second time coming back to Gatlinburg. My first time was in Fall 2011. It was then when I first experienced FALL season in the US. We had nothing like that where I grew up (Philippines) and that sight of foliage was just magical and amazing to me!

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Coming back again to Gatlinburg brought back all the memories I had during my last trip. This place was still just as wonderful as I remembered it to be.

*** Warning: There’ll be a lot of photos in this post! I think you’d appreciate that more rather than bore you with my endless words. 🙂

Hubby and I took a road trip Friday afternoon to Tennessee. The drive from Ohio to Tennessee passing through Kentucky, is one of the most beautiful drives I’ve done in the country.

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There is nothing more enjoyable than taking a drive into the hills and beautiful scenery along the way.

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We arrived Gatlinburg late at night, checked-in our hotel, and went to sleep right away.

We got up early the next day, grabbed our complimentary breakfast at the hotel and hit the road and headed to Cades Cove.

Cades Cove on Saturday mornings permits only bike riders and hikers to use the road. Hubby and I brought our bikes with us because this was one thing that we were really looking forward to doing.

On this visit, hubby and I accomplished several firsts – one of them was riding our bicycles around Cades Cove, and also the day I conquered my fear and rode my bike with clipless shoes/pedals for the very first time.

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This is one of the things that’s hindering me from signing up for a triathlon – I fear being clipped into the bike. I struggled for a bit, fell a few times but slowly getting used to it.

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Other than actually walking it, cycling the loop road is absolutely the best way to see the Cove. We toured this place last year driving our car, and not having to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic this time offers a completely different experience as well as a different perspective of Cades Cove. You can ride at your own pace and enjoy the peace, quiet and tranquility of this place.

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It’s an 11-mile closed loop and of course, we allowed ourselves to stop to enjoy the scenery. 🙂

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

The landscape was just beautiful!  You can barely see it in the picture below but you can see the “smoke” in the background between the trees and the mountains. Beautiful!

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It took us 2 1/2 hours to cycle this loop including the occasional stops. We headed back to our car and back to our hotel for a nice cold shower.

We checked out of our hotel after freshening up. My aunt and her family were arriving in the afternoon. We met up with them and moved into their awesome cabin! 🙂

While waiting for them to arrive, we headed out to Pigeon Forge first to grab a late lunch and toured the place for a bit.

We ate lunch here – Bullfish. We didn’t know people could actually see us from inside as we made fun of this bull. LOL! 🙂 We just realized when we got inside. Ooops. LOL!

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

My husband said that Pigeon Forge reminds him quite bit of Las Vegas. The place has lots of shows, mostly stand-up comedies and live magic shows, along with museums, hotels and lots of shops. As you drive down the main strip, you’ll see lots of fun things to do – lots of miniature golf, race cars, amusement parks, indoor sky diving, outlet shops, etc.

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

This “upside-down house” intrigued me the most. Apparently, it’s a science museum for kids.

Ja on the RUN

After a good few hours of wandering around Pigeon Forge, we received a text from my aunt that they finally arrived. And off we went to meet them at the cabin. 🙂

Ja on the RUN

It’s a lovely and beautiful log cabin, very well decorated with gorgeous view of the mountains from the deck.

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

The living area is comfortable with leather seating and cozy mountain cabin decor – nice! 🙂

Ja on the RUN

The best part – the hot tub! My cousin and I enjoyed this one too much! 🙂

Ja on the RUN

Pool table 🙂

Ja on the RUN

First time to actually learn how to play. I can finally kick my husband’s butt on the pool table. LOL! 🙂

Ja on the RUN

After some relaxing and catching up, we decided to do a little hiking before the sun went down. There are so many trails to choose from but we decided to hit up a short one – Clingman’s Dome.

Ja on the RUN

At the entrance of the trail, a lot of kids were climbing up this mountain of huge stones. If you are a kid at heart, which I am, you won’t be able to resist the urge to climb too. It’s like calling for everyone (young and old) just begging to be summited for a claim at being King of the Mountain!

Ja on the RUN

The walk to the dome may only be a half mile one way, but it’s very steep. At 6,643 feet, Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in Tennessee. This could be a strenuous climb for some plus the altitude which makes it even harder to catch your breath, it’s all worth the hike though. Once you reach the dome, it gives you an awesome panoramic view of the mountains which are gorgeous!

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Of course I couldn’t resist doing my not-so-perfect yoga pose (Natarajasana) on top of these majestic view. 🙂 Had to be done!

Ja on the RUN

On our way back to our cabin, we made few stop overs driving down the mountains.

Ja on the RUN

We stopped by Newfound Gap Overlook. This gap marks the Tennessee-North Carolina state line. This spot offers beautiful views of both states as well as access to the famed Appalachian Trail.

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

1972.0-mile hike all the way up to Maine! Wow!
Would you consider doing a hiking adventure like that?

Ja on the Run

Then we were back to the cabin, had dinner, some relaxing, and end of day one. Off to bed to rest up for day two!

For the next day’s adventure, we chose a scenic and a popular trail – Alum Cave Bluff Trail. It’s popular because it’s a short hike (a 4.4-mile roudtrip hike with a total of 1125 feet elevation gain) and rewards hikers with extraordinary views once you reach the “cave”.

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

The trail ascends easily along Alum Cave Creek for the first 1.3 miles. This cool, happy, crystal-clear creek was a nice treat as you hike beside it and of course made us have a few stop overs to take pictures. 🙂

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

There were few narrow foot bridges that we had to cross.

IMG_2618

Ja on the RUN

The trail leaves the creek through the Arch Rock. We had to climb up carved steps to a higher trail.

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ascending from Arch Rock towards the Alum Cave Bluffs, the trail gets steeper and the sights get better and better. Further along the trail is Inspiration Point, a rock outcropping that offers beautiful views of the mountains. 🙂 

Ja on the RUN

I actually found a good spot to take in the views from the rock outcroppings, so we stopped for a while and ate our snacks. 🙂

Ja on the RUN

One of the things I really enjoy doing when I hike up mountains is to take a break somewhere along the way with a beautiful view like this 🙂

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Here’s a short video clip my husband took going to Inspiration Point.

After a few minutes of spending time here, we continued to climb more steps carved into the rocks to the Alum Cave. We were now 2.2 miles above the trailhead with an elevation of 4,950 feet. The trail got steeper, verrry steep! After climbing up more which I felt like an eternity (I admit, I did a little whining in my head, lol!), I heard voices and they weren’t inside my head. 🙂 ! That’s when I knew that we were close to our destination (finally!). Another steep, rocky path with a cable hand-hold, and we were here!

Ja on the RUN

Alum Cave is not really a cave, but a concave cliff about 80 feet high. This is actually a wonderful spot to sit for a while, enjoy the view and maybe have a bite to eat before moving up to continue the trail to Mount LeConte or head back down.

Ja on the RUN

Below is pic of me showing the view from the top of the “cave”.  One wrong move here and I’d plummet to a painful death. Nope, that’s not how I envisioned myself dying. Not a great way to die. LOL!

Ja on the RUN

After a few good minutes of stay resting on this beautiful yet terrifying cave, we then decided to head our way back down. We’d love to do this trail again next time and try to continue the trail up to Mount Le Conte. Doing so means gaining another 1500 ft in under a mile. So, maybe next time. 🙂

After our hike, we headed back to our cabin, freshened up, ate lunch, rested for a bit and sat in the hot tub forever. I wish we had a hot tub at home!

In the afternoon, we decided to head out again and do more walking. We walked down along Gatlinburg strip. In this strip are mostly restaurants and stores. Here are some of the stuff we saw.

Ja on the RUN

I wanted to see some BEARS along the trails but after seeing this at a t-shirt shop, I kinda changed my mind. 🙂 Uhh, no, no more bears please. I don’t want to test my motivation this way. LOL!

Ja on the RUN

After wandering around the strip, we had dinner at a barbecue place somewhere in the area and called it a day. 🙂 It was definitely an unforgettable day.

On Monday, since my husband and I had to head back to Ohio late afternoon that day, we decided to hike one last short trail. I am a sucker for waterfalls. We found a trail online that will lead to one that was only a couple of miles (only 2.6 miles back and forth) and sounded perfect – Grotto Falls!

It was raining that morning but that didn’t stop us from heading out to the trail.

Ja on the RUN

The hike up to the falls was punctuated with some small creeks and tiny falls.

Ja on the RUN

There is some really great scenery along the trail, very plush and green.

Ja on the RUN

We saw some tree scratches from bears which was an evidence that bears had been on the trail.

Ja on the RUN

We also saw a few salamanders!

Ja on the RUN

At about 1.2 miles, we knew we were close to the falls because we started to hear the sounds of roaring water and as we turned the corner the beautiful cascade of Grotto Falls came into view.

Ja on the RUN

It was fun walking around and behind the falls and discovering different rocks to climb and get new views – that means more great photo opportunities,

Ja on the RUN

The distinct feature of this Grotto Falls is that it’s the only waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you can actually walk behind.

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

And what I liked about this falls is that you can actually dip your feet and body in the shallow pool of water. I wanted to get wet under the falls but I changed my mind the moment I dipped my feet into the water. The water was freezing cold!

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

Ja on the RUN

If you continue to hike this trail up, it goes on up to Mount LeConte. It would be nice to see more of this trail but, maybe next time! At least we’ve seen halfway and it was beautiful! I consider this trail to be one of those I need to see again. 🙂

The trail is all uphill on the way to the waterfalls which makes walking back very easy.

We got to the car and ready to head back again to the cabin. That was one nice short hike! 🙂

As we were driving down out to the main road, my uncle’s mini van was making weird squeaking noise when stepping on the breaks. It seemed like the van was having a hard time going down the steep road with a heavy load. It’s about 2 miles to the main road, so my husband, my aunt and I decided to hop off the van and just run the downhill road and meet them down to the main highway.

Running down this road was fun. It’s all downhill! 🙂 We stopped several times to take pictures and enjoy what was around us.

Ja on the RUN

Running this road is not really advisable since this is part of the main road where cars pass to go down to the main highway. It’s hilly and narrow winding road and drivers of cars coming down might not see you, so DO NOT DO THIS

At 0.7 miles to the main highway my anxiety shot through the roof and freaked me out a bit, so I hopped into the van leaving my husband and my aunt continue their run.

Not only did we hike the the appalachians, but we also ran it! LOL! But seriously do NOT copy us and run that road. We just had to do it due to car problems.

My aunt and her family stayed for a few more days but for me and my husband, that’s the end of our awesome adventure.  As always, Gatlinburg provided us a wonderful time filled with memories of great adventures and scenery. Hubby and I already have some things in mind for next time we go back!

We plan on doing this hiking adventures every year. We heard Utah is a great place too to do this! So, let’s see! (wink* wink*)

Do you like adventures? Do you have hiking plans this summer?
What places do you go for hiking? Any recommendations for places to go hiking? 🙂

Xoxo,
J-OTR

Other places to legally stalk me:
> My blog’s facebook page: Ja-ontheRUN Blog
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Banana Split, Running in the Heat …and Going Vegetarian (say wha?!)

I have so many things to share.

Let’s start of with Saturday.

Hubby and I went to the sweetest festival on earth – Banana Split Festival. 🙂

Banana Split Festival

This small town in Ohio claims the origin of the first banana split. They commemorate the event each year in the month of June with a Banana Split Festival in honor of this classic dessert.

Ever since my husband and I lived here in Ohio in 2010, we come to this festival every year for the banana splits, car shows and events. It’s a great place to find local crafts too. I, of course like and support anything local.

A featured attraction at the Festival was the “Make Your Own Banana Split” booth where you choose how many scoops, what flavors of ice cream and toppings you want.

Banana Split Festival

Banana Split Festival

TOP (Mine): I had 2 scoops of vanilla frozen yogurt (uhm, if you haven’t checked out my crazy FroYo addiction, head over to this post). Topped with chocolate syrup, rainbow sprinkles, almond nuts, whipped cream and cherries! YUM!

BOTTOM (Hubby’s): He had 1 scoop of vanilla and 1 scoop of chocolate ice cream, and went crazy with the toppings. 😛

Banana Split Festival

Now dig in – Yum…Yum!

After we devoured our dessert we stayed some more and enjoyed the festive mood. It was really a street fair in nature – just good old fashioned fun. 🙂

I got so excited when I got my Runner’s World in the mail that day! I was touched by this issue’s cover photo. It has a photo of a finisher’s medal with a piece of black tape across it . It portrayed a very powerful message showing support for those affected in the bombing. I thought this issue is mournful but optimistic in a way to remind people to be stronger, move on, and never stop doing what they love. I will treasure this issue forever.

Runner's World July 2013

I wasn’t aware at first that I was wearing the colors of Boston Marathon that day
’til I I saw my copy of the Runner’s World in the mail. Such a coincidence! 🙂

Runner's World July 2013

I was so inspired so I grabbed a copy of one of these too.

People June 2013

Moving on…

I planned a 10-mile run on Sunday but I woke up late again. By the time I got my lazy butt up, it was already close to 8:00 am. I knew it’s going to be hot as hell after 8:00 am. It was supposed to go as high as 82 degrees later that day. I was debating with myself if I’d still manage to run outside or not, but I didn’t give in. I thought of heading to the trails to seek some shade and …. just run!

Just run

Southwest Ohio is generally pretty cool in the mornings for running. Usually, a run before 8:00 a.m is perfect around here. The “getting up really early” part to beat the heat is a challenge for me.

It’s funny that after living here in Ohio, when I hear people who run outside during the winter in negative degree snowbound weather, I don’t react weird about it; but when they tell me they went running during 95 F weather, I’d think they’re crazy I mean, bad ass!

My ideal running temperatures would range from 50º-55º. For me, that’s perfect! I’ll be flashing a big smile on my face throughout my run in that temperature. Greater than that, I’ll have issues… I’ll die! (Lol! Just kidding!) 😛

What is your ideal running temperature? When is it too hot for you to run?

I’ve only been running for just over a year now and within the year I’ve read some useful tips from the running gurus on training during hot days:
– Run really early or later in the day after the sun starts to set to avoid the heat of the sun.
– Avoid getting out there between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
– Wear loose light-colored clothes.
– Run on shady trails or indoors
– Stay hydrated

Just Run

How do you run in the heat and not die? What are your hot weather running tips?
How hot would you say is too hot to run outside?

I usually run with a hand-held water bottle but I knew I wouldn’t get through 10 miles in the heat and humidity with just 8oz. water, so I thought of running with a CamelBak. This was actually my first time I had to bring one on a run. I don’t like carrying stuff with me on my runs, but that day I was thanking myself for thinking of it. I was able to stay hydrated throughout my run and I realized, carrying a CamelBak wasn’t bad after all. 🙂

Just Run

I didn’t have to stop for water but I planned my route where I can stop for water just in case I run out. My husband was on call for work that day so I ran by myself. I did multiple short loops in the trail staying close to where I parked instead of a long run out and back. That way, if I get too exhausted and dizzy, I can head back to my car easily to rest or stop early.

10 miles
Have you ever not run because you thought it was too hot- or what do you do to make sure you’re properly hydrated?

It was exhausting, but I finished 10 miles without collapsing. 🙂 I headed back to my car, rested for a bit, and had my much needed recovery snacks before driving back home.

Post-run fuel

I like to refuel with banana and coconut water/juice. 🙂

What is your favorite way to refuel after a run?

While having lunch at home, I watched this interesting documentary on Netflix titled, Vegucated.

Vegucated
It is about these three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks and learn what it’s all about. The director of this film, Marisa Miller Wolfsonused to make fun of her vegetarian friends until she became one. Like her, I used to never understand why people go meatless. Although I know greens are the way to go for healthy life, I grew up also knowing the importance of the nutrients we get from meat. That thinking slowly changed when I became conscious about my health and watched several documentaries about the importance and benefits of changing our diets to plant-based. I have seen quite a few videos about the meat and dairy industries but they did not affect me like Vegucated did. Among the films I’ve watched, this one, this particular documentary hit home the most for me!

I’d like for you guys to watch this trailer just to get an idea of what the film is all about.

After watching it, I felt sorry for the fish I just ate for lunch (Ugh! I’m so sorry fish). I was aware of how animals go through in slaughter houses from local news and newspapers but it never really sunk in to me until I watched this documentary. It showed what actually takes place in slaughter houses and how it’s really like for those poor animals. These cows, chickens, and pigs are no way different from the dogs and cats you love in your homes. It’s really emotional to see what these animals have to undergo JUST for us humans. I shed a tear and it opened my eyes to things I had not previously consciously considered. It changed my outlook on a lot of things. It’s been 2 days since I watched the film and I haven’t had a single meat intake since and I am feeling great. 🙂

I just can never look at meats and enjoy my half rack ribs the same way again. I don’t know how long I can handle not eating meats. As of now, my heart is still melting whenever I remember the film. I can’t say it yet if I can go all the way vegan but I know I want to. I am very inspired at the moment by this educational video to become a vegetarian. 🙂

So if you’re thinking or interested to go vegetarian/vegan or adapt a plant-based lifestyle, watch this film! I tell you, this documentary will DEFINITELY inspire you to do it!  It’s available on Netflix. And even if you choose to continue to eat meat, Vegucated will definitely teach you a lot of things. It isn’t the first film I have watched on this subject matter, but it is the first film that changed me.

Do I think everyone should be a vegan? No. Not necessarily. I don’t think vegetarian is for everyone. I think food is a personal choice. However, I do think that everyone could benefit from more plants and less meat and dairy. I totally agree that a mostly plant-based diet is generally better for your health and better for the environment

Have you seen Vegucated? What do you think of the film?

On a last note before I end my post, we recently celebrated National Running Day and enjoyed National Doughnut day, but did you know that it was National Iced Tea Day yesterday? I didn’t ’til I got this email from Dunkin Donuts! 🙂

Well, in this heat, every day is National Iced Tea Day for me!

National Iced Tea Day

Have a great day everyone! Stay cool!

Xoxo, JOTR
> Like my blog’s facebook page: Ja-ontheRUN Blog
> Check out my silly photo adventures on Instagram: @ja_ontherun

Back-To-Back

Hi everyone!

First of, Happy National Running day to all runners out there. Hope you all had fun celebrating this special day. Here’s a shot of Gu! 🙂 Cheers!

If you’re not a runner, give that runner in your life a high-five today, or at least don’t rag them about their “weirdness” posting a status on their facebook about their love for running. If National Running Day isn’t your thing, don’t fear, National Donut Day is coming up on Friday. 🙂

So, why do I run?

National Running Day

Running gives me FREEDOM!

When I run, I determine my own pace, I choose my own course and think whatever I want. Nobody tells me what to do. It’s for myself; my own freedom! 🙂

I’m not actually scheduled to run today, but since today is a special day dedicated to my favorite sport, I squeezed in 3 miles this afternoon. I ran 3 miles after doing an hour of weights class and an hour of kickboxing. So, I’m kinda a little wasted creating this post now. 😛

I was only going to attend weights class today but I felt so pumped up and ended up staying for the next class which was kickboxing. And to cap the day off, I ran 3 easy miles with my husband.

So, this was me earlier after the back-to-back workouts.

National Running Day

I feel so wasted but I had fun working out today. So, I’m off for now for my much needed rest!

Goodnight!

Have you done back-to-back fitness classes? Do you ever stay for more than one fitness class? 

Xoxo, JOTR

> Like my blog’s facebook page: Ja-ontheRUN Blog
> Check out my silly photo adventures on Instagram: @ja_ontherun

 

Runs, Bike Rides and “Some” FroYo

Hi everyone! 🙂

Well, I have been a busy girl since last Friday. My husband and I woke up around 8:00am that day, a little late for our morning run. We were successful to run 9 miles but let me tell you – it was HOT out there that day! I felt like I almost got into a state of dehydration. It was my first time I had to rip my tank top off in my downright desperation and ran with just a sports bra in the last few miles. And wow, that felt better! Never did I think I’d feel okay running in just a sports bra – I’m way too shy. I don’t have that “perfect runner’s body” to flaunt. 😛 But that day, I did not care at all. I just had to do it! I felt weird and conscious for a while but I had to do what was necessary or else I would die in the dreadful heat! :/

Have you ever ran with just a sports bra or are you conscious like me?
What are your thoughts on running with just a sports bra?

After lunch we went out to run some errands and later that day, I was able to FINALLY get my FroYo fix. 😛

I had been craving for FroYo since forever! I see them everywhere in everyone’s blog posts and it’s making my craving even worse. LOL!

Hubby and I headed to Orange Leaf. It’s a self serve frozen yogurt place. They have large cups, which did not help me from getting just a small amount when your eyes and stomach are playing tricks on you. This place made me feel dizzy inside. I am a horrible decision maker and they have a wide selection of flavors and toppings. I was going decision crazy! LOL!

I settled for peanut butter frozen yogurt with strawberries, kiwis, cookie dough and sour gummy bears for toppings. 🙂 YUM! )

Saturday‘s weather was perfect to be outside! So hubby and I with some friends headed out to log some miles on these babies!

It was a perfect day for a bike ride. We did a total of 37 miles in the trail and I had a blast!
I love our trails here! It’s over 70+ miles stretch that goes from Cincinnati all the way to Dayton. It is shady for most parts and the view of the river is beautiful. Great for running or biking, paved, well-maintained, and not overcrowded.
The scenery along the trail is great, and can keep me entertained on my long runs. There’s a bathroom and a port-a-potty along the way which is crucial for me when I drank my way through an entire 2-liter Camelbak on a hot day.


This trail runs through Loveland which is my favorite part. Loveland has great places to eat and stop for your breaks. So halfway through our bike that day, we stopped by this place and grabbed an early lunch. 🙂

We finished up a long leisurely bike ride in a little over 3 hours. It was a pretty easy and fun ride. 🙂

After our ride and burning 1,000+ calories we headed up to Yoba to treat myself for some FroYo again. 🙂

Photo Jun 02, 11 35 35 AM
After my much needed FroYo, hubby and I were off to catch a movie, Now You See Me.

Have you seen the movie Now You See Me? What do you think of the magic tricks?

As we were walking to the movie theater, we passed by Old Navy, and this caught my attention.


The moment I saw that tank from outside the store’s window, I knew I had to stop and get one for myself! 🙂 I love it. It’s so comfortable and the length is perfect for covering just enough.
Photo Jun 02, 5 30 07 PM
On Sunday after church, we headed out for an early lunch at our favorite hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant. 🙂 After lunch, we went to our local running store to check out new running shoes, AND guess what’s beside it?  TWilly’s Yogurt! A FroYo place again! 🙂
I got the caramel frozen yogurt with strawberries, chocolate chips, cheesecake bits and those fruit flavored “popping balls” that are filled with juice and pop in your mouth – good stuff! Yum!
I’ve become fond of all these self-serve frozen yogurt places. Three days in a row of FroYo – perhaps too fond. Haha! 😛 I can see myself enjoying these places all summer. Crossing my fingers that I never become lactose intolerant.

Yesterday’s morning weather was beautiful. Cooler than what we had during the weekends. I couldn’t let it pass and did a quick easy run! 🙂 It felt good!
Photo Jun 03, 7 44 48 AM
My husband noticed my enthusiasm for FroYo over the weekend. So, when he got home from work yesterday, he brought me these. 🙂

YUM!!! …and
Photo Jun 03, 1 00 33 PM
YUM!
and more yum to more of my favorite food – Indian food and Piada 🙂
Piada
Don’t you love your husbands more when they come home with food? I do. That means no cooking for me 😛

That’s it for my fun FroYo-filled weekend.

Hope you all had a yummy weekend too like mine! 🙂

What are your favorite FroYo toppings?

Xoxo, JOTR

> Like my blog’s facebook page: Ja-ontheRUN Blog
> Check out my silly photo adventures on Instagram: @ja_ontherun