Level Up in Las Vegas

A vacation in Las Vegas was long overdue for this mother/daughter duo.  We originally planned a February 2016 itinerary with tickets to Mariah Carey.  I started a new job and took the responsible route of canceling the trip which had no travel insurance to cover the losses. 

Mom and I made up for it in a major way with a four night stay at Caesar’s Palace Augustus tower.  She arrived from Orlando several hours before my Cincinnati flight.  Lady luck was on her side to the point she had to utilize the room’s safe to secure the bag.

I had to finish up Voice Thread and Perusall assignments for my Diversity course before I could let my hair down.  I was grateful for the extra three hours of Pacific Time to meet the midnight deadline.

We ate hors d’oeuvres at the Diamond Lounge which became our complimentary recharging area with excellent wait staff.

Taking a photo in front of the Vegas welcome sign is one of the best souvenirs to take home. This is where my Mom really got to experience what 105° dry heat feels like.Alice Smoot Kelsie Smoot

Our suite was on the 29th floor, and offered excellent views of The Fountains of Bellagio.

Caesars las vegas room view

My Mom ate at the Bacchanal Buffet in Caesars and wanted to compare it to the Buffet Bellagio.  We were too hungry to wait for the 3pm dinner menu, so we opted for Brunch.  The food quality was very good with the seared salmon being my favorite choice.Bellagio lunch buffet

We checked out a few boutiques while hoping to see a beautiful floral arrangement inside the conservatory.  Unfortunately, renovations were underway for the summer display.    

Bellagio fountains conservatory

I gave my Mom a tour of the strip, then we went to Fremont Street.  Although it was early, we were still entertained by the local sidewalk performers.  My feelings were hurt when I found out that the deep fried Oreos spot had closed.     

Fremont street free spin

After being in the heat, it was time to cool off in a choice of seven pools.  Caesars offers swim-up blackjack for those who like the combination of water and trying to bust the dealer.     

Caesars palace las vegas pool

The time difference had me up all night, so I walked the strip and shopped along the way.  I love the NY, NY area.  The water feature reminds me of the 9/11 memorial fountains for the World Trade Center.

New york new york las vegas

We took a trip to Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. It was very windy walking across the bridge to the Nevada-Arizona State Line.

Kelsie Smoot alice hoover damHoover dam

A fairly new art exhibit called, Seven Magic Mountains sits about 15 miles south of the strip.  These colorful boulders are situated along the highway that links Vegas to L.A.  There was swirling dust everywhere, and we were very dirty by the time we left.  We also had to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes.

Seven magic mountainsKelsie Smoot seven magic mountaina

The next stop was the Wynn Buffet, but not before taking another shower.  There was no way we were going into the Wynn dusty. From the moment we walked inside, it was easy to see how the Wynn is ranked as one of the finest hotels in the world.

The Wynn Las Vegas kelsie smoot

The Buffet which is always listed at the top of any “best buffets in Vegas” search was perfectly executed.  The flow of the food lines, variety, taste, and decor were outstanding!

The wynn las vegas flowersThe Wynn BuffetThe wynn dessert buffet

We toured other areas of the Wynn, including the Parasol Up/Parasol Down lounge and boutiques.  Everything was bright and colorful.

The Wynn hotel las vegas

That night, we went to Mandalay Bay for the Michael Jackson ONE Cirque Du Soleil.  The venue was very serious about enforcing the “no photos” policy.  The ushers would point lasers at anyone caught breaking the rule.  Overall, the performances were world-class and MJ would be proud.     

Michael Jackson One Cirque Du SoleilMichael Jackson One Mandalay Bay

For our last day, we kept it chill for the afternoon by having lunch and shopping at the Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes.  I absolutely love the chicken and waffles at the Grand Lux Café!

Kelsie smoot venetian las vegas

Lastly, Caesars comped us tickets for the JLo, All I Have concert at Planet Hollywood.  We went to will call expecting to have basic seats.  To our surprise, we were seated in the 2nd row from the stage pit.  We even passed by the actress who played Donna in Friday After Next on our way to our seats.

Kelsie Smoot las vegas stripJennifer lopez las vegasJlo all i have jenny from the block

JLo put on an excellent show that kept us on our feet the entire time other than a tribute to her twins. 

Jlo planet hollywood vegasJennifer lopez twins max & emme

JLo was personable with the audience, and it was obvious that she takes care of her body in order to perform with such intensity.

Jlo las vegas concertJennifer lopez jlo concertJlo planet hollywood vegas show

There is still so much to see, do and taste on the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding areas.  Trip #4 won’t be far away!

♡KelsieLou♡

Posted in concerts, food, landmarks, Las Vegas, restaurants, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Always Beachin’

I wasted no time in vacating Louisville after the last day of school.  I have accomplished a lot this year and no need to slow up on my glow up for Summer ’17.  My new foster daughter and her little sister have lived in Florida, so they were ecstatic about returning to the Sunshine State.  We were able to stop off I-75 in Gainesville to link up with their Aunt that they haven’t seen in six years.

Our first stop was the community pool at my parent’s residence.  It was closed the entire week of my spring break, so it was nice to enjoy the space again although the hot tub was still undergoing maintenance.

The following morning I ran the Hooters Clearwater Beach 5K.  The race started at 10:00 a.m, which meant there was a guarantee to be very hot.  Like several runners, I assumed the race would be on the streets around Clearwater.  I had butterflies in my stomach when I found out I would be running on a open sand course.

It was not my first time running on the beach.  I have trained along the coasts of St. Pete’s and Panama City.  Those runs were at the crack of dawn, and at a an easy pace.  The trick to running on the beach is to find that happy medium where the sand is not too soft, yet packed enough for proper support.

The interesting part about the Hooters 5K was an optional ocean swim for 1 mile at 9 a.m.  Since I am not in swimming shape, I did not attempt the 1 miler so I would not miss the running portion.  There were 1/2 and 1/4 mile options, but they were not timed.

The course was down and out.  It took forever to hit that 1.5 mile marker.  One of my mile splits was 9:00, but I was putting in a 7:00/mile effort.  There was much needed water at the turn around.  On the way back, the sun beamed my entire left side.  One word to describe this race: Brutal.

The first 25 male and female runners received a poker chip to redeem for a framed top finisher award.  I don’t know my official results, but I believe I was #6 female overall.  My Garmin time was 25:47.  Hooters gave out a wing sampler on the deck of their Clearwater Beach location.

Clearwater Beach was super crowded for Memorial Weekend.  A lot of police were out issuing citations at $150 per bottle for open containers.  We kept it classy and unbothered in our little tent.

All this sun and salt worked up an appetite.  We took a walk along the main strip of Mandalay Ave.  Something told me to pass by all the touristy stops.  We kept walking, and I was so happy to find a Coney.  At this point of my post Master Cleanse I was not eating any meat, so I kept it clean with a Greek salad while the girls indulged.

I felt right at home in this Detroit Coney off the beaten path. The “Excuse the Detroit in Me” shirts were sold out.

Memorial Day called for grillin’ and chillin’ around the house.  My Mom is always whipping up new recipes.  It was a slow week for my Dad as he had to wait until Thursday to watch Game 1 of the NBA finals.

On Tuesday, we were in Orlando to drop my car off for routine maintenance.  Mercedes-Benz of South Orlando told us they would take us wherever we needed to go.  They dropped us off in front of my must stop shopping spot for Florida:  the Victoria’s Secret Outlet.

This place gives me life.  I spend a minimum of an hour and a half “throwing it in the bag.”  I can probably open up a boutique in Louisville from items I have hauled back over the last few years.  It is not uncommon to see Ebayers buying entire racks of merchandise for resale.

Again, I didn’t want to have typical vacation food in Orlando.  I found Mrs. Potato off the beaten path in Orlando.  There is a similar place in Detroit called the Potato Place I used to frequent while going to Wayne State.

For that reason, I did not order the baked potato and tried the Rosti Style.  The girls had shrimp and Philly cheese steak, and I tried the chicken catupiry.  It did not meet my expectations because the texture of the chicken was overly shredded to the point of having a tuna fish consistency.  No Bueno.  The captupiry frosting like topping was over kill.  Maybe it was my fresh taste buds, but the potato was too salty.
While we were on vacation, Dr. Beach rated Siesta Beach in Sarasota as the #1 beach in America.  I told the girls I would make the drive for them to get a taste of the best.  I wanted them to be able to compare Siesta Key to Clearwater.

The atmosphere was very laid back.  Parking is free, and amenities are more convenient than Clearwater Beach.  I had assignments due for my Education Research class, so the lap top was on the beach with me.  The ocean was my motivation to get it done.  It was pure luck that the girls ran into some friends from Northern, KY.

These photos capture why Siesta Beach is the #1 Beach in America:

My Galaxy Note 4 died, so I picked up the new Galaxy 8.  These filters are the closest I will get to Snap Chat or Instagram since I don’t have an account for either.

To wrap up our vacation, the girls and I spent a day at Universal Studio’s new Volcano Bay.  I have watched this water theme park being built right off I-4 for several months.

There are three seating options for Volcano Bay.  One is first come, first serve lounge chairs.  The next option is premium seating that comes with 2 connected loungers that have their own umbrella and lock box.  The last option is a cabana.  I called several weeks prior to my trip and I was only able to reserve a cabana because someone cancelled.  Premium seating is booked through the end of June.

A concierge greeted us at the gate and led us to our private oasis.  Food, towels, cold water, an electrical outlet and comfort were in the palm of our hands.

The food was top notch quality and flavor, with very reasonable prices.

The concierge suggested the lava cakes.  They were good.  The tapioca pudding was very refreshing.  The pizza had too much crust on the ends, so only the middle two slices were loaded with toppings.  The burger was excellent.

The TapuTapu device is given to all guests as the enter the gates.  I was able to order food and reserve rides from my cabana.  With out cabana rentals, the rides must be reserved at the actual ride.  It will vibrate when it is time to “ride now.”

We went on the blue water slide.  It was so much fun!

This is a view of Waturi Beach from the volcano.  There is a walk through to lead you to the other side of the park.  The wave motions are so fun.

A lot of people had water proof phone pouches.  I asked someone to snap our photo:

This photo shows the scariest ride at Volcano Bay.  It was closed for most of the day for technical issues.  Due to the scheduling with TapuTapu, the ride was closed for anyone who did not reserve a spot.  We watched the daring people slide down in a blink of an eye through the plexiglass.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I cannot wait to go back.  I’m sure I left out some details, but it’s on to the next adventure!

 

♡KelsieLou♡

Posted in family, Florida, food, foster parent, mothers, restaurants, running, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Master Cleanse

I was introduced to the Master Cleanse detox by one of my classmates in the Kinesiology Department at Wayne State.  I read the book by Stanley Burroughs who designed the cleanse in the 1940s, and decided it was something I would like to try.

That was over 12 years ago, and I have completed about four or five Master Cleanses since then.  I have gotten into running in the last few years, so I have not felt the need for fasting.  However, over the last several months my eating habits have gotten out of hand due to my hectic schedule.

Every time I do the Master Cleanse, there is a long-term improvement in my eating lifestyle.  One of the biggest changes I’ve experienced is ditching coffee for green tea. I am also reminded that every stomach pang is not for food, but my body’s need for water.

The benefit of fasting is immediate weight loss.  I always lose about a pound per day, or 10 pounds.  The lifestyle eating changes help me keep it off unlike fad dieting.

The only items to be consumed during the Master Cleanse are:  Organic Smooth Move tea to be sipped at bedtime, 1 quart of lukewarm water with 2 teaspoons of dissolved sea salt, and a lemonade mixture.

How to Make the Lemonade:

The book gives directions for preparation based on drinking the lemonade by the glass.  For people on the go I suggest mixing a gallon at a time as follows:

1 ¾ cups of fresh squeezed lemon juice.

1 ¾ cups of Maple Syrup.

A few dashes of cayenne pepper.

How to make the master cleanse lemonade

The Master Cleanse lemonade.  The mixture is good and satisfies hunger.  I used one gallon container for mixing and another to transport to work.

 

Note- organic lemons are preferred and limes may be substituted.  The book calls for Grade B Maple syrup but the grading of maple syrup has changed and Grade A is fine to use.  The key is that the color has to be dark amber.

Sea Salt Flush:

The sea salt flush is the absolute worse part of this cleanse due to the awful taste.  I count the days down based on the number of salt flushes I have remaining.  The idea is to flush out everything that was loosened by the Smooth Move tea the night before.  My experience is like someone running a garden hose through my body.

I suggest waking up and drinking this flush 3 hours before you need to be anywhere.  It takes about 30 minutes for the urge to come and when it does, watch out!  The urge may come 3-4 times before you can get back to “normal.”  Now is the time to start drinking the lemonade.

Pre-cleanse ease in:

Like most things outside the norm, it is easy to be successful if you are mentally prepared for the process.  Timing is everything.  Although the minimum time is 10 days to get the full detoxing effect, you have to plan ahead for any social events that involve food.  It just so happened that my yearly thyroid exam was due, and my medical check-up was normal.  Everyone is different, so consult with a doctor if you have medical conditions.

It is also important to have enough lemons for a few days and plenty of maple syrup. The night before the official Day 1 is when you start the Smooth Move tea.  The taste is not that great compared to green tea.

My 10 Day Master Cleanse:

Day 1- Friday and off work.  Easy day to begin due to a cold and rainy Kentucky Oaks day.

Day 2– Entertained by the Kentucky Derby coverage.

Day 3– I ran 5 miles.  I wanted to go to the movies, but I did not want to miss out on popcorn and candy.  I’m realizing how much food is a part of our lives for social and entertainment purposes.

Day 4– No lack of energy.  A busy Monday with work, Louisville Laser hair removal treatment in three areas, and the start of summer semester at U of L.

Day 5– 3 mile run.  Cooking lesson for my foster daughters.  The smell of food does not bother me.

Day 6– Work and School.  My tongue is completely white as a sign of the toxins coming out my body.

Day 7– Work and School.

Day 8- Feeling very nauseated and almost double the elimination.  T.G.I.F.  I just need to get through one more weekend and I’m good

Day 9– Hot Yoga Class and 502 Power Yoga.  Absolutely loved it and my body has not felt a challenging work out like this since my spinning days.  I consumed 20 oz. of lemonade and drank a bottle of water during my one hour hot yoga session.

Nike Studio Wrap Pack

The Nike Studio Wrap Pack for Hot Yoga class.

 

Day 10– Happy Mother’s Day Pampering.  Time to stock up on fruits and veggies.

Happy Mothers Day

Mother’s Day gift from my two Foster Daughters.

 

Breaking the Fast:

This is the most important part about the Master Cleanse.  The idea is to get the digestive system prepared for solid foods again, and it has to be done meticulously.  This is where the lifestyle changes come in because after 10 days of cleansing, I am super careful about what I put back into my body.

Day 11- Breaking the fast with orange juice.  This was the hardest day for me.  If I could only eat a banana I would be satisfied. That night I prepared a vegetable soup in the crock pot.  I used every vegetable that I was craving.

Master Cleanse Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Brooth Base with tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, squash, baby carrots, celery and onions.

 

Day 12– Only orange juice all day.  Dinner is mainly the vegetable soup broth with a few vegetables.

Day 13– My tongue is turning back pink and I can finally look forward to soup for lunch and dinner.  Orange juice is not appealing to me, so I switched to Bolthouse Farms Carrot and Naked Green Machine.

I will not consume any meat for about 2 weeks, and that will be mainly fish.

Tips: 

  • For the sea salt flush it is best to chug the quart of water without stopping.  I used my Reduce 32 oz. tumbler for the perfect measurement of a quart.  The salt water also cleaned out the tea stains from my daily green tea on the stainless steel.
  • Prepare the lemonade right before you go to bed.  The mixture is good for a day.  I found it easier to squeeze lemons at night rather than at 4:15a.m.
  • Pour a half gallon out for work and make sure you have enough left for when you get home.
  • If you take medications, seek Doctor’s approval first.  I took my thyroid pill about 30 minutes after the sea salt flush to make sure the hormones were absorbed into my bloodstream.
  • Lie down after the sea salt flush and let it work its magic.
  • For ladies, I suggest timing the cleanse in between menstrual cycles to avoid having too much going on at one time.
  • On the days I worked out I added more maple syrup to make sure I was getting enough calories.

KelsieLou

Posted in food, health, Juicing, recipes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

KY Derby Festival Mini Marathon 2017 Recap

Half Marathon #13

April 29, 2017

The 2017 Derby Mini Marathon was my 4th time participating in a KDF race.  In 2013, it was my longest distance, and my inspiration to run a full marathon.  In 2014, I returned to walk a majority of the race with my foster daughter at the time.  In 2015, I ran a Boston qualifying time of 3:39:51 on the full marathon course in 18 miles of steady rain.

Kentucky derby festival medal 2017, 2015, 2014

The KDF mini marathon medal grew in size for 2017.  It is larger than my full marathon medal of 2015 and shows the Pegasus as the focus compared to the horseshoe in 2014.

 

This year, I signed up because one of the Race Ambassadors, Karen Brady encouraged me to use the throwback promo code to secure a very reasonable race fee.  It sounded good at the time, but this was the most underprepared race I have run due to a lack of training caused by a painful health condition.

Pleurisy:

I went for a 5 mile run about 3 weeks prior to the race.  I felt a cramp in my chest, and I waived it off as gas or indigestion because I had eaten spaghetti a few hours earlier.  I went to sleep with the same cramp in my chest.

The next day, the pain worsened to the point it felt like a knife was stabbing me every time I took a deep breath.  I went straight to the doctor.  After EKG testing and x-rays I was diagnosed with pleurisy.

Pleurisy is an inflammation in the lining around the lungs.   They prescribed me 800mg Ibuprofen to take 3 times a day for 2 weeks.  I only took the meds for about a week and sometimes only 1 or 2 pills a day.

After my symptoms subsided, my pace was slower because resuming routine workouts after any set back can be intimidating with fear of reoccurrence.

Race Expo: 

I linked up with Karen who was performing her Ambassador duties. She gifted me with a goodie bag of items any runner chick would like to add to the collection.

The Humana booth had a display of treadmills for people to run a mile and have Humana donate $20 to a local charity.  I was the first person to take the challenge which led to more people coming over to help the cause.

kelsie smoot louisville kentucky derby mini expo

1 Mile Humana run for charity at the KDF Expo

 

Weather Delays:

Due to not being on the popular social media platforms, I was probably the last to know via email about the first of three race delays.  I did not have a problem with an 8:00 a.m. start for the sake of more sleep.

When I entered the downtown area, the weather radar was not improving.  The sky remained dark and lightening was within a 15 mile radius of the course, although it was not raining.

weather for ky Derby mini marathon 2017

KY Derby Festival Mini Marathon Weather

 

I was almost at the start line when I realized I left my salted caramel GU in the car.  I was so bummed because I needed that boost if nothing else.

The next thing I know, there was another 30 minute delay.  I needed this break to power walk to my car for the GU.  I continued to check the radar and wondered if the race would be cancelled.  I thought about all of the training runners had endured and travel expenses for out of town guests.

Starting line ky derby festival mini marathon

A bare starting line at 8:09 a.m.

 

Once again, I walked back down Main Street to the starting line. I saw Karen and other familiar faces as we followed the directives of seeking shelter.  I bunkered down under a tree by one of the buildings.  Everyone displayed patience as we awaited the next update.

Race delay kdf mini marathon 2017

8:35 a.m. Seeking shelter from the rain and lightening

 

The bottom line is we all wanted to run our race.  Yes, our morning meals, and those 30 minutes before the race bananas had worn off.  Yes, some half marathoners would have been finished by time the race finally started a little after 9:00.

Kdf mini marathon gear check

8:48 a.m.  View of Gear Check area.  The race is almost 1.5 hours delayed and we’re all hungry.

 

Corral A:

The KDF festival assigned me to Corral A based off my prior results.  I knew good and well that I would not be running a fast pace.  I had worry in the back of my mind that the pleurisy would come back.  My goal was to run a smart pace as long as I finished.

My corral assignment was earned, so therefore it never crossed my mind to fall back and let other runners go ahead of me.  I was passed a lot the first half mile, but I stayed in my happy pace with a goal to complete under two hours based solely on pride.

Route:

It rained for the first 4 miles.  I felt comfortable about taking my hat off to avoid overheating.  As always, the crowd support was very encouraging.  Water and PowerAde stations were well organized.  I ran without carrying fluids or wearing a gps watch, so the fluid stations were critical.

God Bless the unofficial aid stops that provided orange slices.  In total, I know I ate an entire orange by the time I reached mile 6.

Feeling the energy as the route goes down Central Avenue into Churchill Downs is always motivating.  What I missed were the T.V. cameras with live updates.  The jumbo screen showed the Churchill Downs logo and not the “Go Baby, Go” greeting I saw at the last KDF race.

After the infield loop, we were back on Central and the full marathon split.  I recalled that long, lonely path, and was glad I was diverting left with the smart people this time.

At mile 9 one of my toes had the nerve to give me a little pain.  It also happens that I was only able to peak at 9 miles instead of 12 for proper half marathon training.

The larger the downtown skyline came into view, the happier I became.  The 2:00 pace group rolled up at mile 11 and I kicked it in high gear.  I was not about to let them pass me.

Results:

Time- 1:59:54

Age Group- 63/658

Female- 531/5,009

Overall- 1683/8736

Not bad for top 10% in age group and gender.  Factor in the males and my overall performance fell to top 20% which is decent for the long road it took to get me there.  I am thankful for all the support from my Smootents and colleagues.

Kelsie Smoot Stuart Academy

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you” – Fred DeVito

Kelsie Lou

Posted in fitness, half marathon, health, Louisville, running | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Finally Catching Up

Passing Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP)Check

Finals Week at U of L (3.825 Cumulative GPA)Check

Home life in balance with great Foster KidsCheck

Spring Racing SeasonCheck

Now, I can finally go back to the end of March and recap the highlights of Spring Break 2017 with my Mom and Dad in Winter Haven, FL.

lake winterset winter haven florida

Lake Winterset

I wasted no time getting down to Florida and enjoying a week in the sunshine state.  I was greeted with a pleasant surprise of an Easter basket.  The most functional item was an OxGord post workout car seat cover that would come in handy the next day.

Easter Basket Ideas

Brad, your sister is never too old for Easter Baskets (-:

The Prizm Run 10K

As usual, I searched for potential races for the week I would be in Florida.  I picked the Prizm Run in Lakeland for its location and purpose.  The race was sponsored by Fuel Church.  The goal was to increase awareness about child sex trafficking, and to raise money to help support agencies who offer support of victims.

The all-day event featured kids races, a 5K, a 10K, auctions, and plenty of BBQ food.  There was a mix up on the course route which looped the park about 4 times.  The last loop made the course just over 6.5 miles instead of 6.2.  I prefer to finish long than short to get full credit for the distance.

Prizm Run Lakeland, Florida

Lake Parker Park in Lakeland, FL

The field was small, so I was only competing with myself and the rising temperatures.  I was 1st place female overall and 4th place overall.  In addition to the course mix up, there were issues with the final results.  Luckily, the runners were able to give proper credit to the order of finishers.  The DJ summed it up well when he said, “We’re church folk.  We’re new at this” which was completely understandable.

Tiger Town

Kelsie Smoot Lakeland FL Tiger Town

Joker Marchant Stadium

After the Prizm Run, I went to Tiger Town to take a few photos of the Detroit Tigers spring training facility.  I quickly made friends with a groundskeeper, and he graciously offered me a tour of the entire area.  He has been working with the Tiger’s organization for over 25 years.  The way he got the job was an amazing testimony of how his integrity paid off in a career versus taking the easy way out.

There were a few players present although the Detroit opener was a few days away.  I was most impressed by the gym area with all of the updated equipment including an AlterG treadmill.

Detroit Tigers Training Toger Town

Tiger Town 9,400-square-foot weight room, the biggest in baseball.  Special batting cage built for Victor Martinez.

The clubhouse was decked out in Olde English D’s, large screens and butter soft, navy blue leather upholstery.  I did not notice the “Men’s” sign on the door until I wrote this blog.

Detroit Tigers Tiger Town Club House

The ultimate Man Cave

The hallways featured a map of where each player is from and a lot of memorabilia.  The Southfield, Michigan home I grew up in was once owned by Denny McLain so this was a full circle experience.

Detroit Tigers Denny McLain

Detroit Tigers Memorabilia

 

Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs is a small town north of Clearwater where Greek immigrants settled and mastered their skill of sponge diving.  There are several authentic Greek restaurants along the main strip of Dodecanese Avenue.

The traditional Greek Salads comes with a large portion of potato salad underneath the lettuce.  The combination is delicious.  Mom and I shared a Gyro, and I plan to sample more traditional dishes on my next visit.  The Greek desserts are a must have.

Dodecanse Street Tarpon Springs Hellas Restaurant

Hellas Restaurant and Bakery on Dodecanese Ave in Tarpon Springs

In addition to the food, I highly recommend the sponges and handmade soaps.  The sponges last a lifetime and there are different types for various purposes.  One product that will become a staple in my self-care items is a sugar scrub. I love the smell and it leaves my skin soft and glowing.  Check out www.krisrosekreations.com to order online.

Anclote Key

A short ferry ride or boat rental will get you from the Tarpon Springs sponge docks to a small island called Anclote Key.  The first time I visited this place about 7 years ago, I felt like I was in a small piece of heaven.  With every wave washed up sand dollars.  This trip did not fare well for sea shell collection, however the scenery was still appreciated.

Anclote Key Ferry

Anclote Key Ferry

Anclote Key Beach

Anclote Key

Anclote Key Sand

Anclote Key Beach

 

Kelsie Smoot Alice Smoot Florida

I am a strong woman because a strong woman raised me.

Kelsie Smoot Anclote Key FL

Life is good because I decided to make it that way.

 

This concludes Spring Break ’17!

Kelsie Lou

Posted in Detroit, Florida, food, restaurants, running, Sports, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Chasing a Pot of Gold

 Louisville St. Paddy’s Day Half Marathon Recap

12 Reasons why my 12th half marathon was all hustle and no luck for this leprechaun:

#1.  The weather went from 75° on Thursday to 30° with “feel like” 22° on Saturday.

#2.  I pulled into Beckley Creek Park at 8:08 a.m. and it took me 25 minutes to park.

St.Paddy's Day 5k half marathon parking louisville

Entrance to Beckley Creek Park from Shelbyville Road.

 

#3.  This was the first race where I was so late that I missed the start by almost 15 minutes.

Kelsie Smoot#StPddysrun Louisville KY

Photo Credit: Smug Mug for St. Paddy’s Half Marathon &5K Louisville March 13, 2017.

 

#4.  I forgot to tie my leggings in the waist after a quick restroom break before the race.

#5.  I was stuck behind all the 5K leprechauns until they hit their 1.5 mile turnaround.

#6.  Beckley Creek Park is beautiful, but the concrete paths are very hard on my knees.

Beckley Creek Park St.Paddy's Day half marathon

A view from one of the bridges.

 

#7.  My phone went dead at mile 5, so I was stuck holding a huge Galaxy Note for no purpose at all.  No pics.  No Drake station on Pandora.

#8.  The hills that I did not train for have my quads feeling like I ran a marathon instead of a half.

#9.  Seeing all the fast runners smile at me as they made their way towards the finish, and I wasn’t even half way.

#10.  Headwind the entire second half of the race.

#11.  Running up the hills I crossed over the first time.

#12.  Not placing in my age group.  I was 3 minutes slower than the 3rd place finisher.

Results:

Time-1:54:25, 8:43:57 pace

Age Group- 6th out of 42

Gender- 34 out of 241

Overall- 97 out of 423

Highlights:

*I spotted Jess from the first marathon training group I ran with in summer ‘13.  Like me, she is done with marathons and focusing on more family races with her boys who have taken a liking to the sport.

*Fun costumes!

Louisville St.Paddy's Day 5K

*In the sea of mostly white people showing their Irish pride was a black lady in pink. It had to be Minnie representing the Alpha Kappa Alphas. I yelled out the window, “Hey Soror” as I turned into the lawn to park. She was supporting her daughter April for the 5K. I was already late so why not take an ussie for the blog:

Sorors Minnie and Kelsie

Sorors for life!

 

*The race swag was nice and the announcer had a great sense of humor. The St. Paddy’s Day half shirt is good quality and something I will wear on St. Patrick’s Day this week.

St.Paddy's Day Half Marathon Swag Louisville

Long Sleeve Zip Tech Shirt, Pint Glass, and Finisher’s Medal.

 

*After the race, I took an Epson salt bath and jumped on 64 to get my pot of gold in Madison, WV as I visited my Grandma and Uncles.

giphy

Kelsie Lou

Posted in fitness, half marathon, health, Louisville, running | Tagged | 9 Comments

Christmas Break Run, Sun, and Fun!

Winter break was nothing short of spectacular as I was privileged to spend the entire time in Florida with my parents.  I felt a sigh of relief as Cycle 1 of my KY Teacher Internship which involves a lot of evaluations, meetings and paperwork was completed.  I also survived fall semester at U of L with a 4.0 GPA.  School was dismissed on a Friday, and I was on the highway at 5am on Saturday. My foster daughter was invited, but she chose to stay with her family in Louisville which wasn’t a bad idea for the holidays.

RUN:

The Hot Chocolate Race Series held an inaugural 5k and 15k in Tampa on December 18th.  My Mom was cool enough to drive to Tampa and pick up my race packet which included a jacket and personalized bib.  I was not expecting my name to be printed on the bib because I registered a few days before.

I had to submit proof of race times in order to be placed in the fastest corral. It didn’t make a difference because the start was slow and crowded due to sharing our start with the 5k finisher’s corral and people more interested in Snap Chatting the race versus running it.  The 5k started about 30 minutes before the 15k.  The sky was overcast and the temps were around 73 degrees.  I knew once the sun peeked through, it would make for a very warm race, especially with an 8:30 start.

Temps maxed out at 84 degrees with full sunshine. The breeze from the Hillsborough Bay along Bayshore Blvd did not provide any relief to a course that was beautiful, but lacking sufficient fluid stops or shade.  The first Nuun stop was at mile 1.  That was good for the 5k runners, but meaningless for a 9 mile haul.  I took some fluids anyway just in case.  The next stop was not until mile 4, then another around mile 6 or 7.  There were a lot of upset runners.

tampa-hot-chocolate-5k-15kcourse-bayshore-blvd_1483372338495

Tampa Hot Chocolate 5k/10k Race Route Bayshore Boulevard

Along the sidewalk, I could see the locals running and stopping at fitness stations for pull ups, squats and other exercises. They made it look so easy because they are acclimated to the heat. Back in Louisville, I was adjusting to the cold. This race was so brutal that I thought about walking the last 3 miles.  Logic kicked in for me to determine a slower 9:00 minute pace would be easier than walking a 15:00 pace while dehydrated.  One lady gave in to walking while cursing the lack of course hydration.  She said she has never walked in a race. I pushed through with pride and removed my shades for better finisher photos which were included with the race fee.

kelsie-smoot-runner_1483372339428

Finally, I met up with my Mom in the finisher area and indulged in what this race is about…my favorite dessert in the world, CHOCOLATE!  As hot as it was, I sipped my hot chocolate and ate everything in my goodie mug. I read reviews about the mug and jackets being cheap quality.  I don’t know if the Hot Chocolate Race Series offered ceramic mugs in the past, but these were definitely plastic.  I doubt I will use it again.  I disagree with the jacket being cheap.  It is good quality fleece, but they run small.  I suggest ordering a size up.

Overall, Hot Chocolate Tampa was a check off my bucket list of novelty races. I do not think the organizers and out-of-state participants expected mid 80s in December.  The medals are the best part of this race.  It reminds me of the golden ticket bars in Willy Wonka.

hot-chocolate-15k-finishers-medal_1483372339070

Hot Chocolate Tampa 15k Finisher Medal 2016

Parking was a little confusing due to construction around downtown Tampa. We parked in a Publix lot and walked over a few blocks to the start.  It was convenient for after the race when I hopped in the backseat and swapped my race gear for a bikini and the lovely wrap from Hawaii my friend Karen gave me.

Mom and I drove to Pass-A-Grill Beach at the southern part of St. Pete’s Beach. We rented our little cabanas and munched on Cuban Sandwiches from Paradise Grill.  The water temperature was cold at 70, but it felt really good for my aching muscles.  Besides, there is not much to keep me from getting into the ocean.

Hot Chocolate 15k Tampa Results:

Time:  1:19:54  started with 8:25 pace and finished with 8:35 pace.

Overall:  103rd of 1,952

Female:  51st of 1,483

40-44:  13th of 266

SUN:

The majority of the two weeks was spent doing a sunrise run every other day and soaking up as much sun as possible at the community pool of my parent’s gated residence. I teased a few family members up north with captioned “You Cold?” selfies.

I wasn’t feeling the Disney crowds during the busiest days of the year like I did in 2013. One of the locals suggested I visit Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales.  My Mom and I toured the beautiful garden which was envisioned by Edward W. Bok for all to enjoy.  He hired Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. as the landscape architect, and it was Olmstead who came up with the idea to construct Bok Tower on the highest point in Florida.

peace-lantern-bok-tower-gardens

Peace Lantern

We toured the Pinewood Estate that was built for a snow bird from Pennsylvania by the name of Charles Buck. The 1930s mansion was decorated to reflect how it would be furnished for the holidays when Mr. Buck and his family would come visit. Bok Towers was a nice experience and the weather was perfect.

kelsie-smoot-winterhaven-florida

Kelsie Smoot

Moving on, I had some business to take care of in Lakeland and asked about anything worth seeing. I was led to Lake Hollingsworth and Florida Southern College.  FSC is home to the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in one place.

Voted as the “Nation’s Most Beautiful College Campus,” the centerpiece of the college is the Water Dome Fountain of Knowledge. I spent about an hour walking around the various concrete path walkways and admiring the sweet smell of roses at the Ruth’s Garden.

frank-lloyd-wright-architect-fl-southern-college

FSC Water Dome Fountain of Knowledge & Annie Pfeiffer Chapel

Christmas Day, and also my Mom’s birthday was spent beachin’. We rented another cabana at St. Pete’s Beach near the Sirata Beach Resort.  I picked this spot because the Mississippi State and Miami (OH) marching bands were having a battle of the sand outside the resort.

st-pete-bowl-battle-of-bands-ms-state-vs-miami-oh_1483373281817

St.Pete Bowl Battle of the Sand MS State and Miami (OH)

st-pete-bowl-battle-of-bands-st-pete-beach_1483373282023

St. Pete Beach Christmas Day

We stayed on the beach until sunset with crowds who brought mini Christmas trees onto the beach and built sand snow men.  Mom and I were thrilled to spend Christmas Day and her birthday on the beach.  She took one of her best photos to date with a little sassy coaching from yours truly.

alice-smoot-florida-christmas-birthday_1483373282262

Alice Jean Smoot Christmas Birthday

FUN:

So where was Big Phil during all of this? I treated my Dad to midcourt 9th row seats at the Amway Center for the Magic vs. Grizzlies game.  Amway is one of the best sports venues I have visited.  I liked the order from your seat service, variety of concessions, customer service and overall cleanliness. Being off I-4 made for easy entry and exit.  I will always try to make Magic games when I am in town and a concert would be nice too.

phillip-and-kelsie-smoot-orlando-magic_1483373332489

Phillip L. Smoot Sr. and Kelsie Smoot

phillip-l-smoot-sr-_1483373334748

Phillip L. Smoot at the Magic’s Game

The following day, my Dad accompanied me to the North Palm Beach Mercedes-Benz Dealership where I purchased a 2014 ML350 while wearing my Mercedes-Benz half marathon shirt. It may seem corny, but when I ran that race in Birmingham, AL and earned the 3 point star medal, I thought how nice it would be to drive that emblem.  I would have never imagined owning a Benz less than two years later.

kelsie-smoot_1483373282616

Mercedes-Benz 2014 ML350

mercedes-benz-north-palm-beach_1483373282876

My Dad says I don’t drive a car anymore, I have an automobile.

To round off the holidays, when the Louisville Cardinals football bowl game was announced to be the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, it was a no brainer on whether or not to attend. The night before was the Fan Appreciation party where I met the Athletic Director, Tom Jurich, and made a couple connections with U of L staff.

The game day activities were fun with a lot of freebies from Geico and Buffalo Wild Wings. I worked it like a race expo and got every free item and photo offered.

455d9100-c1ed-4052-aad9-3e26e029fe6f-14831986235968

camping-world-stadium-orlando-florida_1483373416902

Camping World Stadium.  Citrus Bowl 2016 Louisville vs. LSU

The weather was gorgeous as I watched the game in defeat.  Not a single touchdown, but I am glad they got something on the board.  I spoke to James Quick’s Dad, my former co-worker and neighbor on my way out the stadium.  He mentioned having a meeting with agents soon.  Best of luck on NFL dreams to the Quick family!

20161231_141709-1_1483373459004

I went to the Dillard’s sale on New Year’s Day for Nike running shorts and watched all the NFL Sunday football games simultaneously at Millers Ale House. Who knew there was a freaking Giordano’s in Orlando?  I went for dinner and was eating the left overs all the way back to Louisville.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Kelsie Lou

Posted in automotive, Basketball, family, Florida, football, health, Louisville, running, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

She’s A Goal Digger

This post has been on my mind through miles of running and was written in my head long before I had the chance to sit down and purge my thoughts.  A lot has happened since the start of the school year, so as I continue goal digging I need to archive everything.

I’ve had the opportunity to go back to school for a second masters degree thanks to a C.A.R.D.S. (Competency, Awareness, and Responsiveness to Diverse Students) partnership between JCPS and the University of Louisville to meet the needs of our diverse school district.  I will earn Rank I status along with a MEd in teacher leadership and a diversity literacy certificate.  Fall semester wraps up next week with a 10 page paper and video taped lesson plan project.  JCPS awards me a tuition reimbursement each semester since I teach in a priority school.

Speaking of class, I earned my CCDW permit and purchased a 9mm.  I don’t want to use it, but I will “double tap” someone like my instructor taught me for self defense.

kelsie-smoot-ccdw

I turned the big 40 in September and celebrated by attending the Bad Boy Reunion concert in Cincinnati.

kelsie-smoot-bad-boy-reunion-concert

Turning 40 meant moving up to the 40-44 age bracket, and I was itching for a race.  On October 15th I placed 1st place overall female in the Hurstbourne Hustle 5K.  It was a small crowd of maybe 100 runners.  My time was 23:00.  The sponsors gave me a gift certificate for a Road ID.

hurstbourne-hustle-5k-kelsie-smoot-louisville-ky

After the boost of age confidence, I needed to be a kid again and found an old cheerleader uniform in one of the back closets to wear for my school’s Halloween dance.

kelsie-smoot-halloween-2016

Mr. McGinnis and Smoot

 

During the weekend of daylight savings I went to WV to visit my Grandma.  We had a nice time shopping and she ate at IHOP for the first time.  Breakfast for dinner was my pre race meal for the Marshall University Half Marathon.  Prior to my trip, I checked runningintheusa.com for races and lucked up on the MUM.

marshall-university-football-marathon

My fitness goal is to be half marathon ready at all times.  On the weekends, I try to get in longer 7-8 mile runs.  This go around, all I had time for was a 9 mile training run about 4 days before the race.    I registered in person as soon as I got off I-64 in Huntington.  The race swag consisted of a Marshall University bag and tech shirt.  Early registrations came with a jacket, but I missed them.

Race morning conditions were foggy and chilly around 37 degrees.  I went out and tore it up with a half marathon personal best.

marshall-university-marathon-kelsie-smoot

Finish Time:  1:42:20

Age group:  2/94

Gender:  11/574

Overall:  75/1,005

 

kelsie-smoot-marshall-university-marathon-half

What I liked about this race was the course, being thrown a football to run the last 50 yards to the end zone, the cookout post race food, Blenko Glass Company awards (they have pieces in the White House), easy parking, and free race photos.  My strong finish made me almost think about jumping back into marathon training again, but that thought left my mind as soon as it entered.  The Flying Pig was my last 26.2.  I need my joints intact.

After the presidential election, it was refreshing to see a diverse turnout for an Angela Davis lecture at U of L.  She was correct when she said, “Freedom is constant struggle.”

Lastly, I got the chance to check out my parent’s new home in Florida.  We went to Ruth’s Chris in Tampa for Thanksgiving dinner and had a great time.  My Foster Daughter and I stayed at Lake Buena Vista Resort for a two-day Universal Studios and Island of Adventure experience.

winter-haven-florida

lake-buena-vista-resort-orlando

I normally do not ride rollercoasters, but I was talked into riding the Hulk ride and the Dr. Doom Drop.  I voluntarily rode one of the Harry Potter rollercoasters.  The weather was perfect for the parks and the crowds were really low.  I was happy to experience Characters in Flight at what used to be called downtown Disney and is now Disney Springs.  I was unable to ride the last 3 times due to high winds or lightening.

I can’t believe we are one month away from 2017.  Please excuse me while I get back to my goal digging.

kelsie-and-alyssa

KelsieLou

Posted in Education, family, fitness, Florida, half marathon, running, Travel, West Virginia | 2 Comments

A True Love Story

I’m sending a huge shout out to Mr. and Mrs. Phillip L. Smoot to congratulate them on 50 years of marriage!

Phillip & Alice Smoot

My Mom, Alice Smoot, who is from Logan, WV met my father when she was visiting her big sister in Madison, WV.  They were teenagers when my Dad staked his claim.  Their courtship continued beyond high school and into adult years.  My Dad was drafted into the Army, and my Mom pursued her teaching certification in all subjects at West Virginia State.

As a child, I remember my Mom showing me some of the love letters my Dad wrote her from Vietnam.  She still holds onto them with their yellowed papers and ink marks spread like an old tattoo.  My Dad would send my Mom money to help with college expenses like joining Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Phillip Lewis Smoot Vietnam

Phil and Alice were reunited after the war and moved to Bridgeport, CT.   Neither of them liked the area, so they made their way to Michigan where my Nanny lived.  My Dad worked at Ford Motor Company and my Mom landed a teaching job at Highland Park High School.

Alice Smoot Highland Park HS Swim

This photo was taken outside their first home on Harlow Street on the West Side:

Phillip and Alice Smoot Detroit Michigan

My parents had 3 boys, Phillip Jr., Corey and Jason.  I was a year old when my parents moved to Southfield in order to provide my siblings with a better education.  My youngest brother, Brad was born and made our family complete.

I cannot stress enough how much fun I had growing up and having both of my parents in the home to provide stability, love, positive examples, support and encouragement.  They both worked more than one job.  My Mom never had a summer off.  She was always doing extra service at youth sports camps and lifeguard duties.  My Dad would come home with salt on his skin from hot conditions in the plant.  My Dad side hustled everything from silk screen shirts to jewelry at the weekend flea market.

Together, my parents owned a commercial cleaning business called P&A Cleaning.  Those 10 years of extra income put Corey, Brad and myself through college.  The grandkids got love too!  My parents looked after them as if they  were their own.  All of the Grandkids have had the opportunity to travel and do Disney.  My Dad never hesitated to roll out when the plants shutdown.

I didn’t expect to write this much, but the lovely part of blogging is I never force it.  I want to make sure I recognize the two people who have made me into the woman I am today.  I am blessed to have taken after the best of both worlds.

My Mom and Dad recently relocated to Florida to spend the rest of their lives together.  I had a very tough time after they left Kentucky on top of still grieving Kevin’s passing.  I was sobbing on the phone to my Grandma and she told me it was normal to be upset.  She described them best when she said, “Your parents are your jewels.”

I am grateful for the time they spent with me in Louisville.  The Ohio Valley air quality made everyday life for my Dad difficult.  He is doing much better in the Sunshine State.  Phil and Alice are exploring all the restaurants and enjoying life.

Phillip Smoot Sr Florida

Phillip L Smoot Sr Alice J Smoot

THANK YOU MOM & DAD!

HAPPY 50th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!!

Love,

Kelsie

 

Posted in Detroit, family | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

Family First

The Smoots

Photographer: Rachel Norris, Panache Louisville Photography

Location:  Papa John’s Park

Date: July 2, 2016

Smoot FamilyPhillip and Alice SmootAlice and Kelsie SmootPhillip Lewis Smoot Sr.

Phillip L. Smoot Sr. Jr, III, IVPhil JrTrey and Prince

Kelsie Smoot

The SmootsPhil Jr and KelsieBig Phil and Jr

Smoot Family Photo

 

 

 

 

Posted in family, Louisville, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments