LA (Part 4): Playing Tourist

With my running and blogger meet-up fun over (read about it in Part 1, 2 & 3), I had just one thing left to do on my LA bucketlist: tourist time! :P


After lunch with my friend Dave and a Patriots win (WWOOO!!!), I headed to the Metro to make my way to the Walk of Fame and Chinese Theatre. Dave gave me step by step directions so I wouldn't get lost. Purple line to Red line to Hollywood-Highland.

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I emerged on to exactly what I expected LA to look like --- tourists, sun, celebrity impersonators and Starbucks.

Yes, I had to drink Starbucks. There are no Dunkins in LA and I had been up since 5am so caffeine was necessity. Since I never go to Starbucks, I had to text my wife for instructions on how and what to order. ;)

After getting some caffeination, it was time to hit the Walk of Fame.

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I have no idea who Taylor Holmes is, but had to take the pic based on the last name. Hmmm this might be him! Thanks IMDB.

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It was so surreal to really be in LA. I just wish my wife was there to enjoy it with me. Sightseeing wasn't as much fun without her. Plus I was by myself so making comments to myself wasn't as exciting either.

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The Chinese Theatre was cool ... and of course I had to go around and put my feet in celebrity footprints.

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Pretty sweet to see up close and personal.

There was even Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

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I wanted to take a pic with Shrek, but alas there was no one around me to help. And I wasn't about to pay a celebrity impersonator to snap one. :P

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I wasn't really sure what was around the area to check out (I am a bad tourist)! So I just wandered up and down Hollywood Boulevard checking out the stars, the shops and the people.

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I was also soaking up as much sun as possible since I knew it was cold and overcast back in Boston.

As I was walking back towards the Metro, a sign caught my attention on my right side.

There it was in the distance - THE Hollywood sign.

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Now I didn't have time go go climb up and take a picture with it so catching it from a distance would have to do this trip.

By this time, it was approaching 3pm and I was getting beat. Thankfully my teammate Ray was able to pick me up a couple Metro stops down and give me a lift back to his place.

At that point, it was nap time. I was getting drained. Plus this whole time I was sick so my body was ready for some RnR. He had a family event to go to so I chilled until I had dinner with my girl May (from at Blue Dog Beer Tavern. It was great to have some one-on-one time to catch up (since this weekend was the first time we got to meet up in real life) and share some beer. Mmmm local craft beer...

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After Mae dropped me back at Ray's house, it was time to hit the couch. I was pooped and would be spending the next day traveling back to Boston. A long cross-country adventure.

I flew from Burbank to San Francisco and San Francisco to Boston. I was taking off from Burbank at 1:20pm and arriving in Boston at 1:00am (the next day). Oy! Thankfully we were able to make up some time and I landed at 12:20am-ish.

But the flight from SF to Boston was nearly empty so I moved myself around until I was able to get a complete row to myself. Hello legroom!!

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I then paid the $8 to United to get the unlimited TV access. TOTALLY worth it for a 5+ hour flight, right? I watched The Heat, Hangover 3, Monsters University, Diners, DriveIns and Dives and so much more. But my favorite? The first episode of my cousin's show of course - The Pete Holmes Show on TBS (weeknights at Midnight ET).

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How cool is it to see someone you know/related to on TV?


There is so much more of LA I wish I could've seen - like hello a beach!! - but for the limited time I was there, it was amazing. I was able to see some amazing sights, soak up some sun, enjoy some local craft beer, run some miles and meet some of the most awesome people on the planet.

What more could one ask for in a less than 65 hour trip to the opposite coast? ;)

LA (Part 3): I rocked it & I rolled it!

Did I really run two 10ks the day before the Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon? Yes yes I did.

I woke up Sunday (October 27) morning with the realization that I was actually in LA to run that amazing Half Marathon. Ha!

I had such an amazing time between the Expo/Blogger Meetup and the Haunted Trails of the Night 10k that I couldn't wait for the Half.


I bound off the couch before the 5am wakeup call that morning. I was ready to go. I am always worried that if I hit snooze I will sleep through the race so I make sure to keep that little extra pep in my step in those moments. :)

Thankfully I always lay out flat Dani the night before so getting ready was easy. Ray, my teammate, wasn't running, but offered to drive me to my friend Andrea's place so she and I could drive to the race together.

Yay not having to take the Metro by myself.

It was great to catch up more with Andrea (a fellow Weight Watchers Leader) while driving to the race. We are both early birds and like to get to races with time to spare.

Since we left the place she was staying right on time and she found a "secret" parking garage for the race, we were there with plenty of time to spare. It was perfect really.

She ended up parking under the LA Convention Center (where the expo was) so I actually knew where we were. Yay! We exited the Convention Center and a block later we bumped into the Starting Line (on our right)

... and the post-party stage/party area (on our left)!

Talk about convenient.

Before Andrea and I parted ways, we ran into my Got Chocolate Milk #TeamRefuel running mate Jeremy.

Thanks for the pic Jeremy!

It was soooo nice to finally meet Jeremy after interacting together so much on social media!!

I bid Andrea and Jeremy adieu as I headed to find the Rock 'n' Roll VIP tent. I can't thank Got Chocolate Milk enough for the access to the VIP area before the races. Wicked nice to have special bag check and bathrooms.

Thank you to the Farms of Beverly Hills at LA Live for opening a portion of their website to this VIP area. I even got to take a pre-race selfie! Phew! :P

I was even able to charge my phone so I would be able to take it on the course with me.

Before I knew it it was creeping up on 7:30am (Start time) and I headed out to Corral 3. I was searching along the way for friends running, but didn't notice any of them. The course would be two different loops/out-and-backs so I hoped to run into everyone I knew along the way ... literally!

I made it to Corral 3 with minutes to spare.

I love taking in the atmosphere at races especially the pre-race vibes. You see some people that are totally calm, some that are nervous, some that are making last minute adjustments to their playlists and on this day people fixing their costumes. Yes, since this was October 27 many people we rocking some pretty sweet costumes out on the course.

I was too wrapped up in the people watching to realize it was our Corrals turn to hit the pavement.

Before the race started, I knew I wasn't going to PR so my goal was to have as much fun as possible and enjoy the race. Especially since I had run just under 13 miles the day before.

The first few miles felt effortless which made me think I was probably running at a pace slower than race pace. I was sticking with the 1:45 pace group for awhile and thought if I stuck with them great - if not, I'd be okay.

I promptly lost that group in the late Mile 2/early Mile 3 because I started taking pictures. What was I taking pictures of? The LA Coliseum. The. LA. Freakin'. Coliseum.

I was going to take FULL advantage of this experience.

Go ND! :P

Heelloooo fog!!

And there was no way I was making it out of the Coliseum without taking a pic of the Olympic rings.

Soooo freakin' cooooolll!!!

It was the happiest 10 min/mile pace I've ever had. :P

After leaving the Coliseum, I actually noticed Doctor Dribble out on the course. He dribbles two basketballs while running half marathons and marathons. A-freakin-mazing.

Can you tell I was enjoying the run? We weren't even four miles into the race yet and there was so much excitement.

Once we left the coliseum, folks were coming towards us for their loop around the stadium. I peered through the crowd looking for any familiar faces, but unfortunately didn't see any of my peeps. Darn! But there were a ton of amazing costumes out there so I was still entertained.

There was also a Mini-Marathon race going on alongside the half. Folks were running and walking 3.55 miles. It was great seeing those folks costumes, but I was slightly jealous as we passed the six-mile mark and those peeps were heading to the Finish and we had to keep going. ;)

But, I pulled up my big girl shorts and kept putting one foot in front of the other. My legs were feeling pretty good despite all the running and walking I'd done the day before.

There was a slight incline as we headed through the Financial District, which woke my legs up from the night before. You may remember those hills during the trail run - yikes! But, I channeled my Spinning training and powered up. As we approached the hilly bridge at Mile 9/10, we entered a tunnel first with a DJ and lights.

I took pictures and video in the tunnel of the wheelchair races and elite athletes zooming past us, but they came out a blurry mess. I should've stopped to shoot them rather than snap on the go. Next time.

But it was wicked cool to see those speedy guys zooming past and looking as if they hadn't even broken a sweat. The wheelchair athletes as well are such amazing inspirations. I couldn't stop cheering and yelling for all of them. Just one of the reasons I love out-and-back type courses.

The bridge - and it's subsequent incline - seemed to last from about Mile 9 through mid-part of Mile 10.

Can you see how foggy the whole race was?

There was a water station and band stationed at the top of the bridge and it was just what I needed as my legs were starting to feel the hill workout they had done the night before.

I hit Mile 10 and my legs felt like lead. I tried to remind them (and yes I talk to my body parts) and let them know that the inclines were over. As I enjoyed the downhill off the bridge, the friends I know and love started popping up all over the course. I was able to cheer for all the familiar faces I know and love. I threw up high-fives when possible, big arm waves in other instances and air kisses to anyone that wanted them.

My smile got bigger and bigger as I passed familiar faces. Have I mentioned I love the out-and-back course? ;)

Every time I saw a familiar face I got a little pep in my step.

I knew I had less than a 5k to go and I was ready to give it my all, while still trying to take pictures and tweet. Yes I was attempting to tweet and run at the same time.

We re-entered the bridge from before and I was met with a homeless person pushing a shopping cart. He was pushing the cart and trying to race the other runners. It was an enjoyable site for sure.

Sorry for the blurry pic, but again a result of running and snapping at the same time.

As I approached Mile 12, I thought it was the perfect chance to snap an in-race photo to share on Twitter and Facebook.

So on my phone screen this picture didn't look as frightening as it did on the computer. :P Can you tell how excited I was to be running ... and almost done? ;)

Once we passed that 12-Mile Mark, it was a straight shot to the Finish and I was ready. I love seeing the Finish Line in sight and giving everything you have to reach it as quickly as possible. Even if your mind is moving faster than your legs. ;)

See ya Mile 13, I'm Finish Line bound.

And there it was. Half Marathon #14 was in the books. I got my water, my medal and was off to stock up on my low-fat chocolate milk.

How cool is the Finisher's Medal?

If there's one thing RnR knows how to do, it's medals!!

I was proud to post a 1:53:19 - very respectable for me/the conditions. I never thought I would expect myself - even with stops, pictures, etc - to post a sub 2-hour Half. Oh how times change ... and I love it!

And as always, I pay the $20 to get my medal engraved on-site. I would never want to get all the way home to have someone engrave my medal only to mess up my name or time. If they mess up on-site, they have a box of medals to replace it! :0)

After chatting with social media friend/blog reader Curt from TherapyRunner at the medal engravement, it was time to head back to the VIP area and meet up with my Team Refuel running mates. :)

Gotta love a mimosa post-race, right?

I had a great time chatting with running mates post-race, especially Jeremy and Paul.

After soaking up some final minutes of free food, it was time to head out and meet up with my friend Dave for beer, brunch and Patriots football.

I wish the race had less fog, but I guess I should expect that in Cali, right? The race was well organized, had great cheerleaders and spectators along the course and was a blast overall.


Have you ever run Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half?

Haunted Trails Of The Night 10k

Soooo have you ever signed up for a race and didn't realize it was happening? Oh no? Is that not normal?

Well it has happened to be more than once ... and on one Saturday night (October 26) in LA it was no different.

Let me back it on up.

As we may remember when I left us off on Part 1 of my LA trip, I was in California to run the Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon and meet some amazing social media friends.

Once we left the meetup, we headed back to my teammate's house to change and head to his brother's house. He had told me about the 5k his brother was racing that night. Ohhh hello race. My ears perked up. We chatted that morning that if they had an extra entry that I would be fact be interested in running.

Shocking I know. :P

As we headed to his brother's house to play with some puppies before heading to the run, I figured a free extra entry had limited chance of happening so I wore what I wore to the expo to his brother's house. It would be cool to cheer his bro on. I love spectating races.

While in the car, his brother let us know that it was a 10k. Oh cool cool.

We get to Paramount Ranch, where they apparently film shows/movies. Sure.

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As we walk onto the lot, BOOM! There is Linzie from SeeSharpRun! Whhaa?? He had told me he was running a race that night, but what are the odds he would be at this specific one. Well, turns out he is an ambassador for the race series. Hollah!

Ray (my teammate) asks the race director Keira if she possibly has an extra space for me - the girl that has come all the way from Boston. And generously Keira said Yes.


So there it was. After running a 10k training run that morning, it was time for my second 10k of the day. Bring it!

Sweet swag and Finisher's Medal!!!

I was ill prepared clothing wise, but thankfully had my Got Chocolate Milk #TeamReful racing t-shirt on and my regular running shoes. The two-sizes too big Lululemon yoga pants would have to work. :P

This race was also (if you couldn't tell by the name) being held at night and I did not carry a headlamp in my pocketbook. (Note to self: carry headlamp at all times) The rule was you had to have some sort of light with your person so out came my trusty iPhone Flashlight app. Yup, laugh away folks. ;)

Now the group offered me some little flashlights, but thankfully Linzie had the best headlamp ever invented so I decided that he would be stuck with me the whole race. What? We had met a few hours earlier that day so we were ready to become BFFs.

I have done three local trail runs here in Boston that aren't as intense trails as I would experience at this race and they were in the daylight.

Who doesn't love a new challenge right?

Here is how the site described the event:

Runners of all levels and abilities are given the chance to practice and experience trail running in the night. This race will be a fun and very safe event, and all the while everyone will be able to enjoy the spirit and festivities of the Fall season.

Join us for two 3.1 mile loops of runnable non technical single track trails. This course is a fairly easy course with very little hills or climbing. Witness the trails of the night become illuminated by glow sticks, goblins, and loads of fun! Stay after the race for a haunted post race party in the historic old ghost town of Paramount Ranch. This is a Trail Race that should not be missed!

Thankfully Linzie agreed to stick with me during the race so we lined up together and were ready for the two 3.1 mile loops. Keira let us know that there would be volunteers and glowsticks along the course letting us know where to go.

Oh! And since it was a Halloween themed events there would be spooks and ghouls along the course. Umm yay?

The horn sounded, we headed out and I started my Runkeeper. Oh yeah, I forgot the Garmin at the house. (Note to self: ALWAYS carry Garmin in my pocketbook)

Right off the bat I knew this would be challenging. Again wicked thankful that Linzie had his "it looks like noon on a Sunday" headlamp on because my flashlight app wasn't cutting it.

First incline in I knew I was in for a long race. Being sick didn't help with my breathing. Oh boy! I sounded ROUGH, but knew physically I could make it through.

Linzie was on my page. This race wasn't about time, but about conquering the feat AND making it through injury free. We both had that pesky half marathon in the morning. ;)

Let me tell you it is tough running at night (I rarely do it!) and I felt okay slowing down to avoid injury.

I tried to enjoy and soak up the experience as much as possible. It was great to chat with Linzie the whole time about running, the Boston Marathon, blogging, Run Disney, life, etc. We are both doing the Dopey Challenge so it was nice to commiserate on our craziness together.

And I loved that as we approached a steep incline Linzie would say: "Endurance training baby! Endurance training!"

Ummm ... yay! :P But it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I, again, am a newbie trail runner and I thought to myself how are we not done with one loop yet? We finally emerged to the Start to stop for water and start the next loop. My breathing was so labored due to being sick I thought about stopping. Then I caught a glimpse of the medal out of my right eye.

Oohhh no I will NOT NOT get one of those babies. (that enough nots?)

I grabbed a quick sip of water and we were off again.

Now, I thought the second loop would be harder than the first, but it really wasn't. I knew it would be rough, but I was okay with walking.

There were a few inclines where we had to walk up to catch our breathe and I said: "This is ALL counting towards my 1,000 miles run in 2013." Thankfully Linzie agreed. ;)

The terrain was uneven (as one would expect) and there were some turns where I started to slip slightly down the hill due to lose gravel, but with the help of the headlamp we were able to recover.

I wish I could better articulate the elevation we traveled. I unfortunately couldn't snap any pictures since well - it was pitch black out.

As we moved/ran/walked/hustled/chatted through that second loop, a sense of sheer joy came over me. I was going to do it. I was going to accomplish 2 10ks in one day. Damn pride came over my whole body. I would never have thought a few years ago that I would look forward to doing something like that.

We realized we were just 1/2 a mile from the Finish and it was time to kick it up. We wanted to finish strong and finish strong we did.

We came out of the trails and back to the main Barn area...

... and I was given my medal by the cutest little Star Trek character of them all. I wish I had gotten a picture of him. He was probably 5 or 6 and just the cutest thing ever.

I am beyond thankful for Linzie. I wouldn't have completed the race or had half as much fun without him. It is funny to meet someone you have chatted with online in person and you just hit it off. I felt that way with him.

The race was really well run, the course was easy to follow, the volunteers were excellent and the ghosts/ghouls along the course were definitely scary. I can admit I screeched more than once along the way.

And the post-race party/spread was amazing. These trail runners know how to snack ... and I like it. :)

My Runkeeper also did a really great job tracking the race since I was out in the hills.

I officially finished in 1:20:54 - good for 34th overall out of 69.

I can't thank Keira enough for this opportunity. It was truly life-changing.

If you are in the LA area, please please please check out on of Keira's trail races. The group was so welcoming to this clear outsider and I had a great time!!


Have you ever taken part in an impromptu race? Are you a trail runner?

Dani Dishes 11-4-13

On this episode of Dani Dishes, I'm giving a little overall life update: health, weight loss perspective, blogging, upcoming Weight Watchers photo shoot/trip to NYC and more!! :)

Going Going Back Back 2 Cali Cali

I'll give everyone a minute to finish up singing/dancing to the title of this post. Oh you know I busted a move while I wrote it. :)


That is totally me in the middle!

Anywho, what we were talking about?

Yes yes Cali.

So this afternoon I am off to Los Angeles. Woo! This will be my first time to LA.

When I go to LA I will just see celebrities everywhere and become BFF with them, right? Oh is that just on TV? Ah. Gotcha.

I lived in San Francisco for about 10 months in 2007 while I was working for the Giants. I visited San Diego with the team, but haven't been back in Cali since 2011.

I am heading to sunny warmer brighter California (sorry chilly Boston) for the Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon which is on Sunday, October 27.

I will once again be reppin' my Got Chocolate MilkTeam Refuel orange/black singlet, orange Sparkly Soul headband, "gunmetal" Sparkle Athletic skirt and orange Zensah compression sleeves & sports bra.


Still love this pic from Mission Meltdown from RnR Philly

I thought about dressing up in costume since it is so close to Halloween, but am saving all my costume funds for the Dopey Challenge in January. ;)

I am wicked excited to hit up the West Coast and hopefully meet some social media friends/blog readers/fellow runners/Team Refuel running mates/Weight Watchers friends. I am planning on being at the Yard House near the RnR LA Expo (at LA Convention Center) at 1pm on Saturday.

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Sooo if you are in the area please try and stop by! I would love to see as many people as possible. :)

I'm not sure how much of LA I will really see since I am not renting a car, but I'm sure running the half marathon will give me a glimpse into it.

Plus I will really just be soaking up the nice weather. :P


Many people have asked me how I am able to race/travel so much - frugality my friends.

Thanks to this blog and my Team Refuel sponsorship I have been awarded many complimentary race entries which I am truly truly honored and so thankful for. I would not be able to participate in some of the best local and national races without these honors.

But when it comes to travel and housing that is all me. I don't get any help/sponsorship for those so I use frequent flier miles to fly or I will ask my parents for a flight somewhere in place of a Christmas present. If it is a race in the Northeast, I have been able to get decent train tickets thanks to Amtrak or Bolt Bus. It isn't the quickest way to travel necessarily, but it is cost-effective. :)

For housing, I have been relying on the kindness of friends, family and teammates for a guest bed or a couch. A couch isn't the comfiest thing to sleep on the night before a race, but I will take it.

I try to also pick races that could become a racecation. If we are doing our one big vacation for the year, I will try to hook a race to it. For example, Disney in 2013 and 2014 have been our big splurges. Thankfully the wife goes along with that plan as well. ;)


But racing is expensive so if anyone has ideas of ways to get sponsorship or help with travel/lodging please let me know!!

For now, I will start packing for LA and be thankful I have a nice teammate in Ray who is letting me crash on his couch this weekend!


Have you been to LA? Running RnR LA? Do you travel for races?