Monday, November 26, 2012

21 down, only 1 more to go!

21st Half Marathon of the year: Rock 'n Roll Miami Beach

Tuesday, November 13th:

My flights from San Antonio to home last night were delayed and I didn't make it home until almost 2am this morning. A news crew from WFMYTV2 here in Greensboro was scheduled to be at my house just a few hours later... what a way to start the week.

I didn't get photos of the interview, too sleepy to think about it, but reporter Tanya Rivera did a wonderful job sharing our Get Back Up message and I really enjoyed getting to meet her in person. Here's the link to the piece that aired in my hometown:

(Thank you to my friends at News 2 for the coverage...once it aired a week later we received many phone calls and emails from folks hoping to Get Back Up again!!)

After the interview I had an appointment across town at 10am then finally home in the afternoon to do laundry and begin packing for the Miami half this weekend.

Wednesday, November 14th:

I had a few commitments with some friends of mine that had to get squeezed in to the morning hours and then headed to Winston Salem for an appearance at an evening seminar/course my orthotists were hosting for local Physical Therapists. 

It was great to see Michael Bissell again, the first time I got to see him since he ran his first full marathon in Savannah with us two weeks ago. He seems to have recovered just fine and is already thinking of his next one. It was also great to see Jayme Brendle, she's the Allard rep for the NC area and since I'm out of state more than I'm home I almost never get to see her.

The course for the PT's was a great opportunity to share how invaluable the proper brace is for their patients. I owe a debt of gratitude to all the professionals out there helping people like me to get back up  and Physical Therapists are a key part of the equation. I am also so grateful to my orthotists at Advanced P&O in Greensboro and Winston for continually working to educate themselves, their professional partners and their patients as to the latest developments in technology and ideology. 

The course ran a bit late and it was after 9pm before I got back home. By then it was time to finish last minute house chores and hit the sack for an early morning at the airport where I'll be off for Miami.

Thursday, November 15th:

Jim and I rode together to the airport although our flights were leaving at different times to different cities. Jim will be working today and tomorrow in Jupiter, West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale before joining me again Friday night in Miami. As for me, I got both of my first class upgrades (woo hoo!) and actually got some good sleep on the plane for a change.

The view from my cab on the drive to South Beach... a beautiful morning here in Miami.

Thanks to a great Priceline bid I got a room at the Hotel Impala in Central South Beach. This was a 2-story boutique hotel with a wonderful staff and critically-acclaimed restaurant. The location was perfect, just 6 blocks from the race events but off the main drag so it was quiet and uncrowded.

It was such a beautiful day that once I checked in I decide to put my work on hold for a bit and go exploring. I had not been to Miami or South Beach for years, and not since my family had all moved away. (My stepdad, Bob, grew up here with my Uncle Scott, Aunt Dorothy and their parents, my Grandma & Grandpa Jackson).
I love the Art Deco architecture this area is so well known for.

The Beach!! What a gorgeous day and such a spectacular view.

This was about 3 blocks from my hotel in Lummus Park which extends all the way down to South Point Park behind me. In the background you can see all the trendy hotels to the north.

Some background of the Art Deco District here in SoBe.

The red dot is about 2 blocks from my hotel, the long green section on the right is Lummus Park where the race Expo, Start and Finish will be held this weekend. Miami is across the bay to the left and down south, cut off of this photo, is South Point at the base of Miami Beach.
One thing I learned quickly is that everything in the trendy SoBe district is expensive. 18% tip is added to every check so make sure you inspect your bill, they make it quite easy to accidentally overtip! I stopped for a late lunch at a spot on Ocean Drive, one that looked very casual and inexpensive compared to all the others, and ended up paying $25 for this once taxes and tip were added:
Fresh mozzarella on arugula with tomatoes and balsamic glaze. It was tasty but not worth what I paid, in my opinion. At least my belly was full enough to head back to the beach and continue my exploring.
I spent all afternoon exploring, people watching and enjoying the warm weather before heading back to the hotel to work. I managed to answer a few emails and write post cards to the family by dinner time and then I was off to find an affordable dinner somewhere.
Sunset begins in SoBe.

Washington Street in SoBe.

These types of touristy restaurants are a dime a dozen here... and the staff at each one tries to lure you off the street with tropical drink specials or specialty seafood bites. While all of these places had some charm, I really wanted a good meal at a reasonable price and so I went off the main drag a bit.

This place had half-price specials until 7pm so I chose to eat here.

I ordered a featured special but here's a look at Amani's regular menu.

Table for 1 on the sidewalk!

My mussels and pasta dish was quite good. It would have been nice to dine with someone else but I had a great spot outside watching as the streets came to life with the vibrant SoBe club and restaurant scene.
I finished my early supper and headed back to the hotel. I took a moment to check out Spiga, the restaurant here at Hotel Impala:
Spiga has received many great reviews so it was a nice piece of luck that it was right here at the Impala. Hopefully I'll get a chance to eat here before leaving Florida.

Spiga's bar area.

The dining room with the street-side patio in the background.

Okay, even though I had already eaten I couldn't resist saying hello to the restaurant proprietor and ordering the fresh artichoke bruschetta. Yum. Now it's off to bed!
Friday, November 16th:

As much as I wanted to hit the beach and the shops today I actually had a lot of work to do. I spent the entire day in "lockdown" in my room until I had finished my San Antonio blogpost and made a dent in my hundreds of emails and phone calls. I finished what I needed to and enjoyed a hot shower in the oversized and beautiful "grotto-style" bath in my room. I thought to myself that this bathroom was almost as big as my entire room in my Brooklyn hotel. I love an unexpected luxury!

Finally around 5:30 Jim arrived from Ft. Lauderdale and we set off to meet Jim Campbell at his posh hotel down the street. Jim had Craig working with him again this trip (you may remember Craig from San Antonio) and they invited us up to their rooftop bar for a sunset viewing.
The view from Jim's hotel, Dream, a few doors down from our hotel.  It may be close in distance to our Impala but far apart in splendor. Here we're looking down on Collins street with the ocean to the left.

On Dream's roof looking the other way, the tiled roof here is the top of the Versace Mansion. A Latin swing band was playing in their courtyard so it made for fantastic ambiance.

Another view of Collins street as the sun sets over Miami.

We sat beside the rooftop pool, loving the fact that we have friends in high places. Well, at least this weekend we do! Thanks, Jim Campbell, for treating us to your amenities... what a nice way to relax before the work we will all be doing this weekend.

I caught a ride back to the hotel while Jim pretended he didn't know me.

Saturday, November 17th:

Jim and I woke up early and relaxed at a local coffee shop before hitting the beach and the Rock 'n' Roll Race Expo.

The morning air was warm and humid but the breeze was enough to keep us quite comfortable. Not many bodies on the beach this early, a perfect time to walk around.

The race Expo is outside in Lummus Park. We arrived before things were fully set up.

Emily fitting right in to the tropical setting... quite a change from her climate this week in Grand Rapids. She looks upset about it, doesn't she? As she's setting up her Terryberry Rock'n'Roll Jewelry tent I bother her to add my Miami Beach charm to my bracelet. Only one more to add after this one!

The runners are arriving for check in.

A nice treat here in SoBe for the Expo; they had bands playing all day so even the expo was a party.

After we checked in at the race Jim and I took some time to take in a few art galleries. This particular gallery had so many cool trompe l'oeil paintings.

I'm not sure if there are more bare midriffs or high-end sports cars in SoBe. I tried to distract Jim from the all the tanned and toned flesh by pointing out the cool cars. "Look, honey...shiny!!"

Too many races in this year for me to dream about being a "speedster"....

Jim and I wanted to stretch our legs as much as possible today before the run tomorrow. We opted to walk to the South Point, here is the view looking back north where we started out.

Jim, taking the bull by the horns. Actually, this is on 5th & Washington at a fantastic Italian restaurant, about halfway down to the Point.

We couldn't resist a late lunch here... I highly recommend it on your next trip to SoBe.

Most of the diners here in SoBe hit the restaurants later in the day and evening so we didn't have to worry about a wait today.

Part of the menu here at Fratelli la Bufala

Today's special salad: Fresh buffalo mozz from Naples over arugula and sweet grape tomatoes. 

This made-from-scratch canneloni was absolutely fabulous...Jim and I split this and.....

...then we split this. Jim almost lost a finger when he tried to go in for one of my slices. '

With a delicious lunch in our bellies we walked on to reach the South Point Park.

Heading south still on Washington Street.

Interesting mosaic mirror-covered junction box.

Artwork on local homes.

More residential art surprises.

I think this is what they call the 'tony neighborhood'.

Finally made it to the Point.

Looking back toward Miami, with Fisher Island to my left and South Beach to my right.

Fisher Island.

"What's not to love?!"

If Merle were here she'd be doing a cool Yoga pose... I miss ya', Merle... this is for Chicago! Can't wait to see you for our last hurrah in Vegas!

From skyscrapers to sea grass to dunes in 2 short blocks. I love it.

I know I'm not gonna want to leave after the race is done will be freezing back home.

We make the turn along the south part of the point to head back north and east towards the hotel.


Leaving the bike trail for a walk along the water.

Spreading the word!

I couldn't resist this photo op. Seems to apply to surfers today, too!

And finally, back to the hotel to get my sign made for tomorrow's event. 

With everything ready back at the room for tomorrow's 6:45am race start we headed out to meet Buzz for a pre-race dinner meeting. Here we're walking along Espanola Way, a cool pedestrian-only stretch of shops and restaurants just north of our hotel.

We had fabulous seafood dinners here at Kone... sorry, we talked so much I neglected to get photos during dinner.
Buzz (the southeast Allard rep), Jim and I walked a bit after our early dinner before retiring for the evening. When we were going to our rooms to sleep the night life was just beginning to rev up.

Sunday, November 18th--RACE DAY!!!!

5:30am and Jim is Gettin' Back Up on A1A South!

Jim Campbell, another of our favorite RnR gypsies, is working hard again on the platform stage before sunup.

Finally the sun rises at the race start area.

You'll have to take my word for it, but John and Mary "I don't do mornings" Kramer were already here when we arrived.

Buzz makes his appearance at the VIP start area... ready for another day with the Get Back Up sign.

Kamika isn't impressed with the surroundings. But then again, he just arrived from his home in Hawaii. Kamika is another RnR gypsy... I think he's run 24 or 25 Rock 'n Rolls this year. Good luck today, Kamika!

6:45 and we were off... all trying to get across the bridges and back before the sun gets too high in the sky. I chose to run with John Kramer today, the only race other than Portland and Philly this year where I was able to run with friends or family the whole way. 

"Look, Mary, no hands!" John Kramer makes quick work of the bridges and is on the last stretch back into South Beach here. John's wife, Mary, is too fast for us in this heat so she shot out of the corral early while John and I enjoyed the sights. 

Thanks to Buzz for holding the Get Back Up sign high enough for me to find him along the final stretch...that's me heading towards his camera and then on to the final turn at the finish of the 13.1 mile humid track.
The course here in Miami Beach was actually quite nice, if you don't mind a few hills as you make your way over the 4 bridges and the causeways. It was a warm and humid day but with the race start so early it didn't factor in as much as it could have. I was happy to take my time and visit with John along the run, the miles just seemed to disappear.
We got an interview here with Tameka of the local NBC affiliate at the finish of the race. We finished in the sand with spectacular views of the ocean off to the left.
My favorite gypsies start making their way to the finish line festivities. Michelle and George recount their antics along the course today while Mary and Jim A. listen and laugh. 

Mary, John and Jim relaxing in the shade.

Mary replaces her electrolytes with style.

Great Latin music on stage all day... a fabulous finish line party in the sand!

A few of the Gypsies with 20 or more RnR races under our belts this year. We will meet again in less than 2 weeks in Las Vegas for the Grand Finale!
Back row: Jim, David, Kamika
Front: me and Kevin

David, aka "The Beast" will leave here for 4 back to back to back to back Full Marathons this week and then, finally, to Las Vegas where he'll do 1 measly full the whole weekend. He's really getting slack.

One very long day behind us and 5 very cold beers in front of us. Congrats to the runners and thank you so much to Buzz for being the media coordinator and chaperone of the GBU sign this weekend. Buzz was so inspired by the RnR event in Savannah that he's back up and running again himself. Way to go, Buzz! Which race will you run with me in 2013?!

With the gang all here we take our seats along Lincoln Road for a hard-earned dinner. Not everyone is in view but we are dining with Jim Campbell and his crew (Craig and Craig's girlfriend), Buzz, David, John and Mary. Emily joined us at the bar for a quick hello before taking off to the airport to head home to Michigan.

Another half marathon done! My time for this one was 2:04:20. Thanks, John, for the company along the way today. If I've learned one thing all year it's that there is absolutely no substitute for the love, laughter and light of friends and family to make each day worth living.