When you live somewhere for 15 years it’s bound to get a grip on you in a lot of different ways. Ties to friends, neighbors, institutions and organizations gained over the years stay with you even after you’ve gone. This past weekend I returned to South Florida to attend the wedding of our friends’ daughter and since we were going to be in the area there were a lot of other bases to cover, including the 305 Half Marathon which just happened to be last weekend as well.
Wedding day started out great. After we checked into the Blue Moon Hotel on South Beach we went straight to Joe’s Stone Crabs, one of my all-time favorite spots. We like going for lunch since you don’t have to deal with the BS of trying to get in at night when all of Miami’s beautiful people with their crazy expensive cars descend upon the place. I don’t need to see or be seen at this point.
The wedding itself was at the Crandon Park golf club on Key Biscayne, which I played one time and quit after 9 because I couldn’t afford to lose any more golf balls. I had better luck with the races I’ve run on Key Biscayne, like the Lighthouse Run 10k in 2013 when I came in 5th place in the old man group after I’d only been running for about 6 months.
We were set up outside by a putting green and the typical South Florida rain storm threatened the entire ceremony but fortunately held off until the cocktail hour when it poured! Nonetheless it was a nice wedding and we had a great time catching up with friends and neighbors. Afterwards we went back to the hotel and sat for a while by the teeny tiny hotel pool.
Saturday we planned to relax at the beach all day, something I never did in the 15 years I lived in South Florida, but first I needed to get my race packet at the Nike store in South Beach. If I have one complaint about this race it’s that the packet pickups didn’t start until 12N each day, which kind of shot a hole in the day if you were planning to relax at the beach. The other complaint might be that the race shirt was pink and was a bit longer in the back to help cover your booty, if you need such help, and I don’t. To me it was clearly a women’s shirt and even though I like to think I’m secure enough to I couldn’t see me ever wearing it. But my wife loves it. After hanging out on the beach we met some old neighbors at Marios Osteria in Boca Raton, another of my favorite South Florida spots. It is typically hard to get in on a Saturday but fortunately my wife is friends with the owner and she made sure they had a table for us. I had the Sunday Gravy with Big Rigatoni – pasta, right? And I had several warm fluffy delicious garlic rolls. And some fried calamari and grilled octopus and chocolate cake and some carrot cake.
About mile 3 I realized that my pre-race meal might not have contained all the best choices. I felt bloated, heavy, and a bit nauseous as my GI tract churned. Dammit why did everything have to be so delicious? The race began at Lummus Park on the beach and wended its way through Miami Beach to the Julia Tuttle Causeway over to Miami and then back to South Beach on the MacArthur causeway. Normally pretty views but not when you’re preoccupied with impending GI doom. By the last 3 miles I was only running as fast as I could manage while trying to clamp down on the insurrection. I finished in 1:52:01 and made my way straight to the porta-potty.
I came in fifth place in my new old man group. Maybe a little disappointing but it gives me another reason to come back to South Florida and try again. After all the place still has a grip on me and next time I’ll be sure to have a better grip on my pre-race meal.