Sunday, February 15, 2015

Florida Keys Ragnar - Part I - Miami!

Welp, I did another Ragnar.

Pretty soon after finishing last year's race in Phoenix, cousin Julie was looking ahead to the next one. A few months ago I agreed, figuring it'd help me train during the holidays and keep the Christmas party pounds off, plus Miami! Key West! Places I'd never been, warm weather during this harsh Utah winter we're having (not), flat terrain and at sea level. More oxygen!

I had to hit Dick's Sporting Goods before I left for some supplies. I didn't realize how large this store it.

Pre-packing organization.

Packing each outfit in ziploc bags is awesome! Why didn't I realize this before? And then the stinky, sweaty clothes go right back in there with odors sealed away. They're still sitting in my dirty clothes hamper in bags like that, waiting to be washed.

I managed to get it all into a carry on bag, hooray! And then I took my first Uber to the airport. I was surprised anyone was out driving so early.

Time to get a morning nap.

Somewhere over Texas, after a quick stop in Houston.

Miami airport. I would soon love that Miami loves color and colored lights. I found Julie and Jesse, who landed right after me, and after much confusion, we found our way to the rental car counters.

We got an awesome van. Seriously.

Miami sunset with a plane overhead. That would become a theme - everywhere we went in Miami, we were in a flight path. And with 3 Air Force guys on the team, all they talked about was planes.

Jason made it into town and we went out to explore and find some dinner. These buildings in downtown Miami were cool, as we rushed past them on the freeway.

Got to Lincoln Road on Miami Beach, found a parking garage, and realized our van didn't fit. Whoops. Thankfully the parking attendant moved some cones for us and let us park along the side of the entrance.

We walked and were getting sorta grouchy, and then I realized there was a Shake Shack and made everyone go there. I was happy, and after tasting the burger and proclaiming it delicious, they were all happy, too. And outdoor dining in February? So good.

Color and lights. I love it.

We decided to walk and explore some neighborhoods. See that green light on the left? It's a boat with cool lighting underneath. I dig it.

And this house was all aglow.

More lighted boats. We Zillow'd our location - only $10 million or so for a house. No big deal.

While I was away, this happened - Rod Stewart liked a cover from Tom and Spencer's new band.

Back to Lincoln Road.

And then back to the hotel. Julie hooked us up with the VIP suite at the Holiday Inn.

And we watched the Saved by the Bell reunion on Fallon. Man, that was so good. Bless the 90s.

Thursday morning we slept in a bit and then Kim arrived, fresh from a redeye from SLC. She'd accidentally booked her flight on the wrong day and had to switch it last minute. Glad she made it in! Part of the gang wanted to parasail that day, but with bad-ish weather, they bailed on that plan. I'd done a bit of planning to maximize the one day we'd have in Miami, so the group ended up following my game plan. Does that make me the bossy one?

First stop, Cuban lunch at Versailles. Our waiter pretty  much only spoke to us in Spanish. Miami feels like another country, and I was enjoying.

I went with the fried pork chunks and some plantains.

After lunch we drove through the Coconut Grove neighborhood and stopped along the water for a couple photos.

Then, the gorgeous Vizcaya Villa and Gardens. A rich dude built in in the early 20th century for health reasons. It's pretty stunning.  

I was in love with this guy.

Alright, off to South Beach to catch the last bit of sun before it went down. Cruise ships abound.

No selfie stick needed. 

We totally got lucky with a parking space right at Ocean Drive. Then we walked down the strip to see the art deco building.

Dan landed around this time, so we ran back to the airport to pick him up, then went to see Wynwood, which was the major thing left on my list. If I had missed this, I would've been very sad. I'd even downloaded the app so I could have a proper neighborhood tour of the murals and artists. I don't know if anyone else in my group was into it, but I loved it. 

See - there's another plane overhead. 

Art tour was over, and it was time to meet up with the other 6 people who'd be running with us. We headed out to a mall for some Cheesecake Factory - good for groups and something for everyone. We all ordered dessert since we were about to run a ton.

Then, Walmart for our supplies stock up. Water, Gatorade, protein bars, bananas, and of course, key limes.

We'd all downloaded an app (Life360) to keep track of everyone's locations and make it easy to hand off during the race. We all split up in Walmart and since my group couldn't find everyone else, Dan decided to see what happens when you hit that ! Panic! button at the top. He did so, got a 'countdown to panic' and just as we rounded the corner of an aisle and found everyone else, our phones started to blow up - this app sends a call, email and text all at once with - Dan needs your help!  Hysterical. Wouldn't be the first time we had fun with this app over the weekend.
Off to bed to get ready for race day, and grateful to be in Van 2 with not so early of a start.

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