5K in Every State: Florida (welcome to Miami!)

My first 5K of 2015 was in Florida–at the Miami Zoo. I was super excited to pull out my Life List and knock out another race in another state! I invited one of my friends to join me, so off to Miami Beach Mel and I went.

Before I get too far into this story, let me come clean about something. I went to Florida to do a 5K, and these are the things I forgot to pack:

Sport bra, arm band, ear buds, mini backpack
Things I forgot to pack. For a race.

No arm band or ear buds for music, no sport bra (a must-have; there was shopping), and no micro pack. Do you know what that means? I carried my purse. I carried my purse while interval running 3.1 miles. What is wrong with me?

Back to the story.

We stayed in the historic Art Deco District of Miami Beach, and the architecture was beautiful. Miami Beach was beautiful. The weather was beautiful! My opinion of Florida has forever changed. I have been to Orlando several times and never saw the draw, but I should know better than to judge an entire state based on one city. Shame on me. Anywho, as soon as we dumped our luggage at the hotel, I started snapping some photos.

The Kent Hotel on Collins Avenue, built in 1939, is one of my favorites. I love the right angles, smooth planes, and softly curved corners. Gorgeous!

The Kent Hotel on Collins Avenue
The Kent Hotel on Collins Avenue
Mural on building on Collins Avenue
Mural on Collins Avenue
Condos at 226 Ocean Place
Condos at 226 Ocean Place

On our second day, we got up long before the crack of dawn, rustled up the valet to fetch the car, and headed to the race at the Miami Zoo. We arrived under the cover of darkness and yawned as the sun came up. I don’t think the animals were even awake yet. It was a small group for the race…maybe 50 runners. We saw gazelle, rhinos, and tortoises. And a couple of zebras in the parking lot.

Mel and Kelly wearing zebra masks pre-race
Zebras in the parking lot!

We did run/walk intervals, me carrying my purse, and my time was right on par with the one instance when I ran the entire 3.1 miles. So, you know running just went out the window. I struggle in humidity more than if I’m back home in dry Wisconsin. Not to be confused with the alcohol situation in Wisconsin–I am not saying it is a “dry state.” It is #3 in the nation for bars per capita, but I’m getting off topic. My point is, the air in Miami was moist and it made for a soupy run. Regardless, I’m just happy to have crossed the finish line!

Once the race was done, we motored back to the beach. I had no idea when I booked the trip that we were hitting South Beach during Gay Pride weekend. What a parade! Literally! We had a front-row seat, complete with fishbowl drinks, to a two-hour rainbow parade. Now that’s a mini-vacay! It was heartwarming to see the many banks, medical facilities, travel agencies, realtors, schools, churches, and so on marching in support and showing a whole lot of respect and kindness.

Shirtless man with life size blow up green alien
I love a parade!
Kelly with a fishbowl margarita glass of beer
My beverage for the parade. You can take the girl out of Wisconsin…

After the parade we hit the Lincoln Road Mall, which is a pedestrian-only shopping area that covers approximately six blocks. Shopping, cafes, and bars. I scored a chicken empanada at the farmer’s market–a scrumptious little treat between boutiques.

Chicken empanada with glossy pastry crust
Look at the glossy pastry crust on that empanada!

We had some good and tasty meals, but the place that won’t leave my mind is the Puerto Sagua restaurant on Collins Avenue. An authentic Cuban diner with food that’ll make you miss home even if you’re already there. Know what I mean? It is comfort food all. the. way. Expect a line stretched out the door, but it is worth the wait. I had the daily special which was baked chicken with rice, beans, and fried plantains. I don’t think I spoke the entire meal. Mel and I split an order of yucca fries, and they were served with garlic sauce that was so good it was startling. I mean SO good! This is not a fancy joint; it’s what I call a greasy spoon. If you’re squeamish about that stuff, get over it because you are missing some good nosh.

Bottle of cervesa hatuey, cuban beer
My first Cuban beer (although it has been brewed in the U.S. since 1995). It was a little heavier than I prefer.

This was a quick weekend trip, mostly for the purpose of checking off another 5K from my list, but also for a little R&R. Miami is a late city–most folks rise late and stay out late. We hit the beach one morning and got to relax in the sun with the ocean sounds lulling us into a sedated-like state of being. We were nearly the only ones out there.

Feet in sand, ocean, sunshine
Post-breakfast relaxing

I have to give a shout out to my friends and family for all of their support already through this crazy Life List of mine. My friend, Kim, ran next to me through my first 5K in North Carolina; my nephew and his family cheered for me at the finish line in Wisconsin; and my friend, Mel, hauled herself to Florida to run with me. I predict I’ll do some races solo, but I see many more friends and family members hitting the pavement with me in the days ahead. If you know me, get your running shoes on, because here I come!