Friday, August 22, 2008

A weekend in Miami Beach

Kathleen and I spent last weekend in Miami Beach, specifically South Beach - aka SOBE. First time there for both of us, although between us we’ve been to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, the Keys and the Everglades National Park. There’s nothing understated about Miami Beach. It is brassy and loud in the non-musical sense, not that it bothered me. Or the thousands of other holiday-makers of many nationalities with whom we were sharing the sidewalks, beaches and security lines at the airport. Like the throngs of Italians, Brits, French, Dutch, Germans, and other Americans in Miami Beach, we were there for the beach and the ocean and to have fun, not to find fault with the place.

If you have a voyeuristic bent or even if you’re just a plain old gawker like me, South Beach is endlessly fascinating. Strolling along Washington or Collins Avenue is mind-boggling on many levels. It is mostly about the people: on foot, on bikes, in Lamborghinis, fabulously dressed, with barely a t-shirt, coiffed and heeled to kill, tattooed, bejeweled, talking, eating, drinking, young, not-so-young, smoking as if there were no tomorrow. Walk just a few blocks and experience a whole world of drama, tragedy, excitement and excess. Here is a comatose woman starkly laid out on the sidewalk, in front of her wheelchair. Two seemingly disinterested Miami cops are on the scene, probably waiting for an ambulance. Is that cynicism or boredom on their faces? Probably both. Not far away, at a sidewalk café, the cheap happy hour mojitos take top billing on the menu. A group of young tourists, who have clearly enjoyed several drinks already, are adding to the SOBE ambience with their extravagant gestures, overly loud laughter, and absolutely dead-on serious intent to have fun in big bold capital letters. There’s a lot more to Miami Beach, including some interesting restaurants (we found one with several vegan options), shopping (apparel, electronics, art & antiques, jewelry, beach stuff etc.), nightclubs, and the Art Deco Historic District. We will definitely be back. The Duck Tour looks like a lot of fun...

It was just a short walk from our hotel across the boardwalk to South Beach itself. Over the course of a couple of sunny days Kath and I made the walk several times – it was worth it. The southern Florida Atlantic Ocean is so much nicer than our local (Galveston) beaches – a wide expanse of white sand, sparkling clean blue water and 'real' waves. We spent a lot of time in the water and enjoyed every minute. We thought the water temperature (around 85F) was great, some may like it a little cooler! The beach itself is pretty cool too. From your expensive rented chair and umbrella ($55 for 2 chairs and an umbrella for the day, ‘weather permitting’), you can check out the many beach bodies on display. Don’t be staring now. The local authorities turn a blind eye to topless sun tanning, so act like you’re used to it. Everybody else seems to be. Of course, you can always concentrate on the equally spectacular backdrop consisting of a succession of cruise liners steaming out of the Port of Miami, a constant parade of sightseeing helicopters, yachts, power boats - some being used for para-sailing - and various other sea-going vessels.

On Saturday the two of us ran 2 miles from our hotel along South Beach on the hard sand to the old fishing pier and back from there, then out and back on the boardwalk up to where it ends in Surfside, about 8 miles total. I would have liked to have done more but we only had two days to enjoy the sunshine, by Monday morning it was getting pretty nasty with the outer bands of Fay moving in.

Running is still going well. Last week’s total was 45 miles, including 9 miles at 9:17 pace on Monday, a hard hill workout with KatyFit on Tuesday, another hill workout on Thursday with the Striders, and then of course 8 miles in Miami on Saturday. So far this week I’ve managed 24 miles total with two hill workouts (Tuesday and Thursday); by Thursday I might not have been 100% recovered from Tuesday’s run as I was definitely feeling the strain towards the end of the 3rd and 4th hill circuits. I definitely needed my weekly SRD (Scheduled Rest Day) which comes around every Friday. So far so good on the Brad Hudson program. For tomorrow (Sat 23 Aug) there is a 12 mile long run on the schedule, with the last 30 minutes at moderate pace. I’m looking forward to it & will be running in my new Rice University singlet.


Fishmagic said...

Sounds like a great time at the shore. I have only been to Florida once to visit a friend who lived in Vero Beach.

One of these days I hope to get back, but the desert southwest and more of the Rockies are at the top of my priorities list.

Vegan_Noodle said...

I've never been to Miami but the way to described it, sounds kind of like Las Vegas (except without the beach). Spending a few days on a beach nicer than Galveston is always a welcomed change... and lucky yall missed most of Fay!

Go Annie said...

Love your observations on the people and everyday activities in SOBE. It seems like the opposite of SOHO, but just as interesting.

Good to hear your training is going well and the Hudson plan is working out great.