Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Early March - Florida 2018

We go to the Crooked Thumb Brewery before dinner on a Thursday after Joanne leaves. We can ride our bikes, it’s less than a mile away. It’s been here three years but we just discovered it this year. It’s on 10th Street, north of the railroad tracks. It’s a nice place, a big open space with brewery cats. I get a s’mores beer; its chocolaty, with none of that bitter hops taste. It has a pretty high alcohol content, so I’m biking home drunk. Lee gets something very hoppy but that’s what he does. We’ll do it again, there’s more chocolate beers to try!

The next evening we try a wine bar downtown called Sip The Wine before dinner. Lee is indulging me; he has completely lost interest in wine and only drinks beer with an occasional martini nowadays. This place has something called machine wines. It’s not new, but new to me. Wine bottles are placed in a machine driven by a chip card. You put the card into a slot and select either a sip, gulp or pour from about 40 different wines ranging from Chardonnay all the way to ports. They also have snacks and regular bottles of wine, and some beer as well.

We get a cheese plate and I get a card and go to work. I do all sips, being a lightweight that would like a lot of different tastes. I start with an Alberino, a Spanish white. It’s fine, nothing special. Then a Russian River Pinot Noir, excellent. And a Twomy Red Zinfandel from Napa, also fabulous. From there I try a rioja that’s on sale. Tastes like it too, bleah. Then a good red blend that was aged in bourbon barrels. Then a Cabernet. I thought I might go back and get a larger glass of either the Twomy or the Russian River but I’m done. 

This was fun, we’ll go back. Next time we might try the popcorn snack!

On Saturday we have an adventure. We ride our bikes all the way over the causeway to Rocky Point Road, basically Tampa, 11 miles there so 22 miles total. We eat lunch at Pearly’s. It’s the same as the one in Clearwater. It’s tucked away in a little resort/condo thing, at their pool. I think you could walk right in, eat at Pearly’s and hang out at the pool, but hard to say. By the time we get home I’m tired, but not too bad. I’m a little worried about my 18 mile run tomorrow, however!  My quads are tired. But I figure this is a good simulation for Boston, where running downhill for the first half is hard on your legs.

On Sunday it’s nice and cool so I don’t have to get up really early. I start at 6:30 AM. I do the first 8 miles at an easy pace, the next 8 at marathon pace. I’m doing really well except for an upset tummy that forces me to stop and use several portapotties along the way. The last two miles are back to an easy pace but my legs are really tired. It’s a good thing it’s 18 miles and not 26.2!

After we go to Marker 39 for brunch. A mimosa and eggs Benedict with sweet potato hash for me, Lee gets pulled pork tacos and a Bloody Mary. Then I lay around all afternoon. I’m TIRED! But it’s good that the dogs need an afternoon walk, my legs need a little movement.

On Monday Diane and Dennis come over. The dogs are overjoyed, they love seeing Diane. We go to see the sunken gardens in St. Pete. This is a garden built into a sink hole, kind of a cool idea. There are lots of plants, most with name tags so we can know what they are, not that I remember! There are birds too, parrots and pink flamingos mostly.

The flamingos have a lot of personality, the parrots are sleepy and grumpy looking. In one pond is a giant turtle with moss growing all over him. There are also very large carp in another pond.

Then it’s back to Safety Harbor and to Whistle Stop for lunch. We have burgers all around. All told just a very fun day. I wish we had managed to get together again, but there’s always next year!

On Wednesday the weather turns dramatically cooler. It rained during the night, for the first time since the first week in February . We ride our bikes to the Phillie's ball field to watch them play the Red Sox. We carefully got seats that would be in the shade and then ended up freezing. We only lasted about 4 innings in those seats and then went and stood in the sun. Fun game, however the Sox committed 3 errors and lost; I think they have a little work to do! 

This is followed by several cool and lazy days. I run 14 miles, 10 @ marathon pace, and I nail it. Is it too ambitious? If the weather is perfect, no. That’s a big if isn’t it?!?

Sunday again, we go to the Beer Brunch at Crooked Thumb. I have a beermosa and it’s good. Lee gets a regular beer, and then a chocolate coffee porter. It smells like coffee, but just tastes like beer to me. We place our brunch orders and sit in the sun, people watching. A lab rescue organization has set up shop. They have several large friendly labs to pet. I’m so glad our dogs are a smaller more portable size! The brunch people are doing all the food in a tent. They have one cook and each order is carefully made by hand. It’s take a looonnng time, but just when I start to get really hungry out it comes. It’s excellent. I gobble up my French toast and eat part of Lee’s eggs and cheesy hash browns too. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Joanne Visits and Other Florida Things - End of February 2018

On Tuesday Joanne came to visit for the week. Heather was harassing her with her ball so I took the ball away from her. First Heather sat there and stared at it. Now she’s lying down next to it, depressed. She’s hilarious but a pest.

On Wednesday Lee and I went for a bike ride, 8 miles on the causeway and back. The headwind on the way out was incredible. We averaged 9 mph on the way out, and up to 17 mph on the way back. Hard work!

We took Joanne to a restaurant on St Pete Beach for lunch. Blue sky, aquamarine water, dolphins in the canal, margaritas and grouper sandwiches. We sat outside on the back deck at Sea Critters. It was comfortable in spite of the record breaking heat, 88F today. And to think last year when Joanne came we were wearing coats!

On Thursday we went to Parts of Paris for dinner. Sat were able to sit on their front porch. It was neither too hot or too cold. Everything was delicious. My cucumber basil martini was cool, with a bit of a bite. My duck confit was amazing, I gnawed on the little bones, and then ate some of Lee’s fries dipped into bĂ©arnaise sauce. 

On Saturday I run 14 miles in the am, 10 of them at marathon pace. I buckle down and focus on my pace after a couple of miles. I get it down to 12:40 mpm and keep it there for the entire 10 miles. I was tired tired the rest of the day but I can do this, and do better I think.

After I decide to try the Belgian waffles at the little coffee shop around the corner. They are ok but not great, too sweet. Their coffee is excellent though. I love the coffee ice cubes in their iced coffee!

Then on Sunday I run another 6 miles, at an easy pace. It’s hard because I’m still tired, but that’s the idea. We spend the rest of the day being lazy, enjoying the sunshine and slightly cooler temps.

On Monday we take Joanne to St Pete, first to the Central St Bodega for lunch. The line is crazy, just like last year, but their sandwiches are amazing. Joanne and I get the pork and beef burgers that have shoe string potatoes and avocado on them. Lee gets a pollo (chicken) sandwich that is served on pita bread with a curry sauce. Mexican cokes too. Their food is goooood.

Then we go to the Morean Arts Center to see the Chihuly Exhibit. It’s a permanent collection so you can go see it any time, so beautiful, mesmerizing. We watched part of the video about how he makes his art and it looks really really hard to make those colors and shapes. It takes a team, a lot of people. I’m so glad Joanne suggested this activity! I’d like to go back sometime and go watch the glass blowing demonstrations.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

February in Florida 2018

Our first full day in Florida is devoted to getting organized, checking out the resort, running errands, getting a pedicure and then later putting jamberry palm trees on my nails.

Then on Saturday it’s time for my first Florida long run, 15 miles in 50 to 60 degrees. It’s perfect running weather, although I can tell my heart is a bit elevated toward the end. I just need to get acclimated.

On Sunday February 4th, I go on a bike ride, starting to work my way across the Courtney Campbell Causeway again. I go 11.5 miles; next time I’ll do a little more. In the afternoon we take the dogs to the Enterprise Dog Park. Went for a nice off leash stroll, ran around the agility equipment. Cosmo listened and stayed out of the mud puddles.

Then we went to Starbucks and sat outside in the sunshine while Lee drank a lemonade infused tea that was very complicated to order, and I inhaled an iced mocha. On the way back to the house I stopped at the Chamber of a Commerce and got Lee something for Valentine’s Day, a T-shirt and a book about the history of Safety Harbor. 

This morning was the first time I felt like I needed to get up a little early to run. It was in the upper 60’s and I could definitely feel it. I’m getting organized to bake bread on Monday. And I actually worked on my embroidery for the first time since November.

On Thursday the Jones came to visit. Thursday evening we walked around town and had bbq chicken for dinner. On Friday we got sandwiches at the  convenience store deli and drove to Phillipe Park for a picnic. We walked along the shore and saw a bunch of dolphins. We walked up the Indian mound and down to the owl’s nest. I brought my telephoto lens so I was able to get some pictures of the owlet. 

Later we got in the car again and drove over to Kapok Park. We saw lots of birds, a bunch of ibises, turtles and a baby gator.

In the evening we went back to Whistle Stop for dinner. It’s kinda our place, at least when Lee doesn’t feel like cooking!

Sunday Feb 11th I run 16 miles, first 8 miles easy, then 6 miles @ marathon pace, then 2 miles easy. It’s in the low 70s, muggy. The first 8 are harder than the rest of the run. The humidity drops when the sun rises. I start at 5:15 am and the first two hours are dark. I see almost no one until the sun comes up. I have my headlamp but it’s spooky. I start worrying about alligators so when I get home I look it up. A) don’t go in or near the water. Duh. B) be especially careful during breeding season but that’s May in Florida so I’m good there. C) if you come upon an alligator on land RUN AWAY! They can’t go that fast on land. I feel better now.

On Tuesday Feb 13th we have lunch at Barfly. They have moved into the building across from the spa. The breeze was nice, the food ok. In the morning I did a track workout at the middle school: 4x 1 mile at 10k pace. Tough! It was nice to see a couple of sandhill cranes though as I circled around the track. I’m glad I brought the bird books with me this year. I brought my old North American Field Guide one from my college days, but also Stoke’s, the one Catherine gave me several years ago. I was able to accurately identify the cranes more easily with Stoke’s so I guess I’m a convert.

Wednesday Feb 14th is Valentines Day. We get each other T-shirt’s, Running Grandma and John Lennon for me, Safety Harbor for Lee, plus the History of Safety Harbor book for Lee. I already got beautiful roses a couple days ago. We go to Green Springs Bistro for dinner. We have to wait for our table at the bar which is fine but then they sit us right next to the kitchen! Why? There’s lots of empty tables. We should have said something, and next time we should ask to sit in the back. The same guy singing and playing guitar that’s always there. The food is fine, but not memorable.

On Thursday we go to the beach at Honeymoon Island State Park. Its not as spectacular as Clearwater but it’s also not nearly as crowded. It’s nice. The water is cold, but after sitting in the sun for awhile it feels good on my feet and calves.

On Saturday we go to the Dunedin farmers market. They’re having one of their craft festivals so it’s insanely crowded. There’s lots of development going on in Dunedin, maybe too much. It’s a nice town and you don’t want to spoil its natural charm. We get bagels and not much else.

We go to Marker 39 for dinner. We sit outside, it’s nice except for the smokers at the next table, but they leave before our main course comes. It takes a lonnng time to come, but the food as awesome. I get the soft shell crap app plus a salad and a side of their hash browned sweet potatoes with bacon. They accidentally bring me the entree which has two crabs but only charge me for the app so it’s cool. That way Lee can eat as much as he wants of it. He gets the short ribs which are really good, too. I want to go there for brunch!

Monday is my day off from running and cross training. Running day offs are necessary but Monday makes me feel like such a slug, although physically I’ve got to do it, I get tired. I’m kind of dreading tomorrow’s run because of the heat and the hill repeats. They are tough, but not nearly as bad as the anxiety about them.


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