Friday, February 5, 2010

St. Pete & Me: The rest of the way

I had three stellar days, weather wise, while in Florida. But on Saturday, things turned. I woke up to a gray, hazy humid morning. I got in my run - 7 miles to Treasure Island and back - and felt wiped. I hate running in humidity, and my body's not used to it now given most of my training is done in 30 degree weather.

But I got it done early so I could explore. First up: driving over the Sunshine Skyway, an amazing -- and somewhat frightening -- cable bridge. It has emergency call boxes linked to crisis centers at the top. Yes, it's that high.

That bridge lead me to Sarasota and the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. The Ringling Bros. Circus used to have its winter quarters in Sarasota, hence the location of the estate, right up against the Gulf of Mexico.

I say estate because it's not just one art museum. You pay the hefty fee of $25 for entrance to a circus museum, the art museum, and the Ringling home.

Yes, $25 was a lot, but I think it was worth it.

So who would like to be shot out of a canon?

Or play dress up?

I spent most of my time wandering the grounds, which include tree and rose gardens.

As much as I hate humidity, there was something restorative in walking around the estate in that soft, pre-storm air. The rain started right as I pulled out of the parking lot. Perfect timing.

For dinner, I headed to the Don CeSar back in St. Pete Beach. Most people know it as the big pink building, and it's amazing. The only problem, though, was that the pain that has started as a pinprick spiderwebbed around my head, so I took my food to go and ate dinner in my room.

The next morning wasn't much better. I kept up with my marathon training even though I was on vacation, which meant a 14 mile run. I went back to Fort DeSoto for it, which was a mistake. Mid-way through the run, the winds kicked up and I finished the last eight miles into probably 30mph head winds. I was so frustrated at the end that I threw my water bottle into the mangrove trees. Not smart, I know. But after I drank some Gatorade and calmed down, I picked it up and watched a few kite surfers face plant into the water. I don't know if that felt worse than my run, but it was something.

To reward myself for that horrible run, I read through book number three while enjoying the hotel's Bloody Mary bar. I thought it was two for one. That really meant each drink had double the vodka. Um, I went to bed early that night.

I did see what little sun and sunset there was that night amid the haze.

The next morning, it rained, so I flew home standby on an earlier flight. It was a great trip, but maybe I should have stayed longer given the snow we're supposed to get this weekend?

I kid. I had someone waiting at home for me.

My mom watched Emily while I was flitting around Florida. Emily loves my mom, and vice versa, but Emily doesn't quite eat or sleep right while I'm gone. Poor pup.

And that concludes my Florida adventure. Back to the beach soon!

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