Swim, bike, milkshake

October 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Yesterday Mack was playing on the computer and Chewie jumped into his lap and Mack said, “Mom, take a picture!”

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You don’t have to ask me twice.

Last night Chad and I watched Sons of Anarchy on Tivo. Man, this week’s episode was really murder/death-packed. I feel like there needs to be something sort of feel-good about the show to balance it out. There doesn’t seem to be any hopeful storyline right now. Still, I love it.

The tooth fairy managed to make it to our house last night (whew).

This morning I was up at 5:30 a.m. to drink coffee and get ready to head out to the beach to meet some friends for an open water swim and bike ride. We were meeting at 7:00 and when I got out there (a few minutes early) it was still pitch dark.

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These photos actually make it look like there was more light than there was. Our new little point and shoot camera is totally amazing in low-light conditions (on the automatic setting).

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It just seems to grab the light and magnify it with very little blur or noise in the photo.

We met at Hurley Park in Pass-a-grille (the southern tip of St. Pete Beach).

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I took these photos with the “good” camera (the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 point and shoot) before my friends arrived. The photos don’t look it, but there was almost no light on the beach. This is facing west towards the Gulf of Mexico, and of course the sun rises in the east, so this was the darker horizon. Still, the camera found light.

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My friends Kelly and Michelle arrived and we set off on our one mile walk from Hurley Park down to the Don Cesar Hotel. We were doing the same route that I did once before when I swam with the St. Pete Mad Dogs Triathlon Club. From this point on the pictures were taken with my waterproof Kodak easyshare sport C123.

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It was about 7:20 by this time and the horizon was beginning to brighten.

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It was a beautiful morning.

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Our destination, the Don Cesar:

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Just before we stepped into the water:

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I decided to try swimming with my iFitness running belt around my waist to hold my camera. I also stuck my Garmin Forerunner 205 inside of a snack size Ziploc and put it in my iFitness belt which I turned around so the pockets would be on my back while swimming. I had Googled some instructions on how to use the Garmin 205/305 while open water swimming (generally it is not recommended to swim with these models), and the consensus was to put it in your swim cap with the satellite antenna facing forward and upward. I decided to see if it would work in my running belt (the pockets of which are made of neoprene). I hit “start” on the Garmin just as we entered the water.

At around a quarter mile into our swim the sun rose.

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The running belt didn’t bother me at all while swimming. I didn’t even notice it was there.

The surf was not too bad this morning. It was definitely better than the last open water swim that I did with the Mad Dogs. It seemed like before I knew it we were back at Hurley Park.

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Approximately one mile open water swim done!

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I say “approximately” because the Garmin experiment was a total fail. I did do back stroke a few times during the swim, so that definitely would have caused the satellite connection to cut out, but I think maybe the “stop” button got pushed or something. It said we swam something like 256 feet (I’ll put the chart below later in this post). NOT! Upon further research on Google I have decided that I definitely need to put it in my swim cap next time for it to have any chance of working.

I’m also researching other GPS options for swimming. Garmin makes the 910XT which is the bad mama-jama of swimming GPS watches. It does everything. It’s also $500 with the heart rate monitor. They have a 310XT which is waterproof, but doesn’t actually measure your swim distance with GPS and is $350 ($400 with heart rate monitor). Timex makes one called the Ironman Global Trainer which does measure distance by GPS and it’s only $190 which is cheap, comparatively. Of course you can find deals on the internet on all of these watches, but still…very expensive. I’m just looking, not buying (for now).

After the swim we rinsed off in the beach shower and changed into biking gear…

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had a few snacks…

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and took off towards Fort DeSoto.

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They are building a new causeway (scheduled to be completed summer 2014!) to eliminate this draw bridge.

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Biking over these bridges is a little nerve-wracking as there is no bike lane and no shoulder. Also, the draw bridges themselves are a metal grating, so it’s rough going over them with road bike tires. But it was a truly lovely morning…not too hot and low humidity.

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Just past those sand mountains we made the turn to Fort DeSoto and towards more bridges.

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My friends often make comments about how good I am at the arm-lengths photos. Not always, especially not while biking. I promise that I’m really safe when taking these photos. I don’t do it if there are cars anywhere near or if I’m in a hairy situation at all.

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The ride out to Fort DeSoto is awesome because there is a nice bike lane.

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If you go by bike you don’t have to pay the tolls.

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The Sunshine Skyway Bridge off in the distance:

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They had the Suncoast Triathlon this morning at Fort DeSoto and we passed a group of the bikers returning to their cars as the triathlon was over by the time we got out there.

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Shout out to my friend Christie O. (of Average Moms Wear Capes) who did the triathlon this morning and huge congrats to my friend Britt who took a third place there! Woohoo ladies!! I’m jealous. I think I need to do a sprint tri and just plan to run/walk the 5K.

Finally we arrived at Fort DeSoto.

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This is the actual historical fort:

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We stopped at one of the snack bars for a minute.

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At that point we had biked a little over 10 miles. I was feeling great. I had been worried about how I would feel this morning since I was sick last week (and apparently Cal now has strep throat), but I felt fine and swimming a mile in the ocean is like spending 45 minutes with a netti-pot.

Kelly stayed at the snack bar to buy a bottle of water and Michelle and I went on down around the circle at the end of North Beach (another few miles). All of the biking out at the end of Fort DeSoto was through strong winds and by the time we hooked back up with Kelly I felt exhausted. It seemed like one minute I felt great and the next I felt spent. When we hit the first bridge on the way back it was brutal.

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Beautiful, but brutal.

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I was too exhausted on the rest of the bike to take any more pictures. We were all very happy to make it back to the cars.

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In all I biked 25.5 miles.

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So, one mile swim, 25.5 mile bike. Ignore the screwed up first lap where the GPS didn’t work during the swim (and it picks a skiing icon when you choose “other”):

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Not a bad average pace, and way to go Kelly doing the whole thing on a beach cruiser! [edited to add: NOT a beach cruiser. It was a hybrid. But Kelly is still a rock star.] Thank you Michelle and Kelly for a fun and challenging work out this morning. You guys are awesome.

On my exit from St. Pete Beach I hit that draw bridge:

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I was totally starving on the way home. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before heading out to the beach this morning, then ate that Soy Joy bar before the bike, but after all that I was HUNGRY. I stopped by Evos on my way home.

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I got a Championburger (veggie burger) and airfries and a cappuccino milkshake.

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The milkshake didn’t really make it home.

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So good. I love Evos. Michelle and Kelly and I had a discussion when we were done biking about whether we feel like eating healthy or eating unhealthy after intense exercise. I generally want something indulgent. Well, I always want something indulgent. Thus, my weight.

While I was out swimming and biking the boys went on a “fishy” walk and then went to the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading at USF St. Pete.

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This was the 20th anniversary of this festival, and we have gone many, many times. One time Chad and I heard Tim Robbins speak back when the festival was held at Eckerd College. Today the boys got 18 books for $13!

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And here’s a cute picture of my nephew Cody that my sister texted to me today:

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Looks like it is definitely fall in Charlotte, North Carolina. Wish I was there so I could give him a big hug!

Since I got home from my morning adventures I have been sitting at my desk eating and writing this blog post. At some point I need to go wash all the sea salt and sweat salt off of me and get ready to go out. We’ve got some family fun planned for tonight!

Hope you are enjoying your weekend. Cya.

Cuban Sandwich Festival in Ybor City

May 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm

After all the kids left this morning, I headed to the gym for Bodyflow.

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This class has always been at 10:15 on Saturdays, but they recently changed the schedule and now it is at 11:15. There was a smaller than normal turn-out, so I’m guessing it might be because of the later time.

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The class was good, but I janked up my knee somehow coming out of a Hindi squat. It wasn’t hurting that badly right after class, so I was hoping it was no big deal. I skipped relaxation, the last 8 minutes of class, to hurry home so that the boys and I could head to Ybor City in Tampa for the Cuban Sandwich Festival.

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Mack fell asleep in the car on the way there. He was exhausted from his party (so was I).

Centennial Park in Ybor was PACKED!

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The first thing we saw when we arrived were tons of people standing in extremely long lines.

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We did a once-around the entire festival to check things out.

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We were really looking for the Hialeah’s Cuban Guys kiosk, because they were supposed to have Miami-style Cubans which do not have salami, unlike Tampa-style Cubans. We never did find them. We even asked multiple vendors and people in the crowd and all we got were shoulder shrugs and blank stares.

Centennial Park was beyond packed. It was even hard just to walk around the festival, much less get any food. We only saw about five or six vendors actually selling Cubans (despite the poster above that says “Up to 40 Florida Restaurants Competing!”). There were tons of vendors, however, selling just typical festival food. We were there for Cubans, darnit! Every vendor that was actually selling pressed Cubans had an insane line…like 50+ people. And the lines were moving at a snails pace. We inadvertently ended up in one of the lines at one point and just stayed in that line while we discussed what we were going to do.

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I should mention that it was about 1:30, we were starving, and it was close to 95 degrees out there in the blaring sun. In our trip around the festival we had noticed that there was no line in front of the kiosk for Alessi Bakery, so I left Chad and the boys in the never-ending line and went over to the Alessi stand to check it out.

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It turned out that the reason they had no line is that all they had were cold Cubans (Tampa-style), and everyone was waiting in the huge lines for pressed Cubans. Since we couldn’t find the vendor we really wanted to try, and we were starving, we decided to go for the Alessi Cuban.

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We split it four ways and found a semi-shady spot to wolf it down.

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It was pretty tasty, but obviously we were still hungry, so we decided to just find something else to eat other than a Cuban. We pushed our way through the crowds and I ended up standing in a shorter line at this place…

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for chicken and beans and rice.

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While I was standing in line for that, Chad stood in another line to get hot dogs for the boys. By the time I got the chicken, the boys had already finished their hot dogs. Chad and I shared the chicken and beans and rice and it was really good.

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Overall the Cuban Sandwich Festival was really disappointing. I was expecting tons of Cuban sandwich vendors to choose from, which was not apparent. I was not expecting it to be so overwhelmingly crowded. They also had a bunch of craft vendors, like almost as many as there were food vendors, which I thought was kind of odd. They had extremely loud live Latin music blasting in the park, which was pretty good and I didn’t mind, but it made it really hard to communicate with each other and with the vendors.

I just think the festival was poorly organized, but by the size of the crowds, I’d guess that the organizers consider it a success. However, unless it is at a larger venue with more actual Cuban-sellers next time (although with the false advertising, I don’t know how we would be able to determine that), we won’t return to this festival. It just wasn’t worth the drive to Tampa, the $7 for parking, and facing the intense heat.

We had contemplated just walked through Ybor and looking for a restaurant at which to buy Cubans, and I wish we had done that. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.

Mack fell asleep again on the car ride back to St. Pete.

Now I’m bumming because the knee that I twisted this morning is throbbing. Seriously painful. I hope it’s better tomorrow, because I want to go to Bodypump and yoga at the Dali. I’m feeling kind of defeated by today. Maybe it’s just because I’m worn out from the party last night and the day’s activities. I think I’ll go ice my knee.