February 2, 2015

Night Before the Race: Melbourne Music Marathon

What a fantastic weekend! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you already know how thrilled I am with Sunday’s race results… but I have to say, going into it I wasn’t feeling all too confident.

Thursday night, I was lucky enough to have dinner at a restaurant I’ve been trying forever to get into, Marmalade. It’s a bit pricey because it’s prix-fixe, but the food is fantastic! If you are ever going to Old San Juan, I would definitely recommend it as worthwhile to try to make a reservation – though know that it can be a little tricky to get in. It’s a hot spot for sure!

As luck would have it, while at the restaurant I also ran into a few guy friends from college who were celebrating a bachelor party! I tried to stay out of their way, since no one wants to be the random woman crashing a guy’s event. But it’s sometimes funny how small the world is, that we would see each other years later in an island not even part of the continental US. I was really glad we at least got to say hi 🙂

On Friday, I went ziplining in a beautiful park about an hour from San Juan – Toro Verde. I had stayed out pretty late the night before (4 hours of sleep = yikes!) and was planning to sleep on the bus ride there, but ended up not being able to sleep thanks to our uber-enthusiastic guide. That’s okay; for ziplining, all you really have to do is let them strap you in and just hang on for the ride, right?

Well, perhaps my exhaustion is the reason why I somehow didn’t freak out…. when my carabiner opened up in the middle of the fourth zipline. You know, while I was flying over a huge canyon where falling would have meant certain death. WTF?! I didn’t have any kind of life-flashes-before-my-eyes moment, though, and I was surprisingly calm even when I realized that I was in a pretty bad situation. But in thinking about it, I realized that while you’re on the zipline, your body weight is pulling the carabiner directly down – so even if the carabiner is open, you’re not going anywhere unless you somehow hit a bump (which doesn’t happen in ziplining – it’s a straight shot). The only risk was going to be when I hit the foam block at the end that would slow me down to a stop, and since that was at least twenty seconds away, I just wasn’t going to think about it for the time being. (I know, who the heck is this totally zen Laura and what happened to Ms. Super Uptight I-Plan-For-All-Circumstances?)

So I just continued looking at the scenery under me and honestly still enjoying the ride; I just made sure that I wasn’t touching the carabiner/rope/harness in case I knocked it out of position or something. (Ordinarily, you grab the carabiner and push it to one side or the other in order to turn your body; this time, I just let myself spin however the wind blew.) I arrived at the next hut safely, told the guide what happened (freaking out everyone else, most of whom were already a little nervous about the expedition), and after an initial period where he didn’t believe me that the carabiner had been open (“but these are self-locking!” “Okay, well, it didn’t lock itself…”) he swapped out my original carabiner for a new one. At that point, as I waited for my turn on the next zipline, I got pretty nervous – but as soon as that one went fine, I felt great and was able to relax and enjoy the views.

Puerto Rico Zipline Tour
The view from the top of one of the zipline platforms – how gorgeous are those flowers and that rainbow (on the left, you may need to click to zoom in)?! But it is definitely a long way down if anything were to happen…

That night, I went to Toro Salao for dinner, where I had been with Theodora and Ashley when we were in Puerto Rico for Theodora’s 30th birthday last year. The food was just as great as I remembered it, and the cocktails were excellent as well – highly recommend this as well. I tried to call it an early night, since I needed to be up at 4am the next morning for my flight to Florida, and it definitely wasn’t as late as Thursday night. However, I still didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked – only about six hours. I have always said that two nights before the race is the most critical one in which to get your sleep in, and data proves it. Unfortunately, it was the night before the race that I was able to get plenty of sleep… two nights before, not so much 🙁

Fortunately, waking up at 4am on Saturday wasn’t quite as hard as I would have thought; in fact, while I had planned to sleep on the two hour flight back to Florida, I ended up getting a ton of work done on my laptop. However, the drive up the coast from Miami Airport was tough – I was so exhausted that it was hard for me to focus and stay alert, and I kept grabbing breath mints from my purse to try to help keep me awake.

Once I got to West Palm Beach, though, I stopped to meet up with my friend Kelli, walk around the gorgeous outdoor farmer’s market on the bay, and catch up – just like when I had visited last spring. However, there was one big difference this visit – rather than Kelli having a belly full of baby, her son Zavin was born this fall, and she was instead carrying him around in a sling! He was the cutest thing ever, and I was really excited (though also a little nervous) when, while sitting on a bench in the park, I got to hold him. I don’t think I’ve ever held a baby before, and I was a little scared, but he seemed to like me and it was all good 🙂 (Is it bad that I was more scared to hold a baby than to be dangling a few thousand feet over a canyon on a zipline with a broken carabiner?) I also got to meet her boyfriend’s two adorable sons, and when we headed back to their house, it seemed that I would never be able to leave because they had so many toys they “needed” to show me before I could go 🙂 Too cute!

I couldn’t stay to see all their toys, though, because I had to head up north to Melbourne so that I could pick up my race packet at the expo before it closed. Although this was a small race, they didn’t allow day-of-race packet pickup, so I needed to get there by 5pm. The drive up there was a straight shot on I-95, so nice and easy, but once again I was exhausted. Therefore, when I got to Melbourne around 4pm, my plan was simple: get my packet, go to dinner as soon as I was done at the expo, and check into my hotel and go straight to bed by 7pm. (I mean, that’s what time all Floridians go to bed, right?) I didn’t care if it was ridiculous for me to go bed that early; I was sooooo tired!

The expo was at the Hilton Melbourne Beach Oceanfront – which, as the name implies, happened to be right on the beach. The organizers took full advantage of that location by having half the vendors outside under a tent literally right on the beach! That was the coolest expo location I’ve ever seen.

Melbourne Marathon Expo on Beach
Not shown in this picture: the tiki bar just to the left of the camera frame. Though I don’t know if that’s actually a good thing to tempt me the night before a race…

I was going to head straight to dinner from the expo, and had found a place on Yelp that had fantastic reviews and a yummy-sounding menu. But when I went to pull up directions, I saw that the restaurant I had chosen didn’t open for dinner until 5pm – so since it was only 4:30pm, I would have to wait for dinner. #ElderlyProblems. To make use of the time, I headed to my hotel to check in and drop my stuff off, and then went back into town for dinner. I got to my chosen restaurant, Tuscany Grill, around 6:15pm, which was much later than I planned, but the yummy penne a la vodka with grilled shrimp and scallops really hit the spot… so I justified the later 8:30pm (okay 10pm by the time I finished reading this scary autobiography, Brain on Fire) bedtime as worth it.

With a wakeup call of 5am for the race, though, I wasn’t thrilled to only be getting seven hours of sleep. Seven hours would ordinarily be just fine, but I’ve been so short on sleep for the last week or two that I was really looking forward to hopefully doing some catch up… no dice. So, that meant a cumulative 28 hours of sleep over the five days before the race? We will see how this goes…

(To be continued on Wednesday when I finish writing my race report – it will take me some time!)


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