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February 1, 2012 / bikesbytesbites

Weekend in Palm Beach

Back Story

A few months ago, a friend and I were talking about getting old. I, in particular, was complaining about being slower in bicycling and, in general, not performing as well as I used to in my “younger years”.  This friend had a brilliant suggestion – you need to take up a new activity!  That way, you are consistently improving, and have no past performances to compare yourself to.  She cited a friend of hers who had recently started singing lessons, had joined a choir and was loving it.

I don’t think something physical is what my friend had in mind, but, as my new activity, I decided to try running, to train seriously, and to participate in a 5K race! So, I needed an actual 5K race as a goal to work towards.  Knowing that I typically schedule a visit to my father down in Florida sometime in January, I asked Google about “5K Florida January” and out popped the Komen 5K Run for the Cure in West Palm Beach on Saturday, January 28 .

Sold! I registered for the race, bought an airline ticket, booked a hotel room, and found a training plan to get myself from where I was (an occasional runner, mostly when I was traveling and couldn’t bicycle) to finishing a 5K.  The training plan promised to take me from not running to a 5k in 13 weeks.  Since I was kind of running and had only 10 weeks before the race, I followed the last 10 weeks of the plan, as religiously as I’ve ever followed any training plan.


I got to West Palm Beach on Friday afternoon, explored enough to find the race registration site and starting line, and played tourist for the rest of the day and evening. Old downtown West Palm Beach (Clematis St) is a bit run-down, but there are still some nice restaurants and upscale businesses, both new (Design Within Reach) and old (Pioneer Linens ). Most of the action downtown is in City Place, developed since 2000.

The Race

The Women’s 5k race was set to start at 7 AM.  At around 6, I set out, on my bicycle (I keep a “spare”, the Nishiki/fixie at my father’s place, and had brought it with me) and locked the bike about a block from race registration. I registered, got my T-shirt and race bib (with embedded timing chip), and had time to admire the view and the other participants.

Middle Bridge

Middle Bridge with Pink Lights

Got near the start line at around 6:50, and we were off at 7 AM. I ran my race.  It was an out-and-back course along Flagler Drive, on the Intracoastal Water. For the first mile, many more people were passing me than I was passing, but it was all quite civilized.  A little later, we saw the fast runners start to appear on the return leg – very inspiring.  After the two mile point, I actually started to pass more people than were passing me – I might be slow, but I set a consistent pace.  I was trying for a little over 10-minute miles and I made my goal!

After I finished, I rode back to the hotel, cleaned up, and returned to the race site about an hour later, in time to see the official times posted, hear the award ceremonies, and walk through the booths and collect swag – most of it pink. (Note to event organizers: The absolutely best sponsor was Dunkin Donuts, which was offering free coffee both before and after the race.)  And my favorite part of the race preparation was the decorated porta-johns: I think there must be a contest:

Decorated PortaJohns at Race for the Cure

After the Race

I spent part of Saturday afternoon bicycling and walking around Palm Beach.  Here is where the wealth is.  Part of the “walk” was window shopping on Worth Avenue. Not only are there designer shops, but couture shops. I wandered into a few art galleries and had a wonderful surprise when I happened into Gallery Biba and saw  four works by Julian Opie. I say “works” because I don’t know how to categorize them.  They hang on the walls like paintings, but the medium is “lenticular”.   These are similar in spirit to the images I saw last spring, prominently featured at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art – which are LEDs!

I think my pictures – which actually hint at some of the movement – are better than the one still on the museum web site.  But drat! I didn’t take any pictures of the lenticulars at that gallery on Worth Ave. And I also loved the objects/sculptures by Jonathan Stein. Very Andy Warhol, updated for this century.

After Worth Ave I continued cycling north on Palm Beach Island until I got to the Breakers.  Now, this demanded a stop.  No surprise, there was no bicycle parking, but the Nishiki made itself right at home.  The hotel is glorious; ask the concierge for the write-up describing its history.

Nishiki at the Breakers

Nishiki at the Breakers

Saturday night I was awarded a free dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Bistro 1003 – one of the perks of spending a lot of nights in Marriott hotels. Everything was excellent – shrimp with grits, crab cake, crème brule.

That was followed by a performance of the Miami City Ballet in the Kravis Center, just across the street from the hotel. Miami City Ballet is a big proponent of Ballanchine, and I was especially looking forward to the Robbins and Ballanchine dances.  However, the highlight was the new ballet – Viscera.  It was such a highlight that it was even reviewed by the NY Times.

In Retrospect

That was great! Do I try to repeat it next year? Or do I try to find a 10k closer to home and train for that?  (Galloway has a 10k training plan, and another friend, back to running after years away, is considering a half-marathon or marathon …) Decisions, decisions …

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