Sunday, June 30, 2019

Captiva Island Mini-Vacay

A few months ago, Matt placed 1st in his division in a SUP race. All the first place winners were entered into a drawing for some amazing prizes, and Matt won the best of the lot: a two-night stay on Captiva Island and a full-day boat rental! (For those of you who have been reading here for awhile, this is the second time Matt has won a stay on Sanibel/Captiva!)
Winner winner!
We opted to pay to upgrade our cottage and invited my sister and Gordon. We invited my brother, too, but he couldn't make it. This past weekend, the four of us enjoyed our little getaway.

Matt and I arrived at Jensen's Marina Resort for check-in just after 3pm and ahead of the evening's storms. We hung out at the end of the pier and counted dolphins while we watched the storm come in.
When Steph and Gordon arrived, we decided to get dinner at one at Captiva's most famous restaurants, the Bubble Room. The Bubble Room is known for its overwhelming decor (everything from Christmas decorations, antique toys, and old black-and-whites of celebrities) and gigantic cake slices. Although the Bubble Room isn't new to anyone familiar with Captiva, Matt and I only knew about their cake; we were blown away by the variety of menu items and huge portion sizes.
Gordon and Matt dug into the bubble bread and sticky buns while Steph and I stuck with our starter salads. (Hashtag celiaclife.) I ordered the Alice in Wonderland, which consisted of mozzarella cheese, sautéed spinach, and roasted red peppers sandwiched between two portobello mushrooms and drizzled in balsamic glaze and pesto. I'd never had anything like it and it was divine. 
Not pictured: my salad, twice-baked potato, and veggies. 
The guys obviously couldn't say no to dessert (and neither could Steph), and we brought home slices of orange crunch cake, red velvet cake, and Key Lime pie.

Saturday morning we got up early for our boat day. There was some bad weather predicted for the afternoon, so our plan was to get an early start, go to our farthest destination first, then work our way back, stopping for lunch on the way.
The ride out to Cayo Costa was perfect. I get really nervous around water (literally only a free trip and a weekend with people I love could get me on a boat), but I managed to enjoy myself by looking for dolphins. We sighted a ton. The novelty never wears off!
Once we docked at Cayo Costa, a tiny island accessible only by boat, we rented bikes and made our way across the island to the beaches on the gulf side. It was fun to explore; I actually really dislike biking but these beach cruisers had super cushiony seats and it was fun to ride along together. The only downside to the trip was that the no-see-ums and mosquitos were out in droves; any time we paused they would converge on us immediately. It was pretty creepy to see a swarm of them land on you all at once!
When we got back to the boat, we were ready to head to lunch at Cabbage Key. The Cabbage Key restaurant is known for its dollar-covered walls and ceiling. We definitely partook in that tradition by adding our own dollar, and we chose a very specific location to hang it: directly on top of one that said MAGA. I think our message was much more positive.
After lunch, we walked around to see the gopher tortoises that live near the restaurant and debated whether or not to head back. The radar showed the worst of the storms coming in at 2pm, and we didn't want to get caught in it, but we also didn't want to wait over an hour for it to pass us. So we opted to head back; the return trip to the marina was really choppy and the light rain we went through was positively stinging, but looking back, it wasn't so bad.

(Don't get me wrong, I was an anxious wreck during most of it and during the worst I dissociated but once we were on land again I could look back with rose-colored glasses.)

We showered and relaxed, playing some board games out by the pier, until we felt ready for dinner.
We walked to Doc Ford's for dinner; my shrimp and grits was the favorite at the table and Steph finally got the virgin Pina Colada she'd been talking about all week.
Then we hitched a ride on a golf cart shuttle back to the main strip, where we got ice cream and sat on the beach until sunset. It was the most incredible sunset I've seen in ages.
Steph and Gordon headed back to the east coast early on Sunday, and Matt and I explored the JN Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge for a little while before we made our way home as well.
I am so glad we had the opportunity to take a mini vacation and share it with Steph and Gordon. It was so relaxing and definitely a highlight of my summer so far!


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

St. Augustine Trip/The National & Courtney Barnett

This summer, we don't have a big trip planned. Unlike last year, when Scott and Robby's wedding took us to the PNW, we didn't have a big excuse to travel but we did have some reasons to stay local.

The biggest reason is my sister's wedding this summer, but that'll be a post for a different time.

Our first "local" adventure for the summer was five hours away. Sometime in the spring, a friend alerted me that one of my all-time favorite bands, The National, would be touring in St. Augustine. This is about a five hour trip for us, but Matt and I literally never go to concerts (I think the last one I went to was in 2006?) and we have friends up that way, so it felt like it had to happen.

I eventually was able to twist Matt's arm and we booked the tickets and sprang for a nice hotel. The concert was on a Monday. We drove up to Sarasota Friday to see our dads for Father's Day, then left early Saturday morning to St. Augustine.

The first part of the weekend we dedicated to seeing Mark and Shane. Mark's entire family was at their beach house for Father's Day/Mark's birthday, so it was a boisterous, fun time. We're talking loads of little kiddos and the best Italian/Argentinian hospitality.
I managed a run on Sunday morning; despite living in Florida, I've never actually run on the beach before. I always run along it on pavement. I decided, though, to give beach running a try, as the sand seemed pretty packed and the sunrise was unbeatable over the ocean. I will say it was a lot tougher than I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot!
Matt also got some surfing in, which he can't usually do on our coast because the Gulf has smaller waves than the Atlantic.
After a huge family-style dinner and birthday celebration, we headed out to our hotel. Here's a video of Mark's incredibly dangerous and amazing birthday candle:
Monday, we spent the day walking around the Old Town part of St. Augustine. The city is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established city in the US. The history is pretty interesting (the museums don't sugarcoat the treatment of the Timucua by the Spanish colonists) and the atmosphere and architecture are beautiful. St. Augustine is also home to the country's oldest still-standing wooden school house, which I always think is some fun trivia.
At the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest & largest masonry fort in the US.
After touring around, we got ready for the concert, grabbed some dinner, and headed to the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. We had plenty of time to find our seats and get comfortable before Courtney Barnett opened. Matt and I really like her music, and I have to say I was blown away by her live performance. I hadn't even realized she was opening until the day before, so it was a treat to see her!
Courtney Barnett! She played for about 45 minutes.
The rest of the concert was incredible. The National is one of those bands that gets to the heart of human nature through both their sound and lyrics. Matt Berninger (the lead singer) came out into the audience a few times, climbing pretty far up into the stands. I didn't get very many photos because I was trying to just enjoy myself and take it all in; I pretty much took one when they first came out and then a couple little videos.
The National takes the stage!

Although they didn't play Matt's favorite song of theirs, they did play quite a few of mine, and I admit I teared up during Bloodbuzz Ohio.

The set list
For the last song of their encore, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, they played the instrumental while the audience sang, urged on by Berninger. It was so, so beautiful.

I don't know why we don't attend more concerts. Hearing songs I love as they are filled with raw, pure energy straight from the band directly to my ears? What's better? And there is just nothing quite like singing your heart out with the band to music that means something to you...surrounded by strangers also singing their hearts out.

I am hoping to make concerts a more frequent thing, because it was 100% worth the trip and an experience I'll remember forever.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Walk with Pride, Run for Equality 5k

A couple weeks ago, whoever manages social media for Run for the Bling (Bling Running Events) planted a seed in my brain that I just couldn't uproot. Like, full kudos to them, because they absolutely convinced me to run this 5k that I otherwise wouldn't have known about!
Now THIS is some A+ marketing!
After my disappointing race the previous Saturday at the SUP & Run 5k, I couldn't shake the idea that another 5k for a cause I care passionately about was just what I needed. I was honest with myself; the hope of placing or somehow having a redemption race was alluring, but I also knew I wasn't in any better shape than the previous weekend and this was another 8am start.

Still, my logical brain was outvoted by my lizard brain, and I convinced Matt to race with me by using the same tactics as the race organizer: "It would be easy for you to place!" I wheedled. "Only 65 people are registered!"
Race morning!
So the morning of June 1, the first day of Pride Month, found us up early and making the long drive down to Eagle Lakes Community Park in Naples. It was stormy during our drive, but sunny at the venue. I knew we were in for another hot one. However, my mindset was very different. For some reason, I just felt very positive about the race and my worry about not "performing" had abated.

We had plenty of time to use the bathrooms and get ready. There were only 46 participants there for the actual race (there was a virtual option), and the smaller crowd further helped my mindset. The start was very casual; we all lined up, there was an informal sort of countdown, and then we went!

The beginning of the route looped us around a small lake in the park. I could see Matt at the head of the line, clearly in second place overall. It was already hot and sunny for the first half mile, but then we hit some shade, and enjoyed the shade on and off for the rest of the route.
If any race called for a rainbow, it was this one!
Around mile 1.5 I stopped to take a photo of a very apropos rainbow. I caught up with the girl in front of me and we chatted a bit and ended up kind of leap-frogging each other for the duration of the race. Around mile 1.8 I took my first short walk break; my first mile had been much faster than anticipated and I felt I had banked some time.

At this point, my legs and body were just tired. I was hot and feeling complacent, but in a good way. In a whatever happens happens, I'm out here enjoying myself kind of way. I took a couple more walk breaks in the second mile.

My impromptu running buddy pulled ahead with a definitive lead at some point, and I just kept trucking along. By the last half mile, I felt there was a real danger that I might puke, but there was one more woman I wanted to overtake and I had a view of the finish line, so walking wasn't an option.
When I rounded the finish, the clock read 29:53. I knew I didn't have it in me to get that sub-30, but it was a close thing.
I managed to cross in 30:12, which was faster than SUP & Run but still not quite where I like my 5ks. Maybe this is just my summer pace!
Matt had already finished; he told me he had finished 2nd overall and the guy in front of him was so far ahead he didn't even try to catch him. He also said he took a wrong turn and came back, warned people about the wrong turn, and still finished 2nd. (He wasn't the only one to miss the turn. I guess that's the danger of being ahead of the pack!)
I pretty much collapsed in the shade after my finish, lying flat on my back while my body just poured sweat. It was definitely one of the most unpleasant finishes I've ever had.
Just before they announced awards, I scoped out the results list and suspected I may have placed 3rd in my AG.
They did awards after most everyone had finished. Because they announced men's age groups first in 3-2-1 order, my name was called right after Matt's, and I heard someone in the crowd say, "That must be his wife!" Yes, the Kearneys brought it today!
My leap-frogging friend was 2nd in our AG and I didn't even feel a little bad about it; in fact, I felt really happy that we had run some of the race together and that she'd had a good day. I was feeling very magnanimous.
Although my time still wasn't where I like my race times to be, I was (ironically) pretty happy with my overall pace. There's apparently been a disconnect in my head regarding sub-30 times and paces, and seeing a solidly sub-10 overall pace mollified me. I have come to terms with my current summer fitness level and don't feel bad about walking, especially because the heat we're having is utterly ridiculous right now. I did what I could, managed to place, and supported a great cause.

Next year, I hope this race grows a bit (this was its first year) to further the cause. If it can expand without outgrowing its venue, that would be the best of both worlds!