Thursday, February 2, 2017

#ThankYouMiamiGoesToKeyWest - Key West Half Marathon Trip 2017

Last month my sister Carla and I ran the Key West Half Marathon together, a decision we made haphazardly while waiting to see Suicide Squad at the Regal South Beach. We're both runners—Carla ran the Boston Marathon in 2015 and I have run 4 other half marathons—so registering to run the race wasn't a shocking move. But our family hasn't had the chance to travel together in years and the Key West Half Marathon is a destination marathon (#3 in Runner's World list of top 10 destination half marathons) so we basically planned a rare family vacation in the spur of the a movie theater lobby.

For a casually planned trip, our three-day stay in Key West was super memorable. We owe most of it to mamá who, with faja and Carla's boyfriend Colby, joined us for the weekend. (If you want an event to be well-organized, call a mom.) Thanks to her, our vacation HQ was a waterfront room at the Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel with stunning sunset views. She also subsidized a post-race sunset sail aboard Fury Key West's Commotion on the Ocean where Carla and I celebrated a half-marathon personal record with a glass of champagne and tunes by The Cory Heydon Band. I danced like a lunatic. Carla stared in envy from her seat, collateral damage to the soreness in her legs.

The focus of the trip was the race—preparing for it, carb-loading for it, resting for it, recovering from it—so our time to explore Key West was limited. That said, we managed to get a lot in. Our lessons learned? La Trattoria Oceanside is a clutch dinner choice, pre-race or not. (A huge thanks to my friend Roy for the recommendation!) Their Italian fare, particularly the olive oil/balsamic/parmesan bread dip, the bruschetta, and the fish entrées, were winners in all of our books.

For lunch on the boat, we recommend eating at or getting take out from Fisherman's Cafe. It's right at the marina and it has a stellar Yelp reputation. Conversely, unless you're absolutely desperate, skip the pedicabs. They're ridiculously expensive and I would've rather walked across the island, no matter how tired my legs were. Other tourist traps: anything on Duval and the Southernmost Point—although everyone should go to both at least once.

If you're a runner, I highly recommend running the Key West Half Marathon. The course was beautiful, the race was well organized, and the ambiance was so welcoming. (The runners in the race felt like family, so much so one runner saved another's life after she finished the race.) You can bet you'll see us at the starting line next year for the race's 20th anniversary, if not to run then to get our annual fill of Key West's good vibes.

What are your favorite Key West spots? What are your favorite travel destinations?


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