We arrived in Florida last Thursday, but we stayed at the Westin in Hollywood for a couple of days. More on the Westin in a few days. For the marathon, yesterday we switched hotels to the Hilton Bentley in South Beach, Miami because of its location.
The Hilton Bentley is a relatively small luxurious hotel. Ben and I are extremely impressed with the level of service at Hilton Bentley. When we checked in, they immediately had all of his information and recognized him as a regular. As such, they immediately gave up an upgrade to a beautiful 1- bedroom suite on the top floor with a wraparound balcony with an ocean view. Incredible!
The suite is gorgeous. The European-made furniture is sleek and modern. The floors are Italian marble. We have a fully functional kitchen, two flat-screen TVs, and a large bathroom with a jacuzzi. The best part is really the balcony, where we relaxed with our coffee and admired waves crashing on the beach.
We also got a complimentary full breakfast. There was an omelet bar, a hot buffet with the usual hot items (pancakes, sausage, bacon, hash browns), and a cold bar with fresh fruit, cheese, bread and bagels, and yogurt. I loved my omelet that I customized with sausage, bell peppers, diced onions, and spinach. We sat outside by the pool to enjoy the sun while eating and drinking copious cups of hot strong coffee.
Because Ben was running in the half marathon on Sunday, we rested all day on Saturday. We soaked in the hot tub, lay around on various lounge chairs, and napped on the chaise lounge on our balcony. Ben carbo-loaded with pho and half a pint of Rocky Road ice cream made by Blue Bell Creameries. This brand of ice cream isn’t available everywhere, which is a pity, because the Rocky Road ice cream was amazing. We loved it and will definitely be getting it again whenever we see this brand.
The 11th annual ING Miami Marathon started at 6:15 am. This is early, but happily for me our hotel was right on the course route on Ocean Dr. at about Mile 4.5. So a few minutes before I expected Ben to run by, I stumbled out of bed, got dressed, and sleepily walked to the sidewalk to cheer on the elites and the forerunners. At 6:50 it was still dark and I peered down the street to watch anxiously for a gray-shirted man. Ben raced past me as I cheered for him. I watched more runners go by before I headed back up to the suite to watch more of the runners.
From my balcony I had a great vantage point of seeing the runners on the street. During the thick of the race, it was like seeing a giant snake coursing its way on the asphalt. I wanted to do a quick run, so I changed into my running clothes and decided to join the crowd for a couple of miles. I originally thought I wanted do a fast one mile, but I realized that there were too many people to run as fast as I would have liked. So I ran at a comfortable clip (just under 9:30) for two miles. Because of the humidity and the crowd, I couldn’t have gone much faster. It was fun to run with crowd and to hear crowds cheering for you.
Ben came back to the hotel around 10 am. I didn’t meet him at the finish line because it would have been too difficult for me to get there. He didn’t have a great time (1:37) for his half marathon because of the humidity, but he did have a great time in doing the half marathon. It’s a beautiful course where you run across two causeways and along the beach. It’s well-organized, has fantastic food at the end of the race, and a beautiful participant medal. I was really impressed with it because both the middle part and the palm tree rotate.
Sadly we’re leaving this warm paradise Monday morning, but we both decided that we’ll be back next year and that I’ll be running this half too.