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Monday, January 18, 2016

Winter in the Keys!

Storm Clouds over Key West
Amazing how connected we are in this small world! I just finished texting two old friends, Rod and Jerry. Actually, they texted me. We haven’t connected in a long time for reasons of just being busy in our own little worlds. We certainly have had some good times being in the military and also in civilian life! The above, is just the moment’s thoughts, as I sat down to start the next blog. Another good reason for wintering in Key West…The ability to stop and reflect ones ideas!
Seaweed making a slippery mess
The one really good thing about Key West is our commitment not to watch TV. We do have a TV in the camper, but no satellite which makes it easy. I’m able to write my blog, take time to read books, which never happens back home and do so many more healthy activities. Maybe this state is setup for retirees! Don’t get me wrong, when we do need to see what is happening around the world, we just “walk” about a quarter mile to the Fly Navy Lodge building and sit in the lobby and tune in to the news. Where else can you sit in an easy chair and talk to Navy pilots, in their off duty hours about world affairs! They all come here at one time or another for training.

Key West Half Marathon 13.12 miles

This afternoon we did a recon of where we will be standing giving out water to the runners. Now let me explain that this past week, the weather here in the Keys has been raining, with extra strong winds. This has pushed seawater and sea weed over the sea walls. The running surface is covered with three to four inches of sea weed along with hundreds of jelly fish. I’m sure the city will have to deploy their sweepers to clean and pickup this mess! This is also the same bikeway, walkway, that we use, when we do our tour around KW ride every other day.

Marathon Update Jan. 17th

I had set the alarm for 5:30am. We had been told to be on our dedicated water station for 6:30am to setup tables, four of them 200 feet or so apart and wait for the first fast runners in about an hour or so. So much for plans!
Toni's Selfie during the race!
The winds started picking up during the night. The 5th wheel camper which weighs 13,000 lbs., or 6-1/2 tons, was wiggling from the gust. It was predicted that we would get wind and thunder storms during the night and day. At 5am, we both had enough tossing and turning and got up. After morning duties and breakfast, we decided to head to our assigned station and wait. We brought reading materials. As we walked out the door, our neighbor Toni came out and asked if we could give her a ride to the starting line. She is an Army veteran and not retired but AGR.
We got into the truck and Helen’s phone rang. Carol, our water station leader, informed us that the race was to be delayed one hour because of a severe storm coming our way. I started the truck and we decided, all three of us, that we were up and going to our individual points would be better than hanging around the camper. I dropped off Toni at the Half Shell start point and headed to the other side of the Island to our station.
This is where it gets interesting! After a few turns, I was on South Roosevelt Ave. Wow, even before getting there, down at the famous Buoy, the ocean waves were hitting the sea wall and spraying the houses across the street some 75 feet away! Back on S. Roosevelt, the highway had orange cones every 50 feet to keep the runners and cars separated. The cones were flying all over the place. We came across two Porto Potties that had slid across the highway. One had flipped over. The seaweed covered much of the runners’ lane. This was all on the windward side of the Island. Our station was on the leeward side, with little wind. I found a spot to park the truck and settled in, for what I thought a long wait. Jack and Carol, our team leaders showed up soon and we were quickly setting up four stations with water and Gator Aid. The race started about an hour after the scheduled start time.
Here She Comes...Halfway Home!
They run rain or shine. Luckily, the heavy rain fell in that one hour delay. I was shocked to see the first runner coming towards us! No one else was even in site. No water for him! He was on a mission. The halfway turn around point was just a short distance up the road. The runners have their numbers and a special digital tag that registers as they go by different check points. No cheating here!
Jack warned us that it would get very busy when the bulk of runners started to show up. He was so very right! Four thousand runners is a lot of water cups to fill and give out. They didn’t all take water, but most did and surprisingly many stopped for a potty break.
How many gallons does it take for that many runners? Well, I didn’t count, but a U-Haul truck was filled with milk style crates. I’m going to guess around 250 gallons. Thousand of cups and dozens of trash bags!
Our neighbor, Toni, came through and was gracious enough to stop for a selfie with us! Go Toni!! The real nice thing about the Key West “Military” campground is the nice people you get to meet!
Once the 99% of runners came by, we still had a few chores to handle. Remember those thousand of cups? Well, 99% of them were on the ground. My exercise for today was thousands of “squats” for those “bend and reach” to those cups. Surprisingly, it didn’t take that long for the cleanup.
Our Volunteer Team at the
New York Pasta Garden
Jack and Carol said, “You’ve got to come to breakfast”. This was at New York Pasta Garden. Arrangement were previously made and the restaurant was waiting for our team to arrive. Around thirty-six of us were on hand. Drinks were on the house, well we are not big drinkers especially in mid morning, but a Bloody Mary did go well with the breakfast. We spent some time chatting about everything from the race to hurricanes. Jack invited us to go sailing on sailing ship, which for the life of me, I can’t remember the name.
This was a memorable day for our “first official" Half Marathon volunteering day!

That is what we saw and did!

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