That time I ran 80 miles on a cruise

For the 4th straight year, Sam and I made our week-long pilgrimage to Miami for The Rockboat and a (very) welcome reprieve from the gross NYC winter. Since the cruise is typically held in February, I’m usually in the early part of training for a spring marathon, and so the week down south has been a low mileage (i.e., relaxing) one. Then came this year. The Rockboat was a month earlier than usual, and I decided to mix things up and run a marathon in late February, which meant that I had some serious miles to do while we were away. I was more than a little anxious about the trip – I had to run ALL of the miles, plus my right foot was sore (damn Plantar Fasciitis), and I’m a textbook introvert so the amount of auditory, visual, and social stimulation on the boat are enough to make me run for the hills… or at least a dark quiet room.

Sister Hazel’s sail away show. I think this picture was post-cruise-wide-free-tequila shots.

So, The Rockboat: it’s a floating music festival where beer is sold by the bucket and soft serve ice cream is considered a food group. Where spontaneous parties in the elevators are the norm and cruisers learn to appreciate the words “washy washy”. Where the music starts in the afternoon and goes until nearly sunrise. Where I learned from Edwin McCain (while sitting next to him at the Blackjack table. Naturally) and the dealers that he was big in the Philippines and is known down there as Manila Ice. Where I’ve had the chance to see big bands like Sister Hazel, Brandi Carlile, Barenaked LadiesReel Big Fish, and NEEDTOBREATHE. Where I’ve seen old favorites like Will HogeRed Wanting BlueTony Lucca, and the Alternate Routes. And where I’ve met new favorites like Brendan Jamesthe Roosevelts, and most recently, Andy Suzuki and the Method (pause. Can I please get an amen for best band name ever?).



Rock and Roll in the daytime. It’s a little weird, but if you’re going to have 10 hours of music each day, you gotta start early.

Since we left town just a few days after NYC got rocked with over 2 feet of snow, I had been doing a lot of miles on the treadmill and, despite my best efforts at rolling and stretching, my frikkin Plantar Fasciitis was acting up again. After a really rough (read: disgustingly sweaty and rocking – like, literally rocking) 6 miles on the treadmill on the ship, I half limped into the spa, desperate for a foot massage to loosen up the grittiness that had become the bottom of my foot. When I told the lady what I wanted, she said, “oh, no, you don’t want that! You want acupuncture!” Well, I had just won $150 playing blackjack the night before (Hit on 16. Double down. Split — but not 10s) and I figured the worst that could happen was that it didn’t work. I mean, I was getting acupuncture on a cruise ship…

Our first night on the boat and I already look exhausted. I had a long 5 days ahead of me.

Two 1 hour sessions, 35 needle sticks and a few naps later, I was symptom-free. Magic. It must have been magic. The western medicine-trained scientist in me was (and still is) completely baffled. Within hours, the swelling and soreness were gone. I don’t know how it worked, I don’t know why it worked, but it did. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit perturbed – normally I would have booked a few sessions with my Physical Therapist extraordinaire, taken a bucket of Advil, iced my foot religiously, and – let’s be honest – been more than a little cranky about it all.

Post acupuncture = happier Kelly

After the Miracle in the Spa, we docked at Costa Maya, Mexico, where Sam and I figured running outside the resort area probably wasn’t a great idea (the armed guards around the gates kind of gave it away), so we ended up doing a crap ton of laps around the track on the boat. How much is a “crap ton”? Well, if 5.5 laps is 1 mile, how many laps is 10 miles? 55. 55 freaking laps we did on that track.

Red Wanting Blue in the big auditorium (in other words, a seated venue. thank goodness).

The next day we did 14 miles up the West Bay of Grand Cayman, where the humidity was oppressive and a local dive shop owner put us to shame when she told us it was “cold” at 82 degrees. After nearly 2 hours of running and a few “oops” moments (surprise! The cars drive on the left side! Also, wild roosters. Lots of wild roosters), we made it back to port in one piece. Kelly and Sam: 1, Grand Cayman: 0. Huzzah!


The next couple of days brought more miles on the rolling treadmill, more laps around that damn track, and more sweaty clothes hung out to dry, making our sleeping quarters look – and smell – like a locker room (apologies to the room steward). After docking, we left the pouring rain of Florida only to land in the pouring rain of NYC.

A decent amount of dirty stinky laundry. 

All in all, it was a pretty good trip: I squeezed in 80 miles for the week, got converted to acupuncture, found my new favorite band, and spent a few days with some pretty cool people listening to some pretty rad music. If only I could have found time to sleep, the trip would have been perfect.

It’s always pretty from up here

It’s cold here, so I took my running shoes to South Beach…

As I’ve made pretty clear, I’m not a big fan of winter these days. So, to escape the cold and — let’s face it — to become a much happier human, Sam and I spent a week in warmer weather. My conclusion? In January, Miami >> New York City. Truth.

Evidence. You don’t get this in NYC in January (or any other month, really).
For the past 3 years, we’ve been going on The Rockboat, a cruise that’s part music festival, part spring break for adults (picture a bunch of middle aged people carrying beer buckets around like security blankets, eating soft serve ice cream at 2am, all while losing their voices from singing along to Barenaked Ladies and Sister Hazel a little too enthusiastically).
Green River Ordinance singing from the pool deck of the Norwegian Pearl. Photo credit: Sam Teichman Photo & Video
Anyway, since we were on a boat for a few days, I had to do some treadmill running. It’s not my favorite (note: I despite it), but if I’m doing it while overlooking the ocean, I suppose I can tolerate it for a few miles. 😉 What made the workout… interesting…  was that the gym on the ship was high up (deck 12 of 14), the water was rocky, and the treadmills were oriented perpendicular to the current. So, with each rise and fall of the ship, it felt like I was doing awkward sideways mini hill repeats. And then there were the planks. Try doing planks on a rocking boat. It’s like doing them on a moving stability ball. There was no way I was going to try jumping lunges — I can’t even do those on solid ground without looking like a drunken elephant, let alone on a rocking ship. Outside of all the gym work, I stuck with my training plan thanks to a really decent buffet: I had a steady diet of fresh greens, steamed vegetables, beans, fresh fruit, and late night veggie snacks (okay fine, I might have sneaked in a cookie. Or 3). After a 4 day cruise, I am proud to say that I still managed to fit into my shorts. Phew.
We got back to land and Sam and I took our running shoes and dirty clothes to South Beach for the rest of the week, because, duh. winter. The last time I was in South Beach was in 2010 to run the Miami Marathon.

miami 011
Post marathon score was Miami: 2, Kelly: 0.

My dad came along to support me, which was super cool, until the point in the trip where people were clearly confused as to whether we were husband and wife instead of father and daughter. Umm, ew. I was 27 and my dad was, like, 60. Miami: 1, Kelly: 0. To make it worse, the marathon was a rough race for me. My goal was to place in my age group, but (SPOILER!), it turns out training in the winter in New York and then going to race a marathon in warm humid Florida is not so smart (we won’t even discuss the 3:30am race-day wake up call). Nevertheless, I left it all out on the course. Literally. I “deposited” breakfast — and probably a little bit of dinner — in three different spots. Despite the mess, I came in under 3:40 (my then-qualifying time for Boston) and promptly decided I didn’t like Miami.

Anyway, I digress. It’s 2015 and the circumstances were slightly different. Poor Sam thought we were there to relax, but HA, I had other plans: each day brought 75 degrees, sunny skies… and 9+ miles. Sunset runs on the boardwalk, morning runs along the Venetian Causeway, and a mid-afternoon recovery run through the Everglades that turned into a fartlek because I got scared every time we passed an alligator.

Imagine passing dozens of these guys on your run. You’d run fast, too.
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Ran through the Everglades and lived to tell about it!
My family has had 4 retired racing greyhounds, so I insisted that Sam and I see them race. Holy cow those puppies can run.
Miami the second time around was a much better trip. There was no confusion about my relationship with my male traveling partner, but there was lots of good running, clean eating, and most importantly, warm weather! SoBe, maybe you’re not so bad after all.