Mary Davis Fitness Vacation to South Beach
Justin and I headed to Miami for a mini vacation this past week. He gets some time off in February and in March, so we usually try to sneak away to somewhere warm during those times to relax and recharge. We are very compatible vacationers! There are three things we like to do most when we travel: hit the beach (or pool), workout and eat great meals.
When we planned our trip to Miami, I got some recommendations from friends on the hottest workouts to try in the area. There are so many to pick from, but the top few were Flywheel, Barry’s Boot Camp and running with the Raven. We only had time for two, so we decided to save Barry’s for another time, since that workout is also available in other large cities. Justin had read a few articles on the Raven and seen a documentary on him recently, so he definitely wanted to run with him.
On the second day of our trip, we met up with Robert Kraft (a.k.a., the Raven) at 5th street at the lifeguard stand and joined him for his daily 8-mile run along South Beach. A few words to describe Robert include: committed, die-hard, inspirational and caring. This isn’t just some ordinary runner. The Raven has been running 8-miles on South Beach every day for the last 40 plus years. Yes, you read that correctly.
No rest days, no calling in sick, not even any vacations or runs in other parts of the country. Rumor has it he took a day trip to Daytona once, but of course he was back in time for his run. He has run with people from 82 different countries, and he has not run alone once in the past ten years.
Robert arrived to that lifeguard stand on 5th promptly at 4:15pm like he does each day. He performed the same 15-minute pre-run ritual which includes stretching, applying suntan oil on his arms, and disrobing from his signature pair of black pants and black leather jacket to small black running shorts. By 4:30pm he was ready to run. We introduced ourselves to him along with another new runner named Dave who was in town from Philadelphia. Dave had heard of the Raven too and wanted to join in on the fun.
At 4:30pm, we started to run. Up and down the beach on the packed sand. For two hours. We talked to the Raven about his journey and he gave us all nicknames like he does with all of the newcomers that run with him. Justin was dubbed “Morning Kool-Aid” after he told the Raven he was going to give a motivational talk (often referred to as a kool-aid) about his story to the Navy Football staff during spring ball. I was “Oregano,” since I loved to cook and was particularly good at recreating my Dad’s homemade spaghetti sauce. The Raven also told me that I was runner number 2300. Pretty cool. After you complete the run, he writes down your birthday and your nickname. He never forgets the people he runs with. Many times we passed people on the beach that he has run with in the past and he called them out by their nickname, told us something about them and recited their birthday.
It was a little weird to run in my body that was not really my body. At 18-weeks pregnant and plus ten pounds, everything felt a little off. My hips were a little sore, and my legs were heavy, but I kept pushing through and finished pretty easily. At the end of the run, we got some pictures with Robert and told him we would definitely see him again during our next trip down south. It was an experience we would soon not forget, and it was truly inspirational to meet a man who was so dedicated to his craft.