Back in those days, it WAS a trailer park. You rented a site by the day. As the place became more and more popular, the owner of the property began to sell the lots. My father, in his wisdom, purchased two, one for himself, and one for his mother. I saw the check he wrote out for his mother's lot, and it was a steal, even in those days.
I spent many a summer growing up there, swimming, biking, fishing, crabbing, etc. This was where I developed my love for the water. As the years went by, more and more owners built small single story houses on the their lots. Today, you can find a few open sites, but not many.
Matthew and I left Atlanta around six PM Friday night to drive down and meet my father. The plan was to get him situated, then leave him there for the week. With Aerowyn on the bike rack, we made the drive down to Panama City Beach.
The last time I made this trip, I was coming to do Ironman. The route from Atlanta goes through Columbus, GA, then south through Eufala and Dothan. There, it picks up Hwy 231 south to Panama City. North of Lynn Haven, 231 intersects the bike route for Ironman Florida. Try as I might, I didn't recognize any of it. I wasn't even sure of where they met. I admit this irritates me a bit. I never can remember much of my race routes.
Arriving at Venture Out around 11 PM local time, we quickly bedded down for the night. I had a key workout in the morning, and I needed to get a good nights sleep. Despite the unfamiliar surroundings, I slept well. The alarm went off at 7:30 AM, and I was on my bike by eight.
Venture Out is located next to St. Andrew's State Park, right on the marathon route for IM FL. I never even knew there was an Ironman in PCB until a year or so ago. LOL.... Heading out, I made a right down Thomas Drive and rode along the beach. I made my way past Broadway and quickly found myself on the IM FL bike route. This part of the race I remember. After a twenty minute warm up, I began my race pace intervals, the first to my turn around point, then two more on the way back.
Riding along the beach was very nice. I ran this same route after IM FL 07 for my twenty mile training run. There is about 20 feet of elevation change over 10 miles. It made for one enjoyable ride.
During one of my rest intervals, I just about got clocked by some old klutz in a huge truck. There was nobody else on the road but me, and this guy wanted to go in the same direction as I did. I'm cruising along in the bike lane, and he pulls out in front of me, and crosses into the bike lane not 8 feet away!! Of course, I was prepared for just such a thing. I'm not stupid. Still, I had to slam on my brakes and control my sliding back tire to keep me out of the hard gravel to the right of the road. I yelled a few expletives at him of which I am not proud. He, his wife, and four grand kids went merrily on their way like nothing happened.
My heart rate monitor read 176.
After getting myself under control, the rest of the ride ended smoothly. I paused briefly at the trailer to drink some fluids and transition to my run. It is so humid in PCB this time of year. I did a short 25 minute run with some builds to race pace, and by the end, I was drenched in sweat. I thought for sure it must have been one hundred degrees, but in fact, it had't even reached ninety yet.
I spent the rest of the day entertaining the boyz (Matthew and his friend) and getting things organized for the week. My father came in that afternoon. I cooked dinner for us all and went grocery shopping for them for the rest of the week. I wanted to get up in the morning at a decent hour for my 45 minute Z1-Z2 run.
Again, I slept good. There's something just so relaxing about being in Panama City. I suited up and stepped out the door and into the sauna. If anything, it was more humid than the day before. I took off running down the marathon route, triggering memories of race day. I met my father here. This is the point where I passed Kelly twice, and she whooped it up with her crazy self. Further down, I lost the route and ended up lost in the neighborhoods by the lagoon. Eventually, I gave up and headed back to Venture Out. That, too, pissed me off a bit.
By the time I reached the trailer, the heat and humidity was almost unbearable. I ended up walking the last three minutes of my workout to cool down. All in all, I really enjoyed my return trip to Panama City Beach. I got to spend time with my father, my son, and relive some of the moments from Nov 1, 2008.
I'll be back, and next time, I'll be more prepared. There's so much more I want to see.