Return to the Swamp—Go Gators

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Decided to take a long overdue Walk into the Future pilgrimage back to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium AKA The Swamp to watch the Florida Gators play the University of South Florida (USF) Bulls.

My favorite person, Jayla Williams reminded me in September that we have not been to a Gator game in a few years.  The Gators struggled on the field from 2016 – 2018 due to horrible coaching and bad recruiting.  We started to turn it around with a new coach but then COVID-19 made going to football a public health issue, so we stayed away.

I caught the Gators play in Tallahassee against FSU a couple times during the bad years since I lived and worked there.  Jayla and I had been on hiatus from The Swamp and this game was a great opportunity to spend time in a favorite location for us.

We picked the USF game because it was supposed to be an easy victory for the Gators.  Someone forgot to tell the USF players to lay down and take their butt whipping.

The Gators won but it felt like a defeat to most of the fans in attendance.  FYI—Gator fans can be a prickly bunch (me included) so the world was not ending but anything other than a perfect game by the beloved Gators gets under people’s skin.

I was able to get our tickets off Stub Hub for a good price.  We sat in Section 20, Row 21 which put us in the south endzone with a great view of the field and close to the Gator’s bench.  It was exciting to be back in the Swamp and experience a game day with Jayla again.  I’m sure we have a few more of these moments in our future and hope for a much better game from the Gators.

Here are a few pictures from our Swamp adventure:

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Irie!

Run to Stop Hunger 5k

“Running is real and relatively simple…but it ain’t easy”.

(Mark Will-Weber)

My Walk into the Future allows me to mix and match my adventures depending on what I am trying to get accomplished.

I always love the running tourist part of my journey since I get to explore and stay in shape by training.  My big running goal for 2022 is to run and complete my first full marathon in December.  My training program is going well as I am averaging 30+ weekly miles to prepare for the task of running 26.2 miles in Palm Beach.  The 18-week training program allows me some flexibility but a standard in the program is the long run concept each weekend.  The miles increase incrementally each week and I have been dedicated to ensuring I get up on Saturdays to do my part to ensure I am ready for the full marathon.

Decided to sign-up for local 5ks to improve my speed and warm up prior to going out for my long runs.  The 5k (3.1 miles) distance provides a great opportunity to get out and test my fitness levels, gauge my speed, and have fun. 

Signed up for the Run to Stop Hunger 5k in Fort Pierce in September.  This was a hometown race, so the running tourist did not get a chance to explore new locales, but I did get to see Fort Pierce in a different context. 

The race start and finish line was located within Causeway Cove which sits directly on the Indian River in Fort Pierce.  I run by this location weekly but never ventured onto the site to explore everything that is located there.  I see the signs for jet ski rentals when running and always think about going in to rent a jet ski but have not made that happen to date.  Interesting spot with a lot of different activities hosted there:  RV park, drive-in movies on Saturday nights, concerts, food festivals, etc.

Needed to complete 14 total miles so decided to park closer to downtown Fort Pierce and run across the Seaway Drive bridge as a warmup before the 5k.  My goal was to get a 1-mile prerace run in to loosen my legs and give me a springboard to get up to speed during the 5k.  Made my way across the Seaway Drive bridge at a comfortable pace and arrived in Causeway Cove warmed up and ready to go.

I did not set a time goal for this 5k but wanted to go out faster than I did for the Celebration of Running 5k back in August.  We did not have as many runners for this race so there was not as much traffic to navigate on the course.  The course was completely flat, and we did not have to cross traffic at all.

It was an out and back race format with the turnaround at the 1.5-mile marker.  It was cool getting a chance to see the leaders heading back towards the finish line—got a chance to gauge how close or far I was from the race leader. 😊

My first mile was run in 8:40 and I felt comfortable with this pace.  Smiled when I looked at my watch and saw my first mile was well under a 9-minute pace.  The Florida humidity was thick as always, but this did not keep me from maintaining this pace throughout the race—my goal was to get some speed work in so no need to back off at this point.

I locked in on a couple runners to help pace me the rest of the way after crossing the race midpoint.  I felt the humidity a bit more in the second part of the race but had my music cranking (TI’s Motivation, again) and kept running hard.

Crossed the finish line at 26:43 for a pace of 8:35. This was my fastest 5k since March 2020 so extremely happy with the results.  This time allowed me to finish second in my age group and collect a medal and age group award.  Got a chance to talk with some local runners while waiting for the awards ceremony—we are a friendly bunch of people.

Still needed to get in additional miles so left Causeway Cove and ran back over the Seaway Drive bridge to my vehicle.  Got my additional 9 miles completed on Ocean Drive for a total of 14 for the day. 

Happy with my results and how my legs feel during this preparation phase of training.  Will leverage speed work more as I get closer to my marathon date.

Happy running folks!

Irie!

“As we run, we become”.

(Amby Burfoot)

Melbourne Beach (9/11/2022)

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“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink wild air”.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Took my Walk into the Future on another road trip to my favorite beach location, the Crowne Plaza in Melbourne, Florida.  Yes, I make a point to visit this beach location multiple times throughout the year but there was added emphasis for this trip. 

September 11th continues to be a day remembered in America due to the events that happened on 9/11/2001.  I will not document the things from that day, but it provides an opportunity for remembrance in this country.

I was stationed at Kadena Air Base, on the island of Okinawa on 9/11/2001.  I viewed the second plane hit the World Trade Center tower live on TV while on the phone with my mom.  At the time we thought the first was an accident but fully understood the impact once the second plane crashed.

I was on the phone with my mom halfway around the world because September 11th is my birthday.  She called to wish me a happy birthday and we witnessed the world change at the same time.

Fast forward to 2022 and I ventured up to Melbourne to celebrate my birthday in a favorite spot and get a beach day in at the same time.

Started my adventure by heading to Costco to do some bulk shopping and get a few samples.  I love a good deal and always find things I need there.  I stock up on vitamins, Bio Freeze and Salonpas patches which really come in handy with my marathon training program.  Need these things to help with my recovery and get me back out running.

Next stop was the Patrick Space Force Base Exchange for some tax-free shopping.  Decided it was time to invest in another pair of Brooks GTS Adrenaline 22 running shoes.  I’m routinely clocking 90+ monthly miles now so like to have another pair of running shoes to rotate into my training program.  These shoes come at a reduced price on the base and there is no tax for the purchase. 😊

Left the base and headed to one of my favorite spots, Squid Lips for lunch.  It is a laid-back spot overlooking the Indian River with great food and daily live music.  Great spot for seafood, cold beer, music, and people watching:   

Made my way over to the Crowne Plaza next to relax on the beach and listen to the live band.  Turns out Sunday is the day for reggae so this put a huge smile on my face since I love reggae.  The band and DJ were good and put out an authentic Irie vibe.  The folks under the tiki hut were vibing and enjoying the sounds.

A highlight of the day was the Sky Dive Melbourne Beach 9/11 tribute event:  http://skydivemelbournebeach.com/?fbclid=IwAR06kj3ItJyenYYDitGXbM8zD-f-NxNUjNF7oiJMWUMs6-ae74B0Ri3OGdE

It was exciting to see the sky divers make their way down towards the beach.  Had to relocate my beach towel to get out of their landing zone. 😊 It was an impressive display and the crowds on the beach enjoyed cheering the sky divers once they all were down safely.

Finished my beach day off with wings, fries, and beer under the tiki hut with reggae coming from the band.  Sounds like a perfect day, huh? 😊

Great way to spend a birthday!

Irie!

Where will you spend your next birthday?

“To escape and sit quietly at the beach—that’s my idea of paradise”.

(Emilia Wickstead)

Navy SEAL Museum

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“We learn a lot and each museum ends up having its own distinctive character and personality”.

(Richard Meier)

I was honored when I was invited to join the IRSC Student Veteran Organization (SVO) leadership board as they toured the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida.  I have driven by the museum, but this was my first time to enter the building and get a chance to review the history of the Navy SEALs.  This trip has been the highlight of 2022 for my Walk into The Future.

It is great to have the Navy SEAL Museum locally in Fort Pierce and my visit will allow me to share with others. 

My first experience with the Navy SEALs was a 2017 visit out to San Diego for an Educator’s Tour while I was still at Florida State University.  Select educators from around the country are invited out by the Navy to tour and see SEAL facilities to help with recruitment efforts.  I have been on multiple Educators tours:  Marine Corps (Quantico, VA.), Army (Fort Jackson, SC).  The services like to bring educators in to show them what true military services looks like and answer questions to enhance recruiting efforts at universities and colleges.

My time in San Diego was to learn about the SEALs training efforts so I would be able to help students understand how their education would translate to the Navy and/or the SEALs.  The training is recognized as a mental and physical challenge, this is why the SEALs are such a respected and elite group—they are truly the best of the best!

Fast forward to 2022 and my trip to the museum.  We were able to walk the halls and view historical artifacts from SEAL missions around the world.  The history of the SEALs is displayed throughout with emphasis on the tools used for success around the world.  The central theme for me was the bravery of the SEALs and how they carried out missions with professionalism and precision.

I learned quite a bit during this trip and look forward to coming back with friends and family so they can see/experience this great history on display.

https://www.navysealmuseum.org/

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INSTAGRAM: @jayla_brianna

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