Itching to race again!

Oviedo trail3

“Run because zombies will eat the untrained first”.

(Zombie apocalypse survival guide)

We all know COVID-19 wrecked a lot in 2020.  Our lives have changed and how we get things done may never be the same.  That is not a complaint but just a simple observation of how the pandemic impacts our daily lives.

One thing I got excited about in 2020 was the prospects of being able to run races again.  Most run organizations completely shut down their in-person races and pivoted to the virtual race format.  Took a bit to get use to but runners started signing up for virtual races to compete in the COVID-19 world.  I signed up and ran a few but it just did not give me the same competitive feel as the in-person racing. 

I was more than happy to sign-up for a local 5k with new COVID-19 safety protocols in October 2020.  Felt safe with how the race organizers kept runners apart before and after the race.  The staggered starts for everyone allowed the runners to maintain proper physical distance and still enjoy the race process.  Felt good throughout the race and did not worry about safety once we got started.  The same protocols were in-place after the race—nothing was handed to us—everything was prepackaged and unopened (bagels, water, granola bars, etc.). The COVID-19 initiative should remain even when the pandemic starts to wane—the race world needed to look at food handling protocols and now we know there is a better way to handle after race activities.

The Track Shack running club in Orlando is one of my favorite run organizers and great people work there.  Track Shack made the adjustment to virtual races to keep people in Central Florida running.  I did not sign up for any of their virtual races but was excited to watch people send in pictures from their virtual races.  Track Shack continued to look for ways to get runners back on courses safely.

Happy they were able to get clearance from the City of Orlando and Orange County to bring back in-person racing in time for the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon.  I have run this race multiple times and it provides a flat course that winds through downtown Orlando neighborhoods.  I projected to run the Rock N Rock Half marathon in San Antonio as my December race at the beginning of the year, but COVID-19 had other plans.  The OUC Half was a perfect replacement race and allowed me to run fast again.  I did not target a personal record (PR) but just wanted to get back out and race with other runners and enjoy the process.  Never thought running 13.1 miles would be something I craved but it is true—I am a runner now! 😊

Decided to get creative with my training program and expand my running options.  Fort Pierce does not have the same running trail system as Tallahassee or the Orlando area.  I can get some good runs in but mostly on sidewalks where I encounter traffic.  Never been a fan of running around traffic but make it work based on where I live.  I needed to get in some double digit runs so decided to look north and tackle one of my old trails in the Orlando area. 

The Cross Seminole Trail is one I have trained and raced in the past when I lived in Oviedo, Florida.   Made up my mind to just head back to Oviedo and get some training done on a shady trail without traffic.  Happy to report the trail was everything I hoped for and needed!

Started my run with the intent to get in 10 miles on the training run—5 miles out and 5 miles back.  The weather was 64 and sunny when I started my run—perfect October day to run in Florida!  Did not have an intended time for my run—just wanted to get out and put in work and enjoy the trail, weather, and the process.  The Cross Seminole Trail is a multi-use trail used by bikers, walkers, skaters, and runners.  It is always great seeing so many active people out enjoying the trail.

I was able to go out with an easy pace for the first 3 miles.  Got lucky when another runner joined the trail fun and passed me at a good pace.  Decided to leverage this to see if I could keep up with the pace—it is always good to have a run goal so decided my goal was to keep her within sight and potentially pass at some point.  Kept this process up for the next 2 miles and finally passed her at my 5-mile point.  Runners are a friendly bunch, so we exchanged runner talk as we both continued to get our runs in.  Turns out she was out for a 10-mile run to get prepared for the OUC Half Marathon too.  Small world!  She was also excited the OUC race was back as an in-person option.

I felt good at the 5-mile point so decided to extend my run a bit and set out to max out with a 12-mile run.  The cooler temperatures and shady trail had a lot to do with how good I felt while out for my run.  Kept pressing forward to the 6-mile point and then gave myself a slight break by walking for a bit before turning around to head back to the starting point.  Running allows an opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding area.  Noticed a lot of new construction and growth in the area since the last time I was there.  My run took me from downtown Oviedo to downtown Winter Spring via the trail systems.  Great way to explore an area without worrying about traffic or getting in anyone’s way.

Turned around to head back after walking for about 5 minutes.  I was not in a rush so just enjoyed the weather, nature, and the trail.  Took several pictures of the trail on the way back so my return pace was more leisurely than the first part of my run.  No worries, 12 miles is still 12 miles! 😊

Will look for additional ways to enhance my half marathon training.  May try to leverage the Cross Seminole Trail again—will just have to determine the best day and time to head back to Oviedo.  Excited to have races to train for again!  It is a small step towards normalcy, but it is promising and will allow me to get my competitive fix again.

More training to do but I am headed in a great direction!

What do you crave for your sense of normalcy?

“Make sure your worst enemy does not live between your own ears”.

“Laird Hamilton”

Success in Black and White podcast

Success

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“A podcast is a great way to develop relationships with hard-to-reach people”.

(Tim Paige)

The Walk into the Future blog has provided me with multiple opportunities to share my words, thoughts, and experiences with others. 

I started this journey in 2018 with an idea of the direction I wanted to go but had no idea the process would be so much fun for me.  The ability to be creative and explore adventures are two key elements that allow me to continue to produce content for the blog.  I love the comments, texts, and emails I receive when something I write speaks to others—I guess you can say I am finding my voice as I develop content.

One area that puts a huge smile on my face is when one of my tree branches reaches out and want to produce content with me.  My smile gets even bigger when the request comes from TWO tree branches! 😊

My tree branches, Darryl and April Lovett have a successful platform:  Success in Black and White. 

Proud of these two as they tackle issues others may shy away from, but they have fun as they do it.  Love the fact they move forward as a POWER couple; their energy is contagious and makes you want to get up and make a difference in the world.

They asked me to join them for a podcast episode and I immediately said yes.  Saw this as a perfect way to catch up with them and share a little bit of Walk into the Future with their growing audience.  Please note, recording the episode was more fun than I ever imagined—well done Darryl and April!

We were able to catch up during the podcast and cover a lot of content in the one-hour timeframe.  They asked great questions and were not afraid to follow-up for clarity.  The question that really got me energized was:  What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

I have been asked this question in multiple ways but really enjoy the opportunity to continue to share my WHY.  My why is to leave everyone better than when I met them.  It took me a few years to put this down into a simple statement, but it has been with me for some time now.

I was able to dive a bit deeper while speaking with Darryl and April during the podcast.  My desire to help others started for me in high school.  I had a Guidance Counselor who did not even try to help me plan my life after high school.  I had several friends who got excellent advice from this same counselor, but she only told me to join the military.  We never discussed how to apply to colleges, how to apply for financial aid or anything about further education and the doors it would open.  Fast forward and I hold three degrees without ever having a student loan—so maybe it was a good thing my high school guidance counselor did not help me with the process. 😊

My why is driven by the lack of support I received from my guidance counselor.  I provide mentorship to everyone that crosses my path because I do not want them to have to struggle because I would not take the time to help them.  I wanted to make sure Darryl, April and their audience understood how important this is for me.  The passion I display when working with my tree branches and potential branches is because I want to help them grow.  Sounds cliché but it is something I live every day.

A funny but true aspect of how I developed my why is I do not remember the name of my high school guidance counselor.  Imagine, this lady fueled my passion with her lack of attention to my future and I do not remember her name, but she has allowed me to touch so many lives in a positive way.  Good things come out of bad situations.  Please note, I would not change a thing—I seem to be doing okay with this Walk into the Future journey. 

Discovered during the podcast episode April also considers herself a running tourist!  We got a chance to discuss why I run and the positive impacts it has on my daily journey.  Hoping we can all get back to running, exploring, and traveling soon—there are still races out there to run.

So, I repeat the question Darryl and April asked me:

What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

Thank you, Darryl and April for allowing me to come on your podcast!  It was fun! 😊 Irie!

“Podcasting is great.  Total freedom”.

(Bill Burr)

Poetic Friday

Dream Weaver

Be careful what you dream

Because sometimes dreams do come true

So, what’s the problem you may ask?

The dream you dream may in fact not be for you

Life provides opportunities for you to reach your goals

The key to this process is to know the correct path to follow

Look beyond tomorrow

Search for the things you need

Use this knowledge and your dreams to succeed

Resiliency and the Chimney Tops Trail

Chimney Top

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo—far more flexible than you would ever imagine.”

(Jodi Picoult)

Resilience is a measure of how much you want something and how much you are willing, and able, to overcome obstacles to get it. It has to do with your emotional strength. (Dictionary.com)

“You are only 4 minutes away from the top”.

(Smoky Mountain hiker, November 2020)

Thought I had a good handle on what resiliency really means but discovered I needed to redefine how it is shown.  I viewed resiliency from the spectrum of work or emotional intelligence but my recent hike on the Chimney Tops Trail in the Smoky mountains gave me a new appreciation of resiliency.

The hiker from the quote above provided me with inspiration to keep going but I had to decide mentally and physically to keep going up the mountain.  The trail was listed as a moderate hike, but I added a new level of difficulty by tackling Chimney Tops after 3 other hikes on the same day.  A better plan would have been to save this hike for the next day, but I wanted to experience as much as possible in a short period of time.

I left my hotel with the intent to make four hikes and that concept drove me to keep going up the mountain.  I would have felt I was letting myself down if I did not stick with the plan.  Also, wanted to test myself to determine how much I could accomplish in one day.  My thought process was to make it up the mountain and then celebrate at the top.

I took more breaks on this hike than ever before and was slow on the ascent.  My legs felt like I had run a half marathon at this point—in fact, my total hiking mileage for the day was 15.4 miles.  Not a bad day walking in the Smoky mountains.

I view my ability to keep pressing onward as a sign of resiliency.  I could have tapped out and nobody would have known I gave up on my last hike if I did not bring it up.  I could have taken the failure to make it to the top of my last hike to the grave, but I am sure it would have bothered me knowing I gave up.  Trust me, I understand my making it to the top of the Chimney Top trail does not make the world a better place, but I needed to make it up there.

I take pride being an active mentor for my tree branches and encourage them to work towards their goals.  Quitting on the Chimney Top trail would make my words ring hollow if I did not practice what I preach to my tree branches.  The resiliency to make my last hike successful became a metaphor for Walking into the Future.  This journey has been successful because I have been able to overcome obstacles and continue to move forward in life.  Seems simple but I take a lot of pride in making goals and then crossing them off my list.  This process works for me so I will continue to make it a priority. 

Proud of the resiliency I showed while climbing the Chimney Top trail.  I will admit I need to space my hikes out better in 2021 but I will not stop until I complete them all! 😊

How do you display resiliency in your daily life?  What impact does resiliency have on how you get things done?  I welcome your thoughts!

“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”.

(Nelson Mandela)

Roots, reggae, and hello 2021!

NYE

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right”.

(Oprah Winfrey)

How do you celebrate the end of the COVID-19 impacted 2020?

Wait, do not answer that!  It was a trick question.

2020 was a year like none of us have ever experienced.  The year started off with a lot of us using the clever (so we thought) 2020 Vision moniker but that quickly dissipated as we saw how much the pandemic would change our daily lives.

So, the answer to my trick question above is the beach—Indialantic beach to be precise.

Decided to head to my favorite beach in Melbourne, Florida to spend the last day of 2020 on the beach so I could celebrate the first day of 2021 on that same beach.

I have written about the Indialantic beach before and how I enjoy the Tiki bar at the Crowne Plaza.  I have stayed there in the past but mostly just hang out there when I need a beach getaway.  I was happily surprised the Crowne Plaza still had rooms available so went ahead and booked so I did not have to worry about driving around on New Year’s Eve.  There were other hotels available in the area, but they did not provide the comfort of staying right on the beach. 

I wanted to send 2020 out with a bang so made sure to tackle the last day of the year and enjoy it as much as possible.  Of course, this meant I needed to get a great run in to celebrate the end of 2020! 😊  I got in a fast 5 mile run along Seaway Drive in Fort Pierce prior to leaving for Melbourne.  Love this route because I can stop at the halfway point and recharge while on the beach.  This is a great way for me to enjoy my run and take in the beach views. Yes, I made a beach stop prior to going to the beach. 

Made my way north on I95 to check into the Crowne Plaza and celebrate NYE on the beach.  My plan was to simply make it to the beach to relax, reflect and make some 2021 plans.  It appears a lot of other folks had the same idea for a NYE beach escape since people were everywhere.  I had to walk further down the beach to get away from the crowds to find a spot for me to work on my napping skills.  Happy to report I found that perfect spot.  Did a little reading, napping, and walking on the beach—the temperature was in the low 80s, so it was a perfect day to enjoy the beach.  The water was too cold for me but there were surfers and swimmers enjoying the waves.

Got a late lunch and fruity drinks at the Tiki bar.  The area was spaced out to ensure we had proper physical distancing while enjoying the atmosphere and great food.  I was able to catch a couple college football bowl games while at the Tiki bar and still enjoy the sound of the waves.  Great place to visit if you have never been to the Crowne Plaza in Melbourne.

The hotel had a live band scheduled to perform in the ballroom to ring in the new year.  This is a Crowne Plaza tradition, but I did not drive up to be inside when there was a beach so close.  My plan was to be on the beach when the clock struck midnight so I could bring in the new year with waves close by.

My timing was off a bit and I had to watch a couple episodes of the A&E show The First 48 to get me closer to midnight.  I did not want to head down to the beach too early because there is not much to see when seating on the beach in the dark.  FYI—I highly recommend The First 48—it is highly addictive. 😊

Made my way back down to the beach at 11:30 pm to count down the end of 2020 and ring in 2021.  I love the beach and reggae so decided to combine the two while I waited to celebrate the arrival of 2021.  I took a slight detour to listen to my favorite artist, Prince before switching over to Bob Marley for the rest of the night.  Here is one of my favorite Prince live performances on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-0VbNXafDc

I went straight to my Bob Marley YouTube playlist to finish off 2020 and ring in 2021 with roots, rock, and reggae!  Luckily, we had a full moon on NYE and it really produced great images over the water.  I bounced around several Bob Marly classics as I waited for 2021 to arrive.  Decided to play this classic as 2020 ended and 2021 began:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USQsp_hI3Tw

Had my own little party right there on the beach as I enjoyed the full moon, beach, reggae, and my beer.  Could not think of a better way to say goodbye 2020 and hello 2021 than hanging out on my favorite beach. 

Started 2021 on a positive note and plan to leverage this Irie energy to make 2021 a fantastic year. 

How did you celebrate the end of 2020?  How will you make 2021 a great year?  Thanks!

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year”.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Yes, there are two Americas!

Protest

(Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

“What the mob did to our Senate Chamber today was an utter disgrace”.

(US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien)

Really tried not to write about what happened in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021 but the more I viewed the chaos and mayhem on Capitol Hill I knew the Walk into the Future blog had to say something—could not stay silent. 

The entire episode can be summarized:  I told you!

America #1

Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in 2020 were met with uneven police and National Guard force.  Peaceful protestors who were mostly black and brown were physically moved, restrained, beaten, and arrested while in the streets of America.  The protests were focused on the many injustices committed against black and brown Americans.  The nation finally rose to say this kind of treatment of our people must stop.

Counter protesters did not understand or want to understand what the BLM movement wanted to accomplish.  We had a sitting US President identify peaceful marchers as:  thugs, criminals, people who did not love this country and agitators. 

America was built as told in our history books on people standing up and voicing their opinions on how to improve this country.  It seems every time black people want to march for rights, freedom, and equality we are labeled as less than.  Why is that?  America is America so we are told but it continues to be one sided and it appears my people are always on the wrong side of the issue, police club, police bullet, police beating, police knee on the neck, neighborhood watch with guns in a pickup truck, etc.  I could go on but believe the American picture has been painted by now.

Let us take a quick trip all the WAY back to June 2020—does not seem to be too far to travel, huh?

The former President of the United States tweeted:  Anarchists, Agitators or Protestors who vandalize or damage our Federal Courthouse in Portland, or any Federal Buildings in any of our Cities or States, will be prosecuted under our recently re-enacted Statues & Monuments Act.  MINIMUM TEN YEARS IN PRISON.  Don’t do it! @DHSgov.

So, when BLM protestors wanted to march for rights and against injustice they were tweeted at by the former President and threaten with prison time for something they had not and did not do.  Interesting concept, huh.  I highlighted the word ‘any’ from Trump’s tweets to show the level of hypocrisy we continue to put up with in this country.  It is beyond sad to live with the double standards America throws at us daily. 

“What happened today in Washington, DC is definitely not American”.

(French President Emmanuel Macron)

America #2

I could sum up America #2 with the word privilege.  I could also link video here of the former President of the United States and his family commanding so called patriots to march to Capitol Hill and demand the legal vote be overturned.  We should go ahead and call these people what they truly are:  insurrectionists. This was an insurrection—no other way to view what happened.

The US has a Constitution and the duly elected officials at the Capitol were following the words written in the Constitution on certifying the results from the Presidential election.  Not surprising Trump, his family and friends did not understand they could not just wish for a different election result and make the Constitutional process go away.

The privileged mob left their ignorant leader and marched down to the Capitol to demand law makers stop doing their duties.  I am sure a lot of these privileged fools thought they were doing the right thing and believed they could stop Congress from doing their jobs.  This mob mentality may also be an indictment on the American educational system.  History classes discuss the basics of the Constitution, but all Americans should know the checks and balances of the governmental process on elections.

It appears privileged people do not want to hear reason or logic.  They would rather feaster in conspiracy theories and then claim someone is taking their country away.  They must take it back!

Fast forward and the privileged Americans decided to storm the Capitol to demand the legal election be overturned so they can keep their President!  Let me repeat that, Americans stormed the US Capitol.  They fought, assaulted, and terrorized Capitol police who were severely outmanned by the privileged crowd of Trump supporters.  This mob then entered the chambers of Congress looking for elected officials to include the Vice President because they were upset with the election results, someone took their country and they wanted to keep their President.

CNN articles on the insurrection

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/13/politics/notable-arrests-capitol/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/17/us/capitol-riot-racial-justice-blake/index.html

So, why do I keep using the word privileged?  Great question! 

These people stormed Capitol Hill, beat up police, hunted for elected officials and did not feel the need to hide their identities!  They ransacked the halls of Congress and took selfies, videos and some conducted interviews and did not fear people recognizing them.  No masks, disguises, hoodies, or anything to hide their identities.  Some stated the Capitol belonged to them and it was their right to be there—amazing things happen in America #2 for the privileged folks who live there!  They were not beaten, pepper sprayed, physically removed, arrested on the spot, flash banged, and no helicopters used for crowd control.  We saw all these tactics with BLM peaceful protesters. 

I presented a court argument in a post on August 27, 2020:

https://walkintothefuture.blog/2020/08/27/black-lives-matter-role-call/

A black man in Georgia (Ahmaud Arbery) cannot go for a run without being attacked and killed but a privileged mob can walk in and out of the Capitol?

A black man in Minneapolis (George Floyd) can have a cop’s knee on his neck for 9 minutes and 46 seconds but a privileged mob can hunt for elected officials in the Capitol and then go home?

A black woman in Louisville (Breonna Taylor) can be shot in her bed by cops with a no-knock warrant but Capitol police removed barricades to make the privileged mob’s path easier to get to elected officials?

I could go on with my 2021 trial, but the verdict remains the same:  guilty, guilty, and guilty!

One of my favorite scenes from the 1996 movie, A Time to Kill happens when Matthew McConaughey’s character conducts his closing argument to defend his client charged with murder.  In this scene he asks the jury to close their eyes and then he goes over why his client was charged with murder.

So, let us try a little experiment.  Close your eyes and imagine a mob being riled up and told repeatedly they were being lied to, things were being taken from them and they should march to the halls of Congress and take back what belongs to them.  Imagine this mob rushes the US Capitol, assaults police officers, hunts for elected officials and destroys federal property. 

Now, imagine this mob was black!  How many black and brown people would have died on January 6, 2021 if we did the exact same thing?

Now you officially know what privilege looks like!  Class dismissed!

“History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation”.

(Former US President Barack Obama)


Congratulations to President Biden!

Walking into 2021!

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“Celebrate endings—for they proceed new beginnings”.

(Jonathan Lockwood Huie)

Happy New Year from the Walk into the Future blog!

Grateful to continue to write blog articles to express my thoughts and document life adventures.  This blog started as a way for me to share with my friends and has evolved into a space for me to highlight a bit of creativity.  This blog also provides a place to advocate for social change in the world—did not have this in mind when I launched the blog but there is no turning back now.  My walk continues to expand so I am excited to see what new angles I can tackle in 2021.

2021 promises to bring new opportunities for us all.  2020 was a monster on multiple levels but there were opportunities for growth as well.

Happy to report I was able to meet all my 2020 goals except the number of half marathons I ran.  Of course, COVID-19 was the reason the race season did not happen, so I am not upset I did not meet this goal.

I am in the process of generating my 2021 goals and look forward to working towards them daily. 

My reading program increased in 2020 and I enjoyed exploring new topics and authors.  I see this as an area I can expand in 2021.  I fancy myself as a lifelong learner and reading keeps me engaged in learning new things and hopefully sharing these things with my tree branches.  Please note, I am always open to your suggestions for books so send me a few—thanks!

The Rock N Roll marathon series has 6 races projected for in-person competition in 2021.  My favorite race, the Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon is scheduled for April 25, 2021.  My 2020 registration automatically rolled over so I can run in the race this year if I would like.  I am not committed to running this or any race at this point especially if it means I must get on a plane to get to the race city.  Will wait and see how the vaccination process impacts the spread of COVID-19 before deciding on this race.  Would hate to miss Nashville two years in a row but this is the world we live in. The Savannah race is scheduled for November 7, 2021 and this may be a better option—we will see.

I will look at some smaller, local races to get my competitive fix.  I am sure Track Shack in Orlando will have some races I want to run—the OUC half may be on my race calendar again this year based on location and safety measures.

I began the process of creating an Authentic Leadership eBook in 2020.  Will look to put the finishing touches on this project in 2021.  Wanted to share a few leadership principles in a different format to see if others would be interested in this project.  It has been fun working on a new outlet for my thoughts and plan to expand the authentic leadership platform in 2021.

My leadership consulting is another area I want to expand in 2021.  My work in 2019 had me positioned for a huge consulting year in 2020 but we all know the impact of COVID-19 on all industries.  Will look to create an outreach program to reengage with organizations I have worked with in the past and generate new leads.  Virtual programming and meetings became common in 2020 and see this continuing in 2021.  This can lead to new ways to reach organizations and provide a consulting rebirth for me and others.  Fingers crossed!

I am sure there will be other goals to add to my list, but these are a few I will work towards in 2021.

What goals do you have for the new year?  How successful were you meeting your 2020 goals?  Thanks!

“Every moment is a fresh beginning”.

(T.S. Elliot)

2020 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon

OUC1

“I plan on having such an epic run, Morgan Freeman should narrate it”.

(Runner’s World)

Running and racing has become such a large part of my lifestyle that I felt a definitive loss in 2020.

I will not harp on the COVID-19 impact on our daily lives.  There are more important things in this world than me traveling around the country and chasing people in my attempt to gain a personal record (PR) in the half marathon.  Everyone who reads the Walk into the Future blog or listens to me long enough know I love my PR attempts. 

My 2019 progress set the stage for me to run even faster in 2020 while tackling more races and new locations.  I targeted 7 half marathons to complete in 2020 with an incremental decrease in my PR time for each race I ran.  My goal continues to be to run the half marathon distance under 2 hours.  I will need to bring out the Benjamin Button affect again at some point to reach this goal. 

Luckily, I was able to complete the 2020 New Orleans Rock N Roll half marathon in early February before we knew the future impact of COVID-19 on the country.  I left New Orleans with a goal to train harder and get ready for the 2020 Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon scheduled for April—Nashville is my favorite race and city.  Missed seeing the sights in Nashville and line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon.  Maybe in 2021!

Races 2 (Nashville) through 7 (San Antonio) were all canceled/postponed/terminated due to COVID-19.  Most of my running friends wanted to race but we knew eliminating the races was the right thing to do.  I still trained but not with as much intensity because I did not have a finish line to run across.  I wrote earlier about the virtual race process but never felt the same excitement racing against myself.  Could not make myself run fast without someone else around for me to compete against.

Fast forward a bit and my favorite running club, Track Shack in Orlando identified they received Orange county and City of Orlando clearance to stage the 2020 OUC Half Marathon in December with new safety measures.  I did not immediately sign-up but got excited when I discovered a real race was possible again.  I did a lot of research on the Track Shack race safety measures to make sure I would not be at risk during the event. 

The entire race experience was adjusted by the Track Shack staff to keep all runners physical distanced before and after the race.  We were required to wear masks prior to starting the race and immediately after crossing the finish line.  We did not have to run with the masks on but had to have them for the finish line.  Runners were lined up in corrals based on estimated finish times, but we had to stand on assigned markers on the ground before we could start the race.  Felt a bit weird but everything was done to protect the runners.

I registered for the OUC half marathon on October 15, 2020 with a race date of December 5, 2020.  This timeframe gave me less than a two-month physical and mental preparation window for the 13.1-mile journey in front of me.  Decided at this point to just enjoy the training runs and eliminate the thought processing of chasing a PR.  This concept provided me with a free mind and gave me the perspective that completing the race was the most important thing.  Thing #2 was to run the race and not hurt myself! 😊

OUC3

Race day

The Orlando weather was a bit warmer than I expected but the cloud cover kept the sun away which helped a lot.  I did not queue up close to the front corrals since I knew I was not going fast this year and wanted to let the faster folks go out without me in the way.

The new safety measures allowed about 200 runners to go out at a time, so I ended up waiting about 20 minutes before I made it to the start line to begin the race.

Mask off and I was back in my world of racing!  I am sure people wondered why I was smiling so much but the joy of running was there at the beginning.  My first mile pace was 8:50—which was not too bad considering my goal was to go out nice and easy.  Felt good so I kept running at this pace for a bit to see what I had under the hood this year. 😊

A fun fact–at the 3-mile marker while running through a downtown Orlando neighborhood I passed the house of one of my old on-campus recruiters from my UCF days.  He was standing on his front lawn cheering on the runners with his daughter.  Did not know if he would recognize me in my running gear but I was able to say hello to him and invite him to recruit students at my new school.  Please note, I never broke stride but was able to successfully network with an Orlando recruiter while running a half marathon. Completed a Zoom call with him the following Monday and he is excited to recruit our students in the spring semester—small world, huh?

Miles 3 through 8 were my parade through Orlando neighborhoods.  I waved at spectators who were out on their lawns to cheer for the runners.  I stopped at a pop-up table serving shots of beer as a refresher during the race.  I thanked law enforcement officials who were there for traffic duty.  You would have thought I was a politician with the amount of smiling, waving, and speaking to people I got done during this race.

Miles 9 through 13 were not as enjoyable as the previous set of miles.  Limited training also means my lactic acid thresholds were not built up as they should have been.  This means my legs started to hurt and it only got worse the longer I went.  I have been here before, so I was able to press forward but my speed and demeanor changed quite a bit.  The smile was gone, and I did not feel like waving at folks anymore.  Had to bear down and keep moving forward towards the finish line.  Luckily for me I was not chasing records and just wanted to complete the race while enjoying the process of running again.

Crossed the finish line with a smile on my face because I was able to run and compete again.  COVID-19 has beat us up in 2020 but it could not keep me from running in one of my favorite cities.  Mission complete!

The post-race area was sparse as part of the safety measures.  No beer, doughnuts, or music to enjoy this year.  We were handed a Publix bag with water, banana, granola, and our race medal.  That was it—no fanfare, networking and hanging around to cheer other runners on.  Run, conquer, and go home was the message of the day.

No worries, we had a great day to race and fantastic people to chase around Orlando again.

Fingers crossed that racing returns in 2021—I have a few PRs to set! 😊

What are you looking forward to in 2021?  Let’s make it happen!  Irie!

“You never realize how long a minute is until you are running”.

(Pinterest)

Poetic Friday

(Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)

The storm

Round and round it goes

Sometimes fast, sometimes slow

There are days it feels like a merry-go-round

Others, things are more controlled

The depth changes at times like the wind

A howling force that seeks attention

Then the calm, as the eye of the storm hovers overhead

No attention seeking, just the process of moving forward

What has this level of depth and speed?

It is simple, the life you lead

Racing (again) into the future

Race Time

“Running is alone time that let’s my brain unspool the tangles that build up over days”.

(Rob Haneisen)

I entered 2020 with an aggressive goal to expand my running tourist role and travel to new locations for Rock N Roll Half marathon races.  Started the year with a goal to run seven half marathons in the series along with a few local 5k and 10k races for speed work.

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and we are still trying to get a handle on what normal daily actions look like now.  FYI—I understand there are more important things in the world than me traveling America and running on city streets.

My last official race was a 5k on March 14, 2020 in Tallahassee.  We were just getting a better understanding of how bad COVID-19 was at the time, but the event organizers took extra precautions but did not cancel the race. I remember the event was small with maybe 70 runners at the start line.  We practiced physical distancing at the start line and gave everyone extra space just to be safe.  There were no face masks present because the U.S. government told us there was nothing to worry about at that time.  Now we know different, huh?

Fast forward to October 24, 2020 and I was back at a 5k starting line, but we all had on face masks.  Physical distancing and masks were mandated to participate in this event.  We could take the masks off once we began to run and had to put them back on once the race was over.  Happy to report everyone complied and I felt safe while waiting my turn to start the race.  The race organizers used a digital chip timer, so our times were synced based on our on-course performance instead of when we started.  Example:  I was the 60th runner to start but this did not impact where I placed because my time was synced directly to my performance not when I started. 

I was extremely happy to be back on a race course with other people around.  I love my training runs because I view running as my form of therapy but cannot make myself run fast without others around.  It may be a mental block or simply a lack of motivation, but I run faster when other people are around.  Think I just need to see people ahead of me to force myself to try to catch them.

I was able to slowly reel in runners during my 5k event.  I wanted to post a good time but did not want to go out too fast and die a slow death on the backend of the race. 

My first mile was a controlled 8:28 pace and I felt good with the pace.  The second mile was a bit slower at 9:35 but still controlled considering I did no speed work or 5k training prior to showing up.  Decided to maintain a level of control for the third mile and recorded 9:23 and felt comfortable at this pace.  Finished with a little kick to see if I had anything left in the tank—crossed the finish line at 28:38 which is a minute slower than my race in March.  To put that in context I was in full half marathon training mode in March so to run this fast without proper training is a good sign for me.  May not be a good sign for my friends who run since we all know I can go faster.  No pressure! 😊

I am happy with my performance and the ability to maintain my speed throughout the race.  I went ahead and signed up for the OUC Half Marathon in Orlando on December 5, 2020.  My original goal was to run in San Antonio in December, but COVID-19 has made an adjustment to my race schedule.  The OUC race will have a staggered start and require face masks before and after the race.  I feel comfortable with this process since I just completed a 5k with the same parameters.  Looks like this is the new normal if we are going to see races again.  It was not hard to practice physical distancing prior to racing so I will look for additional races to get my competitive fix again.  Look forward to running in downtown Orlando again in December.  Hope to catch up with friends while in town and enjoy being back in a great city.

So, I am racing again and enjoying every moment!  Will not take racing for granted in this COVID-19 world.

What have you been able to do again safely in this COVID-19 world?  What are you looking forward to? 

Thanks!

Total miles in 2020:  982.77! 😊

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they have a second”.

(William James)