Hard Ax Lounge

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“Everything goes great with some axe throwing”.

(Instagram)

The Walk into the Future blog allows me to capture my thoughts, adventures and, plans in a way that I can share with my readers.

Never sought out a venue to capture everything but this blog provides an opportunity to highlight things I do to continue to Walk into the Future.

My new adventure was a trip to the Hard Ax Lounge in Fort Pierce for a round of ax throwing.  This was my second time in the Hard Ax Lounge—several of us from work made it to the lounge in December for a teambuilding activity.  It was the same day as our ugly sweater party, and I never got around to capturing my thoughts on the original outing.

Turns out I picked up ax throwing fast as I was the ax throwing champion for our group back in December.  Never imagined I would be good at throwing an ax but maybe my small-town upbringing in Jasper, Florida translated to becoming an ax man. 😊

Made my way back for round two with a smaller group of friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  I did not have preconceived ideas that my first ax throwing adventure would translate to this session.  Everyone must go through the safety training—ax throwing can be dangerous, and it helped to get pointers from the ax experts that work there.

There are different ax sizes, and each ax performs a bit different from the next.  The instructors show all participants how to hold and throw the axes based on size and weight.  They offer everyone an opportunity to throw each ax to get a better feel for which ax works best.  I had a lot of success with the smallest ax during my first experience so decided to stick with what worked best for me in the past.

The first part of the throwing session is just getting familiar with throwing the ax and working on form and aim.  The concept is like throwing darts, but the ax does a lot more damage when it hits the target.  We went through several rounds of practice before the ax experts introduced the ax throwing competition into the session.

The ax board is numbered, and scores are based on the number your ax sticks to (8, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1).  The first game introduced was a game of 21.  You throw with the idea of hitting numbers that add up to 21 to be crowned the winner.  If your throw total goes OVER 21 then you go back down to 12 and throw again with the intent to end up on 21.  Pretty simple, huh?

Throws are rotated between everyone on your lane, so everyone gets a turn in the rotation towards 21. 

My throwing technique is very basic.  I grab the small ax, position myself on the lane and then let it fly—not rocket science but I try not to overthink this simple process.

Fast forward and my throws got me close to 21 multiple times, but I had to go back to 12 since I kept going over.  Luckily for me, others throwing on my lane could not take advantage of me having to go back to 12 and win the game.  We played three rounds, and I was able to win 2 out of 3 rounds and leave as the ax throwing champion for the day.  FYI—double champion!

Ax throwing is a fast-growing sport, and it continues to get bigger in the Fort Pierce area.  I’m sure this is not the last ax win for the Walk into the Future blog.

Have you ever competed in ax throwing?

“Throw your axe and have some fun”.

(Instagram)

Wilmington, Delaware

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“Adventure is worthwhile in itself”.

(Global Castaway)

Dictionary.com defines adventure as an unusual and exciting, experience or activity.

Well, my Walk into the Future provides plenty of opportunities for me to live out adventures.

I wrote about my journey to Atlantic City, New Jersey for the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon and time spent with my friend Lauren Apgar.

I also wrote in an earlier post about my refrigerator magnet collection and how I make sure to get one from new locations.  My time in the Air Force gave me the travel bug and I have visited 37 states so far.  I review my list yearly to identify how/when I can visit a state I have never been to so I can cross it off my list.

Where I’m I headed with this?  Great question!

Delaware is about 85 miles from Atlantic City, and you are correct, I had never been to Delaware.  I did not know if I would ever be back in this area so decided to venture over to Delaware to explore a bit and then get my refrigerator magnet.  My original reason for being in this area was to run another half marathon but decided to take advantage of the proximity to Delaware and get a visit in so I could cross the state off my list.

Made my way back to the hotel after all the half marathon activities and breakfast with Lauren and Reese.  Needed to get some rest and get off my feet for a little bit and recharge myself for the next adventure.

I double checked the distance to Wilmington, Delaware one more time to determine if this was an adventure I really wanted to take on.  I needed to visit Delaware to add to my states visited list so did some leg stretches, grabbed some water, and got in my rental car to head west towards Delaware—my magnet and adventure awaited. 😊

The route from Atlantic City to Wilmington was a straight shot but needed to drive through Philadelphia to get to Wilmington.  Took the Atlantic City Expressway West from Egg Harbour, New Jersey.  This route took me directly through Philadelphia and I got a chance to see downtown Philly from a fantastic vantage point. 

The Walt Whitman Bridge is a suspension bridge across the Delaware River and leads directly across the state line.  The views of downtown Philly while driving on the bridge were great.  Wished I had the ability to get a few pictures from this vantage point, but I was driving.  You will have to take my word for how spectacular the views are OR visit Philly yourself and drive across the Walt Whitman Bridge. 😊

Traffic was not too bad as I made my way through Philly and then ventured a bit south towards Delaware.  I leveraged Google Maps to get me to my destination and had no trouble getting into Wilmington.

I did not have a set adventure in mind but wanted to explore a bit since I made the drive over.  Followed Google map directions towards downtown Wilmington to get a better view of the city.  The only thing I knew about Wilmington is Joe Biden has a residence there but had no interest in finding this.  Drove around downtown a bit and discovered some pretty rough neighborhoods in the city.  Never thought of Wilmington having an inner city look/feel but it does—lesson learned.

Decided to find a spot where I could collect my refrigerator magnet and then head back to meet Lauren and Reese for dinner.  Found a shopping plaza with multiple stores and ventured into a Hallmark store to search for Delaware souvenirs.  Told the salesperson what I was looking for and she directed me to the rack with Delaware swag.  She asked if I was interested in the Biden residence and seemed shocked when I said no.   Guess visiting the residence is a big thing when people visit Wilmington—magnets are a bigger deal for me! 😊

Got my magnets and headed back towards Atlantic City.  Made good time and was able to meet Lauren and Reese for dinner on our last night in the area. 

Happy I could get over to Delaware to add to my list of states visited and collect my magnet.  I have already signed up for the 2023 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon so I will be back in the area next year.  I have no need to visit Wilmington again. 😊

What adventures do you have lined up for the rest of 2022?

Irie!

“Do more than just exist”.

(Pinterest)

FYI—the 2023 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon has been cancelled.  The Rock N Roll folks decided not to continue to host the race.  Luckily, I made it to Atlantic City in 2022.

2022 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Conference

NACE2022

The 2022 NACE Conference was held in Portland, Oregon this year.  This was our first in-person conference since 2019 and there was a lot of excited and anxious people in attendance.  Safety protocols were taken to keep us safe, but you can never truly feel safe with over 1,700 people in attendance.

I have been a member of NACE for the past 15 years and have continued to look for ways to expand my role within the organization.  I have served in multiple roles which have allowed me to grow a network with professionals across the world.

I am currently finishing up my role as a Co-Chair for the Mentorship Enhancement Task Force.  I received a phone call from the incoming NACE President in July 2021 to talk about the task force and the importance he placed on mentorship.  He asked me to Co-Chair this critical task force and work to revamp the program and increase awareness/participation for NACE members.

Fast forward to the NACE conference in Portland and my task force was provided a session to discuss the work we have been doing for the past 12 months and highlight the improvements we recommend to the Board of Directors.

I have attended past NACE conferences in Anaheim, Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, and Orlando but this was my first opportunity to present to my colleagues.  We were given a prime slot on the second day of the conference to present our work and recruit new mentors into the program. 

My Co-Chair who is based out of St. Louis, Missouri and I spent multiple Microsoft Teams virtual sessions going over the presentation format, slides, and flow.  We decided to give a big overview of the program changes and then jump into a panel discussion with current NACE mentors and mentees to get their perspective on the impact of mentoring for each of them.

We soon discovered the NACE conference committee booked our session in the LARGEST room at the event.  We had no preconceived perspective on how many people would attend our session, but we did not imagine we could fill every seat in this large space.  NOTE—we did not get close to filling all seats. 😊

No worries!  We had a very good crowd, and the folks were able to get a more personal touch from my co-chair and I.  These folks were able to ask the panelist questions and we had on the spot sign-ups for new mentors and mentees.

We shared the work of the task force and identified our strategies and marketing plans to create a world class mentoring program.

The new program will have 3 mentoring layers:

  • 1 on 1 mentoring (traditional)
  • Reverse mentoring (new)
  • Mentoring Circles (new)

Mentoring research identifies Reverse mentoring and Mentoring Circles are unique ways to increase mentoring awareness and participation.  We discussed the benefits of each mentoring model and introduced the software we recommended to match mentors with mentees.  The current matching process is manual and does not consider the demographics of the mentor or mentee.  This software matching process was a big hit with the NACE board and folks in attendance during our session.

The marketing plan will utilize all social media platforms and the NACE website to promote the changes and encourage NACE members to join the program. 

I was excited to see the NACE President, David Ong in attendance during our session.  This was his pet project for the year, and he was extremely happy with our progress and excited to roll out the new program to the general membership.

David gave us a by-name shoutout during the general session late that day to thank us for the work we put in over the year.  This was the highlight of the conference for me and got more members wanting to discuss the mentoring program and to sign up.  I walked around with sign-up sheets for the rest of the conference and got many mentors and mentees signed up.

My official Co-Chair role ends on 7/15/2022 but we still must complete one more project before our term ends.  I have decided to take a year off from serving on another NACE committee or task force.  This was my second national commitment to the career field in the past two years—time to take a small break and concentrate on my local duties. 

I plan to get back into the national work of our career field in 2023 by either serving on another committee/task force or taking a larger step up to become a NACE Board Member.  This would provide me with additional leverage within the career field as we set policy to keep us relevant.

Yes, I’m still dreaming big! 😊

My 2023 conference travel plans will be less than this year.  The 2023 conference will be held in Lake Buena Vista (Disney World) so I do not have to endure another 7 hours of traveling.  My travel time over to Disney World will be just over an hour and I don’t have to worry about flight layovers in Salt Lake City or Minneapolis. 

Look forward to getting the band back together next year.

Irie!    

Austin, Texas

Austin NISOD

“To me, Texas is Austin, a bunch of cool people trying to make a difference”.

(Bill Hicks)

My Walk into the Future journey allowed me to venture to Austin, Texas in June to attend the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) annual conference.

I was nominated for an Excellence in Leadership award by my institution and my trip to Austin was needed to get recognized and receive the award.  An expense paid trip to Austin was a welcomed addition to the Walk into the Future adventures.

I visited Austin multiple times when I lived in Texas during my time in the Air Force.  My first assignment was at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth.  I returned to Texas a few years later for an assignment at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio.  I always loved to explore and made multiple visits to Austin for football games, track meets and to just take in the music scene while stationed in Texas.  Never imagined I would be back in the city for a leadership conference decades later but that’s the catalyst for this latest adventure.

I did not know much about NISOD but quickly discovered this is a huge organization within the 2-year college space.  My institution has been a member for years and supports the overall mission of NISOD. 

The annual conference is held at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin.  This location put conference attendees in the middle of a great environment for culture, food, music, and sightseeing.  Yes, I made a point to exploit each of these opportunities.

The hotel was within walking distance to the state capitol, The University of Texas, Congress Avenue Bridge, restaurants, and music.  Austin is designed to be a walkable city and has an impressive bike/scooter street setup.  A lot of the residents and visitors in downtown Austin jump on electric scooters to get around town.  I did not jump on a scooter but leveraged walking to different Austin venues.

Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ was a frequent stop for me on this trip.  I received recommendations prior to arriving for this BBQ joint and it was only steps away from the hotel.  I made this my first stop in Austin and the food was as good as advertised.  The setup is designed for customers to select their meat order which is sliced when ordered.  You follow-up with premade side dishes (potato salad, green beans, etc.) and deserts as needed.  Meat portions are huge and surprises most people when ordering.  I tried multiple selections over my time in Austin but highly recommend the smoke sausage—very good.

http://coopersbbqaustin.com/

Made a few trips over to the 6th Street music venues to listen to live music and experience the Austin music scene.  Got a chance to hear a few local bands that were good.  This Austin music scene is different than Nashville—there are multiple places to listen to music but it’s not as vast as what Nashville has to offer.  The venues were a lot smaller too, so the atmosphere was more laid back as well. 

The Texas State capitol was about a mile from the hotel and was easy to reach even with the high Texas temperatures.  Decided to venture down to get a few pictures on the capitol grounds and experience the monuments.  Explored the grounds and marveled at the architecture of the capitol building.  Got a chance to view the monument dedicated to black Texas history and some of the important black pioneers.

Continue reading “Austin, Texas”

The Return to Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville Honky Tonk

“I love Nashville.   It seems like everywhere you walk, there’s great music coming out of every wall”.

(Imedla May)

I am always looking for a clever quote to help me get started with the writing process.

My friends and family know I love Tennessee and Nashville is one of my favorite places to visit.  I did not realize it has been almost 3 years since my last visit to the Music City.

The 2019 Rock N Roll Half Marathon and NFL draft weekend was the last time I was in Nashville. 

https://walkintothefuture.blog/2019/05/23/nashville-and-the-wild-horse-saloon/

The 2020 Rock N Roll Half Marathon was cancelled due to COVID-19.  The 2021 Rock N Roll Half Marathon was moved to the week before Thanksgiving.  I thought about using my race credit and running the fall version of the race, but it would have kept me from exploring the Smoky Mountains.  Got to have priorities in life! 😊

It looks like I will be able to run Nashville again in April 2022 with the Rock N Roll crew again.

Back to present day Nashville.

I decided to visit Nashville prior to Christmas for a trip to explore the city in a different way than I normally do.  Most times I am in Nashville for an event (race/football game) and get focused on the task at hand.  I have a regimented eating pattern when I am in town for a race.  I also must keep track of how much I am on my feet prior to a race so I can conserve energy to compete.

 I went full tourist mode for this trip so I could explore different areas and venues without worrying about how much time I spent walking or standing up.

Booked a convenient downtown hotel which was only half a mile from Broadway which is the main entertainment center in Nashville.

This easy walk made Nashville more accessible to me since I did not have to worry about finding a place to park.  Nashville is like most big cities where parking is a premium and of course you pay a premium to park.  I simply left my rental car in the hotel parking lot and got my steps in while enjoying everything Nashville had to offer.

Ryman Auditorium

I have been to Nashville 10 times over the years but never visited the Ryman Auditorium.  I have walked by this historic music venue multiple times but for some reason never tried to go in. 

The Ryman Auditorium is steeped in musical history and transcends multiple genres.  It is the original home of the Grand Old Opry and music fans from all over the world converged there to see their favorite artists.  The Ryman Auditorium started as a house of worship but expanded to host political rallies, plays, conventions and musical acts.  I was surprised to see how many rock, pop and R&B acts played at the Ryman Auditorium.  The Grand Old Opry moved out of the Ryman in 1975 to the current location in Opryland.  The Grand Old Opry show returns to the Ryman Auditorium on a regular basis, and they continue to attract national headliners.  Josh Turner was playing the same day I took the Ryman Auditorium tour.  Highly recommend adding this tour to your Nashville travel plans.

https://ryman.com/

Country Music Hall of Fame

The Rock N Roll Race EXPO is right next to the Country Music Hall of Fame.  I have walked by the building a thousand times but never made my way up the stairs to see the exhibits. ☹

This trip was designed to be a true tourist, so I made my way up the stairs and entered the Country Music Hall of Fame.  It did not have the same nostalgic feel of the Ryman Auditorium, but it was a great place to see and relive the history of country music.  The exhibits included subtexts to ensure everyone knew what they were seeing to include instruments and clothing country music stars wore in their videos and on tour.

A surprising aspect of the exhibits was how small most of the country artists are.  A lot of artists look bigger than life on TV but most of the female artists based on their outfits are 5’ 4” or shorter.  Even the BIG country guys are not as big as they appear on TV based on the outfit that were on display.  My favorite artist is George Strait and I thought he was 6’ 3” or 6’ 4”.  He is 5’ 10”—never would have guessed that before seeing his exhibit in the Country Music Hall of Fame.  I made my way into the Hall of Fame Rotunda to view the plaques for everyone who has been elected to the Hall of Fame.  Got to see all the legends in the rotunda but made sure to get a shot of George Strait’s plaque.  Highly recommend a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

https://countrymusichalloffame.org/

Nashville Strait

Wildhorse Saloon

The Wildhorse Saloon is one of my favorite places to visit when I am in Nashville.  The food, atmosphere and music venue are all first rate.  One of my targeted activities at the Wildhorse Saloon is the chance to get in some line dancing.  The staff at the Wildhorse teach multiple dances throughout the day and then get everyone on the dance floor.  I have learned quite a few new dances over the years.  Sadly, the Wildhorse Saloon was closed while I was in Nashville.  They decided to give the staff some time off before Christmas and I respect that.  The gift shop was open, and I was able to pick up a few souvenirs before heading back over to Broadway for music.

Broadway

Broadway is the main drag in downtown Nashville if you are looking for entertainment.  I have covered almost every inch of Broadway over the years and still discover new places to listen to music.

There is no cover to enter the Honky Tonks so there is freedom to roam and change venues.  I love this aspect because I move around depending on the bands playing and how good they sound.

I hit most of the Honky Tonks on this trip but found myself gravitating to The Stage, Whiskey Row, Jason Aldean’s Rooftop Bar and Tequila Cowboy.   The sound stage in these spots were better quality and I enjoyed the bands playing.  The food at Jason Aldean’s was good so why I kept going back. 😊

https://dierkswhiskeyrow.com/nashville-tn/

Nashville is a great place to visit if you have never been.  Looking forward to getting back there in April 2022 for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon and line dancing at the Wildhorse Saloon.

“We’re playing your song”.

(Tennessee Department of Tourist Development)

2021 OUC Half Marathon

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Running Friend (n):  One who listens, does not judge, and somehow makes two hours of running fun.

(Pinterest)

Yes, I made the trek over to run the Orlando Hometown Half Marathon again this year.  This is becoming my favorite half marathon due to the course, weather, proximity, and the great Track Shack staff.

The is the 8th time for me running this half marathon and it may have been the most enjoyable.  I signed up for the race in December 2020 with the intent to target a Personal Record (PR) during the event.  I made an adjustment to my mindset during packet pickup to just enjoy the course, the spectators and, great December weather in Orlando.

I still wanted to beat my 2020 time but did not overemphasize the concept of a time-based goal.  My training has been good but nothing like the miles or training sessions I put in in 2019.  The hills in Tallahassee helped prepare me for races so I knew where my conditioning was before every race.  Targeted race times were easier to predict due to hill training.

I toed the start line this year with the intent to get/stay close to a pace so I would complete the half marathon in 2:15 (two hours and 15 minutes).  This would be ten minutes slower than my PR but obtainable without stressing my body too much just to hit a number.  This is personal growth for me because I normally beat myself up if I do not hit a certain number.  Decided to listen to my body and have fun since that is what this is all about.

I crossed the finish line this year in a time of 2:18:58 (two hours, 18 minutes, and 58 seconds).  Close but extremely happy with this time.  Why you ask?

Great question! 😊

I knew my tree branch, Daniel Botero was signed up for the race and we texted to make sure we connected prior to the race start.  Always great seeing my tree branches and this was the first time Daniel and I have seen each other in-person since February 2020.  While catching up and stretching Daniel asked me what my targeted time was for the race.  I gave him 2:15 for my targeted time and he asked if he could tag along. 

OUC 2

Looking at past articles on my training program and race schedules highlight I run alone.  This is mostly by choice but also because not many people in my Fort Pierce circle exercise or run.  I happily accepted Daniel’s request to run with me and embraced having a tree branch running with me.  I was surprised when he identified he would try to keep up with me—made me laugh a bit too since I am a lot older than him.

We agreed to run together until it was no longer practical.  Happy to report I got to run the first 5 miles of the half marathon with Daniel.  We kept a decent pace of 9:30 per minute over this distance before going our separate race strategies.

I traditionally run 8 smaller races within the half marathon.  I find it easier mentally and physically to leverage this approach and it has helped me gets faster.

Example:  The water stops are approximately 1.8 miles apart for most half marathons.

I run to each water stop and then walk through the area to drink water and Gatorade.  Please note, I do not stop moving forward but take about a 20 – 30 second walk break to replenish my fluids.  I take off running to the next water stop after getting my water and Gatorade.  This concept creates 8 smaller races and helps me stay strong throughout the half marathon.

There are other running strategies for success, but this works well for me.

My pace stayed consistent for the first 8 miles, but I began to slow a bit when the lactic acid in my legs started to get away from me.  I incorporated beet and tart cherry juice into my diet to help with the lactic acid buildup but there are times when it just jumps up and grabs you by the quads.  This was one of those times!

I carry nutrition gels in my running belt and started taking them at the 8-mile mark.  The gels help get more carbs into my system and helps with the leg pain.  Yes, I spend money, time and, effort to put myself in pain—runners are a unique breed.

A new adventure for this race is I ran with the 2:15 pace group for a good portion after mile 8.  The pacer was an experienced marathoner and paces half marathons for fun—again, we are a unique breed. 😊

I was happy to have company again and stayed with the group until my quads told me to slow down—I did!  My goal at this point was to stay ahead of the 2:20 pace group that was further behind me—I refused to let them catch up with me.  I stayed between both pace groups as I made my way back downtown Orlando.  The crowds were huge at this portion of the course and having people cheer for me gave me the extra inspiration to finish strong.

Yes, I was able to fake wellness and sprint across the finish line with a smile on my face.  This was a forced smile but smile I did.  Looked down at my watch and was happy with my effort and time for the day. 

Track Shack ran a 3-year series and every runner that completed the OUC Half Marathon in 2019, 2020 and 2021 got an extra medal to go along with the normal swag.  I did not realize I was in this elite group but happily accepted my additional bling.

OUC 4

Made my way to the runner’s village to get some refreshments and recover.  I wanted to stick around to cheer Daniel across the line and make sure he was okay.  He came across the finish line in good shape and I directed him to the medical tent to get some ice on his legs.  I always get ice to begin the recovery process and it helps with pain and inflammation caused by a 13.1-mile race.

Got a couple beers to replenish carbs and Daniel and I parted ways with a new memory for our growing friendship.  Hope to run with him again in 2022!

My plan is to run the OUC Half Marathon again in 2022.  Who is going to join me?

Irie!

OUC 3

Inspiration Man—Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) Keynote

Keynote

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.  The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.

(Winston Churchill)

To keynote or not? 

This was a question I faced back in October 2021 when one of my friends asked me to consider being the keynote speaker for a virtual Drive-In conference.

The Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) members come from college/university Career Services and employers who maintain active on-campus recruiting programs.

I have been a member of FloridaACE for over 10 years and have made some great contacts throughout the state of Florida. 

Fun fact, I was selected as the keynote for the inaugural Drive-In Conference back in 2016.  I gave my keynote address at the University of Central Florida in the building I used to work in prior to moving to FSU.  Who says you can’t come home again? 😊

The Drive-In Conference is designed to be shorter than a regular conference—a day and a half instead of a full week.  The concept of the Drive-in Conference is to make it accessible to a large population of attendees who can physically drive to the location and not need hotel accommodations.

COVID-19 made the concept of virtual conferences come to life and this Drive-In Conference was switched to a virtual format.

I love to spread the Inspiration Man message to any group that will sit and listen.  I hesitated to accept this request because it was via Zoom, and I did not know how my message would translate on a virtual platform.  I love in-person audiences and feed off the crowd when I present.  A virtual keynote was a challenge to me but one I am happy I accepted—things went well from start to finish.

The 2021 FloridaACE Virtual Drive-In Conference was titled: Gulf-to-Coast Connections.

I reached out to my friend to get a better understanding of the conference title and how significant it was to attendees.  Turns out the term gulf was picked so people in western Florida would not feel left out.  I decided to focus on the conference in terms of how people on both coasts (Gulf and Atlantic) could connect to build Authentic Connections.  Yes, I put authentic in most things I do these days. 😊

Happy to report I accepted the Keynote invitation and was able to move the crowd on a virtual platform.

I researched the term Authentic Connections to build my knowledge base as I worked to create a presentation to inspire others.  There is a ton of research available, and my new task was to filter this data in a way to build the presentation.

The key to any form of connection is RELATIONSHIPS.  My goal during the keynote was to highlight to the attendees how technology (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.) allow us to reach a larger audience than before.  There was always a mindset to catch-up with colleagues during the annual in-person conference or workshop.  This was an effective way to connect back in the day, but COVID created new options/ways to connect.

We can reach out to potential mentors and colleagues by utilizing the technology we have.  My keynote centered on how FloridaACE members could leverage technology and build authentic connections.

Authentic Connections should be genuine, direct, and focused.  My point for the group was to highlight relationships can be built virtually, in-person or a combination of both platforms.  You must want to make a connection for it to happen.  Networking with an intentional mindset helps build connections too.

I would have been remiss if I did not talk about some of the challenges we face when attempting to make new connections:

  • COVID-19
  • No in-person events
  • Zoom fatigue
  • Multiple platform (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.)

Simply figuring out how and when to connect with others has been a challenge even for me. 

Some folks prefer a phone call, others are all about Zoom and then you have a set who want in-person connections because they want to feel normal again.  I shared with my audience it is okay to identify a preferred platform and stick with that.  I prefer Microsoft Teams now when connecting with anyone not on-campus with me.  The key to this I have found is to state the preference up-front and then provide a Microsoft Teams calendar invite to eliminate confusion on how/when we will connect. 

The concept of recalibrate was addressed to ensure attendees understand they must adjust thought processes in today’s world.  We are not going back to pre-COVID networking so finding authentic connections should be prioritized for them to happen.  Following up after making a request is an outstanding way to continue to build the connections needed to make a difference in the world.

Being a keynote speaker during a virtual conference was a new experience for me but I was able to make several authentic connections during and after the event.  Will see how many attendees follow-up with me and leverage the wisdom I dropped on them.

How do you make/ensure authentic connections in your world?  Thanks!

“Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners”.

(Dale Carnegie)

Running to Savannah

RnR Savannah

“The journey is the destination”.

(Dan Eldon)

Searched for a clever destination run quote since I have been writing about the 2021 Savannah Rock N Roll Half marathon for months now.  The quote above brings me back to center with the simple concept on the importance of the journey.

Well, I have been working up to this journey for quite a bit of time.  I was originally scheduled to run in Savannah for the first time back in November 2020.  We know COVID-19 caused havoc and most races were cancelled in 2020. 

The Rock N Roll folks allowed runners to defer race credits forward to 2021 races—I decided to do a direct swap to the 2021 Savannah half marathon since I have never run in the city.  Please note, I have visited Savannah multiple times to enjoy the culture, food, and sightseeing.  My draw was to be a running tourist in Savannah and take in the sights while running through the city.

Full disclosure, my running tourist adventures did not happen in 2021 and we cannot blame it on COVID-19 this time.

Savannah weather in the month of November is normally mild and attracts 15k+ runners from all over the world.  I am sure my fellow runners targeted this race for the mild temperatures, flat course, music, and great food.  Unfortunately, I am not sure many runners experienced any of these things.

The weather forecast for race weekend identified rain and colder weather early in the week.  The premise was the rain would clear out before race day and keep temperatures cooler than normal.  I was excited to run in cooler weather since I train in Fort Pierce, Florida and experience heat and humidity daily.

I got on the road on Friday to head up I-95 to Savannah.  The trip was a straight shot up the interstate and took a little over 5 hours to get there.  It rained the entire drive up, but it was never a heavy rain, just steady.  My thoughts heading up was the rain would clear out by race day and things would be great in the morning.

This concept did not play out and the weather got much worse than projected. 

I made my way to the EXPO to pick up my race packet and get some shopping in—normal routine.  The rain impacted the foot traffic at the EXPO while I was there so getting in and out was quick.  Most of the folks there had rain gear on, but we all were hoping the rain would be gone by race day.  I was shocked with the number of vehicles still trying to get to the EXPO—I am sure the weather caused delays with runners arriving in town and then to the EXPO.

Made my way to the hotel to check-in and then look for a place to continue my carb loading program.  Decided to make a quick trip to a local Goodwill store to buy a sweatshirt I could wear in the corral while waiting for the race to start.  Runners routinely drop sweatshirts and blankets prior to racing—these items are then donated to local homeless shelters.  I did not find a sweatshirt at the Goodwill so headed across the street to Burlington and found what I needed for a very good price. 😊

Headed to Buffalo Wild Wings to complete my carb loading process and watch some college football before going to bed early.  FYI—it was raining the entire time I was out and about, but the hope was the rain would stop before morning—it did not!

I laid out my race outfit like normal when I got to the hotel.  Decided to dress in layers with a long sleeve run shirt since it was colder than normal.  My sweatshirt would allow me to stay warm prior to the race—in theory.

Fast forward to race day and it was STILL raining!  The rain was a drizzle when I headed out towards downtown and got a bit heavier the closer I got to the shuttle pickup spot.  My fellow runners were dressed in layers wearing rain gear, trash bags and large coats to stay dry and warm.  This should have been an indication of what was to come but we all got on the shuttle and headed to the start line.  The rain appeared to get heavier the closer we got to our drop off spot.

Everyone got off the shuttle with full intent to run the half or full marathon.  This intent lasted for about 30 minutes as the rain came down harder and the streets started to flood.  I met a lot of nice people from all over America as we huddled and shivered under a restaurant overhang trying to stay dry and somewhat warm. 

There was a gentleman who flew in from Seattle two days prior who needed to run this race to complete his goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states.  He was conflicted with the weather but determined to run.  Other runners had similar stories or reasons they wanted to run.  The consensus was none of us expected the weather to be this bad and completing the race in these conditions would be tough.  Some vowed to stay and run while others said to hell with this.  

I was in the hell with this camp since I rarely train in the rain but have done it.  The temperature at the time was 41 degrees and we were experiencing a downpour with no end in sight.  I decided to call NO JOY and not risk injury or sickness with the current conditions.

Made my way to Forsythe Park since that’s where the shuttles were to drive runners back to their vehicles.  A positive note is the shuttles had heat and provided a dry environment to get us out of the rain.  I have never made it to a race start line and not run but this was the best option for me considering the cold, rain, and race conditions for the day.

Happily made it back to my hotel, took a hot shower and got back in the bed for a 2 hour nap! 😊

I normally write about the sightseeing from a race location, but the rain never stopped.  I made my way back downtown so I could visit New Realm Brewery.  My first experience with New Realm Brewery was when I ran in Virginia Beach back in September.  Great food again!  They were out of the Acai Berry cider, but I was able to enjoy another local craft beer which was pretty good.

That’s about it for my trip—the rain and cold weather was not conducive to exploring so I didn’t.  Made my way back to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch more football and stay dry.        

Don’t know if I will try to run Savannah again—two tries and two false starts.

May just take a trip back up in the summer to experience the city as a regular tourist. 😊

https://www.savannahnow.com/story/sports/recreation/2021/11/06/nasty-weather-forces-rock-n-roll-savannah-marathon-shortened/6300893001/

RnR Savannah 2

Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving-g944bc9341_1920

“What if today, we were just grateful for everything”?

(Charlie Brown)

Here’s to a great day for everyone who reads this!  Hope you take time to enjoy your family, friends, and great food.

Continue to Walk into the Future!

Calvin

“Be present in all things and thankful for all things”.

(Maya Angelou)

Track Shack UCF 5 Miler

5 Mile race

“Every morning we are born again.  What we do today is what matters most”.

(Buddha)

Merriam-Webster defines resilience as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

Happy to report there has not been any misfortune for me, but the change has been an adjustment to my training regimen.  I am still putting in work but not able to get the same quality sessions I put in pre-COVID.  This can be directly attributed to my work role in Fort Pierce but please do not think I am complaining.

We have made some major operational improvements and there is light at the end of the tunnel where we will soon normalize operations and I can get back to putting in more training miles.

The concept of resiliency reminds me of the old saying:  try and then try again!

Decided to use shorter races as a bigger part of my training program to get me prepared for the rigors of the half marathon distance.  I have the 2021 Rock N Roll Savannah half marathon in November and the 2021 Track Shack OUC half marathon in December.  My overall goal is to run a half marathon under 2 hours and the Track Shack OUC half marathon is the ideal setup to make this happen.  I need to put in additional training miles to build my endurance back to my 2019 levels. 

My fastest half marathon was the 2019 Track Shack OUC half marathon with a time of 2:05:51 (two hours, five minutes, and 51 seconds).  2020 was set to be my fastest year ever but of course COVID-19 shut down racing and my training lagged—that’s on me! 😊

So, what’s my plan to correct my training and speed issues?  Well, I check multiple running clubs to see what races are being offered locally and within driving distance to me in Fort Pierce. 

I routinely scan the Fleet Feet Stuart and Orlando Track Shack events pages to determine which races are available to help with my training program.  I just shared with my best friend I have a hard time training with race pace—it is a mental thing for me since I do not have competitors or anyone to pace with.  I am sure I may be the only active running with this issue but targeting real races seems to get my competitive nature going.  This may not be the ideal strategy, but I will try this out to get me closer to my half marathon goal. 

Made my way back over to Orlando for the 2021 Track U Can Finish 5 Mile race to get some speed work in.  I ran this same event when I lived in Oviedo, but this is the first time I tackled the race distance in 8 years. 

This is an interesting event because it has multiple distances available for runners to try.  The first event is the U Can Finish 2 Mile race and Track Shack has a distance dare.  Runners can sign up to run the 2-mile race and then compete in the 5-mile race right after.  The hook for distance dare runners is the opportunity to collect 3 medals:  2-mile, 5-mile, and distance dare medals.  Runners love their bling and a lot of them took part in the distance dare.  I did not—officially. 😊

Did something new on race day to ensure I got in extra training miles.  I stay in the same hotel each time I visit the Orlando area and it is down the street from the UCF campus. 

I decided to leave my vehicle parked at the hotel and ran the 2-mile distance to the UCF campus for the start of the 5-mile race.  Figured this was a great way to warmup and stretch my legs before my race and ensured I would get in a long training session—it was just broken up into segments.

Toed the line for the 5-mile race completely warmed up and excited to run on the UCF campus again.  The race village was setup directly in front of the Career Services building where I worked for 4-years prior to moving to Tallahassee and the FSU Career Center.  Great being back on the old stomping grounds. 😊

My goal for the 5-mile race was simply to test my endurance and consistently run miles splits with a 9 on the front of them (9:05, 9:10, etc.).  Mission accomplished.

The UCF campus is completely flat which helped a lot.  Went out with the intent to run my race based on feel and then push myself when I could. 

Mile-1 went by at an 8:44 per minute pace and I felt good with the effort.  Mile-2 through 5 were:  9:15, 9:33, 9:57, 9:42 which got me to the finish line at 47:29.  Targeted 45 flat but happy with my results considering I put in a 2-mile run before my race. 

Collected my 5-mile medal and took some pictures to commemorate the race and my time back at UCF.  Got some refreshments and stretched a bit before heading out.  I tucked my race medal away and began my 2-mile journey back to my hotel—yes, I ran back for a total of 9 training miles for the day.  Felt great every step of the day!

I will look for additional races to help me prepare for my next two half marathons.  Still have some speed in these legs, just need to release it in my unique way.

FYI—I am still on pace to meet my 2021 goals of 1,000 training miles.  Imagine my mileage if I could stay consistent with my training.

Irie!

How do you display resilience in your daily activities?  Thanks!

“Life does not get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient”.

(Steve Maraboli)

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