Falling back: Running and staying safe

“Running in the dark, learning to embrace the dark side”.

(Pinterest quote)

I wanted to use a clever quote to highlight the new Walk into the Future adventure that happens when we switch from Daylight Savings time.  Most of us understand the time falls back in America every fall.  This occurred for us on November 1, 2020.  Some people like the time change and others hate it.  I was never too concerned with the time changes—still do not understand why we continue to do this but make the clock adjustments like everyone else.

My concern as a running tourist is my weekday runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays are done in the dark.  I routinely leave work on Tuesdays and Thursdays and head out for my weekday runs as part of my normal training routine.  Nothing spectacular with this process prior to the time change but now I leave work and it is dark when I head out for my runs.

I have been telling people I work with how I combat running in the dark but do not believe they fully understand what it takes to remain safe and be seen when running this time of the year.

I take my running program seriously and cannot imagine not running during the week.  My way to combat the darkness is to invest in reflective gear to ensure I remain safe when out for my runs.  My runs prior to moving to Fort Pierce were all done during the day—all my weekly runs were completed during the day—mostly in the mornings prior to the Florida heat kicked in during the summer.  My winter runs could be done a little later but were still completed with plenty of daylight available.

My move to Fort Pierce and daily work schedule make weekday runs after work a better option to maintain my mileage.  I still leverage the weekend runs to get my long runs in but need the weekday runs to build up my base miles and keep me focused on race days.

I invested in reflective gear to keep me visible and safe when I run in the dark.  My first investment was to get reflective bands I wear on my legs.  These bands can be seen when illuminated by light and ensure I can be seen when it is dark outside.  I like to ensure an extra level of visibility so invested in a fluorescent and reflective running vest.  I did not use this vest much when I lived in Tallahassee but wanted to make sure I had it when needed.  This vest is one of my best purchases I have ever made from Dick’s Sporting Goods.  Was able to get it on sale and it gives me the confidence to continue to run even when it is dark outside.

I jokingly tell people the vest makes me glow in the dark, but it is true.  The yellow run vest stands out and has two reflective strips as an added feature.  Both strips can be seen when lights bounce off them.  My goal when running in the darkness is to remain safe and ensure everyone can see me.

I have decided to adjust my running routes with the time change to minimize how many intersections I must cross.  My Tuesday and Thursday runs have been cut down to no more than 4 miles since this distance keeps me out of traffic and I avoid driveways where people could back out and not see me.  Scaling back on my miles during the week means I must increase my weekend miles to make up for the reduction.  I believe this is a fair trade off to keep me running and safe.

I have decided to embrace the darkness safely and keep on running! 😊

How has the time change impacted your weekly routines?  What adjustments have you made to keep Walking into the Future?

“Stars cannot shine without darkness”.

(Pinterest quote)

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)

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!