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)

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)

Back to the Great Smoky Mountains

“Live a life of quiet inspiration.”

(William Britten)

Let us go ahead and admit it—2020 has been a tough year for us all!

COVID-19 has adjusted how and who we interact with these days.  Not a complaint but a simple fact that has become necessary in 2020.  A major adjustment for me has been the concept of travel. I got a kick out of labeling myself a running tourist, but this has been almost nonexistent in 2020.

I decided to make another trip to the Great Smoky Mountains for a quick and physical distanced getaway prior to Thanksgiving.  I enjoyed myself so much when I hiked in 2019 so wanted to come back to the mountains and find the peace and fresh air again.  Happy to report the Smoky Mountains, fresh air and peacefulness are still there—love the ability to get there and just escape for a bit.

My 2019 Smoky Mountains experience and talking with friends allowed me to do more research and plan out my hikes this year.  I just rode around and then stopped when I saw something interesting in 2019.  I felt like a seasoned hiker in 2020 and made plans for which trails I made a trek on and the order.  Felt like I had a better understanding of the hiking process this year and this allowed me to make all the hikes I planned with minimal issues.

Hiking the Smoky Mountains

The weather was fantastic again this year.  The morning temperatures started around 45 degrees and warmed up to the low 60s while I was in the mountains.  Perfect hiking weather for me—I layered up and was able to shed layers as the day got warmer.  I also carried a small backpack this year to carry my water bottles and put my extra layers in when needed.

Discussed trails in the Smoky Mountains with one of my friends who is an avid hiker.  She provided me with additional inspiration to get back out in nature and enjoy the process. 

Found the following site that describes trails by location, features, distance, and difficulty:

http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/location.htm

Used this information to make my hiking experience better this year. 😊

Started my 2020 hiking adventure on the Gatlinburg Trail which has a trail head right on the edge of downtown Gatlinburg.  I hiked the Gatlinburg Trail in 2019 but it was more of a warmup type hike for me this year.  Wanted to fully explore the Gatlinburg Trail and take it from the trailhead all the way to the end which is about 2 miles. 

The end of the Gatlinburg Trail runs directly into the Sugarland Welcome Center and the Sugarland Trails.  I hiked this area in 2019 but decided to adjust my route and the distance in 2020.  There were a lot more people out on this trail and my goal was to make my way to Cataract falls and get some good pictures.  Cataract falls is a major attraction in the Sugarland Trails area, so everyone wants to stop and get pictures there—only spent a few minutes at the falls before it was time to move on down the trail.  Bumped into a couple from Wisconsin who decided to ask me for trail directions—I helped them as much as possible but explained to them I live in Florida and I am just out walking in the woods.  Guess it is a good thing they felt comfortable enough to stop and ask me for direction.  People are friendly when in the mountains. 😊

Cataract falls

Decided to head further up into the mountains to tackle my next adventure.  Research shows the Clingman Dome as the highest elevation in the Smoky mountains.  I did not feel comfortable making the trek in 2019 but put it firmly on my 2020 adventure list.  Thought of it more as a challenge and wanted to get to the highest point in the Smokies to get some great shots. 

The drive up was nice—I wanted to stop and take pictures but decided to get up the mountain and take pictures on the way down.  The cloud cover or smoke in the mountains got thicker the higher up I drove.  That is when I realize how far up the mountain I had traveled because I was in the clouds on the ascent.  Amazing experience and one I will repeat as often as possible.  There is peace in the mountains!  The area attracted a large group of visitors, but everyone was friendly and gave each other space for pictures and the trek up to the Dome.  Please note, the trek up to Clingman’s Dome is paved but the incline is extreme, and the elevation is over 6,600 feet.  This was the first time I noticed hikers taking breaks on their way up the mountain.  I soon realized the altitude and incline would impact me as well.  I did not stop moving but my pace was a lot slower than it was when I started the climb up.  I also realized I left my water bottles back in my vehicle but did not stop climbing higher.

I will report the climb up to the Clingman Dome was well worth the pain!  The views were covered in smoke (clouds) but you could still see the peaks and valleys below.  The wind whipping the clouds around sounded like the clouds were singing—amazing being so high up in the Smoky mountains.  The Clingman Dome borders right on the Tennessee and North Carolina state lines.  I crossed over into North Carolina on this portion of my hike.

I took a quick detour on my descent from the Clingman Dome and ventured onto a portion of the Appalachian Trail.  Decided it was worth the trip since I was already high up in the mountains.  I did not go far on the Appalachian Trail because this portion was very rocky, and I wanted to save my legs for my next trail adventure I had mapped out.

https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/clingmansdome.htm

My last trail was the Chimney Tops Trail, and it was well worth the hike.  The trail description identifies the difficulty as moderate which it may be, but this was my fourth trail of the day and my legs were screaming all the way up the trail.  I would recommend doing this trail first if you visit the Smoky mountains or do it on a separate day.  The hike up the mountain is very scenic and offers multiple opportunities to take some great pictures.  The terrain changes multiple times on the ascent but it is an exciting hike.  I had to stop and take breaks multiple times on the Chimney Tops Trail.  This was due to the fact I had been hiking multiple trails and probably should have deferred this trail for the next day after getting some rest.  Discovered a new mental toughness as I slowly made my way up to see the views I had read about. 

I almost gave up on making it to the top but a fellow hiker who was coming back down gave me a little extra inspiration to make it to the top.  He casually said to me, “You are only 4 minutes away from the top”.  I think we both knew he was lying to me to keep me going forward but surprisingly it worked because I put a smile on my face and kept going.  I made it to the top about 15 minutes after encountering my hiking friend and was extremely happy I did not give up.  The views and the feeling of accomplishment were well worth the leg pains I endured to make it up the Chimney Tops Trail.  Mind over matter came into play while making this hike and I am happy I made it to the top.  We can accomplish anything we put effort into, and the Chimney Tops Trail become my Mount Everest! Pun intended! 😊

http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/chimney.htm

The descent down from Chimney Tops was just as beautiful as going up.  My legs were in better shape to walk down the mountain after I took about 30 minutes to just sit still at the top and admire the beauty of the Smoky Mountains.  I recommend you visit it if you have not been there because of the peacefulness the mountains bring.  The hikes are a great distraction and provides an opportunity to get out and get some exercise at the same time. 

Skybridge

Decided not to do the Gatlinburg Skybridge this year because the lines were too long, and people were not practicing physical distancing while standing in line.  I will try the Skybridge again on my next adventure back into the mountains.

https://www.gatlinburgskylift.com/skybridge

Moonshine tasting

Yes, I made it back to the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery to get more moonshine.  They have added a few new flavors this year and I got a chance to taste them all.  Some I liked and others were not that great—not a huge fan of the flavored moonshine (Sour Apple, etc.).  I was shocked they were out of my favorite moonshine, Blue Flame which is 128 proof.  They replaced it with a 10th Anniversary edition which is the Ole Smoky Moonshine 153.  Yes, that is 153 proof moonshine!  It has a kick to it, but I played it safe and got my tried and true White Lightning which is ONLY 100 proof. 😊 Will make the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery a regular stop each time I am back in Gatlinburg.

https://olesmoky.com/collections/moonshine

Got all of this done the weekend before Thanksgiving and still was able to enjoy time with my family as we gave thanks for 2020.  It has been a tough year but there are still things to be thankful for.

Thanks to you for reading my words and following my adventures!  Here is to a great end of the 2020 year and a better 2021—let’s make it happen!

Irie!

Walking with no new races in sight

(Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

 “I am trying my hardest not to act how I feel”.

(Anonymous)

The COVID-19 pandemic hits just keep on stacking up!  I have been bombarded with emails from the Rock N Roll marathon race organization identifying the cancellation for future races.  Please note, I fully expected the remaining 2020 races to be cancelled but the Rock N Roll folks have begun cancelling races in 2021!

Oh, how we have failed society with our lame government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I moved from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce in April with the full understanding this country would be in better shape in October.  We are in worse shape today (8/20/2020) than we were in April.  Shocked I had to write that last sentence, but it is unfortunately true.

Races lost so far

The first 2020 race I lost to COVID-19 was the 2020 Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon in April.  This is my favorite race of the season and one of my favorite cities to visit.  Love the Nashville course, culture, food, and country music on every corner.  Always look forward to my country line dancing lessons at the Wild Horse Saloon, eating barbeque, and listening to new country artists playing.  Wanted to visit the Ryman Auditorium for the first time and explore the historic venue.

Got the news the 2020 and 2021 Philly Rock N Roll half marathon races were cancelled two days ago.  Fully expected the 2020 race to get axed but never thought the 2021 race would be on the chopping block due to COVID-19.  Not sure the race organizers are predicting COVID-19 issues for 2021 but this may signal running tourists will have limited options in the future.  I was looking forward to getting back to Philly and hang out with my friend, Lauren Apgar so we could explore the city and get some more of those cheesesteaks.  We planned to explore the Reading Terminal Market in-depth this year to sample food from the different vendors there.  We will have to put off our Philly cheesesteak adventures now.

I signed up for the inaugural 2020 Clearwater Rock N Roll half marathon scheduled for October.  This was going to be the first Rock n Roll race scheduled in my home state in years.  The excitement for me was most of the race is run near the beach and I would not have to travel so far.  I would get the opportunity to enjoy more sights and sounds and not have to rush back.   The course is flat and would have produced a fast time and October in Florida would be cooler with less humidity.  The race organizers cancelled the 2020 and 2021 Clearwater races.  They project to run the race in October 2022, but we will see what happens that far out.  I do not have a good feeling all the cancelled races will come back—some may but believe COVID-19 will eliminate how we travel, race, and interact for a long time.

The Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) 2020 half marathon scheduled for December is still on the books, but most races hosted by Track Shack have been converted to virtual races.  Believe the OUC race will be virtual as well so I have not signed up.

The 2021 New Orleans Rock N Roll half marathon was cancelled today and now the race organizers project to run this event in February 2022.  Turns out New Orleans was the only Rock N Roll race I was able to run in 2020.  The race was completed in February right before the country realized how bad COVID-19 was and we started shutting down.  Had a great time in New Orleans so guess it was only fitting this would be my only half marathon race of the year.  We will see if this race ever comes back because of the close interactions of Bourbon and Canal Streets.  Love the food and atmosphere but it may be hard to host large-scale events there and keep people safe.

Virtual options

Most running organizations are bridging the race gaps with virtual options.  Runners can still race, compete, and receive race swag (t-shirt, medal, etc.) while running in their hometowns—just sign up and sync your running application to the race.  I am sure this is a great option for some runners, but I enjoy the in-person interaction associated with the event.  I joined the Rock N Roll Virtual Running club and signed up for my first virtual race—a 10k which I completed on 8/22/2020.  My time was not great—I signed up on a Friday and ran the 10k the next day without additional mental or physical preparation.  I may explore this option more especially when the weather gets a bit cooler.  I need a competitive outlet for my running program so may reach out to my tree branches to join me on some of these virtual adventures (Apgar, Forges, Kume). 😊

Note:  My first Virtual 5k was completed on 8/29/20.

https://www.runrocknrollvr.com/

Training

I still get out and train but not logging the same number of miles I put in last summer.  I get my runs in on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays but not committing to extreme long runs with no races on the horizon.  I run as a form of therapy and to keep my weight in the range I want.  I have not done any speed work since early March, so my training goal is to keep my heart rate up and enjoy the views I get in Fort Pierce.

COVID-19 Training miles (run, bike, elliptical):

April 2020:  79.45 miles May 2020:  90.57 miles June 2020:  130.72 miles
July 2020:  78.15 miles August 2020:  74.57 September 2020:  46.16

Realize there are more important things happening in the world than me not being able to be a running tourist.  Hoping we can get the COVID-19 pandemic under control so we can all get back to the things we enjoy without worrying about the air we breathe.  Look forward to bringing you reports from new travel locations when it is safe to do so again.

Until then, here is what happen in Nashville in 2019! 😊

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

“Life equals running and when we stop running maybe that is how we know life is finally finished”.

(Patrick Ness)

 https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/17/some-marathon-races-may-not-survive-coronavirus-pandemic.html

The return to LA Fitness

(Image by Pexels from Pixabay

“You are only one workout away from a good mood”.

(Unknown)

Decided to test the waters and get back into LA Fitness to jump start my weight training program again.  I started putting extra emphasis on my running program in 2019 but I was still getting in four days of weight training while increasing my mileage.  I still made it to Momentum Fitness in Tallahassee in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Stopped going completely as the pandemic started to get worse in mid-March and switched to home body workouts until it was time to move to Fort Pierce, Florida in April.

I maintained my distance from the gym during my first two and a half months in Fort Pierce because I did not feel comfortable being around people in a confined space.  Note, I am still not completely comfortable but have allowed for limited time around people with proper physical distancing.

My new workplace has a small workout room, but I do not consider it a gym.  The weights and cardio equipment are in great condition but there are limited weightlifting options.  I ventured to this location a few times on the weekends just for limited workouts (cardio, legs).  Had this location to myself each time I went in so think I got a bit of confidence to explore a larger facility. 

My new habit is to carry Clorox wipes with me everywhere I go so I can wipe down everything myself prior to touching it.  Never thought I would be that guy, but yes, I have a pack of Clorox wipes in my gym bag and do not see this changing anytime soon.  A new normal for the gym has been born. 😊

LA Fitness

My history with LA Fitness began during my time living in Oviedo, Florida.  Really enjoyed the multiple cardio, weightlifting, basketball, spinning and yoga class options available at LA Fitness.  All these things were part of the regular membership and made the facility popular with my folks in East Orlando.  My experience prior to joining LA Fitness centered on fitness centers on military installations.  Always had what I needed in these facilities and never had to pay to get in a workout.

I decided to test out LA Fitness because I felt limited with the other workout options in Orlando.  Was able to get a great rate with a military discount and spent as much time in the facility as possible.  Made some great friends in LA Fitness and got myself in fantastic shape with all the options there.  So, as you can see, I have a fondness for the LA Fitness brand.

There are two LA Fitness locations in Port St. Lucie, Florida and I finally got comfortable enough to want to venture in to enhance my weight training.  Went on-line and signed up for a free guest membership which gave me access to the facility without having to commit or join.  Leveraged the pass to see how the facility was maintained and what protocols they had to combat COVID-19.  Was a bit surprised how clean they kept the facility and was happy there were not large crowds working out.  Made sure to only use equipment where physical distancing was possible and moved if anyone got too close to where I was working out.  Felt funny doing that but decided to air on the side of caution.

Waited a couple weeks and signed up for another free guest pass for the second LA Fitness location.  Wanted to see if there was a different vibe there and I was not eligible to get another guest past at the first location.  You are supposed to wait 6 months between passes at the same location, so I just moved down the road a bit for my workouts.  I liked the second location best because the shopping complex it is in has more options for me when I am done with my workout.  The equipment was the same, but the setup was a bit different–both locations were maintained with an eye towards maintaining physical distancing and cleanliness.

Quickly found out my home pushup routine was not the same to lifting weights.  Got a new level of soreness from lifting but it felt good to be back in a weightlifting routine.  Do not think I will ever lift heavy weights again but want to keep lifting for definition and to feel good.  Got several good workouts in utilizing the free passes and I am seriously thinking about joining the LA Fitness family again.  Will evaluate each location again to see which one makes the most sense for me to join.  I could sign up for a membership which gives me multiple location privileges but that may be a waste of money—we will see. 

Look forward to sharing more of my workout journey in the future—back to LA Fitness and enjoying it! 😊

“Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going”.

(Jim Ryin)

Running tourist—the Treasure Coast edition

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out what you put into it”.

(Oprah Winfrey)

Shared my running tourist Tallahassee adventures in an earlier post.

Decided to tackle the subject from my new home, Fort Pierce, Florida earlier than I did from Tallahassee.  The Tallahassee post was written when I knew I was leaving the city and realized I never took the time to write about things available there.

Wanted to get an early jump on writing about the Treasure Coast.  I am sure I will come back to this topic and provide an updated view when the COVID-19 pandemic is gone.  Most things in this area are still closed or I am not confident enough to visit yet.  There are a ton of fresh seafood markets and restaurants in the local area but do not see me going in for a meal right now even with proper physical distancing.

A good spot for takeout is 12A Buoy:  http://12abuoy.com/.  Do not know where the name came from, but they have good shrimp!

Running routes

My first two attempts to find a place to run in Fort Pierce did not go well.  I got my runs in but did not enjoy them very much.  There are not many multipurpose trails here so got out for a sidewalk run to stretch my legs.  Turns out the sidewalk I was on ended after about a quarter mile and I was relegated to running on the side of the road.  Not a huge fan of this process but did discover a nice hill and made the most of it to maintain endurance.  Never went back to this route since it had me too close to traffic.

My second attempt at finding a place to run was at my complex.  We have a large circular route (.59 miles) and I thought maybe this would get me going.  Never been thrilled going in circles but gave it a shot. My initial goal was 5 miles total, but I only got in 3.5 miles before boredom tapped me on the shoulders and I stopped.  Not a huge fan of seeing the same things when I run, and this route did not have the feel of being on an adventure—which I need for distance training.

Decided to use Google to find better spots to run.  Google identified the George LeStrange Preserve as a place with trails and it was only a 10-minute drive away.  Decided to scout the preserve and it provides multiple options with the best route going around the lake.  Again, this was a circular route but longer and there’s wildlife, shade, the lake, and people to see while in the preserve.   Enjoyed this location so much I make sure to get over there for one of my weekly runs.  Completed my Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon dedication run there in April to get 13.2 miles in since the actual race was postponed.  Posted a decent time considering I had no on-course support, crowds cheering or beer at the finish line.

 

A work colleague provided his favorite running spot which goes over the large, picturesque Sea Way Drive bridge and leads to Jetty Park.  I initially viewed this route as an extremely tough run since the bridge is so big, but it appears my hill training in Tallahassee prepared me well to get up and over the bridge.  Enjoy this route because there is so much to see while running and there is always a nice breeze coming off the water to help minimize the heat.  I have leveraged this route multiple times for my Tuesday and Thursday runs—leave work and head east to get my 6-mile run in.  Used an over and back approach recently to get in a double digit run—nice views each time on the bridge. 😊

 

Beaches

The beaches in the local area opened again the last week in April.  The county mandate was people could be on the beach just for exercise.  This lasted for 4 days before the governor lifted the stay at home order and the beaches opened fully with a mandate for people to maintain physical distancing.  I have gone by the beaches to get a look and feel for them but will explore fully when it is safe to be out again.  I have visited Jetty Park multiple times and sat in my vehicle to enjoy the views of the water.  It is a good place to watch people and the boats floating by.

 Beach

The Treasure Coast is comprised of Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, Jensen Beach and Stuart, FL.  These cities are all modest size but when viewed together comprise a large area.  My goal is to fully explore them all and then come back and write about the unique features of each.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

What areas are you looking forward to exploring when it is safe again?  Thanks!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”.

(Andre Gide)

FYI—the beaches are closing again for the 4th of July holiday weekend!  COVID-19 is not going away.

Running tourist—the Tallahassee edition

Running tourist

(Image by 272447 from Pixabay)

“He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him”.

(Dutch Proverb)

Shared my running tourist moniker with a group I was networking with last week and was surprised they never heard it before.  I am sure I cannot be the first to use it to describe going to other locations for race adventures but thought maybe I should try to copyright the term. Nope, just Googled it and others use the same term to highlight their running adventures too. 😊

Decided it was time to look at the running tourism I see daily in my current home of Tallahassee, Florida.  Sometimes we take things close by for granted and never truly engage/enjoy them as much as the fun travel destinations (Nashville, New Orleans, Philly, etc.).  Please note, I get out and about as much as the next person in Tallahassee but never documented much in the Walk into the Future blog.

Running trails

I have referred to the many trails and places I train to prepare for my races.  Tallahassee is known for the multiple parks, trails, and greenways available to explore.  The terrain goes from very flat surfaces to high degree inclines which are perfect to help prepare for races around the country.  My early running years in Tallahassee were mostly contained to Lafayette Heritage Park and the Alfred Greenway.

Looking back believe I stayed with these running environments because they were close by.  I simply walked across the street to get on the paved trail that took me into Lafayette Heritage Park—the Alfred Greenway is on the opposite side of the park.  Both venues provided a good foundation to running for me and looking back did not provide a huge challenge to navigate.  I still utilize both trails when I am out to just stretch my legs.

Tom Brown Park provides additional trails (paved and unpaved) to log training miles.  I normally run through the park as part of a loop I can take to get additional miles in.  My 5 – 8 mile runs all include some portion of Tom Brown park.  Like the fact I do not have to carry water through the park since they have multiple water fountains and restrooms available.  Great place to watch people and see all the happy dogs with family in the dog park.  The dogs always seem to want to run with me for some odd reason! 😊

Graduated my long runs out to the St. Marks Trail.  The St. Marks Trail was an old railroad route from Tallahassee down to the gulf coast.  It is a place to see bikers, hikers and runners all utilizing the marked trail every day of the year.  I like the fact the trail has mile markers which makes it easy to log my runs—no guessing when I want to get a 12-mile run in.  The St. Marks trail has well maintained restrooms and a few water fountains, so these are perks I enjoy while out for my runs.

There are other places to run in Tallahassee, but these are the areas I utilize when I am writing about my training program.

Downtown

Tallahassee does not have a huge downtown area but provides a few unique experiences.  Was introduced to the museum scene by a friend who is native to Tallahassee.  The Florida Museum of History is a must see if you visit.  You can trace Florida’s history from the 1600s up to World War II.  The artifacts and stories of how Florida developed are interesting and worth the trip.

The Capital building is a great place to visit and get a bird’s eye view of Tallahassee.  The 22nd floor has a panoramic observation deck which lets you view the city from the highest vantage point. It is also a great way to exercise if you decide to walk up and not take the elevator.

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille and Andrew’s Downtown are two good places to get a meal and drinks when visiting downtown.  This is a college town so there are multiple watering holes to visit close by.

My favorite place to hang out, drink beer and eat just happens to be a local dive bar, Corner Pockets.  I would never go to Corner Pockets when I first moved to Tallahassee because I thought it was a pool hall.  They only have two pool tables and they are in the corner, but it is more sports bar than pool hall.  They have the coldest beer in town and some of the best bar food you can find anywhere.  Prices are good and the staff is friendly.  Corner Pocket attracts sports fans, so you must arrive early on game days to ensure you get a seat—standing is allowed but I like to sit at the bar and watch multiple TVs.

Again, there are other spots in Tallahassee, but I am sharing where I hang out. 😊

FSU / FAMU

This is a college town and FSU and FAMU are the large schools here.  The students provide a huge population boost during the academic year.  The sports fans/alums who come back for sporting events also provide unique experiences since traffic doubles when the home teams are in town.  This creates a more festive environment and celebrations across neighborhoods.

I am a Gator fan so do not partake in much of this until the Gators come to town! 😊

So, there you have it—these are a few ways the running tourist enjoys life when not on the road.

What are your favorite venues in your area?  How often do you get out to enjoy them?

“Time flies.  It’s up to you to be the navigator”.

(Robert Orben)

Please note, wrote this article before I left Tallahassee for Fort Pierce.  Still wanted to share.

 

 

Walking with the new normal

person in spiderman costume
Photo by Life of Wu on Pexels.com

“Time is an illusion that passes way too fast”.

(Ana Claudia Antunes)

Lexico.com defines a new normal as a previously unfamiliar or atypical situation that has become standard, usual or expected.

Urban Dictionary identifies a new normal as the current state of being after some drastic change has transpired.

The COVID-19 pandemic fits regardless which of the two definitions you associate with the term new normal.  Forgive me for using Urban Dictionary for such a serious problem but the definition used is spot on to what most of us are experiencing right now.  I won’t get into politics, medicine or debate treatments but will use this platform to discuss things I view as the new normal for me with this crisis.

Home gym

I have always maintained a small home gym regardless of where I live.  The concept of working out and staying active at home has always been a part of my workout routine.  The home gym is an easy place to get a workout in when I don’t feel like driving to the gym or the weather is bad.  My most elaborate piece of equipment was the heavy bag I had to practice throwing punches.  It was a great way to burn calories and release workday stress at the same time.

Got rid of the heavy bag prior to moving to Tallahassee but have maintained kettle bells, dumbbells, resistance bands, BOSU and 75cm exercise balls.  Happy to say I’m getting a lot of use out of these tools since I decided to stop going to the gym.  The gym staff did a tremendous job wiping things down at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak in the states but decided to stop going prior to gyms being closed by government order.  Couldn’t justify being there knowing EVERY piece of equipment is touched by so many people.  This was not a revelation, but the point is magnified by how the COVID-19 gets transmitted.

My home gym gives me the capability to maintain my fitness levels and get creative with my workouts.  Still finding additional exercises to utilize on the BOSU ball and with my resistance bands.  Hope to add a few more pieces to my home gym to help stay fit during this time period.

Yoga

Dusted off a few of my yoga DVDs so I can continue to stretch to maintain good posture.  Try to get in weekly yoga sessions but increased to three times weekly.  Yoga emphasizes proper breathing techniques, and this helps maintain a calm mind and body while practicing physical distancing.  I realize everyone is using the term social distancing but to me social distancing is what I do when I PURGE a contact in my phone.  Trying to rotate my yoga DVD instructors to ensure I stay balanced during this time.

Runs

My normal routine got me out for runs three times each week with a long run on the weekends.  I’ve increased my running program to get me out for runs five times weekly—some of these are shorter just to get me out and active.  Can’t do gym cardio for the time being, need to ensure I’m burning calories so I can continue to eat like I want.  😊

My neighborhood has a pedestrian bridge I utilize to run up stairs and then sprint down the ramp.  This is a new version of cardio I can get done to keep my outdoor exercise program fresh.  Increased this routine to incorporate 27 sets (steps and sprints) to burn calories without a gym.

Conner Bridge

Added more walks to my routine as well.  This keeps me moving without as much wear and tear on my joints the running program adds.  My walking goal is to just enjoy being outside and take in nature.

The Rock n Roll marathon series 2020 Nashville half marathon has been postponed until further notice.  Hoping they will reschedule the Nashville races for the fall if it’s safe enough for people to be that close again.  If not, the registration will roll over to 2021 and will get up there then.  I still plan to run the half marathon distance on 4/25/2020 but won’t have a crowd to cheer me on.  No worries, running is the perfect sport to practice physical distancing.  😊

No coffee shops

So far, my biggest adjustment has been working/writing from home instead of my favorite spot at Lucky Goat.  Didn’t realize how many distractions I had at home until I was forced to stay in more.  The remote control and ability to search for TV programs was almost my downfall.

Finally had to discipline myself to set-up just like I was at Lucky Goat (laptop, headphones only) for the time period I wanted to research, write and network. Things went a lot better once I got my disciplined approach again.  Miss Lucky Goat but this is a small sacrifice right now.

Extra cleaning

Believe we all are doing more cleaning, wiping and disinfecting with this new normal.  Seems to be the best way combined with physical distancing to control the spread of the virus.  I’m super conscience of everything I touch or may touch now and ensure to keep my hands to myself.  Not as quick to touch doorknobs or handles when/if I’m out and about now.  Better to be safe in these times.

Keynotes and Consulting

My new normal in this category is nonexistent.  Organizations are protecting their staff members by implementing work from home protocols.  I’m still networking with organizations and decision makers but don’t see the keynote/consulting opportunities coming back for a few months.  No worries, more time for research, writing and running.

Moving forward

These are things I think of when talking about a new normal.  Hopefully, this period will pass soon, and we can get back to the old normal and not have to avoid each other.  Until then, stay safe and continue to practice physical distancing!

What are your new norms?  How has the transition impacted you?

 

“Transitions in life can offer opportunities for discovery”.

(Robbie Shell)

2020 Winter Park 10k and a podcast on the side

Podcast March 2020

(Image by Florante Valdez from Pixabay)

“Life is a blank canvas and you need to throw all the paint on it you can”.

(Danny Kaye)

Ventured back down to the Orlando area for the 2020 Winter Park 10k.  This race has been on my running calendar the past two years because it allows me to hang out with great friends and family while running a unique course in Winter Park.

Track Shack promotes this race as a fantastic course to run a 10k personal best (PB) and it does not disappoint.  There were several runners ringing the PB Bell strategically placed in the runner’s village after the race.  Always exciting to see the joy a PB time brings to runners.

Mastering College to Career podcast

Coordinated with an Orlando tree branch to stop on the way down for the race to catch up a bit and record another episode on his Mastering College to Career podcast.

The podcast is Daniel Botero’s way to Walk into the Future and he has added on-line courses, videos and workbooks to go along with the weekly podcast episode.  Very proud of his efforts and the difference he’s making with college students transitioning into the workplace.

Daniel provides me with the topic of discussion prior to the podcast and then we get to work.  I’ve known Daniel since 2011 so we have a great working relationship and energize each other when we are in the same room.  He wanted his students to understand the behind the scenes interactions between on-campus recruiters and career centers.  The goal was to provide students with a better understanding how/why employers recruit on their campuses and the work involved to get them there.  Was very happy to share my career center and employer relations knowledge with Daniel for the podcast and helping his students.

Found out I’m the first person on Daniel’s podcast to return for a third time.  This put a smile on my face, but the smile got bigger because Daniel asked me to cut another podcast episode before I left his recording studio.  So, it turns out I’m the only four-time guest on the podcast now.  The additional podcast episode was to highlight the recruiting calendar employers utilize when deciding which campuses to visit.  What a great way to start my race weekend!  Got a chance to catch up with Daniel and cut two podcast episodes to help his students continue to move forward in life.  (Both episodes should be live in April 2020).

Left Daniel’s recording studio and headed straight to Track Shack to pick up my race packet.  Always exciting to see the Track Shack staff engaging with runners buying new gear.  Love they host a spring sale the entire week of the Winter Park 10k race.  Always can find some new gear and the sale prices are fantastic.  Got a chance to chat with one of the Track Shack owners who I met one morning while running in Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee.  Turns out her daughter lives in Tallahassee and works at FSU—small world!

Carb loading

Headed to my favorite Italian restaurant, Café Panuzzo’s with Jayla to carb load and catch up.  We normally dine at Café Panuzzo’s or Buffalo Wild Wings prior to my races and Italian dining won this round.  Café Panuzzo’s never disappoints when we visit.  I stuck to my normal selection of chicken parmesan with pasta and Jayla got adventurous with the calzone.  Got a double order of bread since my goal was to get as many carbs as possible prior to the 10k.  Most got burned off the next morning, so no harm and their bread is fantastic!

Winter Park 10k

The morning started out cooler than expected but was great once we got started.  Told several tree branches prior my goal was to run fast this year and wanted to record a good time.  Happy to report I ran a 10k PB of 56:41 and felt good during and after the race.

Track Shack does not use the corral format for races so the first mile was crowded with runners of all levels and time expectations.  Decided to patiently work my way through the crowd and then pick up my pace once the runners thinned a bit.  Made up most of my slow start once the course flattened and went about my plan to go faster this year.  Knew my time was going to be good (for me) at the 4-mile mark and got comfortable with my pace and breathing.  Decided to pick up my pace at the 5-mile mark to see how much improvements I’ve made in the past year.  Was able to pass several other runners and get to the finish line with a smile on my face.  Learned to smile crossing the finish line since everyone with a camera is snapping away.

Got my medal, checked my time and rang the PB bell too.  Great race, people and after party! Can’t beat drinking a beer and eating donuts at 9 am in the morning.  Running is the best way to stay in shape and overindulge at the same time.

Will keep this race on my calendar because it’s fun and they will always have beer at the end! 😊

What podcasts do you listen to?  How have the podcasts helped you Walk into the Future?

“Oh, the places you’ll go”.

(Dr. Seuss)

Follow Daniel here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/thedanielbotero/

Follow Track Shack here:  https://www.trackshack.com/

Run Winter Park