2022 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Nash Expo2

“A half marathon is just a 5k with a 10-mile warmup”.

(Pinterest)

My Walk into the Future led me back to Nashville for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  I have run this race 4 times prior but did not get a chance to run in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID-19.

My original race registration from 2020 rolled over twice to this year and I was thrilled to return to one of my favorite cities to run, explore and enjoy live music again.

Nashville did not disappoint!

The weather was projected to be hot this year and it was.  Nashville normally is still cool in April but this year the high on race day was 85 degrees which is 20 degrees higher than normal.  This impacts all runners, so the race organizers sent out messaging for runners to take extra precautions (dress with light clothing, drink plenty water, consider slowing the pace, etc.).  The weather was like the 2017 race and most runners felt the difference with the heat and the hilly course that Nashville is famous for.

I did not enter this race with a projected finish time in mind due to the weather and the hills.  I have run one of my fastest half marathons on this course in 2019 when the weather was much cooler–the weather was not favorable for this year.  Training on the hills in Tallahassee helped as well. 😊

Decided to capture my time in Nashville with pictures instead of giving you a complete recap of the race—most of my readers are used to a full recap.

Here is the cliff notes version for the race:  I ran 13.2 miles, there were hills, it was hot, I earned a medal, and they gave me beer at the end.  Yep, it was worth every second.

EXPO

Nash Expo1

(Got my race bib and packet)

(Scenes from the EXPO at Music Center)

Wild Horse Saloon

(Time at the Wild Horse Saloon / Line Dancing)

Race Day

Nash Race day4

(New compression sleeves for the 2022 Nashville Half Marathon)

Nash Race day5

(2022 Nashville Half Marathon start line)

(Scenes before the start of the race, downtown Nashville)

Broadway

(Rooftop bars on Broadway)

After race

(Ice for my legs after running the Nashville hills)

Saturday

(Venues = Luke Bryan’s, Whiskey Row, The Stage, Tequila Cowboy, Lucky Bastard)

Sunday

(Last day in Nashville! Broadway, Union Station Hotel, The Stage (again), Wild Horse Saloon (again), Lucky Bastard and The Parthenon)

Two new restaurants I recommend on the West End of Nashville are the Midtown Café and The Row Kitchen and Pub.  The Midtown Café is a great place to get a hearty breakfast.  The Row Kitchen and Pub has a large menu but recommend getting the catfish dinner if you are ever in Nashville—it is worth the wait!

https://www.midtowncafe.com/

https://www.therownashville.com/menus/#dinner

The weather and hills did not stop me from enjoying my time in Nashville.  I am already planning my return next year for the 2023 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon—I registered for the event as soon as I returned home.  😊

Who is joining me in Nashville?

Irie!

“Congratulations on finishing your half marathon!  Good luck walking tomorrow!

(Pinterest)

My 2022 reading progress

Reading list

(Books I’m reading now)

“A book is a gift you can open again and again”.

(Garrison Keillor)

I start each year with a measured set of goals.  Reading and writing are two areas I focus on for my goals.

These are the areas where I find a ton of joy daily along with my running program.  My 2022 reading and writing goals are below:

  • Read bible daily / Proverbs, Matthew, and other areas for better understanding
    • Read 2 books monthly
  • Write daily (poems, journal, BLOG articles, LinkedIn posts monthly)
    • Publish Authentic Leadership eBook (April 2022)

So, this is where I update you on my progress. 

I discovered the book The Richest Man Who Ever Lived by Steven K. Scott 15 years ago and adopted an aspect from the book into my daily life.  The book highlights the benefits of Proverbs and how King Solomon identified secrets to success, wealth, and happiness.  I originally read the book thinking it would TELL me how to become rich financially which did not happen.

I read the book and did not understand the lessons the author was trying to relay to the readers.  I dismissed it as an attempt to get people to read the book because of the catchy title.  Luckily for me I decided to go back and read the book multiple times and followed the directions provided to see where they would lead. 

I adopted the practice of reading Proverbs daily because of the wisdom (secrets to success, wealth, and happiness) this book provides to readers.  I have been a daily Proverbs reader for over 15 years now and continue to discover new wisdom insights.  Decided to add other books in the bible to my daily reading program in 2022.  This is the reading goal I continue to meet and/or exceed so far this year.

Now, let’s talk about my goal to read 2 books each month.  I started the year off with a bang and was able to handle my book goal in January and February.  I started to go downhill with my reading program in March.  I added more racing and training to my routine to get prepared for multiple half marathons but that’s not the real reason my reading has been slacking. 

I have not done a great job of identifying book topics/titles that keep my attention.  I big part of reading for me is an interest in the topic/title and the author.  I started grabbing books off Amazon based on recommendations but some of the books did not have a true flow and caused me to become a slower reader than normal.  No excuses but it is taking me longer to digest and get through the books I have selected.  I’m averaging a book a month but need to increase my pace or make the time to read these books.  There is still a lot of 2022 left to get more books read but I may not average 2 books each month.

My writing program remains strong, and I am happy with my progress in 2022.  The blog articles keep me searching for new adventures and ideas, but I am happy with my ability to create content.  It helps that a lot of my life revolves around traveling, running and the beach.  I am sure I will continue to have content to turn into another Walk into the Future blog article. 😊

I have published multiple articles and posts on LinkedIn so that is another goal win.  I continue to look for ways to network and connect with a larger audience.  LinkedIn has allowed me to attract readers to my blog and share my adventures and leadership thoughts.  I will use LinkedIn to build my leadership audience so I can get back to conducting Authentic Leadership workshops for organizations looking to improve/grow.

I have rolled my publishing a leadership eBook into 2022.  I have the content for the eBook but need to get busy with cover art and putting the content into publication.  I will use the summer months to finalize the content and work to get cover art so I can get the eBook to market.  It’s coming—I promise! 😊

Still got work to do but I am making progress towards my 2022 reading and writing goals.

How are you doing with your 2022 goals!  I welcome your thoughts—thanks!

Irie!

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”.

(Joseph Addison)

1000 North Jupiter, Florida

1000 North

“The smell of the ocean never gets old”.

(Pinterest)

I am always searching for new adventures and ways to leverage my Walk into the Future journey.

Most of my Florida exploits are centered around me heading north to familiar locations:  Jasper, Jacksonville, Orlando, Melbourne, and Tallahassee.  I have never been a huge south Florida fan, so it never crosses my mind to explore locations down there except when outlet malls are involved.  I love outlet malls! 😊

Decided to get out of my travel comfort zone and venture south to explore Jupiter, Florida last weekend.  I always heard great things about Jupiter but never made a true effort to visit the area to see what it truly had to offer.  The reports about this area are all true; the city of Jupiter and the beaches are well worth a trip down there.

Google maps identified Jupiter was only a 58-minute drive down I-95 from Fort Pierce, so it is extremely close to me so no real excuses for never going there.  Got up early on Saturday morning with the intent of driving down and enjoying a day of dining, sightseeing, and walking on the beach.  Mission accomplished on all phases of my plan.

1000 North

A good friend in south Florida recommended the 1000 North restaurant as a place to get some great food, people watch and catch nice water views.  I never heard about this place, but it turns out to be a very popular spot in Jupiter.  It has a diverse ownership group that includes Michael Jordan and several other well-known professional athletes.  Did not know this fact until I got there and saw the setup.  Nothing over the top but they only have complimentary valet parking—a nice feature but not something I am used to.

There are multiple dining areas to include a members only private dining room.  I stayed downstairs with the regular folks and got a seat outside with a great view of the marina.  The atmosphere was fantastic and got an opportunity to people watch.  There were several large groups outside and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and the great location. 

The menu provided an eclectic selection, but I decided to get the grilled chicken club with sweet potato fries.  Never had a fried egg on a club sandwich but it was a very good addition to the sandwich.  I would get this again on a return trip to 1000 North.

https://1000north.com/

Left 1000 North with the intent to explore the famed Jupiter beaches.  Made a quick 5-minute drive east from the restaurant and I was at the beach.  It was cool by Florida weather standards, but the beach was crowded with folks.  Got a chance to walk the beach for a bit and get some great pictures to document my exploration for the day.  I did not bring my beach chair or towel, so my walk was the activity for the day.  I will make my way back to Jupiter beach so I can enjoy a full day at the beach and relax. 

Outlets

My trip to Jupiter put me about 20 minutes away from the Palm Beach Outlet mall.  I could not miss an opportunity for outlet shopping so made my way south.  I did not need anything but that’s not the point—there are always good deals at the outlets, so it is never a wasted trip.

Hit the Nike store first looking for new running gear.  The Nike store is extremely small, so the selection was limited I did not pick up anything during this visit.  Visited the Columbia store and added to my t-shirt collection here.  Walked around a bit more and visited a few more shops before calling it a day and heading back to Fort Pierce.

Nice little day trip for me to add to my Walk into the Future journal.  I look forward to heading back down soon for a longer beach adventure.

What areas will you explore this summer?

Irie!

“In Florida we salt margaritas, not sidewalks”.

(Thewanderlustwithin.com)

2022 Orlando Track Shack Winter Park 10k

WP 10k 1

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”.

(Fred DeVito)

Dictionary.com defines aggressive as making an all-out effort to win or succeed; competitive.

You could characterize my 2022 running schedule as aggressive.  I decided to test myself and get back to racing like how I ran prior to COVID-19.  My 2019 training was focused on getting faster each time I toed the line and resulted in my fastest time at the 2019 OUC Half Marathon in Orlando (2:05:51).  I was able to maintain my race form over the Christmas break and ran my second faster time at the 2020 New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon in February 2020.  Races and the country came to a standstill in April 2020 due to the pandemic.

Fast forward to 2022 and I made a concerted effort to find more races and stay active with my race schedule.  I identified 9 half marathons I wanted to run throughout the year and targeted races to help with my quest to go faster.  I don’t run a lot of 5ks but added a challenging one to my race calendar to help me push myself. 

My most aggressive move for 2022 was to tackle the Winter Park 10k less than a week after running the Treasure Coast Half Marathon.  This concept made a lot of sense when I signed up but proved to be a bit more difficult than I thought.

The goal for the Winter Park 10k was to set another 10k Personal Record (PR) since I was able to lower my PR in this same race in 2021.  I did not think the limited time between races would impact me so toed the line with the confidence of someone who would be able to dictate pace and adjust when needed.

Turns out, this person did not exist for the Winter Park 10k. LOL.

The weather forecast in the Orlando area called for severe weather and it was hot, humid, and overcast as race time drew closer.  A lot of runners were checking the weather apps to determine how much time we had before the skies opened and we were going to get wet.

Luckily, the rain held off long enough for us to run the 10k and get some time to spend in the race village before getting soaked.  FYI—this was unusual weather for Orlando in March—temperatures are normally cooler and no threats of rain.

Track Shack does not use corral starts for the smaller races so everyone can line up as close to the start line as they want.  This brings runners with different race expectations together and creates a unique environment where you must be careful not to run over or bump into people. 

The first mile of this race is always interesting since you have elite athletes mixed in with weekend warriors.  I like to hang back during the first mile to avoid collisions and the possibility of tripping while trying to get my pace up.

I entered the race with a goal to run sub 55 minutes and I got off to a better-than-expected start in Mile 1 (9:00), Mile 2 (9:14), Mile 3 (9:57).  I was happy with this pace considering the amount of bumping we had just to clear people during the first mile of the race.  I did not realize how much I slowed down during Mile 3 while running the race but felt myself slowing down.  I chalked it up to the energy expended during Mile 1 and figured I would level my pace out and kick it into gear to move faster.  Well, I kicked it in gear, but it appears the gear kicked me back.  😊

Have you ever pressed your gas pedal in your vehicle, and nothing happens?  That’s exactly what happened to me during this race.  I put the pedal down ‘in my mind’ but my body did not react in the way I wanted it to.  Mile 4 (10:09), Mile 5 (10:46), Mile 6 (11:00) did not go as planned, I had no extra gear or legs to carry me much faster than what I just threw down.  I was able to muster up a kick to finish the race that allowed me to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.  The crowd along Park Avenue was great as they cheered for all runners—I appreciate them being out so early to cheer for strangers.  I finished in 1:02:17 which is a 10:01 per mile pace.

I pouted about my results for about 3 minutes after the race.  I spoke with several elite runners who described their race like what I just experienced.  The heat and humidity got to them too so hearing that made me feel a lot better about my race.  Several mentioned they thought about quitting during the race because the conditions were so tough.  It’s funny how hearing about the misery other runners felt made me feel good about myself again. 😊  We are a funny group of people.

I originally thought running a 10k less than a week after a half marathon may have been the reason I did not have an extra gear.  It may have been a factor, but the heat and humidity also contributed to my results.  I plan to space my races out a bit more but will continue to be aggressive with my selection.

Currently prepping for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll (April) and Atlantic City Rock N Roll (May) Half Marathons.  No races scheduled for the summer.  I start the new racing season in October with the 2022 Clearwater Rock N Roll Half Marathon and a couple local races throughout the fall.  The running tourist will stay active with races if it remains safe to travel.

Being aggressive is not a bad thing! 😊

Irie!

“Running releases more than just sweat”.

(run-for-good.com)

2022 Treasure Coast Half Marathon

TCHM1

“Running a marathon takes balls, other sports just play with them”.

(Anonymous)

I created an aggressive (for me) 2022 running schedule to make up for lost races in 2020 and 2021.  Not trying to recapture those miles but wanted to get back to running races in multiple locations and get this running tourist thing going again.

Targeted a monthly half marathon for the first 5 months of 2022 with the intent to get better mentally and physically with each passing race.  The full goal is to run as fast as possible when I get to Atlantic City for the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  I have never been to Atlantic City and thought it would be a great place to visit, run and take a shot at a personal record.  I still need to put in the training work for the PR to occur but the flat course there is enticing for me.  A bonus is the opportunity to see my friend, Lauren Apgar while in town. 😊

The 2022 Treasure Coast Half Marathon is a local race for me in Stuart, Florida.  The race location is only a quick 30-minute drive down the Florida Turnpike and I thought this would be a great race to test myself and see a new city in the process.

The EXPO was held in a local middle school gymnasium and had several interesting vendors selling gear.  My focus for the EXPO was to pick up my race packet and then get a sneak peek at the course I would be running the following day.  Got my customary photo op at the EXPO and tried a few of the energy drinks the vendors made available to runners.  Did not spend a lot of time at the EXPO since I was interested in getting a view of the bridge, I would have to cross during the half marathon.  There are multiple bridges in Stuart, but I was happy to discover the bridge half marathoners had to cross was not one of the steep one.  Left with the knowledge this bridge crossing and location would not be as diabolical as what I experienced during the 2022 Florida Marathon in Melbourne.

Went to bed early with the knowledge I would face a challenging course but one that was manageable with good effort.

Drove back to Stuart at 5 am the next morning to ensure I got parking and could warm up before the 6:15 am race start time.  There was plenty of parking near the start/finish line and I made my way over to the race village to get prepared for the race.  Got some stretching in and made one last bathroom stop before heading to the start line.

This was not a large race so there were no corral assignments for the runners.  I settled into the middle of the half marathon pack to ensure there was separation between myself and the other runners.

We were still bunched tight, so I decided to hold back a bit, so I did not get caught up in traffic and possibly bump into anyone. 

Surprisingly, I clocked 9:18 for Mile 1 and felt good doing it considering the amount of traffic I had to avoid.  Miles 1 – 4 all were run with a 9 out front (9:18, 9:38, 9:39, 9:45).  Mile 5 is where we crossed over the bridge for the first time, and I still clocked a 10:52 which is not bad for me with a bridge ascent.  Miles 5 – 8 all were run with a 10 out front (10:52, 10:46, 10:37, 10:41).

The temperature at race time was 74 degrees and it got progressively warmer as the race unfolded.  What’s my point?  Happy you asked!

My race pace, strategy, and energy all took a hit once the temperatures climbed into the mid-80s.  You could say I fell off a cliff or hit the wall after Mile 8.  You pick the race metaphor and it applied after Mile 8. 

Most of the course was run in direct sunlight and the higher the temperatures got the more the sun beamed down.  I am happy with my efforts during the latter part of the race because I was able to bear down and keep moving forward.  My pace slowed but I was making positive progress towards the finish line and found an extra gear to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.  This was not my fastest half marathon but that was not the point of signing up for this race.  My January, February, and March races are laying the foundation for my April and May races.  I have a hard time making myself run fast on my solo training runs so decided to leverage races as my long runs and help me get faster in the process. 

My next race is the Winter Park 10k on March 12, 2022.  I set a 10k PR last year and look to repeat this feat in 2022.  The speed I generate in the 10k will allow me to gauge my fitness levels for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon in April and the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon in May.  I will use the summer months to build mental and physical fitness to launch into the next running season in October.

Still got goals and races to conquer!

What goals do you have to accomplish in 2022?

“My doctor told me that running could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already”.

(Milton Berle)

2022 Florida Half Marathon

“Please ignore the faces I make while running”.

(Anonymous)

IMG_20220212_201240_884

Diabolical:  Outrageously wicked (Dictionary.com).

Never thought I would describe a race as diabolical but that’s what I am going to do.  I know there are other meanings for diabolical, but I will stick with outrageously wicked.

The Florida Marathon/Half Marathon is a fine race that is put on by a fantastic run organization.  My use of the word diabolical is more to describe the course and how the runners must finish both races.

Yes, this was a half marathon, so I was ready to put in my 13.1 miles of work in for the day.  I was happy with my 2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon results in January and wanted to translate that effort into the 2022 Florida Half Marathon in Melbourne.

Let’s jump ahead a bit—there was no translation from the Vero Beach race to the Melbourne race.  Happy with my effort but did not get close to matching or exceeding my January race time during this race.  More on that later. 😊

Signed up for this race to ensure I run monthly half marathons January through May.  Wanted to test myself by adding more races to my schedule in 2022 and building a run base that will allow me to get faster with each race—in theory

Melbourne is one of my favorite places to visit because of the great beaches and laid-back vibe of the people.  This race provides the best of my worlds—beaches and running.  This was my first race in Melbourne, so I was excited to run the city as a running tourist

Drove up on Saturday morning since this race had a Sunday morning start.  I wanted to get in town early enough to pick up my race packet and continue to carb load throughout the day.  My ultimate motive was to get into town early enough so I could go sit on the beach at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for a bit.  I always maximize beach time when I can. 😊

The EXPO was held in the Front Street Park Civic Center.  This sounds like a huge place, but it is the size of a regular house, and it is right on the river side in downtown Melbourne.  Parking was quick and easy, so made my way into the Civic Center to get my race packet and see what the vendors had to offer.

There were only a handful of runners in the Civic Center when I arrived so went right to the front of the line to get my race bib (#715) and packet.  Grabbed a fellow runner to take my picture in front of the step and repeat race display which is a tradition for me.  Walked around a bit to see the vendors but did not buy anything while at the EXPO.

Went outside and took a few pictures along the river and got a great shot of one of the bridges we would have to cross during the race.  The bridge incline should have been a precursor of what was to come.

Left the Civic Center and checked into my hotel.  Wanted to drop off my bags and get a good feel for how close the hotel was to the race start line.  Made my way to the Crowne Plaza to get lunch and continue my carb loading process.  The weather was great on Saturday and provided a perfect backdrop to relax on the beach and listen to the band playing on the deck.  Enjoyed a turkey club sandwich, fries, and Bud Light at the Crowne Plaza.  They have an extensive menu, but I stay conservative the day before a race to eliminate potential stomach issues during the race—lesson learned from a past race.  Sat on the beach for a bit and enjoyed the views before heading out.

Left the Crowne Plaza and made my way to Patrick Space Force Base (PSFB) for a quick shopping trip.  Wanted to see if they had the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22s to replace my GTS 21s.  They had the 22s but not in my size so walked around and looked at stuff I didn’t need—never a wasted trip since I get to spend time around military people again—love being back on-base.

Made my way to the Olive Garden to finish my carb loading for the day and get to bed early.  The restaurant was crowded so made my way to the bar and found a seat there.  I am basic when carb loading so went with the Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, lots of bread sticks and Bud Light.  Relaxed back at the hotel before an early bedtime so I could get my rest and get up early to tackle the half marathon.

Remember the term diabolical from earlier?  Well, let jump into that a bit more now. 😊

Woke up at 4:45 am to prepare my mind and body for the 13.1 miles I needed to cover at 6:30 am.  I do some stretching and mental preparation during this timeframe before putting on my equipment (KT tape, Salonpas patches and BioFreeze) and getting dressed.  My run outfit was conservative for me so got dressed after putting on my layers of equipment.

Luckily, I grabbed one of my running jackets before leaving the hotel because it was already raining.  The weather forecast ‘mentioned’ rain the day before, but this was just a steady flow, and it was not cold.  I thought the rain would be around for a little bit but was wrong on my forecasting skills.

Made my way downtown towards the race starting point and arrive about 10 minutes after leaving the hotel.  Researched places to park the night before and found a spot about 100 yards from the race start line.  There was still a light rain coming down at this point, but it got heavier the closer we got to race time.  The race announcer came on the loudspeaker and let us know the race was delayed due to weather—the on-course police support was still getting setup because of the rain.  I sat in my vehicle to avoid standing around in the rain without knowing the exact time we would start the race.  The delay lasted for only 15 minutes, but most runners did not get a chance for a normal warmup.

The marathon runners were allowed to start 10 minutes before the half marathoners.  I did not leave my vehicle until the announcer gave us a 5-minute warning for our race to start.  Made my way to the bathroom and then got a quick stretch in before heading to the start line.

IMG_20220213_133315_491

Yes, it was still raining, and the streets were wet!  We finally got started at 6:50 am

I decided to go out very controlled since the streets were wet and did not want to injure myself or anyone else.  I did not have a specific finish time in mind with the wet conditions—wanted to enjoy the course (LOL) and the experience.

Miles 1 – 3 were crowded as runners were very cautious trying to avoid slipping and bringing others down with them.  My first mile was a comfortable 9:19 which was probably too fast for the conditions and what was to come.  Miles 2 and 3 were like my Mile 1 pace but still felt comfortable.  A cool experience during this portion of the race was we got a chance to see dolphins swimming in the river.  Yes, runners enjoy the scenery during races. 😊

Slowed my pace a bit during Miles 4 and 5 because I knew the course got a bit tougher at the 6-mile point.  The FIRST bridge crossing starts at Mile 6 and goes up until you hit the Mile 7 marker.  Bridge running is tough in normal conditions but gets a lot tougher in the rain.  I did not want to lose too much time so gritted out the incline and then made-up time on the bridge decline.  Felt great through Mile 8 but hit a wall right at the Mile 9 marker.  This may have happened because my warmup routine was impacted due to rain or I went too fast on the bridge.  Either way, my legs were on fire and yes, it was still raining on us.

Decided at this point to just finish the race.  No need to try to set a Personal Record (PR) since my legs were not moving that fast anyway.

Miles 9 through 11 were consistently slow for me but I keep moving forward.  Started feeling good about myself again at this point but then the second bridge crossing was looming.  So, my question is:  who puts another bridge crossing at the 11-mile point of a half marathon?  A diabolical person, that’s who.

Yep, had to dig down to get up and over another bridge to finish this @#$% race!  I made it slowly up to the 12-mile marker and then found some level of courage to go faster on the decline.  I did not want to limp across the finish line but that is how I felt.  I put on my best I’m not in pain face and found a kick to get me across the finish line.  My official time was:  2:17:52 which was 6 minutes slower than Vero Beach.  I’ll take it with the conditions and bridge placement.

Got my medal, a couple beers and donuts and found a place to sit down to enjoy my prizes.  It was still raining so got my rain jacket out of my vehicle so I could sit and get some ice on my quads.  Talked with my fellow runners and we all experienced the course in a similar way.  Happy to finish but beat up by the conditions and the course.  Would love to meet the person who thought it was a good idea to cross a bridge after Mile 11. 😊

As much as I’m complaining, I will probably run this race again next year.  Hopefully, we will have better weather and I know the course now and can pace myself for a better finish.  We will see!

Irie!

“I run because punching people is frown upon”.

(Anonymous)

2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon

Vero Beach

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough”.

(Og Mandino)

I ran the 2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon for the first time and happy to report this was my best tactical race ever.

I completed the race in 2:11:05 (two hours, eleven minutes, and 5 seconds) which is 7 minutes faster than my 2021 OUC Half Marathon time in December.  It is not my fastest time, but I am extremely happy with my ability to run faster and maintain a consistent pace during this race.

My prerace goal was to run faster than I did in Orlando and I felt good throughout the race.  I consider this my best tactical race because I hit every marker I set out for during each phase of the race.

I am not familiar with Vero Beach so had no idea what type of course I would experience.  I looked at the course map online, but this provided no intel on elevation or type of environment I would have to run through.

The one aspect I came into the race dreading was the fact all runners would have to tackle an over and back bridge crossing within the first 5 miles of the race.  My experience with bridges during a race have never been that great so I viewed the second crossing of the bridge as something that would be unpleasant.  This was my mental picture even before I toed the line to start the race, luckily, I did not let my preconceived ideas get in the way of an opportunity to run this race and overcome my fear of bridge running.

The day started with temperatures in the low 50s which is deathly cold for most Floridians.  😊

I left the house dressed in layers to keep me warm prior to race time.  This was not a repeat of my time in Savannah since there was no sign of rain or bad weather, just cold temperatures which I viewed as a positive since I did not have to fight the Florida humidity.  Excited with the possibility of being able to breath throughout the race.

I arrived at River Side Park in Vero Beach at 6 am for the 6:45 am start time.  Again, I was not familiar with this area so made sure I got there early enough to warm up, stretch and get acclimated to the weather.  Most of the runners were dressed in hoodies and long pants but I decided to run in my normal gear:  running tank top, shorts, and compression sleeves.  Figured I would warm up once I got into full race pace and I did.

I was assigned to Corral C for the race start and I made my way into the correct spot to mentally prepare for the 13.1 miles that were in my immediate future.

The race started without much of a hassle as there were 400+ runners which is pretty small compared to the Rock N Roll races I normally run.  Decided to not go out too fast and ease my way into a comfortable pace.  There were a few fast runners who decided to set a faster pace and it was great watching them head out towards the first bridge crossing.

I settled into a pace that would keep me competitive but not too fast.  The first bridge crossing started at the .50 (half mile) point and the course was up a steep bridge for the next half mile.  I was surprised to see so many folks pushing the pace at this point considering we still needed to make it to the top.  I was comfortable with my pace and did not worry about the other runners.  I picked up my pace once I made it to the top of the bridge and started to lock into my race.

My Mile 1 was run at a 9:20 pace and this was with the bridge incline.  I maintained a 9:20 pace throughout the first 4 miles of the race and slowed to a 10:18 pace for Mile 5 which included my second crossing of the same bridge.  I am proud of myself for this portion of the race because I contemplated walking the second bridge ascent.  Decided to take a measured pace to get back over the bridge and then run faster on the descent.

Miles 6 – 10 were run at a 9:35 pace and I was able to manage my lactic acid threshold by shortening my strides to eliminate overextending myself.  This was a new approach for me since I normally try to power through but discovered a new way to manage my race form and control the pain in my legs.

Miles 11 – 13.1 were run at a 9:52 pace which is good for me closing out a race.  My 9:47 pace for Mile 13 was my celebration as I decided to make a huge kick to finish the race strong.  I wanted to come across the finish line fast and with a smile on my face.  Mission accomplished.

The secret weapon during this race was the song Motivation by T.I.  I put this song on repeat at the 11-mile marker and it got me across the finish line with a big smile on my face.  This song normally provides a boost for me while training, so I leveraged this same boost during the half marathon.

There were only 4 water stops on this course so had to ensure I got Gatorade and water at each one of them.  I doubled up a few times to help keep me fueled and moving forward.

The only aspect of this race I did not enjoy was traffic was not eliminated from the course.  We had volunteers and police available on the course, but cars were allowed to turn in front of runners which normally does not happen with larger races.  I will have to assess this fact when it comes time to register for the 2023 Vero Beach Half Marathon.

Made my way over to Mulligan’s on the beach for a very large breakfast and then a Bud Light to celebrate my race.  Yes, I had a Bud Light at 9:30 am—it was fantastic!  😊

Great way to start a day and continue to run into the future!

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”.

(Kahlil Gibran)

Running into 2022

Bridge Buster 5k

“I run so my goals in life will continue to get bigger instead of my belly”.

(teepublic.com)

Started my 2022 running program with the Bridge Buster 5k in Fort Pierce, Florida.

I ran this same 5k back in 2021 and decided it would be a great way to jump start my 2022 running odyssey and get me back to competing with other runners.

My 2022 run goals are slightly different from what I established for 2021.  The 2021 goal was to get in 1,110 training/running miles for the year.  I was able to exceed this goal but felt like I was always chasing the number.  Yes, I put the work in to get to that number but the closer I got to 1,110 miles the more I started pressing to ensure I got there.  Seems counterintuitive but chasing the number was not as fun as just going out to run.

My written 2022 run goal is simply to ensure I get in 3 quality runs each week.  I created an aggressive race calendar for 2022 by registering for 8 races on December 30, 2021, with an eye towards additional races.  The race dates range from January 8 to May 14 to go along with the 2022 Clearwater Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  Plan to add September, November, and December races to the schedule to provide a full year of races.  Still contemplating a full marathon this year but that will happen in the fall if I decide it is time to take on that challenge.

The Bridge Buster 5k is a smaller race but this was the 39th running of the race.  The race proceeds go to local educational programs so this was a great way to give back to the Fort Pierce community.

I did not have to get up super early since this was a hometown race and I live about 10 minutes away from the start/finish line.  I got up with plenty of time to prep with beet juice, drink water and get coffee to take on my drive over to the race starting point.  I added a new wrinkle to my preparation by leveraging a 10-minute yoga stretching YouTube session by Adrienne Mishler.  I discovered her free yoga classes through the Runner’s World magazine.  The session was short but very effective to get me ready to run my race.

Arrived at packet pickup to get my race bib, t-shirt, and instructions for the 5k.  Again, this is a small race, so packet pickup took a full 10-minutes start to finish.  Went back to my vehicle to attach my bib and complete my last-minute stretching routine.

Toed the line towards the middle of the start corral to ensure I did not go out to fast and to allow me to avoid runners who may not know how to control their initial race pace.  The start line can be dangerous when trying to avoid other runners—crashes do occur.

I did not have a specific finish time in mind when the race started—always like to get a feel for the course and then see how much I can push myself towards the start line.  This was the first race of the 2022 season so wanted to gauge my fitness levels during this race to see how much training work I need to put in.

Happy to report, I am not too far off with my fitness, and this should be a great running season. 😊

I covered the 5k distance in 28:36 which averages out to 9:12 per mile.  My splits were:  Mile 1 (8:38) / Mile 2 (9:37) / Mile 3 (9:29) / Mile .1 (.52). 

Mile 1 is completely flat as we made our way through downtown Fort Pierce.  This may be my favorite portion of this race because it is flat and there are no bridges in sight.  The Mile 1 marker sits at the beginning of the Seaway Drive Bridge.  The next half mile of the race is on an incline as we made our way over the bridge towards Hutchinson Island.  This half mile portion of the race is where most runners must decide how they want to complete the race.  I decided to slow my pace at this point to ensure I had enough gas in the tank to finish as strong as I wanted.  The bridge descent was welcomed by all runners as we made up time coming down off the bridge and continued towards Hutchinson Island and the turnaround point.

The course flattens once off the bridge, and we made our way to the turnaround point.  The turnaround was just short of the 2-mile point of the race, and I tried to make up some time here knowing the bridge was looming in the distance.  Yes, we had to get back over the same bridge to complete this 5k.  Therefore, the race is called the Bridge Buster 5K. 😊

The second bridge crossing was just as taxing as the first portion, but runners were spaced out more coming back towards downtown Fort Pierce.  I pressed myself to not give up too much time running up the bridge and pressed the gas coming down the other side for the descent.  I had to crank my music on this portion to keep me churning towards the finish line.

I picked off a few runners with my finishing kick and crossed the line with a smile on my face.  Turns out I finish second in my age group but did not hang around for the awards ceremony.

Why not you ask?  I have a lot of races scheduled for 2022 and leveraged the cool morning to get a 5-mile training run in.  Yes, I went for a 5-mile training run after I completed the Bridge Buster 5K.

Got my 5-miles in on Ocean Drive which is one of my normal routes close to the beach.  This allowed me to train and then get a few minutes to sit on the beach for a bit.

Bridge Buster 5k b

Not a bad way to start my 2022 running program. 😊

What are you excited for in 2022?

Irie!

“Running keeps me busy until it’ acceptable to drink wine”.

(Etsy.com)

Goal progress—where are you?

Goals

“The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark”.

(Michelangelo)

Decided to check my 2021 goals in December to see how well I did to accomplish the things I projected to get done back in January 2021.

Yearly goals are a big part of my planning process and I love checking things off my list.  The written goal is a way to ensure success and provides clarity on things to get done in the new year. 

2021 presented some unique opportunities for me and I am happy to grow on a professional and personal level.

There was only one area where I did not meet or exceed my written goal.  I started 2021 with a written goal to cook weekly and I started the year off well.  I made a point to meal prep and utilized my crock pot for convenience.  My cooking goal lasted about two months before the wheels fell off on my progress.  Working late and my scheduled after work runs are the excuses but the convenience of the drive-thru is the real reason.  Turns out it is a lot easier and quicker to pull up and order something without having to come home and cook.  I realize the drive-thru is not the healthiest option for me, but I rationalize this process with an extra run or two to combat.  I will do a much better job with this goal in 2022!

Travel

Travel was an area I wanted to hit specific marks in 2021.  COVID-19 eliminated most travel plans in 2020 and I wanted to get back on the road once it was safe again.  I was leery of the vaccine process early on but fully embraced the concept once the vaccine was available.  I wanted to be able to see family and friends again without the concern of bringing the virus with me.  I understand vaccinated people can still carry but felt a sense of relief once I received the Moderna doses.

I routinely took monthly excursions prior to COVID-19 and looked forward to doing this again.  Clearwater, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Melbourne were targeted cities for my monthly getaways and happy to report I hit them all.  Orlando and Melbourne were regular visits for me in 2021.  I also made it back to Jasper at least once per month to see my mom and family. 

My visit to Clearwater Beach back in January was my first time there.  I always saw pictures and heard about the area but never took time to visit.  I am happy I made the trip over and will return October 2022 to run in the inaugural Clearwater Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  Plan to get more sightseeing in when I get there.

Got in a few running tourist opportunities too:  Virginia Beach, Savannah, and Orlando.

My last 2021 travel adventure got me back to Nashville, Tennessee to listen to live music and enjoy a great city.  The Wild Horse Saloon was closed on this trip, but I will be back for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon in April.  I will get my line dancing in when I return. 😊

Exercise program

Exercise is a huge part of my daily routine.  This is an area I take a lot of pride in and hit all my goals in 2021. 

The first thing I wanted to hit was 1,000 training miles.  Happy to report I was able to finish the year with 1,055 training miles.  Building training runs into my daily schedule allowed me to hit this mark without feeling rushed to get training completed.  I will leverage my 2021 training routine to build an aggressive 2022 training goal to help me challenge myself.  Will share this number in a later post.

I set a goal to break my Personal Record (PR) in a 10k race and beat my friend Lauren Kume’s time in 2021.  I ran a PR of 55:57 (Fifty-five minutes and 57 seconds) at the 2021 Winter Park 10k in March 2021.  I did not run faster than Lauren, so I get to try again in 2022.  I am registered for the same race in March 2022 and will work to get closer to 54 flat—still more work to do but headed in a good direction.  Seems I am always chasing Lauren, but she inspires my running program—thank you!  😊

My workouts in 2021 were much improved.  I still make it to the gym for weight training at least two times per week and upgraded my home equipment to enhance my strength training.  I got in 5 body weight sessions weekly to complement my work in the gym.  I was able to add more muscle definition and maintain my weight even though I do not eat the healthiest.  I will correct my eating habits in 2022.

Writing

I maintained a consistent writing program throughout 2021.  I published several articles on LinkedIn and added my poetry to the Walk into The Future blog.  My blog library allowed me to publish weekly content to share my thoughts, views, and travel with readers.  I gained a few more blog followers and incorporated content several friends requested.  I plan to continue to build new blog content in 2022—don’t know how much longer I will use this platform, but I have other areas I want to explore for the blog so keep sending me your ideas.  I will work to build content to keep your interest.

I did not publish my Leadership ebook in 2021 but did work on content throughout the year.  I talked with a designer to build the cover art but will need to reengage with him to finalize the cost for the project.  This will be a rollover goal for 2022.

Happy with my 2021 goal progress and excited to launch my 2022 goals towards another successful year.

How did YOU do on meeting your 2021 goals?  What big things do you have planned for 2022?

Make it great!

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”.

(C.S. Lewis)

2021 OUC Half Marathon

OUC 1

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

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