The grateful 5 (5 things I’m grateful for)

Grateful

“A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles”

(Pinterest)

Dictionary.com defines grateful as feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.

Pretty simple concept and one to dig into a bit more.  I do a lot of reading and came across a blog article titled the Top 5 Things I am Grateful For.  The article and title are straight forward so I decided to try my writing chops to explore this from my perspective.

Family

Spend any amount of time with me and I will tell you about my family.  My family on my mom’s side consists of 5 uncles and 4 aunts.  The last time we counted I had 32 first cousins and 69 second cousins.  I know that last number has gone up, but we have not counted them in a long time.

This large extended family unit allowed me to grow up in an environment where most of my early friends were family members.   We did not add nonfamily friends until we started school because there were enough of us around to field our own teams in most sports.

I am grateful for having so many family members who go out of their way to look out for each other.  Seems like a simple thing but we spent most Thanksgivings with this large unit and enjoyed our time together.  COVID-19 put a halt on our large family get togethers last year but hopefully we can find a way to get the crew together this year—safely!

Friends

My Walk into the Future journey has allowed me to make some truly great friends.  Please note, I do not let a lot of people into my inner circle, so my friends are special people to me.  I have friends who are not cousins and I have known them my entire life.  We stay connected and get back together whenever possible and continue to grow our friendship.

I have friends I met while in the Air Force and we have become our own family unit.  I look forward to getting together and catching up whenever possible.  COVID-19 has put a halt to our running tourist trips, but I am sure we will get back on track in the future.  New Orleans is calling!

I met my best friend in the gym one morning as she bullied me to help her with the weights she was lifting—true story! 😊  Seriously, a simple gym conversation launched a great friendship, and we chat and catch up on life as much as possible.  See you on Park Avenue!

My tree branches are all friends I look forward to catching up with.  Could be a simple email, text, or phone call but love hearing how well my folks are doing in this world.  I enjoy seeing them exploring life via Instagram stories and pictures they share.  I live through them daily and enjoy seeing the growth of my tree. WE ARE!  Go Bucks! Go Noles! Go Gators!

Running

I found running later in life but cannot imagine a world without me putting in my miles.  The concept of running a half marathon was foreign to me in 2013 but now I run 6 to 8 half marathons yearly (pre-COVID).  I had no intention to run another half marathon after my first attempt because it took me three full weeks to recover.  Of course, I had no idea how to train, hydrate or recover properly—lessons learned the hard way! LOL.

My stated goal for 2022 is to explore my first full marathon.  I am hoping COVID does not come back like 2020 and eliminates all future running events.  I am always looking for motivation when I run so training for a full marathon should keep me putting in the miles for years to come.  Trying to convince several friends to come race with me. Let’s go Laurens! 😊

“Running helps me maintain my ‘never killed anyone’ streak”.

(Pinterest)

Health

Happy to report I can eat and drink whatever I want.  My running and weight training programs help with this, but I am blessed with good health.  Running has not caused undue aches or pains and helps me maintain a healthy weight without counting calories.  My weight training provides strong muscle structure to keep me moving forward.  My annual physicals produce good numbers, and the doctor does not have to get onto me to eliminate anything from my diet.  Grateful to continue to age well! 😊

My Blog

Started the Walk into the Future blog without a clear understanding how it would impact me.  I thought I would just write a few things down and see if anyone wanted to read my words.  Turns out the blog has become an extension of me and gives me a platform to share thoughts, ideas, and adventures.  My writing process has slowed down as my work obligations expand but I am still able to keep 4 to 5 weeks of blog articles in my production library.  I would like to get back up to 8 to 10 weeks of articles in reserve in case I need to revise or update them before publishing.  Not sure how long I will continue to publish the blog but still have a ton of material to explore so hope you stay with me on this journey! 😊

Bonus:  My readers

Grateful for everyone who takes the time to read my blog.  Your positive affirmations always put a smile on my face and inspire me to work to produce better content weekly.  Thank you for following the Walk into the Future blog!  Well done!

What are YOU grateful for?  I welcome your thoughts!

“The struggles ends when the gratitude begins”.

(Neale Donald Walsh)

Half Marathon training (South Florida)

Celebration of running

“Life is short…running makes it seem longer”.

(Baron Hansen)

September 5, 2021 is coming!  This date may only be circled on my calendar, but it has importance to my Walk into the Future.

The Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon will take place on 9/5/21.  This year’s race marks the 20th anniversary of the Rock n Roll series in Virginia Beach and will also be the last time this race is run.  Received an email last week stating the city of Virginia Beach and the Rock n Roll series agreed to make this the last hoorah.  This is my first visit to Virginia Beach, and I will have to make the most of it.

The date of the half marathon is significant to me due to my training program.  I did not have a huge half marathon training focus in 2020 due to COVID-19.  I got miles in but never found my training pace because most races were cancelled due to COVID protocols.

Fast forward to 2021 and races are slowly coming back and the running tourist in me is excited to hit the road again.  I am looking forward to exploring new locations and testing myself against courses I have only read about or seen pictures.

So, what’s the problem you may ask?  Great question and thanks!  The problem is:  it is HOT down here!!! 😊

I will not get into the concept of climate change, global warming, etc. but this south Florida heat and humidity is impacting my training program.

I officially launched my half marathon training on 6/28/21.  This put me two months out from the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll half and should be plenty of time to get mentally and physically prepared to run.  I am getting my runs and bike rides in but struggle to extend my miles due to the heat and humidity in my current location.  My long runs top out at 7 miles because I want to be mindful of the impact the heat has while training. 

I get up earlier for my weekend runs but the temperature hits the mid-80s by 9 am and only goes up from there.  Not complaining because most of my runs on done close to the water so I can always stop and make it a beach outing when I am done with my runs.

I did not think the four-hour drive from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce would make much difference on my running program but there is a different level of heat down here.  Again, not complaining but stating a fact.  This is a fact I must come to grips with soon to keep preparing for future races.  I targeted several local 5ks to keep my competitive juices flowing but need these short races to get me race ready. 

I added more bike rides (gym and outside) to get more miles on my legs to build up the threshold needed to run and complete a half marathon.  This is a new approach for me but a safe way to extend my training without having to deal with the south Florida heat.

I recently added treadmill runs to my training program.  I am not a fan of running on a treadmill, but this equipment allows me to log miles and push myself to get ready for the actual process of running a half marathon.  My new training routine consists of morning miles on my regular route near the beach and then a treadmill session with equal miles.

The one treadmill trick I started using is to cover the time/distance/speed display.  Running on the treadmill is a mentally draining exercise for me and I believe it is because the display does not match what I THINK I’m accomplishing.  Simply put, it feels like I have run further than the display shows so I get frustrated with the process.  Covering the display allows me to forget about the distance and time and just put in the work.  I see multiple people who appear to enjoy their time on the treadmill, and I am amazed watching them.  I need to get over my treadmill DREAD and just put in the work. 

Looking forward to cooler weather so I can get back to longer outside runs again.  Did I mention it is hot in South Florida? 😊

“Don’t be a jogger.  They are the ones who find dead bodies”.

(RuntotheFinish)

Winter Park, Florida (Park Avenue Adventures)

“To travel is to live”.

(Hans Christian Andersen)

Happy to report the Walk into the Future adventures continue.  I am excited to get back to regular excursions again with more and more people being vaccinated.  COVID-19 put a halt to most outings, but I am getting comfortable being out and about again.

Decided to explore a familiar area recently and ventured back over to Winter Park, Florida to spend a day on Park AvenuePark Avenue has an eclectic feel and provides multiple places to shop, dine and entertain yourself without having to get in and out of your car.

My day started with a trip to my favorite run shop, Track Shack.  I make a point to visit Track Shack whenever I’m in the area because the staff makes me feel at home.  They also update their running gear selections, and I am always looking for new training ideas and gear.  I wear Track Shack gear during my races and wanted to see if they had new color schemes to add to my wardrobe.  I did not buy new gear on this trip but picked up some CBD gel caps. 

I added CBD to my training program last year to help with soreness and inflammation from running.  My run friends recommended CBD and I finally decided to add to my program to keep me running.  CBD has allowed me to continue to train hard and not miss sessions due to soreness—it also helps me relax and sleep better.  Give it a try!

Made my way over to Park Avenue after leaving Track Shack.  The Winter Park Farmer’s Market is a huge Saturday attraction, and I made a stop to see what the vendors had for sell.  The kettle corn vendor was the most popular vendor of the day—it is amazing to see folks buy the huge bags of kettle corn.  I like kettle corn but could not make myself buy the supersized bags the vendor had. 

There was a vendor at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market selling jerky—this is not a revelation but was surprised with the selection available.  Most people know about beef, turkey, and alligator jerky.  The surprise for me was this vendor had kangaroo jerky.  I had no idea people ate kangaroo and did not expect it as a jerky selection.  I am not a huge jerky fan but wondered all day why anyone would eat kangaroo jerky—may have to try it next time I am at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market.

Took the short walk over to Park Avenue to explore the shops and dining options available.  Track Shack hosts multiple races in this area so I am familiar with Park Avenue—the races start and end in the heart of the entertainment district here.

Found a corner breakfast spot that I had never visited before.  The Croissant Gourmet Bakery has a great menu and provides the perfect spot to dine, and people watch at the same time.  This spot is right off Park Avenue but gets a lot of foot traffic.  Most people came in for baked goods, but several stayed for breakfast and the coffee.  The Croissant Gourmet Bakery layout reminds me of a New York style bakery—the staff was friendly and got people in and out.  I had a traditional breakfast (two eggs, potatoes, bacon, toast with coffee).  They had a fantastic raspberry jam I would recommend if you visit the Croissant Gourmet Bakery—well worth the trip.  I plan to visit this spot again when I am back in Winter Park.

One of my reasons to visit Park Avenue was to venture into the Wine Room again.  The Wine Room provides a unique experience where you can purchase a wine card and then explore wines from around the world.  Insert your wine card and then decide if you want a sip, half glass or full glass.  This is a great way to try multiple wines and not commit too much money if you decide you are not a fan.  I strategically visited the Croissant Gourmet Bakery first to ensure I ate something prior to exploring wine options. 😊

I am a novice wine drinker, so the Wine Room allows folks like me to try different wines without committing too much to the process.  I favor the sweeter wines but experiment with others by purchasing by the sip.  This process helps me determine if I like the wine and not waste time or money if I do not.  I tried multiple wines that caught my interest, and most were very good. 

I made my way back to the sweet Italian wine section and found one I really enjoyed.  Decided to go all in and purchased a full glass to enjoy.  The Wine Room is a great place to enjoy wine and get some people watching in.  There were several folks there who really knew wine and it was interesting listening to them describe the wines to each other. 

Will leverage their knowledge on my next visit to the Wine Room and explore additional wines—one sip at a time.

The most talked about wine during my visit was the Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was very good, and I will try it again when I am back in the Wine Room: 

https://www.abcfws.com/caymus-cabernet-sauvignon/234305

Left the Wine Room and got some window-shopping in.  There were a lot of people out for the afternoon, and everyone had smiles.  This was a fantastic way to spend the day and I enjoyed every minute of my time on Park Avenue.  Look forward to additional adventures on Park Avenue—this may turn into a monthly getaway for me. 😊

Where have you wanted to visit?  Give Park Avenue a try if you are in the Orlando area—highly recommended.

Irie!

https://orlandodatenightguide.com/2016/09/guide-perfect-afternoon-park-avenue-winter-park/

Inspiration Man strikes again—Central Florida Economic Council

CFEC1

“Surround yourself with people who are only going to lift you higher”.

(UK Wired)

Dictionary.com defines inspiration as a divine influence directly or immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.

I have multiple Walk into the Future blog posts discussing superpowers and why they are important in our daily walk.  Here is one of my favorites where I introduce my readers to Inspiration Man. 😊

My move to Fort Pierce has allowed me to make a difference but it is more of an organizational difference so far.  We have adjusted work product and flow in my first 14 months.  It almost feels like a complete overhaul of the organization based on how we revamped our services, products, and delivery methods.  I did not expect this level of adjustment when I arrived, but we have made steady progress on modernizing our services and delivery.

The concept of Inspiration Man came up to highlight how I make an impact in the daily lives of others.  Inspiration Man has been doormat, but this all changed when I received an email from a colleague in Orlando who works with the Central Florida Economic Council (CFEC) and Christian HELP. 

Both organizations work to help people in Central Florida get back on their feet—job search, housing, food, etc.  My friend is the Division Director for these organizations and asked me to speak at their May 2021 Job Fair.  I did something similar 10 years ago and she remembered my positive impact on job seekers and wanted me to share my knowledge again.  She does not know about my alter ego, Inspiration Man but she was about to unleash the superhero on the Orlando area. 😊

I quickly accepted the opportunity to move the crowd and share information with job seekers.  The topic given:  Job Searching in 2021—How to Adapt. 

This was not a topic I had in my speaking library, but the challenge was to find a way to cover this information and engage with the audience.  They provided an article with a ton of useful information, so this was the foundation of the presentation.

I never miss an opportunity to help, and this process was exciting; research, building and then presenting information to people who needed to hear from me.

I made my way to Winter Garden on the day of the event.  Decided to drive over and then change at the venue prior to show time.  My friend greeted me at the door, and we took a little time to catch up on life.  She remembered the book I published in 2010 and thought I had another one ready to present to the group.  FYI—I have been working on producing an eBook on Authentic Leadership, but it is not ready for public consumption.  It should be coming later in 2021—get ready!

Inspiration Man made a quick dash into the dressing room to change into my superhero outfit for the day.  Trying to be funny with that—it was a grey suit with a power blue tie.

Headed off to do a quick microphone check and make a quick adjustment to my slide deck.  The event was held at Mosaic Church in Winter Garden, Florida and they have a fantastic audiovisual team.  Sound checks allow me to gauge the acoustic of the venue to understand how loud I need to speak into the microphone.  All systems go!

https://thisismosaic.org/

I took the stage after the host took care of some announcements and introduced me as the featured speaker of the day.  It is always weird to me when I hear someone introducing me at an event—I want to look around to see who they are talking about, and it is ME. 

I like to start my presentations by building rapport with the audience.  One member spoke with me before the presentation and shared she was having a hard time finding employment.  She mentioned a few things she tried but was having troubles.  This quick conversation allowed me to bring a real-world situation into my presentation and highlight I was there to help.  I speak with slides, but this does not drive how I present.  Slides to me provide a foundation but I am not limited to the words on my slide show.

I am a huge fan of Jocko and introduced this video to set the tone for the day: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdTMDpizis8

Diving into the presentation I covered:

  • Trends
  • Search parameters
  • Personal messages
  • Competition
  • Presentation (Elevator pitch)

Each topic came directly from the article they provided, and I leveraged this data to highlight how the current trends favored the job seekers.  We jumped into new job search parameters and ways to gain and keep an employer’s attention.  The personal messages centered on building a WHY statement.  Of course, I shared my WHY with the group to show how it can impact a positive mindset. 

The competition on the job search is really internal—preparing well enhances the client’s ability to connect with employers.  The presentation centered on creating an elevator pitch to helps a client standout in a positive manner.

The audience responded well to each topic and had a lot of questions for me during my hour with them on stage.  This was the most fun I have had in a long time.  Working with motivated people who want to learn and get better brings out the best in me.  I was intent on moving the crowd during this event and happy to report mission accomplished.

Several folks waited to speak with me after and tell me their unique stories.  I listened and shared my contact information so they can reach out to me when ready.  I am happy to help them continue to grow.

Hoping to get additional invitation to help with CFEC/Christian HELP events again soon.  May be time for Inspiration Man to make another appearance! 😊

“Do not let yesterday take up too much of today”.

(Will Rogers)

Running into the Future—goal within reach

Run article

“Set goals and crush them”.

(www.tresfleeck.com)

Goals continue to be a big part of my Walk into the Future.  I sit down in January and write out my goals for the year.  I break these goals up into categories so I can track my completion progress.

My weekly physical fitness goals include weight training (2 days), run (3 days) and speed work on Wednesdays.  My overarching physical fitness goal is 1,000 training miles in 2021—this includes running and biking miles.

I set 1,000 training miles as a goal to push my training to a new level.  This mile marker also helps my motivation since there are not as many races to run in this COVID-19 world.  I am always looking for ways to maintain my running edge and adding more miles to my training program appears to be a good thing for me.

Happy to report I logged 615 miles so far in 2021.  I have not been consistent with my long runs but routinely get in three quality sessions each week. 

Tuesdays:  3 – 4 miles (after work)

Thursdays:  4 – 6 miles (after work)

Saturdays:  6 – 8 miles (morning runs)

My Tuesday and Thursday runs are done when I get off work, so I am not concerned about my run times during these sessions.  Working 9, 10, 11-hour days creates a mental drain, but I still make time to hit the road since this helps to recharge me physically and mentally.  Some days are a lot slower than others, but I smile because I am out doing something I love.  Never thought I would say that, but I would be lost without my running program—it just took me awhile to come to this conclusion.

My Saturday runs are not like my long training sessions when I had half marathons to train for.  I routinely crushed 10+ mile runs on Saturdays before my move to Fort Pierce but 8 is the longest distance I hit when running locally.  I have not found a route that allows me to enjoy the run while getting in longer distances.  I have searched multiple locations, but nothing is available like the St. Mark’s Trail or John Brown Park in Tallahassee:

The trail system in Tallahassee allowed me to push my mileage and extend my long runs up to 16 miles on multiple training sessions.  I plan to get back to the longer versions of my runs since I am looking forward to getting back to being a running tourist

I am scheduled to run the 2021 Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon in September.  I have never run this race or visited the city so looking forward to getting back to a starting line to test my conditioning against some world class athletes.  My goal for this race is to run another Personal Record (PR) and get under 2 hours for the distance.  I was on track to go under 2 hours before COVID-19 hit the world, but I am confident I am going to hit my goal.

My training for Virginia Beach will increase my speed towards the Orlando OUC Half Marathon in December.  This course is completely flat so it should provide a fast track to help me hit my goals.  This will truly springboard my runs into 2022 as I gear up for a full running season—8 or more half marathons.

A full marathon (26.2 miles) will make it on my goals list for 2022—there I said it so now it is out in the open.  Let’s see who is going to run it with me! Come on Laurens! 😊

What goals did you set for 2021?  How is your progress so far?

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible”.

(Tony Robbins)

One year in Fort Pierce

Fort Pierce

“Your life is a story of transition.  You are always leaving one chapter behind while moving to the next”.

(Anonymous)

2020 brought us a year of uncertainty and change.  Not the most prophetic thing I have ever written for the Walk into the Future blog but felt the need to drop that nugget. 

I celebrated the one-year mark of my move to Fort Pierce on April 13th and decided to look back.  I am sure I was not the ONLY person to move to a new city during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but have not met anyone in my current circle.  Turns out I was the last employee hired by Indian River State College before a hiring freeze was imposed due to COVID-19 uncertainty and the onset of remote work for all college employees.

I remember when I was preparing to move from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce the thought kept coming up that maybe my opportunity to work at Indian River State College would be pulled due to the pandemic.  I called a few times to make sure I was still hired, and Human Resources kept saying yes.  Packed up the U-Haul, pointed it south and the rest is history—arrived in Fort Pierce without knowing the pandemic was about to get a whole lot worse than we expected.  It did not help the government kept telling people there was nothing to worry about—that dang U.S. government, they have never lied before, right? 😊

I never had a remote work schedule when I arrived—being new to the area, going into the office was my only interaction with other people. The limited staff in the buildings all wore masks and practiced physical distancing but going to work was a welcomed part of my day.  I could not imagine moving to a new city and then sitting at home all day without seeing anyone. 

True story—my entire staff was working remotely so I met my 11-person team on my laptop via a Zoom meeting.  Never thought this would be possible but 2020 made us find creative ways to get things done.  My initial staff meetings were all done via a virtual platform (Zoom, Black Board Collaborate or Microsoft Teams).  I love the functionality of Microsoft Teams and continue to conduct staff meetings with this platform. Most of the staff are fully vaccinated but we still have a few stragglers—hope to be able to get everyone together with physical distancing in the fall—fingers crossed.

I had to find new running routes over the past year.  Discovered Fort Pierce is not as runner friendly as Tallahassee or Oviedo so finding places to run safely continues to be a challenge.  I have two good running areas but would like more routes for a change of scenery.  I love running but still get bored if I do not have variety on my routes. Will keep searching for new places to run because I need to extend my long runs with my focus on becoming a running tourist again.  I have race entries for the following:

  • 2021 Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon / September 5, 2021
  • 2021 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon / December 4, 2021
  • 2022 Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon / February 6, 2022

Would like to add more races but need to build my long runs back up to 12+ miles again. 

My initial workouts in Fort Pierce were done strictly at home.  Most of the gyms closed due to COVID-19 protocols and I would not have ventured in even if they were open.  I stopped going to the gym before leaving Tallahassee because the gym environment is a prime place for close contact with others.  This close contact led to people spreading the virus so I invested in workout equipment so I could maintain my fitness levels from home.  Surprisingly, I stayed in great physical shape with home workouts.  I have slowly returned to the gym but only go two days a week now when I am in town.  I do body weight workouts (pushups, crunches, squats, etc.) in the mornings before I head to work.  I am happy with my results and will keep this up since it is working and a lot cheaper than having a gym membership. 😊

The beaches on the Treasure Coast provide me with great places to sit, relax and catch up on my reading.  Funny, I live about 10 minutes from a beach but find I must schedule my beach outings.  I run close to the water and stop to enjoy the views but need to do a better job of just making beach days.  I am heading to Melbourne tomorrow for an air show and will get an early start so I can stake my claim to a prime beach location to relax and enjoy the Blue Angels as they put on their show.  I plan to get to the beach more this year and keep taking beautiful sunset shots.

Time continues to move forward.  It feels like I just got here yesterday but it has been a year.  Most days seemed to be the same due to COVID-19 protocols but a year it has been.  Looking forward to new adventures in 2021 and you know I am going to highlight a few in the Walk into the Future blog! 😊

Irie!

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly”.

(Henri Bergson)

Walking and exploring Lake Okeechobee

Lake O me

“Don’t die without embracing the daring adventure your life was meant to be”.

(Steve Pavlina)

My Walk into the Future has allowed me to experience some great adventures. 

My adventures prior to COVID-19 took me to places that required a bit of planning.  Planes, trains, and automobile (not really the train) got me from place to place so I could enjoy new places.  We are slowly getting back to being able to travel again with more and more people getting vaccinated.  I am excited about the possibilities of becoming a running tourist again.  Please note, I signed up for the early bird special to run the 2022 New Orleans Rock n Roll Running Series Half Marathon next February.  Yes, the Rock n Roll folks changed their name!

The newest adventure for me only took me 35 miles from Fort Pierce.  I have traveled to the town of Okeechobee multiple times because we have a campus there.  I drive over and take care of my work and then drive back to the main campus in Fort Pierce.  A very routine process but realized I had never taken the time to go to Lake Okeechobee.  Imagine being about 10 miles away from the largest freshwater lake in Florida but never visiting.  Decided to fix this issue and get over to the lake for a little adventure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Okeechobee

My day started with the prospect of severe thunderstorms approaching the area.  Luckily, I did not let this deter me from my adventure. The skies remained sunny and clear, so I took a chance (Walk into the Future) and packed a backpack and headed over to see the big lake.  The drive over was around 40 minutes, so it did not take long to begin the adventure.  There was not much traffic on the road, so the drive was easy.  It is a farming community so not many sights to see on the drive except orange groves, farms, and cows.

I did not create a travel plan for my visit so just decided to make it up as I went.  Parked at the Welcome Center and took in Lake Okeechobee from the walking bridge.  This was my first view of the lake and it did not disappoint.  The massiveness of Lake Okeechobee is probably the most impressive part of being there.  I knew going over it was going to be a large body of water but being there and not seeing a bank on the other side was amazing.  Finally got a chance to break out my new camera with my 80x zoom lens for this trip—it was needed to zoom in on objects in the distance.

I decided to go further down the road and see what other adventures Lake Okeechobee had for me.   Pulled over when I saw a sign for the Lake Okeechobee Historic Trail—seemed like a great place to explore a bit more.  The trail is paved so made my way east and took in the sights.  There were several people at this point fishing, and they were pulling them in.  Guess I will return to this spot IF I ever get into fishing—never been high on my list of hobbies to pick up. Got a 3 mile walk in on this portion of the trip and got more pictures of the lake and surrounding area.  A couple riding their bikes shared they saw bald eagles a little further down the trail so decided to get back in the vehicle and drive down more to where they mentioned seeing eagles.  Would love to get pictures of bald eagles in the wild!  I was also racing time because the skies were getting dark—the rain was coming!

Drove another 5 miles or so down the road and pulled into another segment of the Lake Okeechobee Historic Trail.  There were more people fishing here so the theme of the day is Lake Okeechobee is great if you like to fish. 😊 Again, walked on the trail heading east looking for perches eagles would populate—funny to read that last sentence—how would I know where eagles hang out???

Got a good walk in on this portion of the trail.  I saw birds but nothing as interesting as bald eagle so took more pictures of the lake.  I got lucky and spotted an alligator swimming in water close to Lake Okeechobee.  This allowed me to utilize my zoom lens to get a good shot of a 6-foot alligator—my camera on my phone would not have allowed me to get this shot so happy to have the zoom available now.  Cannot wait to take some pictures in Negril, Jamaica with a real zoom lens!

The skies got extremely dark because of the incoming bad weather so decided to cut my losses and get back on the road to head home.  No need to get caught in a thunderstorm on Lake Okeechobee.  This was a short trip but worth the time to drive over and explore Lake Okeechobee.  May venture back over soon and experience the lake via an airboat ride.  The adventures continue! 😊

“I thought it was an adventure but actually, it was life”.

(www.ecogentleman.com)

 

Turning the corner on COVID-19

smiley-4836178_1920

(Image by Sergei Tokmakov, Esq. from Pixabay

“Choose to be optimistic.  It feels better”.

(Dalai Lama)

I do not know if we have truly turned the corner on COVID-19 but it does feel like we have made some progress.

The rollout of the vaccine has been moving forward the past three months and my excitement is firmly rooted in the fact I have family and friends who are fully vaccinated.  Happy to report I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Friday and should be fully vaccinated by the time you read this article.

I realize there is more work to be done before we get to herd immunity but there are positive signs daily.  We need to maintain a level of caution and not get too far ahead to ensure these positive vibes remains.

My excitement for turning the corner is because I was able to visit my family in northern Florida and did not feel like I was putting them at risk.  My mom, aunts and uncles are completely vaccinated and this was the first visit where I did not have the same concerns about possibly bringing the virus into their homes.  Please note, we still maintained physcial distancing and masks wearing but mentally it felt like we were safe again.  I have not hugged my mom in months so a simple side hug this time was a welcomed aspect of the visit.

My goal is to have my second shot completed before I head back up to visit with family and friends again.  The peace of mind knowing everyone has been vaccinated will allow us to spend a bit more time together and not worry about passing a virus on to a family member. 

The concept of physical distancing and how we fellowship will probably be changed forever.  Simple things we did around the holidays will most likely change—I do not know if I will ever be comfortable again with our large Thanksgiving gatherings again.  We set up tables and chairs outside for Thanksgiving 2020 and this process went better than I expected.  The weather was great and family was able to spend time together but not in a closed environment. I see this being the new tradition as long as the weather cooperates.

I hope the Walk into the Future blog readers are in the process of getting vaccinated. 

I questioned the rapid pace of the vaccine creation and deployment but put those concerns aside in order to ensure I was protected.  This protection extends to my family, friends and coworkers—getting the vaccine is my way to get closer to normal again.  I would like to get back to being a running tourist again in 2021.  This will only happen when more and more people get the vaccine—here’s hoping herd immunity is a real thing!

Note:  I got sent home from work the day after I wrote this article due to contact tracing.  COVID-19 is still alive and well—stay safe!

When are you getting the vaccine?  What are you looking forward to once herd immunity is gained?

“The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength”.

(Marcus Aurelius)

Spring break unwind

Spring break

(Image by Thank you for your support Donations welcome to support from Pixabay)

“Go where the wifi is weak and the sun is strong”.

(Unknown)

Spring break 2021 has been circled on my calendar for awhile.  I did not have visions of a Jamaica getaway as I have in past years.  COVID-19 has adjusted the things we look forward to now.  I am hoping with the multiple vaccines available we will be able to get back to travel again soon.  I routinely scheduled my Jamaica trip around spring break but will continue to display patience as I wait my turn to get the vaccine.

Happy to report my mom, aunts, uncles and multiple friends are fully vaccinated!

I decided not to overbook myself for spring break and just unwind a bit.  My 2020 was overshadowed by COVID-19 and my move from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce.  Relocating during the height of a pandemic proved a bit harder than I ever imagined.  The physical process was simple to pull off—the mental and emotional aspects of adjusting to a new location, new work environment and new people while staying safe in a pandemic was challenging.  Proud of my efforts so far and look forward to continued growth with this process.

Spring break was my chance to reset a bit, kick back and enjoy life. 

Decided to head north and spend most of my break in my home town, Jasper, Florida.  I did not load my schedule so I took my time as I drove north.  Made my way to the Daytona Beach Outlets for some shopping on my drive.  The Daytona outlets are fairly new and I am always looking for some good deals.  I visited this same outlet back in November on my drive to the Smokey Mountains.  I did not find any deals I liked in the Nike or Van Heusen stores so I got back on the road.

Made my way to Jasper before sunset and caught up with my mom for my first day of spring break.  She is a traditional southern mom so yes, I had a large dinner waiting for me when I got home. 😊

I normally pressure wash my mom’s house yearly and decided to tackle the project while I was in town on break.  The weather in North Florida during March is very nice—no heat or humidity.  Pulled my pressure washer out of the shed and began the process of knocking a year’s worth of grime off the house.  My pressure washer began coughing halfway through the house cleaning process—thought it was just a spark plug issue so changed it and I was back in business—for awhile.  I have had this pressure washer for some time and it just would not go any longer.  Jasper is a small town and there is not a local small engine shop available to help with this issue.  Almost called it quits but wanted to finish this project since I started.  Made my way to Lowe’s in Live Oak to see what they had available.  Ended up purchasing a new pressure washer with 2800 PSI (pounds per square inch) which gave me additional power—equals less time pressure washing.

Got the new washer setup and cranked out the rest of the house cleaning.  The only drag when pressure washing my mom’s house is the two story aspect.  Yes, I have to get up and down a ladder to reach the portion of the house directly above her porch.  This happens to be the most visible part of the house and I cannot neglect it and still claim I cleaned the house.  Going up and down the ladder with a pressure washing wand in my hand was fun a few years ago.  Now, it feels like work but I got it done.

I decided to get away from my manual labor the following day.  Made a point to visit with friends and go see my favortie aunt in Live Oak.  I have not been able to visit with her in a long time due to COVID-19 but felt comfortable sitting with her for a bit since she is fully vaccinated.  We were able to catch up and share a few laughs again—felt good! 😊

My last spring break project was to pressure wash my grandmother’s house.  I normally have both houses scheduled to pressure wash during the same visit so kept the tradition alive.  The second house is not as large as my mom’s so it does not take me as long to complete.  This was a great aspect this year since severe weather was expected later in the day.  I was able to get the house washed and avoid getting caught in the rain that made it to Jasper in the afternoon.

I am happy to report I was able to complete a few projects while in Jasper, see family and sleep in daily on my spring break.  The time away from career related activities was needed considering the COVID-19 world we live in.  It was nice to disconnect from my work email and computer—not thinking about substantial activities was refreshing.

I know this does not sound like a typical spring break but it was exactly what I needed. Now it is time to find a beach and work on my tan! 😊

Irie!

What activities help you to unwind?  What are you looking forward to doing again?

“If traveling was free, you would never see me again”.

(Unknown)

Running and enjoying the Winter Park 10k

10k2

“Life is short…running makes it seem longer”.

(Baron Hansen)

Decided to test my fitness again by running the Winter Park 10k with Orlando Track Shack.  It should be obvious Track Shack is my favorite running organization but will go ahead and say it again—I love Track Shack and the way they put on racing events.

The 2021 Winter Park 10k was the last event in the Track Shack running series.  I was a regular Track Shack Fanatic when I lived in Oviedo but only get to participate in a couple events now. The Track Shack running series consists of 6 scheduled races over an 8-month period which ends with the Winter Park 10k event.  You do not have to be a Fanatic to run the Winter Park race, so I made a point to sign up again this year to test myself against the best runners in Central Florida.

My 10k goal continues to be to run faster than my tree branch, Lauren Kume and eventually beat her 10k Personal Record (PR).  A quick note, I did not beat her time but was able to shave a substantial amount off my PR and set a new one in 2021.  Lauren still has the best time in the family! 😊

Made my way over to Track Shack on Friday afternoon to pick up my race packet and get some last-minute shopping in.  I love making it into the Track Shack store to see the new running gear they have.  I did not need anything specific but always seem to come out of the store with something new.  I try not to run with the same outfit two races in a row, so I am always looking for additional color schemes for my run outfits.

I found a new Track Shack running tank top that caught my eye due to the unique color.  Unfortunately, they did not have my size on the rack.  Betsy Hughes who is the co-owner with her husband Jon helped me as I was shopping in the store.  Small world fact—I met Betsy two years earlier while I was out for a run in Tom Brown park in Tallahassee.  One of their daughters lives in Tallahassee and Betsy and Jon were up for a visit.  I noticed her Track Shack gear and stopped my run to say hello.  Fast forward two years and Betsy remembered me from our quick conversation on a running trail in Tallahassee.  Betsy brought Jon over and we got a chance to talk about the great running trails Tallahassee has to offer.  Great time catching up with them both—they wished me luck for the race, and I thanked them for being so awesome! 😊

Race day was a comfortable 58 degrees—perfect weather for a run through the Winter Park neighborhoods.  Made sure I got there early to make sure I could find parking and get to the start line on-time.  COVID-19 has adjusted how races are run so there was not as much activity prior to the race as in the past.  There were vendors available but just not as much traffic.  We followed Track Shack protocols, and everyone wore their face masks as we waited for the start of the race. 

Race time

The starting area was organized to ensure we maintained physical distance prior to the race. 

The corrals were marked to ensure runners knew how to line up—there were dots placed on the ground to ensure we stayed a safe distance from the other runners.  Runners were able to line up based on their projected mile per minute time (example:  6 minutes, 8 minutes, etc.).  I decided to line up with the 8 minute per mile group to avoid having to navigate through a crowd of runners at the beginning of the race.

Happy to report I was able to get out without having to adjust my pace to make it through the initial traffic.  I set out to establish a fast but comfortable pace and then see how I felt at the halfway point.  Luckily, the runners in my immediate area set a good pace and I decided to hang with them to see how much my conditioning had improved since my last big race which was the OUC Half Marathon in December.

Mile 1:  8:35 / Mile 2:  8:54 / Mile 3:  9:12 / Mile 4: 9:18 / Mile 5:  9:16 / Mile 6:  9:18 / Last .2 / 1:27

I was happy to get in the sub 9-minute miles at the beginning of the race.  My goal was to clock as many sub 9-minute miles as possible and then hang on to my form to get me to the finish line.  Felt comfortable from start to finish this year.  There was a steep incline in the middle of Mile 3 so had to adjust my stride to ensure I did not lose much momentum going up.  I broke my sub 9-minute streak here but felt good once I made it to the top.  Made up a few seconds on the descent but not enough to keep me under 9 minutes for Mile 3.  Took advantage of the first water stop just before the Mile 4 marker—new COVID protocols do not allow open containers so we were provided sealed bottled water during the race.  I got back to running comfortably after the water stop and decided to see how much I had left in the tank.  Happy to see my times did not drop off as I got deeper into the race.  I knew at the Mile 5 marker I would not beat Lauren’s time but had a good race going and a new PR was within reach. 

Crossed the finish line strong with a new PR of 55:57. Erased close to a minute off my 2020 10k time. 

I am happy with my race results and conditioning at this point of the year.  Will look to incorporate speed training to increase my endurance and help keep and maintain my pace for the next race.  I am not projected to run another race until the OUC Half Marathon in December.  Track Shack has a 5k scheduled in Winter Park in April—thinking about coming back to the Orlando area and run that one.  The course is flat and may set-up for another PR for me to lower my 5k time—we will see how it goes. 

FYI—I added Tart Cherry juice to my prerace routine and believe it helped my performance from start to finish.  I did not experience a lactic acid build up during the race or soreness after. 

Give it a try:  https://cheribundi.com/

“I chose running as my therapy”.

(Dean Karnazes)