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)

The desire to go home

Home

“Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in”.

(Robert Frost)

COVID-19 has turned a lot of life little pleasures into a HUGE deal.  Things we took for granted in 2019 quickly morphed into things we were advised not to do in 2020 and beyond.

The concept of going home on the surface is a rather benign thing.  The pandemic has made this a potential life and death decision—never thought I would say that, but it is true.

My Walk into the Future revolves around my adventures and travel to places I want to visit.  The one place I do not get to visit as much as I would like is home—Jasper, Florida.  I am not getting all nostalgic because I cannot visit my hometown.  My desire to go home centers around visiting with my mom and family.  I am sure there are other folks who make the decision to visit family or not based on a fear of COVID-19. 

The fear of being a possible transmitter of the virus is real and I do not want to be the person that brings the virus home. 

My hope is the vaccine process will allow everyone to get back to the things they love doing.  Happy to report my mom completed the two shot COVID-19 vaccine series along with an uncle, multiple aunts, and family friends.  Completing these shots gave everyone a sense of relief and a tangible sign things are getting better.  Fully understand there is more work to do with the vaccine, but this is a level of progress.

Got a chance to go home this weekend to visit with my folks.  There was nothing special happening this weekend, but it was an opportunity to visit family, relax and get some good food.  This was my first 2021 visit and it was great getting back to see the crew.  Most visits I have a long project to-do list, but my mom gave me a break this trip with no projects requested.  My brother laughed when he found out I had some free time without my normal project load.  I am sure there will be projects on my next visit but enjoyed not having to pull out a ladder, drill, or hammer to get things done around the house.

I will pull out my pressure washer on my next trip to get my annual house washing done.  I have pressured washed my mom and grandmother’s houses for the past 15 years.  It is time for that project to get completed—like to do this before the Florida heat and humidity return.  Takes me a full day with both houses but I enjoy this project because I get to see immediate results when I am done.

These things may not be huge to others but being able to work on projects, see my family and relax in my hometown are the things I love about going home.  COVID-19 has taken a lot of things away from us, but it has not taken the concept of HOME away from us.  We must remain smart and safe to keep everyone moving forward during this phase of the pandemic.

What do you miss about home?  When do you think you will be able to return?

Home by Daughtry:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bnX-6sJZBw

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition”.

(James Baldwin)

Clearwater Beach…

“The beach…the only place where salt lowers your blood pressure”.

(Pinterest)

The new year has renewed my sense of adventure again.  Nothing too wild but decided to make a trek west over to Clearwater Beach.  I have friends who have been telling me how great Clearwater Beach is, but I never made the drive to see for myself.

That all changed this past weekend.  Decided to take a weekend flyer and just book a hotel and then drive over.  Seemed simple enough and it was! 😊

My day started with an impromptu 5k in Fort Pierce.  A colleague from work casually mentioned he belongs to the local Kiwanis organization and they were hosting a 5k the next day (Saturday).  I normally do my long runs on Saturdays but told him to send me the registration instructions so I can research the race.  He sent me everything I needed to research and register for the race.  Turns out the 5k course covers most of my normal Tuesday and Thursday training route so I was already familiar with the course.  Decided to register Friday afternoon for the race on Saturday morning—did not figure I needed to do much mental or physical preparation since I was running the area anyway.

Happy to report I was able to run a respectable (for me) 28:04 official time for the 5k.  I am especially happy with this time since we had to cross (over and back) the Seaway Drive bridge which has steep inclines.  First mile was 8:38, second mile 9:18 and third mile 9:20.  The second and third miles had bridge inclines so happy I was able to hold it together on both.  NOTE:  I felt good throughout and see faster times with a flatter course in my future.

I found out online I placed second in my age group.  I did not stick around for the awards presentation since I had to get on the road to drive over to Clearwater beach.

Left Fort Pierce heading for my destination soon after I completed the 5k.  Wanted to maximize much of the day to explore and walk on the famed beach.  I had already booked my hotel and completed early check-in using the Marriott Bonvoy application.

The drive over to the west coast of Florida was simple.  Just needed to follow directions provided by Google maps and I did not have issues with traffic.  Made good time without having to speed—enjoyed the route and seeing new scenery on the trip.

Arrived in Clearwater Beach early afternoon and made my way to my hotel.  Check-in was a breeze considering I did early check-in before arrival.  Got myself settled in my room and added another layer of clothing on because it turns out I picked the coldest day of 2021 to go to the beach—oh well, it was still a great experience. 😊

My hotel was one block away from the beach so made the short walk over and made my way onto the famed Clearwater Beach.  My plan was to walk the beach and take in the scenery while getting some pictures.  Mission accomplished.

Explored a few shops on the main drag, Mandalay Avenue.  Most of the shops catered to the tourists who pour onto Clearwater Beach daily.  There are plenty of restaurants, hotels, bars, and shopping options within walking distance to the beach.

Made my way to the Salt Cracker Fish Camp for a late lunch.  Nice little spot located in the marina district.  I was able to eat and watch the charter boats come in and out of the harbor.  The Salt Cracker Fish Camp has a great menu to select from, but I decided to go with the Jumbo Fried Shrimp dinner.  Will try the Shrimp and Grits on my next visit.  Recommend visiting this spot for the views and food.

The only Clearwater beach spot I found live music was the Salty Crab North Beach.  Small little place the locals prefer but the food options are unlimited.  There were only 10 people there when I visited so decided to grab a beer and check out the food menu.  They have a huge selection, but I decided to build my own pizza.  It was a great decision—the pizza was outstanding!  Visited the Salty Crab the following morning for breakfast.  Again, had a fantastic meal there and the coffee was amazing.  Will try a crab dish on my next visit to the Salty Crab North Beach.

Did a little more beach walking after breakfast prior to driving back to Fort Pierce.  This was a short weekend trip, but I was able to maximize my time on Clearwater beach.  I will make a point to get back over there so I can get more time to explore—may even take a dolphin sightseeing tour for a new adventure.

Great weekend trip! 😊

Where have you wanted to visit?  When will you make the trip?  Thanks!

Irie!

“Bucket list: #1 beach, #2 more beach”.

(Pinterest.co.uk)

Itching to race again!

Oviedo trail3

“Run because zombies will eat the untrained first”.

(Zombie apocalypse survival guide)

We all know COVID-19 wrecked a lot in 2020.  Our lives have changed and how we get things done may never be the same.  That is not a complaint but just a simple observation of how the pandemic impacts our daily lives.

One thing I got excited about in 2020 was the prospects of being able to run races again.  Most run organizations completely shut down their in-person races and pivoted to the virtual race format.  Took a bit to get use to but runners started signing up for virtual races to compete in the COVID-19 world.  I signed up and ran a few but it just did not give me the same competitive feel as the in-person racing. 

I was more than happy to sign-up for a local 5k with new COVID-19 safety protocols in October 2020.  Felt safe with how the race organizers kept runners apart before and after the race.  The staggered starts for everyone allowed the runners to maintain proper physical distance and still enjoy the race process.  Felt good throughout the race and did not worry about safety once we got started.  The same protocols were in-place after the race—nothing was handed to us—everything was prepackaged and unopened (bagels, water, granola bars, etc.). The COVID-19 initiative should remain even when the pandemic starts to wane—the race world needed to look at food handling protocols and now we know there is a better way to handle after race activities.

The Track Shack running club in Orlando is one of my favorite run organizers and great people work there.  Track Shack made the adjustment to virtual races to keep people in Central Florida running.  I did not sign up for any of their virtual races but was excited to watch people send in pictures from their virtual races.  Track Shack continued to look for ways to get runners back on courses safely.

Happy they were able to get clearance from the City of Orlando and Orange County to bring back in-person racing in time for the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon.  I have run this race multiple times and it provides a flat course that winds through downtown Orlando neighborhoods.  I projected to run the Rock N Rock Half marathon in San Antonio as my December race at the beginning of the year, but COVID-19 had other plans.  The OUC Half was a perfect replacement race and allowed me to run fast again.  I did not target a personal record (PR) but just wanted to get back out and race with other runners and enjoy the process.  Never thought running 13.1 miles would be something I craved but it is true—I am a runner now! 😊

Decided to get creative with my training program and expand my running options.  Fort Pierce does not have the same running trail system as Tallahassee or the Orlando area.  I can get some good runs in but mostly on sidewalks where I encounter traffic.  Never been a fan of running around traffic but make it work based on where I live.  I needed to get in some double digit runs so decided to look north and tackle one of my old trails in the Orlando area. 

The Cross Seminole Trail is one I have trained and raced in the past when I lived in Oviedo, Florida.   Made up my mind to just head back to Oviedo and get some training done on a shady trail without traffic.  Happy to report the trail was everything I hoped for and needed!

Started my run with the intent to get in 10 miles on the training run—5 miles out and 5 miles back.  The weather was 64 and sunny when I started my run—perfect October day to run in Florida!  Did not have an intended time for my run—just wanted to get out and put in work and enjoy the trail, weather, and the process.  The Cross Seminole Trail is a multi-use trail used by bikers, walkers, skaters, and runners.  It is always great seeing so many active people out enjoying the trail.

I was able to go out with an easy pace for the first 3 miles.  Got lucky when another runner joined the trail fun and passed me at a good pace.  Decided to leverage this to see if I could keep up with the pace—it is always good to have a run goal so decided my goal was to keep her within sight and potentially pass at some point.  Kept this process up for the next 2 miles and finally passed her at my 5-mile point.  Runners are a friendly bunch, so we exchanged runner talk as we both continued to get our runs in.  Turns out she was out for a 10-mile run to get prepared for the OUC Half Marathon too.  Small world!  She was also excited the OUC race was back as an in-person option.

I felt good at the 5-mile point so decided to extend my run a bit and set out to max out with a 12-mile run.  The cooler temperatures and shady trail had a lot to do with how good I felt while out for my run.  Kept pressing forward to the 6-mile point and then gave myself a slight break by walking for a bit before turning around to head back to the starting point.  Running allows an opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding area.  Noticed a lot of new construction and growth in the area since the last time I was there.  My run took me from downtown Oviedo to downtown Winter Spring via the trail systems.  Great way to explore an area without worrying about traffic or getting in anyone’s way.

Turned around to head back after walking for about 5 minutes.  I was not in a rush so just enjoyed the weather, nature, and the trail.  Took several pictures of the trail on the way back so my return pace was more leisurely than the first part of my run.  No worries, 12 miles is still 12 miles! 😊

Will look for additional ways to enhance my half marathon training.  May try to leverage the Cross Seminole Trail again—will just have to determine the best day and time to head back to Oviedo.  Excited to have races to train for again!  It is a small step towards normalcy, but it is promising and will allow me to get my competitive fix again.

More training to do but I am headed in a great direction!

What do you crave for your sense of normalcy?

“Make sure your worst enemy does not live between your own ears”.

“Laird Hamilton”

Success in Black and White podcast

Success

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“A podcast is a great way to develop relationships with hard-to-reach people”.

(Tim Paige)

The Walk into the Future blog has provided me with multiple opportunities to share my words, thoughts, and experiences with others. 

I started this journey in 2018 with an idea of the direction I wanted to go but had no idea the process would be so much fun for me.  The ability to be creative and explore adventures are two key elements that allow me to continue to produce content for the blog.  I love the comments, texts, and emails I receive when something I write speaks to others—I guess you can say I am finding my voice as I develop content.

One area that puts a huge smile on my face is when one of my tree branches reaches out and want to produce content with me.  My smile gets even bigger when the request comes from TWO tree branches! 😊

My tree branches, Darryl and April Lovett have a successful platform:  Success in Black and White. 

Proud of these two as they tackle issues others may shy away from, but they have fun as they do it.  Love the fact they move forward as a POWER couple; their energy is contagious and makes you want to get up and make a difference in the world.

They asked me to join them for a podcast episode and I immediately said yes.  Saw this as a perfect way to catch up with them and share a little bit of Walk into the Future with their growing audience.  Please note, recording the episode was more fun than I ever imagined—well done Darryl and April!

We were able to catch up during the podcast and cover a lot of content in the one-hour timeframe.  They asked great questions and were not afraid to follow-up for clarity.  The question that really got me energized was:  What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

I have been asked this question in multiple ways but really enjoy the opportunity to continue to share my WHY.  My why is to leave everyone better than when I met them.  It took me a few years to put this down into a simple statement, but it has been with me for some time now.

I was able to dive a bit deeper while speaking with Darryl and April during the podcast.  My desire to help others started for me in high school.  I had a Guidance Counselor who did not even try to help me plan my life after high school.  I had several friends who got excellent advice from this same counselor, but she only told me to join the military.  We never discussed how to apply to colleges, how to apply for financial aid or anything about further education and the doors it would open.  Fast forward and I hold three degrees without ever having a student loan—so maybe it was a good thing my high school guidance counselor did not help me with the process. 😊

My why is driven by the lack of support I received from my guidance counselor.  I provide mentorship to everyone that crosses my path because I do not want them to have to struggle because I would not take the time to help them.  I wanted to make sure Darryl, April and their audience understood how important this is for me.  The passion I display when working with my tree branches and potential branches is because I want to help them grow.  Sounds cliché but it is something I live every day.

A funny but true aspect of how I developed my why is I do not remember the name of my high school guidance counselor.  Imagine, this lady fueled my passion with her lack of attention to my future and I do not remember her name, but she has allowed me to touch so many lives in a positive way.  Good things come out of bad situations.  Please note, I would not change a thing—I seem to be doing okay with this Walk into the Future journey. 

Discovered during the podcast episode April also considers herself a running tourist!  We got a chance to discuss why I run and the positive impacts it has on my daily journey.  Hoping we can all get back to running, exploring, and traveling soon—there are still races out there to run.

So, I repeat the question Darryl and April asked me:

What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

Thank you, Darryl and April for allowing me to come on your podcast!  It was fun! 😊 Irie!

“Podcasting is great.  Total freedom”.

(Bill Burr)