“If your ship does not come in, swim out to meet it”.
I always look for a clever quote to get me started with the writing process. There are not a lot of funny boating quotes or much to pick from, so I decided to go with reliable Jonathan Winters to get me moving.
My Walk into The Future allows me to chronicle adventures and outings I get to enjoy. I get out and do these things then have to go back and drop a few lines to make sure I capture the moments to share with my readers.
My latest adventure was an excursion with the good folks at the Indian River Lagoon and Swampland Boat tour. This outfit is conveniently located in downtown Fort Pierce, so I did not have far to drive to get this party started.
I have walked past the ticket office multiple times but never made the time to stop and purchase a ticket for the boat tour. This all changed the week I came back from Jamaica. I still had a few days left on my vacation so wanted to keep exploring even when I got back to Fort Pierce.
Joined about 10 folks who were waiting to get on the boat on a sunny afternoon. Luckily for us the boat is covered because the Florida sun was a bit warm on the day we went out. It is always muggy here so not sitting in direct sunlight for 2 hours was a welcomed aspect of the boat tour.
The boat captain tried to entertain us throughout the tour by identifying points of interest and places where he has seen dolphins and manatees. He did everything he could to keep us entertained but we did not see much in the water. There was one manatee in the water feeding so we circled it a bit so folks could get some good pictures.
The rest of the trip was a nice boat ride up and down the Indian River where we got a chance to see other boaters, kayakers, and lots of folks fishing. The water was calm and peaceful, so this part of the boat tour was great.
Discovered a few kayak rental outfits directly on the river. The boat tour provided a different vantage point for these outfitters so now I know who they are and how to get to them. I caught the kayak bug while living in Tallahassee but did not have a go to place in Fort Pierce to rent a kayak and explore. I plan to get back down to the river and leverage my newfound knowledge so I can bring a new adventure to the Walk into the Future blog. Be on the lookout for my new kayak adventures. 😊
“Only the guy who is not rowing has time to rock the boat”.
“Of all the races, there is not better stage for heroism than a marathon”.
The Walk into the Future blog is based exploring opportunities, adventures and then sharing them with my readers.
I have tapped danced around the concept to run a full marathon for a few years now. Well, no more tap dancing, I am fully engaged in the marathon training process and just completed Week 5 of an 18-week training program.
My targeted race is the 2022 Palm Beaches Garden of Life Marathon in West Palm Beach, Florida. Wanted to pick a race that was close to home and with a flat course—check and check. I have friends who have run this marathon and they say it provides the perfect course, backdrop, and time of the year to tackle the 26.2 miles. Excited and terrified at the same time but my training program will get me to the start line and beyond. 😊
I selected the 18-week training program to allow myself time to prepare for this major life event mentally and physically. There are multiple training plans available (12-weeks, 16-weeks, etc.) but I went for the longer plan to ensure I had time to train with a buffer.
This training plan starts out with lower mileage than most people would think of considering this is preparation for a marathon. The following are the total weekly miles in the plan:
Week #1: 19 miles
Week #2: 20 miles
Week #3: 17 miles
Week #4: 23 miles
Week #5: 24 miles
Again, the training plan is building up base mileage, but I exceeded the prescribed miles each week so far since I have been training for half-marathons throughout 2022. I did not go over the prescribed miles by much but wanted to ensure I put in the work to lead to a successful and enjoyable marathon in December.
My plan calls for incremental mileage increases as I prepare my mind and body for the challenge of completing a 26.2-mile race in December. I complete my long runs on Saturdays with my longest run of 20-miles coming in Week #15. I complete my long runs in Fort Pierce on Hutchinson Island where I do not have an issue of crossing traffic. It’s the same route I run to prepare for my half marathons, but I am discovering unique points of interests on the route as I run out further due to my increased mileage. My long runs are completed at a slower pace to ensure I can start and finish—this is recommended for all long runs.
I just invested in a running hydration vest so I can carry water with me as I extend my runs. Hydration is vitally important considering I am running in the August heat and humidity in Florida.
Looking forward to seeing how the hydration vest enhances my training as I continue to prep for the 2022 Palm Beaches Garden of Life Marathon.
FYI—the next update will come in Week #10 of the training program.
“When you run a marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time”.
“Running teaches us that we are capable of so much more than we ever imagined”.
(Patti Sue Plumer)
The 2022 running season started for me with the 2022 Track Shack Celebration of Running 5k in August. I have run this event multiple times and view it as a great way to launch my running season and test my fitness levels prior to the half marathon schedule. An added angle for me this year is this event allows me to combine the 5k miles within my long run for the weekend.
I officially started my training program two weeks ago to prepare for my first full marathon on 12/11/2022. My program calls for a long run on Saturdays so used these 5k miles as a warmup and then got down to the longer portion of my run while I was in the Orlando area.
Traveled to Orlando on Friday after work this year with designs to pick up my race bib and t-shirt prior to the race on Saturday morning. I had enough Marriott Bonvoy points for a free night so took advantage of this and stayed at my favorite Marriott property in Oviedo, Florida. There were locations a bit closer to the race sight, but I planned to leverage the trails in Oviedo so decided to just stay there and drive a bit for race day.
August in Florida is hot and humid, but the weather was a bit cooler this year. I was not ready for the humidity in 2021 but my new training focus has me running several days per week and acclimating to the heat a lot better than last year.
Made my way to the Orlando Science Center on race day to get my bib and allow time to warmup before the race. There were a lot more runners this year as people are starting to come back and enjoy the running communities again. I got a chance to catch up with a few runners I have known for years and made sure my legs were ready to move me around the course. I completed several rounds of stretches, lunges, and hip swings to bring everything into alignment to avoid injuries while running.
Track Shack allows runners to self-identify their projected pace at the start line, so this makes the start of races interesting to say the least. I say interesting because you will have people who plan to walk the 5k at the very front and this creates traffic faster runners must maneuver through. It also causes folks to bump into each other, but no one got hurt this year, but it is a weird dynamic. I always line up in the 8 minute per mile group with the intention of using that pace as a guide for my race plans—sometimes it works. 😊
My marathon training so far has focused on building up my base miles, so I have not done much speed work. I race at a faster pace than I train so know I can speed up on race day—it’s just a matter of determining how fast I can go based on how my body feels and the conditions.
Decided not to focus on a specific time but to run as fast and safely as possible. Wanted to enjoy the course, the process and just being back around the Orlando running community. There were several folks I followed as pacers and this race was a lot of fun for me this year.
My time was 29:35 which is a 9:31 per minute pace—not superfast or slow, just steady for me.
Mile 1 = 9:17
Mile 2 = 9:45
Mile 3 = 9:37
Mile .1 = :58
I was able to finish the final portion of the race with a sprint to the finish line and felt good—I had another gear but did not fully engage for the race. I collected my medal, got water, fruit and my complimentary beer—yes, we drink beer at 8 am. I got a few pictures in the race village to document the day and prepared for the next phase of my training program.
I left the Orlando Science Center and drove over to Oviedo to take advantage of the Cross Seminole Trail again.
The trail provided a great and shaded place to complete the next 6 miles of my weekend training plan. I parked in downtown Oviedo and walked over to the trail to begin the journey towards 9 total miles for the day.
The Cross Seminole Trail is professionally maintained and is used by walkers, runners, bicyclist, and skaters. The people I encountered all had smiles on their faces and greeted me. It was great being back on a trail with folks again. My runs in Fort Pierce are done mostly on sidewalks and there is not a lot of folks to interact with—not complaining just stating facts.
My goal on the Cross Seminole Trail was to run out for 3 miles, regroup and then come back for a total of 6 miles on the trail. Mission complete. Most of the trail run was uneventful but at one point there was a truck parked in the street blocking a portion of the trail. I did not understand why the truck was there but quickly discovered the driver’s pit-bull got out of the truck somehow and was roaming the trail. The driver was trying to get his dog back into the vehicle, but the dog was not ready to go yet. This caused a bit of a scare to folks on the trail, but the dog was just excited and happy to be out and about. It started to run with me on the trail, so I stopped and turned around to lead it back to the owner. Never imagined my long run would include me directing a dog back to an owner—fun day! 😊
Completed my run with no problems and made my way back to my vehicle so I could get out of my sweaty clothing. Made my way back to the hotel and then got lunch at Bahama Breeze which is one of my favorite places to eat. Got some quick shopping in at Dick’s Sporting Goods and then got on the road to head back to Fort Pierce.
This was a quick trip over to Orlando for the 5k but eventful. I will leverage my 5k efforts into my training program to continue to get faster and mentally ready for my full marathon in December.
Decided to activate my Walk into the Future and make my way back down to Negril, Jamaica in July.
I made a point to visit Negril on an annual basis prior to COVID-19 and this was my first trip back down since May 2019. I felt comfortable when I traveled out to Portland, Oregon for the NACE2022 conference back in June and got the urge to get down to Jamaica since COVID restrictions were scaled back.
I went back and forth on when to travel to Jamaica but decided to just look at hotel and air prices to determine the best time for me to travel. Found dates that were compatible with my work and life schedules and booked a trip to my favorite spot, Samsara, which sits on the cliffs on the West End of Negril. I found Samsara years ago and always stay at this resort when I’m in Jamaica. The location is great for snorkeling, catching sunsets and experiencing Jamaica in a more authentic manner than staying at a large resort and never leaving the property.
The staff at Samsara is great and most remember me when I return which makes me feel like a family member.
My overarching goal for this trip was to get down to Negril and relax. Yes, I could have found a spot closer to home to relax but the Irie vibes in Jamaica kept calling me. I made sure to pack my snorkel gear since I wanted to spend as much time in the water as possible on this trip—mission accomplished.
Arrived at Sanger International Airport after my 2-hour JetBlue flight from Orlando. Made my way through customs, got my luggage, and headed to the Jamaica Tours counter to catch my shuttle to Samsara. The airport is about an hour and a half away from Samsara, so I got a Red Stripe beer at the airport and got on the shuttle for my ride over to Negril.
Samsara has gone through a remodel since my last time down there. They added a couple new buildings, a new infinity pool and deck overlooking the water. These additions were a complete hit with me as they brought a new level of adventure to the resort.
My room was in the newest guest building and was steps away from the infinity pool. This view created some unique pictures for me with the sunsets bouncing off the pool and the ocean. I did not get in the pool but appreciated the addition and several other guests were regulars. Guess not everyone goes to Jamaica to get in the ocean. 😊
I did not book the all-inclusive packages since I wanted to explore and not have to be at the resort at a determined time for a meal. Also, there are other options close by and I like to experience different venues for my meals.
One of my regular spots on this trip was the 3 Dives Jerk Centre on the West End. This spot has some of the best jerk chicken on the island and the price is fantastic. I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods but the seasoning they use is great and they provide the jerk sauce on the side so I can add more or not. Mostly, I don’t add sauce and just eat the jerk chicken with rice and peas.
I made another stop at the Rock House to get lunch and had the grilled snapper, peas and rice and plantain. The chef at the Rock House has an international reputation for great Jamaican dishes and I’m never disappointed when I dine there. The rum punch is pretty good too!
There was not as much live reggae available as past trips but believe this is because the island is still adjusting to having tourist back. Legends on 7 Mile Beach is a sister resort to Samsara and they host a live reggae band on Sunday nights. This is a new music spot from the last time I was in Negril and the band was good. The larger venues had DJ music which was fine but I’m a huge fan of live music so gravitated more to the bands/groups that were playing. Hoping the live music continues to come back since I’m already planning my next Negril trip.
I was able to snorkel daily in the morning before leaving the resort for my food and music excursions. The water off the cliffs is calm in the mornings and provide a perfect place to float and see a wide variety of fish. There were no jelly fish this time, so this allowed me to stay in the water for extended periods of time. There were only a few other folks in the water, so it felt like I had the ocean to myself. 😊 Plan to get out to the reefs my next time down to explore a bit more.
I was able to get 4 full days during this trip and enjoyed every minute I was back in Negril. Hope the become a regular visitor again so I can enjoy the irie vibes, food, and great views.
Summertime is conference season for everyone working in Higher Education Career Services. We have multiple organizations that provide fantastic opportunities to network with colleagues.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), Southern Association of Colleges and Employers (SoACE) and Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (Florida ACE) are three of the organizations I have membership or participate in professional development. My current role aligns more with NACE these days, but I stay up to date with SoACE and Florida ACE. I have a lot of my tree branches who are extremely active with the regional and state associations. I am proud to say one of my tree branches is the current President of SoACE. I have others coming up through the ranks so happy to watch them grow daily.
The Florida ACE annual conference was held in Jupiter, Florida this year and several of my friends and tree branches attended. I was not an official attendee for this conference since I was just returning from the NACE conference in Portland. I received several texts and emails from my folks in attendance that they wanted me to come down for the conference to say hello.
Decided to drive down to Jupiter for the last day of the conference which was a Friday. My current school is closed on Fridays during the summer so got up with the intent to catch the last portions of the conference and get a chance to catch up with my folks. Jupiter is about a 50-minute drive south from Fort Pierce so made my way down.
Arrived at the conference location and located the Florida ACE group on the second floor. They were wrapping up the conference with awards and door prizes, so I hung back to avoid disrupting the conference, but my friends spotted me towards the back of the room. Got a few smiles and waves but this did not distract from the conference.
I was able to see and catch up with friends once the conference ended. It was great catching up with people I have not seen in a while. Some of this is because of COVID and some was because I moved down to Fort Pierce. Either way, this was a fantastic opportunity to see some great people and reconnect! 😊
The original Square Grouper is in Jupiter, and I had never visited this location before. I am a regular at the Fort Pierce Square Grouper and wanted to check out the OG location for myself. FYI, one of my friends refers to the Jupiter location as the OG (Original Gangster) location so decided to join in on the fun.
Google maps got me to the Square Grouper in about 10 minutes from the conference hotel which was down the street.
Made my way into the OG location to see how/if it was different from the Fort Pierce location.
The bar setups were very similar, and the food menu was the exact same—not surprising. The difference I saw was what was beyond/behind Square Grouper. The Fort Pierce location sits on the Fort Pierce inlet and is great for watching boats on the water. The Jupiter location has a dock directly behind it with boats sitting. Not a horrible look but the views are almost night and day for me. Love the freedom and great pictures I get at the Fort Pierce location.
I’m sure the Jupiter location has a group of regulars who love their views, but I would not trade the Fort Pierce view, vibe and feel for anything. Plus, the Fort Pierce Square Grouper is 15 minutes from where I live as opposed to having to drive 50 minutes to Jupiter. FYI—the Jupiter location seems to get better live music options since it is closer to south Florida and the Miami music scene.
Dictionary.com defines adventure as an unusual and exciting, experience or activity.
Well, my Walk into the Future provides plenty of opportunities for me to live out adventures.
I wrote about my journey to Atlantic City, New Jersey for the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon and time spent with my friend Lauren Apgar.
I also wrote in an earlier post about my refrigerator magnet collection and how I make sure to get one from new locations. My time in the Air Force gave me the travel bug and I have visited 37 states so far. I review my list yearly to identify how/when I can visit a state I have never been to so I can cross it off my list.
Where I’m I headed with this? Great question!
Delaware is about 85 miles from Atlantic City, and you are correct, I had never been to Delaware. I did not know if I would ever be back in this area so decided to venture over to Delaware to explore a bit and then get my refrigerator magnet. My original reason for being in this area was to run another half marathon but decided to take advantage of the proximity to Delaware and get a visit in so I could cross the state off my list.
Made my way back to the hotel after all the half marathon activities and breakfast with Lauren and Reese. Needed to get some rest and get off my feet for a little bit and recharge myself for the next adventure.
I double checked the distance to Wilmington, Delaware one more time to determine if this was an adventure I really wanted to take on. I needed to visit Delaware to add to my states visited list so did some leg stretches, grabbed some water, and got in my rental car to head west towards Delaware—my magnet and adventure awaited. 😊
The route from Atlantic City to Wilmington was a straight shot but needed to drive through Philadelphia to get to Wilmington. Took the Atlantic City Expressway West from Egg Harbour, New Jersey. This route took me directly through Philadelphia and I got a chance to see downtown Philly from a fantastic vantage point.
The Walt Whitman Bridge is a suspension bridge across the Delaware River and leads directly across the state line. The views of downtown Philly while driving on the bridge were great. Wished I had the ability to get a few pictures from this vantage point, but I was driving. You will have to take my word for how spectacular the views are OR visit Philly yourself and drive across the Walt Whitman Bridge. 😊
Traffic was not too bad as I made my way through Philly and then ventured a bit south towards Delaware. I leveraged Google Maps to get me to my destination and had no trouble getting into Wilmington.
I did not have a set adventure in mind but wanted to explore a bit since I made the drive over. Followed Google map directions towards downtown Wilmington to get a better view of the city. The only thing I knew about Wilmington is Joe Biden has a residence there but had no interest in finding this. Drove around downtown a bit and discovered some pretty rough neighborhoods in the city. Never thought of Wilmington having an inner city look/feel but it does—lesson learned.
Decided to find a spot where I could collect my refrigerator magnet and then head back to meet Lauren and Reese for dinner. Found a shopping plaza with multiple stores and ventured into a Hallmark store to search for Delaware souvenirs. Told the salesperson what I was looking for and she directed me to the rack with Delaware swag. She asked if I was interested in the Biden residence and seemed shocked when I said no. Guess visiting the residence is a big thing when people visit Wilmington—magnets are a bigger deal for me! 😊
Got my magnets and headed back towards Atlantic City. Made good time and was able to meet Lauren and Reese for dinner on our last night in the area.
Happy I could get over to Delaware to add to my list of states visited and collect my magnet. I have already signed up for the 2023 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon so I will be back in the area next year. I have no need to visit Wilmington again. 😊
What adventures do you have lined up for the rest of 2022?
“Do more than just exist”.
FYI—the 2023 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon has been cancelled. The Rock N Roll folks decided not to continue to host the race. Luckily, I made it to Atlantic City in 2022.
The 2022 NACE Conference was held in Portland, Oregon this year. This was our first in-person conference since 2019 and there was a lot of excited and anxious people in attendance. Safety protocols were taken to keep us safe, but you can never truly feel safe with over 1,700 people in attendance.
I have been a member of NACE for the past 15 years and have continued to look for ways to expand my role within the organization. I have served in multiple roles which have allowed me to grow a network with professionals across the world.
I am currently finishing up my role as a Co-Chair for the Mentorship Enhancement Task Force. I received a phone call from the incoming NACE President in July 2021 to talk about the task force and the importance he placed on mentorship. He asked me to Co-Chair this critical task force and work to revamp the program and increase awareness/participation for NACE members.
Fast forward to the NACE conference in Portland and my task force was provided a session to discuss the work we have been doing for the past 12 months and highlight the improvements we recommend to the Board of Directors.
I have attended past NACE conferences in Anaheim, Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, and Orlando but this was my first opportunity to present to my colleagues. We were given a prime slot on the second day of the conference to present our work and recruit new mentors into the program.
My Co-Chair who is based out of St. Louis, Missouri and I spent multiple Microsoft Teams virtual sessions going over the presentation format, slides, and flow. We decided to give a big overview of the program changes and then jump into a panel discussion with current NACE mentors and mentees to get their perspective on the impact of mentoring for each of them.
We soon discovered the NACE conference committee booked our session in the LARGEST room at the event. We had no preconceived perspective on how many people would attend our session, but we did not imagine we could fill every seat in this large space. NOTE—we did not get close to filling all seats. 😊
No worries! We had a very good crowd, and the folks were able to get a more personal touch from my co-chair and I. These folks were able to ask the panelist questions and we had on the spot sign-ups for new mentors and mentees.
We shared the work of the task force and identified our strategies and marketing plans to create a world class mentoring program.
The new program will have 3 mentoring layers:
1 on 1 mentoring (traditional)
Reverse mentoring (new)
Mentoring Circles (new)
Mentoring research identifies Reverse mentoring and Mentoring Circles are unique ways to increase mentoring awareness and participation. We discussed the benefits of each mentoring model and introduced the software we recommended to match mentors with mentees. The current matching process is manual and does not consider the demographics of the mentor or mentee. This software matching process was a big hit with the NACE board and folks in attendance during our session.
The marketing plan will utilize all social media platforms and the NACE website to promote the changes and encourage NACE members to join the program.
I was excited to see the NACE President, David Ong in attendance during our session. This was his pet project for the year, and he was extremely happy with our progress and excited to roll out the new program to the general membership.
David gave us a by-name shoutout during the general session late that day to thank us for the work we put in over the year. This was the highlight of the conference for me and got more members wanting to discuss the mentoring program and to sign up. I walked around with sign-up sheets for the rest of the conference and got many mentors and mentees signed up.
My official Co-Chair role ends on 7/15/2022 but we still must complete one more project before our term ends. I have decided to take a year off from serving on another NACE committee or task force. This was my second national commitment to the career field in the past two years—time to take a small break and concentrate on my local duties.
I plan to get back into the national work of our career field in 2023 by either serving on another committee/task force or taking a larger step up to become a NACE Board Member. This would provide me with additional leverage within the career field as we set policy to keep us relevant.
Yes, I’m still dreaming big! 😊
My 2023 conference travel plans will be less than this year. The 2023 conference will be held in Lake Buena Vista (Disney World) so I do not have to endure another 7 hours of traveling. My travel time over to Disney World will be just over an hour and I don’t have to worry about flight layovers in Salt Lake City or Minneapolis.
Look forward to getting the band back together next year.
“To me, Texas is Austin, a bunch of cool people trying to make a difference”.
My Walk into the Future journey allowed me to venture to Austin, Texas in June to attend the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) annual conference.
I was nominated for an Excellence in Leadership award by my institution and my trip to Austin was needed to get recognized and receive the award. An expense paid trip to Austin was a welcomed addition to the Walk into the Future adventures.
I visited Austin multiple times when I lived in Texas during my time in the Air Force. My first assignment was at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth. I returned to Texas a few years later for an assignment at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio. I always loved to explore and made multiple visits to Austin for football games, track meets and to just take in the music scene while stationed in Texas. Never imagined I would be back in the city for a leadership conference decades later but that’s the catalyst for this latest adventure.
I did not know much about NISOD but quickly discovered this is a huge organization within the 2-year college space. My institution has been a member for years and supports the overall mission of NISOD.
The annual conference is held at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin. This location put conference attendees in the middle of a great environment for culture, food, music, and sightseeing. Yes, I made a point to exploit each of these opportunities.
The hotel was within walking distance to the state capitol, The University of Texas, Congress Avenue Bridge, restaurants, and music. Austin is designed to be a walkable city and has an impressive bike/scooter street setup. A lot of the residents and visitors in downtown Austin jump on electric scooters to get around town. I did not jump on a scooter but leveraged walking to different Austin venues.
Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ was a frequent stop for me on this trip. I received recommendations prior to arriving for this BBQ joint and it was only steps away from the hotel. I made this my first stop in Austin and the food was as good as advertised. The setup is designed for customers to select their meat order which is sliced when ordered. You follow-up with premade side dishes (potato salad, green beans, etc.) and deserts as needed. Meat portions are huge and surprises most people when ordering. I tried multiple selections over my time in Austin but highly recommend the smoke sausage—very good.
Made a few trips over to the 6th Street music venues to listen to live music and experience the Austin music scene. Got a chance to hear a few local bands that were good. This Austin music scene is different than Nashville—there are multiple places to listen to music but it’s not as vast as what Nashville has to offer. The venues were a lot smaller too, so the atmosphere was more laid back as well.
The Texas State capitol was about a mile from the hotel and was easy to reach even with the high Texas temperatures. Decided to venture down to get a few pictures on the capitol grounds and experience the monuments. Explored the grounds and marveled at the architecture of the capitol building. Got a chance to view the monument dedicated to black Texas history and some of the important black pioneers.
The 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon has been in focus for me for the entire year. I targeted this race since I have never run there before, and the course was described as completely flat. I wanted to visit the famed boardwalk and see how my training translated to the course.
Another exciting aspect of running this race was the opportunity to see my tree branch, Lauren Apgar again. Lauren has been a tree branch since our time in the Florida State University’s Career Center. We were able to connect during the 2019 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon and I have not seen her since due to COVID-19. Atlantic City provided an opportunity for us to reconnect and for me to finally meet Reese, her boyfriend.
I signed up for the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon back in June 2021 so had this destination on the running tourist calendar for a while.
I normally fly on Southwest Airlines, but they do not have flights directly into Atlantic City. Flying Southwest Airlines required me to fly into Philadelphia and then drive an hour plus over to Atlantic City. Took a chance and viewed flight options on Expedia and discovered direct flights on Spirit Airlines to Atlantic City from Orlando. The price point for the roundtrip flight was less than a one-way ticket to Philly on Southwest Airlines so Spirit became my airline of choice for this trip. I did not know much about Spirit, but the experience was great for me start to finish.
I flew into Atlantic City on Friday with designs to get use to the area and catch up with Lauren prior to the race on Sunday. My hotel was in Egg Harbor Township which is only 8 miles away from the famed Atlantic City board walk and race start line. Note: I will stay much closer in 2023.
Met Lauren and Reese at Chickie’s and Pete’s which is a local sports bar in the area. Lauren picked this location for us to help with the carb loading process and catch up for missed time. It was great to sit with her and talk about family, friends, and professional growth. The three of us were able to enjoy some good food, beer, and the reunion.
This was Lauren’s first Rock N Roll race experience so wanted to make sure she got the most out of the experience. We agreed to meet at the Atlantic City Convention Center for the EXPO the next morning. I was surprised to see outlet stores downtown as I drove into the heart of the city. I knew there would be casinos, but the outlet stores put a smile on my face since I love shopping outlets.
Lauren, Reese, and I entered the EXPO to check in for the race and visit with the vendors. We were able to navigate the check-in process and make our way to the vendors to check out new equipment, gadgets, and nutritional products.
The first vendor we encountered provided free sessions using the NORMATEK leg compression sleeves. We were able to plug in and enjoy the technology to increase blood flow and relax before race day. The 20-minute session was a highlight of the EXPO—I will have to research these sleeves more and invest in a set soon since my running program is ramping up for the Fall 2022 race season.
We made our way through the EXPO, and I got additional CEP leg compression sleeves. Decided this new color pattern would be a good addition to my collection.
A new feature for this EXPO was gaming tables that were setup to allow participants to try blackjack, roulette, and craps games. Race participants received a $100 coupon to play during the EXPO and we made our way to the roulette table. My favorite number is 15 so played that continually while at the roulette table. I was able to hit 15 once which pays 36 to 1 odds. I was excited to add chips to my growing stack. A few others won as well, and this is where it got interesting. We all assumed we were playing for prizes (water bottle, towel, etc.) but the dealer let us know we were just playing for fun. Most of us went all in with our chips after discovering we were playing just to say we were playing—no money, no prizes, and no glory. 😊
Left the roulette table and got some energy gels before heading out for lunch.
Got the customary EXPO shots most of you expect:
Made our way to Wingcraft Kitchen and Beer Bar for lunch. This restaurant was conveniently across the street from the Convention Center. They have a very nice menu but settled on wings, fries, and beer to continue the carb loading process. Hit the Nike and Gap outlet stores after lunch to pick up some sales before heading back to the hotel for a quick nap.
Had a pasta dinner at Jerry Longo’s which is inside Bally’s casino. Headed back to the hotel to rest up for the big race.
The forecast called for rain and fog most of the weekend and it was spot on. Woke up on race day to thick fog which equals a certain level of humidity. The temperature was in the mid-50s when I woke up, but the fog made it feels a bit warmer—not Florida warm but not exactly what I envisioned for New Jersey in April.
I was able to park and catch the shuttle bus to the start line with minimal issues and met Lauren at the start line prior. Lauren told me on Friday she planned to run with me, and we began to work on our race strategy. I told her my normal routine of running water stop to water stop and to take on fuel throughout the race. This also helps mentally break the half marathon distance into chunks instead of viewing it as one long race.
My plan was to run a smart tactical race and get us to the finish line while enjoying the process of racing. Mission accomplished!
Lauren and I ran the entire race together. I am extremely proud of her effort and perseverance during the race. She was able to set a Personal Record (PR) and took two full minutes off her best time. We crossed the finish line together, but she officially beat me by three seconds based on official times—congrats my friend!