Happy Trails—Running and enjoying new sights!

My current Walk into The Future has allowed me to grow in multiple areas.  I have put an emphasis on my running program to expand my mental and physical capacities.

This extra attention to running provides me with an outlet to explore new places to run, stimulate my mind and to a degree get some sightseeing in.  I have been creative when identifying locations to run to combat the concept of boredom.  I rarely run the same route twice in a week—I’m able to leverage my neighborhood and parks to keep my route from getting stale.  I’ve recently discovered and added local trails to my running routine in my efforts to get faster at the half marathon distance.

St. Marks Trail

My goal to run a half marathon under two hours provides an additional level of motivation to my runs.  My old running routine did not incorporate a ‘true’ long run as part of my training.  I would routinely get a couple 6-mile, or 7-mile runs in before a race but that was the longest distance I put in.  Most running programs identify long runs in the 10-mile to 12-mile distance.  I was introduced to the St. Marks Trail by friends who know this trail would provide me mile options to get a true long run in to help with my training.

The St. Marks Trail is a converted railway that runs from Tallahassee, Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.  The trail is listed as 20 miles long and is extremely flat.  It provides an ideal place to build up mileage and is well marked to keep track of distances.  The trail is maintained by state trail rangers and there are facilities (bathroom, water fountains, rest areas) along the trail which makes it a popular choice for bicycle enthusiasts, runners and walkers.

My longest run to date on the St. Marks Trail is 12 miles…6 out and 6 back.  Enjoyed the concept of not having to ‘map’ out a course and hope it meets the distance I needed for the specific day.  I have designated the St. Marks Trail as my go to location now for my long run days.  The long runs concept was instrumental in getting me ready for the New Orleans Rock and Roll Half Marathon in early February.  Putting additional effort into my long run process prepared me better to perform during the actual race.  I was able to reduce my personal best time down to 2:10:39 (two hours, ten minutes and 39 seconds) official.  Believe my mid-race and late race endurance was enhanced because I now have the capability to incorporate long runs into my training program.

Projecting to incorporate 15-mile runs on the St. Marks Trail to continue to build my endurance, speed and mental approach for the other races I’m registered for later in the year.

Lafayette Heritage_Alford Greenway

The Lafayette Heritage_Alford Greenway (LHAG) trail provides a different challenge from the St. Marks Trail.  I can access the LHAG trail from home so don’t need to get into a car.  I simply lock my door and walk a little less than half a mile and I’m off and running on the trail.  The LHAG trail provides a lot of scenic views as you run through a neighborhood and public park to access the dirt portion of the trail.  This trail then allows you to run dirt trails next to lakes and ponds, so it is a great way to experience nature during a run.  I occasionally see rabbits, hawks and alligators as I work my way deeper into the run.  The terrain changes multiple times which makes it challenging and fun all at the same time.  There are inclines to climb on the trail which makes it a bit harder than the St. Marks Trail.  I normally can get a good 6-mile run in (out and back) for this trail but feel it more because the inclines are very steep.  This is good for building my endurance but does nothing for my speed. 😊  It also helps when I’m in a time crunch—I don’t have to drive anywhere to run—just go out and back and I’m done.

There are other trails nearby to add to my running program.  Will do some additional scouting to identify distances available on these other trails and start running them soon.

Will leverage trail running more as I expand my Walk into The Future!  More to come!

Trail Running

Running Traveler

traveler 2019

2018 allowed me to develop a robust running program as part of my Walk into the Future.  I set an aggressive (for me) goal to increase the number of Half Marathons I would run in 2018.  This newfound aggressive scheduling allowed me to travel to multiple locations and experience 13.1-mile courses in fun and culturally significant places.

Running a race allows you to experience a location in a more intimate manner than simply driving around.  Running provides opportunities to fully engage the city since you don’t have to worry about cars, traffic or obeying signs.  The course gives you the freedom to look around, admire architecture or even stop to take a picture of landmarks.  My goal is to run as fast as possible, but 13.1 miles provides a lot of sightseeing time.

New Orleans, LA. (March 2018)

My first 2018 race was the Humana Rock ‘N’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon.  I’ve been to New Orleans multiple times, but this was my first time running a race in the city.  Running friends identified this as a fun race and a fast course since New Orleans is relatively flat.  The race and the course really lived up to the prerace hype.  Everything about New Orleans is festive and the course sponsors, volunteers and cheering crowd made sure all runners enjoyed their time in New Orleans.  New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras and having a good time.  A lot of runners use this race as an extended opportunity to get dressed up in costume.  You see all sorts of outfits for this race and beads are everywhere.

The race starts downtown and winds throughout the city.  We spent a lot of time on tree lined St. Charles Avenue.  Residents, business owners, spectators and brass bands lined the street to cheer runners.  There are a few ‘beer stands’ available even though it’s 7:30 am—of course you have to get a beer in New Orleans.  The rest of the race winds through the Garden District, the French Quarter and finishes at the Fairgrounds.  The race after party is held at the Fairgrounds with music, food, beer, snacks and hanging out with runners from around the world.

New Orleans is a great city and I’m happy to have experienced it as a runner.  Got to see the city from different angles and have a deeper appreciation for the culture there.

Recommend visiting River Walk New Orleans (shopping), Mulate’s (Cajun Restaurant) and Bourbon Street (music) while in New Orleans.

Nashville, TN. (April 2018)

Nashville is one of my favorite places to visit because I love live music and some of the best music is generated there.  The St. Jude Rock ‘N’ Roll Nashville Half Marathon is one of the largest races in the series.  The Nashville entertainment draws a lot of runners from around the world to ‘Nash Vegas’.  The food, music and shopping in Nashville provides a convenient backdrop for runners to meet up and enjoy the city.

A real treat for runners during this race is a different musical act EVERY mile.  Most of the acts are local talent (singers, musicians, bands) who are all very good.  The course starts downtown Nashville and winds through college campuses and residential neighborhoods before ending at Nissan Stadium.  A unique feature happens right at mile marker #6.

Mile marker #6 is the entrance to the Westgrove neighborhood.  The unique and special feature of this part of the running course is the people who live in the neighborhood provide the entertainment to include sound stage, costumes and refreshments.  The entire neighborhood gets involved during the race and they have FUN.  My first encounter with this neighborhood came in my first Nashville Half Marathon in 2017.  I stopped running to soak in the entertainment and the energy from the people there.  Truly amazing experience to see so many people want to help entertain and energize runners.  This is my favorite spot on the Nashville course every time I run there.  I didn’t stop in 2018 since I’m use to the experience now.

Running in downtown Nashville is a true treat!  The history, entertainment and music venues there make for a unique visual experience.  I always discover new things to view every time I run the city.

Recommend visiting the Wild Horse Saloon (food, live music, line dancing), Crazy Town (live music), Tequila Cowboy (live music, food, cold beer), Jack’s BBQ, Opryland USA and The Hermitage (Museum).  There’s a lot more there, Nashville is a great place to Walk into the Future.

Boston, GA. (October 2018)

The Boston Mini-Marathon is a local race the town of Boston, Georgia uses to invite people to visit over the weekend.  Festivities include the Mini-Marathon (Half), Parade, Ms. Boston pageant, a Boston Butt BBQ competition and local vendors.

This race had the smallest number of runners for my 4 races but was the friendliest place I’ve ever run.  Everyone in town seemed to enjoy the event and the runners who descended on their town.  The course was very flat and with the cool October weather provided an opportunity to run fast.  I signed up for this one as a ‘training’ run but ran my fastest half marathon ever.  Believe the cool weather and flat course were instrumental to my fast (for me) time.

boston mini

Amelia Island, FL. (December 2018)

Decided to take a flyer and run the Reindeer Half Marathon on Amelia Island.  I had never been to Amelia Island and thought this would be a great way to see the beach and downtown areas.  The course was described as flat and fast and it lived up to the billing.  The run starts and ends right on the beach.  In between it winds through nature preserves, neighborhoods, downtown and the Fort Clinch state park.  Unfortunately, the weekend weather was not great, so I didn’t get to explore as much as I wanted.  I spent a lot of time at SLIDERS which has a great menu and ice-cold beers. Was able to venture out on the beach the day after the race before the rain started again.  Will look to make it back to Amelia Island to get a better feel for the area.

2019

Looking to add a few additional cities to my Running Traveler program.  Will run the Philadelphia Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in September—never been to Philly.  Also looking at running the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon again in December after taking a year away from this race.  May add a few others to round out my running schedule for 2019.

Currently committed to run:

  • Gulf Winds Track Club 15k (January)
  • New Orleans Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (February)
  • Winter Park 10k (March)
  • Nashville Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (April)
  • Philadelphia Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (September)

Looking forward to catching up with friends and drinking beer at all these races!  See YA’LL soon!

Coffee Shops

The past few months on my ‘Walk into the Future’ have allowed me to discover and immerse myself into the coffee shop world.

Not saying I’ve never been in a coffee shop, but my current walk has me exploring coffee shops as an outlet for my creative flow.  Most of my previous blog posts were imagined, designed and written in a coffee shop.  I find the environment rich with audial, creative and visual stimulation to help generate ideas and then put them in some measurable format to share via blog.

The people watching in this environment is first rate!  It’s amazing watching the people interactions within a coffee shop—regardless of the time of day.  The amount of business being transacted within coffee shops highlights the benefits of networking away from an actual office.  People bring clients or prospective clients out for coffee to discuss work product, marketing designs and mergers.

Friendly get togethers are another large portion of the people who frequent coffee shops on a random Tuesday.  Friends meeting up after a morning yoga class or run occupy most of the seats today.  The demographics of these groups highlight a diverse crowd who really enjoy good coffee and conversation.

I make a point to patronize multiple local coffee shops to experience interactions on multiple spectrums.  Some of the shops I frequent have a faster pace to patron interactions, tone of the conversations and the actual noise level within.  Others have the pace, feel and sound inflections like a library with the real or perceived ‘hush’ look from people.

I find myself gravitating towards the quieter coffee shops because I can concentrate a bit more and research/write additional context.

My favorite coffee shop so far is Lucky Goat.  Good coffee, pastries, atmosphere and the people are always friendly.  There are numerous coffee shop options available but Lucky Goat continues to draw me in.

What’s your favorite local coffee shop?

 

Luck Goat2Lucky Goat3

Kayak Adventures

Decided to explore the Wacissa River today via Kayak.  Wanted to add a new adventure to my ‘Walk into the Future’ and did some research on local Kayak outfitters.  Discovered the Wacissa River Canoe and Kayak Rentals outfit was only a 20-minute drive from me and had very reasonable prices for their rental options.

The owners and staff were very friendly and had great knowledge of the Wacissa River and the multiple channels that branched off from the main river.  They outfitted me with a sit-on kayak, life vest, paddle, map and final instructions for my adventure.

Launching off was easy and the day on the river began with me exploring multiple local inlets close to the outfitters docks.  I realized it has been right at 4 years since I last kayaked so needed to get my balance and paddle rotations down again.  Took me about 10 minutes to get the hang of kayaking again and I was off.

There was a lot off overhead cover (shade) on the initial part of my adventure.  The outfitters also rent cabins that sit right on the river, so I rode by several of them on my way out to the open waters of the Wacissa river.  There were a few other kayakers out but not a lot of water traffic or noise during the time out on the water.

The wild life on the river was close by and amazing!  Saw several different type and shape turtles just hanging out and sunning themselves.  Of course, every time I tried to get close to take a picture, they immediately dove to get away from me.

It took about an hour of paddling the river before I spotted my first eagle.  Very impressive birds but when experienced in the wild they can be awe inspiring.  I was able to float for a bit and watch one have a large fish for lunch.  Got a couple pictures of this without disturbing the eagle or making it decide to dive bomb me.

What’s a kayak trip on a river in North Florida without gators?  Spotted my first one of the day swimming close to where I was observing my eagle friend.  Decided to paddle closer to the gator which was about 7 feet long to get some ‘up close’ photos.  This all made sense when I started paddling.  Luckily, I came to my senses before I got too close to the gator because I had no Plan B for what I would do if it took serious interest in me.  Decided to float a bit instead of heading towards the gator and freaking us both out.  I was able to get some pictures of smaller gators but didn’t linger too long to avoid disturbing them or freaking myself out.

Turning to head back in allowed me to fully take in how far I had traveled on the river without really thinking about distance.  Still didn’t worry about distance but rediscovered kayaking is a great way to burn some calories.  The rotational paddle motion needed to move the kayak will really work your arms, shoulders and core.  Didn’t rush to get back, simply enjoyed the river and the views provided as I came back to the outfitters.

Highly recommend getting out on a kayak or canoe and taking in a peaceful day on the river.

Just don’t disturb gators!

Check out my new friends if you want to kayak the Wacissa:  http://www.wacissarivercanoerentals.com/index.htm

Kayak1

Philly Soul

What comes to mind when you hear Hall and Oates?

Group from the 80’s, blue-eyed soul, lots of hit songs or I remember them?  I’m guessing all those things crossed your mind when I mentioned them and yes, they are still around.

I was extremely happy to discover Hall and Oates was touring the country again this summer.  I grew up listening to their music and watching the early videos on MTV and Night Tracks on TBS.  Turns out the Hall and Oates video for Family Man (H20 album) was the first video aired on Night Tracks.  It seems they were always churning out a hit or two that captured my attention and had me singing along with them.  (FYI:  Night Tracks aired June 1983 – May 1992).

Sometimes you forget how many hits an artist has until you see them live.  The closest place I could see Hall and Oates was in Orlando at the Amway Center.  I’ve been in the Amway for college and professional basketball games but never for a concert.  Multiple outlets had tickets available but decided to use Vividseats.com since this site didn’t have the ‘extra’ fees associated with booking directly with the Amway Center or Ticketmaster.  I’m always looking for a deal!

Train was the opening act for Hall and Oates.  I’ve heard some of their music but I’m not a fan.  I was pleasantly surprised to see and hear a lot of Hall and Oates fans singing along to every word of Train’s set.  Turns out the lead singer is from the Philadelphia area and has been influenced by Hall and Oates.  May have to give them another listen knowing this new fact.

Hall and Oates started their set with Maneater which was one of their largest hits from the 80’s.  Their sound and band were better than I expected.  The musicianship displayed was impressive and had everyone standing, singing and dancing along.  They covered about an hour and a half of their hits going back to the early days: She’s Gone, Can’t Stop the Music, Sara Smile, Rich Girl, Kiss on My List, Maneater, One on One and new stuff [Philly forget me Not with Train].

Texted one of my Philly area friends during the show and asked for her favorite Hall and Oates song.  She gave me two:  She’s Gone and Rich Girl.  I texted back my favorite Hall and Oates song is:  Sarah Smile.  Of course, this changed as they played hit after hit and I loved each one of them.  Guess my true favorite Hall and Oates song is the most recent one I hear.   Their sound and music carry well, and they will be making audiences smile for years to come.  Their last encore song was You Make my Dreams Come True.  What an appropriate song to send fans home–well done Hall and Oates!

Went back and watched their 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and they performed just as well there.  Hit after hit and making the crowd smile.

What’s your favorite Hall and Oates song? When’s the last time you listened to it? I recommend going to YouTube and experiencing it again—enjoy!Hall and Oates

Paisley Park

‘Paisley Park is in your heart’

This is a lyric from the song titled Paisley Park on Prince’s Around the World in a Day album.  It’s not one of his most well-known songs but the title was translated by the artist to name his artistic palace in Chanhassen, a suburb of Minneapolis.

Paisley Park is a combination of residence, recording studios, sound stage, video editing and party spot (concerts, DJ’s, etc.) designed by Prince in the late 1980s.  This is a place where he churned out hit after hit from his own recording platforms.  It afforded him the opportunity to create new music and concepts right where he lived.  Simply, come downstairs and walk into a recording studio to lay down some tracks that would one day become a #1 hit.

Paisley Park is a place I have always wanted to visit to experience the place responsible for the ‘soundtrack’ of my life.  I grew up listening to Prince from the very early stages of his career and wanted to ‘walk into the future’ and see Paisley Park first hand.

Wow…what an experience!  I decided to make a visit to Minneapolis and then venture over to Chanhassen to tour Paisley Park.  They have multiple tour formats to select but I decided to reserve my spot for the General Admission (70-minute tour) and was not disappointed.  There were roughly 20 other Prince fans along for my tour timeframe.  We’re talking people from all over the world who decided to make the Paisley Park journey to reconnect with Prince, his music and the place where he created magic.

The tour started with a brief history of his music, why he wanted Paisley Park and what happens there now.  The tour’s most emotional moment for me was when we stepped into the foyer at Paisley Park.  Prince’s ashes are encased under glass overlooking the foyer.  Didn’t expect the ashes to be there but it was a goose bump moment for a lot of us on the tour.

We were provided free time to explore multiple rooms dedicated to specific albums/tours (LoveSexy, 1999, For You, etc.) and his personal office.  The tour guide identified the office was intact just as Prince left it.  Of course, it was a very cool set-up to include video, music and a sitting area to entertain visitors.

The tour then took us directly into Studio A where most of his hits from the 1990s were recorded.  Very cool place to see and experience the sound system and unreleased music that will be coming out soon! Sounds great and you will love the concepts! (LOL).

His numerous awards (Grammys, BET, MTV, etc.) were displayed in hallway cases.  The effect of seeing these awards put a smile on most of our faces as we remembered watching Prince receive these awards on TV over the years.  Fantastic opportunity to actually see history.

Prince’s movies/soundtracks had separate areas at Paisley Park.  The Purple Rain display included the motorcycle from the movie, his iconic purple trench coat and the Grammy awarded for the soundtrack.

Under the Cherry Moon with the black and white theme provided a unique contrast to his other movies.  Graffiti Bridge, Sign ‘O the Times and RAVE were displayed, and all were shot on the sound stage at Paisley Park.  Speaking of the sound stage, our tour took us into the enormous space used by Prince and others for tour preparation, make videos and shoot movies.  Prince allowed other musicians to use this area to help them get ready for national tour dates.

The tour ended in the New Power Generation (NPG) club which is still used to host dance parties for Prince fans.  This area was used by Prince to host fans and sometimes play live shows for the few lucky folks in attendance.  It was noted Prince normally didn’t start playing until 2 am in the morning so you would have to be an extreme night owl to catch one of these impromptu shows.

Cameras are not allowed at Paisley Park so the memories from this experience must be lived and not ‘streamed’ out.  I believe this enhanced the overall experience for me.

Very happy my walk into the future led me to Paisley Park!

Where have you always wanted to go but never made the time?  How can you leverage a trip to help you decide to walk into the future?

Paisley park outside

Paisley Park inside2