Walking into 2021!

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“Celebrate endings—for they proceed new beginnings”.

(Jonathan Lockwood Huie)

Happy New Year from the Walk into the Future blog!

Grateful to continue to write blog articles to express my thoughts and document life adventures.  This blog started as a way for me to share with my friends and has evolved into a space for me to highlight a bit of creativity.  This blog also provides a place to advocate for social change in the world—did not have this in mind when I launched the blog but there is no turning back now.  My walk continues to expand so I am excited to see what new angles I can tackle in 2021.

2021 promises to bring new opportunities for us all.  2020 was a monster on multiple levels but there were opportunities for growth as well.

Happy to report I was able to meet all my 2020 goals except the number of half marathons I ran.  Of course, COVID-19 was the reason the race season did not happen, so I am not upset I did not meet this goal.

I am in the process of generating my 2021 goals and look forward to working towards them daily. 

My reading program increased in 2020 and I enjoyed exploring new topics and authors.  I see this as an area I can expand in 2021.  I fancy myself as a lifelong learner and reading keeps me engaged in learning new things and hopefully sharing these things with my tree branches.  Please note, I am always open to your suggestions for books so send me a few—thanks!

The Rock N Roll marathon series has 6 races projected for in-person competition in 2021.  My favorite race, the Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon is scheduled for April 25, 2021.  My 2020 registration automatically rolled over so I can run in the race this year if I would like.  I am not committed to running this or any race at this point especially if it means I must get on a plane to get to the race city.  Will wait and see how the vaccination process impacts the spread of COVID-19 before deciding on this race.  Would hate to miss Nashville two years in a row but this is the world we live in. The Savannah race is scheduled for November 7, 2021 and this may be a better option—we will see.

I will look at some smaller, local races to get my competitive fix.  I am sure Track Shack in Orlando will have some races I want to run—the OUC half may be on my race calendar again this year based on location and safety measures.

I began the process of creating an Authentic Leadership eBook in 2020.  Will look to put the finishing touches on this project in 2021.  Wanted to share a few leadership principles in a different format to see if others would be interested in this project.  It has been fun working on a new outlet for my thoughts and plan to expand the authentic leadership platform in 2021.

My leadership consulting is another area I want to expand in 2021.  My work in 2019 had me positioned for a huge consulting year in 2020 but we all know the impact of COVID-19 on all industries.  Will look to create an outreach program to reengage with organizations I have worked with in the past and generate new leads.  Virtual programming and meetings became common in 2020 and see this continuing in 2021.  This can lead to new ways to reach organizations and provide a consulting rebirth for me and others.  Fingers crossed!

I am sure there will be other goals to add to my list, but these are a few I will work towards in 2021.

What goals do you have for the new year?  How successful were you meeting your 2020 goals?  Thanks!

“Every moment is a fresh beginning”.

(T.S. Elliot)

Walking and enjoying Mulligans Beach House (Vero Beach)

Mulligans

“An ocean breeze puts the mind at ease”.

(Anonymous)

My Walk into the Future allows me to continue to seek out new adventures and venues.  The COVID-19 pandemic has rightfully slowed down unnecessary travel and interactions, but the beach still has wide open spaces to explore. 

My relocation to the Treasure Coast provides access to some great beaches with amazing views to take in.  Several of my work colleagues provide me with places where the locals hang out and guided me towards Mulligan’s Beach House in Vero Beach. The biggest reason they wanted me to visit Mulligan’s is because it has a huge outdoor seating area that sits right on the world-famous Vero Beach.  I have visited Vero Beach (city) multiple times for the outlet mall and other retail shopping but have not been on the beach side of the city in years.

Turns out I visited Mulligan’s Beach House back in August 2014 prior to relocating from Oviedo, Florida to Tallahassee, Florida for my job at Florida State University.  Always heard how beautiful Vero Beach was so took a road trip back in 2014 to get a feel for the area and take in the beach scene.  Mulligan’s was close to the hotel I booked back in the day, so it was an easy choice for some great food.

Fast forward to 2020 and I immediately recognized I had been there before as soon as I hit the parking lot.  Seeing the familiar outside seating area and extra-large deck chair put a smile on my face.  I instantly reflected to my 2014 visit and the great memories made during my visit back in the day.  Also highlights the concept of small world because my original visit was made because I never thought I would make it back down to visit Vero Beach.  Now I live 20 minutes from the famous beach and local attractions on the board walk.

My most recent trip to Mulligan’s Beach House was made on a Sunday afternoon.  Figured this would be a good day and timeframe to visit to avoid the potential of large crowds.  The overcast weather also contributed to a smaller crowd when I got there.  The outside seating areas provided a great place to sit on the beach, people watch and listen to some good music.  I was able to find a nice corner spot and continue to physical distance.  Did not have a taste for anything specific but wanted to explore the menu a bit.  I am not an adventurous eater so settled on chicken wings and draft beer—which was two for one during happy hour.  The wings were surprisingly good and went great with the atmosphere of Mulligan’s.  A nice, chill place where the locals eat.

Mulligan’s has indoor seating at the bar and tables—some of the locals were comfortable seating inside but I do not know when/if I will be that comfortable again.  The governor just announced restaurants and bars are no longer restricted to 50% capacity so I am sure more people will be dining and drinking inside again without proper physical distancing.  Scary thought but eliminating these restrictions will expand our time trying to combat COVID-19 in the state of Florida.  Hate to see the gains we have made with COVID-19 get sidetracked as our governor tries to help political gains for the presidential election.

Mulligan’s Beach House is a fantastic place to visit if you are in Vero Beach.  My next venture in the Vero Beach area will be the Ocean Grille which is right across the parking lot.  I have heard great things about the food there and will get back soon to see what they have to offer.

Where have you always wanted to eat but have not made it yet?  How have you adjusted your dining plans in a COVID-19 world?

http://www.mulligansbeachhouse.com/vero-beach/

 “The waves of the sea help me get back to me”.

(Anonymous)

Mulligans2

Melbourne beach weekend

Melbourne Beach

“To escape and sit quietly on the beach—that’s my idea of paradise”.

(Emily Wiskstead)

My Walk into the Future continues to provide unlimited adventures for me daily.

The beach is a major adventure for me, and some would say my happy place.  Love to sit on the beach to relax, read and just enjoy the sound of the waves.  My move to Fort Pierce puts me closer to beaches and I try to take advantage of this proximity as much as possible.

One of my favorite places to sit on the beach happens to be Melbourne, Florida.  There are multiple beach towns in this area but the one I prefer is Indialantic Beach.  Small area but it provides the best beach experience for me.

Made the 55-minute trek north on I-95 last weekend for a day at the beach.  Did not realize it has been 3 years since I have been in the Melbourne area.  A lot of my beach travel while in Tallahassee was a drive over to Jacksonville or Neptune beaches.  Love that area too and it was a shorter drive than venturing all the way down to Melbourne.  Decided to take a day trip and get back to an area I love to visit and hangout.

Outlet mall

COVID-19 has caused a lot of life disruptions.  One of these for me was not being able to get to outlet malls.  I know my outlet mall shopping is not a huge deal considering the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I had to drive by the Vero Beach outlet mall on my way to Melbourne.  Many of the stores were still closed when I visited but was able to get some nice deals at the Van Heusen store.  Yes, I wore a mask while shopping.

The Van Heusen outlet store had some great mark downs and I may have purchased more than I need.  The in-store prices are a lot less than what they were selling for on-line. I have never been a fan of buying clothes on-line since different brands have their own unique cuts.  My normal size in one store does not translate all the time to another.  Buying pants online is a major headache for me since I need clothes for an athletic body. Also, needed to restock my work wardrobe since I have a day job again. 😊

Patrick AFB

Always make a point to visit Patrick Air Force Base when I am in Melbourne.  Did not need anything but it always feels like going home when I am on the base.  Spent 20 years in the Air Force and love being back on the base.  Ended up just rambling around the Base Exchange and Commissary looking around and enjoying being back around the Air Force family.  Got a few things but nothing major at either stop.

Crowne Plaza

The major attraction for me to visit the Indialantic beach is the Crowne Plaza hotel.  Yes, I went up for a day trip, but the Crowne Plaza has a huge beach deck with a Tiki vibe and outside bar.

They allow beachgoers to utilize the deck, bar, and restrooms without being a hotel guest.  Always thought that was a great feature and it keeps people coming back.  I bring my own water and beer but routinely get a cold tropical drink (or two) at the bar.  They have a great food menu so really do not need to go anywhere else once you get there.

There is live music most Saturdays and Sundays and that draws a decent crowd too.  I normally walk further down the beach to get away from crowds but the music travels well.  My day on the beach was spent reading, listening to music, and taking a bunch a naps.  Nothing strenuous but wanted to visit the beach and relax—mission accomplished.

https://www.google.com/search?q=crowne+plaza+melbourne+fl+pictures&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS857US857&sxsrf=ALeKk00P5m-KQpG-NeMjKPXrrjOmlJlDWg:1590778740929&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=YVZCzuNcCXbIsM%253A%252C28LbZ-YA3Bc7sM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kSIiMzmjPA7dY62D4InWst3DNgkgg&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiMiJPO4NnpAhUJT98KHSVwAMgQ9QEwAnoECAoQDg#imgrc=YVZCzuNcCXbIsM:

Took the scenic route back to Fort Pierce on A1A.  Normally go I-95 but did not have to rush back so took in the sights and enjoyed the views.  Will try to get to Melbourne monthly for a beach getaway—may stay overnight next time since there are a lot of new shopping options in the area.  Always looking for a good deal! 😊

What is your favorite beach or place?  When will you visit again?

 

“The waves on the sea help me get back to me”.

(Jill Davis)

Running tourist—the Treasure Coast edition

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out what you put into it”.

(Oprah Winfrey)

Shared my running tourist Tallahassee adventures in an earlier post.

Decided to tackle the subject from my new home, Fort Pierce, Florida earlier than I did from Tallahassee.  The Tallahassee post was written when I knew I was leaving the city and realized I never took the time to write about things available there.

Wanted to get an early jump on writing about the Treasure Coast.  I am sure I will come back to this topic and provide an updated view when the COVID-19 pandemic is gone.  Most things in this area are still closed or I am not confident enough to visit yet.  There are a ton of fresh seafood markets and restaurants in the local area but do not see me going in for a meal right now even with proper physical distancing.

A good spot for takeout is 12A Buoy:  http://12abuoy.com/.  Do not know where the name came from, but they have good shrimp!

Running routes

My first two attempts to find a place to run in Fort Pierce did not go well.  I got my runs in but did not enjoy them very much.  There are not many multipurpose trails here so got out for a sidewalk run to stretch my legs.  Turns out the sidewalk I was on ended after about a quarter mile and I was relegated to running on the side of the road.  Not a huge fan of this process but did discover a nice hill and made the most of it to maintain endurance.  Never went back to this route since it had me too close to traffic.

My second attempt at finding a place to run was at my complex.  We have a large circular route (.59 miles) and I thought maybe this would get me going.  Never been thrilled going in circles but gave it a shot. My initial goal was 5 miles total, but I only got in 3.5 miles before boredom tapped me on the shoulders and I stopped.  Not a huge fan of seeing the same things when I run, and this route did not have the feel of being on an adventure—which I need for distance training.

Decided to use Google to find better spots to run.  Google identified the George LeStrange Preserve as a place with trails and it was only a 10-minute drive away.  Decided to scout the preserve and it provides multiple options with the best route going around the lake.  Again, this was a circular route but longer and there’s wildlife, shade, the lake, and people to see while in the preserve.   Enjoyed this location so much I make sure to get over there for one of my weekly runs.  Completed my Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon dedication run there in April to get 13.2 miles in since the actual race was postponed.  Posted a decent time considering I had no on-course support, crowds cheering or beer at the finish line.

 

A work colleague provided his favorite running spot which goes over the large, picturesque Sea Way Drive bridge and leads to Jetty Park.  I initially viewed this route as an extremely tough run since the bridge is so big, but it appears my hill training in Tallahassee prepared me well to get up and over the bridge.  Enjoy this route because there is so much to see while running and there is always a nice breeze coming off the water to help minimize the heat.  I have leveraged this route multiple times for my Tuesday and Thursday runs—leave work and head east to get my 6-mile run in.  Used an over and back approach recently to get in a double digit run—nice views each time on the bridge. 😊

 

Beaches

The beaches in the local area opened again the last week in April.  The county mandate was people could be on the beach just for exercise.  This lasted for 4 days before the governor lifted the stay at home order and the beaches opened fully with a mandate for people to maintain physical distancing.  I have gone by the beaches to get a look and feel for them but will explore fully when it is safe to be out again.  I have visited Jetty Park multiple times and sat in my vehicle to enjoy the views of the water.  It is a good place to watch people and the boats floating by.

 Beach

The Treasure Coast is comprised of Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, Jensen Beach and Stuart, FL.  These cities are all modest size but when viewed together comprise a large area.  My goal is to fully explore them all and then come back and write about the unique features of each.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

What areas are you looking forward to exploring when it is safe again?  Thanks!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”.

(Andre Gide)

FYI—the beaches are closing again for the 4th of July holiday weekend!  COVID-19 is not going away.

2020 Winter Park 10k and a podcast on the side

Podcast March 2020

(Image by Florante Valdez from Pixabay)

“Life is a blank canvas and you need to throw all the paint on it you can”.

(Danny Kaye)

Ventured back down to the Orlando area for the 2020 Winter Park 10k.  This race has been on my running calendar the past two years because it allows me to hang out with great friends and family while running a unique course in Winter Park.

Track Shack promotes this race as a fantastic course to run a 10k personal best (PB) and it does not disappoint.  There were several runners ringing the PB Bell strategically placed in the runner’s village after the race.  Always exciting to see the joy a PB time brings to runners.

Mastering College to Career podcast

Coordinated with an Orlando tree branch to stop on the way down for the race to catch up a bit and record another episode on his Mastering College to Career podcast.

The podcast is Daniel Botero’s way to Walk into the Future and he has added on-line courses, videos and workbooks to go along with the weekly podcast episode.  Very proud of his efforts and the difference he’s making with college students transitioning into the workplace.

Daniel provides me with the topic of discussion prior to the podcast and then we get to work.  I’ve known Daniel since 2011 so we have a great working relationship and energize each other when we are in the same room.  He wanted his students to understand the behind the scenes interactions between on-campus recruiters and career centers.  The goal was to provide students with a better understanding how/why employers recruit on their campuses and the work involved to get them there.  Was very happy to share my career center and employer relations knowledge with Daniel for the podcast and helping his students.

Found out I’m the first person on Daniel’s podcast to return for a third time.  This put a smile on my face, but the smile got bigger because Daniel asked me to cut another podcast episode before I left his recording studio.  So, it turns out I’m the only four-time guest on the podcast now.  The additional podcast episode was to highlight the recruiting calendar employers utilize when deciding which campuses to visit.  What a great way to start my race weekend!  Got a chance to catch up with Daniel and cut two podcast episodes to help his students continue to move forward in life.  (Both episodes should be live in April 2020).

Left Daniel’s recording studio and headed straight to Track Shack to pick up my race packet.  Always exciting to see the Track Shack staff engaging with runners buying new gear.  Love they host a spring sale the entire week of the Winter Park 10k race.  Always can find some new gear and the sale prices are fantastic.  Got a chance to chat with one of the Track Shack owners who I met one morning while running in Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee.  Turns out her daughter lives in Tallahassee and works at FSU—small world!

Carb loading

Headed to my favorite Italian restaurant, Café Panuzzo’s with Jayla to carb load and catch up.  We normally dine at Café Panuzzo’s or Buffalo Wild Wings prior to my races and Italian dining won this round.  Café Panuzzo’s never disappoints when we visit.  I stuck to my normal selection of chicken parmesan with pasta and Jayla got adventurous with the calzone.  Got a double order of bread since my goal was to get as many carbs as possible prior to the 10k.  Most got burned off the next morning, so no harm and their bread is fantastic!

Winter Park 10k

The morning started out cooler than expected but was great once we got started.  Told several tree branches prior my goal was to run fast this year and wanted to record a good time.  Happy to report I ran a 10k PB of 56:41 and felt good during and after the race.

Track Shack does not use the corral format for races so the first mile was crowded with runners of all levels and time expectations.  Decided to patiently work my way through the crowd and then pick up my pace once the runners thinned a bit.  Made up most of my slow start once the course flattened and went about my plan to go faster this year.  Knew my time was going to be good (for me) at the 4-mile mark and got comfortable with my pace and breathing.  Decided to pick up my pace at the 5-mile mark to see how much improvements I’ve made in the past year.  Was able to pass several other runners and get to the finish line with a smile on my face.  Learned to smile crossing the finish line since everyone with a camera is snapping away.

Got my medal, checked my time and rang the PB bell too.  Great race, people and after party! Can’t beat drinking a beer and eating donuts at 9 am in the morning.  Running is the best way to stay in shape and overindulge at the same time.

Will keep this race on my calendar because it’s fun and they will always have beer at the end! 😊

What podcasts do you listen to?  How have the podcasts helped you Walk into the Future?

“Oh, the places you’ll go”.

(Dr. Seuss)

Follow Daniel here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/thedanielbotero/

Follow Track Shack here:  https://www.trackshack.com/

Run Winter Park

Walking in the Future without a return date

Happy

 Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 “I want to move and go places and never look back.  Just have fun, forever”.

(Josephine Marcus from the 1993 movie, Tombstone) 

I love the quote above for the simple nature of how it signifies life should be fun.

The quote was a response to a question Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) asked Josephine Marcus (Dana Delaney) in the 1993 movie, Tombstone.  He was trying to understand how Josephine defined the concept of happiness.

My current Walk into the Future has a bit of resemblance to Josephine’s view with a slight twist.

I constantly seek out opportunities and adventures that excite me and then find ways to incorporate these things into my current walk.  Had another interesting conversation with a longtime friend prior to heading to Philadelphia for the 2019 Philly Rock n Roll half marathon.

My travel itinerary was the topic of discussion and I revealed in my typical Walk into the Future fashion the following things were known about my trip:

  • Hotel reservation confirmed
  • Race registration confirmed
  • Arrival flight confirmed

The list above did not have an official return date from Philadelphia.  To me, this was not a big deal, just part of how I Walk into the Future.

My friend quickly became worried for me because going somewhere new without a return date was/is a foreign concept to most people.  FYI, for me this is an exciting part of the walk!  Please note, I knew when I planned to come back, I just didn’t book the return flight at the same time as my departure.

Southwest Airlines tends to reduce flight prices to ensure they have full flights.  I simply gambled on the premise they would lower the price for the return flight from Philly and it happened.  Spent less coming back than I did going up because of my ability to walk without a return date.

Don’t consider myself as a travel pioneer; I’m sure other people have flexible travel schedules.  This flexibility is an exciting aspect when traveling.  I routinely book travel at the last minute because of the great deals I’ve been able to get in the past.  Please note, it does not always work in my favor and I end up spending the same or more for my travel adventures.  Can’t complain when this happens since I normally come out ahead more times than not.

I book with a more traditional travel concept when friends and family travel with me.  My wait and see program can cause some level of anxiety so I’m mindful to eliminate this when others are counting on me being in a specific location at a specific time.

Plan to explore new destinations in 2020 and will not be pressed by a return date.  Will continue Walking into the Future with no return date; been a fun journey so far! 😊

Where would you travel without a return date?  Would you find this exciting or scary?

“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better”.

(Albert Camus)

 Philly downtown2

(Downtown Philly!)

2019 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon recap — the Benjamin Button effect

OUC prerace

“You know you’re a runner when, your running shoes ARE the most expensive pair of shoes you possess”.

(Anonymous runner)

My 2019 racing schedule ended on 12/7/19 at the OUC half marathon in Orlando.

This was my 5th half marathon and 7th race of the year.  I started 2019 with an aggressive (for me) race schedule where I wanted to race more and increase the number of half marathon finishes.  I also set a goal to run a half marathon under 2 hours—I didn’t meet this goal but did improve my Personal Record (PR) four times this year, so progress has been made.  I’m faster now than when I started running half marathons in 2013 (Benjamin Button).

How many times running this race?

I started my half marathon quest in 2013 at this very same race.  A UCF friend convinced me to run a half marathon with intent to run it with me for support.  She had several half and full marathons completed and thought it would be a good challenge for me to run a half marathon.

Fast forward a bit, I signed up and began training but her husband got a job transfer and they moved to Dallas, Texas before the race.  I thought about backing out since I didn’t have a running partner but decided to give it a try on my own.

Had no idea how to train, eat or prepare for a half marathon so simply relied on athletic ability for my first try.  This was a horrible idea!  I would have quit during my first half marathon but didn’t know how to get back to my car, so had to keep going in order to figure out where I parked.  This is not a joke, I finished because I had no other choice.

Ran this race again the following year because I had to prove to myself, I could run a half marathon and appear to be competent while doing it.  I improved my finish times incrementally over the years so the pull to come back was there.  I skipped the OUC half marathon in 2018 and ran on Amelia Island instead.

The 2019 race was my sixth time running the OUC half marathon.  I’m currently 19 minutes faster than the first time I ran the same race (Benjamin Button).

Why come back?

Wanted to test my new training knowledge and program against a course that beat me up in the past.  Figured the best way to know if I’m improving is to run the course I wanted to quit on and then move forward.

Happy to report I enjoyed the 2019 version of this race from start to finish!  Even found myself with a goofy smile on my face for some reason around mile 9.  This may have been the runner’s high people tell me about, but I never experienced before.

No worries just decided to keep on smiling and run my best.  This approach allowed me to finish with a PR (2:05:51) and a level of satisfaction with my entire 2019 running program.  Can always look for areas to improve but very happy to improve my PR four times this year.  As you can see, I’m getting faster as I get older (Benjamin Button).  I’m still looking for another gear and project to get a bit faster in 2020.

Stick with the Walk into the Future blog to follow my running progress.

Race recap

Decided not to put an official time goal on this race but wanted to run fast and safely.  My top goal was to have fun and complete the 2019 race schedule in style.

Blue is my power color so outfitted with blue from head to toe for this race.  Accented my race outfit with orange compression sleeves to represent the Florida Gators as I ran through downtown Orlando.

Miles 1 – 5

Wanted to get out fast but not expend too much energy during the first third of the race.  The OUC half marathon also has a 5k race which starts at the same time.  Wanted to avoid the extra runners at the beginning of the race so went out with a controlled pace and mindset until the 5k runners split away from the half marathoners at Mile #2.  Felt good with my mile splits and knew I had the conditioning to keep my pace going.

Miles 6 – 10

Past races I’ve struggled with this portion of the half marathon.  My training, nutrition and mindset have improved this year to where I know how to handle this segment of the race and not slow down much.  Was able to stay consistent with my mile splits with no glaring slow miles.  This may have been why my goofy smile came out—I knew I was running faster and not slowing a bit.

Miles 11 – 13.1

Realized I wouldn’t break 2 hours at this point but didn’t let that take my smile away. Kept plugging away because I knew I could set another PR by just pressing forward.

Put TI’s song, Motivation on repeat because this is my running hype song that helps me mentally when I run.

The goofy smile was with me the entire time and the miles flew by.  There were spectators out helping the runners finish strong; I’m sure they were cheering for me, but I was in my zone and focused on finding the finish line.

Crossed the finish line at 2:05:51 (two hours, 5 minutes and 51 seconds) with a smile on my face and a raised fist!  You would have thought I saved the world from annihilation from my reaction, but it was a big deal to me.  Ran a smart race with a good time and felt great physically at the end.  Trifecta!

After race party

Track Shack does a fantastic job with all aspects of race day.

The vendors, health care and music after the race are first rate.  Made my way to the beer truck to get my two beers to go along with my other snacks collected in the vendor area.  Yes, runners really drink beer at 9:30 am—we’ve earned it after getting up before the sun rises and running 13.1 miles. LOL.  Ran into a few people I knew from my time in Orlando and we celebrated another great Track Shack race.

“It’s all about the bling!”

(Spectator sign, 2019)

Benjamin Button

So, why do I reference Benjamin Button in this post?  Great question!

Most people begin to slow down as runners as they age.  I’ve only been attempting the half marathon distance for 6 years now and continue to learn more about training, nutrition (beet juice) and mental focus.  I’m just scratching the surface on my running ability and see faster times coming in 2020.  So, I’m not getting younger but faster (Benjamin Button).  I’m sure the day will come when I can’t keep running faster times but it’s not here yet—so fast I must go! 😊

“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be”.

(Benjamin Button)

Goodbye OUC hello San Antonio Rock N Roll (2020)

I will not run the OUC half marathon in 2020.  I’m trading this race and experience in for the 2020 San Antonio Rock N Roll half marathon.  I lived in San Antonio while in the Air Force but wasn’t a runner then.  This will be my chance to run in a great city and experience the culture and the River Walk from a different perspective.  I’m sure I’ll return to the OUC race again in the future, maybe 2021.

Project to run 7 half marathons in 2020.

Already registered for New Orleans (February), Nashville (April) and Philly (September).  Will add San Antonio and Savannah; looking at San Diego and maybe Las Vegas to complete 7 with the Rock N Roll series.  May adjust with a local half marathon but 7 is the number for 2020.

Logged just under 1,000 miles on this running journey in 2019; I’m sure that number is going up in 2020.  Who’s ready to run with me? 😊

 

How many of your 2019 goals did you accomplish?  Have you thought about your 2020 goals yet?

Thanks for walking with me!

Merry Christmas!  Will see you in 2020!  Thanks!

OUC Christmas tree

Walking and exploring the Great Smoky Mountains (Gatlinburg, Tennessee)

My adventure in the Smoky Mountains!

Smokey Mountains hue

“Live a life of quiet inspiration.”

(William Britten)

Why Gatlinburg?

There’s an old saying The mountains are calling, and I must go” attributed to John Muir who spent his life advocating for wilderness preservation.  I would like to think John Muir’s words were instrumental to my trek back up to the Smoky mountains and Gatlinburg in particular.

My true inspiration to get back in the mountains came from an August 2019 NBC Nightly News special on a new Gatlinburg attraction, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America:  https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/take-a-trip-to-the-longest-pedestrian-suspension-bridge-in-north-america-67497029583

  • Requested my 2019 Gatlinburg Vacation Guide when the news went off

I’ve been in the Smokey mountains and Gatlinburg years ago but seeing the suspension bridge on TV got me excited to go back to the mountains and explore.  Finally, just decided to head up in mid-November before the weather got too cold and snow covered the mountain roads.  I’m good driving in the mountains but didn’t want to fight ice and snow as I made my way through the winding roads.  Got lucky with sunny weather and high temps in the low 50s.  Turned out to be ideal hiking weather and didn’t have to wear too many layers of clothes to stay warm.  Started peeling off layers about an hour into my first hike.

Hiking the Smokey Mountains

So, this is where I apologize to all my friends who have been avid hikers over the years.  I didn’t fully get the concept of hiking because I’m always looking for my next training run.  Texted a few of them to admit my error while I was out on my first hike of the day.  I fully get hiking now—it was an amazing experience and can’t wait to do it again!

Started the hiking adventure on the Trails in the Sugarland Area which is the first Smokey mountain hiking area leaving Gatlinburg.  Decided this would be a nice warm up trail to get me out and exploring.  Got a map and quick briefing at the Welcome Center and then I was off on the trails.  Didn’t know what I would see on this trail but was excited to begin the adventure.

Well, to my surprise almost got run over by a deer and while trying to take a picture of the buck, saw a flock of turkeys coming up behind me—this was the first 5 minutes of my hike! LOL.  Believe this episode is where I decided hiking is the greatest thing ever—this flurry of wildlife activity got me ready to see more.  Didn’t get a picture of the deer since I was trying to keep the turkeys in range to take a picture of them.

Continued the trails to see what else was ahead and came to the John Ownby cabin.  The structure was in decent shape and highlights how early mountain folks lived.  This was also a good place to take a break and take in everything I had experienced in a short period of time.  This is also the spot I texted my friends to say I get hiking now! 😊  Left the cabin and got on the next trail head and made it over to Cataract Falls.  Thought this was going to be a larger area but was happy with the scenic beauty I saw hiking over to the falls.  Only saw a few hikers out but everyone was friendly.  Got a chance to take pictures at the falls and sit awhile to admire the surroundings.  Very peaceful, quiet and refreshing time sitting at the falls.  Covered about 3 miles on this hiking segment.  Wanted to explore a bit more in this area but decided to move on after the tour buses started dropping groups off—the trail heads got crowded quickly!

Moved further into the Smokey mountains and made my way to the Sugarland Parks Trail.  Similar name as the first adventure but this was a .5-mile paved trail.  Not much wildlife to see on this trail but had great water views and river scenery.  Didn’t spend a lot of time here because it was a short, one loop trail.

Decided to venture further up the mountain to see what other adventures were waiting.  Saw several stop points on the way and pulled over at the Carlos C. Campbell Overlook. No trails here but the view of the mountains was tremendous!  Had this area to myself so took advantage of the photo opportunity while it lasted.

 Campbell Overlook

Next stop was the Gatlinburg trail which had a little bit of everything.  Trails, rivers, bridges, climbs, drops and wildlife.  Spent quite a bit of time exploring on this trail just enjoying the experience and nature.  Covered 10 miles total hiking on the different trails during my Smoky mountain adventures.

Skybridge

Got a quick lunch after my hiking adventures and headed to the main reason for my visit, the Gatlinburg Skybridge.  Gatlinburg has always had a Sky Lift Park to haul people up the mountain to get a higher view of the area.

The Skybridge is a new addition to Sky Lift Park and has become the main attraction for most people to see when visiting Gatlinburg.  It did not disappoint!  It’s a suspension bridge so it moves while walking on it—it really moves with a lot of people walking on it!  There were several folks on the bridge who didn’t look so happy with their decision to make the walk across.  The Skybridge is an excellent way to view Gatlinburg, see the surrounding mountains tops and people watch.  The pass for Sky Lift Park is good for the entire day so I was able to come back once it got dark to experience the ride up and the bridge at night.  Didn’t stay as long the second time up because it started getting cold when the sun went down.

https://www.gatlinburgskylift.com/skybridge

Moonshine tasting

The Gatlinburg Vacation guide was an excellent resource to help plan out my activities.  Discovered Gatlinburg has several distilleries and wineries right downtown.  I’ve toured rum and whiskey distilleries in the past but never a moonshine tour.  Researched the moonshine distilleries and decided to visit multiple since they were so close to each other and walkable.  My first stop was the Ole Smokey Moonshine Distillery because of the variety of flavors they make.  $5 gets you a taste of every moonshine flavor/proof in the store.

These range from 128 proof down to 40 proof with different flavors:  https://olesmoky.com/collections/moonshine.

Made sure I ate before touring the moonshine distilleries—good thing because moonshine has a kick to it. 😊

Next, made my way down the street to visit Sugarlands Distilling Company to see what they had:  https://www.sugarlands.com/moonshine/.

They had some unique moonshine flavors and names but gave several of them a try during my tasting tour.  FYI, moonshine really warms you up, didn’t feel the cold after my sipping tour of moonshine distilleries.

Decided to head back to Ole Smokey Moonshine Distillery and went right to the top of the moonshine proof levels—got the Blue Flame (128 proof).  Will probably be sipping on this jar of moonshine for months—not for heavy consumption.

Freedom to travel

2019 has been an adventurous year for me to explore.  I’ve been blessed to have the ability to pick places to visit and then make my way there.  I’ve explored places I’ve always wanted to visit and some of my favorite places again.  Looking forward to seeing where 2020 takes me!  I plan to keep Walking into the Future with no return date! 😊

Lessons learned

  • Never drive in the Smoky mountains at night— (1) it’s scary and (2) you miss the scenic beauty of the mountains
  • North Carolina / East Tennessee BBQ sauce is vinegar based; I don’t like vinegar in my BBQ sauce
  • Hiking is a fantastic pastime! Will find other areas to explore this new hobby! 😊
  • I like moonshine! It mixes great with fruit punch
  • Gatlinburg has a walkable downtown area—find a place to park and walk around to enjoy the attractions

Thanks for walking with me!

Where have you always wanted to visit?  How much hiking do you plan to do in 2020?

 

 

2019 Boston (GA) mini marathon (Recap)

Boston mini

“How do you know someone ran a marathon?  Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”

(Jimmy Fallon)

My Walk into the Future continues to provide me with adventures and challenges to chase.  The latest challenge came during the Boston (GA) mini marathon (13.1 miles) on 10/26/19.  This race was on my 2019 schedule because I ran it last year and had really good results.  Set my first of many personal records (PR) at the race last year.

Fast forward to this year’s race and there’s not a PR to discuss.  My race time and finish position regressed this year.  Was a bit disappointed with my results because I know I can run faster and have done so multiple times this year on tougher courses.

So, why did I regress during this race?  Great question and I spent a day reflecting on why this race didn’t go as I planned.  Turns out I simply took running fast times for granted.  Not saying I didn’t train and put in the miles to run another good half marathon time.

  • September miles: 44 (includes Philly Rock N Roll Half marathon)
  • October miles: 29 (includes Boston mini marathon)

I did assume my Boston mini marathon race results from 2018 would automatically translate to the 2019 race.  The course was the same, but the weather was significantly different this year–mid-50s in 2018 and mid-70s with high humidity this year.  Also, needed a better hydration plan since the temperatures and humidity were higher than normal for an October morning.

My race mistakes are all easily correctable and I was back in the gym the next morning correcting them.  My physical race prep will still resemble what I’ve been doing but working on the mental aspects, so I never enter a race with assumptions again.  I improved my half marathon times this year by entering every race with a chip on my shoulder—got ahead of myself for this race but the corrections are being made.

Lesson learned—never take a race or finish time for granted.

Boston mini marathon weekend

Boston (GA) is a nice little town 40 miles northeast of Tallahassee (FL).  The people are friendly and have a blast for the entire race weekend. The half marathon is just one of the events they host for the weekend. It’s the kickoff event but most of the weekend action happens once the runners get out of the way.

Vendors setup before the sun comes out to get ready for visitors.  The Boston butt BBQ competition is fierce with BBQ outfits from multiple states vying to win the first-place prize money.  Most of these folks provide samples of their competition level BBQ after the race.  There are other vendors with additional items for purchase (cakes, pies, fish, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.).  Almost has a carnival feel to the day once the race is over.

The parade starts right after the race awards are presented.  I normally hit the road right before the parade kicks off since most intersections are blocked to accommodate the parade route.  Great little town and event if you’re ever in the area.

https://bostonga.com/boston-mini-marathon/

 

Next race

Will venture down to Orlando for the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) half marathon on 12/7/19.  I ran my first ever half marathon at the OUC event back in 2013.  Hard to believe but I’ve been chasing people at half marathons for 6 years now.  Never thought I would run another half marathon after the first one but now I’m traveling the country making memories with my friends.  Pretty cool transformation for me as I continue to Walk into the Future.

Looking forward to my training as I prepare for the OUC race.  Also excited to catch up with family and friends while in the Orlando area.  Already got my post-race lunch location picked and can’t wait to eat shrimp and grits! 😊 Plan to visit my favorite reggae spot, Bob Marley’s at City Walk too.  Will be another fun adventure for me!

 OUC Half

“Running won’t solve all your problems.  But then again, neither will housework.”

(Unknown)

How do you bounce back from a set back?  What lessons have you learned when things don’t turn out as planned?  Thanks!

Running, rocking out, and enjoying Philadelphia

Philly LOVE sign

“To travel is to live”.

(Hans Christian Andersen)

My Walk into the Future continues to expand my running tourist experiences.  Made a trek to the 2019 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon in September.  This was race #5 for my 2019 running goals.

The training and additional miles logged over the summer were evident during my race.  I was able to post another personal record (PR) time of 2:07:55 (official time) but was happier with how I felt mentally and physically during the race.  Past races my legs started to hurt at the 8-mile marker and really screamed at me miles 10 through 13.  Fighting the pain and the urge to stop running was always there in previous races but my new training program allowed me to enjoy every mile of the race.  Helped the Philly course was mostly flat until the end.  I never frown at a PR but will evaluate my training process to see where I can find additional speed to get me closer to my goal time of under 2 hours.

Note:  The 2-hour goal does not stop me from enjoying these races.  It’s my way to push myself to improve daily.

“The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday”.

(Haruki Murakami)

(After race and Rocky statue)

Philadelphia

Selected this race because I’ve never been to Philadelphia.  Also, I have a tree branch (Lauren Apgar) in Philly, and it gave us a chance to catch up.  Again, I take the concept of running tourist seriously so let me know if I should visit your city for a run. 😊

We left the airport and headed straight to the Philadelphia Convention Center for the Rock N Roll EXPO.  Seeing the thousands of running tourists who trek to a Rock N Roll destination to run the city and enjoy the culture is always a highlight of race weekend.

The positive energy in the EXPO hall always provides extra inspiration to run my best race.  People from all over the world converging on a location with the same goal in mind to run their best race ever.

The Philly EXPO was smaller than previous EXPOs (New Orleans and Nashville) because there was not a full marathon scheduled.  The Philly races were the half marathon, a 7.6k and a 5k.

This was Lauren’s first Rock N Roll EXPO, so it was great introducing her to the process (check-in, bib pickup, bag pickup, etc.) and attending the EXPO with vendors and products.  We got as many freebies as we could and tested out products on display.  This is a great way to get a free massage before the race since vendors want to test their products on runners.  I’m always down for the free massage!  Got a lot of cool photo ops while at the EXPO:

Food, food and more food

We left the convention center and made our way to Iron Hill Brewery (Center City) for lunch to help with my carb loading process.  Great location with a huge menu and beer options.  I don’t experiment with food prior to a race so ordered the grilled chicken sandwich, fries and the Iron Hill Light Lager.  Lots of great food on the menu if you get a chance to dine at one of their locations:

What’s a trip to Philly without visiting the Reading Terminal Market?  It’s labeled as “one of America’s largest and oldest public markets” and lived up to the reputation.  Row after row of unique foods, fare and products.  Several vendors had wrap around lines waiting to explore new tastes.  We didn’t eat at Reading Terminal Market, but it will be a regular stop when I’m back in Philly:

Dinner carb loading was done at Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria.  Stuck with the tried and true chicken parmesan because it came with a huge plate of spaghetti and sauce.  Portions were so large at Pietro’s I almost couldn’t finish it all but since I had 13.1 miles to run the next morning, I powered through.

Pietros Pizza

We ventured further out after the race to get cheese steaks.  Lauren introduced me to the Philly subway system and the proper way to get around the city.  We got an impromptu dance show from a family entertaining everyone on the subway.  Great seeing people smile and enjoy themselves as they traveled to their respective destinations.  Full disclosure, I assumed Philly was going to be all hustle and bustle like New York.  Pleasantly surprised how slow the pace was in Philly and how people interacted with each other.

Cheese steaks on every corner

We decided to take part in the great Philly cheese steak debate:  Geno’s or Pat’s.  Agreed we would do a taste test to decide which cheese steak was better.

Started at Geno’s and dived right into a large cheese steak.  Very good flavor, texture and presentation.  Made our way across the street to try Pat’s cheese steak next.  Again, very good flavor, texture and presentation.  The onions on the Pat’s cheese steak were sautéed more and the steak had more moisture than Geno’s.  We agreed both were worth a visit if you’re in Philly—can’t go wrong with either selection.

Seating is limited at Geno’s and Pat’s, so we grabbed seats at Garage Philly and enjoyed the cheese steaks, beer and people watching.  They have a DJ playing on the sidewalk, so it was a block party and a great place to relax with good food:

History

Made our way over to Independence Hall to experience some American history. Got a chance to explore multiple buildings on the property to include Congress Hall and Senate Chambers.  The Liberty Bell was another historical site we were able to experience.  Great being in a place with this much historical contexts—recommend visiting if you’re in the Philadelphia area.

Trekked over to Penn’s Landing to see the waterway and the Ben Franklin Bridge.  Great place to people watch and get photos of New Jersey across the river.  Lots of boats in the water and people enjoying the great September weather.

Philadelphia is a great place—recommend you get there for a visit if you haven’t been.  Also, recommend experiencing the great food, history and culture available.

FYI—enjoyed it so much I’ve already signed up for the 2020 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon!  Will get a chance to test out the Pat’s and Geno’s cheese steak debate again.  Can’t wait!

What city have you always wanted to visit?  When are you going?

 “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”.

(Helen Keller)

Thanks Lauren for being a great host and tour guide—well done! 😊