Southern Shores, North Carolina (Repost)

Duck tree

“Never lose your sense of wander”.

(TheWanderlust.com)

Southern Shores is a small town located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  I heard of the Outer Banks but did not know it was comprised of several small coastal towns.

My introduction to Southern Shores came about because one of my best friends visited the area last summer and shared how nice it was there.  Decided to explore the area as part of my ongoing quest to Walk into the Future.

Southern Shores is a quick and easy drive from the Virginia Beach and Norfolk area.  Made my way over to explore the area and take in a few sights.

Discovered a nice Air Bed and Breakfast (AirBNB) for my visit that was centrally located to the main areas.  It was a short walk or drive to Duck, North Carolina which I had never heard of prior to my trip.  Turns out one of my work friends has a family vacation home in Duck and she was excited to learn I was heading there.  She also gave me suggestions on places to visit and eat while in the area.

Aqua Restaurant & Spa was recommended as a great spot for food, music, and views of the bay.  Aqua lived up to the hype and more.  The service and food were great and the sunset bouncing off the water was a great way to end a day. 

https://aquaobx.com/

Tullio’s Bakery was the recommended breakfast spot.  They have pastries, donuts and breakfast sandwiches made to order.  Grabbed a bacon and egg croissant and coffee before heading over to the beach for the day.  The sandwich was a very simple selection, but the fresh croissant really made it stand out.  Wish I had grabbed a second one before I hit the beach. 😊

https://www.tulliosbakery.com/

The Outer Banks beach scene is a lot different than the beaches in Florida.  The main attraction for the beach goers is the ability to drive on the beaches.  There are ‘air down’ stations where people lower the air pressure in their tires so they can get better traction on the beach.  I had never heard of this process for driving on the beach.  It appears less air in the tires allows vehicles to not get stuck and spin out while driving on the beach.  I just assumed a 4-wheel drive vehicle would be fine in the sand, but big truck drivers dropped air pressure too.

Got a chance to sit on the main beach in Duck and caught a nap while enjoying the weather and watching people drive by.  There are wild horses on the Outer Banks but did not get a chance to see them wandering around.  Spent about 30 minutes searching but decided to just relax and enjoy the sound of the North Carolina waves.

Turns out the North Carolina waves sound like my regular Florida waves.  Went over to the pedestrian side of the beach so I could walk without worrying about cars driving by.  Decided to walk and enjoy the sun and relax. 

Ventured to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse to explore more while in Duck.  There was a lot of activity at the lighthouse with tourists looking for adventure.  Took one turn around the area and then headed back to the AirBNB to rest up. 

Discovered the HULU show Only Murders in the Building while back in the AirBNB.  Binged watched multiple episodes and really got into the characters and plot of the show.  Highly recommend checking this show out on HULU if you have not watched it.  Got a free trial on HULU so I could watch the final episodes when I returned home.  Looking forward to Season #2 in September—love clever shows!

https://www.outerbanks.com/currituck-beach-lighthouse.html

Duck light house

Happy I made the trek to Southern Shores to explore a new area during my Walk into the Future.  Don’t know if I will make it back there but it was a great adventure and I’m happy I made time to get there.  Always looking for new places to visit and the adventures that come with travel. 

No regrets, ever! 😊 😊 😊

Where are you planning to visit this year?

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”.

(Pinterest.com)

Return to the Swamp—Go Gators

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Decided to take a long overdue Walk into the Future pilgrimage back to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium AKA The Swamp to watch the Florida Gators play the University of South Florida (USF) Bulls.

My favorite person, Jayla Williams reminded me in September that we have not been to a Gator game in a few years.  The Gators struggled on the field from 2016 – 2018 due to horrible coaching and bad recruiting.  We started to turn it around with a new coach but then COVID-19 made going to football a public health issue, so we stayed away.

I caught the Gators play in Tallahassee against FSU a couple times during the bad years since I lived and worked there.  Jayla and I had been on hiatus from The Swamp and this game was a great opportunity to spend time in a favorite location for us.

We picked the USF game because it was supposed to be an easy victory for the Gators.  Someone forgot to tell the USF players to lay down and take their butt whipping.

The Gators won but it felt like a defeat to most of the fans in attendance.  FYI—Gator fans can be a prickly bunch (me included) so the world was not ending but anything other than a perfect game by the beloved Gators gets under people’s skin.

I was able to get our tickets off Stub Hub for a good price.  We sat in Section 20, Row 21 which put us in the south endzone with a great view of the field and close to the Gator’s bench.  It was exciting to be back in the Swamp and experience a game day with Jayla again.  I’m sure we have a few more of these moments in our future and hope for a much better game from the Gators.

Here are a few pictures from our Swamp adventure:

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Irie!

Run to Stop Hunger 5k

“Running is real and relatively simple…but it ain’t easy”.

(Mark Will-Weber)

My Walk into the Future allows me to mix and match my adventures depending on what I am trying to get accomplished.

I always love the running tourist part of my journey since I get to explore and stay in shape by training.  My big running goal for 2022 is to run and complete my first full marathon in December.  My training program is going well as I am averaging 30+ weekly miles to prepare for the task of running 26.2 miles in Palm Beach.  The 18-week training program allows me some flexibility but a standard in the program is the long run concept each weekend.  The miles increase incrementally each week and I have been dedicated to ensuring I get up on Saturdays to do my part to ensure I am ready for the full marathon.

Decided to sign-up for local 5ks to improve my speed and warm up prior to going out for my long runs.  The 5k (3.1 miles) distance provides a great opportunity to get out and test my fitness levels, gauge my speed, and have fun. 

Signed up for the Run to Stop Hunger 5k in Fort Pierce in September.  This was a hometown race, so the running tourist did not get a chance to explore new locales, but I did get to see Fort Pierce in a different context. 

The race start and finish line was located within Causeway Cove which sits directly on the Indian River in Fort Pierce.  I run by this location weekly but never ventured onto the site to explore everything that is located there.  I see the signs for jet ski rentals when running and always think about going in to rent a jet ski but have not made that happen to date.  Interesting spot with a lot of different activities hosted there:  RV park, drive-in movies on Saturday nights, concerts, food festivals, etc.

Needed to complete 14 total miles so decided to park closer to downtown Fort Pierce and run across the Seaway Drive bridge as a warmup before the 5k.  My goal was to get a 1-mile prerace run in to loosen my legs and give me a springboard to get up to speed during the 5k.  Made my way across the Seaway Drive bridge at a comfortable pace and arrived in Causeway Cove warmed up and ready to go.

I did not set a time goal for this 5k but wanted to go out faster than I did for the Celebration of Running 5k back in August.  We did not have as many runners for this race so there was not as much traffic to navigate on the course.  The course was completely flat, and we did not have to cross traffic at all.

It was an out and back race format with the turnaround at the 1.5-mile marker.  It was cool getting a chance to see the leaders heading back towards the finish line—got a chance to gauge how close or far I was from the race leader. 😊

My first mile was run in 8:40 and I felt comfortable with this pace.  Smiled when I looked at my watch and saw my first mile was well under a 9-minute pace.  The Florida humidity was thick as always, but this did not keep me from maintaining this pace throughout the race—my goal was to get some speed work in so no need to back off at this point.

I locked in on a couple runners to help pace me the rest of the way after crossing the race midpoint.  I felt the humidity a bit more in the second part of the race but had my music cranking (TI’s Motivation, again) and kept running hard.

Crossed the finish line at 26:43 for a pace of 8:35. This was my fastest 5k since March 2020 so extremely happy with the results.  This time allowed me to finish second in my age group and collect a medal and age group award.  Got a chance to talk with some local runners while waiting for the awards ceremony—we are a friendly bunch of people.

Still needed to get in additional miles so left Causeway Cove and ran back over the Seaway Drive bridge to my vehicle.  Got my additional 9 miles completed on Ocean Drive for a total of 14 for the day. 

Happy with my results and how my legs feel during this preparation phase of training.  Will leverage speed work more as I get closer to my marathon date.

Happy running folks!

Irie!

“As we run, we become”.

(Amby Burfoot)

Navy SEAL Museum

Navy SEAL1

“We learn a lot and each museum ends up having its own distinctive character and personality”.

(Richard Meier)

I was honored when I was invited to join the IRSC Student Veteran Organization (SVO) leadership board as they toured the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida.  I have driven by the museum, but this was my first time to enter the building and get a chance to review the history of the Navy SEALs.  This trip has been the highlight of 2022 for my Walk into The Future.

It is great to have the Navy SEAL Museum locally in Fort Pierce and my visit will allow me to share with others. 

My first experience with the Navy SEALs was a 2017 visit out to San Diego for an Educator’s Tour while I was still at Florida State University.  Select educators from around the country are invited out by the Navy to tour and see SEAL facilities to help with recruitment efforts.  I have been on multiple Educators tours:  Marine Corps (Quantico, VA.), Army (Fort Jackson, SC).  The services like to bring educators in to show them what true military services looks like and answer questions to enhance recruiting efforts at universities and colleges.

My time in San Diego was to learn about the SEALs training efforts so I would be able to help students understand how their education would translate to the Navy and/or the SEALs.  The training is recognized as a mental and physical challenge, this is why the SEALs are such a respected and elite group—they are truly the best of the best!

Fast forward to 2022 and my trip to the museum.  We were able to walk the halls and view historical artifacts from SEAL missions around the world.  The history of the SEALs is displayed throughout with emphasis on the tools used for success around the world.  The central theme for me was the bravery of the SEALs and how they carried out missions with professionalism and precision.

I learned quite a bit during this trip and look forward to coming back with friends and family so they can see/experience this great history on display.

https://www.navysealmuseum.org/

Marathon training – Week 5

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“Of all the races, there is not better stage for heroism than a marathon”.

(George Sheehan)

The Walk into the Future blog is based on 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. 

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(Hydration vest)

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.

Irie

“When you run a marathon, you run against the distance, not against the other runners and not against the time”.

(Haile Gebrselassie)

Poetic Flow / Drive

cars ahead on road
Photo by Taras Makarenko on Pexels.com

Drive

Keep moving ahead

The dreams you dream are all in front of you

The actions you take

The dedication you display

The time you take

To chart the course

All come down to the drive you have

To seek your dreams and then to fulfill those dreams

Drive your success by allowing your dreams to come true

2022 Running Season

Track Shack1

“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.

Irie!

https://www.osc.org/

https://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/departments-services/leisure-services/greenways-natural-lands/trails/cross-seminole-trail.stml#

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”.

(Eric Thomas)

Wilmington, Delaware

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“Adventure is worthwhile in itself”.

(Global Castaway)

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?

Irie!

“Do more than just exist”.

(Pinterest)

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.

2022 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Conference

NACE2022

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.

Irie!    

2022 Rock N Roll Atlantic City

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“Don’t dream of winning, train for it”.

(Mo Farrah)

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.

AC Lauren Reese

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.

AC EXPO1

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:

AC EXPO2

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!

Our race splits are below:

Mile 1:  9:28 / Mile 2: 9:35 / Mile 3: 9:26 / Mile 4: 9:52 / Mile 5: 9:32 / Mile 6: 10:29 / Mile 7: 10:10 / Mile 8:  9:53 / Mile 9: 11:14 / Mile 10: 10:59 / Mile 11: 10:48 / Mile 12: 11:33 / Mile 13: 10:38 / Mile 14: 1:56

We celebrated with pictures, beer, and breakfast on the board walk! This was a great course, EXPO, and race experience—so good, I have already signed up for the 2023 race.

I plan to stay closer to the boardwalk next year so I can enjoy the entertainment and shopping more.  Looks like Lauren will be coming back as well so we can get her another PR! 😊

Well done, Lauren!

Irie!

“The man who moves mountains begins by carrying small stones”.

(Confucius)

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