No time for TIME—fitness experiment

 Time

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“To make time fly, throw your watch out the window”.

(Anonymous)

The start of a new year allows everyone the opportunity to make changes to enhance their daily Walk into the Future.  Probably not the most astute thing I’ve ever written but there’s a method to my madness.

I was able to expand my running and fitness programs in 2019 by utilizing multiple training methods.  My fitness levels and race times improved monthly in 2019 and I wanted to make sure I made similar gains in 2020.  I’ve mentioned the daily, weekly and fitness tracking lists I currently use.  I can tell you what day I ran, how far and my exact times going back for a few years now.  This process has helped me get faster and mentally tougher but decided to try something new to start 2020.  No worries, I still have lists just wanted to experiment with a new tracking approach for my runs.

Wanted my 2020 New Orleans Rock n Roll half marathon preparation to have a fresh feel to it.

Decided to stop recording my training run times to see how much impact it would have on my overall training.  I still ran my normal distances (6 miles, 8 miles, 10 miles, etc.) I had already mapped out but didn’t record how fast I ran them in January or early February prior to heading to New Orleans.

Surprised how empowering not checking my pace and time during the training runs turned out to be.  The mental freedom this process gave me was refreshing.  I ran hard and hit all my mileage goals but didn’t have a clock always ticking to dictate if it was a quality session or not.  Was able to determine session quality on my own and still got maximum benefits from my running program.

There were days I was able to run further than I planned because I didn’t have a constant reminder on my wrist showing me how long I had been running.  This process will not remain a permanent part of my running program but will utilize again to add something different to my training to keep it from getting stale.  Believe the benefits of not keeping time will enhance my long weekend runs (12 miles or more).  The constant reminder of how long I’ve been running generates more negative thoughts than the distance of the long runs.  So, ditching the time portion of the long run may create the positive results I seek to improve my endurance levels.  Inside information, I’m close to signing up for my first full marathon! 😊

This simple change eliminated the concept of time as an obstacle while running.  Most days out I’m always chasing or trying to beat a specific time based on the distance.  Eliminating the time portion of my run provided a better experience for me to log miles during my training.  Got in 110 miles prior to New Orleans without stressing about run times.

2020 New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon (2/9/20)

This new process got me across the finish line at the 2020 New Orleans Rock N Roll Half marathon in great physical and mental spirits.  Believe this was my best tactical race so far based on my fresh training approach.  I didn’t have any mental blocks holding me back and hit all the milestones I wanted during the race.  Technically, I finished over 3 minutes faster than my 2019 New Orleans race with this approach and minimal physical aches.  I felt all 13.1 miles of the race but was able to recover a lot quicker than in the past.  Started training again 3 days after completing my race in New Orleans.

There’s still a place for TIME in my training program but will not let time determine overall success in 2020.  On to my next Rock N Roll venue—Nashville, TN!

How does time impact your daily activities?  Are there areas the concept of time hampers outcomes?  Curious, thanks!

 “Time is precious…waste it wisely”.

(Cherrybam.com)

The running tourist returns to New Orleans

“An American has not seen the United States until they have seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans”.

(Mark Twain)

Returned to New Orleans for the 2020 Rock N Roll Half Marathon in early February.  This was my third year running the race and I enjoyed the adventures of being a running tourist again this year.  The weather was warmer than normal for February but not too bad where runners couldn’t finish.

Decided to take full advantage of the running tourism available in a city with so much culture and things to see.  Of course, food is a major attraction in New Orleans, and I made sure I got to sample from different locations while visiting.

Rock N Roll EXPO

The EXPO was a little bigger this year with new vendors and products to try or take with you for use later.  Always exciting to see the other runners at the EXPO.  People from all over the world converging with the same mindset to run and enjoy their time in New Orleans.  The live DJ was a new twist at the EXPO but fit with the New Orleans experience.

Got to take a few pictures prior to picking up my race bib, t-shirt and goodies.  This is a highlight while visiting the EXPO—you’ve got to get your picture taken with the multiple props the Rock N Roll folks provide.  The giant Brooks running sneaker was a new feature to the EXPO this year—created a long line to get next to that sneaker.

Made my way through registration and the Rock N Roll merchandise shopping area—didn’t purchase any new gear this year.  Sampled some B12 drinks provided by vendors and stocked up on Energy Jellybeans for use before the race.  I’ve tried these before so no fear of a bad stomach reaction; I never try new things before a race so I don’t experience stomach issues–lesson learned. 😊

My favorite vendor at the EXPO provided massage chairs for use.  Of course, they wanted to sell some of the chairs, but I was able to get a FREE 15-minute chair massage and enjoyed every minute of it.  This was an added benefit of attending the EXPO.

“It’s rude to count people as you pass them.  Out loud”.

(Adidas ad)

Rock N Roll Half

My hotel was only two blocks away from the start line this year so got a little extra sleep on race day.  Race time temperatures normally start in the mid-40s this time of year, but racers were greeted with high-50s and humidity prior to the start.  This meant we were in for a race finish much warmer than most of us wanted.

I was pleasantly surprised my race corral was #2 this year.  I remember my first Rock N Roll race had me in corral #24 so looks like I’m moving up in the world. 😊  The New Orleans course is flat and mostly shady which helps when the sun comes out.

Decided to enjoy the course and scenery during the first half of the race—didn’t push my pace to let the other runners thin out a bit around me.  The first mile is always the toughest for me because you’re surrounded by so many people.  Had to display a new level of patience knowing I could make up time later in the race due to training progress and enhanced fitness levels.

A good portion of the half marathon takes place on St. Charles Avenue which is lined with homes, shops and restaurants.  It’s a rich environment for spectators to cheer runners and provide additional encouragement.  This area feels like New Orleans to me and I enjoyed the scenery while making my way through the city.

It’s always great when we get to see the ELITE runners on the opposite side of St. Charles Ave. after they make the turn to head back towards the Warehouse District–this is the only time we get to see the ELITES until the finish line.  They are impressive to watch run!

We made our way through the Warehouse District then into the French Market before ending at Roosevelt Mall in City Park.  The French Market is always full of people eating breakfast who come out to cheer for the runners.  This provides a little more inspiration to finish—please note, there’s no shade here and it started to get hot quickly so people cheering was appreciated!

Was able to lock in mentally at this point and trust my training to get me to the finish line.  Took my last energy gel at Mile 11 and decided to enjoy my experience, the scenery and the other runners and pushed forward.  Even high fived a few spectators who lined the streets to cheer for us—this was a fun day!

Completed the half in 2:07:34 which was 3 minutes faster than I ran in 2019.  Not bad for the first race of the year and the temperature. Full disclosure, this was my second fastest half marathon so I’m extremely happy to start running season with a bang.  Got two full months to prepare for Nashville in April.  Another highlight of the Rock N Roll weekend is a new event added to the 2020 calendar—Clearwater, Florida in October.  Excited to have a home state race on the calendar!  Got my early bird registration in for Clearwater to take advantage of the low price.  Should be fun!

Chicken and Waffles again!

Raved about the chicken and waffles at the Creole House last year and had to try the dish again this year.  They did not disappoint!  This is still one of my favorite stops in New Orleans. The food, service and atmosphere are first rate and highly recommend the Creole House if you plan to visit New Orleans.

Found a worthy competitor for the Creole House at Daisy Mae’s.  Daisy Mae’s is on a side street most tourist may not venture down.  Got lucky because it was one street over from my hotel and I noticed the locals going in and out.  Decided it was worth a visit and I was not disappointed with my choice.  I’m not a food critic but would recommend EVERYONE stop by Daisy Mae’s for the chicken and waffles.  I’m not a huge spicy food eater but the spice on the fried chicken was amazing—spicy but not over the top.  I love the Creole House, but Daisey Mae’s has made it on my must visit list too.  Please be patient, they cook chicken as it’s ordered so the wait can be 15 – 20 minutes but well worth it!

Won’t bore you with French Quarter recaps—I drank, listened to great music and took in the Bourbon Street scene multiple times.  Always an eye-opening experience!

Looking to expand my running tourism reach in 2020—got some new cities lined up to visit and enjoy while running.  Who’s with me?

 

Where are you running in 2020?  Where have you always wanted to go but have not been yet?  What’s holding you back?  Get out there and Walk into the Future!

“I run so my goals in life get bigger instead of my belly”.

(Bill Kirby)

 

Running fitness—the transformation continues

Transformation

(Image by Kei Rothblack from Pixabay)

“Change is inevitable, but transformation is by conscious choice”.

(Heather Ash Amara)

 I’ve been able to experience a lot of new and exciting things during my current Walk into the Future.  Didn’t have a complete idea how this walk would transpire but happy to report it is going very well.

I get to travel and experience new places and adventures, see friends and catch up, write and network daily and work on my mental and physical fitness.  We will dive into my physical fitness to highlight an important transformation that I’m adjusting to.  Not complaining about this transformation but it has a funny side effect.

My normal body weight when I started this Walk into the Future adventure and blog was in the 205 – 207 pound range.  Was always happy with this weight range because I concentrated more on lifting weights during my gym sessions to build muscle.  I wasn’t a power lifter, but I made sure to add a few additional plates to maintain my muscle volume and fill out my shirts.

My workouts still focus on overall body symmetry with designated days for each body part (chest day, leg day, back, etc.).  The big shift with my fitness program is the cardio components I’ve added as I pursue my half marathon goal to finish under two hours.

I’ve documented in multiple blog posts the increased mileage I’m running to improve my endurance and speed for my races.  I continue to look for ways to get faster as I extend my runs and weekly mileage.  Set a 2020 goal to hit 1,200 miles this year!

The one thing I really didn’t notice was the effect running was having on my body.  No, I’m not going to report aches and pains, that comes with running, that’s normal and should be expected.

The big impact the extended running program has on my transformation has been my body weight.  I registered 194 pounds on the scale last week.  Let’s put that number in life context.  The last time I saw 194 pounds on a scale was 1996—my niece Jayla wasn’t born yet! 😊

Believe I should have known the transformation was happening because my belts all appeared to be getting longer.  I know this can’t happen—it was me getting more toned because of my running and gym activities.  Spent last weekend shopping for new belts because I didn’t want to have that old dude with a too long belt look anymore.  Happy to report all belts have been replaced to keep me somewhat fashion relevant.

Never intended to lose a specific amount of weight when I started running more.  I realize weight loss and body transformation can and do happen when you run a lot.  Figured my weekly cake tasting sessions, pizza and the beer/chicken wing outings would hinder any weight loss goals.

Please read the last sentence again—yes, I still eat cake, pizza, wings and drink beer and still lost weight.  Imagine what would happen if I cleaned up my diet! 😊

My disclaimer is, I run and workout so I can eat what I like.  It hasn’t hindered me so far.  Will look to eat a bit cleaner in 2020 to enhance my overall fitness and race endurance.

What transformation have you had recently?  What can you transform in 2020?  Thanks for walking with me!

 “Transformation isn’t a future event.  It’s a present-day activity”.

(Jillian Michaels)

(Left:  December 2018, 205 pounds / Right:  December 2019, 194 pounds)

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

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! 😊

Running to Philly

person wearing grey nike sneakers
Photo by Karl Solano on Pexels.com

“I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days”.

(Ronald Rook)

Decided early to make my Walk into the Future about setting goals and then putting in the work to meet those goals.  Very proud of my efforts so far in 2019 as I continue to cross things off my list daily.  One of my ongoing 2019 goals is to run a half marathon under 2 hours.  I’ve improved my best time twice this year for a total of 5 minutes faster than I ran in 2018.  My best time of 2:08:21 (2 hours, 8 minutes, 21 seconds) was run at the 2019 Nashville Rock n Roll Half Marathon back in April.  Very proud of this time and training used to get ready for Nashville.  Again, my 2019 goal is to run under two hours, so still have work to do.

Miles, miles and more miles

Determined the best way to run faster was to increase my training program with additional miles.  I had to put some thought into how this would happen considering I would be running during the summer in Florida.  The heat and humidity can be unbearable just walking around so running would be an additional challenge.  Set my running schedule to avoid the hottest times during the day—early morning runs allowed me to get out and back before the full heat and humidity of the day kicked in.  Weekend runs started a bit earlier since I leveraged this time for my long runs.  Learned quickly getting out and back before 9:30 am was ideal—anything past 9:30 am and the heat beats you up.

Logged 50+ miles in June using this training method.  June also provided me with the blueprint on times to run, times to avoid and how to hydrate properly to pull this process off successfully.  Increased my training miles in July to 70+ by running two weekday runs of 5 – 6 miles each and then having a long run of 8 – 10 miles on the weekends.  Also, started carrying a hydration belt with Gatorade and water so I could replenish fluids while out for my run.  Hydration belts are not the coolest looking accessory, but it is very functional when you need something to drink miles away from water.

I extended my training program and physical capabilities in August with a 100+ mile month.  My two weekday runs were extended up to 8 miles each and my weekend runs extended up to 11 – 12 miles.  My longest August training run was 12.65 miles.  Long runs were done to get the miles in, didn’t try to hit race pace since I wanted to build up my running base without trying to hit a specific time.  Ironically, my long run times were still better than some half marathons I ran a few years ago.  Looks like I’m getting faster just by adding long runs to my training program.

Note:  I still made it to the gym for my normal workouts and extra cardio.  Running was the priority for run days, but I didn’t eliminate weight training, yoga or stretching sessions.

Run Day view

September is my taper month as I refresh my legs for the Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon on 9/15/19.  I logged 20 running miles in September to complete my training program prior to heading off to Philly.  This allowed me to mentally and physically get ready to run my best in Philly.

The best part of being this close to a race is I get to carb load—all the pasta and bread I want! 😊  This will help my energy levels during the race and keep me moving fast.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrate-loading/art-20048518

Cross Training View2

(Leg day on the Pit Shark)

Lessons learned

Mixed in hills, intervals and long runs into my training program prior to Philly.  Felt I needed to incorporate more hills and intervals after my Nashville race.  Believe these added programs will give me the endurance, speed and mental toughness needed to get under two hours in Philly.  We will see!  If not, the next race is 10/26/19 in Boston, Georgia.

You can follow my Philly progress using the Rock N Roll app:

https://rtrt.me/app/rnra

Off to Philly and looking forward to my cheese steaks after the race and sightseeing in a new city!

How are you doing with your 2019 goals?  What adjustments are needed to ensure you meet your written goals?  Thanks!

 “A goal is just an awesome way to force growth on yourself”.

(Deena Kastor)

The Big Harvest—Collecting Race Bling

 ‘Any idiot can run, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run a half marathon.’

(Spectator sign, Nashville 2019)

The process of running a half marathon has many layers.  You have the training, nutrition, travel to the race site, EXPO and the actual race.  Sounds like a lot but each layer gets easier the more you invest into the process of being a runner.

Took me a while to get comfortable with the concept of labeling myself a runner but finally stopped fighting the term and gladly accept it.  Hi, my name is Calvin and I’m a runner! 😊  Felt good getting that off my chest.  The quote above is from a spectator’s sign I saw while running the 2019 Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon.  There are thousands of similar and funnier signs at every race.  The spectators are there to cheer, motivate and at times make runners laugh to help get through their respective race.  I make a point to acknowledge sign holders especially when they display a clever sign.  Another of my favorites:

‘Worse parade…EVER!’

The signs and spectators are welcome distractions from the actual process of completing a 13.1-mile race.  Music helps break up the miles, but the spectators always make me laugh with their encouragement and clever signage.

‘You know you’re a runner when…bling has nothing to do with jewelry.’

(Runners World)

An overlooked layer to the half marathon is what happens directly after crossing the finish line.  A legion of volunteers waits for each runner to cross the finish line and present us with city/race unique bling.  I never thought race medals would mean much to me but getting crowned after finishing a half marathon completes the journey.  I would feel I accomplished something big without the bling but let’s be honest—what’s the fun in that?! 😊

I always write about races and my training routine to get prepared.  The race city and entertainment options are other favorite things I have written about.  Decided to invest in a medal holder for the bling I’ve collected over the years to properly display my ‘adult trophies’.  Didn’t realize how many medals or how cool some of them are prior to researching the medal holder.  I didn’t have much of an organizational system for them either.  This will all change since I put in the work to earn the bling—will get these properly displayed on a medal holder where everyone can see them and then must listen to me explain each one—just joking!

Seriously, runners put in a lot of work to get ready for the races and perform their best.  The bling is a nice reminder of the race and city.  The bling is something we cherish and look forward to seeing what next year’s bling will look like.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll series has a Heavy Medal program that allows runners to collect additional bling based on number of events:

https://www.runrocknroll.com/Programs/Medals/Heavy-Medals

Of course, I’m trying to get the Don’t Worry Just Run medal.  I’m sure you can figure out why! Everything Irie!

Had an interesting conversation with a tree branch last month about race bling.  He selects race participation strictly on the bling available for the race.  Bling not up to par and he will not run in your race!  I’m not there yet, if there’s beer at the end I’m probably going to run your race! 😊

How do you display your race bling?  How important is this aspect of the race for you?  Thanks!

On the good foot: The Brooks take over

‘I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days.’

(Ronald Rook)

My current Walk into the Future has allowed me to grow in many areas.  One of those areas is my constant pursuit to run a half marathon under 2 hours.  I discovered the only way to meet the goal was to actual put in the work to get there.  I’ve documented my past training program consisted of the occasional 7 mile run before tackling the challenge of running a half marathon.  I was finishing the races but didn’t have the extra kick needed to really approach my running goal.

The new running plan now has me doing the following:

  • Tuesday: 5-mile run (or longer)
  • Thursday: 7-mile run (or longer)
  • Saturday: 10 to 15-mile run
    • Note: All adjusted based on weather or my schedule
    • Leverage the treadmill for speed work

This increased mileage has been good to condition my mind and body.  The mental and physical toughness generated was very evident in my last half marathon in Nashville.  Building muscle memory to continue to move forward even when it hurts is an outcome from the increased running workload.

Decided to utilize a local running specialty store, Fleet Feet to have my feet and gait analyzed to see if I could gain an advantage with my training.  Please note, I recommend everyone get a foot and gait analysis done before tackling the miles needed to complete a half marathon.

My foot analysis identified three issues I had but didn’t know about.  The first issue discovered is my feet are not flat, I have a low arch, but it still exists.  Was told years ago by a doctor I needed inserts because I had flat feet.  The second issue was my right foot is longer than my left.  The third issue was I always bought running shoes base on my ‘true’ shoe size.

The Fleet Feet staff recommended with the miles and races I participate in, I should buy running shoes a full size longer than my normal foot size.  The larger shoe allows my feet to breath better and provides a platform in case my feet swell while chasing additional miles.  The larger shoe also eliminated the discomfort I felt since one foot is longer than the other.

Armed with this new intel, I had the Fleet Feet staff recommend shoes to fit my unique feet (no pun intended).  They provided me with 3 in-store options to try and get a comfortable feel for.  Each shoe provided a different level of technology (arch support, roll bars, cushioning, etc.).  Decided to conduct my own research on each shoe they showed me but came away impressed with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 model.  I switched from my normal ASICS GT-2000 shoes to the Brooks shoes two weeks prior to the Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll 2019 half marathon.  This gave me enough time to get 30 miles of training in the new shoe—never race in brand new shoes.

Happy to say the Brooks running shoes performed very well for me in Nashville and training leading up to the race.  The support the new shoes provide eliminated foot discomfort, leg fatigue and joint issues.

Grateful to the Fleet Feet staff for helping me understand more about my feet and the need to ensure my equipment matches my needs.  I love the ASICS brand but was more than willing to replace them to keep my feet happy and moving forward.  Excited to see the future race results in my new Brooks—more miles to come!

Join me at the Philly Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in September to see how my new Brooks are performing!

‘Some seek the comfort of their therapist’s office, others head to the corner pub, but I chose running as my therapy.’

(Dean Karnazes)

Brooks

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!