Make your bed! (Repost)

Books

“Good order is the foundation of all things”.

(Edmund Burke)

My Walk into the Future allows me to pick and choose my adventures and some take me to amazing places.  Others find me rooted at home but still bring a level of joy and satisfaction.

I am an avid reader and love to find new books to help me as a lifelong learner.  My latest find was the book by retired Admiral William H. McRaven titled Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe The World.  

The title is simple enough and gives the reader an understanding of what the Admiral will cover in this book.

I love the fact the book is broken up into short chapters that are easy to follow and integrate into daily life for readers.  Admiral McRaven uses things from his life to help highlight the importance of how little things add up to make life move forward.

The book starts with the simple premise of why making your bed daily sets the tone for the day.  I understood this fact when I read the book but did not fully gain knowledge until I shared the book with a coworker who reads more books than I do.  My coworker assumes since I am retired Air Force the concept of making your bed was instilled in me during my time in the Air Force.  He was surprised when I told him I rarely make my bed because I did not see the importance of the act.  I am not a slob but making my bed happens when it happens—I did not go out of my way to make the bed before heading to work.

My coworker was shocked with my admission. I can be set in my ways but went back and read the chapter on making your bed to figure out what I missed.

I started making my bed DAILY after reading again to see if this simple act made a difference in my day.  The verdict is in—yes, it does!

This simple act appears to be a springboard for a productive day for me. 

The flow I have been able to display at work came once I made the decision to start my day with a simple act of organization.  Taking the time to make my bed and organize before leaving the house for work or my runs puts me in a better mindset for the day.  I arrive at work with a mindset to organize and I can transition quicker once I make it to my desk.  This may all be a coincidence but the flow, production, and ability to get more accomplished came once I decided to make my bed.

This is a recent phenomenon for me but exciting at the same time.  The ability to make a difference daily is something I take pride in.  Making my bed appears to heighten my ability to get this done.

Let’s be clear on this!  I fully understand making the bed has not given me a new superpower, but it provides me an opportunity to cross off a daily task early in the day.  I view making my bed as the first win of the day and gets me ready to win throughout the day.  I love crossing things off my to-do lists and I can get this started before I leave the house. 

Therefore, making your bed is an important step for the day!  It sets the tone and establishes a foundation for success—give it a try and let’s see what making your bed can do for you!

What are your thoughts on the importance of making your bed?  How does it set the tone for the day?

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned”.

(Benjamin Franklin)

Busy or productive?

Busy or Productive

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life”.

(Socrates)

Dictionary.com defines busy as having a great deal to do.

Conversely, Dictionary.com defines productive as producing or able to produce large amounts of goods, crops, or other commodities.

So, which of these definitions describes your daily endeavors in the workplace?

People use the terms in a similar fashion, but I am quick to tell folks my goal is to be productive daily

Busy can quickly become a mindset that leads to staff becoming overwhelmed with the tasks they must handle in the work environment.  I ask staff members how they are doing throughout the day and when I hear someone say they are busy I simply ask:  are you busy or productive?

This makes folks pause for a bit and then they want to know the difference.  Again, I refer to the two distinct definitions.  Someone who exclaims they are busy is identifying they have a lot of things to do, and they are thinking about that workload.  Some will just come out and say I have a lot on my plate and need to get things done.  Sounds reasonable but it can also cause a mental drain on the staff member and anyone else who hears a constant “I am busy” drumbeat in the work environment.  Yes, there may be a lot to do but saying ‘busy’ does not move the needle to get things done. 

Flip the script!

My goal is to be productive daily, and this starts with the concept of coming to work to get things done.  The old saying talk is cheap would apply here.  Talking about being busy does nothing to get task accomplished.  A productive mindset allows staff members to come in with focus and take an active role in getting things done.  Tools I use to increase productivity:

  • To Do Lists (daily, weekly, monthly)
  • Outlook calendar (meeting reminders, team time off, out of office reminders)
  • Face to face conversations
  • Email
  • Large Post It Notes on my office walls
  • Staff meetings (group, 1:1, virtual)

I have used To Do Lists for most of my professional life and these lists help me plan/organize my day to keep me focused on deadlines and work products I need to complete.  I begin each morning before going into the office with a list of action items I want to accomplish for the day.  I sync this list up with any items I did not complete the previous day once I arrive in the office. 

FYI, I am also the first person in the building most days so I can have 45 minutes to consolidate my lists and build a game plan for the day.  Yes, I put this much thought into my operation to ensure I have a productive day.  I am trying to maximize my opportunities to be productive and leverage all the tools available to help me with this.  A secondary benefit of my lists is they allow me to pick up where I left off when I must help staff members with a task or problem.  I can come back and pick up where I left off without wasting time trying to remember what I need to get done.  Please note, staff and clients take priority, so I get a lot of practice coming back to my daily lists.

Face to face conversations are a great way to keep the productivity flowing.  I find simply getting up from my desk and going to have a conversation is more productive than emailing back and forth.  We can talk things through, come to a consensus and eliminate potential misunderstandings.  Of course, this only works if the person is available to have a conversation. 😊

Busy or productive office

The large Post It Notes on my office walls is something I started while working in the Florida State University’s Career Center.  The concept was for me to put big projects on Post It Notes so staff could come into the office and add updates to each project.  I began to allow staff to build their own projects and put them on my office walls so we could work them together.  I got the Post It Note idea because my white board was not large enough to highlight multiple projects.  I purchase the Post It Notes from Staples and they stick to the wall.  These notes provide a great visual to highlight how productive we are on any given day.  One of my current staff members said coming into my office and seeing the notes is like being ‘in my mind’.  I quickly told her to get out of there because there is a lot going on up there. 😊

There are other ways to become productive in the work environment, but these are a few that I leverage daily to help move me and the organization forward.

So, I ask you, are you busy or productive?  What tools are you using to help your productivity?  I welcome your thoughts—thanks!

“Focus on being productive instead of busy”.

(Tim Ferris)

2022 Florida Half Marathon

“Please ignore the faces I make while running”.

(Anonymous)

IMG_20220212_201240_884

Diabolical:  Outrageously wicked (Dictionary.com).

Never thought I would describe a race as diabolical but that’s what I am going to do.  I know there are other meanings for diabolical, but I will stick with outrageously wicked.

The Florida Marathon/Half Marathon is a fine race that is put on by a fantastic run organization.  My use of the word diabolical is more to describe the course and how the runners must finish both races.

Yes, this was a half marathon, so I was ready to put in my 13.1 miles of work in for the day.  I was happy with my 2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon results in January and wanted to translate that effort into the 2022 Florida Half Marathon in Melbourne.

Let’s jump ahead a bit—there was no translation from the Vero Beach race to the Melbourne race.  Happy with my effort but did not get close to matching or exceeding my January race time during this race.  More on that later. 😊

Signed up for this race to ensure I run monthly half marathons January through May.  Wanted to test myself by adding more races to my schedule in 2022 and building a run base that will allow me to get faster with each race—in theory

Melbourne is one of my favorite places to visit because of the great beaches and laid-back vibe of the people.  This race provides the best of my worlds—beaches and running.  This was my first race in Melbourne, so I was excited to run the city as a running tourist

Drove up on Saturday morning since this race had a Sunday morning start.  I wanted to get in town early enough to pick up my race packet and continue to carb load throughout the day.  My ultimate motive was to get into town early enough so I could go sit on the beach at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for a bit.  I always maximize beach time when I can. 😊

The EXPO was held in the Front Street Park Civic Center.  This sounds like a huge place, but it is the size of a regular house, and it is right on the river side in downtown Melbourne.  Parking was quick and easy, so made my way into the Civic Center to get my race packet and see what the vendors had to offer.

There were only a handful of runners in the Civic Center when I arrived so went right to the front of the line to get my race bib (#715) and packet.  Grabbed a fellow runner to take my picture in front of the step and repeat race display which is a tradition for me.  Walked around a bit to see the vendors but did not buy anything while at the EXPO.

Went outside and took a few pictures along the river and got a great shot of one of the bridges we would have to cross during the race.  The bridge incline should have been a precursor of what was to come.

Left the Civic Center and checked into my hotel.  Wanted to drop off my bags and get a good feel for how close the hotel was to the race start line.  Made my way to the Crowne Plaza to get lunch and continue my carb loading process.  The weather was great on Saturday and provided a perfect backdrop to relax on the beach and listen to the band playing on the deck.  Enjoyed a turkey club sandwich, fries, and Bud Light at the Crowne Plaza.  They have an extensive menu, but I stay conservative the day before a race to eliminate potential stomach issues during the race—lesson learned from a past race.  Sat on the beach for a bit and enjoyed the views before heading out.

Left the Crowne Plaza and made my way to Patrick Space Force Base (PSFB) for a quick shopping trip.  Wanted to see if they had the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22s to replace my GTS 21s.  They had the 22s but not in my size so walked around and looked at stuff I didn’t need—never a wasted trip since I get to spend time around military people again—love being back on-base.

Made my way to the Olive Garden to finish my carb loading for the day and get to bed early.  The restaurant was crowded so made my way to the bar and found a seat there.  I am basic when carb loading so went with the Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, lots of bread sticks and Bud Light.  Relaxed back at the hotel before an early bedtime so I could get my rest and get up early to tackle the half marathon.

Remember the term diabolical from earlier?  Well, let jump into that a bit more now. 😊

Woke up at 4:45 am to prepare my mind and body for the 13.1 miles I needed to cover at 6:30 am.  I do some stretching and mental preparation during this timeframe before putting on my equipment (KT tape, Salonpas patches and BioFreeze) and getting dressed.  My run outfit was conservative for me so got dressed after putting on my layers of equipment.

Luckily, I grabbed one of my running jackets before leaving the hotel because it was already raining.  The weather forecast ‘mentioned’ rain the day before, but this was just a steady flow, and it was not cold.  I thought the rain would be around for a little bit but was wrong on my forecasting skills.

Made my way downtown towards the race starting point and arrive about 10 minutes after leaving the hotel.  Researched places to park the night before and found a spot about 100 yards from the race start line.  There was still a light rain coming down at this point, but it got heavier the closer we got to race time.  The race announcer came on the loudspeaker and let us know the race was delayed due to weather—the on-course police support was still getting setup because of the rain.  I sat in my vehicle to avoid standing around in the rain without knowing the exact time we would start the race.  The delay lasted for only 15 minutes, but most runners did not get a chance for a normal warmup.

The marathon runners were allowed to start 10 minutes before the half marathoners.  I did not leave my vehicle until the announcer gave us a 5-minute warning for our race to start.  Made my way to the bathroom and then got a quick stretch in before heading to the start line.

IMG_20220213_133315_491

Yes, it was still raining, and the streets were wet!  We finally got started at 6:50 am

I decided to go out very controlled since the streets were wet and did not want to injure myself or anyone else.  I did not have a specific finish time in mind with the wet conditions—wanted to enjoy the course (LOL) and the experience.

Miles 1 – 3 were crowded as runners were very cautious trying to avoid slipping and bringing others down with them.  My first mile was a comfortable 9:19 which was probably too fast for the conditions and what was to come.  Miles 2 and 3 were like my Mile 1 pace but still felt comfortable.  A cool experience during this portion of the race was we got a chance to see dolphins swimming in the river.  Yes, runners enjoy the scenery during races. 😊

Slowed my pace a bit during Miles 4 and 5 because I knew the course got a bit tougher at the 6-mile point.  The FIRST bridge crossing starts at Mile 6 and goes up until you hit the Mile 7 marker.  Bridge running is tough in normal conditions but gets a lot tougher in the rain.  I did not want to lose too much time so gritted out the incline and then made-up time on the bridge decline.  Felt great through Mile 8 but hit a wall right at the Mile 9 marker.  This may have happened because my warmup routine was impacted due to rain or I went too fast on the bridge.  Either way, my legs were on fire and yes, it was still raining on us.

Decided at this point to just finish the race.  No need to try to set a Personal Record (PR) since my legs were not moving that fast anyway.

Miles 9 through 11 were consistently slow for me but I keep moving forward.  Started feeling good about myself again at this point but then the second bridge crossing was looming.  So, my question is:  who puts another bridge crossing at the 11-mile point of a half marathon?  A diabolical person, that’s who.

Yep, had to dig down to get up and over another bridge to finish this @#$% race!  I made it slowly up to the 12-mile marker and then found some level of courage to go faster on the decline.  I did not want to limp across the finish line but that is how I felt.  I put on my best I’m not in pain face and found a kick to get me across the finish line.  My official time was:  2:17:52 which was 6 minutes slower than Vero Beach.  I’ll take it with the conditions and bridge placement.

Got my medal, a couple beers and donuts and found a place to sit down to enjoy my prizes.  It was still raining so got my rain jacket out of my vehicle so I could sit and get some ice on my quads.  Talked with my fellow runners and we all experienced the course in a similar way.  Happy to finish but beat up by the conditions and the course.  Would love to meet the person who thought it was a good idea to cross a bridge after Mile 11. 😊

As much as I’m complaining, I will probably run this race again next year.  Hopefully, we will have better weather and I know the course now and can pace myself for a better finish.  We will see!

Irie!

“I run because punching people is frown upon”.

(Anonymous)

My Refrigerator Door!

Fridge

“Life moves so fast.  You gotta document the good times, man”.

(Big Boi)

Luke Combs is one of my favorite artists and he continues to generate hits on the country music charts.  His lyrics have a poetic flow and speaks to daily things we all experience in one form or another.

I discovered his music during the 2020 Country Music Awards (CMA) show and quickly identified him as a rising star and promptly added his song, Beer Never Broke my Heart to my running playlist.  Yes, I run with country music! 😊

I continue to dive into his discography and discover songs that I identify with.  I did not realize how long he has been in the music business, but I love everything he has put out.  Fans routinely identify ‘Luke has never made a bad song’ comments on his YouTube channel.  I am sure he has a dud or two somewhere, but I can’t find one.  I have been on a monthlong binge of his music where I play his music at work, driving home and then again when I get home.  Guess you can say I am a fan.

My latest find is a song he put out in 2019 called Refrigerator Door.  Very basic concept where he identifies the family memories that are on the refrigerator door in his house.  This is something we can all relate to, most of us have placed something memorable on the refrigerator door:  report cards, kids sports schedule, family vacation pictures, etc.

Decided this was a great time to let the Walk into the Future blog readers in on my refrigerator door secret.  I have never placed report cards, sports schedules, or vacation pictures on my refrigerator door. 

My door is covered with magnets.  Yes, you read that correctly.  My refrigerator door is covered with 70+ magnets.  I started collecting magnets as part of my travel while in the Air Force and never really stopped.  My goal is to collect a magnet each time I travel to a new state, city, or country.  I always thought I would get bored with putting magnets on the door, but it is exciting to me to look at the door for the memories that are hanging there.

I have had family members and friends who send me magnets from places they have visited, but I do not put those on my door.  My entire magnet concept is to put magnets up for places I have experienced.  This keeps me motivated to continue my running tourist momentum to find races in places I have never been so I can explore new places AND get my magnet.

I added Clearwater Beach (Florida), Norfolk and Virginia Beach (Virginia), Southern Shores and Duck (North Carolina) and Savannah (Georgia) to the refrigerator door in 2021.  I will add Atlantic City, New Jersey to the door in May when I head up there for the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  I am sure I will find some other places to visit and collect more hardware for my door.

The memories I can capture with pictures are great, but my magnet collection allows me to relive great memories daily since I see the door every time I am in the kitchen.  I know magnets may not be for everyone, but this is a simple, easy, and inexpensive way to capture memories.

What do you have on your refrigerator door? 😊

“Nothing but good times ahead”.

(Jennifer Cruisie)

2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon

Vero Beach

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough”.

(Og Mandino)

I ran the 2022 Vero Beach Half Marathon for the first time and happy to report this was my best tactical race ever.

I completed the race in 2:11:05 (two hours, eleven minutes, and 5 seconds) which is 7 minutes faster than my 2021 OUC Half Marathon time in December.  It is not my fastest time, but I am extremely happy with my ability to run faster and maintain a consistent pace during this race.

My prerace goal was to run faster than I did in Orlando and I felt good throughout the race.  I consider this my best tactical race because I hit every marker I set out for during each phase of the race.

I am not familiar with Vero Beach so had no idea what type of course I would experience.  I looked at the course map online, but this provided no intel on elevation or type of environment I would have to run through.

The one aspect I came into the race dreading was the fact all runners would have to tackle an over and back bridge crossing within the first 5 miles of the race.  My experience with bridges during a race have never been that great so I viewed the second crossing of the bridge as something that would be unpleasant.  This was my mental picture even before I toed the line to start the race, luckily, I did not let my preconceived ideas get in the way of an opportunity to run this race and overcome my fear of bridge running.

The day started with temperatures in the low 50s which is deathly cold for most Floridians.  😊

I left the house dressed in layers to keep me warm prior to race time.  This was not a repeat of my time in Savannah since there was no sign of rain or bad weather, just cold temperatures which I viewed as a positive since I did not have to fight the Florida humidity.  Excited with the possibility of being able to breath throughout the race.

I arrived at River Side Park in Vero Beach at 6 am for the 6:45 am start time.  Again, I was not familiar with this area so made sure I got there early enough to warm up, stretch and get acclimated to the weather.  Most of the runners were dressed in hoodies and long pants but I decided to run in my normal gear:  running tank top, shorts, and compression sleeves.  Figured I would warm up once I got into full race pace and I did.

I was assigned to Corral C for the race start and I made my way into the correct spot to mentally prepare for the 13.1 miles that were in my immediate future.

The race started without much of a hassle as there were 400+ runners which is pretty small compared to the Rock N Roll races I normally run.  Decided to not go out too fast and ease my way into a comfortable pace.  There were a few fast runners who decided to set a faster pace and it was great watching them head out towards the first bridge crossing.

I settled into a pace that would keep me competitive but not too fast.  The first bridge crossing started at the .50 (half mile) point and the course was up a steep bridge for the next half mile.  I was surprised to see so many folks pushing the pace at this point considering we still needed to make it to the top.  I was comfortable with my pace and did not worry about the other runners.  I picked up my pace once I made it to the top of the bridge and started to lock into my race.

My Mile 1 was run at a 9:20 pace and this was with the bridge incline.  I maintained a 9:20 pace throughout the first 4 miles of the race and slowed to a 10:18 pace for Mile 5 which included my second crossing of the same bridge.  I am proud of myself for this portion of the race because I contemplated walking the second bridge ascent.  Decided to take a measured pace to get back over the bridge and then run faster on the descent.

Miles 6 – 10 were run at a 9:35 pace and I was able to manage my lactic acid threshold by shortening my strides to eliminate overextending myself.  This was a new approach for me since I normally try to power through but discovered a new way to manage my race form and control the pain in my legs.

Miles 11 – 13.1 were run at a 9:52 pace which is good for me closing out a race.  My 9:47 pace for Mile 13 was my celebration as I decided to make a huge kick to finish the race strong.  I wanted to come across the finish line fast and with a smile on my face.  Mission accomplished.

The secret weapon during this race was the song Motivation by T.I.  I put this song on repeat at the 11-mile marker and it got me across the finish line with a big smile on my face.  This song normally provides a boost for me while training, so I leveraged this same boost during the half marathon.

There were only 4 water stops on this course so had to ensure I got Gatorade and water at each one of them.  I doubled up a few times to help keep me fueled and moving forward.

The only aspect of this race I did not enjoy was traffic was not eliminated from the course.  We had volunteers and police available on the course, but cars were allowed to turn in front of runners which normally does not happen with larger races.  I will have to assess this fact when it comes time to register for the 2023 Vero Beach Half Marathon.

Made my way over to Mulligan’s on the beach for a very large breakfast and then a Bud Light to celebrate my race.  Yes, I had a Bud Light at 9:30 am—it was fantastic!  😊

Great way to start a day and continue to run into the future!

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”.

(Kahlil Gibran)

Poetic Flow / Strength

Strength

 

Got strength? 

Strength is not in the numbers

But in how you control the flow

The life patterns you choose

And the pace that you grow

Allow the strength to manifest daily

And mitigate the weakness

To eliminate potential turmoil

To get you where you belong

Stop chasing outward things

And take advantage of the strength within

Southern Shores, North Carolina

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)

Goal progress—where are you?

Goals

“The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark”.

(Michelangelo)

Decided to check my 2021 goals in December to see how well I did to accomplish the things I projected to get done back in January 2021.

Yearly goals are a big part of my planning process and I love checking things off my list.  The written goal is a way to ensure success and provides clarity on things to get done in the new year. 

2021 presented some unique opportunities for me and I am happy to grow on a professional and personal level.

There was only one area where I did not meet or exceed my written goal.  I started 2021 with a written goal to cook weekly and I started the year off well.  I made a point to meal prep and utilized my crock pot for convenience.  My cooking goal lasted about two months before the wheels fell off on my progress.  Working late and my scheduled after work runs are the excuses but the convenience of the drive-thru is the real reason.  Turns out it is a lot easier and quicker to pull up and order something without having to come home and cook.  I realize the drive-thru is not the healthiest option for me, but I rationalize this process with an extra run or two to combat.  I will do a much better job with this goal in 2022!

Travel

Travel was an area I wanted to hit specific marks in 2021.  COVID-19 eliminated most travel plans in 2020 and I wanted to get back on the road once it was safe again.  I was leery of the vaccine process early on but fully embraced the concept once the vaccine was available.  I wanted to be able to see family and friends again without the concern of bringing the virus with me.  I understand vaccinated people can still carry but felt a sense of relief once I received the Moderna doses.

I routinely took monthly excursions prior to COVID-19 and looked forward to doing this again.  Clearwater, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Melbourne were targeted cities for my monthly getaways and happy to report I hit them all.  Orlando and Melbourne were regular visits for me in 2021.  I also made it back to Jasper at least once per month to see my mom and family. 

My visit to Clearwater Beach back in January was my first time there.  I always saw pictures and heard about the area but never took time to visit.  I am happy I made the trip over and will return October 2022 to run in the inaugural Clearwater Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  Plan to get more sightseeing in when I get there.

Got in a few running tourist opportunities too:  Virginia Beach, Savannah, and Orlando.

My last 2021 travel adventure got me back to Nashville, Tennessee to listen to live music and enjoy a great city.  The Wild Horse Saloon was closed on this trip, but I will be back for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon in April.  I will get my line dancing in when I return. 😊

Exercise program

Exercise is a huge part of my daily routine.  This is an area I take a lot of pride in and hit all my goals in 2021. 

The first thing I wanted to hit was 1,000 training miles.  Happy to report I was able to finish the year with 1,055 training miles.  Building training runs into my daily schedule allowed me to hit this mark without feeling rushed to get training completed.  I will leverage my 2021 training routine to build an aggressive 2022 training goal to help me challenge myself.  Will share this number in a later post.

I set a goal to break my Personal Record (PR) in a 10k race and beat my friend Lauren Kume’s time in 2021.  I ran a PR of 55:57 (Fifty-five minutes and 57 seconds) at the 2021 Winter Park 10k in March 2021.  I did not run faster than Lauren, so I get to try again in 2022.  I am registered for the same race in March 2022 and will work to get closer to 54 flat—still more work to do but headed in a good direction.  Seems I am always chasing Lauren, but she inspires my running program—thank you!  😊

My workouts in 2021 were much improved.  I still make it to the gym for weight training at least two times per week and upgraded my home equipment to enhance my strength training.  I got in 5 body weight sessions weekly to complement my work in the gym.  I was able to add more muscle definition and maintain my weight even though I do not eat the healthiest.  I will correct my eating habits in 2022.

Writing

I maintained a consistent writing program throughout 2021.  I published several articles on LinkedIn and added my poetry to the Walk into The Future blog.  My blog library allowed me to publish weekly content to share my thoughts, views, and travel with readers.  I gained a few more blog followers and incorporated content several friends requested.  I plan to continue to build new blog content in 2022—don’t know how much longer I will use this platform, but I have other areas I want to explore for the blog so keep sending me your ideas.  I will work to build content to keep your interest.

I did not publish my Leadership ebook in 2021 but did work on content throughout the year.  I talked with a designer to build the cover art but will need to reengage with him to finalize the cost for the project.  This will be a rollover goal for 2022.

Happy with my 2021 goal progress and excited to launch my 2022 goals towards another successful year.

How did YOU do on meeting your 2021 goals?  What big things do you have planned for 2022?

Make it great!

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”.

(C.S. Lewis)

Inspiration Man—Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) Keynote

Keynote

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.  The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.

(Winston Churchill)

To keynote or not? 

This was a question I faced back in October 2021 when one of my friends asked me to consider being the keynote speaker for a virtual Drive-In conference.

The Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) members come from college/university Career Services and employers who maintain active on-campus recruiting programs.

I have been a member of FloridaACE for over 10 years and have made some great contacts throughout the state of Florida. 

Fun fact, I was selected as the keynote for the inaugural Drive-In Conference back in 2016.  I gave my keynote address at the University of Central Florida in the building I used to work in prior to moving to FSU.  Who says you can’t come home again? 😊

The Drive-In Conference is designed to be shorter than a regular conference—a day and a half instead of a full week.  The concept of the Drive-in Conference is to make it accessible to a large population of attendees who can physically drive to the location and not need hotel accommodations.

COVID-19 made the concept of virtual conferences come to life and this Drive-In Conference was switched to a virtual format.

I love to spread the Inspiration Man message to any group that will sit and listen.  I hesitated to accept this request because it was via Zoom, and I did not know how my message would translate on a virtual platform.  I love in-person audiences and feed off the crowd when I present.  A virtual keynote was a challenge to me but one I am happy I accepted—things went well from start to finish.

The 2021 FloridaACE Virtual Drive-In Conference was titled: Gulf-to-Coast Connections.

I reached out to my friend to get a better understanding of the conference title and how significant it was to attendees.  Turns out the term gulf was picked so people in western Florida would not feel left out.  I decided to focus on the conference in terms of how people on both coasts (Gulf and Atlantic) could connect to build Authentic Connections.  Yes, I put authentic in most things I do these days. 😊

Happy to report I accepted the Keynote invitation and was able to move the crowd on a virtual platform.

I researched the term Authentic Connections to build my knowledge base as I worked to create a presentation to inspire others.  There is a ton of research available, and my new task was to filter this data in a way to build the presentation.

The key to any form of connection is RELATIONSHIPS.  My goal during the keynote was to highlight to the attendees how technology (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.) allow us to reach a larger audience than before.  There was always a mindset to catch-up with colleagues during the annual in-person conference or workshop.  This was an effective way to connect back in the day, but COVID created new options/ways to connect.

We can reach out to potential mentors and colleagues by utilizing the technology we have.  My keynote centered on how FloridaACE members could leverage technology and build authentic connections.

Authentic Connections should be genuine, direct, and focused.  My point for the group was to highlight relationships can be built virtually, in-person or a combination of both platforms.  You must want to make a connection for it to happen.  Networking with an intentional mindset helps build connections too.

I would have been remiss if I did not talk about some of the challenges we face when attempting to make new connections:

  • COVID-19
  • No in-person events
  • Zoom fatigue
  • Multiple platform (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.)

Simply figuring out how and when to connect with others has been a challenge even for me. 

Some folks prefer a phone call, others are all about Zoom and then you have a set who want in-person connections because they want to feel normal again.  I shared with my audience it is okay to identify a preferred platform and stick with that.  I prefer Microsoft Teams now when connecting with anyone not on-campus with me.  The key to this I have found is to state the preference up-front and then provide a Microsoft Teams calendar invite to eliminate confusion on how/when we will connect. 

The concept of recalibrate was addressed to ensure attendees understand they must adjust thought processes in today’s world.  We are not going back to pre-COVID networking so finding authentic connections should be prioritized for them to happen.  Following up after making a request is an outstanding way to continue to build the connections needed to make a difference in the world.

Being a keynote speaker during a virtual conference was a new experience for me but I was able to make several authentic connections during and after the event.  Will see how many attendees follow-up with me and leverage the wisdom I dropped on them.

How do you make/ensure authentic connections in your world?  Thanks!

“Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners”.

(Dale Carnegie)

Track Shack UCF 5 Miler

5 Mile race

“Every morning we are born again.  What we do today is what matters most”.

(Buddha)

Merriam-Webster defines resilience as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

Happy to report there has not been any misfortune for me, but the change has been an adjustment to my training regimen.  I am still putting in work but not able to get the same quality sessions I put in pre-COVID.  This can be directly attributed to my work role in Fort Pierce but please do not think I am complaining.

We have made some major operational improvements and there is light at the end of the tunnel where we will soon normalize operations and I can get back to putting in more training miles.

The concept of resiliency reminds me of the old saying:  try and then try again!

Decided to use shorter races as a bigger part of my training program to get me prepared for the rigors of the half marathon distance.  I have the 2021 Rock N Roll Savannah half marathon in November and the 2021 Track Shack OUC half marathon in December.  My overall goal is to run a half marathon under 2 hours and the Track Shack OUC half marathon is the ideal setup to make this happen.  I need to put in additional training miles to build my endurance back to my 2019 levels. 

My fastest half marathon was the 2019 Track Shack OUC half marathon with a time of 2:05:51 (two hours, five minutes, and 51 seconds).  2020 was set to be my fastest year ever but of course COVID-19 shut down racing and my training lagged—that’s on me! 😊

So, what’s my plan to correct my training and speed issues?  Well, I check multiple running clubs to see what races are being offered locally and within driving distance to me in Fort Pierce. 

I routinely scan the Fleet Feet Stuart and Orlando Track Shack events pages to determine which races are available to help with my training program.  I just shared with my best friend I have a hard time training with race pace—it is a mental thing for me since I do not have competitors or anyone to pace with.  I am sure I may be the only active running with this issue but targeting real races seems to get my competitive nature going.  This may not be the ideal strategy, but I will try this out to get me closer to my half marathon goal. 

Made my way back over to Orlando for the 2021 Track U Can Finish 5 Mile race to get some speed work in.  I ran this same event when I lived in Oviedo, but this is the first time I tackled the race distance in 8 years. 

This is an interesting event because it has multiple distances available for runners to try.  The first event is the U Can Finish 2 Mile race and Track Shack has a distance dare.  Runners can sign up to run the 2-mile race and then compete in the 5-mile race right after.  The hook for distance dare runners is the opportunity to collect 3 medals:  2-mile, 5-mile, and distance dare medals.  Runners love their bling and a lot of them took part in the distance dare.  I did not—officially. 😊

Did something new on race day to ensure I got in extra training miles.  I stay in the same hotel each time I visit the Orlando area and it is down the street from the UCF campus. 

I decided to leave my vehicle parked at the hotel and ran the 2-mile distance to the UCF campus for the start of the 5-mile race.  Figured this was a great way to warmup and stretch my legs before my race and ensured I would get in a long training session—it was just broken up into segments.

Toed the line for the 5-mile race completely warmed up and excited to run on the UCF campus again.  The race village was setup directly in front of the Career Services building where I worked for 4-years prior to moving to Tallahassee and the FSU Career Center.  Great being back on the old stomping grounds. 😊

My goal for the 5-mile race was simply to test my endurance and consistently run miles splits with a 9 on the front of them (9:05, 9:10, etc.).  Mission accomplished.

The UCF campus is completely flat which helped a lot.  Went out with the intent to run my race based on feel and then push myself when I could. 

Mile-1 went by at an 8:44 per minute pace and I felt good with the effort.  Mile-2 through 5 were:  9:15, 9:33, 9:57, 9:42 which got me to the finish line at 47:29.  Targeted 45 flat but happy with my results considering I put in a 2-mile run before my race. 

Collected my 5-mile medal and took some pictures to commemorate the race and my time back at UCF.  Got some refreshments and stretched a bit before heading out.  I tucked my race medal away and began my 2-mile journey back to my hotel—yes, I ran back for a total of 9 training miles for the day.  Felt great every step of the day!

I will look for additional races to help me prepare for my next two half marathons.  Still have some speed in these legs, just need to release it in my unique way.

FYI—I am still on pace to meet my 2021 goals of 1,000 training miles.  Imagine my mileage if I could stay consistent with my training.

Irie!

How do you display resilience in your daily activities?  Thanks!

“Life does not get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient”.

(Steve Maraboli)

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