2020 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon

OUC1

“I plan on having such an epic run, Morgan Freeman should narrate it”.

(Runner’s World)

Running and racing has become such a large part of my lifestyle that I felt a definitive loss in 2020.

I will not harp on the COVID-19 impact on our daily lives.  There are more important things in this world than me traveling around the country and chasing people in my attempt to gain a personal record (PR) in the half marathon.  Everyone who reads the Walk into the Future blog or listens to me long enough know I love my PR attempts. 

My 2019 progress set the stage for me to run even faster in 2020 while tackling more races and new locations.  I targeted 7 half marathons to complete in 2020 with an incremental decrease in my PR time for each race I ran.  My goal continues to be to run the half marathon distance under 2 hours.  I will need to bring out the Benjamin Button affect again at some point to reach this goal. 

Luckily, I was able to complete the 2020 New Orleans Rock N Roll half marathon in early February before we knew the future impact of COVID-19 on the country.  I left New Orleans with a goal to train harder and get ready for the 2020 Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon scheduled for April—Nashville is my favorite race and city.  Missed seeing the sights in Nashville and line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon.  Maybe in 2021!

Races 2 (Nashville) through 7 (San Antonio) were all canceled/postponed/terminated due to COVID-19.  Most of my running friends wanted to race but we knew eliminating the races was the right thing to do.  I still trained but not with as much intensity because I did not have a finish line to run across.  I wrote earlier about the virtual race process but never felt the same excitement racing against myself.  Could not make myself run fast without someone else around for me to compete against.

Fast forward a bit and my favorite running club, Track Shack in Orlando identified they received Orange county and City of Orlando clearance to stage the 2020 OUC Half Marathon in December with new safety measures.  I did not immediately sign-up but got excited when I discovered a real race was possible again.  I did a lot of research on the Track Shack race safety measures to make sure I would not be at risk during the event. 

The entire race experience was adjusted by the Track Shack staff to keep all runners physical distanced before and after the race.  We were required to wear masks prior to starting the race and immediately after crossing the finish line.  We did not have to run with the masks on but had to have them for the finish line.  Runners were lined up in corrals based on estimated finish times, but we had to stand on assigned markers on the ground before we could start the race.  Felt a bit weird but everything was done to protect the runners.

I registered for the OUC half marathon on October 15, 2020 with a race date of December 5, 2020.  This timeframe gave me less than a two-month physical and mental preparation window for the 13.1-mile journey in front of me.  Decided at this point to just enjoy the training runs and eliminate the thought processing of chasing a PR.  This concept provided me with a free mind and gave me the perspective that completing the race was the most important thing.  Thing #2 was to run the race and not hurt myself! 😊

OUC3

Race day

The Orlando weather was a bit warmer than I expected but the cloud cover kept the sun away which helped a lot.  I did not queue up close to the front corrals since I knew I was not going fast this year and wanted to let the faster folks go out without me in the way.

The new safety measures allowed about 200 runners to go out at a time, so I ended up waiting about 20 minutes before I made it to the start line to begin the race.

Mask off and I was back in my world of racing!  I am sure people wondered why I was smiling so much but the joy of running was there at the beginning.  My first mile pace was 8:50—which was not too bad considering my goal was to go out nice and easy.  Felt good so I kept running at this pace for a bit to see what I had under the hood this year. 😊

A fun fact–at the 3-mile marker while running through a downtown Orlando neighborhood I passed the house of one of my old on-campus recruiters from my UCF days.  He was standing on his front lawn cheering on the runners with his daughter.  Did not know if he would recognize me in my running gear but I was able to say hello to him and invite him to recruit students at my new school.  Please note, I never broke stride but was able to successfully network with an Orlando recruiter while running a half marathon. Completed a Zoom call with him the following Monday and he is excited to recruit our students in the spring semester—small world, huh?

Miles 3 through 8 were my parade through Orlando neighborhoods.  I waved at spectators who were out on their lawns to cheer for the runners.  I stopped at a pop-up table serving shots of beer as a refresher during the race.  I thanked law enforcement officials who were there for traffic duty.  You would have thought I was a politician with the amount of smiling, waving, and speaking to people I got done during this race.

Miles 9 through 13 were not as enjoyable as the previous set of miles.  Limited training also means my lactic acid thresholds were not built up as they should have been.  This means my legs started to hurt and it only got worse the longer I went.  I have been here before, so I was able to press forward but my speed and demeanor changed quite a bit.  The smile was gone, and I did not feel like waving at folks anymore.  Had to bear down and keep moving forward towards the finish line.  Luckily for me I was not chasing records and just wanted to complete the race while enjoying the process of running again.

Crossed the finish line with a smile on my face because I was able to run and compete again.  COVID-19 has beat us up in 2020 but it could not keep me from running in one of my favorite cities.  Mission complete!

The post-race area was sparse as part of the safety measures.  No beer, doughnuts, or music to enjoy this year.  We were handed a Publix bag with water, banana, granola, and our race medal.  That was it—no fanfare, networking and hanging around to cheer other runners on.  Run, conquer, and go home was the message of the day.

No worries, we had a great day to race and fantastic people to chase around Orlando again.

Fingers crossed that racing returns in 2021—I have a few PRs to set! 😊

What are you looking forward to in 2021?  Let’s make it happen!  Irie!

“You never realize how long a minute is until you are running”.

(Pinterest)

Racing (again) into the future

Race Time

“Running is alone time that let’s my brain unspool the tangles that build up over days”.

(Rob Haneisen)

I entered 2020 with an aggressive goal to expand my running tourist role and travel to new locations for Rock N Roll Half marathon races.  Started the year with a goal to run seven half marathons in the series along with a few local 5k and 10k races for speed work.

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and we are still trying to get a handle on what normal daily actions look like now.  FYI—I understand there are more important things in the world than me traveling America and running on city streets.

My last official race was a 5k on March 14, 2020 in Tallahassee.  We were just getting a better understanding of how bad COVID-19 was at the time, but the event organizers took extra precautions but did not cancel the race. I remember the event was small with maybe 70 runners at the start line.  We practiced physical distancing at the start line and gave everyone extra space just to be safe.  There were no face masks present because the U.S. government told us there was nothing to worry about at that time.  Now we know different, huh?

Fast forward to October 24, 2020 and I was back at a 5k starting line, but we all had on face masks.  Physical distancing and masks were mandated to participate in this event.  We could take the masks off once we began to run and had to put them back on once the race was over.  Happy to report everyone complied and I felt safe while waiting my turn to start the race.  The race organizers used a digital chip timer, so our times were synced based on our on-course performance instead of when we started.  Example:  I was the 60th runner to start but this did not impact where I placed because my time was synced directly to my performance not when I started. 

I was extremely happy to be back on a race course with other people around.  I love my training runs because I view running as my form of therapy but cannot make myself run fast without others around.  It may be a mental block or simply a lack of motivation, but I run faster when other people are around.  Think I just need to see people ahead of me to force myself to try to catch them.

I was able to slowly reel in runners during my 5k event.  I wanted to post a good time but did not want to go out too fast and die a slow death on the backend of the race. 

My first mile was a controlled 8:28 pace and I felt good with the pace.  The second mile was a bit slower at 9:35 but still controlled considering I did no speed work or 5k training prior to showing up.  Decided to maintain a level of control for the third mile and recorded 9:23 and felt comfortable at this pace.  Finished with a little kick to see if I had anything left in the tank—crossed the finish line at 28:38 which is a minute slower than my race in March.  To put that in context I was in full half marathon training mode in March so to run this fast without proper training is a good sign for me.  May not be a good sign for my friends who run since we all know I can go faster.  No pressure! 😊

I am happy with my performance and the ability to maintain my speed throughout the race.  I went ahead and signed up for the OUC Half Marathon in Orlando on December 5, 2020.  My original goal was to run in San Antonio in December, but COVID-19 has made an adjustment to my race schedule.  The OUC race will have a staggered start and require face masks before and after the race.  I feel comfortable with this process since I just completed a 5k with the same parameters.  Looks like this is the new normal if we are going to see races again.  It was not hard to practice physical distancing prior to racing so I will look for additional races to get my competitive fix again.  Look forward to running in downtown Orlando again in December.  Hope to catch up with friends while in town and enjoy being back in a great city.

So, I am racing again and enjoying every moment!  Will not take racing for granted in this COVID-19 world.

What have you been able to do again safely in this COVID-19 world?  What are you looking forward to? 

Thanks!

Total miles in 2020:  982.77! 😊

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they have a second”.

(William James)

Walking with no new races in sight

(Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

 “I am trying my hardest not to act how I feel”.

(Anonymous)

The COVID-19 pandemic hits just keep on stacking up!  I have been bombarded with emails from the Rock N Roll marathon race organization identifying the cancellation for future races.  Please note, I fully expected the remaining 2020 races to be cancelled but the Rock N Roll folks have begun cancelling races in 2021!

Oh, how we have failed society with our lame government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I moved from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce in April with the full understanding this country would be in better shape in October.  We are in worse shape today (8/20/2020) than we were in April.  Shocked I had to write that last sentence, but it is unfortunately true.

Races lost so far

The first 2020 race I lost to COVID-19 was the 2020 Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon in April.  This is my favorite race of the season and one of my favorite cities to visit.  Love the Nashville course, culture, food, and country music on every corner.  Always look forward to my country line dancing lessons at the Wild Horse Saloon, eating barbeque, and listening to new country artists playing.  Wanted to visit the Ryman Auditorium for the first time and explore the historic venue.

Got the news the 2020 and 2021 Philly Rock N Roll half marathon races were cancelled two days ago.  Fully expected the 2020 race to get axed but never thought the 2021 race would be on the chopping block due to COVID-19.  Not sure the race organizers are predicting COVID-19 issues for 2021 but this may signal running tourists will have limited options in the future.  I was looking forward to getting back to Philly and hang out with my friend, Lauren Apgar so we could explore the city and get some more of those cheesesteaks.  We planned to explore the Reading Terminal Market in-depth this year to sample food from the different vendors there.  We will have to put off our Philly cheesesteak adventures now.

I signed up for the inaugural 2020 Clearwater Rock N Roll half marathon scheduled for October.  This was going to be the first Rock n Roll race scheduled in my home state in years.  The excitement for me was most of the race is run near the beach and I would not have to travel so far.  I would get the opportunity to enjoy more sights and sounds and not have to rush back.   The course is flat and would have produced a fast time and October in Florida would be cooler with less humidity.  The race organizers cancelled the 2020 and 2021 Clearwater races.  They project to run the race in October 2022, but we will see what happens that far out.  I do not have a good feeling all the cancelled races will come back—some may but believe COVID-19 will eliminate how we travel, race, and interact for a long time.

The Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) 2020 half marathon scheduled for December is still on the books, but most races hosted by Track Shack have been converted to virtual races.  Believe the OUC race will be virtual as well so I have not signed up.

The 2021 New Orleans Rock N Roll half marathon was cancelled today and now the race organizers project to run this event in February 2022.  Turns out New Orleans was the only Rock N Roll race I was able to run in 2020.  The race was completed in February right before the country realized how bad COVID-19 was and we started shutting down.  Had a great time in New Orleans so guess it was only fitting this would be my only half marathon race of the year.  We will see if this race ever comes back because of the close interactions of Bourbon and Canal Streets.  Love the food and atmosphere but it may be hard to host large-scale events there and keep people safe.

Virtual options

Most running organizations are bridging the race gaps with virtual options.  Runners can still race, compete, and receive race swag (t-shirt, medal, etc.) while running in their hometowns—just sign up and sync your running application to the race.  I am sure this is a great option for some runners, but I enjoy the in-person interaction associated with the event.  I joined the Rock N Roll Virtual Running club and signed up for my first virtual race—a 10k which I completed on 8/22/2020.  My time was not great—I signed up on a Friday and ran the 10k the next day without additional mental or physical preparation.  I may explore this option more especially when the weather gets a bit cooler.  I need a competitive outlet for my running program so may reach out to my tree branches to join me on some of these virtual adventures (Apgar, Forges, Kume). 😊

Note:  My first Virtual 5k was completed on 8/29/20.

https://www.runrocknrollvr.com/

Training

I still get out and train but not logging the same number of miles I put in last summer.  I get my runs in on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays but not committing to extreme long runs with no races on the horizon.  I run as a form of therapy and to keep my weight in the range I want.  I have not done any speed work since early March, so my training goal is to keep my heart rate up and enjoy the views I get in Fort Pierce.

COVID-19 Training miles (run, bike, elliptical):

April 2020:  79.45 miles May 2020:  90.57 miles June 2020:  130.72 miles
July 2020:  78.15 miles August 2020:  74.57 September 2020:  46.16

Realize there are more important things happening in the world than me not being able to be a running tourist.  Hoping we can get the COVID-19 pandemic under control so we can all get back to the things we enjoy without worrying about the air we breathe.  Look forward to bringing you reports from new travel locations when it is safe to do so again.

Until then, here is what happen in Nashville in 2019! 😊

https://walkintothefuture.blog/2019/05/23/nashville-and-the-wild-horse-saloon/

“Life equals running and when we stop running maybe that is how we know life is finally finished”.

(Patrick Ness)

 https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/17/some-marathon-races-may-not-survive-coronavirus-pandemic.html

Poetic Fridays

Peace

Found peace today

Realized it was with me all along

Had to look deep inside to realize I control my peace

When things look bleak…seek peace

When times get hard…find peace

Look deep inside your soul and peace you will find

Walking and being black in America!

Candles

(Image by Pexels from Pixabay)

“To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage”.

(James Baldwin)

“I’m a black man in America so I always feel there’s a target on me”.

(Wale)

The Walk into the Future blog has provided me with a creative outlet where I can share my thoughts, leadership philosophy and life adventures.  It puts a smile on my face when I look back at this journey and see the quality of my writing and content improve daily.  Never thought an electronic journal would become such a huge part of my daily life.  I smile every time someone follows the blog or sends me a comment.

Well, I did not smile so much today!

The battle we fight daily as black men in America has been playing out on every major TV network first with Ahmaud Arbery (killed jogging), then Breonna Taylor (killed sleeping) and now George Floyd (killed while handcuffed).  Think about that last sentence for a minute!

I know there are others out there who have faced the wrath of America but there was not video evidence of what happened to them.  Black America has been hoping and praying these incidents would stop and we can fully engage in the American dream—good thing I am not holding my breath—this never seems to end!  Why not?  I know this is not a simple question to answer but it needs to get answered soon.

Got several text messages from my friends to check on me to see how I am doing with all of this.  Thank you for thinking of me and reaching out!

Think it hits closer to home with my friends because they know how much I am out and about with my running program.  Seeing a black man get killed while out for a run highlighted our plight to my friends—yes, that could have been me.  I have had to reassure my mom, brothers, and friends that I am doing everything I can to stay safe when I am out for a run.  Sad to say I must think about being able to make it home safely when I go out for a run.  How many who read my blog have these thoughts when you go for a run?  Life is weird, huh?

My running outfits are selected to provide me with the most visibility as possible.  The extreme bright, loud, and sometimes fluorescent colors are used so everyone will know I am not hiding anything or trying to blend in.  I want to be visible and remembered by everyone who sees me running through their neighborhood.  I also make a point to speak, wave, and smile at everyone I encounter because I do not want them to feel threatened.  Surprisingly, most do not wave back but that is not the point of my actions.  I smile and wave whenever I see a police car drive by too.  Cannot be seen as a threat while exercising!

(Do I look like a runner?)

I also make a point to carry my retired Air Force identification card when I am on my runs in case I encounter police.  I have found police are less threatened when they realize they are talking with someone who has served the country.

When driving I always show my military identification if I get pulled over for any reason first, then I provide whatever identification is requested.  Please know both hands remain on the steering wheel and then I explain in a clear, distinct voice what I am doing if ordered to produce anything else.  I am sure most black people follow this same process to avoid misunderstandings that leads to…you know!

Being a black man in America is exhausting!  I have a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, a Master’s degree in Counseling/Human Relations, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Air Force retiree identification and recognized nationally for authentic leadership development.

Now, imagine what black men without my credentials must do to survive in America.  The insanity must stop!

NOTE:  I will get back to my normal tone next week—thanks for allowing me to vent.

 

“I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color”.

(Malcolm X.)

“Usually, when people are sad, they don’t do anything.  They just cry over their condition.  But when they are angry, they bring about change”.

(Malcolm X.)

Time for change—let’s get out and vote, remain vigilant and demand change—we must do better!

How can you help?

Great article:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/05/29/george-floyd-ahmaud-arbery-killings-make-hard-blacks-breathe-column/5278108002/

Running tourist—the Tallahassee edition

Running tourist

(Image by 272447 from Pixabay)

“He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him”.

(Dutch Proverb)

Shared my running tourist moniker with a group I was networking with last week and was surprised they never heard it before.  I am sure I cannot be the first to use it to describe going to other locations for race adventures but thought maybe I should try to copyright the term. Nope, just Googled it and others use the same term to highlight their running adventures too. 😊

Decided it was time to look at the running tourism I see daily in my current home of Tallahassee, Florida.  Sometimes we take things close by for granted and never truly engage/enjoy them as much as the fun travel destinations (Nashville, New Orleans, Philly, etc.).  Please note, I get out and about as much as the next person in Tallahassee but never documented much in the Walk into the Future blog.

Running trails

I have referred to the many trails and places I train to prepare for my races.  Tallahassee is known for the multiple parks, trails, and greenways available to explore.  The terrain goes from very flat surfaces to high degree inclines which are perfect to help prepare for races around the country.  My early running years in Tallahassee were mostly contained to Lafayette Heritage Park and the Alfred Greenway.

Looking back believe I stayed with these running environments because they were close by.  I simply walked across the street to get on the paved trail that took me into Lafayette Heritage Park—the Alfred Greenway is on the opposite side of the park.  Both venues provided a good foundation to running for me and looking back did not provide a huge challenge to navigate.  I still utilize both trails when I am out to just stretch my legs.

Tom Brown Park provides additional trails (paved and unpaved) to log training miles.  I normally run through the park as part of a loop I can take to get additional miles in.  My 5 – 8 mile runs all include some portion of Tom Brown park.  Like the fact I do not have to carry water through the park since they have multiple water fountains and restrooms available.  Great place to watch people and see all the happy dogs with family in the dog park.  The dogs always seem to want to run with me for some odd reason! 😊

Graduated my long runs out to the St. Marks Trail.  The St. Marks Trail was an old railroad route from Tallahassee down to the gulf coast.  It is a place to see bikers, hikers and runners all utilizing the marked trail every day of the year.  I like the fact the trail has mile markers which makes it easy to log my runs—no guessing when I want to get a 12-mile run in.  The St. Marks trail has well maintained restrooms and a few water fountains, so these are perks I enjoy while out for my runs.

There are other places to run in Tallahassee, but these are the areas I utilize when I am writing about my training program.

Downtown

Tallahassee does not have a huge downtown area but provides a few unique experiences.  Was introduced to the museum scene by a friend who is native to Tallahassee.  The Florida Museum of History is a must see if you visit.  You can trace Florida’s history from the 1600s up to World War II.  The artifacts and stories of how Florida developed are interesting and worth the trip.

The Capital building is a great place to visit and get a bird’s eye view of Tallahassee.  The 22nd floor has a panoramic observation deck which lets you view the city from the highest vantage point. It is also a great way to exercise if you decide to walk up and not take the elevator.

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille and Andrew’s Downtown are two good places to get a meal and drinks when visiting downtown.  This is a college town so there are multiple watering holes to visit close by.

My favorite place to hang out, drink beer and eat just happens to be a local dive bar, Corner Pockets.  I would never go to Corner Pockets when I first moved to Tallahassee because I thought it was a pool hall.  They only have two pool tables and they are in the corner, but it is more sports bar than pool hall.  They have the coldest beer in town and some of the best bar food you can find anywhere.  Prices are good and the staff is friendly.  Corner Pocket attracts sports fans, so you must arrive early on game days to ensure you get a seat—standing is allowed but I like to sit at the bar and watch multiple TVs.

Again, there are other spots in Tallahassee, but I am sharing where I hang out. 😊

FSU / FAMU

This is a college town and FSU and FAMU are the large schools here.  The students provide a huge population boost during the academic year.  The sports fans/alums who come back for sporting events also provide unique experiences since traffic doubles when the home teams are in town.  This creates a more festive environment and celebrations across neighborhoods.

I am a Gator fan so do not partake in much of this until the Gators come to town! 😊

So, there you have it—these are a few ways the running tourist enjoys life when not on the road.

What are your favorite venues in your area?  How often do you get out to enjoy them?

“Time flies.  It’s up to you to be the navigator”.

(Robert Orben)

Please note, wrote this article before I left Tallahassee for Fort Pierce.  Still wanted to share.

 

 

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 and enjoying the Big Easy (New Orleans)

‘Everything in New Orleans is a good idea’.

(Anonymous)

New Orleans Canal Street Trolley

Made another trek over to New Orleans for the 2019 Rock and Roll Half Marathon.  This was race #2 in my 2019 goals for my running program.

Happy to report my training program has gained me additional time off my personal best for the half marathon distance.  Was able to clock 2:10:39 (official time) which took three minutes off my previous best time.  I’m learning more about training, lactic acid thresh holds and pain management.  Slowing but positively heading towards my goal of running a half marathon under 2 hours—it’s coming!

Was excited to get back over to New Orleans this year.  It’s a great place to visit—lots of food, drink and culture options available.

Decided to stay a little more central this year on Canal Street.  The hotel was far enough away from the hustle and noise of Bourbon Street but close enough to walk there for entertainment options.  Made it down to Bourbon Street to watch the street performers (singers, drummers, dancers, etc.) and experience the crowds who flock there to experience this New Orleans tradition.

What’s a trip to New Orleans without eating at The Original Cajun Restaurant, Mulate’s?  It has become a staple on the New Orleans trip because the food and atmosphere are that good.  Generous portions, plenty food options and cold beer are major draws for this restaurant.  Normally get there during the day so have never experienced the bands that play the main stage at night.  Will make it a point to get there for the bands on my next journey over.

A pleasant surprise and ‘new’ favorite place to eat in New Orleans is the Creole House Restaurant & Oyster Bar.  The Creole House is right on Canal Street and was next door to my hotel.  The convenience was great since I was doing a lot of running and walking while in New Orleans but beyond that the food was fantastic.  Got a chance to experience multiple meals at the Creole House and the menu selection was great.  I will warn you, the ‘house mayo’ they use on the Po Boys (sandwich) is good BUT spicy.  They don’t tell you that up front, so it was a surprise to me—I don’t do spicy. 😊

I would recommend the chicken and waffles they have on the breakfast menu.  Every meal I had at the Creole House was great, but the chicken and waffles took it to another level.  Best chicken I’ve had in a long time and the waffle was large and fluffy.  Wish they would have this all day long, but it is a great way to start the day.  Will get the chicken and waffles every time I’m back in New Orleans—it’s that good!

New Orleans is a great place—recommend you get there for a visit if you haven’t been yet.  Also, recommend experiencing the great food and culture available.  It’s more than a place to collect beads on Bourbon Street.

Creole House