The Walk into the Future blog continues to grow

“Blogging is like work, but without coworkers thwarting you at every turn”.

(Scott Adams)

The first Walk into the Future blog article was introduced to the world on May 21, 2018.

Yep, four straight years of creating blog content and sharing it every week (mostly) with anyone willing to read about my thoughts, adventures, travel, and leadership pursuits.

Looking back my writing style has changed and grown over the past four years as I seek to find content that others may want to read.  Scratch that thought—I am writing content based on my life and sharing with anyone who wants to read it. 

I never had a clear idea where this blog would take me but decided to just sit down on my laptop and create content to publish.  I did not set out on a particular direction for my articles but felt an urge to write and the blog concept seemed like a natural place to showcase my words.

I would be lying by saying I knew four years ago I would still be writing and sharing content through this platform.  A bigger lie would have been I knew I would attract an audience of people who never met me and read my articles weekly.  My friends and family are ALMOST obligated to read this stuff so knew ya’ll would be along for the journey! 😊

I quick THANK YOU to my day 1 folks and everyone who follow this blog and my journey.

I did a summary blog article awhile back to highlight Walk into the Future blog stats.  Decided to do that again for this article to showcase the continued growth for the blog and the impact it has in the world.  I am amazed daily when I get a new blog follower from another country.  This puts a huge smile on my face because I never thought starting a blog in Tallahassee, Florida would generate international interest.

Martin Lawrence once joked that Michael Jackson was BANGING in Bucharest.  Well, I get weekly blog views in Romania so I can joke I am banging in Bucharest too—not as big as Michael Jackson but happy someone over there likes my work.

I will continue to produce content for the blog as long as it is still fun to me and people want to read my work.  Let’s see how long we can continue to Walk into the Future!

What topics do you want me to write about in the future?  No pun intended!

Irie!

Wordpress

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!

You registered on WordPress.com 4 years ago.

Thanks for flying with us.  Keep up the good blogging.

Walk into the future blog stats May 2022

 

“Blogging is a conversation, not a code”.

(Mike Butcher)

 

 

2022 Treasure Coast Half Marathon

TCHM1

“Running a marathon takes balls, other sports just play with them”.

(Anonymous)

I created an aggressive (for me) 2022 running schedule to make up for lost races in 2020 and 2021.  Not trying to recapture those miles but wanted to get back to running races in multiple locations and get this running tourist thing going again.

Targeted a monthly half marathon for the first 5 months of 2022 with the intent to get better mentally and physically with each passing race.  The full goal is to run as fast as possible when I get to Atlantic City for the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  I have never been to Atlantic City and thought it would be a great place to visit, run and take a shot at a personal record.  I still need to put in the training work for the PR to occur but the flat course there is enticing for me.  A bonus is the opportunity to see my friend, Lauren Apgar while in town. 😊

The 2022 Treasure Coast Half Marathon is a local race for me in Stuart, Florida.  The race location is only a quick 30-minute drive down the Florida Turnpike and I thought this would be a great race to test myself and see a new city in the process.

The EXPO was held in a local middle school gymnasium and had several interesting vendors selling gear.  My focus for the EXPO was to pick up my race packet and then get a sneak peek at the course I would be running the following day.  Got my customary photo op at the EXPO and tried a few of the energy drinks the vendors made available to runners.  Did not spend a lot of time at the EXPO since I was interested in getting a view of the bridge, I would have to cross during the half marathon.  There are multiple bridges in Stuart, but I was happy to discover the bridge half marathoners had to cross was not one of the steep one.  Left with the knowledge this bridge crossing and location would not be as diabolical as what I experienced during the 2022 Florida Marathon in Melbourne.

Went to bed early with the knowledge I would face a challenging course but one that was manageable with good effort.

Drove back to Stuart at 5 am the next morning to ensure I got parking and could warm up before the 6:15 am race start time.  There was plenty of parking near the start/finish line and I made my way over to the race village to get prepared for the race.  Got some stretching in and made one last bathroom stop before heading to the start line.

This was not a large race so there were no corral assignments for the runners.  I settled into the middle of the half marathon pack to ensure there was separation between myself and the other runners.

We were still bunched tight, so I decided to hold back a bit, so I did not get caught up in traffic and possibly bump into anyone. 

Surprisingly, I clocked 9:18 for Mile 1 and felt good doing it considering the amount of traffic I had to avoid.  Miles 1 – 4 all were run with a 9 out front (9:18, 9:38, 9:39, 9:45).  Mile 5 is where we crossed over the bridge for the first time, and I still clocked a 10:52 which is not bad for me with a bridge ascent.  Miles 5 – 8 all were run with a 10 out front (10:52, 10:46, 10:37, 10:41).

The temperature at race time was 74 degrees and it got progressively warmer as the race unfolded.  What’s my point?  Happy you asked!

My race pace, strategy, and energy all took a hit once the temperatures climbed into the mid-80s.  You could say I fell off a cliff or hit the wall after Mile 8.  You pick the race metaphor and it applied after Mile 8. 

Most of the course was run in direct sunlight and the higher the temperatures got the more the sun beamed down.  I am happy with my efforts during the latter part of the race because I was able to bear down and keep moving forward.  My pace slowed but I was making positive progress towards the finish line and found an extra gear to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.  This was not my fastest half marathon but that was not the point of signing up for this race.  My January, February, and March races are laying the foundation for my April and May races.  I have a hard time making myself run fast on my solo training runs so decided to leverage races as my long runs and help me get faster in the process. 

My next race is the Winter Park 10k on March 12, 2022.  I set a 10k PR last year and look to repeat this feat in 2022.  The speed I generate in the 10k will allow me to gauge my fitness levels for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll Half Marathon in April and the 2022 Atlantic City Rock N Roll Half Marathon in May.  I will use the summer months to build mental and physical fitness to launch into the next running season in October.

Still got goals and races to conquer!

What goals do you have to accomplish in 2022?

“My doctor told me that running could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already”.

(Milton Berle)

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)

New way to train, beach runs!

Beach Runs

“I want to run the beach’s length, because it never ends”.

(Deborah Ager)

The quote above makes me laugh because it could not have been written by someone who runs.  The beach is a wonderful place to get in some training but there are challenges and rewards to running on the beach.

I am always looking for a training edge to allow me to run at a faster pace.  My goal to set a personal record (PR) for every half marathon I run stays true—that is the goal every time out.

I ran the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll half marathon in early September to get back into the swing of being a running tourist and to test my training against other runners.  I am happy to toe the start line again but want to see improvement each time I finish a race.  Decided to find a new training method to help me get better daily and work towards improving my half marathon times.

I was able to increase my endurance by running the rolling hills in Tallahassee when I lived there.  Did not realize how much hill training helped my ability to run faster until I relocated to Fort Pierce which is completely flat.  Running on flat surfaces is better than nothing but it is hard to replicate the intensity needed to get up and over rolling hills.

A majority of my Fort Pierce runs are done close to the beach on Ocean Drive.  I enjoy the views on this route and feel safe since I do not have to cross traffic.  I am parallel to the beach when running and make pit stops to catch views and listen to the waves.  Example:  I run 2.5 miles on Ocean drive and then sit on the beach for a bit before running back 2.5 miles.  Some of my best Instagram pictures come from the middle part of my run.  😊

This process and route have worked well for me but wanted to find a new way to train since I do not have hills to climb. 

Decided to leverage the beach and start running directly in the sand.  This is not a novel approach but one I have not maximized since I moved here.  I have run on Jacksonville Beach, but it has a flat surface without awkward inclines.  Most beaches in Florida have an incline which puts pressure on one side of the body.  The Fort Pierce beaches have this incline closer to the water but provides a flatter surface further away from the water.  I used this part of the beach to build my mental and physical endurance.

My goal for the beach runs is to slowly increase my distance each time out as I establish a new training threshold.  Running in the sand creates unstable footing and makes the body adjust to continue to move forward.  This process brings in muscles that are not used with traditional running and strengthens them.  The sand on the beach moves with each step and forces the body to adjust.  Going fast is not the object of the training sessions—building endurance and mental focus are the top outcomes of running on the beach.

My initial foray on the beach allowed me to finish a 2.5-mile run.  I extend my beach runs an additional .5 miles each time I go out with an end goal of 5 miles completely in the sand.

The benefits of this training approach will pay off when I tackle the Savannah Rock N Roll half marathon in November.  I plan to run faster in Savannah with an end goal of setting another PR at the Orlando OUC Half Marathon in December.  The flat surface should be conducive to running fast.  Who’s going to join me in Orlando?! 😊

What new techniques have you incorporated into your training program?

“When I run on the beach, it is always in slow motion. That’s how I roll”.

(Amber Heard)

https://www.runrocknroll.com/news_article/show/1135109

Cross Seminole Trail run

Seminole Cross Trail

“Running:  my sport is your sport’s punishment”.

(Funny running quotes)

Took me a little time to fully understand what being a runner truly means.  I started getting serious about running when I moved to Oviedo, Florida from Bonaire, Georgia. 

I ran in Georgia because I was still in the Air Force and needed to maintain my cardio fitness to ensure I completed our annual fitness test.  I was always in shape but focused on football, basketball and weightlifting while in the Air Force.  I signed up for an occasional 5k but never really trained for them—just showed up and ran.  I also had NO idea how important the correct shoes can be in this sport.

Now, back to the quote above.  I played football, basketball, and baseball back in the high school days.  I transitioned to flag football, basketball, softball and weightlifting during my time in the Air Force.  Coaches in both worlds routinely assigned RUNNING as a motivational tactic or punishment depending on how they felt.  A missed assignment in football was punished by running a lap or two around the track.  A missed free throw in basketball was punished by unlimited ‘down and backs’ on the basketball court.  An error in baseball or softball got a lap around the field to regain your focus.  So, as you can see, the quote above rings true in more ways than one. 😊

Fast forward to today and punishment from my younger days is something I routinely leave my house to accomplish, for fun! The therapeutic benefits have been amazing also.

Running has taken on a large part of my Walk into the Future, and I do not see it diminishing anytime soon.  I got into running later in life, so I am blessed to not have run related injuries that limit my ability to get my miles in.  I also know the importance of nutrition and stretching so make sure I take care of my body before, during and after my runs.

Another fun fact about my running program is I bring my running gear whenever I travel in case I can sneak a run in. Sometimes I never get a chance to break out my gear but want to be ready.

My work with the Central Florida Employment Council (CFEC) back in May brought me back to the Orlando area and the large trail systems available there.  My event with CFEC was on a Friday afternoon so I decided to hang out in Oviedo after the event so I could get up on Saturday morning and run the Seminole Cross Trail while in the area.  Yes, you read that right—Inspiration Man made a point to get a run in while in town making a difference. 

I love the Seminole Cross Trail because it has visible mile markers and most of the trail is shaded.  I made sure I got out early because I wanted to beat the Central Florida heat and still have time to enjoy time in Oviedo.

There was a lot of activity on the trail with bikers, walkers and runners sharing the trail.  I made a point to wave and say hello to everyone I saw on the trail.  My Fort Pierce runs do not provide many opportunities to see many folks during my runs, so it was great seeing others out enjoying the morning on the trail. 

A first for me was seeing someone riding a unicycle on the trail.  Guess I only thought people rode unicycles as part of a circus act but this guy rode by me at a good pace.  I was impressed with the ability to balance and ride a unicycle while avoiding people on a busy trail.  Started to wonder if I could ride one of those things.  Running provides time to think about stuff. 😊

I was able to complete a quick 6 mile run on the trail before it got too hot—not bad considering I was there for an event.

I look forward to leveraging the Seminole Cross Trail more as I ramp up my half marathon training.  I plan to get back into racing later in the year and need to start getting long runs in again. 

My run gear bag remains packed, and I am ready to keep logging miles.  Each run brings me closer to 1,000 training miles for the year.

How many miles have you logged this year?  Let’s get busy!

“Running helps me maintain my ‘never killed anyone’ streak”.

(Pinterest)

Running into the Future—goal within reach

Run article

“Set goals and crush them”.

(www.tresfleeck.com)

Goals continue to be a big part of my Walk into the Future.  I sit down in January and write out my goals for the year.  I break these goals up into categories so I can track my completion progress.

My weekly physical fitness goals include weight training (2 days), run (3 days) and speed work on Wednesdays.  My overarching physical fitness goal is 1,000 training miles in 2021—this includes running and biking miles.

I set 1,000 training miles as a goal to push my training to a new level.  This mile marker also helps my motivation since there are not as many races to run in this COVID-19 world.  I am always looking for ways to maintain my running edge and adding more miles to my training program appears to be a good thing for me.

Happy to report I logged 615 miles so far in 2021.  I have not been consistent with my long runs but routinely get in three quality sessions each week. 

Tuesdays:  3 – 4 miles (after work)

Thursdays:  4 – 6 miles (after work)

Saturdays:  6 – 8 miles (morning runs)

My Tuesday and Thursday runs are done when I get off work, so I am not concerned about my run times during these sessions.  Working 9, 10, 11-hour days creates a mental drain, but I still make time to hit the road since this helps to recharge me physically and mentally.  Some days are a lot slower than others, but I smile because I am out doing something I love.  Never thought I would say that, but I would be lost without my running program—it just took me awhile to come to this conclusion.

My Saturday runs are not like my long training sessions when I had half marathons to train for.  I routinely crushed 10+ mile runs on Saturdays before my move to Fort Pierce but 8 is the longest distance I hit when running locally.  I have not found a route that allows me to enjoy the run while getting in longer distances.  I have searched multiple locations, but nothing is available like the St. Mark’s Trail or John Brown Park in Tallahassee:

The trail system in Tallahassee allowed me to push my mileage and extend my long runs up to 16 miles on multiple training sessions.  I plan to get back to the longer versions of my runs since I am looking forward to getting back to being a running tourist

I am scheduled to run the 2021 Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon in September.  I have never run this race or visited the city so looking forward to getting back to a starting line to test my conditioning against some world class athletes.  My goal for this race is to run another Personal Record (PR) and get under 2 hours for the distance.  I was on track to go under 2 hours before COVID-19 hit the world, but I am confident I am going to hit my goal.

My training for Virginia Beach will increase my speed towards the Orlando OUC Half Marathon in December.  This course is completely flat so it should provide a fast track to help me hit my goals.  This will truly springboard my runs into 2022 as I gear up for a full running season—8 or more half marathons.

A full marathon (26.2 miles) will make it on my goals list for 2022—there I said it so now it is out in the open.  Let’s see who is going to run it with me! Come on Laurens! 😊

What goals did you set for 2021?  How is your progress so far?

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible”.

(Tony Robbins)

One year in Fort Pierce

Fort Pierce

“Your life is a story of transition.  You are always leaving one chapter behind while moving to the next”.

(Anonymous)

2020 brought us a year of uncertainty and change.  Not the most prophetic thing I have ever written for the Walk into the Future blog but felt the need to drop that nugget. 

I celebrated the one-year mark of my move to Fort Pierce on April 13th and decided to look back.  I am sure I was not the ONLY person to move to a new city during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but have not met anyone in my current circle.  Turns out I was the last employee hired by Indian River State College before a hiring freeze was imposed due to COVID-19 uncertainty and the onset of remote work for all college employees.

I remember when I was preparing to move from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce the thought kept coming up that maybe my opportunity to work at Indian River State College would be pulled due to the pandemic.  I called a few times to make sure I was still hired, and Human Resources kept saying yes.  Packed up the U-Haul, pointed it south and the rest is history—arrived in Fort Pierce without knowing the pandemic was about to get a whole lot worse than we expected.  It did not help the government kept telling people there was nothing to worry about—that dang U.S. government, they have never lied before, right? 😊

I never had a remote work schedule when I arrived—being new to the area, going into the office was my only interaction with other people. The limited staff in the buildings all wore masks and practiced physical distancing but going to work was a welcomed part of my day.  I could not imagine moving to a new city and then sitting at home all day without seeing anyone. 

True story—my entire staff was working remotely so I met my 11-person team on my laptop via a Zoom meeting.  Never thought this would be possible but 2020 made us find creative ways to get things done.  My initial staff meetings were all done via a virtual platform (Zoom, Black Board Collaborate or Microsoft Teams).  I love the functionality of Microsoft Teams and continue to conduct staff meetings with this platform. Most of the staff are fully vaccinated but we still have a few stragglers—hope to be able to get everyone together with physical distancing in the fall—fingers crossed.

I had to find new running routes over the past year.  Discovered Fort Pierce is not as runner friendly as Tallahassee or Oviedo so finding places to run safely continues to be a challenge.  I have two good running areas but would like more routes for a change of scenery.  I love running but still get bored if I do not have variety on my routes. Will keep searching for new places to run because I need to extend my long runs with my focus on becoming a running tourist again.  I have race entries for the following:

  • 2021 Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon / September 5, 2021
  • 2021 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon / December 4, 2021
  • 2022 Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon / February 6, 2022

Would like to add more races but need to build my long runs back up to 12+ miles again. 

My initial workouts in Fort Pierce were done strictly at home.  Most of the gyms closed due to COVID-19 protocols and I would not have ventured in even if they were open.  I stopped going to the gym before leaving Tallahassee because the gym environment is a prime place for close contact with others.  This close contact led to people spreading the virus so I invested in workout equipment so I could maintain my fitness levels from home.  Surprisingly, I stayed in great physical shape with home workouts.  I have slowly returned to the gym but only go two days a week now when I am in town.  I do body weight workouts (pushups, crunches, squats, etc.) in the mornings before I head to work.  I am happy with my results and will keep this up since it is working and a lot cheaper than having a gym membership. 😊

The beaches on the Treasure Coast provide me with great places to sit, relax and catch up on my reading.  Funny, I live about 10 minutes from a beach but find I must schedule my beach outings.  I run close to the water and stop to enjoy the views but need to do a better job of just making beach days.  I am heading to Melbourne tomorrow for an air show and will get an early start so I can stake my claim to a prime beach location to relax and enjoy the Blue Angels as they put on their show.  I plan to get to the beach more this year and keep taking beautiful sunset shots.

Time continues to move forward.  It feels like I just got here yesterday but it has been a year.  Most days seemed to be the same due to COVID-19 protocols but a year it has been.  Looking forward to new adventures in 2021 and you know I am going to highlight a few in the Walk into the Future blog! 😊

Irie!

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly”.

(Henri Bergson)

Walking and exploring Lake Okeechobee

Lake O me

“Don’t die without embracing the daring adventure your life was meant to be”.

(Steve Pavlina)

My Walk into the Future has allowed me to experience some great adventures. 

My adventures prior to COVID-19 took me to places that required a bit of planning.  Planes, trains, and automobile (not really the train) got me from place to place so I could enjoy new places.  We are slowly getting back to being able to travel again with more and more people getting vaccinated.  I am excited about the possibilities of becoming a running tourist again.  Please note, I signed up for the early bird special to run the 2022 New Orleans Rock n Roll Running Series Half Marathon next February.  Yes, the Rock n Roll folks changed their name!

The newest adventure for me only took me 35 miles from Fort Pierce.  I have traveled to the town of Okeechobee multiple times because we have a campus there.  I drive over and take care of my work and then drive back to the main campus in Fort Pierce.  A very routine process but realized I had never taken the time to go to Lake Okeechobee.  Imagine being about 10 miles away from the largest freshwater lake in Florida but never visiting.  Decided to fix this issue and get over to the lake for a little adventure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Okeechobee

My day started with the prospect of severe thunderstorms approaching the area.  Luckily, I did not let this deter me from my adventure. The skies remained sunny and clear, so I took a chance (Walk into the Future) and packed a backpack and headed over to see the big lake.  The drive over was around 40 minutes, so it did not take long to begin the adventure.  There was not much traffic on the road, so the drive was easy.  It is a farming community so not many sights to see on the drive except orange groves, farms, and cows.

I did not create a travel plan for my visit so just decided to make it up as I went.  Parked at the Welcome Center and took in Lake Okeechobee from the walking bridge.  This was my first view of the lake and it did not disappoint.  The massiveness of Lake Okeechobee is probably the most impressive part of being there.  I knew going over it was going to be a large body of water but being there and not seeing a bank on the other side was amazing.  Finally got a chance to break out my new camera with my 80x zoom lens for this trip—it was needed to zoom in on objects in the distance.

I decided to go further down the road and see what other adventures Lake Okeechobee had for me.   Pulled over when I saw a sign for the Lake Okeechobee Historic Trail—seemed like a great place to explore a bit more.  The trail is paved so made my way east and took in the sights.  There were several people at this point fishing, and they were pulling them in.  Guess I will return to this spot IF I ever get into fishing—never been high on my list of hobbies to pick up. Got a 3 mile walk in on this portion of the trip and got more pictures of the lake and surrounding area.  A couple riding their bikes shared they saw bald eagles a little further down the trail so decided to get back in the vehicle and drive down more to where they mentioned seeing eagles.  Would love to get pictures of bald eagles in the wild!  I was also racing time because the skies were getting dark—the rain was coming!

Drove another 5 miles or so down the road and pulled into another segment of the Lake Okeechobee Historic Trail.  There were more people fishing here so the theme of the day is Lake Okeechobee is great if you like to fish. 😊 Again, walked on the trail heading east looking for perches eagles would populate—funny to read that last sentence—how would I know where eagles hang out???

Got a good walk in on this portion of the trail.  I saw birds but nothing as interesting as bald eagle so took more pictures of the lake.  I got lucky and spotted an alligator swimming in water close to Lake Okeechobee.  This allowed me to utilize my zoom lens to get a good shot of a 6-foot alligator—my camera on my phone would not have allowed me to get this shot so happy to have the zoom available now.  Cannot wait to take some pictures in Negril, Jamaica with a real zoom lens!

The skies got extremely dark because of the incoming bad weather so decided to cut my losses and get back on the road to head home.  No need to get caught in a thunderstorm on Lake Okeechobee.  This was a short trip but worth the time to drive over and explore Lake Okeechobee.  May venture back over soon and experience the lake via an airboat ride.  The adventures continue! 😊

“I thought it was an adventure but actually, it was life”.

(www.ecogentleman.com)

 

Success in Black and White podcast

Success

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“A podcast is a great way to develop relationships with hard-to-reach people”.

(Tim Paige)

The Walk into the Future blog has provided me with multiple opportunities to share my words, thoughts, and experiences with others. 

I started this journey in 2018 with an idea of the direction I wanted to go but had no idea the process would be so much fun for me.  The ability to be creative and explore adventures are two key elements that allow me to continue to produce content for the blog.  I love the comments, texts, and emails I receive when something I write speaks to others—I guess you can say I am finding my voice as I develop content.

One area that puts a huge smile on my face is when one of my tree branches reaches out and want to produce content with me.  My smile gets even bigger when the request comes from TWO tree branches! 😊

My tree branches, Darryl and April Lovett have a successful platform:  Success in Black and White. 

Proud of these two as they tackle issues others may shy away from, but they have fun as they do it.  Love the fact they move forward as a POWER couple; their energy is contagious and makes you want to get up and make a difference in the world.

They asked me to join them for a podcast episode and I immediately said yes.  Saw this as a perfect way to catch up with them and share a little bit of Walk into the Future with their growing audience.  Please note, recording the episode was more fun than I ever imagined—well done Darryl and April!

We were able to catch up during the podcast and cover a lot of content in the one-hour timeframe.  They asked great questions and were not afraid to follow-up for clarity.  The question that really got me energized was:  What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

I have been asked this question in multiple ways but really enjoy the opportunity to continue to share my WHY.  My why is to leave everyone better than when I met them.  It took me a few years to put this down into a simple statement, but it has been with me for some time now.

I was able to dive a bit deeper while speaking with Darryl and April during the podcast.  My desire to help others started for me in high school.  I had a Guidance Counselor who did not even try to help me plan my life after high school.  I had several friends who got excellent advice from this same counselor, but she only told me to join the military.  We never discussed how to apply to colleges, how to apply for financial aid or anything about further education and the doors it would open.  Fast forward and I hold three degrees without ever having a student loan—so maybe it was a good thing my high school guidance counselor did not help me with the process. 😊

My why is driven by the lack of support I received from my guidance counselor.  I provide mentorship to everyone that crosses my path because I do not want them to have to struggle because I would not take the time to help them.  I wanted to make sure Darryl, April and their audience understood how important this is for me.  The passion I display when working with my tree branches and potential branches is because I want to help them grow.  Sounds cliché but it is something I live every day.

A funny but true aspect of how I developed my why is I do not remember the name of my high school guidance counselor.  Imagine, this lady fueled my passion with her lack of attention to my future and I do not remember her name, but she has allowed me to touch so many lives in a positive way.  Good things come out of bad situations.  Please note, I would not change a thing—I seem to be doing okay with this Walk into the Future journey. 

Discovered during the podcast episode April also considers herself a running tourist!  We got a chance to discuss why I run and the positive impacts it has on my daily journey.  Hoping we can all get back to running, exploring, and traveling soon—there are still races out there to run.

So, I repeat the question Darryl and April asked me:

What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

Thank you, Darryl and April for allowing me to come on your podcast!  It was fun! 😊 Irie!

“Podcasting is great.  Total freedom”.

(Bill Burr)

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)

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