2022 Orlando Track Shack Winter Park 10k

WP 10k 1

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”.

(Fred DeVito)

Dictionary.com defines aggressive as making an all-out effort to win or succeed; competitive.

You could characterize my 2022 running schedule as aggressive.  I decided to test myself and get back to racing like how I ran prior to COVID-19.  My 2019 training was focused on getting faster each time I toed the line and resulted in my fastest time at the 2019 OUC Half Marathon in Orlando (2:05:51).  I was able to maintain my race form over the Christmas break and ran my second faster time at the 2020 New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon in February 2020.  Races and the country came to a standstill in April 2020 due to the pandemic.

Fast forward to 2022 and I made a concerted effort to find more races and stay active with my race schedule.  I identified 9 half marathons I wanted to run throughout the year and targeted races to help with my quest to go faster.  I don’t run a lot of 5ks but added a challenging one to my race calendar to help me push myself. 

My most aggressive move for 2022 was to tackle the Winter Park 10k less than a week after running the Treasure Coast Half Marathon.  This concept made a lot of sense when I signed up but proved to be a bit more difficult than I thought.

The goal for the Winter Park 10k was to set another 10k Personal Record (PR) since I was able to lower my PR in this same race in 2021.  I did not think the limited time between races would impact me so toed the line with the confidence of someone who would be able to dictate pace and adjust when needed.

Turns out, this person did not exist for the Winter Park 10k. LOL.

The weather forecast in the Orlando area called for severe weather and it was hot, humid, and overcast as race time drew closer.  A lot of runners were checking the weather apps to determine how much time we had before the skies opened and we were going to get wet.

Luckily, the rain held off long enough for us to run the 10k and get some time to spend in the race village before getting soaked.  FYI—this was unusual weather for Orlando in March—temperatures are normally cooler and no threats of rain.

Track Shack does not use corral starts for the smaller races so everyone can line up as close to the start line as they want.  This brings runners with different race expectations together and creates a unique environment where you must be careful not to run over or bump into people. 

The first mile of this race is always interesting since you have elite athletes mixed in with weekend warriors.  I like to hang back during the first mile to avoid collisions and the possibility of tripping while trying to get my pace up.

I entered the race with a goal to run sub 55 minutes and I got off to a better-than-expected start in Mile 1 (9:00), Mile 2 (9:14), Mile 3 (9:57).  I was happy with this pace considering the amount of bumping we had just to clear people during the first mile of the race.  I did not realize how much I slowed down during Mile 3 while running the race but felt myself slowing down.  I chalked it up to the energy expended during Mile 1 and figured I would level my pace out and kick it into gear to move faster.  Well, I kicked it in gear, but it appears the gear kicked me back.  😊

Have you ever pressed your gas pedal in your vehicle, and nothing happens?  That’s exactly what happened to me during this race.  I put the pedal down ‘in my mind’ but my body did not react in the way I wanted it to.  Mile 4 (10:09), Mile 5 (10:46), Mile 6 (11:00) did not go as planned, I had no extra gear or legs to carry me much faster than what I just threw down.  I was able to muster up a kick to finish the race that allowed me to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.  The crowd along Park Avenue was great as they cheered for all runners—I appreciate them being out so early to cheer for strangers.  I finished in 1:02:17 which is a 10:01 per mile pace.

I pouted about my results for about 3 minutes after the race.  I spoke with several elite runners who described their race like what I just experienced.  The heat and humidity got to them too so hearing that made me feel a lot better about my race.  Several mentioned they thought about quitting during the race because the conditions were so tough.  It’s funny how hearing about the misery other runners felt made me feel good about myself again. 😊  We are a funny group of people.

I originally thought running a 10k less than a week after a half marathon may have been the reason I did not have an extra gear.  It may have been a factor, but the heat and humidity also contributed to my results.  I plan to space my races out a bit more but will continue to be aggressive with my selection.

Currently prepping for the 2022 Nashville Rock N Roll (April) and Atlantic City Rock N Roll (May) Half Marathons.  No races scheduled for the summer.  I start the new racing season in October with the 2022 Clearwater Rock N Roll Half Marathon and a couple local races throughout the fall.  The running tourist will stay active with races if it remains safe to travel.

Being aggressive is not a bad thing! 😊

Irie!

“Running releases more than just sweat”.

(run-for-good.com)

Winter Park, Florida (Park Avenue Adventures)

“To travel is to live”.

(Hans Christian Andersen)

Happy to report the Walk into the Future adventures continue.  I am excited to get back to regular excursions again with more and more people being vaccinated.  COVID-19 put a halt to most outings, but I am getting comfortable being out and about again.

Decided to explore a familiar area recently and ventured back over to Winter Park, Florida to spend a day on Park AvenuePark Avenue has an eclectic feel and provides multiple places to shop, dine and entertain yourself without having to get in and out of your car.

My day started with a trip to my favorite run shop, Track Shack.  I make a point to visit Track Shack whenever I’m in the area because the staff makes me feel at home.  They also update their running gear selections, and I am always looking for new training ideas and gear.  I wear Track Shack gear during my races and wanted to see if they had new color schemes to add to my wardrobe.  I did not buy new gear on this trip but picked up some CBD gel caps. 

I added CBD to my training program last year to help with soreness and inflammation from running.  My run friends recommended CBD and I finally decided to add to my program to keep me running.  CBD has allowed me to continue to train hard and not miss sessions due to soreness—it also helps me relax and sleep better.  Give it a try!

Made my way over to Park Avenue after leaving Track Shack.  The Winter Park Farmer’s Market is a huge Saturday attraction, and I made a stop to see what the vendors had for sell.  The kettle corn vendor was the most popular vendor of the day—it is amazing to see folks buy the huge bags of kettle corn.  I like kettle corn but could not make myself buy the supersized bags the vendor had. 

There was a vendor at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market selling jerky—this is not a revelation but was surprised with the selection available.  Most people know about beef, turkey, and alligator jerky.  The surprise for me was this vendor had kangaroo jerky.  I had no idea people ate kangaroo and did not expect it as a jerky selection.  I am not a huge jerky fan but wondered all day why anyone would eat kangaroo jerky—may have to try it next time I am at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market.

Took the short walk over to Park Avenue to explore the shops and dining options available.  Track Shack hosts multiple races in this area so I am familiar with Park Avenue—the races start and end in the heart of the entertainment district here.

Found a corner breakfast spot that I had never visited before.  The Croissant Gourmet Bakery has a great menu and provides the perfect spot to dine, and people watch at the same time.  This spot is right off Park Avenue but gets a lot of foot traffic.  Most people came in for baked goods, but several stayed for breakfast and the coffee.  The Croissant Gourmet Bakery layout reminds me of a New York style bakery—the staff was friendly and got people in and out.  I had a traditional breakfast (two eggs, potatoes, bacon, toast with coffee).  They had a fantastic raspberry jam I would recommend if you visit the Croissant Gourmet Bakery—well worth the trip.  I plan to visit this spot again when I am back in Winter Park.

One of my reasons to visit Park Avenue was to venture into the Wine Room again.  The Wine Room provides a unique experience where you can purchase a wine card and then explore wines from around the world.  Insert your wine card and then decide if you want a sip, half glass or full glass.  This is a great way to try multiple wines and not commit too much money if you decide you are not a fan.  I strategically visited the Croissant Gourmet Bakery first to ensure I ate something prior to exploring wine options. 😊

I am a novice wine drinker, so the Wine Room allows folks like me to try different wines without committing too much to the process.  I favor the sweeter wines but experiment with others by purchasing by the sip.  This process helps me determine if I like the wine and not waste time or money if I do not.  I tried multiple wines that caught my interest, and most were very good. 

I made my way back to the sweet Italian wine section and found one I really enjoyed.  Decided to go all in and purchased a full glass to enjoy.  The Wine Room is a great place to enjoy wine and get some people watching in.  There were several folks there who really knew wine and it was interesting listening to them describe the wines to each other. 

Will leverage their knowledge on my next visit to the Wine Room and explore additional wines—one sip at a time.

The most talked about wine during my visit was the Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was very good, and I will try it again when I am back in the Wine Room: 

https://www.abcfws.com/caymus-cabernet-sauvignon/234305

Left the Wine Room and got some window-shopping in.  There were a lot of people out for the afternoon, and everyone had smiles.  This was a fantastic way to spend the day and I enjoyed every minute of my time on Park Avenue.  Look forward to additional adventures on Park Avenue—this may turn into a monthly getaway for me. 😊

Where have you wanted to visit?  Give Park Avenue a try if you are in the Orlando area—highly recommended.

Irie!

https://orlandodatenightguide.com/2016/09/guide-perfect-afternoon-park-avenue-winter-park/

Running and enjoying the Winter Park 10k

10k2

“Life is short…running makes it seem longer”.

(Baron Hansen)

Decided to test my fitness again by running the Winter Park 10k with Orlando Track Shack.  It should be obvious Track Shack is my favorite running organization but will go ahead and say it again—I love Track Shack and the way they put on racing events.

The 2021 Winter Park 10k was the last event in the Track Shack running series.  I was a regular Track Shack Fanatic when I lived in Oviedo but only get to participate in a couple events now. The Track Shack running series consists of 6 scheduled races over an 8-month period which ends with the Winter Park 10k event.  You do not have to be a Fanatic to run the Winter Park race, so I made a point to sign up again this year to test myself against the best runners in Central Florida.

My 10k goal continues to be to run faster than my tree branch, Lauren Kume and eventually beat her 10k Personal Record (PR).  A quick note, I did not beat her time but was able to shave a substantial amount off my PR and set a new one in 2021.  Lauren still has the best time in the family! 😊

Made my way over to Track Shack on Friday afternoon to pick up my race packet and get some last-minute shopping in.  I love making it into the Track Shack store to see the new running gear they have.  I did not need anything specific but always seem to come out of the store with something new.  I try not to run with the same outfit two races in a row, so I am always looking for additional color schemes for my run outfits.

I found a new Track Shack running tank top that caught my eye due to the unique color.  Unfortunately, they did not have my size on the rack.  Betsy Hughes who is the co-owner with her husband Jon helped me as I was shopping in the store.  Small world fact—I met Betsy two years earlier while I was out for a run in Tom Brown park in Tallahassee.  One of their daughters lives in Tallahassee and Betsy and Jon were up for a visit.  I noticed her Track Shack gear and stopped my run to say hello.  Fast forward two years and Betsy remembered me from our quick conversation on a running trail in Tallahassee.  Betsy brought Jon over and we got a chance to talk about the great running trails Tallahassee has to offer.  Great time catching up with them both—they wished me luck for the race, and I thanked them for being so awesome! 😊

Race day was a comfortable 58 degrees—perfect weather for a run through the Winter Park neighborhoods.  Made sure I got there early to make sure I could find parking and get to the start line on-time.  COVID-19 has adjusted how races are run so there was not as much activity prior to the race as in the past.  There were vendors available but just not as much traffic.  We followed Track Shack protocols, and everyone wore their face masks as we waited for the start of the race. 

Race time

The starting area was organized to ensure we maintained physical distance prior to the race. 

The corrals were marked to ensure runners knew how to line up—there were dots placed on the ground to ensure we stayed a safe distance from the other runners.  Runners were able to line up based on their projected mile per minute time (example:  6 minutes, 8 minutes, etc.).  I decided to line up with the 8 minute per mile group to avoid having to navigate through a crowd of runners at the beginning of the race.

Happy to report I was able to get out without having to adjust my pace to make it through the initial traffic.  I set out to establish a fast but comfortable pace and then see how I felt at the halfway point.  Luckily, the runners in my immediate area set a good pace and I decided to hang with them to see how much my conditioning had improved since my last big race which was the OUC Half Marathon in December.

Mile 1:  8:35 / Mile 2:  8:54 / Mile 3:  9:12 / Mile 4: 9:18 / Mile 5:  9:16 / Mile 6:  9:18 / Last .2 / 1:27

I was happy to get in the sub 9-minute miles at the beginning of the race.  My goal was to clock as many sub 9-minute miles as possible and then hang on to my form to get me to the finish line.  Felt comfortable from start to finish this year.  There was a steep incline in the middle of Mile 3 so had to adjust my stride to ensure I did not lose much momentum going up.  I broke my sub 9-minute streak here but felt good once I made it to the top.  Made up a few seconds on the descent but not enough to keep me under 9 minutes for Mile 3.  Took advantage of the first water stop just before the Mile 4 marker—new COVID protocols do not allow open containers so we were provided sealed bottled water during the race.  I got back to running comfortably after the water stop and decided to see how much I had left in the tank.  Happy to see my times did not drop off as I got deeper into the race.  I knew at the Mile 5 marker I would not beat Lauren’s time but had a good race going and a new PR was within reach. 

Crossed the finish line strong with a new PR of 55:57. Erased close to a minute off my 2020 10k time. 

I am happy with my race results and conditioning at this point of the year.  Will look to incorporate speed training to increase my endurance and help keep and maintain my pace for the next race.  I am not projected to run another race until the OUC Half Marathon in December.  Track Shack has a 5k scheduled in Winter Park in April—thinking about coming back to the Orlando area and run that one.  The course is flat and may set-up for another PR for me to lower my 5k time—we will see how it goes. 

FYI—I added Tart Cherry juice to my prerace routine and believe it helped my performance from start to finish.  I did not experience a lactic acid build up during the race or soreness after. 

Give it a try:  https://cheribundi.com/

“I chose running as my therapy”.

(Dean Karnazes)

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