Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Virginia Beach half

“Remember, the second most important thing to choosing the right shoe is choosing the left one”.

(Unknown)

Decided to exercise one of my 2020 race credits for the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon over the Labor Day weekend.  I targeted this race in 2020 before COVID-19 shut down running but never got a chance to explore Virginia Beach. 

I have traveled to the state of Virginia before, but it was in the Washington D. C. area—never the coast.  Starting and finishing a race on the Virginia Beach boardwalk was an appealing draw for me and wanted to explore the area as a running tourist

Happy to report the race, festivities and weather were fantastic and I enjoyed my adventure.

I have been training but knew my current regimen was not where it needs to be to run a Personal Record (PR).  Most folks know I am always chasing my next PR, but it appears I am getting wiser with my mental focus.  My goal for Virginia Beach was to take a measured approach to the race and then determine how fast my pace would be for the rest of the race.

Booked an early Southwest airlines flight out of Orlando to get to my race destination.  This was my first plane ride since my Rock N Roll half marathon and cheesesteak adventures in Philadelphia back in 2019.  I did not know how I would react to being back on a plane but felt safe since everyone in the airport and on the plane wore their masks.  I have seen horror stories on the news about people not wearing masks but did not experience this at all. 

Settled into my exit row seat with extra leg room and enjoyed the two-hour flight to Virginia.  This was a perfect opportunity for me to catch up on my reading.  I currently have two books going—Eat that Frog and Start With Why.  Both books speak to my current work situation, so I bounce back and forth between the books.  May need to just finish one so I can tackle the other one with more energy—we will see!

The flight to Virginia Beach was uneventful—nothing special happened but was excited to finally arrive to get the adventure started.

Hotels close to the race venture were booked or too expensive for my taste.  Ended up staying in Chesapeake, Virginia which is close to a lot of shopping and entertainment.  Made the most of this fact and did some light window shopping and got a pedicure.  Nothing like having your feet rubbed prior to pounding the pavement for 13.1 miles. 😊  Completed my carb loading process with extra pasta at The Olive Garden and made sure to drink extra water.

The weather was projected to be hotter than normal so drinking water was necessary to stay hydrated. 

EXPO

The Rock N Roll EXPOs are always a highlight of the weekend.  The excitement of being so close to race day puts a smile on the face of most runners.  I was happy to be back around runners again and experiencing a new city.  The Virginia Beach Rock N Roll EXPO was light on merchandise and vendors—believe this is because 2021 was the 20th Anniversary of this race and also the last year for the event. 

The Virginia Beach city leaders decided they did not want to host the race anymore and wanted to leverage the Labor Day holiday weekend for other activities.  There were vendors available but not as many as I am used to for the Rock N Roll series.  I made sure to shop and buy a new set of leg compression sleeves since they were marked down 50%–got a pair of white CHEP compression sleeves.  I am sure you will see picture of me rocking them soon. 😊

Virginia Beach Expo

Boardwalk

Made my way over to the boardwalk after the EXPO to get a taste of Virginia Beach.  Got a chance to take some pictures at the King Neptune statue that sits right on the boardwalk.  King Neptune is popular with running tourists so had to ensure I got the photo.  The beach was crowded—this could be because it was Labor Day weekend, and the local schools start the following week.  There were a ton of families on the beach enjoying the sun, surf, and weather.  Decided to find a spot to get a drink and food. 

Virginia Beach

Found Catch 31 right on the boardwalk and pulled up at the outdoor bar to enjoy the beach and the view.  Ordered crab cake and beer so I could people watch and enjoy college football on the  TVs.  This was a popular place, and everyone was friendly—I would recommend visiting Catch 31 if you are in the Virginia Beach area.  

https://catch31.com/

Virginia Beach Neptune

Race

Left Catch 31 with the intent to get to bed early so I could get up the next day to run the half marathon.  I hit the bed to get my rest and get off my feet.  I always set my race outfit out the night before since this makes life easier on race day.  Decided to rep the Orlando Track Shack running club again during this race.  My Track Shack race shirts always get attention from other runners and give us something to talk about before the race.

The race start was staggered to ensure we maintained a safe distance prior to crossing the start line.  I was assigned Corral #4 again based on my projected finish time.  Happy to report my start position has improved over the years which means I am running faster than most of the runners in each race. 😊

My goal was to run a steady pace, enjoy the process and not hurt myself by trying to do too much.  Mission accomplished!  The race started one block over from the beach and we made our way to the boardwalk within the first mile.  It was great running next to the beach with a nice sunrise coming up over the water.

The course brought us back onto the main drag and then we headed south through neighborhoods for most of the race.  My plan is always to run to each water stop and then walk through them when I get water or Gatorade.  I take off running again and head towards the next water stop.  This approach has allowed me to complete multiple races and set PRs in the process. 

I ran with a smile on my face for the first 8 miles then my quads and hamstring started to scream at me.  Again, I have been running but not putting in the correct number of miles to build the lactic acid threshold needed for a half marathon.  I knew this coming into the race, but it never seems to help when your legs are burning—you just keep moving forward.  I continued my game plan even with the pain, but I was not moving very fast. 

Mile 10 is where I decided trying to run a PR was not happening so slowed my pace to enjoy the rest of the race.  Luckily for me I decided a PR was not worth the pain—Mile 11 is where runners faced the problem of running up a steep bridge to get closer to the finish line.  Most of us let out an audible ‘Holy Crap’ when we saw the bridge and the knowledge we had to get up and over to finish the race.  My pace slowed down even more while making my way over the bridge.  The downhill portion was great and led us back to the boardwalk to finish the race.  There were race spectators along the boardwalk and they cheered us to the finish line.

Very happy and proud to finish this race considering my training program was subpar—I can improve and will put more effort into my preparation.

Realm Brewery

The reward for completing the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon was a trip to New Realm Brewery.  This spot was highly recommended and did not disappoint.  Realm Brewery is an open air and inside sitting establishment.  The outside sitting is covered and there is plenty room to social distance while enjoying food and drink.  I got the Acai and Blueberry Seltzer and New Realm Burger which was outstanding.  There was live music in the afternoon and the environment was fantastic.  They did not have TVs outside to watch football but that is a small thing considering how great this place is.  Yes, I will visit again when I am back in the Virginia Beach area.

Unfortunately, the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon will not be run again.  Great location, course, and entertainment in the area—guess I will have to explore other Rock N Roll locations to continue this running tourist program. 😊

Savannah is next on the list!

“If found on the ground, drag to the finish line”.

(From a runner’s t-shirt)

Half Marathon training (South Florida)

Celebration of running

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

(Baron Hansen)

September 5, 2021 is coming!  This date may only be circled on my calendar, but it has importance to my Walk into the Future.

The Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon will take place on 9/5/21.  This year’s race marks the 20th anniversary of the Rock n Roll series in Virginia Beach and will also be the last time this race is run.  Received an email last week stating the city of Virginia Beach and the Rock n Roll series agreed to make this the last hoorah.  This is my first visit to Virginia Beach, and I will have to make the most of it.

The date of the half marathon is significant to me due to my training program.  I did not have a huge half marathon training focus in 2020 due to COVID-19.  I got miles in but never found my training pace because most races were cancelled due to COVID protocols.

Fast forward to 2021 and races are slowly coming back and the running tourist in me is excited to hit the road again.  I am looking forward to exploring new locations and testing myself against courses I have only read about or seen pictures.

So, what’s the problem you may ask?  Great question and thanks!  The problem is:  it is HOT down here!!! 😊

I will not get into the concept of climate change, global warming, etc. but this south Florida heat and humidity is impacting my training program.

I officially launched my half marathon training on 6/28/21.  This put me two months out from the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll half and should be plenty of time to get mentally and physically prepared to run.  I am getting my runs and bike rides in but struggle to extend my miles due to the heat and humidity in my current location.  My long runs top out at 7 miles because I want to be mindful of the impact the heat has while training. 

I get up earlier for my weekend runs but the temperature hits the mid-80s by 9 am and only goes up from there.  Not complaining because most of my runs on done close to the water so I can always stop and make it a beach outing when I am done with my runs.

I did not think the four-hour drive from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce would make much difference on my running program but there is a different level of heat down here.  Again, not complaining but stating a fact.  This is a fact I must come to grips with soon to keep preparing for future races.  I targeted several local 5ks to keep my competitive juices flowing but need these short races to get me race ready. 

I added more bike rides (gym and outside) to get more miles on my legs to build up the threshold needed to run and complete a half marathon.  This is a new approach for me but a safe way to extend my training without having to deal with the south Florida heat.

I recently added treadmill runs to my training program.  I am not a fan of running on a treadmill, but this equipment allows me to log miles and push myself to get ready for the actual process of running a half marathon.  My new training routine consists of morning miles on my regular route near the beach and then a treadmill session with equal miles.

The one treadmill trick I started using is to cover the time/distance/speed display.  Running on the treadmill is a mentally draining exercise for me and I believe it is because the display does not match what I THINK I’m accomplishing.  Simply put, it feels like I have run further than the display shows so I get frustrated with the process.  Covering the display allows me to forget about the distance and time and just put in the work.  I see multiple people who appear to enjoy their time on the treadmill, and I am amazed watching them.  I need to get over my treadmill DREAD and just put in the work. 

Looking forward to cooler weather so I can get back to longer outside runs again.  Did I mention it is hot in South Florida? 😊

“Don’t be a jogger.  They are the ones who find dead bodies”.

(RuntotheFinish)

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/

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)

Falling back: Running and staying safe

“Running in the dark, learning to embrace the dark side”.

(Pinterest quote)

I wanted to use a clever quote to highlight the new Walk into the Future adventure that happens when we switch from Daylight Savings time.  Most of us understand the time falls back in America every fall.  This occurred for us on November 1, 2020.  Some people like the time change and others hate it.  I was never too concerned with the time changes—still do not understand why we continue to do this but make the clock adjustments like everyone else.

My concern as a running tourist is my weekday runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays are done in the dark.  I routinely leave work on Tuesdays and Thursdays and head out for my weekday runs as part of my normal training routine.  Nothing spectacular with this process prior to the time change but now I leave work and it is dark when I head out for my runs.

I have been telling people I work with how I combat running in the dark but do not believe they fully understand what it takes to remain safe and be seen when running this time of the year.

I take my running program seriously and cannot imagine not running during the week.  My way to combat the darkness is to invest in reflective gear to ensure I remain safe when out for my runs.  My runs prior to moving to Fort Pierce were all done during the day—all my weekly runs were completed during the day—mostly in the mornings prior to the Florida heat kicked in during the summer.  My winter runs could be done a little later but were still completed with plenty of daylight available.

My move to Fort Pierce and daily work schedule make weekday runs after work a better option to maintain my mileage.  I still leverage the weekend runs to get my long runs in but need the weekday runs to build up my base miles and keep me focused on race days.

I invested in reflective gear to keep me visible and safe when I run in the dark.  My first investment was to get reflective bands I wear on my legs.  These bands can be seen when illuminated by light and ensure I can be seen when it is dark outside.  I like to ensure an extra level of visibility so invested in a fluorescent and reflective running vest.  I did not use this vest much when I lived in Tallahassee but wanted to make sure I had it when needed.  This vest is one of my best purchases I have ever made from Dick’s Sporting Goods.  Was able to get it on sale and it gives me the confidence to continue to run even when it is dark outside.

I jokingly tell people the vest makes me glow in the dark, but it is true.  The yellow run vest stands out and has two reflective strips as an added feature.  Both strips can be seen when lights bounce off them.  My goal when running in the darkness is to remain safe and ensure everyone can see me.

I have decided to adjust my running routes with the time change to minimize how many intersections I must cross.  My Tuesday and Thursday runs have been cut down to no more than 4 miles since this distance keeps me out of traffic and I avoid driveways where people could back out and not see me.  Scaling back on my miles during the week means I must increase my weekend miles to make up for the reduction.  I believe this is a fair trade off to keep me running and safe.

I have decided to embrace the darkness safely and keep on running! 😊

How has the time change impacted your weekly routines?  What adjustments have you made to keep Walking into the Future?

“Stars cannot shine without darkness”.

(Pinterest quote)

Itching to race again!

Oviedo trail3

“Run because zombies will eat the untrained first”.

(Zombie apocalypse survival guide)

We all know COVID-19 wrecked a lot in 2020.  Our lives have changed and how we get things done may never be the same.  That is not a complaint but just a simple observation of how the pandemic impacts our daily lives.

One thing I got excited about in 2020 was the prospects of being able to run races again.  Most run organizations completely shut down their in-person races and pivoted to the virtual race format.  Took a bit to get use to but runners started signing up for virtual races to compete in the COVID-19 world.  I signed up and ran a few but it just did not give me the same competitive feel as the in-person racing. 

I was more than happy to sign-up for a local 5k with new COVID-19 safety protocols in October 2020.  Felt safe with how the race organizers kept runners apart before and after the race.  The staggered starts for everyone allowed the runners to maintain proper physical distance and still enjoy the race process.  Felt good throughout the race and did not worry about safety once we got started.  The same protocols were in-place after the race—nothing was handed to us—everything was prepackaged and unopened (bagels, water, granola bars, etc.). The COVID-19 initiative should remain even when the pandemic starts to wane—the race world needed to look at food handling protocols and now we know there is a better way to handle after race activities.

The Track Shack running club in Orlando is one of my favorite run organizers and great people work there.  Track Shack made the adjustment to virtual races to keep people in Central Florida running.  I did not sign up for any of their virtual races but was excited to watch people send in pictures from their virtual races.  Track Shack continued to look for ways to get runners back on courses safely.

Happy they were able to get clearance from the City of Orlando and Orange County to bring back in-person racing in time for the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon.  I have run this race multiple times and it provides a flat course that winds through downtown Orlando neighborhoods.  I projected to run the Rock N Rock Half marathon in San Antonio as my December race at the beginning of the year, but COVID-19 had other plans.  The OUC Half was a perfect replacement race and allowed me to run fast again.  I did not target a personal record (PR) but just wanted to get back out and race with other runners and enjoy the process.  Never thought running 13.1 miles would be something I craved but it is true—I am a runner now! 😊

Decided to get creative with my training program and expand my running options.  Fort Pierce does not have the same running trail system as Tallahassee or the Orlando area.  I can get some good runs in but mostly on sidewalks where I encounter traffic.  Never been a fan of running around traffic but make it work based on where I live.  I needed to get in some double digit runs so decided to look north and tackle one of my old trails in the Orlando area. 

The Cross Seminole Trail is one I have trained and raced in the past when I lived in Oviedo, Florida.   Made up my mind to just head back to Oviedo and get some training done on a shady trail without traffic.  Happy to report the trail was everything I hoped for and needed!

Started my run with the intent to get in 10 miles on the training run—5 miles out and 5 miles back.  The weather was 64 and sunny when I started my run—perfect October day to run in Florida!  Did not have an intended time for my run—just wanted to get out and put in work and enjoy the trail, weather, and the process.  The Cross Seminole Trail is a multi-use trail used by bikers, walkers, skaters, and runners.  It is always great seeing so many active people out enjoying the trail.

I was able to go out with an easy pace for the first 3 miles.  Got lucky when another runner joined the trail fun and passed me at a good pace.  Decided to leverage this to see if I could keep up with the pace—it is always good to have a run goal so decided my goal was to keep her within sight and potentially pass at some point.  Kept this process up for the next 2 miles and finally passed her at my 5-mile point.  Runners are a friendly bunch, so we exchanged runner talk as we both continued to get our runs in.  Turns out she was out for a 10-mile run to get prepared for the OUC Half Marathon too.  Small world!  She was also excited the OUC race was back as an in-person option.

I felt good at the 5-mile point so decided to extend my run a bit and set out to max out with a 12-mile run.  The cooler temperatures and shady trail had a lot to do with how good I felt while out for my run.  Kept pressing forward to the 6-mile point and then gave myself a slight break by walking for a bit before turning around to head back to the starting point.  Running allows an opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding area.  Noticed a lot of new construction and growth in the area since the last time I was there.  My run took me from downtown Oviedo to downtown Winter Spring via the trail systems.  Great way to explore an area without worrying about traffic or getting in anyone’s way.

Turned around to head back after walking for about 5 minutes.  I was not in a rush so just enjoyed the weather, nature, and the trail.  Took several pictures of the trail on the way back so my return pace was more leisurely than the first part of my run.  No worries, 12 miles is still 12 miles! 😊

Will look for additional ways to enhance my half marathon training.  May try to leverage the Cross Seminole Trail again—will just have to determine the best day and time to head back to Oviedo.  Excited to have races to train for again!  It is a small step towards normalcy, but it is promising and will allow me to get my competitive fix again.

More training to do but I am headed in a great direction!

What do you crave for your sense of normalcy?

“Make sure your worst enemy does not live between your own ears”.

“Laird Hamilton”

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)