2020 Winter Park 10k and a podcast on the side

Podcast March 2020

(Image by Florante Valdez from Pixabay)

“Life is a blank canvas and you need to throw all the paint on it you can”.

(Danny Kaye)

Ventured back down to the Orlando area for the 2020 Winter Park 10k.  This race has been on my running calendar the past two years because it allows me to hang out with great friends and family while running a unique course in Winter Park.

Track Shack promotes this race as a fantastic course to run a 10k personal best (PB) and it does not disappoint.  There were several runners ringing the PB Bell strategically placed in the runner’s village after the race.  Always exciting to see the joy a PB time brings to runners.

Mastering College to Career podcast

Coordinated with an Orlando tree branch to stop on the way down for the race to catch up a bit and record another episode on his Mastering College to Career podcast.

The podcast is Daniel Botero’s way to Walk into the Future and he has added on-line courses, videos and workbooks to go along with the weekly podcast episode.  Very proud of his efforts and the difference he’s making with college students transitioning into the workplace.

Daniel provides me with the topic of discussion prior to the podcast and then we get to work.  I’ve known Daniel since 2011 so we have a great working relationship and energize each other when we are in the same room.  He wanted his students to understand the behind the scenes interactions between on-campus recruiters and career centers.  The goal was to provide students with a better understanding how/why employers recruit on their campuses and the work involved to get them there.  Was very happy to share my career center and employer relations knowledge with Daniel for the podcast and helping his students.

Found out I’m the first person on Daniel’s podcast to return for a third time.  This put a smile on my face, but the smile got bigger because Daniel asked me to cut another podcast episode before I left his recording studio.  So, it turns out I’m the only four-time guest on the podcast now.  The additional podcast episode was to highlight the recruiting calendar employers utilize when deciding which campuses to visit.  What a great way to start my race weekend!  Got a chance to catch up with Daniel and cut two podcast episodes to help his students continue to move forward in life.  (Both episodes should be live in April 2020).

Left Daniel’s recording studio and headed straight to Track Shack to pick up my race packet.  Always exciting to see the Track Shack staff engaging with runners buying new gear.  Love they host a spring sale the entire week of the Winter Park 10k race.  Always can find some new gear and the sale prices are fantastic.  Got a chance to chat with one of the Track Shack owners who I met one morning while running in Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee.  Turns out her daughter lives in Tallahassee and works at FSU—small world!

Carb loading

Headed to my favorite Italian restaurant, Café Panuzzo’s with Jayla to carb load and catch up.  We normally dine at Café Panuzzo’s or Buffalo Wild Wings prior to my races and Italian dining won this round.  Café Panuzzo’s never disappoints when we visit.  I stuck to my normal selection of chicken parmesan with pasta and Jayla got adventurous with the calzone.  Got a double order of bread since my goal was to get as many carbs as possible prior to the 10k.  Most got burned off the next morning, so no harm and their bread is fantastic!

Winter Park 10k

The morning started out cooler than expected but was great once we got started.  Told several tree branches prior my goal was to run fast this year and wanted to record a good time.  Happy to report I ran a 10k PB of 56:41 and felt good during and after the race.

Track Shack does not use the corral format for races so the first mile was crowded with runners of all levels and time expectations.  Decided to patiently work my way through the crowd and then pick up my pace once the runners thinned a bit.  Made up most of my slow start once the course flattened and went about my plan to go faster this year.  Knew my time was going to be good (for me) at the 4-mile mark and got comfortable with my pace and breathing.  Decided to pick up my pace at the 5-mile mark to see how much improvements I’ve made in the past year.  Was able to pass several other runners and get to the finish line with a smile on my face.  Learned to smile crossing the finish line since everyone with a camera is snapping away.

Got my medal, checked my time and rang the PB bell too.  Great race, people and after party! Can’t beat drinking a beer and eating donuts at 9 am in the morning.  Running is the best way to stay in shape and overindulge at the same time.

Will keep this race on my calendar because it’s fun and they will always have beer at the end! 😊

What podcasts do you listen to?  How have the podcasts helped you Walk into the Future?

“Oh, the places you’ll go”.

(Dr. Seuss)

Follow Daniel here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/thedanielbotero/

Follow Track Shack here:  https://www.trackshack.com/

Run Winter Park

Walking in the Future without a return date

Happy

 Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 “I want to move and go places and never look back.  Just have fun, forever”.

(Josephine Marcus from the 1993 movie, Tombstone) 

I love the quote above for the simple nature of how it signifies life should be fun.

The quote was a response to a question Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) asked Josephine Marcus (Dana Delaney) in the 1993 movie, Tombstone.  He was trying to understand how Josephine defined the concept of happiness.

My current Walk into the Future has a bit of resemblance to Josephine’s view with a slight twist.

I constantly seek out opportunities and adventures that excite me and then find ways to incorporate these things into my current walk.  Had another interesting conversation with a longtime friend prior to heading to Philadelphia for the 2019 Philly Rock n Roll half marathon.

My travel itinerary was the topic of discussion and I revealed in my typical Walk into the Future fashion the following things were known about my trip:

  • Hotel reservation confirmed
  • Race registration confirmed
  • Arrival flight confirmed

The list above did not have an official return date from Philadelphia.  To me, this was not a big deal, just part of how I Walk into the Future.

My friend quickly became worried for me because going somewhere new without a return date was/is a foreign concept to most people.  FYI, for me this is an exciting part of the walk!  Please note, I knew when I planned to come back, I just didn’t book the return flight at the same time as my departure.

Southwest Airlines tends to reduce flight prices to ensure they have full flights.  I simply gambled on the premise they would lower the price for the return flight from Philly and it happened.  Spent less coming back than I did going up because of my ability to walk without a return date.

Don’t consider myself as a travel pioneer; I’m sure other people have flexible travel schedules.  This flexibility is an exciting aspect when traveling.  I routinely book travel at the last minute because of the great deals I’ve been able to get in the past.  Please note, it does not always work in my favor and I end up spending the same or more for my travel adventures.  Can’t complain when this happens since I normally come out ahead more times than not.

I book with a more traditional travel concept when friends and family travel with me.  My wait and see program can cause some level of anxiety so I’m mindful to eliminate this when others are counting on me being in a specific location at a specific time.

Plan to explore new destinations in 2020 and will not be pressed by a return date.  Will continue Walking into the Future with no return date; been a fun journey so far! 😊

Where would you travel without a return date?  Would you find this exciting or scary?

“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better”.

(Albert Camus)

 Philly downtown2

(Downtown Philly!)

The running tourist returns to New Orleans

“An American has not seen the United States until they have seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans”.

(Mark Twain)

Returned to New Orleans for the 2020 Rock N Roll Half Marathon in early February.  This was my third year running the race and I enjoyed the adventures of being a running tourist again this year.  The weather was warmer than normal for February but not too bad where runners couldn’t finish.

Decided to take full advantage of the running tourism available in a city with so much culture and things to see.  Of course, food is a major attraction in New Orleans, and I made sure I got to sample from different locations while visiting.

Rock N Roll EXPO

The EXPO was a little bigger this year with new vendors and products to try or take with you for use later.  Always exciting to see the other runners at the EXPO.  People from all over the world converging with the same mindset to run and enjoy their time in New Orleans.  The live DJ was a new twist at the EXPO but fit with the New Orleans experience.

Got to take a few pictures prior to picking up my race bib, t-shirt and goodies.  This is a highlight while visiting the EXPO—you’ve got to get your picture taken with the multiple props the Rock N Roll folks provide.  The giant Brooks running sneaker was a new feature to the EXPO this year—created a long line to get next to that sneaker.

Made my way through registration and the Rock N Roll merchandise shopping area—didn’t purchase any new gear this year.  Sampled some B12 drinks provided by vendors and stocked up on Energy Jellybeans for use before the race.  I’ve tried these before so no fear of a bad stomach reaction; I never try new things before a race so I don’t experience stomach issues–lesson learned. 😊

My favorite vendor at the EXPO provided massage chairs for use.  Of course, they wanted to sell some of the chairs, but I was able to get a FREE 15-minute chair massage and enjoyed every minute of it.  This was an added benefit of attending the EXPO.

“It’s rude to count people as you pass them.  Out loud”.

(Adidas ad)

Rock N Roll Half

My hotel was only two blocks away from the start line this year so got a little extra sleep on race day.  Race time temperatures normally start in the mid-40s this time of year, but racers were greeted with high-50s and humidity prior to the start.  This meant we were in for a race finish much warmer than most of us wanted.

I was pleasantly surprised my race corral was #2 this year.  I remember my first Rock N Roll race had me in corral #24 so looks like I’m moving up in the world. 😊  The New Orleans course is flat and mostly shady which helps when the sun comes out.

Decided to enjoy the course and scenery during the first half of the race—didn’t push my pace to let the other runners thin out a bit around me.  The first mile is always the toughest for me because you’re surrounded by so many people.  Had to display a new level of patience knowing I could make up time later in the race due to training progress and enhanced fitness levels.

A good portion of the half marathon takes place on St. Charles Avenue which is lined with homes, shops and restaurants.  It’s a rich environment for spectators to cheer runners and provide additional encouragement.  This area feels like New Orleans to me and I enjoyed the scenery while making my way through the city.

It’s always great when we get to see the ELITE runners on the opposite side of St. Charles Ave. after they make the turn to head back towards the Warehouse District–this is the only time we get to see the ELITES until the finish line.  They are impressive to watch run!

We made our way through the Warehouse District then into the French Market before ending at Roosevelt Mall in City Park.  The French Market is always full of people eating breakfast who come out to cheer for the runners.  This provides a little more inspiration to finish—please note, there’s no shade here and it started to get hot quickly so people cheering was appreciated!

Was able to lock in mentally at this point and trust my training to get me to the finish line.  Took my last energy gel at Mile 11 and decided to enjoy my experience, the scenery and the other runners and pushed forward.  Even high fived a few spectators who lined the streets to cheer for us—this was a fun day!

Completed the half in 2:07:34 which was 3 minutes faster than I ran in 2019.  Not bad for the first race of the year and the temperature. Full disclosure, this was my second fastest half marathon so I’m extremely happy to start running season with a bang.  Got two full months to prepare for Nashville in April.  Another highlight of the Rock N Roll weekend is a new event added to the 2020 calendar—Clearwater, Florida in October.  Excited to have a home state race on the calendar!  Got my early bird registration in for Clearwater to take advantage of the low price.  Should be fun!

Chicken and Waffles again!

Raved about the chicken and waffles at the Creole House last year and had to try the dish again this year.  They did not disappoint!  This is still one of my favorite stops in New Orleans. The food, service and atmosphere are first rate and highly recommend the Creole House if you plan to visit New Orleans.

Found a worthy competitor for the Creole House at Daisy Mae’s.  Daisy Mae’s is on a side street most tourist may not venture down.  Got lucky because it was one street over from my hotel and I noticed the locals going in and out.  Decided it was worth a visit and I was not disappointed with my choice.  I’m not a food critic but would recommend EVERYONE stop by Daisy Mae’s for the chicken and waffles.  I’m not a huge spicy food eater but the spice on the fried chicken was amazing—spicy but not over the top.  I love the Creole House, but Daisey Mae’s has made it on my must visit list too.  Please be patient, they cook chicken as it’s ordered so the wait can be 15 – 20 minutes but well worth it!

Won’t bore you with French Quarter recaps—I drank, listened to great music and took in the Bourbon Street scene multiple times.  Always an eye-opening experience!

Looking to expand my running tourism reach in 2020—got some new cities lined up to visit and enjoy while running.  Who’s with me?

 

Where are you running in 2020?  Where have you always wanted to go but have not been yet?  What’s holding you back?  Get out there and Walk into the Future!

“I run so my goals in life get bigger instead of my belly”.

(Bill Kirby)

 

Running fitness—the transformation continues

Transformation

(Image by Kei Rothblack from Pixabay)

“Change is inevitable, but transformation is by conscious choice”.

(Heather Ash Amara)

 I’ve been able to experience a lot of new and exciting things during my current Walk into the Future.  Didn’t have a complete idea how this walk would transpire but happy to report it is going very well.

I get to travel and experience new places and adventures, see friends and catch up, write and network daily and work on my mental and physical fitness.  We will dive into my physical fitness to highlight an important transformation that I’m adjusting to.  Not complaining about this transformation but it has a funny side effect.

My normal body weight when I started this Walk into the Future adventure and blog was in the 205 – 207 pound range.  Was always happy with this weight range because I concentrated more on lifting weights during my gym sessions to build muscle.  I wasn’t a power lifter, but I made sure to add a few additional plates to maintain my muscle volume and fill out my shirts.

My workouts still focus on overall body symmetry with designated days for each body part (chest day, leg day, back, etc.).  The big shift with my fitness program is the cardio components I’ve added as I pursue my half marathon goal to finish under two hours.

I’ve documented in multiple blog posts the increased mileage I’m running to improve my endurance and speed for my races.  I continue to look for ways to get faster as I extend my runs and weekly mileage.  Set a 2020 goal to hit 1,200 miles this year!

The one thing I really didn’t notice was the effect running was having on my body.  No, I’m not going to report aches and pains, that comes with running, that’s normal and should be expected.

The big impact the extended running program has on my transformation has been my body weight.  I registered 194 pounds on the scale last week.  Let’s put that number in life context.  The last time I saw 194 pounds on a scale was 1996—my niece Jayla wasn’t born yet! 😊

Believe I should have known the transformation was happening because my belts all appeared to be getting longer.  I know this can’t happen—it was me getting more toned because of my running and gym activities.  Spent last weekend shopping for new belts because I didn’t want to have that old dude with a too long belt look anymore.  Happy to report all belts have been replaced to keep me somewhat fashion relevant.

Never intended to lose a specific amount of weight when I started running more.  I realize weight loss and body transformation can and do happen when you run a lot.  Figured my weekly cake tasting sessions, pizza and the beer/chicken wing outings would hinder any weight loss goals.

Please read the last sentence again—yes, I still eat cake, pizza, wings and drink beer and still lost weight.  Imagine what would happen if I cleaned up my diet! 😊

My disclaimer is, I run and workout so I can eat what I like.  It hasn’t hindered me so far.  Will look to eat a bit cleaner in 2020 to enhance my overall fitness and race endurance.

What transformation have you had recently?  What can you transform in 2020?  Thanks for walking with me!

 “Transformation isn’t a future event.  It’s a present-day activity”.

(Jillian Michaels)

(Left:  December 2018, 205 pounds / Right:  December 2019, 194 pounds)

2019 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon recap — the Benjamin Button effect

OUC prerace

“You know you’re a runner when, your running shoes ARE the most expensive pair of shoes you possess”.

(Anonymous runner)

My 2019 racing schedule ended on 12/7/19 at the OUC half marathon in Orlando.

This was my 5th half marathon and 7th race of the year.  I started 2019 with an aggressive (for me) race schedule where I wanted to race more and increase the number of half marathon finishes.  I also set a goal to run a half marathon under 2 hours—I didn’t meet this goal but did improve my Personal Record (PR) four times this year, so progress has been made.  I’m faster now than when I started running half marathons in 2013 (Benjamin Button).

How many times running this race?

I started my half marathon quest in 2013 at this very same race.  A UCF friend convinced me to run a half marathon with intent to run it with me for support.  She had several half and full marathons completed and thought it would be a good challenge for me to run a half marathon.

Fast forward a bit, I signed up and began training but her husband got a job transfer and they moved to Dallas, Texas before the race.  I thought about backing out since I didn’t have a running partner but decided to give it a try on my own.

Had no idea how to train, eat or prepare for a half marathon so simply relied on athletic ability for my first try.  This was a horrible idea!  I would have quit during my first half marathon but didn’t know how to get back to my car, so had to keep going in order to figure out where I parked.  This is not a joke, I finished because I had no other choice.

Ran this race again the following year because I had to prove to myself, I could run a half marathon and appear to be competent while doing it.  I improved my finish times incrementally over the years so the pull to come back was there.  I skipped the OUC half marathon in 2018 and ran on Amelia Island instead.

The 2019 race was my sixth time running the OUC half marathon.  I’m currently 19 minutes faster than the first time I ran the same race (Benjamin Button).

Why come back?

Wanted to test my new training knowledge and program against a course that beat me up in the past.  Figured the best way to know if I’m improving is to run the course I wanted to quit on and then move forward.

Happy to report I enjoyed the 2019 version of this race from start to finish!  Even found myself with a goofy smile on my face for some reason around mile 9.  This may have been the runner’s high people tell me about, but I never experienced before.

No worries just decided to keep on smiling and run my best.  This approach allowed me to finish with a PR (2:05:51) and a level of satisfaction with my entire 2019 running program.  Can always look for areas to improve but very happy to improve my PR four times this year.  As you can see, I’m getting faster as I get older (Benjamin Button).  I’m still looking for another gear and project to get a bit faster in 2020.

Stick with the Walk into the Future blog to follow my running progress.

Race recap

Decided not to put an official time goal on this race but wanted to run fast and safely.  My top goal was to have fun and complete the 2019 race schedule in style.

Blue is my power color so outfitted with blue from head to toe for this race.  Accented my race outfit with orange compression sleeves to represent the Florida Gators as I ran through downtown Orlando.

Miles 1 – 5

Wanted to get out fast but not expend too much energy during the first third of the race.  The OUC half marathon also has a 5k race which starts at the same time.  Wanted to avoid the extra runners at the beginning of the race so went out with a controlled pace and mindset until the 5k runners split away from the half marathoners at Mile #2.  Felt good with my mile splits and knew I had the conditioning to keep my pace going.

Miles 6 – 10

Past races I’ve struggled with this portion of the half marathon.  My training, nutrition and mindset have improved this year to where I know how to handle this segment of the race and not slow down much.  Was able to stay consistent with my mile splits with no glaring slow miles.  This may have been why my goofy smile came out—I knew I was running faster and not slowing a bit.

Miles 11 – 13.1

Realized I wouldn’t break 2 hours at this point but didn’t let that take my smile away. Kept plugging away because I knew I could set another PR by just pressing forward.

Put TI’s song, Motivation on repeat because this is my running hype song that helps me mentally when I run.

The goofy smile was with me the entire time and the miles flew by.  There were spectators out helping the runners finish strong; I’m sure they were cheering for me, but I was in my zone and focused on finding the finish line.

Crossed the finish line at 2:05:51 (two hours, 5 minutes and 51 seconds) with a smile on my face and a raised fist!  You would have thought I saved the world from annihilation from my reaction, but it was a big deal to me.  Ran a smart race with a good time and felt great physically at the end.  Trifecta!

After race party

Track Shack does a fantastic job with all aspects of race day.

The vendors, health care and music after the race are first rate.  Made my way to the beer truck to get my two beers to go along with my other snacks collected in the vendor area.  Yes, runners really drink beer at 9:30 am—we’ve earned it after getting up before the sun rises and running 13.1 miles. LOL.  Ran into a few people I knew from my time in Orlando and we celebrated another great Track Shack race.

“It’s all about the bling!”

(Spectator sign, 2019)

Benjamin Button

So, why do I reference Benjamin Button in this post?  Great question!

Most people begin to slow down as runners as they age.  I’ve only been attempting the half marathon distance for 6 years now and continue to learn more about training, nutrition (beet juice) and mental focus.  I’m just scratching the surface on my running ability and see faster times coming in 2020.  So, I’m not getting younger but faster (Benjamin Button).  I’m sure the day will come when I can’t keep running faster times but it’s not here yet—so fast I must go! 😊

“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be”.

(Benjamin Button)

Goodbye OUC hello San Antonio Rock N Roll (2020)

I will not run the OUC half marathon in 2020.  I’m trading this race and experience in for the 2020 San Antonio Rock N Roll half marathon.  I lived in San Antonio while in the Air Force but wasn’t a runner then.  This will be my chance to run in a great city and experience the culture and the River Walk from a different perspective.  I’m sure I’ll return to the OUC race again in the future, maybe 2021.

Project to run 7 half marathons in 2020.

Already registered for New Orleans (February), Nashville (April) and Philly (September).  Will add San Antonio and Savannah; looking at San Diego and maybe Las Vegas to complete 7 with the Rock N Roll series.  May adjust with a local half marathon but 7 is the number for 2020.

Logged just under 1,000 miles on this running journey in 2019; I’m sure that number is going up in 2020.  Who’s ready to run with me? 😊

 

How many of your 2019 goals did you accomplish?  Have you thought about your 2020 goals yet?

Thanks for walking with me!

Merry Christmas!  Will see you in 2020!  Thanks!

OUC Christmas tree

2019 Boston (GA) mini marathon (Recap)

Boston mini

“How do you know someone ran a marathon?  Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”

(Jimmy Fallon)

My Walk into the Future continues to provide me with adventures and challenges to chase.  The latest challenge came during the Boston (GA) mini marathon (13.1 miles) on 10/26/19.  This race was on my 2019 schedule because I ran it last year and had really good results.  Set my first of many personal records (PR) at the race last year.

Fast forward to this year’s race and there’s not a PR to discuss.  My race time and finish position regressed this year.  Was a bit disappointed with my results because I know I can run faster and have done so multiple times this year on tougher courses.

So, why did I regress during this race?  Great question and I spent a day reflecting on why this race didn’t go as I planned.  Turns out I simply took running fast times for granted.  Not saying I didn’t train and put in the miles to run another good half marathon time.

  • September miles: 44 (includes Philly Rock N Roll Half marathon)
  • October miles: 29 (includes Boston mini marathon)

I did assume my Boston mini marathon race results from 2018 would automatically translate to the 2019 race.  The course was the same, but the weather was significantly different this year–mid-50s in 2018 and mid-70s with high humidity this year.  Also, needed a better hydration plan since the temperatures and humidity were higher than normal for an October morning.

My race mistakes are all easily correctable and I was back in the gym the next morning correcting them.  My physical race prep will still resemble what I’ve been doing but working on the mental aspects, so I never enter a race with assumptions again.  I improved my half marathon times this year by entering every race with a chip on my shoulder—got ahead of myself for this race but the corrections are being made.

Lesson learned—never take a race or finish time for granted.

Boston mini marathon weekend

Boston (GA) is a nice little town 40 miles northeast of Tallahassee (FL).  The people are friendly and have a blast for the entire race weekend. The half marathon is just one of the events they host for the weekend. It’s the kickoff event but most of the weekend action happens once the runners get out of the way.

Vendors setup before the sun comes out to get ready for visitors.  The Boston butt BBQ competition is fierce with BBQ outfits from multiple states vying to win the first-place prize money.  Most of these folks provide samples of their competition level BBQ after the race.  There are other vendors with additional items for purchase (cakes, pies, fish, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.).  Almost has a carnival feel to the day once the race is over.

The parade starts right after the race awards are presented.  I normally hit the road right before the parade kicks off since most intersections are blocked to accommodate the parade route.  Great little town and event if you’re ever in the area.

https://bostonga.com/boston-mini-marathon/

 

Next race

Will venture down to Orlando for the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) half marathon on 12/7/19.  I ran my first ever half marathon at the OUC event back in 2013.  Hard to believe but I’ve been chasing people at half marathons for 6 years now.  Never thought I would run another half marathon after the first one but now I’m traveling the country making memories with my friends.  Pretty cool transformation for me as I continue to Walk into the Future.

Looking forward to my training as I prepare for the OUC race.  Also excited to catch up with family and friends while in the Orlando area.  Already got my post-race lunch location picked and can’t wait to eat shrimp and grits! 😊 Plan to visit my favorite reggae spot, Bob Marley’s at City Walk too.  Will be another fun adventure for me!

 OUC Half

“Running won’t solve all your problems.  But then again, neither will housework.”

(Unknown)

How do you bounce back from a set back?  What lessons have you learned when things don’t turn out as planned?  Thanks!

Running, rocking out, and enjoying Philadelphia

Philly LOVE sign

“To travel is to live”.

(Hans Christian Andersen)

My Walk into the Future continues to expand my running tourist experiences.  Made a trek to the 2019 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon in September.  This was race #5 for my 2019 running goals.

The training and additional miles logged over the summer were evident during my race.  I was able to post another personal record (PR) time of 2:07:55 (official time) but was happier with how I felt mentally and physically during the race.  Past races my legs started to hurt at the 8-mile marker and really screamed at me miles 10 through 13.  Fighting the pain and the urge to stop running was always there in previous races but my new training program allowed me to enjoy every mile of the race.  Helped the Philly course was mostly flat until the end.  I never frown at a PR but will evaluate my training process to see where I can find additional speed to get me closer to my goal time of under 2 hours.

Note:  The 2-hour goal does not stop me from enjoying these races.  It’s my way to push myself to improve daily.

“The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday”.

(Haruki Murakami)

(After race and Rocky statue)

Philadelphia

Selected this race because I’ve never been to Philadelphia.  Also, I have a tree branch (Lauren Apgar) in Philly, and it gave us a chance to catch up.  Again, I take the concept of running tourist seriously so let me know if I should visit your city for a run. 😊

We left the airport and headed straight to the Philadelphia Convention Center for the Rock N Roll EXPO.  Seeing the thousands of running tourists who trek to a Rock N Roll destination to run the city and enjoy the culture is always a highlight of race weekend.

The positive energy in the EXPO hall always provides extra inspiration to run my best race.  People from all over the world converging on a location with the same goal in mind to run their best race ever.

The Philly EXPO was smaller than previous EXPOs (New Orleans and Nashville) because there was not a full marathon scheduled.  The Philly races were the half marathon, a 7.6k and a 5k.

This was Lauren’s first Rock N Roll EXPO, so it was great introducing her to the process (check-in, bib pickup, bag pickup, etc.) and attending the EXPO with vendors and products.  We got as many freebies as we could and tested out products on display.  This is a great way to get a free massage before the race since vendors want to test their products on runners.  I’m always down for the free massage!  Got a lot of cool photo ops while at the EXPO:

Food, food and more food

We left the convention center and made our way to Iron Hill Brewery (Center City) for lunch to help with my carb loading process.  Great location with a huge menu and beer options.  I don’t experiment with food prior to a race so ordered the grilled chicken sandwich, fries and the Iron Hill Light Lager.  Lots of great food on the menu if you get a chance to dine at one of their locations:

What’s a trip to Philly without visiting the Reading Terminal Market?  It’s labeled as “one of America’s largest and oldest public markets” and lived up to the reputation.  Row after row of unique foods, fare and products.  Several vendors had wrap around lines waiting to explore new tastes.  We didn’t eat at Reading Terminal Market, but it will be a regular stop when I’m back in Philly:

Dinner carb loading was done at Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria.  Stuck with the tried and true chicken parmesan because it came with a huge plate of spaghetti and sauce.  Portions were so large at Pietro’s I almost couldn’t finish it all but since I had 13.1 miles to run the next morning, I powered through.

Pietros Pizza

We ventured further out after the race to get cheese steaks.  Lauren introduced me to the Philly subway system and the proper way to get around the city.  We got an impromptu dance show from a family entertaining everyone on the subway.  Great seeing people smile and enjoy themselves as they traveled to their respective destinations.  Full disclosure, I assumed Philly was going to be all hustle and bustle like New York.  Pleasantly surprised how slow the pace was in Philly and how people interacted with each other.

Cheese steaks on every corner

We decided to take part in the great Philly cheese steak debate:  Geno’s or Pat’s.  Agreed we would do a taste test to decide which cheese steak was better.

Started at Geno’s and dived right into a large cheese steak.  Very good flavor, texture and presentation.  Made our way across the street to try Pat’s cheese steak next.  Again, very good flavor, texture and presentation.  The onions on the Pat’s cheese steak were sautéed more and the steak had more moisture than Geno’s.  We agreed both were worth a visit if you’re in Philly—can’t go wrong with either selection.

Seating is limited at Geno’s and Pat’s, so we grabbed seats at Garage Philly and enjoyed the cheese steaks, beer and people watching.  They have a DJ playing on the sidewalk, so it was a block party and a great place to relax with good food:

History

Made our way over to Independence Hall to experience some American history. Got a chance to explore multiple buildings on the property to include Congress Hall and Senate Chambers.  The Liberty Bell was another historical site we were able to experience.  Great being in a place with this much historical contexts—recommend visiting if you’re in the Philadelphia area.

Trekked over to Penn’s Landing to see the waterway and the Ben Franklin Bridge.  Great place to people watch and get photos of New Jersey across the river.  Lots of boats in the water and people enjoying the great September weather.

Philadelphia is a great place—recommend you get there for a visit if you haven’t been.  Also, recommend experiencing the great food, history and culture available.

FYI—enjoyed it so much I’ve already signed up for the 2020 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon!  Will get a chance to test out the Pat’s and Geno’s cheese steak debate again.  Can’t wait!

What city have you always wanted to visit?  When are you going?

 “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”.

(Helen Keller)

Thanks Lauren for being a great host and tour guide—well done! 😊

Running to Philly

person wearing grey nike sneakers
Photo by Karl Solano on Pexels.com

“I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days”.

(Ronald Rook)

Decided early to make my Walk into the Future about setting goals and then putting in the work to meet those goals.  Very proud of my efforts so far in 2019 as I continue to cross things off my list daily.  One of my ongoing 2019 goals is to run a half marathon under 2 hours.  I’ve improved my best time twice this year for a total of 5 minutes faster than I ran in 2018.  My best time of 2:08:21 (2 hours, 8 minutes, 21 seconds) was run at the 2019 Nashville Rock n Roll Half Marathon back in April.  Very proud of this time and training used to get ready for Nashville.  Again, my 2019 goal is to run under two hours, so still have work to do.

Miles, miles and more miles

Determined the best way to run faster was to increase my training program with additional miles.  I had to put some thought into how this would happen considering I would be running during the summer in Florida.  The heat and humidity can be unbearable just walking around so running would be an additional challenge.  Set my running schedule to avoid the hottest times during the day—early morning runs allowed me to get out and back before the full heat and humidity of the day kicked in.  Weekend runs started a bit earlier since I leveraged this time for my long runs.  Learned quickly getting out and back before 9:30 am was ideal—anything past 9:30 am and the heat beats you up.

Logged 50+ miles in June using this training method.  June also provided me with the blueprint on times to run, times to avoid and how to hydrate properly to pull this process off successfully.  Increased my training miles in July to 70+ by running two weekday runs of 5 – 6 miles each and then having a long run of 8 – 10 miles on the weekends.  Also, started carrying a hydration belt with Gatorade and water so I could replenish fluids while out for my run.  Hydration belts are not the coolest looking accessory, but it is very functional when you need something to drink miles away from water.

I extended my training program and physical capabilities in August with a 100+ mile month.  My two weekday runs were extended up to 8 miles each and my weekend runs extended up to 11 – 12 miles.  My longest August training run was 12.65 miles.  Long runs were done to get the miles in, didn’t try to hit race pace since I wanted to build up my running base without trying to hit a specific time.  Ironically, my long run times were still better than some half marathons I ran a few years ago.  Looks like I’m getting faster just by adding long runs to my training program.

Note:  I still made it to the gym for my normal workouts and extra cardio.  Running was the priority for run days, but I didn’t eliminate weight training, yoga or stretching sessions.

Run Day view

September is my taper month as I refresh my legs for the Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon on 9/15/19.  I logged 20 running miles in September to complete my training program prior to heading off to Philly.  This allowed me to mentally and physically get ready to run my best in Philly.

The best part of being this close to a race is I get to carb load—all the pasta and bread I want! 😊  This will help my energy levels during the race and keep me moving fast.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrate-loading/art-20048518

Cross Training View2

(Leg day on the Pit Shark)

Lessons learned

Mixed in hills, intervals and long runs into my training program prior to Philly.  Felt I needed to incorporate more hills and intervals after my Nashville race.  Believe these added programs will give me the endurance, speed and mental toughness needed to get under two hours in Philly.  We will see!  If not, the next race is 10/26/19 in Boston, Georgia.

You can follow my Philly progress using the Rock N Roll app:

https://rtrt.me/app/rnra

Off to Philly and looking forward to my cheese steaks after the race and sightseeing in a new city!

How are you doing with your 2019 goals?  What adjustments are needed to ensure you meet your written goals?  Thanks!

 “A goal is just an awesome way to force growth on yourself”.

(Deena Kastor)

The happy spot: Negril, Jamaica

Curry Goats

Made my annual pilgrimage back down to Negril, Jamaica in May.  Decided a few years back I would travel yearly to Jamaica to enjoy the sun, rum and reggae.  I’ve missed a year here and there but have been consistent getting my Jamaica passport stamp.

The Jamaican Tourist Board (JTB) created the ‘Once you go, you know’ slogan in 2003 to generate tourism interest and get more people to visit the island.  I always thought about the slogan because I wanted to ‘know’ what Jamaica was about but thought it was beyond my price point.  A simple check on Expedia highlighted how affordable a trip to Jamaica can be—prices vary based on brand names (Sandals, Beaches, Palladium) to more economic options (Samsara, Legends, Rock House).  You can spend as much or little as you want based on resort brand, location and all-inclusive food/drink options.

Samsara

My preferred resort is Samsara which is situated on the west end of the island.  The unique feature for Samsara is the resort is located on a cliff.  The cliffs provide unique experiences for guest to ‘cliff dive’ while enjoying the water.  I don’t cliff dive but use the access to put my snorkel gear to good use.  I spend about 3 hours daily exploring underwater caves, following fish and watching Jamaican spear fishermen catch barracuda.

 

Samsara is close to other west end resorts, so I have made a point to visit some of them while on the island.  This allows me to experience additional waterfront views, menu options and drink specials.  My favorite lunch spot on the island is the Rock House.  The Rock House has an expanded menu with a lot of traditional Jamaican food options.  Steamed snapper, peas and rice and callaloo is my go-to meal ‘every’ time I’m there.  Callaloo has a look and feel of collard greens but I will warn you, the Scotch bonnet peppers are smoking hot.  I spend more time pulling them out, but they do add flavor to the dish.

Rock House

I got a bit adventurous and decided to stop at a new spot on this trip.  I pass the Kool Vybes Bar and Jerk Centre every time I’m in Negril but never stopped.  Just assumed everything on the menu would be smothered in Jamaican jerk sauce but they provide the option to have the sauce on the side.  The food at the Jerk Centre was great and may be the best food bargain in Negril.  I will ensure to make it back to the Jerk Centre—recommend getting the jerk sauce on the side if you’re not into spicy food—Jamaicans like food with a kick!

http://realnegril.com/koolvybes/

Jerk Centre

Samsara has a sister resort (Legends) on Seven Mile beach.  Guests have full privileges at both resorts which provides additional options while in Negril.  I can spend time snorkeling off the cliffs at Samsara and then trade for beach activities to include jet skis, catamaran excursions, shopping and dining.  This 2 for 1 resort option is a ‘hidden’ gem to enhance the overall enjoyment while in Negril.

7 mile beach

Reggae

My go to spots to listen to live reggae in Negril are Alfred’s and Bourbon Beach.  I always ask the locals for places to visit and they all agree Alfred’s Ocean Place and Bourbon Beach are the best places to hear live music and catch the Irie vibe.  I’ve never been disappointed with the music or the vibes while at either place.  Both locations are right on 7 Mile beach so you can kick back with a cold drink, listen to the bands and hear waves crashing at the same time.  Very enjoyable experience!

A new place I added to the rotation this trip was Roots Bamboo Beach resort.  Large stage with an impressive sound system with live reggae on Monday and Wednesday nights.  Roots Bamboo Beach is extremely close to Alfred’s and Bourbon Beach—went back and forth between venues when a band had to take a break.

Negril’s uniqueness with cliff and beach access keeps people like me coming back year after year.  It’s always great to meet someone from Europe or Canada and hear they are on their eight trip to Negril—most are like me and stay at the same place every time.  They are in the ‘know’ about Negril.

So, now you know—Negril is my happy spot and I plan to visit as often as possible.  Already looking forward to my next trip down.

What is your happy spot to visit?  When’s the last time you were there?

Sunset 1

Philly Soul

What comes to mind when you hear Hall and Oates?

Group from the 80’s, blue-eyed soul, lots of hit songs or I remember them?  I’m guessing all those things crossed your mind when I mentioned them and yes, they are still around.

I was extremely happy to discover Hall and Oates was touring the country again this summer.  I grew up listening to their music and watching the early videos on MTV and Night Tracks on TBS.  Turns out the Hall and Oates video for Family Man (H20 album) was the first video aired on Night Tracks.  It seems they were always churning out a hit or two that captured my attention and had me singing along with them.  (FYI:  Night Tracks aired June 1983 – May 1992).

Sometimes you forget how many hits an artist has until you see them live.  The closest place I could see Hall and Oates was in Orlando at the Amway Center.  I’ve been in the Amway for college and professional basketball games but never for a concert.  Multiple outlets had tickets available but decided to use Vividseats.com since this site didn’t have the ‘extra’ fees associated with booking directly with the Amway Center or Ticketmaster.  I’m always looking for a deal!

Train was the opening act for Hall and Oates.  I’ve heard some of their music but I’m not a fan.  I was pleasantly surprised to see and hear a lot of Hall and Oates fans singing along to every word of Train’s set.  Turns out the lead singer is from the Philadelphia area and has been influenced by Hall and Oates.  May have to give them another listen knowing this new fact.

Hall and Oates started their set with Maneater which was one of their largest hits from the 80’s.  Their sound and band were better than I expected.  The musicianship displayed was impressive and had everyone standing, singing and dancing along.  They covered about an hour and a half of their hits going back to the early days: She’s Gone, Can’t Stop the Music, Sara Smile, Rich Girl, Kiss on My List, Maneater, One on One and new stuff [Philly forget me Not with Train].

Texted one of my Philly area friends during the show and asked for her favorite Hall and Oates song.  She gave me two:  She’s Gone and Rich Girl.  I texted back my favorite Hall and Oates song is:  Sarah Smile.  Of course, this changed as they played hit after hit and I loved each one of them.  Guess my true favorite Hall and Oates song is the most recent one I hear.   Their sound and music carry well, and they will be making audiences smile for years to come.  Their last encore song was You Make my Dreams Come True.  What an appropriate song to send fans home–well done Hall and Oates!

Went back and watched their 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and they performed just as well there.  Hit after hit and making the crowd smile.

What’s your favorite Hall and Oates song? When’s the last time you listened to it? I recommend going to YouTube and experiencing it again—enjoy!Hall and Oates