Sometimes the best getaway is closer than you think!
This past month Carolyn and I had a small window of opportunity to get away for a short vacation. We started thinking of cruises and all inclusives just because it sounded easy. But we weren’t super excited about it either. We knew it would be fun once we got to our destination but we were less than thrilled. Carolyn even made several attempts to book a cruise, but for whatever reason technical difficulties kept getting in the way. One evening while checking out Facebook, someone posted a link (http://www.bkadventure.com/package/bioluminescence-kayaking-night-tour/) for a bioluminescence kayak tour. It sounded really cool so we checked into it and ended up booking the tour. This little excursion had nothing to do with our vacation, it was just something fun to do. So still trying to decide what and where to go, nothing was getting it for us. As we thought about our kayak trip, that actually excited us! So we thought, why not just find some more cool things to do in Florida and make that our vacation? That sounded like fun! With that my travel agent, Carolyn, started scouring the state for fun adventures.
The planning was done, seedy motels booked, a different adventure each day and we were off. First we drove up to Cape Caneveral which is where our bioluminescence kayak trip would be. It was a rainy day but the forecast looked like it would clear up by evening. Our trip would begin at 10:30 pm. We checked into our hotel that afternoon and just hung out and relaxed. Carolyn found us a hotel that was literally a 5 minute drive to the river where we would launch the kayaks. When we arrived we were greeted by 20 or so smiling faces all there for the tour. Most everyone was from around the state. We were all given some brief safety and paddling instructions, life vests, lights a lead guide and one pulling up the rear. The kayaks were launched in the river and we were off.
Fortunatley it was a dark night, clear skies and a sliver of moon. Which lucky for us is the best time. If the moon is too bright, it’s harder to see the luminescence. To give you a visual, the color in the water is that of a fire fly, the look is like oil and water only it still feels like water. It’s a combination of a certain algae and billions of micro jelly fish. As you paddle through the water, everything lights up and the fish go crazy! Thousands of fish, large and small, darting in every direction, jumping out of the water and leaving a bioluminescence trail of 3-4 feet behind them. We were only in 1-3 feet of water most of the time. In one lagoon we got out and stood in probably a foot of water and just watched the show. The trip lasted about 2 hours. We had the best time, absolutely loved it and would highly recommend it!
Next adventure, off to Silver Springs! All the years we have been in Florida we had never visited one of the thousands of springs (http://www.silversprings.com/). The town of Silver Spring itself is struggling. It looks like it was hit hard during the downturn and is having difficulty recovering. Silver Springs Park itself is now federally owned. Which I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I’m assuming it was taken over because of financial reasons, not really sure. But it looks like it is a little underfunded. The park is beautiful, but some of the facilities and structures need some repairs. The staff and service are great! Carolyn found us a cool little motel, The Sun Plaza Motel. It was a really cute place. It was recently rehabbed and on a shoestring budget. Probably a do it yourselfer. But they did a good job and it was very clean, awesome beds, fresh paint and a great place. Definitely the best place in Silver Springs. The motel is pretty much across the street from the park entrance. The first thing we did was head to the park for a glass bottom boat tour. Touristy I know, but when in Rome. It was actually a lot of fun. The springs are beautiful! I didn’t imagine it would be that impressive. The boat takes you through the waterway and hovers over each one of the springs. The boat captain tells you the history and facts about each spring.
After our tour, we just walked the park, which is really pretty. Later, we took our bikes out for a tour of Silver Springs and a little section of Ocala to check out the local fare. Honestly, not much going on in that town, but we did find a great restaurant, The Mojo Grill in Ocala, right next door to Silver Springs. Later that night we drove back to The Mojo Grill for dinner and had a great time.
Rise and shine. The morning was wet and rainy but we headed back to the park for some kayaking in Silver Springs. We had a really nice time just paddling through the springs. Visibiliy wasn’t great, only because the rain drops add ripples to the water so you can’t see through the clear blue water. But still a great time and beautiful. The rain let up for a while so we could see well. And we had an alligator friend join us for part of the kayak tour also.
We packed up late that morning and headed to Ocala for some horseback riding! We hadn’t ridden a horse in years but were really looking forward to it. Our drive was about 2 hours. Our destination was a state park with stables ran by a local company. The weather was looking a little dicey. A band of bad weather was threatening to roll through. But the guide felt if we left right away, we might miss it. So we saddled up and were off. It was just the guide, me and Carolyn. The ride was about an hour and a half long and we loved it! So peaceful and the woods and trails were beautiful!
The next plan was to drive to Tarpon Springs and see the sponge docks and all the Greek restaurants. Tarpon Springs apparently was heavily settled by Greek immigrants back in the day where they dove for sponges and sold them from the docks. That may not be entirely accurate, but it’s close. First thing when we arrived in Tarpon Springs was to check into our motel. Carolyn was a little worried about this one because it was only $50 a night. But hey, were adventurous and it was just for the night. As we drove through the town, it looked pretty nice and as we approached our Motel, it looked ok, and as we pulled into the parking lot, we started to worry. Upon walking up to the lobby, you ring a bell and they buzz you in and the door locks behind you again. I forgot to mention, you can rent by the hour or weekly as well. It wasn’t feeling so good. But, and I can’t believe I’m admitting this, we paid for our room, took the key and drove around to the door. As soon as we opened the door, we immediately knew we were not unpacking. We walked back to the office and informed them of our departure. Because we used booking.com, we would have to go through them to get our refund. At that point, we didn’t care about the $50. We did take a quick drive through the town looking for a restaurant, but parking is difficult, every lot is $3-$5 to park and as far as we could tell, one souvenir sponge shop after another. With that, we had our fill of Tarpon Springs and decided to chalk that one up as a slight misdirection and drive an hour to Clearwater.
Clearwater ended up being a great decision. We found a great, inexpensive motel for the night and right on the beach. We unpacked, made a cocktail, and hit the Clearwater strip. It had been about 16 years since we had been there and it has grown a lot! It was nice just walking the streets, hitting a couple of watering holes and checking out the scenery. After a great dinner and more walking around, we were ready to be done. But what a great time! We hit the beach the next morning for an awesome beach run and walk. It was flat and beautiful! After our run and breakfast, it was pack up time and hit the road for Pass-a-Grille!
Pass-a-Grille is at the southern end of St Pete Beach on the Gulf Coast. It got the name, so we’re told, because fisherman would grille fish at the end of the beach and if anyone was looking for the place, locals would say “Just pass-a-grille and you’ll be there”. A good story even if it’s not accurate, but I think it’s mostly accurate. This is such a beautiful town! You can tell the real-estate market here has really exploded and not cheap. Carolyn booked a few nights at a really beautiful place called the Coconut Inn. Very nice, spotless and an efficiency. It’s right across from the beach and right in the downtown area. The beaches are spectacular and the town and people really nice! I was surprised it was as busy as it was for this time of year. I can’t imagine how busy it is in season. There aren’t a ton of restaurants or shops but it didn’t matter it’s such a great place! Most nights we walked across the street and sat on the beach to watch the sunset. After that we walked across the street to one of the restaurants for dinner and drinks. One day we jumped on a water taxi that took us to a little island for the day. It’s only about a ten minute ride. We really were able to unwind at Pass-a-Grille, loved it there, just a super relaxing place.
And that was the end of our 6 day vacation! It accomplished all the things we hoped it would. Only one slight setback which actually led to a nicer venue. Carolyn works really hard at planning these awesome vacations. This wasn’t so much about running, even though I did manage to get in a fair amount of beach running, but it’s about getting out and exploring beautiful, exciting places close to home. This was a great vacation and I hope you get the opportunity to explore some awesome places also!
Stay safe, happy and healthy, we’ll see you out there!
Want to join a Run Crew? What’s a Run Crew?
Running Crews, Run Crews, Crews, Tribes and Social Running Groups are sprouting up all over the country and have been gaining in popularity over the past several years. The basic concept is, a group of runners meet in the evening each week at one of their favorite destinations, go for a run, come back for a cold beverage, maybe some food, hang out and have some great conversation with like-minded individuals. But there is actually a lot more to a Run Crew. It’s an attitude, a culture and a way of life.
One very popular Run Crew, District Running Collective (DRC) www.districtrunningcollective.com was started because the founder Matt Green wanted to do something different for his birthday. Instead of going out to the bar and drinking all night with friends, he wanted everyone to go for a late night 5k run and then come back for some food and drinks. He didn’t know how many people would show. He was thinking maybe 20-30 but more than 100 showed up for the run.
As I said, Run Crews are a culture and way of life. Many don’t even consider themselves runners. Even though they are logging 15-20 miles or more a week. They are doing a lot of other thinks as well, and this is just adding to the mix of activities. A crew welcomes every level of runner. When you show up, you might as well leave the Garmin behind. They’re not super focused on pace or time. They’re goal is to keep everyone close together so everyone is part of the crew. Many runners see running as a chore, constant training or a way to escape. Crews really look forward to showing up and being with their friends and blowing off some steam. There is a huge social component, it’s non competitive and far from serious. Often they change up the destination so the view and terrain are always different. Meeting up at a favorite watering hole is part of it. However, they tend to be very responsible. They will typically have one or two beverages and wrap it up as many will have a long run or are scheduled for the gym in the morning. And it’s not really about the drinking, it’s an experienced based run. You’re running in different places, new sites, with great friends, sometimes new friends, trying new food and maybe a craft beverage.
One crew, Bridgerunners, stops along the way and takes a lot of photos. It gives everyone a chance to catch their breath and capture some great photos. If you’re running a slower pace, they will stop and wait for you.
For District Running Collective (DRC), they started as a small group and it grew from there. Here is a great article in Competitor Magazine by Brian Metzler.
“The group only has a few rules and guidelines, and most are tied to having fun, being safe and making conversation: Headphones aren’t allowed, and you need to leave your ego behind.”
We will have our first Fleet Feet Run Crew in place in the next couple of weeks. Our goal is to run from a different location each week. Here is an example of how the run will go. We’ll start from a Stuart or Jensen Beach location. Preferably a great restaurant, brew pub or gastro pub, some place cool. It won’t be for mileage but a timed run that is strictly for fun so leave your pace at home. We run out for 20 minutes (just an example) and then back for 20 for a total of a 40 minutes. Your pace won’t matter because we will all start and end at the same place and time so we’re all together. If there are some speedy people, they will have just ran a bit farther but we’re all still together and within sight. And after, we get to hang out with some great friends, have some great food and enjoy a cold refreshment! We are very excited about our new Run Crew and are just putting on the finishing touches before we roll it out. So stay tuned for upcoming news.
Stay safe, happy and healthy, we’ll see you out there!
I’m always amazed at the human spirit. To see people dig so deep, under such incredible circumstances, fighting to accomplish their dreams is incredibly inspiring.
The other day we had the opportunity to go to Oceanside Physical Therapy (http://oceansideptfl.com) to listen to guest, motivational speaker Hector Picard. I knew a little about Hector’s life but not much, so I had no real expectations going to the event. When I arrived I noticed a group of cyclists standing by a man, who I presumed was Hector Picard because of his right arm missing from the shoulder down and the left from just below the right elbow down. I read a little snippet from his bio so I knew that he was an athlete, a bi-lateral amputee and multiple Ironman finisher which was pretty impressive. But I didn’t know much more. This group of cyclist had just returned from a ride with Hector and now they were off for a run before he was to speak to our group.
Hector stood before 100 or so of us smiling, a little sweaty from his ride and run, but none the less smiling and clearly happy to be there. I’ll just give you the quick version of Hector Picard’s past. In 1992 he was working in an area with high voltage electricity. As he passes through the area his right shoulder and arm came in contact with a high voltage unit knocking him off the 2 story structure. As he’s falling, instinct kicks in and he reaches out with the left hand and again comes in contact with high voltage. Four weeks pass and Hector awakens from a coma where is given the news that he is a bi-lateral amputee. And so his new life begins at age 24, married and with a child. To learn more about Hector check out (http://dontstopliving.org).
As I listened to Hector speak, I was just amazed. Everything he does, training, everyday life, he has to work incredibly hard at. Imagine everything you do being a project or just hard. Getting dressed, eating, everyday living, add to that, train for an Ironman Triathlon or a cross country ride. But first you need to build some stuff for your bike so you can ride it. But wait, you’ll probably need to build a special tool or harness for your tool so you can use each tool to build your stuff. Sounds exhausting just talking about it. He makes all of his own gear, fashions everything on his bike so it will work for him. His gears, brakes, water bottles, you name it. He changes his own bike tires and if you’ve never changed a bike tire you know, it’s tough enough with two good hands. And as a triathlete he has to change in and out of a wetsuit! This is a challenging tasks for most triathletes, it’s just hard!
Hector has finished many triathlons, several Ironman distance triathlons, different swims, he’s biked across the country and has accomplished more than I can write about. If you go to his website (http://dontstopliving.org) you’ll see his race calendar for the year, which is crazy long! It’s very impressive!
I think about Hector a lot. I imagine what if I were in Hector’s shoes. I can’t imagine how much motivation it must take just to get ready and then go train. So he has inspired me in an interesting way. I realize what I have to go through in the morning is so easy. There is nothing hard about me getting ready in the morning. The only thing preventing me from accomplishing a particular goal, is all in my head. There is nothing physically that prevents me from getting out there. So I am looking at those training days and workouts a little differently. It has become a little easier to get up and get going. It’s also made me realize things can change in an instant. So I need to embrace those tough days and enjoy them as much as the easy ones.
A dear friend or ours in the running community, Ernie Ojito, recently had a severe stroke. It was shocking for everyone to say the least. Ernie appeared to be the epitome of great health. He is in his early 50’s, he ran, cycled, has a black belt in Judo, strong, very fit and doesn't have an ounce of fat. And one day after grappling at Judo, had a bad stroke. Ernie is a fighter and has a support system like no other. He is working very hard at recovery. There will be an all-night run to benefit Ernie on June 17th. To learn more go to www.fleetfeetstuart.com for the details.
Hector Picard and Ernie Ojito made decisions to live their life to the fullest. To work hard each day to accomplish dreams and goals, to be great human beings and lift up and inspire others by example. Two completely different people from very different walks of life. Hector Picard dealt with tragedy and became a great athlete and fights every day to accomplish goals. Ernie Ojito, a great athlete, dealing with tragedy and now fighting for his championship comeback. Which I am confident he will do. We all have our own challenges and daily struggles. I think Hector and Ernie put things in perspective for me. What I once thought was difficult or hard, it isn’t. To get up every day and work as hard as these two guys do, is incredible. They work hard and fight hard mentally and physically to reach their goals. I realize that my life is easy by comparison and I am incredibly lucky. I’m always amazed at the human spirit. To see people dig so deep, under such incredible circumstances, fighting to accomplish their dream is incredibly inspiring. Check out Hector Picard’s story http://dontstopliving.org I think you’ll find him to be very inspirational. And please got to www.fleetfeetstuart.com to learn more about Ernie Ojito.
We hope to see you out there. Stay safe, healthy and happy!
Thinking of doing an ultramarathon or wondering what is an ultramarathon?
So what is an ultramarathon? Typically it is a race that extends past the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles. It can be a 50K, 50 mile, 100k, 150k, 100 mile and some even farther.
The Badwater Ultramarathon is considered to be one of the toughest races. It’s a 135-mile course starting at the Badwater Basin in California's Death Valley. Then you have the Western States 100 which starts in Squaw Valley California and is the oldest 100 mile trail race in the world. Plus there are plenty more crazy races and distances like these. Some are even 6 days long. Whomever completes the most miles in 6 days wins. There is also the Barcley Marathon which if you haven’t seen or heard about it, definitely check it out. It’s absolutely insane and hilarious! You can catch it on YouTube.
Ultramarathons have definitely seen a surge in popularity. More races are added each year and the number of participants is quickly rising. I’ve been kicking around the idea for the past 2 years and have finally decided to take the leap.
My son Tyler and I are training for the WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathon, October 14th in Charlotte North Carolina. When he first asked me to do it, I said “sure, I’m up for a 50K”. I’ve done marathons, and with proper training, felt pretty good about pulling off a 50K trail race. At which point he said “no, not the 50K the 50 miler”. I have to say, the sound of a 50 miler was far more daunting than 50K. But I said “OK” and here I am.The training is going well. I found a great “16 Week First 50K Training Plan” on Competitor.com. When the 16 weeks is up, I can then fold in the 50 mile training piece. This plan suited my life style better than some of the others. If you’re going to jump in on an ultra or any endurance race, definitely look at the different training plans and see which one works for you best. Several plans had you running 6 days a week and that’s not for me. I like to cross train, and this one allows me to do that. I think it’s best if your training plan is one that’s realistic and you know you’ll stick with.
This past fall I had an opportunity to go to Carrboro, NC for a mini Fleet Feet conference. One of the owners of Fleet Feet Seattle, Brian Morrison, was there with us. Brian is an accomplished ultramarathon runner. At our conference we had the privilege of seeing a new documentary “A Decade on”. It’s about Brian’s decade long quest to complete the Western States 100. Brian’s first attempt was 2006 where he had a comfortable first place lead and his body failed him at the last moment. He was assisted across the finish, which was a disqualification. Brian made several other attempts and the documentary follows his final attempt to get it done. His wife and co-owner Andrea is a big part of the film as she had always been there supporting a crewing Brian. You’ll have to watch the video to see what happens. It was produced and filmed by The Ginger Runner, (gingerrunner.com). It’s just an awesome film. Very heart wrenching and inspiring all at the same time. Check out the YouTube video, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OArKXKj5PeU) it’s amazing. It’s only 45 minutes long but a fantastic and a well told story that I know you will love.
We hope to see you out there. Stay safe, healthy and happy!
The Death of Big Box Stores?
The tide has certainly shifted over the past several years. With Macy’s, JC Penny, Sports Authority, Aeropostale and many more closing some or all of their doors, it definitely raises the question, why? We are seeing a change in what consumers expect from retailers. They are looking for great products, value and ultimately a great shopping experience.
Online shopping has become the death of many big box stores simply because it’s easy and you can find what you want without a hassle. The thing online cannot offer a consumer is the ability to touch, feel, try on, be engaged and leave with exactly what you came in for. Because of this shift in what consumers want and expect, it has also been the success of smaller, locally owned and operated specially stores like Fleet Feet. While much of the retail industry is down, we have managed to continue a healthy growth pattern.
More and more consumers are looking at boutiques, specialty retailers, shops and restaurants for all of their needs. Carolyn and I shop and dine almost exclusively at these types of establishments. Sure we own a small business so we see that as being important. But we also love what they offer over the big box establishments. I love going to the local barber here. These young hipsters know how to really cut hair. It’s their craft, they’re passionate and it’s awesome watching them work and I leave with a great cut! We were downtown Stuart yesterday and stopped for lunch at the Osceola Cafe’. The food is hand crafted and just amazing. It’s prepared with the best, freshest ingredients and absolutely delicious. You can tell they are passionate about their food and business. I feel the same way about microbrew pubs and gastro pubs. They love their food, beer and deliver a level of service you can’t find any place else, it’s their craft and they take it seriously.
We feel the same here at Fleet Feet Sports. This is our craft, we’re passionate about it and we take it seriously. Our goal is to deliver a level of service consumers cannot get any place else. Not just at a running specialty store, but any place. Carolyn and I are incredibly passionate about customer service. We know what we expect or want when we are out, so our goal is to deliver that and then, ratchet it up even more.
Fleet Feet Stuart has been here more than 13 years because of great customers like yourself shopping local. It can’t happen without you. Because of your continued support, we’ve managed to stay in business and experience positive growth. We currently employ a total of 14 employees. Five are full time, two others have full time jobs and work here part time because of their love for Fleet Feet. Three are full time students working their way through college. The other few are working here for the love of it also. Your continued support and business has employed a lot of amazing people over the years and put a bunch of kids through college. In addition, you have helped us grow this amazing running and walking community and change countless lives. Our medical outreach programs have helped many people live a healthier and happier life. My rough calculations suggest you have donated over 30,000 pairs of shoes that have all stayed local within our community. In addition, you have helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for Martin Health System, the Frances Langford Heart Institute and many other charities.
We are incredibly grateful to be a part of this amazing community. Without you, we would not be here and for that, we thank each and every one of you. Your support over the years has been amazing. Carolyn and I, along with our amazing team, will continue to do our very best for you each time you visit us.
Run for your Heart
February 11th marked our 11th Annual Run for Your Heart 5K and 10K race. There were 560 registered participants and 500 runners/walkers crossed the finish line which was a record. We had a record number of sponsors as well so the event was a great success. The weather was amazing, with cool temps and a clear blue sky. This race has become a local favorite. It’s flat, fast and takes you thru the beautiful neighborhood of North River Shores.
Run for Your Heart was started to benefit the Frances Langford Heart Center at Martin Health System. Because of the participation and generosity of runners, walkers and sponsors over the 11 years, the race has raised a lot of money for the center. This year, in addition to The Frances Langford Heart Institute, it also benefited Tykes and Teens and the mLife Committee at Martin Health.
This race could not happen without the hard work of Martin Health System and all of their amazing volunteers. In addition to the volunteers, the Martin County Sheriff’s Deputies who help with traffic and patrolling the neighborhood to keep everyone safe. www.sheriff.martin.fl.us
Below is a brief history and description of the Frances Langford Heart Institute and Tykes and Teens from their web sites.
Frances Langford’s Legacy: Comprehensive Cardiac Care Close to Home
The opening of the Frances Langford Heart Center in 2006 was the culmination of a 20-year battle to bring life-saving services to the community. This journey started in 1985 when Martin Health first applied for a certificate of need to build an open heart unit. In 2005, a $5 million dollar gift from the Frances Langford Foundation was a significant step toward bringing the Heart Center bearing her name to fruition.
The singer, actress and long-time Martin County resident, who also owned the Outrigger Resort in Jensen Beach, was well-known for her philanthropy in the community and was a staunch supporter of Martin Health System. When she passed away in July 2005, she left a legacy of generosity and caring for the needs of a community she loved.
Langford was joined by many contributors who wanted to play a role in bringing a state-of-the-art heart center to Martin Medical Center. Among those making a $1 million pledge were the Martin Health Auxiliary, Howard and Elaine Cook, Bill and Pat Lichtenberger and the estate of Raquel Quinn.
Today, the Heart Center offers a full spectrum of services ranging from diagnostic to interventional services such as angioplasty, coronary artery stenting, pacemaker insertions, and internal defibrillator placements, to open-heart surgery and heart valve replacement. Outpatient cardiac rehabilitation services are also available through a partnership with the Martin Health and Fitness Centers. www.martinhealth.org
Tykes & Teens was established in 1996 with the goal of strengthening local families by ensuring that all children have access to high quality counseling and mental health services, regardless of financial status. The agency provides a comprehensive range of programming in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties.
Counseling services are provided on a sliding scale at 3 outpatient locations: Palm City, Hobe Sound and Jensen Beach, and onsite in 13 Martin County schools, at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County and in the Okeechobee school system. We collaborate with the Healthy Families program in Indian River County, and Infant Mental Health is provided across all 4 counties.
Our Prevention Services division has provided more than 300 free community events designed to prevent substance use, dating violence and suicide among local youth, and administers a youth alcohol prevention curriculum in Martin County middle schools.
Tykes & Teens has provided direct services to more than 25,000 local families, and also seeks to advocate for increased awareness of mental health in order to remove the stigma and shame often associated with seeking mental health treatment. If you are in need of counseling services for your child, please call us at 772-220-3439. www.tykesandteens.org
As you can see, two very worthy, local organizations who benefit tremendously from all of your support. We are thankful that you take the time to come out and be a part of this great event. It matters and without your generosity, and the support of sponsors (see list below) it would not happen. From the team here at Fleet Feet Sports, thank you for all you do to support us and these amazing organizations.
We’ll see you out there. Stay safe, healthy and happy.
Edgar and Carolyn
Thank you to our 2017 Sponsors: C&W Technologies, Oceanside Physical Therapy, Stretch Zone, Elements Therapeutic Massage, First Light Homecare of the Treasure Coast, Florida Department of Health, Geico Local Office, Holdy Realty, Mobile Medical Associates, Solaris Senior Living of Stuart, Steger Law, Stuart Ocala Heart Institute, Stuart Cardiology Group, Team Holland, Vital Chiropractic Wellness Center, Zweben Law Group, McCarthy Summers Law Group, NuCO2, Nutrition Smart, Harbour Ridge Yacht and CC, The Gardens of PSL, Kathryn L McHale LLC, Mederi Caretenders, Smoothie King, Sam’s Club and Honey Baked Ham Company.
Happy New Year to all of you. We hope everyone had a great 2016 and had a wonderful holiday. 2016 was a great year for Carolyn and myself. We had our first Grandchild, Hazel, our daughter was married, and we went on an incredible vacation biking through the Florida Keys. Not to mention a slew of other great things that happened throughout the year.
Due to multiple injuries over the past year, I’ve missed out on some great races, and fell short on a few resolutions in 2016. I’m really excited about my goal races this year. I plan to do the DTR Endurance Challenge (http://www.downtorun.com/events-item/dtr-endurance-challenge-spring/) at Jonathan Dickenson State Park. This will be my first trail race and I’m very excited about it. The Gate River 15K in March, (http://www.1stplacesports.com/grr_index.html) in Jacksonville. We plan on doing that one with our son, his wife and baby Hazel in her stroller, which should be a lot of fun. And the Marathon of the Treasure Coast (http://treasurecoastmarathon.com/) half marathon in March. I also want to do my first ultra-marathon this year, which I haven’t picked out yet but will, but these are the 3 big races on my list for the year. When I find an ultra, I’ll add that in. I’m sure I will pepper in a few other races throughout the year.
Resolutions are really about finding, doing and accomplishing things that ultimately make us happy and make us feel good. Happiness is one of the most searched words on Google. So most, everyone (hopefully) would like to be happy. This is the time of year that people set weight loss goals and physical goals. The assumption is, if they drop the weight or whatever the goal is, they will be happy and life will be good. The reality is, it’s the movement, the doing, the activity, being around positive like- minded people, that’s where the happiness is. Once you start to move and put yourself in the right environment, the stars begin to align.
With our beginner No Boundaries 5K (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training) training programs, it’s very interesting to see the transformation that people make. We see people that have never walked or run a day in their lives, or used to, and some who are withdrawn and shy. Then one day they just emerge and become great athletes. Individuals who could never imagine themselves running or walking a 5K, 10K, or doing a half or full marathon or an Ironman triathlon. And now they are healthy, fit, happy and socially engaged and making great friends.
Some runners (this would be me) become injured and then struggle to get back to where we were previously. My previous PR’s are out of reach at the moment. I can’t run with the same groups as I did before, simply because I’m not as fast nor can I run the same distances. So the natural thing to do is run alone which I did for a big part of 2016. Just because it was easier to get out of bed and hit the road as opposed to driving to meet up with groups. Thinking I would just put in the miles and things would change, but not much changed with my training, it got a little stale and boring. Several weeks ago I started running with some other groups again and I remembered why it’s nice to run with others. That’s where so much of the happiness is at! The social interaction, reminding myself that no one cares how fast I am or how many miles I run. I’m not holding anyone back and they push me a little harder than I would myself. I thought I needed to get fast again or get my mileage back up so I could enjoy the company of other runners again. But the opposite was true. I needed to be running with others, enjoying the company of like-minded people who would push me to do a little more.
If you’re trying to reach certain goals, if it’s running more, getting faster, happier, losing weight making new friends, getting more involved, try to get with groups that are trying to accomplish the same goals. Make that your first mission and the rest will start to come together. Join a running/walking group at Fleet Feet Sports. Check out a yoga class (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training), Fit X-Training, No Boundaries beginner 5K running or walking program. Or just simply show up and start running or walking from Fleet Feet. The vibe, the clubhouse feel and all the positive energy will reinvigorate you again. It will kick start those New Year’s resolutions and get you on and keep you on track.
We hope you have a fantastic 2017, meet all or most of your resolutions and we look forward to seeing you out there.
Travels to the Florida Keys
While we do love running at Fleet Feet Sports, we are more than just running. We’re about living a healthy active lifestyle. While this post offers no insight on running, I did want to share a recent vacation that Carolyn and I took. The Idea started back in May when we drove to Key West for our Daughter’s wedding. As we drove down, we noticed a bike path that appeared to pass through every Key. On the way back we checked it out again and sure enough, there is a nice long bike path from Key West to Key Largo called the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. We thought, “How cool would it be to ride our bikes through the Keys, having a new and exciting destination each day”. And so the planning began.
Step one, sync our calendars and figure out when we could actually break away from the store for a week. That ended up being September. The good news was, that September is out of season for Florida and the Florida Keys so the room rates were about half. Bad news is, that’s a good time of year for tropical storms, heavy rain not to mention the height of hurricane season. But what the heck, we went for it.
Step two, bikes. We have 2 older commuter bikes that are in pretty good shape and get us around town just fine, but were they worthy of 100 miles? We felt pretty confident that with a tune up, upgraded seats, gear bags and some new tread, we would be fine.
Step three, plan a route. Carolyn really took the lead on that and started planning our destination. Our requirements were, not too expensive, very clean, cool destinations plenty of local flavor and places to kayak and snorkel. There, easy enough right? I will say Carolyn did a ton of research and spent weeks reading 100’s of reviews. We knew we didn’t want to kill ourselves every day. We thought it would be nice to get up at our leisure, have some breakfast, pack up and hit the trail. We wanted to really soak up the Keys, stop if we wanted, snorkel, kayak and check out things along the way. Ideally we wanted to be at our destination around 3 PM each day. Then we could check in, unpack, shower and check out the scenery. The plan was to average about 20 miles a day. Since we could only take a week off, we would have just enough time to bike from Islamorada to Key West, but not enough time to bike back. So we decided to get a rental car in Key West and drive back up to Islamorada where our car would be and then end in Key Largo.
We wanted to pack light, so we took several changes of technical apparel which is lightweight, quick drying and offers built in sun (UPF) protection. All of our clothes went into zip lock bags and then into our packs on the bike. One pair of running shoes which we wore and a pair of OOFO sandals for the end of the day. We actually packed very light. I did carry a small backpack with our snorkel gear in it. In addition, we each had a small dry bag with our swimsuit and towel which fit securely (this will come full circle later) between our seat and the pack. We did that so if we stopped to swim or snorkel, we didn’t have to dig through the other packs. It was there for easy access.
The big day was finally here and we were so excited to hit the road. Bikes loaded, car packed, Islamorada here we come! Fortunately for us, Islamorada FL is only about a 3 hour drive south of us. The first place we stayed was a cool little place called the La Jolla Resort Motel in Islamorada. I use the word resort loosely. But it was clean, people were really friendly, great service and they had kayaks and bikes you could use for free. Next door is a gift shop and Mangrove Mike’s Café. A couple of blocks down the street is the Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar. After settling in, we walked down to Lorelei’s and had cold beverage and some lunch. It’s a great place, good food, plenty of locals and an awesome waterfront view. Now it was time to test our kayaking skills. So we headed back to the “resort” and launched the kayaks, Carolyn’s had a hole and almost sank, which made for a fun evening and incredible sunset.
Because it was off season and they had plenty of parking, the motel let us leave our car there for the week, which was awesome. Day 2 of our big adventure, now time to pack up the bikes and hit the trail! But first, breakfast at Mangrove Mikes, which was great! Our destination this day is the Lime Tree Bay Resort in the small town of Layton which is on Long Key. The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is wide, paved and runs along the side of the highway. It does cross back and forth across the road in quite a few places. A lot of the bridges have pedestrian paths and fishing piers that run along the side which is awesome. The other bridges you just have to stay in the bike lane but most have widened the bike lanes so we felt really comfortable. You know you’ve arrived in Long Key/Layton because of the Sheriff’s car parked right at the entrance of town. It’s a permanent fixture. It’s been there so long the paint has dulled and grass has grown up around the underneath the car. The Lime Tree Bay Resort is a great place. Again, clean, great service and a super relaxing vibe. Plenty of palm trees, sand, hammocks, kayaks and a little store across the street for stocking up. The down side was, the closest restaurant was back north about 2 miles.
Time to head to Marathon Key and the Black Fin Resort. This was or day for challenges. Remember the dry bags with our swimsuits and towels that fit so securely behind our seats? Well just before we reached the Black Fin Resort, we stopped at a little store for some supplies. When we came out Carolyn’s bag was missing. We remembered someone honking their horn about 4 miles back. So we thought maybe they saw her pack drop off. So we headed back but no luck finding her new and favorite suit and towel. This added another 8 miles to our trip for a total of 29, and of all the days, we were ready to be off the bikes. On the way back with about a mile to go, Carolyn’s bike blew a tire, crap! We had everything to fix the tire but just decided to walk it to the Black Fin Resort, where again, resort could be used very loosely. This was a real throwback motel. But it was really cool! The rooms were good, nothing amazing but good. The restaurant/bar up front was perfect, exactly what we needed. Very cold beer and good food, even a velvet painting of Elvis along with a glass case full of Elvis memorabilia, pretty awesome! We fixed the tire in the room. The water and the view was spectacular and the snorkeling was excellent.
Our Seven Mile Bridge day was finally here! I kept waiting to see if we could see the bridge off in the distance and then bam, we were on it, no warning. Which I was happy about. It was so cool! It’s actually very flat until you get closer to the center then you have about a mile incline then it’s all downhill from there. I loved the Seven Mile Bridge, it was a definite highlight for me. The scenery was spectacular! I can’t say enough great things about it, loved it! After the Seven Mile Bridge, we stopped at Bahia Honda State Park. It’s one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen. We pulled into the park for some lunch. Did some swimming and snorkeling and then, on our way to Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge! We really liked the lodge, great place. It’s been family owned for 40 years and extremely well managed. The room was spotless, beautiful pool, really nice front office with a grocery store that was well stocked. The closest restaurant was 2 miles away, again, so we just grabbed a cab that evening. When we returned, there was a little Key Deer back at our motel. On to Sugarloaf Key Lodge tomorrow.
Sugarloaf Lodge was awesome! The place looked like it did back in the 50’s when it was built. I expected to see the Rat Pack hanging out here. The décor was all original and in pristine condition, it was so cool! The only downside of Sugarloaf was, this time of year being out of season, their one and only restaurant is closed that time of year. They did have a really cool outside bar with thatch roof and all. Most of the people hanging out, looked like they had been there since the 50’s, but very nice, plenty of local flavor. We were able to order in food for lunch and dinner so it worked out fine.
Hard to believe our trip is winding down and we didn’t want it to end. But off to Key West today. We had been there on several occasions, so always fun to go back. Today’s destination is Ibis Bay Resort in Key West. Coming into Key West is always spectacular, it’s just incredibly beautiful. The Ibis Bay Resort is really nice and has a great restaurant too. Our room was really nice looking but very musty and we should have said something but didn’t. That was the only downside. Other than that, it’s a really nice place, they offer a lot of amenities and a shuttle to Duval Street. We hit Duval that evening and did the usual. We hit Mallory Square at sunset and visited a few good bars and called it an evening.
We grabbed a cab to the airport the next morning, picked up our rental SUV, went back to the hotel, packed up the bikes and headed back up to get our car and stop in Key Largo, where we spent our final night in the Keys. Our Keys bike trip was finished and we were not ready for it to be over, it had been the perfect trip. The trail had been awesome to us, weather perfect, the scenery blew us away and every place Carolyn had us staying was so cool. This has become one of our favorite vacations ever. Had time permitted, we would have kept riding. We are already thinking of places to ride next year. Maybe the West Coast of Florida, we’ll see.
What’s Your Hydration Plan?
It’s getting hot out there so let’s talk about how we hydrate. Yesterday on my run it was 86 and 95% humidity and Saturday was about the same. I am a heavy sweater so I really have to manage my fluid and electrolyte intake. I look like a sprinkler when I run. You can quickly become dehydrated in these conditions. Dehydration can cause muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, headaches and many other problems. I carry a hand-held water bottle with electrolytes on my runs. I’m currently running with Nathan’s ExoShot. It holds 12 oz. has a bite valve, collapsible and has a very comfortable hand grip. On longer runs I use the UltrAspire ISO Versa. It holds 20 oz. has a quick flow valve, wide mouth for easy filling and I love the hand grip.
As far as electrolytes go, I like GU Brew Hydration Mix and Skratch Labs. They are powders, come in small packs, travel well and taste good. A lot of runners also like Nuun tablets and Accelerade. Accelerade adds protein to the mix. They believe you recover faster by going into the run with a protein reserve and replenishing as you go. You just have to try different brands and see what works best for you. They’re all great products that we stock at Fleet Feet. I do not do well with Gatorade. They are typically very high in sugar and half of the electrolytes compared to the brands above. The biggest mistake I made at my first marathon was NOT taking the hydration I had trained with. I knew they were supplying Gatorade on the route so I thought “great, I’ll just hit every water stop and have some Gatorade”, terrible idea. I didn’t realize it had half the sodium, potassium and minerals from what I had been using during training. It was the Palm Beach Marathon. It was very hot and humid, I was cramping at mile 11 and by mile 22, I wasn’t sure I could choke down another sugary drink. So lesson learned, always take with you what you’ve trained with.
Here are some great hydration tips from Nathan. They suggest the following: Pre-Run, begin every run hydrated. 8-16 oz. 1-2 hours before your run. Adjust accordingly depending on the conditions, heat, altitude, distance, intensity, and gender affect hydration needs. During, sip fluids throughout the run. 3-6 oz. every 15-20 minutes. During your run fluids convert food into energy and carry oxygen to cells. Post-Run, kick start the recovery process. 6-24 oz. depending on intensity and effort of the run. Hydrating helps your muscles recover quicker. During an hour of activity, you can sweat out 20 plus oz. As you can see, Nathan is suggesting you replenish about 12-24 oz. an hour, depending on you and the conditions. Some great tips from Nathan.
If you don’t currently run with water, come and check out the selection of hydration carrying devices we stock by Amphipod, Nathan and UltrAspire. You can try them on and see what fits best. There are hand-helds (you’re not really carrying them, they just attach to the hand with a comfortable strap so no holding involved), belts with clip on water bottles and vests that are light and comfortable. Something for everyone. We can also help you select electrolytes and help with a hydration plan. As things heat up, start adjusting your fluid intake and remember to add those electrolytes. Stay hydrated my friends.
Stay Safe, Happy and Healthy!
TRAIL TALK 101
June 1st is Global Running Day! So for that special day, Fleet Feet Stuart is doing our first Trail Run Fun Run, We thought a trail run would be a great way to get out and explore one of our unique local parks. We are meeting at the Savannas Preserve State Park on Walton Rd. If you haven’t done a trail run, this is a great time to try it since there will be a lot of people together and we will mark the trails clearly for you. It’s definitely more technical then road running, meaning, you have a lot of obstacles to watch for. That’s one of the things I love about trail running. There is so much to see, you really have to pay attention to the terrain and your surroundings, so there is a lot to occupy you mentally and visually.
Here are some things you may want to consider before hitting the trails on your own. It could be wet and muddy in some areas, so bring a towel and maybe an extra pair of socks and shoes for after. Bring extra water bottles, nutrition and a cell phone just in case you get turned around or end up running farther then you planned. Because it is more technical, you’ll probably be running at a slower pace, quicker cadence and shorter stride so you don’t roll an ankle. Make sure to grab a trail map which are usually located at the main park or parking lot or trail head entrance. Pay attention to the trail markings so you know where you are at all times. Most trails will be marked by a color, like white, yellow, blue, red, etc. They will either put a paint swatch on a tree at about eye level every so often. Or they will have a colored stake in the ground at certain spots. Pay attention to your surroundings. Look for landmarks such as lakes, logs, unusual trees or rocks so you have something to remember, just in case the trails are not well marked. The Savannas State Park and Halpatiokee Regional Park are both well marked, so you shouldn’t have any problems getting around.
Do you need a special trail shoe for trails? Not really, you can run in your regular running shoes if you want. I like to run in a trail shoe though. The big difference is, trail shoes will have a more aggressive lug on the bottom that is multi directional. This is designed to give you enhanced traction and eliminate slipping. The tread is also designed to get rid of mud as it collects on the bottom. A lot of trail shoes like the Brooks Cascadia, one of my favorites, has what they call a “rock plate” on the bottom. This is just extra protection so rocks and sticks don’t puncture the bottom of your shoe. New Balance has the Leadville which is a pretty cool shoe also The sides of trail shoes have more reinforcement too. This keeps the shoe stable and once again, prevents sticks or rocks from puncturing the side wall of the upper. Carolyn and I also used the Inov8 Rocklite 295 for a Tough Mudder in WA, which we loved. It drained well, didn’t hold any mud and the traction was great. I like to wear a sock with more compression for trails. This keeps a lot of debris out of your sock and shoe. I love Feetures Ultra Lite Elite and Balega Hidden Dry for trails, they both take great care of your feet and eliminate any blistering. We like using CEP Compression calf sleeves also. It keeps the weeds and branches from scratching your legs.
Don’t feel like you need to run out and buy a bunch of new gear just to hit the trails. Just get out there and have some fun. You can slowly add gear as time goes and see what works for you. Check out some of the links here and pick out a trail and go run! Hope we see you out on some trails.
Stay Safe, Happy and Healthy!
Stay Loose and Stay Strong
For years I have struggled with the occasional lower back issues, tight piriformis and most recently a pinched sciatic nerve. Which if you have never had, it’s incredibly painful and debilitating and you won’t be running for a while. It started with a tight lower back which I knew was going to be trouble. I had been putting in the miles but not doing my core strength training and very little stretching. For me, if I don’t keep a strong core, stretch and stay loose, it’s a recipe for disaster.
If you don’t know, the piriformis muscle is in the glute area and the sciatic nerve runs very close to it. So if the piriformis is tight and inflamed it can pinch off the sciatic nerve. When it’s pinched the pain radiates from the low back, through your glute/piriformis, down through your groin and the front of the leg. The pain is intense, unrelenting and no amount of ibuprofen helps the pain. It will however help with the inflammation. So I spent days rolling around on my Grid Foam Roller, my Addaday stick, Grid Massage Ball and doing every stretch I could Google for piriformis and sciatica. Which interestingly enough are all the stretches every runner should be doing.
After 3 weeks of not running and doing all the things I should have been doing prior to the injury, I am happy to say I’m back to running and injury (I’m knocking on wood) free. The majority of runners I talk to here at Fleet Feet Stuart, admit they don’t spend nearly enough time stretching and doing core strength training. It’s always a time issue, they’re in a hurry and neglect the things that keep them strong and injury free.
There are some great core strengthening exercise online that will keep you strong. Debra Daley has yoga at Fleet Feet Stuart every Tuesday morning at 8:30. Plus there are a ton of great stretches that you can do to stay loose. Just spend 5-10 minutes after every workout to stretch. And don’t forget to use those Grid Foam Rollers and Addaday sticks laying around house.
Let’s talk apparel.
So you went to Fleet Feet, were fit for a great pair of running shoes, technical running socks and possibly inserts. Now you’re ready for a nice long run, or are you?
Let’s talk about your apparel and why It’s important to have the right gear. Apparel today is going toward “athleisure”. Which means you can wear it out for a cup of coffee or lunch and look awesome. You don’t have to look like you just came from the gym or your run. No more cotton tee-shirts, basketball shorts or looking like Rocky running through the streets of Philly. Now you can feel great and stylish no matter what your activity.
Fit and Function.
A lot of runners and walkers get chaffing in areas you don’t want chaffing. No matter how lean you may be, the body or muscle and tissue moves one direction and the apparel moves another. So if chaffing is a problem for you, any place on your body, you’re wearing the wrong gear. Cheap fabrics, cotton blends and ill-fitting clothing will cause chaffing if you are out long enough, no matter how much Body Glide you apply.
When selecting apparel, make sure it’s high quality technical fabrics. Just because it says Adidas, Nike, New Balance or some other vendor doesn’t make it great. These companies make many levels of apparel, just like running shoes. What you typically find in a big box store, is not made with the runner in mind. It can look good but may not be. Great gear is made with the runner or walker in mind. It’s sewn differently. The seams are placed forward or no seams at all. It will be moisture wicking (think of Dry-Fit) keeping you cooler, dryer and it may have a UPF protection built in.
I always feel the inside of the shirt, for softness and weight. If it feels rough at all or heavy, I pass. The fit should be just right, not loose but somewhat fitted and nice and comfortable. Now onto your running shorts, capris and tights. A great pair of running shorts or tights will also be light and soft. They may have a liner or brief on the inside and the seams of the liner will be reversed as to not rub or chafe. In addition, they will have storage pouches strategically located for your nutrition, phone or keys. The zipper pockets in back can be water resistant so your GU and Chomps don’t get wet. Once again, these should be made of a high quality technical fabric, no cotton or cotton blends. While cotton is a natural fabric, it absorbs a lot and doesn’t wick or dry quickly.
Hopefully these tips will keep you comfortable, looking great and feeling awesome. Here at Fleet Feet we carry some of the best apparel on the market, just like our shoes. So before you hit the road, stop in and see how we can make that run/walk or trip to Starbucks even better.
Edgar and Carolyn
Hard to believe it’s March already and spring is just around the corner. The morning and evening temps have been awesome for running and the extra light is an added bonus. Our 10 Annual Fleet Feet Run for Your Heart 5K/10K was a huge successes. Our vendors really stepped up and provided a ton of great raffle items and our sponsors did a fantastic job supporting the race. We had over 450 cross the finish and as a result, you helped raise a lot of money for Martin Health System, Francis Langford Heart Institute and MLife. A lot of exciting things are happening this month. Great new shoes and apparel that are sure to enhance your runs and training, plus new training programs and Track is starting. Michael Fronso has joined the Fleet Feet Team as our track coach. That will definitely enhance your training. It’s very exciting having Mike on board. Check out his bio when you can. The Marathon of The Treasure Coast is coming up March 6th and I know a lot of you will be there. If you aren’t running it, come out and support the runners. The venue is beautiful and there will be lots of music, fun and tons of energy. So we hope to see all of you out there.
Stay safe, healthy and happy and we’ll see you out there.
Edgar and Carolyn