adventure

Up Up and Away 2.0

It’s 4am. The alarm clock buzzes. It’s not the normal hit snooze. It’s travel day. Vacation time. I spring out of bed. I’m in motion. Excitement in the air but also jitters.

Stressed to get in the car with everyone and everything. Is there traffic? How long is the line at the airport? So many unknowns but I’m on a timeline. Unneeded stress for vacation time, but it happens. Bags checked. Now security. More stress. The aroma is straight marijuana or the pungent smell associated with it. The people in the lines reek. Do those folks even know the smell is lurking? Does the old lady by me recognize the smell? I just shake my head.

Mask on. Babies crying. Chatter in different languages. The cries get louder. Workers moving the trash by me in large bins. Elderly folks getting pushed in wheelchairs. The sounds of every kind of rolling suitcase you could think of. Today I am paying attention to the different sounds wheels make. Rickety wheels. Fast wheels. An annoying beeping sound distracts me. Overhead announcements. So much distraction.

The things you observe while charging your phone in the airport. The line for Chick-fil-A is never ending. It’s not even 7am. Everyone wants their breakfast. I have nothing better to do than count people in the line. Almost 100 people in line. Would you wait? My stomach is growling but I’m not waiting. Starbucks is open as well. Their line is long, too. Maybe 40 people deep. I guess I’ll wait for my on plane snack or maybe I’ll day dream about a yummy breakfast at my destination. I heard a lady talking about a pancake flight at a local place. Sounds intriguing.

Flying is interesting. The airport has great people watching. Today is my first to fly with a Boy Scout troop. All decked out in their finest uniforms. Maybe I will sit by one to ask where they are off to.

Let the adventures begin. Time to unplug for take off. Wonder where I’m going….

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Six Miles of Smiles

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do it this year. The Peachtree Road Race. An Atlanta tradition on the Fourth of July. It would be my seventh in a row. I do like streaks but I still wasn’t sure.

It would be different, of course, just like most of life these days. They spread the event over two days. Much smaller crowds. Vaccination checks or virus screenings. I did it last year solo (virtual) and it was not so fun. But I had a friend ask me to join her so I jumped in. I chose July 3 since I figured it would be different anyways, and it worked better with my travel schedule.

The day-before number pickup event was a disappointment. The usual convention hall of shoe and running pouch vendors, waffle samples, music, and ebullience was just a handful of folks with official merch and the public transportation folks to ease race day travels. I left feeling sort of glum.

Waking on race morning is always hard. It often follows a night of broken sleep, anticipating the event and challenge to come. I made it to parking and on to the train. It was so much easier to park and ride, but I did miss the usual crowd of runners we participate with. I made it to the start line and saw my friend, a ray of light! I took my traditional start line pics and we were off and running.

I hadn’t trained in running much so I had no expectations for my performance. The energy was totally different in the race with dramatically fewer people on the course. But it didn’t take long for me to start feeling lifted. The people on the side of the course seemed especially excited. I made eye contact with many of them and smiled. It was more personal this time around.

And then I smiled for the next six miles. My friend was often ahead of me but we still connected a few times. It was surprisingly cool out. With fewer runners there was far less of the usual bobbing and weaving around the different paces. Smooth sailing throughout, really.

It actually felt a little emotional to be there, running and smiling after the grueling mental marathon of Covid-19. I nearly cried at times, but I still never stopped smiling. I thanked the police, the volunteers, the people who came out to hand us water, even all the trash collectors who line their trucks up across the cross streets to keep the runners from being plowed down by anyone who would wish harm on the runners of the World’s Largest 10K.

I watched the miles and milestones tick by. My legs ached. I thought to myself, I am creating the future. I am putting my steps in and my votes in for hope. For health. For persistence. For triumph.

I crossed the line just under 4 minutes faster of my time two years ago. I felt so great for having done it. The one Coke I allow myself each year tasted as sweet as it ever has. It is wonderful to be out challenging myself and participating again. May the miles we still have to go be as joyful.

dare to be different, hustle

I’m Gonna Kick Your Ass…

This is the best ass kicking story ever! I guess I should disclose now that nobody was physically injured as part of the research for this blog post. 

I’m going to kick your ass. Not physically kick it but intellectually kick it. How does this happen? Interesting thought to ponder, right? My thoughts exactly.

In an unexpected conversation with friends the ass kicking discussion arose. One friend firmly referenced how I could very well kick somebody’s ass due to my physical prowess however said friend knew I wouldn’t because of the consequences I would face. Maybe jail. Maybe fines. Maybe a broken nail. Maybe even a fat lip. Obviously not my style.

Instead she said she’d be more scared of my intellect. She clarified, I know you would much prefer to kick somebody’s ass with your brain not your brawn. Oh how funny. I never really entertained this thought but now I am.

And she is 100% correct. I am a rule follower thus I wouldn’t resort to physically fighting as it wouldn’t be the best option. However, I can outwit many, especially those acting based on emotion vs. intelligence. Brains over brawn it is.

Well played my friend. You get a gold star for noticing one of my strengths is in my mind. How would you react in a similar situation? Would brawn and emotion win for you or would it be the brain and intellect that prevails?

Such a fun thought to ponder. A game of sorts. Are you a chess thinker or maybe a connect the dots type?

dare to be different, fitness and nutrition

Sense of Direction

It’s true, I’m getting older.

As I age, I notice that certain things are starting to deteriorate. Today’s example: my sense of direction.

When I was young, I would read Atlanta’s Creative Loafing newspaper every Thursday or Friday. I’d check out the list of festivals, events, art openings, even new music releases, and make my weekend plans. I’d pull out my mom’s Atlanta road atlas and set on my coordinate spree to map my weekend adventures. From these jaunts week after week, year after year, I got to know my way around Atlanta inside and out.

These days, I can hardly find my way around my little suburb without waze or google maps. If I’m somewhere without service, I get nervous and often guess the wrong direction. Such a change. It may not just be due to aging. Maybe more a combination of getting older and over reliance on technology. Still not a change I like, no matter the cause.

I spent the past week in a confusing condo building. Actually there were two buildings connected by bridges and corridors. There was also a parking garage. None of the connecting floors had the same number. Walk through a hallway from one building’s first floor and suddenly, without stairs or elevators, you’re on another building’s third. The garage was a totally different mess. I felt lost and disoriented much of the week.

After a couple of morning condo workouts, I went to the gym one evening to make sure I could find it from our room. The next morning I spent a half hour with dumbbells in the gym. After I was done, I decided to test myself and make my way back to the condo from the gym using stairs instead of the path I already knew.

I walked into the stairwell. When I opened the door, I was surprised to find an old man, slightly hunched over, standing at the bottom of the stairs. He was short with groomed gray hair. He wore a cotton t-shirt, athletic pants and tennis shoes. He was there to exercise. He smiled at me.

Good morning, I said.

Are you still moving every day? he said,

Yes sir, I replied. I want to be sure I can move for as long as I can, so I try to do it first thing every day.

Good for you, he replied. I do the exact same thing. Keep it up. It’s so important.

And with that, one floor up, I walked out of the stairwell. He kept walking up the stairs. Up. Up. Up. Moving. Ascending.

It was like the (living) ghost of Christmas Future. Letting me know that taking time to move, for me, is what will keep me moving long term. I can feel confident when I get up and make my physical and mental health a priority each day. What others think of it is none of my business. My approval is what is required.

Did I find my way back to the condo? Happily, yes. And taking that different path gave me unexpected landmarks and signs. I’m heading in the right direction. It was a roadmap to the future I am heading toward, nimble and purposeful.

adventure

Local Flavors

I’m fortunate to have quite a few road excursions this summer. When I am out of town, I try my best to find and support local people and places. When I visit, these are some of the things I like to do that help me get to know a place.

1.) Start your day the local way

I’ve written about this before. Find a local coffee shop! Many have interesting traditions and can give you the “feel” of a particular community. If you prefer donuts for breakfast, hit the donut or bagel place, or have a full breakfast if you’re up for it. Yelp is my favorite app to use for local spots. I’m told google searches are more popular, but I’ve had better luck finding unusual and wonderful places with yelp.)

2.) Find a farmer’s market and / or grocery store

As a farmer myself, I love seeing what is in season. Maybe there are local specialties. On a recent trip to New York and Pennsylvania, I had my choice of both permanent farm stands with a variety of local products as well as an “every Thursday afternoon” market. I loved that I got to enjoy local strawberries in Pennsylvania, especially since the growing season for strawberries at home was already over. I also found locally made whoopie pies, pretzels, maple syrup, and other treats. Regional grocery stores can also give an interesting glimpse into different foods and traditions.

3.) Eat the local specialty

When my family took long road trips in my youth, my dad would hand me a book called Road Food, Good Food. Before google, yelp and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Jan and Michael Stern looked for local joints serving regional specialties. I was in charge of using the book, organized by state, and the atlas to find places that were at least sort of on the way to the destination. (But we have been known to drive hours out of the way for special types of pie, barbecue and more.) They now have a website that is still organized by state and will tell you the special dishes a place is known for and give you some small, independent spots to give that dish a try. This website is challenging to use, and reminds me of juggling the index of the atlas, map coordinates, and so on. But, it’s usually spot on with great little places and special foods.

Asking a local is another great way to find things. My aunt and uncle steered us to pink stripe cookies and Bison brand French onion dip in Western New York. Both were top notch!

Whatever you do, break out of the chains of chain restaurants and predictable average while you’re on the road! Experience new places in different ways.