August 17, 2020
Despite the madness 2020 has dealt all of us, life goes on and continues to deliver beautiful, special moments. Carolyn and I just had a visit with our new Grandson, Ronin Harrison Perkins. He’s healthy and happy, and Mackenzie is doing well also. His big sister Hazel is taking her roll seriously and taking great care of him. Like many of you, we had to cancel multiple family vacations. We have rescheduled again for September and are hoping that can still happen. If so, we’ll finally get to see our daughter, her husband and the twins who live in Chicago. We have not seen them since Christmas. Veda and Jude are turning 2. It seems like they’re growing up too fast. Our daughter assures us that they are still little even though they look grown up in photos. Seeing all the kids and grandkids at once is our light at the end of the tunnel.
At the beginning of the pandemic it was very unsettling and a little scary when we were forced to close. There were a lot of tough decisions to be made. It was especially hard because you had no clue what to expect. Do you furlough your team, who do you keep, do you keep anyone? How do you keep revenue coming in? What is your burn rate, in other words how many months can you survive with nothing coming in before you’re out of cash? The first thing was to call every vendor and ask for extended terms. Push out every invoice that was coming due or renegotiate our terms and discounts. Cash is always king but even more so during times like this. Vendors were in a tough spot also. They knew they were getting cut off and would be the last to get paid by retailers. Fortunately, our vendors were great to us. Most extended our invoices 30, 60 and even 90 days out. Some offered deeper discounts if we would pay now. We took advantage of every offer. Standard procedure in desperate times is to immediately lay off and or furlough everyone. In most cases, in brick and mortar, the owners were the only people left. Fortunately, many of our part-time staff work here for fun, and volunteered to go on furlough. We took a pretty unorthodox approach with our fulltime team. We made the decision to keep everyone on payroll. They are an amazing and talented group that we needed more than ever and didn’t want to risk losing. After a week of being completely shut down, we called the fulltime team back in. We would remain closed to the public, wear our mask and social distance among each other, and deep clean and sanitize every inch. We all came to together to come up with strategies to service customers safely, responsibly and get cash coming through the door. Many of our part time employees were also able to return. This is when we started offering curbside. Our marketing team got busy implementing that along with other marketing initiatives. We looked at all of our inventory and pulled out any previous models that were slow moving, outliers or had been on the shelf far too long. These models were deeply discounted and marketed to sell fast so we could free up extra cash. It became a race to create as much cash flow as possible. Like everyone else, we had no idea how long we would be closed.
The support from the running and walking community has been unbelievable. Customers who had not replaced there shoes in a while, called, placed their order and we delivered it to their car when they pulled up. We also had customers replacing their shoes early just to support us. TC Running purchased gift certificates for future race awards even though they were postponed indefinitely. The support has been humbling to say the least. Curbside was working, it became a thing and we were staying busy. It was not the volume we were used too but we were happy for anything. When phase 1 was introduced we could open at 50% capacity. We had to completely reconfigure the layout of the store. All fit benches a minimum 6 feet apart and the fit stools placed 6 feet away. Fittings done by appointment only. We implemented temperature checks at the door, customers are given hand sanitizer, and a mask if they do not already have one. If we were at capacity inside, we were fitting outside under the tent with all the same guidelines. Shoes are sanitized after each fitting and the workspace is thoroughly sanitized as well. All of the high touch areas are constantly cleaned. It’s a lot of extra work but our team feels comfortable and customers seem to appreciate the extra steps. It has become the new way of doing business, the new normal.
With every event and race across the country cancelled or postponed, everyone realized running and walking was the only thing not cancelled. More people have started walking and running. Who would have imagined all the virtual races? Virtual races across the country and for every distance exploded! When we did open to the public, we were slammed. The appointment times booked solid, curbside pickup busting at the seams, and the phone ringing off the hook. It almost felt a little out of control at first. We had to constantly make adjustment to fine tune the traffic flow, stay within CDC guidelines, and all the while keeping ourselves and customers safe. As the days went on, we became a well oiled machine. Just like many businesses, we had to literally reinvent the way we do business. Many of the changes have been great and we wish we had thought of them years ago. Curbside pickup has been a great addition. Especially for our returning customers who know exactly what they want. They simply call the store or go online and place their order for curbside pickup. No more waiting your turn on busy days. Fittings are primarily by appointment only. Customers can go online or call, select the date and time they want to arrive, and an Outfitter is ready and waiting when they arrive, zero wait time. Customers can still walk in for a fitting. If an Outfitter is not available or all the time slots are booked, we simply put them into our Waitwhile system which sends text notifications on the progress of their fitting time. This gives us the ability to control the number of customers in the store. The customer can simply wait in their car or go shop the plaza.
Fortunately, business has been very good and we’re not far off from our normal. From our perspective it feels calmer and more relaxed in the store. We think it’s an even better experience for our customer too. In the beginning when we decided to keep our fulltime team together, most business were laying everyone off. You start to wonder if you’re the crazy one. Did we make the right decision? Everyday we reassessed where we were and what we were doing. I can honestly say it’s the best decision we could have made. It made us better, more cohesive, and even closer than before. You know who you can count on in the worst of times and who has your back. Everyone stepped up and took ownership. We are so grateful for this team/family. We will get through this. Clearly everyone is anxious to put COVID and 2020 behind us. I’m confident that 2021 will be much better, but different for sure. Training and races will be back one way or another. They will look a different also, maybe for the better even, but they will be back. And I can only imagine the enthusiasm and comradery we’ll see at those races. Stay safe and healthy. We’ll see you out on the road.
October 7, 2019
Running Changes Everything
Running truly does change everything. I don’t know when I actually started running. It feels like its always been there on some level. As the years went by, it became more important and my interest grew. I just always remember wanting to be a runner. When I was a kid, I came across a book at the library called “The Complete Book of Running” by Jim Fixx. Often, when I would go to the library, I would grab that book, study the cover, read and imagine being a runner.
My mom had a small cleaning business when I was young. Sometimes I would go with her and help out. One home she cleaned was in a more affluent community outside of Detroit. The thing I remember most was the running shoes by the back door. There would always be multiple pairs. Men’s, women’s and what appeared to be teenager’s or youth running shoes. And I remember thinking, “this must be what active, healthy families do together, they run!” I had a vision of them all running together and it seemed like it would be amazing! It was at that moment I decided, when I have a family I want to run with them and have running shoes by the door.
One year, our son Tyler was home on Christmas leave from the Navy. He told Carolyn they needed to take me to Fleet Feet to get fit for “real” running shoes. He had been fit at Fleet Feet Chicago while in basic training at Great Lakes. I’ve never forgotten that day. It was a Saturday, I had gone for a run that morning and my feet were feeling pretty beat up. I thought we were just Christmas shopping and picking up gift cards at some of the local shops. As we stepped out of the car, Carolyn points at Fleet Feet and suggests we check out that little store, see what it’s all about. We walk in and a young man asks if he can help. Carolyn tells him we’re here to get me fit for shoes. I was very surprised but welcomed the chance to get some new shoes. Turns out it was the best retail experience I had ever had. I fell in love with Fleet Feet. It felt like a club house for runners, and I loved it.
Later that year, Tyler was stationed out in Coronado, CA training with the Navy. He called me to tell me about a 10K race he had just finished and how much he loved it. He told me how exciting it was, and there were so many runners and spectators cheering everyone on. This was the first road race he had ever done and he was excited. I pulled up his race photos on line and it looked very exciting! At that moment he tells me I have to start racing and that we should do a half marathon together. I had never done a road race or that distance but I was totally on board. It was his job to find the half marathon.
A few days past and he called back to tell me about a race called the Halloween Half Marathon in Jensen Beach. He would take some leave time and run it with me. I was super excited and a little worried because of the distance. Tyler also recruited his cousin to run the half marathon with us. I didn’t have a training plan, I just went out every day and ran. That was my training, just go run.
Race morning had arrived. At that time, the Halloween Half started and finished in the beach parking lot of Jensen Beach on Hutchinson Island. It was a hot humid morning and I was trying to not let my nerves get the best of me. The race began and off we went. Tyler was faster so I lost sight of him pretty quickly. As we headed west toward the Jensen bridge the nervousness intensified and I wondered what I’d gotten myself in to. I had no clue how fast I was going and knew nothing about pacing. As I came over the bridge the nerves settled and I relaxed in to the run. I had no water, no nutrition and just a basic Timex watch. So no clue how well or poorly I was doing. I was just running to be running and loving being there with all of these runners and the cheering spectators.
The three of us successfully finished our first half marathon. It was everything he had promised a big race would be. My parents happened to be in town so they were at the finish along with Carolyn and some other family members. It was a great day and we felt incredibly proud and accomplished. I was officially hooked on racing and it set the wheels in motion for something I would have never imagined.
Carolyn and I were at a time in our career where we wanted to reinvent ourselves, do something exciting and new. We had always discussed opening a little specialty shop. I had been in retail years ago and enjoyed it. We just didn’t know what kind of a store. As I ran I would always think, “What am I supposed to be doing with my life. I should be doing something I’m passionate about and love doing!” They say it’s often right under your nose. What could it be?”
I kept thinking of Fleet Feet, couldn’t stop talking about the place, couldn’t wait to go back, and I could visualize myself being there. That lead to an email one evening to Susan and Al the previous owners of Fleet Feet Stuart. In the email I told Susan about my passion for running, how I had come across their store, how much I loved it and could we meet. Susan invited me in for an interview. We had a great conversation and she offered me a part-time job making very little. It wasn’t about the money, but doing something satisfying and fulfilling. It seemed like a step in the right direction.
I went home after my first day and told Carolyn, “I love this place. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life”. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so excited about work. I was getting to do what I what I loved and it felt so good helping people and it was incredibly rewarding. Carolyn had supported every decision I’d ever made and this was no exception. Years later, Susan (former owner) told me after I left that first day that Al didn’t think I would work out. I continued showing up every day to work my shift and I loved it more each day. Several months had past, I went full time and Susan and Al started discussing retirement, then Carolyn came on board. One thing led to another and we were fortunate enough to be able to take ownership of Fleet Feet Stuart not long after.
Our son Tyler, along with his wife Mackenzie, now have Fleet Feet Tallahassee. Our daughter Megan, who lives in Chicago, trained for and completed her first half marathon this year. All while having a full time career and raising one year old twins. Watching her cross the finish line was a very proud moment for us.
My passion was literally under my nose. It was running, and my feet that carried me all of those miles while I cleared my head of the day’s stresses. I love visiting our kids for obvious reasons, but when I look down and see running shoes parked by the door, it feels really good. We are a running family. Running changed everything.
Running is a powerful thing and we get to see it every day. It changes lives in so many ways. We’ve seen people who said they couldn’t run come and train with us and eventually cross a finish line. I’ve never seen a sport so powerful. It doesn’t matter how old or what shape you’re in, you can run, you can train and eventually cross that finish line. You may not have paid sponsors or stand on a podium, but the feeling of finishing that training program and crossing the finish line changes your life. You may not care about racing or crossing a finish line, but the basic motion of putting one foot in front of the other and running, however slow or fast, changes lives.
Come run with us. Join us at one of our Fun Runs or try one of our training programs. Even if you don’t care about a race, you can run with a positive group of people with the desire to change.
Running Changes Everything.
January 7, 2019
Get Your Kicks on Route 66
Happy New Year to all of you! We hope 2018 was productive and that you're looking forward to a great 2019.
This is a time of year for a lot of us to set new goals and challenges for ourselves. It's nice to have a fresh start and a clean slate heading into the new year. Reaching goals and sticking to those commitments can be tough for some. As most of you know, a lot of New Year's resolutions are never accomplished or completed. In many cases those resolutions are simply not attainable, or there was no real planning, and sometimes just a lack of passion and desire.
I'm not suggesting I'm the best at goal setting, but in our business, we have to set measurable goals a year in advance and plan to accomplish those things. Every year, we sit down with our marketing team, we each have the year's calendar as well as next year's in hand. We then plan every event, every training session, fun run, marketing initiative and so on for the entire year. Now Carolyn, Mary, Misti and I all know what the goals are and how to execute the plan. Sometimes we deviate from the plan, but not often. And if we do, we typically drop something else in its’ place.
Some time ago, I received an email from our Fleet Feet team up north talking about setting SMART goals.
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Relevant
T - Time based
Goals needs to be specific so we know exactly how to attack them. It's not enough to say: '”my goal for the year is to run four races". What four races? Where are they and how are you getting there? Did you actually sign up and pay for the races?
Is it a measurable goal? Can you track it or are you just flying by the seat of your pants and hoping the training happens?
If the goal is to run four races, you need a measurable training plan that's realistic and one you can stick with.
Is it attainable? With your current work and life schedule, can you actually train for four races and stay healthy, happy and injury free? Can you physically and financially make four races happen?
By asking these questions, you can always adjust the goal to something you can be confident you're able to accomplish. You'll be much happier knowing you stuck to your training plan and completed one or two great races rather than getting discouraged or injured and not completing any.
Is it relevant? Why are you doing it? Are you doing it for a reason, is it something that gets you excited and makes your heart pound?
If you’re looking to run a race just for bragging rights, you probably won't be that excited about getting up at 4:30 a.m. and going out for a training run. If, however, it's a race you've always dreamed about doing and it gets you super excited, that's relevant. When I was training for my first marathon, during long runs I would visualize Carolyn and my daughter Megan cheering me at the finish. I imagined it being exciting and emotional. Little did I know at that time, Megan would make the trek from Chicago to be there at the finish with Carolyn. And it was exactly as I had imagined. But it was that one thought that kept me motivated and energized when those long runs were starting to hurt. It was relevant and something I wanted badly.
Is it time bound? Is there a date to have it accomplished and is that date realistic?
If you want to lose 20-pounds in 30 days, it is time bound but probably not realistic and you may fail. So 20-pounds in six months or a year is very attainable. That's something you can break down weekly and monthly and see it's realistic. You want to run a marathon next month and your long runs have been thee-to-five miles. Once again, it's time bound but not realistic. Consider joining a training group to help keep you accountable and on track. (More info here: www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training.)
I think it's important to be honest with yourself. If you make it a goal to get up at 4:30 a.m. every morning to workout, are you typically an early riser or do you have to stay up late every night getting the kids to bed and preparing for the next day?
Maybe every day isn't realistic. You might want to find a better time of day or mix it up and do something you know you can commit to and accomplish.
One New Year’s Eve, Carolyn and I made it our resolution to drive Route 66. That evening we spent much time talking and dreaming about how that drive would look. Our vision was crystal clear, and we were so excited to start planning. We knew what the weather would be like each day of the trip. We could see the trees as we drove down the highway in the convertible we didn't own. We could see the old barns, farm houses, cattle and rolling hills. We'd be wearing jeans, cowboy boots, white cotton shirts and sunglasses.
That January 1st, our planning began. There was internet but no Google so we had to rely on the atlas and any information we could gather from our dial-up internet. If you don't know what an atlas is, Google it. We knew we needed cowboy boots, so we went to our closest western supply store and $700 later we were the proud owners of some fine boots. Within a month or so we purchased a new Mustang GT convertible. (As a side note, the best time to purchase a convertible Mustang is in the middle of winter in Illinois. You are sure to get the best deal.) This trip was coming together nicely.
The plan was to stay in little towns and motels along the way. We would drive four-to-five hours each day, stop for the evening and soak up the local flare. We even planned to find an old bar out in the middle of the desert, and drink tequila under the tin roof porch as the rain pelted our dust covered Mustang. We had no way of knowing if this place existed or if it would even be raining if we did find it, but in our minds the vision was clear. We could taste the tequila and smell the rain and dust.
Unfortunately, we didn't take that Route 66 trip. Our careers took us to other places and we postponed. That trip is still on our bucket list. The boots are still in great shape but the Mustang is long gone. We planned every detail and talked about it so much, it feels like we were there. We can still see the tin covered porch, taste the tequila and see the dusty Mustang. We dream of that place often, even though it may only exist in our minds.
The point of this story is, it was a very well-planned goal/resolution, We could see it, taste it and we were very excited about it. Without question, it was SMART goal setting, even though we haven't made it yet. We made a serious commitment to making that trip happen. Most, if not all of you, have planned awesome vacations and gone to great lengths to make them happen. They happened because you followed the SMART goal setting plan whether you knew it or not. Applying those same principals to all of your New Year resolutions, or whatever life goals you've made, will likely guarantee your success. At the very least, you'll realize that maybe some of those are not what you really want and can be even more focused on what you're really passionate about.
We could not be more excited about 2019! There is so much to be excited for, we have so much to accomplish! And of course, in the blink of an eye, we'll be ringing in 2020. We hope that your planning and goal setting get you where you want this year. Make it a great one! We'll see you out there!
Stay safe, healthy and happy,
November 14, 2018
NYC or BUST
The New Your City Marathon is the pinnacle of races for most runners. I however had never put New York on my bucket list. Not for any particular reason. Visiting New York just didn’t interest me. Carolyn had gone for business some years ago and loved it. Chicago is my town and I love it there. Not that I dislike New York at all, I just could think of a lot of other places I’d rather go first.
When Fleet Feet decided to have our annual owner’s summit in NYC the same weekend as the marathon, I didn’t think much about it. New Balance being the headline sponsor, and an awesome vendor partner of Fleet Feet, happened to have some race entries for purchase. With some prodding and coaxing from Carolyn, I threw my name and check in the ring. Our son Tyler, owner/operator of Fleet Feet Tallahassee, jumped in as well. Now I was fully committed to going to a town I had no real desire to go to and a race that wasn’t on my bucket list.
The training began, the heat, humidity, early mornings struggling to make it through each training run. Why was I doing this I asked myself? I’m not even sure I want to train for this race or go to New York. But I pushed on and kept at it. Carolyn continued reminding me that it was a once in a life time opportunity that most people never get. I felt bad knowing I had this awesome opportunity, and here I was complaining about going. She assured me over and over that Tyler and I would have a great time. I finally wrapped my mind around the whole experience and mentally committed to having a great time.
I don’t think I had one training run that was not incredibly difficult, hot and or humid. I had been told that there were hills in NYC, and on the last half there were more. It was time to hit the Skyline hills in Jensen Beach. I spent a lot of hours there. Sometimes as much as two-hour stretches just running the hills. I had no idea how many or how big they were in NYC so I was hoping this was good enough.
The big day had finally arrived. Carolyn dropped me at Palm Beach Airport on Thursday morning and I was bound for the big apple. Tyler would depart from Tallahassee and we would arrive in Newark about the same time. I arrived a few hours later. The sky was clear and blue and the fall air was a crisp 50-something. It felt great! I found Tyler and we grabbed our Uber and headed to our hotel in Midtown. I had no idea where or what Midtown was but we had arrived. We rolled up to the Lord & Moris Hotel. This would turn out to be one of the highlights of our trip, sort of. I imagine it was the last reasonably priced ($350 per night), clean hotels left in NYC with a block of rooms that the majority of the owners could stay in. We were greeted by two life-sized, white ceramic stallions just at the entrance. They stood atop green Astroturf. Just above the steed’s head was the large “Lord & Moris” sign gleaming and welcoming us into the hotel. The shoulder high walls leading to the entrance were lined with deep green foe foliage. We entered and again the walls were draped with more green foliage. We’re sensing a Derby or Preakness theme here. After checking in, we worked our way to the elevators that clattered up to the 18th floor.
Room 1804 would be home for Tyler and I for the next four days and nights. We entered, surveyed our situation and laughed. There were two queen beds with a partition between them, kind of a stable feel. The partition had small vertical openings so you could see through from each side. There was no walk area around the beds. The only way to get into bed was to crawl in from the front. There were no other chairs or tables in the room, just two beds, a very green wall, same color as the turf, and a six-inch ledge to put some of our things on, and no closet. Now we were having fun! But it was clean and comfortable.
Later that day we visited the 9/11 memorial. It’s incredibly powerful to see the monuments. You’ve always known the gravity of what happened there, but when you’re standing in that spot, looking around, and seeing all of the names, it’s quite moving. That’s when you really get the magnitude of what took place. Seeing all of the names of first responders is incredible as well. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around and taking in the sites. It was beautiful.
Friday was spent in meetings and workshops with our Fleet Feet team. Since New Balance was hosting us, they were giving us the full VIP experience, which was amazing. Saturday we started off at the Javits Convention Center, which is where the marathon expo was held. New Balance invited us in before it was open to the public. We had the entire place to ourselves. I’ve never seen an expo so large, it was spectacular! New Balance had over 40k square feet just for their part. It was a home run! We were all super impressed at what they had created, absolutely beautiful! They also gave us the opportunity to shop early and pick up our bibs and packet as well. It was a very special treat. The rest of the day was spent taking in different parts of the city and doing a retail tour.
Back at the hotel, lying in bed, staring at each through the brass and wood slats, our stable, we selected an Italian restaurant to get our carbo loading on. I decided to first pack up my running vest for the marathon. My vest was all packed up and ready to race. I decided to peruse the race directory and check out the route. As I’m flipping through, I notice a page with what you can and can’t bring on the course. The obvious things, NOT to bring: fire arms, smoke bombs, concussion grenades, liquor, hydration vests, explosives, knives, pets. Wait! What, no hydration vests?! Was I reading this right? Maybe I was reading things you “can bring”. Let me read this again, it must be a mistake. Nope, it actually said, “No vests, Camelback, hydration vests”, etc. Wow, now were screwed! Tyler and I both train with a vest and that’s where we store all of our nutrition and hydration. Plan B is officially implemented. Find the nearest running store and see if they have anything left on the shelves we can use to carry our hydration and nutrition.
We take a $30 Uber ride to a local running store. Fortunately they had some Nathan handheld water bottles left. We both grabbed one. Tyler managed to find a Spy Belt to hold the rest of his nutrition and stuff in. For some reason I had grabbed my UltrAspire waist belt from home when I left. Not sure why, because I haven’t used it in several years. But I’m glad I did so we were hooked up. It wasn’t the perfect scenario but we would survive. At least we would have everything we needed with us. Now it was time to carb load. We then made our way to the best little Italian restaurant I’ve ever been to. The pasta was handmade, meat sauce was perfect and our bellies were full.
We lay in bed and finalized our race plan. Now it was time for some rest. At 4:15 a.m., the alarm goes off and we’re up. New Balance, being so awesome, arranged for charter busses to pick all of us up at the hotel and shuttle us to the start. We were on the bus at 5:15 a.m. and took off at 5:45 a.m.. It wasn’t enough for New Balance to shuttle us, they added a police escort the whole way. We blew through every light and were there in no time. It was extremely cool! If that’s not enough, we were now shuttled into the New Balance VIP tent. We were feeling really spoiled by now. They had bagels, nutrition bars, water, coffee, fresh fruit and our own bathrooms. This was over the top and we couldn’t be more thankful. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.
We had several hours to hang out, hydrate, have a bite and get loosened up. When they announced it was time to head to the coral, I walked out, looked around and it was just awesome. The sky was so blue, the air was a crisp 50-ish degrees with barely a breeze. I looked over the vast sea of runners, heard the music, and I got chills. A huge smile that I couldn’t contain came over my face and maybe a tear. I looked around, turning in circles trying to take it all in. I knew then, this is why the New York Marathon is so special. This is why it’s the pinnacle for runners. But I didn’t know the half of it yet.
We started on the lower level of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. We heard the countdown over the PA and then the loud boom of the cannon announcing the start of the race. What no one tells you is the Verrazzaon Bridge starts off uphill for the first mile. Thank goodness for all of those hill miles I put in. Mile 2 as you come off of the bridge, you begin to enter the south side of Brooklyn. And then you see it, the streets lined with thousands of cheering spectators. Clapping, yelling, cheering words of encouragement, hands out offering up high-fives and everyone partying! Now I’m really feeling the love! It’s like when the Grinch starts to get his heart! What is this feeling, what’s happening to me? I couldn’t stop smiling.
As the miles go on, the crowds seem to grow larger and more enthusiastic, as if that’s even possible. There are millions of people lining each side of the course. The boroughs are beautiful, the architecture awesome and the people are incredible. I thought I understood the NYC Marathon at the start, but it’s not until you see this that it really sinks in and makes sense. These people love their borough. It’s their home and they’re very proud of it. They want you to feel the love and they’re going to make sure every last runner coming through their home feels it. And trust me, you feel the love! You can’t help but feel it the entire 26.2 miles.
My run was going great. I was right on pace, sometimes a little fast so I would dial it back. I felt amazing and kept wondering if I’d blow up. But it was going along great until mile 20. That’s when I felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my left arch that brought me to a screeching halt. I could barely walk on it. I wondered if my plantar fascia had torn. I hobbled for a few minutes, discouraged and wondering if this was going to be the next 6.2 miles. Luckily it started feeling better and I could get back to running. The pain continued to come back for the remainder of the race. The last miles were spent run-walking.
As I came into Central Park, I had two miles to go. I thought I could run it in from there, but was once again reduced to intervals. Central Park is a very special place. The leaves were in full color, it was spectacular. Before I left for NY, Carolyn and everyone kept telling me to just soak it all up, look around and enjoy myself. I made a special point to do just that. I watched the people, looked at the trees the architecture and so on. That was great advice for a first time NYC marathoner. Coming into the finish stretch, the street and turns were familiar from watching the marathon over the years. Just ahead I saw the the giant finish shoot and arch. A welcome sight for sure as I passed under the finish. And there it was, the medal, in all its glory. I had just finished the New York City Marathon.
Once again, we were kindly shuffled off to a VIP tent where New Balance had our drop bag and a nice finisher bag for us. Tyler and I congratulated each other, then hobbled off a little broken in search of a ride back, a hot meal and cold beverage.
At dinner that night, Tyler looked up at me with a big smile and said, “We just ran the New York freakin’ Marathon”. We laughed. Yes we did, we did indeed run the New York freakin’ Marathon. I felt a little guilty for all of my complaining leading up. There are so many people who try for years to get in. So to have this opportunity and experience, to be treated so well by New Balance, Fleet Feet and the people of New York City is a real privilege.
I now get why people love New York City and why the NYC Marathon is so special. The people are awesome, the city is beautiful, and It’s a race like no other in the world. I hope to have the opportunity to go back one day and do it again. If it’s not on your bucket list, consider it. And if it is, I hope you get there.
Stay safe, healthy and happy. We’ll see you out there.
September 6, 2018
LIFE IS INTERESTING
Life is very interesting as you all know. After a long, hard fought battle, my dad passed away last month. And then a week later, we welcomed our two new grandchildren, Jude and his sister Veda. To say the least, August was quite the roller coaster of emotions. It was filled with sadness, great joy, and a lot of time reflecting and taking stock of my own life. At both points you see how precious and beautiful life is. Seeing the faces of our beautiful grandchildren, and knowing our daughter was safe and healthy was just incredible. Knowing my dad wasn’t suffering any longer was very sad, but it came with a great sense of relief also.
At my dad’s service, it was great seeing relatives I hadn’t seen in many years. It was also great hearing all of their stories about him. Stories I had never heard. Several of his previous employees came up to tell stories about him. Many were grateful that he gave them a job and opportunity to better themselves. One had asked to borrow money from him, which he said no to. Instead, he told him to show up at his plant the next morning and he would have a clean uniform and a job waiting for him. He taught them how to fish, taught them a trade that would forever change their life. As I listened to these wonderful stories, I realized there was this whole side of him I hadn’t really known. It was a great experience and I’m very thankful for it.
Dad taught us many things about life. He gave me the passion and drive to be a successful businessperson and entrepreneur. I saw the kindness and respect he treated others with. I watched and listened intently as he delivered quotes and shrewdly negotiated deals with prospects. He taught us how to build, use tools and make things with our own hands. He constantly reminded us that we could accomplish and do anything. Dad would tell us emphatically that he could do anything and we believed him. His confidence in himself, ultimately gave us the confidence and belief that we could as well. Once we asked him if he could fly a plane, at which point he said with great confidence, “I know for a fact I can fly that plane. Give me a few minutes in the cockpit and I can fly it!” I still believe he could have gotten it off the ground.
When I was a teenager, every Sunday he would give me a section of the Detroit Free Press. It was about dressing for success and ways to be a more successful in business. He somehow knew I was destined to be a businessperson and not work in his plant in Detroit making auto parts. I read and devoured every word in that column and practiced and used every piece of advice. It’s funny how those little things have a huge impact on your life and the direction it can take you in. That ultimately introduced me to business associates and friends who were into health, fitness and running. Who would have known, maybe he did.
He was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known. My brother and I liked to watch him work when we were young boys. I’ll never forget watching him bust up a concrete sidewalk one Saturday morning. We watched as he raised the heavy sledge hammer over his head and let it drop. I could hear the breath leave his body upon impact. When it landed, it did so with a thud that shook the earth. I remember the first blow, and as hard as it was, it barely made a crack or a chip. Then he delivered the next blow and it chipped a little more. This continued for several more uninterrupted, flawlessly delivered blows. And then it happened, the crack grew, large pieces of jagged concrete were forming and eventually those pieces became smaller more manageable pieces. This is when I first realized what hard work was. I knew I wanted to work that hard, I wanted to work as hard as Dad. As the work continued, sweat started rolling down his face. Eventually the sweat started dripping from the end of his nose. I wanted to work that hard and sweat just like that one day.
I often think about that moment and it’s become somewhat of a metaphor for my life. Most things in life require a lot effort if you want to be successful and reach your goals. You have to keep raising the hammer and letting it drop repeatedly. It’s that consistent hard work, grit and determination that gets the job done and ultimately to your end goal. I try to keep this in mind daily, and especially while running and training. Last night at our training run, we were scheduled for six miles of bridge repeats. The thought was daunting and I really didn’t want to do it. But I knew if I wanted to reach my marathon goal, I needed to stick to the plan. I just kept dropping the hammer and moving forward knowing I would get it done. It turned out to be a great run and I really enjoyed it. As hard as it was, I felt very accomplished, which is what running and being active does for us. That’s the payoff we work so hard for.
As I reflected on his life, I now see the many chess moves he made for my benefit. Had it not been for those moves, I most certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. As it happens, I’m blessed with beautiful children, now grandchildren, and an incredible wife. And I’m lucky enough to be living my dream and doing something I’m incredibly passionate about and love.
Life moves on and time is flying by faster than any of us can imagine. Keep your dreams and goals close and in clear view. Drop that hammer hard and often and you can accomplish anything. We’ll see you out there.
Stay safe, healthy and happy,
RUNNING WITH OTHERS
This is the time of year when a lot of us ramp up our training. It’s marathon training season here in Florida and at Fleet Feet Sports. These are some of the hardest months to train in, but we do it knowing it will make us better when race season, November through March is here.
The toughest part can be staying motivated. Who wants to run at 5 or 6 AM when it’s hot, humid or raining? That’s where your training buddies come in. If you’re not currently training with other people, it’s definitely something to consider. Running groups and running partners/friends are good on many levels. They expect you to show up when you say you’ll be there. And you’re going to show even if you don’t want to when the alarm goes off. You’re not going to leave your friend or running partner standing out in the dark waiting on you wondering where the heck you are. When you run with others, you push each other to perform better. Most runners in a group will run faster, take fewer breaks and build better endurance.
Let’s face it, it’s easy to take the unplanned walk break when you’re alone. Running in a group keeps the mind more engaged. You tend to think less about the little things that make us want to take that break. You notice less of the discomforts and just run through it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped to walk just because. My breathing is fine, legs are good, energy is high and I just stop because my mind thought I needed a walk break.
Training groups are successful for a reason. You have an actual plan that everyone sticks with. You build on it every week and you see the progress. The training plan is a gradual building that’s designed to get you to the end goal. Every week as a group you go out and accomplish a new goal and you get better each week.
It’s great to see new people come into our training groups. Most start the same way, intimidated because they assume they are the slowest and it scares them to death! But we get them with a group that’s right for them and at their level. The next thing you know, they’re running farther, faster and getting stronger each week. Not to mention the friends many of them make along the way.
Over the years we have seen many of these people become best friends. They go to dinner, events, vacation together and even travel the country doing races. Carolyn and I lead a trail running program on Sunday mornings. It’s called Rock Runners. We meet at different trails each week and run together. We have the best time. The group is fantastic and we have so much fun. We take photos on the trail, share them on social media and spend the rest of Sunday chatting back and forth on Facebook about our experiences. So we’ve made some new friends and are even doing the Ragnar Alafia Trail relay together in December. We are so excited. We will camp and run in the woods for a couple of day. I am confident we will have an amazing time and build some lasting friendships.
If you’re not running with a group, give it some thought, give it a try! You might feel a little uncomfortable when you first show up, but once you start running you’ll forget all about that. Check out one of the many training programs we offer (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training). Best part is, you can just show up, give it a try and see if it’s right for you. I’m pretty confident you will love running and training with people that have the same interest and goals as you.
We’ll see you out there! Stay safe, healthy and happy.
LEAVE NO TRACE
I think every race I’ve ever been at I notice a handful of athletes toss their nutrition wrappers or water cups on the course, outside of an aid station area. I’m always a little surprised when I see it. One race I actually stopped, picked up a gel pack thinking the runner in front had dropped it. Only to realize it was empty and they had tossed it. Granted there are plenty of people throwing garbage out of their car windows and we may not be able to have an immediate impact there, but we can do our small part.
I think living in paradise and a coastal community; you assume everyone is hyper sensitive to what is happening to our water ways and ocean. Every year 8 million metric tons of plastic goes into the ocean. 2 billion people within 30 miles of the coast create 100 million metric tons of coastal plastic. If you were wondering, a metric ton is 2204 lbs. Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic goes into the ocean. From the tiniest plankton to the largest whale, plastic impacts nearly 700 species in our ocean. (https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/plastics-in-the-ocean/). These are some staggering statistics! Ocean Conservancy is a pretty cool organization committed to cleaning up the ocean. They along with volunteers across the world have collected more than 220 million pounds of trash from the world’s beaches.
4Ocean (https://4ocean.com/pages/our-story) is another amazing organization committed to cleaning up the oceans. We first found them from a Facebook post and video. They are actually a local company based out of Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach Florida. I love this company! They sell these really cool bracelets made from recycled plastic from the ocean. With every purchase of a bracelet, it removes one pound of trash from the ocean. In less than 2 years they have removed more than 629,000 pounds of trash from the ocean and coastlines.
Some pretty cool companies are doing some amazing work. I think what’s so hard to wrap my mind around is, this is just 2 companies collecting so much trash from our beaches and ocean, and there are many more, and they cannot collect it all! It’s just crazy to think about.
So what does this mean for us? Carolyn and I started taking a look right here at home. We put on several races each year and never once have we gone back through the course and checked for trash in the neighborhood. We rely on the volunteers and assume everything has been picked up. Also, we started thinking about races and participants. Is it possible that athletes just assume someone is out there picking up during or after the race? Under normal circumstances they wouldn’t throw out a gel or nutrition wrapper on an everyday run. Is it possible it’s become acceptable during a race?
Down To Run (DTR, http://www.downtorun.com/about-dtr/) does several trail races each year. All of their races are Leave no Trace. Which means, you pack it in and you pack it out. Leave nothing behind. If you’re caught littering on the course, you can be disqualified. We liked this idea a lot. So beginning with our Fleet Feet Furnace 5K, August 4th, that will be our first Leave no Trace Race. The idea is not to penalize participants, but to get people to think about their water cups and nutrition wrappers at every race they go to.
We think this is good on multiple levels. First there’s the obvious and secondly, a lot of residence find it intrusive that a race is even going through their neighborhood. I’m not sure I understand the logic there, but why give them another reason to frown upon these great community events.
The whole issue of metric tons of garbage on our coastlines, ocean and streets all seems very daunting and like this massive undertaking. It’s probably how these small companies that are collecting felt when they first started, but it didn’t stop them. We’re going to take it one nutrition wrapper at a time. We believe this effort will pay off and bring awareness to the athletes in our community. Hopefully everyone will do their small part and this will lead to big changes.
Please do your part when you’re out enjoying this wonderful paradise we all share and love. I believe If everyone is aware and makes the effort, we can have a very powerful impact.
Stay safe, happy and healthy. We’ll see you out there.
ZERO VS TRADITIONAL
This is a widely debated topic. Should I go with a zero heal drop on my running shoes or stick with the traditional 10-12 millimeter drop or offset?
When we talk about heal drop of offset we’re talking about the difference in cushion from the heal to the toe of the shoe. Most shoes will have more cushion in the heal and less in the front or forefoot. As an example, if the heal of your running shoe has 24 millimeters of cushion and the front or forefoot has 12 millimeters, the difference or offset (heal drop) is 12 millimeters. So why would I want less of an offset? The idea came about with the minimalistic craze about 9 years ago when the book Born to Run came out. It’s a great read so if you haven’t checked it out, do so. Here is a clip from Wikipedia about the book and author Christopher McDougall (http://www.chrismcdougall.com/).
In 2009's Born to Run, McDougall tracks down members of the reclusive Tarahumara Indian tribe in the Mexican Copper Canyons. After being repeatedly injured as a runner himself, McDougall marvels at the tribe's ability to run ultra distances (over 100 miles) at incredible speeds, without getting the routine injuries of most American runners. The book has received attention in the sporting world for McDougall's description of how he overcame injuries by modeling his running after the Tarahumara. He asserts that modern cushioned running shoes are a major cause of running injury, pointing to the thin sandals called huaraches worn by Tarahumara runners, and the explosion of running-related injuries since the introduction of modern running shoes in 1972.
So there you have it. That’s pretty much how the whole minimalist and barefoot movement started. This is also when Vibram introduced the 5 finger barefoot shoe. During this time frame, a lot of vendors felt the pressure to compete with the Vibram 5 finger shoe and introduce their own version of minimal. New Balance also teamed up with Vibram and introduced the M10 minimal shoe. Brooks Running introduced their Pure Project. The shoe company Altra Running (https://www.altrarunning.com) was born around the same time. They created a zero drop cushioned shoe shaped like your foot. If anyone remembers the Earth Shoe from the 70’s, that’s pretty much the look. Altra wanted to give you cushion though, so they put just as much cushion into the forefoot as they do the heel, creating a zero drop. Hoka One One (https://www.hokaoneone.com) was born at this time as well. Hoka believes in giving you what they call, max cushion from heel to toe. Where most shoes have 24 millimeters of cushions in the heal, Hoka can have as much as 33 millimeters of cushion in the heal and 31 in the forefoot, giving you a 4 millimeter offset known as drop.
Why would you want to lower the drop on the heel? In theory it gets the runner off of their heal and up on their forefoot. Again “in theory” it should take stress off of the knees and back. During this time when everyone wanted to go minimal or barefoot run, the Physical Therapist, Podiatrist and Orthopedist were doing really well. Most runners who tried to go minimal ended up with a bad case of achilles tendonitis, calf strains, stress fractures and plantar fasciitis. Very few made the transition successfully.
Why did this happen? Most of those tribes who run barefoot, grew up that way and running in a 3 dimensional environment, running on grass, dirt, sand etc. Our area is very 2 dimensional and most of us have grown up running on hard, flat surfaces with cushion under our feet. Take that away and you have the receipt for a stress fracture. If you start running on the balls of your feet when you’ve always run from heal to toe, you can easily strain your calf, achilles or plantar fascia. When you drop the heal, you lengthen the calf and achilles and really engage all of those muscles and tendons that aren’t used to being stretched that far for that long.
This is all my segway to my achillies tendonitis. I started running in Altra, the zero drop shoes, early last year, which I love. I took it slow and really eased into it. Everything was going along just fine. When I started training for my ultra marathon, I spent a lot of time in the sand and in the hills. As much as it strengthened my calves, quads and cardio, I hadn’t considered the fact that in the sand and hills, I was actually going below zero and negative, so really stretching everything. You would think this could be a good thing. It could have been good had I done a lot more stretching and rolling and taken better care of myself during training. During my training, I would feel it burning at the heal, I knew what it was but, I would run through the initial pain and it would warm up and feel fine. After the run when things would cool down is when the hobbling around would begin. Everything would just tighten back up and get painful.
Because of the achilles tendonitis, I have recently gone back to a higher drop shoe which relieved the pain and has helped with the healing. As I said, I love my Altra running shoes. The weight feels great, and I like the zero drop. This morning I decided to take them on my run. I put them on and immediately felt the achilles but headed out in them anyhow. As soon as I started running, the pain started so I turned around and changed my shoes to the 12 mm drop. It was an instant cure and I ended up having a great run. I think I will try the Altra again in the future. But I’ll make sure I’m 100% and ease into it.
A few lessons here; you can’t cheat the system, you have to stretch and roll after every run. You just have to commit the time. No one likes to do it, but if you don’t you will be sidelined eventually. If you want to go more minimal or lower drop, you need to do it slowly and gradually over many months. Switch back and forth to different shoes over those months. Slowly stretch those muscles and tendons. Because if you don’t something will blow up. Take time off from a big race to heal. This is something I don’t do and pay the price every time. Next time I’m taking 1-2 weeks off. If you want to run more forefoot, you can do that in any shoe no matter the drop. Just shorten your stride and get up on your toes. But again, take you time and slowly get your body used to it.
I read a study several years ago about a guy who traveled the world and studied other cultures running styles. He estimated about 80%, even running barefoot, ran heal to toe. Those that ran on the balls of their feet, it was more of a cultural thing. The kids would start off running heal to toe and as they grew older, would notice the other family members and friends running on the balls of their feet and would eventually change their running form. He suggested that only about 10% of the population actually runs on the balls or their feet. He also noticed that they had a very high cadence or turnover. So their foot when it landed was always under the body. It wasn’t extended out in front of them. He speculated that it’s not whether you run heal to toe or up front, but do you over stride and put too much impact on the body? I personally like his theory.
After reading that, I focused more on my cadence and getting it higher (https://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/how-to-boost-your-cadence) I shortened my stride which also keeps my foot under my body when landing. As far as joint pain or knee pain, luckily (knocking on wood) I have not had any and feel very healthy in that regard. Now if I can just keep up with this stretching and rolling routine, I should be back at 100% very soon. So it’s time to dust off those Trigger Point (https://www.tptherapy.com/category/grid_rollers) foam rollers and Addaday (http://www.addaday.com/rollers) rollers so you can feel great after every workout and stay injury free. Interestingly enough they call them injury prevention tools, but unfortunately most of us use them after we get injured.
We’ll see you out there. Stay safe, healthy and happy.
I was perusing an industry magazine (Sport Insights) the other day and came across an article about American’s activity level. The statistics were a bit alarming. Youth ages 6-12, in 2011, 28.7% were active 3 times a week. In 2016 that percentage had dropped to 24.8%. For ages 13-17, that number was 41.1% in 2011 and 38.4% in 2016. First I find this crazy that it’s only 3 times a week and secondly, the percentage is dropping! US kids ranked 47th out of 50 countries in fitness. 48% of all schools have no PE. Here’s one you’ll find interesting, 81.4 Million (27.5%) of Americans are totally inactive. Inactive was defined as “Not active one time in the past year in any one of 104 activities. 5.3 million people die from inactivity in America versus 5.0 million who die from smoking.” Wow, this seems crazy!
Everyone says “When I was a kid…” But seriously, when I was a kid, when you arrived at school, everyone hung around outside and played until the bell rang. If it was snowing, we still were outside and only went to the gym if it was raining or bitter cold. At mid-morning, we went outside for a 15 minute break. We were given a 1 hour lunch which you ate as fast as possible so you could get as much play time in as possible. Somewhere around mid-afternoon, we took another 15 minute break. When school let out, we couldn’t wait to get home to go outside and play before you had to come in for dinner and homework. Granted we didn’t have video games or social media, but I’m not sure that’s what started the decline of our physical activity in this country.
I think statistics will show that it was gradually taken away from our youth due to cut backs and soft people. Parent’s afraid to let their children play in the cold and snow. Or play dodge ball or kick ball or try to climb a rope for fear they may not be able to accomplish it and be made fun of. But hey, that’s pure speculation and just my opinion.
I watched the Today Show a few weeks back and they had a spot about how Germans raise their children. They play outside every day, even if it’s snowing. At which point Savannah Guthrie (and I love Savannah Guthrie) responded “even if it’s snowing?” Isn’t that the best time to play outside when you’re a kid?! Can children only play outside on warm sunny days? Who remembers playing in the rain? Obviously if it was thundering we didn’t play outside, but it was the thing to do, it was awesome! Anyhow, they teach their children to use matches, light candles, use a knife in the kitchen and cook. The idea behind this so called “German way” of teaching is so kids aren’t so curious and accidently burn down the house or chop a finger off. This is exactly how I was raised and how we raised our children. So the Germans and I’m sure many other cultures, have just continued to raise their children the way children were raised generations before.
At about age 5 or 6 my son Tyler wanted to go for a hike. So we woke up early one Saturday and hit the local woods and hiked for a couple of hours. That led to getting up almost every Saturday and Sunday at 6 am for years after to go hiking. It didn’t matter how bad the weather, we went. The nastier the weather, the happier we were. We had back packs full of gear we slowly collected. We built forts, cooked our breakfast on a homemade buddy-burner. We’d sit under our lean to covered with branches and watch the heavy snow or rain come down in the middle of the forest. We learned basic survival skills and even started rock climbing. It helped shape us both. We learned from each other and about each other. It was an incredible experience that I’ll never forget and think of often.
It’s great to see my son and his wife getting our 2 year old granddaughter outside and playing. Over the winter they played in the snow and built snowmen. She loves to run outside and walk in the woods and go to the Fleet Feet training programs with her mom and dad.
We have to invest in our youth and their health. Saucony to date has donated over $1 million to organizations keeping kids healthy and active. They have a great slogan, “We Are All Born to Run”. I love that and it is so true. We have our Mini-Milers (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training/mini-milers) Track program here at Fleet Feet. It’s awesome to see these kids getting active. When you see them run, it’s what kids are born to do. It’s great seeing their confidence grow each week. They want to be active, it’s in their DNA.
PHIT America (http://www.phitamerica.org/) is another great organization that is working hard to change the landscape of youth activity. PHIT America has been very instrumental in getting PE back in schools. Below is some great information taken straight from their website that I think is fantastic!
PE IN SCHOOL - 'THE SOLUTION'
Do you want a solution to our healthcare crisis and to the fact that 80% of children are at risk of disease due to physical inactivity? Do you want to help our children achieve higher academic results?
The solution is physical education in schools. It is overlooked and, many times, not respected for the benefits it provides children for the rest of their lives. In fact, since 2001, many schools have removed P.E. from the list of classes offered and eliminated recess to increase 'learning time.' But, guess what? Our schools are not competitive with schools in other countries. Look at the bottom of this page http://www.phitamerica.org/Academics.htm for facts on our educational ranking versus other developed countries.
The recent 'sit and learn' approach is not working. People need to move, not just for their physical fitness, but for what physical activity does for the brain, as well. Learn more here http://www.phitamerica.org/Academics.htm.
PHIT America feels schools which have limited P.E. should strive to offer every child P.E. at least 3 times per week. This will get every child on the road to being a PHIT KID, who will be healthier and smarter.
Physical Education Benefits Are Broad & Powerful!
Physical education prepares children to be physically and mentally active, fit and healthy...for life. Here are some of the many benefits children receive from a quality P.E. program:
- Improved physical fitness
- Skill and motor skills development
- Provides regular, healthful physical activity
- Teaches self-discipline
- Facilitates development of student responsibility for health and fitness
- Influences moral development, leadership, and cooperation with others
- Stress reduction – an outlet for releasing tension and anxiety
- Strengthens peer relationships
- Improves self-confidence and self-esteem
- Respect: P.E. helps you respect your body, classmates and teammates
- Experience in setting goals
- Improved academics -- The big bonus benefit!
The statistics are alarming and it’s clear we need to get our youth and people moving and exercising more. Our goal at Fleet Feet (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training) is to grow that culture, that life style of activity. It must become a life style for it to work. Not just a way to get in shape and be done. But a way of life that is there for generation after generation. Activity doesn’t have to be exclusive to a gym. That’s why running is so perfect. You can lace up, grab a friend, your significant other, your kids, grandchildren and just go run. I have a friend who runs Hutchinson Island just about every day. Her husband doesn’t run, but he’s always on his bike riding ahead and circling back and checking on her. It’s an awesome thing and something they get to do together. Find a trail and go walk or run. Hunt down some woods and go explore and have an adventure! More importantly, there is someone in your life, a young person, friend or co-worker that needs to get active. Encourage them to join you for a walk, hike or bike ride. Or send them a link to a great training program (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training). They’re affordable, all-inclusive and a great way to meet like-minded people.
I think this is a subject that everyone is concerned about. The alarming statistics have captured the attention of a nation and some large powerful organizations. Hopefully the momentum will be great enough to make a significant impact. Because clearly what we have been doing is not working.
We’ll see you out there. Stay safe, healthy and happy.
Trail running has been a passion of mine for a long time. I love road running too, but there is something about being in the woods, on a trail and running. They just go together so well. Over the years I’ve done a fair amount of trail running. I had stopped running trails for a couple of years just because I had gotten busy training for road races. But over the past year I’ve had a renewed interest in hitting the trails again, which opened up a whole new area of racing for me. Last year was a great year for races and I completed a fair amount of trail races. I would have done more had my calendar been more forgiving. I loved every race, and had a great time training for them.
It opened up a whole new world that I didn’t know existed. I was introduced to Andre and Ludi who started DTR (http://www.downtorun.com/about-dtr/) or Down to Run. They run a bunch of endurance races throughout the year. A lot of them are held at Jonathan Dickenson State Park, (https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Jonathan-Dickinson) which if you haven’t been, is beautiful. One of the races is the Night Owl. It’s a 10 mile race at night, under the full moon. It was very wet and muddy but so much fun! They have a lot of others as well and many distances. We did another this past April. It was a beautiful, crisp Saturday morning. I ran the 7mile trail race with my son Tyler. Carolyn and our friend Taylor ran the 5k. All of the DTR races are great and there is usually a distance for every ability. Plus they do a great job putting on races so a lot of people show up.
While I was on the trails, I kept thinking what a great idea it would be to get a big group out on the trails. The more I talked to other runners, I realized they either didn’t know about trails around here, had never run trails or were afraid to run trails. But the one common thread was they all wanted to run trails! So the seed was planted and the gears started turning. With our plates being so full it took a back seat for a while. When Carolyn and I drove up to NC about a month ago, we put the 11 hour ride to good use. We planned our yearly marketing and training calendar. It was on that ride that our trail series (Rock Runners) was born. I think we just needed that uninterrupted time to visualize and plan how a training program would work in the woods. As soon as we launched the marketing for the Rock Runners (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training/rock-runners) trail series, the phones lit up. Everyone was so excited to hear about this new training program. We knew then, this was something that a lot of people had been wanting and were excited we were doing.
We structured it to be all inclusive and for every ability. So how do you accommodate both runners and walkers of every level? This past Sunday we were out at Haney Creek, http://www.cityofstuart.us/index.php/haney-creek-park-nature-trails. This is a beautiful trail and approximately a 1 mile loop. There’s some sugar sand, which is challenging, some pine needle trails, a couple of little hills and it meanders through a beautiful pine forest. The goal was to simply do as many loops as you could in that one hour of training, whether running or walking. We all started together and after I completed the first loop with the lead runners, I circled back to check on everyone else in the group. I continued this process so I could check on everyone and encourage and coach them. The training session was a huge success. Everyone did such a great job and we all had so much fun!
In the upcoming weeks the goal is to challenge ourselves a little more. This coming Sunday we will be at Halpatiokee (https://discovermartin.com/directory/halpatiokee-regional-park/) Regional Park. These are some beautiful trials! The trail we’ll be going on this coming Sunday is sure to challenge everyone. There are a lot of single track (very narrow) trails with a lot or tree roots, some mud, bridges, ups and downs and everything in between. This trail will be an out and back. So we’ll all start together, run or walk out for 30 minutes and then back. This way we all start and finish at the same time. I’ll be able to run back to check on everyone throughout the run. It should be a great time and we’re really looking forward to it. Each week will be something different and fun.
Trail running is challenging. It works different muscle groups and in some ways is easier on the body than the road. I think it’s just a great thing to add to the mix. It has definitely made me a better more efficient road runner. So if you’re looking for something new and exciting to try check out some trails or check out our Rock Runners program. There are so many great trails around here so go get some! I hope we run into you on the trails sometime soon.
We’ll see you out there. Stay safe, healthy and happy.
Happy New Year Everyone!
It seems like just a few short months ago that I spoke those words. I’m sure, like everyone else, this year just flew by. It seems to be a constant topic of conversation around here. Carolyn and I talk about it a lot. We wonder if it’s because our lives are so full of events, activities, and people, that it just moves so quickly. In this business you’re always living in the future. I’ve already met with vendor partners and have been planning and purchasing new shoes and apparel for June, July and August of 2018. Not to mention budgets and the event planning for the entire year. It’s a little crazy at times when you are working so far in the future.
Speaking of planning, this is the time of year a lot of us make new resolutions and plan training, races for the year, fitness goals and many other things. I had a lot on the bucket list this past year and fortunately, I managed to accomplish a lot of great things. It was a great year and I’m really looking forward to 2018. For me, one of the things that helps me accomplish a goal is to write it down, plan it out and even get someone else involved with me and then tell the world. We’re stronger in numbers and have some accountability. Many of the goals I had last year, involved other people and that really helped me to stay focused on the goal. Plus I had someone to talk with about my planning, training and progress. In addition, because I told the world, people were always asking how my training was going. I had a chance to discuss the good and tough days and receive a lot of help and encouragement. Carolyn was a great coach and helped me with a lot of the planning and training.
Carolyn was not as fortunate as she ended up having hip surgery a couple of weeks ago. She had several races planned but due to some severe hip pain, she had to seek some help. At first she thought it might be a pinched sciatic or piriformis issue. The first stop was to Oceanside Physical Therapy (http://oceansideptfl.com). She hoped that a good stretch, some rolling or massage would take care of it. But after consulting with her Physical Therapist and Owner, Bryan Graham, he felt something more severe could be happening and recommended an MRI. We had the Ragnar Trail Relay (https://www.runragnar.com/event-detail/trail/alafia_river_flcoming) coming up and she didn’t want to miss that race. She was hoping for a shot in the hip and everything would be fine. Unfortunately the MRI showed avascular necrosis (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/avascular-necrosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20369859), and it was stage 2 out of 3. This was alarming as stage 3 is basically the hip crumbling like an egg shell. We’re still not sure what caused it, possibly some type of trauma to the hip. Basically what happens is, the blood supply is cut off somehow, usually trauma, and then the hip bone begins dying. Bryan Graham at Oceanside Physical Therapy was able to get us to a great surgeon in Wellington. Dr. James Ross (http://www.bocacareorthopedics.com/james-r-ross-md/). He’s one of and possibly the only Dr. in the state that does hip preservation. We can’t say enough great things about him. When we first met him and listened to him discuss the procedure and surgery, we knew he was the guy you wanted working on your hip. The surgery was about 4 hours long. In simple terms, they drill a hole up through the hip bone to decompress it , taking out the dead bone, he then pulls stem cells from her hip, takes her bone marrow, mixes it into a putty and packs it into the hip. So it’s all natural and far better than a hip replacement. The surgery was a success and everything went very well. The pain was pretty intense that first week, but she’s getting better and stronger each day. She is doing physical therapy multiple times a day and progressing nicely.
Carolyn has some races on the calendar and is very excited about getting back out there. I see the gears turning each day as she plans her year out. This sitting still and lying down stuff is not for her. She’s anxious to get at it.
We try to cover all bases here at Fleet Feet to help you accomplish whatever your goals might be. If you want to be more social, (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training/walk-fit) join a training group. Want to train for your first 5K, trying to get back at it, or coming off of physical therapy, join one of the many 5k groups (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training/no-boundaries-couch-to-5k-program). Maybe you’ve done a 5k and want to kick it up. Check out the intermediate 5K (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training/no-boundaries-couch-to-5k-program) or 10K training (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training/no-boundaries-10k-training). Maybe your goal is to be more flexible and have less stress in your life, try yoga with Deb (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training/yoga-with-deb). Have you ever thought of running a half (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training/halfandfulltraining) marathon or full (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training/full-marathon-training-copy), possibly your resolution is to volunteer (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training/become-a-mentor) your time and help others and share your love of running. If your goal is to get your children more active (http://www.fleetfeetstuart.com/training/mini-milers), the Mini-Milers program is such a great opportunity for them. We’re here to help, you don’t have to do it alone. The schedule, planning and goal setting are already taken care of for you. Your only job is show up. Come in and sign up for whatever your goal is and we’ll get you there.
I’ve got a few great races picked out to train for that I’m very excited about! I’ll be doing our annual Run for Your Heart 5K/10K (https://runsignup.com/Race/FL/Stuart/FleetFeetRunForYourHeart) February 10th. The Marathon of The Treasure Coast half marathon (https://www.treasurecoastmarathon.com/) on March 4th and another 50K, the DTR Endurance Challenge on April 28th, (http://www.downtorun.com/events-item/dtr-endurance-challenge-spring/) We’ll also be doing the Soldier Field 10 Mile in Chicago on May 26th with our daughter and her husband, so that will be a lot of fun. We are very excited about this New Year, our resolutions, your resolutions, let’s make it happen together. This is going to be another great year of seeing dreams and goals happen.
We’ll see you out there. Stay safe, healthy and happy.
My son Tyler and I finished our first 50K Ultramarathon together! It was an incredible experience and without question, one of my favorite races ever!
Our race was the WC-50. It took place at the National Whitewater Training Center (http://usnwc.org/) just outside of Charlotte NC. It’s is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. The facility is beautiful and there is so much to do. I would love to go back and really experience all that it has to offer. It sets out in the middle of nowhere. They have an awesome outfitter store, a great restaurant, huge outdoor beer garden, multiple rock climbing walls and some that are over large pools of water, just in case. You can also rent mountain bikes, climbing gear and kayaks. There are miles of mountain bike trails and running trails. And you can go white water rafting. They’re manmade rapids which are very impressive. It’s where the Olympic kayaking teams train.
This journey started months ago when Tyler said he wanted to do an Ultramarathon. Originally he wanted us to do the 50 miler there. I’m very glad that we adjusted our goal to the 50K. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the 50 miler as much. So the months of training began. I was very committed and trained very hard. I knew it was going to be in the hills and on trails, so training in Florida was a challenge. I spent a lot of time doing long beach runs in the deep sand just to get my body used to the constant movement on the trails. In addition I did a lot of long runs (3-4 hours) running in the hills off of Skyline Drive in Jensen Beach. For those who don’t know, it’s the only hilly area around here. On one of those 3 hour runs, I spent the entire time in a torrential down-poor, soaking wet and running through deep puddles. I did long runs where I would start on the beach for an hour, run over the bridge to Skyline Drive and run the hills for an hour then run up the road to the trails and run an hour. It seemed like every run was in the 90’s with 90 percent humidity, except the rainy day. Because I had no idea how easy or hard the trail system would be in NC, Coach Carolyn suggested I make every run hard and stay off of the flat roads as much as possible. I still did some long road miles as well. But it was not my focus. After months of training, the day was almost here.
Carolyn found us a really nice Airbnb, a great townhome on a beautiful lake and only about 15 minutes from the Whitewater Training Center. We drove up on Thursday and our son Tyler, his wife Mackenzie and our granddaughter Hazel met us at the house. They live in Carrboro NC which is just a couple hours east of Charlotte. We hadn’t seen them since June, so it was really nice getting together again. Friday we drove over the training center to check it out and pick up our packets. After checking out the place and picking up our stuff, we walked over to the trail head. Tyler and I scooted into the woods and took off on a little run. Tyler had been training in the trails over by him so he was probably better suited for this area. We felt really good on the trails though. At that moment my confidence level improved greatly. I knew then that I could get this done. That evening was spent getting our gear all situated and having a nice dinner.
Tyler and I were up at 3:30. The plan was for him and me to head over before the girls, so they wouldn’t have to wake Hazel up so early. We didn’t feel like them being at the start was as important as them crewing us or being at the finish. I was a little nervous, but I’m a little nervous at the start of every race. So we were all set, had our gear all checked and ready to get this thing started. There was a lot of energy, it felt really good. Our race started at 6:00am, and we were off. The course was 3, 10ish mile loops. The first couple of hours we spent in the dark maneuvering through some pretty rugged trails. Sometimes it was hard to know if you were going up a hill or down. We had headlamps, but in the pitch black, it’s difficult to get your bearings. Both of us were feeling really good. The trails were single track mountain bike trails. So there were a lot of deep ruts and a lot of exposed roots. The route took us up some pretty big hills with a lot of switch backs, then down the other side with more switch backs. We were having a good time though. As we were finishing up the first loop we could see Carolyn, Mackenzie and Hazel waiting for us. We took a short break, refilled our hydration vests, got some more nutrition, made sure we were both feeling good and took off again. Tyler and I had said to each other “if we can get through loop 1 and into loop 2, we know we can finish.”
Loop 2, here we go. We were still feeling really good. We kept checking in with each other and we were both doing great. Definitely a slower pace than either of us had anticipated. But we were ok with that. Our goal was to finish and not get hurt. I took a few good stumbles when my toe would catch a root that you couldn’t see. I was very excited that I was feeling so good and my body was holding up just fine. The weather was on our side also. Temperatures were in the low 70’s and not much humidity and overcast. I had hoped that all of the training in the extreme heat and humidity would somehow help and it was. As we finished up loop 2 the sun came out but for me, the temperature was still fine, I felt great. It was nice seeing our awesome crew waiting to greet us and help us restock.
Loop 3 was upon us, let’s get this done! I had hoped that the miles would click by a little quicker on loop 3, but they didn’t. We both were still feeling pretty good. My IT bands were hurting but overall, good. The canopy of the forest was thick which made for some good shade. The only problem was, as the light beams came through, it made it difficult to see anything amongst the leaves. So I took a pretty big fall as my toe caught a root. I kept stumbling, which at this point was pissing me off and taking a lot of energy. Every stumble took so much out of me just to stay upright. I just couldn’t see the little roots poking up through the leaves. Because of the switch backs, you had to pass one aid station at mile 7 and run another half mile before you circled back by it. As we were passing by that aid station, one of the volunteers said “You guys gotta really hump it! This station closes in 4 minutes so get moving!” So we ran as hard as we could to get to that aid station. We made it on time and were able to fuel up and restock. At that point they said, “You gotta get out here because the next aid station is closing and it’s 4 miles away!” We took off from their scratching our heads wondering what the urgency was to get there at a certain time. Now we started wondering if there was a cutoff time for the aid stations. If we didn’t make it, would we be disqualified? We knew they were writing down bib numbers and we saw them turn one runner away at the last stop because he didn’t make it. Now we’re getting worried. Tyler didn’t think he could make the stop in time and told me to go for it. I took off running as hard as I could. My goal was to make the cut off and plead our case and convince them Tyler was right behind me. By this time everyone at the stations knows you because it’s your third pass. On one of the switch backs at the top of a hill, I see Tyler. I’m only about a half mile from the aid station, but he’s technically about a mile behind me because he has to go back down the hill and back up again. He says he’s out of water and is going to walk it in. I offered up my water and he decides to stick it out and finish, even if he gets disqualified. I felt so bad for him. The thought of him coming so far and not getting a medal was tough to think about. We parted and both took off our separate directions. I only had about a mile to the finish. The aid station was gone, they had packed up and left a pile of ice behind. One of the runners we had passed was doing the 50 miler and decided to drop out with only 5 miles to go. He said it was his 4th attempt and it was his 40th birthday. He had never been able to make it past mile 45. He offered up his extra water which I gladly took, thanked him, wished him a happy birthday and ran on.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came into the finish area. But I was greeted with a bunch of people cheering me on. I could see Carolyn, Mackenzie and Hazel down at the finish arch. As I ran through the finish, a medal was placed around my neck. I had finished and no disqualification! It was an incredibly happy moment. I told Mackenzie and Carolyn about Tyler and that he thinks he’s disqualified. They ran out with Hazel and waited for him so they could tell him he was still in it. I went up to the beer garden and collected my free beer, best beer ever, and looked out across the field to look for Tyler. Shortly after, I could see him. Mackenzie, Hazel and Carolyn came running back to the finish so we could cheer him on together. He came through the finish area with a bunch of cheers and finished strong and a medal was placed around his neck! I was incredibly proud of him for finishing. We hugged, took some finisher photos, laughed about all of the chaffing and hobbled away with our medals draped around our necks.
This race was the best race experiences of my life. All of the ultramarathon runners I had met prior, kept telling me it was all in my head.I had a lot of concerns going into it, only because I didn’t know if the training I had done was good enough to get me to the finish. Fortunately I felt well trained and my body held up just fine. I actually felt better trained for this than any race I’ve done in the past. So the hard work paid off and I would do it again. I will do another one in the future and hopefully I’ll have the chance to run with Tyler. If you’re considering doing one, pick a great venue because that made a big difference, it was beautiful. Train hard and most important, have fun.
Stay safe, happy and healthy, we’ll see you out there!
Neutral, stability, motion control, arch supports, orthotic, supination, over-pronation! What’s it mean, do I care, do I need it, why do I need it?
These are all great questions that we hear on a daily basis. I'll try to take some of the confusion out of it. When a customer comes into Fleet Feet Sports, we analyze their foot, look at the shape, and watch their gait so we can make recommendations to help them achieve their goal. It may be to run or walk their first 5K, finish a half marathon, full marathon, ultra-marathon, triathlon or maybe they just want to feel better standing or walking all day.
We always measure the foot unweighted (sitting) and then weighted (standing). This allows us to see what is happening at the ankle and arch. Helps us determine how flexible or rigid the arch is. Are they supinating, (rolling to the outside of the foot when walking or running)? Is it a high rigid arch or do they over-pronate (arch collapses, ankle rolls to the inside)? This all determines what type of shoe we recommend and what type of arch support to suggest.
Running and walking shoe companies make their shoes in 3 basic categories, neutral, stability and motion control. If we see the arch is high or rigid and a stable ankle, we would typically recommend a neutral category shoe. Neutral is best for the stable arch and foot. That shoe has no support built on the medial (inside) side of the shoe simply because the neutral or stable foot and arch doesn’t need that type of support in the shoe. If we see the ankle rolling in, arch flattening (over-pronation) we want that stability shoe. A stability shoe has a firm support build into the side of the shoe, by the arch area of the sole (medial side), to keep the shoe’s foam and rubber components from collapsing and breaking down to the inside. That brings us to motion control. When we see the arch collapse, ankle and heal bone rolling in a lot to the point of a fully collapsed arch where the foot is flat or close to flat on the ground, we will usually go to motion control. This shoe has a wider constructed sole under the arch area. In addition it has more structure built into the side (medial) of the shoe. That prevents the shoe from rolling or collapsing to the inside. So the support built into the shoe, be it neutral, stability or motion control is there to prevent the shoe itself from wearing down the wrong direction as the weighted foot presses down on the materials.
But don't all high quality shoes come with good arch support built into them? No they do not. The majority of shoes, no matter the quality, are not made with an arch, hump or built up area on the inside of the shoe. Most come with a removable sock liner, which is a soft, flexible piece of material. But it does not aid in supporting the foots arch. The reason for not putting a built up area in the arch of the shoe is, it may fit 1in1000 people in the right area of their arch. Or if you had a $400 custom orthotic, it wouldn't sit flat inside the shoe, but rather at an angle and not function properly and be very uncomfortable. And not everyone loves an arch support under their foot. If you've had a seriously flat foot all of your life, you may not be comfortable having an arch under your foot. It's just not comfortable and you just might prefer the standard sock liner that comes with the shoe.
Why do you or I need an arch support? The function of an arch support (orthotic) is to stabilize the foot in the shoe and support the arch. I have a neutral foot. High rigid arch, little to no movement at the heal and fairly stable ankle. So I wear a neutral shoe with an added arch support. I have no movement in the arch so why do I need arch support? For me it really customizes the fit of the shoe by filling up the space between my arch and the bottom of the shoe. Plus it supports my high arch and prevents the arch area and plantar fascia band on the bottom of the foot from getting fatigued or stressed.
For the person who over-pronates, the arch support actually slows down or prevents the foot from over-pronating when worn with a stability shoe. As the arch tries to collapse or roll in, because the arch support (orthotic) is resting against the firm support of the stability shoe, the arch is unable to collapse or over-probate.
There have been some medical studies done that suggest, a great over the counter arch support can be as good as a custom made orthotic. A custom can start at $300 and go as high as $500-$600. We stock 2 brands of orthotics. Superfeet which is probably as close to custom as you will get. They range from $45-$55 and on average last 2-3 pair of shoes. Suprefeet got there start back in the 70's making custom orthotics. They wanted them to be affordable for the masses so they took their most common molds and arch heights and introduced the over the counter version. Spenco is another brand that we use. The brand isn’t important. What is important is how it feels to the user in the proper footwear.
Do you need an arch support? I tell customers that arch supports are a benefit, not a must have. That being said, they work and help with many problems, and prevent a lot of problems. We like to let every customer experience it for themselves and decide if they like them. Most people really enjoy the feel of arch support and what it does. But not everyone loves it and that's OK. But If you're having arch, heel, ankle, knee, hip, or lower back pain, plantar fasciitis, or bunions, arch supports can help with many of these problems. Most podiatrist will tell you that everything starts at the heal. If you stabilize the foot, you stabilize the body. When the foot is unstable, the body works very hard to stabilize itself. If you're standing for 12 hours or walking or running for a long period, the instability adds up to fatigue, pain or even injury.
And there you have it. That's the basics and hopefully it helped. Stop on in and try a set of inserts. Bring in your current running, walking or standing on you feet all day shoes and see you if you feel better.
Stay safe, happy and healthy, we’ll see you out there!
What has 54 schools, 1400 kids, a lot of mud, wet and 3.1 miles?
A Fleet Feet Cross Country Invitational at South Fork High School!
This is the 12TH year for this event and it was a great success. Coach Bonnie Galdys-Fleming from South Fork High School is really the driving force behind this race. The cross country team (http://sfhs.martinschools.org/pages/South_Fork_High_School/Departments/SFHS_Athletics/FALL_SPORTS_PAGES/Cross_Countryi) is not part of the school’s budget. Bonnie had the vision to put on this race in conjunction with Fleet Feet Sports, 12 years ago as a way to raise money for the XC (cross country) team. Last year a booster club was formed to help with the many tasks involved with putting on a big race like this.
The venue is pretty awesome! Some years back there was a golf course that backed up to South Fork H.S. When it went out of business, the land was purchased by the school for the agriculture department. Bonnie saw this as a great venue for a big “State” meet. There are just a handful of great XC courses throughout the state so she knew it could attract a big crowd. Most of the courses are flat, they cross roads, some concrete or paved roads and sidewalks. So not always that exciting to run on. The South Fork course looks nothing like a golf course any longer. But has a lot of trees, some ponds, rolling hills and great trails. It makes for a great 3.1 mile XC meet.
It never fails, each year prior to the race, it rains. That makes for a lot of water, mud and fun for the kids. This was a record turnout for us this year. 54 schools from around the state which brought about 1400 kids to the event. There are multiple heats. Girls and boys varsity, junior varsity, middle school and so on. When you see all of those kids lined up at the start, it’s just an awesome thing to see. The start takes place at the bottom of a hill in a big open field. It’s low lying so it was pretty wet. When the kids take off you just see a massive amount of water flying up from their feet, which is just awesome! Click on this link to http://www.tcpalm.com/picture-gallery/sports/high-school/cross-country/2017/08/26/fleet-feet-invitational-cross-country-at-south-fork-high-school/104989092/ TC Palm and you’ll see some great photos.
New Balance was our major sponsor. We also had Zensah Compression with us. Both vendors were very generous and gave out a lot of great gifts to the winning kids and teams. The whole event had a great vibe. Almost a carnival atmosphere. The school teams bring their tents and tear drop banners and set them up all throughout the course. Between, coaches, kids and parents, there are several thousand people at the meet. Fortunately the rain held off and we had a light breeze. Just as we finished packing up, the storms rolled in.
The 12 Annual Fleet Feet XC Invitational was a big success thanks to Coach Bonnie, volunteers and the booster club. They managed to raise a lot of money for the team. I’m not sure of the total yet as the numbers are still being finalized. The money will be put to great use. It provides summer training camps for the kids. Bonnie usually takes them to a camp in the mountains of GA. So the kids get a great summer workout. The money also provides transportation to and from other meets throughout the state and team uniforms. In addition, money also goes to the track and field team which Bonnie coaches. Bonnie is a wonderful person and great coach. The kids and families love her. It takes a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication, which she does on her own time. Without Bonnie and all of her efforts, no telling where these teams would be, or if they would even exist.
Cross country is a very interesting sport. The kids are amazing and all cut from the same cloth. Most are very hard working, started a little shy, timid and unsure of themselves. A lot don’t or haven’t played other sports. Maybe because they don’t feel like they fit in with some of the other team sports. But when they start running, everything changes. They become more outgoing and confident. They’re part of this great team of students and runners. Running is a very non-judgmental sport. No one really cares how fast or slow you are, they only care how fast they are. And they soon realize that speed is relative. No matter your pace, there is always someone faster or slower than you, usually. So it’s a very individualized sport as much as it is a team. The comradery is awesome! Everyone encourages and uplifts each other.
We are thankful to be part of this great running community and events like the Fleet Feet XC Invitational. If you ever get the opportunity to go to a meet, check it out. It’s very inspiring to see these kids working and running so hard. Truly a great experience.
Stay safe, happy and healthy, we’ll see you out there!
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.
Fortunately 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 bio-luminescence 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 your-selfer. 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