Saturday, February 28, 2015

Checking out Orlando

This new active life has taken me on quite a ride since September.
Today i completed my last race from the first run calendar i set up back in August as a newbie. It marked the end of my scheduling   innocent. I've started to develop a more keen sense of what type of races will be doable for me and which ones are desirable. Thinking back over the first quarter of my season i see this journey is far from being over and made has already made for some interesting encounters. Heck it has been full of surprises both good and bad. So I can honestly say that it's was so fitting i would end my freshman quarter and transition into the second quarter of my season in  Orlando.
This is the town where i started a new life in the sunshine state and the place where i learned the joy of running. The great weather and all the beautiful places to train kept me in shape and laid the foundation for where I am today. It was the place i proudly called my hometown and just being back and seeing it's growth was exciting.
I hadn't visited the downtown district in so long i had to use gps to find the expo park. Once i arrived and found a metered space it was obvious things had changed in O town.
I looked up and saw that the skyline was now littered with new condos and skyscrapers glore. There were funky little eatteries, coffee houses and specialty shops in revitalized neighborhoods. Downtown had diffently become the place to be and if i meant the city had to kick the homeless that adorned the area out and destroy a traditional african american neighborhood then so be it. Yep,  the new city beautiful was totally unrecognizable to me.
I didnt have time to gawk at the newness of the place though I was on a doubled mission. After getting a parking spot with a great view of lake Eolas fountain and depositing two dollars in coins for a maximum two hour time limit i was ready to begin.
First i needed to get my swag bag and secondly i wanted to scout out where to park on race day. Spaces in town were at a premium and i had to have a good plan to secure one.
It was a short walk to the park to pick up the race packet, no line to speak off. I was a little turned off by the color of the replacement shirts the race organizers offered  but it wasn't a major problem. They had some problem with a supplier and had to ditch them for a new company. That changed the color optoon and so the women ended up with a gray and the men had a deep blue.  It was the first time i ordered a womens shirt and yes i was disappointed with the color. I was told i had to wait for race day to change but by then i wasn't in the mood. While standing in the starting coral on a runner told me she got to change hers on Friday. I guess it all depends on who waits on you in the line. With that task finished i  began walking the surrounding streets to find Saturday parking. Two weeks earlier i missed an exit off of 275 and arrived in Safety Harbor late. It took me nearly forty five minutes of circling neighboorhoods to find a spot. I was determined that would not happen again.
As i walked around something had changed. I noticed that people were more gaurded. White fright was real and blew through the air. I walked pass people whose demenor changed as they saw me. Grown white men eyed me very suspiciously and crossed the street to get away. A white female began walking faster when she realized i was behind her making a brave run against the light. This was no surprise the media has villified the face of crime so much that they didn't see the black woman in casual clothes and carrying a purse and swag bag as someone just going about her day. To them i was their greatest fear and the danger rattled them. If their friends base were more diverse maybe they could have chilled. It was to cold to let my thoughts linger on their ignorance though.The temperature was in the sixties but the wind chill made it seem fifty. I began moving with a swiftness on my parking space hunt and finally found a nice street that was suitable. I made my way down it and eased into to a little bakery cafe. I should not have been surprised at the fact of all the businesses on the street i subconsciously choose the one with my greatest nemisis, bread. In the display cases i saw croissants,  sweet breads and pastries as i waited for one of the employees to take a phone order. I wanted to ask about being ticketed on side streets. The three hour time limit didn't leave me much time after the race to get back to the car. I was doing the 5k and that was last at 9 am. The young lady on the counter  reply was so pleasant, she was just awesome. We talked for awhile and she told me she came to town from Wisconsin and had watched the place grow and rents skyrocket. Warning that parking was big business and to be careful.
As i was leaving the shop i felt joyful to meet such a balanced young woman indeed her sunny personality made my day.
With that checked off i headed back to the car where i met four more runners and enjoyed a wonder talk. What started out as a not so great experience turned to a good day.
Early the next morning i set out with mom in tow for the race. Two weeks earlier she was along for the ride to Saftey Harbor. We found a spot no problem i was the first one on the street. We sat and watched as twenty minutes later the spaces were all gone and it was only 5:30.
By seven o'clock i headed to publix to get mom some breakfast, a sub.I had to wait in front for it to open and discovered it was the spot for several running groups to meet up.
I met ladys from a local orlando group and talked tp a nice couple while waiting. After getting my mothers needs taken care  of i went for a walk. I don't know why i decided to knock off two miles before the race but i did.
Finally the wait was over, the national anthem sung and we were off. I didn't exspect the sloped cobblestone streets to be a priblem but they were. They wore down my feet but my pace was good the fiest two miles. I used a lady in blue as a target and that eorked until mile three.  A trio of women who talked the whole way caught amd passed me along with a guy i tjought i left behind. I kept moving though and enjoyed the tranquil side streets i hardly ever get a chance to see. I felt good as I turned into the home stretch when people began their ladt sprint to the line. A couple thanked me for pulling them as the wife battled a problem with her shin splints. The asked if i wanted to sprint wirh them to the finish but these knees wouldn't allow me. I watched them roll on and kept my steady pace.
Thankful to have made it across the finishline i took my medal, checked my time and headed to the car.
This was not my usaul race post but i dedicated it to my mother.I did this for her today, i felt joy she could share this with me. I met a mother and daughters in the park who were running together but i felt like the true winner just having my mom with me. Her heart was to weak for all the walking but she sat patiently in the comfort of the car . It felt wonderful knowing she was there waiting my return. I proudly showed her my medal like a little kid. Even though she had already seen the guys parked behind us carrying huge age group trophies and wearing the larger half medals she was joyful over mine. As we drove home she said she was just happy to be out. That my friends was the best damn feeling EVER.