It took one snow storm, two days and three tanks of gas to get here. It is still cold, overcast and nasty in northwest Ohio, so it was worth it. But I didn't come for the sun or the beautiful ladies (and does Florida have them!). I came for the energy. I came to jog all the perimeter beaches of Florida. I came to offer beneficial workshops and meet very cool people. There seemed no better place to start than Flora-Bama.
I pulled into Flora-Bama Friday morning, met Ashley, Terrie and Bruce. Nice folks who directed me to a wonderful campground as I hadn't a clue where to stay. I told them why I was here and they immediately suggested I enter the,
what I thought was a, 4K run the next day. Fantastic! I came back later that day and entered the 4 Mile run. Oops! That changes things. I usually run three miles and hadn't run in a while. Oh, well. One can jog forever, right?
I rarely enter runs except for the local Y so I didn't know what to expect. The shirt was really cool though! The next morning was cold and wet so I took sweat pants and a jacket just in case. Flora-Bama was bustling with runners,
joggers and walkers from every age group. All smiling and ready to go. It was more like a festival than a run.
There were Jackie and Fred, older than my 56 years I guess, and they were walking. But Fred had run many a marathon including the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. But today they would walk. And the four lovely ladies who need someone to take their picture. Three from the area and one from Wisconsin who they were effectively working to get her down here to stay. And HR honcho (honchoette?) Cheryl and her group did a great job of getting everyone ready.
By time of the race the weather had cleared enough for me to wear my usual running gear (even in winter), tennis shoes, and gym shorts. No shirt. Some looked at me funny, but it is truly invigorating to run like that.
Off we went, and it was fun! After about a quarter mile the body settles into an easy routine: steady breathing, even pace...plop, plop, plop... One older gentleman was limping as he ran so I asked how he was doing just in case
he needed some encouragement. He said he was doing fine, so I took off. (He beat me, of course!)
Everyone was happy and having a good time. The halfway point was the bridge. Yeah! I made it halfway without stopping. Grabbed some water and kept on going. Now the wind was coming at our front, left side. But it must have died down somewhat because it wasn't a factor.
Three mile point! Now I switch my I-pod from Cajun Zydeco to good old Marine Corps cadences. That will surely get me through to the end. And it did. I finished! I grabbed some water put my shirt on and started to encourage the
others finishing after me. What a blast!
Afterwards we were all together for the awards ceremony. I sat with the four ladies whose picture I had taken and each of them won a trophy cup. I didn't win a thing. But actually I made many new, cool acquaintances. For example,
there was Melinda from Arkansas, who won in her event and was funny and nice. There was a 75-year old lady who looks so young and fit. There was the mother who ran with her baby in a baby carriage (she beat me, too). The people here are so active and enjoying life. What an awesome time.
Cheryl and Pat put on a wonderful spread of food after the run. The staff there are both friendly and efficient which is a welcomed surprise these days. Plus the proceeds went to charity. Flora-Bama knows how to do it right! Thanks!
And on January 10, after the Jan. 1 Polar Bear dip at Flora-Bama I begin my quest of jogging all the perimeter beaches of Florida. Five miles a day and a free seminar each day as well. My website DestinationLife-EmbraceTheJourney.com, will be posted shortly after Christmas and will tell you more.
Hello Florida, Hello Alabama, what a warm welcome!