New news

I rang in the New Year by trading in my Ranger for a F-150 so I have a lot more room to look like I’m living out of my car. Monday marks the first day of the Spring semester and I reported to my office this week for the first time in 2015. It’s just as I left it: a mess, with scribble-scrabbled sticky notes everywhere and piles of paper in various stages of organization. So I’ve spent the past few days clearing up some clutter.

Spring 2015
Spring 2015

I’m scheduled to solo-teach five classes and co-teach another one, so that’s six total syllabi that I must prepare before Monday. I am thankful to have a weekend off from racing since I’ll be stuck behind the computer typing away…

Honestly, I’ve barely had time to recover from my fall course load and all the hoopla that surrounds the holidays. I need a vacation from my vacation! I planned to catch up on all that I hadn’t had time to do last fall, but I ran out of time with Christmas parties, dinners and New Years celebrations.

I also spent the first weekend of the year camped out in a field near Brooksville at the Florida Trail Riders Hare Scrambles shooting more than 1,000 photos in two days and racing more than 34 miles on Sunday as well (along with a 5-mile trail run on Saturday morning!). We set up camp on Friday night and Saturday morning I woke up to run the track before practice started. It was one of the most excruciating workouts I’ve had in a while, and I thought I was in decent shape! Judging from my heart rate monitor, I need to run the track more often! My heart rate averaged 183 bpm and I maxed out at 198 bpm.

Trail run
Trail run

I think it helped tremendously being able to scope out the track before my race on Sunday. I even hit practice with confidence. During my 8.66-mile practice, my heart rate averaged 173 and my max was 191. In my 34.39-mile race, I averaged 176 and maxed out at 196.

Running still wins as the fastest way to get in shape! I burned 617 calories in my 1:10:26-run and 869 calories in my 1:56:03 race! What’s also interesting is my average speed in practice was 14.3 mph and during my race 17.8 mph, which is almost a minute faster per mile, according to the numbers.

My race stats:

Time: 1:56:03
Moving Time: 1:53:21
Elapsed Time: 1:56:03
Avg Speed: 17.8 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 18.2 mph
Max Speed: 40.1 mph

In with the New Year

I made it to my home office by noon this Monday after spending a long weekend away in Western North Carolina at my dad’s house celebrating Christmas. I remembered why I don’t like leaving Florida during the winter: it’s cold everywhere else.

Christmas 2014
Christmas 2014
Pops loving his One Industries t-shirt
Pops loving his One Industries t-shirt
Fiesta dog on the way home
Fiesta dog on the way home

Waking up with temps in the low 30s meant I was not doing anything outside including riding my dirt bike. (I did suit up for a 3.5 mile run with my sister.) So, for the first time that I can remember, I opted not to ride on Christmas because it was just too cold. Yes, I’m a weenie. Sucks because I wanted some seat time in the mountains before this weekend’s Brooksville race that’s usually a lot of off-camber up and down hills. Oh, well.

The trip put me off the grid for a few days, which was nice and alleviated my “fear of missing out” on all the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts over the holidays. I used the few days off to knock the dust off at the gym and take naps. Now that I’m home I get to work on my New Year’s resolutions and what I would like to say I’ve done by the end of 2015. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Come down

I’ve been down for more than a week since last Sunday’s race disaster sinking my bike in a lake in Plant City. But I’m coming around since the holidays are right around the corner and I’m on vacation until January when school starts again. Right now, I’m scheduled to teach eight classes next term so here’s hoping this winter break helps prepare me for that! I’m still going through regret from racing (and swamping my bike) last weekend. But I told myself a long time ago that I would rather regret things that I did than things that I didn’t do, and I was feeling strong and healthy and my bike was running perfect, so I signed up and after a mid-pack start, my goggles were worthless and I regretted not preparing my roll-offs for the race. (I never had the luxury of roll-offs growing up and so I didn’t know what I was missing. But I do now.) Matters worsened as my trusty glove-across-the-goggle wipe was not sufficient; maybe it’s because I’m faster than I was in my teens but I could not see so I took off my goggles, which is something you are never supposed to do! And everything happened so fast with my protective layer gone and mud globs in my eyes from the rear tires of the guys in front of me. I only lasted about 3.5 miles until they ran us through a shallow pond and I fell into a rut from a previous race that sucked me in and sunk me to my fenders. Race over.

The ol' girl wouldn't start after we took a swim so I took my first DNF of the race season.
The ol’ girl wouldn’t start after we took a swim so I took my first DNF of the race season.

Turning 30

I finally turned 30 – an age I have felt since I turned 19, actually. Don’t get me wrong, my 20s were fun and full of memories, but I’ve been looking forward to turning 30 so that I can finally feel the age that I am. Turning 30 means I won’t feel as awkward telling people what I do, like it’s more acceptable to have the career I have had now for 3 years. Maybe now I won’t hear, “Aren’t you a little young to be a professor?”

However, everything that I thought I would have figured out by 30 – mortgage, married, kids, etc. – I’m not even close, but I’ve succeeded in areas I never would have imagined myself. And now, I have an excuse when people ask why I don’t want to go party or clubbing – “I’m old and want to go to bed early.”


It’s funny: I swear, the day after my birthday I woke up so full of awareness and total freedom like I was reborn or something crazy. I decided I want to better promote myself and think I’ve spent too much time promoting others (students, companies, friends) and not dialing into what I really want to do (social media consulting, documentaries and photojournalism) so that’s one of my goals for this decade. I have been looking forward to publishing the novel I’ve been working on for 11 years by now but that deadline passed so I set another (coming soon.) I’m also dialing in my yogi headstand (Sirsasana), which is considered “one of the most powerful and beneficial poses you can do. Practicing headstand has been frequently cited as a pose to counteract the symptoms of depression,” and works the core like nothing else!

 Less ego, more breath.

Photography 101: Moment

Pretty packed parking lot off Snow Hill Road on Saturday.

I rode my mountain bike this weekend more than I have all year starting with a 15-mile trek Saturday morning through the trails off of Snow Hill Road where I’ve pedaled since 8th grade. We ran into at least a dozen bikers that day and a few people on horseback. The perfect weather made conditions near prime for the sandy trails, some of which I remembered from years past pedaling for miles by myself in the brutal summer. It’s nice to still know my way around no matter where we go. This time, it was interesting to ride without my clips and in my low-profileNikes for a change. I lost my pedals a few times though especially when trying to bounce up and/or over something. But I could still climb some of the “hills” that used to get me out of my clips when I was younger. And I would have crashed a few times hard if I had have worn them. As my sidekick Andy said as he was following me hanging it out around the turns. “You can ride the corners a lot differently without clips.”

Sunday, we tested my suspension settings, taller gearing, better front tire and a new Leatt neck brace, thanks to Andy!
I met up with my teammate and we put in a few hard hours. She has some potential blackmail GoPro footage of me ping-ponging off the trees prior to us tweaking the boinkers.
We pedaled another 11 miles to the Environmental Center and hit the MTB bike trails but  most of which were underwater and then it started to rain so we put down the hammer for the 9 miles home; so with the shortcut a total of 23 miles.

Not every rider can pull off wearing spandex

Photography 101: Moment

Our lives are made up of big events and tiny moments. Ultimately, life is fleeting, and oftentimes it’s these small moments we love to document.Think about the fleeting moments you experience each day — from a quiet, precious moment with your child to a busy commute through the subway, among strangers.


Today’s accomplishments included dialing in my ol’ pogo stick, which included two or three clicks on the suspension to get it right.
Meanwhile, I’m riding my friends orange 200 and back to having fun on the roughest practice track we’ve been training on. Surprisingly her bike handled like a Cadillac. It nearly ripped out of my hands when I turned on the throttle.

Good Tidings

Good Tidings – Present-day you meets 10-years-ago you for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.

– The most challenging thing will be finding out what you should do with your time, the most rewarding thing will be winning (at anything: a new friend, better job or just the local race down the road,) and the most fun thing you have to look forward to is the freedom of riding your motorcycle and sharing that travel with others.

Slinging mud

The audience applauds the panelists at the "Mudslinging" Civic Dialogue recently.
The audience applauds the panelists at the “Mudslinging” Civic Dialogue recently.

I was recently invited to speak as a panelist at a Civic Dialogue about “Mudslinging,” or negative campaigning as it related to the race for Florida Governor last week.

As one of four experts who also included the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections, a representative of the League of Women’s Voters along with an attorney and communications law professor, the public forum open to interested students, faculty and staff, focused on whether or not politicians have an ethical obligation to provide truth in advertising. Of course, I outlined a few points and planned one of my first lines: “I remember what my mom used to say: Don’t tell me anything unless it’s the whole truth!”

The commercials we watched all contained mudslinging and failed to present all sides of arguments. But, as the Supervisor of Elections pointed out, the commercials are often paid for by outside organizations and not the actual candidate. Still, the negative ads deter voters in my opinion and I think candidates should be able to control their supporters by not mudslinging. During the dialogue, I brought up the website Politifact that helps citizens find truth in politics after telling the audience: “We don’t know what we don’t know. If I tell you my 90-year-old grandma plowed into your car at the roundabout, you’re going to be mad at her, but if I tell you my 90-year-old grandma plowed into your car at the roundabout after you blew the stop sign, you’re not going to be so mad at her anymore, are you? So it’s all about presenting all sides and it’s not always easy to spot when there’s important information missing.”

In the end, however, I can see both sides because those campaign ads bring in big bucks, like $22 million in TV ads or something crazy like that, according to the Miami Herald. And those TV people have to keep their cushy couches and corner offices somehow, right?

Laughing at a speaker's comment: "What Susie says of Sally says more of Susie that of Sally."
Laughing at a speaker’s comment: “What Susie says of Sally says more of Susie than of Sally.”