Busch Gardens Williamsburg Howl-O-Scream VIP/Media Night

*Note – All photos in this blog were taken by Randy Davidson. You can follow his work on Instagram handles bgwphotofan and randy.davidson.photography. Check him out. He’s absolutely incredible.

On Friday night, September 23, Busch Gardens Williamsburg Insiders (check us out on Facebook) was invited to participate in a VIP/Media preview night for their annual Howl-O-Scream event. Preview might not be the correct word considering it took place at the beginning of the third weekend of Howl-O-Scream, but honestly, I like it that way. Sure there are perks to seeing everything before anyone else, but with most haunt events, it takes a week or two for the actors to really hit their stride in delivering a frighteningly fun experience for the guests. I was honored to be the representative from our Insiders group and since my daughter was asked to cover the event for Buckeye Coasters (you should check them out too), I asked my friend and incredible photographer to join me. This would allow me to concentrate on video footage while he could do what he does best and get incredible photos.

This is a small group of media represented. (Happily Ever Novak, B.T.Parks, bgwphotofan, Buckeye Coasters, Busch Gardens Williamsburg Insiders, kdphotofan, and Eddytainment)

The night began with a reception in the lobby of the Globe Theatre. This will be the home of the popular show ‘Monster Stomp on Ripper Row’ which will open on September 29. The park outdid themselves with the decor of the lobby as well as the food and beverage. We were given a Howl-O-Scream themed deck of playing cards as well as a blinky cup (the shrimp cocktail was in these cups). I don’t drink, but I’ve always wanted a blinky cup and now I have one! Available for photo ops was also the evil game show host that is one of this year’s iconic figures for the event. I could try to describe it all, but I’ll let Randy’s photos do the talking.

We finished up at the reception about 30 minutes or so before the HOS festivities began. We ventured out into the park along with B.T. Parks to check out the event. Part of our event credentials gave us front of the line access not only to all of the haunted houses, but also to all of the coasters and thrill rides in the park. I hadn’t planned on riding anything, but since we had the time and we could skip the line, I couldn’t say no to a ride on the park’s brand new Intamin multi-launch roller coaster, Pantheon. I’m always smiling after a ride on that.

Now onto the stuff you really want to read about. Considering I’ve actually never tried to film a walk-through of a haunted house, I wanted to make sure to go through the two mazes that utilize some outdoor sections first while we still had daylight. That way, if the indoor house videos didn’t come out (we couldn’t use any extra light source), I would at least have those two. As it turns out all of my house videos came out pretty well, so I’ve got all five.

Death Water Bayou is a new maze for HOS this year. It has been a favorite at Busch Gardens Tampa for several years so we were excited to see it moved up to Williamsburg this year. The house is located in Festa Italia and goes back behind Roman Rapids. If you’ve been to HOS before, this occupies the site where Circo Sinistro used to be.

The maze takes us from the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras back into the mysterious bayous of Louisiana. Something sinister lurks back there and you will encounter surprises at every turn.

Even in the daylight, this maze provided some solid scares. The theming is fantastic, and while you can certainly tell that this is a re-imagining of Circo Sinistro, that doesn’t detract from this maze at all. From a visual standpoint, this maze looks incredible. The bayou room itself utilizes fog and lasers to make you truly feel like you’re walking through the swamps. This is a definite upgrade from Circo, which had certainly run its course at the park.

While heading to our next maze for the night, we passed through Gorgon Gardens. This terror-tory is located in the Italy Garden section of the park where Garden of Souls used to reside. Again, this is an upgrade from it’s predecessor in large part because of the incredible costume and makeup job done on these actors. The human statues are mesmerizing and the Medusas are phenomenal.

Our second haunted house of the night would be a returning house from last year, Witch of the Woods. The park made a few changes with this maze from last year, most notably with the entrance point. The maze location is the same, but you now enter from what used to be the exit and vice versa. This maze reversal along with what I’m assuming was a desire to keep the traffic flow for Witch of the Woods and Nevermore Chapter 2 separate means that you have a LONG walk to this maze. You go to the right of Das Festhaus and through a backstage corridor or sorts along the train tracks and behind Drachen Fire field where you will finally reach the entrance to the maze. When well staffed (which it was) this maze delivers. Even in the daylight, I got several really good scares thanks to some smart use of misdirection.

I was going to wait until the end of the blog to rank the houses, but I’ll go ahead and drop a spoiler. Nevermore Chapter 2 is my favorite. I’ve now been through the house on three different occasions, and even my worst pass through this house was fantastic. Moving it from the old Darkastle building to the Drachen Fire station led to a much better experience than last year. Tight quarters and a much more cohesive story line make this house absolutely fantastic. Multiple works of Edgar Allen Poe are represented as you journey through his house. So many good scares. I can’t say enough good about this maze.

After finishing up in Nevermore, we made the lengthy trek over to the Ireland section of the park where our next haunted house was waiting. On the way we would venture through three more terror-tories. The first of which was Scary Tale Road. In this area, your childhood fairy tales become nightmares.

Upon leaving Scary Tale Road we ventured across the bridge into the Meat Market. This returning terror-tory is certainly the bloodiest, but it’s also one of the most fun. Great interaction from the cast and wonderful visuals.

One more terror-tory to venture through before arriving in Killarney was the new for this year Dead A Head. Located in the France section of the park, these seemingly charming French aristocrats are secretly after any unsuspecting victim’s head.

We finally arrived in Killarney Village just in time to take a trip to Killarney Diner. This returning house is a favorite of many, and as a total package, it might be the best overall house in the park (even though it’s my #2). A 1950s diner taken over by zombies…I mean, how can that not be amazing. The sets, the costumes, the details are all things that make this such a strong house even if it isn’t the scariest. This house is always a blast to walk through.

That leaves us with one terror-tory and one house left to go. We left Killarney and made our way to Ripper Row. This returning terror-tory is still my personal favorite. It’s not the scariest, but the storytelling as well as the interaction with the guests make this a wonderful scare zone.

Our final house of the night was the other new house, Inferno. This maze is in the lower level of the Escape From Pompeii show building. You are taken on a journey through hell in a maze that is somewhat based around Dante’s Inferno. Visually, this house is absolutely incredible and it certainly has the potential to end up being the best house of the year by the time HOS is over. There is so much tension that is set up in the early stages of the house that it just continues to build all the way to the final scare.

I want to say a huge thank you to Busch Gardens Williamsburg for inviting us to this fantastic event. We had a wonderful night. Be sure to check out Howl-O-Scream every weekend Thursday – Sunday from now until October 31. You won’t regret it.

If you are interested in our video content, check out BGW Insiders on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9WrN3jfvMeQBY9AALL_PBA


Did Jesus Condone Sin?

For those that follow for my health and training updates, I’m sure that the title of this blog probably made you skip right past. Then again, maybe it didn’t. I honestly hope that you have chosen to take the time to read my thoughts on this. In recent years there has been a shift in the Western dialogue regarding the Christianity and the teaching of Jesus. Let me explain.

The argument used against Christians for a large portion of my life was that they (we) were closed-minded, uneducated hicks that simply ignored any form of ‘factual evidence’ that goes against what they (we) believe the Bible to teach. As a 43 year-old Christian man who holds an advanced degree, if I wanted to, I could just flash my ‘credentials’ to try to refute that line of thought. It wouldn’t get me anywhere, but I could. That’s also not my style. I want people to form their opinions of who I am based on how they see me live my life in the world, how I treat others, and how I treat them.

In recent years however, the argument has shifted somewhat. Sure there are still those who view Christians as naive, uneducated, unsophisticated and any other non-intellectual adjective you want to throw in. However, the narrative now is that if we really wanted to live like Jesus, we would shut up about things we believe are morally wrong and just love everyone and let people live as they choose to live. After all, Jesus loved everyone.

Like most solid arguments, this one is based in some level of truth. Jesus did love everyone. He had fellowship with people that the religious leadership has ostracized. He stopped the stoning of a woman caught in the act of adultery. He prayed for the very soldiers that were driving the spikes through his wrists and feet at his crucifixion. That’s love on display for all to see.

Now here is the fallacy of this argument. It assumes this newly developed idea that to love someone means that you not only accept them, but that you condone and support the choices they make regardless of how those choices line up with your beliefs. I could pretty quickly disprove that theory by drawing the parallel of a parent who loves their child unconditionally, but does not condone or support their child telling a lie in an attempt to avoid trouble. Does my correcting and if necessary punishing the lie mean that in that moment of time I don’t love them? Of course not. I also understand that drawing a comparison using myself isn’t the greatest idea in trying to win a debate as it pulls my bias into the argument.

So let’s take a look at how Jesus handled His interactions with those who didn’t have the same moral code that He was teaching.

John 8:3-11 tells us the story of a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. The religious leaders had dragged her in front of Jesus to see what He would do. The Mosaic Law is pretty clear that she should be stoned to death. Would Jesus allow them to carry out the execution? Would He intervene? His response surprised everyone. He stood up and made this statement to the mob: ‘Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.’

Jesus did several things with this response. First of all, he acknowledged the validity of adultery being wrong. Then he does something even more shocking. It seems that He is willing to let the execution proceed if there is someone in the crowd without sin to throw the first stone. He simultaneously confirms that the law has been broken, but then ushers in the grace that His life offers all of us if we believe. Notice however, the last thing He says to the woman. He says that He doesn’t condemn her and she should go and sin no more. He doesn’t condone her sin. He forgives it, but then tells her to go and don’t do it anymore. He loved without condoning immoral behavior.

Luke 19 tells the story of a Jewish tax collector named Zacchaeus. His own countrymen hated him because he worked for the Romans. A well known practice of tax collectors was to charge more than they were being asked to collect and keep the extra for themselves. They were getting rich off of their own countrymen. Zacchaeus was no different.

However, when he encountered Jesus, something happened. First of all, Jesus knew who he was and called him by name. Then Jesus invited himself to have dinner at the house of Zacchaeus. Throughout all of this, we never see Jesus calling out the wrong that Zacchaeus had committed, but there was something powerful about their time together. Why? At the end of the dinner, Zacchaeus promises to repay what he has stolen and do that fourfold. This doesn’t sound like someone who encountered Jesus only to continue to live immorally. Again, the sin is never condoned.

So where does that leave us today? I know a large portion of society would seemingly prefer that the church kept its mouth shut and turn a blind eye to what is happening in our world. I am not a Christian that is looking to politicians or policy to fix this country. There is no one (Republican or Democrat) that is capable of doing that. I will however support policies that align with my beliefs. Contrary to what popular culture will tell you, it is possible for me to love you and disagree with you at the same time. I don’t seek to take away people’s freedom. I seek to introduce them to the freedom that comes in knowing Jesus.

I know that I don’t always get it right. I make mistakes every day of my life. We all do. I’m no better than anyone that believes differently than I do. I welcome conversations. I want the opportunity to share what Jesus has done for me and I want the opportunity to hear from you. I’m not naive enough to ever think that we will agree on everything, but we can still respect and love each other amidst disagreements.

A Setback

Well, friends, I have encountered a bit of a setback. A week ago today as I was getting out of my car I tweaked (at least that’s what I thought at the time) my lower back. The next day I was sore, but nothing terrible so I opted for a short walk instead of a run. Well, by that night the pain in my lower back had begun radiating down my right leg. Without doing any quick online ‘research’ I knew what it was.

On Friday of last week my doctor confirmed that I was dealing with a flare up of sciatica. This is a brand new one to me. I’ve never had any back issues in my life and let me tell you, this one sucks. I did get good news that the x-rays of my spine looked good so it was almost certainly an inflamed muscle that was pinching the sciatic nerve and causing my discomfort.

Then I asked the question that I already knew I didn’t want the answer to. I asked about my running. Now to be honest, as much as I want to run right now despite the 90 degree temperatures, I know that I can’t. However I was shocked when the doctor told me to not run for a month. He told me that although the flareup usually peaks around day 4 or 5, it takes pretty much a full month to completely heal. Ouch.

On the bright side, if I feel I have improved enough, I can begin taking easy walks at the end of this week. As it stands today (Tuesday), there is a bit of improvement but being on my feet is still the most painful position to be in.

This also means that while I still intend to run the Bird In Hand Half Marathon on September 10, I will not be going out there to beat my previous best on that challenging course. I will be enjoying hanging out with friends and taking it easy over the 13.1 miles.

I’ll be honest. This weekend I kind of slid into a funk. I was down and when that happens I don’t eat well. Fortunately in the last 12 hours or so, I have come to the conclusion that the best course of action for me is to use this month of limited physical activity to really focus on dialing my diet in to an appropriate place. The diet part has always been my struggle and I know and admit that. Now that I’m faced with not being able to do my normal routine, my choices are to keep struggling with the diet and pack on pounds over the month, or get that part of my life under control. I’m choosing the latter.

This is just a setback. I will be back out there. I will keep doing what I have grown to love over the past 7 years. I will get my fitness back. I won’t let the setback knock me out.

Weekly Update: June 13, 2022 – June 19, 2022

Monday, June 13 – 2022 – Last week was exhausting and to cap it off with a long day at church on Sunday, I really wasn’t sure how this run would go. I used my 1:20/:30 ratio and put in 4 miles at a very solid 10:05 pace.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 – Holy humidity, Batman! This one was brutal. 93% humidity and a real feel in the mid 80s at 6:30 in the morning. It was sweaty and it wasn’t pretty, but using my 1:20/:30 I went for 4 miles and then pulled it back to a conservative :30/:30 to cool down. 4.6 miles total

Wednesday, June 15, 2022 – What a difference a day makes for weather. Cooler, had a breeze to enjoy and slightly less humidity. Certainly more pleasant. 1:20/:30 for the 3rd straight day and I pulled out 5 miles at a 10:16 pace. This one felt really good.

Thursday, June 16, 2022 – Tough sledding today. I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night. Wasn’t sure how many miles I’d get in before the body said enough, and that turned out to be 3.6 miles. I used 1:00/:30 for this one. Ironically, about 10 minutes after I finished some rain showers moved through. I think if that rain had come through during the run, I might have gotten closer to 5 miles in. Either way, I’ve learned to listen to my body, so I’m happy with the effort.

Friday, June 17, 2022 – Normally this would be a rest day, but with yesterday being shorter than normal, I went out for a really quick run to start the day. 1.3 miles at a sub-10 minute pace had me feeling great. No pics as I did that run with just my watch and a bottle of water. The highlight of the run was getting to run through two different sets of sprinklers that were on and spraying onto the sidewalk as I ran by. That was refreshing.

It was also haircut day and as always Angie from Salon Mosaic (http://salonmosaicvirginiabeach.com) gave me a great cut and freshened up my color as well. She’s the best.

Saturday, June 18, 2022 – Long run day. This was my first long run in several weeks. I used a conservative :40/:30 run/walk ratio and hammered out 7.5 miles. I could’ve done more, but I was dealing with a bit of a time constraint. Still very happy with that distance and with my mileage for the week.

Sunday, June 19, 2022 – Happy Father’s Day! Happy Juneteenth! Spent the morning at church and the rest of the day at home with my family where I fired up the grill and enjoyed some steak. No workout today.

As Monday’s weigh in approached I had hoped to end the week under 240, but that didn’t happen. Regardless, I managed to lose the weight that I had put on during my trip the previous week so it was a good week.

Number of Workouts: 6 (all runs) for 26.0 miles

Starting Weight: 243.3 lbs.

Ending Weight: 241.2 lbs. (down 2.1 pounds)

3 Month Progress Update

Well here we are at the 14th of the month. It was 3 months ago on the 14th of March that I got sick and tired of the weight roller coaster and began a conscious effort to not diet, but change my lifestyle and take this weight off the right way. Here’s the pics from March 14, April 14, May 14, and finally from this morning.

Three months into this endeavor I received a letter from a Mr. James Reynolds…..wait….that’s something else. If you get it, leave a comment.

Three months in and I have dropped 10.4 pounds officially. I had hoped that this month would be the month where I was in the 230s. Honestly, I’ve had a couple of days in the last week or so where I was there, but my trip last week wasn’t a help in keeping it there. Oh well. 10.4 pounds is nothing to sneeze at. It’s encouraging to know that I’m heading in the right direction and will continue to do so.

Weekly Update: June 6, 2022 – June 12, 2022

Monday, June 6, 2022 – Well, it’s going to be a busy week. I leave tomorrow morning for Wytheville, VA where I will spend the week participating in our denomination’s state Campmeeting services. It’s a hectic schedule so runs are going to a little bit challenging to get in.

This morning I went out using a 1:20/:30 ratio and put in 4.3 miles. My legs felt really good and the extended running segment didn’t bother me near as much as it did last Monday on my first attempt with that ratio. What made me the happiest was the consistency of splits from mile 2-4. All were within about a 4 second window. I never count mile one for these types of things as it’s almost always going to be slow while my body wakes up.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022 – Today was a travel day. I left around 9 in the morning to drive across the state to Wytheville, Virginia. This week I will be participating in our state’s denominational campmeeting services. I will be playing drums most of the time but will also be singing for a couple of services. I hate that Beth isn’t able to join me this year, but I’m looking forward to seeing some friends. I didn’t run before leaving so I’ll share a few pics from the day instead.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 – Unfortunately I forgot to pack my scale so I won’t be able to check on my weight during the week. This morning I woke up with a really bad migraine so after playing for the morning service, I returned to my hotel to try to sleep it off. I woke up at noon and felt incredibly refreshed so I ventured over to the local community college to get a short run in. There is a beautiful walking path around the perimeter of the campus so I got 3 miles in using 1:20/:30. Holy cow are the hills brutal for this flat-lander. Still really pleased with the effort.

Thursday, June 9, 2022 – I got up this morning and my legs were still feeling it from the hills so I opted for a 2 mile walk around the loop at the college. Even walking, those hills are no joke, but I was incredibly pleased with the pace I was able to maintain for the walk.

Sadly, that’s the end of the workout journal for this week. I was not sleeping well in my hotel due to the horrific pillows and the schedule we were keeping had me absolutely exhausted. Honestly, given the lack of exercise and the terrible eating schedule (dinner at 9pm or later every night I was out) I’m actually kind of happy that the weight gain wasn’t any more than what it was. Next week is a new week and it should be a normal week that will even include an actual long run on the weekend. Woohoo!

Number of Workouts – 3 (2 run for 7.3 miles, 1 walk for 2.0 miles) 9.3 miles total

Starting Weight – 240.5

Ending Weight – 243.3 (up 2.8 pounds)

Weekly Update: May 30, 2022 – June 5, 2022

Monday – Race Day (you can read the full report here https://charlestonheel.wordpress.com/2022/06/06/race-recap-run-to-remember-10k/). Run to Remember 10k in Virginia Beach. Used 1:20/:30 for the first 5 miles (that’s the first time I’ve extended my run to that length in a pretty long time) which probably wasn’t a great idea for a 10k and used various intervals the rest of the way in to just get across the finish line. 8:06AM start time meant the sun was already high in the sky and the temperature was starting to climb. This course was also entirely on grass which is something I’m not remotely used to. The time was nothing to write home about, but it’s a solid start to the week.

Tuesday – I honestly wasn’t sure how this morning’s run would go. I felt yesterday’s 10k all day long. Having said that I still wanted to get out and get some miles for a couple of reasons. I was just under 3 miles short of hitting 100 miles for the month, and more importantly I felt it was important to stretch the legs out. I went out using a comfortable 1:10/:30 and bagged 4.06 miles at a moderate pace. The legs felt tired, but not heavy. Solid workout.

Wednesday – For starters, let’s talk about milestones. This entire calendar year I have been unable to get my weight out of the 240s except for one day back in early March (I think). Well, this morning my scale had me at 239.3. Hopefully I can continue with this momentum. I now have a streak of 7 consecutive days where the scale has gone down to some degree. In addition, on May 1 I weighed 249.8. That means over the last 31 days, I successfully dropped 10.5 pounds.

Now as far as this morning’s run goes….It’s Global Running Day. Certainly I would be anxious to hit the pavement for some miles. That was not the case. I had put my running clothes along with other laundry into the dryer last night. When my alarm went off, I honestly was hoping that my clothes would not have gotten dry. Well, they were dry so I begrudgingly headed out to log some miles.

I always say that the first mile is a liar. I set out with the intention to just do an easy 3 miles and to keep it in the neighborhood so that if the body wanted to shut it down sooner, it wouldn’t be difficult. I was definitely tired, but at about the 2.5 mile mark I made the decision to go ahead and get my normal 4. I wasn’t feeling better per se, but I decided that my mind was going to win the war today. I used a 1:10/:30 run/walk ratio and finished up with a pace of 10:35 per mile. Not bad at all for being tired.

Thursday – After 7 straight days of declining weight, I saw a little bounce back up this morning that put me back over 240. That number by itself changed my plan from a 2 mile walk to a 3-4 mile run. The bump in weight was totally my own fault. I should’ve gone to bed after getting home from church, but I stayed up which is still the kryptonite that often gets me. The combination of tired and hungry seems to lead to stupid decisions with food when I don’t just go to bed. Oh well, out the door to knock this run out.

The run itself went well. I again used my 1:10/:30 ratio and went for 3.6 miles. I won’t say I was ‘hammering down’ as my friend Anthony says, but on miles 2 and 3 there was definitely a little bit of push in my stride. That was in part because I felt pretty good and also because after starting about 15 minutes later than I like to, I just wanted to get finished. I was able to put both of those miles under 10 minutes which always makes me happy. Now to keep the diet in check today so as to not have a repeat of yesterday.

Friday – Friday was going to be a walk that turned into a total rest day. My body was just feeling the fatigue so I listened to it and took the day off from training.

Saturday – Migraine day. Was not feeling great, but still managed to get an easy 5 miler in. I went ahead and used the 1:10/:30 ratio but just stayed very relaxed. The legs felt really good.

Sunday – Church in the morning followed immediately by a church wide picnic followed by driving over to a friends house to change my front brakes. No running happened. Simple as that.

The final weigh in of the week this morning (Monday the 6th) had me at 240.5. After a brief flirtation with the 230s in the middle of the week, things settled in and I had a solid loss of 1.3 this week. I have a busy week ahead that includes traveling to the other side of Virginia on Tuesday and coming back on Saturday. There is a great place to run out there, the challenge will be finding the time. Gotta stay at it.

Number of Workouts – 5 (5 run 17.6 miles; 0 walk) 22..6 miles total

Starting Weight – 241.8

Ending Weight – 240.5 (down 1.3)

Race Recap: Run To Remember 10K

I discovered this race back in 2019. The Run To Remember race in Virginia Beach was an idea conceived by 4 widows of Navy Seals. The proceeds from this race go to help the families of fallen soldiers. What a perfect way to start off Memorial Day. Back in 2019 this was just a 5K and kids 1 mile run, but this year for the first time they added a 10K option. Of course I chose the 10K because anyone that’s followed along long enough knows that 5K is actually my least favorite distance to run.

The race takes place at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach. The course is entirely on the grounds of the museum and is entirely grass. Also, there is absolutely zero shade on the course. Why is that important? It’s the end of May in Virginia Beach, it’s starting to get warm. I should also note that most races in this part of the state tend to start around 7 or 7:30. This race starts at 8:06. That’s just late enough for the overnight ‘cool’ to have dissipated and the sun begins to get higher in the sky. More on that later.

Now because I was out of town the Saturday before the race, I had to do my packet pickup at the race. That meant I got to the race at 6:45. Packet pick up went very quickly so I hung out in my car until about 7:30. When I got out I took advantage of the time to use the facilities and then look around a little bit at the start area.

Now on to the race itself. I wasn’t racing for a time so I treated the run just like I would a Monday training run. In my schedule, it so happens that this was the week my first run was scheduled to move my ratio up to 1:20/:30. So that’s what I did. The race started and I was off. The new ratio actually felt pretty good. I’m not used to running on grass and while it is great for the knees, it is an adjustment as you certainly get less spring out of every step.

I got through the first loop (5k) and was already wishing I had just signed up for the 5k. It was seemingly getting warmer by the minute and the sun was relentlessly beating down. I told myself if I could get to mile 4, the rest of the race wouldn’t seem so daunting. I was wrong. By the time I got to mile 4 the new longer run time in my ratio was having some effect on my energy. I tried to push on, but at mile 5, I kicked it down to an easy :30/:30 and went the rest of the way in with that.

It was a tough day all the way around. I was tired (that was my own fault), it was warm, and I was running in an open field with no shade. That said, I reminded myself somewhere between mile 4-5 that no matter how much I was ‘suffering’ out there on the course, it was a minuscule level of suffering when compared to what American soldiers do on a daily basis. Perspective matters.

For an official 10K, this was my slowest one ever by about 3 minutes. 6 days later as I’m typing this recap, it still gets under my skin. I made a dumb mistake that I knew better than to make and I really feel like it cost me a better time.

The race had some pretty cool swag. We each got a medal, a shirt, and a pretty cool silicon pint glass. The pint glass didn’t make it’s way into the pictures, but the rest of the stuff did.

This is a race that I will most likely continue to run anytime that I’m in town on Memorial Day. I love what the race supports and it’s a fantastic way to begin Memorial Day. Here’s hoping they don’t add a half marathon option, because we all know that I’m the knucklehead that would agree to run 13.1 in that big field.

Weekly Update: May 23, 2022 – May 29, 2022

On to another week of training and trying to eat smart. By the time you will read this, I will either be running or will have already run the Run To Remember 10k in Virginia Beach on Memorial Day. With that race on the horizon, as well as an overnight trip to Durham on Friday to see ‘Hamilton’, I am going to keep this week simple with nothing really long on the books. I will most likely run every day Monday through Friday, take Saturday off unless I squeeze in a walk in Durham before heading home, and then do a short run on Sunday morning before church. Oh…I’m also going to Busch Gardens after church on Sunday, so it’s going to be a crazy week. If I can get a minimum of 20 miles in without doing a long run, I will consider the week a success.

Monday, May 23 – It appears our heat wave has broken a little bit. It was 73 for this morning’s run and that’s really just about as warm as it’s going to get all day. We also have rain in the forecast starting tonight and running through most of the week, so I should get some rain runs in this week.

I got a later start than normal due to some morning GI issues. Nothing major, just part of getting older. Instead of the 5 I’ve been trying to return my baseline to, I just went out for 4. I used a 1:10/:30 run/walk ratio and put in an overall 9:54 pace even with the first mile being a 10:37. Of course somehow banging out a 9:25 mile 2 (I have no clue where that came from) certainly helped out. The legs felt strong today so the week is off to a great start.

Confession time. Monday was an absolutely terrible day for me as far as food goes. Despite how well my run went in the morning, I was just physically tired all day which apparently does a number on my common sense with food. I had Chick-fil-a for lunch. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when you change the drink to a milkshake, you’ve taken a nose dive. Then at dinner we had boneless skinless chicken thighs. Again, not a terrible choice….until over the course of the evening I ate 5 of them. Stupid.

Tuesday, May 24 – As expected after yesterday’s debacle, the scale was not kind and had me up over 2 pounds. Why do I do stupid stuff like that to myself? I didn’t run this morning and despite the rain that we have pretty much in the forecast all day, I’m going to try to squeeze in a run at Mt. Trashmore after work. I haven’t run there in a while so the change of scenery should be nice. Of course the bigger objective today is to not be an idiot with food.

So I did go to Trashmore after work. The plan was to do 2 loops which would be about 4 miles. Well, I did one loop of running. My legs felt heavy and my calves were tight and just wouldn’t loosen up. After two miles of that, I walked an additional mile.

Today’s run was one of those that made no sense. My legs felt pretty bad, but when you look at my pace and splits, you would think I had a great run. Who knows?

Wednesday, May 25 – The scale was kinder this morning. I was down to 244.8 after yesterday’s explosion up into the 246 range. I’m still up 0.7 so far on the week, but I think we’re gonna be ok as long as I don’t do anything stupid during this weekend’s travels.

It was misty and ‘cool’ this morning. Low 60s really isn’t cool, but with the mist and wind, it felt cool. Pretty good conditions honestly. I woke up to the surprise that despite being plugged in all night, my Garmin had actually lost charge and was down to 5%. Weird. Thank God for the Strava app on my phone. I used that for the first time in a long time as my primary tracker. I kept everything in the neighborhood and ran 4 miles using 1:10/:30. The legs felt some better today so I’m kind of guessing that yesterday was just the result of being tired.

Thursday, May 26 – Woke up this morning with a killer migraine. Running was off the table. To make matters worse, I tend to eat poorly when I’m not feeling well. Of course I had Chipotle for lunch. I ate very light at dinner, so we will see what tomorrow’s scale says. The scale was down another half pound so I’m almost back to where I started the week. Road trip to Durham tomorrow so I really have to be smart on the road.

Friday, May 27 – If I’m being honest, I had zero desire to run today. I had every excuse not to run. We’re making a road trip to Durham, NC to see ‘Hamilton’ tonight. I’m tired. But I ran. I went out for an easy 4 miler using 1:10/:30. It wasn’t at the pace I’ve been running lately, but I still felt as if I was working pretty hard. I must have been. When I got back to the house, I took one more drink of my water and proceeded to puke. I felt fine again within moments. That was certainly fun.

The scale this morning was kind. I was down another .4 which finally puts me back under my starting weight for the week. I’m proud of the choice I made last night to eat very light after being ridiculous with the Chipotle lunch. Moderation matters. The challenge of the next two days will be eating healthy on the road. Dinner won’t be a problem as I can eat reasonably where we typically eat in Durham. It’s the meal on the road today and tomorrow that presents the test of my will power.

Saturday, May 28 – I had every intention of exploring either the campus of Duke (since our hotel was just off campus) or UNC with a morning run, but it didn’t happen. I was just honestly too tired and was having a little bit of back stiffness from the hotel bed.

Sunday, May 29 – Again, best of intentions. Alarm set for 5AM to allow me a couple of miles before church. Didn’t happen. Still got my steps (and then some) in by spending the afternoon and evening at Busch Gardens.

I could not have been happier to weigh in Sunday morning after the weekend getaway and be down from where I was before leaving town. I was even happier to wake up Monday morning and weigh in down even more after spending a day in a theme park. The week ended with a total loss of 2.3 pounds. I’ll take that all day long.

Number of Workouts – 5 (4 runs for 14.0 miles, 1 walk) 15.0 miles total

Starting Weight – 244.1

Ending Weight – 241.8 (down 2.3)

Every Single Time

Hamilton. Seven years after Lin Manuel Miranda brought the story of one of America’s forgotten founding fathers to the stage, it’s still taking the world by storm. It’s a tough ticket whether you’re seeing it on Broadway or one of the three touring companies.

Last night Beth and I saw the show in Durham, NC. This is ironically the same place that we first saw the show. You can read my thoughts from that night here. https://charlestonheel.wordpress.com/2018/11/17/the-room-where-it-happened/ This is now the third time that we’ve seen the show and it still hits just as hard as the first time. It had me asking myself on the way back to our hotel after the show, ‘what is it about this show?’ I think there are a couple of answers and I will try to be as concise as I can.

First is simply put. It’s the music. The story of Hamilton is told in a musical genre that is current and one that most all of us are comfortable hearing. That is to say, the music doesn’t take us to unfamiliar territory. After all, even if you aren’t a fan of hip hop, it’s nearly impossible to not have a significant amount of exposure to the genre just in our modern culture. In contrast, take the music of ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ The musical score is brilliant, but it spends the vast majority of its time in the operatic vein. That’s not familiar territory for a lot of folks and it can make it harder for the story to impact them.

Secondly, this is OUR STORY. Well, if you live in the USA, this is your story. It’s the story of a nation struggling to break free from the tyranny of a ruthless monarch across the ocean and then once they do break free, they struggle to figure out how the country should be governed. That story is still going on today as nearly 250 years later we still see that struggle unfold on an almost daily basis.

But the story of Hamilton isn’t just the story of a nation. It’s the story of two friends turned rivals because of their individual ambitions. The antagonist, Burr, sees his friend Hamilton rise to prominence while he is consistently relegated to lesser roles. This jealousy grows until it ultimately leads to the infamous duel where Burr kills Hamilton.

It’s also the story of a flawed man (aren’t we all flawed, though) trying to leave a legacy in history while at the same time is unable to control his passion which is demonstrated with a seemingly unhealthy relationship with his sister-in-law Angelica and then even greater when he gives into those passions and has an affair with Mariah Reynolds.

It’s a story of tragedy and forgiveness. Eliza, scorned by Hamilton’s affair (which he confessed via a publicly published ‘Reynolds Pamphlet’) ultimately forgives him, but only after the death of their son Phillip in a duel.

So I think it’s safe to say that somewhere in this story, there is a character or an event that we all find a way to relate to and that draws us in.

Lastly, I think what makes this show continue to hit so hard is the raw emotion in the story. Of the three times I’ve seen this show on stage, last night’s performance was by far the most emotional performance I’ve seen. This particular cast as a whole conveyed so much emotion that it pulled you in. Burr’s growing jealousy and rage, Washington’s humble confidence, Jefferson’s arrogance, and Hamilton’s passion all cut through in a wonderfully powerful way last night. The performance that did it for me last night though was Eliza (performed by Zoe Jensen). She was absolutely brilliant. The giddiness of a school girl during ‘Helpless’, the hurt and outright rage during ‘Burn’, the scream that still sends shivers up my spine when Phillip dies, and finally the love and passion shown during the closing number ‘Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells Your Story’ were all on full display in her performance.

Hamilton continues to be my favorite musical of all time. I will see it any chance I get. In my opinion, so should you.