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Speaking at a Conference—Before the shutdown
We never know where the next turn will take us. A week after my travel to California, the entire country was shut down due to Covid-19. On the plane ride home, a lady sat next to me with a mask on and said she did not want to catch anything prior to visiting her relatives. Now we are all wearing masks to go out in public. Who would have thought the bank would want to have customers wear a mask to enter the building?
I received an email from BetterUp! the coaching service that my company employed as I was transitioning from working to retirement. I have previously written about my photo shoot and that fun experience. This time, I was asked to speak on a panel to discuss my experiences with coaching for one of their conferences.
Of course I went. It was a chance to visit with family and connect with some old friends, including my coach Rob, and I was excited to make several new friends including my fellow panelists.
I knew this conference would be different from other I attended. The head of the company began on Monday night by insisting we refrain from shaking hands and just bumping elbows.
Monday, I was able to go to lunch with my youngest and spend some time prior to the conference kick off.
At the conference, I met the other speakers in the morning to go over our parts. What a great group of people. I was pleased to be included in the group. Our BetterUp! representative was Damian Vaughn, a former NFL player. What a supper nice guy to have as a moderator and facilitator for our part of the program.
The Claremont Club and Spa Berkeley we were staying at for the conference was really a treat. I loved the view from the room overlooking the bay.
When I say the hotel was top notch, the California primary election was on Tuesday and Michael Bloomberg who was a candidate (and is a billionaire) was staying at our hotel.
As part of my running program, I was out of town and missed the group run, so I took the opportunity to run into the campus at UC Berkley. The campus was full of students , but I was not the only older man running through campus. I assume the others were local residents or professors. The hotel had a running route that you can listen to while it gives directions and points out some of the features on campus which was a fun way to run around town.
I got to have Leslie Odom, Jr. sign a copy of his book “Failing Up” back stage after hearing him speak and sing for us. He is super guy and easy to speak with. I was happy BetterUp had him at the end of the program. It was well worth sticking around to hear him speak and sing. I recently had the chance (thank you Disney + and the Berns) to see Hamilton with Leslie playing Burr. It put it all together for me. The book was good; one of my kids also read it and enjoyed it. Take a chance and read it too.
Rob (my BetterUp! coach) took me for a hike to the Siesta Valley Recreation Area near the hotel and near where he grew up. We had a great view of San Francisco and walk around the area.
Take opportunities when you can. I did not know that a week after my return home, St. Patrick ’s Day, would be the day we would go into what I would call seclusion and the travel industry would be shutting down for a while.
I enjoy speaking with others about my experiences, like all of us; it is nice to have others care.
Hiring a coach to assist you in life is a good deal; it really makes a difference. A coach will get you to where you are going faster and on target. My journey in retirement is richer because I was coachable. I hope you are coachable as well.
No bike riding on this trip. I will get the bike out of the basement in the spring.
Touring Louisville, Kentucky
I enjoyed our travels last year to Bardstown so much that I suggested that we all travel to Louisville as a group. Like at the office, when you make a suggestion, you often have to carry out the implementation. At first I thought just the guys would want to go.
We soon found out that the entire group was interested in traveling to Louisville. Some in our group, including me, had been before and even had kids attend the University. This was a first-time visit for some of the group. I had not put together a travel itinerary for a group of friends before, so I went to some blog posts and pulled out a few ideas. It turned out wonderful. It was not as hard as I thought, and my friends all helped with some suggestions of their own.
We began our tour of Louisville by getting one of the rare treats, a bourbon milk shake from Royal’s Hot Chicken. The place was packed near noon and we could see why; the chicken delicious and so were the milkshakes. I had a smooth tasting, cold milk shake that hit the spot with my hot chicken tenders. I was interested that they put a test tube filled with bourbon in the glass along with a spoon and a big straw. This allowed me and the others with the bourbon shooter to add the bourbon as we went. The bourbon in the milkshake was a good combination and one I will look for again.
After a satisfying lunch we had tickets to Angel’s Envy Distillery, a few short blocks away from Royal’s.
We were impressed with Angel’s Envy and the tour. They have their own unique take on emptying the bourbon into other spirit containers, including port wine barrels. The distillery was clean and, for an old factory, amazingly modern. The distillery has done a good job in laying out their process.
Taking risks and being bold was a good combination for the taste in my opinion and the opinion of others. We did enjoy the tour guide, the general tour and the product. I found the flavor enhanced by the re-barreling process that is unique for them.
After a wonderful dinner out at Jack Fry’s, where the service was great for our party of 8 and we enjoyed very good cooking and a piano player setting the mood, we went to our B&B to dream about our next day’s tour. We enjoyed the charm and warmth provided at the DuPont Mansion B&B in Louisville. We were able to sit in the parlor and chat or play games. The breakfasts were very tasty as were the cookies when we got back at night.
Since we had a large group, I was interested in allowing us to explore the city as well as see the sights together and on our own, depending on what we liked to do. Some of us purchased the Museum Center (six in one) tickets. I thought it was a great value. Our group made it to these sites: Frazier History Museum, Louisville Slugger Museum, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Muhammad Ali Center, and Peerless Distilling Co.
I spent the most time in the Frazier History Museum; they were showing a bourbon exhibit with the history and shaping of bourbon in America, especially Kentucky.
Being a baseball fan, we noticed several improvements at the Louisville Slugger museum over our last visit about 5 years earlier. The tour was on point and ran us through their bat making facility, starting with the forest and the trees and how they work on growing and identifying trees.
The Slugger Museum did a good job of explaining the process of bat making and letting us feel the product in various stages. I am still in awe of holding a major league bat that could be used in a game (I hope so!) later this year.
Several in our group went to the Muhammad Ali Center and were impressed by the presentation in the museum and the life story and values of this great fighter. This is a stop we will need to go back to and experience. We foolishly thought that we could do a museum in about 30 minutes and then we were drawn into the stories setup inside and spent longer at each stop.
The surprising stop for me was the Peerless Distilling Company. It does not look like much from the outside and is in an old building.
The product was very good and we came away from our tour with a favorable impression of their product and the way this craft maker distills their bourbon. We enjoyed the tour and our tour guide. Peerless uses a sweet mash and they would not share the mash percentages, the corn, rye or wheat, unlike other tours we have been on before.
Peerless takes pride in their heritage as an old line (placed in barrels beginning in 1889) Kentucky distilling company. They have modeled their bottle and the re-start of this distillery on the original distilling company. The history was a good story and made the tour worthwhile to hear.
The distilling process and the inside of the building is clean and new in appearance. We did not find a rundown bottler but an up to date modern facility with a good product to sell.
We were unable to tour the Even Williams shop, although we stopped in for a visit to the gift shop. Several in our group knew what they liked and found it in the shop.
Our second dinner out at RYEs was a bigger party for us, with 10 at the table we had the best waitress and service. The food was delicious and I would say you should try it out for yourself. A long time ago, I waited on tables and discovered that big parties like a group of 10 friends, was a big pain to wait on. No one is ready and then everyone is ready. This restaurant must do a great job training their staff because we had no hassles and excellent service.
On our way out of town, the day after Leap Day, we visited the historic Brown Hotel, a landmark in Louisville.
The hotel is known for their grand style and inventing a unique Kentucky dish called the Hot Brown. I thought I had had hot brown before that day, and I now know that it was a poor imitation of the real thing.
Everyone at the table ordered the hot brown and we all loved it!
This is a hotel that properly prides itself on service and satisfaction. We were happy with the meal, our service and the ambiance. We were visiting on a Sunday and the place was packed. We had the feeling that we were special, just because we showed up and enjoyed a hearty meal.
After the hot brown at the Brown Hotel, we needed a walk. We had planned a walk to Indiana on the Big 4 Bridge over the Ohio River. We picked the perfect day, the sun was out and the weather was a hint of early spring.
On the first of February I ran the “Frozen 5k” and my son and his friends ran the “Frozen 10k.” This event is put on by our local minor league ice hockey team, the Cincinnati Cyclones. They were kind enough to open their arena prior to the race for us to stay warm and get ready for the event.
It was cold (about 36 degrees when we started) in the morning, not as cold as it could be with the historic average of 23 on February 1 in Cincinnati. My running group suggested that we sign up for several races or running events to get use to running in large events. The run was sold out with about 2,200 runners.
This was my best run (I finished in 32 minutes and 2 seconds), as I ran the whole 5k instead of my unusual running and walking and then running some more. I managed to finish faster than my son and his friends and was able to see them cross the finish line. Yes—they ran twice as far as I did and I am twice their age.
Always plan ahead. A plan can change, but as we saw with Evan Williams, we do not always get to visit a place without planning ahead for a limited tour.
Take advantage of the local opportunities. We could have gone almost anywhere with our group. A quick ride down the road was like being a world away.
No bike riding on this trip. I will get the bike out of the basement in the spring.
December in Cincinnati & Christmas in California
Before Christmas, I was able to watch the New England Patriots with Tom Brady as quarterback playing the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati. I shared that I thought it may be the last time we see Tom Brady in person in a Patriots uniform and as events unfolded, we were correct. I thought he would retire.
My son joined me for a “fun run” in Northern Kentucky put on by the Arthritis Foundation. The Jingle Bell 5k Run was fun and a challenge (for me). My son ran with me the whole time giving me moral support and slowing down his pace for mine. One of the pictures he took while running backwards.
After a Christmas Eve church service we had a lovely Christmas day dinner in downtown Cincinnati, complete with a walk around town with wonderful December weather.
On Boxing Day I flew to California to enjoy the continued nice weather and live out my desire to spend time with family and friends. Our youngest lives in San Jose and we had a great visit. Besides spending time together, watching the MSU Spartans win a bowl game on TV and seeing the latest Star Wars movie, just spending time together was the highlight. We also had a day in San Francisco where we toured Golden Gate Park, visiting the California Academy of Sciences and enjoying the wonderful late December day. We ended up at Ghiradelli Square for some ice cream and good memories.
Just being together is enough. Listening and respect is also good. I love all our kids!
I did get in my running preparation while visiting prior to joining the running club for the Flying Pig half marathon I plan to run virtually in May of 2020. No bike riding on this adventure.
Welcome to Spring!
With Covid-19 disrupting everything, I am home for a while and need to catch up on my blog posts starting with Christmas in San Francisco. I thought I would start out of order and share that I got back from my last travel adventure in early March and just like all of you, all of my activities have been cancelled.
One of the things I learned was the phrase “too much husband and not enough income” describing the now retired husband. I am now at home and my wife is working part time outside of the home. It is a balancing act. One each has to make adjustments for and with each other. My habits changed as full time employment ended at the office and part time travel and teaching began. I was fortunate to have a coach work with me on this transition, more on that at another time.
Many of us are now faced with no travel and life socially distanced even from their neighbors. I am looking forward to getting back into my routine and meeting in person with my friends.
Here are the things I had to start doing to keep going when I stopped going into the office daily:
- Walking daily for at least a mile with my wife. This habit, which we enjoy even in the winter, keeps us together and active.
- Intentionally calling, emailing and setting up meetings with friends and family.
- We started a group we call First Friday Friends. We have traveled with this group, and the consistent monthly interactions have been great.
- A life lesson I heard about and then experienced was that my work friends said, as I did when others left, that they would keep in touch. The reality is they are busy and the demands or bonds that previously brought us together are not present any longer.
- I needed reach out to maintain friendships and connections and you will as well.
- Find a routine: Prior to the staying at home notices we now are all under, I had a set routine on when to go to bed, get up and what I was planning to do daily. I went so far as to schedule out a day, week and month so I knew what was coming and had events to look forward to each day. All plans change as events happen. I was fortunate to have a plan to change. My lesson learned was having a plan to change was better than no plan to begin with.
- I chose to get up and go out most days—playing racquetball with friends, teaching indoor biking, working out and swimming at my local gym, now closed until at least the first of April, 2020. The consistency of a group I was accountable to and for kept me active and engaged in life. It was the same thing until a week ago with my running group.
- Challenge yourself and live your values. One of the coaching benefits was the exploration of values and how to live those out. My frequent visits to family, friends and travels are a part of me living my values of family and friendship. I have also taken on some new challenges, starting running at the age of 60 and participating in running races for the first time in my life.
Here is an example: I joined a running group in January (first run on January 2) and enjoyed running with the group from Tri-State Running Company, a local shoe store in Kentucky. My inspiration for joining this group came from reading the book by Peter Sagal, “The Incomplete Book of Running” where he advises readers to not run alone. I also want to improve my weakest link in the triathlon, running, in hopes to compete in the event again with my son this July. Last year, I walked much more than I ran, so I thought I should keep up the running, at least until July.
So, I joined the running group and have enjoyed the comradery. In fact, the group is so large, I could join the 11:15 pace group for the half marathon.
If you do not know (and I did not a year ago) this is a slow pace, and we have more than a dozen dedicated runners who are self-selecting to train at this pace. I picked the half marathon because they did not offer a 10K training program. Now I have done several runs more than a 10k so I think it was the right call.
I just completed, as a virtual run, the Heart Mini Marathon Cincinnati. I did the 15k run that was scheduled for this weekend and was cancelled. It was fun as I had the support from my wife while I ran the 2.25 mile loop in the neighborhood. The 15k I found out is 9.321 miles.
Keep safe and healthy. I will have more coming soon on my recent travel adventures. Happy to assist with tips on working from home or places to visit. My only bike riding has been at the gym or in my basement. Warmer weather soon and I will be out riding again.