I like Orlando. The place I work has a large event in Orlando each February. Normally it’s a great time to escape winter and jump-start spring fever. I left St. Louis on a snowy Wednesday afternoon and arrived near sunset to 65-degrees. An approaching cold front threatened to bring rain and unseasonably cool temperatures to central Florida.
Amped by the window of warmth, I quickly changed into running gear after checking into the hotel. Peeking out the window, I noticed raindrops hitting the surface of the pool. Radar showed the area covered in green, which caused me to shift my focus from running to eating. I walked to a dining and entertainment area nearby, thinking I could catch a ride back to the hotel if the weather deteriorated.
Restaurants were full or closed for private events, so I stopped at a food truck. The two gentlemen in the truck told me about their Venezuelan specialties and how this was their eighth day in business. The pulled chicken Arepa was quite good and their sauces added a variety of flavors. Conversation with the entrepreneurs was informative and uplifting. I walked back to the hotel amid sounds of thunder and light sprinkles.
Stopping by CVS, I picked up yogurt and bananas to complement the cereal and English muffins I brought for breakfast. A habitual early-riser, it was easy for me to wake in time for a pre-dawn run to start the day. While I had dressed for cool temperatures, I was still a bit shocked by the sharp north wind as I stepped out of the hotel.
I’ve become familiar with the area around the Orange County Convention Center through the years. I chose a six-mile course that travels south and east of the complex. Good sidewalks and long stretches with minimal traffic crossings add to the appeal of this route. I waved at a couple runners I saw, thinking they may be coworkers from our corporate office. There aren’t many of us who start the day with a run, knowing that we’ll be on our feet for three solid days. I saw the coworker later and found out that it was her I saw running earlier as a part of her Boston Marathon training.
The group I was joining for dinner had a reservation at 8:15, which is closer to my normal bed time than meal time, But the whole trip is a departure from routine. Being one of those crazy, glass-half-full people, I saw the two-hour gap as an opportunity for another run. Being focused and familiar with the area made it easy for me to quickly change from coat and tie to running attire and hit another nearby course. This wasn’t as pleasant as the morning route due to increased traffic, but still worth it. I was able to get in another five miles of running, showered and walked to the restaurant with fifteen minutes to spare.
The next day was packed with an early morning meeting, a full day the Convention Center and early dinner plans. It worked out well that there was no time to run as my legs were feeling the effects of the previous day’s stress. A morning flight home was enough of an excuse to keep me from running on my final day. While it worked out differently than I had envisioned it, running in Orlando was enjoyable.
The three-day trip to Orlando was a less than satisfying coffee experience. I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to visit a local shop while in St. Louis, opting for quick trips in and out or the airport area. Using shuttles and my feet as the only means of transportation in Orlando kept me in the Convention Center area. Unfortunately, the premier coffee spots are located away from this high-rent portion of the city. I will lament this first-world problem no more. Instead, I’ll allow the experience to help me more-fully appreciate my local shop and the consistently tasty beans and brews they produce.
This trip to Orlando was at the end of February, a couple weeks before life in The States started changing dramatically.