Tag Archive | Tampa

Marathon Training: Peak Week

It’s about time for an update. Right after my first, amazing 20 mile run, I came down with a sinus infection and bronchitis. My doctor asked me to cool it on the running, suggesting I take a full week off. With only 7 weeks til race day at that point, I completely panicked. I began emailing and calling all my running friends, asking for advice on how to mentally and physically handle this break in my training. Everyone said I’d be okay, that I could still get to the start line of my first marathon.

My first runs back after being sick were terrible. I did not feel 100%, and knew I’d lost a bit of my fitness. That week, I went out for my second 20 miler and it was the opposite of my first one – I felt sluggish, tired, and in pain. But, I finished the run, and tried to focus on the positives: that I could run again, and that I pushed through yet another tough long run.

The next weekend, I ran a local half marathon on a challenging course to test my fitness level. With the exception of one sub-par mile, I stuck to my goal pace the whole time and even managed to squeak out 3rd place in my age group.

I went into my peak week of training feeling confident and knocked out some quality runs, including a 10-miler and 6 miles of speed work.

Yesterday, I ran 22 miles. By far a PDR (personal distance record) and one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. Early in the week, I emailed my friend Mary to see if she wanted to head to Clearwater to run part of my route with me. After some quality peer pressure on Mary’s part, I decided to drive to Tampa early Saturday morning so that we could run on Bayshore Blvd. as the city prepared for the Gasparilla Pirate Festival happening later that day.

At around 6 AM, I took off by myself for the first part of my run – a nice, quiet 8 miles along Bayshore, where I nodded silently to other runners and took in a beautiful sunrise over the water.

Sunrise on Bayshore Blvd.

Sunrise on Bayshore Blvd.

As my Garmin beeped for my 8th mile, I turned the corner onto Mary’s street and picked her up for the next portion of the run. We headed out to Davis Islands for a big loop, through the stunning neighborhoods filled with gorgeous homes. There are so many houses on that island that blow me away, it’s easy to get distracted from any sort of pain one might be feeling during a 22-mile run… We chatted the whole time, and it was nice to catch up with Mary.

After our loop around the island, we swung back by Mary’s house to pick up her husband, Marcus. He wanted to join us for about 5 miles so he could take in all the sights along Bayshore Blvd, with crews setting up booths and people already arriving to stake claim as close to the front of the parade route as possible. We decided we loved being able to run on the wide road rather than the sidewalk, as it made for a different experience and gave us plenty of people-watching opportunities.

At this point, my mileage was well over 15, and I was starting to feel it – my legs were aching and I could tell I hadn’t taken in enough water, especially with the sun starting to beat down on us. Luckily, Marcus is an excellent entertainer – he told me lots of pirate jokes and funny stories to keep my mind off of running. Mary was also doing a great job motivating me.

We dropped Marcus off, and I continued running around the block while Mary went to grab our next running buddy – her adorable pup, Winnie, who I just love! I was really excited to have Winnie join us for those last two miles as I really needed a distraction. During mile 19, I kept thinking, oh, I maybe I should just call it – 20 miles is good enough, but I knew I’d feel terrible if I didn’t finish what I had set out to do almost three hours before. With Mary and Winnie at my side, I pushed through those two miles and finished my first ever 22-mile run.

When I finished, my legs immediately began to tighten up and hurt. I could barely hobble my way to my car! Usually, when I”m done running, there are very few people around. This was not the case during Gasparilla! I’m sure everyone thought I had started drinking REALLY early, because I was definitely stumbling around and barely able to talk.

Mary and Marcus were kind enough to let me use their shower and feed me breakfast and show me hilarious YouTube videos while I worked up the strength to move my legs again. For some reason, I had agreed to meet my boyfriend on Davis Islands so that we could go to Gasparilla together, even though all I really wanted to do was take a nap.

I am happy to report that I made it through the whole day, with only a couple episodes of “my legs are going to fall off if we don’t sit down right now” or “if you don’t find me water/food/shade right now, I will kick you.”

The craziness that is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival Parade

The craziness that is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival Parade

With all the walking during Gasparilla, I officially did a marathon yesterday. But, I’m more excited to run a marathon on February 17th. Now, let the taper begin.

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Agency Tour Provides PRSSA Students with Motivation, Insight

This might be hard to believe, but before yesterday, I had never been inside a PR agency. Now that I have, I don’t know why I waited so long. The experience informed, enlightened, and motivated me, and I encourage every student to participate in an agency tour either individually or as part of a group.

As an executive board member for USF’s PRSSA chapter, I collaborated with the rest of the e-board as we planned our first agency tour in over two years. Our Vice President, Carissa Caricato, suggested touring Roberts Communications, a leading integrated communications firm located in the historic Ybor district in Tampa. Roberts is renowned for reaching out to PR students at USF, and immediately agreed to host our members for a tour of its offices.

When I arrived at Roberts with our president Theresa Sharkey, I didn’t know what to expect. As soon as I stepped into the office, I relaxed. The physical layout of Roberts is conducive to creativity and productivity—large open spaces, calming yet colorful walls, and trendy art décor. I’m beginning to appreciate the various cultures of different agencies, and this is why touring an agency is important in the job search process. Experiencing the professional environment can help you formulate an opinion about the type of work the company produces, and will give you a better idea about your level of compatibility with the firm.

After the tour, we participated in a dynamic question-and-answer session with four Roberts employees: President and CEO Colleen Chappell, Principal Christine O’Connor, and recent USF graduates Katy Parsons and Meggan Mabry.

Each person offered their own perspectives based on their statuses in the company, and they provided some outstanding advice for young PR professionals:

  • Constantly Raise Your Hand – President Colleen Chappell encouraged us all to take every opportunity we could to advance ourselves professionally and to learn about the industry. She said she got where she was today because of her curiosity and tenacity, and that’s what she looks for in future new hires. She said she never cowered from a job because she didn’t meet the qualifications—instead she proved her determination and commitment to educating herself, which helped her land prominent roles throughout her career. So don’t be afraid to raise your hand to ask questions and accept new challenges.
  • Send Thank You Notes and Build a Portfolio – Principal Christine O’Connor echoed Colleen’s advice about being courageous, driven, and committed. She also said that Roberts will not interview anyone without a portfolio, nor will she hire anyone who does not send a handwritten thank-you note after an interview. This is practical advice means students need to start collecting work for portfolios ASAP. Christine said that the work could come from internships, extracurricular activities, and even classes. And whatever you do, go stock up on stationery for those thank-you notes!
  • Go for your Dreams – Both Colleen and Christine told students to go for their dreams, especially while they are still young. Colleen explained how when she graduated she only wanted to work in Miami or New York, and there was no stopping her. She said the experience she gained while working in another market helped her immensely, but she also got the “Miami bug” out of her system and was able to happily relocate back to Tampa. This motivated me to keep looking for jobs in the D.C. market, which is where I want to live after graduation in May, and I hope it does the same for other students looking to work in markets outside of where they go to school.
  • Reach out to Professors and Professionals for Assistance – Meggan and Katy stressed developing mentor relationships with professors and area professionals. They said this can help when creating your résumé and portfolio, finding jobs, networking, or preparing for interviews.
  • Set up Informational Interviews – Christine said that students should set up several informational interviews with various firms or companies, and should not actively seek employment, but use these opportunities to learn more about the organization and the industry. Even though that particular company might not have an opening, if you impress the interviewer, he or she might pass your information along to a friend who does have availabilities.

After the discussion, we all went to lunch at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company. Several other Roberts employees joined us, and while it was a great networking opportunity, it was fun to have casual conversation with people who are doing exactly what I want to be doing in the future.

PRSSA is planning another agency tour at Spark Brand sometime in April. We’ll keep you all updated. For those readers not in the Tampa area, I hope you will suggest this to your own PRSSA/IABC/FPRA chapters or plan one for yourself!