Running

runI’ve been a runner for 4 or 5 years now, but I’ve never run in an actual race. I have registered for races before, but something always came up.

I ran my first race today! It was only a 5k, but it was my first race so I’m very proud of myself. Over the Winter I was running 10k most Saturdays, but travel, heat & humidity have kept me from running all that often since Spring, so I’ve been a little out of shape. I had to work straight after the race so I didn’t have time to run a 10k even if I’d wanted to, but I also couldn’t have finshed a 10k if I tried.

I never understood the attraction to running that several of my friends had. I was always a cardio in my living room & weight lifting girl, but I was bored of my old routine so I decided to give it a go. I started with the Couch to 5k app on my iPhone. If you aren’t a runner but would like to be, I can’t recommend this app enough! I never thought I’d become a runner, but I owe all my thanks to this genius app. It starts you off slow with a walk/run, doing all the timing for you. I am now a runner, even though I don’t run all that much during the heat of the summer. In the winter months, nothing improves my day or my outlook quite like a nice long run does.

 

Safety First

There are legal limits, structural limits and personal limits. It is important to know and respect each of these.

I’ve been planning a cross country flight for today at 3pm for about a week. I knew there was a chance of bad weather, but my fingers were crossed for that forecast to be false. Last night and this morning the weather forecast was calling for storms to begin around 2pm today. When I got off work and checked the weather, the forecast for storms had changed to be “thunderstorms in the area” around 5pm, and scattered clouds at 3,500 and winds at 10kts from 200 (runway 17 would work fine). Everything was good for a local flight, but the weather was too iffy to continue on my planned cross country. By the time I was supposed to leave for the airport I had a gut feeling that I should cancel my flight. The winds outside my window were considerably stronger than what the airport was reporting and the low clouds were zooming by at a really fast pace. While I would have loved to get the actual IFR time in, the prospect of dealing with the unpredictable winds while in those clouds was beyond my personal limitations. In addition to that, the winds were predicted to increase to 18-22knts from a 30′ crosswind at an airport known for a “washing machine” effect while on short final. Those increasing gusty crosswinds predicted, along with my mistrust of the stability of the AWOS report made me decide to wait for a better day to fly. I kept looking at the sky and cursing the weather, but I continued to be glad I made the decision to stay on the ground. I also later remembered that around 1pm we received a Charleston Weather Alert that a “down burst” was reported in Summerville, approximately 30 miles from here. My flight was 2 hours later, but that was enough confirmation for me.

Yep. I’m glad I listened to my gut. I may have had a nice flight with some actual IFR time and great crosswind practice, but the reported winds and forecast were pushing the limits of my personal limits. A good pilot knows legal limits, but a great pilot also knows and respects personal limits.

“It’s always better to be down on the ground wishing you were up in the air than up in the air wishing you were down on the ground”

 

Enough already!

For the record, I dislike Paula Deen, or at least I dislike what she represents. Paula Deen represents and encourages obesity and unhealthy eating without consideration for consequences. I do not buy her (overpriced) products or watch her TV shows because I do not support her in any way. The people I know that love her recipes are unhealthy, uncomfortable and have health issues they blame on genetics while they eat that butter filled casserole. We all know the ramifications this has on our healthcare system and insurance rates, but that’s another rant.

Now her name is everywhere, for a comment she publicly admitted to saying 20+ years ago. Enough already! I may not like what she represents, but she’s a human being in pain and I don’t like to see any person in pain. I may not like what she represents, but I’m sure that if I met her in person she would offer me a kindness and hospitality that I would graciously return. Anyone that watched that YouTube video or interview can see she regrets all of it and is not racist. I don’t think she should get her show back, but: Forgive, forget and move on!

With fame comes a public responsibility and often harsher consequences than the general public faces for indiscretions. Paula Deen is not a very thick-skinned lady, yet she summoned the courage to make a public apology (YouTube) and then agreed to an interview on the Today Show with Brian Williams. She was unable to attend the original interview due to her emotional state, which I completely understand, I would have probably done the same thing, but at least she finally did show up. She made a mistake, she apologized, now let’s move on. Now with these brands dropping her name? I think it’s ridiculous. She will find a way to continue to make money from all of us even without her face on products, because money buys more money. She will be okay.

I’m glad that the Food Network has dropped her show, but not because of this mistake she made decades ago, it’s because I’d like to see someone on the Food Network promoting heart-healthy cooking. Strokes, heart disease, diabetes and other diet related diseases are on the rise and something needs to be done to encourage a better way. I know everyone is responsible for their own health, but some people only know the ways their parents teach them and what they watch on tv, this trickles down to their kids and their kids and their kids. The problem there is that the food today is NOT the food our grandparents ate. The pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics & steroids were not a part of farming in “the good ol days”, and manual labor was a way of life for most people. I want to see a healthy America. I want to see my friends healthy, happy and able to enjoy their bodies as the machines they are.

I’ll end my health rant there, but I’ll say again: Forgive, forget and move the Hell on!

Actual IFR!

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This weekend I flew 200 miles to my hometown of Greenville, SC, for a wedding. My son reluctantly agreed to be my date for the weekend. I rented a plane and was excited to fly with him in the right seat for the first time!

On the way up I decided not to file a flight plan since the weather looked to be VFR all day. As it turned out, the cloud layer was right where I wanted to be and I ended up taking detours, climbing and descending to avoid them. I would have asked ATC to open one for me, but with it being Saturday morning they were extremely busy and I didn’t want to bother them so I danced around the clouds.

We had a lovely time at the wedding and visiting my parents. We even squeezed in a Fathers Day Brunch with them before our departure on Sunday morning.

Sunday morning I checked the weather and saw that the cloud layer was going to be from 4,000′ to 7,000′, so I filed IFR with an altitude of 5,000′ with the hope of getting IFR time. I was cleared “as filed” so I immediately went into the clouds upon reaching my altitude and stayed in the clouds for an hour and ten minutes! This was a HUGE deal for me because it was my first actual IFR flight as PIC. The fact that my son was in the plane for this event made it an even bigger deal for me!

He was impressed. And I must admit, I rocked it!

 

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Lookout Amsterdam, here we come!

My brilliant husband has been invited to speak at a tech conference in Amsterdam. Because of all the traveling he does, he has enough miles for me to go along with him!! Tomorrow we leave for Amsterdam and at the end of the conference we will hop up to Norway to visit friends, since we’ll be so close. I’m really excited to go back to Amsterdam for the 2nd time and to Stavanger, Norway for the 2nd time, but I do look forward to seeing other unexplored parts of the world. With so many wonderful places to visit it seems a shame to travel so far to visit a place we’ve already been. If that sounds like a complaint I didn’t mean for it to sound that way, at all. I’m going on this trip for practically no charge; there are noooooo complaints from me!

 

So excited!

 

Defying Gravity

When I was 24 I was hanging out at a bar with a friend. We were both recently single and were waiting for a pool table. We put money on the table so we would be next in line and proceeded to chat up the 2 people who were already playing. We mentioned that we were planning a girls trip that summer because I had never been in an airplane. One of the guys turned to me and said “Really? I’m a pilot.”. A friendship formed at that very moment.

This complete stranger took us all flying from Greenville, SC to Brevard, NC for lunch the next day. I will never forget the feeling of leaving the ground for the first time. A few months later I told this guy that I had always wanted to be a pilot but I knew it was impossible. He told me that there was a flight school right around the corner and couldn’t believe that I had never even known how easy it would be to just to enroll and learn to fly. This information lit a spark in my soul and I could not stop wondering if I could make it happen. I was a single mother and couldn’t imagine how I could make this dream happen for me, but I knew I wouldn’t be happy until I at least tried.

I started hanging out at the parking area that overlooks the runway at the Greenville Downtown Airport (KGMU). It took me about 2 years to get the nerve to cross that runway to walk into the flight school. I very timidly walked into the office at Greenville Aviation and introduced myself to two people that were hanging out. Mike & Leslie were their names, and they were very kind. I told them that I was considering taking lessons and they took me out to an airplane, letting me sit inside and telling me some of their stories. Once I sat in that little Cessna 152 (N4862B) I knew it would happen. They gave me the business card of a flight instructor, Joel, and convinced me that he was the best. I sent Joel an email telling him I would like to take lessons from him and we set up a time for me to take my “discovery flight”.

On August 1, 2001, I met Joel at 6 o’clock in the morning because I just couldn’t wait for the weekend. I wanted to go flying the very next day before work. The moment the wheels of that little airplane left the ground with my hands on the yoke I fell head over heels in love with the airplane and I knew I was exactly where I belonged. After the flight we “debriefed”. Joel mentioned that “if” he decides to take me on as a student… I corrected him & told him he will be my instructor. He didn’t argue. I wasn’t about to be discouraged by rejection! 🙂

Just a little more than a month into my weekly flight lessons some terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and changed everything for everyone, especially general aviation pilots. In addition to the challenges that 9/11 threw at General Aviation, I had some medical issues to dispute with the FAA before I could be cleared to fly solo. My doctor fought hard for me and the FAA eventually agreed that I was fit to fly. When the time came for me to solo I practically kicked my CFI out of the airplane. I was ready and I knew it.

I bent with the wind and stayed my course. On January 11, 2003 I took my check ride and became a Private Pilot! Of course, a private pilot license is only a license to learn, the real adventure began that day.