Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Go to www.walk-magazine.com

Hey everyone,

I have finally moved this blog to my WALK! Magazine website at www.walk-magazine.com. Actually, it is a little more complicated than that. I moved my WALK website to WordPress and was able to move this blog to be there, too.  (OK, that is an exaggeration. There is nothing from my old website there yet. It's a long story.)Yea!

In the long run this will make my life much easier. I'll only have one place to go to update everything!

I hope it will make things easier for you, too -- www.walk-magazine.com is much easier to remember than this Blogger address.

So, for future updates of the WALK! blog, go to www.walk-magazine.com.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Columbus Marathon (Half) Review

Buckeye Striders from left to right: Barb, Cindy K, Deb, Nancy, me and Pat.
The temps were in the low 40s as my friends and I headed to the start of the Columbus Marathon at 6:30 Sunday morning. Though chilly, the skies were clear and there was no wind. It looked like it would be a perfect day for a half marathon!

Because we are walkers, we went straight to the last corral -- corral F. This year the last corral was on High Street around the corner from the starting line instead of straight down Broad Street. Unfortunately, the speaker pointed in our direction was shorting out, so we couldn't hear much. We could hear that music was playing, but we couldn't hear anything through that speaker. I hate when we can't hear the National Anthem.

The start was signaled by the shooting of a cannon and fireworks. Though very cool, we couldn't see much of it because we were around the corner. The cannon went off three or four times with fireworks following. I heard that the start would be slightly staggered with fireworks for each start and that seemed to be what was going on.

I tossed my throwaway sweatshirt as we approached the starting line and accidentally tossed my gloves, too. I regretted losing my gloves as my hands were cold for most of the race.

The women's half marathon shirt
with medal and bib.
Because I had a goal in mind, we were looking for the 3:00 pacer and found him pretty easily. (He was with the 6:00 full marathon pacer.) My intention was to walk with the pacers until mile 10, then go as fast as I could for the last 3 miles. My entire group of friends -- Deb, Barb, Pat, Nancy and Cindy -- started together and tried to keep the pacer in sight.

Our first mile was 14:19, which was way too slow for my goal. The pacers picked up the pace and our second mile was in 13:10. Their pace was inconsistent, so I decided to get ahead of them and do the best I could on my own.

Pat, Nancy and I were together for a couple of miles. In Bexley we passed the Governor's mansion and some lovely neighborhoods! Around mile 4 I started to move ahead of them. We also met a nice powerwalker named Jane from Cincinnati. She and I were together for a couple of miles until we looped back onto Broad Street.

The course changed around Franklin Park. We used to go along the back and around the west side of the park. This time we came around the front of the park hitting Broad Street much earlier than in previous years. It was nice to go around the front for a change.

Around mile 6 I made a pit stop and afterward was back with Pat and Nancy for a little bit on Broad Street. (My delay was only about 1 min.) I picked up my pace and I caught up with Jane again right before we hit Olde Town. I love the homes in Olde Town and one of the first houses on the left always has a big marathon party that looks like a lot of fun.

We went through German Village, the Catholic Priest gave me a high five, and then we were back on High Street heading north toward the Arena District for the last 2 miles. I love hitting High Street at this point in the race because I know it is almost finished! I tried to pick up my pace.

The crowds on High Street get bigger and louder the closer you get to the Arena District and the final turn. This is my favorite part of the race -- the half marathoners turn to the finish, the full marathoners keep going straight. As you turn, you can see the finish line and the crowds are great! It is so exciting!

Me celebrating my new PR: 2:53:58!
I pushed  harder and harder and felt great! I finished mile 12 in 12:45 and mile 13 in 12:25! I finished with another PR -- 2:53:58! three minutes faster than last year's PR of 2:57!

After crossing the finish line, I received my medal, a silver blanket and a bottle of water. At this point I had a difficult time breathing for about 5 seconds, and it was over. While waiting for the other Buckeye Striders, my legs ached horribly. I'm not sure why they hurt, but it didn't feel like cramps.

Pat and Nancy were a couple of minutes behind me. I waited with Steve, who was just a couple of minutes ahead of me. We were handed chocolate milk, a bag with some food in it and as we walked through the food area, we were handed bagels, bananas and cookies. It was very well organized. At this point it seemed as if there should have been plenty of food for all of the full marathoners!

Those of us who finished the earliest went to Celebration Village to turn in our Competitive Walker bibs and to wait at our designated meeting spot. The walker booth was much easier to find this year with a prominent sign. It was VERY crowded and pretty uncomfortable waiting in this park. As soon as everyone was together, we left.

A highlight of this year's race is the team up with Nationwide Children's Hospital. As part of this partnership, each mile of the race featured a patient hero treated at Children's. The children were so inspiring and many of them were on the course cheering us on! Some miles had tons of people cheering with the patient hero! Mile 12 was the Angel Mile -- in memory of many children who died. I was impressed with the number of family members at this spot cheering. I'm not sure I could have done it if I had been in their shoes.

I was also impressed with the large number of bands and musical entertainment! From a bagpiper to members of the OSU alumni band, folk singers and rock bands! I always love seeing the Army band near the Statehouse. I missed the steel drum group that we usually see not too far from Franklin Park.

Overall, it was a very successful event! The weather was perfect, the course was nice, there were plenty of bands and the finish line was exciting! The shirt is great, the medal is very nice and there was plenty of food and it looked as if there would be plenty for late finishers!

I won free entry into the race this year, so I can't really comment on the cost. That said, I would have entered regardless. Over the past couple of years this race has improved in quality every single year. I can't wait to see what they do to up the ante next year!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Competitive Walker Division -- Columbus Marathon

If you plan to be a "competitive walker" at this year's Columbus Marathon October 21, don't forget to pick up your sticker for your front bib. Here are the instructions:

Competitive Walker Division Rules
All participants in the Competitive Walker Division must wear a special sticker on the front of their shirt and a special bib on the back of their shirt on Race Day. Judges will be located on the course. Any participant in the Competitive Walker Division seen running will be ineligible for Competitive Walking Division Awards.

The Competitive Walking Division stickers and bibs can be picked up at the Competitive Walking Division table at the Expo. This table will be located next to Number Pick-up.

ONLY those walkers interested in competing for awards must wear the sticker and second bib; walkers taking part in the marathon and 1/2 marathon who are not competing in the Competitive Walking Division do NOT need a sticker or second bib.

Following the Race, each participant in the Competitive Walker Division will be required to write his or her name and race number on their back bib, and turn it in to the information table in Celebration Village for verification. Those participants who fail to turn in their bib will be ineligible for awards.

NOTE: Last year, it was a little bit difficult to find where to pick up the sticker and bib and where to turn them in at Celebration Village. Keep your eyes open!

The race is sold out, but here is the website in the event you still need it: http://www.columbusmarathon.com/

Wouldn't Have Missed It!

The deer were too far away to photograph and I didn't want to take a picture of the exact same trail I always photograph. So, these are pretty trees in Sharon Woods park. This photo does not capture how beautiful this park is in the fall.
Yesterday morning, I overslept! I set the time on my alarm clock, but somehow forgot to turn the alarm clock on.

Luckily for me, my friend Deb, who I was supposed to meet at 7:30 at Sharon Woods, called me at 7:28. She started without me, but I was able to meet up with her and the other Buckeye Striders at 8:00.

It was an absolutely beautiful morning! The temps were perfect, there was no wind, the sun was coming up, the sky was blue... We saw plenty of deer including a young buck with tiny antlers starting to show.

It is mornings like this that just make me happy to be out walking with good friends! I'm so glad I didn't miss it!

Because the Columbus Marathon is next weekend, this week's goal was to do 8 easy miles. I ended up doing only 6, but we did a good job of taking it easy. Our pace was between 14 and 14:30 per mile.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Beautiful Morning for 15K - Scioto Miles Race Review

The race started and finished across the river from
downtown Columbus. It was beautiful!
It was a beautiful morning for a 15K race! The temps were in the high 40s, no rain, no wind -- and when the sun popped up over the downtown buildings, it was even more beautiful.

Me with, from the left, Nancy,
Deb and Pat.
The Scioto Miles race started in downtown Columbus along the river behind COSI. We had distance options of 5K, 10K or 15K. The Buckeye Striders walking club had members in all three distances, with most doing the 15K. (Several of us are training for the Columbus Marathon Half and this race fit perfectly in our training schedule.) I walked most of this race with Striders Pat and Nancy.

The course winds through both Genoa and Audubon parks and along the Scioto Mile. I don't spend much time downtown and had no idea how beautiful these parks are! It was fun seeing parts of our city as a visitor and being impressed.

The race is three loops through the parks, with the course shifting slightly for the second loop to give a full tour of the parks. The course is on streets, sidewalks, a wooden section over water, and asphalt and gravel walking trails. Because it is a loop, runners end up passing on the left. Parts are out and back, so there are athletes heading toward you in sections, too. Some of the trails are narrow, so we had to be single file sometimes to give other athletes room to get around us. Most of the runners were finished shortly after we started the third loop giving us more room. Despite the course being crowded, most of the runners were nice and many even cheered us on.

In a tree-lined section, there were leaves on the asphalt, which were a little bit slippery. Going down the slight hill here, we had to be careful.

We started out much faster than our goal pace -- we were at 13:05, but our goal was 13:20. I timed each mile (I always do, but I had a goal pace this race.), so it was when we hit the 7-mile marker that I realized there was not a 6-mile marker.We had one very slow mile at 13:49, the rest were mostly faster than our plan.

When we got to mile 9, Nancy and I tried to catch a woman walking ahead of us. As soon as we started to catch up, she started running and we couldn't catch her. Nancy was very fast and reached the finish line more than 10 seconds before I did. Pat started to lose steam and was about a minute behind us. 

Throughout, music was blasting from speakers in the starting area, which helped to keep everyone moving each loop. It was nice that the sound carried across the river so we could hear it on both sides.

The finish line was at the same place as the starting line, behind COSI. There were not many people at our pace, but the finish line was still up and there was still plenty of water, chocolate milk, bananas and granola bars left. There was so much chocolate milk leftover, we each took home half a gallon!

Technical shirts in women's sizes and
in a great color!
This was a well organized and beautiful race. Though the course was often too crowded, it was not so crowded as to be a problem for us. (I don't know what the runners thought about it.) The after food was not exciting, but it was fine. And the good thing is, there was plenty of it.

This race was the second of a two-part series. Everyone who signed up for both races received a shirt for each race and a backpack water carrier. (Like a Camelback.) I didn't do the first race. Still, the entry fee was reasonable at $35 this week and the shirt is nice!

Other than the course being a little bit crowded, I really liked this event! I think there could have been one more water stop, but it was not a huge problem. For people who were faster than us, it was probably the perfect spacing. The only other problem was that my "official" results has my finish time than a minute different from my watch and has Pat finishing ahead of me. I sent an email asking if it is possible they switched our results.

So, based on registration fee, quality of shirt and overall race experience, I would recommend this race! And if you are doing a fall marathon or half marathon, the timing couldn't be better.

By my watch, my finish time was 2:03:32. "Official" time was 2:04:29.
Mile 1 - 13:05
Mile 2 - 13:18
Mile 3 - 13:49
Mile 4 - 13:40
Mile 5 - 13:25
Mile 6 & 7 - 27:08 (13:34 each?)
Mile 8 - 13:14
Mile 9 - 12:54 (We purposely picked up the pace.)
Final 0.3 Mile - 2:55
Total 2:03:32 for an average of 13:15 to 13:16 per mile

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Race Review -- Cat Caper 5K

Sunday, September 30 I entered the Cat Caper 5K Race. Because I am not a cat person, I have never entered this race before. However, a friend of mine is the race director so a bunch of us entered this year.

This 5K is such a fun event, I wish I had entered years earlier! There were more than 400 people in the race and a large number were walkers.There were at least 10 Buckeye Striders entered.

The course was challenging! The last mile seemed to be nearly entirely uphill. Despite that, I had a great race and set a new 5K PR!

I walked the entire race with my friend Pat who kept me moving, even up the hills. Our first mile was 12:36, second was somewhere around 12:23 and the final mile (mostly uphill) was 12:57 for a finish time of 39:12. Though Pat was ahead of me up the big hill, I passed her in the final stretch and finished about 15 seconds ahead of her. This is the first time I have beat Pat and the finish was good enough for me to take third place woman walker! If it was possible to win more than one prize, I would have taken first in my age group!

After the race with my third place mug!
The handmade coffee mug was a great prize!

A pancake breakfast was available after the race. Though they looked delicious, I was more in the mood for the bagels. There were plenty of bagels, bananas and granola bars.

Though a good course and plenty of food, the best thing about this race is the support from the community. There was a raffle/silent auction with some amazingly wonderful prizes that were donated -- Rossi Pasta, Great Harvest Bread, restaurant coupons, pet toys, tickets to sporting events.... I was stunned. After buying raffle tickets, you were able to pick and choose which items you wanted the chance to win by dropping your ticket in a bag next to the prize.

Unfortunately, I had to leave early and did not get to see who won the prizes.

If you like 5K races, this one is for a good cause, has great community support and gives participants a good value for the entry fee! Mark your calendars for next year!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Search for "The Great Walker"

Forgive me for running the news release nearly verbatim, but I really want all of you to have the complete information. (I'll let you know when you can vote for me.)
Air New Zealand 
Launches Global Search for The Great Walker
El Segundo, CA (Sept. 25, 2012) – A global search is underway to find four adventurers to take on the challenge of a lifetime by completing all of New Zealand’s nine famous Great Walks in just nine weeks. The winners will embark on an unforgettable journey to experience New Zealand’s striking landscape – beech forests, tussock grasslands, alpine tops, green rivers, and stunning coastal views and more.
Air New Zealand’s search for The Great Walker is being run in association with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) and will see four global winners take on New Zealand’s premier DOC tracks; Abel Tasman Coast, Heaphy, Kepler, Lake Waikaremoana, Milford, Rakiura, Routeburn, Tongariro and Whanganui Journey.
The Great Walks span 550km (340 miles) of spectacular New Zealand terrain from alpine peaks to glacial valleys, native bush, rainforests and golden beaches.
Both DOC and Air New Zealand are delighted to be able share these tourism treasures with an even wider audience through this online competition which challenges keen walkers, trekkers, trampers and hikers to get creative and demonstrate why they believe they deserve to win a place on this wild adventure by uploading either a short YouTube video or a Pinterest board of inspiring images.
The four winners will fly Air New Zealand to the southern most point of the country to join the first of the nine Great Walks – Rakiura Track on Stewart Island – and then make their way north conquering one track each week for nine weeks.  As well as undertaking the Great Walks, the winners will also enjoy other Kiwi outdoor experiences including local wildlife encounters and adventure activities such as mountain biking, canyoning and jet boating.
The group will be joined along the way by Air New Zealand and DOC staff and celebrity guests.  Each winner will share their journey with the world via regular blog updates.
Air New Zealand Head of Community, James Gibson, describes the trip as a once in a lifetime experience. “New Zealand is internationally renowned for its stunning scenery and we’re thrilled to be able to offer people the chance to come and see it for themselves. Whether someone is a nature lover, has a curiosity for the great outdoors or fancies themselves as the next Bear Grylls, we want to hear from them,” says Gibson.
DOC Director Commercial Business Unit, Dave Wilks, says: “We are looking for 'Great Walkers' with the total package people with personality, creativity, a knack for blogging and story telling as well a passion for outdoor adventure. Our national parks are picturesque and sometimes wild and rugged. Entrants should be agile and have a moderate level of fitness to enjoy the variety of terrain the New Zealand wilderness offers,” says Wilks.
Entries for the Great Walker are now open at www.greatwalkernz.com until Monday 22 October, 2012.  Entrants will then be shortlisted on the website and four winners chosen as judged by an official judging panel and by the public through the website. The Great Walkers will then travel to New Zealand in February 2013 to complete the epic Kiwi adventure of a lifetime.
For further competition details and to apply, visit www.greatwalkernz.com
For information on DOC’s nine Great Walks, visit www.greatwalks.co.nz.
For further information on Air New Zealand’s Great Walks Vacations and videos of each of the nine walks, visit http://www.airnewzealand.com/greatwalks.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tips for Next Year's Air Force Marathon

  • Make hotel reservations early. The close hotels fill up fast.
  • Go to the pasta dinner. The food is delicious and the speakers are usually very good. Besides, the local restaurants are typically packed.
  • If you get closed out of the pasta dinner, post a note on the Air Force Marathon Facebook page, and you might be able to get one that isn't being used.
  • The expo can be tight. Try to arrive at an off hour.
  • Arrive early to the race. There are only so many ways to get onto the base and to the starting line. Traffic can get backed up.
  • There are plenty of port-a-johns near the starting line. You can skip the long lines at the ones along the way.
  • At the start of a race, I usually try to line up according to my real pace, but in this race, you might want to go a little closer to the front than usual.
  • This race offers women's shirt sizes! In previous years, they fit perfectly -- this year it is a tiny bit too big.
  • When getting your race medal, pick a line that has a high-ranking officer.
  • You cannot re-enter the food tent after you have left. Be sure to have enough food and fluids before you exit. The LaRosa's pizza tastes great, but is usually too heavy for me. Look for the chocolate milk. It isn't always easy to find.

That's all I can think of right now.

Air Force Marathon/Half Review

The weather was beautiful for yesterday's Air Force Marathon! The temperature was about 50 when we arrived at the parking lot about 90 minutes before the start of the half marathon. The full marathon started at 7:30, the half at 8:30.

Deb, me and Elaine at the start
of the race.
As we walked to the start line, we saw this year's featured plane -- the B-2 Spirit -- fly over the full marathon starting line. It was so low! What an amazing aircraft!

For the first time I've done this race, there was a security checkpoint for non-participants to get into the viewing area. Anyone wearing a race number could walk right in -- everyone else had to go through metal detectors. I saw some people being checked with hand wands!

As we waited for the start, skydivers came out of a plane carrying three huge American flags! It was beautiful! Later we found out that the National Anthem was sung at that point, but we couldn't hear it. That is disappointing because there is something special about being on that base with all of the military personnel and hearing our National Anthem. It makes you feel so proud to be an American. (Apparently, we were between speakers. Others reported hearing everything. We must have been in a dead zone.)

We had a flyover, too, but I can't remember which plane it was. (I'm bad at that.) Though it was great, I would have liked to see the B-2 again.

With the shot of a cannon, the race started!

The crowd was thick as we inched our way to the starting line. It took more than 6 minutes! We had lined up at our pace, but there were tons of faster runners behind us, and even more slower walkers in front of us. Somehow I missed the first mile marker, but at mile 2 our pace was 28:43. 

Around mile 2 the sun was pretty high and I finally tossed my jacket. I have taken that jacket to several races to toss, and it finally was not coming back home with me.

In this first couple mile thickness we heard this weird rubber duck squeaking and thought it was an obnoxious runner. Nope! It was a man pushing a jogging stroller with a person in it! The duck was telling us to get out of the way! We also heard people yelling "Make a hole!" but I wasn't thinking, and it took us a second to figure out we were to get out of the way. I'm not sure who was in the stroller, because there were two people with disabilities -- one person was pushing his brother and I think the other was pushing his daughter. I read reports from other athletes that said the brother had a wonderful time.

This year's half marathon course was changed. In previous years, there were a couple spots where the full and half marathoners merged and it was crazy. The new course prevented that problem, which is good news! Unfortunately, the new half marathon course is slightly less pretty. I can't remember specific spots where it changed, but it was different.

I felt pretty good -- OK, I felt GREAT -- so I tried to pick up my pace very early in the race. Elaine had set a mental goal of around 2:55, and I was hoping we could meet that goal. Unfortunately, I didn't figure out a per mile pace before that, so I was just guessing that we needed to be close to a 13:00 per minute mile. (My fastest mile was only 13:17, so I thought I had no shot at it.) Most miles I was around 13:30.

Early on there was some confusion. We were told to stay to the left, but when the crowd moved over, there were fast runners coming straight at us, so we stayed to the right. Then after about a mile we all moved to the left and the runners were on the right coming at us...

At about mile 5, I was ahead of Elaine and Deb, and finally caught up with a woman who was this race's "rabbit" for me. We started chatting, and she was so nice! Linda walks a 12-min mile 5K, but tries to stay at 14 for a half. (She had been faster than that this race!) She let me pull her along and we walked together until about mile 10 when we made a pit stop. I must not have looked around very well, because Elaine later reported that Linda was right behind me, but couldn't catch me.
Me and Linda after the race,
with her friend's finger at the top.
It is hard to take a photo with
an iPod when it is sunny.

Late in the race there were signs with "rules" leading up to the water stop -- Rule 1: Cardio, Rule 2: Double Tap, Rule 18: Limber Up... Yes, it was Zombieland! The zombies were amazing! My iPod was not charged enough, so I didn't take photos. Though there are plenty of water stops, it seemed as if a couple of them did not have enough volunteers. It was tight getting water and the volunteers were moving as fast as they could. They did a great job with not enough people!

This course is a little bit hilly, but I didn't really notice how hilly until near the end when I had slowed on a steep one. Near the top I came up to a wheelchair athlete struggling. He was near the peak, but had to stop. I will never complain about another hilly course -- walking up that hill was so much easier than what he was doing.

There were so many walkers in this half marathon, I couldn't believe it! I never got to the front of all of the walkers! I'm confident I walked much farther than 13.1 just because I had to weave in and out of people the entire course. This also made me think that there were many, many walkers who lined up too close to the front.

The finish line of this race is the best ever! You turn the corner by the Air Force Museum and you walk under the wings of all of those antique planes! It is amazing! Then you get your medal from an officer! (I know nothing about rank, so I can't tell you.)

Approaching the right-hand turn to the finish line.
One of the many planes you walk under.

According to my watch, my finish time was 3:00:09 -- my chip time was 5 seconds faster at 3:00:04. I waited for Elaine then we went to the food tent. The volunteers were wonderful handing us water bananas and Gatorade. I grabbed pieces of bagel and a small piece of LaRosa's pizza and we were out, sitting on the ground waiting for Deb. The tent is well organized and guarantees you will not go back for seconds so there is plenty of food for those who finish later. 

Though not as pretty as previous years, and though there were some glitches, this is still one of my favorite races! I will continue to enter the half marathon every year or so as long as I'm able!
The gray shirt had blue insets on the sides. The wicking fabric is light and
comfortable. The front is the same every year, but the back highlights that year's plane.
The same design is on the medal.
Pace per mile:
mile 2  28:43
mile 3  13:52
mile 4  13:56
mile 5  13:31
mile 6  13:26
mile 7  13:27
mile 8 13:34
mile 9 13:40
mile 10 14:07* pit stop
mile 11 13:17
mile 12 13:17
mile 13 13:58* stopped to take pictures

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Beautiful Morning Miles

I missed yesterday's training walk with the Buckeye Striders because of rain. I know that seems funny considering I walked in rain last weekend, but there is a difference. This week it was pouring before we started -- last week it started raining after we were already out walking. Though I know I need to train in all weather, it was the right decision because today was absolutely beautiful!

The sun was shining and the temps were in the mid-50s when Deb and I met at 7:30 at Sharon Woods to do 6 miles.

It was chilly enough that I wore a light jacket and Deb had on long sleeves. I made the better decision because I took my jacket off after a couple of miles, but Deb was stuck.

We were supposed to do "easy" miles, and we did until we started to pass another walker and we all started talking. I don't know why, but we went from 14:30 per mile to a 14:07 mile! (It was fun meeting Jan. I hope we run into her again!)

This is our taper week leading up to the Air Force Half Marathon next weekend. I always enjoy the shorter mileage days leading up to and following a long-distance race. They feel so easy and it seems as if I have so much more time on the weekend!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Surprisingly Fast

Today the plan was to simply do three laps at Antrim Park.

After the first lap, my heart rate was barely over 100 bpm and I did not feel as if I was working very hard. I picked up the pace while trying to maintain a somewhat realistic racewalking form.

My heart rate eventually got up to the mid-140s and I did my best to keep it there for the rest of the workout. Though the pace was not difficult, I was breathing and a real conversation would not have been possible. At the same time, it did not feel overly difficult. I could have gone faster and I could have maintained the pace for a while. I pushed hard to the finish. This might have been race pace.

When I finished, I was pleasantly surprised to see my average pace was 13:44 and my fastest was 13:05 per mile! Just a little slower that what I will need to do in order to break my last PR of 2:55 for a half marathon.

This is good news considering my training this year is off!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Singing in the Rain

It was very humid and overcast today as several of the Buckeye Striders met at 7:00 Saturday morning to do our long mileage on the Olentangy Trail. For three of us, this is our last long day before the Air Force Half Marathon in two weeks. (Everyone else is training for Columbus, already.) That meant we were doing 10 miles while everyone else was doing 8.

Though I was a little bit worried about rain, I was more concerned the sun would come out and it would be even more steamy. (It rained early and there were lots of puddles.)

We were at a pretty slow pace -- about a 15-min mile. None of us who are doing Air Force have been training as well as we should, so a slow pace in the humidity made sense.

There were a ton of marathon training groups on the trail! The vast majority of the athletes in these groups are polite and friendly. I get excited seeing so many people out there in the early morning being active! I love marathon training season.
Deb sat in her car to take this picture of me in
the pouring rain. (I didn't want my iPod to get wet.)

At around 7 miles, Deb started singing to help her keep pace. She started with She'll be Coming Round the Mountain and progressed to It's Hip to be Square.

Then at about 8 miles the skies opened up and it began to pour! It came on suddenly and within seconds we were soaked! We tried to stay to the side of the trail where the trees blocked the rain a little, but it ended up not making much difference. My new pair of Altras were soggy pretty fast and my feet were sloshing. I hate wet socks! The funny thing is, it was so warm and humid, the rain was warm and not at all refreshing.

It was at about this time that Deb and Elaine started to belt out Singing in the Rain. You gotta love them!

I did try to get them to pick up the pace to get out of the rain faster, but because they both did a half marathon (for training) last weekend, they just couldn't.

We got back to our cars looking like drowned rats. Unfortunately, two of us did not have towels in our cars -- I was one! My car seats were soaked!

Friday, my thought was that I would not do the miles if it was raining. (One of my Facebook fans convinced me that was a bad idea.) But it wasn't bad! I forgot how much fun it can be to walk in the rain in the summer.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting Back on Track

Sharon Woods is always
beautiful. The shade really helped.
Today I went to Sharon Woods for an 8-mile long-distance training walk. As I've mentioned before, my training is a little bit off right now, so 8 miles is a pretty good stepping stone for getting back on track.

In addition, I have some serious concerns about the shoes I will wear for the Air Force Half Marathon next month, so decided to wear my new New Balance Ionix 3090s. These shoes are extremely light and I'm worried they might be too light for a half.

Leaves of three, let them be?
I think this is poison ivy.
It was a little warm today so my plan was to take it very easy. Despite this plan, I was very surprised that my first mile was 15:14 and my second mile was 15:18! Ugh! (Another sign I need to improve my training?) And those miles didn't feel easy, either.

Luckily, my pace did pick up. I was able to get down to 14:17 without working very hard -- my peak heart rate was only 138.

Though my pace was much slower than I expected, it felt great. Eight miles was not as difficult as I expected -- even though it was warm! I'm confident doing 10 miles next week will be OK and finishing the half marathon at a good pace will not be a problem.
After the 2-mile mark,
there is a water fountain.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What Does Goal Weight Mean?

Several years ago I weighed myself dozens of times a day.
About a year ago I decided to lose a couple of pounds to improve my racewalking speed. Losing about 5 12 lbs. and training better did help my speed quite a bit. The funny thing is, even with all of that healthy eating and regular workout schedule, I could not get down to my ultimate goal weight. I was perpetually 2 lbs. away. I wasn't "worried" about those 2 lbs., though it was annoying.

So imagine my surprise when I weighed myself yesterday and I am at my goal weight! (The whole truth is, I am 0.1 lbs. away, but that is close enough.) I have finally lost the pesky 2 lbs.!

I immediately ran to the bathroom mirror to see how great I look. I stood there for a moment looking over every inch of me. I didn't look any different. I didn't feel any different. My clothes did not fit much different.

That was disappointing. I have not been this light since I trained for and finished my first marathon in 2000.

The actual weight loss is a puzzle to me. I have not been exercising more. I have not been eating healthier. In fact, I've been over-worked, over-stressed, eating tons of junk and not getting in my weekly mileage. I didn't earn this.

Then a light bulb went off. I should have known this all along, but it was never as obvious as it was at that exact moment. Weight is JUST a NUMBER.

The reason I don't look healthier and stronger is because I'm not. I'm just 2 lbs. lighter and it's because I am NOT taking care of myself.

Those of you who have healthy body images and are not weight obsessive know this already. But to someone like me, who has suffered from body dysmorphic disorder (self diagnosed) most of my life and even had to get rid of our scale for a number of years because I weighed myself dozens of times a day -- this is a major breakthrough!

So last night I was talking to my husband about reaching my goal weight and not looking better, etc., and he said, "Your next goal should be to develop upper body strength."

Again he is right. Now that I am no longer obsessed about my weight (within reason), I should go back to thinking about just being healthier and stronger. I'll start working on that Monday.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Making the Best of a Bad Training Situation

Over the last couple of weeks, Ohio has had unbearable heat, I took a vacation to a place with even worse heat, I've been over-worked and then I started to feel sick.

Yesterday, the temps were mild, I felt great, I was home, it was light out ... I went to Antrim Park to do three laps around the lake. I even had the chance to finally wear my new minimalist New Balance shoes!

The U.S. Air Force Marathon is September 15 -- only 30 days away. The longest distance I've walked is 8 miles once and I should have done at least one 10-miler and two 8s by now. I have not trained well enough to do the 12 miles scheduled for this weekend. Sigh.

So what do you do when your training is so out of whack?

Well, you step back, take a look at where you are and try to make a realistic decision on where you CAN be by race day. With 30 days left, I can do one more 8-mile day and one 10-mile day before tapering. The weekly stuff I'll do my best with.

In the past I never went farther than 10 miles as my longest half-marathon training day. In the last year, I've increased my longest day to 12 miles. The increase in distance has really helped with how I feel finishing a half marathon and has helped with speed. That boat has sailed.

I have no doubt I will finish the half marathon. It will not be a record performance, but this time I will have to do the race just for fun. I can do that.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

I Thought it was Hot in Ohio!

We are in Oklahoma for a family reunion. Most of my husband's family lives west of the Mississippi with many of them in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Arkansas. (My in-laws were from Cherokee, OK.)

I knew it tends to be hotter out here in the plains states than it is in the midwest -- the reunion we attended in Kansas a few years back was toasty! But it has been averaging a high of about 110 degrees the last few days. I don't know if I have ever been outside in 110-degree heat before.

Though I am in the middle of half-marathon training, I knew I would not be able to do my long-slow mileage this weekend. I just could not see walking by myself for a few hours when we are here to visit family.

Yesterday, I decided to head out a little early. We have been up late visiting each night, so there was a limit to how early I could reasonably get up. So about 8:00 I was out on the trail with a water bottle strapped to my back with a plan to walk for at least 30 min straight out.

This hill felt like a mountain after 28 min
walking in the Oklahoma heat.
This park really is beautiful. The paved trail goes on forever through thick trees, beside the golf course and past the riding stables toward the main road. There are plenty of side loops around campgrounds, so you could easily do 20 miles here if needed.

It was a little warm, but I tolerate heat a bit better than many of my walking friends. I was not worried. As I approached the golf course, two different herds of deer ran across the trail in front of me. Beautiful!

But, there was no shade near the golf course and it started to feel hot quickly. My goal was 30 min before turning around. As I progressed, there was shade and no shade, little tiny hills that started to feel like mountains and almost no breeze. After only 20 min I wanted to quit! Let me just point out that it has been years since walking only 20 min could make me so exhausted. Even though I know it doesn't help, I kept looking at my watch every 30 seconds. With 2 min to go, I was at the bottom of a mountain (in reality a slight incline) and nearly stopped -- 2 min, I thought, I can go up this mountain for 2 min! I made it to the top!

So proud of myself, I turned around to head back. It was getting hotter by the minute. And as I walked it felt as if there was less and less shade! I started crossing back and forth on the trail to get even a couple of steps in shade. About 10 min from the turnaround, I could not even keep my arms bent anymore -- they just hung limply at my sides. There was no attempt to even fake racewalking form, I just needed to finish.

My water was nearly gone as I passed the golf course again and reached a section with tons of trees and lots of shade. By the time I rounded the tennis courts and walked toward the doors of the lodge, I was exhausted! It took 35 min to come back, but it felt as if it took a lot longer than that!

It was not nearly 110 degrees when I finished but it was in the upper 90s. From this trip I learned that Ohio heat is nothing compared to Oklahoma heat.

Note to self:  In the future, when traveling to Oklahoma, walk early -- VERY early!