Thursday, December 31, 2009

Walking at Year's End

When I got up this morning there was about an inch of snow on the ground and the thermometer on the front window said it was about 39 degrees. I knew my racewalking shoes just would not work. Not only would I slip, but it looked slushy.

I threw on some hiking shoes, a thick winter coat and went out into the neighborhood.

At first I walked on the sidewalks just because I usually do. But believe it or not, the shoveled sidewalks were a little more treacherous than the ones that had not been shoveled. I tried walking in the street, but when cars went by I got splashed.

So I stayed on the sidewalk, did a route similar to what I normally racewalk and was home 40 min. later. The funny thing is, I walk that same route in about 25 min. when racewalking. Kinda explains why my heartrate didn't go up too much.

Walking in the snow when the temps were that warm was a really nice way to prepare for the new year.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Stay Away From Extremes

While searching the internet for some information for my walking club newsletter earlier today, I found a good blog post about extreme dieting at Dan does not post often, but the few posts he makes are informative.

In September Dan commented about extreme dieting. His attitudes are very similar to mine, so I thought I would share some highlights with you.

Stay away from the Extremes in Diet and Exercise
... of all the comments I receive, those that leave comments in support of low-carb eating are the most mean-spirited. I never have understood why the people who leave these comments seem to want to start a fight over why their way of eating is the best way to eat. Then it dawned on me - with all the extreme ideas in fitness, low-carb eating is just one of them. 

My feeling is ... extreme fitness concepts never work. Sure, they may bring quick results, but I've never seen lasting results. Why is that? I think it's because extreme concepts are not easy to live by. It's easy to pump yourself up for a few months of following an extreme dieting and workout plan, but the majority of us will start to fizzle out. That's not necessarily a bad thing. If the body is overtrained, it's defense mechanism is to fizzle out before serious damage results. Same with the other extreme fitness and diet approaches. The mind and body have a hard time staying in an extreme state, and as a result, you start to lose accountability and drive to continue.

My conclusions ... just stay consistent and balanced. Instead of working out until you pass out, try consistently performing moderate-level workouts your body and mind can handle. Instead of trying to eat no carbs, no fat, or no sugar, make smarter choices in what you do eat and try for a balanced approach instead of an extreme approach. Not only is a balanced approach a more natural way of living, it will also lead to a mind and body that is more consistent and accountable, and it will help prevent you from stressing out so much about trying to live on the extreme side of some concept in diet and exercise. I'm sure I'll still get heated comments/feedback from the extreme wellness individuals, but oh well.
Though I know there are tons of health and fitness people who agree with me, sometimes it's just nice for me to share their exact words. [NOTE: The first two ellipses are my edits. The last was part of the original text.]

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Using my Heart Rate Monitor

I got a heart rate monitor for my birthday this year, but have not used it enough yet to know what to do with it. I went through the book that came with it and set the maximum heart rate, etc. (Yes, I determined my maximum heart rate through exercise, not by substrating my age from 220.)

Today the sidewalks were pretty clear, so I was able to walk faster than I could yesterday and my heart rate did get up into the 140s. I'll have to do more reading to determine what that means and how to set goals.

I'm sure in no time I will be using it regularly in both training and race situations.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Walking in Snow

Today, I awoke to more snow. It wasn't big, beautiful, heavy flakes like you see in Christmas movies that make you want to run outside and play -- it was tiny flakes that are hard and frozen, and kind of bounce off your water-resistant jacket

My first thought was, "Wow, it's up to 37 degrees! I definitely have no excuse to walk today."

The last time I walked it was 37 degrees and I was WAY overdressed, so today I convinced myself to wear one less layer and it felt perfect! I was slightly cold as I walked outside, but there was no wind -- just lightly pelting snow. After about 10 min I was totally warmed up and felt great.

The walk lasted about 30 min. and I didn't push as hard as I would have liked, but I was a little nervous about the possibility of slipping and falling.

Still I'm thrilled I was out walking. Next time I'll be sure to go out longer and walk harder.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I am Such a Hypocrite!

Last night it was snowing as I went to bed, but it wasn't cold. I was excited and even looked forward to walking this morning.

However, I got stuck on a blog posting I really wanted to finish (different blog) and was up much later than I had wanted to be. Then I started reading the next chapter of Dickens' The Christmas Carol, which I had never read before, and before I knew it, it was way too late to walk with my walking club.

My alarm went off in plenty of time, but I just could not get out of bed. After my friend Deb called to see if I would be there, I got dressed and showed up in time to meet everyone for our club breakfast board meeting.

The temps were in the mid-30s, the snow had melted off the streets and it looked to be a great morning for walking!

So, here I am, an outspoken person who brags about walking year-round, and the first time it snows this winter, I end up sleeping in. Today, I am a hypocrite.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Officially a Slug

Yesterday was beautiful! I was ready to go walking, got distracted and before I knew it, it was after 9! Yes, I do walk year round. Yes, I do walk when it is cold. Yes, I do walk in the dark. Just not within the last two weeks.

To make up for it, today I ate about half of a bag of peanut brittle that was given to me this afternoon. It was delicious, homemade peanut brittle which is the best I've ever had. This print rep has brought me some every year for the past 8 years. Usually I share it so I'm not tempted to eat so much. This year, I was tempted to share.

It was delicious, but I ended up with a sugar headache about 5 p.m. which lasted until about 9. I tried to counteract it by drinking Diet Coke and then water, but you all know that did NOT help.

OK, so tomorrow I'm scheduled to walk with my friends. I think I'll pack up the peanut brittle, give it away, and make sure I get outside with my friends -- regardless of the weather.

Photo from:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Glad I Did NOT Enter This Race!

Today there was a 4-mile race scheduled for Sharon Woods park here in central Ohio. I entered this winter race before and I had thought about entering this year. However, I heard that rain was predicted. I don't do rain in the winter if it is at all possible.

So, today when I got up and saw the pouring rain, I was thrilled I was warm and cozy in my house. If you entered today's race, I hope you PR'd. Anyone out in this weather definitely deserved it!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Heat Wave -- It was really 22 Degrees

Don't know why I was so worried about the weather this morning. It was only 3 degrees colder than last week, and last week I was fine with two wicking shirts and a jacket.

This week I added a fleece vest under my jacket and I was WAY TOO warm after about 10 minutes! I wasn't the only one over-dressed, but most had it just right.

Regardless, it was a great morning to be walking! The sun was shining, the air was crisp and there were 9 members of the Buckeye Striders.

It was good waking up early for this.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Predicted to be 16 in Morning

I'm a little bit odd that sometimes I look forward to walking in cold weather. When you are bundled up appropriately and there is no wind it can be fun!

So, though the cold, rain and wind prevented me from walking most of this week, I'm looking forward to a brisk morning of walking with friends! At least the temps are predicted to be in double digits.

Monday, December 07, 2009

New Shoes -- New Balance

Finally! I finally bought a new pair of shoes for walking -- New Balance 905s.

Because it's been awhile since I've had a pair of shoes I was really happy with, I took my last five pairs of shoes and told the shoe guy exactly what I liked and disliked about each pair. Now that I don't get sample shoes for reviews like I used to, I didn't even have any ideas for what I'd want.

I had a few pairs I liked, but they didn't really fit the type of walking I do. For example, the Brooks trainers that were light and flexible were too light for halves. The pair of Nikes that had lots of support were way too thick and heavy to even attempt to racewalk. (When my feet were sore, they were GREAT!)

My favorite recent pair was New Balance a few upgrades back. The first upgrade after that gave me blisters like crazy.

Anyway, I was told that this new upgrade -- New Balance 905 -- should have resolved the problems I had with the last pair. They felt great and I'm giving them a try!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Walking When Only 25 Degrees

It was about 25 degrees Saturday morning when the Buckeye Striders met at Sharon Woods park for our weekly walk. When the temperatures are this low, the major discussion is usually: How many layers are you wearing? (We all had some type of hat or ear muffs, gloves and long pants.)
  • I wore two long-sleeved wicking shirts, a water-resistant and wind resistant jacket along with a gator. I hate when my neck gets cold. 
  • Barbara wore a long-sleeved T-shirt, a sweatshirt and a jacket.
  • Deb had on a long underwear shirt, fleece shirt and fleece jacket.
  • Not sure how many layers Elaine had on, but she was wearing her "sleeves".
  • Nancy had a much thicker jacket and wore just one shirt.
Some of us ended up being too hot, but none of us under-dressed. Surprisingly, I had on the perfect number of layers. Ever since I was a walking coach for a spring half marathon group and ended up so cold I couldn't get warm for days that February, I have over-dressed. I'm happy to report that I did NOT over-dress.

There are a few things you can do to do a better job of preparing for all types of weather. First, keep a training log and be sure to track the temperatures, what you wore and whether it worked. Wear layers. This is especially important when you aren't sure if you are over-dressed -- it's nice to be able to take off a shirt or jacket if you are too hot. Wicking fabrics will help to keep the layer closest to your skin from being too wet and soggy. Also, try not to get too hot and sweaty -- if your shirts are wet, you'll get cold much faster. (The nice thing about having done so many races, I have TONS of wicking shirts than can be layered.)

My point is, with a little bit of planning, it really is not that hard to keep walking all winter long.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Biggest Losers run a Marathon?

I know I rant a little too much about the Biggest Loser. It is a TV show for goodness sake! But I often feel as if the show is irresponsible -- and having these obese (they still are) people train for a marathon in just 60 days, a little over 8 weeks, seems irresponsible to me.

Confession here -- though I do occasionally watch Biggest Loser, I did not last night. Last night I just flipped it on for a few minutes and did not see the actual marathon or the training, but I did read synopses.

For my first full marathon, I trained for about nine months -- I trained for a half marathon the year before and decided at the finish line to do a full marathon the next year. Most marathon training schedules I've seen start at about 12 weeks. Many schedules are even longer, depending on the marathoner's starting fitness level.

Though I entered only two full marathons, I never hit the wall in either race. In fact, if you train appropriately I don't think hitting the wall is a requirement. From the highlights of this show, these people were struggling and looked as if they should not have been out there. It seems as if more than one person hit the wall.

Everyone finished and the first of the four had a great time at around 5:30!

But as I said at the beginning of this post -- this is a TV show. The point is to put people in challenging situations and see how they respond. It really is no different from Survivor, Amazing Race or Real World. If they didn't make it really hard for these people to be successful, there would be no show.

If you are interested in training for your first marathon, send me an e-mail and I will help you find a training program that will work for you!

Feeling Good

I had a couple of blog readers concerned about me because of my lack of blogging. Sorry about that! My mystery virus did really wipe me out. I'm happy to let you know I'm feeling pretty good and if the weather would cooperate, I'd be out walking. I'm just not comfortable walking in cold rain when my immune system still feels a little compromised.

In no time at all I'll be posting about training for the Tucson Distance Classic in March!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Race

My kids joined me yesterday for The Flying Feather, a local Thanksgiving Day 4-mile race. We left the house a little later than I had planned and the traffic getting near the race was horrible! I was a little worried that we wouldn't get to the start in time because the parking lot was 0.75 mile from the start. We made it about 10 min before the start. (I like to get to a race about an hour early.)

It was a little colder than I had hoped at about 35 degrees. (We've had some pretty mild temperatures lately.) As it got closer to starting time, the sky got progressively grayer and it felt as if it got colder. Shortly after the start, the kids decided to run (that was OK) and I walked with my friend Deb and her husband. He is not a regular walker so we were not expecting to set any world records. Because I had been sick for nearly a week and had not walked during that time, I was feeling a little weak and was not ready to walk super hard anyway. (Thank you for setting a reasonable pace, Jeff!)

Before the first mile it started sleeting. It didn't last long and within a couple miles the sun came out and we almost felt too hot. That didn't last long either and the sky got gray again.

We finished in a little over an hour which was fine. The kids had finished about 15 min before us and they came out to meet us we approached the end. We crossed the finish line, grabbed a small bagel and went straight to pick up a bottle of wine.

What I like about this race is that it is very family oriented, the shirts are pretty good (they were better in previous years), and adults get a bottle of wine!

However, because it is so family oriented, it is more casual than other races. The food (bagels and bananas) is set out before the race so a lot of people grab some before and after meaning that by the time I finish there is rarely anything left. But then again, because it is a casual race, I don't really need the food afterward.

It was chillier after I finished and because my kids ran part of the way they had worked up more of a sweat and were getting cold waiting, so we left right away. Though the race does have shuttles to and from the parking lot (nice touch) we decided it would be quicker to walk. I think walking kept us warmer, too.

So, it was a nice race and it was a nice way to start a holiday devoted to eating lots of food!

Note: I tried to take pictures, but I need a new battery for my camera. It doesn't seem to hold a charge longer than just a couple of minutes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Recovering -- I Think

I'm not sure what I am recovering from. According to my doctor I do not have a flu. From the way I feel I know this is not a cold. But whatever it is, it is hard to recover from.

My symptoms are mostly gone with a little bit of a cough lingering. The problem is I'm easily exhausted. I went to the grocery store and nearly needed a nap when I got home.

Anyway, I've barely left the house since last Monday. I have now officially passed the illness along to my husband. We have encouraged our son to spend the night at friends' houses and to stay away as much as possible. With any luck he won't get it, too.

My plan for walking is to see if I can make it around the block tomorrow. If I can, I'll try two times and see how that goes.

I just hope I feel well enough on Thanksgiving to finish the 4-mile race I've entered. But then again, I'm just thankful I'm no longer contagious.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sick Again

I cannot believe I am sick again! I had a horrible summer cold (that my husband brought home) and now I have a virus that is not the flu.

The problem is I have been taking good care of myself. I exercise and I've been eating better. I wash my hands religiously and I even use hand sanitizer.

The only hole is all of this is I never seem to get enough sleep.

So, I'm not walking and don't feel like writing. I'm sleeping more and with luck I should be over this quickly.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Do You Do with Race Memorabilia?

If you are like me, you have a drawer full of race numbers, your shirts are in a pile in your closet and you wear just the shirts that fit. You might even give the others away.

Now those numbers, shirts and other memorabilia can be made into a custom-made tote at Mile 22 Bags. (Photo is of the style called The Finish Line Bag.)

Stephanie Fisher, an avid runner, made a bag for herself from Boston Marathon memorabilia. She received such a positive response from other runners she started making bags for others and created Mile 22.

I have to admit, of all of the many ways I've seen people make use of shirts and numbers, etc., this is one of my favorites. There are a couple different styles including a backpack and a wallet. I can't wait to see a sample in person and I'm already planning what I'm going to put in mine!

Good luck Stephanie!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Saturday's Walk Speedier than Usual

This morning when the Buckeye Striders met for our weekly group walk, a bunch of us started at a much quicker pace than usual. The funny thing is, I set the pace. Yes, my regular walking pace is getting quicker -- my speed workouts are working!

We walked straight out on the Olentangy Trail (south) from the Park of Roses for 30 min and then turned around. The cool thing is, we reached the start again after walking only 56 min! I'm pretty sure we went farther than 4 miles, too. I'm so exited that we got faster as we went.

It was a beautiful morning with temps in the 40s and lots of sunshine. On top of that, there were more Striders than usual. It was a very fun morning!

Though it feels strange not being in training for an event, it was nice to be able to meet at our regular walking time and not worry about walking a specific distance. I even felt that meeting at 8 was sleeping in! (I better not tell Deb, she'll try to get me out as early as 7 again!)

Hey everyone -- thanks for a fun morning walk!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Wanchai Ferry Product Review

My family and I had the opportunity to try the new Wanchai Ferry Restaurant Favorites Orange Chicken through the General Mills Pssst program.

When I opened the box and saw the small amount of ingredients, I did not believe that even with adding 1 lb of chicken that there was enough food for five servings. I was pretty skeptical.

I cooked the chicken according to directions with the provided seasoned cornstarch and the sauce while cooking the enclosed rice. I was VERY surprised at the large amount of rice we ended up with. I make rice all of the time and could not believe that such a small package would expand that much! It was definitely enough!

The hot peppers came in separate packaging from the sauce and could be added according to individual tastes. My family likes spicy foods so I added all of the peppers. If I had read the instructions more thoroughly I would have squeezed the bag with the peppers to loosen the seeds and make it even more spicy. As it was, it had good flavor without doing that.

The box said that it contained five servings. Not for my family! I have a 15-year-old son and a husband with a large appetite. Still, it was plenty of food for the three of us. It would be fine for four people with average appetites and possibly five with appropriate side dishes.

The Orange Chicken tasted great! As mentioned earlier, it had a good amount of spice and the sauce was tasty. Though the kit contained white rice, it went well with the dinner and cooked well. My only true complaint is that there was not enough sauce. And if you were to add vegetables, which was a serving suggestion, there definitely would NOT be enough sauce.

According to the website, the package price averages $4.79. Note that I received the package for free.

Because I'm a pretty good cook, I RARELY buy boxed meals that require adding meat. (I have very bad memories of packaged hamburger dishes vaguely resembling stroganoff.) That being said, and based on taste alone, I would buy this. I do find the price just a little high for this type of boxed dinner, but it is much better than others I have tried in the past.

Nutrition Highlights
Servings per box: 5
Serving size: about 1 cup
Calories per serving: 350
Calories from fat: 70
Sodium: 460 mg

Next week we'll try the Chicken Piccata.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Hills Tonight

Thanks to Elaine and Deb for doing hills with me tonight! We did a half-mile warm up and half-mile cool down with four reps on the hills for a 56-min workout.

It felt great! And after I remembered Elaine was tapering for a half-marathon last week I realized she was right not to do hills then. Congrats on your PR in Pittsburgh, Elaine!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Marathon Run in the Slow Lane

Funny how recently The New York Times ran a front-page story about middle-of-the-pack runners' dislike of slow marathoners.

Today on the Times' website is an article (blog posting?) by Tara Parker-Pope about what it is like to be a runner at the back of the pack -- Well: A Marathon Run in the Slow Lane. (I wonder if the idea came from a back issue of WALK! Magazine?)

The article was nice though it didn't have much new information for those of us who walk marathons. [I was a little surprised that her run/walk pace was slower than the full-marathon I walked. Not intended to be rude or mean, just an observation.] Still, it's nice to find articles that are positive about slower marathoners.

I especially liked the fact that Tara found several runners who do support us back-of-the-packers.
But the legendary gold medalist Frank Shorter says the criticisms of slow runners are “snobbery.” “You never hear that from elite runners,” he told me. “Elite runners admire other people’s performance. I find it much better to welcome slow runners to the club than to vote them out.”

Greg Meyer, who in 1983 was the last American man to win the Boston Marathon, says that when he hears such complaints from average marathoners, he replies, “If it wasn’t for the run-walkers, you wouldn’t be finishing in front of anybody.”

I've never had much interest in doing the New York Marathon, but I'm beginning to warm to it. Maybe next year!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

3 Miles

Had a nice 3-mile walk this evening -- 1 mile to the library, 1 lap around the park and one mile back home. The temps were mild and it was a beautiful evening.

I had originally planned to walk at Antrim Park, but because it gets dark earlier now, I was afraid I might not finish before it got too dark.

I have never understood the time changes. Why on Earth would time be changed to make it light later in the evening when days are already getting longer? And when it starts getting dark earlier, why would time be changed so it gets dark even earlier?

Whatever the reasons, I hate the time changes (though daylight saving time bothers me less).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Darn! No Hills Today!

My walking buddies were not up for hills today. I tried to talk them into it, but cleaning out gutters and raking leaves made one person a little too tired. Darn!

Instead we did our Plan B walk - 3 miles at a medium pace.

It was a beautiful evening! The temps were in the low 60s, the leaves were beautiful colors, and several crew teams rowed on the river beside us. Despite my disappointment at not getting a tougher workout, it was worth it just to be outside walking today with people I like.

That makes four days of walking this week. I get to take tomorrow off! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Week's Workouts

Because I'm not training for a specific event right now, I decided to try to keep walking five days a week to maintain my level of fitness. Like many of you, if I'm not training for an event, I often let my training slide.

Monday I did a 38-min easy walk with the focus entirely on proper racewalking form. It felt great not to worry about speed or distance and just to focus on form. (Push those arms back, Cindi!)

Tuesday was just a consistent pace for 30 minutes, but a little harder than a casual walk.

Today was a speed workout. I have not worked exclusively on speed in a while, so my muscles were not quite ready for it. (Could explain why I couldn't push during the Columbus Half.) I warmed up with a 15-min walk, then did 2-min sprints with 1-min rests in between. I was able to do only five sprints! I wasn't able to get as fast as I wanted, either. Still, it felt good to push. I just know that I am capable of pushing harder.

Tomorrow is supposed to be our usual hill workout, then I get Friday night off. Yea!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Columbus Marathon Start Worse Than Thought

In my review of the Columbus Marathon, I glossed over the confusing starting line. Part of the reason I did that is that I thought most of the problem was our fault. I just assumed my friends and I didn't look around well enough.

We do a lot of races and just assume if you go to the back of the line, eventually you will find the end. The end is where we usually line up.

In this case, we approached the starting line from the back, so just assumed we were in the correct spot. We never checked to see where we should be. We ended up behind the 5K racers along with a huge number of half marathoners.

As it was, when we finally made it around the 5K people, there were tons of runners still behind us and we inadvertently were in the way.

So, despite everything else great about this race, the starting line needs work. Thanks for the input from other half marathoners!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Columbus Marathon (Half) Report -- Finally

The temperatures were in the low 40s as we lined up for the Columbus Marathon (Half) at 7:30 on Sunday October 18. I had on several layers with the plan to shed a few as necessary, along with long pants, gloves and a hat. (Coincidentally, the top layer was an old Columbus Marathon sweatshirt I've had for years and tossed and re-found at other races.)

I started with my friends Deb and Elaine. Elaine is faster than Deb and I, so zoomed ahead. Deb and I stuck together for the entire race.

Due to some starting line confusion, we realized we were not in the right spot -- we were behind the 5K race entrants. We got around them (many other people were also confused) and the people were moving. We crossed the starting line at 7:44 with a plan to do the first two miles in about 14:30 each. We did the first mile in about 14:45 and tried to pick up the pace. The second mile was about 14:20, closer to where we wanted to be.

Despite the confusion at the start, this course was very nice! We walked up Broad Street then through beautiful Bexley and saw the Governor of Ohio right outside the Governor's mansion.

Around mile 5, I warmed up quite a bit and took off and tossed the sweatshirt that I wore OVER my jacket. Unfortunately, I wore the wrong wicking shirt as my bottom layer (not very effective at wicking) and I was sweaty under the jacket.

The course then went around the Franklin Park Conservatory, back down Broad Street, then through Olde Town and German Village -- two more interesting and pretty neighborhoods. Near Franklin Park we reached and passed the 3:30 half marathon pace group. (Yes, we were way too far back at the start!)

From there we went north on High Street, which was pretty much of a wind tunnel for about 2 miles. (High Street usually is.) From High Street we turned left into the Arena District for the last tenth of a mile and it was lined shoulder-to-shoulder with people cheering on the half marathon and full marathon finishers! It was great!

Though the temperatures did get warmer, and it was much warm in the sun, I never got "warmed up" enough to go fast. My legs were cold and stiff the entire race and I just could not pick up the pace. I tried to duplicate my previous race strategy, (slow for 2 miles, faster for 8 miles, then fast as possible for the final 5K) but my legs just would not cooperate. Instead, I listened to my body and went at the pace it was willing to go -- about 14:40. Despite the slower than anticipated pace, it was a good race!

After being handed a great medal and silver blanket, we were surprised to also be handed a great hat. The food area was separated from the exit by a chain link fence which should help guarantee there was enough food for everyone. (I hope there was enough for the full marathon walkers!)

The food available included Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Tim Horton's bagels, chips, bananas, granola bars and more. The only problem was trying to leave the food area. There is an after-race party for family and friends and the food area exits right to the party area. There were so many people lining the exit waiting for us to leave, we couldn't get out! I finally had to ask people to let me out to get people to move out of our way.

Our times per mile:
1 14:45
2 14:25
3 14:26
4 14:34
5 14:27
6 14:27
7 14:50
8 14:37
9 14:21
10 14:45
11 14:41
12 14:44
13 14:40
0.1 1:35
Total 3:09

Cool note: TweetMyTime was 1 minute faster than what our official marathon time was. My watch was about 3 seconds off from our official time! How often does that happen?

Weird note: For some reason, the color in these photos was really off. Not sure why it was way too red and way too bright. I probably need to adjust my camera in some way.

10 Things to Like about the Columbus Marathon (Half)

I recently started creating lists of the positives and negatives of various races I enter. Here are my Columbus Marathon (Half) lists:

10 Things I Liked About the Columbus Marathon
1. Nice scenic neighborhoods!
2. Plenty of water stops.
3. Great volunteers.
4. Obvious where to go -- you could not get lost unless you tried.
5. Hills? There are NO hills on this course.
6. Nice shirt! It's a woman's shirt, it fits, it's wicking and I like the design. Oh, and it is not white.
7. The medal is pretty nice, too. (It's heavier than previous medals, and the Chris in the middle spins.)
8. Lots of bands.
9. Good weather
10. Lots of great food at the end. The Krispy Kreme doughnuts were so good!

1. Confusing start at back of pack. Maybe a better sound system? It would be a good idea to go to the starting line then head toward the back to be sure you find the pace groups for walkers.
2. The expo was not very interesting.
3. A couple of the bands folded before we got to them. Those of us at the back of the pack need the music more than the elites.
4. Could not get out of fenced area at end of race because of friends and family crowding the exit.
5. Many of the 3-hour finishers were taking enough food for several people, way more than they could possibly eat. I hope there was enough left for the 7-hour finishers.

When compared to other races I've done, the "dings" are pretty insignificant. This was a well-organized, flat, walker-friendly race! I'll definitely do it again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tweeting During a Race

I toyed with the idea of Tweeting about the Columbus Marathon Half during the race last Sunday. Because I have a typical cell phone (no keyboard), and I am really slow at texting, I thought it might not be a good thing to do.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn about a new online service called TweetMyTime! Through this service, people who follow me on Twitter were able to see how I did during the race. TweetMyTime automatically sent a message when I hit the starting line, when I got to the 10K point and when I finished. The full marathoners had a total of five updates sent about them. The information included my pace and expected finish time and they came directly from me.

There are other services that send update messages during a race. I think when I was in the Cooper River Bridge Run, text messages could be sent via phone to other cell phones. I think I remember that other services allow friends and family to track participants on computers, too.

But there is something about a service making use of Twitter that appealed to me. The number of notes of congratulations I received from followers was great!

So I liked the service and I would definitely use it for free again. If it ends up being a pay to use service, not sure if I would do it. In the meantime, check it out!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Too Tired to Post

Earlier today I finished the Columbus Marathon Half in 3:11:15. My muscles are tight, and I just could not push today. That was the fastest I could go.

As soon as I got home, we head off to do a corn maze with my brother-in-law and his family, my nephew and his kids and my own family. We spent a good 90 min walking the maze and it was a LOT of fun. After having dinner together and finally arriving home around 7, I am officially way too tired to post a race report.

I'll do my best to post it tomorrow.

ADDED MONDAY: I was able to write my post by hand (during slow times in meetings earlier today), but I just have not had time to type it here. Maybe Tuesday.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Healthy Walking

It is exactly 0.64 miles from my house to the grocery store -- well, one of the grocery stores that are within walking distance from my house. I walked that distance tonight because I was dying for a tasty Greek salad for dinner and I needed to buy most of the ingredients.

Lettuce and a cucumber can be pretty light. However, once I got into the produce section and saw the beautiful grapes, the vine-ripened tomatoes, pink grapefruit and pomegranates -- I just kept filling my basket. I even picked up a little brie.

So my walk home was just a little more difficult than anticipated since I was weighted down. And by the time I got home, my arms were starting to hurt.

It was worth it. The salad was great and I made enough to take for lunch tomorrow.

Oh, it didn't hurt that I walked a little over a mile today on the first day of taper week.

Photo courtesy of

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Easy 2 Miles

Today was a scheduled day of rest. However, I was feeling a little bit antsy and it was a beautiful day, so I did an easy 2-mile walk to the library. The sun was shining and the temps were mild. (Having an overdue book hanging over my head also inspired me.) Considering it is fall in Ohio, I really need to get out in the sunshine when I have the chance. You never know when you might see the sun again.

Earlier today, I decided to bake some of my very healthy banana muffins. I have a great recipe it took me a few years to fine tune. Well, today I could NOT find my recipe. Earlier this summer I copied a bunch of recipes for friends getting married, and somehow I misplaced this particular one. The recipe I did find looked OK, but I was a little concerned because it called for a cup of milk. I don't add any liquids other than oil to my regular concoction. They didn't brown correctly and some were overcooked and dry and others were undercooked. Yuck! The final result ended up being bland.

I learned my lesson. There is a reason it took me a few years to develop the recipe my family really likes. I'll be contacting my friends and sister in law to get a copy of my recipe again.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Really Tight Muscles

The Columbus Marathon (Half) is a week away, so we walked only 6 miles this morning. I'm glad we did such a short distance -- my leg muscles were really tight and it took forever to warm up. (Usually, if I arrive earlier than the others, I spend some time warming up. Today I didn't take advantage of the extra time.)

The group of Buckeye Striders who are usually at the same pace I walk seemed to be way too fast for me this morning. After struggling for about a mile or so to keep up I finally just took it at a slower pace and enjoyed walking with Sharon.

The morning was beautiful, temps were in the 40s and there was no rain. It was a good day for 6 miles with people I like!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Why I Need a Heart Rate Monitor

I'm not much of a gadget person. I like having a chronograph on my watch and I have occasionally worn a pedometer. Otherwise, it's just me and my shoes.

Recently some friends and I were discussing the number of people who have died during marathons the past year or so. The conversation made me think about a couple races where I kept pushing probably much harder than I should have based on conditions.

One was the Indy Mini Marathon a few years back where the temps were so hot, they had caution flags out and finally turned off the clocks and quit timing the event. We found out later that someone had died that day. I was at the 13-mile mark when they turned off the clocks and I was still pushing. I felt great and I wanted to PR. I was ticked.

At the Air Force Marathon (Half) I was pushing as hard as I could for the last 3 miles. I was pushing so hard, I could not have pushed harder if I tried. At one point my lungs started to feel tight, but I was so set on getting my PR I kept pushing through it. On a scale of 1-10 I was walking at an 11.

So, how do you know if you are pushing too hard? Did those people who died feel how I did in both of these races?

Then this morning it dawned on me: I need a heart rate monitor! If I had a heart rate monitor, I would have known in both instances how hard I was pushing and whether I was going too far.

The shopping and comparison process has officially begun. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes

Today when I met my friends for our weekly hill workout, it was sunny, the temps were mild and the day was beautiful! So, I not only had the chance to be outside in the sunshine and generate mood-enhancing endorphins, I did it with friends who are really fun and have a positive attitude.

Thanks for walking with me Deb and Elaine! You guys are great!


We felt so good after our usual four reps, we did an extra rep. We ended up walking for about 1:06, 15 min longer than usual. It felt good.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Weather Woes Wreck Walking

I'm a hypocrite.

I am one of the first people to brag about walking outside year-round. Bad weather is so much easier to deal with if you are outside in it. And the only way to get acclimated is to be out in the climate. (I know, that one was pretty lame.)

When it's really hot, I'm outside. One of my fastest half marathon finish times was in August. I love walking in snow and cold temps. In fact, my 5K PR was on a day when the temps were in single digits!

So, why do I have such a hard time getting out walking when it is simply dark and dreary? OK, it was also a little wet, but mostly it was dark and dreary!

One of the biggest factors to affect my mental well being is weather. I am one of those people who desperately needs sunshine, daylight and to spend time outside. (Don't even ask about the little gray office with no windows.)

And because I walk so much, I have become somewhat addicted to the endorphins that exercise generates. So, combine a dark, dreary, gray day with no walking -- well you get the picture.

If I'm going to survive Fall, I will definitely have to walk in this weather.

Photo courtesy of

Monday, October 05, 2009

Long Slow Distance - Cut a Little Short

Saturday we were scheduled to do 10 miles. Because of commitments later in the day, I walked just 8 miles -- 4 miles straight out and back.

The nice thing about the shorter distance is that it gave me an opportunity to walk with someone I don't normally walk with. I had a great time really getting to know Barb.

The Columbus Marathon (Half) later this month will be my third in 8 weeks. I'm pretty confident walking 2 fewer miles will not have a detrimental affect on my finish time. And, because my knees are still a little swollen, I'm sure it is better if I don't walk overly hard.

Along that line, I walked just 2 easy miles tonight. I went out to the library to return a few books and came back. It was good both mentally and physically. It was sunny today (rare this week) and I really benefited from being out moving in the sun.

I hope this is a sign I'll have a good week!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Jinxed Knees

Wednesday when I got home from my hill workout, my husband asked how my knees are doing, and I confidently said they are great! The next day, when squatting down to reach a low file cabinet drawer, I could feel my right knee cap shift and pain shoot through it. Argh! My husband jinxed me!

The thing is, I have been walking regularly and my legs are strong! I can see the muscle. On top of that, my left knee started swelling in sympathy. This should not have happened.

Long before I was an athlete, my doctor diagnosed me with what he called "girl knees." Basically, a woman's hips are wider than her knees which puts a strain on the joint and can lead to injuries. As long as I keep the muscles around my knees strong, the knee caps align and they don't get sore or swollen. Easy!

Regular fitness walking is not enough. I need to be in the midst of race training with increasing mileage to maintain muscle strength. Short of that, I need to do regular knee-strengthening exercises, which I'm not very good at doing. I'm in the midst of race training, preparing for my third half marathon in 8 weeks. This shouldn't be happening.

So the moral of the story is -- don't let anyone ask about your knees! In the meantime, ice and Iburpofen are my friends.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Different Perspectives

I've occasionally watched parts of the Biggest Loser, but never saw the first show of the season until this year.

When Jillian screamed and swore at the heaviest women this season, trying to get her to do the required exercise, I was appalled! Not being familiar with the show, I wasn't sure if that was Jillian's normal motivation method, or if she was being especially cruel to this extremely obese woman. That kind of treatment would never motivate me.

My 15-year-old son, who has played sports for the majority of his life, turned to me and said something similar to: What's the big deal. She's being yelled at. If you're an athlete, you get yelled at.

I had an "aha" moment.

I assume the majority of contestants on this show are not athletes and have never been athletic. They probably have no idea what it is like to push themselves to the limit physically or to have people successfully push them. Maybe this is why they end up on the show.

When I had the opportunity to interview Matt Hoover, a previous Biggest Loser winner, he said the easiest part of the entire experience was on the ranch. In high school and college he was a very accomplished athlete. He played sports his entire life and even wrestled at the college level for Iowa. He knew what it was like to push himself to the limit and was probably used to having coaches push him -- or yell at him -- to reach his goals.

After thinking about this for a while, I look back on that moment in the first episode with Jillian yelling and I wonder if there was any other way that she could have motivated that woman to keep going. There is a reason the contestant is over 400 lbs, and maybe part of it is that no one has ever found the right way to get her to really push herself. Maybe no one ever cared enough to really yell at her. Maybe it has been way too easy for her to quit her entire life.

I'm not sure I agree with Jillian's methods, but to be successful in her profession she has to figure out what it takes to motivate many different types of people. The same method is not going to work on everyone she encounters. And it is obvious that talking nice and begging are not going to work.

Jillian is there with the contestants and I'm not. I think I'll keep watching to see how her methods adapt and change with their successes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Finished Half Marathon Strong!

Sometimes I get geeky about tracking statistics. That's why it drove me nuts when I had a watch malfunction during my last half and could not verify whether I had picked up my pace in the last 3 miles. You know how it is, you think you are pushing hard, but you can't tell if you are moving any faster.

Now, thanks to Larry, I do know! (He's better with number than I am.) The good news is, I picked up the pace quite a bit. I averaged 13:48 per mile for the last 3 miles! Yea!

I practice speeding up for the last mile or so of our long slow distance days. And I was trying very hard in the last 10th of a mile to pass that woman who passed me. It's very exciting to know I was successful -- even if I couldn't catch her! (I wonder if I should somehow thank that fast walking woman?)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday's Training Walk

Today's 8-mile walk was partially a recovery walk after last weekend's half marathon and partially a regular long slow distance day in preparation for the Columbus Marathon (Half) October 18. Regardless, we had not intended to push hard today.

I thought it was supposed to be chilly this morning, so had on a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Totally unnecessary! I ran back inside, grabbed a short-sleeved shirt and left. I did have time to change before we started walking -- I would have roasted!

We met at Sharon Woods in Westerville and did 2 laps of 3.8 miles, then made up the last 0.2 mile at the end of the last lap to make it a complete mile. We did a training pace for 7.8 miles and used the last 0.2 for cooldown. (Does that make sense?)

In the last 2 miles it started to sprinkle lightly. It still wasn't cold, but we were all a little damp.

After the walk we had our monthly Buckeye Strider business meeting picnic at a park shelter in the rain. (Luckily it didn't start to rain for real until after we got to the shelter.) We had quiche, lots of fresh fruit, bagels and orange juice. It was fun! And I think the rain added to the fun of it.

Overall, a good start to the weekend.

This week's splits:

14:26 - Mile 1
14:36 - Mile 2
14:40 - Mile 3
12:05 - 0.8 Mile
14:21 - Mile 5
14:22 - Mile 6
14:38 - Mile 7
14:08 - Mile 8
3:05 - 0.2 Mile recovery


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

11 Reasons to do the U.S. Air Force Marathon

I've completed a full marathon only twice in my walking career -- both at the U.S. Air Force Marathon in Dayton, OH. The half marathon distance was introduced here a couple years ago, and I've entered it several times. Both are great races! From my perspective, following are 11 Reasons You Should do the U.S. Air Force Marathon in 2010.

1. The generous finish times. The marathon is open for 8 hours and the half for 6 hours. If you are worried about speed, this is a good race to try.
2. The new half marathon course is relatively flat. There used to be a horrendous hill at about mile 3 on the way out, and about mile 10 on the way back. The huge hills are gone.
3. Great shirts! Whether they are the older long-sleeved cotton tees (my favorite cotton tees), or the new short-sleeved technical shirts, this race always offers great shirts! And they offer women's sizes -- my shirt fits!
4. The medals are big, heavy and cool. You KNOW when this medal is around your neck! I believe that the medals I have from this event are the best in my collection.
5. One of the best finish lines ever. When you turn that final corner and have the opportunity to finish among those great antique war planes ... it's amazing. In previous years, a general put my medal around my neck. (That didn't happen this year.)
6. Some of the most enthusiastic "hydration stations" ever. But I did feel sorry for the people at the Gilligan's Island themed stop. They played the show's theme song over and over and over...
7. You get the chance to enter a race with members of all branches of the military who are currently serving to protect our country! These people are fit!
8. Fly overs at the start and during the race. By the time you hear the planes they are already gone.
9. The gourmet pasta dinner was one of the best ever! The keynote speaker this year was very inspiring, even though he is a runner.
10. This year's food tent was phenomenal! There was all kinds of great recovery foods from bagels and bananas to chocolate milk and La Rosa's pizza! Oh, and there was tons of ice cold water available.
11. After doing this race, I always feel even more proud to be an American!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I PR'd at the Air Force Half Marathon

Buckeye Striders before the U.S. Air Force Half Marathon from left to right: Peggy, me, Nancy, Laura, Elaine, Catherine, Barbara and Barb.

The temperatures were in the mid-50s when 8 members of the Buckeye Striders lined up for the US Air Force Half Marathon at 8:30 Saturday morning. The half marathon now starts an hour after the full marathon. Despite the later start time, I still felt cold and was glad I had a light jacket with me.

Barbara and I started together and had a hard time getting any speed because of the crowds. Our first mile was a horribly slow 15:35! We had intended to walk the first two miles in about 14:30. (The second mile was 14:27.) We started picking out people ahead of us to catch and easily caught each and every one of them as we picked up the pace.

Somewhere around mile 3 we hit a great shaded street near the firing range on the base. The shade felt wonderful, but the street was a little narrow for all of the people at our pace. We did a lot of shifting to get around groups of walkers. At the same time, the full marathon wheelchair athletes were supposed to be using the right lane, and there were just too many people for that to be successful. Oblivious people kept easing over in that lane. I felt sorry for the wheelchair athletes.

Around mile 4, Barbara and I separated. (I tried to stay at around 14:00 and she needed to slow down a little.) For the most part I was successful. During mile 6 I made a pit stop, but was still able to finish that mile in 14:27. I had planned not to stop this race, but I was drinking enough water to stay hydrated, and it was unavoidable. I slowed in miles 8-9, which is probably because of the hills in those miles. I also made a point of talking to other walkers along the way which occasionally slowed me slightly.

As planned, I tried to pick up the pace from mile 10 to the end. However, this is where my watch memory was full, and I can't retrieve those split times. I also missed the 11-mile marker, so I have no idea if I was successful at speeding up. That late in the race, pushing as hard as I was, I just couldn't tell.

Ahead of me was a woman walker wearing pink who I had tried to catch for several miles. I finally passed her somewhere in the middle of mile 12. Imagine my surprise when at mile 13 she passed me back! I tried very hard to pass her again, but the harder I tried to speed up, the harder she tried to stay ahead of me. I was about two steps behind her until we got right to the final stretch where I started running out of gas. A spectator approached the woman and convinced her to start jogging, and she did! Darn! That same spectator approached me and tried to encourage me to run, too. "I'm a walker," I said. "I walked the entire distance." "Well, OK then," he said sadly.

After that encounter, I rushed as much as I could rush to the finish beneath those great war planes where I received a fantastic medal. My chip finish time was 3:05:37 and a PR!

At the finish we received a sweat towel and were directed to the food tent. The after race food was great! They had all of the basics such as water, bagels, bananas and oranges. In addition, there was Nesquick chocolate milk (fantastic!), cheese crackers, granola bars and La Rosa's pizza! There was plenty of grass to sit and relax while enjoying the after race food.

After the half marathon, we are all smiling!

This year was the first year I also went to the pre-race pasta dinner. The dinner was held in the Air Force Museum. The food was delicious and the evening included a very inspiring speech by Dave McGillivray, director of the Boston Marathon. (I'll blog on him later.)

In the past, parts of this event seemed lonely because there are not many opportunities for crowd support. But this year, there were so many entrants at my pace, I had people around me the entire event and everyone was friendly. (OK, everyone except the one guy who glared at me when I tried to start a conversation with him. He didn't even have headphones on.) In fact, there were so many walkers, it looks as if this race could easily support a walking division.

I've entered this half marathon several times, and it is one of my favorite races. It's well organized, the shirts and medals are always great, the "hydration stations" are enthusiastic, and I always finish feeling proud to be an American! I highly recommend it!

My mile times
Mile 1 - 15:35
Mile 2 - 14:23
Mile 3 - 14:05
Mile 4 - 14:06
Mile 5 - 13:50
Mile 6 - 14:27
Mile 7 - 13:51
Mile 8 - 14:12
Mile 9 - 14:38
Mile 10 - 13:44

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Weather is Fantastic!

Did you ever wake up, go outside and think: This is a great day for a race!

Well, I did -- TODAY! The cool thing is, we should have the exact same weather tomorrow in Dayton.

[Yes, I'm a little excited!]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It Fits! It's a Miracle!

This is going to be pretty hard to believe -- at least for the women who read this blog. But here goes.

Because I'm very excited about the U.S. Air Force Marathon (Half) this weekend, I drove to Dayton tonight to pick up my packet. I didn't need to go tonight, I'm going tomorrow night for the spaghetti dinner. I just wanted my packet.

When I arrived at the shirt table they reminded me that the shirts are in women's sizes and are made from a technical fabric! Woo hoo! I had completely forgotten.

Though all of that is good, the great news is THE SHIRT FITS! WOO HOO! And it is a great color -- Air Force blue!

I was so excited I had my husband take a photo immediately so I could post it.

So, the shirt is great, my number has my name on it, the water stops have historically been very good, there's a new half course this year to remove the horrible hills and I know the medals will be fabulous.

I can tell right now, this is going to be a really good race!

[I probably should have combed my hair or something after driving to and from Dayton, but the shirt was so great, I just had to take a picture.]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Two Easy Miles

Today I just walked to the library and back for two very easy miles. My legs felt so heavy, I couldn't believe it! I probably say this before every race, but they felt particularly heavy today and the walk was almost uncomfortable.

Glad I went, and now I have antsy legs. Par for the course!

Air Force Half Marathon on Saturday!

Taper Week is Hard

Everyone loves taper week, right? Well, everyone except me. Let me explain. I really like having the extra time, relaxing and mentally preparing for the race.

I HATE the heavy feeling my legs get. I hate the conflicting antsy feeling I also get. Because of the heavy feeling I don't feel like walking at all. Even doing a casual walk to the library and back is hard because my legs feel like bags of cement.

Because of the antsy feeling, I can't really sit still for long. In a short amount of time I need to jump up and at least walk around the room or run the stairs in our house to release the tension.

Though I usually eat pretty healthy foods, I don't like having to really think about what I'm eating for a couple days before the event. For a long distance event like a half marathon I have to think about how all foods will affect me in the middle of the event. This is not the time to be eating Mexican or Indian foods, or even a lot of salads. I also avoid foods I've never eaten before. A lot of people don't start that far before an event, but I'm a little cautious here -- just in case.

So, the heavy and antsy feelings are normal and just let me know I've trained properly. Watching what I eat is not the end of the world. Regardless of how uncomfortable these things make me for a couple of days, it is all worth it. Once I am at the starting line, after all of the preparation, I'll be thrilled I'm ready.

My legs are now antsy and I need to walk around before I head to bed. Yeah, I'm ready!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reaction to alli Commercial

There's an alli commercial that has been airing in Columbus for a couple of weeks that I find VERY annoying. The woman claims to be a pharmacist, talks about alli and says it encourages healthy eating because it blocks 25% of all fat eaten from being absorbed in the digestive system.

I am NOT a pharmacist, but I am a person who loves to eat. I have to admit if I knew that 25% of all fat I ate would not be absorbed, I'd want to be eating a lot more fat! My fantasy would be a lot of potato chips and dip or French fries in my life.

While writing this, I went the alli web site at It indicates that the unabsorbed fat goes straight through the body. In the toilet it may look like the oil on top of a pizza and eating too much fat can cause what they call "treatment effects". Yuck!

On the plus side, the site indicates that the product does not affect the heart or brain so does not cause jitters. In addition, the company offers a strong online support system. (Most people are more successful with weight loss or an exercise program if they have a support system.) The site also recommends that users contact a registered dietitian.

On the negative side, it is still a diet pill. The "treatment effects" would be horrible. And the site says people who quit taking it probably will gain weight back. Does that mean taking it for life?

Those of you who know me know that I feel the best way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more. The difficult thing is that in the United States foods that are not good for us taste fantastic and are very easy to get. Healthy, lower calorie foods are a little tougher to prepare and it takes a commitment.

Personally, I think I would rather do the extra work to eat healthy and burn more calories to avoid the "treatment effects". Studies show that people who lose weight in this manner and who make lifestyle changes have a much better chance of keeping the weight off. And really, isn't a healthier life style and keeping the weight off the ultimate goal?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Last Long Slow Distance Before Air Force

We did our last long slow distance training walk before next week's Air Force Half Marathon. We started at the Columbus Park of Roses, got on the bike trail and headed north.

There were no mile markers near our start point and it took longer than 12 min before we saw the first one. We ended up walking north until we reached the third mile marker and then turned around. From mapping our route on MapMyWalk, I determined we walked 7.6 miles. We finished in about 1:50, for an average of 14:28 per mile. Following is a map of the course we walked. Again, it is much better in either hybrid or satellite mode.

I think this bike trail is very pretty, but I don't like how crowded it gets. Today wasn't as bad as other Saturdays. Maybe the bike riders have figured out that Saturday morning is not the best time to be out there. It seemed as if there were fewer runners, too. There were still plenty of marathon training groups, but each group didn't seem as big.

Regardless, it was a beautiful morning for walking 7 miles!

11:49 - 0.8 mile
14:47 - 1st full mile
14:26 - 2nd full mile
14:28 - 3rd full mile
14:21 - 4th full mile
14:25 - 5th full mile
14:37 - 6th full mile
11:06 - 0.8 mile

Monday, September 07, 2009

Missed Reporting on Training Walks

I just realized that I have not reported on any training walks since the Parkersburg Half Marathon. I'll just skip the everyday stuff and hit the long slow days.

We decided that because we are doing three half marathons over 8 weeks, our between race long slow distance days would be: 8 miles, 10 miles then 8 miles (or 6 miles).

The week after Parkersburg, we walked at Sharon Woods park, which has a 3.8-mile loop. There are mile markers and even a mark to indicate where 4 miles is if you go beyond the start of the loop. Because we were doing 2 laps, I didn't stop my watch at the 4-mile mark, but at the last 0.8 mile. We tried not to push hard since we were still in recovery. Our time for each mile was:

First Lap
15:05 Mile 1
14:50 Mile 2
27:16 Mile 3 and 0.8 (nearly 4)
Second Lap
14:14 Mile 1
14:34 Mile 2
14:59 Mile 3
12:12 0.8 Mile

This past Saturday we met at Alum Creek North in Westerville. (Not far from Sharon Woods, actually.) The mile markers are a little bit harder for us to see here, so our plan was to walk straight out 1 hour 15 min, then return. The thought was that we would not be walking slower than a 15-min mile average, so 2.5 hours would be our scheduled 10 miles.

As we were closing in on our turn-around point, Barb pointed out that we were actually walking about a 14:30-min mile! (She could see a couple mile markers I missed.) So, we turned around after 1 hour 10 min. I didn't realize it, but on our way back, I got progressively faster! Finally, someone in the back of the group said we needed to slow down, so we did. Well. let's just say I tried. Sometimes when I'm in a certain mode, I don't realize I'm speeding up.

Even after really slowing down toward the end, we reached the finish spot at almost exactly 1:10! That never happens on a there-and-back day.

So this upcoming weekend our original plan was to do 8 miles again as our step down and taper before the Air Force Half. Some are leaning toward 6 miles and getting a little more rest. We'll see!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Flash of Insight from a Shark

Until this week, I had never watched the TV show Shark Tank. Shark Tank is a reality show where entrepreneurs face a panel of potential investors (sharks) and try to convince them to invest in their company.

I had the show on for just a few minutes when one of the sharks explained why he would not invest in a product. (I never did see what the product was.) He said her product was more a work of love or a mission than a real business, that she did not have enough sales and had invested too much of her own time and money. She would have to make major changes in how the product was designed and presented before it could be profitable.

Wow! Did his comments hit home! I felt he could have been talking to me about WALK! Magazine.

I loved WALK! Magazine. It was fun to publish and I enjoyed all of the walkers I met. I thought it would launch a publishing company that would be fun and successful. A few things did not go the way I wanted -- I didn't have enough subscribers and I couldn't attract enough advertisers. I was doing almost all of the magazine myself (as well as working a full-time job) which meant I was working about 80 hours a week. I didn't even have enough time to walk. Because I loved the magazine so much, I hung on way too long.

I have been planning for quite a while to figure out a way to revive WALK! Magazine. I go back to the shark's comments to the woman on the show: I have to make major changes in how the product was designed and presented before it can be profitable.

OK, I'm inspired again. I am now again actively working to figure out how I can bring back an electronic version of the magazine.

If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The View from a Water Stop Volunteer

[Edited - Aug 31, 2009]

I recently had an unpleasant experience working a water stop during a race. I've been thinking about how I would address this issue for a while. I want to make my point, but I don't want to disparage anyone. Here is what happened.

At this event, our water stop didn't receive cups until AFTER the race started, we didn't have any race staff contact numbers, we didn't have enough table space to set up cups in advance and we ran out of water after less than one hour. Most of our volunteers enter races and we have all been in events that have run out of water, so we were mortified!

Because we didn't have a contact number, we felt helpless. Though we were able to eventually reach someone, it was too late. The nasty looks and complaints we got from race participants was horrible.

So today, I was thinking about what I, as a volunteer, need from a race director to be a successful volunteer and help the race director look good.

Here's my list:
1) Instructions. How much water should be in a cup? What is the best way for a volunteer to hold a cup? How do we hand out gel? What should we expect crowd wise?
2) Contact information for key race staff. Who do we call if we run out of something like water or cups? Who do we contact if there is a serious emergency?
3) Have someone check on volunteers and verify they have everything they need.
4) If you promise shirts, hats, lunch, coffee ... whatever it is, deliver. Adults don't care so much, but when teens are helping out, and they expect a shirt or hat, they should at least get the shirt and hat.
5) Have supplies at the water stop before the volunteers show up. It was stressful receiving the cups AFTER the race started!
6) Make the volunteer sign up easy.
7) Make sure your web site is accurate regarding what will happen at that particular water stop. Is it just water? Will we be handing out gels or fruit? Will we receive shirts?
8) Make sure volunteers feel appreciated -- especially if you want them to come back the next year. How do you do that? Follow items 1-7.

If you've ever volunteered at a race, what else would you add?

Note: I am not disparaging any one race or race director. In fact, the person who owns the race I volunteered at is one of the best race directors out there. From the many races I've entered, it is evident that other volunteers need instruction for filling cups, holding cups, etc., too. I figure if I have questions and concerns, other volunteers must have similar concerns. Race directors have a difficult job. And no matter how hard they try, a race never goes off perfectly. With any luck the glitches they encounter are small and manageable. And to all race directors who welcome walkers in your events -- THANKS! I know it isn't easy to keep courses open for an extra long time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Best and Worst Parts of the Parkersburg Half Marathon

Best Parts of this Race
- The pre-race pasta dinner and post-race pizza are included in the $35 registration fee. (There was even beer!)
- Each food event also had tons of fruit available.
- The volunteers are plentiful and enthusiastic.
- Ice-cold, wet, towels handed out at the finish line. Wow!
- Hotels in the area are reasonably priced.
- The entire town supports the race.
- There were course monitors verifying those who signed up as walkers actually walked.
- 17 water stops for a 13-mile race.
- Ice handed out at many of the water stops.
- Over 130 walkers!

- They ran out of water at the finish line. There were plenty of other beverages, but no water. From previous experience, I know this was an anomaly.
- The start is not chip timed! Why wear a chip if there is not a mat at the start? I was in the back, it took about 30 secs to reach the start. 30 secs can a big deal at the finish line.
- Hills and heat in August! It's a challenging course. The hill in mile 11 looks different after walking 11 miles than just looking at it from the side.
- The technical shirts are huge -- even the smalls.
- Now that walkers start with the runners, the race could be a little lonely. I liked it better when the walkers started 30-min early because there were runners around me the entire race.

This is the race I PR'd at a couple years ago. It's fun and definitely worth doing more than once!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Parkersburg Half Marathon Recap

I toed the line at the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon at 8 a.m. yesterday morning with Deb. (Elaine, Peggy and Laura were much further ahead of us.) The walkers started with the runners, which was new for me at this race. (Up until last year, walkers started 30 min earlier.) The temps were mild, though I forgot to check what the temp was exactly.

Deb and I walked the race together and got off to a good start with our first mile at 14:43 -- in our goal range of between 14:30 and 15 min per mile to start. Our second mile was also 14:43 and we started passing a few slower walkers.

Generally when we walk together, I set the pace. In this race, Deb kept pushing us the entire way! She did a great job!

As we climbed a big hill around miles 3 and 4, we actually sped up! I loved it when we did mile 4 in 14:12 and Deb said she couldn't go any faster. Still, we did our next mile just a tiny bit faster.

As the day went on, the skies cleared, the sun was high and it got progressively warmer. Luckily, there were more than enough water stops (17) and many had ice which was fantastic! The water stops were great with very encouraging volunteers. I don't do Gatorade on a course, but plenty of stops offered Gatorade.

Though I've seen a little more crowd support in previous years, there were many people sitting in their front yards cheering us on.

Between miles 9 and 10, Deb did something I have NEVER seen her do before -- she stopped at a Port-a-John! I took advantage of the opportunity and we made a record-breaking stop of only 1:10 (hence the over 15-min mile).

The day before the race, we scoped out the hill in the middle of mile 11. Funny how it didn't look too bad from the side, but in the middle of the race after 11 full miles it was a pretty big hill. In fact, Deb channeled our friend Chris and refused to look until we reached the top. The hill is not so bad for the first three quarters. It's a block long hill that slopes gradually. But the last quarter angles up dramatically making the entire hill horrible!

After that very memorable hill, we had a pretty steep decline on the other side which strained our knees in a different way.

With less than a mile to go I realized we had walked for exactly 3 hours. My half marathon personal record was 3:07 in Parkersburg and I thought I had a shot to break that record and left Deb. I did my best to speed up. In the meantime, I caught up with and passed Elaine who is ALWAYS faster than I am, but was slower than usual because of the heat. (She started closer to the front of the pack than I did.) Unfortunately, I was farther from the finish line than I thought, and it took 9 min 54 seconds to reach it. Darn!

Still, my finish was about 4 min faster than my last half marathon! Not bad! On top of that, I have Deb to thank because she pushed me for 3 hours.

So, my finish time by my watch was 3:09:54 and my official time was 3:10:26 with a 14:32 average! I would have liked to be faster, but that average is good for a hilly course.

Official Finish Times for Others in My Group
Laura - 2:40:05
Peggy - 2:52:55
Elaine - 3:10:28
Deb - 3:11:19

Deb's and my per-mile pace
1 14:43
2 14:43
3 14:21
4 14:12
5 14:11
6 14:28
7 14:33
8 14:24
9 14:18
10 15:34
11 14:29
12 14:55
13.1 15:03
My Watch Total 3:09:54

Friday, August 21, 2009

Race Day Decisions -- What to Wear!

I have often joked with my husband that you can tell what my current interest is by the types of T-shirts I own. When I threw competitive darts, I had shirts from various dart tournaments. I also have a collection of shirts from the different rivers I have rafted. (I still love white water rafting.) I now have an absolutely huge collection of shirts from races! Many are cotton and the most recent ones are mostly technical fabrics. (The technical fabric shirts don't seem to fit as well for some odd reason.)

So, packing for the Parkersburg Half Marathon I could not decide what shirts to pack. Do I take WALK! Magazine shirts even though the magazine has folded? Should I take a shirt from my favorite race? Do I pick a shirt I know Deb won't wear?

I love wearing the Big Sur Marathon shirt because it generates lots of conversation. I like wearing the WALK! Magazine shirts because they say "Why run slow when you can walk really fast!" Sometimes I like wearing shirts that show I'm from Columbus or even shirts from the last time I did that same race. You never wear the race day shirt the day of the race -- only geeks do that!

I'm not sure why this time was harder. So, I have my favorite Parkersburg T-shirt (red cotton) for the trip there. I've packed the WALK! Magazine Walking Team shirt for the race. (The team still exists.) And I have a plain solid-colored shirt if I feel like looking like an adult later in the day. (Sometimes I do that.) Right now I'm planning to wear my race shirt home. Yea, sometimes I'm also a geek.

(Photos to come after the race.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sport Science Dispels Sports Myths

My son not only plays many sports, he likes to watch sports on TV and shows about how to play sports. Because of his interests, I started watching a show called Sport Science that airs on Fox Sports.

This show is a cross between Myth Busters and some type of "how to" sports show. OK, it isn't really like Myth Busters, but I don't know how to describe it otherwise. Basically the show asks questions such as can a female boxer hit as hard as a male boxer? Can crowd distraction affect a basketball player throwing free throws? Can a person sweat to death?

Interestingly enough, the answer to all of those questions was "Yes".

I was most interested in the question about sweating to death. I missed the first couple minutes, so I don't know the name of the athlete who volunteered to be the guinea pig. Let's just say he was extremely fit.

He jogged on a treadmill wearing one of those silver "sweat" weight loss suits. He lost a tremendous amount of sweat and they explained how the kidneys and other organs work harder when the blood gets thicker. It was very interesting!

Though the show isn't often about running, it still is very interesting to see how they handle their questions. I'd recommend it to most sports fans.

There was one show I found interesting, but it really seemed more like a commercial. It was about a fabric that pulled sweat away from the skin, but kept the sweat in the fabric to cool the skin. They showed how wicking fabrics can actually lead to athletes being hotter because the sweat can't help cool your body when it is pulled away. An ultra athlete wore a shirt made of this fabric while (again) jogging on a treadmill with heaters raising the temperatures in the room to 125 degrees! The shirt worked, it kept his core temperature to only 100 degrees. The whole problem with this particular episode is that it seemed to be too much of a commercial for the fabric and the VERY expensive clothing line. (But then again, the show about the "Nutty Buddy" was similar.)

Let's just say, I don't think this particular episode was unbiased.

Being on the Local News

Today Deb, Elaine and I were doing a light hill workout before the half marathon Saturday. We got to the top of the hill at Griggs Reservoir when a gentleman hopped out of an NBCi car with a camera man and said he'd like to interview us.

We agreed thinking that, because we were racewalking and hot and sweaty, they wanted to ask us some health and fitness questions. I was pretty excited, thinking about what we would say.

Then the reporter, Matt Alvarez, informed us our water bills will be increasing because of tax increases and wanted to know what we each think about it! HA!

It is supposed to air tonight on the 11 p.m. news, but I doubt if I'll stay up. I was hot, sweaty, my hair was a mess (from being hot and sweaty) and I wanted to talk about something really important, like health and fitness.

It felt like it was going to rain, in fact, we almost didn't go tonight because of the weather. At my recommendation Deb and I met a little before 5. As we climbed our first hill, Elaine drove up behind us, parked the car and walked the rest of the way with us! We did just two reps for a mile total with a half mile warm up and cool down. We ended up walking a total of 2 miles.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Getting Antsy

When my walking mileage suddenly decreases, like taper week, I tend to get antsy legs. It's hard to sit still, I feel like I need to get up and walk around, sometimes they even ache.

To help alleviate the aggravation, I took a short easy walk of just a little over a mile tonight. It helped quite a bit!

But now as I'm getting closer to heading to bed, I'm getting antsy again. I'm going to have to run the stairs or something before I head to bed, or I'll never be able to sleep.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Taper Begins -- 8 Miles is a Milestone

We walked "only" 8 miles today. I love it when I can say that -- "only" 8 miles.

We'll reduce our mileage this week then the Parkersburg Half Marathon is next Saturday! Woo hoo!

Whether you are increasing your mileage working up to much longer distances, or tapering and working your way down -- 8 miles is a major milestone for me.

Each time I cut back my mileage to 8 miles, I think about training for the first long-distance race I ever entered 10 years ago -- half of the Columbus Marathon. Only TNT members were allowed to walk the race and we had to start an hour before the full marathon. On our first LSD, the TNT training program had us do only 2 miles. When we finally worked up to 8 miles it was so HARD! I was exhausted the entire rest of the day.

I followed that training schedule precisely and finished feeling great!

Now I've done enough marathons, half marathons and one 21-miler, that 8 miles really isn't such a big deal. In fact, even at times when I feel unfit, I can still walk 8 miles.

But most of the time, when I see 8 miles on my schedule, I'm excited. I know I've put in the time, the effort, the sweat, the hard work, and in a week, I'll be ready for the next race.

I'm beginning to think 8 should be my new lucky number.

(Nah! My lucky number has ALWAYS been 13 -- the number of miles in a half marathon! Coincidence? Maybe not!)

The meaning of the number 8:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's Your Walking Pet Peeve?

I saw a recent blog post about runners' pet peeves. The ones mentioned mostly dealt with runners following too close to another runner, run/walkers who repeatedly pass the same person then walk and dogs not under control.

I can relate -- those are annoying! But walkers have other issues and here are a few of mine:

- Run/walkers who register for races as walkers. (I'm sorry, even if you run a little bit, you are a runner.)
- People who come to a water stop and literally stop. Seriously, water "stop" does not mean you have to stop. Move off to the side and keep moving!
- Runners who run into walkers who are off to the side of the road.
- Walkers who use the reasoning "I paid the same amount as a runner" as an excuse to be inconsiderate to other athletes. They usually start way up front with the elite runners then walk several across blocking faster athletes from passing.
- Walkers who sign up for a race knowing they cannot finish in the time allowed. (They give all of us a bad name.)

So, what are your walking pet peeves?

Slowing a Little Before Race

The Parkersburg Half Marathon isn't for another 10 days but I've been taking it a little easier this week. (Normally, I don't start to taper or walk easy until the week of the event.)

Yesterday, I didn't do a speed workout because my heel is bothering me. It doesn't actually hurt, it just doesn't feel right. I know it is from wearing too light of shoes on a long walk. (Maybe it's bruised?) I did 3 easy miles in well-padded cushy shoes. Afterward I iced my heels and felt pretty good!

Today Deb and I did a hill workout as we do every Wednesday. We didn't walk hard, just up and down our hills four times. It's not hot today, but it is humid. We didn't purposely walk slower, but it did take us a little longer.

I've been doing weekly speed and hill workouts for a couple months, so I'm not worried that this week the workouts are a little less intense. I'm sure we'll be ready.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sore Today

I cannot believe that I am sore today. The good news is, I'm a good sore. The bad news is, I was not sore last week after walking the exact same distance. I have to assume that the reason I'm sore is because we were walking much faster than we did last week. I wonder if it had to do with wearing the thicker, heavier shoes. I'm sure that the shoes being less flexible affected my stride.

Sunday tends to be the day I go grocery shopping and cook for the week, I tend to do a lot more standing. It makes the muscle soreness more obvious than on other days of the week.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Walked a New Route Today

Normally when we walk starting at Tuttle Park, we head north toward Clintonville and after half an hour we turn around. In fact, several of us decided we really don't like walking there for long distances because we always turned around after only 30 min. Today we intended to walk 11 miles, so we took a different route heading south toward downtown Columbus.

The Olentangy Trail in this direction is a lot less crowded than sections further north. No massive marathon training groups, fewer bikes and no rude bikers screaming at us.

We followed the Olentangy River past OSU all the way to downtown and the Broad Street bridge. It was great! We ended up walking across the river from the Santa Maria all the way to COSI.

It was nice walking a part of the trail we didn't know well. It was very scenic and fun walking through campus. The only thing I didn't like was having to wait for traffic to cross two major roads, and we got a little off track twice. When we ended up on sidewalks it was sometimes confusing to figure out where we should go to stay on the trail.

Regardless, it was a great walk. I'll definitely walk it again, though I would feel uncomfortable walking a lot of this trail alone.

Hey Larry, thanks for the recommendation!

Though we had intended to do 11 miles, we did only 10. I had a hot spot on my left foot that ended up turning into a blister. Peggy, who was walking with me had a similar problem. I need new shoes, but this is going to sound lame, I'm having a hard time justifying spending the money right now. Tons of auto repairs, huge vet bill, wedding gifts.... And I have to admit I'm spoiled. Over the last few years, I'm used to getting shoes for free. Now that WALK! has folded, I don't get those free shoes.

I know, for the health of my feet I really need to get the shoes. I'm hoping I can hang in there just a little longer. In the meantime, I'm wearing shoes that are just a little too stiff, but have great padding and very little mileage on them and make my feet feel great. They just are not good for racewalking.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Woman Wins Chicago Half Marathon!!!

Kara Goucher won the first Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon on August 2! Let me clarify -- she didn't just win the women's division -- she won the entire half marathon beating out the next closest runner by 19 seconds! Her finish time was 1 hr 8 min and 5 secs.

I had hoped that one day we would see a woman win a major race. After all, the best women marathoners still beat out several thousand men. I have to admit, I just expected it would still be several years.

Read the story here:

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tossing Out My Shoes

I'm pretty loyal to shoes. Too loyal at times.

I had a great pair of shoes a couple of models ago that I absolutely loved! They were light enough to roll my foot, but heavy enough that I could walk a half marathon in them. I loved the shoe.

As is typical, the manufacturer "upgraded" the shoe. There were some obvious improvements and on my short distance days, I liked them better than the original. I was happy.

The problem started when I started training for a long-distance event. Somewhere around 5 or 6 miles I got a blister on the inside edge of my right heel. Having been a former Blister Queen, I was confident I could work through it. These shoes were a little different. The more I wore them, the shorter the distance needed to develop a blister.

The manufacturer even sent me a new pair in a different size, and that pair also caused blisters. I've never encountered that before.

It's been a while since I have worn the shoes. Today I was short of time and decided to do just a short 2-mile walk with my husband. I thought it would be safe to wear the shoes. Before we were even close to being finished, I could feel a hot spot on each foot and ended up developing blisters on both!

OK, I give up. I'm not even close to having worn out the shoes. In fact, there is plenty of mileage left on them. I'm not sure if the problem is the shoes, my feet, or racewalking in these shoes instead of running.

So, through a local running store, FrontRunner, I've decided to donate both pairs to a group that gives shoes to needy runners. I hope a person with a different gait will fit these shoes better than I do.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Did my speed workout a little differently tonight. Instead of walking a quarter mile as fast as possible, I decided to walk as fast as possible for a set time.

Because I hovered around 3 minutes for a quarter mile last week, today I walked as fast as I could for 3 min then did a recovery walk for 2. There is a cul de sac across the street from my house which is pretty good for doing speed. After the sprint, the recovery walk takes me back to my house with enough time for a quick gulp of water before the next sprint.

Both methods have benefits. I like knowing that I'm walking a quarter mile faster each time. Yet, I also like knowing that as soon as my watch says 3 minutes, I can quit. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to really mark (or remember) where I stopped each time to see if I was able to walk farther.

My shin muscles worked pretty hard and my legs felt appropriately rubbery by the time I finished. And I probably should have spent more time cooling down and stretching afterward.

It was nice and cool tonight! Perfect weather for walking. I wore the Chines racewalking shoes, which are great for being flexible and rolling my feet. They might be too light though. My heels were bothering me toward the end.

I did cough a little while walking, but I think it is OK. I was breathing deep and trying to clear out the last remnants of my cold. It should be totally gone any day now!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Easy Couple Miles Today

Just did a couple of easy miles today. The temps were perfect for walking! Nice and cool in the low 70s. Unfortunately, I was feeling somewhat wiped out from the day. I decided to listen to my tired self and take it easy.

I do plan to do my weekly speed workout tomorrow.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Missing Mile Markers - 10 Miles I Think

Those of us planning to do the Parkersburg Half Marathon this month did a 10-mile training walk yesterday. The weather was perfect! The temps were mild (slightly chilly) when we started at 6:45 and the morning was sunny and beautiful. We started at the Park of Roses in Whetstone Park and headed north toward Worthington Hills.

Because it was our long slow distance day, we had anticipated walking between 14:30 and 15 min per mile. I like to check every mile to be sure we are on track.

We started between mile markers. The first mile we could measure we were slower than we had planned at 15:09. The next couple were 14:55 and then 15:12. From this point out, I had trouble finding mile markers. I'm not sure if they were missing or if I just didn't see them.

In the event we couldn't find mile markers, we had planned to walk for 2 1/2 hours -- so after about 77 min, we turned around. As we got closer to our starting point, we started running into members of the Buckeye Striders Walking Club. Peggy was walking a little faster than us, so I tried to pick up the pace to walk with her.

When Peggy joined us, I pushed myself as she simply "strolled" beside me. The pace had to be good (for me), because by the time we returned to the starting point, I had walked for 2 hours and 27 min! 77 min out, yet a total of 2:27!

I felt great at the finish and only coughed when Deb made me laugh during our walk. Because I had not walked as much as my training schedule called for during the past week, I was thrilled to feel so good after walking 10 miles. However, driving home I started getting a headache which got progressively worse and lasted for hours! Not sure how it is related -- might not be at all.

My guess is that we walked somewhat close to 10 miles since we walked longer than 75 min out.

I'm pretty sure I need new shoes. I really hate buying new shoes! I hate trying to figure what I need and whether the shoes on my feet will feel good after 13 miles.