Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Was that a Canvasback?

I was walking around Antrim Lake today when I thought I saw a Canvasback.

At the end of the first of my three laps I looked to my left at the water and saw a beautiful red-headed duck swimming among the green-headed Mallards. Though I grew up knowing how to identify a variety of ducks, I'm sad to say my skills have severely declined since my Dad died and I no longer have anyone quizzing me on a regular basis. And I was walking so "fast," I didn't get a very good look at it other than to see the red head. On the next lap the duck was gone. After consulting some online sites once I got home, I have my doubts about what it was. I do know that if it was a Canvasback it would be pretty special, but it was probably just a red head.

And that is one of the reasons I like to walk at Antrim. You never know what you will see. Sometimes I'll run into the local Team in Training group, today it was a group from the Army (reserves maybe?). There are often adult softball games, little kids playing soccer and tennis players.

There are lots of walkers, runners and bikers -- unless there is the threat of rain, like today. (It was less crowded today.) When the dog walkers are behaved, like today, I don't mind the dogs. In fact, I enjoy watching the dogs swim, as long as they don't shake water on me.

And the change of seasons is great here! When you come here often, you see a lot of subtle season changes. For example, today I observed tons of buds on everything and the air smelled like spring. In the fall, it is fun to watch the leaves change just a little bit every day. And winter and summer are just different every day with the temperature swings we have in Ohio.

There are a couple of bad things about Antrim. 1) Parking is limited. 3) Cars have been broken into lately. 2) When there are not many people, it isn't especially safe for women. You really need to watch your surroundings and keep an eye out for creeps.

Despite the negatives, I'm glad I have this little lake in the city that makes it feel as if I've gone somewhere special to walk.


Today's walk was 3.6 miles. I parked close to the path for a change so I could get to the car quickly if the rain came down hard. And because of the threat of rain, I was WAY over dressed. Ended up that it sprinkled on and off, but that was it. My long pants and water resistant jacket were unnecessary. Yet, I got too hot -- again.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Need to Learn to Work my Watch

I own more than 15 watches.

One is a sturdy Timex with a second hand that my Grandma wore when she was a nurse. Among the others are a couple cheap cute watches in bright colors to go with outfits, a couple nice dressy watches, and several sport watches.

My favorite sport watch (another Timex) is glitchy right now, so I've been wearing the Nike watch that is harder to use. Part of the problem is that I have several sport watches and they each work just a little differently. The other problem is, when I wear my contacts I cannot read the tiny print on the face of the watch. I think this is the bigger problem.

Today we did two loops at Sharon Woods, which is 3.8 miles per loop. There are mile markers which is great for the "I must measure everything" part of my personality, and there is a paint mark on the asphalt that shows when you've gone 4 miles. The problem is, I keep hitting the wrong buttons on the watch so I end up stopping the chrono totally rather than just hitting the lap timer. Then when we are finished, I forget how to stop the chrono and save the workout.

We ended up doing 7.8 miles timed (I think.) and the last .2 from the paint mark back to the start as a cool down. It took about 1:57 to do 7.8 miles. According to the online pace calculator, that is a 15-min mile. I was surprised because we started out too fast for a "long slow day". We did a couple miles at about 14:30 and 14:40, but then we had a couple others over 15. I guess it averaged out.

Though I thought we were faster, I'm not disappointed. We had hoped to stay between 14:30 and 15 per mile today, and we were close. Besides, it was beautiful out there and the people I walked with were fun. It was a great start to the day.

While writing this blog posting I finally found instructions to this watch on nike.com, and will try to figure out how to work the watch for next week.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Walking Feels Good

I've been sore since the hill workout on Tuesday. It's a really "good" sore when you know you've pushed your muscles just enough. It actually feels kinda good.

Tonight I did an hour walk. It felt great and my muscles feel more relaxed. I should have walked yesterday, but didn't because of rain. (I know, poor excuse.) I think the stiffness would have gone away a little quicker if I had walked, but instead I enjoyed feeling a "good" sore. The funny thing is, I think I'll miss it when the pain is gone tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hills, Hills, Hills

Instead of our typical midweek mileage, we did hills today. There are not a lot of hills in Central Ohio, so we have to work hard just to find one for hill training. But by Griggs Reservoir, if you head toward the Frisbee Golf course, there is a steep incline and a steep decline toward the course. In this part of Ohio these steep inclines pass for hills.

We walked half a mile to the "hill". We then went up the incline and down the other side, then turned around to go back up the steeper incline and down to where we started. We did 6 repeats! Unfortunately, we then had to walk the half mile back to our cars. (Who thought the warm up and cool down were a good idea?) We walked for longer than our usual 45-60 min. and it was intense.

I am beat and I know I will feel the after effects tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I'm a Poser

I'm a poser!

At least I felt like a poser today. Let me explain.

I needed to get in 4 miles today. I also needed to return library books. So my plan was to walk the 1 mile to the library, return the books, do two laps around the park and walk home. Because I would not be racewalking, I decided to wear heavy shoes, jeans and a sweatshirt.

As I walked around the park, I encountered a couple racewalkers heading toward me. They had great form and were moving fast. Though I was excited to see racewalkers, I felt like a … fitness walker! Not only was I wearing the wrong shoes (I couldn't flex my feet) but honestly, who racewalks in jeans. The last thing I looked like was a “racewalker.” I didn't say anything to the fast walking women because of my appearance. There's no way they would believe I was anything more than what I looked like.

But, if I see them there in the future, and I'm in form, I’ll definitely say “hi.”

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pre-Loaded Audiobooks at Library

I'm a big fan of Audiobooks. I don't have as much time to read for fun as I would like, and Audiobooks allow me to multi-task. I especially enjoy these books while walking.

Usually I download books in an MP3 format to my MP3 player, or will play CDs in my car. I have nearly exhausted the CD collection at my local library and the downloadable books from the Mid-Ohio Library Digital Initiative. (BTW: Who thought that the acronym MOLDI was a good idea?)

Now my local library also carries Playaway books -- self-playing digital Audiobooks. According to the Playaway web site, these lightweight players can hold up to 80 hours of music or other digital files.

The player is a little larger than my MP3 player, but it is light and can easily fit in a pocket or be attached to a lanyard. They take a single AAA battery. Of the books I've checked out, only one needed to have the battery replaced before I could enjoy the book. There is a universal headphone jack and you will need to provide your own headphones.

The instructions are pretty easy to follow and I have had no difficulty figuring out how to use the devices. The collection is also growing, so there are several good titles to choose from.

Though I like the convenience of these players, I find the sound quality is not the best. Many narrators sound as if they have a pronounced lisp. Even using the graphic equalizer button, there is a limit to how good the quality can get. The files I download from MOLDI are of a much higher quality.

I found I sometimes cannot get the device loud enough to hear the book over heavy traffic noises, but that might be my headphones.

Some of the titles I've enjoyed include "You: On a Walk," by Mehmet Oz and Michael F. Roizen; Stephen King's "The Gingerbread Girl"; and a collection of King's short stories "Just After Sunset."

If you are interested in trying Audiobooks but you aren't sure if you should invest in an MP3 player or don't want to carry a CD-player around, this is a great option. But because of the sound quality, if any of these books are also available in MP3 or on CD, I'll definitely do that first.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What a Difference...

The members of the Buckeye Striders entered in half marathons this Spring met 45 min earlier than the rest of the members to fit in our extra miles. (We needed 7 today.)

Deb set the pace, which was pretty quick. We walked straight out on the bike trail for 25 min., then turned around to meet the others who were starting at about 8 a.m. We turned around and went straight out for another 30 min., but it took only 28 for us to return.

Because of where we started, it wasn't accurate to use the mile markers on the trail. And because the pace seemed fast, using our ballpark of a 15-min mile didn't work either. Luckily, one of the walkers had GPS and it indicated we had actually walked 7.5 miles! The online pace calculator I use says we averaged 14:24 per mile!

Not bad considering Thursday I had trouble maintaining a 15-min mile! What a difference a couple of days can have on your pace! I'm sure resting Friday helped, too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Keeping Training on Track

Today Deb and I met for our 3-mile training walk. The Scioto River seemed a little small after walking beside the Mississippi River for three days. Still the sun was shining, temps were in the mid-50s and it was a beautiful day.

Because of the huge number of blisters I've been getting lately, I didn't wear the salmon-colored NB shoes. Instead, I wore the Chinese racewalking shoes. These shoes feel like slippers and are great for racewalking.

Our times were:
Mile 1 - 14:33
Mile 2 - 15:05
Mile 3 - 14:40

The reason for the reduction in speed was all me. Deb was ready to keep on going at that first-mile pace. I think because of the extra walking I had this week (airports and around the city), and the fact I don't sleep well in hotels, I was a little more tired than she was. Regardless, I'm glad we are picking up speed.

Dinner with Jaye

When I travel, I often try to meet up with walkers I know: either members of the Walking Team or people I've met at various events.

While in St. Louis earlier this week, I had dinner with Jaye, a member of the Walking Team. I met her in Detroit last Fall with the Team. Though most of us did the Detroit Half Marathon, Jaye was fast enough to do the whole marathon.

It was really fun! We drove through some very interesting parts of St. Louis, and she took me to a great Greek restaurant. (There was even a belly dancer!) We talked about her recent finish of the Little Rock Marathon, our mutual friends, upcoming race, our families, and of course the possibility of doing the St. Louis Marathon next Spring.

Thanks, Jaye! I had a great time! And I hope to see you at the starting line of your local marathon next April.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Basilica of St. Louis

While in St. Louis, I saw a small church where I would cross the street to the Arch. Though I walked past it several times, on my last walk I noticed the doors were open and went inside. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was a Catholic church and discovered it was founded in 1770. In fact it was the first Cathedral west of the Mississippi.

Though rebuilt more than once, it was obvious it was an old church. The outside was beautiful stone, the pews were quite a bit different from modern pews and it had a calming feel to it.

This church has more statues than you would expect considering how small the building is. I was especially impressed with St. Joan of Arc, an amazing woman, and St. Theresa, my Mom's favorite saint. There is a candle that will remain lit for the entire Lenten season as a continuous prayer to St. Joseph for the unemployed. I walked around, enjoying the quiet and calm. I admired the statues, even the Infant of Prague (as a kid, the one my parents had creeped me out), and even sat down for a few minutes.

Just being inside felt special. I spent a few minutes thinking about all of the people who have been in that church since 1770. I even wondered if any famous people had sat in the same pew I was in. I don't think I can adequately explain what a positive impact the visit had on me. I am very glad I took the time to go inside.

The above photo can be found on the Basilica's web site: http://www.psichurch.com/churches/140stlouis/history.html

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Another 4 Miles+ in St. Louis

My meetings ended much earlier than I had anticipated today, so I was able to get out in the bright sunshine and walk 4 miles! Because of the blisters I had from the previous day's walk (actually, not fully healed from last week walking in dress socks), I decided to skip racewalking and walk in my hiking shoes. Eventually, I ended up walking to the middle of the bridge looking over the Mississippi and watched the water. Very cool!

Because I wasn't racewalking, it was a little harder to know how far I walked in a little over an hour.

Then later tonight a group of us went to a great Italian restaurant for dinner. One of our group said it was only a 15-min walk from the restaurant to the hotel, so we decided to walk back. The only problem is, I decided to wear heels assuming we would NOT walk. Well, it was more than a 20-min walk back, and I was wearing heels with dress socks. I have new blisters under my big toe on each foot. Yes, they hurt. I probably will not have time to get in another 4 miles before my flight home tomorrow, but I'll try. Otherwise, maybe I can fit in a few miles at the airport. Regardless, I will NOT be wearing heels.

(St. Louis photos to come.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

4-Miles Under the St. Louis Arch!

I am in St. Louis for a few days for business meetings. Usually when I'm traveling for this job, it is a full day of meetings with maybe a 1-hour break in the middle. (Working lunches.) Today, for some odd reason, I had a 3-hour gap starting around 1 p.m.! Woo hoo!

I ran to my room (I actually walked very quickly), threw on some workout clothes and went across the street to the park where the St. Louis arch is located. It is a beautiful day and a beautiful location! The sun is shining and it is comfortably warm.

Unfortunately, I walked from one end of the park to the other pretty quickly. I needed 4 miles and I've been averaging about a 15-min mile the last week or two. As much as I like this location, it was going to get boring. So, I went down some huge stairs to the Mississippi River and walked on the sidewalk beside the river. Not nearly as pretty, but it was VERY cool to be beside the river and watch the barges!

I went north as far as the gambling riverboat, turned south until I reached the end of the sidewalk, ran up and down the stairs a couple of times, did one more loop around the park and called it a day.

I went the wrong way to my hotel and ended up walking nearly all the way around the block and past Busch Stadium, but it was a nice cool down. I had purchased a bottle of water from a vendor by the river, so the added steps were not a big deal.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to get in any miles on Tuesday. My schedule is much tighter. I also have new blisters that are annoying! But at the very least, I'll be able to get in 4 more miles before flying out on Wednesday.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Early Morning Saturday

I don't like to get up in the morning. In fact, I'm fond of saying, "If I have to get up THAT early, there better be Class-V rapids involved." (I love white water rafting!)

That being said, when training for a long-distance race it is easier to fit in longer training walks if you start early in the day.

Deb and I met at about 7:30 this morning to start our 6-miles at a park in Westerville. The rest of the Buckeye Striders were arriving at 8:00 and we wanted to get 2 miles in before they arrived.

It was dark with temps in the low 30s when we started. We walked straight out on the bike trail for 1 mile, then walked back in time to meet the others. When the group gathered, we turned around to walk out 2 more miles and back for our total of 6.

Around mile 4 I noticed how beautiful the day was. The sun was up, the temps were rising (slightly), there was no breeze, the trail was very pretty and I was walking with friends! I was very happy I had crawled out of my nice warm bed before the sun rose to be here with these people!

Could there be a better way to start a day? Well, OK, only if there are Class-V rapids involved. (But this is a close second.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cutting it Short Thursday

Because of a baseball meeting at the high school yesterday, I wasn't able to fit in an entire 3-mile walk. But I did get in 2 miles. Not so bad!

I'm back on schedule for the Flying Pig and I'm ready for 6 miles tomorrow!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Amazing Person Running Boston

Through my connections with the many walkers I meet, I do "occasionally" meet runners. There is one runner I don't know as well as her fast-walking husband, but from what I do know, she is pretty amazing. Her name is Andrea Applegate.

When I've been around Andrea, she has been up beat and enthusiastic. The positive vibes she projects are contagious. Even through Twitter, she has encouraged me when I've been down about my training.

Andrea is also a member of one of those statistics none of us ever expects to be included in. She was diagnosed with breast cancer while in her 30s. I don't have the exact numbers, but most of us know that the typical woman diagnosed with breast cancer is usually much older. Andrea was diagnosed 9 years ago.

This week Andrea talked frankly about her cancer fight in a local TV interview. She said that she hit the cancer "trifecta:" mastectomies, chemo and radiation. If I hadn't been told, I would never guess that this vibrant, athletic person could have ever been that sick.

Now, in the best shape of her life, Andrea is fulfilling a life-long dream by training to run the Boston Marathon. At the same time, she is raising money on behalf of the Young Survival Coalition. "The YSC provides much needed support, programming and advocacy for young women with breast cancer because, yes, young women DO get breast cancer," she says on her fundraising page.

This blog post does not adequately express the inspiration I feel from Andrea. Despite my writing inadequacies, I'd like to encourage everyone to help support her fundraising efforts. She needs to raise $2,500 to secure a spot in the marathon, but wouldn't it be great if she raised even more? And unlike other charity fundraisers, 100% of the contributions raised go to the YSC!

It's a great cause for an amazing person!

Andrea's fundraising page: http://www.active.com/donate/run4survivalboston09/AndreaApplegate
To learn more about the Young Survival Coalition visit their web site at: http://www.youngsurvival.org/about-ysc/
Follow Andrea on Twitter: @AndreaApplegate

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Favorite New Ice Pack

I'm pretty low tech about a lot of health and fitness stuff. (That's why I like walking!) In fact, when it comes to treating my temperamental knees, I usually just use a bag of frozen peas.

Recently I purchased an ice pack aptly called WRAPZ. The reusable ice pack goes into a purple fabric wrap that can be attached to the knee with elastic straps and Velcro.

What a great idea! I don't like ice packs that require you to sit still or prop your leg to keep the ice on. With the WRAPZ, not only can I sit however I want, I can even get up and walk around!

There is a strap at both the top and the bottom of the pouch that wrap in opposite directions across the top of the pack to keep it attached securely. The elastic also keeps the pack at just the right compression. The Velcro is strong enough to hold everything in place, even when moving.

It takes about 2 hours for the ice pack to freeze all the way through. That seems like a long time when I forgot to put it back in the freezer. But once it was frozen, I was able to ice each knee a couple of times for 15 min. each before it was too thawed.

Though I don't ever use heat on my knees, this pack can be used hot or cold.

For more info, go to www.wrapz.biz. I bought mine at CVS, but I don't recall the price.

Time to ice my knees!

Warm Day in Columbus

What a beautiful early evening for a 3-mile walk! Temps in the 70s, though it was windy. Again I was overdressed in light leggings and a very lightweight long-sleeved technical shirt. Last night when I packed my gym bag, I thought it would be cooler out today.

I had also forgotten to pack a pair of athletic socks and ended up wearing my dress socks. Can you say "blisters"? Yep! I'm getting a blister on the inside edge of both heels. Good thing we walked just 3 miles.

It was fun to get back to walking with Deb again!


My knees felt great until I sat down in this desk chair tonight. I wonder if the chair is the wrong height. It always feels as if my knees are more strained in this chair. I'll try lowering it.

I'm not overly worried about the swollen knees. This happens every year in the spring when I increase my training for the first half marathon of the year. As the muscles around my knee strengthen, it will go away.

In the meantime, I need to get out either my icepack or the frozen peas.

Monday, March 09, 2009

3 Miles Easy

To get in my 3-mile walk today, I again head off to the library. Because my knees are still a little swollen from Saturday's workout, I wanted to get in the miles without increasing the stress. Walking to the library is always a little less intense than a racewalk workout.

So, I walked the mile to the library, returned some books, did the 1-mile lap around the park, went back inside to pick out new books, and walked home. Though I walked briskly, it was not intense.

The temps were in the 60s and because of the time change, it was light late enough for me to feel comfortable doing the loop around the park.

Though I don't like the Spring time change (I hate having to get up any earlier in the morning than necessary), it is nice that it is light out longer in the evening. I'm much more likely to find the time to get out and walk.

Have You E-mailed WALK! Magazine Recently?

If you have e-mailed WALK! Magazine recently, you might have noticed you did not yet get a response. I'm working on it.

For a variety of reasons, e-mail have not been answered in a timely manner. In addition, I recently, I was unable to even access the admin@walk-magazine.com account!

I now have access to the account, have deleted all SPAM, and have started to answer all of your e-mails. I will get through all of them as quickly as possible.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

To Buy Organic or Not

We all like to make the healthiest choices when buying food. Though I know organic foods can be the better choice, I don't always see the benefit compared to spending the extra money. I recently found these two lists on The Daily Green which clears up how we should make our organic-buying decisions.

According to the web site, the following are 10 foods that you do not have to eat organic:
- Asparagas
- Avocado
- Bananas
- Broccoli
- Cabbage
- Kiwi
- Mango
- Onion
- Papaya
- Pineapple

Also from that web site are the 12 foods that you should eat organic:
- Meat
- Milk
- Coffee
- Peaches
- Apples
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Celery
- Strawberries
- Leafy Greens
- Grapes
- Potatoes
- Tomatoes

Will it affect your buying decisions?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

This Morning's Walk

I ended up at Antrim Park about 9:30 this morning. Though slightly overcast, the morning was beautiful! It was about 62 degrees, slight breeze and perfect for walking.

The strange thing is, the park wasn't crowded!

Since training for my first marathon years ago, there are a couple things I have learned about Ohio athletes.
1) Most people do not train outside year round.
2) Runners and walkers go nuts in the Spring and Fall.
3) These same people avoid parks in the Winter and Summer.

I usually try to avoid popular parks like Antrim the first few warm days in the Spring. On days like today, they are usually packed with people who have not been outside since the last warm Fall day. And these people are not just runners, walkers and bikers, they usually include families pushing strollers and tons of people with dogs. (I don't have anything against dogs--we have three. But I prefer other people's dogs to be on leashes within inches of their owners. That doesn't happen a lot in parks.)

So, I was surprised when I arrived this morning and found a parking spot right away. I did three laps around the lake and rarely had to pass anyone. There was only one unleashed dog. There were a few bikes, but not too many.

Not quite sure what to make of it. Did everyone else work out early? Did the clouds that looked like rain scare people off? Were they all at the Arnold Expo?

Regardless, it was a great morning for walking and most of Columbus seems to have missed out.

Because of a few bad Winter walks where I literally froze, I have this horrible habit of over-dressing. (I hate being cold.) Though in the 60s, I still took a windbreaker with me. After one lap I was so hot I took the jacket off. After the second lap, I regretted wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt.

I think I'm just going to have to accept that in the Winter I wear too many layers. But I cannot continue to over-dress in the Spring. Somehow, I have to deal with this fear of being cold.

Training for the Pig

As I have reported before, my training for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon has been a little bit off due to other commitments and the fact there are only 24 hours in a day. In fact, I haven't even looked at a training schedule until later today.

I did 3.6 miles this morning thinking that about 4 miles would be right. Wrong! On one training schedule I should have been up to 8 miles this week! Oh no! The good news, I have plenty of training programs for various difficulties, and a beginner's schedule indicated 6 miles today. Whew! I think with a little bit of tweaking and consistent walking, I should be able to do the Pig no problem. It won't be my fastest half, but I should be OK.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Walks this Week

I keep thinking that just blogging when I walk is pretty boring. (To you the readers, not me.) But here I go again with another walking update.

Wednesday was a beautiful late winter day! It was sunny, temps were in the 50s and Deb and I walked for about 3 miles along the river. We didn't walk too hard, but we were using good racewalking form. Because of other commitments, it has been very difficult to get out walking enough. In fact, it may have been two months since I walked with Deb. Walking with a good friend just makes my day and since we had not seen each other in a while we had PLENTY to talk about!

I didn't get out to "walk" again until today. (I wasn't able to meet with the Buckeye Striders yesterday. Darn!) Weekends get busy and I had errands to run as well as the need to walk. So I reverted to my old habit of walking to the library. Haven't done it in a while and it felt good! I dropped off a bunch of books and picked up some new ones. I tried to hurry, so I have no idea if the new books will even be any good. The only bad part was the wind had picked up and it was in my face for most of the way home. I did bring my gator just in case, and I definitely needed it. It was sunny and much warmer on my way there.

I can't believe I have to keep reminding myself of this. I ALWAYS feel better--mentally and physically--when I'm walking regularly. I don't know what more I can say!

I gave up Diet Coke for Lent. I can't believe I did it again considering how hard it was last year! I'm not sure if it is my addiction to the caffeine that is the problem, or just the taste of DC. Other beverages are just not cutting it! The good news is, since I do drink so much of it, and other pops don't do much for me, I should save a ton of money by drinking more water. (I know, I know. I should do it anyway.)