Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu and the Flying Pig



Do you remember the Swine Flu outbreak of 1976? I vaguely do. Still it was surprising to read online that more people died from the rushed vaccine than from the actual illness.

To put current events into perspective, annually an average of 36,000 people in the U.S. die from a typical influenza season. (Check out for more information.) The last Swine Flu outbreak didn't come anywhere near that number of deaths. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was fewer than 100 people who died.

Regardless, I'm not being stupid -- I am diligently washing my hands and avoiding people with symptoms.

My biggest concern, which I admit is somewhat selfish, is how this outbreak is going to affect the marathons and half marathons being held this weekend. There are three big races in and around Columbus and I know at least one person entered in each -- Capital City Half, Cincinnati Flying Pig and Indy Mini Marathon.

I'm assuming/hoping that anyone who has anything remotely close to a flu symptom will stay home. You can't do a long-distance event with the flu! Still, there are always people who will go to an expo or stand in crowds cheering on their friends even if they aren't feeling well. Maybe with the added publicity, sick people will be more inclined to stay home.

On the local news they reported that a couple of ways to prevent getting the illness include keeping active and eating healthy foods. The typical marathoner/half marathoner does that -- especially close to race date.

So, let's all wash our hands, eat healthy foods and keep active.

Here's hoping that the outbreak dies down quickly, few people are infected and that it doesn't affect our races!


For many people influenza is like being pushed off a cliff. Neither the push (the flu) nor the fall (underlying condition) kills you.

It is the sudden stop.

(Quoted from:

Not Much to Add

I did my 30 min today. I didn't walk very hard and it felt good. My legs feel heavy, but that can be expected -- this is our taper week!

I hate the uncomfortableness of having heavy legs, but I'll get over it. Once I'm done playing online, and put my laptop away, it will help me get over the uncomfortable feeling. I don't know why my laptop does it, but it does.

The only bad thing about going to Cinci is, I love Izzy's. Izzy's is not something I can eat the day before a big race. Darn!

OK, let's keep walking!

Monday, April 27, 2009

I Think I'm Ready

I bought Cran Razz Clif Shot Bloks today.

My clothes have been washed and I know which shoes I will wear. I have a couple clothes options in case the weather changes and a throw-away sweatshirt lined up. Deb has made the hotel reservations and the travel plans.

Today I received my bib number via e-mail: 13540. You can track me throughout the race at: That is so cool!

I got in my 30-min walk tonight. Tapering is great!

I also know where I'll be buying goetta to bring back with me.

I think I'm ready! (OK, I keep forgetting to make a reservation for the pasta dinner, but otherwise, I'm ready.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Importance of Race medals

As I removed the "stack" of race medals hanging over the corner of my dresser mirror, they clanged together like wind chimes. I guess I've never picked them all off at one time before, because I was surprised at the pretty sound.

I laid them out on the bed in chronological order. My favorite is the 2000 Air Force Marathon medal from my first (of only two) full marathon. It's large and pretty heavy. I remember it being a little uncomfortable to wear for very long after the race because of the weight. I looked at the detail and I still think it is a very cool medal. As I looked at the medals, it dawned on me that the quality DOES affect my perception of a race.

Many of us say we don't do a race just for the medal. Others say if races did not give medals, they would still do them. However, how I feel about a race after the fact is often colored by the quality of the medal.

After just about every race I've entered, the finishers stand around talking about the event in general and we invariably discuss the medal hanging around our necks. One race I did several years ago, the medal was so thin and ugly, we all laughed! The race also ran out of medals and several of us said we didn't even care. Basically, the finishers felt the race was being cheap and did not care about the people in the race. I still laugh every time I see that medal. (Yes, I laughed today.)

When we finished Big Sur last year, the medals hung from a leather thong and looked as if they were made from clay. We all thought they were very cool. Part of the positive experience of that particular race is the fact it had a unique medal which fit the feeling we had of the race. The race itself was cool.

A few races I've entered even make their medals into collector items, changing the design enough that you really want to have more than one. The Fox Cities Marathon in Appleton, Wi and the U.S. Air Force Marathon both do that. (I'm sure there are many others, those two I know about firsthand.) Air Force features a different military airplane/jet each year that is the focus of the shirt and medal.

OK, so I don't decide whether to do a race strictly because of the medal. If I did, I probably would have done Little Rock a long time ago! But how I talk about the race afterward, my positive or negative feelings toward it always include the quality of that after-race reward. And I admit, I have entered a couple races more than once because the medal was great. Case in point is the Flying Pig -- not only was the race great and the volunteers fantastic, the medal is pretty darn cute. It added to my reasons for doing it again this year.

Now if you were a race director, wouldn't it be worth it to spend a little extra on medals and have your finishers leave with an even more positive attitude toward your event?

Part of the reason I even began thinking about race medals is because of a conversation some Buckeye Striders had recently about how to count if you've done a race in every state. One walker was deciding whether the Flying Pig would count for Kentucky because it crosses the river into Kentucky for a few miles. She then mentioned that the race she is doing in Vermont might not give out medals and she considering counting only races that give medals.

My personal opinion is, if the race is promoted as being in a specific state, then it counts. For example the State to State would count for Ohio and Indiana. But, the Flying Pig is promoted as an Ohio race, so I would count it as just Ohio. And whether the race gives out medals or not, if you did the race, it counts. (Though it would be more cool to have a medal from each state.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Playaway Audiobook Update

I've picked up a couple more Playaway audiobooks since I did my product review. I'm not as sold on them as I was back then. Lately I've been unhappy with the device's performance.

As I mentioned in my initial review, the sound quality is not the best. With the last two items I listened to, the buttons did not work well. One would not allow me to reverse or fast forward, the buttons also did weird things when I put the player in my pocket. The one I have now doesn't save where I stop. It's annoying to try to pick up where you left off only to have to repeat a couple chapters of the story.

Based on this recent experience, I'm not sure how often I will listen to Playaway books. Maybe it will be OK if I stick to the most recent releases before the buttons get worn out.

Warm 8 Miles Today

After how cold it has been, I'm not going to complain about it being too hot today when it was in the 60s. At the same time, the temps felt much warmer than it really was because we are not acclimated. The heat also made me worry about what the weather will be like next week. Doing a half marathon when it is suddenly warmer than usual can be tough.

Today we did 8 miles starting at 7 a.m. It is our last long distance before the half next week. The cool thing is, 8 miles was 3 miles shorter than we walked last week.

We did the first mile in about 14:30, the rest were closer to 15:00 or 15:07. I had hoped we would stay closer to 14:50. Still we did 7.8 miles in 1:57:41 and used the last 0.2 miles as a cool down. This gives us an average pace of 15:05, slower than I'd like to be. I'm confident we will be faster next week.

OK, now I have to rethink what I'm going to wear next week. I had not planned to wear a WALK! Magazine shirt because the magazine folded, but at the same time, they are my favorite shirts.

OK, we continue to taper and should have a nice easy week!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Last Intense Hill Workout Before the Pig

We did our regular weekly hill workout today! After all of those days of rain this week, it was a treat to be able to walk in sunshine.

We felt pretty good. I've said it before, but it's true -- we can feel the difference in our strength by doing hills. Though Cincinnati is pretty hilly, I'm really only concerned about Eden Park. I've trained harder this year than the last time I did the Pig, so I should be fine.

I also keep thinking about when we did Big Sur. Everyone warned us about Hurricane Point, but the worst part of the race was the continuous hills later on.

We think we'll do a light hill workout next week, but if the weather doesn't cooperate we can skip it. We are tapering after all!

I know we'll be fine in Cinci as long as it isn't too hot that day. Maybe we'll even PR.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Did a quick walk through the neighborhood tonight with my son. I had planned to get in the whole 3 miles, but I'm really tight on time.

While we were out, it started to sprinkle with the sun shining and the most beautiful rainbow appeared! The colors were very bright and the rainbow reached across the sky in a complet half circle. It was beautiful!

It was a great way to end a dreary, rainy Monday. I'm ready -- bring on Tuesday!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Update Coming

I'll have an update about WALK! Magazine (folded), the new WALK! Newsletter and everything else soon. I've just been unable to think clearly enough today to write a good posting. At the same time, I'm still getting many questions about the magazine and the future newsletter.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please send an e-mail to me at admin at

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Got My Mileage In

Boy, it was chilly today! I thought it would warm up pretty early, so I decided to wear shorts. Not the right decision. It took almost 2 hours before I warmed up!

We walked on a bike trail in Westerville for 5.5 miles (1.25 hrs) out, turned around and came back.

It was a very pretty trail and it was nice to do an out and back in such a nice location. It was rainy this week and we were lucky it wasn't today.

Other than my wearing shorts, the only other problem I had was I ran out of Clif Shot Bloks and was unable to buy more before this morning's mileage. I ended up eating a Promax (small) around mile 8 instead. It was better than nothing. I'll have to buy some Shot Bloks tomorrow to be sure I have what I need between now and the half marathon.

I felt great after the walk, though I felt a little stiff later on. I'm really looking forward to tapering and I can't wait to head to Cinci for the Pig!

Friday, April 17, 2009

11 Miles in the Morning...

Are you ready? We are heading out really early -- about 6:45 start, which means I have to be up before six to get there on time. Whew!

I guess it shows how much I enjoy walking with my walking club that I'm willing to get up that early just to walk with them!

Flying Pig or bust!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Only 16 Days to the Pig!

So, of course, we did hills. We did just 5 reps of our weekly "up a hill down the other" side repeat routine.

I was a little more tired than usual. I think part of it was I had too much Easter candy earlier today, and I just didn't feel right.

Still, it was a good workout.

Our next group workout is at 6:45 Saturday morning when we do 11 miles. Elaine is concerned that there are no hills on the planned route, but that is why we do hills during the week.

I am really getting excited!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Are Your Favorite 'Natural' Foods What you Think?

Just found out my favorite granola bars, the crunchy Kashi brand bars, are made by Kellogg's! It definitely changes my perception of the brand. Now I'm wondering about the quality. Did Kellogg's change them at all? Are the ingredients still natural? (What about the Kashi family?)

Check out some of your favorite "natural" brands here:

I was a Wimp!

It was raining. I didn't feel like getting cold and wet. So today, I carried an umbrella. I know, I know... I'm a wimp! But I did get out and I walked for 3 miles, I just was not very fast.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Food Review -- Panera Greek Salad

I'm picky about restaurant salads. The greens must be green and there must be enough stuff on it to make it worth eating, yet toppings should not all be garbage.

I recently went to Panera for their salmon salad that was a seasonal menu item. Unfortunately, they will not be bringing it back, so I tried the Greek salad. What a disappointment!

The salad had Romaine lettuce, Kalamata olives, red onion, feta, pepperoncini (I love them!), tomatoes and their own Greek salad dressing. That sounds delicious, doesn't it?

On the good side, the ingredients are all quality, the dressing was tasty and the entire salad was only 440 calories. The problem is, besides the Romaine, there was not much of anything on the salad. Four small pieces of tomato, a few sprinkles of Feta, a couple of olives... Basically, it was a bowl of lettuce, which might explain the low calorie count.

Being the "quiet" person I am, I immediately sent an e-mail to Panera explaining my dissatisfaction with the salad. I received a canned e-mail response saying they were sorry for my disappointment and offered a gift card. That was very nice and I accepted the free lunch. Still, they did not admit there was anything wrong with the salad.

Despite my not liking this salad, I like the fact that Panera responded to my complaint very quickly. Yes, I'll go back, but I probably won't order a salad.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

10 Miles

The 10 miles we walked today would have been much easier if I had slept well last night. For some reason, I kept having disturbing dreams that revolved around the movie we watched last night which caused me to wake and toss and turn.

Still, I was at the park at 7 a.m. to meet the Buckeye Striders to get in our training miles.

The first 2 miles were rough. I felt too tired to walk that far. But the more we walked the better I felt. The hills at Sharon Woods didn't even bother me! (Our hill workouts are working for us!)

We averaged a 15 min mile, which is usually on the slow side for us. But all of us were feeling the need to emphasize the "slow" part of the long slow distance this weekend.

After a good long stretch and a cup of coffee with breakfast after we finished, I've felt pretty good all day. I did end up standing in the kitchen a lot today pre-cooking some stuff for tomorrow's dinner, and that has made me a little tired, but there is no pain.

Next week we do 11 miles, then we taper until the Pig!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Hills Again!

We did five reps -- up the hill, down the other side, then up that hill and back to where we started. We could tell we are getting stronger. Today's reps were easy until the middle of the third rep.

I wish we had done hills before Big Sur! I feel fantastic!

I'm Not Obsessed

Seriously, I'm not obsessed with getting races to offer women's sizes -- I just want race garments that fit.

If the shirts or jackets offered are a brand name and a quality product, the men's small usually fits me. I get frustrated when you do all of the training, pay the money for the race, you finish the race, and yet you can't wear the shirt or jacket.

One New Year's Day race gave out a shirt that was an unusual color (not white) and I was pretty excited to wear it. The sleeves were too short for my arms, and yet the arm holes were so huge, the sleeves were like bat wings. And of course I always bring up the fleece jacket that was so huge my son who plays HS football wears it.

I admit it, I like the fact that more races are recognizing that more women than men enter their events. And sometimes I wonder what would happen if a race that attracts 70% women did not have any men's sizes.

But seriously, I'm not obsessed, I just want shirts that fit. And if it is a woman's size, all the better.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Races Offering Women's Shirts

I can't figure out a couple of things: 1) Why, when races only gave out cotton T-shirts, did the shirts fit me? 2) When the majority of people who enter races is female, why do races only offer men's garments? (One race I'm aware of has over 70% female participants.) 3) Why do men's technical shirts run so much larger than the old-fashioned cotton?

The new trend is to call the technical shirts "unisex," but basically that just means they are men's shirts.

But some race directors are getting the hint! There are a couple of races that are starting to offer women's sizes in race shirts!

The Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus, OH this May now offers women's shirts. This is a John Bingham race, and from what I can gather, this is the first year for women's sizes. The breakdown of entrants averages 60% female.

Other races offering women's sizes:
- The Columbus Marathon has offered technical shirts in women's sizes for several years.
- The Nike Women's Marathon, CA.
- The Leading Ladies Marathon, SD.
- I assume the MORE Marathon, NYC, does, too.

Anyone know of other races offering women's shirts? Let's get the word out!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Training in April Sleet

Yes, I ended up doing a couple of miles in today's sleet. It felt a lot colder than it actually was because it has been warm lately. Because of that, I wore my winter coat and heavy shoes and walked to the library instead of doing "real" miles.

My original plan was to just reach the library, return books and head back home for 2 miles. I warmed up pretty well once I got to the library and the wind had reduced, so I decided to do one lap around the park for a total of 3.2 miles. It's not the 4 miles scheduled, but it was better than nothing.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

What do you do with old race numbers?

When straightening my room earlier today, I found a small stack of about six race numbers that had been sitting on my dresser. I then felt the need to dig out my entire collection of numbers. Most are just in a big 10 X 12 envelope. Some are probably stuck in the bottom of gym bags or scattered around my office. Still, I just can't throw them away.

Each number brought back memories of the fun and excitement of that race. The Country Music Marathon Half was great! The Air Force Marathon was the only full marathon I have entered and was where I met my buddy Jim from Memphis. I have quite a few from Race for the Cure. Big Sur had those killer hills! The News and Sentinel Half Marathon in Parkersburg is where I PRd. (Hills and heat?)

On the back of some of them I've written my finish time. (I had intended to do it with each race.) Some have places for emergency information and I saw the names and cell phone numbers of the people I entered with.

Because of these happy memories, I'd like to do something with them. I saw online that a woman made a dress out of hers. (Not my style.) I know others frame theirs, though I have too many for that. I could put them in a scrapbook, but I doubt if I will. In the meantime, I'll probably just put them all back in that 10 X 12 envelope until the next time I find some laying around.

So, what do you do with your old race bibs?

Stiff on Saturday

I know I've had a good workout that will improve my walking when I can feel my muscles.

Late in the afternoon Saturday, my legs were feeling heavy as I climbed the stairs. And then at the movie theater last night, I could not sit still for the last half hour of the movie! I really needed to walk around and could NOT get comfortable.

Today, they are feeling a little heavy though not sore at all. I can't wait to tackle hills again this week to see how we've improved.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

9 Miles at Franklin Park

I'm not a big fan of walking at Franklin Park. It's in our walking club's rotation for the members who live on that side of town. It's a little over a 1-mile loop, there were puddles after the recent rain, and the construction makes it a little awkward. Plus, I just don't like having to do so many loops for 9 miles.

What I like about walking here is it is easy for the various members of our club to find the group. We had a total of about eight of us coming and going, with only three doing the entire 9 miles.

We started at 7 a.m. just as the sun was coming up. It was pretty chilly when we started, less than 40 degrees, but it was a beautiful morning. The first 2 miles I was stiff, but I eventually warmed up and it felt good. (I did NOT overdress today!)

So, though I do not like having to get out of bed on chilly mornings, this was definitely worth it! It was a beautiful morning walking with good friends, and I feel fantastic!

Thursday we did hills at Griggs Reservoir. Because six reps was too much last week -- we were sore for a couple of days -- we did just five reps. It felt great! And though I could feel my muscles, they were not sore. We are definitely getting stronger and I know we will be ready for the Flying Pig next month!