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.