Sunday, May 31, 2009

Too Busy to Walk -- Sort Of

Some really tough deadlines requiring lots of overtime, an upcoming family wedding, a "graduation" of sorts, end of school-year events and stress overall have led to my lack of walking this past week. It's not that I didn't walk at all, the walking I did was completely uneventful and low key.

My son and husband walked in the neighborhood with me a couple of times, I walked to the library once, and that was about it. The walks kept me moving a little, and probably helped a little with my stress, but didn't do much else. I didn't raise my heart rate, didn't breath hard and certainly did not break a sweat.

These walks were more for mental health and bonding than for fitness. I thought it was cute when my son asked me to walk with him one night. Alone time with my 15 year old -- at his request!

We still have another week until the wedding, deadlines are looming and the stress is still pretty intense. I don't see any major workouts happening this week with family coming to town and time so short. But I'm hoping that at the least I'll still be able to fit in a couple evening walks.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!

Revised from 2008

Memorial Day is one of those holidays I didn't understand as a kid. It was always May 30, my Grandma's and my sister's birthday. (For a number of years I think my sister thought the parade was for her.) And somehow it signaled the start of summer.

We would always go to visit my Mom's and Dad's families in Port Clinton and Marblehead, OH up along Lake Erie. In my earliest memories, we would go to the parade (standing up each time an American flag went by) then cook out and play all day with our cousins. If we stayed with my Dad's parents for the weekend, we would be fishing the rest of the time.

Later, when Port Clinton added the Walleye Festival, the town had two parades. We only went to one, but I can never remember whether it was the Walleye Parade, or the Memorial Day Parade we watched. As young adults, we would camp out at my parents' old farm house (my grandparents' house) that was on the shore of the Sandusky Bay. We had three acres to hang out on and would invite as many friends as we could to go up for the weekend. We would swim, fish, have camp fires and just have a blast. Dad always had all of the inner tubes inflated before we got there. And he always found a way to get a TV with the Indy 500 close to our personal beach. (I only ever watched the last 5 minutes.) We would all go to the Walleye Festival at least one evening of the weekend.

Things have changed quite a bit now that my grandparents and parents are all gone. We still sometimes go up for the weekend, but we feel more like guests than we used to. The beach is no longer owned by my family, the old farm house is gone and the new house won't be ours much longer either. I haven't been fishing in probably 10 years.

Life is a little more stressful this year than last. Several of my friends have been affected by unemployment, student loans are harder to get, WALK! Magazine folded and I seriously need to buy a clothes dryer and a car for our daughter. And we still own that house that we expected to sell over a year ago.

But that is OK. Some things change, some things don't, and life goes on. Though I thought we were developing new traditions in 2008, the stress of the year caused me to completely forget what we did last year until today. Despite not hosting a big family cookout, and I'm not entered in a Monday race, my family did a lot of relaxing and hanging out together and the three of us cooked out shish kabob. Unfortunately, my husband has to work on Monday. I would have entered a race, but I'm trying to spend less money right now.

Despite our highs and lows this past 12 months, what is important this weekend is to remember that we live in a great country, one of the safest in the world. I'm thankful I have the choice of hosting a cookout, watching a parade or not entering a 5-mile race to celebrate the freedom we have. (I'll enter a race next year, I promise!)

So, on Memorial Day weekend, I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy yourself, your family and our country. And don't forget why we have the freedom to make these choices.

Affected by Heat?

In Central Ohio we've had unusual temperatures. It was colder than typical at the beginning of Spring, and now it is unusually hot.

Normally heat does not bother me once I am acclimated. However, with the sudden heat, I'm not adjusted yet. My walk this morning was just to the library, one loop around the Lane Road Park, and back home for 3 miles total.

That short walk and whatever pollens are prevalent right now wiped me out! Not only was I unable to walk fast, I've been dragging and had a headache most of the day. (Usually after a morning walk, I feel more energized.)

Once I'm acclimated, I'll be fine. It just takes a little time walking in heat for me to adjust.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Walkscapes: Taking a New Look at Walking

To Francesco Careri, the act of walking is a form of art. Careri is an Italian architect, urban theorist and author of the book Walkscapes. In the book, Careri advocates looking for art in everyday life while walking.

OSU has a Walkscapes group celebrating walking for a month (starting in April) and encouraging participants to document their discoveries and feelings. According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch today, the group had several activities to encourage walking and creativity. A couple people participated in a stick-throwing walk intended to help participants experience walking in a new way.

Though I admire the creativity of the students, I don't think this is something I personally would get involved in. But if it encourages walking and exercise, it can't be all bad.

For more information, check out the blog about the movement at

Hurry! The 30-days ends May 22.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Speedo Man Sighting

Speedo Man was spotted at the river today about 11:45. I caught a glimpse of him when I arrived at the park to eat lunch. I hoped to see him on his way back to his car, but didn't. So, after eating I drove the length of the park to look for him.

He was still heading out in his initial direction -- he hadn't turned around yet. He was not moving very quickly and seemed to be walking more than usual. The biggest surprise to me was that he wasn't wearing a Speedo -- he had on purple running shorts.

I'm glad he is OK.

You Can't Racewalk on Gravel

Yeah, I discovered this by attempting to racewalk around Antrim Lake in racewalking shoes. The trail is mostly packed gravel with a small section of asphalt.

Though I walk around this lake all of the time, today was the first time I've worn actual racewalking shoes here with the intent to practice racewalking form. It was a totally different experience. Because the shoes are flexible, I worked harder at rolling onto my toes and pushing off. Instead of increasing my speed, my foot actually seemed to slip. No matter how hard I worked, I didn't go faster while on the gravel. But as soon as I hit the asphalt, I felt as if I was really moving! In fact, I was faster every loop.

While actually on the gravel, I could really feel my shin muscles. They were working hard!

Despite my shoes slipping, it was still a good workout.

3 loops at 1.2 miles per loop for 53:49 total. Hmmm. That's an average of only 14:57 per mile. But my fastest loop was 17:28 for 14:33 per mile. Imagine if I hadn't been on gravel!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Burn More Calories by Walking Fast

A 2006 article in Runner's World compares the calories burned walking to running and the results were actually surprising to me. Like many people, including Amby Burfoot, the author of the article, I had heard many times that walking burns about 100 calories a mile, just like running.

Amby reported that in the article "Energy Expenditure of Walking and Running," published in December 2005 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a group of Syracuse University researchers measured the calorie burn of 12 men and 12 women while running and walking 1,600 meters (roughly a mile) on a treadmill. "Result: The men burned an average of 124 calories while running, and just 88 while walking; the women burned 105 and 74. (The men burned more than the women because they weighed more.)" Part of the reason runners burn more calories is the push off and landing that doesn't happen in walking and the faster heart rate.

Now here's the part that got me -- the researchers compared running a 9:30 mile to walking a 19:00 min mile! That doesn't seem quite fair.

The author must have agreed because he decided to see what would happen if he compared running and walking at the same speeds: 3.0 mph, 3.5 mph, 4.0 mph, 4.5 mph, 5.0 mph and 5.5 mph. What he learned is that at paces slower than 12 min per mile, running was harder than walking. At paces faster than 12 min per mile, walking was harder than running.

According to Amby: "...walking at very fast speeds forces your body to move in ways it wasn't designed to move. This creates a great deal of internal 'friction' and inefficiency, which boosts heart rate, oxygen consumption, and calorie burn. So, as Jon Stewart might say, 'Walking fast ... good. Walking slow ... uh, not so much.'"

So let's all burn more calories by walking really fast. And, Amby, thanks for the vindication!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Walk

I didn't get up as early today as I do when I walk with the Buckeye Striders on Saturdays. I did just 30 min. in the neighborhood. It was brisk this morning and I felt chilly in shorts and a light long-sleeved T-shirt, but because of Larry's admonitions, I did not go back for a jacket. I didn't really warm up, but I didn't freeze. I'm learning.

To make today's walk a little more interesting, I decided to do sprints in the shade. I walked as hard as I could when I encountered shade, but kept a moderate pace in the sun. One side of the street was a little tougher than the other, as one side had NO trees.

It wasn't my hardest workout, but I didn't have much time so it worked out well. And it was a great start to a beautiful Sunday.

After dinner, my husband, son and I went for a 40-min walk in the neighborhood. It was nice! Since I didn't go very far this morning, I felt I really needed it.

Playing Softball in Your 70s

Have you ever heard about Seniors Softball? In Columbus, OH they have leagues for players 50+, 60+ and 70+. That's right, there is a softball league for players who are over 70 years old!

On the radio this morning, I heard a team captain interviewed. The average age of the players on his team is 76.3 years old! I thought he said there are a couple 80 year olds, but I may have heard wrong. There are 14 players per team and the sponsors range from Planks (a bar in German Village) to Tim Horton's and Friendship Village. Of course, the last team could be made up of residents of Friendship Village, too.

Going to the web site to check it out, I found photos of the teams. Yes, these men are fit! I'm not shocked that 70 year olds are fit, I know quite a few racewalkers in that age range who are very fast. I'm impressed that these men are still playing softball, which lends itself to injury more than racewalking does.

The teams play in the mornings during the week, which makes sense since I'm sure most of the players are either retired or self-employed.

When I picture myself as I age, I always see myself as a walker, hiker, maybe even a trekker. But I have to admit, it never occurred to me that there might be opportunities to play organized sports at that age.

It makes me feel that being 70 today is much like what 50 used to be. Keep it up!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Walking Twice in an Evening

First Walk
Deb and I attempted to do our first speed workout after a half marathon about 10 days ago. Since then, she also entered a 4-mile race at a great pace and I got a workout hiking several miles in Hocking Hills.

Our plan was to do 1/4-mile sprints. We walked for just one-half mile to warm up, but probably should have done a little more. During the first sprint my shins were killing me! I had to slow down about halfway through.

Based on the pain and stiffness, we decided to do 1/4-mile cool downs between sprints. Gradually our shins loosened, but not enough. I think it was too early for us to be working that hard. After sprints of 3:27; 3:23 and 3:36, we decided to just walk our regular pace for a mile and a half and try again when she gets back from vacation.

Second Walk
The second walk tonight was with my husband. After dinner, we did a 45-min tour around the neighborhood. One of the things I like about walking with him is he takes different routes than I typically do. It's not like our neighborhood is all that large, but there are several cul-de-sacs and a few streets I don't typically take. It was nice!

It felt good to get in the extra miles. It was a good day for walking!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

The thought of going to Antrim Park today to walk a couple of loops around the lake in the sun was pretty exciting! It was a beautiful day and my son didn't have a baseball game for me to go to. I couldn't wait!

At the same time, I had a bunch of books to return to the library and I needed to stop at the grocery store and post office.

The park was calling me, but part of me felt silly driving to walk and then driving to run errands when I could combine everything. What to do, what to do, what to do?

I decided to walk to do my errands and get exercise along the way. Yes, I missed the park and it would have been great, but I felt better doing it this way. Now, before you go thinking I'm a fanatic, I often need to drive to a park to get the mental health benefits of walking. But today I was a little more green

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Hiking

For Mother's Day this year, I went hiking in Hocking Hills with my family. The weather was beautiful, the trails were not very crowded and it was a lot of fun.

I'm not sure how far we hiked, but there is a lot of up and down. To see the best views, you have to descend into some pretty deep gorges, which is great! However, that means you also have to climb out of some pretty deep gorges.

After finishing a half marathon last weekend and walking 4 miles yesterday, those upward climbs were a little tough! Though Deb and I did a lot of hill workouts, we did not do "stairs" workouts. Most of these trails have stairs on the steeper inclines. I have to admit it, I rested in the middle of several of these.

The trails we did were Cantwell Cliffs, Conkles Hollow and Old Man's Cave. In Cantwell Cliffs, we got turned around and ended up walking much farther than intended.

Conkles Hollow is actually a Nature Preserve. A large portion of this trail is wheelchair accessible (we even saw a person in a wheelchair enjoying the trail). After going too far on the first trail it was nice to take it easy.

Finally we walked Old Man's Cave. This one can be easy or hard, depending on where you enter and where you exit. We decided to avoid climbing out at the 70-stair end of the trail and opted to leave at the end with only 40-some stairs. (Smart choice!)

It was also a great way to get all of us out and moving together!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Air Force Half Marathon Is Walker Friendly

Today I registered for the Air Force Half Marathon September 19. It's been a few years since I've been to this event and I'm pretty excited.

The cool thing is the half marathon is open for 6 hours! Even the slowest walkers I know can do that. In addition, there have been some changes to the half marathon course which make it a little less hilly. Though the overall course is flat, there are these pretty intense hills at the beginning which you used to hit again on return. Not any more!

I was surprised that the half marathon start is an hour after the full marathon. It's great for people like me who like to sleep in a little, but my early bird friends are a little worried about whether it will be hot when we finish.

The full marathon is open for 7 hours, down from 8. But that is still OK.

Here is another cool thing: the race offers women's shirt sizes!!! Woo hoo! The only problem is, I'm not sure what size I should order. (At least at the Big Sur race they let everyone know their shirts ran small.) I'm assuming the shirts are cotton, but what if they aren't? So here I finally have what I want, and I don't know what to do.

I ended up ordering a medium assuming it would be safe if it is a little large, but would not be if it is a little small.

The cost is $50 until June 1, so I would register early. Check out the web site for more information

First After-Race Walk -- Feeling Good

Today members of the Buckeye Striders met at 8 a.m. for our weekly group walk. It felt good to sleep in today! Deb has had us doing our long training walks as early at 6:45 the last couple of weeks.

We met at Tuttle Park, which is not my favorite park, but it was beautiful this morning. The bike trail here follows the river and rounds some beautiful wetlands. Everything was very green today.

We walked straight out for about 20 min., until the bike trail kind of ends in a neighborhood. We then turned around, went past the starting point for about 10 min., and returned to our starting point.

Though we had not intended to walk hard today, and we all felt a little rusty, I picked up speed as we went. At the end I felt pretty good! Worked a lot of the kinks out.

Now after a week of being hungry all the time and eating whatever I want and limited walking, I'll go back to my somewhat typical weekly workouts. And I'll replace the hill workouts of the last few weeks with speed workouts.

A week after the Flying Pig half marathon, I'm feeling pretty good!

Cooking Goetta takes Skill

Discovered today that I cannot cook goetta.

Normally, my husband cooks it. He is from Cincinnati and introduced me to goetta more than 25 years ago. But when I got back from my morning walk, he was not out of bed yet and I was very hungry for goetta. (In my defense, I made slow-cooking oatmeal, too. Very healthy!) I went out of my way last weekend to pick it up on the way home from Cinci, I really wanted to eat some. I attempted to cook it myself.

I sliced it, put it on a hot griddle and waited for it to get crisp. I know you have to wait until it is crispy before it is flipped. My mistake was that I let it get too crisp on both sides, seriously overcooking it.

Eating it was not very satisfying because there is not much flavor when it is cooked that long. Luckily, my husband awoke, made a second batch and showed me the error of my ways. Slice it thicker -- don't let it get nearly as crisp.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Race Photos

Most people who do a lot of races have seen their fair share of unflattering or funny race photos. You're making a funny face, you have bad racing form, there are too many other people in the shot... There's one race where my buddy Chris, who was with me the entire race, wasn't in a single photo, though his left arm was in a couple photos of me.

I don't often buy race photos, partly because I do a lot of races, partly because I don't photograph well in races. (The Country Music Marathon photo posted on this blog is an exception.) But I decided I wanted a nice finish line photo at this year's Flying Pig.

As I raced down that final straightaway to the cheers of thousands, I actually wove in and out of people and planned where to be in the street so that no one would be in front of me for the photo.

A few feet away from the finish line I put on my best smile and tried to look like a racewalker when two people came up along my right side and jumped in front of me!

I was pretty stunned at the time and irritated, though now I can laugh. I just assumed that they had ruined the photo. (I'm in the green shirt.)

The race photos are online today. In them you can see those two people come up beside me and jump in front. To add to the bad photo, there is a woman at the bottom pushing a wheelchair in front of the finish line as I crossed. Though the people didn't block me entirely, combining that with the wheelchair, I'm not buying a photo. Besides, in at least one of the photos you can see me sneering at those people. Not my best look!

As for a good finish line photo, I'll try again at the Air Force Marathon in September.

Photo copyright TSC Graphics, 2009.

Monday, May 04, 2009

13 Reasons to do the Flying Pig

13. Cincinnati is not as hilly as you think.
12. This race makes the color pink cool.
11. The pasta party the night before the race was nicely done. All you can eat pasta, in a tent on Fountain Square and the band was good.
10. The Reds never have a home game during the marathon. (If you have ever done the Cleveland Marathon, you will understand why this is an issue.)
9. At the very back of the starting line, where all of the walkers were lined up, there were a TON of port-a-johns with NO LINES!
8. The climb to the top of Eden Park is worth every step! The view is beautiful and Elvis will serenade you.
7. The finishers' medals are always cute.
6. You get to cross a bridge over the Ohio River and into Kentucky, then you come back on another bridge near Paul Brown Stadium. The view of the city is fantastic!
5. The souvenir shirts are the cutest of any race I know -- cute designs and creative puns. (I'll Run a Marathon when Pigs Fly!)
4. The water stops are the best. Stops are manned by church groups, high school football and track teams, and all kinds of other groups. They cheer loudly, even for walkers, and the themes are fun. There are also crowds of cheering fans throughout the race!
3. The goodie bag includes the best stuff. Just for entering you get a race shirt, great poster printed on heavy paper in a box (doesn't get crushed), gym bags or totes and more. Full marathoners get technical shirts, half marathoners get cotton. Lots of great freebies in the Expo.
2. The entire city gets into the spirit of the race. People everywhere wear pig snouts and wings. The girls in puffy pig costumes at the finish line are there every year and are VERY cute.

And the number 1 reason why you should enter the Cincinnati Flying Pig is:

Next year's race is May 2! Checkout the race web site:

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Good Day at the Pig!

Today was the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon and it was great! A group of 9 members of the Buckeye Striders walking club entered the half.

Though on Saturday night we were worried about rain and cold, the temps were in the low 50s at the start this morning with light sprinkles. Luckily it never rained harder!

We went to the very end of the starting line and it took only 9 min to reach the start. What was surprising was the huge number of runners who passed us after the start. Where did they come from? How did they get behind us?

As is typical of a race with over 20,000 entrants, it can take awhile to get going. We tried to maintain a 15-min mile, but because we missed the first mile marker, I'm not sure how fast we were. We wove in and out of many people and tried not to get run over by runners. At the second mile marker, we were at 31:16, much slower than we anticipated. We hovered around 15-min miles for a couple of miles then slowed dramatically to 15:25 up the Eden Park hill. Our hill training definitely paid off! This hill and the entire course was much easier than we remembered from the last time we did this race.

At the top of the hill was Elvis, which made the climb totally worthwhile. He touched my hand!

The entire race had great temps. We encountered occasional sprinkles and no real wind. It was very nice racing weather. I kept taking my jacket off and putting it back on. We were very lucky the sun didn't come out. If it had, the steam from the rain would have been unbearable!

At mile 12 we went our fastest at 13:44! I tried to get Deb to keep it up, but she was unable, so I attempted to zoom off ahead of her. Ha! I did the last full mile in 14:02 and she was just a few seconds behind me. So much for zooming ahead.

We went through the food line (plenty of food) and had our picture taken. The majority of our friends were waiting right there for us! It took a while to find the family reunion area, but none of the faster members of our group were waiting. Apparently, they couldn't find the area, looked for us for a while then went back to the hotel. The rest of us walked around the after-party for a little while, got a massage (which took too long), and then headed back to the hotel.

It was a good day and a good race!

My official finish time was 3:13:59, which is as fast as I was 5-6 years ago. We averaged a 14:48 mile! I think I'm about ready to break the 3-hour half marathon barrier!

Time per Mile
We missed a couple of mile markers, but here are our times from my watch, which may be a little different from the official time:
Miles 1-2 31:16
Mile 3 15:05
Mile 4 15:05
Miles 5-6 29:01
Mile 7 15:25
Mile 8 15:08
Mile 9 14:31
Mile 10 14:44
Mile 11 14:32
Mile 12 13:44
Mile 13 14:02
Mile 0.1 1:31

Previous Half Marathon Finish Times

2003 Air Force Marathon 3:13:45
2004 Capital City Half Marathon 3:10:28

Friday, May 01, 2009

Another Reason not to Take Diet Pills

We've all seen the ads for Hydroxycut in the back of health and fitness magazines. (Well, all of them except WALK! Magazine. Not a moral comment, just an observation.) All you have to do is take the pills and you will end up with a great body, minimal fat and abs that are cut! I love the photos of the morbidly obese women who, after taking the pills, wear string bikinis with no extra skin and no stretch marks.

If it were possible to get a great body by taking a pill, EVERYONE would would have a great body!

Now, after 7 years on the market, there have been 23 claims of adverse side affects from Hydroxycut products. These 23 people had liver injuries ranging from jaundice to death. One person required a liver transplant. Now many of the Hydroxycut products have been voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer.

Statistically, 23 serious injuries out of the millions of people who have taken Hydroxycut over 7 years seems insignificant. Still, is it worth it? Is it really worth the possibility of losing your liver to be thinner a little quicker?

Most of us know that the healthiest way to lose weight and keep it off is through diet and exercise. When you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight. If you exercise and build muscle, your body will burn more calories -- even at rest. You didn't gain the extra pounds overnight, you can't lose it overnight.

For more information on Hydroxycut: