Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Different Perspectives

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

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

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

I had an "aha" moment.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 28, 2009

Finished Half Marathon Strong!

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

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

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

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday's Training Walk

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, a good start to the weekend.

This week's splits:

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


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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

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

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

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I PR'd at the Air Force Half Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After the half marathon, we are all smiling!

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Weather is Fantastic!

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

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

[Yes, I'm a little excited!]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It Fits! It's a Miracle!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Two Easy Miles

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

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

Air Force Half Marathon on Saturday!

Taper Week is Hard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reaction to alli Commercial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Last Long Slow Distance Before Air Force

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 07, 2009

Missed Reporting on Training Walks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Flash of Insight from a Shark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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