Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Job of Race Pacer

Lots of races have people designated to maintain a certain pace to help the athletes finish in a projected time. This is such a great service and I am thrilled when a race has pacers that actually benefit medium-speed walkers like me. Deb and I enjoyed meeting the men who were walking the 3:15 pace during the Arizona Distance Classic.

At one point in the race, we came across the 3:00 pacer. A gentleman walking near us said something to her like: If you are the 3 hour pacer, you are going too slow, and explained that he was on pace to finish around 3:10. Her response was something like: I'm going to finish the last few miles faster than you are, so it will even out. He tried to explain to her that the job of a pacer is to "maintain" a pace, not just guarantee a finish time, but she just didn't get it.

A friend from Wisconsin called me after she finished the race (for a variety of reasons, we did not hook up after we all finished) and said she finished around 3 hours. When asked about the pacer she said after a few miles she knew the pacer was way off, so she walked ahead without her. When I told her that we saw her, and we finished closer to 3:10 she laughed.

OK, for the record: If you are ever asked to be a pacer for a long-distance race, your job is to maintain a steady pace to help the athletes finish in the projected time. If you agreed to 3 hours, that is approximately a 13:43 mile -- every single mile. It does not help anyone if you finish one mile in 13 minutes and the next in 15 minutes. The goal is about 13:43 min per mile.

I have to say the 3:15 guys were great! One of them had a Garmin and he took his job VERY seriously. And they were very friendly, too. After Deb and I passed them, our goal was to stay ahead of them the best we could -- and we did great!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Arizon Distance Classic Results -- Update 3-31

NOTE: On 3-31 I rechecked results to add everyone in our group, and I noticed my finish time had changed. Darn! Not as fast as I thought I was. This seems more accurate though, because it matches the time on my watch.

PS: You don't get race scenery like this in Ohio.

Well, the race was yesterday and I was a little wiped out afterward. So here is my report.

The race started at 7 a.m. which was perfect. Before the sun rose over the mountains, it was a little chilly waiting for the start. It was in the 40s and some of us were debating whether to wear our long pants during the race or not. Luckily Deb convinced me to wear shorts and leave my jacket behind. However, I did bring an ugly sweatshirt with the intention of tossing it as soon as it warmed up and I did keep that with me.

An acapella group did a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. As they reached the last line of the song, the sun peeped over the top of the mountain -- it was breath taking!

As the sun rose, the day did get warmer. About mile 2 I tossed my throw-away gloves, and about mile 3 I tossed my sweatshirt. I am so glad Deb talked me into not wearing long pants! (Yes, I did thank her many times throughout the race.)

The course is an out and back. It is a little hillier than I had expected, but we are in the foothills of the mountains after all, I should have anticipated that. (I have done plenty of hillier courses, so it didn't bother me -- I was just surprised.) The hills here were more long with a gradual incline as opposed to the short and steep hills of either a Cincinnati or Parkersburg.

Deb and I had planned to try to be between a 14 and 14:30 min mile. We did pretty well with faster miles going downhill, slower miles going uphill. We started to get a little toasty in the second half. Though water stops were about every 2 miles, we probably could have used an extra one closer to the end. (Still not bad.)

Usually in half marathons, I will go ahead of Deb around mile 10. This race I waited until mile 11, when I got my second wind. Around mile 12 I started to feel very slightly lightheaded, slowed a bit, took a Shot Blok, drank the entire cup of water handed to me and I was fine. I continued to speed up and finished VERY strong.

Because our Ohio winter had limited my training, I was not expecting to PR and was just hoping to finish faster than 3:15. (In fact, we lined up with the 3:15 pacer.) We passed him around mile 3 and both Deb and I finished faster than we had anticipated. I was 3:07:32 3:08:29 with an average pace of 14:19 14:24 and Deb finished strong at 3:09:07 3:09:50 with a 14:27 14:30 average (4 min faster than her Gasparilla finish!). My watch said my finish was 3:08:28, so I am even happier with my official finish time! (Deb pointed out that I usually do not finish much more than 45 seconds to a minute faster than her.)

There are a couple of things to note about this race. 1) There were fewer than 2,000 people entered in the race. 2) There is very little crowd support, which initially surprised me. 3) There was no entertainment along the way. I'm with a group of 10 people and our opinions were divided on this. Half felt that crowd support and entertainment would have been nice, half did not care.

Let me just say that if you are not from this part of the country, the scenery is so beautiful, bands would have taken away from it. And the race was also held on Palm Sunday, so I am positive that many people who would normally watch a race were probably at some type of a church service.

I personally like the party atmosphere of some races. I also enjoy when cities such as Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Nashville and Parkersburg really support a race and the community comes out to cheer. It's not necessary, but I enjoy it. Because there was not much of that here, it almost made this event seem more like a hometown race. (Not a criticism, just an observation.)

So, the weather was beautiful, the scenery was beautiful, the course was very nice though a little hilly. There were a few glitches with getting our race numbers and goodie bags, but I think those will get ironed out. (They tried something new.) Overall, it was a very good event!

That is it for now. Photos to come.

Added 3-31
Results from our group:
Deb - 3:09:50
Me - 3:08:28
Tom - 2:59:52 (His first half marathon!)
Elaine - 2:57:43
Pat - 2:57:30
Nancy - 2:56:42
Peggy - 2:53:08
Laura - 2:39:46 (Not sure about this.)
Donna - 2:31:58
Renee from Wisconsin: 3:01:23

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Adventures in Tucson

Our trip to Tucson for the Arizona Distance Classic started out with a little excitement. The first leg of our flight into Denver had a little trouble landing. Apparently, the pilot knew he would be unable to steer the plane once we were on the ground. We had an inkling there might be  problem after he started to descend approaching the runway, then suddenly ascended and flew past. He announced the problem and went back to land without incident. It was a little disconcerting that there were several firetrucks waiting at the end of our runway. Luckily it was not a long wait for a tow truck to tow the plane to the gate.

We left Ohio with 2 to 3 inches of snow on the ground, so we all are appreciating the sunshine and mild temperatures!

Last night Race Director David Babner had a Margarita party for the VIPs staying at this hotel. It was on a patio at the top of the building. Beautiful! It was a very nice party with a beautiful view, and unlimited margaritas and chips and salsa. It was very fun! (The sunset over the mountains was beautiful!)

We drove the course today and it seems much hillier than we had anticipated. Believe it or not, it seems to be uphill both ways. (I know it is impossible, but that is how it appeared.)

We found a local Italian restaurant for carbo-loading tonight and the race is tomorrow.

Wish us luck!

Wasn't sure I was going to post about this, but it is important. Our race packets were not at our hotel last night and we were told to go to the running store. We got to the store today and our race packets were not there, either. For a long time no one had any idea where our packets were. On last check, they are on their way to our hotel. Let's hope they make it here before the start of the race!

Photos added 3/31/10.
Top photo is one of several firetrucks waiting for our airplane at the end of the runway when landing in Denver on our way to Tucson.

Bottom photo is our entire group from Ohio (one from West Virginia) who went to this year's race. We are on a roof patio at the hotel for the Margarita party. It was breezy and a little chilly that night. We had a hard time keeping our chips from blowing away!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Walking in Williamsburg

Work travel can make it difficult to get walking in, too. When I travel in the fall, I'm required to attend a lot more meetings, so it is harder to find time to walk then. In the Spring, like now, I sometimes have breaks in the middle of the day and I will often try to sneak out for a walk. And because of Daylight Saving Time, it is light later in the day, so I can usually walk in the evening if I have to.

This week, I had a lot fewer meetings than normal. Monday I had a three-hour break between 1 and 4 p.m. I took off the business suit, threw on my walking clothes and got in a three-mile walk! It was overcast, but then again, Ohio usually is too, this time of year. Still, it felt wonderful to be outside in the middle of day and sneak in a walk! I got back in plenty of time to make the 4:00 meeting. Though there was nothing even remotely scenic near our hotel, I did see some obvious signs of spring!

Today my meetings ended at 2 p.m. and by 3 I was outside. Though the doorman assured me it would not rain, about halfway through my second mile it started to sprinkle. It was not enough to make me quit, but I was looking for Roy when I got back!

So, I arrived here on Sunday and walked around Colonial Williamsburg for a little while. Got in 3 miles on Monday along with walking around (a little) Colonial Williamsburg again when we went there for dinner. Tonight I got in 2 miles and we walked the quarter mile to and from the restaurant.

Not bad! And because I'm doing a half marathon this weekend, I'm tapering anyway, so I probably did not want to walk much harder anyway.

I'm so glad that my walking shoes do not take up any more room than the required (but really cute) high heels!

For some reason, the flash on my digital camera is not working! So, I am unable to take a decent photo of my shoes. They all turn out blurry. Darn!!!! Despite this, I was thrilled to get photos of some spring daffodils.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It can be Hard to Eat Healthy When Traveling

Sometimes it is really difficult to eat healthy foods when traveling. (Don't get me started on airports.).

For me there are two types of traveling that make eating healthy difficult: 1) family travel where there are great restaurants and lots of social eating and drinking events; 2) travel for work. I'm traveling for work right now.

I was able to get a great fruit plate for breakfast the other day! But the box lunches included huge lunch meat sandwiches with really thick white bread buns, cookies, potato chips and a piece of fruit. I ate just half the sandwich and the fruit. I had the self control to push the cookies and chips off on other people. (Some people ate several bags of chips.) Sadly, dinner at a great Colonial Williamsburg Tavern was anything but healthy. (It was delicious and the servings were huge!)

Today I was unable to get room service in time for breakfast, so I ended up eating danish and another box lunch. (Only half the sandwich and the fruit.) One of the people in the meeting took out a baggie with really delicious-looking whole grain bread. He removed the insides from the sandwich and put it on his own bread! I never thought about that. He too skipped the cookies and chips.

Dinner again was too much food.

So there are times when I'm traveling -- especially for work -- where it is really hard to make healthy food choices! Sometimes I just wish someone could force me to eat right.

NOTE ADDED 3/25: I weighed myself this morning and remarkably, I did not gain any weight while traveling! In fact, I lost half of a pound. I can only assume that being more active during the day by having to walk to and from meetings made the difference. (Unfortunately, as an editor in a very small building, I have a very sedentary job.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why do I Care?

I have gotten past that whole "racewalkers look funny" thing. Well, I thought I had gotten past it. Two recent events make me wonder.

Last week on a nice day I was racewalking to a nearby park. I walk this route all of the time and typically end up getting stuck by a traffic light at a nearby heavy duty intersection.

On this particular day, I was suddenly aware of all the people in the cars waiting for the light and felt extremely conspicuous. I could feel their eyes as I crossed the street using pretty good racewalking form. I almost just walked regularly and didn't bother racewalking, but that felt even sillier since I had racewalked to get to the intersection.

Then tonight I decided to do a quick couple of miles in the neighborhood. Again, I walk in my neighborhood all the time -- at all times of the day. I'm sure to my neighbors I'm the crazy neighbor who walks funny. Today I walked out the door, noticed a group of teen-aged boys playing basketball two doors down, and made the decision to start out walking casually until I rounded the corner. As soon as I was out of sight, I started working on form instead of speed.

On the way home, I had to pass the group of boys again. This time I opted to keep racewalking, but stayed on the other side of the street. I've known most of these kids for years -- they have all seen me look sillier than this!

So, I have been attempting to racewalk for years. Within the last year I am finally getting it down and it is more obvious that I am racewalking. I have to wonder, now that I am finally getting it down, why am I even remotely concerned about what other people think?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

5 Miles and Partial Hills

Deb, Elaine and I started out doing hills tonight at Griggs Reservoir. We did a half-mile warmup, but after two laps, I was tired. The hills were a little too much for me today.

We decided to walk on the flat section and ended up walking 4.5 miles on relatively flat roads along with the half mile of hills. I felt a little better that we walked farther than typical since I was the wimp who wanted to stop the hills.

The sun was shining and the temps were in the 60s. The traffic was not bad, and we assumed a lot of regulars were probably out drinking green beer today instead. In fact, a couple of the people we saw seemed to be at the park after hanging out at a bar all afternoon.

I always enjoy walking with Deb and Elaine and the beautiful weather made it even better!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fitness Update

I keep all of you updated on my walking regularly, so you know I'm pretty much ready for the Arizona Distance Classic in two weeks. But I haven't written about other fitness objectives recently.

The Push Up Challenge is much more difficult than I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, when I originally planned to work up to 100 push ups, I thought I had six months. As you may recall, the program is actually only 6 weeks! That is not much time for someone with no upper body strength to work up to 100 push ups. After the second week I knew it was going to be too hard to do in six weeks. So, starting with the third week, I am doing each week twice. So, it will really take more like 11 weeks instead of six. It's still shorter than six months.

My goal to lose 10 (or 12) lbs started strong, but has slowed down quickly. The first two weeks, I lost 6 lbs. and got down to 126. I thought that losing weight is actually easier than I had made it the last few years. I've been watching what I eat, counting calories, balancing food choices with exercise. It's been great! Then I gained back 2 lbs. over a weekend and have re-lost only 1.5 lbs. over the next week. Argh!

So I am back to realizing that losing weight and keeping it off is not easy. Obviously, something I did that weekend was not conducive to losing weight. (Skyline and a couple beers maybe?) Then again, the first few pounds came off quicker than what I had expected, so that 1.5-lb. loss this past week was probably closer to reality.

In the meantime, I still have body fat I need to lose, but I'm not sure I will get down to 120 lbs. It might be too light for me. I am happy that I am looking better and might even be able to tuck in a shirt now and then. Woo hoo! And I now have to buy clothes. I need a couple of suits for a business trip next week and all of mine are WAY too big! (Because I work in a casual environment, I've been postponing buying dress clothes until I get a little lighter.) I found one suit tonight that needs hemming, but otherwise fits perfectly! Maybe I can find another jacket and wear the same pants twice. Hmm.

So, the good news is my walking is progressing, my push ups are progressing (more slowly than I would like), and my weight loss is progressing. And now I'm buying new clothes. Yea!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pebbles in Shoes

Today as I was walking, I suddenly noticed a pebble in my left shoe. It was a pretty small one and for a while it just kind of bounced around my shoe. First it was under the ball of my foot. Then it was bouncing around my toes. Eventually it was near my heel and I couldn't feel it for a while, then it was gone. Several miles later it was bouncing around my toes again.

Here's my question. How does someone get a pebble in her shoe? I've worn the shoes only one time before today. I've been walking on roads and paved trails. So, how did I get a pebble in a new shoe?

Why are the First 2 Miles so Hard!

I needed 10 miles this weekend. Because it was raining yesterday, and I really could not see doing 10 miles inside on a track, I opted to walk today. Though chilly and damp out, at least it wasn't actively raining.

It was pretty chilly when I arrived at Sharon Woods, but I am working on trying to not overdress, so I just sucked it up with long pants, one wicking shirt and my great asics jacket. I really wanted gloves, but I didn't bring any.

The first 2 miles were really rough! Why is it that the first 2 miles of every long distance training walk are so hard? Immediately after I hit the 2-mile mark, I felt great and was thrilled to be there. (My hands had started to warm up by then, too, so that might have helped.)

Because we walked 10 miles at race pace last weekend, I tried to walk slower than a 15-min mile today. Unfortunately, that was not difficult. I could not have gone much faster if I had tried. In fact, after 9 miles I felt pretty tired and ended up doing the last half mile at a recovery pace.

So, I walked the entire 10 in 2:36. I'm still figuring out how to work my new HR monitor, so even though I hit the lap button on the chronograph, it actually did splits. I'm not in the mood to do the math to figure out how long it took per mile. Let's just say I averaged over 15 min per mile.

So I maintained my goal pace and finished the entire 10 miles. I'm sure finishing this training walking will help me to finish Tucson feeling great.

Wore my new asics shoes. Though I bought insoles, I really had not intended to use them with these shoes. The asics have more stability than the New Balance. After a couple of miles, I could feel my right foot being slightly unstable. Hmmm. Maybe I should have left the insoles in? On top of that, the blister on my left foot that formed last week got even bigger this week. I HATE blisters! Looks like the insoles go back in tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hills and Sunshine Today

Deb and I returned to Griggs Reservoir for a hill workout today.

Armed with my new HR monitor and new shoes, I was ready. Within minutes I realized I do not need the insoles for this pair of shoes. The asics offer enough support that the insoles are redundant and make the shoes too stiff. I'll move them back to the older pair of New Balance shoes.

The HR monitor said my average HR was 131 though it also said my peak was 231. I swear that every time I looked at the watch it was hovering around 140. Hmmm. Maybe my peak HR is 231. I'll have to check this out some more.

Regardless, it was a good workout on a nice sunny day.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Making the Running Store Rounds

I've had a few issues with recent purchases from running stores. The problems were not necessarily the fault of the running stores, but I hate handling these types of errands -- I hate taking things back or having to figure out why they are not working as I expected. If my shoes and HR monitor did not cost so much, I might have just suffered.

So today I went to RoadRunner to discuss my New Balance 905s. Recently I started getting blisters in the exact same spots I was getting blisters from my last pair of NB. (I was assured the shoes have been improved and I shouldn't have a problem.) I was pretty sure a pair of insoles would fix the problem.

The sales person admitted that the shoes I bought are probably not heavy enough for my long distance days, and though insoles will help with the blisters, I really need a slightly heavier shoe. I ended up leaving the store with insoles and a great new pair of asics.

After leaving RoadRunner, I went straight to Front Runner to discuss my Timex HR monitor which is not working consistently. I was hoping that someone would take one look at it and say, "Here's the problem. It's fixed." What happened was even better! The sales rep listened to my story, took the same HR monitor out of the case and gave it to me. He didn't even care that I don't have the instruction books because my dog ate them! (I have to admit, that is part of the reason I didn't take it back earlier.)

So, today I'm happy. I have new insoles, I have new shoes and I have a new HR monitor! And the sun was shining. This is a good day!


Monday, March 08, 2010

Walking in Sunshine!

Today was beautiful! As soon as I arrived home, I put on walking clothes and went out the door.

I didn't want to waste a minute of sunshine, so I decided to walk to the library park, do one lap and return home for a little over 3 miles. The sidewalks were finally completely clear which was a very nice change.

About half a block from home I was feeling chilly and almost went back for a jacket, but I just did not want to waste the time. I also hoped I'd be moving fast enough that I would get too warm and be glad I didn't go back.

I was feeling a little stiff today from Saturday's race, so I took it fairly easy.

Once at the park, I was surprised at how much snow was still left on some sections of the trail. I had to really slow down to get through the slush and in many places pretty deep puddles. These must have been sections that are mostly in shade.

The walk was uneventful other than being unusually sunny for this time of year. It was wonderful to be outside in the sunshine. It was also wonderful to have the opportunity to racewalk! The combination of the two really made my day.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Arnold Sports Festival -- Wow

Though I have been an active long-distance walker for about 10 years, I have never been to the Arnold Sports Festival before this year. It's held in Columbus, OH annually and draws a huge and varied crowd.

The expo was quite a bit different from any marathon expo I've ever attended. First of all, it was much more crowded than any expo I've been to. There is no way you could even get to a booth you wanted to visit -- there were way too many people! We spent a lot of time stuck in the middle of a crowd not moving.

Second, I felt fat and tiny at the exact same time. A lot of the body building women wore very little clothing showing off the fact that they had absolutely no body fat and amazing bodies. At the same time, many of the men attempting to walk by had really huge shoulders. I was trapped behind these huge people with no way to squeeze by!(Marathoners do not get that big!)

Another thing different is the type of people who attended the expo. At races, you will see some of the most fit people you would ever want to see walking around and the vast majority are participants in the race.

At the Arnold, there were a lot of people who obviously do not participate in any sport -- ever. Because there was a lot of info on "fighting," like cage fighting and WWF, there were a lot of fans who like to watch, and lots of opportunities to get autographs from celebrities I did not recognize.

The majority of products being hawked were for bulking up and building muscle. At marathons, you see a lot of products for endurance, maintaining energy, electrolyte replacement, speed and injury prevention.

So, though very crowded, I found the day interesting. (I also found out after the fact that attending on Sunday is a better idea -- much less crowded!) Still, I can tell I definitely fit in much better at race expos.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Nearly 10-Mile Race

The first Buckeye Strider Nearly 10-mile Race was held today at Sharon Woods park.

We had about 10 walkers toe the line at 8 a.m. with temps in the low 20s. (I'm not sure of the exact number since some didn't walk the entire distance.)

The trail was mostly clear except for near the sledding hill and one or two other icy spots. As the sun rose, more of the ice melted and it ended up being a perfect day for walking nearly 10 miles. The course was two laps around the park, then we went to the unofficial "4-mile" mark, then clockwise to the 1-mile mark and back to the start. We discovered from those participants with GPS that the course ended up being about 0.2 miles short of 10.

The overall winner and first man was Steve, with Tom taking second man. Elaine was the first women, with Nancy taking second and Pat taking third.

The highlight of the morning was the after race picnic! Hot coffee, hot chocolate and tea made it much easier to hang out at the picnic shelter near the almost fire. The Panera bagels tasted great with bananas and grapes.

The purpose of the informal race was to give our club members a mid-winter race to help us stay in shape. As it turned out, it ended up fitting the Arizona Distance Classic training schedule. We needed 10 miles about now.

Though we had originally intended to invite other walking clubs to join us, we ended up canceling and rescheduling so many times because of the weather, we decided to keep this first race for our members only. Maybe next year the weather will cooperate better.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

This is Why I'm Tired of Winter

I have done remarkably well this winter. I've been outside as much as weather allows, I got in several longer-distance walks, I've been out in the sun as much as possible. I didn't even mind the heavy snow last week. I thought it was beautiful!

I am officially done with winter -- THIS is why!

Is it too much to ask for the neighbors to shovel their sidewalks?

I am so tired of walking in winter boots and hiking shoes! Seriously, I want to racewalk!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Snowy Walk Again

I was home early today and decided to walk to Lane Rd Park, do one lap and come back home. It's exactly 1 mile to the park from our house and about 1.2 miles around the park. It makes for a nice walk when I don't feel like driving anywhere and I get tired of walking in the neighborhood. Before I arrived home, I drove past the park to check if it was clear. It was not -- but the sidewalks leading to the park were nearly 95% clear! Last year it seemed that no one on Reed Road ever shoveled his driveway, but the park was usually clear.

I went to the park anyway. The walking was a little more difficult than I expected. The snow in the park was the consistency of slush without being that wet. It made it difficult to keep my footing in a lot of places. Though tough, it was a really good workout! I came home with my legs feeling very tired.

I also discovered that my boots have officially bitten the dust. They leak!

Later I again found out that the trails at Sharon Woods were clear. Darn! But that would have required driving farther than I had intended. Looks like starting next week, I may have to start making the trip.

As part of the Push Up Challenge I repeated the exhaustion test today. I am proud to say that repeating Week 2 worked! I was able to do 18 push ups today. Only 16 are required to move on. Woo hoo! I like to do my push ups Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, so I have decided to use Week 2 to complete the rest of this week, and start Week 3 next Monday.