Sunday, November 28, 2010


Because I froze Friday when it was 27 degrees, I decided I needed an extra layer of fleece for this morning's walk in 22 degrees. What I had not anticipated was that I was walking in the neighborhood, not at the windy lake.

In my defense, I had planned to just add a fleece vest under my windproof jacket, but I couldn't find it. I ended up adding a fleece long-sleeved jacket, which was way too much!

My plan was to do four laps around the big block at the end of our street or an hour -- whichever came first. After the first lap, I was roasting! I had my jacket mostly unzipped and the vents in the front of the jacket open. During the second lap, the flaps on my gloves were open. In the third lap my fleece jacket was also unzipped. The fourth lap, I just hurried and roasted.

I was a little faster than usual around that block finishing in just 48 minutes -- not bad! And considering how hard I was pushing, I know I went farther than 3 miles.

I have just about burned off all of the extra calories from Thanksgiving and the OSU vs Michigan potluck!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cold This Morning!

Since I bailed on my plans to walk at Antrim Park Thanksgiving morning, I decided to head out there today and do the 3 miles I had planned.

First, my car door would not open. I ended up climbing in from the passenger side. I felt pretty silly at the gas station climbing over the passenger seat to get out and then get back in my car. While pumping the gas, I realized it was a LOT colder than I thought it was. The wind was blowing and I was freezing!

I ended up going back home and picking up gloves, ear muffs and my gaiter to wear around my neck. (I hate when my neck is cold.) Again I climbed over the passenger seat to get out and get back in the car, then went off to Antrim.

I parked the car with the driver side door in the sun, hoping it would thaw by the time I finished walking. By the time I got to the start of the bike trail, I was frozen. Though it was 27 degrees, it felt colder. I knew if I walked for at least 10 minutes I would start to warm up and be fine. Let me rephrase that -- I THOUGHT if I walked for 10 minutes I would warm up.

The first thing I noticed was there were fewer than 10 people walking and running on the trail. (I thought that was odd.) At the same time there were about 20 fisherman scattered around the lake. Though it was pretty chilly I turned to my right for the first lap.

As is usual in this park and around this lake, in the shade I froze, in the sun I warmed up, and in the areas where there is no tree coverage the wind made me even colder. I thought I would be warmer than I was after the first lap. There was no way I could justify quitting after only one lap! So, despite being uncomfortable I did the second lap. OK, I was still cold and I was uncomfortable enough to justify going home. So, I walked back to my car -- the door had thawed -- and I went home.

What I don't like about this time of year is, when it is cold, it is shockingly cold. There is no real chance to get acclimated -- the temps vary too much. Because of this, I never know how to dress. Today I was obviously under-dressed.

Thanksgiving Walk

My son and I had made plans to head to Antrim Park Thanksgiving morning to get in some miles before we pigged out for the day. My only stipulation was, if it was raining, I wasn't going. I woke up to rain and decided I was off the hook!

My son, being a little more dedicated than I am right now, decided to go for a run anyway. He was gone more than an hour, and when he is just jogging like that, I think he averages about an 8-min mile. Needless to say, he made me feel like a sloth! (And it stopped raining right before he went.)

When he returned I thought, OK, if he can go running, I can go out walking. So I got changed into my walking clothes, walked out the front door, into a like sprinkle. Yuck. At least it wasn't full-blown rain. I went inside to get a hat, then did two laps in the neighborhood. Just as I was a few driveways from home, it started raining for real.

Though it was cold and wet, I'm glad I burned off a few calories before spending the rest of the day eating.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Missing WALK

Recently, I was asked for a writing sample. I don't get to write as often as I used to and my most recent stories have been for WALK! Magazine. WALK! has been "gone" long enough that I don't remember what's in every single issue, so I ended up having to read back issues.

I found myself smiling as I read about The Fatman Walking, Subway's Jared and my coverage of Dr. Sabgir and Walk With a Doc. I remember how much I enjoyed talking with and meeting these interesting people and others I had the opportunity to interview. I also remember how much I enjoyed publishing the magazine and how excited I was when it started to take off.

It also made me feel sad that I couldn't figure out how to make the magazine work financially. If only it had generated money (any money) so that I could quit my full-time job... Working 80 hours a week and not sleeping was catching up with me. Oh, well.

No matter what the future holds for me, I will always be happy I tried to make a go with WALK. I'm glad I took the chance. And though I miss the writing and interviewing, I'm glad I now have time to sleep.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Walking Tour of Houston

Monument au Fantome.
NOTE: Photos were added several days after the original blog posting.

One of the things I was most looking forward to while visiting Houston this week for business was taking one of the audio tours I downloaded to my MP3 player from the Houston Tourism website. There are three tours: one is only 0.6 miles and takes 30 mins; the other two are about 2 miles each and take about 2 hrs each. I opted for the Ultimate Downtown Tour, narrated by Dan Workman, owner of Sugar Hill Studios.

The tour starts at a giant multi-piece fiberglass sculpture on the edge of Discovery Green, a new park downtown. The sculpture, called Monument au Fantome, is across from the Convention Center.

Though there were a few instructions I did not follow, like walking into a bar to look at the ceiling, overall I enjoyed the tour.

The tour took me to Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. There I learned the history of the park as the city's original Union Station for train travel to the city. I loved looking in the window from Crawford Street to see left field of the stadium. I wish there had been a home game!

Outside Minute Maid Park.
Buffalo Bayou is reached about halfway through the tour. In the middle of Houston, it is a beautiful “wilderness” area with walking paths and sculptures along the river. At the top of one section is a larger-than-life statue of the first President Bush. I enjoyed being an “insider” for a few minutes on the bridge over the bayou and near the Seven Wonders. I was told to push the unmarked red button which causes the “art” called the Bayou Bubble to be activated – letting loose a large bubble of air in the middle of the river, making the pedestrians on the bridge look and wonder what it was.

The tour even included a short ride on the light rail train. Though I went just a couple of blocks, it was a pretty nice transportation option. The kiosk I used to buy a ticket did not work properly, and the person I asked wasn't helpful, but otherwise, it was a relatively easy thing to figure out.

The two biggest things I learned about the city:

1) There are parks all over the city, several with fenced in dog runs. One small park about halfway through the tour was a park just for dogs. The parks are attractive, well maintained and well landscaped. Several also had creative fountains.

A fountain in the park across the street from my hotel.
2) There is art everywhere – in every park, on the street, fountains on buildings, modern sculptures in courtyards – it is wonderful!

Dan did a great job as narrator, describing everything on the tour. The tour was very well organized. It was nice how in some areas, everything on one side of the street was described, then we would cross the street and go back. My only complaint was the fact it ended so far away from the start. Luckily I had a map of the city with me to find my way back.

Safety was also addressed well. Every time crossing a street was required, I was instructed to pause the audio and be careful. The narration would pick back up on the other side of the intersection. He also did a great job of warning about busy driveways to parking garages and shops.

One other thing I thought was pretty neat about this tour – it was set up for someone walking at my pace! Each time Dan would say something like walk to the corner or the bridge, etc., as soon as I arrived at that location, he would give the next instruction. Well, done!

So, if you are planning a trip to Houston and want to walk around the city, I recommend trying one of these audio tours. It was a lot of fun and it guaranteed that I got to see some of the best parts of the city. Left to my own devices, who knows where I would end up.

PS: I hope other cities offer similar audio tours! Photos to come.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Maize Valley Farm on Facebook

The winery where the Stomp the Grapes Half Marathon started and ended is on Facebook and has posted photos of the race. (I never even saw a photographer!) The winery is Maize Valley Farm Market and Winery.

Check out the winery's page at!/MaizeValley. I like the fact the winery uses Facebook to promote its activities. I had no idea it was such an active place with so many fun events.

It also looks as if it paid off for Deb and I to be last at the start. There's a pretty clear photo of us.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ignorance is Bliss -- or Do I want to Know What is in the McD's McRib?

Let me start this blog post with a true confession -- I have eaten a McRib. In my defense, it was many years ago and long before I made the decision to give up Big Macs.

Though it was never my favorite fast-food sandwich, I was more offended by the pickle on a rib sandwich than anything real. And though I didn't think it was bad, I never understood the obsession some people have with a McRib.

Even back then, I wondered how the meat got the weird "bone in rib" look without having bones. Still, it never, EVER occurred to me that they could be made in such a horribly gross way.

Margaret Badore from said in part:
It starts at an enormous factory farm. There's a giant shed with a floor covered in feces, where tens of thousands of pigs will be born without ever having enough space to turn around and most will never see the light of day.
Oh, yeah, I read a novel recently that had several scenes just like that. Ugh!
After a description of what happens to the meat, Badore clarifies:
Translation: mechanically separated meat. Remember the pink goo chicken nuggets are made from? This is the pork version. Just check out this photo of the grayish meat inside the "rib patty" snapped by the team at The texture looks like something that's been chewed up and spit out.

Even without the photo, it does NOT sound appetizing. Be sure to go to this page of the Shine from Yahoo website for the entire story and to see the photo:

OK, I know fast food is garbage. But seriously, what kind of a sick mind would come up with such a complicated process to make a rib sandwich? I have to wonder, do the people who came up with this "recipe" let their family members eat this stuff? Should we spread the word? Do we let people know?

Kind of reminds me of a scene from a shocking 1973 movie:
  • Det. Thorn: “It's people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of people. Next thing they'll be breeding us like cattle for food. You've gotta tell them. You've gotta tell them!"
  • Hatcher: “I promise, Tiger. I promise. I'll tell the exchange."
  • Det. Thorn: “You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You've gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people! We've gotta stop them somehow!"
Photo from www.foodfactsinfo/mcrib

PS: Makes KFC's Double Down look pretty good, doesn't it?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Working Through Stiffness

Did a pretty easy walk around the neighborhood this evening to help work through the stiffness.

The good news is, I was less stiff and sore today than I was yesterday. Usually the muscle soreness the second day is a little worse than the day immediately after the race.

Today was also my first evening walk since the time change. It felt strange having it get so dark so early! I don't adjust well to time changes and the lack of daylight in the winter depresses me. It will be even more important for me to walk outside as the days get darker!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Stomp the Grapes

Warning: This is a long review.

The Stomp the Grapes Half Marathon was a challenging event held in Hartville, OH near North Canton and Alliance. It starts at Maize Valley Winery and ends in Quail Hollow State Park. In previous years, the race averaged about 300 to 400 finishers between the half marathon and the relay. This year, there were 703 finishers in the half and 110 relay teams of three people each, meaning there were 1,036 finishers!

Deb, Elaine, Laura and me warming
up at a fire before the race.
We left at 7 a.m. to reach the winery. It was a fairly easy and direct drive.

The farther north we drove, the colder it got, and in and around Hartville there were light patches of snow on the ground. Snow! Already! The temps were in the low 30s.

The pre-race atmosphere was like a party. Tons of people roaming around the grounds. And there were huge fires everywhere to keep people warm. It was very nice!

The race started at noon with the firing of a pumpkin cannon which was loud, but we couldn't see it from where we stood. (I wanted to see a pumpkin fly!) As everyone took off, Deb and I were the very last people in the race. Elaine and Laura were up ahead of us and we didn't expect to see them until the end.

The course is on country roads with a couple of miles in Quail Hollow State Park at about the halfway point and the finish. For the first few miles we had the road to ourselves and it was great. The scenery was pretty, the roads were wide and we passed a couple of people. The wind was intermittent, depending on whether the corn fields had been plowed under or there were trees near the side of the road. There were lots of hills, but only a couple of big ones. Because it was cold, it was hard to climb the bigger hills.

After a couple of miles, the roads were open to traffic and that was a pain. Though most of the roads had very little traffic, some were pretty busy and the cars were way too fast and cutting it way too close. Deb and I met another Deb along the way and the three of us would go single file on the berm to get out of the way of the cars. Being country roads, they were uneven with some pretty rough patches, but I expected that. It did make my ankles and legs a little tired, but it was a public road.

Spectators lined sections of the race.
There were a couple of spots where you could tell the race directors had not anticipated problems caused by this many people. Entering Quail Hollow there is one road. There were pylons on the side and a big space in the middle -- we were not sure if we were supposed to be in the middle section or off to the side. There were tons of spectators walking and standing in the "short section" so we couldn't really walk there. There were occasional cars in the middle section, so we couldn't really walk there.

We did one loop in the park, then came around behind the finish line and ended up walking head-on toward the runners finishing. They were cutting it close to us, trying to use tangents at the end of the race, and we were trying to stay to the side to be out of their way, but still be on the course. Spectators were everywhere. It was a mess!

The course was scenic. The uncut
corn helped break the wind.
We left the park at about mile 7 and continued on country roads. For a while we could see the faster people coming toward us and it was fun to see Laura walking with a group of runners.

This last part of the course felt hillier. And as we walked it felt as if the temps were dropping. My core was warm throughout the race and when the wind stopped blowing, I was too hot! But as we went along, my hands were freezing and my legs were getting stiff. Yep, a sure sign the temps were dropping. Oh, and before I forget -- it snowed. During the race we encountered tiny pelting snowflakes.

We got to the finish in Quail Hollow uneventfully. It was fun that they announced our names as we came across the finish line. Though we knew we needed to catch a bus back to the winery, not one person said, "Go this way to catch a bus." We had to find a volunteer and ask.

Yea! We are getting on a bus!
The line for buses to the winery was HUGE! We could see Laura and Elaine ahead of us and they finished much earlier than we did. Laura later reported she waited in line for more than an hour! We waited for more than half an hour and ended up on the same bus with Elaine. Luckily they crammed the buses full of people and I was thankful I was out of the cold and did not mind that only one cheek actually touched the seat. The bus ride back to the winery was not long.

The winery was more than ready for us! The fires were still burning, there were tents set up with tons of picnic tables and there was lots of food. They had hot dogs, Subway turkey sandwiches, bananas, apples, chips, cookies ... And there was a lot of everything. There was also coffee and hot chocolate -- I would have loved another bottle of water, but could not find any. In addition, anyone over the age of 21 could get two glasses of wine! We grabbed our food, (I also grabbed two glasses of wine), and we went inside the winery in their restaurant section that was nice and warm. It was crowded with happy race finishers and was a fun atmosphere.

When I went outside about 4:30, there was still plenty of food left! There were still tons of Subway sandwiches, cookies and chips left.

The race packet included a really nice wicking hat, socks embroidered with the word "Stomp," and a technical shirt in a great purple with a really pretty logo. This year they opted to give away the hat and socks instead of medals. Unfortunately, my sized-small shirt is so absolutely huge, it looks like a men's XL. When we went to exchange them, we were told that someone gave women men's sized shirts and they were out of women's smalls. Crud! It's a shame, too, because this is one of the best-looking shirts I have received in a long time! Regardless, the hat and socks are cool.

I have mixed feelings on this race. The atmosphere was very fun! The fires outside were great. The participants were all excited. There were plenty of pre-race restrooms. The pumpkin cannon was fun. The course was difficult because of the hills and the rough streets, but I have done hillier courses. It was made tougher because of the weather and the fact the streets were not closed causing us to be on the edge of the road a lot. The loop in the park with the fast finishers and tail end people at the same time was just a mess. And doing this race alone would be hard. The long wait many had for a bus back to the winery was horrible.

The after race party was fantastic! It was one of the best I have ever seen! Tasting wines was fun and I'm sure inspired more purchases. The hat and socks are great!

So the good things were very, very good. The bad things were bad. I do think the good out-number the bad.

Would I do it again? I think so. It has lots of potential. My recommendation is to let the race directors figure out how to handle a crowd this big for a year or two, then try it again.

Finish time: about 3:11. Considering how cold it was, with rough roads, not bad.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Copyright Infringement is not a Death Penalty Crime

My life is dependent on others respecting copyrights and copyright laws. I'm an editor, a writer, a publisher and blogger.

Because it is my livelihood, I was incensed when I heard about the Cooks Source magazine copyright infringement situation. (For those who need the Clif's Notes update, the editor of the magazine printed an article that she picked up from a blog without the permission of the author. When the author confronted the editor, the editor was snarky, claimed everything on the internet is in the public domain and was unrepentant.)

Of course, when you tick off a blogger -- they blog about it. This story has taken on a life of its own.

Initially, I was all about the public humiliation of the editor of the regional magazine. I logged onto the magazine's Facebook page and got a kick out of the comments. It was amazing to watch the number of people who "liked" the page just so they could comment grow from fewer than 300 to more than 2,000 today. The support of the author was fantastic!

Partway through the day the comments started to turn. They were no longer talking about copyright infringement and plagiarism. The comments turned to her looks, her weight, her lack of intelligence and included vulgarities and death threats. People are making fake websites in her name and the magazine's name.

Seriously, does copyright infringement warrant death threats!

The more I look at the comments on Facebook, the more I wonder why so many people who are not involved in this incident continue to write truly nasty things about the editor.

Which has led me to start feeling sorry for her! I know what she did is wrong. I know her response to the article's author was totally inappropriate and unprofessional. But the level of outrage, the personal insults, the vulgarities and death threats are overkill.

Enough people. Give it a rest.

One of the FB commenters actually sent a private message to me using vulgarities! A little extreme for copyright infringement.