Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First Speedoman Sighting!

Today I again went to the park by the river for lunch hoping I would see Speedoman. After sitting there about 10 minutes I decided to walk half a mile -- I sit all day, and even though it wasn't an "exercise" walk, it was still moving. (There are quarter mile markers painted on the street.)

Even after walking the quarter mile to the end of the park and back, I still did not see Speedoman. Over the years, I have usually seen him somewhere around noon.

But, when I got back to my car and started driving, I was thrilled to pass Speedoman! Again, I got so excited I almost waved. The thing is, he doesn't know me. I'm just a weird stalking/blogger.

He is looking older. He wasn't running at all -- in fact he was walking VERY slowly. And because he only wears a Speedo, it was obvious he has put on weight.

So, though I am worried about him -- he doesn't look as spry -- I'm thrilled he is still out there! And he is still an inspiration to me. I love the fact that, though he is no longer running, he is still out there doing what he can do.

Oh, and this year's Speedo is purple. If I remember correctly, that is the same color as last year.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Back to my Old Self

Once it dawned on me that my dislike of running is why I haven't been exercising enough, I've felt better! Sometimes knowledge is power.

And I'm feeling like I am back to my old self again. Today I woke up excited about getting in three laps at Antrim Park.

Saturday, I walked for an hour with the Buckeye Striders. Yesterday I kind of ran with my husband and son for about 2.5 miles. Today I walked for another 3.6 miles. Woo hoo!

Today the walking was a little bit hard. Because of some freelance editing I needed to get done early, I didn't leave the house til nearly 10:30 -- it was already starting to get warm. I could also "feel" my legs from working my muscles differently during yesterday's run. Unfortunately, I had chosen to wear my Air Force Marathon shirt (one of my favorites) but wasn't thinking about how heavy the fabric is -- it lets in no breeze! Still my average pace was 14:06 per mile.

I felt much slower than that! So, I guess that is an indication that my fitness level and speed are both increasing. And exercising for three days straight is an indication that my mental attitude is improving, too.

My 17-year-old son went with me to the park today. I expected him to run off and see me at the end. Shortly after I started my second lap, he was finishing running his second. He decided to do my last two laps with me. It was pretty funny because he can't walk as fast as I can, but he can't jog as slowly as I walk either. He ended up jogging slightly ahead, then walking until he was behind, then jogging ahead. It was really nice having him make the effort to hang with me!

Darn! I should have taken a picture!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Running's Affect on Me

Not sure why I have been having so much trouble blogging lately. Though if I really think about it, it probably has something to do with the fact I've been doing a little running.

For me, running is not fun: it doesn't feel good, it is hard and I just don't like it. These feelings about running are probably why I don't do it enough and why I still cannot run a mile without stopping. I believe my training for next week's Warrior Dash has fallen flat because I simply don't enjoy running.

I'm also disappointed that running is not getting better any faster. Well, let me clarify -- it is a little bit easier. I no longer feel as if I'm going to have a heart attack and die within the first 10 seconds. And I am no longer gasping for air like a fish out of water. But I still can run no farther than about 2 minutes at a time. Then I need to take a huge walking break before I can run for less than 2 minutes.

The reason I'm not getting better faster is because I'm not training as I should. I'm just not running enough to get better. 

There have been days when I have sat in my family room thinking, "Oh, no. I have to run today!" Then I would have an ongoing internal argument with myself until it is just too late to go or it has started raining or something else comes up to prevent me from going. In my own sick little world, I have celebrated when I have talked or tricked myself out of running. (And because I am not exercising, I'm gaining weight.)

Here is what I have learned from this running experiment. If someone does not like the exercise chosen, she won't do it. It is that simple.

I don't like running, hence I don't run. Even with a race looming over my head, I'm not training hard enough to have met my bare minimum goal of being able to run 1 mile before race day. I've had months to prepare for this, it was a goal that was attainable, but I have talked myself out of it. And because I'm not running, I'm not racewalking either.

OK, the Warrior Dash is strictly for the fun of it. But part of what makes a race fun is being physically capable of completing it, right? Would I plan to racewalk a marathon with this little preparation? No.

So, I will go out for a run shortly because it is nice out right now and I know it will get hot soon. I will even try to run a couple more times before next Sunday. I know I will have fun at the race because the people going are fun. And maybe I'll even do better than I think I will.

Still, I'm a little disappointed that I was unable to meet my minimum goal of running just one measly mile.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Seeking Speedoman

If you look, you can see the rain hitting the river.
The other day I talked a co-worker into having lunch with me in the park by the river. I didn't tell him in advance, but part of my motivation was to see if Speedoman was still around. For those of you who do not know, Speedoman is an older man (80s maybe) who runs at this park daily in just a Speedo and running shoes. At least, when the weather is nice that is what he wears. If he runs year round, which I assume he does, I'm sure he wears more when it is cold out.

Though it was beautiful in the morning when we made our plans, it started to get cloudy just as we left for lunch. Partway to the park, it started to sprinkle. There are plenty of picnic shelters, so I wasn't that worried. Just as we reached the park, it started to rain. I let Brian pick the shelter, so we decided to take the one closest to the river to have a good view -- plus I could park right up next to it.

One of the filthy tables.
We walked in and noticed immediately that there were a LOT of birds in the rafters. Of course, lots of birds mean, well, lots of bird droppings all over the tables. At this point, it had started raining pretty hard, so we found a fairly clean spot and decided to stay. Luckily I had extra paper towels to cover the table where I was eating. After a few minutes, Brian got up and stood in the middle of the shelter while I finished eating. I was about to ask him why when the answer became obvious -- big drops of water were landing all around me. Looking up I saw the roof was holier than Swiss cheese! I finished eating standing up, we ran for the car and drove around the park until it was time to head back to work.

Wouldn't you know, just as it was time to head back to work, the rain stopped and the sun came out. By the time we got near our office, the streets were totally dry!

Well, I didn't get to see Speedoman that day, but eating in the bird-infested shelter was an adventure -- one I don't plan to repeat. And if I come down with some weird illness in the next week or so, I'm sure it will be some type of bird flu.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Disappointing Myself

Sunday I was entered in a 3000 m racewalk here in Columbus. I was excited and nervous -- I'm not very confident in my racewalking form, and I was looking forward to seeing if I was legal in a less intimidating format.

I arrived at 9:30 (would have been there earlier, but I got turned around). As Jack and I sat around, waiting, we watched literally a million kids run the 100 dash. About 11:30, we decided to see how long it would take until our event.

The nice official said we had at least two more hours! Wow!

Though I wanted to do the event, I had not intended to sit around watching other people run for four hours.

Here is what I learned: when entering a track meet, it is a good idea to find out early about the timing of the events. There were about 50 heats of the 100 and more for the 200. That is a lot of races!!!

And though I would have gone ahead and done the race under different circumstances, I do feel bad about leaving. It's not that the race officials were disappointed that I left, I'm disappointed I didn't compete. In my defense, I really had not intended to spend the entire day waiting for a 20-min race.

Next time I'll know.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Teaching Little Girls the Wrong Things

Two things I learned about this week have appalled me for somewhat the same reason -- teaching little girls the wrong things about appearance, health and fitness.

Like many people across the country, I was shocked to learn about the mom giving her 8-year-old daughter Botox injections because of wrinkles in her forehead. After reading several different stories about this family, I learned the little girl "wants" the Botox and even searches her face for wrinkles, she wants to have breast enlargement surgery and a nose job, and she participates in beauty pageants. I also learned the little girl gets waxed, but my husband and I read conflicting stories on what parts of this girl's body are being waxed.

Those of us who were lucky enough NOT to be raised by this mother know that 8-year-old girls do not "want" any of this stuff. The only reason this little girl thinks she needs these types of improvements is because someone has already taught her that no matter what, her own personal beauty will not be good enough.

I have very strong feelings about the damage that beauty pageants inflict on little girls -- just watch one episode of Toddlers & Tiaras -- but I'll save that for another day. (Don't watch more than one episode, we don't want to encourage them.)

The other item I find appalling is butt-toning shoes for little girls. Seriously, should a little girl be worried about what she looks like from the back?

It doesn't even matter that these shoes do not work (they don't), what kind of message does this send? What kind of parent would buy these impractical shoes for a little girl?

The Truth
OK, any parents out there who are seriously worried about whether their children are fat, or unhealthy or whatever, here are some tips for you:
  • Stop eating at fast food restaurants -- stop feeding your kids fast food meals.
  • Provide healthy home-cooked meals for your children, and limit the junk food in your house.
  • Encourage your children to get natural exercise by playing outside.
  • Encourage your children to try new sports.
  • Take your children to the park or on a walk.
  • Be a good example. Eat healthy foods and get exercise yourself.
And if you encourage your kids by talking about eating healthy foods and being healthy, then they won't be obsessed with their looks and especially their weight.

We do have an obesity problem in this country. But making little girls feel that they are not good enough, that they are not pretty enough or that there is a quick fix is not the solution.

I have had a personal semi-boycott against a specific fast-food restaurant chain for years. It got really fired up when the company introduced salads to its menu, but the salads were worse than a high-calorie hamburger. My kids wanted to eat there, but I usually would say no and explained that the foods were not healthy. (The truth is, we did eat there on rare occasions, but they knew it was a big deal to be there.)

One day on my way home from work I was dying for a Diet Coke. This chain had a great price on a huge soft drink, so I bought one. (I have since given up Diet Coke.)

When I walked in the door with the cup from that chain, my daughter went ballistic! She recited back to me all of my complaints about fat and calories and nutrition.

I explained to her that it was just a drink and that I did not buy any food, but she pointed out that it didn't matter, I was still encouraging them. She was right!

Let me point out that I am not a nutrition nut. We do sometimes eat fast food and that includes French fries. (I love French fries!) But you can be healthy if you eat junk only in moderation.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Here's Your Sign

Early yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in front of my computer, working hard, when suddenly my 2009 Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon poster fell off my wall and bounced off my head. (The Flying Pig posters are always on a heavier stock of paper than most race posters, so it did actually bounce off.)

For a variety of reasons -- ranging from sore shins to being very busy -- I have not been getting enough exercise the last few weeks. I know these aren't good reasons (except the shin pain) but sometimes our lives do prevent us from doing as well as we should.

Then every once in a while you get a sign -- a big old fat sign -- and well, how can you ignore a race poster bouncing off your head?

And that is one of the reasons I did more than 3 miles yesterday at Antrim Park.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Three More Miles Today

I took a short walk over lunch today to see how I would feel. My legs felt very heavy which had me a little worried, but I felt no pain so I planned to walk at Antrim Park this evening.

Still, I wasn't sure how my shins would feel -- my running on Saturday was so unsuccessful I was afraid to try. I allowed enough time that I could walk all three laps at Antrim just in case the shin pain was not gone. (I haven't run or really walked in days.)

The first lap was a little slow at 18:05. I felt good, so I picked up the pace a tiny bit to 17:22.

After those two laps, everything felt warmed up, so I decided to run. I felt fantastic! I felt so good, I was beginning to think I was going to make it halfway around the lake without stopping! Well, I was very, very wrong about that, but the point is, I felt good and I ran farther than ever before. This lap was run/walked in 14:37.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Walking and Running

I have been so busy lately that not only have I not been blogging, I haven't been exercising either. (Lots of negatives in that sentence.)

It dawned on me today that I am entered in a 3-mile race June 5, and I will need to run (yes, run) at least 1 mile nonstop before that date. Because it is an obstacle course, I don't think running farther than 1 mile will be necessary because we will be stopping to climb walls, crawl through mud and leap over fire. (http://warriordash.com/register2011_ohio.php)

At the same time, I'm thinking about entering a judged racewalk later this month. The track and field event includes 1500 and 5000 meter races. Running and proper racewalking form do not necessarily go together. (I know lots of racewalkers run, but probably not when they are working on form.)

Add in the fact that it did not rain today -- which lately is a big deal. With all of that in mind, I went to Antrim Park to get in a few laps. My plan was to do three laps -- two racewalking, one running.

I started the first lap slow because I was feeling a little bit stiff. As soon as I warmed up, I picked up the pace, though my heart rate was not going as high as I would like. The second lap, I picked up the pace more, but my heart rate still did not go as high as I would like. I finished in 17:05 and 16:32.

I started running the moment I began the third lap. Unfortunately for me, I planned poorly. The direction I picked to go included the only uphill on the entire loop! When you have no endurance for running, even a small hill like this can be very challenging. I did a run/walk, but I didn't time the intervals. I just ran as far as I could until I got tired, rested, then ran some more. The first few running intervals were pretty tough and short, but the more intervals I did, the longer they got! Near the end I felt my endurance was really improving. I completed that lap in 14:32 and my heart rate got up to 168!

And though running is still pretty difficult for me, and I know I will never be a real runner, it is getting easier.

So, today was an especially good day. The sun was shining, I was at a beautiful park, I finished over 3 miles and feel that I got some really good cardio exercise. And my endurance is improving.

Pace per mile: First lap 14:14, second lap 13:46 and my final jogging lap was 12:06. You may remember I was walking faster than that more than a week ago.

I felt so good after this workout, I had fresh veggies and hummus for dinner.