Friday, November 25, 2011

The Flying Feather was Fun!

On Thanksgiving, I did the Flying Feather -- a 4-mile race here in central Ohio. My sister had signed up for it first, and because this was her first running race in well over 10 years, I decided to enter it, too. As it turned out, three other Buckeye Striders and one of our adult "kids" and her boyfriend were also entered.

The temps were in the mid-30s -- much more chilly and windy out in Dublin than it was at home! Before the race started, we stood next to a building to reduce the wind to help stay warm.

My little sister Cathy and Me.
She is a runner, but I still like her.
(I'm wearing the hat that was
in the race packet.)
We separated at the starting line based on how fast we thought we would be. Barbara and I went back to the 13-min mile area. These types of events attract people and families who don't enter a lot of races, and don't know they should be near the back. We almost went back farther, but decided 13 was close enough and would reduce the number of people we would have to pass.

There were huge speakers all along the starting corrals and the music was loud and great!

Immediately, Barbara and I were passing people left and right. The first mile was on a wide road, so everyone was spread out and it was easy to maneuver. I finally looked at my watch, saw that 18 minutes had gone by and realized I missed the first mile marker! (The mile markers were huge yellow flags that could be seen from more than half a mile away. I don't know how we missed it.)

The race progressed into Glacier Ridge Metro Park where the wide road turned into a narrow path. It was a little more difficult to pass people and we got stuck a few times with nowhere to go. In the park, there were trees near most of the path, so the wind was blocked pretty well. There is a section of this park we call the plains, and though it is usually pretty windy here, it wasn't this time! Both Barbara and I started to get a little bit over-heated. At the second mile marker, our time was 28:28. I knew we were way too slow.

Buckeye Striders Sharon, Barbara, Me and
Steve before the Flying Feather. (It was cold.)
We picked up the pace as the crowd thinned a little and we moved back onto wider streets to head to the finish line. We did the third mile in 13:26. This felt like a much better pace for me. The closer we got to the finish I tried to pick up the pace a tiny bit. About half a mile away, I asked Barbara if she could go a little faster and she accused me of trying to kill her -- again. (The first time was during the Air Force Half Marathon a couple of years ago.) Still, she picked up the pace a little!

As we turned onto the final stretch, there were two slow runners right in front of us and I refused to let them beat me. I went into my real race mode and passed them a few yards before the finish line! Our final mile was 13:16! (Barbara was 4 seconds behind me.)

At the end we were given a finisher's medal, bottled water, Nutri Grain bars and a bottle of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2009. There were holiday cookies for those under the age of 21.

Because it was still chilly, and my sister was freezing, (she had been waiting around for me for 15 minutes)  we left quickly and walked the half-mile to the high school where we had parked.

A Thanksgiving race is a great way to start a holiday devoted to food! This one is well organized and the course is not difficult. With the registration we received a technical shirt, a fleece hat, toss-away gloves, a finisher's medal and a tasty bottle of wine. The shirt is a little bit ugly even though it is a technical shirt. (The earlier races gave cuter shirts.) But I'll wear the hat and the wine was good! So, overall, it was a positive experience and I'll probably do the race again.

Hints for this race:
1) The shirts are in men's sizes only. The size small shirt will be big on a small woman.
2) Sometimes they run out of size small shirts early. It is a good idea to pick up your packet on one of the first days, just to be sure. My sister was able to exchange her large for a small on race day, so there were plenty this year.
3) Parking can be tight, so plan to arrive early. I like to get to this race 45 minutes to an hour before the start.
4) It is OK to line up a little closer to the starting line than you would in a typical race (if you normally line up at your real pace). There will be many people strolling in blue jeans and walking with small children lined up too close to the starting line, and you will have to pass them. Do not expect to PR in this race.
5) In previous years, the volunteers were more careful about making sure each person received just one bottle of wine. We saw several people walking away with more than one bottle (one with a whole box!) and there were still plenty of people behind me. Get your wine as soon as possible after crossing the finish line to be sure you get a bottle. After all, if you don't get the wine, you might was well do any other Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

As the Days Get Shorter -- Be Safe!

Though I tend to talk about safety nearly every year after the time change, it probably cannot be repeated too often.

In the Northern Hemisphere, each day gets shorter until about December 21. And the end of Daylight Saving Time in late October or early November means it is darker in the evening all of the sudden. (Yuck!)

You could try walking in the morning, if you don't already. It's just a temporary fix though since it gets progressively darker in the mornings, too. If you have the right employer (or work at home, or are retired...), you could walk over your lunch hour. However, depending on how hard you walk, that might require access to a locker room or showers.

If you are like me, the only time of day available to seriously walk is the evening. (It is hard enough already for me to wake up in the morning -- I cannot get up any earlier!) And that means we need to be extra careful.

First, be careful where you walk. If I am alone, I will not venture into the city parks at night. There are too many dark secluded spots. Lucky for me, my neighborhood is safe and I'm comfortable walking there alone at any time.

Wear light-colored clothing if possible. My winter coat is dark purple, and all of my long pants are black, but I try to wear a white hat when I can. Regardless, in the dark, the purple might as well be black.

Reflective vests can be cute!
Wear some type of reflective clothing. Many athletic shoes have reflective spots, but that is not enough. If your jacket or pants do not have a reflective feature, be sure to wear a vest or some other safety garment. The other day, I saw reflective cuffs to wear around the biceps, reflective hats and even suspender-like straps to wear over a jacket instead of a complete vest. I wear a vest over my dark jacket.

Wear a light. I wear a headlamp. Most people in our neighborhood have lights in front of their houses, so the sidewalks are somewhat lit, but a headlamp does help me see uneven spots. But the real reason I wear a light is so that vehicles will see me when I cross the street. If you do not have access to sidewalks, a flashing red or yellow light on your back will also make you much more visible to vehicles! Don't forget to walk facing traffic if possible! (Find headlamps here: and headlamps and reflective gear here:

One of my headlamps
clips to my hat.
Keep your ears open. I always have an MP3 player with me, but especially at night I use just one ear bud. With the volume at a reasonable level, this allows me to hear other pedestrians or vehicles.

Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. If you live with other people, this is not a problem. Living alone makes it a little more difficult. If you know your neighbors well enough, let one of them know what your plans are, then check back in when you return home. Otherwise, I have been known to call friends to let them know where I'm walking, and call again when I'm home. Anyone who supports your healthy lifestyle should be willing to do this for you!

Carry a cell phone. I know, I hate carrying the extra weight, too. Still, it is a minor inconvenience to be a little bit safer.

Darkness, rain, snow and wind are not good reasons to let your healthy lifestyle slide. With a little bit of planning and common sense, you should be able to walk outside year-round!

Let me know if any of you have any additional suggestions.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Here Comes the Sun....

On the far side of Antrim lake. Though I saw a few people a couple of times, most of the two laps I was completely alone.
Today, I was lucky enough to be free for the day at about 3:45 p.m. Though chilly and windy, the sun was shining and I rushed to change my clothes so I could get in a couple of miles in the sun.

Not to be too repetitive, but I am very affected by weather and daylight, and the lack of sun in Ohio this time of year really messes with me. To be as proactive as possible, I get outside in the sun as much as possible. And if I get the chance to generate a few endorphins at the same time, all the better!

I was able to change my clothes and be on my way to one of my favorite parks before 4. I wore just two technical shirts with long pants, a windproof jacket and gloves and earmuffs. It was the perfect amount of layers!

On my first lap, I saw two men in olive green jackets who looked somewhat official. As I walked past them, I noticed the logo said something about being community security, which made me feel great! I did only two 1.2 mile loops before the sun started to get low. I was afraid it would be too dark too quickly to make it around one more time. Even with security, I wouldn't want to be on the other side of the lake in the dark.

I pushed steadily and I could feel my breathing, but I was not breathing too hard. In fact, it felt like a medium effort. That said, my heart rate topped out at only 143 BPM and my pace was 13:04 per mile for the first lap and 12:45 for the second!

Though I'm pretty happy about my speed, I'm even happier I had the opportunity to be outside in the sunshine generating endorphins! (If it never got dark any later than it did today, I'd be fine all winter.)

I hope those reading this post had a chance to be out in the sun today, too!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fall Morning Walks

This time of year, I get really excited when I have the chance to get in my miles in the morning. I don't know what it is about crisp, sunny, fall mornings, but walking in them is great!

Saturday the Buckeye Striders met at Whetstone Park near the Park of Roses at 8 a.m. for our weekly one-hour walk. A beautiful morning walking with friends is a great way to start the weekend.

In fact, it felt so good, I went out for another walk Sunday morning in my neighborhood. Sunday was not nearly as pretty -- it was very cloudy and windy -- but that was OK. I really enjoy starting a morning outside if possible.

Though neither walk was overly eventful, they were both wonderful in a different way. I spend way too much time inside and having two mornings in a row where I can walk outside (and the weather cooperated), well, in Ohio, that is pretty wonderful!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Walking After the Time Change

The sun was already pretty low before
I even started my 3-mile walk.
One of the biggest problems with training outside after the Fall time change is that it starts to get dark so early. In fact, it will get darker every day until about December 21. The time change just gives the early darkness a sudden jump making it a hard immediately.

Monday evening on my way home, I stopped at a park along the river to get in a few miles while the sun was still up. I thought there would be plenty of time to get in a few miles before it got dark.

Because the painted mile markers are starting to fade, I sometimes miss them. On this day, I saw every one of them on my way out -- 1.5 miles -- but I missed  them on the way back. Regardless, after only 3 miles, the sun was already behind the trees and it was starting to get dark. It wasn't so dark I needed to stop, but it was getting close. I decided to stop.

I don't mind walking in the dark if I'm in my neighborhood and I feel safe -- I bought new batteries for my headlamp and found my reflective vest -- but who wants to walk in just their own neighborhood for a couple of months? (Not me.)

Until it is absolutely necessary for me to limit my walks to the neighborhood, I will keep trying to squeeze a few in local parks and with luck will be able to enjoy a few hours of sunshine.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Seen Today -- Seriously?

Turkey lights put up in a neighbor's yard the
day after Halloween!
Can you believe it? The day after Halloween and someone in our neighborhood had a Thanksgiving decoration out already! (The photo is difficult to see, but the white lights are in the shape of a turkey.)