Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Go to www.walk-magazine.com

Hey everyone,

I have finally moved this blog to my WALK! Magazine website at www.walk-magazine.com. Actually, it is a little more complicated than that. I moved my WALK website to WordPress and was able to move this blog to be there, too.  (OK, that is an exaggeration. There is nothing from my old website there yet. It's a long story.)Yea!

In the long run this will make my life much easier. I'll only have one place to go to update everything!

I hope it will make things easier for you, too -- www.walk-magazine.com is much easier to remember than this Blogger address.

So, for future updates of the WALK! blog, go to www.walk-magazine.com.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Columbus Marathon (Half) Review

Buckeye Striders from left to right: Barb, Cindy K, Deb, Nancy, me and Pat.
The temps were in the low 40s as my friends and I headed to the start of the Columbus Marathon at 6:30 Sunday morning. Though chilly, the skies were clear and there was no wind. It looked like it would be a perfect day for a half marathon!

Because we are walkers, we went straight to the last corral -- corral F. This year the last corral was on High Street around the corner from the starting line instead of straight down Broad Street. Unfortunately, the speaker pointed in our direction was shorting out, so we couldn't hear much. We could hear that music was playing, but we couldn't hear anything through that speaker. I hate when we can't hear the National Anthem.

The start was signaled by the shooting of a cannon and fireworks. Though very cool, we couldn't see much of it because we were around the corner. The cannon went off three or four times with fireworks following. I heard that the start would be slightly staggered with fireworks for each start and that seemed to be what was going on.

I tossed my throwaway sweatshirt as we approached the starting line and accidentally tossed my gloves, too. I regretted losing my gloves as my hands were cold for most of the race.

The women's half marathon shirt
with medal and bib.
Because I had a goal in mind, we were looking for the 3:00 pacer and found him pretty easily. (He was with the 6:00 full marathon pacer.) My intention was to walk with the pacers until mile 10, then go as fast as I could for the last 3 miles. My entire group of friends -- Deb, Barb, Pat, Nancy and Cindy -- started together and tried to keep the pacer in sight.

Our first mile was 14:19, which was way too slow for my goal. The pacers picked up the pace and our second mile was in 13:10. Their pace was inconsistent, so I decided to get ahead of them and do the best I could on my own.

Pat, Nancy and I were together for a couple of miles. In Bexley we passed the Governor's mansion and some lovely neighborhoods! Around mile 4 I started to move ahead of them. We also met a nice powerwalker named Jane from Cincinnati. She and I were together for a couple of miles until we looped back onto Broad Street.

The course changed around Franklin Park. We used to go along the back and around the west side of the park. This time we came around the front of the park hitting Broad Street much earlier than in previous years. It was nice to go around the front for a change.

Around mile 6 I made a pit stop and afterward was back with Pat and Nancy for a little bit on Broad Street. (My delay was only about 1 min.) I picked up my pace and I caught up with Jane again right before we hit Olde Town. I love the homes in Olde Town and one of the first houses on the left always has a big marathon party that looks like a lot of fun.

We went through German Village, the Catholic Priest gave me a high five, and then we were back on High Street heading north toward the Arena District for the last 2 miles. I love hitting High Street at this point in the race because I know it is almost finished! I tried to pick up my pace.

The crowds on High Street get bigger and louder the closer you get to the Arena District and the final turn. This is my favorite part of the race -- the half marathoners turn to the finish, the full marathoners keep going straight. As you turn, you can see the finish line and the crowds are great! It is so exciting!

Me celebrating my new PR: 2:53:58!
I pushed  harder and harder and felt great! I finished mile 12 in 12:45 and mile 13 in 12:25! I finished with another PR -- 2:53:58! three minutes faster than last year's PR of 2:57!

After crossing the finish line, I received my medal, a silver blanket and a bottle of water. At this point I had a difficult time breathing for about 5 seconds, and it was over. While waiting for the other Buckeye Striders, my legs ached horribly. I'm not sure why they hurt, but it didn't feel like cramps.

Pat and Nancy were a couple of minutes behind me. I waited with Steve, who was just a couple of minutes ahead of me. We were handed chocolate milk, a bag with some food in it and as we walked through the food area, we were handed bagels, bananas and cookies. It was very well organized. At this point it seemed as if there should have been plenty of food for all of the full marathoners!

Those of us who finished the earliest went to Celebration Village to turn in our Competitive Walker bibs and to wait at our designated meeting spot. The walker booth was much easier to find this year with a prominent sign. It was VERY crowded and pretty uncomfortable waiting in this park. As soon as everyone was together, we left.

A highlight of this year's race is the team up with Nationwide Children's Hospital. As part of this partnership, each mile of the race featured a patient hero treated at Children's. The children were so inspiring and many of them were on the course cheering us on! Some miles had tons of people cheering with the patient hero! Mile 12 was the Angel Mile -- in memory of many children who died. I was impressed with the number of family members at this spot cheering. I'm not sure I could have done it if I had been in their shoes.

I was also impressed with the large number of bands and musical entertainment! From a bagpiper to members of the OSU alumni band, folk singers and rock bands! I always love seeing the Army band near the Statehouse. I missed the steel drum group that we usually see not too far from Franklin Park.

Overall, it was a very successful event! The weather was perfect, the course was nice, there were plenty of bands and the finish line was exciting! The shirt is great, the medal is very nice and there was plenty of food and it looked as if there would be plenty for late finishers!

I won free entry into the race this year, so I can't really comment on the cost. That said, I would have entered regardless. Over the past couple of years this race has improved in quality every single year. I can't wait to see what they do to up the ante next year!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Competitive Walker Division -- Columbus Marathon

If you plan to be a "competitive walker" at this year's Columbus Marathon October 21, don't forget to pick up your sticker for your front bib. Here are the instructions:

Competitive Walker Division Rules
All participants in the Competitive Walker Division must wear a special sticker on the front of their shirt and a special bib on the back of their shirt on Race Day. Judges will be located on the course. Any participant in the Competitive Walker Division seen running will be ineligible for Competitive Walking Division Awards.

The Competitive Walking Division stickers and bibs can be picked up at the Competitive Walking Division table at the Expo. This table will be located next to Number Pick-up.

ONLY those walkers interested in competing for awards must wear the sticker and second bib; walkers taking part in the marathon and 1/2 marathon who are not competing in the Competitive Walking Division do NOT need a sticker or second bib.

Following the Race, each participant in the Competitive Walker Division will be required to write his or her name and race number on their back bib, and turn it in to the information table in Celebration Village for verification. Those participants who fail to turn in their bib will be ineligible for awards.

NOTE: Last year, it was a little bit difficult to find where to pick up the sticker and bib and where to turn them in at Celebration Village. Keep your eyes open!

The race is sold out, but here is the website in the event you still need it: http://www.columbusmarathon.com/

Wouldn't Have Missed It!

The deer were too far away to photograph and I didn't want to take a picture of the exact same trail I always photograph. So, these are pretty trees in Sharon Woods park. This photo does not capture how beautiful this park is in the fall.
Yesterday morning, I overslept! I set the time on my alarm clock, but somehow forgot to turn the alarm clock on.

Luckily for me, my friend Deb, who I was supposed to meet at 7:30 at Sharon Woods, called me at 7:28. She started without me, but I was able to meet up with her and the other Buckeye Striders at 8:00.

It was an absolutely beautiful morning! The temps were perfect, there was no wind, the sun was coming up, the sky was blue... We saw plenty of deer including a young buck with tiny antlers starting to show.

It is mornings like this that just make me happy to be out walking with good friends! I'm so glad I didn't miss it!

Because the Columbus Marathon is next weekend, this week's goal was to do 8 easy miles. I ended up doing only 6, but we did a good job of taking it easy. Our pace was between 14 and 14:30 per mile.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Beautiful Morning for 15K - Scioto Miles Race Review

The race started and finished across the river from
downtown Columbus. It was beautiful!
It was a beautiful morning for a 15K race! The temps were in the high 40s, no rain, no wind -- and when the sun popped up over the downtown buildings, it was even more beautiful.

Me with, from the left, Nancy,
Deb and Pat.
The Scioto Miles race started in downtown Columbus along the river behind COSI. We had distance options of 5K, 10K or 15K. The Buckeye Striders walking club had members in all three distances, with most doing the 15K. (Several of us are training for the Columbus Marathon Half and this race fit perfectly in our training schedule.) I walked most of this race with Striders Pat and Nancy.

The course winds through both Genoa and Audubon parks and along the Scioto Mile. I don't spend much time downtown and had no idea how beautiful these parks are! It was fun seeing parts of our city as a visitor and being impressed.

The race is three loops through the parks, with the course shifting slightly for the second loop to give a full tour of the parks. The course is on streets, sidewalks, a wooden section over water, and asphalt and gravel walking trails. Because it is a loop, runners end up passing on the left. Parts are out and back, so there are athletes heading toward you in sections, too. Some of the trails are narrow, so we had to be single file sometimes to give other athletes room to get around us. Most of the runners were finished shortly after we started the third loop giving us more room. Despite the course being crowded, most of the runners were nice and many even cheered us on.

In a tree-lined section, there were leaves on the asphalt, which were a little bit slippery. Going down the slight hill here, we had to be careful.

We started out much faster than our goal pace -- we were at 13:05, but our goal was 13:20. I timed each mile (I always do, but I had a goal pace this race.), so it was when we hit the 7-mile marker that I realized there was not a 6-mile marker.We had one very slow mile at 13:49, the rest were mostly faster than our plan.

When we got to mile 9, Nancy and I tried to catch a woman walking ahead of us. As soon as we started to catch up, she started running and we couldn't catch her. Nancy was very fast and reached the finish line more than 10 seconds before I did. Pat started to lose steam and was about a minute behind us. 

Throughout, music was blasting from speakers in the starting area, which helped to keep everyone moving each loop. It was nice that the sound carried across the river so we could hear it on both sides.

The finish line was at the same place as the starting line, behind COSI. There were not many people at our pace, but the finish line was still up and there was still plenty of water, chocolate milk, bananas and granola bars left. There was so much chocolate milk leftover, we each took home half a gallon!

Technical shirts in women's sizes and
in a great color!
This was a well organized and beautiful race. Though the course was often too crowded, it was not so crowded as to be a problem for us. (I don't know what the runners thought about it.) The after food was not exciting, but it was fine. And the good thing is, there was plenty of it.

This race was the second of a two-part series. Everyone who signed up for both races received a shirt for each race and a backpack water carrier. (Like a Camelback.) I didn't do the first race. Still, the entry fee was reasonable at $35 this week and the shirt is nice!

Other than the course being a little bit crowded, I really liked this event! I think there could have been one more water stop, but it was not a huge problem. For people who were faster than us, it was probably the perfect spacing. The only other problem was that my "official" results has my finish time than a minute different from my watch and has Pat finishing ahead of me. I sent an email asking if it is possible they switched our results.

So, based on registration fee, quality of shirt and overall race experience, I would recommend this race! And if you are doing a fall marathon or half marathon, the timing couldn't be better.

By my watch, my finish time was 2:03:32. "Official" time was 2:04:29.
Mile 1 - 13:05
Mile 2 - 13:18
Mile 3 - 13:49
Mile 4 - 13:40
Mile 5 - 13:25
Mile 6 & 7 - 27:08 (13:34 each?)
Mile 8 - 13:14
Mile 9 - 12:54 (We purposely picked up the pace.)
Final 0.3 Mile - 2:55
Total 2:03:32 for an average of 13:15 to 13:16 per mile

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Race Review -- Cat Caper 5K

Sunday, September 30 I entered the Cat Caper 5K Race. Because I am not a cat person, I have never entered this race before. However, a friend of mine is the race director so a bunch of us entered this year.

This 5K is such a fun event, I wish I had entered years earlier! There were more than 400 people in the race and a large number were walkers.There were at least 10 Buckeye Striders entered.

The course was challenging! The last mile seemed to be nearly entirely uphill. Despite that, I had a great race and set a new 5K PR!

I walked the entire race with my friend Pat who kept me moving, even up the hills. Our first mile was 12:36, second was somewhere around 12:23 and the final mile (mostly uphill) was 12:57 for a finish time of 39:12. Though Pat was ahead of me up the big hill, I passed her in the final stretch and finished about 15 seconds ahead of her. This is the first time I have beat Pat and the finish was good enough for me to take third place woman walker! If it was possible to win more than one prize, I would have taken first in my age group!

After the race with my third place mug!
The handmade coffee mug was a great prize!

A pancake breakfast was available after the race. Though they looked delicious, I was more in the mood for the bagels. There were plenty of bagels, bananas and granola bars.

Though a good course and plenty of food, the best thing about this race is the support from the community. There was a raffle/silent auction with some amazingly wonderful prizes that were donated -- Rossi Pasta, Great Harvest Bread, restaurant coupons, pet toys, tickets to sporting events.... I was stunned. After buying raffle tickets, you were able to pick and choose which items you wanted the chance to win by dropping your ticket in a bag next to the prize.

Unfortunately, I had to leave early and did not get to see who won the prizes.

If you like 5K races, this one is for a good cause, has great community support and gives participants a good value for the entry fee! Mark your calendars for next year!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Search for "The Great Walker"

Forgive me for running the news release nearly verbatim, but I really want all of you to have the complete information. (I'll let you know when you can vote for me.)
Air New Zealand 
Launches Global Search for The Great Walker
El Segundo, CA (Sept. 25, 2012) – A global search is underway to find four adventurers to take on the challenge of a lifetime by completing all of New Zealand’s nine famous Great Walks in just nine weeks. The winners will embark on an unforgettable journey to experience New Zealand’s striking landscape – beech forests, tussock grasslands, alpine tops, green rivers, and stunning coastal views and more.
Air New Zealand’s search for The Great Walker is being run in association with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) and will see four global winners take on New Zealand’s premier DOC tracks; Abel Tasman Coast, Heaphy, Kepler, Lake Waikaremoana, Milford, Rakiura, Routeburn, Tongariro and Whanganui Journey.
The Great Walks span 550km (340 miles) of spectacular New Zealand terrain from alpine peaks to glacial valleys, native bush, rainforests and golden beaches.
Both DOC and Air New Zealand are delighted to be able share these tourism treasures with an even wider audience through this online competition which challenges keen walkers, trekkers, trampers and hikers to get creative and demonstrate why they believe they deserve to win a place on this wild adventure by uploading either a short YouTube video or a Pinterest board of inspiring images.
The four winners will fly Air New Zealand to the southern most point of the country to join the first of the nine Great Walks – Rakiura Track on Stewart Island – and then make their way north conquering one track each week for nine weeks.  As well as undertaking the Great Walks, the winners will also enjoy other Kiwi outdoor experiences including local wildlife encounters and adventure activities such as mountain biking, canyoning and jet boating.
The group will be joined along the way by Air New Zealand and DOC staff and celebrity guests.  Each winner will share their journey with the world via regular blog updates.
Air New Zealand Head of Community, James Gibson, describes the trip as a once in a lifetime experience. “New Zealand is internationally renowned for its stunning scenery and we’re thrilled to be able to offer people the chance to come and see it for themselves. Whether someone is a nature lover, has a curiosity for the great outdoors or fancies themselves as the next Bear Grylls, we want to hear from them,” says Gibson.
DOC Director Commercial Business Unit, Dave Wilks, says: “We are looking for 'Great Walkers' with the total package people with personality, creativity, a knack for blogging and story telling as well a passion for outdoor adventure. Our national parks are picturesque and sometimes wild and rugged. Entrants should be agile and have a moderate level of fitness to enjoy the variety of terrain the New Zealand wilderness offers,” says Wilks.
Entries for the Great Walker are now open at www.greatwalkernz.com until Monday 22 October, 2012.  Entrants will then be shortlisted on the website and four winners chosen as judged by an official judging panel and by the public through the website. The Great Walkers will then travel to New Zealand in February 2013 to complete the epic Kiwi adventure of a lifetime.
For further competition details and to apply, visit www.greatwalkernz.com
For information on DOC’s nine Great Walks, visit www.greatwalks.co.nz.
For further information on Air New Zealand’s Great Walks Vacations and videos of each of the nine walks, visit http://www.airnewzealand.com/greatwalks.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tips for Next Year's Air Force Marathon

  • Make hotel reservations early. The close hotels fill up fast.
  • Go to the pasta dinner. The food is delicious and the speakers are usually very good. Besides, the local restaurants are typically packed.
  • If you get closed out of the pasta dinner, post a note on the Air Force Marathon Facebook page, and you might be able to get one that isn't being used.
  • The expo can be tight. Try to arrive at an off hour.
  • Arrive early to the race. There are only so many ways to get onto the base and to the starting line. Traffic can get backed up.
  • There are plenty of port-a-johns near the starting line. You can skip the long lines at the ones along the way.
  • At the start of a race, I usually try to line up according to my real pace, but in this race, you might want to go a little closer to the front than usual.
  • This race offers women's shirt sizes! In previous years, they fit perfectly -- this year it is a tiny bit too big.
  • When getting your race medal, pick a line that has a high-ranking officer.
  • You cannot re-enter the food tent after you have left. Be sure to have enough food and fluids before you exit. The LaRosa's pizza tastes great, but is usually too heavy for me. Look for the chocolate milk. It isn't always easy to find.

That's all I can think of right now.

Air Force Marathon/Half Review

The weather was beautiful for yesterday's Air Force Marathon! The temperature was about 50 when we arrived at the parking lot about 90 minutes before the start of the half marathon. The full marathon started at 7:30, the half at 8:30.

Deb, me and Elaine at the start
of the race.
As we walked to the start line, we saw this year's featured plane -- the B-2 Spirit -- fly over the full marathon starting line. It was so low! What an amazing aircraft!

For the first time I've done this race, there was a security checkpoint for non-participants to get into the viewing area. Anyone wearing a race number could walk right in -- everyone else had to go through metal detectors. I saw some people being checked with hand wands!

As we waited for the start, skydivers came out of a plane carrying three huge American flags! It was beautiful! Later we found out that the National Anthem was sung at that point, but we couldn't hear it. That is disappointing because there is something special about being on that base with all of the military personnel and hearing our National Anthem. It makes you feel so proud to be an American. (Apparently, we were between speakers. Others reported hearing everything. We must have been in a dead zone.)

We had a flyover, too, but I can't remember which plane it was. (I'm bad at that.) Though it was great, I would have liked to see the B-2 again.

With the shot of a cannon, the race started!

The crowd was thick as we inched our way to the starting line. It took more than 6 minutes! We had lined up at our pace, but there were tons of faster runners behind us, and even more slower walkers in front of us. Somehow I missed the first mile marker, but at mile 2 our pace was 28:43. 

Around mile 2 the sun was pretty high and I finally tossed my jacket. I have taken that jacket to several races to toss, and it finally was not coming back home with me.

In this first couple mile thickness we heard this weird rubber duck squeaking and thought it was an obnoxious runner. Nope! It was a man pushing a jogging stroller with a person in it! The duck was telling us to get out of the way! We also heard people yelling "Make a hole!" but I wasn't thinking, and it took us a second to figure out we were to get out of the way. I'm not sure who was in the stroller, because there were two people with disabilities -- one person was pushing his brother and I think the other was pushing his daughter. I read reports from other athletes that said the brother had a wonderful time.

This year's half marathon course was changed. In previous years, there were a couple spots where the full and half marathoners merged and it was crazy. The new course prevented that problem, which is good news! Unfortunately, the new half marathon course is slightly less pretty. I can't remember specific spots where it changed, but it was different.

I felt pretty good -- OK, I felt GREAT -- so I tried to pick up my pace very early in the race. Elaine had set a mental goal of around 2:55, and I was hoping we could meet that goal. Unfortunately, I didn't figure out a per mile pace before that, so I was just guessing that we needed to be close to a 13:00 per minute mile. (My fastest mile was only 13:17, so I thought I had no shot at it.) Most miles I was around 13:30.

Early on there was some confusion. We were told to stay to the left, but when the crowd moved over, there were fast runners coming straight at us, so we stayed to the right. Then after about a mile we all moved to the left and the runners were on the right coming at us...

At about mile 5, I was ahead of Elaine and Deb, and finally caught up with a woman who was this race's "rabbit" for me. We started chatting, and she was so nice! Linda walks a 12-min mile 5K, but tries to stay at 14 for a half. (She had been faster than that this race!) She let me pull her along and we walked together until about mile 10 when we made a pit stop. I must not have looked around very well, because Elaine later reported that Linda was right behind me, but couldn't catch me.
Me and Linda after the race,
with her friend's finger at the top.
It is hard to take a photo with
an iPod when it is sunny.

Late in the race there were signs with "rules" leading up to the water stop -- Rule 1: Cardio, Rule 2: Double Tap, Rule 18: Limber Up... Yes, it was Zombieland! The zombies were amazing! My iPod was not charged enough, so I didn't take photos. Though there are plenty of water stops, it seemed as if a couple of them did not have enough volunteers. It was tight getting water and the volunteers were moving as fast as they could. They did a great job with not enough people!

This course is a little bit hilly, but I didn't really notice how hilly until near the end when I had slowed on a steep one. Near the top I came up to a wheelchair athlete struggling. He was near the peak, but had to stop. I will never complain about another hilly course -- walking up that hill was so much easier than what he was doing.

There were so many walkers in this half marathon, I couldn't believe it! I never got to the front of all of the walkers! I'm confident I walked much farther than 13.1 just because I had to weave in and out of people the entire course. This also made me think that there were many, many walkers who lined up too close to the front.

The finish line of this race is the best ever! You turn the corner by the Air Force Museum and you walk under the wings of all of those antique planes! It is amazing! Then you get your medal from an officer! (I know nothing about rank, so I can't tell you.)

Approaching the right-hand turn to the finish line.
One of the many planes you walk under.

According to my watch, my finish time was 3:00:09 -- my chip time was 5 seconds faster at 3:00:04. I waited for Elaine then we went to the food tent. The volunteers were wonderful handing us water bananas and Gatorade. I grabbed pieces of bagel and a small piece of LaRosa's pizza and we were out, sitting on the ground waiting for Deb. The tent is well organized and guarantees you will not go back for seconds so there is plenty of food for those who finish later. 

Though not as pretty as previous years, and though there were some glitches, this is still one of my favorite races! I will continue to enter the half marathon every year or so as long as I'm able!
The gray shirt had blue insets on the sides. The wicking fabric is light and
comfortable. The front is the same every year, but the back highlights that year's plane.
The same design is on the medal.
Pace per mile:
mile 2  28:43
mile 3  13:52
mile 4  13:56
mile 5  13:31
mile 6  13:26
mile 7  13:27
mile 8 13:34
mile 9 13:40
mile 10 14:07* pit stop
mile 11 13:17
mile 12 13:17
mile 13 13:58* stopped to take pictures

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Beautiful Morning Miles

I missed yesterday's training walk with the Buckeye Striders because of rain. I know that seems funny considering I walked in rain last weekend, but there is a difference. This week it was pouring before we started -- last week it started raining after we were already out walking. Though I know I need to train in all weather, it was the right decision because today was absolutely beautiful!

The sun was shining and the temps were in the mid-50s when Deb and I met at 7:30 at Sharon Woods to do 6 miles.

It was chilly enough that I wore a light jacket and Deb had on long sleeves. I made the better decision because I took my jacket off after a couple of miles, but Deb was stuck.

We were supposed to do "easy" miles, and we did until we started to pass another walker and we all started talking. I don't know why, but we went from 14:30 per mile to a 14:07 mile! (It was fun meeting Jan. I hope we run into her again!)

This is our taper week leading up to the Air Force Half Marathon next weekend. I always enjoy the shorter mileage days leading up to and following a long-distance race. They feel so easy and it seems as if I have so much more time on the weekend!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Surprisingly Fast

Today the plan was to simply do three laps at Antrim Park.

After the first lap, my heart rate was barely over 100 bpm and I did not feel as if I was working very hard. I picked up the pace while trying to maintain a somewhat realistic racewalking form.

My heart rate eventually got up to the mid-140s and I did my best to keep it there for the rest of the workout. Though the pace was not difficult, I was breathing and a real conversation would not have been possible. At the same time, it did not feel overly difficult. I could have gone faster and I could have maintained the pace for a while. I pushed hard to the finish. This might have been race pace.

When I finished, I was pleasantly surprised to see my average pace was 13:44 and my fastest was 13:05 per mile! Just a little slower that what I will need to do in order to break my last PR of 2:55 for a half marathon.

This is good news considering my training this year is off!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Singing in the Rain

It was very humid and overcast today as several of the Buckeye Striders met at 7:00 Saturday morning to do our long mileage on the Olentangy Trail. For three of us, this is our last long day before the Air Force Half Marathon in two weeks. (Everyone else is training for Columbus, already.) That meant we were doing 10 miles while everyone else was doing 8.

Though I was a little bit worried about rain, I was more concerned the sun would come out and it would be even more steamy. (It rained early and there were lots of puddles.)

We were at a pretty slow pace -- about a 15-min mile. None of us who are doing Air Force have been training as well as we should, so a slow pace in the humidity made sense.

There were a ton of marathon training groups on the trail! The vast majority of the athletes in these groups are polite and friendly. I get excited seeing so many people out there in the early morning being active! I love marathon training season.
Deb sat in her car to take this picture of me in
the pouring rain. (I didn't want my iPod to get wet.)

At around 7 miles, Deb started singing to help her keep pace. She started with She'll be Coming Round the Mountain and progressed to It's Hip to be Square.

Then at about 8 miles the skies opened up and it began to pour! It came on suddenly and within seconds we were soaked! We tried to stay to the side of the trail where the trees blocked the rain a little, but it ended up not making much difference. My new pair of Altras were soggy pretty fast and my feet were sloshing. I hate wet socks! The funny thing is, it was so warm and humid, the rain was warm and not at all refreshing.

It was at about this time that Deb and Elaine started to belt out Singing in the Rain. You gotta love them!

I did try to get them to pick up the pace to get out of the rain faster, but because they both did a half marathon (for training) last weekend, they just couldn't.

We got back to our cars looking like drowned rats. Unfortunately, two of us did not have towels in our cars -- I was one! My car seats were soaked!

Friday, my thought was that I would not do the miles if it was raining. (One of my Facebook fans convinced me that was a bad idea.) But it wasn't bad! I forgot how much fun it can be to walk in the rain in the summer.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting Back on Track

Sharon Woods is always
beautiful. The shade really helped.
Today I went to Sharon Woods for an 8-mile long-distance training walk. As I've mentioned before, my training is a little bit off right now, so 8 miles is a pretty good stepping stone for getting back on track.

In addition, I have some serious concerns about the shoes I will wear for the Air Force Half Marathon next month, so decided to wear my new New Balance Ionix 3090s. These shoes are extremely light and I'm worried they might be too light for a half.

Leaves of three, let them be?
I think this is poison ivy.
It was a little warm today so my plan was to take it very easy. Despite this plan, I was very surprised that my first mile was 15:14 and my second mile was 15:18! Ugh! (Another sign I need to improve my training?) And those miles didn't feel easy, either.

Luckily, my pace did pick up. I was able to get down to 14:17 without working very hard -- my peak heart rate was only 138.

Though my pace was much slower than I expected, it felt great. Eight miles was not as difficult as I expected -- even though it was warm! I'm confident doing 10 miles next week will be OK and finishing the half marathon at a good pace will not be a problem.
After the 2-mile mark,
there is a water fountain.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What Does Goal Weight Mean?

Several years ago I weighed myself dozens of times a day.
About a year ago I decided to lose a couple of pounds to improve my racewalking speed. Losing about 5 12 lbs. and training better did help my speed quite a bit. The funny thing is, even with all of that healthy eating and regular workout schedule, I could not get down to my ultimate goal weight. I was perpetually 2 lbs. away. I wasn't "worried" about those 2 lbs., though it was annoying.

So imagine my surprise when I weighed myself yesterday and I am at my goal weight! (The whole truth is, I am 0.1 lbs. away, but that is close enough.) I have finally lost the pesky 2 lbs.!

I immediately ran to the bathroom mirror to see how great I look. I stood there for a moment looking over every inch of me. I didn't look any different. I didn't feel any different. My clothes did not fit much different.

That was disappointing. I have not been this light since I trained for and finished my first marathon in 2000.

The actual weight loss is a puzzle to me. I have not been exercising more. I have not been eating healthier. In fact, I've been over-worked, over-stressed, eating tons of junk and not getting in my weekly mileage. I didn't earn this.

Then a light bulb went off. I should have known this all along, but it was never as obvious as it was at that exact moment. Weight is JUST a NUMBER.

The reason I don't look healthier and stronger is because I'm not. I'm just 2 lbs. lighter and it's because I am NOT taking care of myself.

Those of you who have healthy body images and are not weight obsessive know this already. But to someone like me, who has suffered from body dysmorphic disorder (self diagnosed) most of my life and even had to get rid of our scale for a number of years because I weighed myself dozens of times a day -- this is a major breakthrough!

So last night I was talking to my husband about reaching my goal weight and not looking better, etc., and he said, "Your next goal should be to develop upper body strength."

Again he is right. Now that I am no longer obsessed about my weight (within reason), I should go back to thinking about just being healthier and stronger. I'll start working on that Monday.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Making the Best of a Bad Training Situation

Over the last couple of weeks, Ohio has had unbearable heat, I took a vacation to a place with even worse heat, I've been over-worked and then I started to feel sick.

Yesterday, the temps were mild, I felt great, I was home, it was light out ... I went to Antrim Park to do three laps around the lake. I even had the chance to finally wear my new minimalist New Balance shoes!

The U.S. Air Force Marathon is September 15 -- only 30 days away. The longest distance I've walked is 8 miles once and I should have done at least one 10-miler and two 8s by now. I have not trained well enough to do the 12 miles scheduled for this weekend. Sigh.

So what do you do when your training is so out of whack?

Well, you step back, take a look at where you are and try to make a realistic decision on where you CAN be by race day. With 30 days left, I can do one more 8-mile day and one 10-mile day before tapering. The weekly stuff I'll do my best with.

In the past I never went farther than 10 miles as my longest half-marathon training day. In the last year, I've increased my longest day to 12 miles. The increase in distance has really helped with how I feel finishing a half marathon and has helped with speed. That boat has sailed.

I have no doubt I will finish the half marathon. It will not be a record performance, but this time I will have to do the race just for fun. I can do that.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

I Thought it was Hot in Ohio!

We are in Oklahoma for a family reunion. Most of my husband's family lives west of the Mississippi with many of them in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Arkansas. (My in-laws were from Cherokee, OK.)

I knew it tends to be hotter out here in the plains states than it is in the midwest -- the reunion we attended in Kansas a few years back was toasty! But it has been averaging a high of about 110 degrees the last few days. I don't know if I have ever been outside in 110-degree heat before.

Though I am in the middle of half-marathon training, I knew I would not be able to do my long-slow mileage this weekend. I just could not see walking by myself for a few hours when we are here to visit family.

Yesterday, I decided to head out a little early. We have been up late visiting each night, so there was a limit to how early I could reasonably get up. So about 8:00 I was out on the trail with a water bottle strapped to my back with a plan to walk for at least 30 min straight out.

This hill felt like a mountain after 28 min
walking in the Oklahoma heat.
This park really is beautiful. The paved trail goes on forever through thick trees, beside the golf course and past the riding stables toward the main road. There are plenty of side loops around campgrounds, so you could easily do 20 miles here if needed.

It was a little warm, but I tolerate heat a bit better than many of my walking friends. I was not worried. As I approached the golf course, two different herds of deer ran across the trail in front of me. Beautiful!

But, there was no shade near the golf course and it started to feel hot quickly. My goal was 30 min before turning around. As I progressed, there was shade and no shade, little tiny hills that started to feel like mountains and almost no breeze. After only 20 min I wanted to quit! Let me just point out that it has been years since walking only 20 min could make me so exhausted. Even though I know it doesn't help, I kept looking at my watch every 30 seconds. With 2 min to go, I was at the bottom of a mountain (in reality a slight incline) and nearly stopped -- 2 min, I thought, I can go up this mountain for 2 min! I made it to the top!

So proud of myself, I turned around to head back. It was getting hotter by the minute. And as I walked it felt as if there was less and less shade! I started crossing back and forth on the trail to get even a couple of steps in shade. About 10 min from the turnaround, I could not even keep my arms bent anymore -- they just hung limply at my sides. There was no attempt to even fake racewalking form, I just needed to finish.

My water was nearly gone as I passed the golf course again and reached a section with tons of trees and lots of shade. By the time I rounded the tennis courts and walked toward the doors of the lodge, I was exhausted! It took 35 min to come back, but it felt as if it took a lot longer than that!

It was not nearly 110 degrees when I finished but it was in the upper 90s. From this trip I learned that Ohio heat is nothing compared to Oklahoma heat.

Note to self:  In the future, when traveling to Oklahoma, walk early -- VERY early!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Long Slow Distance was Slow

The Buckeye Striders met at Sharon Woods park today to do our long slow distance. Several of us training for the Air Force Marathon (Half) were scheduled to do 8 miles today, so we started at 7 a.m.

When I say we were slow, I'm not exaggerating. We were mostly around 14:50 per mile with more than one mile slower than 15 minutes! Once we got slower than 15 min per mile, I went to the front thinking I could pull the group along. Nancy, Steve and I picked up the pace, but the rest kept chatting and slowing as they went.

Three of us finished our nearly 8 miles (It is a 3.8-mile loop)  in under 2 hours. The rest of the group -- who knows.

As I often have to remind myself -- it is a long slow distance day. Still, I don't think we have to go quite that slow!

Regardless, it was a fun morning and I feel great. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Faster than the Speed of Light

For today's speed workout, I wanted to see how fast I could walk a measured 1/4 mile. There are 1/4 mile marks along the roads at Griggs Reservoir, so I did the workout there.

After a 1-mile warm up, I walked as fast as I could for eight 1/4 mile speed spurts with a 2-min rest in between. My first lap was 3:03. I got faster until I reached my last "lap" in 2:49 -- which would be the equivalent of an 11:16 mile, if I could keep up that pace for that long. I noticed my feet were starting to slap the ground instead of rolling. As soon as I consciously worked on "rolling" my feet, my pace improved and I had my fastest lap!

Though I was having difficulty moving my legs any faster, my heart rate was not near my max and I felt as if I was not breathing my hardest. When I can get the legs faster, I know my heart and lungs are ready!

In my cool-down mile, the cover of my left Yurbud earbud fell off. (I hate when that happens.) I went back to look for the bright red cover, but had no luck finding it. Ugh! I ended up walking more than a mile at a pretty slow pace for about 22 mins while I searched.

My goal is to get down to a 12-min mile pace for a half marathon. And the only way to get faster is to practice walking faster. If I keep up the speed workouts, I'm sure it will come!

My 1/4-mile laps.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Roundtown Classic 5-Mile Race Review

Buckeye Striders Pat, Nancy, Steve, Deb and me.
The Roundtown Classic in Circleville, OH was a fun event! A group of Buckeye Striders did the 5-mile race yesterday. There is also a 5K and kids fun run.

The course was a 1.25 mile loop in a park -- mostly on asphalt. There was a short section through a wooded area that was gravel. A line was painted on the trail dividing it in half. Signs indicated that walkers and slow runners were to be on the outside of the loop with faster runners on the inside. (Yes, that does mean that walkers went farther than the runners.)

The crowd spread out quickly, and it was pretty easy to pick up the pace. Because the loop was so large, the faster runners took a while to lap us, and it was pretty easy to pass slower walkers and runners most of the time. The only time passing was an issue was on the gravel section. It was narrower than the rest of the trail. Unfortunately, that is where we got stuck behind a couple of very slow walkers and run/walkers. We were behind them for way too long before we could pass.

The course was nice! We didn't mind the gravel because the wooded area was so pretty and smelled wonderful. It was hard to racewalk, but the section was not too long. The race organizes used fluorescent orange paint to mark any potential tripping hazards like tree roots! Overall the course was flat and in good condition.

After the 5K and the faster 5-mile people finished it felt as if we had more room and I moved to the inside lane and started to use tangents to walk the shortest distance possible. I could tell it made an immediate difference while passing some fast walkers on a curvy part of the trail.

I finished in 1:09:37 by my watch. My slowest mile was 14:16 and my last mile pushing hard and using tangents was 13:08!

After the race, there was a raffle with some nice prizes. We stayed for the awards because our friend Steve won his age group. Unfortunately, it was the last age group for the 5-mile race, so we had to wait for the 5K awards and all of the other 5-mile awards, but that was OK. Everyone seemed excited to see their friends winning prizes. They did not have separate walking awards, but Steve was still the fastest man in his age group.

The shirts are nice, but they are in men's sizes only. The small is large on me, but I understand that small races like this one can't afford to do women's sizes, too. The medals are great! The date of the race is on the back and the inside section spins. The awards were very nice, too. (We called them ice sculptures.)

This was a well-run and fun race! I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a shorter distance event in Ohio.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do it Anyway!

Don't you hate it when people throw your own advice back in your face? Me, too!

Here's the back story.
A few months ago I listened to a podcast interview with Adam Carolla. Near the end of the conversation he gave some advice that stuck with me. He said something like this:
If you don't feel like getting out of bed, get out of bed anyway. If you go for a run and feel like quitting, run 1 mile farther. If you don't want to shower, take a shower anyway.
It hit me as so simple and so deep at the same time. I must have told everyone I know about this nugget of advice.

Jump back to today.
I had a long day, ran some errands on the way home and more after dinner. I had planned to do a couple of miles tonight, but it was late and I just didn't feel like it. Like an idiot, I said that aloud.

My husband turned to me and said, "Do it anyway." I looked at him in confusion. He repeated, "Do it anyway. Isn't that what that guy you love said?"

I laughed, put on my walking clothes and walked for 30 minutes. It felt great!

When I got home I thanked him.

In hindsight, the most amazing part of this entire story is that my husband listened to me when I talked about the podcast.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Long-Slow Training

My friend Deb and I met bright and early today for this week's long-slow distance. We are training for the Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton this September, and we were scheduled for 7 miles. We went to Sharon Woods, which has a 3.8-mile loop, and did two loops for 7.6 miles.

It was hot and humid, so we took it slow. We both laughed when we realized how slow -- 15-minute miles! Well, it was supposed to be long and slow. I guess we succeeded.

Despite the heat and speed, the distance felt good. And an added benefit was walking with Deb! I haven't had much of a chance to walk with her lately, and catching up made the miles go by much faster.

Definitely a good way to start a morning!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Without Power from Summer Storms

The tree that blocked the trail at Antrim Park from Friday night's storm.
My house was one of the millions without power from the storm that hit the Midwest and some Eastern states on June 29th. Luckily, the power came back on July 4, meaning we were without electricity for only five days. I say "only" five days because there are still plenty of people suffering without power. I feel extremely fortunate!

My family used to do quite a bit of camping back before our son started playing summer baseball several years ago. That means we know how to store and cook food without power and we are pretty resilient.

The only snag was the oppressive heat. We slept in the basement and yesterday I ended up hanging out at Starbucks and going to a movie. I don't know how people without a basement or a nearby movie theater survived!

Though we have power, we still do not have cable or Internet access. I will not complain with so many people without power still. And because of places like Starbucks, I can sneak in a few minutes of connection here and there.

Let's not forget about all of the people still waiting for power. Please keep them in you prayers. Let's also pray for those men and women working night and day to get the power back up. (They are working outside in this heat!) And if you know anyone who is still without power, try to offer some relief if you can.

I am confident this will be one of those events that in a few years we will say: Remember when ...

Happy late Fourth of July everyone! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Maintaining Motivation

It's pretty easy to keep up your motivation to train when you have a race scheduled -- especially if it is a longer event that requires months of training, such as a marathon or half marathon.

What is tough is maintaining your motivation, or even maintaining a level of fitness, when you are not training for a specific purpose.

When asked, a couple avid walkers shared ways they keep up their motivation to walk or workout:
  • Look back at how far you've come. Whether you have lost weight, reached a fitness goal, or even hit a mileage milestone, looking back at where you started (and the desire to not repeat all of that hard work) can keep you going.
  • Mix things up by focusing on a different training goal. Instead of just walking goals, the focus might be flexibility, weight loss, strength, endurance.... Don't stop walking, just make your main focus something else.
  • It's also OK to use bad examples. I know it is not politically correct, but thinking about people you do not want to be like is OK if it keeps you moving. As one of my favorite quotes goes: If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning. (Catherine Aird)
  • Set an appointment for workouts and take them as seriously as any other appointment on your calendar. For many people, if the time is blocked out, they won't miss the workout whether they want to walk or not.
  • Give yourself rewards for meeting goals. Rewards can be as simple as a new pair or socks, a small ice cream cone, or even as big as a new workout outfit. Depending on where you are starting, your goals can be finishing your first mile, first 5K race, half marathon... whatever distance works for you.
So, what tricks do you use to keep yourself motivated when you don't want to workout?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Today I did three laps around Antrim Lake averaging 14:30 per mile for 3.6 miles. The pace was not too easy -- not too fast.

Afterward, while stretching on the deck, I noticed a couple running groups getting ready to start. When I stood up from an IT band stretch, my eyes met those of a young, thin runner who quickly averted her eyes. She was with a group of runners and was standing near another woman whose back was to me.

After more stretching, I stood up and saw that both of the young women were looking at me in that way that makes you assume they are not saying anything nice.

I continued doing my thing, ignoring them, but I couldn't help wondering what they were saying. Was I stretching wrong? Were they looking at my clothes or my shoes? Did they know I am a walker? For a few seconds, I was paranoid and worried about the opinions of these two women.

Then I nearly laughed aloud. Why did I care what they thought? (In hindsight I realize I did not know what they thought.) I'm twice their ages, I'm fit and healthy, I've finished two full marathons and more than 30 half marathons. I'm healthier and more active than the majority of women my age.

I picked up my water bottle, lifted my head and walked past them.

While writing this, I thought of a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Marathon Deaths Rare

The start of the 2011 Columbus Marathon from a
walker's perspective.
The headline in today's paper -- Marathon Deaths Rare -- caught my eye.

Even though I knew it was true, people died in two different races I was in. And the year after I did the Detroit Marathon half, three people died running that full marathon. I'd like to know the facts.

According to the article in The Columbus Dispatch, a Johns Hopkins study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine reported that a runner's risk of dying is slim. The actual number of people dying during or soon after a marathon is 0.75 per 100,000 runners. And men are more likely to die than women -- twice as likely.

The researchers looked at 300 marathons a year from 2000 to 2009. They found that 28 people died during races or within 24 hours of completing them during that time. Over half the people who died were over 45 and all but one of those over 45 died of heart disease. The younger runners died from other things, such as hyponatremia or cardiac arrhythmia.

During these same years, the number of people finishing marathons increased from 299,018 to 473, 355 annually!

After reading this article, I was thrilled to be reassured that the risk of death from "running" a marathon is extremely low. Though the number of people finishing marathons is increasing dramatically, I am a little concerned that this study does not indicate the number who walk or racewalk marathons as opposed to running them. I don't have hard statistics, but from experience I know there are an increasing number of marathoners who are walkers. Are the number of walkers increasing faster than runners? I doubt it. But since it does not appear that any of the athletes who died were marathon walkers, I do wonder if maybe the statistics for dying while "running" a marathon might be higher if you eliminate walkers from the base number.

Despite these concerns, I still believe that the benefits of running far outweigh the risks.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Body Image

For a variety of reasons, many women in the United States have warped body images. Though it ranges from thinking you are healthy when you are heavy or obese to seeing yourself as obese when you are healthy or too thin, I personally have experience with the latter. For the majority of my life, my sister and I both thought we were fat when no one else ever did. In fact, when I look back at photographs from before I was married more than 25 years ago, I was the classic skinny-fat -- way too thin, but with no muscle tone.

This is to explain why I really like a website about body image I found recently. It's call My Body Gallery -- What Real Women Look Like. http://www.mybodygallery.com/

The "Read this" section says:
This site is here as an accurate reflection of what real women look like. All women.

A recent study found that 95% of non-eating disordered women overestimate the size of their hips by 16% and their waists by 25%, yet the same women were able to correctly estimate the width of a box.
On the home page, to the left, is Gallery Search. There you can enter your height, weight (in 10 lb increments), pant size and shirt size. You can also select the size photos you'd like to see. Up pops a screen of photos of women who fit those criteria. 

Because my weight fluctuates between 122 and 125, I entered both 120 lb and 130 lb. My first thought was. "Wow, these women look great!" I also found it funny that the women who weighed a little bit more looked better to me. I also found some of the women to be too thin. This was such a shock to me -- someone my size could be too thin! (Can you tell I still have issues?)

Some people posted thoughts about feeling unattractive, but for me, that was not the most important thing. It was seeing what other women who are my size look like.

After visiting the site a couple of times, I began to wonder why someone would post photos on this website. Even with my face blocked out, I'm not sure I would do it. But whatever their motivation, I am thankful they did! When I have those days when I start to feel fat, I'll be sure to go back and get a reality check.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ed Redux

In December, I wrote about my good friend Ed who encourages me to keep going and to "do it better".

A little while ago my husband told Ed about that blog post. I was embarrassed. I never expected Ed to see what I wrote about him. Needless to say, Ed was excited and wanted to read it. After several unsuccessful attempts to get him to the blog online (I never remember this exact URL), I finally printed out the page and carried it in my purse for a week until we could see him again.

This past Friday, I was finally able to give it to him. Just like a little kid, I slipped the folded paper to him and quickly walked away.

As I tried to pretend not to watch for his reaction, I thought about his encouraging words again. Yes, I am getting things moving behind the scenes, but could I do it any slower? Geez!

There are a couple of good reasons why the big things are not happening, and I am making progress on some of the little things, but that does not mean I cannot be moving a little bit faster to get stuff done.

OK, Ed, thank you for inspiring me -- again!

PS: Ed said he was flattered! Whew!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Jealous of this Weekend's Races

Me with Elvis during the
2006 Cincinnati Flying Pig
There are a ton of great races being held this weekend! The Indy Mini Marathon is tomorrow. The Cap City Half Marathon is tomorrow. The Flying Pig is Sunday. And this is the weekend for the Jack Mortland racewalks!

Unfortunately, I'm not entered in a single one.

It's not because I don't want to be in Indianapolis or Cincinnati this weekend -- I do! These are two of my favorite half marathons. And I almost registered for Cap City. I even have friends entered in each one of these events. However, the increasing cost of races has caught up with me.

I probably would have entered the Cap City Half since it is a local race. With no travel expenses or hotel costs, I thought it would be a good deal. However, at more than $50 for registration, it was too expensive for me right now. The perks of this race really don't warrant more than $50.

So, because of the cost of entry fees, I am entering fewer races, focusing on local races and choosing more small, less expensive races.

And though I am somewhat jealous of my friends who are entered in events this weekend, I am enjoying these smaller, less expensive events. There is something nice about being in a race that notices if you show up. And I like not having to weave in and out of slow runners to get to my pace.

And maybe, in a couple of years when my race budget is a little bit larger, I hope I will still be supporting and enjoying local, small races.

PS: The reason I am not entered in the Jack Mortland judged racewalk has nothing to do with money. I'm just not confident about my racewalking form -- yet.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Watch What You Eat

Over the weekend, I ended up eating something that did NOT agree with me. I was sick all day Sunday and totally drained with headaches all day Monday. (I think it was food poisoning. Entirely my fault.) I spent two whole days on the couch or in bed.

Though today I felt much better and was able to get back to my life, I didn't expect there to be lasting consequences. I was a little tired when I got home from work, but after getting dinner started I still went out for a short walk around the neighborhood. The sun was shining, but showers were on their way -- it was now or never. Less than halfway around our "big" block, I was exhausted! I barely made it back before the rains began.

I wasn't able to do my normal mileage Saturday morning and I was wiped out Sunday and Monday. But I did not expect to still be recovering Tuesday.

In a few days I'll be fine, but in the meantime I'll take it easy and act as if I am starting from scratch. I haven't been working out as hard as normal recently, so maybe this is a sign I need ramp it up a bit.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Apologies to WordPress

The other day, I finally decided to play with WordPress on my laptop instead of my old desktop computer. The reason I always use my very old desktop computer is because it has more memory, and in my old-school mind, a desktop seems to be safer and more permanent than a laptop.

Not expecting anything different to happen, I was stunned to have nearly everything work!

So, though I still do not think that WordPress is very easy, I am thrilled that on a computer that works well, WordPress works much better!

I'm short on time over the next couple of days, so I'm not able to complete the move. When I do, you will be the first to know!

And I am sorry I was so publicly critical of WordPress. Obviously, the majority of the problem was me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hating WordPress or I Need Help

Every time I go to the WordPress website, I see that it is easy to use and can be set up in minutes. Then why have I invested hours of my time and I am unable to make it work?

I am not stupid. Though I must admit I have limited patience for learning a new technology or software. That said, I think devoting several hours over several days means that maybe, just maybe, WordPress is not nearly as easy as advertised. (I believe it really did take only 5 minutes to set up this blog.)

Here are my issues:
  1. There are hundreds of pages of information on how to set up the blog. There is way too much information for an "easy" process.
  2. I set up the template, saved it to my website, but when I make changes and save, they do NOT show up on the live blog.
  3. Somehow I seem to have created two separate blogs -- one on walk-magazine.com and the other on www.walk-magazine.com. How did that happen?
  4. Once I thought I had it figured out, I tried to move this Blog to the WordPress blog. I keep getting an error message, but there does not seem to be a solution to the error. The problem could be that Yahoo is not a Google product, but I don't know. I found another website that had an "easy" way to move a Blogger blog, but this also included posting html code in a variety of places. I'm sorry, but if I have to use html to make it work, it is not "easy". (For the record, I do know a little bit about html, and have edited files, etc., but that doesn't mean I can do this.)
  5. I decided to set up a free blog on WordPress first, then figure out how to move it to my Yahoo account later. Even that is not easy. I make changes, save the file and the changes do not show up. I'm find this entire process WAY too CONFUSING!

In the meantime, I have a million other things I would rather be doing: walking, writing, even cleaning my house. But this easy process is driving me nuts.

If anyone has a "easy" solution -- I mean easy for me, not easy for a programmer -- please let me know. Any suggestions will be appreciated!

Monday, April 16, 2012


I haven't done a speed workout in a couple of weeks. And I can tell. I feel slow and lethargic.

I did a 1-mile warm up, then 6 X 1/4 mile repeats with 2:00 breaks in between.

My times were 3:03, 3:02, 3:06, 2:51, 2:55 and 3:03. Not bad, but definitely a little bit slow for a speed work out. It didn't help that I was wearing long pants -- way too hot for today.

Yes, I hate speed. In the middle of each workout I try to figure out a way to quit early. Still, I'm glad I did it. and I'm pretty sure I'll be back for more.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Moving this Blog?

I'm thinking about moving this blog to my WALK! Magazine website. I've updated my web hosting information and right now I'm playing with the settings and checking out WordPress to see how it will work.

The main reason for this move is I'm planning to start a podcast. I can't even think about doing a podcast until I figure out where it will be hosted. WordPress can host the podcast files.

If you have any ideas/comments about WordPress, or podcasts please let me know!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Get Ready for (Half) Marathon Season!

The winter was mild and spring seems to have arrived early. This is great news for all of us who have been training for spring races!

As the season kicks off, I'd like to remind you long-distance walkers of a few training basics.
  1. Add distance gradually.
    As soon we get that first sunny day everyone wants to go out and do a bunch of miles. When you do that, you'll end up either sore or hurt. The rule of thumb is to increase your weekly mileage by only 10%. If you are currently walking 10 miles per week, that means adding only 1 more mile.
  2. Carry water.
    At the very least, carry water on your long-distance days where you will be out for more than an hour. As the temperatures go up, you may want to carry water for shorter distances. And, if you're affected by heat, you probably should carry water during all of your walks.
  3. Practice what you will eat and drink.
    If you plan to use sport drinks or consume energy gels or bars during a race, practice using these products during your long training days. You need to know if they actually work for you, how much will be a positive for you, and if your system will even tolerate them. I have a friend who wanted to use the Clif Shot Bloks I love and decided to try them during one of her long-distance training walks. Within a couple of minutes of eating her first block, she felt great! About 10 minutes later, she was in severe intestinal distress. Certain flavors of Gatorade and GU do the same thing to me. Thank goodness she tried these products before a race! (Right now this friend is experimenting with mini cookies. She is better able to tolerate cookies and granola bars than "energy" products.)
  4. Replace your shoes when needed.
    Depending on the type of shoe you wear, they can last from 300–600 miles. For many people that can be as short as three months! If you don't replace your shoes often enough, you just won't feel right—it might result in lower back pain, sore feet or even shin splints. Also, be sure to buy your shoes early enough that you have a few long-distance training days in them before a long race. You'll want to be sure there is no weird rubbing and that they are the correct weight. (I found out at mile 10 of the Country Music Half Marathon that my new shoes were way too light for a half marathon. My feet were KILLING me!) If the shoes are not right, many running stores have a 30- or 60-day return policy.
  5. Follow your training schedule to the best of your ability.
    It is hard to get in every single training mile. Sometimes your body is just too tired or sick to do the miles. But if you do your best to get in all of the miles most weeks, an occasional missed day won't hurt you. Just pick up where you left off and move forward.
    (You can find half-marathon training schedules prepared by Dave McGovern on the WALK! Magazine website at http://www.walk-magazine.com/dave3.html.)
What are your training tips?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Xenia Half Marathon

Race shirt and medal from the ORRRC Half Marathon.
The temps were in the low 50s and it was foggy when we started the ORRRC Half Marathon in Xenia, OH.

There were about 1100 people registered in the race, though it did not feel as if there were that many people at the starting line.

Me with Steve, Deb and Catherine.
(I know, I wore the wrong shirt!)
The first two miles were in town on neighborhood streets. As the crowd spread out, we moved onto bike trails. Though basically flat, there was a slight incline on the bike trail on the way out, and oddly, there was also an incline on the way back.

For the most part, there was plenty of room on the trail. Though there were pockets of groups, it was not hard to go at any pace we wanted without much need to weave around people. There were several runner/walkers who kept leap-frogging us, but eventually we were fast enough that they were behind us.

Even when the faster runners were returning, there was plenty of  room on both sides of the trail.

At one point the sun started to peek out. It was suddenly very hot and humid! Luckily, the clouds came back and the rest of the day was overcast and comfortable.

As you leave the bike trail, you walk up two or three blocks to cross the finish line at the YMCA.

At the finish we received a really nice medal! (Nicer than lots of other races I've done.) We then went in the YMCA where volunteers served chili, chicken and noodle soup, broccoli cheddar soup, tons of different types of cookies, apples, bananas and several beverage options. The chili was very tasty.

There are a lot of good things about this race: well organized, nice shirt, nice medal, plenty of water stops, Gatorade on the course, police at every intersection, good volunteers, good food at the finish and plenty of it. The bike trail was very pretty. The mile markers were painted on the asphalt and were easy to see. And it is very affordable! When I registered, the race was only $25!

The only negative is that being out on the bike trail can be lonely. If you were to do this race alone, it would be mentally tough. Luckily, I did it with my friend Deb.

I finished in 3:02:44 -- which was both my watch time and my chip time! We averaged about 14:02 per mile.
Mile1 - 13:44
Mile 2 - 13:49
Mile 3 & 4 - 28:14 (I missed the mile 3 marker)
Mile 5 - 13:55
Mile 6 - 14:04
Mile 7 - 13:45
Mile 8 - 14:03
Mile 9 - 14:11
Mile 10 - 13:58
Mile 11 - 13:46
Mile 12 - 14:02
Mile 13 - 13:47

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Walking Etiquette

The weather was beautiful today, so the trail at Antrim Park was very crowded. It gets this way in the early spring and late in the fall.

Though it is great so many people are out getting some exercise, the parking is tight, and many people not used to being on these trails can make it less fun.

In honor of spring coming and the weather being great, the following are a couple of walking trail rules of etiquette.

1. Walk to the right side of the trail so that faster walkers, runners and bikes can easily get around you.
2. If you have dogs or small children with you, keep them close.
3. If you are with someone, don't block the trail -- don't walk more than two across.
4. Watch out for bikes. Look before crossing trails so you don't walk in front of them.
5. If you need to stop suddenly (tie your shoe?), step off the trail so that you are out of the way.
6. Watch where you spit.

OK, I know none my regular readers need these reminders, but every spring I feel the need to post something like this. Thanks for letting me vent.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Scary Moment Walking Saturday

This beautiful old cabin is on the trail.
Saturday was a beautiful day for a 10-mile walk in a new park. There were several people who showed up at 7:30 to get in the extra mileage.

Those of us arriving early had never walked at this park before, and we were not sure where the trails went. There were plenty of intersections where we had to make a decision -- left or right. At those points, we turned left knowing that on our way back we would just have to turn right.

After a couple of miles, one of our members, I'll call Suzie, said she didn't want to go 10 miles and decided to go back. A couple of us were uncomfortable with that, but we are all adults after all. We couldn't make her go farther and no one else was ready to go back.

Eventually we turned around and met up with the members of our group that started at 8:00. Everyone was very concerned when we found out that they had not seen Suzie. We went to the parking lot to see if she had somehow passed by this group, made it to the parking lot and left already. Her car was still there. At this point, we were even more worried. (I should point out that Suzie can get confused, so thinking she might get lost was not an overreaction.)

We were deciding what to do when we saw a police officer in the parking lot. He asked several questions about family, who to contact, did she have cell phone... and it dawned on us that we really did not know much about Suzie except that we all enjoyed walking with her!

At this point we separated into smaller groups to take every possible turn to look for her. Eventually we came upon Suzie with a couple other members of our club -- not one of which was carrying a cell phone! So even after she was found, they couldn't tell the rest of us they found her. One of the people with me called the others to report that Suzie was safe.

There were all kinds of things that went wrong that morning. 1) At an unfamiliar park, we should have never let anyone walk alone. 2) We should all carry our phones. 3) We need to be sure to have each others' numbers programmed in our phones. 4) And it would be a good idea for some of us to know who to contact in the event of an emergency.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Walking at Franklin Park Conservatory

Look at how dark the sky is! (I was almost hit by a car while taking this photo.)
There are groups of butterflies like
this all over one side of the park.
The Buckeye Striders were scheduled for Franklin Park Conservatory today. Normally, I don't enjoy doing long mileage here. It's tough doing nine or 10 laps around the park. What I DO like is, even if only a couple of us are doing long mileage, we still get to see other members of the club for a few laps. (On many bike trails we walk straight out for several miles and turn around. On those days we only get to see the people we start with.)

Four of us started nice and early at 7:30. Six others came and went. Deb and I lasted the longest, doing nine laps for 11.25 miles. It was fun seeing some club members I haven't been able to walk with recently.

Franklin Park Conservatory is well
known for its (indoor) annual live butterfly exhibit.
It started out chilly, with temps in the low 30s. The wind was pretty brisk on two sides of the park and our faces froze. After a while, the temps started to rise and I even took my gloves off for a couple of laps. It felt great! As the other Buckeye Striders left, it got colder and colder and colder. During that last lap I swear it was colder than when we started. My fingers were frozen! (I was so cold, that on the way home I had to stop to buy coffee.)

Deb and I were scheduled to do 12 miles today in preparation for the Xenia Half Marathon in just a couple of weeks. Yesterday, I had my mind set on doing only 10 miles. Luckily, Deb talked me into doing one more lap for 11.25. (This is why we are good training partners!)

We were pretty slow today. We started at around 14:30 per mile and ended closer to a 15-minute mile. That's OK, it was supposed to be a long "slow" distance day.

I like the art throughout this park that makes it interesting even when the flowers are not in bloom.