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.

Friday, March 02, 2012

You Know You are a Walker When ...