A Strange Guy at the Park

More than a week ago I was walking in one of my favorite parks when I started to feel “uncomfortable”.

I like this park because it is along a river and it is on my way home from work. What I don’t like is that pedestrians walk on the street through the park and sometimes there are cars parked on the gravel along the edge of the road. This is only a problem when people sit in their cars.

On this particular day, as I walked past a small white pick up truck, I just had a weird feeling. When I got to the end of the road and turned around, I walked on the opposite side of the road. As I passed it, I noticed the driver’s side window was open and I could see the driver smiling at me. On the surface this is harmless, but something about him made me feel uncomfortable. In fact, the feeling was strong enough that I turned around more than once to be sure I wasn’t being followed.

The street is one way in this part of the park, so I wasn’t too concerned about the truck following me. The farther away from him I got, the safer I felt. And I didn’t give him another thought.

The return to my car was uneventful. I did a cool down, stretched, got in my car and pulled out of my parking space. At this point, I had a choice — I could take the exit closest to my parking spot, or drive through the park and exit at the other end. Typically I drive through the park to avoid traffic on the busy street.

As I arrived at the “decision” spot, I had to stop because of a vehicle stopped in the middle of the road. I sat behind it for a minute, distracted by the radio or my water bottle, or something. Finally, I decided to go around.

As I started pass I looked at the vehicle a little closer and suddenly realized it was a white pickup truck. My stomach dropped as I reached the driver’s side window, and there was the same guy — smiling at me!

I drove off, a little faster than the speed limit. He followed me, but let there be some space between us.

At the end of the park I was stopped by a traffic light and was relieved when I saw him pull in the next lane over. Whew! He wasn’t going to follow me any more, is what I thought.

Insteadhe started talking to me through my open car window. He asked me if I go to the park often. I was so stunned he asked me a question, I answered him! I said, “Yes”. He then asked if I go there every day, and I said, “No”. Finallysome common sense kicked in, and I turned my head. He said something else to me, but I refused to acknowledge him. The light turned green, he waved goodbye, and we both drove off.

I was a little shaky as I drove home. I was ticked that I had not noticed his license plate number and that I had talked to him. (I’m sure it was habit and shock that he had talked to me.) And I was extremely relieved that he was no longer following me!

My knee-jerk reaction was to say I’d never walk there again. Well, that isn’t quite right — I really like walking there! I didn’t want him to win.

After I had time to think about it, I decided to drive through the park about that time for several days to see if I could find him. And if he is there, get his license plate number and alert the police who patrol that park.

So far, I have not found him. After more than a week of not walking there, I finally went back. But I changed my route to walk toward the police hub in the park and to stay where there are more people and lots of moving vehicles. (119)

Posted in exercise, safety, training, walking | Leave a comment

Episode 7 Podcast — Hydration and Biggest Loser Half Review

Welcome to the 7th episode of the WALK Podcast!

This episode features a couple of firsts:
1) I discovered my microphone was broken as I was starting to record a segment and we had to use the built-in mic in the laptop, and
2) I did my first phone interview!

My friends Pat and Deb participated in The Biggest Loser Half Marathon in Pennsylvania earlier this summer and agreed to talk to me about it — we ended up outside immediately following a 5K race! (These are pretty good friends!)

They talked about everything from seeing several  Biggest Loser contestants, exercise sessions offered at the expo, the incredible number of hills on the course, and the great race shirt. It sounds as if the show is making some strong efforts to offer well-run events.

In the second segment, I talk to Wendy Bumgardner (walking.about.com) about hydration. Wendy inspired me to become a walker in the late 1990s. She is a volksmarcher, marathon walker, a Certified marathon coach (RRCA) and has a Leki Nordic Walking Instructor Certificate. She knows walking! And she also knows hydration.

I thought I knew how to hydrate properly, and I learned quite a bit from Wendy. If you are a long-distance walker in training this summer, you need to listen to this segment!

I hope you enjoy the episode.

Biggest Loser Half Marathon

Follow me on Facebook at The WALK Newsletter and on
Twitter @WALK_Magazine.

If you listen to this podcast on iTunes, please give it a rating! Thanks!


Posted in exercise, half marathons, hydration, marathons, podcast, races, walking, weather | 4 Comments

A July 4th Race

july 4th

Me, Pat and Deb at the Westerville July 4th 5K race.

There were several July 4th races in central Ohio this year.

Three Buckeye Striders and I entered the Westerville Rotary July 4th 5K.

The race is reasonably priced at $25. This year we received a technical shirt in men’s sizes and a Headsweats visor. Let me just say for the record that unisex sizing is just a nice way of saying, “We are only offering men’s sizes, but we are trying to be less obvious about it.” Unisex is a man’s size — the end.

That said, the shirts are HUGE! A small is VERY large and they are fluorescent yellow with a red, white and blue design. Eww. Headsweats is a great brand, but the visors just look weird on nearly everyone I saw wear them. My hair makes it pop off my head.

Shirt from this year's race.

The shirt from this year’s race is very large and very yellow.

This is a community event, and the people are all very nice. It has a small town feel to it that I really like.

The course runs down one large street, then when the crowds thin, it moves to bike trails. It’s nice, but also the exact same course as the Easter race.

There were two water stops that were woefully understaffed. Each had two people and they could not keep up. I skipped the first one as people were waiting in line. At the second one, I still had to wait for water, but it was not more than about 10 seconds.

In previous years, there would be maybe 10 Buckeye Striders in this race. This year we had only four. Another local race not only had gender-specific shirts, but also had a walking division! In the past, several of my friends in higher age groups have won their division as walkers in Westerville. This year the highest age group was only 50+. That is a very young and huge age group!

After the race, there was plenty of water, Cheryl’s cookies, Panera bagels and bananas and oranges.

Because of the new age divisions, we did not stick around for awards.

Nancy and I tied with a finish time of 43:58 (I won because my name is first alphabetically), Pat finished in 44:02 and Deb in 44:13. We placed 59th, 60th, 61st and 62nd in our age division.

Overall, it was not a bad race. However, if other races are willing to offer better shirts and a walking division, why would I come back here next year? In fact, we did agree that this is probably our last year doing this event. For just $5 more we could do a similar race, receive a shirt we can actually wear and possibly receive an award for walking.


Posted in races, racewalking, walking | 4 Comments

The Rock that Says Ehh

The rock that says Ehh.

The rock.

A few weeks ago I did not feel like walking. I took walking clothes with me so I could stop at a park on the way home, but I still wasn’t feeling it. Regardless, I drove to the park.

As I got out of the car I thought I would just walk to the rock that says “Ehh.” Since I was feeling kinda ehh, it seemed appropriate.

By the time I got to the rock, about 1.5 miles from the start, I was feeling better! So, I took of picture of the rock to remind me that sometimes all you have to do is walk a mile to get rid of  that blah feeling that keeps us from even starting.

After I finished the 3 easy miles, I felt great! So glad I walked that day.


I’ve been feeling very unmotivated the last few weeks. Today I ended up at that same park and walked even though I did not feel like it. As I passed the infamous rock, I smiled. (241)

Posted in exercise, health, inspiration, training, walking, weather | Leave a comment

Working on Motivation

Antrim Lake was beautiful this morning.

Antrim Lake was beautiful this morning. The brightly colored markers were for a triathlon held earlier in the morning.

Over the last few months I’ve been dealing with an overuse injury. My hip flexor is sore along with my sacroiliac and IT bands. The three are all related, aggravating each other and making my lower back ache.

I’ve been working with a physical therapist to figure out how to make things better. In addition to giving me a variety of exercises and stretches to do (which I do nearly every day), he has limited the number of miles I walk. His theory is, if I reduce my mileage, I will not continue to aggravate the overuse injury while we are working to make things better.

Unfortunately, I have taken the “reduced mileage” advice just a little bit too far. Instead of just reducing overall mileage and intensity, I have nearly stopped walking. I’ve done some really slow walks for fewer than 2 miles in the neighborhood and the occasional 4 miles with the Buckeye Striders, but that is about it. The bad thing is, I’m enjoying it! I don’t have much desire to walk very far or fast.

Today I got up early and walked at a local park for about 3.4 miles. The trail goes around a beautiful lake. It was tough. My legs felt heavy, my hips felt stiff and I could not get my legs to move any faster. On top of that, though the walking was difficult, I could not get my heart rate up very high. Eventually, I was able to get as fast as a 14-min mile pace (according to my Garmin), but it felt like a lot of effort.

So, a few things were running through my head today. First, is PT doing any good? I thought I was getting better and was becoming more flexible. I felt none of that today.

Second, I am walking so little, just walking 3 miles at a good clip is difficult. I cannot continue to lose my walking endurance without a fight.

Third, if I’m enjoying not exercising and allowing myself to gain weight and become depressed, I need to do something about it.

Today’s walk has inspired me. I have new motivation! Starting tomorrow I will go back to a regular training schedule. I won’t do speed training until I get the go ahead, but I can go back to walking regularly. It will do a world of good for my mental and physical health.

Anyone else struggling with motivation right now? What are you doing to work through it? (296)

Posted in exercise, health, heart rate monitors, inspiration, racewalking, training, walking, weight loss | Leave a comment

8 Miles

sign_green8 miles.

I remember the first time I ever walked 8 miles. It was a major milestone.

I was training for my first half marathon in 1999 with Team in Training. Walking that 8 miles was SO hard! I was exhausted – both mentally and physically. It was physically the hardest thing I had ever done. I might have even needed a nap that day. I didn’t know a lot of people who could walk that far, so I was very excited to say I walked 8 whole miles!

As I continued to train, the longest days on my training schedule increased up to 10 or 11 miles, and then we tapered to 8 miles again. That second time doing 8 miles was relatively easy. I was surprised that I would ever consider walking 8 miles to be easy.

Over the years, training for a couple of full marathons and more than 30 half marathons, 8 miles has been my fitness barometer.
Continue reading (444)

Posted in exercise, health, inspiration, training, walking | 2 Comments

Be the Best!

For most of the Cap city Half Marathon, I walked with Pat and Elaine.

Though I know I will not ever be the fastest woman in a half marathon, I continue to enter them. Challenging myself to beat my previous finish times — or finishing faster than my friends — is enough.

Recently I was listening to a podcast (yes, I listen to lots of podcasts) when the host said something that struck me.

Don’t worry about being the very best, just be YOUR best.

At first I thought it was a cop out. Why shouldn’t I try to be the very best? I’m sure every Olympic athlete or CEO of a major company tried to be the very best and they succeeded.

Then the host went on to explain that she used to get upset and depressed when she saw others who had more success than she did. If someone had a blog post that attracted a lot of attention, she would feel bad about her inability to attract that same amount of attention. It had a negative affect on everything she did.

Once she quit comparing herself to everyone else, and just started to focus on herself, she was happier, more productive and the quality of everything she did improved.

I thought about this in relation to all of the races I’ve entered over the past 14 years — two marathons and tons of 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons. How many of those races did I win? In how many did I even place?

Here is where I am such a hypocrite. I have avoided entering a judged race walk because there are so many fast women in my age group and there is no way I could win. On top of that, I have been afraid of embarrassing myself.

I know I am never going to win a half marathon, but each race is entered with a personal goal and I base my success on whether I meet that goal or not. Why can’t I enter a judged race walk with the same goals?

So my goal this year is to enter a judged race walk. No matter what my finish time, as long as I’m not disqualified, I will have a PR.

And my challenge to all of you is to try something you have avoided because you will never be THE best and just enjoy being YOUR best.



Posted in half marathons, inspiration, walking | Leave a comment

Cap City Half and Athens Half Reviews — Podcast

In this episode, I’m joined by my friend Deb Chenault to review two half marathons we walked this spring: the Athens Marathon Half and the Cap City Half Marathon.

Deb, Steve and me at the start of the race.

Deb, Steve and me at the start of the Athens Half Marathon.

We start by talking about the Athens Half held in Athens, Ohio on April 13.

We also talk about the Cap City Half Marathon held in Columbus, OH on May 3.

We discuss everything about the races from registration to the finish line, medals, and after-race events. (362)

Posted in half marathons, podcast, product review, races, walking | Leave a comment

Final Preparations for Your First Marathon or Half Marathon

The starting line at the Columbus Marathon.

Line up in the right spot for your pace. Line up behind faster athletes.

Spring is a great time to do a marathon or half marathon. And this last weekend in April is a big one for races: Big Sur International, Oklahoma City, St. Jude Country Music…

If you are doing your first long-distance race, I’m assuming you completed your training, you’ve been tapering this past week, and you know what you are going to wear. But what should you do the night before and the morning of the race?

Based on an article by Bonnie Stein that appeared in the Summer 2006 issue of WALK! Magazine, the following are things to do to get ready for your first long race. [My additions are in brackets.]

The Night Before the Race
1. Eat a healthy, low-fat, moderate-protein dinner. Carbohydrates are easy to digest. [Do not eat foods that are unfamiliar.] Hydrate all week.
2. Plan what you are going to wear. Do not wear anything new during the race. Shoes, socks, sports bra, shorts… everything should be worn during training to make sure there are no friction spots. [Do not wear your race shirt. Gather everything in one spot so it is easy to find in the morning.]

Wear your number on the front of your shirt.

Wear your number on the front of your shirt.

3. Pin your race number to the FRONT of your shirt. Use all four pins to keep it from flapping in the wind.
4. Try to get a good night’s sleep, though it is more important to sleep well two nights before the race. [Nerves may prevent you from sleeping.]

The Morning of the Race
5. Pack dry clothes to put on after the race. [Keep them in your car or a gear check bag to take to the start of the race.]
6. If chafing is a problem, use Body Glide, or another lubing product. [Make sure you use lube during practice walks to be sure it will work.]
peanutbuttertoast7. Eat at least 2 hours before the race — something high in complex carbohydrates, moderate protein, minimal fat. Good choices include bagels, bananas, and toast with peanut butter. Eat what you usually eat before your long slow training days. Whether you drink coffee on race morning will depend on whether you typically drink coffee on training days. Be sure to drink water before you leave for the race.

Before the Race
8. Arrive at the race early.  One hour early is typically recommended. [Large races may require an earlier arrival time to allow for traffic and parking.] Make sure you have plenty of time to use the port-o-johns and get to your corral.
9. [If you plan to use gear check, allow time to drop off your bag. Because of the Boston bombing, many races now have strict rules on the types of bags allowed.]
10. Warm up by walking at least half a mile. The shorter the race or faster the pace, the longer you should warm up.
11. Line up at the starting line by predicted finish time. [Line up behind faster athletes. Most races are chip timed -- the clock does not start for you until you cross the starting line. Many large races have pacers. Consider lining up with a pace group.]

Don’t start out too fast — walk at the pace you trained for. Drink water when you are thirsty. Have a good race!

After you finish, be sure to let me know how it went! Post a comment on this blog, or leave a comment on the Walk! Facebook page.


Posted in bagels, half marathons, marathons, races, WALK Magazine, walking | Leave a comment

Athens Half Marathon — April 12

While a student at Ohio University in Athens, I vaguely remembered a marathon being held in the spring. Some of my fellow PR/Journalism student friends volunteered to help promote the event and to work on race day.

At that point in my life, I could not understand why anyone would run 26.2 miles let alone volunteer to work at an event held that early on a weekend morning! Now that I have actually completed more than one marathon and more than 35 halves, I get it.

So on April 12 Deb, Steve and I entered the Athens Half Marathon.

Deb, Steve and me at the start of the race.

Deb, Steve and me at the start of the race.

Packet pickup featured a new assignment procedure called “dynamic” registration. Your number was assigned when you arrived to pick up your packet. It was cool and quicker than digging through a pile of preassigned bibs, but I’m not sure how it would work for a larger race. We received a long-sleeved bright green technical shirt. Though men’s sizes, I might be able to wear it. It’s not horribly huge.

This is a small race. There were 171 entered in the full marathon and 588 in the half. Continue reading (630)

Posted in exercise, half marathons, races, racewalking, walking | 1 Comment