Episode 11 Podcast — Review of RunTheBluegrass Half Marathon

In this episode of the WALK! Magazine Podcast, I talk with my friends Deb and Pat about the RunTheBluegrass Half Marathon, March 28 in Lexington, KY. Because we were going to be in the car for several hours while driving home from the race, we decided to record the conversation in the car.

Highlights:

  • The expo was small and tight, but nice. Pat and Bob bought Woodford Bourbon.
  • Pat did not like her race shirt/hoodie at first, so traded it for the unisex version. We all agreed that something different from a standard technical shirt was nice. (I love my hoodie!)
  • There was an issue regarding the timely delivery of the medals and shirts, and the race director did a phenomenal job of making sure the medals arrived, and making an alternate plan for shirts.
  • It was cold for this time of year.
  • The pre-race dinner was an all-you-can-eat buffet at one of the horse farms. One of the featured speakers was Scott Menzies, the husband of the last Meg Cross Menzies who was killed by a drunk driver in January 2014. Pat was so cold, she did not stay for all of the speakers.
  • At the start of the race, the corrals were roomy. The singing of the National Anthem and playing of My Old Kentucky Home were both beautiful.
  • The corrals moved quickly. Once our corral was released, the streets were not overly crowded.
  • The course is hilly! The course is beautiful!
  • Mile 9 — the most memorable mile — was dedicated to Meg, and a shoe tower was built there in her honor. We had our picture taken there.
  • At mile 12.1 there was beer on the course. (Yes, I had a sip.)
  • There was plenty of food at the finish. Everyone could also get one beer. (Yes, I had a beer.)
  • The race staff were great! The race is very well organized.

A special thanks to Bob who drove both to and from Lexington and dropped us off at the start line race morning! (105)

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Saturday’s 8-mile Walk in 20 Degrees

The ice at the entrance to the trail was intimidating and a little scary.

The ice at the entrance to the trail was a little scary. No one wants to fall and get hurt.

It was about 22 degrees when Deb, Linda, Nancy and I met for our 8-mile training walk starting at Worthington Hills Park. It’s been a long time since we have been able to walk outside or for any distance, and we were all suffering from cabin fever.

We were a little concerned when we arrived and there was a lot of ice near the entrance of the park. In fact, we were still worried in the first half mile when we kept hitting large patches of ice.

Luckily, a group of women runners coming from the other direction assured us the trail got better, and we kept going. And they were right — the trail did get better!

We ended up heading straight out 4 miles before we turned around. There were still patches of ice, but it was doable though slow. And after so many weeks not being able to do our long distance training, it felt great!

SIDENOTE
I could not find my favorite water bottle to carry with me. I grabbed the first one I could find and thought nothing of it — until after about 3 miles I realized the back of my pants were wet. I spun my belt around to have the bottle in front and noticed that water was splashing out of the water bottle around the rim! Ugh! I was worried about frostbite and thought about turning around. But the water had been splashing on me for a while, and I had two layers of pants, so I stuck it out. It ended up being fine. When I got home I threw the bottle away. (216)

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A Slushy Training Walk

As I was reluctantly  heading to the gym for a 30-min training walk on a treadmill, I realized the rain had stopped and the temperature was in the high 30s. Though it was starting to get dark, it wasn’t hard to decide to stay in the neighborhood to walk outside instead.

So I rushed inside to put on some warmer walking pants, a reflective vest and head lamp.

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Some sections of sidewalk were slushy.

The majority of the sidewalks in my neighborhood were very clear. We have a few neighbors who are diligent about shoveling and one or two who really love their snowblowers, and generously clear lots of sidewalks. I also thought that because of the mild temperatures and the rain most of the day, that everything would be clear.

I happily took off down the block, excited to be outside and not slipping, sliding or freezing. I turned the corner to encounter my first obstacle — a driveway that was never shoveled and was now solid ice. I gingerly crossed the ice and picked up the pace. Most of the block was pretty clear of snow and I stomped right through some wet spots only to realize the sidewalks are uneven, and what I thought was a little water was a puddle much deeper than I thought. Though the water was cold on my feet, it was not cold enough to turn around. I kept going.

As I tried to cross the third stretch I thought was just slushy snow, it dawned on me that this walk outside might have been a mistake. The slush and ice in the street would require walking down the middle of the road. (Not a good idea even with a headlamp.) The puddles at the ends of driveways made it impossible to go back and forth from the sidewalk to the street. And there were sheets of ice under the couple inches of slush. At this point I had to keep going.

My feet were wet.

My feet were wet.

I made it home after 36 minutes on a route that typically takes less than 30 minutes. My socks were pretty wet, but I felt great! I was able to walk at a pretty good pace for some of the route, and because many in our neighborhood had their porch lights on, there was plenty of light reflecting off the snow. And when I had to walk on the treadmill the next day, I really didn’t mind so much.

When winter is especially cold and snowy, like this year, sometimes you just have to go out and walk in it. (201)

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Episode 10 Podcast — Darris Blackford Goes the Extra Mile for the Columbus Marathon

In the week leading up the the 2014 Columbus Marathon, Race Director Darris Blackford was facing 10 major things that were all going terribly wrong. In the years that he has been the race director, it was the first time he had to deal with so many crises that close to race weekend.

In this episode of the WALK Magazine Podcast, I talk with Darris about the issues he faced in that week, including the expectation that the finisher medals would not arrive in time.

We also talk about the marathon Board’s decision to change the length of time the race course is open from 7 hours to only 6 hours in 2015 and how that will affect marathon walkers. The half marathon will remain open 3.5 hours.

In this episode:

  • Why were the finisher medals held up?
  • How and when the medals finally arrived in Columbus.
  • About 16,000 athletes finished the event.
  • About 2,000 finishers were affected by the medal delay.
  • How did participants respond?
  • Where the medals are manufactured and why.
  • Why the race is shortening the length of time the course is open.
  • Community response to the Marathon.
  • Remember when walkers started an hour early? (I was Walking Director of the Marathon back then.)
  • Fewer than 200 of the athletes who finished the 2014 marathon took more than 6 hours.
  • Other marathons, including Chicago and Twin Cities, have a 6-hour time limit.
  • Columbus is a great market for races.
  • 1,000 spots are being added to the half marathon for 2015.
  • Corrals will be handled differently to ease crowding.
  • 35% of participants responded to the after-race survey! (4% is considered a good response.)
  • Respondents made 10,000 additional comments.

For more information about the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Marathon go to the website www.columbusmarathon.com/ or Facebook www.facebook.com/ColumbusMarathon.

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Posted in interview, marathons, podcast, races, walking | 8 Comments

Share the Trail

The last Saturday in January, the Buckeye Striders decided the Olentangy Trail should be clear enough for us to attempt our weekly group walk outside. It was pretty cold — the temperature was under 20 degrees! However, there was no wind, and the sun eventually came out.

We started at Whetstone Park and walkeIMG_20150131_085431_692d north.

When we got to a clear spot, we noticed there were words painted on the asphalt.

 

IMG_20150131_085442_805This trail gets a lot of use and can be crowded. Let’s hope others see the signs, too.

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Conquering the Treadmill

 Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This year I joined a gym and finally have access to a treadmill every day — in fact that is the main reason I joined.

While in theory I do not have a problem with treadmills, in reality they mess with my mind. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you use a treadmill more effectively.

1. When first stepping on the treadmill, use the board runners on the sides. I know it is basic, but I’ve seen people fly off a moving treadmill.

2. Don’t lean on or hold on to the handrail. Holding on for support reduces the quality of your workout. Touching the rails lightly for balance is OK, but it is best if you can pump your arms as you would naturally when outside.

3. Set the incline at 1 or more. Increasing the incline a little will make it easier for you to transition to walking outside again. Zero is just lifting your feet and the ground moves underneath.

To break up the monotony, try some of these treadmill workouts. Remember, warm up at an easy pace for about 10 minutes before starting.

1. Pyramid intervals: Walk at your 5K pace in intervals of 2 min, 4 min, 6 min, 8 min, 6 min, 4 min and 2 min with a 2-min rest at an easy pace in between each fast segment. Continue reading (560)

Posted in exercise, health, inspiration, racewalking, training, treadmill, treadmill walking, walking | 1 Comment

Be Careful in the Dark

This week, Runners’ World reported about a young athlete who was running in the early morning, and was killed when he stepped in front of a snow plow. The runner was wearing headphones, was not wearing any reflective clothing and was running in the same direction as traffic.

Because of the reactions to this story, I thought it was a good time to remind you about safety when walking in the dark.

First, be careful where you walk. If you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic so you can see cars coming toward you. If you can walk on sidewalks or bike trails, be careful at intersections. If you walk alone, choose well lighted areas, or routes where there are plenty of people.

Wear light-colored clothing. It’s not just black that makes you hard to see, navy blue, purple, dark green… My coat is dark purple, and all of my long pants are black, but I try to wear a white hat when I can. Continue reading (516)

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Episode 9 Podcast — Self Defense for Walkers with Todd Williams

Olympic runner Todd Williams combined his two passions, running and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, to create RunSafer. RunSafer’s purpose is to educate all runners and walkers on the importance of self-defense and safety awareness.

In this episode of the WALK Magazine Podcast, Todd discusses his background, why he created RunSafer, ways to keep safer when out walking, and listening to your gut.

To see some of the moves described in the interview, go to the techniques page on the RunSafer website.

This episode is a little shorter than typical. Let me know if you like it. (492)

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Hot Chocolate 15K in Columbus

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Some of the Buckeye Striders who finished the 15K event: me, Pat, Nancy, Cheryl and Deb.

Sunday I did the Hot Chocolate 15K in Columbus, OH. This series has races in about 12 different cities across the United States.

To pick up our packets at the expo, there were a bunch of lines and we could get into any line — they assigned a bib number as you checked in. Then a sticker with my name and corral was stuck to the front of the bib. Very efficient!

Each participant was handed a cinch sack with a jacket wrapped in plastic inside the sack. Near the pick up, there was an area to try on a jacket in the size you ordered and an area to exchange for a different size. (You cannot exchange a jacket after you take it out of the plastic bag.) This is much more common in races, and I love it! Unfortunately, they did not have any size small jackets to try on, and there were no jackets in size small to exchange for. (The woman working that area said the only jackets they had were already exchanged. Really? Then how did you get the huge box of jackets behind you? You had to start with something.)

The expo was small, but that was OK. The last time I did this race, the music was blasting so loud, I walked out immediately. This year was much better.

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I’m amazed at the number of slow walkers in this event despite these friendly signs.

When we headed toward the start race morning, there were tons of port-a-johns. The race had two start times: the first was for corrals A-E I think, the second went through M. We were in L, so we could watch the first start.

When I did this race a couple of years ago, every single corral had signs that said “No Walkers.” I contacted the company, and they assured me it was a mistake, that when they switched over the corrals, they “forgot” to remove the signs. Well, I guess they “forgot” again because every corral had signs. Oh, well. I guess they don’t want me in their race.

It was chilly — in the high 20s low 30s. Because the cold front was sudden, I wasn’t acclimated and it felt so much colder than it really was.

The beginning of the race was very organized. Corrals A-E were released one at at time with a couple of minutes in between. Unfortunately, the last few corrals were too crowded to fit everyone in, and a couple corrals seemed to be released at the same time. There were way too many people. (The sound system was horrible, so who knows what was being said. In the back we heard nothing.) It seems as if several people ahead of us lied about their pace, too. The prerace instructions said all participants needed to maintain a 15 min pace — there were tons of people in corrals in front of us who were barely walking an 18-min mile.

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The start of one of the early corrals.

Though the start was crowded and horrible for those of us in the back, the course was great. It started on Spring Street, then turned north on High Street. I always love walking on High Street through the Short North and into campus. We turned onto campus and past the stadium and then south. We eventually wound through Victorian Village and near Goodale Park. There are beautiful homes through here that make a race fun.

There were about five “aid” stations throughout the race, but every one we reached had run out of food. I don’t typically want chocolate chips or marshmallows in a race, but it would have been nice for there to have been some for those of us in the last two corrals.

The finish was in the Arena District and the 15K participants received nice medals! The after party was in McPherson Park, a nice large, grassy area. Unfortunately, the staff was starting to tear things down when we got there. When we got in line to get our hot chocolate and hot fudge, there were only three lines open, and they were very long and very slow. It was frustrating after finishing a race in cold weather.

The hot fudge was delicious and the hot chocolate was needed! There was lots of room, but very few people hung around for the party. Not only was it cold, I  think it is more geared toward the 5K  participants.

Overall, this is a well organized race. The wave start really helped with the congestion, but it seemed as if there should have been more separation at the end. The course was great and there were plenty of water stops. The medals are very nice and I like the jacket. Packet pickup is pretty efficient.

There are a few dings with this race I’m not sure I can deal with. The first is that there were no size small jackets to try on at the expo. The second wave corrals were way too packed and the “No Walkers” signs are insulting. Unfortunately, the “aid” stations were empty by the time we got to them. The lines for the hot chocolate were ridiculous. It felt as if they were not prepared for a race this large.

Despite the race claiming participants needed to maintain at least a 15-min mile to participate, there were tons of very slow walkers and runners — many of them in the wrong corrals and unaware of basic race etiquette. It made this feel much more like an “event” than a “race”. This is fine if you are aware it is an event, but a pace limit usually indicates more of a competitive race. Plus all of the negative signage was off-putting: No Walkers, No Standing, No Sitting… Seriously, what AM I allowed to do.

If you like to do races just for the fun of it, you will probably enjoy this one. People who love the Color Run or other untimed events will probably think this is great.

However, if you are a walker who does not want to be treated like a second-class citizen, or if you like to go fast, this might not be the race for you.

 

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Columbus Marathon 2014 — Half Review

Buckeye Striders, from left to right, Steve, Pat, Deb, Jack and me.

Buckeye Striders, from left to right, Steve, Pat, Deb, Jack and me.

The Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon was two weeks ago on October 19. We’ve been so busy, I just did not have the time to write anything about the race.

The expo was nice, but again, the Competitive Walking booth was in a spot that was not obvious. I was looking for it, so found it easily. A couple of friends missed it. Plus, the sign said something about complaint resolution above the walker information.

It was nice that you could exchange a shirt right there at the expo! You had to pick up the size you ordered, but you could exchange it at a booth next to the packet pick up.

This year the start and finish were in the same location — in a park near the Arena District, right on the river. This made parking so much easier!

Continue reading (507)

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