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!

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Run Like a Girl Review

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After the race, from left to right, Nancy, Pat, Deb, me, Barbara and RuthAnn.

The skies were overcast, the wind was blowing and the temperature was only 44 degrees when we arrived at the Columbus Commons downtown to enter the Run Like a Girl half marathon October 4. It was so cold, the vast majority participants were huddled in parked cars or inside parking garages. We were in a parking garage.

About 8:00, the 5K and 10K participants started. After they started, and the half marathoners lined up, it started to sprinkle — luckily it stopped quickly. It was a little different lining up for a race with just women, but the start did not seem to be anything special other than that.

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Episode 8 Podcast — Race Day Strategies with Dave McGovern

Just in time for fall marathon season!

In Episode 8 of the WALK Podcast, internationally known race walking coach Dave McGovern talks about race day strategies for walking marathons and half marathons.

Topics include:

  • Scoping out the course in advance,
  • When to eat before the race,
  • Where to line up,
  • Pace groups,
  • How to use tangents,
  • Port-a-johns,
  • Fueling and hydration,
  • Psychology,
  • Recovery,
  • Using training logs.

Before being joined by Dave, I start the episode with a quick review of the recent Run Like a Girl half marathon held in Columbus. (I end the podcast by reciting my own quote wrong — hey, it happens.)

Check out Dave’s  website, World Class Racewalking, for more information about clinics, books and everything walking.

If you do listen to the WALK Magazine Podcast on iTunes, please leave a review.

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And Then We Were Lost

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Me and Pat at the One Lucky Buckeye race.

When you are doing a race, it is always a good idea to know a little about the course. It would have been especially nice to know the course today at the One Lucky Buckeye 8-mile race.

Because there are only about 700 women in this race — and one man — the participants can get really spread out. After making a turn between mile 4 and 5, we saw an arrow we thought was pointing left, so Pat and I turned left at the next corner. It didn’t seem right, but we didn’t see any other participants, and kept going. When we got to the end of the block, we discovered we were not supposed to take that turn and went back, adding about 0.7 of a mile to our race.

We maintained a good pace. Our slowest mile was 14:07 when we were lost, and our fastest pace was 12:10 in the last mile. I’m happy with that!

Overall, this was a good race. I love the fact that it was a race for women that raises awareness of women’s heart disease! It was a nice course, there was plenty of water, and Karl did a great job announcing, welcoming each participant as she crossed the finish line. In addition, the shirts and medals are great. There wasn’t much food at the end, but nothing is perfect. (307)

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Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

Those of you who know me know that I can be opinionated.

I don’t do a particular race that raises money for “awareness” of a disease for a variety of reasons. It’s a long story, but I started to become jaded when I got a press release asking me to promote special colored extension cords for disease awareness. Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong supporter of research and cures (and fundraising), but how is buying an extension cord going to do anything?

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The shirt for the race is great — and in women’s sizes, of course.

My other issue is that more women die of heart disease than anything else. And heart disease can be prevented by simple life changes involving diet and exercise. I see morbidly obese Americans everywhere. What are we doing to make people aware of this very preventable disease? And on top of that, less research dollars go to studying women than men. Is that fair?

Well I had to a chance to put my money where my mouth is this week. This Sunday Ohio State’s Ross Heart Hospital is hosting a race called One Lucky Buckeye. The proceeds of this race go to fighting heart disease in women! The race supports the American Heart Association, Go Red for Women, and Women Heart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. How can I NOT enter this race!

And the race is just for women, with the exception of one man — the one lucky Buckeye.

There are three distances available: 2 miles, 4 miles and 8 miles.

When registering, I asked if there is a walking division. The woman helping me said, “Yes, there is a 2-mile walk.” I laughed and said I meant is there a walking division for the 8 miles. There isn’t, but that’s OK.

I’m excited about entering a race that supports a cause I believe in and encourage all of you to do the same.

The sad thing is, when I registered Thursday, I was assigned bib number 611. I wish this race would draw the kind of crowds so many other fundraising races do.

 

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Emerald City Half — Review

Deb, me, Pat at Nancy at the start of the Emerald City Half Marathon.

Deb, me, Pat and Nancy at the start of the Emerald City Half Marathon.

The Emerald City Half Marathon — August 24 in Dublin, OH — was a good race!

The temperatures were a little bit warm at the start. The funny thing is, if this had been a normal August, it would have felt cooler than typical. However, since we had a very mild August, we didn’t have the chance to acclimate and it felt much warmer than it was.

Jack and Steve

Steve, right, also did the half marathon. Jack did the quarter marathon.

Between the quarter marathon and half marathon, there were about 3,000 people at the start. It’s a nice sized crowd for the course.

The start was in waves, which helped to spread everyone out a little bit. I really like a wave start. I’m not positive, but I think it took about 10 minutes from the first wave for us to cross the start line. I was with Deb, Pat and Nancy and our plan was to hover around a 14-min mile.

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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. Continue reading (493)

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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.

Links:
walking.about.com
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!

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A July 4th Race

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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.

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