The Shawshank Hustle Review

The front of the prison.

The front of the prison.

I don’t typically enter “theme” races. Despite that, I was very excited about the inaugural Shawshank Hustle held in Mansfield, OH July 25 at the prison where the movie Shawshank Redemption was filmed.

The 4.6-mile race started and ended at the old Ohio State Reformatory. The course winds through Mansfield and includes several sites that appear in the movie including Brooks’ bench. There was a generous 2-hour time limit. I believe the funds raised go toward preservation of the prison.

There was limited parking at the race start with maybe 2,700 of the 3,000 entrants required to rely on shuttles. My friends and I have an aversion to races that require shuttles, so we arrived close to 6:00 a.m. to have the best chance of parking in that closest lot. Turns out that lot filled up within 30 min of our arrival.

Before

We arrived 3 hours before the eventual start of the race, so we took pictures.

There was a party atmosphere before the race! Great music played while athletes walked around taking pictures of the prison. A costume contest showed how creative some people can be. And an announcer kept us entertained by leading us in a group dance as well as keeping everyone informed.

Shortly after 8:00 a.m., he announced the race would start 15 min late because of issues with the shuttles. Within a couple of minutes we were told the delay would actually be half an hour, making the start time 9:00. This was disappointing, but if the problem was the race’s fault (I don’t know), it was probably the right decision.

After a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, the race started and one huge mass of people crowded together to cross the start line. It was slow going with fast runners mixed in with people pushing strollers and very slow walkers holding hands blocking faster people. But this is very common for “races” that are really more “events”.

As we crossed the starting line, buses were still arriving with athletes.

Because of the start delay, and the fact the race was in July, the temperatures rose quickly. The sun was bright and it got hot. Being Mansfield, OH, there were also a couple hills that added to the challenge.

Hanging out with Andy in the Warden's office.

Hanging out with Andy in the Warden’s office.

Luckily most of my group had decided to do this race for fun, not speed. After all, how many 4.6-mile races are there? No matter how I finished, it would be a PR.

As we walked the course which follows part of the Shawshank Trail, there were signs indicating sites that appeared in the movie. Many people stopped to take pictures. It was fun.

The first water station was about 2 miles into the race. The people working it were having a very hard time keeping up! I was somewhat in the middle of the pack, and there were still a good thousand people behind me.

The second water station was only 0.6 miles after the first. I almost skipped it because it was so close, but at the last minute didn’t. Thank goodness I took that water! Those were the only two water stations on the course. So as the the temperatures rose, and we lost what little shade there was, there was no water for more than 2 miles. If I had really read the pre-race information I would have known where the water was and would have opted to carry some with me.

As we approached the prison to the finish, we could hear the music playing from pretty far away and the announcer called off the names of finishers as they crossed. Deb and I were just a couple minutes behind the rest of our friends, and we could hear their names as we approached.

The race shirts are gender specific and glow in the dark.

The race shirts are gender specific and glow in the dark.

We received our medals, and there was plenty of water and food: bananas, apples, chips, nut mix, protein drinks and more.

The race swag included a tour of the prison and a ride on the historic Richland Carrousel. Seeing the prison is the whole reason to do the race, right? So, after a short rest, we took the tour. There were signs throughout indicating what the rooms were used for both in real prison life and in the movie. We then drove to ride the carrousel. They were both great!

The race shirts are a black technical fabric available in gender-specific sizes, the design features the front of the prison, and both the shirt and medal glow in the dark.

Though there were glitches, this was a pretty good inaugural event. People enjoyed the costume contest and the tour of the prison was awesome. And if you are a fan of the movie, you will probably love the race regardless.

________________________

The sports management company that put on the Shawshank Hustle is Rocketship Sports, a not for profit corporation dedicated to promoting high quality athletic events and group fitness activities.

What sets them apart is that this is a hobby for all of the directors. Rocketship Sports does not pay a salary to anyone — they are all volunteers. The company is a true 501c3 not for profit corporation. Any income earned from the events is put back into the organization to purchase additional equipment. The volunteer crew includes everyone from an ex-professional cyclist to sports agents, runners to triathletes, engineers to bankers, marketing specialist to artists, all with years of experience in sport and business.

You can contact Roger Bowersock at 937 417 5772 or email info@rocketshipsports.com. (1175)

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Episode 12 Podcast — Are You Dopey?

The Dopey Challenge has become the Holy Grail for Disney race fans. The four-race series held in January includes a 5K, 10K, half marathon and finishes with the Disney Marathon for a total of 48.6 miles! And to commemorate the achievement of finishing, participants earn six medals and six race shirts.

Dopey and Goofy medals

The bonus medals — The Goofy Challenge on the left and the Dopey Challenge on the right.

When I first heard about both the Goofy and Dopey challenges, my first thought was, “Why would anyone do that?”

In January of this year, a group of 5 women from Ohio entered the Dopey Challenge — with one friend who did the Goofy. Recently I  talked to two of them — Karen Edwards and Stephanie Waterman — to find out what the attraction to this race series is. Highlights include:

  • Registration is about a year in advance.
  • The Dopey Challenge sells out quickly, the Goofy Challenge takes a little more time to sell out.
  • The Dopey Challenge registration fee is over $500 — not including travel expenses.
  • You have to be in the corrals by 5:00 a.m. race morning.
  • The courses don’t change from day to day, and neither does the after race food.
  • There are always long lines for port-a-johns in every race.
  • It’s a great challenge.
  • Participants enter Disney races for the Disney experience.
  • After the Dopey participants finish the marathon, they receive the marathon medal, Goofy medal and the Dopey medal — a lot of weight!
  • Finishers of the Dopey have walked 48.6 miles over 4 days.
  • The 2016 Dopey and Goofy challenges have already sold out.
  • http://www.rundisney.com/disneyworld-marathon/#dopey-challenge
the women who entered the Dopey Challenge and the Goofy Challenge, from left to right: Diane Burris, Karen Edwards, Stephanie Waterman, Darla Kaikis, Vicki Brunetto and Shelly Thompson.

The women who entered the Dopey Challenge and the Goofy Challenge, from left to right: Diane Burris, Karen Edwards, Stephanie Waterman, Darla Kaikis, Vicki Brunetto and Shelly Thompson. Shelly did the Goofy.

 

The ultimate bling! From left to right, medals for the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Goofy Challenge and Dopey Challenge.

The ultimate bling! From left to right, medals for the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Goofy Challenge and Dopey Challenge.

Dopey shirts

The race shirts in the order of the events: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Goofy and Dopey.

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Posted in 5K, half marathons, marathons, podcast, races, training, walking | 4 Comments

Learning to Love the 5K Race Again

Me at the far left pushing hard to PR in the New Albany Independence 5K.

Me on the far left pushing hard to PR in the New Albany Independence Day 5K and trying to catch the walker in front of me (wearing the blue bib). Photo courtesy of the New Albany Independence Day 5K.

The half marathon has been my favorite race distance for years. I love the training, the planning, the sense of accomplishment at finishing that long of a race. It is not so long that the recovery takes days — like the marathon — and it is not so short that you wonder why you bother entering.

That said, I am gaining a new appreciation for shorter races, specifically the 5K.

At the New Albany Independence Day 5K yesterday, I was able to push myself pretty hard for the entire distance. In fact, I pushed myself harder than I have in any race in a long time. And the best part was, I had to do it for only 3.1 miles!

I finished the 5K in 37:24 for a PR 2:20 faster than my previous fastest 5K. According to Cool Running’s pace calculator, I had to average 12:02 per mile to finish a 3.1 mile race in 37:24. (Assuming the course was measured accurately.) Continue reading (243)

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Mio FUSE Heart Rate and Activity Tracker Review

IMG_20150531_193900_169I  recently received a Mio FUSE Heart Rate Training + Fitness Tracker to review. Mio sent the device to me because I didn’t believe a strapless heart rate monitor would work. Over the years I have tried a couple of different strapless monitors, and none of them worked. So I was both excited and skeptical.

This is a pretty long review. If you just want to see my final conclusions, scroll to the end.

Though my main focus was to test the strapless heart rate (HR) monitor, I tried all of the features to be thorough. I’m not going to cover every single feature on the app.

The Mio FUSE wristband comes in a small box with just a small charger. The device needs to be charged before use and requires a smart phone app. The charger has a USB end to be plugged into a computer or wall charger. The instructions say it will need to be charged once a week. The battery in the wristband can be charged 300 times, which concerned me until I realized that 300 charges is more than 5 years. (The battery drains faster when using the HR monitor feature.)

The wristband is made of a soft rubber and is comfortable. It comes in a couple of different colors — mine is black and teal. Because heart rate is measured through the skin with light, the wristband needs to be worn sIMG_20150531_192739_800lightly higher on the wrist than you would normally wear a watch. It takes some getting used to, but I adjusted quickly. You can set the wristband for left- or right-hand wearing using the menus on your smart phone. It’s a fairly wide band, and thick at the display.

The instructions for use are pretty specific. The arm must be in a horizontal position in order for the “buttons” on the wristband to work.  This is to prevent the accidental touching or bumping of the buttons from causing the display to light up.

Continue reading (1106)

Posted in heart rate monitors, product review, walking | 9 Comments

Memorial Day 5 Miler

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Buckeye Striders who entered the UACA Memorial Day 5 Miler are Nancy, Pat, Jack, Deb and me.

There were five Buckeye Striders entered in today’s UACA Memorial Day 5 Miler. For several years, this race has been a tradition with the Striders.

I walked the nearly 2 miles from my house to the start of the race. My thought was that it would be a good warm up, but in reality it was too far to walk to the start of a 5-mile race.

This is a small, nice, community race. There are several hundred people who enter. It starts and finishes at the fire station and the American flag hangs from a fire truck when the National Anthem is sung. Winding through the streets of Upper Arlington, there are families out in their yards cheering on the participants! It is very fun!

Pat, Nancy and I started out together, but it didn’t take long for Nancy to take off. Pat and I walked most of the course together. It’s all on neighborhood streets with a few small hills throughout.

Jack won his age group!

Jack won his age group!

Nancy finished a little ahead of me in 1:02:49 for a 12:34 pace. (So nice to see Nancy fast again!) My finish time was 1:05:59 for a 13:12 per mile pace! Pat was right behind me with 1:06:28 for a 13:18 pace. Deb was very happy with her 1:08:58 finish with a 13:46 average. Jack won the 80+ age category with his 1:22:01 finish for a 16:25 min/mile finish. Jack also raced at the Jack Mortland Race Walk in Yellow Springs on Sunday. He entered the 5K.

So we were all pleased with our finish times and were happy to participate in the great community event again.

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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! (969)

Posted in half marathons, health, interview, podcast, races, racewalking, walking | 4 Comments

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. (555)

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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.

IMG_20150303_192135_870

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. (1211)

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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.

  (437)

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