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 (60)

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How to Buy Shoes — Podcast

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Who better to talk to about how to buy shoes for walking than the owner of a running and walking store? In this episode, I talk to George Roulett, a co-owner of FrontRunner. This local store was the first store in Central Ohio to understand the needs of walkers and treat us as athletes.

In a second segment with George, we talk about training with heart rate monitors. (Because of a scheduling conflict, there was a huge hole in this episode, and George was willing to help me out.)

The episode begins with me and my friend Deb Chenault talking about training for the Athens Half Marathon despite this extra cold and snowy winter.

In this episode:

  • Size, shape and stability are the keys to finding the correct shoes.
  • The speed of the walker and the number miles walked also affect the shoe choice.
  • Wear good socks.
  •  One of the new trends in shoes is thicker soles with lots of cushioning. They are quite a bit lighter than older versions (but are not flexible).


    New Altra with a thicker sole.

  • The number of miles walked in a pair of shoes is more important than the length of time you own them.
  • George does not recommend walking more than one marathon in the same pair of shoes.

Also in this episode:

  • Every training day should have a purpose.
  • Heart rate monitors can help athletes keep “easy” days easy.
  • Be patient when beginning to train with a heart rate monitor.
  • It is important to find your max heart rate to determine training zones.
  • Age formulas to determine max heart rate are not accurate.
  • Give yourself three weeks to start benefiting from the use of a heart rate monitor.


Posted in heart rate monitors, podcast, shoes, training, walking | 3 Comments

Disappointing Scioto Miles 15K Race

NOTE: Let me qualify this race review by saying I am somewhat picky about races and my race dollars are limited. If I am paying $45 for a race, certain amenities are expected. Smaller, less expensive races put on by running clubs always get more leeway.
The Buckeye Striders who entered today's race: Jim, Steve, Deb, Pat, Me and Elaine.

The Buckeye Striders who entered today’s race: Jim, Steve, Deb, Pat, Me and Elaine.

Today I walked the Scioto Miles 15K race held in Downtown Columbus with five other Buckeye Striders. I was hesitant to enter (which is why I just registered this week) because this series has not impressed me in the past.

There are three distance options in each of these races: 5K, 10K or 15K at $45 each. I think $45 is a little high for a 5K or 10K, but that might just be me. My goal was to complete the race at an easy pace feeling good. Continue reading (224)

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Learning to Love a Foam Roller

me using a foam roller on my IT band at the FrontRunner clinic.

Using a foam roller on my IT band at the FrontRunner clinic.

I’ve always wanted to try a foam roller, but because I wasn’t positive how to use it, I was hesitant to buy one. Besides, I have The Stick — didn’t they do basically the same thing?

Luckily for me, FrontRunner hosted a foam roller clinic tonight.

Kendra — the instructor — had been using a foam roller for years, and was very knowledgeable. (I think she also does yoga. A lot of the breathing and stretching seemed yoga-like.) She did a great job of explaining how to to hit every single knot and sore spot on my body. (I have a lot of knots!)

As we worked the roller up our legs, we periodically tested our flexibility with mild stretches. After each test, I was able to bend better and reach toward my toes just a little better.

I had no idea that my quads needed help, but I really felt it. My IT bands were so tight (I knew that) it hurt too much to continue. And when we needed to dig into a knot a little more, we used a tennis ball. Boy did that feel good!

Though I really like The Stick, I think I like this foam roller just a little better. The main reason is because the roller uses your body weight whereas The Stick requires pressure. When I try to work on my IT band with The Stick, I let go when it hurts. It is much harder to do that when you are laying down on a roller.

Needless to say, I bought a roller on the spot! I’ll let you know if I continue to use it.


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Being Safe When Walking

On Presidents Day, a woman jogger was attacked at one of my favorite parks here in Central Ohio. She didn’t do anything wrong. It was mid-day in a popular park in February. (I was interviewed by the local news to talk about it, but that is a different story.)

Sharon woods snow

This is close to where the woman was attacked.

According to reports, she fought back, was able to get away and called police. Luckily she was unharmed and the teen who attacked her was caught within the hour.

Many women I know have no qualms about walking alone during the day. Daylight provides a feeling of safety for many of us. There are only a couple of parks I will walk alone, and unfortunately, where this woman was attacked was one of them.

I refuse to stop walking outside and I refuse to stop walking by myself! If I need an escort every time I walk, I might as well say the criminals have won and quit entirely.

That said, there are plenty of things we can do to be as safe as possible when we do walk.

Be careful where you choose to walk.
One of the safest parks near me is in the middle of a neighborhood and is surrounded by houses. I feel very safe there and go there often. But the Olentangy Trail along a river has many secluded, tree-lined sections far from view of anyone. Over the years a couple of women have been attacked in some of those secluded sections. I never walk there alone. Continue reading (334)

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Great Saturday Walk in Snow!

Sharon woods snow

Though there was snow on the trail, it was a beautiful Saturday morning for a walk!

With this winter being colder and snowier than typical, many of us have been cooped up inside for way too long! After weeks of doing our Saturday morning walks inside at the community center, Deb and I decided we had to be outside this past weekend.

We went to Sharon Woods park in Westerville because the Buckeye Striders were scheduled to be there. The temperature was about 22 degrees, and there had been a light snow the night before — an inch or so deep. Typically the trail at Sharon Woods is pretty clear, except for the section near the sledding hills.

I loved the look of this snow-covered tree.

I loved the look of this snow-covered tree.

The morning was beautiful! There was no wind, birds were singing and the snow crunched a little under our feet.  We saw tons of deer and critter tracks. Everything was clean and white. Though we did not see many runners, all of them were friendly.

We were scheduled to do 6 miles, however, after 5 we were tired. Because of the snow, we were working just a little harder than usual and were using different muscles, so we called it a day. Sometimes, level of exertion is more important than total miles walked.

I like to register for a spring race so I have added incentive to train earlier in the year. Most winters it is not much of an issue in Ohio — we tend to have a lot of warm days in the middle of the winter that melt most of the snow.

This winter is a little different. Not only are we experiencing larger than normal snow fall, but it is not warming up between the snows. It’s been challenging finding clear sidewalks, trails or streets.

Deb and I were bundled for the cold.

Deb and I were bundled for the cold.

I am so happy that Deb talked me into giving the park a try over the weekend! It was beneficial both mentally and physically.


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Winter Training Without a Treadmill?

One neighbor went nuts with a snow blower! Most of this side of the street was clear.

One neighbor went nuts with a snow blower! Most of this side of the street was clear.

This winter has been colder and snowier than typical for a large portion of North America. In Central Ohio, our total snowfall is more than 9 inches above average already! And the sub-zero days and icy sidewalks can make training nearly impossible.

So what is a marathon walker to do?

If, like me, you don’t many indoor options, you know walking outside can be challenging. I will walk outside in single digits, but not if it is below zero. Ice scares me. Our local malls don’t encourage walkers like they used to. (I could probably still walk at a mall if I wanted to.) The Buckeye Striders walk at the community center when it is too bad on Saturday mornings, but I don’t want to pay $4.50 every time I need to walk.

First, you need to be flexible. Your training may have to be rearranged based on what is realistic. If the sidewalks or trails are clear one day, make that your speed day. If the sidewalks are snow covered, walking at an easy pace could be a better choice. If the snow is deep, wear boots. If the trails or sidewalks are icy, it might be best to skip it entirely and make it a rest day, find a way to go inside, or cross train.

This week I was lucky that Monday the sidewalks were fairly clear and temperatures were reasonable. I did an 8 X 400 speed workout. My first speed workout in a long time.

Today I was scheduled for 45 min. of easy walking. Our county was under a Level 2 snow emergency. So I bundled up in several layers, wore winter boots and walked — very slowly. About half of our sidewalks were covered with several inches of snow coated with an icy crust, making walking tough. (On one street, a neighbor with a snow blower went a little crazy! Nice!) I was so slow, I actually ended up walking 53 min. by the time I turned back home.

Later this week I have mile repeats scheduled and my long slow day is 6 miles. Whether I can do either of those will depend entirely on the weather. But even if I can’t do the schedule exactly as written, if I’m flexible, I’m confident I’ll be ready for a half marathon in April. (300)

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9 Lessons from a Walking Streak

Some days it was pretty cold!

Some days it was pretty cold!

I have been on a walking streak since Thanksgiving. The original plan was to end New Year’s Day, but I decided to continue for a total of 50 days ending January 17. Though technically part of the Runner’s World running streak, my friends and I walked instead.

Groups start a streak to encourage people to get out walking/running every single day, even if it is just for 1 mile. Since winter can be so gray and dreary, that seems like a good and doable goal.

I have never completed a streak before. Here are lessons I learned:

  1. Sometimes it really is way too cold to go outside or even to drive somewhere to walk inside. Record below zero temps in Ohio were a challenge.
  2. I can be resourceful. On those super cold days I walked up and down the stairs in my house for 20 min. to approximate 1 mile.
  3. Walking in heavy winter boots in the snow is so different from walking in my regular race walk shoes, I had a lot of muscle pain in the beginning. (But it was a good pain.)
  4. Because of the streak, I DID walk on days I did not feel like walking.
  5. The quality of my miles suffered. The goal of “just 1 mile” made it easy to walk casually for only 1 mile when I really should have been walking farther and harder.
  6. My Facebook followers inspired me to keep going. If not for them, I would have quit. There is something about lots of people knowing your plans that makes it much harder to stop.
  7. It’s OK to look silly to your family if it is for a good cause. My husband didn’t understand the first couple of times I went out on really cold days. He also laughed at me when I walked up and down the stairs on the subzero days. Ultimately he was supportive.
  8. I enjoyed it when people joined me. My adult son and my young nieces and nephews all walked with me more than once.
  9. For the most part it was fun, and I will probably do it again!


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A Conversation with Darris Blackford, Columbus Marathon Race Director

Darris Blackford has been the race director of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon for a couple of years. In that short time, there have been many changes/improvements in the race making the entire atmosphere more fun and inclusive — especially for walkers.

In this episode of the WALK Podcast, Darris and I talk about what it is like to be director of one of the largest races in Ohio. Here are some highlights:

  • The idea for the firework display at the start of the race was to make the early morning darkness a positive.
  • Would you believe he received about 1,000 comments from just one after-race survey question? Yes, he did read every single response.
  • When he took over as race director, Darris focused a lot of his attention on the athletes at the back of the pack, trying to make the race as enjoyable for them as for those in the front.
  • Food after the race is always an issue, but it is more equitable now.
  • Shirts will always be loved and hated.
  • Walkers make up nearly 40% of all registrants! He also explains the competitive walking division.
  • Darris ran the Boston Marathon in 2013, and so did his wife.
  • There were new security measures in Columbus for the 2013 race.
  • Did you know there is a detailed storm plan for race day?
  • He talks about Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the great work they do, the Miracle Mile patients along the race course and the parents at the Angel Mile.
  • Every year there are lessons to be learned.
  • Every year the race can be better.

The 2014 marathon is scheduled for October 19 in Downtown Columbus. Check the website at for registration information. Please note that the race shirts have an athletic cut — be sure to double check the size you will wear. The shirts may seem to run small.

This episode is a little longer than typical and includes the Walk With Me theme song in it’s entirety following the interview. (1183)

Posted in half marathons, interview, marathons, podcast, races, racewalking, training, walking | Tagged | Leave a comment

They Call it the Streak

This time of year it is hard to be motivated to keep walking. It is cold, it gets dark early and typically, we don’t have races scheduled that require training miles.

That is why many groups challenge their members to a streak — walking at least one mile a day for a set number of days.

Right now, a bunch of my walking friends and I are planning to streak from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. And you are invited to join us! (If history is a predictor, I can nearly guarantee my friend Deb will carry the streak even further.)

The rules are simple — just walk at least one mile every single day. It doesn’t have to be a fast mile or even a “training” pace. Just walk a mile. It doesn’t count if you walk two miles one day and skip the next. It’s just one mile every day.

If you already missed a day, don’t worry. Start today!

In the middle of December when we are all cold and not wanting to go outside, I look forward to seeing all of your positive comments either here or on the WALK Facebook page! If you haven’t done it yet, go out and walk now!

“Oh, yes, they call him the Streak
Look at that, look at that
Fastest thing on two feet…” — Ray Stevens



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