Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 - the year in Review, Pt. 3 - Gear!

Guess I'd better get this post done today in order to still be "officially" in 2012!

It was a year of gear, as in new, upgrades and tweaks. The Schwinn GPS watch was a great buy and still works well for its purpose. I tested online prescription glasses and will definitely go that route again in the near future (perhaps just for racing sunglasses). Aclimate (and Aclimate Endurance) have become my sports drinks of choice. I taught myself to make Pseudo-Lara bars which have evolved into amazing nutrient-packed endurance nuggets that we now call Lalaballs (I'll post the updated recipe soon!). Not sure if you can call it gear, but McConnell Taping has helped my knees immenesely. I finally bought a Road ID with the online profile that you can edit. I love it for workouts, races, hiking, camping, etc.
However, I guess the real gear story this year was shoes, of course.

I now have specific shoes for specific distances. As usual, I have to preface any discussion of shoes here with the warning that I, by absolute necessity, must wear fairly hefty orthotics due to some really major structural problems; any shoes that I use will have the orthotics in them, so would drastically change the foot feel for someone who would just be wearing the shoe, sans orthotics. I also choose shoes with no animal products. So, here is my present stable of shoes, with the distance of choice:

5K: NB730s. Lovely minimalist (4mm drop) with a choice of widths. Great road feel for short distance, but not enough cushioning for these old feet to go the longer distances.
     Altra Intuition: zero drop with cushion and really wide toe box. Comfort out of the box. I haven't done much racing in them yet (have been using them for recovery shoes and they are the best!!!!), but will put them to the test in the New Year and report back. Only drawback: they're hard to find here.

10K: Skechers GoRun. These are quite a surprise in that although they are made for midfoot-strike running, they work amazingly well for proper racewalking technique, including heel strike! Cushioned, but with a lovely, comfy, breathable upper. Me like! They also come with an extra pair of colourful laces and a muslin shoe bag (useful for taking your shoes to the track).

Half marathons: Still my good old trusty Reshod 730s. Carmen's upgraded shoes were made for fast long distances in comfort...can't ask for much more than that!

LSD: I've been using the Skechers of late with good results. I'll report back in the New Year with more details. I also use the Reshod 730s, but like to save them for halfs. Will likely try the Intuitions for long distance as well.

So, all of this makes for happy feet (well, as happy as feet can get). It also ensures that my shoes dry out between workouts because I alternately use different ones. Hopefully they won't wear as quickly, either....or all wear out at the same time. Now that's a horrific thought! $$$$$$$$$$


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Incredible Vegan Fruitcake!

I interrupt my review of 2012 with this:

I’ve always loved fruitcake. I know a lot of people can’t stand it, and I don’t blame them if all they’ve ever encountered is the dry, store-bought variety with that neon-coloured “candied” fruit.  However, I think this cake would convert many a staunch fruitcake-phobe. Although not cheap if you buy the right ingredients, it is absolutely worth every single pazoozle! Be aware that there is a step that must be done about a week-and-a-half before baking...and that this is a bit of a "boozy" fruitcake!


-makes 3 x  1-lb loaves

Cake with marzipan "icing".
Rich, moist goodness!



 *Prior preparation (see below):

1 mickey of whisky (375 ml – I used Forty Creek) plus ½ cup dark rum

3 cups mixed unsweetened dried fruit (I used tart cherries, organic chopped apricots, currents and cranberries - a really great combo)

Grated (or finely minced) rind of one lemon and one orange

1 Vanilla Chai teabag


First bowl (medium bowl; dry ingredients):

3 cups organic whole grain flour

3 T coconut sugar

1.5 t baking powder

3/8 t salt


Pureed in processor then placed in a large bowl:

250 g. pressed dates, warmed so that they are very pliable (microwave)

2 T frozen unsweetened concentrated orange juice

1/3 c molasses

6 T unsweetened applesauce

6T canola oil

3 t pure vanilla extract

Rind and tea mixture from above

Drained whisky from soaked fruit

A bit of water if necessary to make a thick puree


Fruit/nut mixture:

3 cups of dried fruit prepared ahead of time (see above)

1 c slivered almonds

½ c raw pumpkin seeds


 * Prior preparation:

 1. (about 1.5 weeks prior to baking):

                -soak 3 cups of mixed dried unsweetened fruit (tart cherries, organic chopped apricots, currents and cranberries) in ¾ mickey of whisky in fridge. Shake often.

                2. (30 minutes prior to baking): boil the grated (or finely minced) rinds of one lemon and one orange (organic) in about ¾ c. of water with one Vanilla Chai teabag for about ten minutes or so. This takes the inherent bitterness out of the rind and adds some nice spices. Let cool slightly and squeeze out teabag well into the rind. Discard teabag.



Scrub hands very well (you will be using them as a mixing tool!)

Line three 1- lb. loaf pans with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 325F.


Add contents of first bowl (dry ingredients) to large bowl (wet pureed ingredients) in smallish increments. Mix well by kneading (squishing!) with hands. This is the absolute best way to mix as you have a lot of control over the mixture. When all of the dry has been added, add in the fruit/nut mixture and again mix well with hands. The dough will be very, very thick. Press into prepared pans and bake for about 45-50 minutes. A toothpick will not necessarily come out clean as this is a very rich, moist cake. When baking has finished, cool cakes slightly in pans, then puncture all over with a fork. Slowly pour the rest of the mickey of whisky and 1/3 cup dark rum evenly over the three cakes and let soak in. Complete cooling and turn out on rack.




Just wait until you try this incredibly simple golden marzipan. It’s so good it may not make it to the top of the cake! It has only three ingredients:


1 ¼ c ground almonds (also called almond flour)

¼ c agave syrup

1 t pure almond flavouring


Mix it all up with your hands. It should be the consistency of playdough. Roll out between two layers of waxed paper, cut to fit and lay on top of each cake, pressing slightly to adhere. Decorate as desired.


Wrap finished cakes well, bag and keep in fridge (or freeze one for future use). They won’t last long as they will be gobbled up quickly!


Monday, 10 December 2012

13 in 2013!

Thirteen races in 2013??? Can you fit that many in? Seems like a great idea! Walkers are welcome, you can do a variety of distances and even virtual races are allowable. I've already signed up. Check it out here:

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

2012 - The Race Year in Review - Part 2

The 2012 race year also brought me into contact with a lot of good people, all of who have contributed greatly to my success this season.

I had been in contact previously with Carmen Jackinsky, a racewalk coach and shoe pioneer (Re/shod walking shoes; more on these in Part 3!) from distant Oregon. She had been kind enough to review a couple of videos I had done of my "technique", give me some pointers and exercises, encouraged me to get a muscle imbalance assessment from a Physiotherapist and to check out a friend of hers who is a walk coach in London, Ontario (fairly close to here). Interesting how one contact leads to another...and another!

First, I scoured the internet and found a PT clinic relatively close by that specialises in athletes and sports medicine and even hosts races! I went for an assessment and several followup appointments in February to learn strengthening exercises with Steve Georges at Loaring PT. Helped me immensely! Now that I am through this race season I am going back for some followup core, posture and balance work. We did another assessment last week and found improvement in almost all areas!

Next, I searched Carmen's friend on the internet and found out that she was going to be running an all-day racewalk clinic the very next weekend about an hour-and-a-half away! Needless to say, I was so there. Enter Sherry Watts into my life; she is now my coach! We interact over the 'net, through videos and discussion and she sets up training schedules for me. I can't begin to tell you how great this has been!!!! Looking forward to next year under her watchful eye.

This is also the year that I discovered Walkers and Runners Around the County of Essex (WRACE). Sherry actually mentioned them to me. They are a local club that sponsers twelve races throughout the year, ALL with walking divisions, ALL almost in my backyard! How could they have been there all along without my really knowing what they were all about???? I participated in three of their races this year and will enter as many as I can in 2013. This introduced me to the 5K distance, which I discovered I like!

And then there is my "walking family' - the wonderful people at the Walking Site Forum who have been my sounding board for a lot longer than just this year. A more supportive, friendly, caring group of internet friends you could not hope to find. They were with me every step of the way in 2012, and hopefully will be for many years to come.

Next up - Part 3: The Gear!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

2012 - The Race Year in Review - Part 1

I know, I know - 2012 ain't over yet, but the "Celtic" New Year is November 1st and I have no more races planned for the rest of the calendar year, so I feel justified in starting my review now. I'm in a short period of active rest right now before starting my next training cycle, so now is the time to do this!

Let me say from the get-go that this was an extremely good walking year for me in many ways. I found a coach, joined a club, managed a few PRs, tried some new distances, got my imbalanced muscles back on track, found some great gear and just basically had fun - I guess it doesn't get much better than that! I'm going to break down my posts into topics; otherwise, this could get really long (longer than usual for me, that is). Let's start with a roundup of races.


Up until this year I had only done half marathons as races. This year I added 5K and 10K distances and found I really liked the variety. Of course, this meant I had to learn totally different race strategies for each type of race, which is a good thing. I also discovered a local series of races run by W.R.A.C.E. (Walkers and Runners Around the County of Essex), which not only welcomed walkers in the 5Ks, but posted results separately and gave awards! Needless to say, I will be doing more of these in 2013! Here, then, is a list of what I did, when I did it and how I did; I also have added links to the blog entries for these races:

(Remember: all of these are racewalking):

April 14, 2012: Martian Meteor 10K (Dearborn, MI): This was to be a training race for the Sudbury half in May. There were no separate walking divisions. 1:12:09. I actually came 41/86 in my AG group, which was mostly runners (!). 10K PR  Blog entry

May 13, 2013: Sudbury Rocks! Half Marathon (Sudbury, ON): No separate results for walkers in the half. 2:38:31. Blog entry

June 23, 2013: Detroit River Days 5K (Detroit, MI): My first 5K ever! No separate walking division.  35:07. 4/17 in my AG group (including runners). Blog entry

July 14, 2013: Sunsplash 5K (Belle River, ON): 34:57:06. 1st in walking division! This was the first of the WRACE series that I did. Blog entry

September 3, 2013: John Smith 5K (Windsor, ON): Second WRACE event.  34:45. 2nd overall and first female walker. 5K PR

September 23, 2013: Run for Heroes 10K (Amherstburg, ON). Results were posted separately. 1:12:36. First female. Blog entry

October 20, 2013: Cincinnati Half Marathon (guess where?).  2:35:36. 4/75. 1st in AG group.Half Marathon PR Blog entry

October 28, 2013: Hallowe'en Hoot (Windsor,ON): Third WRACE event for me. Got to wear a cool costume! 35:32. 2nd overall; 1st female. Blog entry

I have never done this many races in a season before: the shape of things to come?


Monday, 29 October 2012

W.R.A.C.E Hallowe'en Hoot 5K Walk

I had planned this as my last race of the season, and it being a Hallowe'en theme I would of course need to get a costume together....something appropriate to racewalking. Those who know me well know that I love cobbling costumes together from whatever I have lying around the house, so here's what I came up with:

I only had to buy some red gloves at the $ store. Luckily, my bathing suit bottom and Altra Intuition shoes are bright red! The cape I had made years ago out of satin for a school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream - it's nice to know that Lysander and I have the same taste in capes.
The finished costume also included my mp3 player with a tiny speaker so I could play the Superman theme as I toddled along.
After last weekend's half marathon in Cincinnati, I had a great massage during the week and so was ready for this 5K!

I had been watching the weather closely and race day dawned cold and windy - 40F when I got up, but that doesn't faze a superhero! I had set out everything the night before and was quickly ready to go. The race would take place at Malden Hill, a local park (formerly a landfill) that I train at every now and then. The course would not be on the hill, but on the paved path circling the park, an out-and-back route. There are still a couple of smallish hills to tackle, but nothing at all daunting.
I arrived and got a good parking place (they would be at a premium soon), turned on my theme music and headed for the start. W.R.A.C.E. had set up in a heated pavilion in the park with real bathrooms (no wait when I was there!!!! - if you want to know what superheroes have to go through to use a restroom, I have firsthand experience). Having the warmth and the restrooms was like being pampered. I can honestly say I was never over-chilled as I could just go in the building for a few minutes every now and then during my warmup.
 There was going to be a kids' dash first - they were absolutely adorable, chasing one of the runners from the club. Assorted dinosaurs, bumblebees and lions ran as fast as their little legs could take them. One of the most innovative costumes, I think, was a kid dressed as a bag of raked leaves - seriously, it was awesome and very creative. There were some other adults dressed up, thank goodness (not as many as I thought there would be, though). I am a big kid but don't like being the only one! A giant banana, skeletons, a baby, various zombies and mummies, pumpkins, witches, etc., started milling about, getting ready for our race.
As I was doing my warmup drills and sprints in the parking lot I got a lot of big grins from my theme music. Even though the theme inspired me I knew it could be overdone easily, so I turned it off after a while; no need to really annoy my fellow racers (my apologies to those who were ready to throttle me :).
Now, something I need to remember at 5Ks is that your time is a gun time start and chip finish. I think I seed myself too far back in the crowd because I'm a walker. Got to remedy that in the future. Not a big deal today as I wasn't out for a PR or anything, just to have fun. Anyhow, off we went. It turned out that the cold weather was perfect for racing, the wind a tad annoying at times but not a major obstacle, except if you were wearing a cape.....

The paved path is a perfect surface for racing and easily followed (there's no where else to go, LOL!). We did an out-and-back loop, the tenners two of those. I came in as second walker in, first female walker out of 31 walkers (35:32, with some pauses for personal technical issues; as I said, wind and capes don't mix well)!
In I went for some postrace grub (lots to choose from, including good coffee), then back out to cheer in other racers. Five costumed runners came in hand-in-hand, including the banana and a mummy...the mummy was very cool 'cause she came in shuffling like a mummy should! Wonder if she did the whole race that way? The banana had also had some costume technical difficulties better left to the imagination :)
At this point, one of the EMS bike patrol guys asked if he could have his pic taken with me - cool!
The awards were next, and being first female walker I won a great thermal bag chock full of goodies, including a BPA-free bottle, coupon for an hour-long massage, discounts at a couple of local places, several Camino chocolate bars, hot chocolate and some small-sized athlete-friendly toiletries.
Thank you W.R.A.C.E., and thanks also for a very well-organised and fun race, something I've come to expect from you good folks! I was getting quite hungry for my vegan lunch, so I didn't stick around for costume judging - maybe next year?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Cincinnati Half Marathon

It had been a long time since we'd been to Cincinnati (since before the advent of digital cameras, if you can believe that!), so we were looking forward to this trip.

Probably the most famous Cincinnati marathon is the Flying Pig in the springtime, but I had just found out about this autumnal offering, a fairly recent addition compared to the Pig. It looked like a nice, small-to-mid-sized event (about 1200 runners and 73 walkers for the half) with a great course and the added bonus of a separate walking division...and it was only a half marathon and a 5K - no full. I registered many, many months before the race was to take place and began my training under the watchful and expert eye of my coach,  Sherry Watts - she's amazing! Things went very, very well until I had an unfortunate experience during one of my LSD workouts three weeks before the race, consisting of a hip cramp causing a knee problem. Although I had pinpointed the problem and took immediate action, I was justifiably worried about the race as I've never been injured like that before. I seemed to bounce back well, but the nagging worry continued.


We decided to head for Cincy on Friday October 19th (the race was to be on Saturday) and had a good drive until we hit horrendous traffic nearing the city. I had to get downtown to pick up my race packet, then we had a couple of other downtown stops to make. I did make it in plenty of time and headed down to the start/finish area at Sawyer Point in the pouring rain to get my bib, etc. Yes; pouring rain: correction: cold pouring rain. I received a really nice cloth bag with the 13.1 logo and "Cincinnati Half Marathon" on it, a sticker with the same, my bib, chip and a performance T that I had purchased separately (this was promoted as a "no-frills" race - you didn't get a T automatically with your registration), but it was only $10 and a really nice shirt.

C'mon, admit it - this is really why we do the races!

We then headed over to Newport, Kentucky (literally 5 minutes away) to Bob Roncker's Running Spot so I could try on a pair or two of Altra Intuitions. I had been researching these shoes for several weeks and really wanted to try them as the concept is exactly what I would have come up with if I had designed racewalking shoes; they aren't yet prevalent in Canada, of course. I had emailed them the day before that I was coming and they were extremely efficient and accommodating (thank you store manager Matthew Frondorf!) and made sure they set aside the sizes I needed. He knew about racewalking as the stores not only offer running clinics, but also walking clinics and training programs, and he agreed that these shoes would be excellent for that. The Running Spot stores have been named #1 specialty running store in the USA and I believe it: unfortunately for many of us, they are only in the Cincinnati area. I walked out of there a little poorer in cash but richer in shoes and a good experience. [I will blog about the shoes at a later time]. On to a brew at Rockbottom in downtown Cincy and dinner (Tree Hugger pizza with vegan cheese) at Mac's up in Clifton. Quality Inn in Norwood was our last stop for some zzzzzs. We were both worried about the weather.


We had set the alarm for 6:45 but I was up earlier than that as is typical for me on a race day; I had also had little sleep which is also usual for Race Day Eve. I did my breakfast/dressing routine and we were off by 7:15. The rain had stopped overnight but it was quite chilly. We parked downtown and headed to the start by 7:30. [As usual, my incredible "support staff" and spouse, Mike, got me there safe, sound and on time]. I had to wait quite a bit for the port-a-potties, but had time for all of my warmups, drills, etc. I had really thought a lot about my strategy for this race to prevent injury. I was hoping to be in the top ten of walkers, but was okay with it if I wasn't. I knew that there would be many fast walkers in this race from the local (very active) clubs. I went out on the pace I had planned and hit every single mark enroute (thanks to Races2Remember for their excellent pace bands - they really work!). The route was quite nice (after the initial industrial stuff by the river) and we looped through downtown, past Fountain Square (where Mike was waiting to snap some pics),

-that's me in orange
past some lovely collonaded parks and then out along the river where we looped back to finish on a bicycle path through a very nice park. The views were quite lovely out along the autumnal hills (for those of you who have never been to Cincy, it has some great rolling hills - but unlike the Pig, this race avoided almost all of them - it still had a few good ones!). Throughout the race I had played tag with a couple of small groups of walk/runners, but eventually left them behind. They were good-natured about it and one guy said I was like a pacer bunny. I actually wanted to hang around that group for a bit because they were discussing a really interesting program on the Discovery Channel, but my Mom always told me that eavesdropping was rude, LOL! I started passing more runners as the race wore on and by about the 9 mile mark was pretty consistent in targeting and ever-so-slowly overtaking them (I ended up faster than 205 runners and 69 walkers). This was also about the time that I realised that I might actually make my secret, never-to-be-divulged dream finish time.
It started spitting at around the 12-mile mark but had stopped again by the time I came in....and when did I come in? 2:35:36 - a personal best by 3 minutes, 4th in the walkers and first for my division!!!! Mike was waiting at the finish line for me and got this picture of a very happy me.

Mike also gave me one of his jackets (it was cold!) and we waited around for the award ceremony while I did a lot of stretching and loosening up and got some food (bananas, bagels and some kind of snacky-chippy-thingy). It then started to rain again, so we huddled under one of the smallish event tents. The awards were given out and I got a nice little round marble plaque with an engraved plate on it. I think I had a grin on my face for the next two hours and thirty-five minutes! Back to Beorn for some coconut water and then on with the day!

Post-race we went back to Rockbottom for lunch. I had packed clothes and other necessaries in a tote bag and promptly went to the restroom to change back to my alter-ego. Then of course, we had to have the celebratory pint (it was an amazing cask ale):

"These are a few of my favourite things....."

Now it was time for some sightseeing, so we went up the Carew Tower to get a great view of the whole city:

Next, on to the Art Institute. What a great place!!! They've done an amazing job ensuring that a huge percentage of the collection can be accessed.


Back to the hotel for a quick rest, stretching, massaging with the Tiger Tail and working out trigger points, then on to Loving Hut for dinner. This place is a shangri-la for vegans...everything on the menu is vegan!!! I can't tell you how amazing it is to have that much choice at a restaurant!
 We both had one of the daily specials - me the Lucky Kelp raw dish (absolutely incredible recovery food!) and Mike a quinoa burger. We also shared some vegan Mac n' Cheese and a "drumstick" (fake meat thingy).
Later, to bed. Needless to say, I slept really well!
One of my favourite post-race recovery rituals is to do a slow walk outdoors on dirt trails, so we headed out the next morning to wind our way back home, stopping at Taylorsville Metro Park near Dayton. It was one of those amazingly crisp, clear, bright October Ohio days, with a slight breeze causing leaves to drift down whisperingly around us. We walked for about 3.5 miles and it felt wonderful!

We drove home through Bowling Green, one of our favourite Ohio haunts. Home by about six. All was well.

It was a great trip, and I would actually consider doing that race again! It was very, very walker-friendly and of a size that one wouldn't get completely lost in the crowd, but always had other racers around you. The people were very supportive and I had a great time.
Highly recommended! See you in Cincy next year?

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Seeing is Believing!


Those of you who are, like me, beginning to advance in years know that one's eyesight changes fairly rapidly. Mine is no exception. On a daily basis I wear rather hefty progressive multifocals. This can be a bother when doing a race or a longish workout, or even an intense short workout for that matter, expecially if it's sunny. Glasses slide down your nose when you're sweaty (especially if you have clip-on sunglasses on them) and prescription sunglasses are priced through the roof. I had found a great solution (which I commented on in a previous post) in bifocal sunglasses.
Dewalt DPG59-220C Reinforcer Rx-Bifocal 2.0 Smoke Lens High Performance Protective Safety Glasses with Rubber Temples and Protective Eyeglass Sleeve
The ones I use are from Dewalt: they have ample coverage, don't slip and weigh next to nothing. They have a bifocal insert (in varying strengths) so you can read your Garmin or actually see something up close. Now don't get me wrong: I LOVE LOVE LOVE these glasses, and I still use them faithfully, but I'm finding that as my distance vision worsens I like to have a clear view of what is going on around me. When I first started thinking about this, I came across the idea of getting prescription glasses online for a tiny fraction of what they cost at the optician. Such a small price, in fact, that it was worth it to try it out. If they were horrible, I wasn't out too many pazoozles. I did some research, poked around and then dove in.
These are my present "fashion" everyday glasses, from my optician:

I love them and their funky little "laces", but they are quite heavy and slide all over the place when I perspire, so off I went:

First step: go to my eye doctor and get a copy of my present prescription. Yes, they have to give it to you and no, it doesn't cost anything and yes, they were nice about it.
Second step: I surfed through various companies. I ended up with Goggles4U just because they had the best price and took Paypal. I went for something extremely basic, very lightweight and versatile (glasses plus magnetic shades that fit them exactly so I could use them on cloudy or sunny days). I chose progressives (which were more expensive than lined bifocals, but only by about $4). Not at all fashionable, but this was a test.
Third step: loaded everything into the info pages, followed their instructions and clicked "Pay".

Then I waited. Yes, they took long, but not too much longer than some opticians take.

Told ya they were basic!

Pay no attention to the lady in the lenses.

They are lightweight, don't slip and best of all: I can clearly see what's out there! The prescription was right on. They also came with a hard case and a nifty little compact repair set.

Total damage? $38 including shipping. So now I'm going to get a dedicated pair of prescription sunglasses with slightly funkier frames but still lightweight. I might just go with the lined bifocals as they won't bother me much for what I'll be using these glasses for. You can also get several pairs of everyday fashion glasses to change up instead of just being stuck with your daily pair - cool, huh?
You can sometimes get deals on top of their everyday low prices, so it's worth it to check.

Bottom line? Do it.

Monday, 24 September 2012

World Alzheimer's Day Run for Heroes - Amherstburg

Amherstburg is a lovely little river town with lots of history in the extreme south of Ontario. This year it is celebrating (in a big way) the bicentenary of the War of 1812, in which it played a very large part. In keeping with this, the marathon for this year, while still keeping its focus on Alzheimer's awareness, took the bicentennial as its theme (we even had the choice to participate as red-coats or blue-coats). While the race has been staged in other years, this is the first time I've taken part as they were not only going to welcome walkers, they were going to post results separately ( this may not seem like a big deal to runners, but it means a lot to us). By the time I had found this out, I had already committed to the half in Cincinnati less than a month away, so I opted for the 10K as a training race, not being one of those who likes doing largish races so close together. It's a good thing that I registered when I did, though, because the 10K sold out a little later.
It was very unusually cold yesterday morning when I got up (47F!), so I opted for tights and arm warmers. Earlier that morning, in the wee hours, I heard the cone trucks laying out the full marathon course as their route would take them right by my house! Once in town, it became apparent that they had organised the parking quite well - the full and half marathoners who would be starting 45 minutes earlier than us would park at the new luxurious arena complex (where the start and finish would be) while we 10Kers would park at the old arena (about 2K away) and be bused to the start. This worked quite well, with lots of buses and really no hassle (at least I didn't encounter any). There were real bathrooms in the arena, as well as a good bank of the ubiquitous port-a-potties, with others scattered about the parking area, etc. No wait!!!!!
The full and half (over 1,000 strong) were a bit late in starting, but the cannon fired (yes, an actual cannon - 1812, remember?) and off they went. We tenners had about a half hour to warm up before our start. Warm up, do some pickups, do some drills, keep moving...tear off lovely warm fashionable garbage bag and...cannon fire!!!!...we were off in the light of a gorgeous sunrise!
The course was very scenic and well-designed because the marathoners and halfers joined up with us eventually, after their field had thinned out some, and that worked quite well, I thought; it's nice to race with a lot of others. We passed some lovely wetlands, then turned to follow the Detroit River (this is where we joined up with the others). After passing the Legion where we were saluted by a cadet colour guard and where several veterans assembled to cheer us on, we continued on to Fort Malden National Historic Site. This is a great park where the original 1812 fort stood. Our course went right through the park! Very cool. There were a couple of patches of cobbled road and gravel here which are pretty difficult when trying to maintain strict racewalking technique, but they weren't very long.  Leaving the fort and passing through the end of town, we went up a long road cornering around a cemetery (lovely in the early-autumn morning light with some leaves starting to change) and then into the (long) home stretch. Finishing where we started (our 10K course was a rough square), names were announced over the loudspeaker as we came through the chute and they said I was the first walker in! (For those of you unfamiliar with the author of this blog, I'm a racewalker). Cool! Throughout the course, people were very supportive and several runners, volunteers and officials complimented me on my pace and form (blush). Someone at the beginning and end (same person, I think) yelled, "Go, Racewalker!" as I passed by. It's not always this way for us racewalkers. We often don't get no respect, but not here! I was happily surprised.

It was now warm enough to
push down my arm warmers.

The mayor, race director and several other dignitaries were there to give out the medals, and what medals they were!!! Absolutely gorgeous, with beautiful ribbons:

They were individualized for the different races, with the distance embossed on them and different metallic backgrounds. The 10K one was a really nice bronzey colour. The medal has references to the US, Britain (In 1812, Canada was British) and the First Nations; the major players in the War of 1812. Very classy, indeed! The tenners also got short-sleeved shirts:

Although the half and full marathoners got incredible long-sleeved shirts, it was very nice indeed for us tenners to get a shirt and a medal. This definitely isn't the case in many races. Besides, the long-sleeved shirts were offered for sale afterwards.

I had stupidly forgotten to start my Garmin until a bit into the race...duh. Results came in later, and I came in first female walker out of 33 and 2nd 10K walker out of 41 with a time of 1:12:36 (7:16/km pace)! I even beat 65 of the 10K runners! Sorry for bragging, but I'm pretty happy with that! :)

I stood and watched a lot of other participants come in, munched on a banana and some orange slices and cheered on complete strangers. There were showers in the arena for those who needed them; talk about being pampered! Eventually the buses took us back to our parking area and I started the long journey home (usually only a 7 minute drive, but with the road closures it took "a tad" longer). Luckily the full marathon field had thinned out quite a bit by the time I reached my house and I was able to get in the driveway! I stood out and cheered some of them on, but then got too cold and went in to change. The full course did an out-and-back from town past some very pretty waterfront, creeks and bridges. On the Facebook page of the race, someone mentioned that up near the turnaround point a guy's pet turkey came out to the corner to "cheer" on the runners!

All-in-all, a really well-organised, wonderful race and I highly recommend it. There were complaints on FB about traffic, and I can see how that might pan out, but honestly I wasn't too hampered by it and I had to go right through town and out along the full course. It was slow, and a long line of traffic, but seriously, folks - it's a marathon! You have to expect that once a year.

Cudos to the race director and all of the volunteers. I had a blast! might just see me next year!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Walker-friendly Races for 2013

Please check out the new page I've done at the top of this blog (just under the big rabbit!). "Walker Races 2013" gives a list of some races suitable for walkers. Check it out!

***sorry about the small print on the list - blogger won't let me change it except to make it REALLY BIG.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Adventures of a Flatlander Pt 2 - the hikes!

This was our 31st hiking trip to New Mexico! We never tire of the varied landscape.
Here is a summary of the hikes we did. Not as much distance as usual, but a LOT more elevation, some with a heavy load. I'll follow the chart with some pics and a bit more info, rather than full descriptions of every hike.  Almost all of the pics are by Mike.

Name of hike/trail
Elevation (ft.)
Elevation (ft.)
Distance (mi.)
Gain (ft.)
Big Arsenic Spring
6,755 (descent) and then back up
-down into the Rio Grande Gorge and back up
-incredibly well-built trail
Guadalupe Mtn.
-great trail and views
-out and back
Cerro Vista/
Cerro Olla
-amazing views and open areas at top of peaks and along ridge
Serpent Lake
-up to a beautiful lake nestled in the bowl of an alpine ridge
-did this ascent with our outback camping gear (a 25 lb. pack)
-stayed overnight
Devisadero Peak
-almost an urban hike, overlooking Taos, NM
-very cool “stone chairs” built by hikers at the top!
Rio Grande/
Red River Confluence
6,598 (again, a descent into the gorge and back up)
-another hike at “Wild Rivers Recreation Area”, down to the gorge and then to where the Rio Grande meets the Red River and back.

Big Arsenic Spring is in the Wild Rivers Recreation Area near Questa New Mexico. It's a spectacular place overlooking the Rio Grande and Red River gorges. Beautifully maintained, breathtaking campsites and lots of cow-less hiking trails make this one of my new favourite places!

Incredible view of the gorge, with well-constructed trail on right.

Sunrise on the gorge, from our campsite!
Just a fingernail of a moon the first night.
Beautiful place to practice Iaido!

There were several areas of petroglyphs down by the rio.
We stayed three nights at Sipapu ski and summer resort - a beautiful mountain getaway with incredible summer rates, access to many hiking trails and disc golf! Cerro Vista/Cerro Olla were near here. Beautiful area!

The intrepid voyager
Mountain Man!

View across the ridge.

We packed up our camping gear and headed up to Serpent Lake, with the intentions of climbing higher the second day. Due to a water filter problem, we had to postpone the second day of camping. The night we spent up there was memorable, however: cold and incredibly windy, with elk calling in the evening.
The pack mule! (I do not do well with this much weight to carry, I must admit!)

Home Sweet Home at Serpent Lake.
Morning looking very Scottish!

Devisadero Peak is a popular hike on the outskirts of Taos, NM. At the top are stone chairs built by hikers, and a large cairn to which you can add your own rock - much better than graffiti!

Chillin' on the chairs!

Couldn't resist it! Have to admit it's not a very comfortable hiking stance, LOL!
Back at Wild Rivers, we did a different hike down to where the Rio Grande and the Red River meet. Beautiful place!...but quite a queasy climb back up!

Seriously - I have to climb back up there!!!????!!!!

The moon was growing towards gibbous by this time.

Our anniversary is almost always during our hiking trip. This year for our 36th, Mike got me this beautiful Zuni fetish in the shape of a tortoise. Love it!


 Farewell to NM until next time!