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!