Why record keeping helps me…

I have my “marathon and beyond” list here.

Here, I am going to list my walking half marathons (and one 30K) Why? It makes a point: (note: I rarely walked this distance in the first few years of walking; I was more into the marathons and ultras, though I did do this distance frequently as a runner)

September 2003: 2:17 (Appleton Fox-Cities powerwalk division)
January 2008: Austin 30K 3:50:56 (about 2:40 for the half marathon split)
September 2008: 2:25:13 Quad Cities
September 2010: 2:39:13 Quad Cities (surgery that summer)
September 2011: 2:40:53 IVS
September 2011: 2:22 Quad Cities
January 2012: 2:34 First Light
June 2012: 2:30:18 Galesburg
September 2012: 2:24:46 IVS
April 2014: 2:25:26 Peoria Heights
May 2014: 2:19:15 Peoria
September 2014 2:35 (IVS)
September 2014 2:24:17 Quad Cities
September 2015 2:38:13 IVS
June 2017: 2:47:24 Galesburg
July 2017 2:42:19 Chicago RR

One thing to remember about my sub 2:30 half marathon powerwalks: they were almost ALL done in cooler weather. So when one takes age into account, my last two warm weather results do not look that bad.

July 18, 2017 Posted by | walking | , , | Leave a comment

Chicago Rock and Roll Half (eve)

Aside from a construction related traffic jam on I-55 near the MLK exit, getting to the Expo was no big deal. It was large and, well, not particularly crowded; there wasn’t much that I wanted.

I put in a “seed time” of 2:35 for the half marathon (which I am planning to walk) and while it appears that we’ll have a good day for it, ok, it will be a bit humid, I might well be a few minutes slower than that. I am better rested though.

Still, it was somewhat humbling to realize that my anticipated time is over an hour slower than my masters PR (as a runner) and 18 minutes slower than my masters PR as a walker. And seeing all of those 30 to early 40-somethings and realize, well, the “midpack” is starting to advance away from me.

BUT, on the other hand, I can still play and I have the health and the financial means to participate (yeah, I splurged for a hotel near the start line; this is what I saved from not going to FANS 24 hour this year (much shorter drive too).

And I am looking forward to having some fun tomorrow. I want to try my newish walking shoes in a race (wore them for training walks) and do some “faster than anticipated marathon race pace” walking in a supported setting, and to see some of downtown Chicago!

Workout notes: easy 2 mile walk in the neighborhood.

View of downtown Chicago from a McCormick pedestrian catwalk.

Last two: Barbara trying out a massage device. 🙂

July 16, 2017 Posted by | travel, walking | , | Leave a comment

Ok, I have something to work on…

Running. But walking…OMG…

These were relatively early. Sadly, the cut out the lady I was with at the time who was wearing bright turquoise running tights.

This is the start line (I am behind the lady in pink)

At about mile 6 or so…I am on the right, about midway. I am chasing the lady in yellow and the lady ahead of her; I caught them both.

Workout notes: weights, treadmill, walking.

Weights: rotator cuff, pull ups (4 sets of 10, then 7-3) good, incline: 10 x 135, 3 x 160, 7 x 150 (good hips), military: 15 x 55 (seated, supported), 10 x 50, 10 x 40 standing, rows: 2 sets of 10 x 55, 10 x 60, headstand
run: 20 minutes treadmill: 5.2-5.5, 6.7-7.1, then 7.2-7.3 (7.3 at mile 2), 10:36, 19:11, 2.1 miles, then 5K walk outside.

I must focus on posture. Drills starting tomorrow.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | running, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment

I lose round two: 10-9 also

I walked the Run Galesburg Run half marathon. It was warm; 72 F, 76 percent humidity at the start, 80-59 at the finish.

Time: 2:47:22, 12:47 mpm; roughly speaking I was 1:22:30/1:24:50 for my half splits.

12:03, 25:56 (2m), 12:42, 12:34, 12:29, 12:43 (1:28:01 at mile 7), 12:54 (1:40:56), 12:46, 14:23 (? huh?) 10:43 (2:18:49 at 11), 12:53 (2:31:43), 15:39 (bridge) for 2:47:22.
I kept telling myself that I would “pick it up”; never did (or could, really)

The effort was what I’d call moderate; I had something left but I was also tired. I might have maintained to 25-30 km, but not much further than that. Not in this weather.

The event: they changed the course from previous years; it now features more shady neighborhoods and just more shade, period. I like the changes. Traffic control was outstanding. Aid stations, volunteers: all first rate.
It was a small event (151 finishers; I was 136) but the course is open for 3:30 (16 mpm pace), so a reasonably fit, non-elderly person would walk it.

My event: my google maps came in handy; it routed me via underpasses; a friend who didn’t allow for “train time” got to the course late and started 2-3 minutes late.

We started and did 2 miles with the 5K people. There was one large male who was trying to run and trying so hard to stay with me; I wanted to tell him to “do your own race; I’ve done this before). The course soon emptied out and I had a couple behind me; one male who was LOUD..he’d yell “only x.1 miles to go” at every mile marker. He was running with a lady who was evidently an ex swimmer.

I was focused on trying to catch 3 people: one woman named Golda (bright blue spandex leggings) and two others; one of which ran the West Peoria 4 mile yesterday. I eventually caught and passed them; from my 7 mile split no one got me in the final 6.1 miles; I passed a few during that stretch. It WAS warm and sticky…

I think that the 10-11 mile splits were off; I did NOT slow to 14 minutes..though the final 1.1 might have been right; we did have an uphill overpass and the only runner in sight was a bit too far away to inspire me to really pick it up. This was one of those days where I told myself: “I’ll pick it up at mile 8..well, make it mile 9, ok, make it mile 10….and I just never did.

My goal was 2:40, so this was a loss, but one I can live with. I feel ok.

The purpose was to force me to walk some “faster” distances; I”d love to do one of these a month until marathon time. I do think that 12:30 isn’t going to happen for me; but maybe a cool day 13 would be a good goal?

Note: I read a Centurion’s report on how he pushed through troubles in the first 6 hours to make 100 miles..under 23 hours. Wow. He is older than I am too.

June 4, 2017 Posted by | walking | , , | Leave a comment

2015: my final Illinois Valley Striders Half Marathon ever….I say that every time. :-)

Ok, i’ll be blunt about the event: very hilly and much of the course is gravel/crumbly road. That makes for tough walking; I found that I need heavier shoes on this course. That can be hard on the shins if one is walking.
Every year, I say that I am going to get this right. And I never do. And I always vow “never again”. And I always return with a new plan…only to fail yet again. 🙂

There are upsides: potluck lunch afterward (hamburgers and hot dogs provided), great traffic control and while the course is..well…I’d say “trail half marathon” difficult (albeit with better footing), it is pretty. There is no denying that. Just remind yourself how pretty it is when your legs are screaming at you. 🙂

I didn’t keep track of splits (not exactly) though I did the first half in 1:18, second in 1:20:18. and time was 2:38:13. I was just under 2 hours at mile 10.

The day couldn’t have been any better for running/walking. Perfect weather.

I showed up and did 3 miles in lane 2 on the track (12 laps) in 40:06. Then I did the 13.1, then I got a diet Pepsi (nice and cold), walked to the track and did 2 more miles (31:30) and that gave me 18 miles for the day.
I looked at my past records and while I have walked faster, I’ve also been slower….in 2011 no less.

I was far back enough to where I didn’t have many to chase, though I did have a fun “back and forth” with T. She got away from me and beat me by about 0.1 miles or so. Yes, I could tease about her spandex but I really did want to catch her for performance/athletic reasons and wasn’t able to. I never did catch that older man who was jogging, though he finished right when I entered the “hair pin” turn part in lower Glenn Oak park.

What I learned: I wasn’t organized when it came to taking the salt tablet. I need to anticipate the aid stations.
I am not fast, at all. BUT, I did have enough left to finish two more miles on the track, albeit at a slow pace. I am going to have to take it out very easily in the marathon.

I am also going to have to do some “marathon pace” work during my 8-10 mile Tuesday walk; that means 12:30-12:45 type miles. My shins are sore and that usually means weak shins.

2011 2:40:53 (1:19:45/1:21:20) (slightly warmer)
2012 2:24:46 (1:10:21/1:14:25)
2013 2:29:51 run attempt (hot) (1:08/1:22)
2014 2:34:59 (1:18/1:16)
2015: 2:38:13 (1:18/1:20:13)

Update: I looked at last year’s race; I was only 3:19 faster last year and I was within 20-30 seconds of last year at mile 10. I lost 2:40 of the difference in the final 3.1 miles. And last year I had a 2 mile warm up at 14:30 mpm; this year I had a 3 mile warm up at 13:20 mpm. It wasn’t all bad.

September 13, 2015 Posted by | walking | , | 1 Comment

I am not a runner, not a walker, not a lifter, not a swimmer…certainly not an ultra marathoner…

And I am ok with that.

My current “physical activity” routine:
M, F: swim (2200 yards, or 2000 meters)
Tu, Th: run (about 10K each) and lift weights (40 minutes to 1 hour)
W: walk (about 8-10K)
Sat: run (10K or a 5K race); sometimes lift afterward.
Sun: walk (10 miles to half marathon at the moment; longer walks are planned in the near future)

So, I do a little of several things but not enough of any activity to get reasonably good at it.

As far as the ultras go: I have friends who continue to do these. Personally: I like to think that I paid a visit to these activities starting with a 50K in 2002; I probably peaked in 2005 (two 100 mile finishes) and slid downward pretty severely in 2006 and have pretty much flopped since then. I did have one more 100 mile finish in me (2009; severe mud; took me almost 48 hours) and a 50 miler in 2011 (at a 24 hour race).

I am not really an ultra athlete; I “visited” that sport and eventually became too weak to pursue it further, save a 30 miler here or there. My goal is ONE marathon (or longer) per year; 2012 I had a bad walking marathon finish, 2013 a bad “walk/jog” marathon finish and a bad 30 mile finish last year. But I’ve kept the streak alive since 1998.

Anyway, about my physical activities:

1) I enjoy them.
2) I am staying out of the doctor’s office
3) I still enjoy testing myself in events lasting 7 minutes to just over 2 hours (my half marathon these-a-days; I have NOT run a half marathon faster than 2 hours since…my goodness, 2003? My last “good” half (sub 1:45) was in 2002 (a couple of them) and my last sub 1:40 was in 2001.

I won’t kid you: I was never good at any sport, but right now, I really don’t have a “primary” sport. What I do is I go through cycles when I emphasize one goal or another; my guess is that I’ll aim for a marathon walk in October and therefore move to doing more walking..sometime this summer. But most of the time, I have a “generic, a little of everything” routine.

April 17, 2015 Posted by | running, swimming, walking, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

The relative honesty of sports relative to education

Workout notes: 31 F (0 C) at the start; I walked my 10.5 mile course (included the Goose Loop) and it took me 2:37 instead of the 2:34 it used to take me in 2012 (with the same effort). Time marches on. But there is a long time between now and October 18, 2015, so I have a lot of time to build up to a marathon and time to work on my 5K/1 mile run first.

Main Post

First, I realize that there are doping scandals at the highest level of sports and sometimes eligibility fiascos at lower levels.
And I also understand that academia at the higher levels, at least in my field (mathematics), tends to be honest. Sure there is a fake journal here and a fight over “who got the results first” there. But when one writes a math paper, it isn’t as if one can crib other sources.

I am mainly talking about the lower levels.

I remember my English class during my senior year in high school; it was the usual “British Literature” that is taught for college preparation. I had great teachers.

One of the things we had to do was to write a book report and present it in class. And so I sat through them; I specifically remember the one on Wuthering Heights.

The guy who gave it had an easel complete with charts, a circle diagram (concentric circles) with the various characters and relationships in the concentric circles, with Heathcliff vs. Heathcliff in the middle.

I rolled my eyes; I knew that the guy giving the presentation wasn’t smart enough to come up with this on his own.

Afterward, the teacher said “very good; perhaps you should look to sell this to Cliffs Notes. ”


Well, eventually I went to a book store, looked at Cliffs notes…and what did I see? You guessed it….and no, he didn’t sell his work to them.

That was just the beginning of my eye opening process.

The bottom line: many see education as nothing more than a credentialing process; a way of getting credits, a GPA and all that. The idea that one’s mind is supposed to be challenged and grow along the way really isn’t a popular one. It is all about “that piece of paper” and, perhaps, learning something along the way.

Yes, students search for solutions to homework problems on the internet; that is why I try to give some in class exams. The exception is for a courses in which I expect them to be able to use software.

I still remember my undergraduate days. I really did my homework and I really did find joy in figuring out things for myself. Not everyone else took the same approach, including some who had a higher GPA than I did.

Even funnier: some (almost all?) who got undergraduate degrees are completely unaware that what they learned was..well…baby stuff.
I wonder how many of these would have survived Ph. D. comprehensive examinations which, at least at my school, had a pass rate of 30 percent?

Then after sweating these, which seemed so difficult to me at the work on your dissertation and find out that your qualifiers were really just…baby stuff. 🙂

Now contrast that with sports. Say you want to finish a marathon within the course’s time limit (and yes, the time limits are getting longer year by year).

If you don’t put in the miles, well, you aren’t going to finish (true for most of us, anyway, especially those of us who are older than 50). And to finish the marathon, you have to cover every step of the course.

True, there is some cheating (even in trail ultras!) and some who claim to do what they haven’t done. But the vast majority who finish a marathon really do finish it; there is no “cut and paste” available; no one to crib off of.

Of course, even in running where the results are there for all to see, there are those who don’t understand that, well, a 2-2:30 plus half marathon is really nothing to boast about (at least for someone 45 or younger) and that a strong marathon runner would have gone twice as far in close to the same amount of time. But I suppose there is a social aspect to it; the vehicle “mileage” stickers and the attitude face selfies..and of course, the “bling” (Showing off a medal for a half marathon finish? Really? should you award yourself a medal for finishing a medium long workout? 😉 )

Note: my current half marathon running time stinks; I ran a couple of 2:01 half marathons in 2013 but I have enough self awareness to know that those times stink. My “over 40” PR is 1:34 (1999) and, for a 40 year old male in good health, that is more or less a “meh, fit but not a runner” time.

But no matter how sorry the performance is and how many grossly overestimate their achievements, there is no getting around that most have covered every inch of the course under their own steam…sans wikipedia. 🙂

March 15, 2015 Posted by | education, running, walking | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Achy legs: not conditioned for the task at hand

My legs ache right now; I’ll do a fairly slow walk. around here. The weather appears to be perfect for it.
Why the leg ache? I “ran” a half marathon yesterday (2:15 on a hilly course) and when I went back and looked at my running, I:

1) had one run 10 miles or more this year; that was the Steamboat 15K.
2) last ran this far last June…that was at a half marathon. I tried to run some half marathons last year and I ended up walking large portions of those.

Yes, I’ve done up to 20 miles WALKING this year, but that is a different motion. My large quad muscles aren’t in shape for this.

So I went outside and managed a very pedestrian 11 mile walk (3:06); I did the Cornstalk out and back segment 3 times (15 good uphills). I put very little effort into it.

October 19, 2014 Posted by | running | | Leave a comment

Komen Half Marathon 2014: tired of the hilly courses

Well, it was better than I did last year; that is about it.


The facts: Komen Half Marathon in 2:15:45. I was 70 out of 104, 29/32 males, 15/17 of master’s men, 4/4 in 55-59 AG. Here is what is ironic: I finished behind 16 relay teams but ahead of 9 teams; my percentage place would have been slightly higher had I just called myself a relay team!

I was 1:06:07 half way; 1:09:38 for the second half. Side note: a guy who beat me by 2 minutes at last weekend’s Forward March beat me by 9 minutes today; this was not a good performance though I was happy that I didn’t have to stop and walk. And with my cool down walk I did get 15 miles total, and I did some “butt to the chair” weightless squats.

The relevant issue: I’ve had quite a few long walks, but the 9 miles (1 warm up, 8 run) I ran last weekend was my longest run since the Steamboat 15K in June, and today was my longest run (without an extended walking period) since June 2013, when I ran a 2:01 half marathon in Galesburg on a far easier course.

I simply wasn’t in running shape.

The course (so the splits make sense)
Miles 1-2 are flat to slightly downhill; there is a slight rise over the Bob Michael Bridge (perhaps 50-60 feet). Mile 3 is on the Cedar Street Bridge (70-80 feet), and miles 4-6 are flat to slight upgrade.

Miles 6-10 are very hilly (Springdale) and the last 2.5 miles are mostly downhill to the River.

It isn’t exactly the Bridge to Bridge plus the Forward March but it is close to that.

The event: good traffic control, aid, etc. But it seems as if all of the Peoria Half Marathons are hill, hill, hill. The River City course isn’t that tough though as it features only the “river to the bluff” hill.

It is a small race though; only 104 finishers and 25 two person relay teams.

Splits (missed mile 2)
10:24 (29:35) Cedar Street Bridge
10:02 (49:31 at 5)
10:02 (59:34 at 6)
11:23 (1:44:52 at 10) Hill to Prospect
11:05 (final 1.1) (10:04 pace).

30:53 for the final 5K; about 1:01 for the first 10K. The rest was, well, look at the splits. The hill portion just killed me.

I started off ok; I saw Steve Shane (who was to run 1:45), Debbie Fischer (relay) and I ran with a former ultra runner. I stayed with probably too fast of a crowd at first, though I felt that I was holding back. People really pulled away from me during the Springdale part, though I managed to catch a few of them back during mile 10.

I admit to being grumpy at times; I was chilly, slightly breezy (not unusually windy), overcast, and my legs ached. I wanted to flip off those saying the perfunctory “goodjob”; I’d rather be left alone when my mood goes south.

But, looking back, this was simply a lack of event specific preparation. I HAVE trained to walk long but not to push the pace for 2-2:15 while running.

Note: my warm up included .6 miles on the treadmill and a few minutes of outside jogging. My Succeed tablets kept the nausea away (not an issue today) but if I am not going to use a water bottle, I need to plan better. Getting the tablet out of the bottle that I carry them in is hard to do if I am taking water from a cup; I should have popped the pill in my mouth PRIOR to getting to the water station.

Other running: photos from last week’s Forward March:




October 18, 2014 Posted by | running | , , | Leave a comment

2014 Quad Cities Half Marathon: social, mistakes, but some success

I had bib number 85 because I had registered for the marathon. But I got a head cold last weekend; I went home early from work on Monday. Yes, some people can do a successful marathon with a head cold, but at this stage of my life, I am not one of those.

So I changed races at the expo. But to ensure that I’d make the change, I ran a 5K (hard) on Saturday.

The facts: 2:24:17 for a half marathon. Cool day: 1285/1946 overall, 624/770 males, 45/57 age group, but I was walking in a running race.

I powerwalked, and mixed some slower walking with the faster powerwalking style at about mile 5 when it appeared that I was exerting too much energy to be able to sustain it. Yes, my knees were bent.

I made this trip with my department chair Mat. The night before, we had dinner with marathon maniac David (see the report of the runner who did the marathon with a bad cold; Dave ran a 3:39 which was his SIXTH marathon of September!

Also of note: Mat picked up Jason’s packet (Religious Studies professor) and Jason ran a 3:21.

After the race, we ate with Mat’s brother Bill and family (wife and daughter); all of us did the half. Bill ran 1:57, Mat ran 1:59 and Maria (daughter) and Teri ran 2:26…BUT they stopped to assist a fallen runner. They would have been several minutes faster than that otherwise.

All of them will be doing the Chicago Marathon in a couple of weeks.

I enjoyed this trip quite a bit, even if I didn’t snag my marathon finish.

My race: modest success but some lessons

I warmed up with a walk from my hotel to the start line (.7 miles) then 12 minutes of quicker walking and shin exercises. I saw Jason, Maria, Teri and Bill. And while warming up, I saw Dave.

I lined up behind the 2:30 pace group which was a good thing to do. However the race takes you over the I-74 bridge; it is VERY congested there. I wonder if that part of the race will continue to be doable. But coming off of the bridge, I ended up getting ahead of myself a bit; I found myself getting ahead of the 2:20 pace group which I knew was a mistake.

So the early miles looked like:

21:16 (mile 2)
10:50 (uphill) long climb
9:52 (very downhill)
10:30 (52:28 at mile 5) here we entered the Bettendorf to Davenport bikepath.
10:24 (mile 6); I lost 5 age group laces from this point onward.

At this stage, I knew that what I was doing was unsustainable today. I made the decision to do 3 minutes of slower pace walking every mile. I was to eventually lose ground to the 2:20 pace group; I leapfrogged with people I was to see later.

10:56 (in Rock Island)
11:02 (in Arsenal Island)
12:25 1:48:11 for 10 miles. We had crossed an old railroad bridge. During this mile, I tried to pick it up after 3 minutes of “slower walking” but wasn’t feeling great. So I stayed with the slow walking.
11:01 (picked up the faster walking; it was starting to warm up)
11:36 (just before that long bridge to the finish; I felt that I was going to make it)
12:21 (to mile 13; I was feeling bad so stayed with “slow walking” for the duration of this mile; I got some people back here)
1:08 (.1 to the finish)

Afterward, I was feeling woozy and just plain bad. I made it to the hotel and wasn’t in good shape. I had forgotten to give back my chip! I did so later…I felt better after an ice tea.

But the problem: I did NOT take my electrolyte tablets; I was short on electrolytes How I could tell? It took a couple hours before I could ingest anything and when I nibbled at my french fries…I perked right up. It was quick. I needed salt.

So next time: I’ll take my tablets with me; I had ordered some for the marathon but figured that I didn’t need them for such a cool day. I’ll take them early and often during Mc-Not-Again. Though my pace will be much slower, the hills force you to work a bit.

The Quad Cities race itself
The I-74 part is beginning to worry me. Though the traffic is going slowly, given the huge crowding, we are only one trip/stumble away from disaster. I found myself staying waaaay to the right, even if it slowed me down.

2014 marathon powerwalks
April 12 Peoria Heights Half Marathon powerwalk 2:25:25
May 18: River City Half Marathon powerwalk (2:19:58)
September 14: 2:34:59 half marathon (IVS)

Quad Cities History
1998: 3:55 as a runner (hot)
1999: 3:45 as a runner
2000: 1:40 for half of a relay
2001: 1:49 for half marathon (week after giving blood)
2002: 4:44 marathon as a walker
2004: 5:12 marathon as a walker
2005: 5:34 marathon as a walker.
2007: DNF at mile 23 (walker)
2008: 2:25 half marathon (walker)
2009: 5:28 marathon (as a walker)
2010: 2:39 half marathon (as a walker; knee surgery in July).
2011: 2:22:27 (half marathon powerwalk)
2013: 2:20:59 as a runner
2014: 2:24:17 powerwalk.

September 29, 2014 Posted by | Friends, walking | , , | 1 Comment