Today we took our bikes out and rode in the Mt. Haggen Wildlife Management Area in SW Montana. It was a great way to spend a summer day for Mr. RangerSir and I. We climbed too many hills but the vistas were wonderful. They reminded us of some of the many joys that we have without spending lots of dough or really leaving home. The temps were perfect. The Indian Paintbrush was blooming. The sunscreen worked. No mechanical problems. Mr. RangerSir had control of the camera and went crazy capturing the day. We enjoyed the day and each other.
When you make emotional decisions, they generally are flawed and this one was no different. I was heading to town after my lifetime friend and her husband left after spending some time with us. It was nothing short of a great time and like always we reconnected as though we had been together last week rather than two years ago. I was sad to see them go as I know that we won’t see one another for at least a year. Though I was heading to town I wasn’t ready for people and so impulsively decided to head to a forest trail I had always wanted to try.
I parked my rig a the trail head, pulled out a photo copy map from the kiosk and headed out. I enjoyed the sounds of nature and got myself grounded again. I was about three miles out when I had an ah ha moment. I had taken this hike without thinking first and I was now the realization was hitting me what I had done.
- I had thrown out my drink glass in a bear proof container and I had not thought about bear spray, something I usually walk with.
- l found a great rock formation in the sun to photograph. It seemed like a great spot to sit and soak in the sun. Then I realized that rattlesnakes were not unheard of in this area and for the first time I was not hiking in boots, but rather I was where was wearing my sandels!
- I had taken off with out water at noon at August. Fortunately I had done enough training that this did not put me under, and I was not in the full sun. The distance and the temperature dictated I had water with me.
- I had originally taken a rails to trails, but when I went back I took a forest trail. The grade there turned out to be pretty intense. I would have sold my soul for my hiking poles. They really help take so much of the stress off of your knees when are faced with steep climbs.
- I had gone out into the woods and not told a single person where I had gone. No one had a time that I was due back. If you do nothing else when you head out into the woods that is the most critical thing you need to do. It is your safety net.
Dumb luck was with me and it all worked out. It was a reminder that emotional decisions can be full of flaws due to the impulsive nature. It would have only take an few minutes to call home and leave message where I was going and when I should be home. I keep all the other supplies I should have taken in a crate in my rig at all times. There were all there for me. I should have taken them them with me. There are no walks or hikes that are too short to take your safety supplies. This all worked out fine, and it serve as a great reminder of what I already know. THINK. It could be live saving.
I am very careful with the sun. I wear hats, sunscreen and UV clothing. I make annual pilgrimages to the dermatologist to get my moles measured and monitored. It is almost that time again for that annual check up. Yesterday I got out late to do my training walk. I had six miles to get in. It was overcast, but I knew that did not matter. I put on the sunscreen and headed out. Unfortunately I forgot my top had a keyhole in the back. Big oversight. Now I have a mega sunburn.
In the 50’s, 60’s and even early 70’s we did not know all the dangers of the sun. Today we do. Let this be a reminder to all of you. Wear sunscreen and cover up. Be safe, so some day you are not sorry.
As I train for this year’s races I am forced to deal with the idea that my shoes are on the downward side of being serviceable for another year of races and distance walking. Shoes if you wear them to walk around for a day of shopping only wear out when they burst at the seams and fall apart. If you use your shoes for fitness then there is a definite time when they no longer provide the kind of support and protection you need from your shoes. It all depends on what you do for fitness, the time you spend the the shoes, your feet and yes even your body (how you stand, your gait, and even your weight).
There are lots of guidelines when to replace your shoes, but if you use them for serious running or walking you know when they start to loose their effectiveness and it is time to replacement. That is the easy part. The hard part is fining a new pair of shoes. In the runner’s world the running shoe is constantly evolving and their are hundreds if not thousands of models out there. I can’t imagine how you pick a new shoe if your model has been discontinued.
If you are a serious distance walker it is much harder as there are not many shoes made specifically for walking. Walking is significantly different body motion than running and the shoes are just as different. Putting on running shoes and walking a half marathon doesn’t really work. I have had many sports fitness stores convince me otherwise and I have sent many perfectly good running shoes to Goodwill after blisters and other foot problems training wearing those shoes. I have learned my lesson and restrict my purchases now to shoes designed for just distance/fitness walking. So I am back to my favorite maker of walking shoes and weighing out current model one looks best to plunk my hard-earned cash down on. It is time to start breaking in a new pair of walking shoes. My feet are telling me to retire my current pair.
I get on this frustrating bandwagon at this time each year. I look around for a half marathon to finish in Montana’s short summer. I have picked three half marathons that I would like to do this year. Now I am busy trying to get answers from the race staff on if they support walkers. I finish a half marathon in roughly four hours and some. Most race organizers want to pack up and go home in about 3 1/2 hours. I learned from another plus-size athlete not to let races take your entry fee and then not treat you with respect by rolling up and going home before you finish. Ask first and if they don’t plan to be here when you cross the finish, don’t give them your money.
I have finished a half marathon before. I have a personal best I am trying to improve upon. Not many people can say that. It puts me in company of an elite group. I am worth
Keep watch as I work may way through this mine field of trying to finish one…maybe two or three half marathons this summer.
I am training for a half marathon. It means I must do more than just casual walking that I normally do. I have a treadmill, but only use it as a necessary evil. I prefer to walk outside. I am careful when I walking, know that bad things can happen to good people. Last year a Montana woman was nabbed when she was out running. She was going much faster than I will ever be able to move. It happened in a small town with an oil boom. It doesn’t stop me from being out there trying to get ready for my race. It means that I am conscious of the choices I make and try to make choices that lower my risk.
One of my risk reducing activities is walking with my little Cairn Terrier. He is not much to look at as far as a protector goes. He does not strike fear in people the way a Rottweiler, German Shepard or other full-sized dog may. In spite of that he is my guardian when I walk. He keeps watch and lets me know what is going on long before I notice. He was a rescue dog and is not everyone’s friend. He is unsure of men, folks with boots and folks who sneak up on him. He has terrier energy and is glad to walk miles with me.
He is a perfect companion for me as I train. My dog and my favorite ankle biter.
Once again this year I plan to walk a half marathon or two. The first one is early in the season and it is time to get serious about my training schedule. One of the hardest parts of getting ready is training smart. Not only do you need to find the right training schedule to prepare you for race day. On the other side of training smart involves safety. I always think of a woman who was nabbed when running in Northeastern Montana. There is nothing you can do to prevent a nut who wants to nab a woman, but there are lots of things you can do to put yourself at the least amount of risk. Some of the things I do to help my odds:
- Don’t walk before the sun is fully up.
- Wear your reflective safety vest
- If you must wear headphones, don’t wear them blasting.
- Walking with a dog, even an ankle biter will can alert you to things you might miss before they are upon you.
- Let someone know when you leave and should be back.
- Don’t walk the same time and place every time.
Don’t let fear be your excuse not to get out there, but be smart.