Finally I have good news to report I have found my fall half marathon.   I going to finish my 2011 season in September with the Sweathouse Half  Marathon in Victor, Montana.   I got an email this telling me they “welcome walkers. ” What a breath of fresh air!  I am still trying to find an early season and summer one in Montana.   I will keep you posted in this challenge.   Go Walkers!

If you want to see more about this race, the route, the elevation and more check out their website.

Will I Do It Again?

4 Hours 2 Minutes later my First Half Marathon is over.

Last year I did my first half marathon.   In spite of the snow and howling wind outside right now I am starting to think about the possibilities of  doing another half-marathon or two or three  and improving my personal best time.

As a walker one has to look for races that support you walking.  I know that sounds strange, but belonging to an online group of walkers it is an very real issue for distance walkers.   If you walk or run your half-marathon your entry fee is exactly the same.   Folks who regularly walk half marathons  have times in the low 3 hour range, but beginners like myself usually finish between 4 and 5 hours.  Not all races are set up to support participants for that length of time.

Why do walkers care if a race supports them?  Many races roll up all the support services after the 3rd hour, and walkers need 4 or 5 hours.  If you are a walker you may have health issues that you would like to know that the race folks still knows you are out there on the route before they all pack up and head home.  If you cross the 10 mile mark in  an hour or in 4 1/2 hours you still want water or Gatorade at mile.   If you are running on a roadway you would like to not have to watch for cars.    Though it may not seem like much when you finish a race it is nice to be acknowledged and know your ” official finish time”.

Some races say walkers not welcome.  There are some walks who are offended by that, but not me.   I would rather you be up front if you don’t support our slower pace, say so and don’t take our money.   Most races don’t say if the support walks or how long one  can expect support on the route.

So as I ponder the idea of  doing three half marathons this year.  One in the spring, one in the summer and one in the fall.   I am checking out what options are open to me.   I am emailing race organizers and asking them about walkers and how long they will wait for me to finish.  I’d like to get under than 4 hour mark.  I’d like to use the half-marathon as a tool to improve my fitness and show everyone that yes plus size folks can be athletes.

What Next?

When I got home from my trip to Choteau I found 2 new pairs of training pants that had been on back order arrived One pair of pants had made laundry a logistical timing event and I had decided that a couple more were necessary a while back. .

Is this a sign of what is to come? Another half or maybe a whole 26.2 miles. Do I mark this off my list and take a been there done that attitude? I am not sure what is next.

I never found or experienced the “high” that some runners or athletes talk about. I can tell you I have not become addicted to the feeling that walking gives me. Walking is something I have done for years for my health. I did it before I started planning on doing the Grizzly, and I will continue even if I never do another event.

In spite of that I am thinking of another 1/2, but have no interest in a full marathon. If I am going to hike or walk for 8 hours I want to be out exploring some back country. I guess I will look around and see if there is another walker friendly 1/2 marathon, then make my decision. In the meantime I will use those new pants on my morning walks.

Cross That Off the List

After I walked 13.1 Miles in Choteau, MT

Yahoo!  I finished my first half-marathon.  I wanted to finish my first half-marathon walking an average of 20 minute miles.  I walked across the finish line in Choteau Montana 4 hours and 2 minutes after I started.  That means that I walked 13.1 miles averaging 18.5 minute miles.

I walked the Grizzly Marathon in Choteau, Montana. I chose this particular marathon for a host of reasons. The Grizzly hosts both a marathon and a half-marathon.   The altitude was less than my home altitude, hopefully giving me a little advantage. I had also spent 2 1/2 weeks in the Midwest at near sea level  just before this event.  This marathon was walker friendly.   Walkers don’t get a discount on their entry fee, but many marathons don’t really support the slower participant (roads are not closed long enough, aid/water stations close up etc.).  Lastly it is  a smaller, low-key event and for my first try at all of this that seamed a good idea.

I could not have made a better choice.   Walkers got to start an hour early.  We left the starting line at 5 am.  It was still dark and I was the slowest walker and the “bringing up the rear truck” followed me patiently  for the first 2 miles until the hints of sunlight were such that no one was going to sneak on the closed road and accidentally run me over.

I had driven the course the night before and knew what I was in for.   There was one monster hill and I wanted to get that done before the sun came up.   It worked perfect.   I was at the top and got to watch the sun come up over the Teton River Valley (though I did have to turn around to see it, which I did more than once.)  I wish you all could have been there to see it.

Choteau is known for wind, but I was disappointed.  People had warned  and talked up the wind in Choteau.  At home, Buxton, is also known for endless wind,and I wasn’t sure if I should expect wind like home or something worse.   No wind, not even a breeze would run by me the whole distance.  As the sun came up and it started getting warm, I grumbled a bit about the missing perennial wind, but was also thankful for the hour early start.  Montana might be far north, but our altitude makes the sun hot.

I had set a series of little goals for this race.  I wanted  to finish.   I wanted to average 20 minute miles or better.   I wanted to be at the top of that monster hill before the 6 o’clock runners came by.  I wanted to get through dreaded mile 9.   I wanted my gear to hold up.   I wanted to not use every port-a-potty I came  to.

If I had done 20 minute miles I would have been a little over 4 1/2 hours, instead I was just two minutes over 4 hours!  I did get to the top of the hill before the runners.  I worked through the 9th mile all alone, and the rest of the miles were just fine.    My gear problems did not stop me from finishing, or require attention until after I finished.  I only used two port-a-potties.  Yep I accomplished a lot!

But the most important of all the goals was to finish and that I did with flying colors.    I can now cross a half-marathon off my list.  I will take a little time to bask in the glow, and then pull out that life list and see what else I need to take care.

Thanks to All Who Contributed to My Support System

I choose to share my quest for a half-marathon here as an accountability for myself. They say when we tell others we are more likely to finish or complete that task. I was hoping that would be true for me. This task seemed an impossibility for someone of my size.

Sharing my goal here has not only been an accountability, but also given me a support system. I have empowered myself by “saying it out loud.” I have received encouragement from strangers to keep it up. Phone calls from friends who read my blog and saw between the lines it was a good time to call with that personal encouragement.  Other friends and family members who tells me that they have been following me along in the half-marathon quest, though they never posted so I didn’t know they were watching me.

I only have 5 days until the day of truth comes, but I say thanks to all of you who have supported me in this. You many not know or feel you did much, but each an everyone of you has made a difference.

One Week and Counting

I am in my last week of training for walking my 1st half-marathon. It has been a long hard journey.

I used a training schedule that I found online. It is a great schedule for folks undertaking their first half-marathon and folks who don’t have a lot of time.  It has been a great one for me.   It is easy to adhere to and yet there is always progress being made.

Today I think I hit the wall.  I got blisters on the top of my toes from my shoes, my underwear didn’t sit right for my training walk, and my updated music just didn’t work.   I was crush and frustrated.   One week to go and this was happening to me now.   Melancholy set in and I wanted to sit down beside the road and throw a good hissy fit and “cry me a river.”

I know I won’t quit, but at this moment I am so disappointed and frustrated as it seems quitting would just be the easiest way to deal with all of this.    I cut my training walk short today as really don’t want monster blisters this last week.  Think there is some mind relaxing yoga calling my name and tomorrow is another day in the count down to that first half-marathon.  Wish me luck.

Dress for Success – Half Marathon Style

I used to work for a Fortune 500 company and was an entry-level manager. I used to dress for success every single day.

I have decided that “dress for success” also applies to walking a 1/2 marathon. That may not strike you as odd, but I am a plus sized woman. Not a little big, very big.  I haven’t shopped in the regular sized section of a store since I was in the 3rd grade.   OK, it hasn’t been that long, but I have struggled with my weight since about that time.

I am within two weeks of my first half-marathon, and I know finishing it is a reality, not just a possibility.    I can even imagine that I might finish with 19 minute miles.   The one thing that I have struggled with in all of this is what to wear.  I struggled because my thighs rub together when I walk.  I am aware of how hot it can get even in Montana in the summer.  I know the importance of  sweat-wicking fabric.  But I am also self-conscious of my fat deposits in places that no woman wants. Sweats were what I wanted to wear but they sure were not working for me.

I gave up the fight, or maybe I started to think like a winner.  I order plus sized compression running Capri pants from New Balance, and a sleeveless top.   When they came I put them and looked in the mirror.  OMG they show even the ripples of my cellulite!   My bat winged arms were seeing sunlight and not hidden in long-sleeved tops.     I could not imagine wearing these in public.   Then I thought  I spent good  money and decided that I bought them for function not fashion.  I was going to wear them for me and what someone else thought be damned.

After wearing them for my walks, I can say without a doubt they were a great purchase. There were worth every penny I spent.  I don’t even realize my thighs rub together anymore, that slick compression fabric was the prefect answer.   The outfit  wicks away the sweat and moisture better than I could have imagined.   The little pocket for my MP3 player in the small of my back I thought was stupid is great!   I walk on the frontage road, and can’t imagine what I look like from behind, but you know what I don’t care.

I am about to walk a 1/2 marathon.   I am about to cross something off my life list.   I am dressing for success, and sized doesn’t matter.