Sunday, January 29, 2012

Race 13 Callaway Gardens Half Marathon

The Day Before

Since the Callaway Half was on Sunday, we decided to head down on Saturday to visit FDR’s Little White House in Warms Springs, Georgia.  It was only a few miles away from Callaway.  Not only did we see the museum, watch a film, walk the grounds, we also got to go inside the Little White House.  I learned a lot from this visit. 

This is the portrait that was being painted when FDR had his stroke. 

After leaving there we drove through FDR State Park.  It’s about 9,000 acres with more than 40 miles of trails – must come back and hike this someday!

Hotel Check In

Callaway Gardens is about 13,000 acres and they have multiple places to stay – and they are not close to each other.  I was na├»ve about being able to find our place once we arrived on the grounds.  It took 10-15 (and that was with directions) miles to finally get to our place.  In checking in I had to sign this document acknowledging rate, check out day,…  pretty standard stuff.  However, I notice this little blurb at the bottom:  Fees if you are late checking out:  15 minutes late - $75.00, 30 minutes late - $100.00…  What!?  So I ask for a late checkout, hoping to come back to the room and shower after the half.  The guy tells me he can’t do that because he does not know their schedule in the morning.  Um, okay, how do I go about requesting a late checkout?  Told me "call in the morning and they’ll be able to tell me".  I told him, “I’ll be up really early, like 4:30 AM”.  He said "no problem, just give them a call".  Hmmm, okay.

Also, although their website advertised that you can get the "Fitness Series" room rate, it was exactly the same rate that anyone could get online.  Hmmm...

Pasta Dinner

We were underwhelmed with the local dining options in Pine Mountain, so we just decided to have the pasta dinner on the grounds at Callaway.  I had received a one line email a few days earlier from them, it simply said:

Callaway Gardens will host a pasta dinner Saturday evening at the Mountain Creek Inn.  Pay at the door

Little did we know that we would enjoy this incredibly under-planned, no one seems to have a clue, what else could go wrong,… pasta dinner!  Honest, the comedy value of what we witnessed was great.  It almost like what a pasta bar might be if it was planned by the Three Stooges, George Costanza, and Kramer!   They could not do anything right.  I do not know if they just did not plan properly, if they did not schedule enough people, if they’ve never done this before,…  People were leaving left & right, they would have everything on the pasta bar except plates, someone would bring it to their attention, they’d smile and say, "they’re bringing plates out right now".  But they didn’t.  So folks who already had plates (prior servings) would come up to the line and get more pasta.  By the time the plates got put out, the pasta was gone for the people who were waiting for plates!  And it would be 15-20 minutes for more pasta to come out – and then something else, like sauce would be out.  This went on for an hour and a half!  We were beginning to think that this was for the TV show Punk’d or something like it.  Don’t get me wrong – the staff folks were great – polite, respectful – this was not their fault.  My wife and I both agreed watching this happen was funnier than anything we could have watched on the TV back in the room!

Morning of the Race

Woke up around 4:00 AM to a super clear sky and 33 degrees.  Made coffee in the room, ate my race day morning bagel and decided take advantage of the Pine Mountain (very little light pollution) clear sky.  The other day I posted about the Star Walk app – and I did have my iPad with me.  It was fantastic!  Located Mars and saw & identified all the stars in the Big Dipper.  Although at 33 degrees, did not stay outside too long doing this.  But it was a good clear sky. 

So it’s about 5:00 AM by this point, so instead of calling down to the front desk about that late checkout, I just decided to walk over.  The woman at the front desk tells me, “oh I can’t do that for you, I’m from the night shift, you have to wait to 7:00 when the morning shift comes in”.   I told her that the guy at check-in said this would be no problem at 4:30 AM for you to do this.  So now I’m thinking, after the Three Stooges, George Costanza, and Kramer designed the Pasta Bar, they must have moved on to develop the "Avoid giving the customer a late checkout" procedure!  

The Race

They had the start set up right next to this very large tent structure where we picked up our bib, ankle bracelet, shirt the day before.  It was warmer inside than the 33 degrees outside, so most folks made their way into the tent.  It was nice in there.  Some guy, probably the RD, started making some announcements inside the tent.  The one that got my attention – “Callaway does not allow portalets on the property”.  Their instructions went on to tells that we will be passing some buildings while going through  the 13,000 acres, and it is possible that they might have a bathroom in it.  They will not be marked .  So, pretty much we have to search around and/or look inside buildings to see if there might be a bathroom.  The absolute first thought that came into my head – after the Three Stooges, George Costanza, and Kramer designed the other two things mentioned earlier, they designed the porta-potty strategy for the races!!!

And we were off!  My guess, there were maybe 400-500 people doing the race.  So except for the very beginning, it was never crowded.   Oh yeah, I did find one of those bathrooms the guy mentioned, but when I got to the door, it had a note on it:

As far as the actual course, it was a magnificently beautiful!  For me, it had the perfect amount of rolling hills.  I am glad I had the opportunity to do this half marathon. 

The Medal

I was just looking at the medal we got after finishing the race.  I noticed that it was peeling a little bit, so I peeled it back a bit more.  These are recycled medals.  Wow – is it ever cheap!  I guess after the Three Stooges, George Costanza, and Kramer designed all of those other things, they worked on the race medals.  My medal had four round stick-on stickers on it: 

click to enlarge

1st layer:  Callaway Gardens 5K  3rd Place   Age Group Winner
2nd layer:  Carrollton Triathlon  3rd Place  Age Group Winner
3rd layer:  Callaway Gardens Sprint Triathlon 3rd Place Age Group Winner
4th layer:  Callaway Gardens Half-Marathon  

Garmin Stats:

Average Heart Rate: 132, 80% of max for ~3 hours
Average Speed:  4.6 mph;  Pace: 13:07
Time: 2:52

Edit 2/7/2012:  For another perspective on this race, you can also read Drew's race report over on

Friday, January 27, 2012

Idita-Walk 2012

This is such a great concept!  In the spirit of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race (1049 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska), they have come up with the Idita-Walk event to promote physical fitness.  You walk 30 minutes a day, anywhere, for 35 days between February 1, 2012 – March 31, 2012, for at least a total of 1049 minutes.  Check it out...

I just signed up!  Anyone else interested? 

A big thanks to my friend over on walkinfool.blogspot for making me aware of this!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Star Walk

I had a three mile walk scheduled for tonight so I took it around our subdivision.  It was a very clear sky tonight and this was really nice after days of rain, fog, and lighting.  What stood out more than anything was the amount of stars I could see in the sky.   I have always loved astronomy.  There was always an interest there but I wished I knew more about what I was looking at – well they just happen to have an app for that – Star Walk - and I just recently purchased it.

Got back to house, went inside, grabbed & powered up my iPad, launched the Star Walk app, saw and identified a bunch of stars:

Capella –  42.8 light-years away - Brightest star in the constellation Auriga, 11th brightest star in the night sky and the 3rd brightest in the northern celestial hemisphere.  Although it appears to be a single star to the naked eye, it is actually a four star system, two of which have a radius about 10 times our Sun.

And to the right and down a bit was:

Betelgeuse – 640 light-years away!!! – size: 950 times our Sun - the 9th brightest star in the night sky, part of the Orion constellation.  Betelgeuse is only a few million years old, but has evolved rapidly because of its high mass.  Due to its age, Betelgeuse may go supernova within the next millennium (because it is hundreds of light years away, it possibly may have done so already! )

And to the right and down a bit from there was:

Sirius – 8.6 light-years away – is the brightest star in the night sky.  The name “Sirius” is derived from the Ancient Greek Seirios (“scorcher”), possibly because the star’s appearance was associated with summer.

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What a great app - Star Walk.  If you have an iPad or iPhone and even a slight interest in the stars in the sky, this app is well worth $4.99!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Online Fitness Walking Class - Week 3

Week 3 – Three Part Workout & Rockport Walk Test

This week we get to officially strap on the FR60 for an assignment.  But before doing the first assignment workout, there is some reading & video watching to do.

Our content this week included various articles on the three part workout:

1.  Warm Up

2.  Aerobic Training

3. Cool Down

I liked the articles on: 

A walk a dayAmerican Council on Exercise 

Warm ups& cool downs are essentialCooper Aerobics

The video (from, although it is running related, still applies as it is about bringing your heart rate back into normal range – good stuff!

How to Cool Down After a Run -

Our fitness assessment will be done this week.  It is actually a pre test.  Basically this pre test (Rockport Walk Test) predicts your current aerobic fitness level.  At the end of the course we will do it again as a post test.  The hope/theory here is that each of us in the class will attain a better aerobic fitness level. 

For our assignment we had to:

Calculate & submit results.

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As this is an online course with no face to face class time, how does the instructor really know what we did?  Easy, the FR60.  Last week's assignment included providing our Garmin Connect username and password.  This will allow the instructor to login to Garmin Connect and see everything about our workouts.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

Two mile pleasure walk tonight

As my goal is to walk at least 30 minutes each day, I basically have mixed up my approach on how to accomplish this.  Instead of making each walk a “workout’ walk (wearing heart rate monitor, doing speed up/slow down intervals, making sure I’m in my target heart rate range,…), I alternate between doing workout walks and pleasure walks.  I have found that this approach really makes it easier for me to accomplish my goals – I don’t burnout from doing workout walks all the time.  Tonight was a pleasure walk, roughly two miles, walking for about a half hour.  The only bad part tonight, it was in the rain.  Luckily it was an easy rain and no downpours.

I am a bit disappointed with the rain though, not only will it continue into tomorrow, it will graduate to thunder & lighting.  I do not walk in thunder & lighting.  Tomorrow was the first hike I was going to take with a walking group I just joined.  They do walks every Sunday, but on the third Saturday of each month, they hike in the North Georgia mountains!  What they have done is break the 80 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia into 10 different hikes.  So in about a year’s time, you end up hiking the entire 80 miles of the AT in GA.  Cool!   Oh well, I will look forward to next month’s hike on the AT.   

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Follow up - Museum of Aviation Marathon

A quick follow up from the Museum of Aviation Marathon I did last Saturday.  After the race I had to quickly make my way back over to the hangar where we picked up our race bibs earlier.  Each of us had to give our drivers license to them before we got our bib.  This is how they managed to make sure all of us civilians actually left Robins Air Force Base that day.   The awards ceremony had already ended, they were putting things away, guys were sweeping the floor…  I got my license back and I was starving.  They always have a wide arrangement of food for after the race, but as it was a 6 hour time limit and me finishing in 5:56, well there wasn’t much left.  Basically it was a box with slices of bread in it.  So I grabbed a few slices of bread and we were heading for the door.  A man approached us and asked if he could ask us a few questions about the race.  He was pretty funny, told me he knew that I was really hungry and that it was okay to continue chewing while answering his questions! 

Well come to find out, this man’s name is Michael Pannell and he is a reporter for the paper in Macon: 

: )

Thank you Michael!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Online Fitness Walking Class – Week 2

We are still in the ‘ramp up’ stage in this one credit hour online course.  The primary reason is the acquisition of the Garmin FR60, which is required for this class.  It really is different than a class of 30 students just purchasing a textbook – the FR60 is a tool and you really need to understand how to use it to be successful in the course.  Hopefully most students have theirs by now because most of this week’s content deals with the FR60.

Our course directs us to the Garmin website which does provide training videos for the FR60 Setup, First Workout, Virtual Partners, Data Fields, Heart Rate Monitor, Foot Pod, Garmin Connect, and Goals.  The Garmin information can be found at:

Since I’ve had my FR60 for awhile, it’s already set up and I’m pretty familiar with the features – but it was still good to go back and refresh my memory.

The other Garmin ‘thing’ we each need to do is to set up our Garmin Connect username/password.  For this class we have to provide our username/password to the instructor.

Our THR (
Target Heart Rate) assignment is due this week also.
THR = (maximal HR* - resting HR**) x Intensity % + Resting HR
 *Maximal HR (estimated MHR) = 220 minus age
 **Resting HR (RHR) = count your pulse at rest for 60 seconds
When estimating your target heart rate range, two factors are involved:
Your age ____________
Your resting heart rate (RHR): _____________
**To get your resting heart rate you will need to count your pulse for one minute before you get out of bed in the morning. For the most accurate result, get your resting heart rate 3 mornings in a row and divide by 3.
Use these numbers in the formula that follows:
To calculate your estimated Maximal Heart Rate (MHR)220 - _____________(age) = ______________(estimated MHR)

To calculate your Heart Rate Reserve (HR reserve)_________ (MHR) - __________ (RHR) = ___________(HR reserve)

To calculate your Lower Target Heart Rate_________(HR reserve) x .60 + _________(RHR) = __________(lower target heart rate)

To calculate your Higher Target Heart Rate_________(HR reserve) x .80  + _________(RHR) = __________(higher target heart rate)

More to come next week  : )

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Race #12 - Museum of Aviation Marathon

Museum of Aviation Foundation Marathon - January 14, 2012

I was thinking about this during miles 22-26: if anyone tells you doing a marathon does not hurt – they are lying - plain and simple, that would be a flat out lie.  I do not think it matters how you get your body to move 26.2 miles – whether it is a fast ‘Kenyan guy’ sprint (which I am sure would hurt much more), a fast run, a slow run, a jog, a walk, or any combination of those methods – it hurts.   With that being said, I really enjoyed this marathon!  I cannot explain this contradiction.  

The course was on Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. Being an ex-Air Force guy, just being on base brought back so many great memories.  Although I landed there 20-30 times while serving, I never got out of the aircraft.  So having the opportunity to actually set foot on the base was fun.  The course included going around the flight line/runway - twice.  It was a pretty cool course and a very flat course. 

Another aspect of this race that made it special, my daughter signed up to do the 5K that day.  Having her with me was so good!  She is currently training to do her first half marathon in March; we will be at that race together again for her first half.  She had a great race and got a PR of 28:36, placing 6th out of 44 in her age group!

We were told we had to wear our race bibs sideways because they put the disposable chips on the wrong way on the back side :)

Also, with the temperature outside around 30 degrees, it was a pleasant treat as they opened the museum hangar (which was heated!) for pre-race activities. 

Nice, warm hangar before the race!

The marathon had a 6 hour time limit.  This was only my 2nd marathon and my time in the first one was 5:56.  My goal was to respect their time limit and this thought was in the back of my head the entire race.  My race plan was to jog the first mile.  This accomplished two things – warmed me up quicker and provided a really good first mile time (which is a good cushion for meeting a time goal because it is impossible to make time up at the end of the race).  After that I’d switch to jog 2 minutes, walk 3 minutes and repeat that as many times as my body allowed me.

Somewhere around mile 5-6 I heard someone calling out my name – it was Marsha (from the walkers discussion forum we belong to).  She said she recognized me from the brimmed hat I wear (I always wear this UPF 50 brim hat for sun protection).  This was Marsha’s 105th marathon!   She writes about her races on her blog - bookladywalker (link is on sidebar).  We walked quite a few miles together.  Around mile 21 we saw something that you do not usually see out on a marathon course – a guy with a chicken mask, cheering everybody on!  

Marsha (bookladywalker) and the chicken head man around mile 21

About 1,500 people signed up for this 26.2/13.1/5k event with ~175 doing the full marathon.   Except for the very beginning, it was never crowded.   Being a double loop course, that 2nd loop, back of the pack, did not have too many people.  There were times towards the end when I could not see anyone ahead of me or behind me. 

They had water/powerade every two miles.  On the 2nd loop for the full marathoners, they added orange quarters (loved these during the race!!!), bananas, and pickles (yes – pickles).   This next part and picture is not a complaint, it is just a description of what it is like to be a back of the pack type person at these distance races - just in case you ever find yourself in this situation – you’ll know what to expect : )   Early in the race, aid stations have volunteers handing out water, Powerade, and such - they are always very encouraging.  They are greatly appreciated for this!  However, during these smaller races when it gets thinned out at the end, the volunteers get relieved (and I am in total agreement with this) and this is what the aid stations tend to look like:

Aid stations towards the end of the race

The end of race was very special for me – my daughter, wife, son-in-law, and grandsons were there to see me finish.  For me – this was awesome!  My time for this marathon was 5:56:33.  So both of my marathons were completed in 5:56!  

Garmin stats: 
Average heart rate: 138, 84% of max (for 6 hours)
Calories spent: 2283
Average speed: 4.5 mph, pace 13:37
Steps: 107,316

Edit:  Made the newspaper after this race.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Resting Heart Rate & Leather Football Helmets

For the online fitness walking class I’m taking, we have an assignment to calculate our upper and lower target heart rates (THR).  The formula requires us to figure out resting heart rate (RHR) first.   We can use the two finger over the carotid artery approach or if we have the heart rate monitor, just strap it on first thing after waking up and see what it reads.

So the other morning, I wake up and strap on the heart rate monitor.  My resting heart rate was 46! 

I remember about 20 years ago having an annual physical and the doctor telling me I had an athlete’s heart.  Not that I had any idea what that meant.  What he meant was that I had a lower resting heart rate and that it was okay – nothing to be worried about and probably a good thing.   Hmmm, okay.

Skip ahead to my most recent annual physical at 56 (different doctor, nurse, HMO, etc…).  My doc is a good guy, he is much younger than I am, maybe 40ish.  He is originally from another country.  The conversation went like this with me sitting on the examination table having vitals taken:

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Nurse (looking at my heart rate of 52):  C’mon, bring it up a little bit, uh, you feel okay?

Me:  Yeah, I feel fine.

Nurse (afraid I’m about ready to pass out): Let’s give it a little more time, you’re up to 53 now, good.

Nurse (disconnects everything, writes down notes about low heart rate for doctor, leaves room)

Doctor (after going through many other physical things asks in regards to low heart rate): Were you an athlete when you were younger?

Me: Yes, in high school.

Doctor: What sports did you play?

Me: Football, wrestling

Doctor:  What position did you play?

Me (who weighs ~155 lbs.):  Guard.

Doctor (seems to be quite aware that guards usually weight much more than that):  That must have been a long time ago.

What happened next, I still do not know if my doc was just joking around with me or if he was serious – I really do not know.

Doctor (with a straight face, all business):  Was that when they played with leather helmets?

Me (thinking – dude, how old do you think I am????  Looking to see if he has a smile on his face – which he did not):  No, I’m not that old.

Doctor: Do you exercise now?

Me: I walk, a lot,  I do half marathons and am training for a full marathon.

Doctor:  Oh, okay, you have an athlete’s heart.

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Leather helmets!!!  I still have no idea if he was serious or kidding around.  But doc, just in case you ever see this, here’s proof – me, high school, 1972…  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Online Fitness Walking Class - Week 1

Class started yesterday and already I love it! 

As is very common in any good online course, introductions come early in the process.  I really like reading through the intros to find out about everyone in the class.  We have ~30 students in the class.

Also we got the syllabus which included the Learning Objectives for the course:

1. Perform the correct walking technique utilized in fitness walking
2. Identify the benefits of a fitness walking program
3. Assess and document physical fitness status through the five health-related components of physical fitness
4. Identify safety procedures when walking
5. Develop and record a plan of fitness walking to meet the needs and interests of the students
6. Assess exercise heart rate
7. Improve cardiorespiratory fitness level

Our first assignment was to fill out a questionnaire regarding current fitness and medical status.  Our instructor was very wise to do this and the assignment actually started out by saying: "It is essential that before you start an exercise program that you determine whether you need medical clearance or not".  This is so very important and I am in total agreement with this.  The form/questionnaire we filled out was the PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire).

The other assignment we have is to complete a worksheet to determine our target heart rate (THR).

Reading assignments we have for this week are for proper walking technique and safety tips for walkers.

As the Garmin FR60 is a requirement for this class, there will be a time lag before we have assignments with it as it will take time for the entire class to make this purchase.  The really cool part here, the students can purchase it directly from Garmin at a student discounted rate!  

I’ll keep you posted on our progress…

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Try Something New for 30 Days

This post is just a combination from two of the blogs that I follow:  Satisfying Retirement and Walk30.  Bob Lowry (over on Satisfying Retirement) posted a motivational TED video on trying something new for 30 days and Sue (over on Walk 30) is motivating people to get out and walk for 30 minutes a day.  

Just seems to be a connection there...

Take a look:

Even if you have no desire to get out there and walk, the video is very good and can be applied to many areas.  Good luck with your 30 day challenge!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Online Fitness Walking Class?

Online fitness walking class??? 

I have enjoyed most of the reactions I get from folks (face-to-face) when I mention online walking class to them – a smile/grin and “yeah right”, a bit of rolling of the eyes, but isn’t walking and online sort of an oxymoron?  So I can imagine what you might be thinking right about now.

Well, I will start my online walking fitness class next week.  It is a one credit hour PE course offered by the local college where I currently work.  There are no on campus requirements for this course - it will all be online.

For this course, each student is required to purchase a Garmin FR60 heart rate monitor and create an account with Garmin Connect.  The good news for me, I already have the FR60 and do upload my information to Garmin Connect (well at least for long walks & races).  So, I am ready to go – just have to wait until class starts.

More to come on this next week…

Sunday, January 1, 2012

One New Year Resolution

I only have one New Year resolution – to finish the tile job I started in 2011! 

With the help of my son-in-law, the foyer was tiled last year.  The past week was spent with my son working on the kitchen.  So this is my only New Year resolution!

However, I do have some walking goals for 2012:

-        Complete 15-20 distance races
-        Walk at least 30 minutes every day (worthwhile video - found on Walk30)
-        Walk/jog a total of 1300 miles 
-        Find/join a walking group/club
-        Volunteer to help out with five races

First race this year is the Museum of Aviation Marathon on 1/14.

Happy New Year!