Walk This Way

Today was the final leg of my Senior Games odyssey – the timed walk.

I’ll start by saying that I have never in my entire life been timed as I walked. I knew nothing about the event other than watching race-walking on TV, and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to pick up that kind of technique any time soon. But, I did practice walking fast, several times a week, for the distance that we would be doing in the Games, 1.5 miles. And I studied race-walking a little to see if there were any tips I could adapt for my own use.

Because I’ll tell you, I wanted to win my age group. There. Now you know.

All right. My husband and I drove over to Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, PA, about 25 minutes from home. We planned that I would do my event and then we would continue on to Doylestown to set up for the Tile Festival this weekend. This was nice – I had a cheering section and photographer.

The course was the blacktop walk around the central quadrangle of buildings, starting at College Hall.

Here’s the view from the start.

The event was scheduled as a drop-in event, meaning that contestants could arrive anytime during those hours to compete. A group was assembled and set off on its way. Once those people finished, another group would do the same. Since I arrived before 9 AM, you can see I was eager to get going. A few others felt the same – our initial group was a small one, which was nice. Later groups were larger – more than 100 people competed in this event.

So we lined up, got our instructions, and took off. I am wearing the pink shirt and purple shoes.

The course was said to be 1.5 miles, but everyone agreed it was at least 1.75 miles, given our times. Everyone also agreed it didn’t matter. In any case, we went around 6 times plus 1 leg of the quadrangle plus 1/2 of the next. It was possible to lose count but the officials helped us out with splits and lap counts.

I have found walking fast takes focus. It’s easy to drop off in pace if you lose attention. Being in the competition with other people walking as well as the college students who occasionally wandered in was a little distracting. I tried to keep my mind on my feet.

Here I am in action at various points.

And at the finish. I did the course in 24:22.

finish walk 5-16 small

Then I waited and watched the next groups. Over the week I have met quite a few people and some of them competed today. I also ran into a friend I haven’t seen in some time, so I watched her race. And — I did want to see if I could achieve my goal of winning the event. I admit it!

At the end of it all, I did win. Both my age group, and – I was the fastest woman, as well. Now, let’s remember, I was also one of the youngest competitors in the race, so I had an advantage. Still, I was happy. I felt my planning and training had paid off in something I hadn’t done before.

I like this kind of walking and I think I’ll keep doing it as part of my exercise from now on. I’m glad I was introduced to the idea of trying it.

So, now the Senior Games are over for this year. I am thinking already about what I’d like to compete in next May. Guess I enjoyed myself, didn’t I?

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I Run As Fast As I Can On A Track

Well, the title says it all. Senior Games, event #2 on my list – the running session. I did the 800 metersĀ and the mile. Here’s what happened.

The event was held at Gwynedd-Mercy University in Lower Gwynedd, PA, about 15 or twenty minutes from my house. We arrived on time, 6 PM.

I checked in and looked around. There was a nice crowd gathered – runners from age 50 to 85+, and fans ready to cheer. One man’s family had all dressed in green (to match his running outfit) and carried a sign with his name, Tony, on it. As for me, I had my husband there to encourage me.

The first events were the 100 and 400, and there were quite a few heats. Six people ran at a time, from youngest to oldest, women and then men, filling the lanes in this order. Awards were given by age group but the actual races were run in mixed ages.

We stood by the side of the track, in the middle of one of the straight stretches. We fell into conversation with several women, one I knew from another competition, and others I just met. It turned out nicely because we could cheer for each other.

I noticed many more men competing than women. This fits in with my experiences with 5K’s – after age 50, men really outnumber women, though I think it’s the opposite in younger age groups. I don’t know why this is and I offer no opinions other than to say, I don’t plan on giving up until I give out, so I’ll do my part to keep the numbers up.

All right. Finally it was time for the 800. Only three women ran it along with 10 or so men, I think. So our heat included men and women.

I’ll tell you now, I haven’t run these distances since high school in the 1970’s. I am a 5K+ runner, and I had no idea how to do the race. So I just tried to start out strong and stay with it.

All right. I made it. I had hoped to be faster than 4:30 and I was – 4:20. So I was happy. I will say that it’s darn hard to start out running fast, though. I’m used to getting an easier start and building up! I ended up second in my age group (all the runners were in my age group) and that pleased me, too.

After a rest while the men finished, it was time for the mile. Once again, there were three women and more men. I had a better idea how to manage this race, since it was longer. I started off easier; my first three laps were virtually the same split. I was going along in 3rd place. By the 4th lap I had warmed up and I could see the second place runner was flagging a bit. I thought I could pass her – decided to make my move on the straight stretch before the final curve, so I didn’t have the extra effort of passing her on the outside and making things harder for myself.

The strategy worked and I felt very pleased with myself for thinking it through! My final lap was 15 seconds faster than the first three. That’s what training for 5K’s will do for you, I guess. My time was 9:31, meeting my goal of 9:30 or so. I ended up in second place and once again I was pleased.

Here I am finishing the mile.

I felt quite a bit of relief now that it was all over. All that remained was getting our awards.

And here I am, triumphant.

claudia sr games 2 5-16 small

Oops, let’s try that again.

claudia sr games 3 5-16 small

Now all that remains is the timed walk, tomorrow, at Montgomery County Community College. Until then…

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