Number 15

This morning, I’m embarking on my 15th half marathon as a walker. (Wish me dry weather!)

And for the second time, I’ll be serving as a pacer for walkers in the race. I’m participating in the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Half Marathon, which unlike most races is particularly welcoming of walkers, even offering awards for the top finishers among walkers, broken down by gender and age divisions.

I’ll be pacing a 3:15 finish, which works out to about a 4.1-mile-per-hour pace. I look forward to helping guide some first-timers to their inaugural finish line!

Wishes for a great race day also go out to those doing the NYC Marathon today, among them good friend and walking coach Lee S.

Happy walking!

Wind-blown … and proud!

Pacer ID

Pacer ID (disregard the Penske truck!).

Half marathon #13 is in the books for me, as is my first bout as a pacer.

It can be challenging to keep a pace different from your usual and sustain it over such a distance, especially when contending with 20 mph winds along the race course. (But at least it wasn’t raining!) The plus is that it gave me the opportunity to talk with some first-time half marathoners along the way, which is always wonderful.

And I’m so very proud of Walk With Joelle client Michele K. Today was her first half marathon as a walker, and she rocked! She finished strong and fast — and earned an award for her efforts!

The race, the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Half Marathon, featured a walker division and awards for the top finishers among the walkers. Michele K. finished 2nd in her age group, 5th among women and 10th overall! I’ll just have to warn her not to get used to it, that walkers don’t usually earn awards in half and full marathons because so few races recognize us as a category. (Let’s hope that continues to change, and thanks to walking coach Michele Stanten for making it happen in this race!)

Volunteer Louie -- greeting walker Alicia at mile 8 -- was a terrific part of the day, biking along the course and putting in time at mile markers. His spirit was contagious!

Volunteer Louie — greeting walker Alicia at mile 8 — was a terrific part of the day, biking along the course and putting in time at mile markers. His spirit was contagious!

The other great thing about this race was that several of my friends also participated, both as pacers and walkers. It’s fitting because marathoning brought us all together in the first place. Nearly 10 years ago, in my days at Prevention magazine, I was involved in its program to train readers to walk half and full marathons. Some of our readers became intimately involved with the program and were integral to its success — and the success of so many fellow race participants! And along the way we spent a lot of fun times together at races across the country. That grew to doing races “off-duty,” so to speak. And although the magazine’s program ended, the deep friendships did not.

So I’m always especially happy to spend a race weekend with friends — friends who know the time invested in training, who know the frustration when a race doesn’t go as planned, who are inspiring and motivating, and who know the joyous emotion of completing a race, whether your first or 10th or 40th (and cheer for you just as loudly from race to race). Thanks for another great weekend, ladies … even though it was too short and not a complete group reunion! And congratulations to all the walkers today too!

A huge number of miles has been walked by these seven pairs of feet!

Race friends: Countless miles have been walked by these seven pairs of feet over the past nearly 10 years!

Keeping pace

Tomorrow I’ll be doing my 13th half marathon as a walker.

This one will be a little different, though — I’m doing the race as a pacer.

It’s common in half and full marathons to have pacers for the runners. A pacer leads a group of runners to a specified finish time. Say you want to complete a full marathon in 3 hours. You’d align yourself with the 3-hour pace runner, who runs at a speed to fulfill that finish time.

It’s virtually unheard of to have pace groups for walkers. But the race I’m doing tomorrow — the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Half Marathon Run/Walk — is pulling out all the stops to attract and support walkers. Registration categories asked if you would be running or walking, awards will be given to top walking finishers, and pace groups will be on the course for walkers specifically.

So I’ll be leading the 4-hour-finish time pace group, which translates to about an 18-minute mile. This might seem incredibly slow to some experienced half/full marathon runners and even walkers. But it’s accessible for beginners, and we all have to start somewhere and tackle our first race experience. It will be a bit of a challenge for me to pace myself at that speed — it can be difficult to walk slower than normal, and do so steadily. (My average race pace is between 13- and 14-minute miles.) It’s important to me, though, to help participants meet their goals and have a rewarding experience.

As I posted the other day, a 15-minute mile is just as far as a 7-minute mile. Ditto for an 18-minute mile. Walkers in races train just as much as runners do, and it’s no less an accomplishment to participate as a walker. We all cross the same finish line.

Happy walking!



Save $10!

Register for the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Half Marathon by Sunday (Aug. 31) before the fee goes up by $10.

This half marathon, to be held on Sunday, Nov. 2 in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, is an ideal race for walkers — and in fact is focusing on walking participants. The time limit is 4.5 hours, which is very generous and takes a lot of stress out of the event for first-timers. That time limit translates to a 20-minute-mile pace. (Info on course under picture…)

Along the course of the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Half Marathon, 2013

Along the course of the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Half Marathon, 2013

The course is beautiful and flat — the first couple of miles are in the town of Northampton, Pa., and the rest is all along the Lehigh River, surrounded by colorful fall foliage.

Just like there are usually pace runners in most half and full marathons, this race will have pace walkers to help the walking participants keep a steady stride. In fact, I will be one of the pacers!

Check out the registration info here and consider joining in the walking fun. Space is limited, so don’t delay in signing up. I hope to see you there!