Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dave’s World Class Race Walking Clinic

October 9-11, 2009
The drive to Dallas proved to be very interesting. There was a cold front on the way, and I was not sure when or where I would drive into the leading edge, where cool air meets warm and humid air. Turned out, I met the storm while driving on a two lane Farm to Market road with no shoulders. Texas Farm to Market roads usually have a speed limit of 70 mph even where there are no shoulders. I drive a 2dr Honda Accord Coupe, and cars like this usually don’t do so well in severe weather. I had to pull over to the shoulder once in the recent past during a severe thunderstorm with high winds. So, back to the trip… I was headed north from Roans Prairie (taking the back road) to connect with I45 in Madisonville. That’s where the wind started gusting and the rain was coming at me in sheets. Some lovely person in a large SUV was right on my tail, I guess expecting me to drive 70mph. That was not going to happen. When I hit standing water on the highway in this car, I am usually pulled all over the road. 50mph was really pushing the envelope of safety, so that @$$4073 behind me was just going to have to wait. Then random trees started breaking apart on either side of the road. The tree damaging winds were short lived, but that scared the hell out of me. Finally made it to Madisonville and was able to get out of the car for a few minutes. I got back on the road, I45 this time, and drove in intermittent heavy rain all the way to Dallas. Funny, though, the rain stopped when I was about 10 miles south of Linda’s house.

Linda is a wonderful new friend. She invited Kim (my friend from Arkansas) and I to stay at her lovely home for the weekend! Linda has a beautiful water garden and lovely well placed plants and walking paths in her back yard that seemed to emanate peace and tranquility!

I helped Linda, who was co-hosting the racewalking clinic together with Jerry Kerr, get a few things ready around the house, then Kim arrived. I was really happy to see her again. The last time we met, it was very brief. We both did the Bass Pro race in 2008. Kim did the half marathon and I did the full. She was really speedy and her husband missed her at the finish line. They were so kind to stick around and wait for me to finish the full! I was very surprised to see Kim and David with my Mom and my Aunt Fran. Anyway, we certainly got to spend a lot more time together during the racewalking clinic, and we had a blast.

Kim and I had planned to go to the Oak Lawn Luke's Locker when she arrived, so we headed out. It is always a challenge to get the right pair of shoes for racewalking. Salespeople hear 'walk' and they always bring out some huge, heavy, clunky pair of shoes. Well, then you have to go into a discussion of what racewalking is. I finally gave up letting the salesperson decide. I just go in and ask for racing flats... Running racing flats. Apparently, we found the right salesman and he brought out several pair of shoes for Kim to try, I was initially worried about them having any to choose from because Kim has really small feet and most racing flats are unisex sizing (men's sizes). Anyway, she ended up with a great pair of shoes.

I also made a fantastic purchase. I have been talking about trying CW-X compression tights for a long time. I just could not find a store anywhere where I could try on the men's small in either the pro or expert model of the tights. I buy men's running shoes because my feet are wide, and I buy men's tights because I have a wide waist. Men's shorts are also a usual choice for me because they are not so darn short like women's running shorts usually are. Anyway, the tights were expensive, but they fit like a glove. I am happy to have them!

We stopped to eat lunch, and then headed back to Linda's house to help her prepare the dinner for everyone who was participating in the racewalking clinic. We had baked ziti, one vegetarian and one with organic fresh ground beef that Kim had brought from her farm. My mom made home made french bread for us and all we had to do was heat that up, make a salad, and bake some brownies for dessert.

Jerry picked Dave McGovern up at the airport and brought him to Linda's house. Patty and Jean-Maria, friends of mine from the Dallas area, and lots of others showed up for the dinner and informational meeting that followed. Everyone just loved mom's home made bread! Especially the beer, jalapeno and cheese loaf! They all asked for the recipe! I still have to get that from mom and pass it along!

Saturday morning was cold and damp, but thankfully the rain held off, or simply stayed south of us. We went over to the track for our first workout, and Dave was going to try and film us individually, but he was having a problem with his camera. It was filming, but did not have a view finder and the lcd screen was black. I really should have been wearing tights because it was rather cold and I may have done too much standing around and then sprinting and pulled a calf muscle. We all finished our workouts, and then it was time for lunch and a trip to the Lukes Locker on Legacy in Plano. We descended on that running store like ants. Dave found the location manager and we all learned a lot more about shoes for racewalking.

The next stop was a quick bite for lunch. Rose, Dave and I stopped at a little pizza by the slice place across the street from Luke’s. The pizza was very tasty, and the slices were huge. Our next mission was to find Best Buy so Dave could try and replace his video camera. He had no luck at the Best Buy we were closest to and decided to try another location where we might actually find someone who knew a little about what they were selling. Back at Linda’s house we all sat down and watched the video that Dave was able to tape while we were working out on the track. We watched video of Olympic class athletes and then compared what we are doing to what they are doing. Of course, we have lots of miles of practice ahead of us. While we were watching film, I worked on the calf… found the irritated spot, and dug in. Whatever was going on there… I was able to work it out.

Now, it has been almost 2 whole weeks since the clinic, so forgive me when I ramble around a little. I think we went back to the track to work with the ladders for quick step drills, did some skipping, etc. Dave said I was a dainty skipper. I think it was due to the fact I was wearing a running skirt. One thing I have never been accused of is being dainty. We also learned several drills to help us with flexibility and then Dave showed us some very effective stretches, etc.

Dinner time… we went to a place called Uncle Julio’s and the food was very good. The big joke of the evening was that my reading glasses were left at Linda’s house, so I was planning to pretend I was illiterate. Maybe not so funny, so I just made fun of my old age eyesight and asked the bartender to stand across the bar and hold the menu for me so I could read it. I ordered a mixed platter of shrimp, beef and chicken fajitas. After dinner, we stopped off at another Best Buy for Dave to purchase a new video camera. I think he finally got what he was after and I, of course, bought another CD… Anvil.

Kim and Dave have both traveled much more than I have, so the after dinner conversation at Linda’s house was very interesting.

Sunday morning, it was cold again, and I decided to wear my tights and that was a good thing. We did our lactate threshold test after warming up, doing the drills and stretching well. The test consists of 3 - 8 minute intervals of walking as fast as possible with good technique and taking the HR every two minutes, our partner gave the Hr info to Dave. There is a two minute rest between the intervals where we check out recovery HR. I was in the first group and was able to get my HR up to 177 at the end of the last repeat. So, I was the apparent winner of the HR test… My max HR is 193 and if you subscribe to the 220 -age =BS formula, I am 27! WOO HOO!!! When the next group did their test, there was a soccer game on the football field; so, I had to do lots of running in order to be able to get some good photos of the folks on the track while reporting my partner’s HR to Dave for her test. More stretching before leaving the track to eat lunch and then wrap up the clinic with a lecture on training schedules for specific distance races, and more discussion on HR based training. Dave commented that my recovery HR was still kind of high… He did suggest that I refrain from drinking 4 cups of coffee right before an interval workout. Typically, I wait until after my workouts to drink coffee, or I do my workouts late in the evening, after the coffee has worn off… LOL

So, the workshop was wrapping up, and everyone was saying their goodbyes. Jerry and I helped Linda put some things back in place, and I packed up my things to return home. I bought one of the Chrons and Colitis Foundation Team in Training shirts from Dave… “The Best Craps in Vegas”, said my goodbyes and headed south. I was about 5 miles south of Linda’s and the rain started. What should have taken 4 hours at most to drive, took me almost 6 hours, including one stop for restroom and to gas up the car. I got a message from Dave… “It never rains at a World Class Racewalking Clinic… that is until after the last guest leaves”. I told him that my only consolation was that he was getting wet, too. Dave was leaving for a workout when I was driving away. LOL

The drive home was not as treacherous as the drive to Dallas, with the exception of the people who choose to drive 80+ mph, no matter how hard it is raining. A funny thing happened to me when I stopped for restroom and gas in Madisonville Texas. I went in to use the restroom before pumping my gas because I had been on the road for a while. There were 4 or 5 women just standing around in the restroom, so I kind of bent down to see if anyone was in the stalls. They were empty and as I started to enter one, some woman says: “Hey, did you just pick up two dollars off the floor?” I go, “WHAT???”, because I was kind of hypnotized from the long drive in bad weather. So, she asks me again and if I had been on the ball, I would have asked her if I really looked like I needed her two dollars. Anyway, I just told her I was merely looking under the stall door to see if it was occupied. TWO DOLLARS… would I be driving a rocket ship if I was in serious need of two dollars?

Anyway, I made it home safely and had a great weekend. The major thing I learned about myself:
I may not actually be cut out for racewalking because of my physical limitations which include degenerative disc disease in my lower back and a left hip that is perpetually out of place.


  1. What an awesome clinic. I so wish we could get him over here.
    So what do you think of the CWX pants? I will not go back to skins now. I love mine so much. Yes they look like they should fit a barbie doll but somehow....they get on and fit like a glove.
    Yes buying shoes has always been a drama and I too just ask for racing flats now and I too buy mens shoes ... cause I have BIG feet lol
    The fact that you can and do racewalk with the problems you have noted is a credit to you so never doubt that you are cut out for it...just do it and enjoy. I get up most mornings and feel like a 90 year old women but still we drag our shoes on and head out the door for our daily dose of walkn!! lol

    So what is next for you? I have a 20km trial to try and make the NZ team to race Australia and then I have two years to train and come battle with Tammy :0) in Sacremento lol

  2. Nyle,

    What makes you think you can't? ;-)


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  4. ok, what I wanted to say was... if you get a group together that wants to learn how to walk faster, I am sure Dave is not beyond coming to New Zealand for a weekend!

    My next two races are another 50k trail in two weeks followed by a road marathon 7 days after the 50k.

    I will be waiting for you to come to Sacramento! You better believe I will be there to cheer you and Tammy on in the race... hoping for a 1-2 finish, in ANY order!

  5. Nyle - it's going to be an epic race :)
    Maryann - nice write-up on the clinic. Sounds like a blast. Hopefully YOU are going to race in Sacramento, too?!? Why not? You should go for it!
    Dave - wow, you have a video camera jinx... same thing happened to your last camera here in SLC, remember?

  6. Hey, Tammy... I am seriously beginning to doubt my racewalking abilities... especially since most of my training is devoted to accomplishing the huge goal of completing at least one 100mile race while I think I am still able to do it. I have my reasons... which I don't plan to go into here, we will leave that for some day when we actually meet in person. Sacramento for instance...