Foot Notes: Running's not your thing? Try a walk instead
It's a perfect spring day. The kids are at school, and the wife is at work.
I stand outside to enjoy the last sips of my coffee, and my legs tingle with excitement as I plot out a run on this rare day to myself. There's a spring in my step as I dart back into my house and rummage through the clean pile of laundry (I'll fold those clothes later!) for a pair of running shorts.
I check my phone on the charger and grab my shoes. As I lace up, I hear a faint whine and find my aged dachshund curling around my legs like a cat. My long-retired racing partner, Bowie, now spends most of her days relaxing on her pillow and hiding under the dining room table, waiting for someone to make a mistake at dinner time.
But on this day, my 13-year-old dog is playful as a puppy, as the enthusiasm in her eyes outshines her graying fur coat. It's been quite a while since we've spent time alone together, and she is making every effort to make sure I know that.
As I walk toward the door to say goodbye, she glances up with eager eyes, and I can't help but turn to grab her leash. Bowie wiggles with glee and dashes outside to lead our walk.
She gallops to the stop sign like a small sausage horse and looks up at me, already panting with her tongue hanging out of her mouth, awaiting our next move.
We head to the next block and a squirrel zips out of a tree and into the grass. Instinctively Bowie gives chase, but only for about a second as she quickly realizes her stubby old legs have no chance to catch up to the energetic rodent.
Bowie's not as fast as she once was, but just as stubborn, as two houses later she finds an irresistible smell in the lawn and battles against the pull of her leash to secure a small piece of food. Another dog shows his face from behind a yard fence and gives Bowie an earful, and she acknowledges with a glance before moving on.
As we reach the end of the block, it's time to cross the road and make the turn back home. I try to wave the car through at the stop sign, but the driver's face scrunches tightly with a cutesy face as he "awes" from behind the wheel and motions for us to cross the road. Bowie takes a circuitous route through the crosswalk, stopping twice for sitting breaks, eliciting a laugh and another "awe" from the patient driver.
With our home in sight, Bowie finds the energy to sprint toward our house. I unleash her in the driveway, and she gratefully follows me to the door. After refilling her food and water, I reach for the top of the fridge. Our vet recommends less treats for Bowie, but today she earned it.
Not long after slurping down, Bowie returns to her pillow to settle in for a morning nap. She was there for me in my younger years, and I'm happy knowing that can make her days more enjoyable in her older years.
As much as I love running, there will always be a special place in my heart for walking and hiking, whether it's with my dog, my family, or just for a solo outing. By taking walks, we allow ourselves more time to "smell the roses," so to speak. It gives us a chance to chat with our neighbors, go on scavenger hunts, and take scenic pictures.
Some of the best times in my life came on the post-supper stroller walks I used to take with my son, where he would point to things like fire hydrants and road signs, and I would explain their meanings. When I have time with my wife away from the kids, one of my favorite day dates is walking, sometimes a mile or more, to the nearest coffee shop to sip smoothies and attempt to talk about something other than our kids (we usually end up just talking about the kids, anyway).
When I encounter a friend who is looking to turn their fitness around, I don't pressure them to start running, instead I advise going for nice, long walks. Running can be intimidating, and that's often hard to understand for those fully immersed in the sport, but walking is something almost everyone can do. It took me several months of walking, and 40 pounds of weight loss, to even consider going for a run. Once I finally trusted myself to run, I was ready as hundreds of walking miles had prepared me for this moment.
Bowie contently lays on her pillow, and it doesn't take long before she's down for the count and lightly snoring. I briefly consider taking a nap of my own, but quickly realize I have a lot of things to do today.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some running to do, laundry to fold, and perhaps a walk through the neighborhood with the kids when they get home from school.
Results: Former Olympian's record broken
Twenty years ago, a former Olympian stepped foot in the Chambersburg Half Marathon and established a race record that has withstood the test of time for most of the 2000s.
But now, the record of Steve Spence — a marathoner who ran in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona — is gone.
Baltimore's Jeremy Ardanuy has taken over the top spot, winning this year's Chambersburg Half in 1:08:09 with a hard push from Hagerstown's Zane Chalker (1:08:46) to beat Spence's record by three seconds. It was a record-setting day all around as Baltimore's Robyn Mildren, established a new women's race record with a 1:19:09.
It was a loaded race, which featured several fast times from Franklin and Washington County runners, including Boonsboro's Henry Schmidt (1:11:14), Hagerstown's David Butts (1:20:24), Bryan Seifarth (1:24:51), Dharma Bhatt (1:28:27), Gabe Conder (1:32:28), Will Marquiss (1:33:44), Shane Miller (1:42:38), Lisa Ponton (1:51:23), and Roy Delgado (1:51:24), Chambersburg's Trentin Overcash (1:20:55), Bill Dann (1:25:17), Jonathon Rotz (1:34:14), Alecia Rotz (1:34:14), Sarah Boward (1:37:28), Laurie Dymond (1:39:06), James Kinton (1:39:43), Jill Hazelton (1:40:55), Matthew Walker (1:47:07), Larry Smith (1:51:00), Paul Sick (1:52:17), Jason Ackerman (1:52:50), Williamsport's Griffin Knipp (1:22:58), Shippensburg's Harrison Hipple (1:31:32), Aaron Feather (1:37:49), Tasha Koenig (1:43:31), Patricia Blount (1:47:21), Brett Carter (1:49:04), and Nicole Albright (1:52:49), Greencastle's Matthew Smith (1:31:38), Grant Murray (1:35:02), Joshua Boyer (1:47:20), and Steven Hyne (1:50:56), Fayetteville's Tyler Seibert (1:37:21), as well as Waynesboro's Kyle Downs (1:38:09), John Nogle (1:46:21), Stephen Bui (1:53:55).
The Garden Spot Half Marathon saw Greencastle's Matthew Smith cross the finish line 1:36:10, followed by Fayetteville's Jeff Bertram (1:52:17) and Chambersburg's Cheryl Oyler, who captured the 55-59 AG with a 1:53.
A number of other runners took part in races across the region, including Fayetteville's David Larson (9:22:49 at Naked Prussian 50 Miler), Waynesboro's Elijah Beck (5:50:02 at Naked Prussian Marathon), McConnellsburg's Crys Glee (27:30 at Lucky Charm 5K) and Michelle Pollock (28:00 at Lucky Charm 5K), Shippensburg's Madeline Davis (29:04 at Roger Snyder 5K) and Leon Davis (53:20 at Roger Snyder 10K), and Hagerstown's John Commander (1:16:22 in Garden Spot 10K).
And finally, a big round of applause for Shippensburg's Millard Engle, 71, who ran at a sub-10 pace to finish the Lucky Charm 5K in 30:02.
Upcoming running events in the area
Hagerstown Duathlon #1: Saturday, April 10, 8:30 a.m., in Hagerstown. There are also 5K and youth duathlon options for the first event of the Hagerstown Duathlon Series. Find out more info at racinemultisports.com.
Martins Mill Covered Bridge 5 Miler: Saturday, 8 a.m., in Greencastle. Run through a covered bridge in this beautiful and historical course. Check out race info at greencastleflyers.org.
Movie Madness Half Marathon: Saturday, April 10, 8 a.m., in Harrisburg. Racing season is back in full swing, and with that US Road Running is offering this event, which also comes with 5K and virtual options. Learn more at usroadrunning.com.
Buck Ridge Burn: Sunday, April 11, 9 a.m., in Gardners. This popular and physically-demanding event will push trail runners to their limits in half marathon and 5K races. Find out more info at buckridgeburn.com.
Also: Martins Mill Covered Bridge 5 Miler (Saturday, in Greencastle); Half-Wit Half Marathon Trail Run (Saturday, in Reading); Hot Chocolate 15K/5K (Saturday, in Philadelphia); Two Rivers "Tread Vernal V" Blast Off! 5 Miler (Saturday, April 10, Virtual); Dirty Kiln Trail Races 13.1/5 miler (Saturday, April 10, in Reading); Eagleton Trail Challenge 50K (Saturday, April 10, in Lock Haven); Hagerstown Duathlon (Saturday, April 10); Shiver by the River 5K/10K (Sunday, April 11, in Reading); Care Packages at Carderock Half Marathon (Sunday, April 11, in Potomac, Md.).
Andy Sandrik writes about running in central Pa. for the USA Today Network Pennsylvania. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.