Active Adult Living Retirement

Road to National Senior Games

Update: 2021.   Well the next National Senior Games are postponed to May 10th to 23rd 2022 in Fort Lauderdale.  The following is how I met my competitor and friend a few years ago.

I first met Michael Devaney when they called race walkers to the starting line at the Georgia Golden Games last year.  He said he was from Arizona and he was planning on going to all the state senior games and then the National Senior Games (held in Birmingham, Alabama, June 6-8, 2017).  He already knew my name because he had made note that we are in the same age bracket and have similar times.

So far Michael has gone to 36 state senior games.  He has won medals in every state visited, many times the gold medal in race walking, a sport both he and I enjoy.

We hooked up on facebook to keep in touch. I posted that I was going to be race walking in the Singleton 5K by The Atlanta Track Club in nearby Norcross, GA and he posted back that he was making plane reservations and would be joining me.  I told him this was not a judged race walk, but a general running event, but we both liked the idea of a race on a road course like we will have at the National Senior Games and it would be timed as well.  A little friendly competition also.

This was great news since my last competitive race walk was last October, even though I have been in a couple races since without competitors.  Racing without competitors is not the same.

Yesterday morning, I left home at 5:15am on my journey down to Norcross. At the Atlanta Track Club check in table they told me 2100 people had registered for the race, starting in Thrasher Park going out on a 5k long loop.  It was Chronotrack chip timed event with the chip embedded in your race bib pinned on all four corners to the front of your shirt. When you cross the starting line an electronic mat that you step over reads your chip and starts your time. When you cross again, it records  your race time.

I met Michael at the registration area and we warmed up. It was amazingly great weather for a race and all the people were buzzing around.

Most were much younger than we were and were runners, so we found ourselves in the D heat, which was the last to start.  Mistake! We were in the back of this D heat when it started and the slowest runners/walkers were in front of us. We crossed the starting line and our time was activated. As we turned on to the race course we couldn’t pass the much slower people, shoulder to shoulder in front of us!  I let out a curse.  Micheal said lets hit the sidewalks that went around to the right. I tried to follow and was blocked so I went to the left.

The blockage went on for almost three minutes until we converged side by side ahead of and free of those slow pokes. We were off and race walking.  Micheal took the lead for a while, then I took the lead for a while. He took it back.  On the hills I would do better, because of my training on hills here at Village at Deaton Creek.  Going down hill he would do better and catch up.

About a mile out from the finish line I took the lead going up a long hill. We topped the hill to take a right on the main road to the finish line and a race official said it was only one half mile to the finish, downhill from here.  It wasn’t.  Turning on to the main road it was uphill again. That’s OK with me because I was still in the lead. I was really breathing hard but it wasn’t far I kept telling myself.

The hill peaked and started downhill.  With 200 yards to go, Micheal pulled up to pass me going pretty fast.  He was a sprinter back on his college track team and that is his specialty.  I wanted to go faster but couldn’t.  He crossed the finished line and I crossed 7 seconds later.

Micheal looked at his watch and we couldn’t believe the time. I looked at my Garmin GPS watch and was shocked.  We had both done our best times ever!  33 minutes and 56 seconds was my time. That beat my previous best time last year of 34 minutes and 20 seconds by 24 seconds.  We both said at the same time “And that was with that hold up at the first of the race!”

We went over to The Flying Biscuit for breakfast where Micheal took the photo at the top of this page. We talked and shared our race walking experiences, tips, and talked about life in general. We talked about how grateful we both were to be able to do this, when so many our age have mobility problems and there is no guarantee about the future.

Micheal is planning on going to another 3 or 4 states this coming month to compete. I told him about a 1500 meter race walk in Lawenceville on May 6th and he made a note. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him there.  If not, I will see him at the starting line at The National Senior Games on June 6th.

Active Adult Living

Passion For Walking

Saturday, I did my race walking in the Lifepath 5K and ended up with this trophy that looks like an Academy Award plus a $25 gift certificate.

Sitting in the awards presentation room after the race, I didn’t expect to get an award because I was walking, not running, but it looks like I beat out two runners in my age bracket and maybe had the best age adjusted time for all age 60+ male participants. I am not really sure how they determined the Overall Senior Grand Master.

In any case the trophy did it’s magic. I posted the above photo on facebook and got a lot of likes and comments. It was nice bringing it home to show Mary Ann, especially telling her about the $25 gift certificate to Recess Gastro Pub. We just lunched there last week and loved it.

Robert and Bob

Developing A Passion For Walking

Don sent me a congratulations and it triggered memories of when I started walking.  It was with Don, Lamont and myself at Park Place Active Adult Center in Johns Creek. We would walk the little over a mile loop of Newtown Park three times, a feat we accomplished a couple or three times a week for two years.

We would start out as social walkers and we always look forward to seeing each other and catching up. We talked about everything under the sun from cars,sports, old jobs, moving, travel,  family, medical, current news, etc. Three guys sitting around a table would probably never talk about all the things we did, but there is something about walking and talking that makes it easier.

Walking as much as we did, we got pretty good shape.  We were all about equal speed walkers but after the talking started to die down at the end of lap two, then Don would push us a little faster about the pond and we were off to the races.

Senior Centers and Retirement Communities are excellent places to walk with people.

So when the North Fulton Golden Games came along I though we should be a shoe in to win the walking contests. When the guy who was 10 years older than I was beat me by 20 yards in the half mile walk, well I was stunned.  He was a little short guy that was 77!

Come to find out that he was race walking, which is a more efficient technique for walking fast.  I researched race walking.

I convinced race walking coach and judge Jim Norvill to come over to Ocee Park a few Sundays to teach me how to race walk. It seemed complicated. It took me a while to learn, in fact I am still learning!

Race walking demands your full attention. You are always checking your walking technique. Are you looking straight ahead, shoulders down, arms swinging naturally at almost 45 degree angle, toes up at the heel strike, not over striding, rolling to a toe push off. You develop a cadence. Your body remembers the routine but you have to constantly check yourself.

With time you get better. You know your personal best and try to do better next time.

Fitness Walking Competitions

A competition is when you find out how you are doing.  It’s something to look forward to and is motivation for your hours of practice.  Competitions can  be local, regional, national or international.  Fitness Walking Competitions are given by local track clubs, the USATF (USA Track & Field), Senior Games (National Senior Games) and several other organizations. Race walking is an Olympic sport.

You hear people say they don’t like to compete anymore. I say give it a try. You always look from the perspective of competing with yourself (remember personal best).  You are a winner for just getting out there and joining in.

But if you are lucky enough to feel the thrill of competing with others, you will experience something you thought you would never feel again, and it’s exhilarating. Some improve themselves to a level  that they though was impossible.

Competitions  also  give you an opportunity to travel to the event and spend a few days in the area while you are there.  Last year or two, I was  in walking competitions in  Minnesota,  Albuquerque,  Birmingham AL, Greensboro NC, Spokane WA as well as many around the state of Georgia. My friend Michael has been to walking completions in almost 50 states!

And finally when the competition is finished you will be happy that you gave it your best and motivated to do even better next time.

Remember, exercise is a habit.  Develop a workout routine to make it work.  There are many benefits of fitness walking and I would encourage you to give it a try.

Robert Fowler

My walking competition schedule for the first half of 2018 is:

Jan 6 – Sat Braselton  LifePath 5K – Done. 35:36

Jan 21 USATF SE Region Masters Indoor Race Walk Championship in Winston Salem NC.   Registered for both 1mile and 3K.

Jan 26? Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville – Indoor Race Walk – Dates not confirmed

Feb 11   Sunday Indoor Race Walk 1500M Indoor Race Walk at Lakepoint in Emerson GA.

March – need event

April 7  Track Lab Series Lawrenceville GA  1500M RW in AM
Discovery HS

April 14  Track Lab Series events in Lawrenceville GA  1500M RW in PM
Discovery HS

April 21, 2018 ***Either the 5K or 10K in our 41st annual TD Bank Reedy River Run on Saturday, April 21, 2018 in Greenville SC.

May 16-19 South Carolina Senior Sports Classic 5K and 1500M Race Walks in Florence SC.  Afterwards will head over to Myrtle Beach SC for vacation

May 27 12th Annual Mark Trail Memorial Day Meet – 3K RW
Discovery High School Lawrenceville GA

June 2-3, 2018 USATF SE Region Masters Outdoor Championships – 3K Race Walk in Birmingham, Al

July 26-29 National Outdoor USATF Masters Championship 5K and 10K Race Walks in Spokane WA. This is an outdoor event with all the track and field events.  Afterwards taking a river boat cruise down the Snake and Columbia Rivers to Portland.