Lace up your shoes for National Walking Day on April 1

Jacqui Gilmore and Francine Quigley walk around Lady Bird Lake in this file photo by Kelly West.
Jacqui Gilmore and Francine Quigley walk around Lady Bird Lake in this file photo by Kelly West.

Does the idea of running make you break out in a cold sweat? Slow down for a minute.

Walking offers many of the same benefits of running, with less risk of injury. And since Wednesday has been proclaimed National Walking Day, it’s a good time to lace up a comfortable pair of shoes and get moving.

It’s also the perfect time to kick off Million Mile Month, when people across the country are encouraged to exercise and log their activity. The goal? For the community to log a collective 1 million miles of physical activity.

Here in Austin, a kickoff is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Austin City Hall Plaza, 301 West Second Street. Mayor Steve Adler, along with Steve Amos of Million Mile Month, the American Heart Association and representatives of the medical and fitness community will gather to encourage people to join the effort.

If you need motivation, consider this: More than 80 percent of the workforce sits most of the day. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and obese people have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, and social and psychological problems.

To compete on leader boards, go to Participants can win prizes, such as a stand-up paddle board, a jogging stroller, gift cards to Whole Foods and St. Bernard Sports, activity trackers, massages and more.

Members of USA Fit Austin's walking program enjoy breakfast after a morning walk.
Members of USA Fit Austin’s walking program enjoy breakfast after a morning walk.

USA Fit Austin has its own celebration planned, including an array of walking events that start at Luke’s Locker, 115 Sandra Muraida Way. They’re all free and open to the public. Here’s the schedule:

  • 6 a.m.- 5K Speed-walking workout
  • 10 a.m. – 5K Walking history tour of downtown Austin
  • Noon – The Essentials of Walking
  • 7 p.m. Basic walking tips and introduction to USA Fit Austin’s Walking Program

“Walking is such a great way for anyone to step up their personal exercise routine,” says USA Fit Austin Walking Organizer Elayne Barber. It’s also a great way to experience races of different distances.

Registration for USA Fit Austin’s Summer Walking Group Training Program opens in late April with two new meeting locations in central Austin and south Austin. For more information go here. visit

The ups and downs of Zooma Texas Half Marathon

Runners make their way over a hilly course at Saturday's Zooma Texas Half Marathon. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
Runners make their way over a hilly course at Saturday’s Zooma Texas Half Marathon. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Did you run the Zooma Texas Half Marathon on Saturday?

It’s such a Texas event. A herd of longhorn eyeballed me as I hopped on a shuttle bus to get to the start line, I paused during the race to snap pictures of wildflowers, and even spotted an armadillo on the side of the road as I ran. (Too bad he was, shall we say, sleeping soundly.)

Here are my official highlights of the notoriously hilly race …

Pam LeBlanc, posing with Boo Boo, one of the resident alpacas.
Pam LeBlanc, posing with Boo Boo, one of the resident alpacas.

1. The two resident alpacas, Yogi and Boo Boo, who donned Zooma race shirts and posed for photos with the runners before the race started.

2. The dapple gray draft horse that whinnied and pranced along the fence line along the first mile of the course.

2. Oceans of bluebonnets!

3. Pace setters Steve Pina and Jen Barry, who sheperded the 2-hour group to the finish line right on time, even if I did lag slightly behind.

4. Meeting Sarah Bowen Shae, of the website and co-author of the new book “Tales from Another Mother Runner.”

5. Friends with babies, especially race director Brae Blackley, with a new one strapped to her chest as she read out race results, and Desiree Ficker, whose-almost-2-year-old met up with Mom after she paced the 1:40 group to the finish.

Race director Brae Blackley, with her new baby.
Race director Brae Blackley, with her new baby.

6. Getting serenaded by mooing cows.

7. Conquering those quad-killing hills!

8. Finally (finally!) getting through those zigzags through the golf course during the mind-numbing last 3 miles of the run.

9. Getting cheered by Julie Arocha just when I needed it most.

10. Post-race relaxing by the Colorado River.

Results of 2014 Austin Marathon updated after winner Joseph Mutinda admits to doping

Marathon winner Joseph Mutinda crosses the finish line at the 2013 Austin Marathon on February 16, 2014. Mutinda admitted to doping this week. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Marathon winner Joseph Mutinda crosses the finish line at the 2013 Austin Marathon on February 16, 2014. Mutinda admitted to doping this week. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

A quick update from John Conley, race director of the Austin Marathon, on the disqualification of Joseph Mutinda as the winner of the 2014 Austin Marathon.

USADA announced earlier this week that Mutinda, a Kenyan track and field athlete, admitted to using prohibited substances and accepted a three-year sanction for his doping offenses. He tested positive for 19-norandrosterone in a sample collected at the 2014 Austin Marathon on February 16, 2014.

“I’m pleased that the system has worked in this case and we have been successful in helping keep our sport free of drug cheats,” Conley said in a press release. “We have taken the matter of cheating of any kind seriously for years and we are particularly vigilant for doping infractions. We instituted doping controls at our race as far back as 2003 by our own initiative and at our own expense.”

Under the race’s policy, prize money is not released until after results of doping control tests are released. Mutinda’s prize was withheld while he appealed his case. Everyone else was paid on time after the anti-doping results came back last May, Conley said.

“With this decision from USADA, we will adjust the prize money paid to Kipkoech Ruto and Toyoyuki Abe upward, and now award third place prize money to Abraham Kiprop,” Conley said.

Mutinda’s name was removed from results and the new order of finish has been adjusted to show the following top three for the 2014 race:

1. Kipkoech Ruto 2:14.45 $3,000 + $1,000 sub-2:20 bonus

2. Toyoyuki Abe 2:19.58 $2,000 + $1,000 sub-2:20 bonus

3. Abraham Kiprop 2:20.43 $1,000


Run through Johnson’s Backyard Garden at Garden Gallop 5K

Johnson's Backyard Garden will host a 5K Garden Gallop at this year's Spring Hoedown on April 4. Photo courtesy Johnson's Backyard Garden
Johnson’s Backyard Garden will host a 5K Garden Gallop at this year’s Spring Hoedown on April 4. Photo courtesy Johnson’s Backyard Garden

I keep picturing myself dashing past rows of carrot seedlings and leafy green tomato plants covered with blossoms. What else would you expect at a 5K run through an organic farm?

Johnson’s Backyard Garden will host a Garden Gallop 5K and Fun Run at its farm along the Colorado River as part of its annual Spring Hoedown on April 4.

Farm owner Brenton Johnson loves to run, and wanted to create and event that unites two of his favorite things – running and farming. The 5K and 1-mile Fun Run will meander through the 200-acre farm and the Farmshare teaching farm.

Beth and Brenton Johnson love to run. Photo courtesy Johnson's Backyard Garden
Beth and Brenton Johnson love to run. Photo courtesy Johnson’s Backyard Garden

Just don’t trample the seedlings.

Race registration is $40 here and includes admission to the Hoedown, a farm-to-table buffet (meat or vegetarian options) catered by Iron Wood Icehouse, and a Garden Gallop T-shirt. A portion of proceeds will be donated to Farmshare Austin, a local non-profit that encourages the expansion of organic farming and food in Central Texas.

Gumbo Ce Soir, The Show and Tellers, La Tampiqueña (with a special appearance by Mr. Will), and Out of the Blue will provide live music. Dance lessons are also planned.

Gates open at 9 a.m. The 5K Garden Gallop starts at 10 a.m. and the Kids’ Fun Run starts at 10:15 a.m. Kids activities start at 11 a.m., with food served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The farm is located at 4008 River Road, about 10 miles past Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Cedar Creek.

Winner of 2014 Austin Marathon admits to doping

This from a press release from USADA:
Kenyan Track & Field Athlete, Mutinda, Accepts USADA Sanction For Rule Violations
Colorado Springs, Colo. (March 25, 2015) – USADA announced today that Joseph Mutinda, a Kenyan athlete in the sport of track & field, who has trained in Santa Fe, N.M. for the past several years, has admitted to the use of various prohibited substances and accepted a three-year sanction for his doping offenses.
Mutinda, 40, tested positive for 19-norandrosterone (19-NA) above the decision limit of 2.5ng/mL on two separate occurrences: first, as a result of an in-competition urine sample collected by USADA at the 2014 Austin Marathon & Half Marathon event held in Austin, Texas on February 16, 2014, and second, as a result of an out-of-competition sample collected by USADA on May 3, 2014. He also admitted to the use of erythropoietin (EPO) and furosemide.
The substances Mutinda admitted using and that were detected in his samples are prohibited under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing and the International Association of Athletics Federations (“IAAF”) Anti-Doping Rules, both of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. 19-NA is a metabolite of an Anabolic Agent, EPO is a substance in the class of Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors and Related Substances, and furosemide is a substance in the class of Diuretics and Other Masking Agents.
Mutinda’s period of ineligibility began on February 16, 2014, the date his first sample was collected at the Austin Marathon. Mutinda finished first in the 2014 Austin Marathon and his result from that competition is disqualified. In addition, Mutinda has been disqualified from all other competitive results obtained on and subsequent to December 15, 2013, the date from which records show he was first administered EPO, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes. 
In an effort to aid athletes, as well as all support team members such as parents and coaches, in understanding the rules applicable to them, USADA provides comprehensive instruction on its website on the testing process and prohibited substances, how to obtain permission to use a necessary medication, and the risks and dangers of taking supplements as well as performance-enhancing and recreational drugs. In addition, the agency manages a drug reference hotline, Drug Reference Online (, conducts educational sessions with National Governing Bodies and their athletes, and proactively distributes a multitude of educational materials, such as the Prohibited List, easy-reference wallet cards, periodic newsletters, and protocol and policy reference documentation.
USADA is responsible for the testing and results management process for athletes in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement, and is equally dedicated to preserving the integrity of sport through research initiatives and educational programs.

True Athlete Games set for Saturday at Austin Simply Fit’s new northwest location

Athletes in the True Athlete Games at Austin Simply Fit's new northwest location in Leander will compete in 10 events, including the deadlift, shown here. Photo courtesy Austin Simply Fit
Athletes in the True Athlete Games at Austin Simply Fit’s new northwest location in Leander will compete in 10 events, including the deadlift, shown here. Photo courtesy Austin Simply Fit

Want to see how your fitness stacks up against other Austin area athletes?

The first qualifying rounds of the True Athlete Games, hosted by Austin Simply Fit and Outright Fitness, are set for March 28.

The competition uses standardized exercises and bodyweight-based assessments to test strength, power, speed and endurance. The games will coincide with the grand opening of Austin Simply Fit’s new northwest location, which includes a studio and events center in Leander. The celebration is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Austin Simply Fit's new location is located on Bagdad Road in Leander. Photo courtesy Austin Simply Fit
Austin Simply Fit’s new location is located on Bagdad Road in Leander. Photo courtesy Austin Simply Fit

Saturday’s competition begins with a weigh-in at 8 a.m. followed by a shotgun start at 10 a.m. Athletes will have 90 minutes to complete 10 events – deadlift, agility, farmers carry, 2K row, banded bear crawl, 10-yard acceleration, bench press, broad jump, reverse sandbell throw and banded pull-up – in any order they want. Then they’ll assemble for the final challenge, the sled medley.

Qualifying competitions are scheduled for March 28, June 27 and Sept. 26. The finals are set for Dec. 19. All competitions will take place at Austin Simply Fit Northwest’s Fitness Studio and Events Center, 2906 Bagdad South, Suite 300 in Leander.

Register here.

Who wants ‘spaghetti arms’?

weak“Get Spring spaghetti arms.”

That’s what the subject line of an email that arrived in my inbox this week read.


The email, a pitch from a public relations agency to write about a trainer at a California health club, boasted that I might want to write about her because she could help women “looking to achieve the perfect spaghetti arm.”


Not sure about you, but I’d rather my arms didn’t look like skinny strands of pasta. I want fit, strong arms, not wet noodles. The press release even featured this fetching photo, just to (presumably) give me a little visual enticement.

spag arms


Next I checked with, which coughed up this flattering description for the term spaghetti arms: “Someone who has really scrawny arms. Tends to be a dweeb with a nerdy profession such as a tax accountant.” (My sister happens to be a tax accountant, but she’s not a dweeb and her arms aren’t scrawny.) Then it used the term in a sample sentence: “I can’t lift this pen to write. It’s too heavy to pick up with these spaghetti arms of mine.”

Not something I’d aspire to. How about you?

“Tales From Another Mother Runner” book party set for March 26 at Texas Running Company

TAMR Mother Runner cover with quote JPEGTwo Austin women who contributed to “Tales from Another Mother Runner” will sign copies of the book at a party at an Austin running store next week.

Kristin Armstrong and Susan Shorn, along with the book’s editor Sarah Bowen Shea, will appear from 7:30 to 9:30 March 26 at Texas Running Company, 1011 West Fifth Street, No. 110.

Armstrong has written seven books, including “Mile Markers: The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run,” and contributes regularly to Runner’s World magazine. (Yes, she also used to be married to a certain famous cyclist.)

“I have two proudest running accomplishments,” Armstrong says. “One is completing a 50-mile trail ultramarathon. It took freaking forever, but it was pure triumph to cross the line. The second is the first time I ran with all three of my children across the Golden Gate Bridge, a major milestone after years of sweating behind baby joggers. Glorious.”

Schorn, author of “Smile at Strangers,” writes Bitchslap, a monthly column at; she also contributes to The Hairpin and the Rumpus.

“My favorite gear for long, cold runs is finger-less mittens,” she says. “When I warm up, I can slip my thumbs out and just push them up my arms.”

Shea is co-author of “Run Like a Mother + Train Like a Mother” and co-chief mother runner at Another Mother Runner. She’s about to run her 11th marathon, and says she’s proud that she’s never run the same 26.2-miler twice, although she’ll make an exception if she qualifies for the Boston Marathon again.

The book comes from Shea and Dimitry McDowell, who run the website (Where, I should point out, you can buy a T-shirt that says “badass mother runner.” I love that.)

Austin’s running scene featured in April issue of Runner’s World

Runners World

Austin gets a big nod in the April edition of Runner’s World magazine, which features an article about the local running scene.

Editors wanted to use an Austin runner for the cover, and in the casting process discovered Anne Jones, who trains with Rogue Running and ran track at the University of Texas.

The story spreads plenty of love, giving shout outs to training groups like Gilbert’s Gazelles, Team Spiridon and the Austin Runners Club and running locations like the Barton Creek Greenbelt, the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail and the track at O’Henry Middle School. Local running shops Luke’s Locker and Jack and Adam’s Bicycles are mentioned, as are fueling spots JuiceLand, Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop and Taco Deli. Even our very own Statesman Capitol 10,000 makes the story.

Austin photographer Michael Larsen, of Larsen & Talbert, shot the cover, and Austin writer Robyn Ross wrote the piece. Austin-based Sarah Wilson contributed inside photos.

The April issue means that two of first three covers of Runner’s World this year have featured University of Texas graduates.

Katie Hoaldridge, one of Jone’s teammates on the UT track team who now runs with the New Jersey New York Track Club, starred on the cover of the magazine’s January/February issue. Coincidentally, that cover was photographed by former Austin American-Statesman photographer Peter Yang, who now lives in Brooklyn.

Why two Austin cover models in such a short period? Coincidence, according to photo editor Renee Keith.

Runner’s World uses fitness model agencies to help cast its cover shoots. The agencies send a selection of candidates, which the magazine’s editors review and narrow down. To help them, the candidates answer a questionnaire about their running habits – providing details about everything from their workout routine to their competitive background, their distance specialty and speed. The editors also request a video, so they can get a glimpse of each athlete’s running style and form.

Cyclists in Suits to lobby legislators on March 30 with BikeTexas

Participants in last year's Cyclists in Suits pose on the steps of the Capitol. Photo courtesy BikeTexas.
Participants in last year’s Cyclists in Suits pose on the steps of the Capitol. Photo courtesy BikeTexas.

Heads up, fans of two-wheeled transportation.

BikeTexas officials invite bicyclists to join them at the state Capitol on March 30 for their annual Cyclists in Suits Day.

The group will gather at 8:30 a.m. at the Capitol. At 9 a.m. BikeTexas staffers will brief the group about current bills in the Legislature that are related to bicycling. Then the group will break into teams and head out to mingle with lawmakers. The goal is to have cyclists from every Legislative district in the state make an appearance, to remind legislators that cyclists are also voters and the bike lobby is strong.

Participants are asked to dress in business attire.

The group will lunch at the Capitol Grill (plan on spending about $10). At the end of the day, they’ll take a photo on the Capitol steps before heading back to the BikeTexas office at 1902 East Sixth Street for happy hour.

Know cyclists in other Texas cities who might want to participate? BikeTexas is organizing bus transportation to Austin for the event from many cities.

To register, go here. For more information, email