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Race into shape


by Larry S. Chowning

Improving one’s quality of life can actually come from simply a walk around the park.

Walking is a “feel good” exercise that improves health and, for many, helps improve one’s attitude on life.

Area walkers use the parks and sidewalks of local towns and communities to take their daily walks. Some people walk on their own while others like to walk in groups.

Team In Training (TIT) programs sponsored by the Middlesex YMCA have become very popular. Middlesex YMCA executive director Rosabeth Kissman said her YMCA participates in two TIT races, both in Richmond—the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K in the spring and the Suntrust 8K in the fall.


Still time to sign up

The Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K presented by Martin’s topped the 30,000 mark in total entries received by February 14.

The 10K is set for Saturday, March 31, and will accept up to 42,500 entries.

Over 1,000 youth runners ages 5-12 have registered for the Virginia 529 Kids Run, which crosses the same finish line as the 10K.

After a very successful 10K T-shirt Design Contest with nearly 50 entries, the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k is proud to show off this year’s T-shirt design. The artist has requested to remain anonymous, but he has been awarded $1,000 for the winning design as well as the opportunity to have his design featured on 45,000 T-shirts.

The goal of the contest was to find a design that fully portrays the experience of the race. Since 2001, the 10K has grown to over 40,000 participants, tons of partying spectators, and has become a Richmond institution.  Add costumes, spirit groups, and bands to the historic beauty of Monument Avenue, and you’ve got an amazing community event! 

Registration is still open. The registration fee is $35 through February 29. The Virginia 529 Kids Run costs $15 through February 29. Registration is available online at or call (804) 285-9495, ext. 247.

There is currently a team preparing for the March 31 Ukrop’s 10K. “The training programs are very special programs for our YMCA in that they not only provide a motivating group setting that fosters encouragement and accountability, but also provide a system of offerings to help grow your fitness potential no matter what the level,” said Kissman.

“From the walker to the novice runner to the intermediate runner seeking personal records, the program offers nutritional clinics, strength-training sessions and personalized shoe fittings to build the best foundation for every team member,” said Kissman.

As part of the Y’s continued endeavor to encourage a sustainable healthy lifestyle, the TIT program now offers wellness checks throughout the program to track progress. The wellness checks includes blood pressure, weight, girth, BMI and heart rate monitoring.

Every Saturday leading up to the 10K the team gathers at different locations throughout Middlesex for mileage-specific training walks/runs formulated for each level. “They are experiencing the beauty of our community while achieving the huge accomplishment of participating in a race,” Kissman said.

The program also reaches out to people who are not members of the YMCA by offering complimentary use of the Y facilities at Hartfield throughout the training program so they can explore other wellness opportunities as they train.

Lisa Walker of Urbanna has walked in the Ukrop’s 10K for the past six years and is part of the YMCA group this year. “It’s really fun to go and do the race on Monument Avenue. It’s pretty scenery and exciting to see all the people and listen to the music. It’s really exciting.

This year’s 10K is expected to have 42,000 participants of all ages.

“It’s for walkers and runners. It’s fun to walk with the group. It’s not a competition,” said Walker. “Everybody is supporting each other.”

This will be Claudia Soucek’s third year in the 10K race. “It started out as a challenge,” she said. “I had a friend who did an 8K in the fall and, I figured if she could do it, then I could do it.

In her first race Soucek signed up with her daughter, Marcie. “I walked it and she ran it. When I joined the training group, I got to know the group and you become committed to keep on doing it.

“The first year in the race I pushed as hard as I could and did it as fast as I possibly could,” she said. “Last year, I didn’t take it quite as seriously. They had bands along the way playing music and I’d stop and dance. It was a lot more fun.

“People cheer you on too,” said Soucek. “Last year when I got to about a mile and a half from the finish line an older gentlemen came out and said, ‘You can do it. I know you can do it.’

“I guess, he saw my gray hair and figured I needed encouragement,” she said. “It really is a lot of fun. You get caught up in it, and once you realize that you can do it then why not do it again?”

The Middlesex YMCA is looking to expand the TIT program to include a half marathon training program. The team also will train for the second annual Deltaville 5K set for June 30.


Mary Davis (left) and Lisa Walker (right) are part of the Middlesex YMCA Team In Training program that will walk in the Ukrops 10K on Saturday, March 31, in Richmond. The Middlesex YMCA is sponsoring 10 participants. The Y also has a separate walking group that walks in the spring and summer. (Photo by Larry Chowning)

Safety Tips
  • Make sure you have good shoes.
  • Always run or walk facing traffic.
  • Don’t run or walk with headphones.
  • Wear a reflective vest at night.
  • Always carry identification with you.
  • Be alert for cars. At an intersection, look at the driver of the car. Make sure they see you or give them the right of way.
  • Always stretch after running or walking. It is also good to stretch five minutes into a run or walk.
  • Drink plenty of water. Even in cold weather you should be drinking plenty of fluid.
  • If anything hurts, STOP.  Remember RICE (Rest, ice, compression and elevation).

Other challenging races
  • RivahFest in Essex holds a 5K sponsored by the Tappahannock-Essex Volunteer Fire Department. It will be held on Saturday, June 16. 

  • The 2nd annual Deltaville 5K will be held on Saturday, June 30, during Heritage Day. 

  • The Reedville Independence Day Celebration Firecracker 5K will be held on Saturday, July 7. Race day registration usually starts at 6:45 a.m. and the race begins at 8 a.m.

  • The Mathews Market Days 5K Run and Junior Mile will be held on September 8 during Market Days starting from Williams Wharf Landing.

  • The Irvington Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot will be held on the morning of Thursday, November 22, at Irvington Commons. Races include a two-mile run/walk, a five-mile run, and a 100-yard tot trot.

Water and bananas are a walker’s best friends. Runners and walkers should drink plenty of water when exercising to avoid dehydration. Bananas help fill the body with nutrients and energy. (Photo by Larry Chowning)

Nutrition tips
  • Make half of the breads and grains you eat whole grain. Whole grains are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and are good for the heart.
  • Choose a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Try to get fruits and vegetables of different colors—dark green, purple, red, orange and yellow.
  • Drink plenty of water, especially when exercising to prevent dehydration.
  • Choose low-fat fairy products. They keep your teeth and bones strong.
  • Avoid saturated fats, trans-fat and high-cholesterol foods by reading the nutrition facts label. Choose lean meats, fish, and beans instead of red meat and whole milk.
  • Have a light snack such as a banana and skim milk before exercise to fill your body with nutrients and energy.

posted 02.23.2012

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