Former racewalker returns to his roots —for one day

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecil Chapman, a 49-year-old Parkersburg resident, is one of more than 100 persons participating in the weekly training session for the Aug. 17 News and Sentinel Half Marathon.

Chapman is employed by the Wood County Board of Education as a teacher’s aide.

A former race walker, Chapman began running in January 2012 and ran last year’s half marathon.

Chapman has agreed to write a weekly diary of his efforts to train for the Aug. 20 race. This is his recap of the July 15 training session:

Today’s diary is being dedicated to the walkers who are also training for the half marathon.

Monday was the 9 mile run/walk from City Park to Belpre Civitan Park and back.

Since I was a race walker turned runner, I walked to give the perspective from a walker. In Tom Kramer’s absence, Lou Molinaro and Chip Allman give course route directions and, of course, the location of the all-important water stops!

The walkers started at 5:15 p.m., which left me to start walking by myself 45 minutes later with my fellow runners. As we headed up Washington Avenue, the temperature was 93 with high humidity.

As I was getting into the walking groove again, Donna Kramer ran by and said this was going to be a slow, steady run. By the time I reached the first mile, most of the runners were out of sight. So as I headed down Market Street nearing the first water stop, I saw runners heading for the Belpre Bridge.

As I stopped for water, Lou jokingly said, “you’re bringing up the rear.” As I headed to the bridge and started across it, I passed several runners who seemed to be struggling from the heat and humidity.

As we started down the other side of the bridge, Rita Van Valey came running by at a brisk pace and said she wanted to see if she could do it! As I turned left to head to Blennerhassett Avenue, I was feeling awesome and was maintaining a steady, quick pace.

It felt amazing to walk this distance again. My goal at this point was to catch some of the walkers who left early but I had none in sight! I still passed an occasional runner who was struggling! As I was approaching the next water stop, I caught up to some walkers who just made it there.

They had come across Washington Boulevard and were heading back to the park via Blennerhassett Avenue. I went past the water stop to the turnaround in hopes of catching and walking with some walkers. As I came back to the water stop, I took a quick drink and headed down Blennerhassett Avenue, making my way back to the park.

At around 5 miles, I still felt great and was beginning to pick up my pace. As I crossed the bridge back to Parkersburg and the final water stop, I saw several runners and walkers heading up Market Street to the Park!

Along with the water, Linda had freezer pops for everyone. Thank you, Linda !!

As I left the water stop, I headed to Avery Street in order to include the 13th Street hill in my walk. As I approached 13th Street, I thought about passing it up, but my gut said you are feeling good, go for it!

As I topped the hill and headed down the other side, I was able to pick my pace up a little bit more. Approaching Washington Avenue, I wanted to go a little faster so I could complete my walk at around a 11 minute per mile pace.

As I got to the park and stopped my watch, I completed my walk in a 10:57 per mile pace. I was tickled with that. As I headed to grab a drink, Kim Williams, Stephanie Camp and Amanda Richards had me to run another mile around the park with them, thanks ladies!

While getting water, Greg Buckley told me he got to help some fellow runners finish running to the park. He provided a lot of encouragement to Angie Wigal, Chris Wilson, and Shaun Sydenstricker over the last mile of the run. He stated it felt good because many of his fellow runners had helped him out! On Sunday, we will be running the half marathon course as our training for next week. It will be 13.1 miles. Until next week, keep running/walking!!