Sunday, November 8, 2009


It is hard to describe the 3 days that Team New Kids experienced. You can describe the weather, sometimes the sore muscles, the unending trips to find a bathroom, the snacks, the cheers, and all the pink that surrounded us, but it is hard to sum up the experience as a whole. Each day of the Atlanta 3-day was special.

It started on Day 1 with a heartfelt opening ceremony that got us pumped up to walk out of Lake Lanier. We were encouraged along the way at the cheering stations by family members and on-lookers alike. We got high fives from little kids at an elementary school! We were so excited to sit down and eat lunch and then it started pouring down rain. We got soaked and a little disheartened but ended up laughing hysterically. We were thrilled when we realized we only had 4 more miles to walk that day. We were even more excited to see friends and family come out (in the rain) to cheer us on that last mile to the buses back to camp. And boy were we excited to see chair massages by Energizer at camp. That first night I was amazed to be surrounded by so many pink tents inside the Georgia Trade Center. It was a true sea of pink. We got to enjoy some good food and entertainment to boost our spirits. And I was really excited for that hot shower and no one passing out!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cheers and Cookies!

I feel a lot of pressure to make this the best blog posting yet!  The past 21 weeks have been leading up to this-the final blog!  It should be a doozie of a blog.  On top of some pretty spectacular stories to tell (you KNOW there was spectacle-at it’s finest), I had 72 hours to think about how I would share this journey with my faithful readers. 

There is so much to share; I am not sure where to begin.  I could tell you about the 4am start to Day 1, leading up to a moving Opening Ceremony and tearful start to Mile #1.  I could begin with the downpour during Day 1 lunch that sent Team New Kids from quite discouraged to hysterical laughter as every layer (and I do mean EVERY layer) of our clothing was saturated with cold rain.  There are stories of pitching tents (which, thanks to the aforementioned rain were pitched INSIDE), chair massages, 700 port-a-potties of which I used 675, Kim’s Energizer award, the nightly Freedom Hour, regular proclamations that Meredith needed to “Be a more tidy tent mate” and “We are NOT at the Sheraton,” and the elation that a perfectly placed CVS had both indoor plumbing and central heating.  But, those are all “you had to be there” kinds of moments.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Beginning...and The End

We did it! Team New Kids on the Walk completed the Atlanta 3-Day Event! 60 miles....CHECK!! Every member of our 6 member team completed every mile and it was a wonderful journey. The Atlanta event raised over $5.6 Million dollars and it was an honor to be part of this effort.

I will post a more detailed record of our journey over the weekend after enjoying a week of vacation. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos of our team at the opening ceremony and just moments after completing the Victory Walk.

Thanks for reading and for supporting Team New Kids!

Jenn L.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's The Final Countdown!

This is it!  We have made it to walk week!  Kim sent out an email this morning that read:  “Happy Walk Week, Ladies!  Can you believe it is finally here?” and I wasn’t sure whether to cheer or puke!  We did it.  We completed 21 weeks of training, made it through 2 seasons, logged in excess of 400 miles each, and raised over $17,000 and a ton of awareness for Breast Cancer!  All that is left to do is take the bold steps to start the 60-mile journey.  My spirits are high and I am anxious to get to Atlanta so I can join the other New Kids and get this adventure underway. 

This week I received more support from two coworkers, Jennie Duval and Jenn Powell.  Both Jennie and Jenn (there have been as many as 5 versions of the name Jennifer in our office at one time-yes, it is terribly confusing) have been amazing cheerleaders for me.  I am honored to add them to the list of folks who have joined me in the fight to find a cure for Breast Cancer.

I will be recognizing all of you and honoring your loved ones during the walk in a very special way. Julianne Dunn and my mom have put their crafty skills to great use and created a pink ribbon bearing the name of every person who made a donation to the Komen Foundation and one for every person that you have honored with your donation and I have chosen to honor with my walk.  There are an impressive 85 ribbons on my Mickey Mouse hook and I will wear it proudly on my backpack throughout the walk.  I can’t wait for my fellow walkers to ask me about my ribbons.  I have 85 unique stories to share-and you KNOW I have the gift for gab and will tell them ALL ABOUT YOU!

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Almost Here!

Oh my the 3-Day is fast approaching. A week from today we will be mostly through Day 1. I just received our training email for this week and it says:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 6 Miles
Wed: 30 minutes cross training
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 19.4 miles
Saturday: 18.9 Miles
Sunday: 15.8 Miles

Wow! You know it is close when they send you the daily mileage! As a friend pointed out it doesn't quite equal 60 miles. They count you walking around in camp because it is so large. I am starting to get a little worried about the weather. Right now the forecast is for highs in the mid-60s and raining all weekend. With all the rain that Atlanta has had, we are pretty saturated and I hope camp doesn't flood like it did last year.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Suppressing My Inner Diva

10 days!  Just 10 days until we take the first steps on the 3-Day Breast Cancer journey!  10 days to get our heads and our feet in the game of 60 miles.  One more weekend of training, 8.5 days of work, 9 sleeps.  It’s not far off!

These days nearly everyone is asking me, “Are you ready?”  How the heck should I know?  I think I’m ready.  I’ve followed the formula for “readiness.”

  •  Raise $2300.  CHECK
  • Follow the provided training schedule.  CHECK 
  • Study the 50+ page, highly informative handbook.  CHECK
  •  Read the message boards to learn from experienced walkers.  CHECK
  • Read every Facebook posting from walkers who have participated in 2009 Boston, San Francisco, and Denver walks.  CHECK
  •  Medical check, online check-in, fulfill significant packing supply list, tent mate selection…all CHECK

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hot, Fresh, Oasis!


The start of October brings 3 kinds of good news! 

1. It is Breast Cancer Awareness month!  PINK has arrived!  In the past 5 days, I’ve seen the power of pink on NFL players, Ellen has launched her Breast Cancer dunk tank, and my daily Yoplait yogurt has a pink fundraising lid!  It is inspiring to see such a visible effort in the fight to find a cure for this terrible disease.

2.  The New Kids on the Walk have reached the fundraising minimum for the 3-Day Breast Cancer Event!  If you didn’t see Kim’s big announcement, scroll down!!!  We are thrilled to have raised over $12,000 as a team.  We attribute our fundraising success to folks like Shawn Seuberling, Danielle White, and the LeCount Family, who all contributed to my efforts this week.  Shawn and Heidi LeCount have a Meredith College connection-I worked with both of them while I was earning my master’s degree.  Aside from being the most FUN family in Raleigh, Heidi and her wonderful husband Kevin and precious son Nathan support the MC efforts in the fight against breast cancer and I am proud to have them on my team as well.   In addition to loaning me their neighborhood for my first every 6-mile walk (I remember when 6 seemed like a long way) and their pup Addie for many miles in SC, Shawn and Danielle generously celebrated their birthdays by giving ME a card and donation.  Not a bad gig!

3.  We will walk this month!  When we started this journey in June, October seemed a million years away.  I can’t believe it is here already and in just 18 days, we will take the first of many steps on the 60-mile journey!   

This weekend I visited NC to attend the U2 concert at Carter-Finley Stadium.  Meredith was also in town for a high school reunion so we were able to share a 10-mile walk on Saturday.  It was wonderful to have a fellow New Kid team member for some great company and a much needed change of scenery among the streets of downtown Raleigh.   Mere and I both admitted to being a bit discouraged about Saturday’s walk.  What we needed was some motivation-something to keep us going when our feet were heavy and our attitudes were weary…what we needed was a doughnut!! We decided on a route that took us past the Peace St. Krispy Kreme at about mile #7.  We knew if we made it that far, we could enjoy a sugary boost and sail through the final 3 miles. 

We were on the search for doughnuts.  What we discovered was the secret to the obesity problem in America.  Look out Dr. Oz, Jenn and Mere have figured it out!  When we entered the KK, we were in awe at the oasis of doughy glazed jewels in the glass case in front of us.  THIS is what we had been working for!  Every step of the 7 miles had gotten us to this point…YES, YES, YES!

I was contemplating the impossible choice of the fall favorite pumpkin glazed vs. the sour cream glazed cake doughnut when I was interrupted by a KK staff member who asked if she could take my order.  Until that moment, I had forgotten anyone else was in the store and I would have swore that there were Anglican chants playing softly through the air. 

Can you take my order?  Yes.  I’ll have one of each.  No…stick with the sour cream glazed cake.  I confidently placed my order and when Meredith did the same (chocolate covered crème filled), the staff person asked if we would like a half dozen.  When I replied, “No thank you” she retaliated with “Three will be $3.23 and a half dozen is only $5.25.” (Yes, we ordered 3 but 1 was for Ben who was back at home.) When we responded that we only needed the 3, the woman repeated herself, with shock in her voice “But, a half dozen is only $5.25!”  As if it wasn’t evident from our attire and the 10-pound water filled pack on my back, I informed her that we had walked there and if we ate 6 doughnuts it would rather defeat the fitness benefits of a 10-mile walk.  Caution to others:  Do not make references to the possibly less than healthy content of a doughnut, while standing in a Krispy Kreme. 

I claimed that Meredith and I discovered the root of obesity in America.  Krispy Kreme doughnuts?  NO! Don’t blame the doughnuts, don’t ever blame the doughnuts!  It’s the failing economy that is to blame!  Due to the decline in spending among Americans, employees of Krispy Kreme have to seize any opportunity to bring in an extra dollar (or $2.02).  It’s simply a supply and demand issue.  Fewer folks visit the KK, so those of us who do are expected to take up the slack and buy a few extra.  I’m happy to bear my own load, but folks, you have to get out there and support the doughnut industry! 

This weekend I challenge you all to get outside, take a walk to the nearest KK (or any doughnut retailer but as a NC native, I remain loyal to the Krispy Kreme), and contribute to the demand! If we all do our part, those of us who have loyally supported the doughnut industry can walk away, hassle free, with 1 doughy treat-per visit.   Custard filled, blueberry cake, football shaped (for a limited time only), crullers, and chocolate covered with sprinkles are counting on YOU to help fight obesity-one doughnut at a time! 

Editorial Note:  Before I move on, I have to point out a few connections that I realized as I was writing this blog.  1. Shawn and Heidi donated to my fundraiser this week.  I met them both at Meredith College. 2.  Meredith is my teammate, and walking partner this week, who is named after Meredith College-though she did not attend.  3. Meredith and I visited Krispy Kreme. Shawn's mom works for the KK home office in Winston-Salem.  STRANGE??

There is a new face on my 3-Day page.   This week, I am spotlighting Jamia Clark. Ms. Jamia is the late grandmother of my friend, Mandie Thacker.  Mandie made a donation to my walk in honor of her grandma.  Mandie had this to say about her grandmother: 

She was a breast cancer survivor who had a mastectomy of the affected breast in 1994. She was an amazing woman who fought and won the fight against this disease. She suffered so much in her life, living with diabetes and congestive heart failure and surviving a triple bypass and dialysis three times a week for over 5 years. She never complained, never lost faith, and never lost her amazing smile.

I never met Jamia but I see traits of her in Mandie who, like her grandmother, is a faithful person who finds the positive in any situation. I am happy to share Jamia’s story and photo on my page at:

This week I was on the injured roster for a few days.  Shin splints are to blame!  I only logged 16 miles and 33,675 steps.  The rest was well worth it because I am back to feeling 100%! 

Grand Totals:  Miles= 440 Steps= 861,021  Doughnuts consumed=1

Happy Stepping!


Friday, October 2, 2009

Only 21 Days Away and GOOD NEWS is Coming Your Way!!

We are THRILLED to report the best news that we have had since we all set forth on this journey

………........................wait for it…........................………

We are proud to announce that ALL members of Team New Kids on the Walk have now reached our minimum required fundraising goal!

HUGE Thank Yous to each of your who helped us reach our goal! This means we all get to walk and no longer have to worry about the fundraising side of this challenge. This does NOT mean we are no longer accepting financial support. We will absolutely continue to accept contributions that will go toward saving lives and curing cancer! After all, that is what this is all about!

We are clearly in the home stretch of our training for the 3 Day! We have now hit our peak distance and now taper off a bit from here till the actual event. We are quickly approaching the postmark deadline for any FAN MAIL that you may want to send us as we walk. Any words of encouragement will be greatly appreciated throughout the 60 miles! A brief reminder:

Write a letter expressing your love and support to your walker. Send it to our P.O. Box, and we'll collect the letters and deliver to them on the event at the Breast Cancer 3-Day camp. Send letters to:

Breast Cancer 3-Day Post Office
880 Marietta Hwy. Suite 630

Roswell, GA 30075

Envelopes only, please. No boxes or large packages. Mail must be postmarked no later than October 13th in order to ensure delivery. Any mail that is not retrieved by the participant by November 6th will be destroyed.

The 3 Day org has also released the Spectator Information for the Atlanta 3 Day. All of the materials we received when we first signed up for this crazy adventure always mentioned that spectator information would be released close to the date of our walk. Now that this info has been released it is another reminder that our time has arrived! If you are in the Atlanta area (or in the cases of Mama Smith and Mama Latino are flying in especifically for this), here is the info you will need in order to come join us for opening or closing ceremonies or to come cheer us on at a Cheering station! PS: Costumes and Signs are welcomed and ENCOURAGED at all cheering stations!

Friday, October 23

7:30 am: Opening Ceremony

Lake Lanier Islands
7000 Holiday Rd.
Lake Lanier Islands
, GA 30518

8:45 am - 10:45 am: Cheering Station
Downtown Buford
89 Main St.
Buford, GA 30518

12:00 pm - 5:00 pm: Cheering Station
Suwanee Station
Station Center Blvd.

Suwanee, GA 30024

Saturday, October 24

9:15 am - 12:00 pm: Cheering Station
Oreck Vacuums Store & Plaza
5005 Peachtree Pkwy
Norcross, GA 30092

11:30 am - 6:00 pm: Cheering Station
Duluth Monarch School

3057 Main St.
Duluth, GA 30096

Sunday, October 25

7:45 am - 9:30 am: Cheering Station
4950 Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
Chamblee, GA 30341

10:45 am - 1:30 pm: Cheering Station
Atlantic Stations
171 17th St.
Atlanta, GA 30363

5:30 pm: Closing Ceremony

Turner Field
755 Hank Aaron Dr. SW
, GA 30315

We hope to see you all out there along the trail!

With Love, Hope and LOTS of Walking! Happy Stepping! Happy Walking!

Team New Kids on the Walk

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Think About Paris, When I’m High On Red Wine…

With the help of many friends and family, I have raised $2805! That is $500 more than the minimum requirement to participate in the 3-Day event! It isn’t over yet!  This week, some new names joined the list of supporters.  Eileen & Tony Murzyn joined me in the fight!  Elieen is a long time family friend who has always supported me-from buying girl scout cookies, providing me with home made hair barrettes to match my best outfit on picture day (honestly, every school picture I have from pre-K-3rd grade includes one of her barrettes), helping Mom in the planning of numerous birthday and graduation celebrations, to giving me a job during the Christmas season.  I was not surprised, though very grateful, when she and Tony offered their support toward my latest endeavor. 

Another name on the list is the lovely, Joe Bechely.  In addition to attending last week’s fundraiser, Joe was kind enough to donate to several of the New Kids team members.  Joe is a former classmate from FSU who changed my life when he introduced me to the ladies of Sex and the City through his weekly Sunday evening dinner events. My life hasn’t been the same since. He is also the inspiration of mine and Kim’s future bestseller:  Situations I have found myself in…Because of Joe Bechely and the reason we often ask ourselves “How Did You Get Here?” I know that Joe and partner Alex will be at the walk, cheering us on!!  I apologize in advance to the other folks at the cheer stations.

I am proud to walk with the support of so many folks who share my passion to find a cure for Breast Cancer.  This week I was motivated by the 60 entries on my spreadsheet of donors.  60 individuals and families have expressed their belief in me-to walk 60 miles-through donations to the Breast Cancer 3-Day Event!  I’m overwhelmed! 

This week was the most challenging of our 21 weeks of training.  The suggested training was to complete 5 miles on Tuesday, 6 on Thursday, 18 miles on Saturday, and 15 miles on Sunday-that is a 44 mile week!  (Gamecock football trumps the schedule so I moved my Thursday walk to Friday and did a 3-day series of 6-18-15)  I am sure I wasn’t thinking this on Saturday afternoon but with 72 hours of hindsight, 18 wasn’t so bad!  It was dreadfully boring, but definitely doable. It rained for the first 13 miles so I had to make a few sock changes but Mother Nature was mostly on my side with cool temps and a nice breeze.  Sunday morning didn’t come as easily as Saturday morning.  When the alarm sounded at “way too early and still dark outside” o’clock, I was tempted to spend another hour or two in bed.  But, I channeled Michelle Ashcraft who used to say to the students in our class, “Choose your Tude….Dude!”  I chose my “Can Do” ‘Tude and got to stepping!

What I have learned during my 4 months of training for this event is that mental determination will take you places that you never dreamed your feet could go. It’s all about attitude!  The very official (and must be true) Wikipedia definition of attitude is:  A hypothetical construct that represents an individual’s degree of like or dislike for an item. Sunday morning, I was leaning toward the dislike side of the spectrum, until I remembered the 60 donors and numerous additional friends who are cheering me on.

When you look around, you can see lots of evidence of the power of Attitude.

Jimmy Buffett summed up attitude when he said:  “If we weren’t all crazy we would go insane!”  **Only my fellow Parrotheads understand the title of this blog entry.  Fins Up, to you all!

Alan Jackson said:  “It’s only half past 12, but I don’t care.  It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!”  Now THAT is a winning attitude!

Michael J Fox has become a self proclaimed Incurable Optimist, even in the face of adversity and declining health.  #1 on my “to read” list after the walk is his autobiography, Looking Up.

Jim Valvano told us:  “Don’t give up!  Don’t ever give up!”  and Kay Yow didn’t!  She challenged us all:  “When life kicks you, Let it kick you Forward!”

Who can forget Patti LaBelle who proclaimed: “I’m feeling good from my head to my shoes.  Know where I’m going and I know what to do!”

Heather Small inspired a nation (once she got her jingle out of the gay bars and onto the Biggest Loser) asking:  “What have you done today, to make you feel proud?” and responding with “I’m on my way.  Can’t stop me now.  And you can do the same!”

Melissa Etheridge spelled it out for Breast Cancer supporters when she cried:  “I run for your mother, your sister, your wife.  I run for you and me, my friend.  I run for life.”

I can hear the voices of each of these artists when I need a little extra boost.  They fill my playlist and keep my feet moving.  I’m even more inspired by the every day heroes in my life.  My attitude is most influenced by the people who help me push through the long and often uncomfortable miles.  I get the pep in my step from the people who read this blog every week.  When I need an attitude boost, I turn to YOU!  Here are just a few of the pick me ups that have helped me through 4 months of training and I know will keep me going during the 60-mile journey.

Mom, who is always the first one to read my blog. She stays up on Monday night until it is posted.  You all get an email from me on Tuesday morning, but I have one waiting from her-telling me how much she enjoyed my latest entry and giving me a “Your Daddy and I are proud of you!!”  (Special thanks to her for reading my weekly updates to Dad who is much less tech-savvy than Linda the email, instant message, text messaging grandma!)

Stuart, Jennifer K, and Nina who check in every week to ask how I’m feeling and to get the latest update on how the training is going.

Penny who sends me off every Friday with “I hope you have great walks this weekend!” and greets me every Monday morning with “How were your walks?”

Adrienne who joins me for my Monday step aerobics for cross training-and never laughs (out loud at least) when I make up my own beat.   

Dan who has tolerated far too many lunch conversations that have focused on the ta-tas.  I promise that after the walk, we’ll put a hush on the boob talk-at least for a few weeks.

Curtis Zimmerman said it, and I Believe it:  “Passion Supersedes Natural Ability-Every Time!”

The Queen of Positive Attitude-My sister, Joyce!  In the past 4 months, she has given me at least 132 “You go girl!” moments.  I know that Bob would be proud of both of us for Workin’ It Out!

The calm Yin to my wildly high strung Yang, Dana, who keeps her phone nearby when I am on a long walk and calms my nerves when I have gotten myself lost, or lost my sunglasses or proclaim that I must call a cab because I can not possibly take one more step (don't judge me, that only happened 1 time and I chose a new attitude and made it home just fine).   

Friends like Viki, Shana, Joan, Jeanne W (who I KNOW appreciates the Buffett references), Jeannie W. (yes, there are 2 Jeann(i)e W.’s in my life-oh my and if the two of these wild women ever met the energy would make the earth shake), Erin M., Jill, Katie, and Julianne who always send a supportive “You Rock!” when I send out a blog update.  Knowing that you are all out there reading and keeping up with my journey is an attitude boost-Super Size!

Talk about a positive attitude!  Check out these ladies. 

Jan Ziegler, lady #1 on the list of people who inspired me to sign up for this event, sent me a note when I first got started that said:

Funding is so important for breast cancer. My surgeon told me that until 3 years ago, they would have had to strip and remove all 18 lymph nodes under my arm and in the upper part of my arm which often left the arm impaired and was very painful and could result in edema for years. Then, thanks to research money raised by volunteers, they found a way to dye the lymph nodes before surgery to see if cancer was present in them. This is what I was the benefactress of. I can type this note to you with two arms, hands, fingers and one heart that sings with joy at your thoughtfulness. 

Jan’s positive attitude and desire to support future Breast Cancer patients has kept me going.  I read her note every week as a reminder of why I walk.

Teri Carpenter recently posted on her Caringbridge site:

I had an appt. with my cardiologist, Dr. Falsone (I'm like a cat nowadays, I have a staff now!).   Dr. Falsone then ordered an echocardiogram (which was lovely considering the technician made me put on this scratchy, half-shirt and then he (yes, HE!!) put goop all over this wand and proceeded to run it over my particularly tender surgically modified breast!) I wonder what size these people are who (during keg parties) design hospital gowns and half-shirts with the front openings??? Do you think they giggle uncontrollably when they are sizing them??  

Remember that Teri was not a breast cancer patient when I began this journey.  Her upbeat attitude and never failing sense of humor has kept us all going over the past few weeks.  Teri has requested that I bedazzle her name across my shirt during the walk-just over my left boob.  In honor of her enduring the scratchy hospital gowns, I just might!

To Mandie, Michelle and Jenn P for dedicating their facebook status on Thankful Thursday and sending supportive wall posts regularly.  You know you have arrived when you make the status! 

To everyone who has joined me for training walk.  Your company has helped boost my energy and remind me that I am NOT in this alone!  The list of co-walkers is impressive!  Applause to all of these ladies-and Adam & Gary- (in order of their first appearance): Dana, Adrienne, Katie, Mom, Kim, Adam, Meredith, Joyce, Julianne, Gary, Donna, Shana, V-Lowe, Bonnie, and Terry.

This is not a complete list. There are many of you who support me.  I will continue to honor and thank you as we spend the next 25 (GASP!) days preparing for the Breast Cancer 3-Day.  I have made a promise to put forth my most positive attitude, even when the going gets tough.  It may take a village but with all of your support, I know that I can make it! 

Don’t forget-I want to profile the folks who appear on my list of inspiration  Send a picture of your loved one and I will move them to the top of the list for the week.  (Although, I’m sure Teri won’t mind spending 2 weeks as my spotlight!)

You heard it right, this week I walked 44 miles in 84,620 steps.  It’s downhill from here!!  The next 3 weeks of training really taper down with 10 miles on Saturday this week, 18 the next Saturday, one more Saturday of 10, and then the big event! 

So far, the total is: 424 miles and 827,346 steps.

Any guesses about the grand total once the training process is over? 

Happy Stepping!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Queen (City) of Hearts (Disease)

This week I was faced with an ethical quandary-Is it considered stealing if you take from one philanthropic organization while supporting the efforts of a different, yet equally important, philanthropic organization?  Before you judge, I have to share the details of the day that lead me to this Robin Hood-esque situation.

This weekend I visited Charlotte, NC to attend a Friday night concert.  Saturday morning called for a 10-mile walk and with a beautiful breeze and temperatures in the low 80s, I took to the streets of the Queen City.  We were in the Uptown area of town and had ventured out on Friday evening to a local brewery/restaurant that Google maps indicated was 1 mile from the hotel.  My plan was to do the 2 mile loop from the hotel to the restaurant and back 5 times.  It was an easy walk; sidewalks the whole way, well lit, fairly flat, several small coffee shops and boutiques to window shop along the way. On the first loop toward the restaurant, I noticed that there were several side streets that were blocked off with cones and signs.  The sidewalks were still open so I continued on my way.  When I reached the road where the restaurant was located, the number of people on the street increased dramatically with every block.  There were folks traveling in packs making their way to the intersection of 4 major streets. It appeared that there was an organized walk happening! 

As I approached a major intersection, I could see that there were balloon arches, a stage area, several local radio station vans, and about a dozen booths set up in the street.  The sidewalks were filled with folks huddling with their teams, awaiting the start of this big event! My first thought was that this could be a breast cancer event!  My second thought was that there was no way this was anything close to a 60-mile event!  All of the teams were gathered drinking coffee and chatting. No one was stretching or warming up with calisthenics.  They were wearing matching t-shirts, a Breast Cancer 3-Day “Do,” but the shirts were cotton, a major Breast Cancer 3-Day “Don’t.”   The teams were equipped with gear, another BC 3-Day “Do” but rather than CamelBak water carriers, blister control equipment, and pink boas, they were hosting baby strollers, breakfast sandwiches, and dogs on leashes!  I wasn’t sure how far these folks were planning to walk, but it couldn’t be too far carrying their Starbucks cups, pushing their kiddos, and strolling along with their canine companions! 

I had to know more about this event so I continued along the sidewalk up to the stage area.  Here it became clear that this was a 3-mile walk to bring attention to and raise funds for Heart Disease!  How wonderful!  While Breast Cancer is my passion, I can appreciate a good walk for heart disease!  Congrats to the folks in the Charlotte area for their efforts. But, I must move on; I have 10 miles to complete before GameDay begins at 10am.

I completed 2 laps from the hotel to the restaurant, restaurant to the hotel, each time passing through the area where the heart walk was being hosted.  On my 3rd lap around (miles 5 & 6), I was greeted by a volunteer who offered me a Subway sandwich.  Subway was clearly the major sponsor of this event with their logo displayed on every banner, t-shirt, and merchandise booth.  I kindly declined the offer and smiled to myself realizing that these folks must think I am incredibly dramatic showing up to walk 3 miles carrying 3 liters of water in my backpack, sweat rag dangling from the strap, loaded down with spare socks, electrolyte replacement drinks, 2 iPods, and my camera.  On the return lap, a different volunteer offered me a sandwich and after my decline, followed up with an offer of Baked Lays-my favorite!!!  Again, I declined but made the mental note that these heart disease people sure were friendly, and generous, and I hoped that we have Subway sandwiches and Baked Lays at our event!

Five miles comes quite easily these days. I hardly break a sweat as I crank out the first 90 minutes of a walk.  But, by mile 6, I was ready for a snack!  I was considering my options: I had a granola bar in my backpack but had started the morning with one of those in the hotel room; the CVS on the corner may have some peanut butter crackers but I don’t think they were open until 10am; and what I really wanted was a piece of fruit!  Typically, I pack apple slices, some grapes, or an orange when I walk anything over 8 miles.  But, since I wasn’t at home, I didn’t have my usual provisions.  I decided that on the return lap I would venture off the regular route and find a coffee shop that may have fruit offerings and I would buy an apple or a banana and take a stretch break. 

I made my way through the last pass of the heart walk area and a young man who worked for a radio station held out a huge, beautiful, red apple and greeted me with “Congratulations!” assuming I had just completed the 3 mile trek. Perhaps it was the energy of the other walkers finishing their 3-mile journey.  Perhaps it was the atmosphere of people coming together for a shared cause.  Maybe I am just a dishonest cheap skape who, after turning down a full sized sandwich and chips… I don’t know what got into me!  I’ve seen Snow White!  I should have known that this might not turn out for the best but I accepted his shiny apple and responded with a “Thanks!” and continued on my way, my prize clutched tightly in my hand, traveling against the crowds of now celebrating walkers as they finished their journey and approached the Subway sponsored snack tents.  

I tucked the apple away in my backpack as I made my way back toward the hotel. Guilt was setting in fast and I knew that with the walk coming to an end, the commotion around the heart disease area would be increasing.  I could hear the radio announcer kicking off the closing ceremonies as I traveled with a quick pace away from the blocked off area of the street, the apple burning a hole through my bag and into my back. This must be what they mean by reacting to crisis situations with fight or FLIGHT! My feet hardly hit the ground as I turned my back on the scene of the crime.  I stole an apple!  I stole from the heart disease people!  Do heart disease and breast cancer people really understand and applaud each other, or is it like the Jets and the Sharks?  I imagined a posse of walkers closing in behind me chanting,  “When you are a Heart Disease walker you are a Heart Disease walker all the way!!”

What I needed now was a Plan B! I couldn’t continue on the familiar route to the restaurant and back-that would put me right back at the crime scene.  Yet, I still had at least 4 miles to complete! I knew that the hotel was approximately 1 mile from the stadium where the Panthers play and, since there was not a home game this weekend, I thought the stadium would be a safe place to knock out a few miles (and hide from any suspecting Subway investigators). I made my way to the stadium and was met by the disturbing sight of two enormous one-ton panthers!  This is not a dramatic exaggeration!  I looked it up

and the two statues, (there are 2, identical to the one pictured here) called Indomitable Spirit, are perched on top of a 10-foot tall pedestal and stand 8 feet tall and weigh in at 2,000 lbs each!   The eyes on these fellas were the most impressive part.  They were a glowing shade of green and they followed me in whatever direction I moved.  The stadium area was completely deserted except for me and I quickly decided that this was not a safe place for a fugitive to hide! 

At this point I had exhausted all of my options.  I didn’t know how many city blocks made up a mile (I have since learned that it is 8-12, depending on the city), and the only 2 stretches of road that I was familiar with lead me either back to the scene of the crime and into the packs of wild heart disease walkers, or under the watchful eye of the Panther duo.  With nowhere else to turn, I sought sanctuary at the Hilton and finished my remaining miles on the treadmill in the hotel while watching a Golden Girls marathon.  When I was done, I bid farewell to Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia and as I made my way up the elevator and back to the room, I dined on a yummy red delicious apple (Honestly, it was the BEST apple I have ever had) while offering “Cheers” to those who are advocates for curing heart disease.

Judge me if you will, but I think that the perfect placement of that perfect apple, just as I was making my way to find a snack to fuel my own walking efforts, was more than just a coincidence!  It was magic in the Queen City!

Here’s some news for those of you who live in the Atlanta area, or know anyone who does.  This Thursday night, September 24th, the New Kids on the Walk are hosting a fundraiser at Capozzi’s in Decatur at 1355 Clairmont Road.  If you dine at Capozzi’s on Thursday, and tell them that you support the New Kids, a portion of your bill will go to support our team! Stop by and see Kim, Meredith, & Michelle and have some delicious Italian food!  Note: If you plan to attend or want to share this with a friend, send me an email so I can send you the flyer.

This week I logged 25 miles and 47,582 steps. This weekend is the big one!!  We have been dreading and looking forward to the longest training walks of the 24 weeks:  18 mile Saturday + 15 mile Sunday!  I’ll be tackling this one on my home turf in Columbia.  Wish me luck!

Happy Stepping!