Monday, August 31, 2009


Welcome September!  Whew-August flew by so fast.  I hit a lot of milestones in August.  I reached my fundraising goal, had 4 Saturday walks of over 10 miles (including a 15 this weekend!!), found the perfect shirt for the event-and bought 3 of them, and on Sunday completed #300 of my training miles!

My fundraising thermometer continues to go Up, Up, Up!  This week I received a donation from Jeanne Whisnant, a former co-worker and fellow Parrothead.  Jeanne has worked with the Relay for Life at Johnston Community College for a few years so she knows what it’s like to walk, and walk, and walk for a worthy cause.  I also had a donation from Carie Goral Hertzberg (I’m certain Carie and I have walked 60+ miles around the Walt Disney World parks) who donated on behalf of her Aunt Mary.   Carie added Rhode Island to the map!  (See the updated map at A surprise sponsorship came from my folks who made a donation to the Komen Foundation as well as a donation to the New Shoe Fund!!  It’s time for me to purchase a 2nd pair of shoes-the ones that I will use for the actual event.  Thanks to Joe and Linda for the sneaker fund.  They are ordered and on the way!

A special shout out to Shana who joined me this week for my Tuesday walk.  It was a wonderful treat to share the 5 miles with a friend and she was a champ-barely breaking a sweat in the 100% humidity!  Thanks for the company, Shana!

Since I began preparing for the Breast Cancer 3-Day, my training process has been the talk of the town!  I’m sure this is due partly to the fact that, prior to this, I wasn’t the most “active” person (GASP! SHOCK!) so it’s a clear diversion from my norm.  I’m equally sure it’s because my life is an open book and I tell anyone who will listen what I am up to.  “Hey Jenn!  How’s it going?” is never a rhetorical greeting for me.  You ask-I’ll tell. 

I can only believe that folks have a genuine interest in the training and preparation process.  Why else would they ask?  Like I tell my students, if you have a question, speak up!  You never know how many other folks may have the same question but are just too shy to ask.  For all you shy folks-here is the 411 on my preparation for the Breast Cancer 3-Day. 

1.  Where do I get the ideas for my blogs?   I think about the weekly blog content while I am on my walks.  Most weeks something happens or I have an experience that just must be shared with you all!  There are some weeks when I sit down on Monday evening to write and have no idea what may flow from my fingertips.  Sometimes the blog takes a wide turn from its intended content.  For example, all week I was planning for this entry to be about College Football and the return of new fall television programming-these are two obstacles that may cause my training to suffer!  How, then, did I get to this FAQ entry? I have no idea.

2.  What am I worried about for the actual event?  I am not sure exactly what to expect so it’s hard to identify a worry or concern.  Today, someone from the Denver event posted a blog on the 3-Day Facebook group.  From the description it looks like they blogged about each of the days of the walk last weekend.  I haven’t read it.  I’m not sure if I can.  It may ruin the magic-or it may scare me to death!  Here it is in case you want to look-let me know what you find out.  I have read enough of the message boards on our 3-Day site to know that one of my concerns, FOOD, What will we eat? How often?  Will there be Diet Coke?  Will there be lots of Diet Coke?  is no longer a concern.  Check this out from a 2008 Atlanta walker (note the beverage bar on Day 2 and that there are dessert offerings for 2 meals each day-I’ll be just fine!):

Day 1 Lunch  Chicken Breast and White Cheddar on a Whole Wheat Kaiser Bun Served with apple, Baked Lays potato chips, and Vienna finger cookie

Dinner  Meat or Meatless Meatballs *Spaghetti Pasta with Marinara Sauce* Capri Vegetable Blend  * Salad Bar * Garlic Bread * Assorted Brownies

Day 2 Breakfast *Scrambled Eggs with Cheese * Bacon * Roasted Hashbrown Potatoes* Buttermilk Biscuits with Honey & Butter * Hot Oatmeal & Toppings* Cold Cereal, Pastries, Fruit & Yogurt * Beverage Bar

Dinner *Chicken or Vegan Cutlet Piccata * Garden Vegetable Pilaf *Steamed Broccoli Spears * Parmesan Breadsticks *Salad Bar * Strawberry Cream Cake

3.  How do I find the time to walk? I addressed this a bit a few blogs back.  It’s tough.  At first, even the long weekend walks only took a couple hours.  These days it’s a major commitment.  I walked for over 13 hours this week.  Tuesday and Thursday walks can still be sandwiched in between dinner and bedtime or right after work before dinner.  Saturday and Sunday walks are a bit tougher.  I think we are all getting up early to get the walk done before 1. The sun gets too brutal and; 2.  College Gameday comes on!!  (More about that next week)   It’s not too bad.  I’m always done before lunch so I have plenty of weekend to enjoy.

4.  How are my Feet? Legs? Knees?  People ask me about the wear and tear on my body every day-everyone is so caring (or maybe I’m looking a bit worse for wear these days).  I hate to brag too much here but I will knock on wood and risk it.  I haven’t had much trouble with blisters.  I had one the first week (stinking Brooks shoes) and got one the weekend I did 13 miles on Saturday.  Not bad for 3 months of training!  I have built up some lovely calluses and I think they are saving my feet, even if they are frightening the folks at my nail salon. My cross training of step aerobics and cycling help build up my muscles and my tolerance for sweat dripping in my eyes.  As a result, my legs/knees/previously broken ankle feel great! Okay, maybe not great after mile 9 or so, but I do find that I can recover more quickly than I used to. The first time I did 10 miles on a Saturday I came home and crashed on the couch for 2 hours! This weekend, after 15 on Saturday, I only rested for 20 minutes before getting ready for a shopping spree with Mary Grace. 

6.  If you are drinking all that water, where do you…go?  I will not elaborate on this publicly, but, here is a list of some of the interesting pit stops I have made (so far)

  •  Porta-potty at an abandoned construction site
  • CVS on Clemson Rd (This location has the best air conditioning + they have a selection of candies in the ladies room!  This week it was cow tails-Yummo!)
  • A wooded area in Lake Carolina that was clearly marked with a No Trespassing sign (this is how I lost my sunglasses-what a day!)
  • Walgreens on Hardscrabble Rd
  • CVS (1 visit) and Panera (2 visits) in Atlanta (all in 1 walk!  It was my first with a CamelBak and Meredith was very patient with me)
  • Carolina Coffee in Lake Carolina
  • Legitimate, provided facilities at Riverwalk in Cola and the trail in Fayetteville
  • Publix on Hardscrabble Rd
  • Bunkie’s House
  • CVS in Decatur
*As you can tell, CVS is the leader in convenience and cleanliness!

7.  What’s in the backpack?  Oh the gear!!  The 3-Day coaches and previous walkers have been great about listing suggested items to pack and carry.  I think I’ll share that closer to time for me to actually start packing for the event.  These days I’m carrying only the essentials:

  1. Water.  Water is heavy, by the way.  The CamelBak (see my lime green Mule model pictured) will hold 100 oz of water. For a weekend walk I fill it about ¾ full. 
  2. Supplemental Fluid w/Electrolytes.  Water is not enough!  We learned at the 3-Day expo (and you can see evidence in Meredith’s blog) that you must replace your lost electrolytes.  For any walk over 10 miles I carry a Nuun Water or Sugar Free Powerade.  A few sips really can take your energy from 0 to 10…okay, 0 to 5, but that is usually all you need to get home. 
  3. iPod and headphones. Contraband on the actual walk but a necessity for all solo training. 
  4. Extra socks.  Sometimes you need them.  The sprinklers are to blame.
  5. $10 and my ID.  This was inspired by Kim.  You never know when you might get too far from home and get lost, or injured, or have to give up (on the 3-Day there will be sweeper vans for this; no sweeper vans on the training walks).  Since I walk alone, I carry a $10, my ID, and the phone number to a local cab company.  Thank you, Safety Sue.
  6. Snacks!!  For any walk over 10 miles I pack a protein bar and piece of fruit.  I have learned that a shady spot and a few apple slices can really put the pep back in my step.
  7. Wet wipes.  I originally starting packing these because in the heat of July, it was nice to have a refreshing wipe for my face and hands.  I have since found that they are also handy for wiping an otherwise sketchy porta-potty seat at an abandoned construction site (see question 6).
  8. Sweat towel.  This usually starts in my bag but ends up draped over my shoulder straps for easy and frequent use.
  9. Plastic poop bags.  Lots of plastic poop bags.
  10. Other assorted items:  cell phone (to call the cab); gum; sunglasses on a strap; pedometer always hooked to my hip; and a map of my route

8.  How much weight have I lost from walking?  This is hard to answer.  I started training for the walk about 5 months into a personal weight loss effort.  The walking has definitely boosted my efforts!  In order to fit in the suggested 4 days of training per week I eliminated 3 days of 30-minute at home workouts with Jillian Michels as well as 3 runs of 2-4 miles per week.  Walking is so much easier-and I don’t miss Jillian screaming at me at all!  I have lost 54 lbs since January and I do appreciate everyone noticing!

There’s the run down of the questions you most frequently ask. Let’s not let the blog end here! I can only offer the perspective of one person.  I’m certain that Kim, Meredith, Jenn D, and Michelle have varying perspectives on many of these issues and likely get questions from folks about other things too.  Chime in Ladies!!

I have been looking forward to the training for this week!  The Tuesday Thursday walks are boosted by a mile or two but the weekend walks are abbreviated-likely because of the Labor Day holiday.  I’ll be in Raleigh cheering for the Wolfpack and enjoying the long weekend.  I will enjoy the change of scenery for an easy 8-mile Saturday and 6-mile Sunday. 

Wherever the weekend takes you, Happy Stepping!


Miles/Steps this week:  138/64,382      Miles/Steps total: 300/594,914


Monday, August 24, 2009

Pleasing Princess Pudge

Fist Bumps to Mother Nature!  She was much more kind this week! She even dealt me cool, cloudy Saturday and Sunday mornings making for fairly easy 14-mile and 10-mile weekend training walks.  Thanks to the cool weather this weekend, I was even able to challenge Riley to a 5-mile journey; a bit further than our typical 3-4 miles together.

I often claim that everything in my house is low fat except for me and the dog. It’s true! My mom has always called Riley, "Princess Pudge"-and with good reason!  When we visited the vet for Riley’s 1-year old check up (March 2008), the vet warned that at 62 lbs she was starting to “lose her girlish figure.”  Well, aren’t we all?  Since then we have tried two different prescription brands of low calorie food.  She is now 2 ½ and she continues to put on a pound or two every time we go for a check up.  Last visit it was 75 lbs and we left with a stern warning to switch from treats to carrot sticks and frozen green beans and to increase the amount of exercise she was getting.  (Riley is chowing down on a rawhide as I write this having turned down the offered frozen green beans earlier tonight.) But, we DID beef up her exercise regimen.  She now joins me for the first few miles of every walk I take. 

In addition to helping Riley with our renewed “eat less move more” promise, it is great company for me.  Some of my walks take up to 4 hours and having her with me for the first bit helps break up the otherwise very long morning.  This week she logged 13 of my 33 miles.  Not bad for Princess Pudge!  I decided during our 13 miles together that I love Riley more than she loves me.  Now, I know that Riley loves me.  When it comes to humans, she realizes that she is lucky she landed with me.  I remind her of this all the time by telling her things like “Do you know that SOME dogs have to sleep outside?”  and “Do you know that SOME dogs don’t have a soft fluffy bed?  Their own piece of living room furniture?  A basket overflowing with toys?”  But I definitely love her more than she loves me.

It’s tough being an only pup.  So, I invite Riley’s friends to come visit, frequently.  Joplin has been here since late July and will be till Labor Day.   That is love!!  Riley shows her appreciation by choosing the hours between 3am and 5am to play chase with Joplin-using my bed as home base.  I love her more than she loves me.

I believe that when you bring a dog along on a walk, you have to allow them to do all the doggie things that they love.  I practice patience with Riley while she sniffs every tree, shrub, and bush along our path.  She shows me her enthusiasm for our walk by running at full speed every time we see a squirrel-thus jerking my arm nearly out of its socket and causing me, on numerous occasions, to fall flat on my butt.  I love her more than she loves me. 

When hosting a friend, it’s important to make them feel included.  It’s only the polite thing to do as a host.  So, when we go for our walks, I bring along Joplin, or Addie, or Carrie, or Bell (anyone but Cookie who’s 2 inch long legs just wouldn’t be able to make it).  I can tell that Riley appreciates the effort that goes into walking 2 dogs by the way she paces left then right, left then right, creating a tangled mess that I must then unravel by spinning in circles, one arm in front of me, one bent behind me and trapped awkwardly by a thin cord that cuts into my skin as she continues to pull forward.  I love her more than she loves me.

A pup used to the finer things in life must have a fresh yard where she can play and “go.”  I perform an every other day sweep of the backyard to ensure that Riley never has to dodge any “piles” as she chases the brave birds and critters that play in our pine trees.  She really is grateful for such a clean backyard.  She sure shows it!  She waits until we are about 3 miles into our walk to make her deposit.  And, somehow, she always knows exactly which yard to choose.  She NEVER chooses the house where the lights are out and the garage door is closed.  Oh no!  She is very good at identifying the house where the owners are outside doing yard work or on the porch sweeping or, like this Saturday, where a real estate agent was showing a potential buyer around the yard-to make her deposit!  As I scurry to discretely scoop and bag her pile before the owners notice the horse-size droppings, I swear I can see her grin in my direction, knowing that I will have to carry the now full bag for at least 2 miles before we reach home and a proper trash can.   I love her more than she loves me.

Every princess needs toys and Riley's collection rivals FAO Schwarz! I regularly surprise Riley with a new plush item.  She just loves them!  Doesn't everyone show their love for their toys by ripping into the fabric and completely gutting the cotton innards, thus causing a blizzard of white fluff all over the living room?  It takes forever to pick up the millions of tiny cotton threads that are strewn around the house after she shows mercy to her plush victim.  I'm happy to follow her around with the dust buster-because I love her, more than she loves me.  

After an early morning of playing tag with friends, followed by a challenging evening of walking and squirrel chasing, a girl needs her beauty rest.  I make sure Riley is comfy by providing her an oversized, cotton filled puppy bed-freshly laundered once a week-at the foot of my bed.  She really appreciates it!  I can tell by the way she snores so loudly she sometimes startles herself.  Nothing like the serenade of a 75 lb dog to lull you to sleep.  I love her more than she loves me. 

Despite all of her wild ways, I do appreciate that every day, even on the days when I don’t have much motivation to strap on my walking gear, Riley shows genuine enthusiasm and determination to get me out there and walking.  She knows the routine and if I even try to sit down on the couch when I should be taking to the sidewalk, she does sprints around the kitchen stopping at the area where her leash is kept and barking incessantly until I oblige.  She loves me-no question about that.

This week I completed 33 miles and 66,963 steps.  Riley was a wonderful companion for 13 of those.  Okay, she was a companion-“wonderful” might be an overstatement.  This brings the total miles walked so far to 265 and 530,532 steps.  Another 35 miles and it will be time for a new pair of kicks! 

Happy Stepping! 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This Weekend's Walks - The LONG Story

First, let me take this opportunity to send a shout out to the newest members of my financial support network! Thanks to cousins, Tricia & Greg in Minnesota! Tricia lost a dear friend to this blasted disease in December and had another co-worker diagnosed in June. We walk for them! Tricia & Greg donation not only put Minnesota on my map as the 14th state represented but also took me to the 50% mark in my fundraising efforts! Super Exciting! I was also honored to receive a contribution from great friends, Robyn, Brad, Jackson and Parker Brock who not only gave towards my goal but also towards a few of the New Kids! This week brought a generous donation from my brother Brad & his BEAUTIFUL family! With their contribution, I now have LESS than $1000 to go! Only $915 to be exact! We have a FUNdraiser this Tuesday at Figo Decatur, a delish Italian restaurant near us, so perhaps that number will shrink quick!

School has begun and the preparation for that brought a FLURRY of activity! It has been difficult to fit in time to train but this weekend brought some hefty distances! Yesterday was 12 miles! My WTP had to work yesterday morning so I was on my own. My hope was that he would be home in time for my second 6 mile loop but I was inspired to get an early start at 7:30 am so our timing was off a bit. The first loop was rather uneventful. Saturday mornings are pretty quiet in our neighborhood as most people don't start moving till around 9. I was walking past Big Peach Running Co. (home of our kicks) right when they opened at 9 so I stopped in to buy a second pair of my new favorite socks and .....wait for it......a sweat band.....for my head. Yes, I am trying to bring the headband back into style. I do not believe I will be successful because I look about AS ridiculous as I can possibly look in this thing. BUT it works! It keeps the sweat out of my eyes and off the back of my neck. SO fantastic and work every penny of the $7! Plus it is reversible so when I soak the pink side, I can flip it and start fresh with a dry white side. AMAZING!

I finished up the first loop at home with a quick pit stop, fresh SUGAR FREE GRAPE POWERADE (life changing product, people!), and some fresh dry clothes. As I started out for loop 2 a couple neighborhood boys were fascinated by my Camelbak that carried water. After solving the mysterious backpack for them and asking if they wanted to join me for the next 6 mile loop (to which they said "Are you crazy?!"), I was off! I was still feeling pretty good but could tell I had already walked 6 miles.

I realized that at mile 9 I had a pebble in my shoe that was causing problems. Thankfully I was right in front of Ryan & Gub's house (my bro-in-law & sis-in-law). So I quietly sat on the step of their front porch to not alert their vocal dog, Birdie, or wake them as it was still before 11 am on a Saturday. As I sat, shoe off, shaking out the stone, the door opened and there was Ryan. Apparently when he went to turn on the tv and saw someone sitting on the porch, he was startled and decided to investigate. Sorry for the scare, Ry! My brief, problem solving stop turned into a nice 20 minute chat and thankfully a bathroom break! Thanks guys!

I headed down the 3 mile home stretch with determination and a bit of a bum right knee. I dreaded the final hill at home but planned on calling Adam to come pick me up at the bottom if things got really bad. It was getting rougher and rougher around mile 11. I knew I was going to make the phone call and just as I reached for my phone, I looked across the street and saw my grinning husband/WTP walking toward me. Normally this would have been an AMAZING surprise but this meant he was not home and was not near the car. My plan had been thwarted and I panicked. He calmly said it would be ok and literally held my hand in order to get me to our street. (We do not typically hold hands during training walks because our paces tend to differ a bit. I don't think I would have made it without his hand yesterday. Thanks A!) At the bottom of the final hill, I knew I couldn't do it, especially since my route was over 12 miles and I didn't need the final hill to fulfill the distance. So my WTP left me sitting pathetically on the curb at the bottom of this hill while he went to fetch the car for my rescue! The rest of the day was spent immobile on the couch or in the bed. 12 miles - check! But I feared the 9 mile attempt slated for the next morning!

This morning was a different story altogether! It was cool & breezy. I had my WTP by my side and the 9 miles flew by! My right knee gave me NO issues! The cooler weather gave me insight into what October could be like! And I like the idea of that!

My apologies for the long post but it had been a while and I had lots to share!
With Love, Hope & LOTS of Walking!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mother {Nature} Knows Best

$2300?  No problem!  Not for the folks who are cheering me on!  This week, I busted through the 100% mark on my fundraising thermometer.  I was thrilled to hear from the Brock Family in Tallahassee (Robyn, Brad, Precious Jackson,-that is his official name-Precious Jackson-and my best buddy Parker-the Yorkie) and the McMahon Family (Kim, Jim, Cutie Pie Leah, and the almost 1yr old Ian) who are old Tallahassee and recently reunited Columbia friends.  To top off an already great week, I have finally added a celebrity to my list!  Katie Holmes made a donation this week!  She was on the run from the paparazzi and noted that in the 24 hours before she donated, she visited North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.  Thanks to everyone who continues to join me in the fight to find a cure for Breast Cancer.

This week I fought with Mother Nature, and the score is MN 4, Jenn 0!  To be honest, I blame karma.  (WARNING:  Gross understatement ahead!!!)  I am a creature of habit. If variety is the spice of life, I’ll have mine unsalted.  I have a routine about my life and it is a very rare occasion that I divert from that routine in any way.  It never fails.  A change in my weekly habits = disaster!

I eat the same thing for breakfast every day (English muffin with spray butter, container of yogurt, Diet Coke).  I select my yogurt based on which container is at the front of the row in the refrigerator.  I know this is the best way to make my morning yogurt selection because I load the yogurt into the fridge based on expiration date.  Even if I really wanted a banana crème pie, if the strawberry banana is in front, strawberry banana it is.  I know the yogurt will be there because I go grocery shopping every 2 weeks and I purchase 10 yogurts to get me through the 2 work weeks.

I take the same route to work each day.  A year ago, my supervisor told me there was a shorter route and it took me at least 4 days to finally get the nerve to try it.  He was right and I have adjusted my route.  See-that is variety!!  

My after work routine is designed to be the most efficient use of my after 5pm hours.  Prior to the 3-Day event, my arrival home was a precise sequence of clothing change, puppy play time, dinner, after dinner walk with previously played with puppy, and a series of work, household chores, or television line up-depending on the day (Yes, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…all had a weekly routine as well including things like Tuesday laundry night or Thursday dusting extravaganza!).

Some folks criticize my staunch need for structure.  However, I am an incredibly efficient human!  Following a Monday-Friday schedule allows me to enjoy the weekends nearly schedule free knowing that all of my work and household “to dos” are neatly crossed off my color-coded and prioritized list. 

Because of my already structured weekdays, it was surprisingly easy for me to work the 3-Day training into my life.  For example, I incorporate Riley’s walk with the training walk.  I plan quick fix dinners that allow Tuesday’s laundry to still get done on Tuesday and guarantees that Thursday’s dusting has a check mark by Friday morning. I still attend Monday aerobics and Wednesday cycle classes after work.  Prior to this week, I had never missed a training walk nor strayed from the suggested number of miles. Prior to this week….

It’s late August and that means the kick off to a new semester!  This week was opening week at Carolina and because of the work I do to support first-year students, there had to be a few adjustments made to my schedule.  Luckily, I saw this coming and had time to devise a-GASP-Plan B.  I usually take Friday as a rest day.  However, there was no aerobics this week so I switched my rest day to Monday.  My mom was in town and this allowed me to spend time with her.  So far-so good!  Tuesday there was a film/discussion at a local theater that I was attending with some colleagues and wanted to take my mom to see.  My plan was to see the film first then come home and walk.  However, the film started late, we got home late (with 3 kiddos in tow-for a middle of the week sleepover—very much a diversion from the norm), and it was too dark to walk.  I could have moved my walk inside to the treadmill but the kids were headed to bed and it is not the quietest machine on the market.  So, I decided I could bump my Tuesday walk to Wednesday since there wasn’t a Wednesday cycle class. 

Wednesday was one of those days when the rain just never quit.  I should have known not to mess with Mother Nature when I fell and busted my butt after a meeting that afternoon.  The floor near the door was wet from all of the rain and dripping umbrellas and my flip flops caused me to flip and flop. Despite her clear warning, I checked the radar when I got home and it appeared that there was a short break in the rain. With Riley and Joplin in tow, we ambitiously headed out (before dinner-totally against my typical schedule).  We finished 1 mile and the clouds continued to follow us.  I knew the rain was coming-I could smell it!  The temperature dropped quickly and the breeze picked up.  I encouraged the girls to pick up their pace, determined to finish 2 outside miles.  Just as we rounded the ¾ mile spot, the bottom fell out!  This was not just a casual summer rainstorm. This was, as Jeanne Whisnant would say, “Fallin’ a flood!”  In a matter of seconds, we were soaked!  Here I was dragging 2 soaking wet dogs-who’s instinct was to stand completely still and look up to see where the rain was coming from.  It was raining so hard that I could not see, with my eyes open! I had to shield my eyes with my hand, creating a make shift umbrella, so I could see to get us home.  Okay, Mother Nature-I hear you!  Wednesdays are not walking days.

When I shifted the Tuesday walk to Wednesday, I also moved the Thursday walk to Friday. The training program is designed so that you have your 2 shorter walks during the week, separated by a day. I was just sticking to the program!  Friday evening I was headed for my Thursday bumped 5-mile walk. I started my walk with Riley and Joplin in tow.  We did an easy 3 and I dropped them off at home.  I took off for my final 2 and noticed that it was getting dark-again.  The rain found me with about 1 mile to go.  It wasn’t nearly the strength of the rain on Wednesday, but it was enough to send me home with damp socks and a mop of wet hair.  Mother Nature was sending her signal-Fridays are not walking days. 

Saturday was Move In Day on campus!  The training schedule called for 13 miles on Saturday.  I was concerned that I would not have the energy to complete 13 miles after helping students move into the residence halls for 4 hours.  So, I switched my Saturday 13 for my Sunday 9.  I also wore a pedometer during my shift and determined that we traveled close to 5 miles.  That counts!  5 miles while carrying Rubbermaid containers filled with shoes, books, and fur lined boots-yes, in SC!  up 4 flights of stairs is no small feat.  I had a party to attend Saturday evening so I only had a short window of time when I got home during which I needed to exercise the pups and finish my missing 4 miles.  We got through 3.  The rain was not to blame-this time it was the heat!  It was 3pm on an August day, in South Carolina-enough said.

At this point, I had kept up with all of my miles for the week except the lost 1 mile from Saturday.  Still, not bad!  For my Sunday walk of 13 miles, I broke it into 3 parts.  I would take the dogs for 3, then do a 6-mile loop, stop at home for a break, and then finish with a 4-mile loop.  It was raining when I started. I put on a hat, pulled out the rain cover for my backpack, and hit the road reminding myself that if it rained in October for the actual 3-Day event, it would be a no whining zone.   It was not hard rain but that annoying drizzle that makes you wish your windshield wipers had a “quasi medium” setting-harder than intermittent but lighter than the lo setting. For a short walk, this kind of rain may not have been discouraging.  However, after 3 hours of this, I couldn’t take it any more.  I was drenched.  I was almost at the end of my 6-mile loop and I needed a restroom break.  This route takes me right by my subdivision so I considered stopping at home and finishing the final 4 miles on the treadmill-if at all.  Just as I was thinking about this, the sun came out!  It was approaching 11am and, as promised, the rain had stopped.  It was a blaring sun-and it blinded me as I rounded the corner to my street.  I knew that the temperature was going to skyrocket and I said, aloud, to my friend Mother Nature, “Okay, Sister, you win.  I promise to end this madness and stick to the routine next week if you promise to give me some dry weather and an occasional breeze.”

And with that, I ended Week 11 of my training with a commitment to the Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday schedule that has brought me such success so far.   I know Mother Nature won’t let me down! 

I’m disappointed in my 5-mile deficit this week but will post my totals-because it is part of my weekly blogging routine, and I fear the bad karma that may accompany any further rebellion! 

Miles Attempted:  31; Miles Completed:  26 Steps: 50,328

Total Miles: 232 Total Steps: 463,569

Monday, August 10, 2009

Left Behind

WE DID IT!  With 45 donations from family and friends, I have reached the fundraising requirement to participate in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk!  The donation that put me over the top came on Tuesday morning last week.  It was made by Julianne and Gary Dunn.  I was especially moved by their gift because I am walking in memory of Julianne’s mother, Jacqueline Brinkman.  More about Julianne and our adventures later... The donation from the Dunn’s put me over the $2300 requirement-but you didn’t stop there!! University 101 was represented by Michelle Ashcraft and Rico Reed.  These two are still doing things as a team, even with 3 states separating them! Yea Michelle for putting Kentucky on the map.  Thanks to you both for supporting me with your funds and your constant cheers of “You can do it!”  Illinois is now on the map thanks to Bill Mattera who knows more than anyone that the best place to train for a long walk would be on the streets of Disney World with a Casey hot dog in our hands.  How can we make that happen?  Pronto!  My fundraising efforts will not end here.  There are 10 weeks left before the 3-Day Event and I will continue to ask for your support to join our efforts to find a cure for Breast Cancer.   

When we signed on for this walk I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to raise the $2300 requirement and that I would be left behind.  I think my worries of being left behind have invoked some karma on my walks lately!  Last week, Julianne joined Joyce and me for a 5 mile Sunday.  We were visiting in Fayetteville and Julianne invited us to a park near Methodist College.  She told us it was a beautiful wooded area with a mostly shaded path.  WONDERFUL!  After our 11-mile adventure down the country road the day before, I was looking forward to a shaded path.  What Julianne didn’t tell us was that this path was a series of up and down hills!!  Oh my!!  I am accustomed to the flat roads of the midlands of South Carolina and my calves were calling her dirty names on Monday morning!!  We made it through the 5 miles and when we arrived back at the cars discovered that Julianne had lost her car key! She had tied it to her shoelace to keep her hands free and somehow, probably because of all the crazy up and down of the path, it had worked itself loose without her noticing. 

Now, if workout clothes had pockets this would not be such an easy thing to do-lose your key.  I have only been paying attention to workout clothes for a few months now and I will say that my number one complaint (aside from the dreadful fashion “don’t” that is spandex) is that there is nowhere for a gal to store her gear!!  I have my lovely Camelpak backpack for long walks but for a quick 5 miles I usually hit the road pack free.  I have tied my key to the drawstring on my shorts, strung it on my headphones cord, tucked it into my…it really is a problem-no pockets!

Julianne’s husband was coming to her rescue but since the park was at least 20 miles from Julianne’s house, Joyce and I decided to head back on the path and see if we could find the key.  We walked for nearly 2 miles down the trail (and up the trail and down the trail and up the trail…) and came back empty handed.   Somewhere on the Cape Fear River Trail is a car key that got left behind.

This week the left behind karma followed me on my Saturday walk.  It was a 12 mile day-my longest yet.  I set out on a new path into Lake Carolina.  I have learned that when you are walking for several hours by yourself, scenery can make all the difference.  So, I chose a path that takes me through one of the nicest neighborhoods in Columbia-a backdrop of beautiful houses and a lovely lake helped pass the time.  About 7.5 miles in, I had to make a pit stop.  I decided to also take that break to dig my apple out of my bag and have a seat in a wonderful Adirondack chair under a gazebo (I told you this neighborhood was fancy!).  I took a few minutes to refuel with my snack, a quick face wipe off, fresh socks, and I was off on the last 3.5 miles home.   As I came out of the neighborhood, I was greeted by the bright sun peeping out for the first time that morning.  I reached into my bag for my sunglasses and realized that they were gone!  I must have lost them either on my pit stop or during my snack break!!  I was perplexed!  Do I turn back and try to find them, thus adding as much as 2 miles to an already grueling 12? No way-I had learned my lesson last week with the key!  I am a firm believer in our prescribed training program.  When the 3-Day coach tells you to walk 12 miles you do it-but not 1 mile more!  These were my favorite sunglasses and I was terribly distraught-but they would just have to be left behind. 

When I arrived at home, Joyce and the kids were there to greet me.  Mary Grace has been reading Nancy Drew this summer so I grabbed the keys (those were secured safely in my bag) and we headed off in the car to solve the mystery of the left behind sunglasses.  Luckily, with super sleuth MG by my side, we found the glasses on the side of the road near my gazebo oasis.

During the walk back home when I was sure I would never see my glasses again, I considered all the things that had been left behind during my training.

My old shoes.  Remember the Brooks that caused the blister?  I was happy to leave those behind.

Foot pain.  I have built up lovely calluses on each of my toes, and while it won’t win me the prettiest feet award, I can take on at least 8 miles with little to no discomfort in my feet. 

My rear end!  I have, quite literally, walked my butt off!  Even the flat roads of SC will help tone your backside when you are walking over 20 miles a week. I left my behind, behind.

A sprinkling of DNA.  Sometimes the path doesn’t take you past a pit stop right when you need it to most. I am considering writing an entire blog about the places I “go.”  I’m not sure I’m ready for quite that much disclosure! 

Terrance the 14th.  Sunday we saw a turtle at the Riverwalk in downtown Columbia. When we were kids Joyce was always bringing home turtles that she found on the side of the road.  We’d save them in an aquarium and name them Terrance until they got too big to keep.  She wasn’t with me Sunday so I left him behind. 

All of my fundraising worries!  On Friday, October 23rd thousands of people will toe the starting line to make a 60-mile commitment to help find a cure for Breast Cancer and, thanks to all of you, I will NOT be left behind!

I have to give a shout out to the Dunn’s and their friend Donna. Julianne and Gary were visiting Donna in Columbia on Sunday and they met me for an early Sunday morning 7-mile walk.  That’s 2 Sundays in a row!  Thanks for the company and for the support. 

This weeks training took me:  28 miles and 51,352 steps.

I broke the 200 mile mark!  So far I have walked:  206 miles and 413,241 steps. 

Happy Stepping!


I like to move it, move it

Ben, my husband, has been very supportive of my quest to walk 60 miles in 3 days. With minimal complaining from him about the "time suck" that my walking has become, he happily tries to have dinner ready when I am back from my walk during the week. Other friends have been very supportive too and have offered to walk with me (thanks Chandra and Ellen for the 11 mile walk last week and ending at a great Mexican restaurant) or helping me find ways to cross-train. Cross-training is an important part of training for the walk because it builds up your cardiovascular workout.

My friend and Ben's co-worker, Lauren, has given me class suggestions for the gym. She has gotten me started in yoga, which is great for stretching. Plus, she shook it with me at Zumba. It is a very upbeat, Latin dance class. And the instructor keeps reminding us that we have to "shake it to lose it." Some of the steps are hard but we just laughed our way through them. When the instructor was shaking her booty and her boobs and the same time, Lauren and I just looked at each other. We had a great time at the first class and decided other people should join us. So, she talked it up at work and several more of Ben and Lauren's co-workers came to the next class. The also talked her husband, Ben D., into coming if another man came along. Well guess who that man was? None other than my husband!

It was the funniest class I have ever been to. I think I burned just as many calories from laughing as from dancing. Ben and Ben stood in the back of course but we kept turning around to check on them. Ben P. kept staring at Ben D., which apparently made him uncomfortable. However, Ben P. said that even though there were attractive undergrads in the class, he couldn't take his eyes off of Ben D. Let's just say it should have been taped! I could have sold it for a huge fundraiser.

Needless to say, I am thankful for a supportive husband and the laughs he provides!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Why I Walk - Redefined

With each step I have taken over the past 2 months, I have found that my reasons for walking are becoming clearer and clearer. My initial reason was to help end breast cancer and to take on a challenge bigger than I have ever taken on before. This is the root of why I walk but it is deeper than that.

With each contribution comes another story of a survivor or of a battle. I walk for Alice West, Stefanie Spielman, Ella's mom, John's mom, Amber's grandmas & great aunt, Jenn's aunt, all of the people close to my teammates who have been affected by breast cancer and all of the survivors we will meet throughout the 3 days. That is why I walk.

At a kick off meeting we were told of a man who walks all 15 3 Days across the country. He does all of the fundraising for each of the walks - that's a minimum of $34,500! He walks for his 3 daughters so they will never experience breast cancer. If he can do 15, I can do one!

Through preparation for the walk, I have met a woman who was told 5 years ago that brain cancer would most likely take her life but if she survived she would never walk again. She will be walking this fall and believes that if we find a cure for breast cancer there is no stopping us from finding a cure for ALL cancers, including brain cancer. As I walk to end breast cancer I also walk to find a cure to colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, ALL cancers!

When word arrived that our friend, Sara's mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and will be fighting the good fight in Tally, I thought enough is enough. Something must be done! That is why we walk!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Take Me Home, Country Roads

I had 6 donations this week and 5 of them were new points on the map!!!  Jan Ziegler is one of the women who inspired me to do this walk.  Her courage and positive attitude as she battled breast cancer were an inspiration to me!  Jan joins the list of Columbia, SC donors.  Neighboring Georgia has 2 dots now. Mandie Thacker (Statesboro, GA) made a donation in memory of her grandmother who was a breast cancer survivor.  Bill and JoAnn Sterritt, who have fed me many meals and are my personal ambassadors to beautiful Savannah, GA, are supporting Kim and I not only with financial support but with their enthusiastic cheerleading and “We’re proud of you” chants.  Claire Gonyo & Sara Jones put Pennsylvannia and Penn State University on the map!  I know that Mama Helen is inspiring us all!  And, finally, Fayetteville, NC is represented!!  Trish McDowell was the first to donate last week, scoring her a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Trish’s mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I am honored to be able to walk on her behalf and send her prayers and positive thoughts for successful treatments.  Aunt Bunkie and Uncle Lee made a donation on Bunkie’s birthday!  Thanks for sharing your special day with me!   Thanks to these folks, I am only $115 from the minimum amount required to participate in the Breast Cancer 3-Day! I hope that my entry next week begins with “WE DID IT!”

Oh August!  I feel like August is the month that I both dread and look forward to all summer.  The dread of the last minute frenzy of details to tend to before the start of the school year coupled with the frenzy and excitement of move-in day on campus and the return of college football!

The end of July/start of August weekend is birthday season in my family. My mom, dad, and aunt have birthdays in the span of 1 week.   To celebrate, Joyce and I made the trek to NC, with our families in tow:  Joyce & Ron, Mary Grace, Andy & Joey, Bell & Carrington; Me & Riley.  The journey is very Grizwald-esque.  We pack 2 cars (Did you see the line up?  We couldn’t possibly fit in one) with a suitcase per human, tote bag per pooch, games and toys for the kids, road trip snacks and water bottles, crates and gates for the pups, gift bags filled with tissue paper, an iPod filled with High School Musical, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift tracks, and a slew of homemade birthday cards. 

My luggage included my trusty CamelPak filled with my walking gear for an 11 mile Saturday and 5 mile Sunday.  I was hoping for some company, at least for part of the way.  Joyce did not let me down!  She was up bright and early Saturday morning, sneakers on, and ready to go.  We started with a 4-mile trip around my folks’ neighborhood.  This was a fairly easy route-we even took Riley along.  After a quick stop at the house to drop off the pooch, Joyce was still game for more so we ventured out on the open road of Rural Route 1, headed toward my Aunt Bunkie and Uncle Lee’s house just 3.6 miles down the road.  Down the long, country road. (For those of you who don’t know the story, we call my aunt “Bunkie” because of the song Bye Baby Bunting-I know, crazy but my mom grew up in Arkansas…enough said.)

The challenge of winding country roads is that they are winding and…country.  There are no sidewalks on the Rural Route.  And, since you can’t often see around the curve coming up, we had to stick to the shoulder of the road.  The wet, grass up to your knees, shoulder of the road.  Despite soaking wet shoes and socks, we had a lot of pep in our step!  It’s not often that Joyce and I get to spend time together sans kiddos so we caught up on all that is happening in life, the excitement of the fast approaching school year, and our plans for the courses we are teaching this semester.  We were discussing the books that Joyce is considering for her 7th grade language arts class when we came upon a fisherman.  Joyce gave him the typical country road greeting, “What you catchin’?” (Did I mention she is a language arts teacher?) and the fisher replied, “I’m catchin’ me some brook.”  We wished him luck and carried on. 

There are other things down the country road that you don’t find in my usual suburbia training grounds.  We came upon a junkyard dog, who was guarding a junkyard, and came charging at us barking at full volume.  We found a little extra pep for our step and quickly crossed to the opposite side of the road.  Over there we found a bit of road kill (I won’t elaborate here but it was of the rodent variety), and a large pile of horse poo.  I’m telling you, you see things on country roads that you just don’t see in The Summit in Columbia, SC. (Okay, maybe the horse poo did resemble some of the things I find in my backyard.)

Bunkie and Lee’s house provided a refuge, 7.5 miles in.  After a fast restroom break and a quick refuel from their candy dish, we were back on the road for the last 3.5 miles.  On the return route, the fisherman had been joined by a friend.  He yelled to us as we approached saying, “Ya’ll walkin’ a long way.  I seen ya’ll way down yonder!”  I don’t think my pedometer registers “way down yonder.”  Also on our return we saw 2 soldiers walking down the middle of the road in complete field gear. They were in long sleeved fatigues and were carrying large backpacks.  I bet they were glad we scared off that junkyard dog for them-they couldn’t possibly have run with all that weight on their backs.

Country walking is also a good lesson in geography. During the 3.5 hours of walking, we worked on solving the mystery of “What is that crop?” During the fall, we see endless rows of cotton lining the road.  We’ve even ventured into the field across from Bunkie’s house after the cotton has been harvested to collect the missed pieces  and feel the soft texture-straight from the stalk.  In the summer, those same fields are filled with a short green bushy crop, much of which had small white or purple blooms.  We decided it had to be soybeans.  To all of my Ag friends out there, is that right? 

Maybe ditching the sidewalks for a more scenic route now and then isn’t such a bad idea! Even with soaking wet feet and all the dodging of shoulder debris, it was a great walk.  Joyce was a trooper!!  I have been training for over 2 months, have all kinds of fancy gear like cushioned walking socks, and a 3-liter water pack, and 11 miles is still challenging for me.  Joyce just slipped on her sneakers and hit the road-I was amazed! 

This week the challenge continues with our regular 3 mile Tuesday increasing to 4 miles, 5 on Thursday, and a 12 mile Saturday followed by a 7 mile Sunday.  If any Columbia friends have a route, even if it’s a bit off the beaten path, and you are up for joining me, I’d love the company. 

The tally for this week is: 24 miles;  41,715 steps

The cumulative training is:  178 miles  361,889 steps

Happy Walking!