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!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Moravians: More Than Just Cookies

This week I received my 2nd and 3rd sponsorships!!  My aunts Giovanna and Maria (Dad’s sisters) sent a lovely note and donation to help me with the expenses of preparing for the 3-Day event.  I also received a donation from Dana Lassiter who, in addition to lending me her precious Joplin for most of the summer, has been my constant cheerleader and route finder.   I will be using their donations to purchase the next few things on my wish list: some snazzy walking socks with extra padding in all the right places, a camp style pillow to rest my tired little head, a head lamp so I can see my way to the potty in the middle of the night, and appropriate sports specific under garments.   Maybe I will wear labels all over myself like the Nascar drivers so I can recognize my sponsors.  Sneakers sponsored by Mom and Dad who love me head to toe; Porta Potty Light by Dana who I have shared many embarrassing bathroom stories with; Brassieres, appropriately, from my crazy aunts…  Thanks to you all!

I have to give a shout out to Teri Carpenter, a friend and personal cheerleader. Teri and I met several years ago through Dana and have enjoyed many fun times-always characterized by laughter and joy.  Teri is the life of any party-especially a Wolfpack tailgate!!  She has also cheered me on all year during my weight loss journey.  Now it’s our turn to cheer for Teri, provide the laughter, and offer support.  Teri first appeared in my blog as one of the first people to donate to my fundraising efforts.  Now she will join the list of women and men that I am honoring with my walk.  During a routine mammogram, Teri learned that she has breast cancer.  This morning (Tuesday) she will have surgery to remove her tumor and I’m sending the most positive thoughts to the hands of the surgeons-they have a gem of a lady on their table!  Cheers and Kisses to Teri and the Carpenter fellas, Craig, Justin, and Cameron, as they take the first steps toward beating this disease.  Teri is keeping friends and family up to date through a CaringBridge site.  Please follow her journey at and type in tericarpenter (one word) to view her page.

I have updated my personal page to include a picture of Teri.  I will be updating this image each week with a picture of one of the people I am honoring with my walk.  Please send me a digital picture of the people you have donated on behalf of.  I will recognize them in my weekly blog and on my page!  To see my page, click on the pink link to the right that reads:  Jenn Latino’s Walk Page.

I HAVE BEEN ON AN ADVENTURE THIS WEEK!  I walked in 4 cities in 7 days!  Last Sunday I wrapped up my Labor Day weekend with a walk in Raleigh, NC.  My Tuesday and Thursday walks were in Columbia.  This weekend I visited V-Lowe (Valerie) in Winston-Salem where I did my Saturday walk before we traveled to Asheville and did the Sunday walk from Asheville to the quaint town of Black Mountain, NC.  Whew!  I can’t tell you all of the stories that accompany these journeys in the span of 1 blog, but here are a few of the highlights.

V-Lowe lives near Betharbara Park, site of the first Moravian settlement in NC.  In anticipation of my travels, I contacted the park and learned that there were 175 acres of trails and historic space to explore.  Great!!  Who knew that there was more

to the Moravians than just cookies?  The walk was more of a hike.  Since Betharbara is on historic land, most of the trails are natural-rocky, sandy, booby trapped with tree roots, etc.  But the scenery was beautiful!  Along the journey I saw the site of the original settlement mill and what they claim is the 2nd oldest graveyard in the country!  I included a photo here of the cemetery and have posted more photos on my facebook page in the 3-Day album. 

I was alone for most of my walk through Betharbara.  The weather was beautiful but Wake Forest had a 1pm home game so I assume all of the otherwise fitness enthusiasts were pre-gaming.  I did share part of the trails with a group of bird watchers-Genuine birdwatchers, complete with binoculars, bird identification charts, cameras around their necks, and vests with 100 pockets.  Birdwatchers aren’t much for talking.  Note:  When greeting birdwatchers, it may be better to simply smile and give a “good morning” nod than to yell out, “Good Morning!”  From their silent reactions to my greeting, I got the impression they were not pleased to see me in my conspicuous neon green backpack and bright pink shirt.  I came across the birdwatchers on 2 occasions at about mile 6 and then again near mile 14.  I was making my way back and they were in the exact same location, still looking up, and still completely silent. I’m certain that bird watching is NOT in my future. 

I was able to snap a picture of the birdwatchers but it was not easy.  I was stealth with my paparazzi skills.  As I approached the watchers for the 2nd time, I pretended to stop and admire some of the wild flowers that were growing on the trail and used my phone to snap a shot.  Can you imagine if they had caught me?  How do you even explain that?  “I’m sorry that I was taking your picture without your permission.  It’s just that I have never seen a group of people stand so still and so silent for so long!  I had to capture the evidence for my blog readers!”

Here is a quick run down of my animal spotting (excluding the birds) in Betharbara:  4 turtles, or maybe the same turtle was following me around; 3 snakes-clearly a different one each time; at least 6 mice though I finally stopped screaming and just held my breath and ran when I saw one. Yes, I held my breath!  I couldn’t risk breathing in mice air!

After my walk, V-Lowe and I made our way to Asheville to visit the venue for her May 2010 wedding.  I won’t ruin the magic for those of you who will be attending but I must give you the preview that the directions to the location will include references to the emu farm on the right and a warning to avoid the llama pen on the left.  Yes, emus AND llamas!  (More photo evidence on facebook).

Sunday morning V was willing to join me for a 5-mile walk.  This is shocking to those of you who know Valerie.  Valerie chases 4-year olds all day, every day so she is no stranger to fast movement.  However, she prefers to wear flip-flops 365 days a year, and after 9 years of friendship, I wasn’t sure she actually owned sneakers until Sunday morning.  V was in charge of choosing the route so we walked from her grandma’s cabin to the town of Black Mountain.  It was a perfect morning for a stroll through small town USA.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if Andy Taylor walked by whistling and carrying his fishing pole.  Every store in Black Mtn is a “mom and pop.”  The streets were not very busy on a Sunday morning and we had a great time looking in the windows of all the specialty dessert shops, boutiques of garden goodies and trinkets, and the general store.  There was a coffee shop that was open and it was clearly the hot spot in town.  There were about a dozen folks having coffee, reading the Sunday paper, and enjoying the cool morning.  We stopped in for a glass of OJ and a restroom break, grabbed an outside table, and got a glimpse into the life of the Black Mtn. locals.  It was definitely the kind of place where everybody knows your name.    

Walking in these mountain towns (okay, calling WF a mountain town is a stretch but it was at least 15 degrees cooler than Columbia is even in the dead of December) got me pumped for our October 23rd-25th event.  The crispness of fall gave me a boost that I have needed and with the company of a friend, I enjoyed every step of the journey.  If the weather for the event is as perfect as it was this weekend, and I know the company will be grand, we are in for a great time! 

While I didn’t complete all of the scheduled miles for the weekend, (I couldn’t be a rude guest and spend the entire weekend walking!  We had emus to see, llamas to visit, and about 10 restaurants to hit in a 2 day period.) it was WONDERFUL to explore some new spaces. I can hardly believe we only have 5 more weeks of training before the New Kids on the Walk hit the Atlanta highways!  I can’t wait to see what kind of folks we meet along the way.  I’ll have my camera strategically aimed and ready so that I can share all the memories with you.

This week I completed 30 miles and 55,522 steps.  That brings the totals to:  355 miles and 695,144 steps.  

The adventures continue this weekend in Charlotte, NC.  I only need to do a 10 mile Saturday and 6 mile Sunday.  Any recommendations for a park or trail in the Charlotte area?

Happy Stepping!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Let's Give Thanks for Fall!

THANKS to Grahaeme Hesp for his donation this week!  Grahame and I were classmates turned friends (who spent much of our time with our heads in books and research but found plenty of time for tailgating, bar hopping, and road trips).  As a 2-time participant in the San Francisco AIDS Marathon, he knows what it means to make a physical and financial commitment to a good cause.  Welcome to the map, San Francisco!

THANKS to Frank and Christine Ellington, owners of Camp Bow Wow, who also made a donation this week.  Weekly visits to Camp Bow Wow are the reason that Riley and I are still a family! I rescued her from the shelter, and they rescued her from going back! She gets to run and play with her friends, and I get to pick up an exhausted pup at the end of the day that guarantees for me a quiet evening!  Check out all the campers on the Bow Wow web cams. It’s a puppy party all day! 

I am also THANKFUL for cooler temperatures and an earlier dusk.  With the arrival of fall, my walks are much less sweaty, and much more enjoyable!

I’m THANKFUL for my new kicks (Thanks, Mom & Dad)-I didn’t realize how my walking shoes, only 3 months but 300 miles old, had started to sag until I completed my 8 mile Saturday in my new and refreshed pair!   They are a dazzling wine and gold color combo!

Mostly, I am THANKFUL, elated even, at the return of College Football Season!!  We kicked off the season front row for the NCSU vs. South Carolina game (Thanks for the great seats, Shannon!).  We’ll close out opening weekend with the annual Labor Day FSU vs. Miami rivalry. (Results of this game not available at press time, but Go Noles!)

No matter if you pull for the Longhorns or the Aggies, the Tigers or the Dawgs, the Wolfpack or the Heels (okay, NO ONE who pulls for the Heels reads my blog), there is no match for the pure exhilaration of Saturdays in the fall!!  It’s the time of year when folks trade in the usual “What are you doing this weekend?” for “Where are you watching the game?”  Summer weddings come to a halt-Who gets married during football season? (Except Kim and Adam who did so ONLY after consulting the schedules of the Noles & the Buckeyes-such responsible nuptial planners.) The Saturday uniform of shorts and t-shirts is traded for your favorite team hoodie and lucky blue jeans. The car stays packed with folding chairs and a cooler, just in case a last minute tailgate opportunity presents itself.  Yard work is pushed to the back burner as window panes are pushed up and out to let in the cool fall breeze and the smell of the neighborhood Gameday bar b que.  Ahhhhhhh…..Welcome back, College Football!  It’s been a long 7 months!

Each year, I welcome the weekly ritual of spending the hours of 10am-11pm worshiping the gridiron gods.  This year, I have to figure out how to share the ritual with a 4-6 hour walk each Saturday!   I know that many of you empathize with my situation.  You know the feeling that you get when the rare chore or event conflicts with your Saturday line up.  You have your line up all ready-you’ve researched the complicated, and often convoluted, ESPN/ABC schedule.  Who determines these schedules?  For example, this week at the 3:30 time slot:  I was in NC-home to both East Carolina AND Appalachian State.  No broadcast!  No worries, at the same time slot UGA was playing Oklahoma St.  I was willing to take this game over ECU vs. App because SC faces UGA next week and I’d like to see how they look.  No broadcast!, During the 3:30pm time slot, we were stuck with Baylor vs. Wake Forest.  The official match of “Who gives a darn!”  was in full size while they teased us with score updates and snippets of the best plays happening with the other two, much more exciting but regionally broadcasted, games. 

So you have your schedule all figured out, you have the proper snacks and spirits ready and lined up in the fridge in perfectly measured portions (Does everyone measure their Saturday couch snacks or am I outing myself here?), and something pops up!  You remember it’s your nephew’s birthday and you are expected to be at lunch at Grandma’s house at noon.  NOON!  Kick off for the Vols is at noon!  Or, you promised one of your best friends that you would go visit her wedding location and she wants to go at 6pm, the exact time of the wedding so you get the full effect.  6pm!! That’s prime time for the afternoon games and dangerously close to the 8pm kick off!  The wedding isn’t until May!  Can’t this wait???  Or, the University schedules Open House for potential students and you are expected to staff an information table from 1:00pm-4:00pm.  1-4?  That covers the range of 3 games!  You sympathize, right?

There are few things in this world that are more important than college football.  Finding a cure for breast cancer is one of them!!  As you would expect, I have a plan.  It’s fairly simple because I have 2 DVRs!  That’s right, with 3 televisions and 2 digital recorders, I am certain I can rig up a Saturday system that will allow me to wake up, get to steppin’ on my scheduled walk, return home in time for kick off of the 12:00 game and, during the commercials, I can catch up on the smack talking that Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit offer from 10am-12pm.  I’ll need your help with this plan.  No calling or texting or facebook or Twitter updating with ANY game info!!  I may not be watching it live and your updates (like “OMG!  Bradford shoulder injury may end season!!!”) may ruin the magic for me.

I wish you all the same luck as you reorganize your weekly schedules to put college football in its proper place-2nd on your priority list, right behind curing breast cancer!

This week was an easy training week.  We only had to complete 25 miles.  It took 44,708 steps.  We are back at it next week with the biggest ever Saturday of 17 miles and 13 on Sunday.  Wish me luck!  The total so far:  325 miles and 639,622 steps.

Happy Stepping!  Go Braves!  Go Wolfpack!  Go Seminoles!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Training Walks and FAQ (contd.)

So, I've had a break from blogging and I apologize but I'm back! First, thanks to everyone who helped with my online fundraiser. I raised just over $450! It hasn't posted to my fundraising account yet but when it does, I will be over $1900! Kim and I also did a fundraising night at Figo in Decatur and raised a little over $100. We were thrilled and thanks to everyone who came out!

The past few weeks have been busy with fundraising efforts but also with our training walks. They have been getting longer and longer and I have had the pleasure of walking with different groups of people. Two weeks ago, I walked with Jaime, Carly and Steffani. Jaime and Carly are walking in the Atlanta 3-Day and are part of my book club. Steffani is walking in the Tampa 3-Day and is fellow Kappa. We walked on the Alpharetta Big Creek Green Way (it was outside the perimeter...gasp). It was very lovely and I wish we had one closer to us. It was nice and shaded and the 14 miles went by pretty quickly with girl talk and then a lovely lunch afterwards. This past weekend, I trained with Kim and her STP. We did an official training walk! We started at 6 am and I think have all decided that we won't participate again. While it was nice to walk with other people, it was way too early! I have had some great training partners so far and hope to continue!

Now, on to my Frequently Asked Questions...

Why do you carry a backpack?

Well dear reader, I have a lot of stuff to haul. First, I haul water with me and it provides hydration especially on these longer walks. Then there is other stuff...mole skin to ward off blisters, scissors to cut my mole skin, my spiffy new raincoat (thanks to birthday money from Susan and Scott), snacks (you always need snacks to survive that long), my ID, some cash and a credit card, insurance card just in case, and a water bottle filled with Nuun (an electrolyte supplement).

What do you do to raise money?

Why I am so happy you asked, dear reader! I sent out emails to my friends and family and they have been very generous in their support. Kim and I hosted a fundraising night at Figo. We have another one coming up at Capozzi's on September 23rd (hint, hint...don't you want to come?). I did an online fundraiser with Finally, Movie Tavern has donated 100 tickets to me and I am giving them to you for a minimum suggested donation of $7. I still have lots so if you want some email me! I am very close to my goal and if I sell all tickets, I'll meet it.

What are you most afraid of?

First, I am most afraid of not raising enough money to participate (so buy some movie tickets). Then, I am most afraid of not finishing the event or passing out in the shower. I have documented my fear of passing out in the shower. I plan on drinking plenty of electrolytes and cooling down before walking into the shower truck.

Where do you find your training routes?

I love using It allows you to make up walks and tells you the mileage. I mainly walk around Emory and love looking at the old houses.

Have you met any new fun people?
Why yes I have! I met some interesting people on my first official training walk and have gotten to know other friends better while walking. You talk about a lot of stuff in 15 miles! I also have talked to some walkers I've met as I passed them.

Are you excited about camping?

Ummm...have you met me? I don't camp...EVER. So this should be interesting. I am well equipped with a -20 degree sleeping bag, headlamp, and a sleeping pad. I'll let you know what I think after I the walk.

Do you plan on doing another walk?

I haven't decided. I think this has jump started my fitness and hope to continue to walk and cross train but I am still unsure if I'll do this again. I think it is important to raise awareness so maybe or maybe not.

What can someone do to help you?

Well, dear reader, raise awareness! There are many things you can do to help. You can make a donation or buy some movie tickets. You can send words of encouragement. You can send us mail at camp (see Kim's post). You can come support us on the walk. Opening Ceremony is at Lake Lanier and Closing Ceremony is at Turner Field. You can come to the cheering stations along the route (more info as that is released). You can come on a training walk with any one of us. Finally, the whole point of the 3-day is to raise awareness and detection of breast cancer. So, talk to your friends about it.

Well with the holiday weekend, we are vacationing with my parents and I hope to get in our shortened walks this weekend of 8 and 6 miles. I'll avoid the bears that are loose on the Appalachian Trail (really, we will Mom). Hope everyone has a great Labor Day and Happy Walking!