Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Me vs. Mother Nature

Posted By: Michelle Ashcraft

Today I started my second week of training for the 3-Day. That means I survived the first week of training! While my first day of walking was not nearly as eventful as Jenn Latino’s bomb scare, the week did turn into a nice little competition mixed with a little bit of mental relaxation and a lot of inspiration.

1st Mile Inspiration
Last Tuesday I kicked off my first of four 3-mile walks for the week. All day at work I was excited to get home, put on my new kicks, and take off. I was prepared. I’d visited John’s Run/Walk Shop in Lexington to get fitted for new shoes, and happily told them that I was taking on the challenge of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. The saleswoman didn’t seem to know what I was talking about, but seemed supportive of my decision to take on the challenge once I explained it a little further, and told me she would find the perfect shoe for me. Great! She had me try three shoes – two didn’t work, one did. Perfect … I just needed one to work. I walked out of the store with shoes in hand and headed to Target.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I am not necessarily the most active individual on the planet, so you shouldn’t be too surprised that I was lacking in the athletic wear department. A friend had told me that Target had some great inexpensive options – who, after all, wants to spend a lot of money on gear that you’re just going to get sweaty and dirty? I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in to not only find a rather large area of women’s gear, but also to see that the majority of it was PINK! Heck, if I am going to walk 60 miles for breast cancer, I might as well wear the Susan G. Komen Foundation signature color! I walked out with a bag full of options in every shade of pink they offered. Shoes, check! Clothes, check! Pedometer, check! (My parents had already got me an iPod nano, complete with pedometer, for my birthday.) Pink baseball cap with a bedazzled ribbon that I bought on vacation, check! Walker’s Handbook read, check! I was ready to go! (At least for the first few weeks …)

WRONG! The one thing that I forgot to plan was a route! There I was, standing in my driveway, all decked out in my new gear, and I had no idea which way to head, or how far I had to go to hit a mile. So, I opted for walking the length of Trailwood Lane, a road that connects my subdivision to 2 others, and see what the pedometer said when I got there.

I was SHOCKED when I looked down at my pedometer when I turned around at the end of Trailwood Lane to see that it said 1.0! Perfect! Then, after I adjusted my iPod and tightened my laces, I looked up to take off back down the road, and staring me in the face was a bright pink Susan G. Komen ribbon banner flapping in the wind in the front yard of the house next to me. Talk about inspiration!

Me vs. Mother Nature
Other than hitting the 1-mile mark and seeing that ribbon, I don’t remember much about my first walk. It was like I blinked and it was over. For the first time in as long as I remember, I think I was finally able to just let my mind go blank for once. It was a great feeling! To not have to think about anything for the 1 hour and 22 minutes it took me to walk those 3 miles was glorious!

That feeling didn’t last long as the rest of the week became the battle of Me vs. Mother Nature. If someone had videotaped me this week, they might have begun to wonder if I was related to Dr. Doolittle! On Tuesday I was met at a stop sign by a small white dog who decided that he needed to follow me and bark as I continued to walk. Every few steps I would turn around and the dog would immediately stop in his tracks and silence his call, looking at me with cute little eyes like he was the most innocent being in the world. As soon as I would turn around, he’d begin following again and resume his conversation, only to be silenced and stilled if I turned his way again. This lasted for a few blocks until a woman with a stroller caught his interest. On Wednesday I elected to take the walking/running trail that runs behind my community. I quickly ran into my neighbor and her son who informed me that he had been feeding the “quack quacks” (aka, the ducks that were in the pond a few yards behind them). Shortly after that I saw a sign indicating pictures of the “area wildlife.” Area wildlife? In my subdivision? Just as I was thinking “I will freak out if a raccoon jumps out in front of me right now,” what I am certain was a groundhog darted out in front of my path. This sent me jumping back which caused the neighborhood kids on bikes in front of me to laugh hysterically. After scarring a few rabbits and meeting countless other dogs along the way, I finally made it to the other end of the trail only to encounter more “quack quacks,” one of which decided that it too needed to join me on my walk until a small beagle scarred it off our path. Saturday led me to the same path, and the same groundhog, and what I think may have been the same duck.

On Sunday I was finally met with what had been looming over my head all week – rain. That afternoon I sat on my couch, attempting to will myself to go complete the last 3 miles of the week, and trying to think of other places that I could go that would keep me dry. Then suddenly Jenn’s voice popped into my head and said, “If it rains on the 3-Day, I am going to have to walk; so when it rains, I just walk anyway.” With that, I was off …

Fundraising Update and MANY Thanks
Mother Nature may have been playing tricks on me this week, but the support that my friends and family showed this week was no joke! I was so humbled by your generosity. As of 5:00 p.m. today I have officially reached $1,470.00, which is 64% of my goal, and I am so thankful for my Mom, Dad, and brother Clint for putting me over the big 50% mark. You can see the results at www.the3day.org/goto/MichelleAshcraft. Many, many, many thanks go to the following people for collectively donating $745 this week:

- Gregg and Nancy Ashcraft – arguably the greatest parents in the world, in my opinion.
- Clint Ashcraft – my older brother, and one of my biggest supporters.
- Dr. Jenny Bloom – director of my Master’s program at the University of South Carolina.
- A colleague from UK who wished to remain anonymous.
- Sarah Dean –friend from Purdue (Boiler Gold Rush).
- Angela Hoffa – friend from Purdue and Phi Sigma Rho pledge sister.

I have also been conducting a fundraiser through Insider Pages to raise funds. The fundraiser ended Friday with a total of $130.50. When this money hits my 3-Day account, I will be at 69.5% of my goal. Many thanks go to the following people who spent time writing 323 reviews to help raise money for the cure:

- Nancy Ashcraft – my mother, and previous donor.
- Mandie Thacker – one of my best friends from grad school, and previous donor.
- Sarah Fisk – fellow Phi Sigma Rho sister.
- Meredith Perlman – 3-day teammate.
- Lindsay Turner Burchette – fellow bridesmaid in Mandie Thacker’s wedding.
- Katy Franzen – friend from Purdue, and fellow SOC 2006 member (Boiler Gold Rush).

Breast Cancer Fact of the Week
Nearly every major advance in the fight against breast cancer has been touched by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, including training more than 400 breast cancer researchers and funding more than 1,800 research projects in the past 27 years. The Foundation has provided more money for breast cancer research and community health programs than any other entity besides the U.S. government.

The Numbers
This past week I walked 12.12 miles and 35,066 steps! (Note: I average 8756 steps for 3 miles. It takes Jenn L. about 5 miles to walk about 10,000 steps. My numbers are clearly skewed a little high due to my shorter-than-average legs. Thus, you may notice that I have many more steps than my teammates for the same distances.)

Till next week, HAPPY STEPPING!



  1. Clint will die laughing about the dog, groundhog, and duck tales. He would have called you Dr. Doolittle forever, so I won't tell him that part. I will be interested to see how many steps it takes to walk 60 miles. I hope your second week is better with no rain!


  2. Mom -

    I think I am the animal whisperer! Even when Mandie was in town this weekend, Pongo and Brinker stuck to me like glue. We didn't cross the paths of any creatures on our walks this weekend, but I have a whole week ahead of me, so we'll see what tomorrow's walk brings.