Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Little Packages … and BIG Surprises

Posted By: Michelle Ashcraft

Last week was full of milestones! First, I completed my 10th week of training! Can you believe it? Wow, the time has flown by! I also completed my longest walk to date … 10 miles! (Well, sort of … more on that later.)

Knowing that big training miles were coming up, I knew it was time to add a new piece of equipment to my 3-Day gear … something to carry things longer walks require, like fluids, snacks, a cell phone (for emergencies) and personal identification. I recruited my new friend Shelley (she’s the intern in our office this summer) to go along with me on an adventure to Dick’s to find the right item.

I wasn’t going in completely uneducated. I’d read the blogs of the veteran NKOTW teammates last year as well as blogs from other 3-Day walkers around the nation. There were many options to choose from … backpacks (like CamelBak), “fanny packs” with water bottles, etc. I just had to find the right pack for me. I’d tried on a “fanny pack” options before, but found them to be rather uncomfortable and not suited for arm swinging while walking - every time I swung my arms they hit the water bottles that were jutting off of my hips. Jenn L. and I had talked about CamelBak options, but we were both, quite honestly, afraid that I just wouldn’t be able to hack carrying that much weight on my back for the long distances. (Jenn may call me mighty, but let’s face it … I’m tiny.) Enter the genius that is Stella into the picture, and we thought we had a solution. (Stella is a student that works in my office - she’s one of the 2010-11 K Crew Coordinators.) While talking about options in the office one day Stella wonder aloud, “Don’t they have kid’s CamelBaks?” Genius! At 4’11” I can still wear many kid’s sized items … why not a kid’s sized CamelBak? So off to Dick’s Shelley and I went.

Once at Dick’s it took us a while to find what we were looking for. Store’s like Dick’s overwhelm me. There are way too many options for sporting equipment in there … and I am not so sporty. Shelley happens to like those stores and knew to find someone in a green shirt to help us. Once pointed in the right direction we found ourselves staring at a wall of CamelBaks. Woah! So many choices! Shelley immediately started picking them off the rack and reading the “pros” of each option while I tried them on for comfort. There was one designed especially for women. Perfect … except that it had no storage space for anything but the liquid I’d be carrying. There was one designed for hikers that included lots of storage space, but it did not fit snuggly against my back, and my arms rubbed against the straps when they swung. There was another one that seemed to fit ok but claimed that when full of water it would weigh more than 6 pounds … a lot to carry on a small back for 60 miles! Finally I picked up one that looked like a smaller version of the 6-lb. option. It was perfect! It fit snuggly against my back, it didn’t seem like it would chafe my arms, it had a support strap, and it weighed far less when full. “I think I’ll take this one!” I said just as Shelley flipped over the tag and read one word - kids-sized. All I could do was laugh. As you can imagine, being the size that I am, I have heard every comment/joke possible about being short/small. Leave it to me to really pick the kids-sized option! (Funny side note: Once while shopping in Columbia with Jenn L. and Katie H. I was asked whose daughter I was. After Jenn, Katie, and I all looked at each other with funny looks on our faces we replied that we actually worked together. Anyone want to take bets on how many times people will think I am the daughter of one of my NKOTW teammates?)

I traveled to Indiana again this past weekend, which means that I would experience my first 10-mile Saturday, followed by a 6-mile Sunday, in Seymour. I planned to get up at 5:30 a.m. to beat the heat on Saturday and to finish before taking Brinker to the vet, but the wee hours of the morning brought a nasty storm through town. I thus found myself walking in the middle of the day in the hottest heat. 8.1 miles in I was out of water, hot, and exhausted, so I returned home. I planned to do the same route the next day to complete the weekend’s 16 miles.

The next day I was pretty far into my walk when I noticed a 1.5 mile marker that I hadn’t noticed the day before. I stopped dead in my tracks. The day before I had tracked the path as being 1 mile long with my pedometer and now here I was staring at 1.5 miles with quite a bit of distance left to go before I would turn around again. My heart sunk! I continued to walk the rest of the path and then reset the pedometer. I walked back what I estimated to be .5 miles to the 1.5 mile marker. My pedometer read .2 miles. I then reset the pedometer and walked the rest of the trail. I looked down hoping to see 1.5 miles on the pedometer and was disappointed to find that was not what it read. Realizing that I had no idea how much I’d actually walked - but that it was far more than I was scheduled to do - I began the trek back to my parents’ house.

After cooling down a bit, mom and I piled in the car to go measure the path with the odometer. Turns out the pedometer was a “little” off … what I thought was 8.1 miles was actually 11.1 miles! In 2 days I had actually walked 22.2 miles. No wonder I was tired!

So I learned that while pedometers are good for tracking steps, they are not so reliable for tracking mileage. This calls for bumping up “The Numbers” report.

The Numbers
As far as I can tell based on some new websites Jenn L. and Shelley have given me, I have been walking FAR more than I should have been each day. While I should have been working my way up from 3 miles to 10 miles, it appears I actually walked 4.54 on my very first day of training and have increased ever since. At the end of my training last week I thought I had walked a total 153.98 miles and 383,758 steps. I now have estimated that I have actually walked 207.93 miles with those 383,758 steps … a difference of 53.95 miles! Talk about a BIG surprise! Turns out, as Jenn mentioned, I didn’t need to worry about the week I couldn’t walk due to medical testing, or the weekends I ran short due to traveling - I am way ahead of the game!

Before discovering that 8.1 miles was actually 11.1 miles, my dad looked at me and asked, “Do you realize that 24 miles in 1 day is 3 times more than you walked today?” I’m pretty sure I came off cool, calm, and collected when I confidently told him that I could do it because we had all day to walk and could take breaks. However, I did feel the flutter of a few butterflies in my stomach. Well, 11.1 miles is almost half of 24 miles and I’ve still got lots of training weeks to go. With all the support I’ve had, I’m confident I can do it!

Fundraising Update and MANY Thanks
My teammates are moving fast and furiously on fundraising! We’re now up to $7,034.25, which is 34% of our team goal! This week those of us on the 24-week training schedule will walk 24 miles, with our longest walk being 10 miles, again. I hope you’ll consider making a $10 donation in support of our longest walk. Visit our team page and donate to Kim, Katie B., Jenn D., Katie H., Jenn L., Meredith, Shawn, or Karen today!

Breast Cancer Fact of the Week
There are many factors that affect risk for breast cancer. These include age, gender, weight, height, age at first menstrual cycle, etc. Visit the menu of risk factors menu on the Susan G. Komen Foundation for more info.

Happy walking this week … especially if you make it a few extra miles!



  1. hey girl. i am really proud of you for doing this. i will make a donation for you when the time is right. i wish the best for you and i miss my fav bgr buddy, just ahead of lyds. much love

    p.s. got a job for me hah

  2. Now I don't feel NEARLY as out of shape for feeling worn out after our walk! hahaha!

  3. Have Mom Will Travel! I have been driving new routes for you here in Seymour and measuring carefully the number of miles for each route. I have wondered if the mileage is different with the big tires of the Expedition vs. the little tires of the volkswagon. Haha. Might be a reason to buy another one. I don't know how many people will say hello, but I can quarantee big hugs when you get home and a trip to Chinese with your Dad.