One Mile at a Time

After losing the past three months to a back injury, I’m getting started again on my 1000 Miles project, the purpose of which is to raise money to help cover the cost of my friend Sasha’s leukemia treatment.

I really don’t know how this kid does it. He’s only three-and-a-haf years old, and he’s going through brutal cycles of chemotherapy every few weeks. Every time I seem, even if he’s weak from chemo, he’s enthusiastic and inquisitive. He loves to come over an look at my motorcycle, honk the horn, and dig in the saddle bags. When he’s big enough, maybe his parents will let me take him for a ride.

So, Sasha is a big inspiration to me, yet after all these months of physical therapy, I still didn’t have the courage to get back on the elliptical machine and start walking again. I saw he and his mother walking home from the grocery store yesterday, and I decided that if he could walk a quarter of a mile in the August heat, I could at least go a round on an exercise machine in a comfortably air conditioned gym.

Hurricane ISAAC prevented me from jumping on last night: part of my work at National Business Aviation Association (DISCLAIMER: opinions are my own) is posting critical news updates for our members, regardless of the time of night. But tonight, I didn’t have any excuses.

I warmed up by walking several laps in a rather cool pool while my daughter hung on to my neck, yelling “Giddy-up, seahorse! I’m a mermaid cowgirl. She’s four-and-a-half, and this was great excitement for her, and the wiggling made it a fairly intensive workout for me.

After fifteen minutes of seahorse duty, I dried off (somewhat) and headed into the gym. I hopped on my favorite elliptical machine and started marching up an imaginary mountain. Pretty quickly, I decided to imagine a flat road, since the mountain was mentally kicking my rear. My physical rear was also feeling it.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I notices was that I was averaging about 5.7 miles an hour, and I wasn’t getting winded. My heart rate was steady, between 140 and 142 (a good zone for me), and my stamina wasn’t giving out.

At half I mile, the ache in my hip told me this was only going to be a one mile day at best. I stuck with it and managed to finish one mile in ten minutes and thirty seconds, which is excellent time for me. I’m not sure if I could maintain that over five miles, but I’m determined to find out in the months ahead.

This time, I plan on taking a bit more slowly: rather than jumping right into five miles a day, every day, I’m planning on starting with one mile every other day for the next week, then bump it up to every day for a week or two. I’ll add an additional mile every couple of weeks until I’m back up to doing five comfortably.

Being under the care of the physical therapists at Jackson Clinic gives me a lot of confidence that I can do this. I can already feel where they helped me strengthen by back and core, and I think I can back to five miles a day before the end of 2012 without hurting myself.

So, add another mile for Sasha.

  • PROGRESS: 83 miles
  • REMAINING: 917 miles

Make A Donation to Help Pay for Sasha’s Chemo

Too Much of a Good Thing

It’s been a while since my last post, but I want to assure everyone that I haven’t given up on my effort to walk 1000 miles. As it turns out, five miles a day on the elliptical is apparently a bit aggressive, and I wound up hurting my lower back pretty badly. Walking, bending, sitting, and even laying on my back caused serious paid (let’s say seven out of ten on the pain scale). My legs would crap and go weak with certain movements, and ibuprofen stopped working.

After a relaxing, yet uncomfortable vacation in Myrtle Bead, I decided I could put off the pain any longer, and when I got back to Alexandria, I set up an appointment with an orthopedist. After a physical evaluation and X-rays, my doctor confirmed that my back was in the best shape: the disks in my lower back were being compressed and interfering with the nerves there. Fortunately, I didn’t have to have surgery, steroid epidurals, or highly addictive pain killers, but my orthopedist did send me to physical therapy.

When I started physical therapy last month, I could barely walk due to the pain in my lower back and legs. Filling out the evaluation form in the physical therapist office made me realize just how much this pain was limiting me: I couldn’t stand in one place for more than two minutes; I couldn’t sit in a chair for five minutes; I wasn’t sleeping through the night; I was avoiding household chores (even more than usual); and I was no longer able to walk the distances I needed to walk to make real progress towards my 1000 mile goal.

Krista (whom I affectionately call “Mistress Krista”), Anthony, and the rest of the physical therapy team at the Jackson Clinic in Alexandria have done a great job getting me back on my feet and moving again. They put me through the gauntlet twice a week, but after every session, I feel stronger and have greater mobility. More importantly, they are giving me valuable knowledge to help understand how my body moves an works, and they’re giving me exercises I can do on my own to help strengthen my “core” and better support my back.

For anyone having difficulty moving, I strongly recommend an orthopedic evaluation followed by physical therapy. Ant-inflammatories and pain killers may mask symptoms enough to allow a person to keep exercising, but   as I discovered, sometimes this just allows more damage to occur.

I still have at least another month of physical therapy to go, but I’ve made enough progress to begin walking again. Despite the heat in DC, I’m even trying to get out an walk the city during lunch (I managed about a mile and a half last week). When I’m finally released from physical therapy, I expect to be substantially more fit than when I started.

This evening I’m working through the exercises Mistress Krista and Anthony have taught me, and tomorrow, I’m getting back on the elliptical for the first time in more than a month. I know I won’t do five miles; I may not be able to do three; but I’m getting back on it, and by the end of the day, I’ll be a few steps closer to 1000 miles.


My Beard Doesn’t Sweat

But my eyebrows do. It’s the weirdest thing. By mile two of my five-mile elliptical routine, I’ve got sweat pouring down my back, down my chest, and down my forehead. And even more sweat seems to sprout from my eyebrows. They’re like two sponges sitting over my eyes, getting heavier and heavier, until they release rolling, salty torrents down the bridge of my nose and into the corners of my eyes, where they sting and blind and madden, until I brush the sweat off my brow with an already soaked hand, leaving my entire face wet and dripping, and no better because it’s still stinging my eyes. And so goes the next three miles. But through it all, my beard stays dry.

And so goes another five miles today, which added to Sunday’s five miles, brings the total to eighty-two miles.


Giving It 7.2 Percent

Seven-point-two percent. Of 1000. It doesn’t sound like much. But I promise you, walking seventy-two miles in a month and a half is not an easy task for a guy who weighs 400 lbs (although I think I may be dipping below that now), and who probably didn’t walk seventy-two total miles per year prior to 2010.

I was hoping to hit 100 miles this week, but my body told me earlier this week I needed to take some time to recover. Since my post on Tuesday, I did manage five miles on Wednesday and another five Thursday. I’m feeling moderately stiff today, but I’m not as bad off as I was last weekend. Five miles in a daily session on the elliptical  is apparently something I need to work up to over a month or so, not try to do it in the first one hundred miles.

I’m going to continue to shoot for five miles a day, but I’m going to try and stagger (no pun intended) between no more than three back to back all-at-once five mile sessions days followed at least two days where the miles are spread out over other activities, like walking at the park, zoo or one of the many museums across the river in DC.

I’m also going to try taking the longer route to work. My current route is about half a mile on the way in and another half mile on the way back home (interrupted by a Metro ride and a shuttle bus), for a total of one commuting mile a day. I haven’t been counting these miles towards my totals, but I think I may need to to reach my 1000 mile goal next April. Besides, mornings and evenings in DC are wonderful in the summer, and are a perfect time to walk.

I may also take up walking at lunch again, provided it’s not too hot that day. I really don’t want to come back to the office with my clothes soaked through with sweat. And I suspect my co-workers would appreciate it if I avoided it as well.

Tonight I plan on doing the five miles again on the elliptical (this will be the third night in a row), but tomorrow I’ll try a different activity to reach the five miles. It’s a Saturday, so I won’t have the walk to work, but I’m sure my four-year-old can help me find and activity to get my feet moving.

The count: Seventy-two miles down, nine hundred twenty-eight to go.


One Hour, Sixty-Two Miles

Me, after an hour of sweating.

Last Wednesday, I passed mile fifty-seven. Up to that point, I was on a great run of five mile days, but my body was paying for it. I decided to take a couple of days off to recuperate, and with weekend activities “conflicting” with my walking time, I ended up taking four days off.

I jumped right back in with five miles today, but I need to work out an alternating routine during the week until I’m really comfortable with five miles a day and not having so much difficulty the next day.

In a car, I can easily travel sixty-two miles in an hour. I barely notice the distance, and while hope I’m getting good gas mileage, I really don’t think about the amount of energy being expended. It’s taken me more than twelve hours spread over slightly more than a month to travel sixty-miles. It was hard work. The next road trip I take, I think I’ll appreciate my wheels a little more.

The count so far: 62 miles down, 938 miles to go.

My photo finish turned out a bit shaky...

Hitting My Stride

Last night I completed another five miles, bringing the total to fifty-seven. I’ve hit a good stride with the five mile walks. I’m able to do them in just under an hour (as in 59 minutes and fourteen seconds). I’m tired but not beat when I finish, and I’m recovering much faster after a workout. Over the next week or two, I’m going try to keep the five mile distance, but increase my speed to six miles-per-hour. Once I finish consistently under fifty minutes, I’m going to try to add a sixth mile to the daily walk.

Sometime between now and the five miles in fifty-minutes goal, I should pass 100 miles. I’ve had several people privately say they would make a pledge for the 100 Mile Goal, but I’m the only one one who’s publicly posted a pledge.

Initially, I thought no one was making pledges because nobody knew about this site, but checking out my site performance in Google Analytics, I’m getting between seventy-five and one hundred people visiting this site a day.

What’s stopping you from making a pledge?

I know that my decision not to post photos of Sasha on the public site probably has an a negative impact on fundraising, but Sasha’s parents and I have serious reservations about posting photographs of our children in public places. I may be slightly paranoid, but I believe posting pictures of your children in a public is a bad idea, as it makes them targets. If you are a close friend or family member, I am posting some photos later this week of Sasha having a “play date” with my daughter Alisa. I suspect most of my visitors also happen to be Facebook friends as well.

If you’re reluctant to make a pledge directly to Sasha, please consider pledging a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

You can also help Sasha or other children battling cancer by starting you own 1000 Miles fundraiser. Email me at [email protected], and I’ll help you get set up on this site or with your own.

Finally, please tell your friends about this effort and use the “Like”, “Tweet” and “Share” buttons below.

The count: 57 miles down, 943 to go.

One thousand miles doesn’t seem that far…