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

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.


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…

First 50 Miles: a Walk in a Park – a BIG Park

I knocked out another five miles last night, bringing my total mileage up to fifty-two. That’s fifty-two miles in a month! I need to be doing just under a hundred to make mile goal, but fifty miles to me was an important symbolic number: I knew if I could finish the first fifty miles, the next fifty wouldn’t be as tough. And after the first hundred, the next hundred should be easier as well. From here, one thousand miles looks like a walk in the park.

OK, it looks like a very long walk in a park that goes mostly uphill. But completing the first fifty mile proved to myself that I’m serious about doing this.

We also had dinner with Sasha and his family Saturday night, and seeing how much strength he gained back so quickly after his latest round of chemotherapy, I’m reminded that this isn’t just a walk in the park.

Those pledges are important. They help keep me motivated through the next fifty miles, but they also help Sasha get well. He’s a strong boy, and I hope he’ll be well enough to walk his own 1000 miles soon.

If you can’t make a pledge of money, make a pledge to walk, or run, or ride. While I would appreciate a pledge for Sasha, making a pledge to help another child or charity would be welcome as well. I’ll be happy to give you a voice on this site to share your journey, or help you get set up on your own.

It’s amazing that we live in a world were all it takes to make a difference is to put one foot in front of the other, wiggle and click a mouse, or touch a screen.

The count: 52 miles down, 948 to go.

A walk in the park.

There Is No Try

For those non-Fanboys out there, this past Friday, May 4, 2012, was Star Wars Day. The date for this annual celebration was chosen due to its phonetic similarity to the Jedi blessing: “May the Force be with you.” So, “May the Fourth be with you!” Thanks to my daughter and very indulgent wife, we watched Episode IV Friday evening. I tried to make time to walk during the day, but I chose the easy path instead and just geeked out in front of the TV.

On Saturday, I tried to motivate myself again, but my allergies were killing me in the morning, and I decided to put off the walk until evening. My wife Julia need to pick up some fabric for a dress she’s making for our daughter, and since Walmart seems to be the only store within ten miles to carry fabric, we hopped in the RAV4 and made our run on the retail equivalent of the Death Star.

I don’t know what it is about Walmart the attracts the freaks (us included), but they were out in force. The family of six in the toy section was actually fun to watch, since the mom and dad were WAY more excited about the new Avengers action figures than the kids were. The psycho who latched onto Julia in the fabric department and started yammering about how she used to make dresses for her kids but they never call anymore since her husband left her and her car broke down but she doesn’t know why since she changes her oil once a year herself but uses vegetable oil because its cheaper except canola because Obama ordered the SEC to artificially inflate the price of corn so more would be available to use by Big Oil for ethanol to but in gasoline which is probably what made her car break down and her husband leave her and her kids hate her … was a little annoying, especially when I walked up to rescue Julia, and the lady looked me up and down and said: “You should try Weight Watchers.”

I found her lack of manners … disturbing.

We eventually made it out of Walmart with the fabric and one very unexpected surprise that had the potential to make it all worth it: the new XBox 360 Kinect Star Wars game. On Friday, I stopped by both Best Buy and Toys-R-Us to find this game. In both cases, they were sold out. Walmart, however, had dozens in stock on Saturday.

We had dinner plans with friends, so my steady slide to the Darkside continued through Saturday night with no walk.

Sunday, I was determined to redeem myself, but I still felt a bit under the weather. My wife had taken my daughter to a birthday party and were going to the ballet in the afternoon, so I had most of the day to myself.

I tried to get out to do my walk, but I just couldn’t seem to drum up the motivation. Instead I read some, watched a little Netflix streaming, and basically lazed about.

Around noon, I decided to try and fix my bad motivator and do something active. So, I popped in Kinect Star Wars. Two hours later, I was a tired, sweaty mess. Despite mediocre reviews from critics, Kinect Star Wars is awesome, and I’ve only played the first two missions! I was pretty exhausted, but I kept telling myself I’d try to go walking later in the day.

After watching some more Netflix, I realized it was already late afternoon, so I started on dinner so it would be ready when my girls got home. When they arrived, my dear daughter looked at me and asked “can we watch the next Star Wars, the one with Yoda?” My wife (did I mention how amazing she is) agreed to bend the rules and have dinner in front of the TV watching Episode V (aka Empire Strikes Back).

When they reach the point in the film where Luke is training with Yoda, I realize I’m identifying too well with Luke’s frustration over the difficulty of his tasks (levitating boulders while standing on one arm must be a challenge). I also recognize he’s getting a bit whiney, telling Master Yoda he’ll “try.”

In response, Master Yoda whips out this nugget of Jedi wisdom:

“Don’t try. Do. Or Do Not. There is no try.”

It’s amazing how much wisdom I’ve learned from Muppets.

After we finished Empire and sent my daughter up to bed, I decided to stop trying.

I walked over to the gym, still sore from my bout with Kinect Star Wars, and I DID.

It took me sixty-four minutes to walk five miles on the elliptical, but I finished it. Thank you, Master Yoda.

The count: 47 miles down, 953 to go.

It’s time to engage the hyperdrive.