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

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.

5 More Miles Has Me Feeling Fat and Happy

I’ve been sharing my walking adventures via Facebook (and Twitter, and Reddit, and StumbleUpon), and one of my family members congratulated me on my efforts, and suggested that if I keep it up, the pounds will start coming off. While appreciate the encouragement, this “1000 Miles” project isn’t about losing weight.

First, it’s about helping raise funds to help a little boy named Sasha beat cancer. It’s proven more difficult than I thought to get set up to set up the organization needed to raise the money without running afoul of the tax authorities. The options are, I can just collect funds from everyone via a PayPal “fundraiser”, giving PayPal their five to ten percent cut; I can start and register a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, which will cost about $1,000.00 in legal and government filing fees, and which will take several months; or I can find an existing not-for-profit to act as a fiscal sponsor.

To get started, I’m going to open up the PayPal fundraiser, and work to find a fiscal sponsor. Initially, donors won’t be able to deduct the money they give, and there will be other tax implications, but this will be the fastest way to begin helping Sasha with his treatment expenses. If all goes really well, the 5031(c)(3) option.

For the time being, look for the PayPal Donate Now button on the sidebar of the page. I’ll also be setting up a dedicated Pledge Page where individuals can post their pledges.

So now, let’s get back to the Facebook post, and my other reason for doing this “1000 Miles” project: I’m a fat guy. At 400 lbs, there’s no denying it. And I don’t particularly care to deny it. But what I do want is to dispell the myth that fat people are lazy and stupid. Even fat people get sucked into believing these stereotypes, acting out the role that our image-worshipping culture sets for them.

It is possible to be fat and happy … and healthy. Over the past two years, I’ve steadily increased my activity level. My body has done an excellent job adapting to the challenge: in July of 2010, I could barely walk a mile in one hour every few days. Over the course of a year and a half, I built that one mile to three to five miles several times a week. With this project, I’m trying to get it to every day.

I haven’t lost weight, but I feel more energetic, my life-long asthma has disappeared, and overall I feel more relaxed.

Regardless of weight, getting up and moving can have a tremendous positive impact on person’s health.

So, 37 miles down, 963 miles to go!

Three Out of Five Is Not Bad

No adrenaline rush today. When I got home from work today, I already felt like I had walked five miles. I was beat, and I was starting to tell myself it would be alright to skip The Walk (I’m starting to think of it as a proper noun), especially since I did so well yesterday.

I spent the early part of the evening with my family, having dinner, chatting on the phone with my buddy Steve about closing on his new house, talking with my four-year-old about her day at school, and then checking Facebook while she took her bath.

When it was time for my wife to put out daughter to bed, I found myself getting ready for The Walk. I really didn’t think about until after I started putting my shoes on and remembered that, just an hour earlier, I had convinced myself not to go at all.

So, maybe I set tonight’s expectations high when I planned for five miles. After thirty minutes on the elliptical, I had only made it 2.5 miles, and I new five miles wasn’t happening. I finished up the last half mile in a few minutes, and felt satisfied I had made it three miles.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to quit when you’re ahead. Well, at least tonight.

973 miles to go!