Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day One of the 3-Day: Wet!

So, the opening ceremony was over, and we moved through "cattle chutes" to start the walk, getting our 3-Day ID scanned as we left the chute. This event had impressive organization and safety consciousness. The weather was still dry, but that would change - oh, how that would change! In any type of endurance event I have trained for, one of the things that is emphasized is to train in all types of conditions: hot and cold, wet and dry, hilly and flat. Well, forget about cold, and as it turned out, I only had a couple of times training in rain, the most notable of which was a nice hike up Cold Mountain. Today would make up for that. Our route was 17 miles, and criss-crossed Washington, DC, ending up eventually in Maryland. Most of the time, I had no idea where we were, although I know we went through the government area, Georgetown, and Adams-Morgan. Much of the time, I walked by myself. Other times, I struck up conversations with people and walked with them for a little ways. The most difficult part, other than the rain, was the constant stopping for traffic lights and when people got bunched up.

The support on the walk was fantastic! We had a number of vans patrolling for stragglers or people who could not walk anymore. They cheered for us every time they went by. Each had a decoration theme. I loved this one! So funny!

We are going by the lovely Botanical Gardens here, just a mile or so from the start of the walk.
Is Minnie Mouse cheering us on? She is sporting pink.
This is me with our Capital in the background. Too bad Congress can't get along as well and as cooperatively as everyone did on this walk. I later got a pink lei, but didn't have it yet to compliment my green shirt from last year's Seattle Half-Marathon.
This was the first porta-potty stop. It was drizzling and cool. The lines were long, probably the longest toilet lines of the whole three days because people were still clustered. Note the copious amounts of pink!
These two ladies from Florida sported really cool pink flamingos. I can't imagine how soggy these got later in the day!
Shortly after seeing the Washington Monument, the drizzle became a steady rain, and I took no more pictures for the walk except a few, sneaking the camera out of its plastic bag for as briefly as I could.
Lunch was memorable! We sat on the ground in a driving rain, trying to keep our sandwich and chips dry. I bolted my food and started walking again. I heard no complaining, from me or from anyone else.
Most people walked in some type of rain gear, including the disposable rain jackets that they gave us. I tried the rain gear for a while, but got too hot, although I ended my walk for the day putting the poncho back on again.
At some point after lunch, I changed my socks to a dry pair. They were soaked within half a mile. Eventually I stopped at a bus stop to put on moleskin on a couple of "hot spots," and wrang the water out of my socks. I got a good half cup out of each pair.

I risked one last photo in the rain to capture the National Cathedral, which I had never seen before. It was recently damaged by our earthquake.
A few miles after this point, somewhere in Maryland, our 17 miles was over for the day, and we caught a 20 minute bus ride to camp, the rain still beating down. I was not looking forward to putting up my tent in the rain.

The Komen 3-Day Opening Ceremony

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure kicked off with a great opening ceremony. It was still kind of dark at 6:30 when we all gathered outside the Washington Nationals baseball stadium and faced the stage. Music pounded. The skies were overcast, but there was no "liquid sunshine" yet. The crowd was high energy. A young woman came on stage. She was a doctor, and a breast cancer survivor. She was the highest energy, most enthusiasic doctor you will ever meet, and we would see her many times over the next three days. She had also done the 3-Day herself, and knew what we were in for.

As she spoke, I continued to look around the crowd. I saw a few men, but there was a lot more estrogen here than testosterone. It also was clear to me that I had been wrong about something. In my first Komen 5K, only breast cancer survivors had worn pink, so I assumed that this would be the case with the 3-Day. But there were far too many people in pink for that to be the case, including many men. I found myself wishing that I had a pink dry-fit shirt.

I really liked this woman's hat. She and two friends had identical skull caps that mimicked breasts, including the areola and nipple! On the last day of the walk, I ran into them along the route and chatted for a couple of minutes about their hats.

For me, the most moving part of the opening ceremony involved the flag raising. A single woman - a breast cancer survivor - walked through the crowd and climbed the steps to a circular platform. She carried a large white banner, covered with text that people were had written. The text was messages written by participants about people who had died from breast cancer. I wish I had seen it before hand, because I would have written a message for Ann. This banner is called the "remembrance flag," I think. The woman slowly raised the banner up a flagpole, and then she was joined by eight other women - all breast cancer survivors - who each carried a banner. They formed a circle around her. I so wished my sister could have joined them as a survivor, but was very much moved by the nine of them, knowing what hardships they had endured and gotten past.

After the circular area had cleared, I snapped another photo of it, since there was a little more light now. You can see the white remembrance flag in the center.

One of many attributes anyone facing cancer must have is courage:

It would take a while for the large number of walkers to pass through the "cattle chutes" to start the walk, and I continued to study the walkers. I thought that this guy's pink banner was pretty cool, and also chuckled a bit over two ladies walking together (one shown here) with the team name of "Fore Old Jugs."

Soon enough, I passed through the "cattle chute" and was taking my first steps on my long walk to honor the memory of my sister, and to honor all those who have had this awful disease.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gathering for the Komen 3-Day for the Cure

On September 23, I was jolted awake at 3:40 by my wake-up call in my Arlington hotel room. I came to life quickly and shortly thereafter, had shaved, showered, dressed, and eaten breakfast. After packing and checking out, I boarded the bus at 4:45 for the 15-20 minute ride to Nationals Stadium. There, I joined several thousand others gathering for the start of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. Already, I was impressed how well organized everything was. A large team of volunteers was in place to help with information and load luggage. I quickly found the right truck to load my duffle, packed with sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, and clothing and gear for the next three days. It was still totally dark at 5:15 when we all arrived, with the opening ceremony still more than an hour away. People milled around chatting with one another, checking out the three day store, and relaxing.

I walked through the small Komen store. My goal was to find a temporary tatoo for my face, but they had none. I bought 3-Day pin for my hat, and a deep pink wrist band that said "60 miles. I can do that." I asked if they had any Komen 3-Day tatoos or pink ribbon tattoos, but they didn't . But a young woman said she had a pink ribbon sticker, and kindly offered to give it to me. It lasted all day, but washed off in the shower that night. Since I didn't have anything pink to wear, I wore this with pride and gratitude. I think it looked pretty good on me.

There was a table with pink stickers. We could take one and write a message on it. Here is what I wrote in memory of my sister Ann, now departed nearly four months. It is still hard to believe after how hard she fought.

The pink circular stickers were placed on a large white wall. Ann's is on the upper right.

After resting for a bit on the ground, it was almost time for the opening ceremony. There was a threat of rain, but all was still dry. After 172 days of waiting, my three day adventure was about to begin.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Komen 3-Day by the Numbers

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Washington, DC and Mongomery County, Maryland was a blast. It was very emotional at times and I thought of my deceased sister pretty continually. I miss her so much.

I'll be writing a lot of posts in the next week or so, but thought I'd start with an account of some of the numbers of my latest attempt to race for a cure. Days since I signed up: 175
Days when my left foot felt normal: 24
Steps taken during the 175 days: 2,279,560
Approximate miles walked: 1,079
Weight gain/ loss: 0 pounds
Miles of the Washington 3-Day course: 53
Approximate miles walked during the 3 days: 70.6
Dollars donated to Komen by my supporters: $8,760
Number of donors: 122
Number of honoree names on my shirt: 71
Number of inspirational people I met during the three days: far, far too many to count

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Racing for a Cure Once More

Well, I'm all set! My left foot is about at 85%, meaning I still get some heel pain from the plantar fasciitis but nothing like even a month or so ago - much less four months ago! Too bad I couldn't get in a few more long walks, but I will cope. My bag is all packed. It is amazing how much stuff I had to cram in there: remember, I have to camp out for two nights and had to stuff a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and pillow in there. Friday will be a very early day, as I have to check in between 5AM and 6AM at Nationals Stadium in Washington, DC. The event kicks off at 6:30 AM. Right now, Friday could be wet but the rest of the weekend looks good. The weather will do what it will do. I plan on enjoying the experience, which will be so emotional at times. Racing for a cure again - about 53 miles, it sounds like, a tad bit short of the 60 I expected. I wish I could pick up the phone on Sunday and call Ann, tell her I did what I told her I would do five months ago, especially in her honor.

Last night, I wrote honoree names on my special shirt that I had made with my sister Ann's photo on it. Pink names for those who had breast cancer, blue for the names of those that had some other kind of cancer. It looks pretty nice, I'd say. I will wear this shirt on Sunday. Maybe your name is on this shirt, or the name of a loved one. If so, I am walking for you, for them!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How I Came to Do the Komen 3-Day

It was the summer – July maybe - of 2004. I was a year and a half finished with chemo for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and a month or so removed from walking in the National Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Washington, DC. This was a 5K event in a cold rain, and it was amazing to see the thousands and thousands of people walking and running for the cause of bringing attention to breast cancer. It had been emotional seeing the many of the women in pink shirts, each of them a survivor of this terrible disease.

On that July Day driving in my car, I heard an advertisement about the “Komen 3-Day,” and I later looked it up. Wow! A three day walk to raise money to fight breast cancer and help out those suffering from this disease. Camping out as a group. Walking about sixty miles! It sounded pretty amazing. My sister-in-law Christine was a breast cancer survivor. Plus I knew several more – the number keeps growing annually - women who had survived, or succumbed to, breast cancer. “I should do this walk someday,” I said to myself. The fundraising sounded difficult but doable.

Then, I got involved with Team in Training. The Anchorage Marathon in 2005. The San Diego Marathon in 2006. Mentoring in 2007. The Arizona Marathon in 2008. How could I simultaneously fundraise for the Komen 3-Day while doing Team in Training? But I thought about it every year. And there was a sad milestone for my marathon in Arizona in 2008 – for the first time, my sister Ann’s name was on my race shirt. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer less than a year before. I needed to do the Komen 3-Day in honor of Ann some year.

Time marched on. The Country Music Half Marathon in 2009. My sister was now in remission. But that remission ended near the end of the year. I ran the Seattle Half Marathon for TNT in June of 2010. I had now raised over $50,000 for LLS in my five Team in Training events, and I went into 2011 thinking I would do TNT again. After all, a very dear friend died from multiple myeloma, one of the blood cancers, just days into the New Year. But after a lot of soul searching and some conversations, and seeing my sister get weaker and weaker as each month went by, I decided that this was the year to do the Komen 3-Day. I wanted my sister to know I was going to do this walk specifically in her honor. I didn’t think she would live to see me do it, but at least she would know I would do it. I think she was honored by this.

The five months since I signed up for the 3-Day have speeded by. I’ve not walked as much as I hoped to in order to prepare. But I have raised the money required to participate, and I will walk strong and proud, walking for those who cannot, racing for a cure once more. My sister is not here anymore, but she will be with me every step: in my memories of her and my love for her. Her battle is over, but that of tens of thousands of others of women – and some men - goes on. The money that people generously donated will help them, and those yet to be diagnosed or even born.

Seven years ago, I first got the idea to walk the 3-Day when I heard a chance advertisement on my car radio. In just a few days, I will make that happen. If you helped me get there in some way, thank you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Do I Look That Dangerous?

For several months, I try to spend a few minutes several times a day stretching my plantar fascia and my Achilles tendon. My doctor told me in early June that these stretches will be critical to getting the plantar fasciitis to heal. The stretch involves putting the ball of my foot on a wall, heel at the base of the wall a few inches back. Then I push down on the ball of my foot while leaning into the wall. This gets a double-sided stretch going, both the foot and Achilles at the same time. It has been pretty effective.

At work, I will do this in the stairwells. I often have people walk by on the stairs and it has never elicited more than a “Hi” and a “I’m stretching” from me. Until late last week, that is. Then, a woman opened the door and bounded into the stairway, coming down towards me. She got about five steps down, and froze, staring at me as if I had a pipe bomb strapped to my chest, a large knife in my hand, a handgun in my other hand, and as if I were shouting “Death to America!” She started to turn to go back up. I realized that I had somehow scared the wits out of her, and I spoke up. “Hey, it’s OK,” I said. “I have a foot injury and am just doing a stretch. I do this all the time!”

She still looked a little wary, and said “Well, you never know about Downtown Richmond.” Then she continued down the stairs, gliding past me. Afterwards, I ran into the bathroom and looked in the mirror to make sure my face had not turned purple, or I didn’t have blood gushing from an eye, or that I hadn’t sprouted horns. Everything looked alright, just a normal looking (well, I think so) guy with gray hair and glasses. Not sure how I could have scared her that bad. I guess she just wasn’t expecting to see someone loitering in the stairwell – it is not like it is a great place to hang out. It was a weird feeling, because I wouldn’t hurt a flea. Well, maybe a flea or a tick, I’ll grant you that, but nothing more.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stepping Up

I started counting my steps when I signed up for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in early April. How many steps would I take between then and the event a week from now? Of course at the time, I had no idea that plantar fasciitis would strike and strike hard. I've been dealing with that for about 4.5 months now. Even so, I took my two millionth step this past Tuesday since my starting point in April. Given the pain I've had in my heel most of this time, I am actually a little amazed by that. That averages out to 12,361 steps a day, every day, pain, rain, shine, work, weekend. Since my heel pain has started to lessen a couple of months ago, I've averaged nearly 16,700 steps each day.

I've walked whenever I can, even if it just up a few flights of stairs at work, or a quick jaunt over to see a co-worker instead of picking up the phone. Even when I took it easy when the plantar fasciitis was at its worse, I still averaged more than 10,000 steps a day. And over time, the count went up and up until it crossed the two million mark.

So injury or not, I feel like I have "stepped up" to prepare for the walk the best that I can.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Honorees for the 3-Day for the Cure

My 60 mile walk on September 23-25 is about raising money to support breast cancer patients and to help research a cure, but it is also about far more than that. It is my way to honor many people who have dealt with cancer, and for people who donate to Susan G. Komen by way of my walk to honor canceer patients. This post, which I will keep close to the top of my blog, lists those who are honored by my efforts, and by the donations of so many people.

My walk is specifically about breast cancer. But as you can see, my honorees come from a wide spectrum of people affected by many cancer. This list is a work in progress as more honorees are named as my walk approaches. Those whose name is in pink suffered from breast cancer. I will be writing all of these names on my special shirt for the third day of the walk on September 25.
My main honoree, is my dear and lately departed sister, Ann Ritter. I wish so much she were still here, and healthy again. I think of her every day, and she will be in my heart every step of the three day walk.

In Memory of Dr. Ann Ritter

Born September 28, 1948

Died May 30, 2011

Cause: complications from metastasized breast cancer

Next, we have my special personal honorees for this walk, most people recently affected by cancer: In Memory of: Jennifer Willey – died in November at age 31 from Hodgkin lymphoma; Judy Zettel – our dear friend, who died 1/9/11 from multiple myeloma, just four weeks after diagnosis; Lanie Evans – died January 26 from Glioblastoma multiforma (very agressive brain cancer) at just age 40; Maurice “BJ” Beck – died in 2009 at age 16 from acute myelogenous leukemia; Stephen Hauck – died in September 2010 from acute myelogenous leukemia; In Honor of: Danny McGowan - my brother-in-law's brother, fighting cancer of the throat; Dayton Richmond – battling multiple myeloma, diagnosed around August; Denver Bridwell – age 24, recovering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia after four years, including two hip replacements; Ed Stone – 21 years after surviving leukemia, currently undergoing treatment for the fourth time for melanoma; Elayne Minich – battling metastatic breast cancer after 12 years; Gary Adams - terminal leukemia and colon cancer; John Hunnicutt – recent prostate cancer; Laura Kitchens - friend of a friend, breast cancer survivor, currently fighting leukemia; Paul Zamecnik – battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia that became active in October after years of the disease being dormant; Robin Yoder – 30 years after surviving osteosarcoma, battling bone cancer following mid-thigh amputation of right leg August, 2010

Each mile of the three days, I will dedicate to an honoree. These come from donations. A donation of $50 allows that donor to name an honoree. Many people who have donated large amounts have not specified an honoree. So at the end of fund raising, if I still have undedicated miles, I will fill them from the honorees of people who donated less than $50, and from some remaining personal honorees that I have.

Mile By Mile Honorees

1. Ann Ritter

2. Christine Grudinskas

3. Ann Ritter

4. Ann Ritter

5. Karen Berkeland

6. Karen Berkeland

7. Karen Berkeland

8. Karen Berkeland

9. Susan Lord

10. Joe Boisvert

11. Ann Ritter

12. Pam Cope

13. Christine Grudinskas

14. Rhoda Ritter

15. Christine Grudinskas

16. Rhoda Ritter

17. Ann Ritter

18. Ann Ritter

19. Ann Ritter

20. Ann Ritter

21. Ann Ritter

22. Rhoda Ritter

23. Ann Ritter

24. Ann Ritter

25. Ann Ritter

26. Ann Ritter

27. Linda Silver

28. Pat Bausone

29. Marilyn Libman

30. Tamar Kops

31. Francis Trail Saunders

32. Lorrene DiLauro

33. Patty Lynn Sellers

34. Ruth Werner

35. Jerry Schell

36. Amy Haun

37. Donna Hammond

38. Tara Ujkaj

39. Mary Ann Faelton

40. Ann Ritter

41. Ann Ritter

42. Paula McGrath

43. Paula McGrath

44. Paula McGrath

45. Margaret Carter

46. Alice Jones

47. John Greetham

48. Laura Hershberger

49. Ann Ritter

50. Katie Hoggatt

51. Ann Ritter

52. Sue Patton

53. Sam Snader

54. Lynn Tobin

55. April Chappell

56. Marilyn Collins

57. Suman Kamat

58. Janice Wedwick

59. Bev Kuhlman

60. Ann Ritter

Other Honorees: Karen Lane; Mary Beth Gibson; Kristi Garstang; Faith Eury; Katie Rodman; Nicki Patton Morgan; Bob Tymoczko; Julie Westcott; Emma McFeeley; Pat Daly; Sherita Gibson; Kitty Garstang; Edie; Dorothy; Alan Bernstein; Sherrll Lyle; Ramamurthy Balasubramaniam; Angie Trudell; Bob Caggiano; Carrie Isman

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Price of Admission

There is no way to do a long distance event like a marathon or a three day walk or an extreme distance event without some pain, suffering, and fatigue. It is part of the price of admission. Anyone who participates in these accepts this fact.

I have done everything I can think of over the past three-four months to heal my heel. And it has improved a great deal. But there is no way it is going to be healed by the time the Komen 3-Day takes place in ten days. It just isn't happening. I told the doctor yesterday was he was working on my foot that I decided that some pain from my left heel is just going to be part of the price of admission for the honor of participating in the 3-Day. It is just how it is. He agreed, saying that I've come a long way in the three months he has treated me, but that plantar fasciitis can be very stubborn. It is a hard thing to completely heal in this amount of time even if one is being sedentary. While I have not walked as much as I had hoped for, neither have I been remotely close to sedentary.

So, 10 days to go. Some heel pain - a fair amount at times. There is no getting around it. I guess I will try to take it a little easy for a while after the event. No more 10-15 mile walks for a while. But in the next 13 days, I will give it all I can and accept the ticket price.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dress Rehersal, Part Deux

After 19 miles of walking yesterday, I was wondering how much I would have left today to do some more miles. In less than two weeks, I need to have enough left in the tank to do 20 miles three days in a row. So how I would be feeling today would be a good indication. I woke up not nearly as sore and stiff as I expected. I had a little more left heel pain than usual after walking so far Saturday, but it was tolerable. Today, newlyweds Mike and Amber joined me so I would have company, and so I therefore would not need to engage every passing runner in conversation. It was another beautiful summer day, and a good day to be healthy, alive, and moving. The fact that it is the 10th anniversary of a truly terrible day in our country's history was sobering, though. I saw a number of runners decked out in red, white, and blue, or with little American flags.

I selected one of my favorite Team in Training routes - the 10 miler out and back to the Pony Pasture on the James River. We cut it a bit short and ended up doing a shade under 9 miles. All three of us had had long days yesterday - 15 miles running for Amber and Mike. They are training for the Richmond Marathon together on the Sports Backers Training Team (not to be confused with Team in Training). I felt pretty good, with tolerable soreness and no trouble moving along for the 9 miles. If I had needed to do 11 more? Well, I imagine I would have sucked it up and done it, because two weeks from today, I'll be walking my third 20 mile day in a row!

Crossing the James River on the "Nickel Bridge." This bridge has the most impressive collection of spiders that I have ever seen! See here and here for a couple of nice hikes I have done that start or end at this point.

Amber and Mike got married in May in an absolutely beautiful beach wedding in her native state of North Carolina. My wife and I agreed that Amber was one of the prettiest brides we had ever seen and wore one of the most beautiful dresses.

This "five fingers" style of running shoe, worn without socks, looks uncomfortable to me. But Mike says they are not bad on short runs. I have heard from my foot doctor that while these should not be worn exclusively, they can be good to wear for some training.

I like seeing active people out and about early weekend mornings. These folks are part of the Richmond Marathon Training Team:

Sportsbackers sure do deluxe water stops for their teams. This enthusiastic crew let us partake of refreshment along our return trip:

While I cooled my sore heel after getting home, my cat decided that ice water has more than one concurrent use!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dress Rehearsal

Any time you have a long distance event coming up - a half marathon, a marathon, a three day walk - you had better have a session or two where you come close to actually doing the event, using the clothing and gear you will have with you that day. With the Komen 3-Day just two weeks away, I was running out of time to do this. This weekend had to be it. I not only had to get in some serious miles, but I had to carry the stuff the Komen organization suggests.

This is an impressive list! Rain gear! Extra socks! First aid kit! Water bottle! Sunglasses! Bandanna! Body glide! Insect repellent! Wallet with ID, credit cards, medical card, money! Sunscreen! Hand sanitizer! Feminine hygiene products (well, OK, that is one I can cross off the list). It became clear to me some weeks back that my only realistic way to carry all this was to (a) hire a Sherpa or (b) use a good sized fanny pack. So I chose the latter and dug a very old fanny pack out of my hiking gear. It is far from the most comfortable thing in the world, but I have been wearing it on training walks for several weeks. And today, I stuffed all of the above into so I could get a good feel for what it would be like to wear it on event days.

Then, I had to come up with a route. I did not want to walk 18 miles by myself, so I planned my day into three separate routes: 7 miles with Team in Training with my friend Nicki; 5 miles by myself; and 6 miles with my friend Kristi. As it turned out, TNT was doing the good old Northside 12 miler route today: up Boulevard and Hermitage, along Bryan Park until Dunbarton; over to Staples Mill and down into the Windsor Farms neighborhood; and winding along Portland and Douglasdale back to Byrd Park. Nicki was game to do all 12 with me, and it was great to have her company. When we got back to the park, there was Kristi ready to do the remaining miles with me. All told, including the warm up and a few extra steps here and there, I walked 19 miles today, or even a little more. I feel it. My left heel hurts. My calves hurt. My hams hurt. My hips hurt. But I did it, and after an ice bath and a shower I feel semi-human again. My next test will be 10 miles tomorrow morning.

Here are some photos:

A water stop with first class service!
Nicki at Hermitage Avenue near the A.P. Hill statue:

Art at Bryan Park. I am wearing my special shirt for the last day of the 3-Day. It has a photo of my late sister Ann on it:
Lake and bridge at Bryan Park:
Kristi, me, and Nicki - all lymphoma survivors, all marathoners
Byrd Park, start and finish of so many training walks and runs over the past six years:

Kristi in front of Agecroft Hall. Just 4 miles to go!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Raining, Training, Not Complaining

Since my last post about training, I haven't gotten out too much to walk. I did walk a few miles Sunday but wanted to save my next longer day for Monday. That is when I planned this great cirucit hike over Cold Mountain in Western Virginia. And it actually turned out to be perfect for Komen 3-Day training for three reasons. (1) There was a lot of uphill, gaining about 1,300 feet during the hike. Our training stresses doing a variety of conditions, including uphill and I've not done a ton of that. (2) It was raining. In fact, it rained steadily enough that I was soaked and got a blister on my toe from wet socks and too infrequently (recently) used hiking boots. Komen stresses training in all kinds of weather, and I've not done a lot in the rain. (3) Perhaps most importantly, although the hike was not too long - about seven miles - it was slow going at times with the rough trails, slippery surface, and uphill. So I was on my feet a lot, about four hours including some time exploring as we walked. Time on one's feet to walk 20 miles a day is really important.

Since Monday, it has rained every day, many times pouring. Today, I went out to walk 4 miles in my new shoes. A mile later, it started pouring. Having had plenty of time walking in the rainy mountains Monday, I didn't think anymore walking in the rain was needed today. But even so, I was soaked to the skin in less than a minute, and my fanny pack soaked through, along with the new shoes. No complaints though, all part of the experience.

The coming weekend, my plans are for a really long walk - 18 miles - followed by 10 miles on Sunday. Hopefully my left heel, which seems to bounce back fairly well even after pain now, will hold up, and I will be good to go with 60 miles starting two weeks from tomorrow morning.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Not Too Late to Change My Gait

I think we take walking for granted. It is something we learn when we are between 12-18 months old and then we take it from there. It becomes automatic and fluid. If you walk somewhere around a 15-16 minute mile, you take about two steps every second without even thinking about it. But each of those steps requires a lot of separate operations between the feet and legs. There are at four separate major parts to each and every step. We all take thousands of steps every day - I've averaged about 12,000 steps a day for the past few months even with this painful foot injury - without a second thought.

Well, my doctor who is doing the Active Release Therapy decided I should take a second thought. I paid for a gait analysis a couple of days after my sixtieth birthday and learned a lot. It was difficult, especially the part in my stocking feet, because my foot was still fairly painful. We fired the treadmill up to about 15 minute mile pace for walking and 10 minute mile pace for running. Because of the upcoming Komen 3-Day, we concentrated on walking.Among the things I was doing wrong, I was overstriding and heel striking at too steep an angle. I was bobbing up and down, several inches with each stride - all wasted energy. My arm carriage was poor. I didn't have enough knee drive. My hips are too weak and this results in my hips dropping with each stride, especially when running. The doc had a couple of sessions to review the results and work with me on some drills. High steps. Skipping. Arm drive. Barefoot walking. One of the instructive parts was when he filmed me walking without shoes at a 15 minute mile pace. You basically will stride correctly or close to it in order to protect your feet. Notice how much more shallow my heel strike is in this photo as contrasted to the last one. I've worked a good bit to change my walking gait in the six weeks since the gait analysis. I feel like it is working. I know that there are times when I lapse to old patterns. But I think in general, my gait is better - more knee drive, better arm position, smoother and shallower landing, and less bounce. I'd have to be filmed again to be sure. It is tough learning to walk all over again, but I think in the long run, it will be well worth it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Three Weeks Till the 3-Day

Three weeks from right now, I'll be camped out in my little 6.5 by 6.5 foot pink tent for the second night of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. I trained today by walking nearly 11 miles, and am feeling a little discouraged. I definitely have more heel pain than I have been having, plus some pain in my left calf. I think that during next weekend's long (18 miles) walk, I am going to have to slow down a bit. Even after icing my foot, I still have a good bit of pain. Even so, I walked over 10 miles, and that would not have been reasonably possible two, three, or four months ago. And is exciting to think of this walk coming up. I just hope that I am somehow ready for it.

I walked about 4 miles on my own, and about 7 miles with my friend Lelia. We started out in Windsor Farms, a beautiful and expensive neighborhood. We walked past impressive Agecroft Hall, a huge Victorian mansion brought over from England brick by brick and stick by stick.
There were a large number of trees and branches down all over the place.
We left Windsor Farms at Lock Lane and walked all over some pretty neighborhoods on the other side of Grove, going along streets that neither Lelia nor I had ever seen before, despite our many long Richmond rambles on foot. Included was this stone house that looked like an English cottage. I considered popping in for tea, but decided that we had miles to go before we steep.

Finally, along Grove, we saw this huge tree down. It had fallen into the house on the left, causing roof damage. I cannot imagine the noise.