Training to walk 39 miles takes a large part of the day.* Ed and I often trained in shifts, since Lily and Emmy could walk far, but not as far as we wanted to walk. One chilly spring day we all really pushed to walk 12 miles, and that was a little too much for the girls. (And almost too much for me and Ed!)
One Saturday last spring Ed walked a few miles while I took the girls to piano lessons. That afternoon, we walked with the girls in the forest preserve along the Des Plaines River. It was a beautiful spring day; the trees had tiny green leaves and the forest floor was covered with flowers.
I don’t remember how many miles we walked that day, but when we got to the parking lot, I decided that Ed could drive the girls home, and I could walk the rest of the way to get in about 3 more miles. We figured it should only take me about an hour to walk home, and we said our goodbyes, along with plans to pick up Chinese food for dinner so that I wouldn’t have to cook!
Ready to enjoy my solitary walking time, I started off on the path and opened up a granola bar for a snack. I took one bite…and saw two coyotes on the side of the path ahead of me. The darker coyote stayed to the side, unsure of what to do. I wrapped up my remaining granola bar and froze, unsure of what to do. The lighter colored coyote started loping on the path toward me. He seemed very sure of himself! I wondered; did he want my granola bar? How close was he going to get? Should I start making some noise?
As soon as he crossed a small bridge that went over a shallow gully, he dashed back into the forest and disappeared. His black companion decided the bridge was not for her, and she crossed the path right where she was and soon followed after him.**
I breathed a sigh of relief, continued on my way while eating the rest of my granola bar, and made it home in about an hour, just as anticipated and without any further excitement.
*Ed and I were training for the Avon 39 Walk for Breast Cancer, which we completed in June.
**I have no idea what the sex of the coyotes were. Assigning one as male and the other as female just made sense.
On the second morning of the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, Ed and I ate breakfast in a big tent with other walkers. One of the fun things about walking 39 miles with a bunch of strangers is that strangers share stories, and then become friends.
One of our new breakfast friends was walking for her sister, and when I began to ask the details about her sister, the answers were astonishingly tragic. Twenty-five years ago, her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 26. She died just a few years later, when she was 32 years old. “She was so young!” I exclaimed.
“You were young, too,” said the woman, who had just heard that I was a 20 year survivor after being diagnosed when I was 27.
Yes, I was young. And how different my breast cancer journey would have been if I had had different doctors. For years, I resented the way I was treated; how I was shuffled from the exam room to radiology to the surgeon’s office, all in a matter of hours. I was never given the opportunity to call someone for support. (Let me remind you, this was before everyone had a cell phone! I had a “car phone,” one that needed to be plugged into the car because the batteries were too expensive.)
The surgeon scheduled a lumpectomy for the very next morning, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to have surgery so quickly. After all that shuffling around, I called my parents as soon as I left the clinic. My parents made a phone call to my mom’s doctor (At the time, Mom was a 13 year breast cancer survivor) and made an appointment for me. We cancelled the lumpectomy and picked up my mammogram films the very next day. After a second opinion, I eventually did have a lumpectomy, but I wasn’t rushed to make that decision.
The DeKalb clinic left a really bad taste in my mouth, and yet it has taken me 20 years to realize that the doctors there served a very important purpose in my survival. The urgency those doctors gave my situation probably saved my life. I wasn’t told to wait and see; I was told I needed to take action immediately. Through that sense of urgency, I was diagnosed at Stage 1 and had no cancer in my lymph nodes. Many young woman have more advanced breast cancer at the time of diagnosis because they are simply considered too young to have breast cancer.
Fortunately, now that young women are diagnosed with breast cancer more often, doctors are less likely to just “wait and see” when a woman has a breast lump. While I still am unhappy with the bedside manners of the doctors during my initial mammogram, I am so grateful that 20 years later, I’m still here with no recurrence of breast cancer.
In one week, my husband and I will be walking 39 miles over 2 days during the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. I took a training walk yesterday and dictated this blog post into my phone as I was walking. The phone got some words wrong, as you’ll read below! My corrections and additions are in italics.
Today I have a three-fold purpose for my walking. First, I’m testing out my raspberry pink shorts to see how they hold up for a long-distance hike. Will the elastic band to stay up or will it drip (drop) down during a long walk? Secondly, I’m breaking in my new shoes. They seem to make the toes on my right foot curl up for some unknown reason. Finally, today’s temperatures are supposed to rise into the 80s, so I’m testing my feet and joints. (No, that wasn’t right, even though it kind of makes sense!)
As I walk I’m dictating my words into my phone. The words I just spoke with heat and urine. (Still not right!) No, endurance. Yes, my phone finally heard the correct word. (I wanted to test my endurance to heat on this warm day!)
The bike path I’m walking on is not well-traveled. It’s just me and the birds and some airplanes overhead. There are a couple other joggers and bikers on this week day but for the most part nobody can see me talking into my phone. No one can see my huge fanny pack which holds all my supplies and water bottle. And passing cars can’t look at my red and sweaty face and wonder if I’m okay. My fair skin turns beet red when I exercise and seriously, I’m okay.
Sometimes my fanny pack makes weird noises: water sloshing, straps rubbing and swinging, and I get paranoid and turn around to see if a biker or runner is coming up behind me. Usually I’m alone. This trail also goes by factories and I often see workers taking a break or taking things out to the dumpster, and I suppose I could always just pretend I’m talking on the phone instead of dictating a blog post. I would much rather dictate a blog post, however, than talk to someone on the phone. I’m not much of a phone person plus, I’m out of breath. I suppose blogging while you’re walking does that!
A thought just occurred to me. I’ve been watching Star Trek Enterprise during my lunch hour and a lot of times, the captain is dictating his personal log to the computer while pacing in his quarters. That’s just what I’m doing now. I think I just wrote more now then I usually do in the same amount of time when I sit down at the computer and type. When I was the secretary, (my job during college) I would have to listen 2 letters on a dictation machine. Attorneys would dictate letters into their recorders and then I would have to listen and type out their letters. It was a huge pain in the butt. There was no talk to text like I’m doing now. I wonder, do attorneys use talk to text now or do they still dictate letters for their secretaries?
I’m nearing the end of my walk. How did I do? The path has become busier during the lunch hour. I decided to turn around at noon to make my way home. The raspberry shorts held up well. The shoes are still iffy. As for walking in the heat, it’s hot and humid but I feel good. I think I did about 8 my miles but mapping software will help. I briefly wondered how I could make my walk longer, but I’ve been out for over 2 hours are ready and I have things to do. I’m a mom after all.
(I walked about 7 and a half miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes. Not bad! And then I did a load of laundry.)
I have walking a lot this spring. By a lot, I mean miles upon miles. At the gym on the treadmill, outside in the cold weather, outside in the hot weather, I have been walking. In April alone, I logged 101 miles! And I haven’t been walking alone. I have dragged my husband and kids along with me! (Well, Ed needs to walk since he’s walking the Avon 39 with me.)
Before I show you the details of my walking, I need to give a huge shout-out to all the people who have been supporting me in my walking. As many of you know, I’m training for the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, and I’ll have to walk 39 miles during the first weekend of June. In order to walk, I need to raise $1,800. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve raised over $2,000! How thrilling! Thank you to all my awesome supporters!
My miles include walking:
10. on the treadmill at the gym: 3 miles. This is the most boring place to walk, but it’s the easiest way to fit 3 miles into my afternoon, especially when the weather isn’t cooperating.
9. to work and back: 1 mile. I’ve only walked to work twice, and I should walk more often! However, sometimes I’m in a rush after dropping off my girls at school and I’m afraid I’ll be late, or I want to run errands after work so I’ll need me car. I’m definitely going to try to make walking to work more of a habit!
8. to the River Trails Nature Center: 3.4 miles. In March, the girls and I walked to Maple Syrup Days at the Nature Center. We were able to sample some maple syrup and French Toast sticks, and Lily got a lesson in drilling a hole for a sap spile. The Nature Center is one of our favorite places!
7. at Burning Bush Park: 2 miles. This park is by our house, and the girls can play at the playground while I walk around the track. Three times around is one mile, and the most I’ve been able to fit in is six times around.
6. at Moraine Hills State Park: 10 miles. It is amazing to think that a glacier carved out a piece of Illinois and left a lake behind. In Illinois, where we mostly think of flat corn fields and not glaciers.
5. on the Chicago River Bike Trail and the by the Skokie Lagoons: 12.72 miles. This is the longest walk we took. It was a really cold day at the beginning of April. Because it was so cold, however, there weren’t a lot of bike riders on the trail. The hard-core riders go really fast and I get nervous that they will hit one of the girls. When the weather is warmer, we’ll avoid this trail!
4. on the Des Plaines River Trail: 6.75 miles. This trail isn’t paved, and is also used by horseback riders. This is right by our house, and we occasionally see horses. While we didn’t run into any horses this time, we saw evidence of beavers, which was very cool. We stopped by the River Trails Nature Center on our way home (which is on the Des Plaines River, by the way) and asked a Forest Preserve Ranger about beavers. He was very informative and loves talking about animals! (We have asked him questions before!)
3. on the Poplar Creek Bike Trail: 8.84 miles. Those of us who grew up in the suburbs remember going to concerts at the outdoor arena, Poplar Creek. I saw Peter Gabriel during his So tour, and it was thrilling when it started raining while he was singing “Red Rain!” (Fortunately, the real rain didn’t last and the concert went on.) The concert arena is no longer there, but Poplar Creek is actually a real creek with a bike trail! The trail itself is very nice, but part of it is prone to flooding and was under water even though we hadn’t had rain for over a week. We also stumbled onto the Lion Bridge, which was a nice surprise.
2. at Independence Grove, 7.5 miles. My brother-in-law met us up there, and he fished with the girls while Ed and I walked with my sister-in-law. The girls have been troopers, but they are getting tired of taking long walks with us! They adore fishing with Uncle Brian, however.
around Glenview Lake, 5.6 miles. We let the girls bring their bikes this time, and they rode ahead of us and played at the playground. It was a very cool day, but we were also able to get our walking in before the rain came!
Phew! That’s a lot of trails! I wonder how many miles I’ll walk in May?
In my preschool class, it is a tradition to have Oreos as a special treat on someone’s birthday. As I was passing out Oreos this week for my birthday, one of my students asked me, “What’s your number?” I had to chuckle at that one! I’m not one to hide my age; I’ve only been 39 years old once.
Speaking of 39, in June I’m about to take on a big challenge. I’m going to walk 39 miles with my best friend and husband, Ed. But perhaps an even bigger challenge is raising the amount of money I need to walk in the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. In order to participate in the Avon 39, both Ed and I need to raise $1800. That is a daunting number!
Here’s where you come in! I am looking for sponsors for the AVON39. To become a sponsor, all you need to do is donate $1 for each mile I plan on walking. Donating just $39 to Avon 39: The Walk to End Breast Cancer is an easy way to support me in my fundraising. If you have a blog or own a small business, your donation can also benefit you!
With a $39 donation, I will put your logo above the fold on my sidebar until June 30. That’s a premium advertising space for less than $10 a month! I will also personally thank you at least 4 times for being a sponsor on my Facebook page and Twitter, with a link to your website, Facebook page, or other social media link (whichever you prefer). My blog is small yet mighty, and you’ll be making a donation to a great cause!
If you are unable to make a donation at this time, support me by liking and sharing my #AVON39 posts. Do you know someone else who might want to be a sponsor? Please share this post with them. It’s as easy as that!
To make a donation and to read more about why I’m walking, visit my AVON39 Fundraising Page. After you make your donation, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know you’ve made a donation, and to share the links and the logo you would like me to use. If you don’t have a logo, I’ll be able to provide one for you.
Back to the question of what my number is; I am proud to say that I am 47 years old, and I plan on adding many years to that number!
*Here comes the small print: Please note, my sidebar is not visible on my blog’s mobile setting. I will share your links enthusiastically, but cannot guarantee the number of click-throughs your link will receive. I am walking the AVON39 under my real name. Please visit my AVON39 page for information on how to donate. Thank you for your support!