Monday, June 28, 2010

What are the words?

My boyfriend's mother is having surgery again today.

It's the biggie - the mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery. She will be in the hospital for the next two days and then home recovering for the next 6 weeks.

I'm staring at a card to put on the flowers we are sending her and I just don't know what to say. What are the appropriate words for times like these?

Breast cancer really sucks, you know? And it scares me. I can't imagine waking up one day knowing that one of your breasts will be taken away and the next time you look down you'll be looking at something filled with silicon.

As the son's girlfriend, I'm not privy to a lot of details, but I'm pretty sure they got all of the cancer through other surgeries and chemotherapy. And all I can say is: Praise Jesus! And if they didn't, Please Lord, may today be the day.

I still remember the moment he told me about his mom's cancer. I was speechless for the first time in my life. There was a time when breast cancer was a death sentence. But thankfully, we are no longer in that time. Thankfully, her cancer was found early. But what if her annual exam wasn't scheduled for that December day? What if it was scheduled for June? Where would she be now?

And that is why I'm walking the 3-Day.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's all Gu'd


I love writing blog posts like this. I hit the pavement at 7 a.m. and ended my walk just before 2 p.m. I was toasty, tired and thrilled.

When I started on the 11th mile, I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I was hot and sweaty and realized it was noon - and the heat was just going to get worse. But instead of giving up, I sat in the shade for about 10 minutes and drank a lot of water. I happened to be at a park at the time so I slowly walked to a water fountain and refilled my hydrating backpack. Then, still walking slow, I hit the restrooms.

When you know you have several hours to walk and a laundry list of chores waiting on you when you finish, it can be easy to feel rushed and stressed about how long the walk might take. But that just makes it harder!

So, I gave myself permission to amble for a bit. Then I took a shot of Gu (wow!) and found a second wind. My pace returned to normal and I finished the planned route.

Gu is something my boyfriend showed me. He is a marathon runner and has been a GREAT asset to my training plans. I've heard they have it at the pit stops for us - but if you're new to this long-distance world, like me, that doesn't mean anything to you, right?

Well, Gu is flavored energy in a little packet - with pudding-like consistency. After you've been sweating and walking for hours it can be the tastiest stuff ever. I've tried strawberry banana, chocolate and lemon lime so far. Not a fan of the lemon-lime, but the rest are yummy! I started taking Gu with me as an emergency energy jolt, but now I take a packet or two for every long walk!

I wore my new socks, but still had the same redness at the end of the walk. Hours later, it's faded a bit, but still has be baffled.

I didn't apply enough sunscreen so I'm nice and toasted - bad, Natalie! But besides those ailments, I feel fantastic. It really is hard to believe how far I walked by myself!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Breast Cancer Sucks Garage Sale Day!

Today was the day of my big Breast Cancer Sucks Garage Sale (and lemonade stand).

I put a call out for donations and many strangers answered. The past week and a half was spent driving all over town gathering car-fulls of donated items.

Overall, we raised $122.25 today! That puts me $1888 away from the goal!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cross-training with efficiency

I'll be honest - cross training between scheduled walks is really hard. Especially since sitting on the couch watching movies is so much easier! But, alas, it must be done - and I've found the perfect solution!!!

I mow.

It's a house chore that must be done - and one I usually do on the weekends, but with 15-mile training walks, who has the time anymore?

So, on Wednesdays I mow the front yard and I get the back done of Fridays. Each takes me a bit less than an hour to mow.

Did you know that mowing with a power push mower for 50 minutes burns 270 calories??? Score!

It keeps my leg muscles warm and is a great arm workout too - especially when I tackle the incline in the yard. Once I finish, I pop inside and do some ab work then hop in the shower.

I'm all about efficient use of time so this is a great solution - two birds with one stone, baby!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Walked my socks off

I walked 15 miles today! It was pretty awesome, too. The last three miles were a bit hard - I found joints I never knew I had, but it's amazing how quickly you forget the pain when you are reveling in success. I can't imagine how good it will feel when I hit the next milestone in training.

While spiritually, I feel like I can do anything. Today's walk reinforced the importance of training.

To anyone who thinks training for this thing is unnecessary, please, please, please, think again. While walking may sound easy and leisurely, long distance walking like this takes endurance and muscle strength. This isn't just a walk in the park - it's twenty walks in the park - every day for three days.

The past couple of weeks have found me a bit off schedule. Bad weather, fundraising plans and summer finals have all conspired to derail my training a bit. While I was able to fit in most of my mid-week walks, the longest I've walked in the past two weeks was 7 miles. I'm in decent shape and today was not easy. By the end, I was my own cheerleader, loudly motivating myself to the amusement of my neighbors. I probably shouldn't have pushed myself to do the full 15 today, but I want back to the regimen as quickly as possible.

When I finished the walk, I made sure to stretch everything in triplicate. And then again. I drank a wonderful glass of cold milk (studies show this hydrates better than water! It also helps with muscle reparation), then took a bottle of G2 with me into the bathroom. I turned the water on hot and soaked my poor muscles for about 20 minutes.

Now, hours later, my muscles are fine, but my joints are creaky. Also, something happened to my feet while I was out there. I'm blaming my socks, but am putting these pics out there in case someone else can tell me what's up. There are splotchy red patches on my heels, the top of my feet and the arches.

It isn't athlete's feet - there is no itchiness, the spots just hurt if I touch them. I'm fairly certain these are places that were rubbed by my socks (evil, evil socks that have already been replaced!). Any recommendations for combating this???

But joint pains and weird rashes aside, I WALKED 15 MILES today and nothing is going to bring me down. Besides that, I put an ad out for donations for a fundraising garage sale and spent the afternoon picking up stuff from generous people in the area. All in all, it was a great 3-Day Day!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Walking isn't enough

Lately, on my longer walks, I have noticed a sharp pain in my upper right shoulder-blade area.

It's persistent, it's annoying and it needs to stop.

When it first started, it was just on my walks. More recently, however, the pain has been creeping into my everyday life. I'll be sitting in class or walking to my internship and suddenly, there it is.

Because I'm studying to be a criminal lawyer, I'm into finding the guilty party. I'm all about the who-dun-it, in fact.

The evidence points to two possible culprits: 1) poor walking posture and 2) weak abdominal muscles. I have decided, your honors, that both are acting in concert and should be arrested.

Ok, legal jokes aside - there is something wrong and I'm working to fix it. Already, I am seeing signs of improvement, too!

First, whenever I feel that pain, I immediately correct my posture. I have a tendency to watch my feet as I walk. We are all guilty of it, I know. But looking down like that is terrible for your back!

Throw your shoulders back, hold your head up high, perks the girls and WALK WITH PRIDE!

Then, when you are on your off days, work your core! Muscles balance each other, if you only work one group, you can throw things off balance and end up hurting yourself. All of the walking involved in training means you are stressing out a certain group of muscles. By working your core, you can balance the work load a bit. I use a stability ball to work my core - following a regimen designed by Women's Health to give me a bikini-worthy body. I also use it when I'm studying. I just sit on it - keeping yourself balanced subtly works those core muscles without you even knowing it!

Since I started working my core, I've noticed that the pain doesn't show up quite so much. Maybe I'm wrong and there is another culprit lurking in the shadows (if you know of a possible suspect let me know!), but in this case, correcting these other problems will only be beneficial anyway.

I rest my case.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lessons from the trail

I learned a couple of interesting and important lessons regarding route-planning and life yesterday. 1) There is a big difference between a hiking trail and a walking trail! 2) Family-time matters, too.

Lesson one: Walking trails, at least in my area, are generally paved, sometimes shaded, mostly well-lit, and wide enough for several people to walk together. Hiking trails around here, however, are dirt paths, littered with rocks, in the brush and rarely lit.

I think I mentioned we had a bit of rain yesterday - like 6 inches in 3 hours. So, when the planned walk I routed turned into an unpaved hiking trail a mile in, I was very disappointed! It was muddy and riddled with slippery, treacherous rocks devoting themselves to tripping me and trying their hardest to twist my ankles. I had to give up.

It just wasn't worth risking injury!

Lesson two: Once I stopped focusing on the walk as a training exercise, it became a great "family" outting. My boyfriend usually comes for the first few miles and he brought my dog Sadie with him yesterday. We had so much fun watching her splash around the trail! She had a blast too and I could tell she loved spending the time with us. I enjoyed it too.

Training for the 3-Day involves a lot of alone time for me. So, it was nice to spend the time with my loved ones after expecting to be along for 5 hours on new trails. No, I didn't do the suggested 14 miles, but I ended up doing something even more important: spending much-needed quality time with my family.

On the way home from the trails, we picked up some ice cream and just really enjoyed each other for the rest of the evening. I'll be back out pounding the ground this afternoon, but I don't feel bad at all for giving my afternoon and evening to my boyfriend and our four-legged daughter.

We are training because everyone deserves a lifetime. And that's what yesterday was - a wonderful moment in my lifetime.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Too much water for lemonade

Today was the long-awaited day of my Pink Lemonade stand!

I chose today because it's the neighborhood's area-wide garage sale and there is a lot of street traffic.

I made signs and set up the stand - everything was ready by 8:15.

My first donation came at 8:20 - and they didn't even want lemonade!

By 9:20 it started to rain - didn't stop me though! Well, not until the scary, check-the-radar-immediately-in-case-of-flash-floods thunder clapped right above my head!

Overall, I made $12. That's closer than I was this morning! Here's hoping for sun tomorrow :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Special Delivery!

I ordered 'em Sunday and they are already here!!!

I can hardly wait to break them in!!!

I needed to get to work breaking in a second pair of shoes for the walk, and the running store I frequent sells every pair for about $100. Well, looking through my 3-Day packet, I saw a New Balance ad for customizable shoes. The price was a bit steep for me (though I wanted a pair VERY BADLY!).

While shopping at, I typed in Susan G. Komen and found the Lace Up! series of shoes.

When I saw this pair, I knew I had to have them. Not only were they less expensive than the shoes I would get at my local running store, but five percent of the proceeds goes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure - double win!

Finally connected

When I signed up for the 3-Day, I was acting under a wave of emotion and fueled by an intense desire to support to my boyfriend and his mother. I expected a couple of my friends to join and honestly never thought I would be alone in this.

But I have been.

No one joined my team and only a handful of my friends have even been able to support me financially (we are broke law students, I get it). But I've been training for several months now and it's been completely alone. It was nice to have a friend join me on my walk last week. While her support really warmed my heart, her company was only temporary.

There are several reasons I feel so disconnected:

1. I'm walking in a city that is an 8-hour drive from where I live.
2. There have been no Get Started meetings in my area.
3. The phone meetings start during peak cell phone times and I can't afford that many minutes on my phone.
4. The one group training walk in my area is mid-week and more than a half-hour's drive for me.

I realize I may be a special circumstance and don't blame anyone for my feelings, but am happy to say everything has changed!

I finally feel connected!

Since fellow-walkers have been commenting on my dehydration experience and sharing their own on my blog and on Facebook, I finally feel connected with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.

I want to thank the online community for welcoming me to the Walkers World. Y'all rock!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The 12th Mile

Let me tell you about my 12-mile training walk yesterday - and the issue that hit me fast and furious.

A friend of mine (who happens to do triathlons, so she's in pretty good shape) offered to join me on my walk yesterday. We planned a route and planned to meet at my house at 7:30. I knew it was late - I would have preferred starting the walk before 7, but since she was joining me, I didn't want to ask too much of her on a Saturday, you know?

Anyway, we got started on our walk at about 8 and I was a little worried - the high for the day was 92 and it was already a bit sticky outside. Plus, I knew the walk would take about 4 hours and that had us ending at noon.

Honestly, the first 11 miles weren't too terrible. In the midst of miles 10 and 11 I started getting a bit cranky because of the heat - the trail we were walking had very little shade. Also, we were running out of water. But otherwise, I was feeling fine. Sore muscles, but no cramps or anything - I felt like I could comfortable finish the 12 miles.

But it was right as we started the 12th mile that things began going terribly wrong. Out of the blue, I was struck with waves of nausea.

As a kid, I was very susceptible to heat stroke. I never drank enough water and lived in Texas. Plus, I was too ashamed to wear shorts in public, so I was always clad in unforgiving jeans during the height of the Texas summers. To say I passed out a few times growing up would be sadly accurate. So, I knew what that queasy feeling meant as I was overcome by it yesterday: Dehydration and potential heat stroke.

We stopped in a bit of shade for a few minutes - painfully close to the trail head and my friend's air conditioned vehicle, but there was still a mile to walk and less than 8 ounces of water in my bottle.

The key to my issue was water. The heat didn't help, but would have been bearable if I had brought enough water. I drank about 5 ounces, keeping the last three in case of a dire emergency. We slowed down the pace and continued on the walk, but I honestly had to stop every tenth of a mile or so to stand in whatever shade I could find.

It was truly a blessing from God when we saw a water fountain at a church that abuts the walking trail. They put it there for the walkers and it saved me, it truly did. I rested on a bench near the fountain and sipped water for about five minutes before we again began hobbling our way to the end of the trail.

A trail head never looked so good, let me tell you!

Since I have a 9-mile walk scheduled today and many more long walks ahead of me, I went to the sporting goods store last night and bought a hydrating backpack. It holds 50 ounces of water and I am really looking forward to testing it out this evening. I overslept today, sadly, and missed my window to start the 9-mile trek this morning. Luckily, the high is only 82 today and I'm planning to walk at the lake where it should feel cooler.