Entries in Reflections (11)


"So how are you feeling about the AVON Walk?"

Last Thursday, I arranged a meeting with the Board Chair of the corporation where I work. She is a strong, smart, and engaging person who I admire very much. In our brief meeting time, I shared with her my participation in the AVON Walk, and that she was one of the reasons why I was walking (she is battling cancer, and I am praying that she will be one of the survivors). It was a special moment for both of us, and I will carry it with me on June 2-3.

Last Friday, I ate dinner at a restaurant and pub in Chicago called "The Garage". I went with my good friend Ron so we could meet the owner of the restaurant, who is another good friend who we haven't seen in over four years. That friend, Lisa, is a great person with a brilliant smile and a heart to match. Of course, being the owner meant that we only got a portion of her time because she was busy keeping the place running smoothly. But nevertheless, it was a great evening and a special treat being able to share it with Lisa and Ron. Oh, and the food was excellent as was their 100+ selection of beer.

Lisa is well acquainted with the AVON Walk for Breast Cancer. She has participated in the fundraising event for many years, and I had the privilege of supporting her. She has a passion for the cause. So it was awesome being able to hear her talk about her experiences, and to feel her support for my walking the Walk this year. Her enthusiasm and support mean a great deal to me.

Sunday was Mother's Day. And for many families, this is a day of celebration and thankfulness. A time to give flowers, candy, cards, and have special dinners. But for others, it can be a day of mixed emotions. Grief, sadness, loss, and pain can mix with memories of pleasant, more happier times. It was like that for my wife, who lost her mother to breast cancer over 20 years ago. In a private moment that afternoon, she came over to me and we hugged. And she proceeded to cry. And when she could speak, she said "You'd think after 20 years, I'd be over it."

No sweetie. I don't think that at all.

Today, one of my friends on my Disney racing team asked me the question in the Headline of this article. On any other day, I would have responded with an immediate "Feeling good! Training is going well. I am really looking forward to the experience!" And all of that would be true. But today, the question hit me differently. It made me think not about the training, the preparation, the logistics, and the challenge physically; but of the emotional and personal reasons I am engaged in it.

Those who know me will tell you that I am all about the logistics and planning and training and achievement of my goals. Am I ready for the Walk? Yes, I believe I am ready for the AVON Walk. I have two more Long Walks this weekend (8 miles on Sat before our 'Bark for the Cure' fundraiser, and 18-20 miles on Sun) and then I get to rest. Yet I know AVON is not a race. It is not timed. But for me it feels like my first Full & Half Marathon challenge (I guess it is... from a 'distance' point-of-view) -- like an untimed 'Goofy Challenge' event. Certainly, it is an endurance event that will test my ability to go 39.3 miles.

But the experiences over the past five days remind me that AVON is so much more than all of that. Completing this Walk will be very emotional for me on many different levels. Walking with my team of Pink Angels, many of whom have done this for 5+ years, will be something I cannot even imagine right now. Lisa tells me that it will be life-changing to share this with so many others who have been touched by this disease and are united in a common goal to bring an END TO IT!

I am not usually the most emotionally expressive person when it comes to public displays. I'm no Vulcan, but I tend to share my feelings in a more 'one-on-one' type of setting. But I have a feeling that won't be the case after this Walk. What I will have accomplished on June 3rd will make a difference. And I want to feel that deep satisfaction and share it with my wife, my team, and everyone else who walks the first weekend in June. I want to laugh, and smile, and cry, and reflect.

And when someone asks me on June 3rd, "So how do you feel about doing the Walk?", I want my answer to be "AWESOME and AMAZING and THANKFUL!"


Running can be a Spiritual experience

Yesterday was my Long Slow Run and I had planned on going for 12 miles. Mike couldn't run with me this time (it has been several weeks since our last run together due to schedules), so I was a little bummed and not necessarily looking forward to it. But it was on my training plan, I wasn't injured or tired, so I had no excuse but to get my "Grrrrr!" on and get out there!

The run turned out to be really nice! I took the Prairie Path (my usual LSR route) down to the Dairy Queen (6 miles) and turned around to head back. All winter, the path has been bare trees and brown but today, it was green and filled with birds singing, squirrels, geese, and life! It was about 37 degrees outside so there weren't a lot of people on the path yet (it was 6:20am) so it was peaceful. You can feel God at work on days like this.

As I ran along the lakes, I had to stop at one point to take photos of the steam rising above the water. It was amazing! I was listening to a podcast about the TV show "Once Upon a Time" (love that show!) but I only used one earbud because I wanted to ear what was going on around me.

It was so serene and calm, it made my running feel smooth and light. I was wearing my Newtons again (this was my longest run in those shoes so far) and they felt great on my feet. I was trying to focus on my running form and keeping a good cadence going. I got to the Dairy Queen pretty quickly it seemed.

The return home was equally nice. I finished with a hard run for the last 1/4 mile, running at a 7:30/mm pace to the end of the path. That was fun! My overall pace for the 12.46 miles was 10:45/mm which included the warm-up/cool-down walks. I like to keep my LSR pacing at around 11:00/mm so I was a bit too fast but not complaining. My heart rate was about 50/50 in Zones 2 & 3 so that is acceptable for me (my coach however would prefer most of it be in Zone 2).

Today, I planned on a 10-mile Walk early in the morning before going to church for Easter Services. So at 5AM the alarm went off, and I got up and got ready. I left the house at 5:35AM and decided on a route that would take me to my son's middle school, then to the Dole Mansion, passing Crystal Lake (the actual lake), and on to my church. Then from the church, back down the main road and back to my home eventually. Total miles: 10.13 at a 14:53/mm pace.

The walk started off in the dark so I had my trusty headlamp on. But after about a mile, the run started to peek out and the world began to brighten. The sunrise was awesome -- my first Easter Sunrise while out on a walk. Gorgeous! The birds were singing, geese were out flying, and practically no one was out (a few people walking dogs and a few runners. Almost no cars!).

I brought music with me, starting out with the soundtrack to Godspell (I love that musical). It seemed fitting for Easter morning. And then I just listened to random Christian music tracks (put the iPod on shuffle mode). It was pretty amazing that most of the music played fit the Holy Week/Easter message of sacrifice and renewal. I was truly in a spiritual zone during that walk in a way I hadn't experienced before.

I came home relaxed and centered. Church services today seemed more poignant to me today as a result of my walk earlier. It was just a great Easter morning! I won't lie though -- by 2pm, I was really tired and took a nice nap before our family dinner. :)

So the week ended on a marvelous note for me. Total mileage for the month of April is 51 miles so far! That's ridiculous, right? LOL But the kinda cool thing is, I feel fine. My legs feel fine. I feel like my body is finally getting used to all this running stuff! I can remember back last April and May, when just running in a 5K race would leave me with tired/sore leg muscles for several days afterwards. So I guess training really DOES matter!