Thank You

September 7th, 2011 | Posted by john in General - (Comments Off on Thank You)

Every year that I have walked in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure I have always seen firefighters while I have been on the walk. In Boston last year we walked by a fire station where the firefighters cheered us on and had a soaker hose to help us cool off. In Dallas a couple of years ago they were handing out cold bottled Gatorade. I’ve seen pictures of firefighters in pink fire fighting gear helping with fund raisers and I think they even did the walk in at least part of their gear. Last year in Dallas, I even saw this pink fire truck named after the wife of one of the firefighters who lost her fight against breast cancer:

Saying that firefighters have helped in the fight against breast cancer would be an understatement. They have been warriors in the fight against breast cancer and you can see the mark they have made every year. They deserve a huge thanks, but not just for helping in this fight.

For those that read this and don’t know, I live in central Texas. This year, Texas as a whole has taken a beating from wild fires. The extremely dry weather coupled with record-setting heat have made conditions ripe for massive fires. This past weekend was a rough one for the firefighters in central Texas. At least four fires broke out: a massive one in Bastrop that has destroyed over 25,000 acres of land and is still burning as I write this and three others, one of which started right outside my neighborhood.

Sunday afternoon our next door neighbor came to the door and asked if we knew what was going on.  We didn’t and she told us that we needed to come see something.  We walked out of the house and immediately saw a large plume of black smoke rising from somewhere behind the house across the street.  We didn’t know what it was coming from, but we could tell that something was going on because of the flurry of activity on the street.  People were loading cars up and driving off.  There were more cars out on our quiet street than I had seen in a long time.  Kristen and I talked for a moment and decided that it was time to pack up and head out too and then figure out later what was going on.  We could always come back if it was an overreaction.

As it turns out, it was not an overreaction.  A short while after we left the neighborhood, mandatory evacuation was announced for all 4000-ish families in the neighborhood.  Now we began to really worry.  If it had gotten worse after we had left, how close was the smoke to our house now.  We tried to remain upbeat though.  All of our family made it out safely (even with pets) and all the news reports that we had seen said that there were no residents injured or killed in the fire.  We were definitely grateful for that.

Despite the fire and rescue crew having too few resources (again, there were at least four other fires in the central Texas area) we were able to return to our home just shy of 48 hours after we left.  There was a bit of worry as we drove up to the neighborhood.  While we knew that the house was still standing (thanks to a little bit of geekery on my part) we weren’t sure what the condition of the rest of the neighborhood was.  We had heard on the news that at least 30 homes had been destroyed and 20 more had been damaged.  My heart goes out to those people that have lost everything, stay tuned after the break for how you can help.

As we pulled up to the house everything looked intact and it ended up that it was.  Reading through some of the Facebook posts and blog entries, we discovered that the fire was stopped about two and a half blocks from our house.  Thanks to the dedication and efforts of the firefighters, many homes were saved, including our own.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I have always seen firefighters during the 3-Day for as long as I have done the walk.  I’ve always thought that it was great that they were out and thanked them for being there.  I do think it’s great that they support a cause like the 3-Day for the Cure.  Even though I know that they are always there for emergencies, I’ve never thought about what that means to me.  It’s because of them that my family is safe and that my house is still here.  I will be eternally thankful to them.  Even if you haven’t had to have the help of their services, I encourage you to thank a firefighter the next time you see them.

If you would like to help out relief efforts for the Texas wildfires or any disaster, text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to the Disaster Relief Fund, or go to www.redcross.org to give even more.  For those that are local to the Austin area, there are a lot of organizations taking donations.  This site has a pretty good list of several of those organizations that are taking donations not only for the fire I described above, but also for the Bastrop fire:  http://steinerranchpost.com/wiki/steiner-ranch-fire-donations-volunteers-resources/donation-spots/

Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

 

Unexpected

August 16th, 2011 | Posted by john in General - (Comments Off on Unexpected)

If you have ever gotten a donation for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure before, then you know the feeling that you get when that e-mail hits your inbox:

A donation was made on your behalf.

Those six words can really make your day, especially if you have been in kind of a slump for fund raising.  I feel that’s where I was a couple of weeks ago, so you can imagine how excited I was to get not just one of those little e-mails, but four all at the same time.  As I went to click on the e-mails my mind raced through all the questions that usually happen:  Who sent in the donation? How much was it for? Why were there four?

As I opened them up one after another, a couple of things became clear.  One, I was pretty sure that I didn’t know these people.  I say pretty sure because over the years there have been a lot of people that have heard me talk about walking in the 3-Day and occasionally I have gotten donations from them.  This doesn’t happen a whole lot, but when it does sometimes I’m left trying to figure out who the donor is.  As I looked through the names on the donations that I had received, I didn’t recognize the names at all.

The second thing that I noticed is that they were all from Michigan.  This is where I started realizing that my excitement may have been a little premature.  While I do know some people in Michigan, the number is fairly small.  This meant that the chance that the donations were meant for me and not someone else was getting less and less every minute.

The third thing about the donations, they were all mail in donations.  When you get a donation for the 3-Day, within your participant center you can tell whether it was made online or mailed in as a check.  There’s a field that says “offline confirmed” if it was a check and all four of these had this displaying on them.

The last item I noticed is that they were for a sizable amount of money.  The total for all four donations was for more than $800.  That amount happened to get me over my minimum fund raising requirement.  Because of this, I had to find out what the situation was, whether or not the donations were going to stay in my fund raising or not.  In the past I have always encouraged people to continue fund raising when I reach my goal, so you might be asking yourself why it mattered if the donation went to me or not if I was going to continue fund raising.  The fact of the matter is, yes, I will continue fund raising but whether these donations will stay with me or not will determine whether I will continue fund raising on my account or whether I will fund raise to help my teammates.  Trust me, I have no intent of slacking off.

Since the donations had no contact information (no e-mail address was provided on the donation form) I had to find some way of verifying what was going on with the donation. Enter the 3-Day hotline.

Have you ever contacted the 3-Day coaches at 800-996-3Day?  If you haven’t and you have questions about anything 3-Day related, this is a good place to start.  I haven’t had many opportunities to call, however whenever I have the 3-Day coaches have always been helpful and worked to get me an answer to my question.  I called them up last week to ask a status of the donations I had received because I wanted to make sure that if they were supposed to go to someone else that they would get there and help out with their fund raising.  The person I talked to was helpful, but in the end she told me that it looked like the donations were processed as they were supposed to have been based on paperwork.  She put a note on my account in case anyone showed up with missing donations, but that’s where we sit right now.

Take it from me, when you get a donation e-mail from the 3-Day it may not always be as cut and dry as you think.  Sometimes donations end up in the wrong place.  Sometimes they end up in the right place, but it doesn’t seem like it.  If you happen to get one of these unexpected donations, be thankful for it but also follow up with it.  Those donations could be the donations that someone else needs to actually participate in the walk.  For my case, I’m going to view this as a sign to start helping my teammate fund raise.  If it happens that the donations are in the wrong place then I’ll just go back to wrapping up my fund raising again.

 

Walk Ranking

July 26th, 2011 | Posted by john in General - (6 Comments)

Alright, I’m going to have a more formalized way of treating this in the weeks to come, but I wanted to get this rolling so here it is. With the opening of the 2011 walking season, many dedicated 3-Day Walkers are already starting to think about where they are going to walk for the 2012 walking season, myself included. With that in mind, I thought I would put together a little query about what people thought were the best and worst things about the cities that they have walked in on the 3-Day. Let’s start up with just using comments and when I have something more formal I’ll move them over. So in your comment post:

City you are writing about.
When you walked there last.
Favorite thing about the walk.
Least favorite thing about the walk.
General review of the walk (route, etc)

Try not to comment on things that are common to all the walks (like the showers and food are pretty much the same between cities), but point out some stuff that you think makes the walk feel special to you.  Walked in several walks and want to share about them all?  Just post a separate comment for each walk so I can sort out which walks they are for when I get something more formalized set up.

And while you’re here, you should swing by the 3-Day Tweeps site and sign up for a great online community!  http://3daytweeps.com

 

Happy Father’s Day 2011!

June 15th, 2011 | Posted by john in General - (1 Comments)

It’s been about a year since I have written about this, but it’s important so I am going to write about it again. Did you know that about 1 in 1000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime? While survival rates by stage are typically the same as women fighting breast cancer, men’s breast cancer is typically discovered at later stages. So the reason that I walk is not just ti try and save the lives of women, it’s to try and save the lives of men. But even with that in mind, that’s not really the reason that I’m writing this post today.

With Father’s day just around the corner, it’s easy for us dads to think about having a nice relaxing day at home. If you are a dad, I would like for you to think about one other thing this Father’s day. Signing up to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. I know that a lot of you may think that I am crazy to ask you to think about walking 60 miles on your day of rest. I know it seems counter to what the whole day is about, but I’d like you to think of it from a different angle.

I’m a dad and I have talked to several other dads to try and figure out what people generally think is their job as a dad. There were a lot of answers from providing for the family to helping to raise well balanced children to fixing things around the house. The thing that seemed almost universal to everyone I asked about this, whether they said it directly or it showed itself in another entry was this: a dad’s job is to protect his family. That includes everyone from his sons to his wife and daughters who have a much higher chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime (1 in 8).

I will tell you right now that this is the reason that I walk. I never put it in those words before, I always said that I walk because I don’t want my wife to go through breast cancer and because I don’t want my sons to be 1 in 1000 or have to watch someone the love go through chemo. What it all boils down to is that I walk in the 3-Day for the Cure and I raise all this money for a simple reason that every dad should understand. I do it to protect my family.

This year is my fifth year to walk in the 3-Day and I am always shocked at how few men that there are. Maybe the men see this as a women’s event. I’m here to tell you that it’s not just a women’s event. It’s an event for anyone who cares about trying to save someone’s life, even if it’s their own, especially if it’s for someone they love.

Maybe they think that, being a man, they will be an outsider for three days. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have to say that the people on the walk are the most welcoming people I have EVER met. If you don’t know anyone on the walk, it won’t be like that for long. Even if you don’t say anything people will introduce themselves and make themselves your friend. If you want to accelerate the process just hollar out, “I’m a first time walker and I’m here by myself!” You will have more friends than you know what to do with. I walk with a team, but I meet tons of people every year and many of them I keep in touch with after the event.

Please take a moment to think about joining the 3-Day for the Cure. Its really easy to register, just click here and select your city and you will be well on your way. If you don’t know anyone that’s walking, let me know and I would be happy to have you on my team in San Diego this year. Got some questions for a man that has walked? Click the contact button on this web site and I would be glad to answer what I can.

Lastly, I know that not everyone can do the walk either because of work obligations or physical restrictions (but don’t talk yourself into not doing it, I have seen eighty year old women complete all 60 miles!) and if this describes your situation, you can still protect your family. Donate to someone that you know that is participating in the walk. Don’t know someone? I would be honored if you would donate to my fund raising efforts. The point is that you can work to protect your family from breast cancer even if you can’t do the walk, but we would love to have you on the walk!

Have a happy Father’s day and I hope to see you out there on the walk, it really is a life changing experience!

 

Heat!

May 29th, 2011 | Posted by john in General - (Comments Off on Heat!)

Summer is getting geared up and while it may not feel it where you are, many parts of the country have already crossed over the 100 degrees. Unfortunately when summer gears up is when many people either start their training forn the 3-Day for the Cure or get into the really long mileage training walks. This can be a really dangerous time of year to train unless you follow a couple of common sense guidelines. While they are common sense, I am going to go through them here just in case there is something that you have overlooked.

Planning

This really goes for any walk that you go on, but is especially important when the weather gets hotter. This post aims to help in that planning. One of the best things you can do to help you with planning is to make yourself a check list and to keep updating it as time goes on. You may think you have a great check list and then go out on a walk and remember that you need to bring along chap stick. If you don’t update your check list then you may keep having that aha moment, but it won’t be a good thing.

Hydrate!

This should be the most common sense piece of advice. Whenever you walk you have to keep hydrated. When it is hot you really have to make sure that you keep drinking water and Gatorade and keep the fluids coming. You may be reading this and thinking that it’s kind of silly for me to talk about this, but every year at the 3-Day, someone passes out from dehydration (okay, maybe I don’t have exact facts on that, but I know it has happened) so it wouldn’t surprise me if people have the same issues on training walks.

The best way to keep hydrated is to be familiar with your hydration system. Whether you are doing a camelbak or bottles or something different, just make sure you are familiar with how much you need to drink (I have found it’s a little harder to monitor with Camelbaks, but it’s also easier to keep hydrating with them, so it’s a tradeoff.) Part of knowing if you are drinking enough is whether you are peeing enough. You should be needing a bathroom break every 3-6 miles. If you are not doing that, you probably need to drink more.

Timing

This part really goes back to the planning part of your training walks. If you know that you are doing a 15 mile training walk then you also should know that you shouldn’t start at 10 in the morning on a day that is supposed to get to 100 degrees.

People always ask me how long it takes to walk X miles. My answer is usually it depends. It depends on how fast you are walking, how frequently you take breaks and how long they are, how many people you are walking with and a variety of other factors. For planning I can usually rely on 3 miles per hour. I typically walk faster that, but when I factor in breaks and other things, it usually is about that pace. So, for doing a 15 mile walk I can be pretty assure that I will take about 5 hours. Starting at 10 means that I would definitely be walking through the hottest part of the day.

Another thing about timing, and the folks at the 3-Day will also say this: you don’t actually have to do all the hours together. If you aren’t a morning person you could do part in the morning and part in the evening (thus giving yourself a little bit more sleep in the morning). I personally like having the walking over so even though I am not a morning person I will push through in order to get it done.

Break Time

If you do find that you need to be walking during one of the hotter parts of day (let’s face it, even though you start out early, if you are walking an 18 miler in the middle of summer you will end up in the heat) you need to make sure that you have plenty of breaks. This doesn’t mean you have to always go to the bathroom (though it is a good idea), sometimes you just need to stop under some shade to cool off before continuing on. Just keep in mind that the longer you break for the more likely it is to get hotter.

My sister will tell you that I don’t take a lot of breaks when I walk. Again, this is my mind wanting to get done with the mileage for the day with as little delay as possible. But despite that, when we have been on really hot walks I will step into some shade every half hour or so just to cool down from the heat. Texas is merciless in the summer.

Planning Again

I said before that planning was important and I will say it again because it feeds into the other points mentioned. Now that we have covered in more detail some of those things I would like to mention some more specifics on what I plan.

For the Route
When you are planning the route there are several things that you need to account for including:

  • Time of day in relation to the route (so you can get the shadiest route possible)
  • Refill areas for water, food, etc. This is like any route, but even more important with the heat. If you have a water refill area that has ice, even better!
  • Bathrooms
  • Starting time and an idea of when the hottest times of the day might be so you can avoid them

For The Bag

There are also several items that you need to make sure you take along with you to have an enjoyable hot weather walk. Keep in mind that I am not mentioning things that you should pack regardless of weather (first aid kit for example), just things specific to summer training. Some of these are must haves and some are just suggestions:

  • Sunscreen. Let’s face it, the last thing you need to do while you are preparing for the fight against breast cancer is get skin cancer. It may seem like fear mongering to put it like that, but you are going to be in the sun for a very long time and you need to make sure you protect yourself. Remember to reapply!
  • There are several varieties of chap stick that have SPF built in and I would recommend whatever you would prefer to use as ling as it has SPF.
  • In addition to keeping you from squinting, sunglasses can also protect your eyelids and eyes from the harmful effects of the sun.
  • Fan. While I don’t carry one myself, I have seen several people that carry one of those spray bottles with a fan on it and it looks quite refreshing.
  • I’m kind of torn on bringing a hat with you. I can definitely see it as a benefit, but over the years I have had several hats give me heat rash on my head. I would recommend it, just be careful I your choice of hats.

So those are my suggestions for training in the summer weather. I know that I have forgotten some things and I am hopeful that members of the 3-Day community will remind me of them and I will. Try to update the post. Be careful out there in the hot weather and have fun!