Sunday, November 14, 2010

Carol: End of the Line

[The following article was first published as The End of the Line on Technorati.]

I returned home exhausted from the 3-day for the Cure 60 mile walk. I along with the other three members of my team--the Pink Me Out team--walked every inch of the course, and yes, we have the sore feet to prove it.
According to The Dallas Morning News, there were more than 2,700 walkers who participated in the Susan G. Komen walk to battle cancer. Organizers told us Dallas alone raised  $7 million. All in all, I suppose you can put a big check mark in the win-win column.
In my 3-day journey, I discovered lots of things (including Thing 1 who posed for pictures at one of the pit stops). And while I found Thing 1 rather amusing, it's really the other things that were more interesting and/or surprising. Things like…
•How well an event like this runs… It's well-orchestrated, well-planned and well-done--except for whoever thought it was a good idea to throw in some steps on the last day.
•My teammates and I were surprised at the number of participants who don't actually walk the entire course instead opting for a ride in the sweep van to the next pit stop or a bus back to camp. No judgments here. I do understand why some cannot complete the course. It was difficult to do. We just figured our level of being uncomfortable didn't come close to what cancer patients face.
•I was amazed at the generosity of some people. The people who I least expected to donate for us to walk donated a lot. The people who I thought would donate or who I thought would donated substantially didn't. I'm still surprised that our team did not get one donation from anyone on the Internet as a result of this or any other blog posting made. (But then, I'm still waiting for Oprah to read my book and "discover" me. Ah, if only wishes were horses, beggars would ride…")
•I learned I can technically "rough" it. I survived frigid  temperatures in a tent with wet hair (no electricity for blow dryers). I succumbed to three days of portable toilets (except for that one incident when I hobbled into a Starbucks for coffee and running water).
But most importantly, I learned firsthand that life as a participant beats life as a spectator. Hands--make that feet--down.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Carol: Ready or Not the Walk Begins

[This article was first published as Ready or Not: The 3-day for the Cure Walk Begins in Dallas on Technorati.]

With the 3-day for the Cure in Dallas scheduled to get underway tomorrow, November 5,  I wish I could sing that Peter, Paul & Mary's song, "…all my bags are packed and I'm ready to go," but sadly I can't, as my bags aren't packed and I'm not ready to go.

How am I supposed to squeeze all my stuff into a 35" or so bag that weights less than 35 pounds?  It's not that I'm high maintenance and need a lot of stuff, it's just my tendency to over-think things. What if it gets hot...or too cold?  What if I fall in a puddle of water? What if…See what I mean?

Then, of course, there's the sock issue. My teammates and I purchased those "guaranteed to be blister free" socks. But how is that going to work? We'll be walking around for three days. So even if they don't work, we'll need to wear those socks. Is the guarantee good for 60 miles? Will they take back our stinky socks if we get blisters? See what I mean--over thinking it.

Even though our jobs as teachers got in the way of our training, I think we still managed to train well enough that we will survive the 60 mile walk. Still, I worry that we may have undertrained. Of course, we may have to call the school nurse to come roll us in on Monday from the parking lot.

Now that my first challenge is almost over, I've been thinking a lot lately about what to do next. (Remember the entire point of this little feature was to quit living life as a spectator.) On our last 10 mile training walk I suggested to my tent mate that perhaps we should look into the Hotter Than Hell 100.

Let's just say I had to duck over that one. But between us, I haven't entirely given up on that idea --at least not yet.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Carol: Four Weeks to Go & Thinking About a Guy I Don't Know

[This article was first published as Four Weeks To Go and Thinking About a Guy I Don't Know on Technorati.]
(Writer's note: I've been busy putting together the Education Buzz--Life's a Carnival which will appear here on Wednesday. So instead of posting my usual witty observations, I'm posting my update on my 3-day for the Cure training. Jeepers Creepers, it's in four weeks. If you haven't donated and want to still donate for the cure, my BFF Jennifer still needs a bit more in order to walk. Remember I need her for that whole camping thing. Otherwise, I'll be sleeping on the ground being eaten alive by bears. OK, so maybe bears is a teensy weensy bit of exaggeration.  How about eaten alive by coyotes? Armadillos? OK, chiggers then… So have a little pity and go here to donate to my BFF Jennifer, but before you do make sure you read the post below…] 
Lately I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about a guy I don't know. On Oct. 8, he walked the walk--you know the one, the 3-day for the Cure. 
In April, I read a column by Leonard Pitts about his decision to participate in the Susan G. Komen 60-mile walk for the cure. Inspired by his words, I decided instead of donating money for his walk, I would walk the walk as well and signed up for the 3-day for the Cure in Dallas on Nov. 5.

Ever since I began this undertaking, Mr. Pitts has floated in and out of my thoughts. Admittedly, sometimes those thoughts weren't very warm and fuzzy especially when my walking buddies and I braved 100-plus degree heat to train.

Other times I wondered/worried whether Mr. Pitts had trouble getting his donations. I shouldn't have worried so much about him. While my team  struggled to raise our $2,300 each, his readers donated more than $27,000. I can only chalk it up to the difference between a well-known, professional syndicated columnist and team of high school teachers.

Still, I am just as proud of the quarters raised by our high school students as I am of the outpouring of generosity of Mr. Pitts' readers. In some ways, I am even more proud of the fledgling Pink Panther Club formed just a month ago to increase breast cancer awareness at our school--all a result of our upcoming walk which in an odd way traces the start of its journey back to Mr. Pitts.

I always tell my journalism students that we often don't know how our words touch others or even if they do.

I checked on Mr. Pitts' recent columns to see what sort of update he had related to the 3-day for the Cure.  Again, he had a particularly poignant piece writing that  "…life is an understanding: We're all going to the same destination. The only difference is in what you choose to see along the way."

But I would have to add something to that observation because it's not just what you choose to see along the way, it's also who you touch along the way.

So because Mr. Pitts unknowingly touched my life, I will spend this weekend wondering and worrying how this stranger fared on his 60-mile walk.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Carol: 7 Weeks 2 Go--Sausage Fingers, Clown Feet & Miles to Go

[This article first  published as The Countdown is On: 7 Weeks to Go  on Technorati.]

Instead of counting up, it's time to count down. Seven weeks to go before the 3-day for the Cure Susan G. Komen 60-mile walk to fight breast cancer.

Saturday my team and I went on another training walk with a handful of women in our area. We walked 15 miles leaving at 6:15 a.m. and finishing about 11-ish.

Our hands swelled up like those little Vienna sausages.

My feet felt like clown feet.

Trust me, if a clown car had passed by, I wouldn't have hesitated to hop in and put on one of those red, squeaky clown noses and hitched a ride back to my van.

About Mile 11 I felt my skin scorching in the 90 degree-plus temperatures despite the SPF 60+ sunscreen I slathered on when Mr. Sun was still sleeping.

My team--Pink Me Out-- is hoping for cooler temperatures by the time the 3-day comes to Dallas in November.

Already other 3-days have been held throughout the country. Denver had its 3-day for the Cure in August with about 500 walkers raising more than $1.5 million to fight breast cancer. The next 3-day gets underway in Seattle next weekend on Sept. 24.

When I reviewed the weekly training schedule from Mr. Virtual Trainer for our 3-day walk, I just about passed out. It calls for two back-to-back "easy walking" training miles of 17 and 13 for next weekend.
Just when I think, "Yeah, right," I think about the soccer coach in Olympia, Washington, who battled breast cancer and will walk the walk in Seattle. Or, I look at the picture of cancer survivor Megan Hernandez as she finished the walk in Denver.

Remember, thankfully, cancer is not a battle I have had to fight. I am walking for others in my life. I have to remind myself that I walk simply because I can.

I figure if Megan can do it, well then, so can I. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Carol: Week 18--Mall Walking At School

[This article was first published as Week 18--Mall Walking At School on Technorati.]

The still-sizzling heat and the start of school sent me and my Pink Me Out team inside for Week 18 to train for the 3-day for the Cure.

Walking indoors at our school is similar to mall walking  (minus the grannies and grandpas wearing knee highs and bright white sneakers). If you walk from the northern corner of our school to the southern corner, you can easily log in a quarter mile.

On the days we were able to walk after school, we were able to log about four miles each session. In addition to getting our exercise, it's provided us an opportunity to see parts of the school we never get a chance to, see other co-workers hunched over grading papers, and dodge the cleaning staff diligently getting the school ready for the next day.

Over Labor Day weekend, we participated in a 12-mile training walk with other walkers in our area. The training walk was organized by a Dallas police officer who was a breast cancer survivor and the leader of the Cops Against Cancer team. I believe this will be her fourth time to participate in the 60-mile walk. In addition to walking, she said she also gets her fellow police officers to volunteer to provide security and traffic control.

All in all, she's pretty amazing.

I must admit that my walking buddies and I had trouble keeping up with her.
We were also just a tad bit sore when we finished… and the next day… and the next.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Carol: Week 17--107 degrees, Hot Yoga & Armadillos

[This article was first published as Week 17: Continued Heat Wave Dampens Training on Technorati.] 
Just as predicted, the start of school this week left little to no time for my 3-day for the Cure training walks with my Pink Me Out walking buddies (who could use a little bit of help with their fund-raising).
Of course, the record -setting 107 degree temperature did little to ignite much enthusiasm for our training expeditions. I couldn't even kindle enough desire to  plan for our training.
According to our virtual trainer, we're supposed to have 31 miles racked up this week. Jeepers creepers, I'll be lucky to finish my week with 10 miles.
I did manage to squeeze in a hot yoga class, though. (And, yes, I do think there's something inherently twisted about doing hot yoga when it's 107 degrees outside, but I also think there's something inherently wrong with putting up a donut shop next to a yoga studio.)
I was doing pretty good with the whole hot yoga thing until we got to that crazy crane pose. (Yeah, like that's going to happen in my lifetime.) Undeterred by my failure there, I successfully transformed myself into the next pose--a frog. Our very lovely yoga instructor who also happens to be a former yearbook editor of mine wanted us to be  jumping frogs visualizing a bug on the ceiling. Since there was a grasshopper stuck to the outside window, I was OK with that whole visualization thing, but at 53, not very OK with that jumping thing.
Well, all that visualization of critters got me to thinking about the armadillos that were wreaking havoc in my front yard at five in the morning. I don't know if you get bonus points (or miles) for chasing armadillos off your front yard, but surely that's gotta count for something.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Carol: Week 16--Organizating Time For Training

[This article was first published as Week 16: Organizating Time For Training on Technorati.]

I spent my last day before I had to report back to school walking five miles with one of my 3-day for the Cure training buddies.
I'm not sure if it was the heat index of 104 degrees or the thought of another school year looming before me that sapped my energy. (Heat like children can sometimes just suck the life right out of you.)
During our walk my buddy (also another teacher) and I tried to figure out how we would continue our training schedule once school got underway.
Organization, according to school experts, apparently is the key to a successful school year. Hails bails, let's go out on a limb here and just say that organization probably is the key to a successful anything.
With work, the heat, grading, planning and our own family obligations, finding time to train for the 60 mile Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure walk may prove challenging. I thought perhaps the organizational guru Peter Walsh might have a few inspirational tips, but I'm way beyond his tips for designing a workout schedule. I did find some useful and interesting suggestions for streamlining my morning routine, though--things like making effective to-do lists or using music to "rock my routine."
While I admit I'm not the most organized person in the world, my problem still seems to be more a matter of running out of time for all the things I need to do than wasting time because of disorganization.
And, no, I don't think any to-do list or Rolling Stones song is going to help me with that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Carol: Week 15 of Training: Waist Not Want Lots

[This article was first published as Week 15 of Training: New Study Sheds Light On Waist Sizes on Technorati.]
 Just when I vaguely start feeling good about myself over these training walks for the 3-day for the Cure, those warm, fuzzy feelings dissipate faster than a cool breeze on these 100-degree-plus days.
 News venues reported a recent cancer prevention study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that the bigger your waistline the more troubles you'll have compared to those with teeny, tiny tummies. In fact, along with that spare baggage, you also carry twice the risk of dying over a decade.
Apparently waist size is more important than weight.  
As if that info wasn't enough to burn away those warm, fuzzy thoughts, the tummy stats are true even for those people with healthy body mass indexes. And even more disconcerting than that was the fact that this new study measures the ideal waist size at 35 inches for men and 30 inches for women--a full five inches smaller than the inches given by the American Heart Association.
Jeepers. I don't need a tape measure to tell me that I fall outside the "ideal." In fact, I can't recall when the last time I was "ideal" for anything. It's all rather depressing.
According to the lead author of the study,  Eric Jacobs of the American Cancer Society, people should start "eating better and exercising more if you see your waist size starting to increase."Gee, thanks, Eric. Let's see how many more miles it'll take before my waist gets in line with these new guidelines.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Carol: Week 14--Trying to Stay Out of the Heat & Hot Water

[Article first published as Week 14--Trying to Stay Out of the Heat and Hot Water on Technorati.]  

With temperatures soaring into the triple digits, and last month setting heat records across the country, wanting to walk more than a few feet can present quite a challenge.

Still, I've managed to keep my training schedule for the 3-day for the Cure, walking at least two miles a day and up to four or five miles when I can. I've also managed to squeeze in a hot yoga class although we probably could have just yoged outside in the 100 degree plus temps and gotten the same results.

Despite highs predicted at 104 degrees for Friday, I, along with my two walking buddies, plan to brave the heat and squeeze in a long 9-plus mile walk around White Rock Lake before school starts.

With my summer winding down and the start of school just a few weeks away, I've been trying to cram in all the things that I can't seem to find time for during the school year. That, of course, includes what I like to refer to as "preventative maintenance."  So since I'm walking the walk and raising money to fight breast  cancer, I thought I better schedule my yearly mammogram.

When I called for an appointment, I discovered I hadn't had a mammogram in several years--four years to be exact. Embarrassing, I know. I guess when I thought about getting one, life got in the way and I thought I had actually had one. Dumb, I know. I guess I'm part of that group of women--an estimated one-fifth between 50 and 74 years old--who fell behind on getting mammograms, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

My training buddies were mortified that I had let four years go by. Needless to say, I scheduled my appointment speedy quick and I'm in the clear.

At least (for now), I'm back on track and out of hot water with my walking buddies.  Now, if I can just get out of this heat.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Carol: Week 13--Walk like an Egyptian

(Article first published as Week 13--Walk like an Egyptian on Technorati. This is Week 13 chronicling my training for the 3-day for the Cure.)

Training went fairly well this past week considering I spent a few days visiting my sister in the beautiful town of Castle Rock, Colorado.

My sister, who is a nurse, was a tad bit worried about me continuing my training for the 3-day for the Cure, especially after last week's stupidity that left me and my walking buddies near heat exhaustion. But after assuring my sister that (1) it was much cooler here than in Texas (2) I would bring water and a cell phone (3) I had my emergency money and (4) I was familiar with some tips on how to avoid high altitude sickness, I marched on my merry way.

I am happy to report that so far my training here has been uneventful. I had planned to design one of my training walks into town with a little side trip to Dream Pastries until a friend pointed out that the benefits of any training walk would quickly be negated by all that sugary goodness. I swear some people are just killjoys.

One highlight of my trip was going to the King Tut exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. The exhibit was not only stunning, but I learned a few things, too, while listening to Harrison Ford's soothing voice on the $5 audio tape relaying interesting tidbits of information about the exhibit.

One such miscellaneous tidbit said how the Egyptians had a pretty good knowledge of the body and its organs--all except the brain. Yep, apparently they didn't think much of Mr. Grey Matter and tossed Mr. Brain aside instead of storing it in one of those nifty canopic coffinettes--miniature coffins that housed internal organs.

Instead, the Egyptians viewed the heart as the most important organ. It was the heart that was weighed against the Feather of Truth to determine if a person's entrance was granted into the afterlife or sent to the Devourer of the Dead.

I guess I have to agree with the Egyptians about the importance of the heart. When people ask me why I'm willing to participate in this 60-mile walk to fight breast cancer, I can spout off statistics and tell you that more than 1.3 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer globally each year, more than 465,000 die from the disease each year and that a woman dies from breast cancer every 68 seconds.

But for me, it still remains a matter of the heart.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Carol: Week 12 Kicking It Into Stupid Gear

(Article first published as Week 12: Kicking It Into Stupid Gear on Technorati.)

Sometimes I ignore warning signs, whether it's a simple telltale sigh from my spouse or something more "official" like those nasty little National Weather Service heat advisory bulletins.

Sometimes I'm a poster child for memory loss, like when I forget that the previous week of my training for the 3-day for the Cure was short on training and long on air conditioned conference rooms.

And then, sometimes, just sometimes, I'm just not the brightest crayon in the box.

Yep, Week 12 of my training found me kicking it in high gear on the stupid level.

It started on Monday when I, along with my two training buddies, decided it would be a brilliant idea to do an 8-mile walk... at 1:30 p.m. during a heat advisory. Despite slathering on sunscreen, packing lots of water, wearing light colored clothing and taking a few breaks here and there, by mile five things weren't looking so good. 

I, of course, knew the problem: heat exhaustion. I even ticked off all the symptoms to my walking buddies because, after all, I had previously written about those dangers in my Week 5 post.

Still, we remained undeterred, but things started getting ugly at the six and half mile marker when we collapsed on a bench located, fittingly, near a cemetery.

We almost called our husbands to come and rescue us, but the thought of them taking photographs and posting our failure on YouTube was enough to spur us on.

That and the sound of an ice cream truck (as if we needed a reason to celebrate National Ice Cream Month.)

Good thing I carry around an emergency five dollar bill.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Carol: 3-day for the Cure Update

(Article first published as Week 10 & 11: Shoes Provide Little Hope for Slackers on Technorati.)
Blame it on the week-long high school journalism workshop filled with 600-plus kiddos that I had to attend.
Or blame it on a lack of sleep resulting from chaperoning said workshop.
Or, let's just blame it on the rain. (OK, so you probably have to be pre-Generation Y to get that rain allusion.)
Perhaps all those factors combined to make it not only difficult to walk, but also impossible to find the time to dutifully report about my inactivity for my 3-day for the Cure training. I only managed to squeeze in four miles or so while attending the workshop. The previous week I kept to my walking schedule racking up two to three miles every day, but I'm such a slacker I neglected to report about it.
I didn't even get a chance to read the second part of the USA Today fitness challenge story.   
I did, however, read with interest another article  about those toning shoes that supposedly will give the wearer a more shapely behind, toned legs and tighter abs--all without having to set foot in a gym.
Oh, if I only had a pair of those shoes, I wouldn't have to obsess so much about my lack of training this past week.
 If life were only that simple. If it were, I'd be the first to slap down a hundred bucks or so (plus shipping and handling), and everything would shape up.
But my hopes for an easy out were snuffed by the seventh paragraph. The article quoted a professor from Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine in Baltimore who very succinctly said those claims were "utter nonsense."
Moreover, according to the article, doctors warned toning shoes can cause other problems with balance and can strain Achilles tendons.
Perhaps  I'm better off with a pair of those ruby red slippers and my regular walking shoes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Joel: Take a Load Off

Yes I'm alive. No I haven't lost much weight.

I've come to realize that exercise by itself will not impact weight loss. It helps me to think more about changing my eating habits, and it definitely makes me feel tons better. But it doesn't shed the tons by itself.

Here's an example of why not:
This morning I went out and walked/ran for about 30 minutes. RunKeeper Pro (my new favorite iPhone App) told me that I only burned 232 calories. Do you realize how little food is contained in 232 calories? I think I have more than 232 calories in the crumbs in my truck!!!

So unfortunately, it looks like the ice cream and cookies are really gonna have to go. :(

On a less demotivational note, I now know that it will be pretty simple to make it happen. It's just a matter of working up the courage to do it. But if I could find the strength to get off my couch and do something, I bet I can find it in myself to stop eating fried crap and lovely desserts.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Carol: Week 8--Pondering Life on Solo Walks

[Article first published as Week 8: Pondering Life on Solo Walks on Technorati.]
I walk because I want to, not because I have to.
Still, training for the 3-day for the Cure can not only be time consuming (I logged 19.5 miles), but troublesome as well.
My solo training walks leave plenty of time for introspection, and at this point in my life, I’m not sure that is a good thing with a bit more than half my life over.
That song (10,000 Stones) by Adrianna bounces around in my brain…
“My days are filled mistakes
Some that I didn’t make
I carry them around…
See what I mean?
With my trusty four-legged companion Jack, we walk and walk, and I talk and talk in the bubble above my head and ponder all kinds of things.
From mundane things like why I never went to Paris, why I can't sing or more importantly why  Oprah won't read my book.
I ponder other things as well like…
  • Why we can put a man on the moon, but can’t cap an oil well that has been spewing oil into the gulf since April 20.
  • Why cases like the disappearance of Natalie Holloway can't be solved and justice served.
  • Why people like Dallas Police Chief  David Brown can devote their lives to public service and fighting crime and then have their only son be named the killer of another police officer in a tragic Father's Day shooting. 
 See what I mean?
Sometimes on these walks I wish  Jack could talk. Maybe he knows some of the answers. Sometimes I think  if I walk far enough, maybe some day I’ll find the answers especially to some more personal questions ricocheting around my brain.
I may just have to walk down the path of forever for that. 
In the meantime, I silently sing the chorus…
“Ten thousand stones hanging deep in my heart
No, I don’t know how they don’t tear me apart…”

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Carol: Week 7--Ain't Life A Beach

(Article first published as Week 7: Training on the Beach, Incidents and Oil Spills on Technorati and as "Ain't Life A Beach" on

After school got out, I headed for the beach. Thankfully, we go to South Padre Island. We gave extra thanks because the Texas Gulf Coast (at least for now) remains unscathed by the BP oil spill wreaking havoc along the coastline from Louisiana to Florida.

So while the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in Alabama have closed public beaches because of the gooey, slimy mess, those of us fortunate to vacation along the Texas coast still can enjoy sun, surf and sand as well as some tasty shrimp.

My week at the beach, however, in no way stopped my training for the Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure 60 mile walk

In fact, I stepped it up a bit and  walked about 30 miles while at the beach. My family made sure I stayed on track offering to walk with me. Sometimes we walked along the beach. Sometimes we walked along Gulf Boulevard. All of it was walked in the hot Texas sun. Walking on the sand provided some extra workout benefits. We even walked a bit across the border venturing into Nuevo Progreso, Mexico, to do a little shopping. 

Although we've been there numerous times before, we did check with the tourist Welcome Center at South Padre Island before we decided to go because of all the drug violence reported in border towns. The very nice Welcome Center people told us that although there had been some "incidents," we would be fine as long as we as we remained aware of our surroundings. They never did define "incidents." 

While walking across the bridge and while shopping in Mexico, we couldn't help but notice that we were one of the few Americans shopping there. Now I know why. 

The very next day another shopping mecca destination for tourist, Matamoras, was in the news for a running gun battle that began at a police station and left seven police officers dead before it ended when the Mexican military finally took control of the situation. 

I wonder if those nice Welcome Center people would have referred to that as an "incident."

And all that makes as much sense as referring to the BP oil spill as an "incident."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Carol: Week 6--Training with Jack

(Writer's note: The following article was first published as "Week 6: One Goal Down, But Many More Miles to Go" on technorati.)
Week six looks very promising indeed; promising because school (woo-hoo!) is out for the summer.

A double woo-hoo because, in only six weeks, I reached the mandatory fund-raising goal of $2,300 necessary to participate in the Susan G. Komen 60 mile 3-day Walk for the Cure.
Whew, what a relief! I must admit that I was a tad worried that I would be unable to raise the required donations and would be left on the outside looking in after training all summer long in the hot sweltering Texas sun. I mean what sane person wants to walk about in 100 degree heat if they don't really have to?

But now that I have that little money thing under control, I can begin some serious training for the November walk. To do that, I have enlisted my trusty compadre Jack and his nifty little doggy backpack, a gift from my dog expert/writer sister Maggie Bonham

After reading about such unusual pet gifts as a pet high chair or pet chatter bowl,  a pet backpack really doesn't seem all that usual. In fact, you can find a wide assortment of backpacks for Fido at such normal, standard venues as REI or surf other sites  for the more serious dog hikers. 


Dog experts recommend that your dog doesn't carry more than 20 percent of his weight. For Jack (pictured above), who weighs 90-plus pounds that would mean about 18 pounds of stuff, but we're just going to stick with some water, maybe a snack and his collapsible water bowl. Of course, we'll follow all the advice for keeping Jack safe in the summer sun.

He's used to walking at least three miles a day.  Tomorrow, we're going to try five. Unfortunately, when I finally walk the 3-day for the Cure, Jack will have to remain at home not because I don't think he can raise the money to walk, but because pets are not allowed.

[For those keeping track: Jack and I actually walked 6 miles today. This past week I logged  10.5 miles &  attended two yoga classes.] 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Increasing The Pace // Losing The Weight

So I have now run for 30 minutes nonstop a handful of times. It's great to be able to do it. The personal fulfillment and sense of accomplishment about that is incredible.

Okay, it's not really running. It might loosely be defined as jogging, but more truthfully, it's a brisk shuffle. But no worries. All year long so far, I have been focusing primarily on just getting off my butt and going out to work out.

The habit is established. It's amazing. I never thought it would happen, but it happened.

The temptation is just to sit back down on my butt and stay where I am. Eventually, this will lead to better overall health and all that jazz, but I don't want to just stay where I am. Part of why I never went out to run in the first place was because I am competitive by nature. I don't like losing. I felt like trying to run would be an entirely losing proposition. So I just didn't bother.

Now, I need to continue moving forward.

So far this year, I've lost between 12-15 pounds. I want to double that by the end of the summer. So my goal by the end of July is to weigh about 10 pounds less than I currently do. My goal will put me down 23.8 pounds from the beginning of the year.

Additionally, I want to increase my running pace. Ideally, I will be running 10 minute miles by the end of the year. I will settle for being able to run 3 miles in 48 minutes by the end of the summer (16:00 pace). I ran 1 mile last Wednesday in 17:32. I had my spring concert on Thursday, and went to Six Flags on Saturday with the band so I took Friday and Saturday off. Sunday night I ran 1 mile in 16:19. Monday morning I walked 34 minutes and then ran 1/2 mile in 7:29.

This confirms that I can do the pace, it's just a matter of keeping it up for 45 minutes. Endurance will come with more time on my feet.

So my plan of attack for this summer: No Strawberry Cheesequake Blizzards until I lose another 10 pounds (Booooooo). And run every day as soon as school lets out, sometimes even running and/or walking twice a day.

Carol: Week 5--Training at Home on Memorial Day

[The following article was first published as Week 5: Training at Home on Memorial Day on Technorati.]

Ah, Memorial weekend. A time to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. A time for family gatherings, flag flying and barbecues.

Ah, Memorial weekend. A time to travel apparently here, there and everywhere. In fact, AAA projected Memorial Day travel would jump more than 5 percent with 32.1 million Americans taking a trip away from home during the holiday weekend, up from 30.5 million last year, Even the Obamas opted to head out of town, instead of just down the street. (You can decided for yourself whether you agree with that one.)

And me?

Well, I opted to stay right here at home. I've got that training thing going on for Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure 60-mile walk.

Even with temperatures soaring into the 90s in the Lone Star state and having to distribute 1,300 yearbooks at my high school, I still managed to log in 12 miles for my Week 5 of training--just one or two miles shy of what my "virtual trainer" says I should have accomplished. But since I don't see Ms. Virtual Trainer bee-bopping out in the hot afternoon sun, I think I'm doing just fine.

And, yes, I've gotten better since my training debacle from Week #1. Now, at at least I'm more mindful of some of those summer safety tips. You know, those important ones like dressing appropriately, staying hydrated and wearing a hat.

I still slather on the sunscreen even after the sky-is-falling-you're-going-to-get-skin cancer report. It said something about some sunscreen products may spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A. Are you kidding me?

Oh, and let's not forget those red flag warning signs for heat exhaustion: a red face, skin hot to the touch, dizziness, nausea, headaches, blah, blah, blah.

So while I might be a mile or two short for last week, I hope to make that up this next week by walking a bit farther on Memorial Day.

I'm also just a tad short on my fund-raising. I have just $276.10 to go before I raise the required $2,300 in order to participate in the walk. If you want to help me out, you can donate here.

[For those keeping track: Walked 12,2 miles this week &  attended two yoga classes.]

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Carol: Week 4: Random Acts of Kindness

Before I launch into how I'm doing, let's all give Joel a big "Hip, Hip Hooray!" for updating us on his progress. Great job!

[The following article was first published as Week 4: Random Acts of Kindness Erase Cyberspace Disappointment on Technorati.] 

With new shoes, a nifty little hip pack to hold my water and a new resolve, Week four of my training and fund-raising for the 3-day for the Cure started off well despite my disappointment in the lack of cyberspace donations.

I thought my little bit of whining in last week's post would have encouraged someone to cough up a buck or two in my direction. But, no siree, Missy. Still zero, zilch, nadda, and it didn't get any better this week.  I might as well have waited for Mark Cuban to knock on my front door offering his pocket change.

That's OK, though. Something better happened.

Kathy Seago, one of the teachers at my school, gave her classes a 24-hour Random Act of Kindness challenge –- to ask 21 people for a quarter and to donate whatever they raised to me for my walk.

Each class came to my room with their money dropping it into a big jar. When all was said and done, the kiddos had raised $400.90 for me in 24-hours.

With all the recent news about kids bullying other kids, kids sneaking inappropriate content into yearbooks, or posts about other kids slugging it out on videos, too many people often forget about all the good kids out there.

Not me. Thanks to those kids, I'm now at 72 percent of my goal--with just another $641.10 to go.  I think I probably have that 10 cents on the floorboard of my trusty mini-van.

As for the other $641, we'll just have to wait and see what the next week will bring. 

[If you would like to donate so that I may participate in the 3-day for the Cure 60-mile walk, you can do so by going here.]

[For those keeping track: Walked only 8.7 miles this week due to bad weather & storms (visit my other blog for those details). Attended three yoga classes.]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Joel: I did it

Real quick post here. Carol sent me a message on Facebook noting that I haven't updated this blog in a couple of months. I'm a horrible person. Okay, I'm over it.

I have been running regularly. Currently, my running pace is somewhere around 18:30 per mile or 3.2 miles per hour. Sometimes it gets faster, sometimes slower. Such is the nature of living in Texas and running outside rather than on a treadmill. Sometimes it's hot (it got up to 93 today), sometimes it's windy (I've literally gone running with 60mph gusts), sometimes it rains (I lost about a week of running due to some storms we had), and sometimes it is cold (back in January, I was stopped by 20mph winds and 25 degree temps).

In March, I stopped the fast walking and actually began running. Some might call it jogging. Some might call it shuffling. Some might call it looking like a fool. Whatever, I do it and it just about kills me every time. But I persist.

So this is the 20th week of my journey as a runner and I finally finished week 9 of the Couch To 5K Running Plan this evening.

I've hit some roadbumps along the way and gone back and started over a few times. Sometimes I don't accomplish the day's goal, and a few times I've actually pressed on past the goal and surprised myself.

I walked in a 5K back at the beginning of May and was surprised at how much faster my pace was on the race day.

This is a whole lot of scattered thoughts, but I'm exhausted and need to drive three hours to judge drum major tryouts tomorrow afternoon, and three hours back home afterwards to get ready to host my band's solo & ensemble contest Saturday morning. And I just ran for 30 minutes without stopping, came in and blogged about it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Carol: Week 3--Social Networking & Fundraising

(The following post first appeared in my column at as Week 3: Failing at Social Networking. Yes, I am walking in the Susan G. Komen 3 day for the Cure walk. If you can find it in your heart to help sponsor me, please click on the 3-day for the Cure logo.)

Week 3 of my training for the 3-day for the Cure ended without much fanfare and with just a sliver of disappointment. OK, make that more of a pie sized wedge of disappointment.

Disappointment--not with my training (although my job this week interfered with that. I only logged 5.5 miles and one yoga class)--but rather disappointment in the marvels of technology. Or, specifically in my case, the lack of marvels for me.

I'm three weeks into this fundraising/trolling for $2,300 so I can participate in the 60 mile walk to help fight breast cancer, and I have yet to receive even a one dollar donation from a stranger in cyberspace. I have raised 37 percent of the required amount.

I'm not sure why I'm such a failure at this. Apparently, I don't know what I'm doing. I came to that little epiphany  after the world went all atwitter about twitter erasing followers to cure a program bug. I think I have like nine followers.

My luck with Facebook is equally abysmal. I was certain my funny chicken photograph on my "Get Richie On Oprah & Save the Chicken!" fan page would generate thousands of fans for my book. Instead, the chicken page hasn't even hit a hundred. So much for counting one's chickens before they hatch.

Others don't seem to have that difficulty.  Even four self-described nerds living off pizza raised $10,000 in donations in 12 days to launch their business endeavor. The Internet is filled with such success stories.  Just not me.

Apparently though, I'm not the only one disappointed with the Internet.

My Sunday newspaper — yep, I still love the printed version of my news--carried a big opinion piece with a screaming headline, "The Internet's False Promises." (And they weren't talkin' about Al Gore either.) I'd include the link here, but my newspaper, like me, apparently isn't technologically savvy enough to get all its posts online.

I guess I'll have to keep at it the old fashioned way.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Carol: Week 2--Bliss Me Not

(The following post first appeared in my column at Yes, I am walking in the Susan G. Komen 3 day for the Cure walk. If you can find it in your heart to help sponsor me, please click on the 3-day for the Cure logo on the right or simply click here.)

Part of the training for the 3-day for the Cure walk includes the catch-all "cross training" category. Lucky for me, the nifty little Walker's Manual considers yoga as cross training.
My yoga, however, isn't anything like the yoga mentioned in a recent article in The New York Times where people plunk down a couple of hundred dollars just for the correct attire or  take a Yoga Caribbean vacation for six thousand smackeroos. (Geewillikers, I have to practice my deep calming breath just thinking about it.)

I'm more like the "Yoga to the People" featured in the article where "this yoga is for everyone" (good), where "there will be no correct clothes" (even better) or where it seems to be OK for "the mighty and the meek, bones that creak" (best).

On May 15, yoga hits the Washington mall, marking the fifth anniversary of DC Yoga Week.  I wonder how many creaky bones will show up for that.

Although the NY Times article noted that the number of people taking yoga has dropped from 16.5 million in 2004 to 15.8 million, spending on yoga classes and yoga stuff has almost doubled from $2.95 billion to $5.7 billion.

Even without all the designer yoga frills, I know I've thrown money into that billion dollar pool on a yoga mat ($15),  pants ($20) and top ($18). (Of course, that pool probably doesn't include the billions spent on pedicures for pretty yoga toes. But if it did, I'd have to confess to another 40 buckeroos for pink toes with daisies.

And speaking of pink, let's do a ferret's on crack speedy quick update on my Pink Me Out progress for the cure…For Week 2, I walked 11.3 miles, just a tad under the suggested 12-mile goal, and for my cross training, I attended an hour power yoga session. So far, I've raised $408 of the required $2,300. If you're feeling generous, you can donate here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Carol: Week 1--The Training Begins

(The following post first appeared in my column “On the Outside Looking In” at Yes, I am walking in the Susan G. Komen 3 day for the Cure walk. If you can find it in your heart to help sponsor me, please click on the 3-day for the Cure logo on the right or simply click here.) 

Seven percent.

So far that's all I've raised on my journey for the required $2,300 sponsorship necessary to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure, 60-mile walk.

Of course, it's only been three days since I started this, but patience and me fit together about as well as me and a pair of purple spandex pants. 

Like most things that I do, I went full steam into this becoming a participant thing. I created my fund raising page, emailed everyone in my address book and downloaded and read all 58 pages of my "Walker Handbook." 

That's when I discovered on page 43 that I'll be "camping out."

As in a tent. Now, my idea of "camping out" pretty much has been booking a hotel room with those nifty soft Egyptian cotton sheets. The closest I've ever gotten to camping out was spending the night in an RV at the Cotton Bowl for a Rolling Stones concert.

Page 56 of the manual really got my attention because not only will I be sleeping in a tent, I have to set up the tent. I shared this little piece of information with my husband, and let's just say that if he were a rolling-your-eyes-kind-of-guy, well, his eyes would be permanently stuck up inside his head. 

Undaunted by the camping news, I official kicked off Week 1 of my training with a 2.2 mile walk to the gas station to buy a lottery ticket. It will be a tough week to get all the recommended training in if I don't win the lottery because I have several teaching commitments that will interfere. 

Still, I will not be a Negative Nancy. Naysayer or Ninnyhammer like one person was.  Someone actually posted a comment that they didn't "understand why anyone wants to fund raise money to fight against cancer… These sorts of charity events seem to be designed to make the participants feel better, but what do they really do about the disease? Almost nothing."

Jeez Louise. I guess tell that to the almost 200,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and let's see what they think about such events. 

And if participating in an event makes me feel better, well, what in the Sam Hill is wrong with that?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Carol: Pink Me Up by Pinking Me Out!

(The following post first appeared in my column “On the Outside Looking In” at Yes, I am walking in the Susan G. Komen 3 day for the Cure walk.  This post tells why and provides a link at the bottom for those of you who can find it in your heart to help sponsor me.) 

I spent a few weeks mulling it over. I spent a few days talking myself into it. I spent less than 10 minutes filling out all the requisite forms. Basic stuff like name, address and a promise to waive liability. In the second it took to click my mouse and hand over the $90 registration fee, I moved myself from the realm of an observer into the world of a hopeful participant.

There’s no backing out now. I am officially registered for the Susan G. Komen-3 day for the Cure, 60-mile walk. Of course, I still have to raise the $2,300 before I can participate in the November event. Right now I have nadda, zilch, zero sponsors. (Baby steps, my dears, baby steps.)

I picked the 3-day walk for the Cure as my first activity to launch “On the Outside Looking In.” Or, rather, I decided to launch “On the Outside Looking In” as a way to force me to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.

I suppose it was a combination of things that pushed me. One of my teacher hall monitoring buddies is walking the walk. (Gee, I thought, isn’t that great.) I read a rather poignant piece from Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts about the loss of his mom and why he was finally walking the walk. (Wow, I thought, what a great column.) I have colleagues who have stared this killer in the face and survived (What amazing women they are, I said.).

And then, I ran into a colleague at the state high school journalism convention. I hadn’t seen her in months. We stood in the empty hallway. She with her ball cap on, light sensitive eyes and hope for the future and me with only my guilt for not knowing she was in an all-out fight against breast cancer.

It nagged at me for weeks… how I had become so wrapped up in my life that I hadn’t heard about her battle for her life.

I am no stranger to cancer. In less than three years, I buried both parents. My mother lost her battle against lung cancer and my father lost his fight against prostate cancer. There have been others as well.

Still, my self-absorption with my life tugged at me. I hope to make up for that with the 3-Day for the Cure walk. My walk will be a different walk. I walk to apologize to Lori for not knowing, and I walk to celebrate her life. I walk with joy for all those sisters who survived their battle with breast cancer. And yes, as odd as it seems, I walk with joy for those sisters who fought the fight, but lost because I believe we honor them by remembering how much they enriched our lives.

And finally, I walk with joy simply and thankfully because I can.

(To help me on my way, please consider making a donation, so that I will qualify for the walk. Donations can be made by going to, click on "Donate," select “search for a team” and then input my team name, Pink Me Out or you can simply click here and it should take you right there.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Carol: Pink Me Out

[In honor of the lack of the Chubby Brits who failed to rise up to the occasion and participate in this little fitness challenge, here's Yo Mum's So Fat Joke #8… "Your mum's so fat that even God couldn't lift her spirts…"] 

Here's a brief update on my progress… I continue to do yoga attending classes at least three times a week. Although I am getting better at it, I still fall over, can't grab my ankles for the bow pose,  and my revolved triangle pose doesn't look anything like this picture.

Such is my life. I read a post  about losing weight that had a gajillion retweets. I don't know what all the fuss was about. It  basically covered what we all know (exercise, cut calories by 25 percent and eat some fish oil). OK, so maybe, I didn't know about the fish oil thing, but I seriously doubt that's going to drop a ton of pounds.

Instead, I rather preferred the chocolate study story. You can read about my take on that here.

But now I have rambled so let me get back on task. I decided I needed an extra push. You know, to sort of jump start my engines. So-o-o-o-o-o-o I signed up for the Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure 60 mile walk. It's a great cause and I might even lose a few pounds along the way.

I need sponsors though. I have to raise $2,300 in order to be able to participate in the November walk. So if you could find it in your heart to make a donation, please go to, click on "Donate," select “search for a team” and then input my team name, Pink Me Out.) 

I'll keep you posted on how my training and donations are going.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Joel: The Art of Slow Slow Slow Running

I read a comment today on the Couch To 5K's Facebook wall that sorta got to me.

One person commented that she ran a mile in 33 minutes. Someone asked if she meant that she ran it in 13 minutes, because she couldn't see how someone could run for 33 minutes and only go a mile. One more person chimed in basically saying that even someone walking slow could walk a mile in 20 minutes.

While I understand that it was an issue of confusion, I responded:

How does it take someone 30 minutes to run a mile? They have the guts to get out there no matter how out of shape they used to be in and run slower than most people walk.

They get over the years of excuses to not work out and just set out with a plan to push themselves harder than they have in years (or decades). The first day they realize that 60 seconds nonstop is miserable. ONE TIME.

But they don't give up.

They don't make it through the first day, but they don't give up. Maybe it takes them two months to get to Week 1 Day 1, maybe it takes longer.

But they don't give up.

The weight loss is slow, it's not like the fad diets they have tried numerous times in the past. It's frustratingly slow, because they know that when they lose the weight, their speed will go up and their risk of injury will go down dramatically.

But they don't give up.

By the time this person is to the point where they can run 1 mile nonstop, something inside of them changes.

So they don't give up.

They see the benefits, they feel that they can breathe like a normal human being again (at least sometimes), they can't imagine going back to the place they were just a few months ago.

So they don't give up.

It may take them an hour or more to finish a 5K race. But they run the entire time. How many people finish the race in 30 minutes and can't run the whole thing? It took years of bad decisions to get them to this point, but they have seen the results and have developed the fortitude to push through no matter what other people are doing.

So they don't give up.

I have a friend who can run 5K in 17:30. I can walk/run it in 53:00. Now. But eventually, I'll be running 10K, and half marathons, and who knows what else...

This is why people like me don't go to the gym for years and years...not because there are a bunch of rude and judgmental people (you're not, just confused...I understand that), but because the fear exists that there are a bunch of rude and judgmental people.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Loser, Yoga & My Inner Me

[In honor of the lack of Chubby Brits who failed to rise up to the occasion and participate in this little fitness challenge, here's Yo Mum's So Fat Joke #7…
"Your mums so fat that when she steps on the scales it says one at a time please!"]

OK, so I'm a loser—and not in the poundage category either. I noticed on the nifty little computer calendar that it's been almost a month since my last entry.

Jeez Louise, that's hardly a way to encourage my cyberbuddy Joel in his weight loss endeavor.  Since 30 days have lapsed since my last post, well  I hardly know where to begin. So we'll just jump right in there and try our best to recap 30 days of negligence, but I’ve gotta warn you, it ain't pretty.

•And then there were five (another exercise class bites the dust)…
It's not our fault. No really. You can't blame Doomsday Becky and me for the discontinuation of our yoga classes at our most recent exercise location. Missy Chrissy Pretzel decided she wanted her own place and opened up her very own yoga studio. Doomsday Becky and I figured that we can't jinx Missy Chrissy Pretzel because we are following her over there, not discovering her there. I did volunteer not to follow Missy Chrissy Pretzel to her new place if she was worried. (I didn't have the heart to tell her about those bad karma exercise gods. I pretty sure all those closing doors are retribution for all those times I called that one girl balloon butt in college.) Instead, I opened up the ol' checkbook, paid for the entire year and hoped that would buy us all some good karma.

•Does that yearbook make me look fat?  
Trying to get the yearbook finished these past 30 days has significantly hurt my exercise program. I quit going out to the garage to smack my punching bag and instead bebopped my way to work at 7 a.m. The good news is after tomorrow all those pages are in and I can resume my morning kickboxing program. As an added bonus, the weather is warm and the garage no longer freezing. Pretty soon I can complain about the heat instead.

•Yoga & Me & Eagle Poses
I'm still attending yoga classes at least twice a week. I'm planning to try and go three to four times a week since I paid for a year's worth of unlimited yoga sessions. I still fall over most of the time. At least at the new studio, there aren't any mirrors, so I don't have a visual image of how goofy I actually look. Missy Chrissy Pretzel says to look inside ourselves for our image. Too bad my inner me image isn't my outside image because my inner me is a mini-me… tall, thin and young, not short, fat Rubenesque and old. Plus, my inside image has that eagle standing tall, instead of looking like that tipsy, goofy eagle falling off a cliff.

•Goals & Deadlines
I went back and took another peek at the goals I set for myself back in January, and I must say that was a pretty depressing jaunt down memory lane.

Goal #1 was to lose 30 pounds by the end of May. Well, I guess we can mark that one as a big, fat failure. I arrived at the number three part OK. Now, all I have to do is get a zero after that three instead of before it. Fear not. I will not give up. Maybe we'll shoot for 10 pounds instead. (Unless, of course, someone wants to volunteer hiring me a personal trainer, chef, nutritionist, and, let's throw in a plastic surgeon as well.)

Goal #2 was to be able to do the Eagle Pose by the end of May. Hmmmmm. Now, I am better at it, but whether it will meet Missy Chrissy Pretzel's professional OK, well, let's just say I better keep practicing.

Well, that's about all the updating I'm going to do, but before I go I do have to admit that I had to eat eight of those tasty mini Cadbury Easter eggs to take the sting off the trauma of writing this post.