It’s been a crazy couple of months since I last wrote, but that’s life I guess. The ebbs and flows, the changes in direction with many decisions to be made both consciously and subconsciously. Some of our recent decisions bring us to where we are today.
We set out in September with the goal of walking across America. The walk was estimated to take 6 months, and a specific financial budget was set along with plans to promote and continue to raise funds along the way. That initial plan, as many of you know, has taken a slight detour, temporarily.
Starting on October 1st, 2017, we walked 1,000 miles from the pier at Oceanside, California, through the entire states of Arizona and New Mexico, right up to the Texas border about 60 miles or so east of Roswell, New Mexico. This portion of our journey ended on New Years Day, 2018.
The first leg of our journey was filled with challenges, enjoyment, a feeling of accomplishment, and yes, some pain. When Daniel and I left the pier on that sunny October day, the first portion of the trek was uphill away from sea level and into the nearby California hills and mountains.
I immediately had doubts that I could continue beyond the first few days of our journey. My 56-year-old (to the day of the start of the walk), freshly repaired legs were no match for the climb in elevation and the rigorous amount of steps needed each day to reach the sandy beaches of South Carolina in our targeted 6 month time frame.
With restricted blood flow in my lower extremities, oxygen, a key component for hard-working muscles, was not reaching my feel at calves at the necessary rate to respectively keep them from getting numb and cramping. Numb feet become very sore, and cramping calves make each step miserable. It was after day three that I had my doubts about taking another step.
Daniel and I spoke that afternoon and it was decided that I needed to get back to basics. It didn’t hurt that we tackled most of the incline over those first few days, however assessing our pace, the miles walked each day, and most importantly the amount and duration of rest stops needed, was in order. The next day would be more of a test run, or walk if you will.
I backed off the ten miles we covered each of the first 3 days, the vast majority of which were uphill, down to seven miles. The pace was reduced a bit, and more 30 second to 1 minute rest stops were added. The combination of these two things lessened the demand of oxygen the lower leg muscles needed to perform their duties, and we saw the light shining at the end of the tunnel. My fear of continuing had turned to hope.
From that point throughout the entire journey, there were still days in which the pain and numbness was prevalent, however, it was tolerable for the most part. We were able to add miles to our daily walking goal, based on the terrain, and occasionally we reachead our initial daily goal of 20 miles.
Many people have asked what it was like to get up every morning, day after day, and go out and walk 10-20 miles. Were you tired? Sore? Dreading the day? The answer not really. Quite honestly, I felt good most mornings, without stiffness or soreness, and looked forward to what we were going to encounter out on the roads and trails. I was kind of surprised how our bodies adapted. Sure, there were bouts of exhaustion, but nothing that getting a good night’s rest didn’t resolve.
The challenges continued with extreme weather conditions throughout the trip. The California desert in October was relentless. Not a cloud in the sky, day after day, and temperatures that consistently hit or exceeded 100 degrees in the midday sun. That was a mirror opposite to the weather we confronted around the holidays. The heat turned to ice storms and sub freezing temperatures that are not conducive to questionable circulation and blood flow in the legs and feet. It also isn’t a friend to RV living, just saying.
A combination of these challenges, along with a few “interruptions” (like adopting a dog) put us considerably behind schedule and made it difficult to find the time to properly promote our cause and thus continue to raise funds. Our estimated time frame for completion was in jeopardy of doubling, which in turn put a strain on finances to some degree, and getting back home to work, friends and family (not necessarily in that order).
About the time that the cold weather hit, an opportunity arose for me to continue my career in the business world, and it was a good one. The money, and the type of work was very compelling to me fitting in with my skills and experience. Balancing the facts that the cold, wet and windy weather made it difficult to walk and RV, that we were significantly behind schedule, that the budget was tightening, and I wasn’t feeling 100% (various things), the offer to come back to Michigan and jump back into to corporate America (not necessarily what anyone wants to do if given the choice) had to be considered.
After quite a few discussions with Kate, who was with me every step along the way, and an integral component to the success of this project, we decided to accept the job offer and postpone the remainder of the walk. Postpone is the key word here. We figured that there was no rule book that said we had to do it all at once, and quite honestly, living in today’s world can be expensive no matter how frugal you are. Retirement is a few years away, so knowing we can physically and mentally do the walk, and have 1,000 miles under our belt (or shoes I should say), why not make hay while the sun is shining (earn and bank some money for the future) and pick up where we left off at some point in the not too distant future? This break will also allow me to follow up with my doctor and continue to work to repair the damaged arteries in my legs.
Our plans are to get back on the trail and finish what we started. In the meantime, Walk For The Beat has decided to continue to do the work we set out to do, and that is to help people lead more heart healthy lifestyles. We will continue to offer information about diet, fitness, and general heart healthy tips. Additionally, we are committed to helping America’s youth avoid the growing problem of obesity.
I want to conclude by thanking everyone that has supported us. Dr. Kazziha, Anne Klauke, my good friend Daniel Yowell, Pati Root, our family and friends, and all the people who have attended our fundraisers and donated money to our organization to help fight heart disease. I have one message for all of you, it’s only just begun!
Love to all!