Thursday, August 4, 2011

60 Miles is Shorter Than it Seems

By John Welsh

The reaction that people have when I tell them I will be walking 60 miles for breast cancer will never get old to me. This year is my fifth year walking in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day For the Cure and just today the owner of our company asked me about it.

"So, when's your next walkathon?" he always calls it a walkathon, and that's ok with me because the company has donated generously for every walk that I have done.

"It's in November this year. I'm doing San Diego this time."

"Oh, San Diego should be nice. Remind me how far this walk is."

I pause getting ready for the reaction, because even though he has heard it before, I know that the reaction will be good. I say, "It's 60 miles."

"60 miles! Jeez that's quite a long way!"

A lot of times when I tell people this little factoid they will respond similarly. Sometimes they will ask why on earth I would want to walk that distance. The answer to that question is quite simple, I will get to that later. Sometimes they tell me that they would rather just donate than walk that distance. Whatever the response is, it's usually pretty entertaining.

Maybe it's just me, but when I became a 3-Day walker I started to view distance a little bit differently. I didn't notice it right off the bat, but it has definitely changed my view. Here's just a couple of ways that happened:

  • I live in Texas. I think for most people, living in Texas means that you drive everywhere. It doesn't matter if where you are going is half a mile away (sometimes even less) or it's 30 miles away, you're hopping in the truck or SUV (this IS Texas) and driving there. It's hot, so you can't blame us too much. When I started training I would try to map out something along the walking paths near the house, nothing too exciting. My friends would ask how far I walked on a training walk and when I told them eight miles, they would comment, "I didn't know you could even walk that far in Flower Mound!" (the town that I lived in). It got me thinking, if I could walk this far for training walks, why can't I walk this far for other things. I started planning walks to meet the family when we were going somewhere. Soccer games, to get a drink at the convenience store. As long as it was somewhere that it didn't matter that I was a little sweaty or I didn't have to be there in short order I would start walking there and it's pretty cool to do that, especially when you think like this: I'm walking to the convenience store in the fight against breast cancer. It kind of makes a lot of the things you do seem a lot more meaningful.
  • Kind of along the lines as the last item, when I would drive somewhere I would always keep an eye on the tachometer in the car so that I could see how far a place was to determine if it was walkable. I also keep an eye out for the all important sidewalks to make a better walking experience.
  • The last way I'm going to talk about how my view of distance has changed took a little longer than the first year to come across, but it's probably the most important. That first year, while I was raising money for the cause I think my primary focus was making it through the 60 miles on the walk. Walking 60 miles was the key. When I think about it now, I don't do the 3-Day for the Cure to walk 60 miles. Don't get me wrong, I'll still walk that distance because I think getting out there and helping to raise awareness about the cause is just as important as the money. What I'm saying is that if I ended up with an injury that took me out of walking after 10 miles I would be ok with that. It took me a really long time to get to that point, there's a certain pride of being able to walk that many miles and tell people that you did it. Once you get there though, it makes walking 60 miles a lot more enjoyable without worrying about whether you will make it or not.

So what's my scatterbrained point in writing about all this? I guess there's a couple. First off, when you get involved in the 3-Day for the Cure you're going to change in more ways than you think. Just look at me, I changed in just the simple way that I looked at mileage.

The second is for those of you that are on the fence about doing the 3-Day because you're concerned about the physical aspect of it. I'm not going to lie, 60 miles is a lot. My first year walking I was the only member of my team that made it all 60 miles and I think that was from pure stubbornness on my part. But you have to remember the point of all this. You're not doing the walk to walk 60 miles, you're doing it to save lives and to find a cure for breast cancer. If distance is your main reason for not doing the walk, I hope that you'll take the time to adjust how you view that distance and re-consider doing the 3-Day for the Cure.

You're absolutely right, John!  My team did a training walk weekend of 23 miles on Saturday and 21 on Sunday (something like that).  When I got to work on Monday, people would usually ask me what I walked over the weekend.  When I told them those numbers, they were usually in shock and thought I was crazy for doing it in the summer heat in Florida.  As proud as I am about the mileage I accomplished being involved in the walk, it felt like it wasn't such a big deal when you consider the bigger picture.  And now, knowing what I was able to do is a source of strength.  

Thank you so much for sharing this, John!!  Please check out John's blog at 60 Miles - 316,800 Feet Closer to a Cure and support his fifth 3 Day walk (that means he has walked 300 event miles & countless training miles while raising $35,555!!!) by visiting his fundraising page at the 3 Day.  You can also follow him on twitter @60miles.

Next week, Gari Anne of Bead Lovers Korner and her blog of the same name will share with us a little bit about her experiences building her own website.  


Angel Scents said...

John I think it's wonderful what you're doing. Keep it up! It's for a good cause and you're getting healthier because of it! Great post!

Della said...

I know a lot of people do the 3 day, 60 mile walk, and it is for a great cause. I think you, and they, are strong and courageous for doing it.

I have been wanting to do the Lupus Walk for several years, and just haven't been healthy enough to do it. (I have lupus sle) I'm hoping next year is my year!

Then maybe I will be able to tackle the 3 day!

Athena's Armoury said...

Thanks for visiting, Angel!

Della, how far is the Lupus Walk? Maybe it's a good starting point for getting involved in charity walks. Especially with your personal connection to it. The 3 Day is hard, but there's a ton of support along the way and the training really prepares you. If you have any questions, just let me know!