Author Archives: john

Bags!

March 31st, 2011 | Posted by john in Training Tips - (Comments Off on Bags!)

With April showers looming a day away (it always starts pouring on the first day of April, right?) I thought it would be fitting to write about one of my favorite items of rain gear. Truth be told, it is often my only item of rain gear since I don’t mind getting wet myself as long as it isn’t freezing. So read on and you will see how I turned baggies into their own post, albeit a short one.

I have written in here several times about how I always make sure to pack ziplock bags (though it doesn’t have to be any particular brand, but everyone understands what I mean when I say ziplock). They are handy for a variety of things and I thought I would spend a little time talking about what I use them for and why I pack them not only for the event but also for every training walk that I go on.

Phone Case

My phone is probably the most expensive thing that I carry with me on the walk. I use it as a phone, camera, video camera plus a device to update my social networking and blog stuff. When it rains, the last thing that I want to happen is for my phone to get damaged from water. While it is not always in it, I always have a spare bag for it in the event of inclement weather.

On a training walk last year, we got hit by some unexpected rain when we were still several miles from the cars. Thankfully, I carried enough bags not only to keep my phone dry, but also to let the people I was walking with snag a bag and keep theirs dry. I found out something neat on that day. If you have a touch screen phone, you can still use the touch screen through the bag! I was even able to place a call through it, but the audio was understandably a little muffled.

First Aid

Everything that I put into a first aid kit usually goes into a baggie. I separate it out by type: one bag for pills like ibuprofen and stuff, one bag for band aids (the wrappers done stand up to moisture very well even if it’s not raining!), the tape I use for blisters (it will stick to everything you put with it and it’s a lot easier to get it unstuck from a bag than say a sock).

Socks!

Yes, I have said ti store your socks in baggies before, but I thought I should say it again. There are two reasons that I like to use baggies for socks:

1. To keep them dry before I get them on my feet.

2. To keep the smelly used socks from stinking up the rest of my gear.

Enough Reasons, Here’s Some More Details

When you are buying bags for y our 3-Day for the Cure experience or for a simple training walk, I recommend a variety of bag sizes depending on what you are carrying. I use snack size bags for things like pills, my phone and other smaller items. I use sandwich size bags for socks, my foot tape and other items of medium size. Then when it comes to packing I get the one and two gallon sizes to fit clothes in, plus garbage bags for anything larger.

I realize that writing a post about baggies is probably not the most interesting thing to write about, but I figured that it is something that I take with me every time I go, so I should probably write about it for people that haven’t thought about it! Don’t forget to bring extra baggies!

 

My 3-Day

March 22nd, 2011 | Posted by john in General - (Comments Off on My 3-Day)

60 miles over 3 days just seems like too easy of a way to describe the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. There is so much more to it than that, even before you get to the event. A lot of people have tried to explain what the 3-Day is and what to expect when you get on the walk. I wanted to take a shot and explain what MY 3-Day involves. Everyone has different experiences that come together to make their event one to remember and I wanted to focus this post on what makes the 3-Day special for me. I’m going to try and avoid re-hashing a lot of things that are just what to expect on the walk and stick to the things that really keep me coming back to this remarkable event every year.

I have thought over and over about how best to write about my 3-Day. At first I thought about talking about how this event has changed what it means to me over the years, starting with it being an awesome physical challenge and something to do with my sister the first year to a meaningful event with tons of people that I’m walking for now. But as I focused on that, I realized that there were several different aspects of the walk that didn’t change that I enjoy, even though my reasons for continuing on have changed. So, with that in mind, here are the aspects of my 3-Day that I love.

Training

When talking about an event like the 3-Day, most people won’t mention that training was anywhere in their top X number of favorite things about it.  A lot of people wouldn’t even consider training as a part of the 3-Day because it happens before you actually get on event.  In my mind the two go hand in hand together.  I was never one to go out and go to the gym or exercise fo the heck of it on my own.  In fact, the first training walk that I went on for the 3-Day was the first time I had actually gone out and walked just to walk probably since I had to do it in my college physical education class.  So the reason I am out there training is because of the 3-Day for the Cure and the reason that I can do the walking on the 3-Day is because of the training.  Without one, there would not be the other (or at least the other wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable).

I will fully admit that getting started training is really hard for me.  Just getting motivated at the beginning of a 3-Day season is difficult to do, but when I start walking and get training, there is something wonderful about being there.  I do a lot of training on my own.  Which means, when I go out and walk there is a lot of alone time for me to think things over, come up with things to write on this page, think of fund raising ideas and also think through general things that are going on in my life.  It’s just some private time to mull things over.  Sure there can be distractions, cell phone calls, text messages, traffic, other walkers, etc, but in general it’s time I get to myself.

On the occasions that I get to walk with other 3-Day participants, it’s really nice too.  Often I’m walking with people I haven’t met before and sometimes I’m walking with people I don’t see that often.  It’s nice to have new conversations with new people and to hear their stories and to be able to tell the stories that people you know are tired of hearing!

So yes, training is one of the things that makes the 3-Day for the Cure what it is for me.  I know it’s not part of the actual event, but if it weren’t for training then I would not have nearly as good a time on event.  I would just be sore and blistered!

Fund Raising

Probably the number one reason for everyone to participate in the 3-Day is to find a cure for breast cancer.  This can’t be done without monetary donations that walkers like me collect from friends, family, co-workers and ourselves.  Looking back after a 3-Day for the Cure event and seeing what funds you have raised is a great thing.  If you ask her, my wife will probably tell you that I enjoy fund raising and that it’s just something I can do.  Just like training though, it’s really hard for me to get started and go out and ask people for money.  I have to get over the initial jitters and remind myself that I’m not asking for the money for me, I’m asking for it to help find a cure.

Family

So by now you may be thinking, “Geez, this guy only considers things that are A. Before the actual walk and B. One of my least favorite things to do to be part of his 3-Day, why would I want to do a 3-Day for the Cure??  We’re getting to some of the things you might think are more pleasant, or at least less unpleasant than walking and asking people for money.  Every year that I have walked in the 3-Day I have walked with a family member.  I did one walk last year that didn’t include a family member and it was kind of weird.  Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but it was the first time walking without them and I definitely missed them.  Family is one of those things that is an important part of the 3-Day for me.

For the last three years my sister has walked with me in the DFW 3-Day for the cure and I have always looked at that time as special in a way more that the 3-Day already is special.  We both have kids now and we live in different states, so the time that Julie and I get to spend together just the two of us is few and far between.  Being on the 3-Day is one of those chances where yes, even though there are thousands of other walkers out there with us, feels kind of like this special thing that we get to share.  I enjoy poking fun at her sighs when she comes to a hill that she doesn’t want to go up, or laughing when she gets goofy when she’s tired.  Having family on the 3-Day is just one of those things that makes the 3-Day for the Cure even more special for me.

This year, I’m excited to have not only my sister, but my sister-in law, niece and my wife on the 3-Day.  They all decided to join up and I’m excited for the memories that will be made together!

The Strangers

Everyone that has walked with me on the 3-Day will tell you that I go all in for the phrase that “there is no such thing as a stranger on the 3-Day”.  I enjoy meeting new people on the walk (or on training walks!) and even keeping in touch with them after the event.  I’ll freely admit that I’m the best at remembering names from day to day, especially when I meet so many new people in three days, but I assure you that everyone I meet holds a special place in my heart.

If you happen to meet me on a walk and you want me to remember you, give me a card with your name and e-mail address on it!  I can assure you that, while it may take a little bit of refreshing, I will remember you in the long run.  I still keep in touch with several people I met two and three years ago.  My first year walking, I was so overwhelmed that I honestly didn’t really meet that many people!

The Impromptu Cheering Stations

I will say that the normal cheering stations are great and that everyone will tell you that, so I’m not excluding them from my list because I don’t like them, I just feel that it’s pretty normal for people to mention them as something great about the 3-Day.  The impromptu cheering stations are what really blow me away though.  When I say “impromptu” I mean the cheering stations that aren’t on the route card and you just come around the corner and there’s people there cheering you on.  The schools really rock at doing this and walker stalkers are good at organizing these as well. It’s really great to be surprised by people cheering you on, especially when it looks so organized!

I STILL to this day think about the students at W.T. White High School that came out and made SO much noise on both sides of the sidewalk when we came by their school.  It was after normal school hours and they were still out there cheering everyone on.  What an awesome impromptu cheering station that was, I was so glad to be able to see that last year!

I’m Rambling

The truth is, I could name hundreds of things that make the 3-Day special for me.  There are plenty that other people have pointed out that are just as important: opening and closing ceremonies, people dressing up, crying (yes, crying), camp life and so much more.  They are all very important to me.  But when I came up with the idea to write about what makes a 3-Day a 3-Day for me, these things readily came to mind.  I’m sure that if I gave myself all the space I could ever want then I would never get this post done and it would just go on forever and you wouldn’t be reading it now.  So what are your maybe out of the norm favorite things about the 3-Day?

 

Donate a Mammogram – Part 1

March 14th, 2011 | Posted by john in General - (1 Comments)

It’s that time of year! Time for me to offer to dress up funny on the 3-Day for the Cure in order to elicit donations! Please take a look and donate if you can at: http://walk60.com/donate

 

It’s a Little Early

February 10th, 2011 | Posted by john in General - (1 Comments)

It’s about this time of year every year that I look at my fund raising status and I start to worry.  Not because the 3-Day for the Cure is all that close, I’m walking in the last walk of the season this year so I still have a good amount of time to get there.  But despite all that time, I start running through all these doubts in my mind about whether I can do the fund raising again this year.  I looked at my fund raising earlier today and saw that it was still at $68.  That’s $2232 away from the minimum that I need in order to do the walk.  So that’s a little frightening.

I always start to think, “Are people going to donate this year?” or “Maybe they’re tired of supporting me as I do the walks,” and a number of other worrisome thoughts.  And really, when I look back at something I said a few months ago about having to average $200 a month in order to make your goal, I’m way below that number right now.  I think I’m probably at $15 per month so far. I didn’t do the math, that’s just a guess.  But then I start to think about what I followed it up with: you’re not always going to be raising that much money.  There are some months where you will be getting donation notices every day.  I will admit that usually around March to April is when I really start seeing a lot more donations come in.  It also happens to be when I really start pushing a lot more for donations than normal, probably because of the worry that I start to feel around this time of year.

I guess where I’m going with all of this is that it’s a little bit early to start worrying.  I realize that the people walking in Boston, it may seem like the right time to start worrying, but you still have almost half a year.  Just put your fund raising drive into gear and I’m sure that you’ll be able to make it there.

Now, while I may not be doing a whole right now directly to fund raise, I have started thinking about what I am going to do for my fund raising efforts this year.  That, I think, is the important thing if you want to be able to raise a decent amount of money:  if you’re not fund raising, you should be thinking about what you will be doing next for fund raising. With that in mind, I wanted to go ahead and put up some of the ideas that I have been playing with that may make the cut for fund raising this year:

  • Businesses – This is probably going to be the new thing I try this year.  I always try to do something new each year, so this will probably be it.  I have talked about this several times with several people that I know and I think that this year I am really going to devote some time to contacting businesses to see if they would make a donation to my fund raising. I’ll probably stick to local independent businesses so that I don’t have to talk to a corporate office in a far off land or something.
  • Door to Door – I raised a decent amount doing this last year, so I will probably continue on with it again this year.  I’ll probably wait until most of the school fund raisers are done so that people don’t feel like they are getting inundated with people asking for money.
  • The Video – I really enjoyed doing my video fund raiser last year and it got really good results.  I think that this year the challenge may be to get me into a pink tu-tu in addition to the bra.  Still working out the details on this, but I’m sure that in the next month or so it will go into effect.
  • Video Game Tournament – This idea has been on my list several times and has just never really made it to execution.  I would really like to get a video game store to agree to host the tournament (there’s a local store that has a room that is set up for something very similar to this) and use the entry fee as a donation.  Again, we’ll see what happens with this as it really hasn’t developed in the past.

OK, so those are the ideas so far.  Please share in comments if you have any ideas on fund raisers that I should do or modifications to any of the fund raisers listed.  Some of you may have noticed that The Speed Gamers are not on my list this year.  It turns out that most of the guys are graduating from college and will not have as much time to do so many marathons as they had in the past.  They have decided to choose 3 or 4 charities that they will raise money for because of that.  While I would love to work with them again, I know that they have charities that are near and dear to them, so I understand if my 3-Day walk is not selected.  They have done an awesome job over the past two years helping raise money in the fight against breast cancer and I can’t thank them enough!

I’ve kind of wandered around on topic here a little bit, so I will try to get back on point.  If you’re looking at your fund raising and getting concerned right now, then take a deep breath.  You are not yet to the point of worrying.  As long as you are doing SOMETHING to advance your fund raising goals, even if that something is trying to decide what you will do to raise money this year, then you are moving in the right direction to meet your goal.  I wish you luck in all your fund raising this year!

If you would like to help out with my fund raising, please consider making a donation at: http://60miles3days.com/donate

 

Application

January 25th, 2011 | Posted by john in General - (5 Comments)

Less than two weeks ago, many of you saw the e-mail that the 3-Day for the Cure sent out.  It was titled “Could You be the National Spokesperson for the 3-Day for the Cure?”.  I had to stop for a moment when I read the title for that e-mail.  I had only seen it once before and it was in 2007 when I was walking in my first 3-Day for the Cure.  At the time, they were looking for the national spokesperson that ended up being Jenne Fromme.

This e-mail meant a couple of things:

First, Jenne Fromme who had, for all intents and purposes, helped focus our pinkness for the past four years was no longer going to be up there on stage year after year.  As she has been the only national spokesperson for this event that I have known, I was a little bit sad about this.  I know that she has her reasons for stepping down, I’m sure it will be nice for her to get back to her regular job.  I sincerely hope that she has much success in the years to come, we’ll miss her at the 3-Day, but we will continue on.

The second thing that the e-mail meant was that this time I could actually apply for the job.  As I said, the first time that I saw the call go out for the national spokesperson was my first year walking.  There was no way that I was going to apply when I hadn’t even done the walk yet.  This time I had a number of years doing this.  I love the 3-Day community and I strongly believe in what we are all fighting for.  I felt that while I may not have the best experience in motivational speaking my passion for the cause might just help me to get through.

So I clicked through the link with instructions on how to apply and found that there were a few requirements that they wanted fulfilled.  One of which was an audition video and the other was an application.  The application would not be accepted without a video.  In the video, the 3-Day for the Cure people wanted you to read through a script which was basically an excerpt from the opening and closing ceremonies.  It was a lot to do and the schedule was tight, there were only 12 short days to get everything turned in.  To add to that, I was traveling almost every single one of those 12 days.  Add to all of that the fact that the job would require a significant part of my time for half of the year.  I would either have to find a new job that didn’t mind me being gone for that long or make some significant changes with my current job or somehow make enough money as the national spokesperson to not have to have another job (which I didn’t believe was possible).

Despite all these odds, I was still going to go for it.  I figured that I could read through the script and do some memorization while I was travelling and then do the recording the day before it was due and turn it all in on the day it was due just in time.  Of course, plans don’t always work out like we hope they will.

I got home on the day that the announcement was made and I told my wife that Jenne had stepped down as the spokesperson to which she replied, “Oh, you should apply for that job!”

Well, one hurdle down, or so I thought.  I replied that I was going to but that there would be a lot of stuff to be worked out if I happened to get it because of the time commitment required.  She hadn’t at first realized that this involved going to each of the 3-Day events.  When she realized that she said, “there’s no way you’ll be able to do that.”  I just told her that if it got that far then I would figure out what to do.  I pressed onward.

Travel did not provide as many opportunities to review as I thought it would.  I drove to Dallas, did work, back to Austin for a day and a half which I spent enjoying my family.  Drove back to Dallas, then flew to Orlando.  Each time I thought I would have the opportunity either ended up being nothing or significantly less time for me to review the script.  I flew back to Dallas on the 21st and then had to drive to Austin.  I got in at 1:30 in the morning on the 22nd and went to sleep.  And when I woke up I was still tired.  The focus that I had counted on having to be able to complete the video the day before the deadline was missing.  There was no way I was going to get this done.  By this time, I was pretty bummed.  Aside from the obstacles that seemed like the hardest, I had not even managed to get past the obstacle that I thought would be the easiest:  getting a video of me recorded.

While I was in Orlando a package had come for me from the 3-Day.  I had been really curious about what it was, Kristen had offered to open it for me and send a picture, but I opted to wait until I got home and see it for myself.  I posted about it on Twitter and several of the 3-Day Tweeps really wanted me to have my wife go ahead and open it so that they could see what it was.  I waited and on Saturday I was really glad that I did.  I opened it once I was a little more coherent and here’s what I found:

It’s a framed “flag” with information about when I was top fund raiser last year.  When I opened it I stopped worrying about the fact that I wouldn’t be able to complete the application.  This was sort of like my sign that I needed to keep pushing to raise more funds so that we can kick breast cancer’s butt.  Yeah, it would be pretty cool to be the spokesperson for the 3-Day for the Cure.  I would LOVE to be able to do it, but this isn’t my year.  There were too many obstacles in my way and I wasn’t really willing to concede, not defeat, to reality.  Maybe someday in the future it will be my time, but I’m hoping that time never comes.  Not because I don’t want the job, but because I hope that we find a cure and we won’t need a national spokesperson for the 3-Day for the Cure before that time gets here.