Posts Tagged ‘walking’

Tomorrow is April 1st.  It is the first day of Autism Awareness Month.

On Monday, World Autism Awareness Day, hundreds of landmarks and millions of homes, including our own, will be lit up blue.

I hope you will consider lighting it up blue with the rest of us.

Tomorrow will also be exactly 24 weeks before the Boston 13.1 Half Marathon.  I wrote about it a while back (I Want You) when Autism Speaks announced that it was teaming up with 13.1 to be the official charity of the Boston race.  Many of you signed up and we already have over 10% of the slots designated for Team Up with Autism Speaks filled.


If you are sitting on the couch reading this, thinking, I could never do a half-marathon, I want you to stop to reconsider.

Even if you have never run.

Even if you rarely walk.

This is something you can do.

And by signing up with Team Up with Autism Speaks, you are not only taking on the challenge of completing a half marathon (a tremendous personal feat in and of itself), you are taking a pro-active role in making the world a better, more compassionate place for my Brooke and those like her.

As we get closer to the date of the race, I will make another push for the more hard-core runners to join my cause, but today, the day before Autism Awareness Month starts; today, the day my Brooke turns 9 years old (HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROOKE!!!); today, I want to talk to those of you who have been looking for a reason to get off the couch, out from behind the desk, out of the sedentary life-style; especially if you are are the parent of, sibling of, child of, relative of or person with autism – this is a way to get active AND make a difference not only for yourself but for others as well.


Some of you may know the story of how I got into running a little over 3 years ago.  To be clear, I really disliked running, especially any distance over a couple of miles.  Over the years I had tried running on, but it never lasted more than a couple of weeks.  Three and a half years ago, Jess announced that she was going to run a half marathon…on the Cape…in the middle of February.

I thought she was nuts – she had never really run before.  I wasn’t going to let her run a half-marathon in the bitter, winter wind of the Cape alone, so I told her I would run with her.  As I began training, I remember thinking this really sucks.  Long story short, a couple of weeks later something just clicked – I had found the joy in running.

Meanwhile, Jess never did manage to get her training going.  I think a part of her problem was that she really had no guidance as to what to do.  I had no idea what I was doing so I was no help either (I didn’t discover the online running community until mid-summer).  She made an initial effort, but with no plan, the grand idea of running a half simply faded away.


Fast-Forward to about a month ago.  When Jess heard that Boston 13.1 would be open to walkers who could maintain a 16:00 per mile pace, a dream was reborn.

This time however, she had a few things working in her favor:

  • she wasn’t going to be running a half, instead tackling the distance as a walker
  • she would be training during the warmer month, so she wouldn’t have to brave the bitter cold
  • she knew a somewhat experienced runner to help put together a program for her that would ease her into the distance.

And so she started her program 2 weeks ago.  I put together a 26 week walking program that would slowly build up over 6 months to get her to the starting line with confidence and to the finish line without pain.  I drew upon several established programs for walkers and runners including C25K (Couch to 5K) and a modified Hal Higdon program.  The program can be used to walk or run a half-marathon.


I have further modified the program and compressed it to 24 weeks, meaning if you start tomorrow; if you get off the sofa and out of the house tomorrow, you could find yourself walking/jogging/running a half-marathon in September.  As big of a feat as it may seem (and is), it’s not as hard as you may think!

So I would like to encourage you to join me and Jess on September 16th at Suffolk Downs for the Boston 13.1 Half Marathon as part of the Team Up with Autism Speaks Team.  If you are an avid runner, you don’t need the motivation to get out there, but if you’ve been looking for a way to get active and make a difference, this is your chance.

Don’t think about it, because you’ll talk yourself out of it. Just do it. Click —>HERE<— to join the team and then click on the link below to get the 24 Week Walking Training Plan.

YOUR 24 Week Half Marathon Training Plan

You can do this!


AND if you are a Boston local, starting at the end of June, I will be organizing group runs/walks on the weekends leading up to the event along the scenic Boston Marathon course.  It will be a run/walk at your own pace kind of a thing, but we will start and finish together.  I hope you will join us.

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At this time last year I was nervously laughing at my friend Doug, who was trying to convince me to follow through on a promise to run the Vermont 50 with him.  I had made that promise during a moment of idiocy, immediately regretting my words the moment they flew out of my mouth.  There was simply no way he was going to convince me to run such a ridiculous distance.

However, as the date drew near, he turned the pressure up.  In another moment of idiocy, I acquiesced, signing up for my first ultra-marathon.  You can find the long story —>>>HERE<<<—, but the short story is after covering the 50 miles in a little over 11 hours, I immediately cursed Doug out, essentially saying I would never do something so stupid again…

…30 minutes later, I was thinking, “you know?  if I actually trained for this thing, I think I could run this baby in a little over 9 hours.”

Yeah, I know…nutty.

So my plan this summer was to run long miles in anticipation of tackling the Vermont 50 again – this time, fully trained.


Sometimes, plans change.  It turns out that the Boston Autism Speaks Walk is taking place on the same day as the Vermont 50.  No matter I how fast I run, there’s no way I can be in two places at the same time.  I weighed the decision for no more than a split second.  The choice was and is clear – as bummed as I will be on September 30th, 2012 that I will not be running the Vermont 50, I will be walking proudly around the race track at Suffolk Downs, helping to make the world a better place for my baby and those like her.

In the end, it’s all about priorities, and what is more important to a parent than his or her children.


The Vermont 50 isn’t going anywhere (unless of course the Mayan Apocalypse occurs), but maybe my ultra-marathoning friends have a regional Fall 50-miler they could recommend?  Maybe in October?

If you are not running the Boston 13.1 Marathon with Team Up! with Autism Speaks, please consider joining us on September 30th as a member of Team Umizoomi for the Walk (as soon as Jess gets the Team Page set up, I will post the link of the Run Luau Run Facebook Page).


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Dear Friends,

As you know, last year I ran the New York City Marathon, wearing the Autism Speaks logo on my chest.  YOU got me there by helping me raise well over $3,500 before the race.  This year I have chosen to skip the marathon and focus solely on the Boston Walk for Autism.  There are several reasons for this (one being I can only run so many marathons before my legs give out), but suffice it to say that sometimes one must walk to be able to run again.

So why am I walking for Autism Speaks? Why am I asking you once again to help us meet our goals?  I could link you to a dozen blog posts both Jess and I have written about the scientific research that shows incredible promise, or how Autism Speaks continues to do incredible work in their Raising Awareness campaign, or I could tell you about a friend who was surprised at just how many people in her new school community didn’t know what autism was right here in our town, telling me that there is still a long way to go…

But for me, it always comes down to this ..

(and now I’m stealing my wife’s much more eloquent words)

To make a difference.

To ease the path for my girl and so many like her who struggle with autism’s challenges.

To help find answers.

To change lives.

That’s what I’m asking for today.


Because every child deserves the chance to push past the limits of his or her potential.

Because we ALL deserve a world in which these amazing people are full participants.

Because we still have so many more questions than answers. 

Because the answers change lives. 

Because given the right tools, there is nothing – NOTHING – that my baby can’t do. 

Because for the first time in my life, I have no choice but to ask for your help. 

Because we can’t do this alone. 

Please give what you can. 

Because every dollar makes a difference in the lives of children like mine. 

From the bottom of my heart,

Thank you.

I know these are tough times economically, so I ask you to give what you can, and if you can’t, and are so inclined, please pass this along.  The link below will take you to Jess’ fund raising page.  I’m asking you to donate to HER page and not mine because every dollar she raises will be matched by her company – EVERY DOLLAR! So for every dollar you donate to her, you are essentially helping us raise double that!


If, for whatever reason, the link takes you to the Walk’s splash page and asks you to look up a walker, please enter:


LAST NAME: diaryofamom

The link can be a little wonky.

Finally, as added incentive, if we can hit her goal by Walk Day (October 2nd), I will do this for my next marathon (to me, not the dog – Dear PETA, this picture is photoshopped.  I did not dye my dog for real).

Thank you for your continuing support.  I am already in your debt.


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Learn to walk before you run.

– Proverb

A few days ago a friend of mine asked me what I would like for my birthday.  I was a little confused, in part because my birthday was over 3 weeks ago.  She was disappointed that she had missed my surprise party but still wanted to get me something.  I scratched my head.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  A bottle of wine?  Some running gear?  Truth is, most of the “things” that I want are in the “too expensive to ask a friend” category (KSO Treks, a watch, hatphones, a new iMac).  I asked her to let me think about it for a day, but as I walked away, inspiration hit!

“You know what you could get me for my birthday?”

“No, that’s why I’m asking.”

“I’d like you to walk 30 miles in 21 days.”

There was a pause and a look.

“Walking for who?” she asked.  She obviously thought I was asking her to join a charity team.

“For me!  I want you to start walking.  30 miles in 21 days.  You’re always talking about how you want to get started.  Well, let’s call it a present for you and for me.”

She laughed.  Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure she’s not going to do it (though she is thinking about it), but it got me wondering.  What if we all did something like that.  Asking people for the gift of their health – it’s a win-win situation.  Recently Laurie over at My Big Walk posted an excerpt from an article in the Wall Street Journal on the incredible benefits of simply walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  Breast cancer, colon cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression, high blood pressure and diabetes are among the several diseases and conditions that can have their likelihood reduced dramatically by the simple act of walking.

So in the spirit of my 2010 Challenge, I am adding the Gateway Challenge.  I figure if I can get people to start walking regularly, maybe they will see the benefits of walking, and slowly graduate to running.

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