In a few hours, I will be getting up at midnight  to start  the 100,000 step challenge. I have been slowly ramping up with 20,000 steps. Then 40,000 steps, and last Friday, 70,000 steps. Here’s my journal courtesy of iHealth from my iPhone:You feel like a kid inching a little further in the ocean, making sure you can stomach the cold sea water. With these last 70,000 steps, the water is up to my shoulders, and now I feel confident I can take the full dive.

Depending on your stride, 100,000 steps is somewhere between 40 and 50 miles. Since I am doing this challenge so late in the season, there isn’t much light for walking. The sun comes up at 6:30 am and sets at 4:30 am.  This 100,000 steps could  take the measure of twenty hours for me to accomplish so I’ll start in the dark on the treadmill and return to the dark on the treadmill.

I will give a full report on what to take for the walk, what to wear, and how to prepare yourself. People ask me why I am doing this. It is for three reasons.

  1. I am doing the walk because it is hard, because I am sixty-six years old and I need a challenge that pushes me big time but perhaps not to the extreme.
  2. This old guy is also walking for an exceptional eight-year-old, Andrei Marti. Andrei has raised over 20,000 dollars for Juvenile Diabetes Research before his eighth birthday. I thought is was time to play it forward and help raise money for Andrei’s Diabetic alert dog. You can learn more about it and donate here.
  3. Tomorrow is Black Friday. In honor of the big day, the sports concern, REI, of which I am a co-op member, is closing its one hundred and sixty-six stores and celebrating #optoutside by encouraging people to enjoy a day of outdoor activity.

In the synergistic confluence of the Internet, I am also  hoping that REI will find my quest to raise money for Andrei’s dog by writing out a check that will change his life.

I have had the privilege of having dogs all my life, and know what power they can have in every day living. My Corgi, Arthur, has been in training, too. He’ll be joining me for part of the walk.  So I will see you on the other side of this. Hopefully, I will be able to live and tell of it.

Happy Holidays From my Farm to Yours!

Statue of Chief Massasoit on Coles Hill in Plymouth, MA

The first Pilgrims were tradesmen and hat-makers. They had never farmed. They brought no fishing line, no plow, no goats, no hens. The ship inventory log revealed drums and candles. They expected a warmer climate. In the harsh first winter in the new world, forty-five of the one hundred and two Pilgrims perished.

It was the tribe of the Wampanoag Indians and Chief Massasoit , specifically, who equipped the Pilgrims with skills. The Wampanoag taught the small band of settlers the vital aspects of farming, fishing, and hunting. The journals written of the first harvest indicate a great feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. They had different means of dress and social coda. They worshipped distinct gods. Their skin color was dissimilar. Yet, they sat together in one circle.

I grew up watching cowboys and Indians. We were the white Christians. They were the red savages. In the years following that first Thanksgiving, the greatest genocide known on earth occurred as the cowboys proclaimed their right of Manifest Destiny over the great land that became known as the United States.

History and myth are written by the victors. But there is even more terrible beauty in knowing the truth. Today, may we recognize the commonality between us rather than the discords that divide us. Today, may we all know peace and express gratitude for the sheer miracle of being alive. Happy Thanksgiving to all my  brothers and sisters in the great and complicated family of man.

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References: Nathaniel Philbrick, The Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War
Bill Bryson, Made in America: An Informal History of English Language in America

Is it possible to achieve 100,000 steps in a day?  Is it possible for a guy over the age of sixty to achieve 100,000 steps in a day?

Omada Recommends 7,500 Steps A Day

In the last few years, I have done a fair amount of traveling around the world with  friends.  At some point in the course of the day, the question rises from myself or my travel companions: “How many steps did you do today?” Eyes instantly shoot to the screens of the  smart watches, fitbits, or smart phones.

In today’s  techie-metaverse, we talk about walking (rather than driving), in steps, not miles.  I belong to an online community, Omada, which helps people with genetic tendency toward  hyper-tension and Diabetes without the dominant  usage of meds.  Omada recommends that each of us should do 7,500 steps a day for an “active life”.

Shape up America says that 6,000 steps can be reached in a casual gait every hour. That would mean that, at a casual gait, it would take about 17-18 hours to walk 100,000 steps.

In the early part of the summer when I got back from a 40 day tour of Scotland (where my top step day was around 20,000 steps), I thought it would be interesting to look at a 100,000 step day.  It seemed that 50,000 was within reach, but  that 100,000 would be tough. I grew up during the space race. I always loved the quote  President John F. Kennedy made in 1962.  “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” This 100,000 step thing would be hard, but hopefully not too hard.

Surprisingly, when I started to investigate, I could find only one person who had actually done it. He is a thirty-eight year old American  male, who has been practicing CrossFit for the last year-and-a-half. “Pay attention to seams,” he writes, ” take extra caution (!!!) when cutting off the labels. You have no idea how abusive one little label  can be on your tee collar.”

Dying Hard

To me, the most revealing aspect of the blog was his admission during the last quarter of his adventure. He writes, “I want to tell you more about my emotions at 75.000 steps as it was my breaking point. Once my brain realized that I still had to make 25.000 steps, my daily average goal, the only thought I had was to stop. How on earth was I  supposed to walk another 25K after all I’d been through?! I wanted to give up, my motivation dropped, and I was close to bursting out of tears like a little girl, calling my wife for picking me up or whatever – as long as this was all over!

“I sat on the bench, massaging my exhausted calves, and thought what to do next. I knew I had gone so far, but the worst part was just about to begin. In  a few minutes the shock was gone, I pulled myself together and started figuring out the route. Since each curb or stairs made me suffer more, I had to rethink my initial path. So I made a decision to get back to the stadium, run until roughly 90K and then take a longer walking route back home.”

The Challenge

I’m not a masochist, but I think it is important to push through adversity, especially at this stage in the life cycle.  So I called my friend, Thom, from Chicago. He and his wife, Debbie, and I have traveled together to Spain and to Scotland. We are familiar with the “How many steps did you do today?” conversations. I told him about the 38-year-old CrossFit  guy crying at the curb at 75,000 steps.  I said it would not be easy, but either was going to the moon 🙂 Thom said he was in. I live in Massachusetts. He’s in Illinois but we could plan it together to walk on the same day.

We were going to do it this summer with lots of daylight. But you know how it goes…summer turns to fall, and winter is on the horizon. I told him we better do it before the snow hits. So I started my ramp-up training in 18 degree weather two weeks ago. Thom wasn’t really listening to me.

I can push to do 20,000 on a good day, but could I push to 40,000? That was my goal for my ramp-up. I did it during that 18 degree weather…but at least it was sunny. Here  I am at the 40,000 marker two weeks ago at the Quabbin Reservoir.    

I sent a screen shot to Thom but he didn’t  really respond other than to say “impressive”.  He does 40,000 all the time. I don’t think he believed I was truly, really ramping up in training, something you should really do after fifty, certainly after you hit sixty.

It Looks Like I Am Doing This

But if I can do 40,000, can I do 70,000, and if I can do 70,000, can I do 100,000? And can I do 100,000 this Friday? It looks to be sunny and it is Black Friday and so the footpaths shouldn’t be too occupied.