summer

Summer 2017 Charity Walks

Have you ever been driving around running errands, minding your own business, and wanted to stop by your favorite donut shop, when suddenly you come across a big orange construction sign saying, ROAD CLOSED, and you feel like your whole day is ruined. Then, to make matters worse, you find out the reason the road is closed is because there are hundreds (or thousands) of people participating in a Walk/Run event that benefits a super amazing charity, so you drive home and feel doubly bad 1) because you didn’t participate in such a great event and 2) because even though it’s clearly an important event that will benefit many, you’re still pretty upset your route was blocked and you didn’t get a donut.

I’ll admit it, I have.

HOWEVER, I’ve also been amongst the crowds, running and/or walking for a great charity that I care about, and I can honestly say it is way more satisfying than any donut. (Which is saying something, because, you know, #donutsarelife)

With the arrival of summer right around the corner, we’re in for a season of beautiful mornings, perfect for both donuts and charity walks—and if you are living life to fullest: both—and since one of the hardest parts about signing up for a walk/run is knowing which ones are available to sign up for, I figured I’d do the work for you.

WARNING: this does take away the “I had no idea this was happening!” excuse you might have planned to use to not sign up. Sorry about that.

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Relay for Life

Who you’re walking for: American Cancer Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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Light the Night

Who you’re walking for: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Who you’re walking for: Alzheimer’s Association

Distance: 2-3 miles

Find more information here

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AIDs Walk

Who you’re walking for: multiple AID’s related charities

Distance: 6.2 miles (a 10k course)

Find more information here

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Strut Your Mutt

Who you’re walking for: Best Friends Animal Society

Distance: varies

Find more information here

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March of Dimes

Who you’re walking for: March of Dimes Foundation

Distance: About 3 miles

Find more information here

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Walk for Wishes

Who you’re walking for: The Make A Wish Foundation

Distance: 3.1 miles (5k course)

Find more information here

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Walk MS

Who you’re walking for: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Distance: 1-3 miles

Find more information here

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Buddy Walk

Who you’re walking for: National Down Syndrome Society

Distance: varies based on location

Find more information here

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Breast Cancer 3-day

Who you’re walking for: Susan G Komen for the Cure

Distance: 60 miles over 3 days

Find more information here

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I’d recommend any and all of these and any others you can find. There’s truly no greater feeling than helping someone, and being a part of events like these where you can see and feel the direct impact of the difference you are making is unbelievable.

So I challenge you this summer to get out there and be a part of something bigger. Walk, run, sit down and cry, I’ve done all three at a variety of different races and I’m a better person because of it.

Also, be sure to check out this website to find more charity walks near you, and if you know of any other upcoming runs/walks that benefit great charities, please share them below!

How to Go to a Concert

This past weekend my roommates and I went to KROQ’s 25th annual Weenie Roast & Fiesta. It’s an all day celebration of food, friends and amazing music. This year’s lineup included The Revivalists, New Politics, Judah & the Lion, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, DREAMCAR, Lana Del Rey, Paramore, 311, Cage the Elephant, Imagine Dragons, Incubus, and Lorde.

To be brief: we went, we saw, we danced, we sang and we didn’t get sunburned, so it’s safe to say we conquered! And since the coming summer offers plenty of concerts and festivals alike, I thought I’d give you some tips, based both on what we did right, what we did wrong, and what we’ll do better on next time.

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1) Hydrate!

I know this may sound like a cliché mom lesson, but you can never underestimate the value of some high quality H20. When you’re going to be in the sun all day and you’re going to want to drink a beer and dance and let some troubles of a long week melt away, you’re going to need some water to have your back. It will keep you healthy, it will keep you moving, it will keep you—quite literally—alive. You don’t want to be the person that passes out from dehydration and requires the hot EMT to wheel you away in pity, you want to be the one getting free cardio jumping up and down to your favorite band and catching the lead singer’s guitar pick so you can tell the story for the rest of time.

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2) Wear Sunscreen

Long story short: I sunburn like it’s my job. And during the summer my nose, shoulders and thighs fall victim to the sun like Kel does orange soda.

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So lather it up. Lather, lather, and repeat. That way you’ll be able to wake up the next morning without feeling like someone snuck into your room overnight and lit you on fire.

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3) Dress Smart

I get it. You just bought a new dress, or jacket, or pair of shoes. They’re unique and adorable and have strategically placed cutouts, and you want to show them off. Don’t let me stop you. But please take into account a few factors from this poem:

It’s going to be hot as hell.

You’re going to sweat something swell.

And think of how long you’ll be there, please consider that as well.

Because I get it: fashion

You’re living your passion

But just think of your skin and how it will be…rashin’

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4) Be Patient

One of the best parts of any concert or festival is the food and drinks. At Weenie Roast, the object of my sister’s affection was tacos. Unfortunately, the restaurant hired to provide such had, shall we say, sub-par service. They were severely understaffed and intensely overwhelmed by the demand, causing the line to move incredibly slow. It took some serious strategy for us to get what we so desired to eat while not missing any artists we so desired to hear. And while the tacos and carne asada fries ended up being INCREDIBLE, it was hard not to feel justifiably frustrated by the whole thing. That being said however, it’s important to remember that the vendors at these kinds of events do not show up with the intent to ruin your day. They’re not behind the counter plotting, mischievously calculating how they can make your experience worse than you hoped. So be patient. Don’t yell, don’t heckle, don’t assume you’re more important than anyone else. Because we all want tacos, and if we’re patient, they will come.

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4) Sing

Key point to remember: you paid money to come see your favorite artists. So don’t do yourself the disservice of submitting to your inhibitions. Sing you heart out. Loudly and terribly. It’s worth it.

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(actual footage of my friends and I this weekend)

This goes hand in hand with #4. Move! Move yourself in every direction, whichever direction your body wishes. I don’t care if people are watching. I don’t care if people are laughing. The way I see it, if people are wasting their time watching/judging me have the time of my life, there’s only one loser in that situation, and it’s not the person whipping their hair back and forth to an Imagine Dragons song.

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6) Keep an Open Mind

There were 12 artists at Weenie Roast, which meant there were a number of songs played that I didn’t know. And while not every artist was necessarily someone I’d listen to on a regular basis, it was still a treat to see someone in their element, doing something that they love. So don’t count out the bands you don’t know. Don’t shut down and tune out until an artist you do know comes on stage. Give the new guys a chance, they might just blow your mind!

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7) Listen to the Lyrics

One of the best parts of seeing someone live is getting to experience them as people, not just sounds on the radio. It helps you connect to the artists as just that: artists. Music is one of the most beautiful mediums artists have to express themselves and sometimes even the simplest lyric can change your outlook on life. During Incubus’ set, I found myself overwhelmingly inspired by a lyric that I’ve heard upwards of a thousand times over the years:

Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there, with open arms and open eyes, yeah.

It’s from “Drive”, one of the band’s most well known songs, and as he sang it, I couldn’t help but get goosebumps. He’s making a promise to life. To be ready for the tomorrow it brings, even if that includes hardships. He’s promising to live for tomorrow, because appreciates the value of getting the chance to live it. The lyric stuck with me for the rest of the show and still sits with me now as I write this. It makes me excited about tomorrow and reminds me to appreciate it, now matter what it may bring.

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8) Go!

I know the excuses: it will be hot, it will be long, it will be dusty, it will be crowded. And while I have agreed with all of these at some point, and have used (and will continue to use) them willingly, I can’t deny the magic in going. Sometimes you just need to get out there and dance and sing and laugh and eat terribly good food. So go for it! You won’t regret it.

Jeffrey.

It was 2007 when I met the first love of my life. He was chiseled and grey and I did not see him coming.

It was a hot September afternoon and I was out shopping with my family. My brother was long over the family outing and had requested that we grab lunch to refuel before continuing. My parents pointed at a tall blue building, explaining that once we made our rounds inside, we would break for lunch and, much to his delight, my brother could pick the place.

When we ducked into the building I expected a burst of cool air to rescue me from the heat, but when I saw him sitting there, it was as if a fire took hold of my heart.

The room was filled with people, none of whom seemed to notice how he radiated the corner of the room like I did. He was practically glistening. I opened my mouth to try and steer us towards him, but my family started to mosey in the complete opposite direction of the mysterious stranger who had just stolen my heart. I walked behind them, half feigning interest in what they were saying, half trying to catch glimpses of his smooth skin in the fluorescent light.

Then everything started to get blurry. Colors didn’t matter, voices didn’t matter, money didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was getting close to him.

After what seemed like an eternity, we began to approach him and my heart started to race. Was this love at first sight? Was this the beginning of a love story to be told until the end of time? Had I just become Rachel McAdams in the Notebook?!

I tried to act casual, act like each step towards him didn’t bring my chest a long hard punch from my thumping heart.  How could I feel like this? How was it that I didn’t know anything about him and yet there was something inside me that just knew he was going to be in my life forever?

My family stopped a few feet from him but turned their backs to look at something else. I brushed my hair off my shoulder, trying to glance at him behind me. My chin brushed against my shoulder as my head turned and my neck let out a loud, painful CRACK to which I groaned a deep, hearty, “ughhhhhh.”

My brother turned to look at me, amused with the guttural noise that had just erupted from my throat only a few feet from the Ryan Gosling to my Rachel McAdams.  He then cracked his neck and scowled at him before covering my eyes and wishing I could click my heels together and Dorothy my way out of there.

Suddenly a man approached us and offered to introduce us to someone special. I watched as he outstretched his hand toward the beautiful creature I’d be longing for, allowing me to finally turn and face him directly.

“This is Jeffrey,” he said.

“He one of the toughest and most reliable guys I know.”

I took a few big steps toward him and looked into his eyes. They sparkled back at me and I almost got emotional.

I looked back at my mom and nodded my head, telling her with my eyes that this is the one I’ve been looking for. She looked at my dad who, with no hesitation took his own steps towards Jeffrey and began pacing laps around him. He took in every detail. He look at his eyes, kicked his feet, and patted him on the head, it all seemed satisfactory to him.

My mom embraced me and my sister did the same. After all this time we had finally found the one for me.

Jeffrey, the storm grey Saturn Ion was mine from that day forward.

I can’t believe our 70,000th mile anniversary* is already around the corner and we are just as happy as when we met on that sweltering day in September. That, my friends, is true love.

 

*Feel free to send gifts, we are registered at Autozone & Target.

The Road to Mt. Whitney (Part 4)

I have a white board calendar hanging on the wall in my room that I change at the beginning of every month. I spend a solid 15 minutes marking up all the happenings of each month, studying the days ahead. So it was surreal writing those 9 letters on the third week of the month.

Mt. Whitney.

It was really happening.

With the messy black writing staring back at me, I knew that we had officially entered our last month of training. That being said, this month would have to be given the same amount of respect as the past two, if not more. There was no time to be lazy. There was no time to be tired. Cue the music. IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN.

After our last midweek trip up Baldy, we set our alarms for 6:30 the following Saturday for a hike in Malibu at Will Rogers’ State Park. This may still sound early, but it gave us 2 extra hours of sleep than we’d been getting on Friday nights. I stayed up until midnight, like an ANIMAL.

The next day, we did a 4 mile round trip hike and were exhausted, but pleased with the views we found around each turn.

Fast forward to present day, we were heading back to the same trail, but with a little twist.

After completing the same hike a few times over the last year and a half we had become curious as to how far it went in. You start at the park, winding around on a dirt road until you reach a bridge that overlooks the Santa Monica Mountains. Many stop here to take in the green, picturesque views, but we always liked to push past it to a straightaway that sits a little higher up. Normally once we reached the straightaway and took a water break we would head back down, but after some research we discovered that continuing forward puts you on road called Backbone trail. So, with these months of training under our belt, we decided it was time to take on Backbone trail.

In doing research for the hike, it was strange for me to scan the stats, seeing that the roundtrip hike would be around 13 miles, and not being slightly intimidated. 13 was just a number to me now, and it didn’t scare me.

The hike ended up being nice. It was long and dry and hot, but we did it. The big letdown of the whole day was the end. In the past, our training hikes have concluded with big views and cool breezes. Backbone trail however, ended with dirt and a sign. This could have something to do with the fact that it is primarily a mountain biking trail, mapped out to provide a nice 13 mile loop, however I wish there had been more bold print on the write ups I read online.

Examples:

There are no real peaks to signify the end of this trail.

There is a lot of dirt, everywhere.

When in doubt, listen to Katy Perry to get you through this hike.

If you miss the sign you might end up walking an extra mile and a half and possibly get lost in the plethora of dusty forks in the road.

Yes, we did end up walking an additional mile and a half, but not because we missed the sign, more because we kept hoping there would be some sort of satisfying ending. A kind of “Ahhhh, here we are” type finish line that reminded us why we started this hike in the first place. However, there never really was, and by the time we reached 7.5 miles in, all we really wanted was some shade.  All in all however, I would never say that this hike was unsatisfying. We ended up finishing with 15 more miles under our belt and we celebrated with some lunch at a restaurant called “Duke’s”.

Quick tip: 6 words to make any trip to Duke’s a success: Sweet potato fries & Hula Pie.   

After the Malibu hike, we visited our old friends Towsley and Mission Peak for a few mid-week hikes, and started setting the plan for the final week of training.

It started on a Saturday.

You know the drill. The alarm went off at 4:00, we were in the car by 5:00, and we were climbing Mt. Baldy by 6:30. Baldy had become somewhat of a frenemy at this point. I knew its curves and its ups and downs, and I had become incredibly acquainted with the turkey sandwich served at the restaurant at the bottom of the hill. Mt. Baldy didn’t scare me anymore; I knew I could do it. And each time I saw the top, I reminded myself that I could be just as successful on Whitney, as long as I keep my attitude in check.

We did Baldy again that Wednesday and were all happy to wave goodbye as we drove away from its base for the last time (at least for this training session).  I looked longingly at the Andy Gump, silently thanking it for the joy it brought me on that first trip down and hoped that I would never have to squat in it again.

This morning we did Mt. Lowe for the second time. If you’ll recall, the last time we did Mt. Lowe we got turned around trying to take a shortcut and I spent the last mile holding back tears and cursing at every inch of my shoes.

At the time, I hadn’t figured out the right combination of socks and shoe inserts and each step of the downhill made my toes feel like they were the target for a sledgehammer in a carnival game. Today however, my feet had never felt better. With my regular shoe inserts, Super Feet inserts, sock liners and wool hiking socks, my feet felt less like the sledgehammer’s bitch and more like that giggling baby sun in Teletubbies. (Wait, what?)

The drive home from Mt. Lowe was very quiet. We had officially completed our last training hike. It was our last drive home from a Saturday morning hike. It was our last celebration coke at McDonalds. The next time we put on our hiking boots, we would be taking our first steps on Mt. Whitney.

The next few days will consist mostly of packing, organizing, and deep breathing. But also reflecting. While Whitney offers our biggest challenge yet, it is important to realize all the challenges we have overcome to get where we are. I think in a way we have already reached the base of our summit.

Even though I may be sitting on my couch and not looking at the peak of Whitney just yet, I’ve hiked 150 miles to get here. It was no easy feat and when I take my first steps on Whitney I will take note of every bead of sweat it took to get me there. I will remember every 4:00 a.m. wake up call, every sore muscle, every blister, every bruise, because with every ounce of discomfort they brought, I lost a pound of self-doubt.

We leave Wednesday morning and we have a lot to do by then. The climb is going to be far from easy, but with fear and doubt at rest in my mind, I’m already dreaming of where I can go next.


 

The Road to Mt. Whitney (Part 5: The Summit)