Friday, February 27, 2009

A fundraiser's dream: Little League

I didn't even have to ask for help. When my husband, Mike, found out that our new fundraising plan involved watching baseball, he instantly offered to lend a hand.
The plan: Kelly's cousin, Kathy Jo, has a son who plays Little League. They have no concession stands. Enter the Hiking Chicks. We will buy snacks in bulk, bake some cookies, bring in cases of waters, and set up a table. We anticipate that we will make a killing.
I emailed Mike at work, who confirmed the plan's brilliance and started brainstorming what we could sell. This is the first time that he has actively engaged in a conversation about fundraising. Although he is as supportive of all this as one could hope, let's face it: the guy must be sick of listening to me talk about hiking and fundraising.
But now, baseball is involved. Better yet, Little League. Not only was he a player himself back in the day, but he has visions of one day coaching his (not-yet-existent) son's team.
Suddenly, he is even volunteering to help man the concessions table.
I think this is really generous and helpful of him! I call Kelly to tell her the great news: we'll have help at the games!
That's funny, she says. Her boyfriend offered to help run the table, too.
We have struck a fundraising gold mine: famished, energetic kids and sports-loving significant others.

Welcome to my nightmare...

Let me introduce you to my new dysfunctional relationship.
Yes, it's with a machine, one called the StairMaster, and I'm here to tell you that something nonhuman can send you into a world of emotional highs and lows all within the span of 20 minutes.
I hate you StairMaster. Well, but I kind of love you too.
This machine (pictured above) has become a part of my weekly training schedule. Supposedly (and this is based off brief conversations with my gym's meatheads) the StairMaster is the best cardio machine at LA Fitness, one that will get you "shredded," as one guy in a tank top told me.
That's cool I guess, getting ripped would be nice. But I'm on this stupid machine because it's the best simulation of hiking trails.
Only problem is you are going up the entire time, which is brutal.
As sweat drips from my forehead at about minute eight, I begin to curse at the machine, saying under my breath how much I loathe it. But once I'm back on the trails and the steps come a little easier, I sing the StairMaster's praises.
So I guess I'll keep visiting this machine and maybe as my training continues and I get more strength I'll begin to feel more affectionate toward this big pile of metal. Right now though our relationship is pretty dicey.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Buy a pin, find a cure

We both fell in love with these pins from the moment we saw them. They're pretty, they're unique, and they're meaningful. I've already bought one off myself to attach to my hiking pack.
They're Lucinda pins, designed by a woman who wanted to use her natural talent and creativity to help good causes. She designs the pins and then sells them at a low cost to nonprofits who then sell them to raise awareness and funds.
We got a stash of them from our team captain, who generously let us pick out as many as we wanted (at no cost! Thanks, Cindy!) and asked only that we sell them and put the money toward our fundraising goals.
The pins we are selling look very similar to the one above, except the woman on our pins looks like a hiker. And because the ribbon is pink, the pin can also raise awareness for breast cancer.
Want to buy one? Just donate $10 to me or Kelly (you can get to our fundraising pages by clicking the links on the left side of the page), and we'll send you one!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A hike to remember...ouch

So I wanted to fill everyone in our on Sunday hike, but first I had to regain the use of my body, which was so sore that I could barely muster up the energy to ascend stairs for almost two days.
Writing, as you can imagine, went by the wayside.
I sound like a wimp, I know. But trust me, this hike through the Piestewa Peak Circumference Trail, was no joke.
Meghan and I were scared of this hike from step one. Well, scared might be too strong of a word, but we knew we were in for a challenging morning since the hike received a "tough" rating in our guidebook. And come to think of it we hadn’t tackled one of Cosmic Ray’s “tough” hikes yet.
It's a mere 3.7 miles, which doesn't seem that long. But let me tell you, that is very far when you are going up and down a huge mountain multiple times and when you encounter the unfortunate circumstance of getting LOST!
Yes, we got lost. It was somewhere around 1 mile and we were at the base of the mountain, far from trail #302, which we were supposed to be on. And get this; to get back to our trail another hiker explained to us that we had to venture back up the steep mountain that we had just hiked down. Ugh, the insanity. We took a huge gulp of water and pressed on.
In the end, we clocked in almost 6 miles. We breathed a sigh of relief.Our muscles burned, our shirts were wet and almost all our water was gone. But even though this trail was harsh, it also included beautiful Arizona scenery and more Saguaros that we could count. (Like this one!)

After I somehow found the strength to drive home, (hey pushing the pedals is really hard when you can't feel your legs) the rest of my Sunday was spent lying on the couch nursing a sunburned face and pain found in areas where I didn't even know I had muscles. It turns out the couch was a pretty sweet spot to be stuck as the Oscars came on.

Raking in the funds (hopefully)

Tonight, Kelly and I will spend an hour and a half learning how to ask businesses to sponser us and how to plan larger fundraisers.
Neither of us have ever attempted to raise such a large amount of money, and although we're doing well (I'm at about $800 and Kelly has about $900), we've each still got about $2,000 left to go.
Because Kelly and I are both natural worriers, we each have our moments of concern over whether we can meet our goals. But because neither of us likes to see the other one worry, we also take turns being the cheerleader.
The result is something like this:

Kelly: Oh man. I'm stressed out about raising all this money. Do you really think we can do it?
Meg: Oh, absolutely, dude. It won't be as hard as we think it will be. It'll be done before we know it, and then we can just concentrate on the training.

Meg: What if we can't raise the money in time? You're right, this is stressful.
Kelly: Nah, we'll be fine. Don't stress out about it. We'll just take a couple of Saturday mornings and hit up some local businesses to ask for sponsorships, and we'll be done.

I can't tell you how many times we've had this conversation. We'll probably have it 50 more times before we've raised all the money. But I also know that when Kelly and I put our minds to something, we get it done. And this will be no different.
Having said that, any ideas for ways to fundraise? Has anyone tried a fundraiser that worked really well?
All ideas are welcome (and appreciated)!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I am in love.

Behold -- my new Merrell Siren Sport hiking shoes (in "espresso" color).
After much sole searching (haha!), I came across these beauties. They are everything I ever dreamed a hiking shoe could be.
I tested them out this morning on the Piestewa Peak circumference trail, along with Kelly, who was breaking in some new hiking shoes of her own. I was worried that the 3.7 mile trail, which has a rating of "fairly tough," would be too much for these new shoes to bear. I was even more worried when our 3.7 mile hike turned into something more like a 5.5 mile hike after taking a sliiiiightly wrong turn (stay tuned for a more detailed blog from Kelly on THAT).
But they performed flawlessly. I don't even have to "break them in" -- it's like I've been wearing them for months!
I look forward to many years of happiness together.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

An inspiring note...

We've only been fundraising for a few weeks and trying to raise money in this current economic climate is no easy task.
But each day, I'm amazed by people's generosity, not just through monetary donations, but also through committed support and encouragement.
This support shows up in small ways throughout the week, in simple notes or phone calls.
One friend offered to hike with us as we train as a way to physically help us meet our goal. And recently my godmother and experienced hiker, Kay, sent me a letter that offered not only encouragement, but gave tips for conquering a Grand Canyon Hike.
Breathing is key, she says - steady and in through your nose and out through your mouth. This is vital, especially on the inclines, since it keeps you from getting winded and focuses your mind on breathing so you don't feel the pain so much in the rest of your body. It also keeps your body full of oxygen, which it will be craving.
"Don't forget to enjoy the view and let your spirit embrace the awesomeness of the canyon," she added. "It will be one of those inspiring trips of a lifetime that you can look back on."

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Quest for the Perfect Hiking Boot

My 3-year-old $20 Payless tennis shoes just aren't gonna cut it.
They're great for tennis. I can walk around the neighborhood in them just fine. They are no problem on my elliptical.
But put me on a hiking trail in those bad boys and I'm a slipping, sliding nightmare. I won't even mention the blisters I'm getting. I need a decent pair of hiking boots. I want enough traction to keep me practically glued to the trail.
But there is nothing more daunting than finding a really, really good pair of hiking shoes for a really big hike, especially if you want to spend less than an arm and a leg. The main problem is each time I think I've found a good shoe for a good price, I picture myself hiking the Grand Canyon, and I panic.
What if they're not good enough? What if I try to break them in, only to discover they aren't any good and I have to start all over? What if I get halfway down the canyon, and they're so bad that I'm wishing for my 3-year-old $20 Payless tennis shoes??
I've been practically everywhere.
Big 5 Sports -- good prices, but horrible customer service that has made me vow (twice, so far) to never go back.
Dick's Sporting Goods -- if you need running shoes, they have a million. If you need hiking shoes, they have zero.
Target -- yes, I even looked at Target. Yes, I even tried on their boys' hiking shoes. And yes, I think my toe will rub in them too much.
And I've been on every web site imaginable, even though in the back of my mind, I know I could never order shoes without trying them on and walking up and down several aisles.
I have 11 weeks left to find them, afford them, and break them in before I head up north.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

May 9: the Super Bowl, for us hikers that is

Let me start by saying that Meghan and I are brave, very brave.
I learned this fact earlier today when we committed to tackling one of the most difficult Grand Canyon hikes offered by LLS's TEAM in Training.
Technically, it's labeled "very difficult," if you really want the full story.
After much deliberation, we have decided on The Bright Angel Trail (to Plateau Point). We will know we've made it down, once we've got this view of the Colorado River. (Pretty Amazing!)
Our coach describes the hike as "12.2 miles of steep, strenuous hiking with 6,500 feet of total elevation change and then an optional 2 mile hike along the rim." For cool view of the trail click here.
I think my legs are already shaking. Let me check. Yep, they are.

A Sign

I was on my way to meet some friends for dinner, driving down Camelback Road in Phoenix, when it jumped out at me.

"Whoever said winning isn't everything never had to fight cancer."

It was a huge billboard near Central Avenue, advertising for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I've been down this road hundreds of times and never noticed it before. I don't know if that's because the billboard was new. Or if maybe I just wasn't paying attention before.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One hike down...

... and a whole bunch to go!

Here is the group, out on our first official training hike in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. (I'm in the second row, on the left, sporting a pink fleece and a thumbs-up.) It was a fairly easy, hour-long hike through the preserve, meant to acclimate inexperienced hikers to the finer points of desert trails.

I dragged my husband along with me on this hike to brave the cold, hike, and learn about proper footwear, nutrition and hydration. And I won some cool hiking socks in a raffle! All in all, a successful start.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An Honored Hero

Kelly and I are sitting in the auditorium at the Team in Training kickoff party. We clap for our coaches as they are introduced to us and laugh at the cheesy “inspirational” music that blares a little too loudly.
Each group of coaches, trainers and “honored heroes” are announced. The honored heroes are the people we are hiking for. They are men and women who have battled leukemia, and are winning. They inspire us. After all, if they can fight leukemia, surely we can fight up that last stretch of the mountain.
Another honored hero is announced, and it’s a name I recognize but can’t quite place. I look over to see my classmate stand up and make his way down the aisle to the stage.
It’s the man I sit next to in class every Wednesday night. The guy I chat with before class and during breaks about my job as a reporter, his job as a lawyer, and how crappy the economy is.
I’m reminded that cancer touches us all; sometimes in ways we don’t even realize.

Let the Training Begin

Don't we look happy at the top of Shaw Butte Mountain in Phoenix?
Well, that's because we are forcing ourselves to smile.
Little do you know that our calves are aching and stinging in ways we never dreamed imaginable. Oh and our shirts are completely soaked with sweat. Personally, I'll admit I was a bit lightheaded.
But it's cool. I mean, we were PRE-TRAINING, which means training before we are actually required to, which in my opinion makes us pretty awesome go-getters. So the pain is fine. I'm sure in time, it will ease up.
This was no easy hike. It is straight shot up the side of the mountain.
But it was a good starting point for this weekend when we meet up with our team and officially start our training.
May the force (the force of all hard-core hikers that is) be with us.