Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And now for something completely different

No, this post isn’t about Monty Python’s Flying Circus, although I do have to say that I’ve always loved that zany British comedy troupe. This post is about my love of walking. And I’m not talking the “ministry of silly walks” or “walk this way” (two of the best Monty Python sketches and running gags that always crack me up). I’m talking here about how I started to make time for myself as a young mother and renewed my love in walking and the outdoors.

When the kiddies were very little I took up the sport of racewalking. I went out most days at 6:30 a.m., put in an hour swiftly walking through the neighborhoods, and then made my way back home to wake the little ones and send them off to school. I found renewed energy and couldn’t wait to wake up early for that time to myself. I also felt confident and accomplished as pounds and inches from mommy weight melted off me.

If that idea interests you, adhering to two rules qualifies you as a racewalker:
  1. Your back toe can’t leave the ground until the heel of your front foot has touched.
  2. Your supporting leg must straighten from the point of contact with the ground and remain straightened until the body passes directly over it.
I got pretty good at the sport in no time. Two reasons I think so:
  1. I did a 10-minute mile walking (world-class racewalkers can average under seven and eight minutes per mile).
  2. And people on the road made fun of me. Pretty much said I had damn good racewalking form.
I had visions of training to compete (after all, name buddy and role model Therese Iknoian was a nationally ranked racewalker), but my “career” was cut short by an injury. My right knee was smashed in a car accident. Two surgeries later, I was happy to be walking slowly, let alone racing. I did my best to keep the legs strong over the years since the “good” leg typically starts to also give you trouble as you depend on that one more. It wasn’t easy, but I worked through the pain and was thankful I could do what I could and that all wasn’t worse.

Skip ahead to the year 2005 when my youngest went off to college. I’ve hinted in an earlier post that I had been working on that virtual bucket listall things I wanted to do myself and with hubby when we had more time. I had collected so many cool ideas over the years. I’ve already mentioned the Rick Steves’ Best of Europe tour that we took in September 2005.

Well, another item on the wish list was to experience a spa vacation in the Poconos. Scouring through Fitness and Shape magazines while nursing bambini over the years, I read about Deerfield Spa, one of the country’s most affordable destination spas. One year I even called to inquire about visiting and then thought practically that I shouldn’t spend that money on me. The kids needed this and that and all I wanted was for them. I did think about that place many years, though, and in April 2006 I made my dream come true and attended Deerfield for a week-long spa adventure. I was revitalized and rejuvenated. I made some lifelong friends. And I hiked.

I had been a Girl Scout, and later a leader of my own troops, many years of my life. I had loved the outdoors and camping. As an adult, I always had responsibilities for twenty-some children at a time. Had to make sure they were safe around the campfire and while running through the woods. Had to keep my first-aid skills current; warn the girls not to play in the creek, hoping they wouldn’t come back to the cabin with leeches on their little legs; and pray that my leadership would keep us safe and my first-aid skills would never seriously be tested. So it was all fun, but the focus was always on the girls.

Peaceful and serene on the trails.
Now here I was at the spa all by myself, a camp of sorts for grown-ups. On the first day I went on an intermediate group hike on the Appalachian Trail. Every day it was a different hike in the region. I was hooked. As I walked through the woods, whether pensively following the trail myself or joining in with the rest and chatting with new friends, I realized this was a new experience that I couldn’t let go when I rejoined the “real” world.

Always a feeling of accomplishment when you get to the top.
In short, I’ve visited the spa many times since that first encounter. It’s a great place to reunite with good friends, and I’ve now, to boot (pun intended), hiked many miles on many trails there. Those close know I look forward to and treasure those vacations on my own. There is always a lot to do at the spa, for sure, but it’s no contest that my favorite activities are the hikes. Well, I certainly do also appreciate the massages after, but mostly because they get me back on the trail the next day.

Reaching new heights.
So as you’re thick in the business of your everyday life, don’t forget to stop and seek out things that make you happy. Don’t fret if you can’t do them all right away. Keeping track of goals is motivating and can be quite satisfying as you’re finally able to realize them, one by one. So take time for yourself here and there to think about what you’d like to try next. And last, but not least, don’t forget to declare for yourself when it’s time for something completely different.

Until next time, yours in fun and hiking…Therese


  1. can't wait to go to the spa with you someday soon :)

  2. Deerfield Spa sounds great. My favorite is in New York - Mohonk Mountain House. Lots of good hiking there as well.

  3. Will have to look into Mohonk Mountain, Jamar. Sounds great.

  4. Amanda, I can't wait until you can go to the spa with me either. We'll have so much fun!