Friday, July 25, 2014

Taking the daily walk: It's routine

      I am a walking man.
     In previous blogs, there have been references to my daily walking routine, and people who have been around me a while know this is what I do. But I've not written a blog piece giving the details.
     Walking is probably my main hobby these days. Used to be reading the daily newspaper, but that's been out for about a year. Used to watch a lot of television, lots of sports events. But no more. Love to read, spend time on books and the computer, and for the past couple of years, I try to write my blog pieces -- two or three times a week.
     But I am motivated most of all to do my daily walk.
     I am a regular walker around the University Drive area and the TCU/Paschal High School area here in Fort Worth -- dressed in shorts and T-shirt, sunglasses, ballcap and holding a bottle of water. I don't much like sidewalks, so I'm usually out in the street walking along the curbs.
     Not apologizing for it. Very cautious about crossing streets and watching traffic. Those cars going by, the occasional motorcycle or cyclist, they can hurt you.
      I do this for exercise; I've done it for about 25 years. Gave up running -- which I loved as a kid -- because my shins no longer could stand the pounding on the pavement or the track. Gave up playing softball (OK, I stunk at it) and shooting basketball, another love for years.
      Started riding a bike regularly for a year or so in Orange Park, Fla.; loved riding my green Schwinn around the Sunset Acres neighborhood in Shreveport and sometimes beyond as a kid (didn't we all love to ride our bikes?). And then the bike got stolen, and I began walking for exercise.
      Also didn't mind walking when I was a kid -- and I still don't mind. But I much prefer the streets and parking lots and, well, drivethroughs to time on a treadmill or a walking path or a track.
      So I go almost daily, year-round. It's part of the routine, unless we're on a trip or a vacation. And I seldom let the weather stop me. I prefer the hot weather, such as right now in Texas -- 90s, up to 100 -- but I'll go if it's pretty cold, too.
      I don't mind the heat, don't mind the sweat. It makes me feel like I've done something. Try to be careful and drink enough water and, if possible, go early in the day or if we're busy, late in the day. But sometimes I go right in the middle of the day, conscious of the fact that we're getting older and not overdo it. 
      The one weather element that bothers me most is the wind, any time of year. I just don't enjoy walking in the wind, especially if it's a really cold wind, but even in spring or summer, if it's windy, I might cut the walk short. 
      In winter, I bundle enough to handle the cold -- I am not a cold-weather person -- but I will skip the really hard-freeze days and opt for the apartment gym and the treadmill. Usually will do an hour there, and it's a darned good workout. It's also boring as heck.
      I've recently begun doing some work on the machines in the gym -- doctor's suggestion for helping keep my weight down and my body toned (there's a laugh here). But, honestly, I don't have much of a routine there; my wife works a lot harder in the gym than I do. For me, it's just a warmup for my walk. 
      I'd much rather be out on the streets, saying hello to people and making the occasional stop in a store or filling station perhaps to refill my water bottle and/or unfill my bladder.       
      I am not a super-fast walker, but I'm steady. What I'm trying to do is get the heart rate up, make myself feel like I've done something, that I've pushed enough to satisfy the exercise needs. I know this: I am usually pretty sluggish early in the day until I go to walk and get the endorphins going.
        People who know me pretty well also know this about my walks: One of the main sidelights is that I look for money as I go. Yes, you read that correctly.
         You would be surprised how much money is out there in the streets. If you look as regularly as I do, you can hit some jackpots. Well ... sort of.
         This year I have found a $20 bill in an apartment parking lot, a $5 bill along the curb on a side street off West Berry Ave., a couple of silver dollars in the nearby food-truck park (it's vacant on Mondays).
         About 3-4 times a year, I find what I call a "mother lode" -- a pile of change in one place. For instance, at the end of the TCU school year in May, I found a broken piggy bank in the street ... $2.32 in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, thank you.
         The kids at Paschal High are usually generous; one day I found eight quarters in one area of a parking lot. Some of Paschal's lots are a regular late Friday or early Saturday route during the school year; TCU's freshman parking lot is a Saturday or Sunday route.
         My greatest day, money-wise, as a walker was the Sunday of the 1997 season Super Bowl (Broncos-Packers, Jan. 25, 1998) -- $81 (four 20s and a dollar) in a hotel parking lot in west Knoxville.
          It was raining a little, so I just saw the bills, picked them up and didn't even check to see what the amount was until I got home some 20 minutes later. When I showed Bea and our daughter Rachel (then a college freshman), they were surprised. So was I. Then Rachel said, "Dad, you should've turned that money in at the [hotel] front desk." 
         Yeah, right. Gee, I forgot.
         I have been chased out of parking lots and fast-food drivethroughs -- sometimes not too gently -- and I'm on good terms with the TCU campus security. Most of those guys know me, know I'm there to walk, and sometimes they'll tell me when there have been a series of break-ins in the neighborhood and be alert.
         So I'm going to tell you that my little hobby here pays off. OK, I tally up the amount I find; I've kept up for the past 16 years. It's made a nice retirement supplement, and now it goes toward the grandkids' allowance.
         If you want to come to the TCU area and throw some loose change into the street, chances are I will find it soon.
         But, no, the object is not the money, it's the exercise, the effort. I can find 3 cents -- as I did last Sunday -- and it still feels good to walk.

Rogers Road hill: It's not steep, but it is
 uphill, and it's my little challenge.
         The questions I'm asked most about my walks are (1) how long do you walk each day? and (2) how far?
         Bea fairly regularly says that I walk 2 1/2 hours. That is, as I point out to her, an exaggeration. I usually walk about an hour to an hour-and-a-half.
         (But, confession: If the weather is nice and I feel good, and my feet/legs don't hurt, I have been known to go that 2 1/2 hours. OK, it's not very smart, and it gets to be a labor, or counter-productive.)
         How far? I'm not sure. I do have my usual routes, and several times a week I will head to the TCU area, which means going past the fourth green and fairway at Colonial Country Club and up the Rogers Road hill. This is my mountain.
         It's an uphill route, not all that steep -- it's not like hiking in the Smokey Mountains or in Colorado or Mount McKinley -- but it is about all I want, and it's at the start of my walk. So, yeah, I do have to catch my breath for a moment.
         I had to look this up online: It is 1.8 miles from our apartments to Paschal High; just a bit shorter to the CVS store Bea and I visit often. It is 1.27 miles to TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium. It is 2.15 miles to Bluebonnet Circle, one of my routes.
         But every now and then, I get a whim and pick out a new location. A week ago, I needed something from CVS and our regular store didn't have it. I knew there was a CVS on Camp Bowie Blvd. off Montgomery Drive, and it was a challenge. Had to walk around the giant railroad yard near the apartments here. Looked it up just now and it was 2.2 miles to the store. Oh, and 2.2 miles back.
         I did it; it took a while. Actually, I shortcut it back; I cut across the railroad yard (a first for me). Crossed about a dozen railroad tracks, but not a moving train in sight. I knew I should avoid those. 
         I didn't tell Bea until afterward. I guess it took that 2 1/2 hours -- but it was during the cooler spell we had.
         A walking man can handle the challenge.    


  1. From Bud Dean: You look like Paavo Nurmi.

  2. From Sandi Atkinson: I love to walk, too, but have not been able to do so for the past seven months (arthritic knee, surgery) ... now the pain is back with a vengeance. Have an appointment ... to schedule knee replacement. Not looking forward to it, but you cannot imagine how much I miss walking (sans pain!). ...Keep walking! It’s great for the body and the mind!

  3. From Gerry Robichaux: Do you remember the serial number on that $20? It may have been mine -- and I would expect you to return it to its rightful owner.

  4. From Maxie Hays: Each to his own! If I were able to walk any length of time, I would do the same. Walk while you can. You don't miss something until you have lost the ability to do it.