50 at 50
EVENT DATE: Nov 24, 2016
This Thanksgiving weekend, I am going to walk for 50 hours to celebrate my 50th birthday and raise money for two of my favorite charities, Northwest Outward Bound and the Los Angeles AFS Scholarship Program.
Follow me on Instagram for more about this event. @sfxeric
The Fine Print
Kind of like the iTunes Terms & Conditions but considerably more interesting.
When I turned 40, I walked 40 miles through the streets of Los Angeles in a day and raised over $10,000 for Outward Bound. I called it 40 at 40. Besides raising money for a great cause, I walked to make my 40th year memorable and was wildly successful in that goal. Now as I approach my 50th birthday, I want to make this year memorable as well so I will walk again.
My initial thought was to walk 50 miles but I’ve learned that in order for challenges like this to be truly meaningful, I need to attempt something that I’m not sure I can do and I know I can walk 50 miles. A few years ago, I walked from Burbank to Torrance via the beach, 46 miles in total. Adding 4 miles to that total seems very doable.
So instead, I’ve decided to walk for 50 hours, just over 2 days. Honestly, the thought of doing this scares the bejesus out of me but I’ve found that sometimes doing the scariest, most uncomfortable thing can be the best. So here I am.
And while I’m on the subject of uncomfortable things, I’ve set myself a goal of raising $20,000. It sure seems like a lot of money (which it is) but heck, 50 hours is a lot of walking, so I’ll aim high. Thank you in advance for whatever you can give!! I hope you’ll agree that they are 2 very worthy charities.
I’ve been supporting Outward Bound for almost 25 years. When I was in my early teens, I had an amazing teacher, Al Maas, who firmly believed in outdoor education. The climbing, rappelling, spelunking, hiking, canoeing, rafting, and orienteering that I did with him had a profound effect on my transition from adolescence into adulthood. In fact, it was the act of leaning back and trusting a small rope at the top of a 100 foot cliff that taught me to face my fears - the fear of publicly attempting to walk for 50 hours, for instance. And this is exactly what Outward Bound teaches. Outward Bound is about character development, leadership training and being in service. And all of this using nature as a classroom. It is a program that profoundly changes the lives of people every day.
The other charity that I am supporting is the Los Angeles Scholarship Program for AFS, the exchange student organization. In this age of polarization and conflict, the cross cultural understanding fostered by foreign exchanges is even more vitally important. But exchanges are expensive so it is typically middle and upper class kids who participate. My friend Barbara noticed this and decided to do something about it. She started a scholarship program to allow inner city kids the opportunity to become exchange students. It is truly inspiring to see the profound effect these exchanges have on the students’ lives.
Citlali’s story is one of my favorites. Citlali grew up in the inner city of Los Angeles. She longed to leave home where her father emotionally and physically abused her mother. So when she had the opportunity to go on an exchange, she jumped on it and spent a year in Egypt. Of course, women are afforded little freedom in Egypt but she didn’t let that stop her. She had an amazing year, exploring the country and making new friends. On her way home, she got the opportunity to visit London and Paris. There, she marveled at how far she had come. Here she was, traveling the world alone, unafraid to approach strangers for directions even when she didn’t know the language. Citlali remained close with her mother and had been sharing her experiences throughout the year. Her mother was moved by her daughter’s independence. In fact, Citlali’s newfound courage inspired her mother to leave her father. They were both finding freedom, each in their own way, at the same time. After returning to the states, Citlali used her experience in a college admission essay. She was accepted into Georgetown where she is studying today.
How far are you walking?
I have no idea. What I do know is that I’m going to attempt to walk for 50 hours - giving myself 1 hour off every 12 hours. I have been able to keep up a 3 MPH pace for a significant distance but I’m not sure I can keep it up for a full 2 days. But chances are that I’ll be walking over 100 miles.
What is the furthest you have ever walked?
A couple of years ago I walked 46 miles. I walked from Burbank to the Santa Monica Pier and then down the coast to Redondo where I cut into Torrance. I called it quits an hour later. That walk took me 16 hours. However, I did it without any training and I’ll never do that again. Although I didn’t do any permanent damage, I realize it wasn’t healthy.
What is your longest walk?
I walked for the full 24 hours of the Relay for Life a few years ago. I walked 174 laps around the track in Johnny Carson Park in Burbank. That probably sounds boring but I was joined by a bunch of friends over the course of the 24 hours so it was actually pretty awesome. My niece even surprised me by flying out from the East Coast to walk with me.
What is your training plan?
I’m doing a walk a week leading up to Thanksgiving. I started on Labor Day weekend with a 4 hour walk and I’ve been adding 2 hours a week. I’ll build up to 24 hours, then jump to 30 hours, take a week off, and then do my big walk. My training walks so far are:
9/03/16 04:02:48 13.67 miles ? steps
9/11/16 06:53:55 19.63 miles 37,497 steps
9/18/16 07:57:00 23.64 miles 46,531 steps
9/24/16 10:16:40 31.06 miles 56,140 steps
9/30/16 12:28:32 37.16 miles ? steps
10/7/16 14:31:49 41.63 miles 79,193 steps
10/16/16 15:56:43 44.78 miles 83,290 steps
10/21/16 ≈18:00:00 54.16 miles ? steps
10/28/16 20:51:00 59.01 miles ? steps
11/4/16 Unplanned rest weekend. My feet needed a break.
11/11/16 23:40:00 58.61 miles 114,325 steps
(I’ll keep this updated.)
Will you be carrying a pack?
I’ll be walking with my CamelBak and a credit card. That’s one of the upsides of walking in the city, I can buy whatever I need along the way.
Can I join you?
Absolutely! Just let me know and we can coordinate.
What if you don’t finish?
My number one goal is to not hurt myself. So if it becomes too painful to continue, I will stop. I’ll be disappointed but hopefully I will have accomplished enough to feel good about what I’ve done. And in case you were wondering, you won’t get your donation back. Sorry! (But you wouldn’t have wanted that anyway!)
That is an excellent question. I’ve been trying to figure that out myself. The best answer that I’ve been able to come up with is this. In this crazy, awesome, sometimes mixed up world we live in, this is an act of me standing up, raising my hand and saying, “I’m here.”