Saturday Stroll Around the Plaza

Click photo for rest of album

Rachelle and I spent Saturday morning participating in the Kansas City Heart Walk.  Getting, there, proved to be more of a challenge than the actual physical exertion.

I woke up at my usual time (between five and five-thirty in the morning).  I came downstairs to find Rachelle asleep in the hide-away bed in the living room.  I gently shook her awake enough to ask her when she had gotten to sleep.  She mumbled something about two (or maybe it was three) in the morning.  I let her drift back to sleep.

I finished off the last bit of a box of cereal and started reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth, a recently released sequel to last year’s Divergent.  The hardcover edition I checked out from the Kansas City Public Library is a strange size, being shorter than most of my other hardcovers, but still thick.  The font is adequate in size, but almost double-spaced on the page, so I can breeze through quickly.  I reached Chapter Eight and page 87 before putting down the book to prepare for the Heart Walk.    Time to try waking up Rachelle again.

I shook her awake again at 7:15 a.m. and she asked for another fifteen minutes.  I gave her another twenty or so and finally got her up and moving at about a quarter before eight.  I needed to leave soon, as the warm-up for the walk began at a quarter to nine, and we still had to drive from Lansing to the Plaza, which takes thirty to forty minutes most days.  We pulled out of the driveway at five minutes to eight.

The Building I Work In
Plaza Colonnade building (where I spend most of my weekdays)

We encountered no traffic of any kind on K-7 or I-70 or even US-71.  As we approached the Plaza from the east, we began to see evidence of the walk as people (walking) and cars converged on Theis Park, the staging area for the Heart Walk.  Since we were arriving so close to the start of the Walk, parking near the art gallery was non-existent and most of the walkers we saw were walking from the west and the parking garages at the Country Club Plaza.  I opted to park in the parking garage at my building, which overlooks the intersection of Ward Parkway and Brookside Boulevard.

Rachelle and I walked a couple of blocks from the parking garage to Theis Park in about five minutes.  We didn’t have time to stop at any of the sponsors’ tents.  We wove our way through the crowds towards the north, where we could hear someone announcing the top five teams for fundraising for the event.  I had no idea where my team was supposed to gather, and in fact only saw one other person from where I work briefly pass me in the crowd.  We reached a spot just north of the Information Booth, and waited for a few minutes.

Waiting to Warm Up
Waiting to Warm Up

Before the warm-up, a local artist led us in the National Anthem.  Then, someone led us in a quick jazzersize warm-up, most of which I couldn’t follow because I could not see the stage well enough to determine what stretches and exercises I was supposed to be doing.  I did the best I could under the circumstances.

KC Heart Walk 3 and 1 mile routes map

Soon after the warmup, the announcer told us to start walking, and we all did.  Rachelle, and I, and several thousand other people took over the streets around the Nelson-Atkins art gallery.   Rachelle and I had already planned on walking the longer route.   By the time we walked up, around and down past the art gallery and along Brush Creek to where the 1 mile route diverged, thirty minutes had elapsed.  That’s a slow pace!  But with the press of so many people, even using the entire street, we couldn’t have increased our pace without resorting to rudeness.

Down the Hill

The walkers committed to completing the longer three mile route stretched out along Brush Creek’s north side.  I really dreaded this portion of the walk as Brush Creek can be odoriferous on good days.  Since the sky stayed overcast and the wind gusted, neither Rachelle and I suffered too much.

Along Brush Creek

We climbed out of Bush Creek on the west side of the Plaza, headed north to 47th street, and proceeded east. As we approached J.C. Nichols Parkway, I asked Rachelle if she wanted to continue to the finish line, which was just a couple of blocks beyond Main Street, or turn right and walk the two or three blocks to my building. She didn’t care, so I opted to head back to the building. Interestingly, while our first mile took thirty minutes, we completed the last two miles in a bit less than thirty minutes (a pace we’re both more used to walking).

We returned to the parking garage and left the Plaza behind around ten o’clock.  We made one brief stop in the Legends area, to purchase tickets to Sunday’s Tbones baseball game.  Our local minor league team just celebrated the opening of their tenth season in Kansas City last Thursday evening.

Rachelle and I had a good time walking with many other Kansas Citians in the Heart Walk.  I want to thank all my sponsors for supporting me and the American Heart Association.  Your donations fund critical cardiovascular disease research and education.  I am also proud to work for an employer who takes an active part in the community’s health and wellness.  I thank them for sponsoring not only a team, but most of the three mile route I walked Saturday morning.

My Employer Sponsored Our Route

Oh, and in case you’re wandering about my step statistics for this week, except for the two days I was either in Texas or driving back from Texas (after attending my daughter’s college graduation), I exceed my goal of 7,000 steps per day, especially on Saturday (which totaled 13,531 steps):

Beautiful Start to a Busy Weekend

Friday Sunrise
Sunrise, Friday, May 18, 2012 (click photo for rest of album)

The sun rises early enough now that I can take a few minutes out of my morning routine to setup the tripod and camera to take some nice photos. I took all of these from my driveway while eating my cereal. Gorgeous morning! I had hoped to capture the tiny sliver of a crescent moon, but the pink, orange and gold clouds obscured it.

Tomorrow morning, I walk in the KC Heart Walk.  Tomorrow evening, I have my first night as a team member at ASKC‘s Powell Observatory, with a topic of ‘Galaxies Galore’ to learn and observe.  Sunday, I hope to get a chance to catch my breath, and maybe catch a movie.

Steps Shortfall

As I predicted, I reached my goal of seven thousand steps per day only one day (Tuesday) out of seven last week.  I got close (within five hundred steps) on Thursday, the day I walked around the UNT campus with my daughter. 

Steps Stats Second Week (May 2012)
Steps Stats Second Week (May 2012)

I’m off to a better start this week, reaching almost ten thousand steps last night on a post-sunset walk with Apollo and my daughter around our Lansing neighborhood.

Only three more days until I walk in the KC Heart Walk this Saturday morning.  You still have time to donate to the American Heart Association and support me

Thanks and have a heart healthy day!

The Odds Are Against Me

All I have to do is look up my family tree to find plenty of incentives for fighting heart disease.   None of that crossed my mind initially when I signed up at work to participate in the KC Heart Walk next month.  I just thought it would be fun to walk with some coworkers.

But the more I thought about my inherited medical hodgepodge, the more concerned I became.  I decided to take a closer look here at my previous couple of generations of blood related ancestors to get a better picture of why staying active and eating healthy is the best prescription for the rest of my life.

My father and mother, both born in 1942, are both still alive and kicking.  In fact, you can’t keep my father out of the trees.  His hobby lately is helping a neighbor cut down trees and split it into firewood and stack it for drying, storage and eventual sale.  My mother started taking blood pressure medicine last year after a couple of scary trips to the E.R.

Grandma Juanita (1915-2005) and me at my high school graduation (May 1983)

My maternal grandmother died in June 2005, of congestive heart failure, but she still managed reached the age of ninety.  Granted, she needed bypass surgery for a decade before she died.  I spoke to my aunt Saturday and she also told me her mother was diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis before she died, which could have been treated with surgery (and a valve replacement) but Grandma didn’t want to have any surgery done.

I never met my maternal grandfather.  He was born in 1888 and died in the mid 50s … of a heart attack.

I did meet my maternal great-grandmother (in the late 60s or early 70s).  She was born in 1886 and died in February 1973 at the age of eighty-five.  According to my aunt, my great-grandmother passed very quickly, her body basically shutting down (not specifically heart related).

My mom was one of six children, three boys and three girls.  Her oldest sister passed away in 1987 of congestive heart failure at the age of fifty.  I’ll turn fifty in just a couple of years.

Her younger sister received bypass surgery (quintuple) in the fall of 2001 and is still doing very well eleven years later.  My Aunt Melody continues winning the battle against cardiovascular diseases, becoming a nearly daily regular at her local YMCA.

My aunt's wedding photo from the early 70s. Front row (left to right) my cousins Charles and Brandi, my brother Danny, my cousin Anne and me. Middle row (left to right) Aunt Hyla (1937-87), Grandma Juanita (1916-2005), my Mom. Back row (left to right) Uncle Harry and his wife, Rene, Groom Willard, Bride Melody (my aunt).

And that wraps up the maternal side of my genetic heritage.  Moving on to my father’s family …

My paternal grandmother died two years ago in June, also of congestive heart failure, but she passed very quickly within a week or two.  Up until a month before she died (at the age of eighty-eight), she had been living on her own in an apartment in an assisted living center.  I believe arthritis proved her greatest bane for the last few years of her life, but she did also fight the usual suspects (heart disease).

Grandma Doris (1922-2010) and Grandpa Ralph (1920-1992) with my brother (the baby) and I in the last 60s

My paternal grandfather (not shown in the above photograph) passed away in March of 2003, but his death was not specifically heart related.  He remained active in his community, as a Shriner and a musician, until the day he died.

Sitting on my Great-Grandfather Hodge's (1902-1975) knee for my first birthday. My cousin Toni peaking around behind me.

My great-grandfather, a much loved pastor in the small Kansas town where I grew up, died in the Summer of 1975, from a heart attack.   According to my dad, Grandpa Hodge wouldn’t admit he was having heart trouble; he kept insisting it was the flu, because he had been an athlete and stayed active most of his life.  Strangely, he died in the same hospital where I was born a decade earlier, in Winchester, Kansas.  Grandpa Hodge loomed large in the first decade of my life.  His passing devastated his church, the community and especially his family.

His first wife, Marie, passed away in 1949 of cancer.  She immigrated (during or shortly after World War I) from the town of Stallupönen, in East Prussia.


I am encouraged that many of my female ancestors made it successfully into or through their eighth decade.  If I can stay ahead of the genetics with healthy eating and living and regular exercise, I just might be around to annoy my great-grandkids over the next two or three decades.

I joined the American Heart Association‘s Heart Walk to promote physical activity to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and to beat the odds I’ve been dealt by those who’ve gone before me.  Your support greatly appreciated.

Did you know that heart disease kills more people in America each year than any other disease? And that stroke is a leading cause of disability and the No. 4 killer?

Just 30 minutes a day of physical activity can lead to a stronger, healthier body. Take a small step toward better health by being physically active just 10 minutes 3 times per day.

Be Heart Healthy, American Heart Association

Walking Regimen Uptick

Spring brings flowers, and showers, hot days and cold days, but also a better-than-average chance Apollo and I will get our walking completed before the sun sets most days.  For the month of April, thus far, I’ve only missed three days, and two of those days were spent driving to and from North Texas for Easter.

I wear a pedometer everyday.  I record my steps at, where I can run nifty reports and generate interactive graphs.  Below is a snapshot of the graph of my step stats for April 2012 (up to Saturday the 28th):

My Steps Stats Graph (April 2012)
My Steps Stats Graph (April 2012)

At the beginning of the year, I set a personal goal of walking 7,000 steps per day, 3,000 shy of the ideal recommend daily step value of 10,000.  As you can see from the year-to-date weekly step total graph below, only in the last week of April have I finally reached my personal step goal.

Weekly Steps Total (Jan - Apr 2012)
Weekly Steps Total (Jan - Apr 2012)

I’m striving to exceed a minimum of 7,000 steps per day through the end of May.  Then I will reset my goal accordingly (depending on what my average looks like).

As posted earlier this week, I’ve joined a team sponsored by my employer to walk next month in the KC Heart Walk.  The event includes a one mile and a three mile route.  I am ‘in training’ for the longer route, although according to the route map I created this morning via, my trek to the end of West Mary Street exceeds that length by just a bit (3.17 Miles / 5.1 Kilometers), and includes a nice incline up to the halfway turnaround point at DeSoto Road.

Now, a look in more detail at the last seven days of walking, six of them with Apollo.

TypicalSunday, April 22nd, hour long walk with Apollo to Bittersweet Street on West Mary Street and back.  Very windy and cloudyPedometer: 9,859 steps

Monday, April 23rd, short half-hour walk with Apollo around neighborhood.  Pedometer: 6,328 steps

Tuesday, April 24th, short half-hour walk with Apollo to the Lansing Community Center and back.  Pedometer: 7,538 steps

National Walk at Lunch Day
National Walk at Lunch Day

Wednesday, April 25th, I participated in the National Walk @ Lunch Day sponsored by my employer and my health insurance company.  I joined several of my co-workers for a thirty minutes walk down the Trolley Track Trail along Brookside Boulevard in the South Plaza neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri.  Because Wednesday also broke temperature records in the area (for heat), Apollo and I lazed around the house with Terry Wednesday, catching up on some shows recorded recently on the DVR. Pedometer: 6,881 steps

Apollo close up while I tied my shoeThursday, April 26th, Apollo and I ventured around the Lansing Town Centre area for an hour.  Pedometer: 8,834 steps

Friday, April 27th, Apollo and I looped around the high school, down the hill on East Mary Street to Hillbrook and back west through neighborhood along Hithergreen.  Pedometer: 7,952 steps

Saturday morning, April 28th, Apollo and I set out to traverse all of West Mary Street, from one end to the other, a route of over three miles with some nice hills and sidewalks.  Pedometer: 7,869 steps 11,585 steps *

To summarize the past week, here’s another graph produced thanks to the reports feature at

My Steps Stats for the Last Week of April 2012
My Steps Stats for the Last Week of April 2012

I plan to continue this pace, and increase it, over the next few weeks so that come Saturday, May 19th, I won’t be a straggler in my first ever Heart Walk.

* As of 4:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon, after shopping, my total steps reached a whopping 11,585.  And the day’s not over yet!

Friday Jeans Day Charity: Go Red for Women

My day started out in the emergency room with chest pains.  Ironically, I was not the person experiencing the chest pains … my husband was.

Terry woke me up ten minutes before my alarm went off to let me know he was heading to the hospital.  I followed in a separate vehicle once I threw some clothes on.

I spent the next hour with him in the emergency room, monitoring his vitals (which appeared normal for the most part).  I left him in the capable hands of the hospital’s health care providers and proceeded to pickup my vanpool riders for the Friday work commute.  While my stress level kept spiking towards a red line as a result of my husband’s situation, I also had to drove through an unseasonable thunderstorm and torrential downpour for the next hour and a half with a van full of people.  Just as I dropped off the last two riders, my husband called me to let me know the hospital planned to release him soon.

I drove the rest of the way to my work, thankful that I had slipped on jeans, rather than deal with the rain in my regular work attire.  I had already planned to wear jeans and support my employer’s jeans day charity (Go Red for Women) and participation in the National Wear Red Day (which coincidentally is today, Friday, February 3, 2012).   I just wished I’d had time to find a red shirt in my rush out the door this morning.  I had to settle for a pink and black plaid shirt instead.