Friday, November 7, 2008

Day 5: Flat 14ers

Here in Colorado we have 54 mountain peaks that reach an altitude of 14,000 feet or higher, like Crestone Needle (pictured above). I’m looking out my window at one right now—Pikes Peak, whose summit is 14,110 feet above sea level. Our picture-postcard view of the peak’s north face is what sold us on the house we’re in now. Little else mattered.

I may never summit Pikes Peak in the usual way, though don’t put it past me. But I can walk the number of steps equivalent to the distance to the top, which some helpful person has calculated to be 23,000 steps.

That calculation is part of a program known as the Flat 14ers Club, which gives those of us who aren’t mountain climbers measurable goals to reach for. The distance to the summits of all 54 peaks has been translated into steps, and participants wear pedometers to keep track of the number of steps they take each day. The idea is to select one peak, walk the appropriate number of steps, log your success on a chart and then reset the pedometer and start on another peak.

For diabetics, finding an exercise program that you’ll actually follow is critical to warding off the debilitating effects of the disorder.

This particular program seemed to be custom-made for me. I lost a friend to a mountain-climbing accident over the summer, so now I walk to honor her and her passion for mountain climbing. She had summited all 54 peaks the hard way. When I’m walking on relatively flat land* and start to falter after several miles, I only have to think of Linda, and I’m immediately energized.

I’ve been on the program for a week or so, and I’m already on my second peak. I chose Crestone Needle, where Linda died, for my first peak. It’s located in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo range, and its height of 14,197 feet translates into 16,000 steps.

The peak I’m working on now is Snowmass Mountain, because of its connection with St. Benedict’s Monastery, a Trappist community that is home to contemplative-living author Thomas Keating. It helps me to remain focused and motivated when I can make an association like that. It’s also a 16,000-step mountain.

You can find out more about the Flat 14ers and other walking programs from America on the Move.

Fasting glucose: 111 (!!)

* Trust me, “flat” is a relative term where I live. You only have to look at a topographical map of Teller County to see that there’s precious little flat land up here.

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