Mike Pauwels walks to the library, he walks to the grocery store and he walks to the dry cleaners.
Starting Sunday, he’ll walk all the way to San Antonio.
It’s part of a challenge laid down by his son Hugh, who plays clarinet in the band at McCallum High School. Hugh practiced long hours and made Texas All State Band this year. The band will perform at the Texas Music Educators Association convention in San Antonio next week, and Hugh, who had seen his dad log hundreds of miles walking around Austin, challenged him to walk there to see him play.
The 95-mile trip will take five days. Pauwels, 70, has plotted out a route that sticks to back roads and avoids Interstate 35. Hugh will drive out once during the walk to drop off clean clothes and cart away the dirty stuff. Pauwels will stay at hotels along the way, because although he likes to walk, he also likes to sleep comfortably at night.
So far, the weather looks perfect.
Pauwels, a retired electrical engineer, says he is making the walk to honor all the musicians from McCallum who made All State band, choir or orchestra. The adventure will mark his first really long, multi-day walk, but he’s been traipsing all over Austin for the last three years. He’ll carry a flag honoring McCallum Fine Arts along the way.
“I watch my son practice, go through regional and then area auditions … getting to All State takes a fair amount of effort, and walking’s not so hard,” he says.
Pauwels, a former runner who got hit by a car and underwent knee surgery, typically walks about 10 miles a day. Recently he’s been walking farther – on Wednesday, he logged 17 miles.
“I’d like to say I started because my son started using my car, but it’s just entertainment. Anybody can walk, but not everybody has the time,” he says.
Pauwels writes about his walking adventures in this blog.
I’ll be scampering through the woods again this weekend, at the Creepy, Crawlies & Critters race put on by Trailhead Running.
I’m finding lately that I love trail running. It’s slower than running on pavement (expect to run 20 to 30 percent slower on trail than on roads), but it’s also the vibe of the sport. Trail running is more laid back, puts you more in touch with the outdoors and, best of all, typically features real food at the aid stations of longer events (think boiled potatoes and peanut butter sandwiches instead of energy gels).
Plus, it’s more like playing than working. Remember when you were a kid, romping through the woods on the trail of horned toads or white-tail deer? It’s like that, complete with muddy clothes and a sense of adventure.And, as the Trailhead Running folks so aptly put it, “You’re not lost, you’re with us.” (They also advise runners to keep an eye on the trail and look for critter bones along the way at this weekend’s race…)
Creepy, Crawlies & Critters participants choose from either a 5K or a 10K route. The race is for women only, limited to 100 runners, and designed for athletes who are new to trail running or for experienced runners looking for a new venue.
The race starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at YMCA Camp Cypress in Buda. You can still register for $50. Packet pickup is 3-7 p.m. Friday at Luke’s Lockers, 115 Sandra Muraida Way.
A pancake and fruit breakfast will await runners at the finish line.
Nothing screams “I love you” quite like a quick jab, a right hook and an uppercut.
To that end, Title Boxing Club, which offers group boxing lessons (with punching bags, not against human opponents) is offering a pair of Valentine’s-themed classes.
A “Couples Date Night” session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 13 and a singles’ “Love in the Ring” class is set for noon Feb. 14 at both locations, 13945 North U.S. Highway 183 and 1401 South Interstate 35 in Round Rock.
And remember: Working out with your partner is a great way to tell them you care about your health and theirs. You’re more likely to stick to a fitness plan if you’ve got a partner to train with, too. Plus, it’s fun to come out swinging in front of your honey.
I tried the class in October, when I was going through a stressful period in my personal life. Punching helped.The folks at Title Boxing say all those endorphins you’ll release while exercising with your partner will help you create a stronger bond.
Two elite runners from South Africa need a place to stay while they are in Austin to race the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon.
Sipho Ngxongo, who has placed fifth and third in the race in past years, contacted me this week wondering if anyone would be willing to host him and his training mate, Sphamandla Nyembe. I met him briefly a few months ago at the CASA Super Hero Run in Cedar Park.
Both are blistering fast runners.
They’re in need of lodging for about two and a half weeks because they’re also planning to run the Woodlands Marathon in Houston on Feb. 28.
If you’re interested in hosting them, or know someone who might be, please contact Ngxongo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All kinds of things keep people from running: Wonky knees, the thought of being the slowest person in the pack, lack of interest …
But walking. Walking is something almost everyone can do.
It’s social, it requires no equipment other than a decent pair of shoes, and like other forms of exercise it reduces the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It also puts less stress on the body, so you’re less likely to get injured.
I was reminded of all that a few days ago, when I met super walker Elayne Barber for a cup of coffee. Barber has been a fitness walker since 1997, and today heads up the Austin Fit Walking program.
To get an idea of how much she loves running, consider this. Barber has completed nine marathons and too many half marathons to count, all walking. Last year she did 11 half marathons; this year she’s aiming for one per month.
“I feel better, and I can manage life better, if I can walk consistently,” she says.
Barber purposely parks a 7-minute walk from her office. She walks from her car to her office in the morning, to her car and back during lunch, and back to her car after work. That, along with a 15-minute walk thrown in during the day, gives her 45 minutes of exercise nearly every weekday.
“Nobody wants to go to lunch with me because nobody wants to walk that far,” shes jokes.
Even if long-distance running isn’t your goal, Barber can get you fired up about walking. A dedicated walking program, instead of a walking component to a running group, gives non-runners a place to fit in. They’re not an after thought to more fleet-footed exercisers.
“Usually walkers’ focus is to get fit or lose weight,” she says. “It’s not about speed.”
Austin Fit offers two walking programs – the eight-week Art of Fitness Walking program for beginners looking to build up to a 5K distance ($60), and the 19-week spring training program ($125). Group members meet in Central Austin and walk an array of neighborhood routes. Pace varies according to participants; no experience is necessary.