Walking for RBG

I got my first cell phone less than two years ago. During the 10 years that I spent a lot of time out in the woods on horseback, people were amazed — shocked, even — that not only did I not take a cell phone with me when I went riding, I didn’t even own one. “What if something happens?” they asked.

Well, I survived a childhood on horseback and a young adulthood commuting by bicycle in Washington, D.C., not only without a cell phone but without a helmet, so I was willing to take my chances.

It does come in handy, I have to admit. These days I would have a hard time living without the ability to text. But I usually leave it home when I go out unless I don’t know where I’m going. You will not catch me texting or making phone calls while driving.

I also swore that you would not catch me taking my cell phone when I go for a walk, which I do twice a day: long one in the morning, shorter one in the afternoon, always with Tam Lin, my walking buddy. When I want to take pictures, I take my digital point-and-shoot camera. I don’t need to take my goddamn phone.

Until this morning.

It’s all because my friend Carla introduced me to Run for RBG. A scheme to raise funds for four women-focused organizations: Planned Parenthood, NOW, Girls Who Code, and the Foundation for Women’s Cancer. The RBG part was easy: anything to honor the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg was OK with me. But run? Moi?

Well, it turns out you can walk or bike as well as run, and you can do it cumulatively, not all at once. You can choose among a 5K run/walk, an 87-mile walk/run/jog challenge, or an 87-mile bike challenge. Since I walk every day, I went with the 87-mile run/walk challenge.

To track my miles, I downloaded the Map My Walk app to my phone. It tells you all sorts of stuff, like route, mileage, time, and how many steps you took. I tested it yesterday: I delivered two Biden-Harris signs to Carla’s house in Katama, it was a gorgeous afternoon, and she suggested a walk to Edgartown Great Pond. Well, yeah!

Our route looks sort of like someone reclining on the beach with one leg bent. For some reason my phone logged 2.5 miles and Carla’s logged 2.47.

From where we stood on the shore, we glimpsed a bit of the beach that goes with the property the Obamas closed on last December. If you want to know what the whole thing looks like, see this Vineyard Gazette story. Carla has seen Michelle Obama walking by her house, where several pro-Democrat signs are clearly visible from the road. We hope the former First Family knows they’ve got friends in the neighborhood.

Susanna and Tam on the beachTam Lin came along too, and since this was totally new territory for him, he did plenty of sniffing. This may explain why I clocked 0.03 more miles than Carla did. No idea how many steps add up to 0.03 miles, but as the Run for RBG website says, quoting the lady herself: “Real change happens one step at a time” — and every step counts.

Note, of course, the Ditch Mitch T-shirt.

All of the above is to explain why I took my cell phone with me when Tam and I went for our walk this morning.

Turns out our usual route is not the 3+ miles that I’ve been guessing. According to the Map My Walk app, it’s 2.0 on the nose. I’m also told that this was 4,888 steps and my actual walking time was 44 minutes, 11 seconds. This does not include the time I spent visiting with David Whitmon on the bike path: I hit Pause for that. Tam has already figured out what the late Travvy knew: that flashing headlights up the bike path probably mean David’s coming in the orange Velomobile with treats in the cockpit.

The discrepancy between my average pace (22:07) and my maximum pace (13:52) has to be due partly to Tam’s stopping to sniff and/or pee and our pausing to do a little training (sit, down, front, pivot, side step, etc.) along the way.

Here’s what our usual morning walk looks like. Sometimes we do it clockwise, other times counterclockwise. Once in a while we go to the post office instead. That’s in the other direction. It’s 2.22 miles round-trip. I know that because we did it yesterday morning.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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