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Who Wants to Pound Some Pavement?

I hate to fly. We’re talking white knuckles from wheels up to wheels down. When I fly, I have no control, and when I have no control, my mind wonders.  When my mind wonders, I end up thinking about blown engines, and what those 40 seconds would feel like as I plunge to my death.

It was with that fear that I was offered a job from my uncle to become part of his parks and recreations consulting firm. Which was good news… I was a recent University of Kansas grad, fresh off a  semi-successful fraternity rush campaign, let’s just say the job offers weren’t exactly pouring in.    The bad news? We would fly…a lot. Sometimes as many as four flights in five days. Brutal.

I reluctantly decided to take my uncle’s offer, thinking, you face your fears, not hide behind them.  I was sure that after six months, they’d be asking me to take over the cockpit controls when the pilots chose fish for dinner. Unfortunately, my fear never subsided, and I ended up lasting only a few months flying around America. I learned many things that summer, most notably, that those parks & recreations departments that had partnered with a citizen led “friends ” group had beautiful park systems.  I told my uncle, as I walked off our last flight together, that when I got settled, I would look to start my own “friends” group.

Fast forward to 2008, after settling in Wentzville, MO, I met with, and ultimately convinced a friend of mine by the name of Mark Horst to begin a citizen led, non-profit organization.  A few weeks later the Friends of the Wentzville Parks (FoWP) was born. Our Mission: To help bring about a world-class parks and recreations department to the city of Wentzville. Since the beginning, we’ve been an advocate for local parks. Raising money and helping to build projects such as a basketball court and batting cages.

One of two large projects for 2012

In early 2012, we helped to introduce and fund the “We Play” scholarship program. It is, without a doubt, my proudest Friends of the Parks accomplishment to date.

Here’s the deal, if you live in my home town, and cannot afford to use the services and programs offered through the parks, the FoWp will pick up the tab. Can’t afford a pool pass? No problem, we’ll take care of it. Recently lost your job and can’t find the money to sign up for t- ball? No worries, we got it.  This economy got you feeling like you are plunging towards Earth, no control in sight?  We got your parachute.  

In only a few short months, dozens of families have applied and qualified for the “We Play” scholarship program. The FoWP has put thousands of dollars to use in our community, advocating health & well-being, above all else.  None of this would be possible without the aforementioned Mr. Horst, fellow board members Jeff Simmons, Dan Berg, and of course our parks directors Mary Jo Dessieux and Assistant Director Dottie Phillips.

2011 Pound the Pavement Finish Line

It’s been a great ride, and our organization loves our parks…but I’ll let you in on a little secret…the FoWP is a pretty small group.  We’ve been fortunate to forge some nice partnerships in the community, but we actually only do one fundraiser a year.

That happens to be the Pound the Pavement for Parks 5k & 10k. This years race will be held on August 25th, in conjunction with Wabash Days, and will begin in downtown Wentzville. You can get all the information here.

I write today because we could use your help. The FoWP is caught in a conundrum beset by so many non profits these days. The vicious economy means more and more people need our help.  Yet, that same economy makes our fundraising efforts that much harder.  So here’s where you come in…there are many ways to help, here are just a few:

Share our story…Tweet it, Like it, Pin it, Google+ it…(who am I kidding, no one uses google +), whatever fits your social media fancy.  While you’re at it, follow us on Twitter here and like our Facebook page here.

Sign up for the race.  Go ahead, use our race as the excuse you need to get healthy. If you’ve never run a 5k, use this guide to get you started. If you are an accomplished runner, then what are you waiting for?  Get signed up!

Volunteer.  We could use all-hands-on-deck day of, or if you can’t be there, print off some flyers and take’em to your place of business, or take’em to church, or take’em to wherever you want, just take’em!

Sponsor the race with your donations. Checks can be made out to Friends of the Wentzville Parks, and mailed to 4722 Providence Woods Circle, Wentzville, MO 63385.

What I can share with you is this:  Your race entry or donations will go towards making our parks world-class, but will also go to those in need. We know children do better in school when they are exposed to youth programs.  It builds self-esteem and keeps kids busy after school.  In these economic times, it’s as important as ever, that no child or family is denied the ability to enjoy our parks, regardless of their financial situation.

So, who’s with me? Let’s go Pound some Pavement!

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Gotta Run

To review, four weeks ago I accepted a challenge, then revealed intimate details of my life, followed by the purchase of a  van, culminating in the birth of a child.  All-in-all, a pretty good four weeks…only one issue…I feel awful…

I used to weigh about 210 pounds…(want to see a pic? My assistant, Anita, says it looks like a normal picture of me, only squeezed into a small box…I’d be mad if wasn’t so true). Two years ago, I stopped drinking, started running, and haven’t looked back…In April of 2012 I completed my first full marathon in Nashville, and I felt great.

It worked so well…I stopped.

Stopped running, stopped eating right and now I feel just awful. I’ve lost my energy, don’t sleep well, and I’m subject to fits of moodiness, much to the dismay of the Better Half. So, it’s time to get back on the horse. I’ve signed up for the St Louis Rock n Roll half marathon, and I’m gonna start training today. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I’ll use this blog to check in from time-to-time to give you updates.

The Plan

First, you may ask, why a half marathon instead of the full…(or your might think, why either, they both sound obnoxious) Well, for me, training for the full marathon became a part-time job…nothing like waking up on a random Wednesday morning and running 10 miles before work. I already have a full-time job and a third baby…so in order to keep the wife happy, maintain some Daddy Balance, I decided to scale back to the half. Besides, the full marathon was brutal. The half is a great distance. Long enough that you must train and take care of your body to run well, but not so long that you think you might die.

The Rock n Roll is Sunday, Oct 20th, about 12 weeks away. I’ll be following the intermediate training plan here.  My goal is to finish under 1 hour 45 minutes. To accomplish this goal, I’m going to try a couple of things.

First, I’m gonna lose some weight. I realize that I’ve already lost quite a bit, but I’m one of these guys who goes out for a long run and burns a lot of calories, then comes home and eats ice cream…hey, something to reward yourself, right? The issue is that I don’t lose a lot of weight, and end up heavier than I want to be…it’s hard enough to run 13.2 miles, try carrying an extra 10lbs. To that end, I’m gonna start with a 7 day cleanse, (at the suggestion of my personal trainer, who moonlights as my Big Sis, you can follow her on twitter @jenpietrzak) then follow Bob Greene’s Best Life Diet to lose some weight.

Second, I’m gonna do some cross training. In the past, I’ve run, then I’ve run some more…after which, I’d go for a run. I do very little in the way of changing things up, so this time, I’m gonna try some yoga. I looked it up earlier, and I am, in fact, the most inflexible person in the world. Adding some flexibility should help my balance, weight and speed. All things that I need help on.

There you have it…Cleanse, run, diet, yoga, run, diet, yoga, Half Marathon…who’s with me?

Seriously, who’s in?  Do you run?  Would you like to?

Join me for the Rock n Roll on Saturday, October 20th.  They offer a 5k race if your are just starting, or marathons if you’d like.  Keep me updated on this blog or twitter https://twitter.com/gregyounger.  You can find all the info at http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/st-louis

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