fbWhen I first heard about the Epic Climb, there were so many thoughts running through my head about why I had to be a part of this adventure. Not only was this initiative going to raise epilepsy awareness to new heights, but it would also give me a chance to prove my own strengths and successes living with epilepsy, and cross 'visit the Grand Canyon' off of my bucket list –it appeared to be the perfect trifecta! There was only one thing I hadn't considered...my poor feet.


Ifeet began my training in January, 2014 by diving right into a 12 kilometer hike along the shores of Lake Ontario. I had done my research, and came prepared with all of the necessary gear; highly recommended hiking shoes, a great day pack, layers upon layers of sweat wicking clothing. I spent the days leading up to my hike being sure to eat the right amount of protein and carbs, and drinking enough water you'd think I was a camel storing up to cross the Gobi.


As we were about to embark on our first group training hike, I gave myself a nice pat on the back for being so prepared, then I noticed other people doing something that I was not. Everyone seemed to be checking their personal pedometers, making sure to note how many steps they had taken already before we started to walk the trail. I felt a sense relief of when I realized I hadn't missed something important, surely I had no need to count how many steps I was taking with each hike. I was wrong!


With the first celebration of 'yes, we're at the 12,000 step mark' and the constant back and forth between fellow pedometer enthusiasts, the competitive streak in me shone through and I decided I needed one of these. I was so excited about it that when I was asked by my mom about how my first training hike went I answered "Great!" but quickly shifted gears to "...but we're getting pedometers, you and I, and we're going to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps every day!"


And so it began. My pedometer has found its own special place on my bedside table, never to be forgotten first thing in the morning, and placed down only once I have resigned myself to bed. Now, I park further away at work, relish in the delight of walking up and down aisles at the grocery story, and only use the second floor bathroom because I know that the route upstairs adds another 100 steps onto my daily total. On an average day, I reach my 10,000 step goal before I get ready for bed. On a training day I reach my 10,000 step goal before 10:00am. (When I'm with the right company, I can add 6,000 steps during an epic and mildly embarrassing dance party.)


While the majority of the population is checking their cell phone, I am looking down at my hip (unless I'm wearing a dress that day...there is no way to appropriately check that in public). I have walked in the snow, and during the most humid of summer days. I have walked 30 kilometers at a time through the pain of cramps and intense blisters. Why? Because I am now a slave to the numbers on a pedometer and am so dedicated to the preparation for this climb. Since I began training nearly 10 months ago now, no matter where I am and no matter what I am doing, there is one constant –I will be checking my steps. I wouldn't have it any other way!


Chelsea Kerstens

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