Lower Valley women share life stories during 23 years of weekend walks
What happens on the walk, stays on the walk.
That's the motto of Eileen Koch and Alice Slapikas, two Lower Valley women who forged a deep friendship by putting one foot in front of the other for 23 years during weekend walks.
Koch, 59, of Aspinwall and Slapikas, 58, of O'Hara met as strangers during a Lamaze class at The Western Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh in 1990.
“We were the only two from this area so we kind of hit it off,” said Slapikas, who works at UPMC St. Margaret, near Aspinwall.
They began a buddy system to walk off the baby weight, but what happened next surprised them both.
“It was amazing how much we have in common,” Koch said. “As our kids grew, the topics changed, but there were always similarities.”
At first, the pair would meet at The Waterworks Giant Eagle at 5:30 a.m. on weekends before the newborns awoke. They could put in four miles around the shopping plaza and get home before the first bottles were due.
“You can tell we're a lot older,” Koch said with a laugh, “because now we don't meet until 10.”
Because their children were the same age and sometimes in the same classes at in the Fox Chapel Area School District, the women often dealt with similar issues.
“First, there was the obstacle of half-day kindergarten, then Girl Scouts, sports, teachers and socialness,” Koch said.
“We can't believe so many years have gone by. I have pictures of our babies as infants, and now, they're both in grad school.
“We're always talking a mile a minute, and we focus not on walking but on the conversation and what's going on in each other's lives.”
Topics have transitioned from play dates and homework to health issues and employment.
Recently, they had to lighten the laps while Slapikas recuperated from two knee replacements.
They've switched up the scenery, as well, from the loop at RIDC Park in O'Hara to the high school track to the trails at Squaw Valley Park.
When it rains or dips below freezing like it has been recently, they meet for an indoor stroll at the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills in Frazer.
“Last week, we were out, and it suddenly starting snowing,” Koch said. “We were laughing hysterically because we were getting pounded by snow, and we looked around, and of course, no one was out but us.”
Over the years, the walks have cemented the friendship and bolstered their overall health.
The pair still meet Saturdays and Sundays for a dedicated hour of exercise, but it is combined with motivation and sharing that has become like therapy.
It has become less about fitness and more an emotional workout, the women agreed.
“We've been able to help each other through a lot,” Slapikas said. “I look forward to that time each week to laugh and share with my confidant.”
Koch added: “The doctor is in, 5 cents.”
She said in today's world of technology and instant gratification, the women enjoy touching base face to face.
“It's an example we try to set,” Koch said. “The kids are always talking to 10 people at once on the computer or phone, but that quality isn't there.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- O’Hara-based furniture drive to benefit Habitat for Humanity
- Book signing by Aspinwall author scheduled for Shadyside eatery
- Masters swim club hits Shady Side Academy pool, seeks members
- Aspinwall officers join program to help find lost individuals
- Plan keeps Indiana Twp. tax rate steady
- Indiana Township launches holiday food drive
- Aspinwall officials consider benefits of joining land bank
- Fox Chapel Boy Scouts selling wreaths to benefit scouting programs
- Blawnox woman greets Boyd visitors with smile