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Friday, November 26, 2010

Walking... walking... and more walking...

Showing off my pack bling!
I read on the 3 day message boards that some people don't train for the 60 mile walk.  ???  I have absolutely no idea how they do it!  I trained with my teammates for many months, and a few weeks before the walk I still wasn't sure if I had trained enough to walk all 60 miles.  I know my teammates expressed feeling the same way, and we were all a little nervous about it.  But we also knew that with the time our busy lives allotted us to walk, we couldn't have done much more than we did.

I remember at some point in the middle of August reality hit.  Less than 2 months left!  I was floored!  I remember thinking back to when it was May and I felt like October was so far away it would never come.  So my team and I definitely felt it was time to "step it up a notch" with our training.  Time to do some serious mileage!  On the weekday evenings that we walked, we couldn't really add more miles than we were doing, so we kept those to 5-6 mile walks.  On the weekend walks though, we started trying to add more.  I must take my hat off to my sister-in-law Lisa here.  She was an absolutely wonderful training walk planner.  I don't know how many hours she spent total, but she worked very hard to plan walks that gave us choices in which way to go depending on how we felt that day, plenty of bathroom breaks (not easy when you are walking on a trail and through residential neighborhoods unless you wanted to stop at a stranger's house and knock on the door...) since we were doing our best to keep well hydrated, and of course we had to have our little breaks near our car so that we could refill our water bottles (which luckily was parked at my teammates' brother's house so we had a bathroom as well).  She was our logistical genius, and I will take this moment to thank her again:  THANK YOU LISA YOU ROCK!!

Gettysburg - the big 20!
So we steadily increased our miles to doing 12-15 miles.  Not easy, at least for me.  But at least I had my teammates to walk with, and talking with them while walking made me forget about how tired I felt or any of my little aches and pains I was finding as the miles stretched on.  I applaud  those people who trained doing this many miles on their own (as I may be doing this coming year), because having people to talk to and share the misery some days (I didn't always feel like walking that many miles early on a Sat. morning!) made it easier.  Anyway we continued this for a few more weeks, looking forward to our final big challenge before the event itself:  the recommended 20 mile/18 mile back-to-back walk.  Some days I couldn't wait for the challenge, some days I was nervous, and I'd even spent a few days dreading it.  And then all of a sudden that weekend we set aside for our big walk had arrived...

The horseback maneuvers
We did the 20 mile walk around Gettysburg, and it was a terrific idea.  It was really helpful to have a beautiful place to walk when you are doing 20 miles!   It was a perfect Sept. Maryland weather day too, which helped as well.  We walked all around the downtown area in our pink glory, and were able to restrain ourselves from stopping at an outdoor stall serving cinnamon rolls and from stopping at a flea market we passed.  We took a million pictures, and I learned a way to keep my camera handy by strapping it to the outside of my pack so that I didn't continuously have to keep taking it in and out all day long (this was a great idea since at the 60 mile event I also wanted to take lots of pics!).   Then we were on to the battlefields where we dodged motorcycle gangs and watched a little show of civil war soldiers doing horseback maneuvers.  And we learned that 5 mile stretches between bathroom breaks was pushing it a little, and we were very grateful for the port-a-pot we found that was there for some construction workers...

The battlefield cemetery
By about mile 18 I was getting what I like to call "stupid tired."  I remember that for some reason we debated on crossing an area that was fenced, and I said something about not wanting to climb over a fence again.  Where that came from I'm not sure, since we never climbed a fence that day...  We finished our last few miles walking through the peaceful battlefield cemetery, and actually (due to getting a tiny bit lost earlier) we walked closer to 21 miles that day.  We were all dead tired, but I felt a great sense of accomplishment at finishing our 20 miles.  But the next day we planned on walking 15 more miles and I can't say I looked forward to that...

A much needed stretching break
It turned out that one of our teammates was unable to join us for the 15 mile walk the next morning, due to a family medical emergency.  So it was only 2 of us for the 2nd day of our long walk weekend.  And the 2 of us barely made it.  We were not used to starting out already aching and exhausted from the day before, and we had to stop and stretch a lot more often, especially near the end.  How were we possibly going to make it through the 20 miles on the 2nd day of the 3 day event?  So feeling beat up and exhausted and having some serious doubts, we actually ended after 14 miles.  I didn't feel that same sense of accomplishment I had felt the day before.  I could only hope and pray that at the event the adrenaline, the people around me, and God would see me finish every mile...

Luckily, our excitement and enthusiasm returned as the weeks turned into days before our event!

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