, , , ,


September 10, 2017

Twenty miles!  Twenty freakin’ miles!!

No training, no equipment, no sports drinks, no amount of stretching prepares your body to walk twenty miles if you haven’t done it before.  The previous week’s sixteen mile walk didn’t do it because that, by comparison, was a stroll on the boardwalk.

We’re coming down to crunch time with our training for the September 24th Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund walk.  We were due to ramp up from sixteen to eighteen to twenty miles over three consecutive weekends.  But today we’re in Wilkes Barre, PA visiting the vegan daughter, so there was no training yesterday.

We debated doing the twenty mile walk the weekend before the event, but, by then you’re supposed to be gearing down not up.  Ultimately, we figured if we could do twenty miles, we wouldn’t need to do the eighteen.  So, on Labor Day weekend, we tackled our twenty mile walk.

First, we need to check our schedule to see when we’ll have the free time to walk for five plus hours.  Saturday morning is out because our window of opportunity is too small.  We would prefer Sunday morning, but the forecast is for rain, starting early and going all day.  Monday is possible, but humidity is due to return with Sunday’s rain.

Almost on a whim, the vegan spouse suggests Saturday afternoon.  We’ve never started a walk in the afternoon before.  Saturday’s weather is a sneak peak into fall: clear, dry, and a unicorn kiss below seventy degrees.  Our bodies would have the benefit of already being warmed up from the morning’s activities.  So Saturday it is.

We’re going to do our twelve mile walk twice, but we’ll knock four miles off the second leg.  We get off to a fast start, doing the first mile (all uphill) in fifteen minutes.  Not far into the walk we joke that we’ll need to keep up a brisk pace in order to finish before dark.  It’s only 2:30.

After our first twelve miles, we stop at home to use the bathroom, grab some water and fruit, and, for me, to change sneakers.  We bought new sneakers for the walk and mine refuse to get broken in.  I keep wearing thinner socks but it hasn’t helped.  The sneakers have been tolerable for the most part, but not today.  I’ve had numbness and some pain.

The footwear change makes an enormous difference for me, but we still start out much slower than we did earlier.  Maybe we’re pacing ourselves.  Or maybe this is foreshadowing of what’s still to come.

As we move past mile sixteen and seventeen, the vegan spouse has some knee pain but plenty of energy,  I don’t have as much pain but my energy level has disappeared.  Even my mind is playing tricks on me.  Are we past the high school yet?  It seems like we should be, but we’re not.  Once it’s finally in sight, it seems to take forever to get by it.

Despite the dry air, or maybe because of it, I’ve never felt so thirsty on a walk. I always drink water before and after, but during the walk, I’ve never had any problems.  Today is different.  I suck on lifesavers, but it only seems to make me more thirsty.

With darkness closing in at 7:15, we finish.  We had to do a little loop past our house in order to reach twenty.  As our bodies cool off and stiffen up, the combination of pain and fatigue is devastating.  Getting off the couch to do anything takes maximum effort.  Stairs?  It’s like climbing a mountain.  And going down isn’t any easier.

Several days after the walk, I had a dream.  We had done the Jimmy Fund Walk and I was relating the experience to someone.  “It really wasn’t that bad,” I’m saying in the dream, “but that twenty mile training walk we did?  That was brutal….”

In a few weeks, we’ll find out if that dream comes true.