The other day one of the WordPress daily topics was “What’s the farthest you have walked in one day?”. I put the topic in the back of my mind but last night when I was looking for photos for the “launch” weekly photo challenge my mind went back to this topic.
There are many times I’d say I “walked a mile in my shoes”. There was the time when we lived in New Orleans and we were young and crazy and it was during Mardi Gras season when the trolleys weren’t running their normal schedule. We were young and crazy and pretty drunk I think and we walked from way down in the Garden District at this bar called Harry’s think ALL THE WAY down to the French Quarter. I’m not sure how many blocks it was but it was a LONG way and my feet were KILLING me by the time we got there. Then of course we had to walk BACK. I don’t think we thought about that when we started out our bar hopping walk. I think we had friends in town and we were just being crazy.
Still that wasn’t nearly the longest I’ve walked in one day. Many a time when I was a youngster I’d roam the woods for hours and hours with my dad or my aunt. I’m not sure how many miles we walked but I know it was a lot and it brings back fond memories thinking about it.
Still not the longest walk I’ve ever taken or undertaken. A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to try my hand at the Susan G Komen 3 Day Walk. Surprisingly at the time that I signed up for it I wasn’t nearly as worried about the amount of miles we’d be walking as the amount of money we would have to raise. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to make my money raising goals that the fact we’d be walking almost 60 miles in 3 days didn’t even faze me! HAHAHAHA what a naïve woman I can be!
I started training I think in March for the walk in October. I found another woman who lived out here near where I lived and we’d try to walk together at least once a week and sometimes more. The closer we got to the walk the more we tried to walk together. I tried to walk at least 3 miles a day and on weekends I tried to walk 7 to 10 miles each day. My biggest problem was blisters. I would occasionally get blisters on my toes or heels. I tried everything I could find in my research. I tried NuSkin and Moleskin and those cushions that fit over your toes and I bought 3 different pairs of shoes that I wore alternately to try to break in and see which ones worked the best.
As October approached I met and exceeded my fund raising goal. I think we had to raise $2,300 to even participate in the walk. Of course if I’d been smart I’d have raised just shy of my goal and said “Oops… can’t do it… just take the money and I’ll just not walk!” Of course that’s not the way it went or the way it works. If you don’t raise your money YOU are responsible for the balance since you committed to that amount. I think I ended up raising around $3,000? Anyway, I met my money goal and Becks and I headed to Buford the night before the walk. We had 4 of us from Douglasville that had our own little “tribe” to walk together and one of the girls boyfriends drove us up there so we didn’t have to worry about leaving one of our cars at the hotel since we wouldn’t be going back there.
The goal was 20 miles a day (or thereabouts) for 3 days in a row. Yeah, call us crazy. We started out the first day bright and early. I’m talking getting up at like 5 A.M. because we had to catch the shuttle that would pick us up and take us to Lake Lanier for the start at 6:30 A.M. I think the walk actually started at 7:00 A.M. Whatever, it was EARLY. Too dang early to be WALKING 20 miles!
The original plan was that we’d camp (2 people to a little pink pop up tent, in our sleeping bags) outdoors, BUT…. On Friday it started raining and it rained cats and dogs. I’m talking torrential downpours but we soldiered through it. They did end up cutting our walk short by a couple of miles and instead of camping out in the rain we ended up moving our “camp” to the Apparel Mart in Gwinnett which is basically a HUGE warehouse type thing with concrete floors.
The good news is that it looked beautiful with all the pink little tents set up indoors and we did stay dry and it was a lot warmer than camping out doors. The BAD news was that being 50+ years old and sleeping only in a sleeping bag on a cold concrete floor is NOT so good for old arthritic bones that are used to a nice comfy bed. The next morning I could barely walk. I was not only sore from walking almost 20 miles, but, I was achy and sore from sleeping on the concrete floor. You could definitely tell the ones who had done this walk before … they were smart enough to bring blow up mattresses!
The second day I found that the biggest mistake was stopping at lunch and taking my shoes off! Then my feet were so swollen and covered in blisters that it was excruciating to put my shoes back on and stand up. I had blisters upon blisters everywhere BUT my heels. I had stopped at one of the medic tents after lunch and was told that if I wanted to walk the next day I needed to cut short my walk so that I’d be ABLE to walk the next day. I followed their expert direction and stopped one check point short of the 20 miles so I guess I walked about 17 or 18 miles that day.
By the time you got back to the camp and got a portable shower and your dinner you really didn’t want to do a whole lot more. We did go to the “talent” show that evening and heard a lot of the women’s and men’s stories and it was heart wrenching and heart warming and inspirational. It was one of the most inspirational things I have ever done in my life!
The last morning my mom called me as we were on the bus on the way to our starting point and I made the mistake of bragging to her that of all the places on my body that were bruised and battered and blistered that my heels were GREAT! Not a single blister, I’m sure partly due to the thick moleskin adhesive bandages she had sent me. Famous last words, right? Before we even got to the first check point my heel on my left foot started tingling and then burning furiously. I had to stop on the side of the road and take off my shoe and sure enough I had a nasty blister. I bandaged it up but it was too late! By the time we got to the first check point BOTH heels were blistered beyond belief. I got them both bandaged along with my toes and pads of my feet and everything else.
By lunch time I was in agony. I generously slathered on icy hot and mineral ice and BenGay and anything else I could find. I also took Tylenol at every other checkpoint and by lunchtime I was seriously hobbling. I should not have sat down and really shouldn’t have taken off my shoes but thought that rubbing them would help. It didn’t. I told my walking buddy to go ahead without me and I’d catch the bus to the next check point. Of course the ONE time there wasn’t a trolley every 5 minutes would be that time. I ended up walking about halfway to the next checkpoint before I caught the “sweeper” bus. So, I missed walking about a mile and a half on that day. I wanted to make sure that I could walk into the stadium at the end.
I waited for a while to try and let my feet recuperate a little bit but by the time I started back out every single step was agony. I was miserable but determined to do it. I felt guilty enough that I hadn’t walked the entire 20 miles every day. I can be very stubborn (which sometimes translates as STUPID) and was hell bent on being able to walk into Turner Field. I had to stop a LOT that leg of the journey. I was SLOW going and more than a few people stopped to ask if I was ok. I wasn’t but I said I was. I told myself I was going to do it. Truth be known, if I’d just kept walking, slow and steady, it probably would not have hurt as badly as it ended up hurting.
After we got into the stadium and then walked across to the parking lot for the closing ceremonies my feet were throbbing. When we took off our shoe to raise in honor of those who lost their journey I didn’t even bother to put my shoe back on. In fact, I took the other one off and hobbled across the asphalt to the car. My feet were blistered beyond belief and I had blood blisters under my big toenail (which later caused the nail to fall off) and I had never been in so much pain and agony in my life, but I had also never been so satisfied in my life.
I didn’t walk a full 60 miles or a full 20 miles each day but it was pretty close. I’m sure I walked between 17 and 18 miles each day so I walked about 53 or 54 miles total. Yes, it’s a long way. Would I do it again? I don’t know if my body could take it but I may decide to volunteer at the camp instead. But at least I challenged my body and pushed it past the max that I thought it could go. And I’ve never been so inspired in my life.