Monday, April 6, 2009

pushing the limits

Yesterday I set off in the morning to go on the longest walk I've ever been on. I walked about 32 miles non-stop. Because I had done days before where I had gone about 25, I thought this would be a challenge, but I also thought it would be pretty manageable because some of my previous walks would have prepared me for what was to come. I was wrong.

It was more challenging than I would have thought, both physically and psychologically.

Physically, on all the other marathon length days I've done, the walks were broken up into multiple trips over the course of the day. I had been under the impression that doing those walks over the course of one day would be roughly the same as covering that distance non-stop.

The first lesson I learned yesterday was how quickly your body can restart the clock if you let it. Doing four 6 mile walks, with an hour or so between them, is a lot easier than doing 24 straight, let alone 32. It makes sense, but I was really surprised by how much so. I could have given myself breaks along the way, but because of the distance I was trying to cover, I wanted to do it all at once, so I could return home by nightfall.

Psychologically it was a battle. In the past, because the miles have been more broken up, when my body started to feel the strain, I was comforted by the fact that home was never more than a few miles away. With this trip, I felt the strain and knew that home was 16 miles away. There were moments where I questioned if I was going to be able to make it. I knew no matter how bad things got, I could of course make it; but the challenge wasn't making it physically, it was not giving up first.

Other than the strain, by body held up fairly well. My feet and hands swelled up quite a bit. I had to loosen the lacing on my shoes, and my finger swelled up so tight I couldn't remove my wedding band had I tried. After about half of the walk was over, I began to chafe a little in my upper thighs. I walked through that pain, and got home OK, but upon inspection, two little patches looked like raw hamburger. It was excruciating to wash in the shower.

The absolute worst part wasn't the walk; it was what my body did when I finally stopped. When I got to the house, my muscles started to sieze up. Then this horrible chill came over me, and I started shaking uncontrollably for roughly 15 minutes. When I took my shoes off, my feet swelled more, and the rush of the fresh blood to them throbbed. I took a shower, some advil, and a strong beer, and I relaxed a bit and began to recover.

Meeting the challenge was very rewarding, but it was also very useful. I've learned what some of my limitations are right now, and what I need to do to overcome them next time. I think most of all I have to take a little better care of my feet. I think a cushioned insole, or at the very least, better socks, would have made it possible to extend my range considerably. I also finally want to invest in proper hiking underwear and shorts. There are a lot of great products out there that would do a much better job of wicking away sweat, breathing, and keeping me cool than the normal stuff I've been wearing. Without the chafing, I could have gone a lot further as well. Other than that, it's just a matter of mental conditioning. I think I already have it in me, physically, to walk 50 miles in a day, as long as my feet hold up, and the rest of my body is comfortable.

truth? division street

crossing the hawthorne bridge.

I eat humans. Union Station.

cherry's, bridge, willamette, convention center.

Union Station from the pedestrian bridge over the tracks.

Sauvie Island Bridge from the island side.

view of the island with Mt. Hood in the background.

the day before I walked to work and back. 7.2 miles.

april 4th + 5nd

39.2 miles
218.24 miles cumulative
8.7296 total gallons saved