A Brief History

This all started early in 2017.

Well, that’s not totally true. I’ve always been a wanderer, and a dreamer, and a creator of things. But, it wasn’t until mid-2017 that I realized how much I needed more purposeful wandering in my life and how much it affects my well-being.

45 Hours

Earlier this year, I had an idea. On my 45th birthday, I would walk for 45 hours nonstop. I don’t remember why, honestly. Most of the ideas I have just pop into my brain. Sometimes, they’re worth remembering or acting on, and sometimes, not so much. I have journals of random ideas. Ideas that I like, but don’t have a passion to commit to completing.

I committed to make this happen. But, I didn’t prepare like I should have. I was in great physical shape at the time but not really prepared (as I found out) to complete a task of this magnitude. It was a glorious failure. I walked roughly 40 miles in about 13 hours. Between bad choices in shoes, socks, clothing, backpack, food, and my mental state to finish, it was a disaster waiting to happen.

It certainly wasn’t all bad. There was a tremendous amount of good. I learned what I did wrong. I took action on an idea. And, it re-ignited my love for wandering, walking, and hiking. It gave me great insight into myself… and, in the end, as much pain as I was in, I was also really happy.

Utah

Photo Credit: Dan Campbell / Red Bull

In the midst of training to walk the above distance, my family visited Iron Mountain, Michigan. They have a sweet mine tour you can take, but they also have one of only a few ski jumps in the midwest. Not having seen one in person before, I was blown away by the sheer height, extreme angles of the jump and hill, and the fact that people willingly launch themselves off these ramps for sport. I shared a story with my kids about this race I read about where people run up these hills and how nuts it seemed.

Lightbulb moment.

I couldn’t shake the idea from my head. It was too good. After a bit of research, I found one race in the USA in 2017. The Red Bull 400 in Park City, Utah at the end of September. Two weeks after my 45 hour walk. I had to be there.

Training shifted to weighted (vest) walks, hill running, sprints, and more. In addition to longer walks, I now had the most opposite training, all at once.

After my walk, I was injured from the knees down. My toes were destroyed and I was on the verge of more major injury (I could see what was coming from previous experience.) I had less than 3 weeks to recover.

I made it to Utah (generally pain free) and it was a most incredible experience. I met great people, had fun, and ran a pretty good race. Not knowing what to expect was the biggest problem. It’s unique and difficult to train for, unless you live near a mountain. On top of the difficulty of sprinting straight up 400 meters, this hill was at nearly 7000 feet elevation. I finished about mid-pack. At the top of the hill, I was gasping for air – the altitude really hit me (and most everyone else). It took quite some time for my lungs to regain their composure, but it was the greatest feeling to stand there, look out and see the hill I just climbed.

Knowing what I know now, I’m looking to be significantly faster when I go back next year. *smile*

I also had an amazing opportunity to wander through Salt Lake City, and Park City. My feet were feeling good, and I was ready to explore. I walked through cold, and rain – almost 15 miles a day. It was meditative and freeing. It further cemented the idea that purposeful, and random wandering needs to be an important part of my life.

Walk To Work

While wandering around Utah, I started thinking about the future. If plans aren’t made, then everyday life can easily get in the way of hopes, dreams, and future wanderings.

I set my sights on a yet-to-be-shared event in June. To make this happen, I’ll need better planning and preparation than my 45 hour walk. I adjusted my daily workouts, and planned a monthly walk-to-work day. These will serve 3 purposes:

  1. Teach my body to be on my feet for longer periods of time. Forcing a back-to-back distance on that day. It’s a 26 mile round trip.
  2. Figure out the correct gear. I’ve already made adjustments to my socks and shoes and other apparel, and it’s made the walk drastically better.
  3. Learn what nutrition my body can and can’t handle.

So far I’ve made the walk twice. I struggled a bit on the return trip in October (toe problems). But, November proved to be solid. I had some sock issues, but I’ve got a new set for my December journey. Continued testing.

I love the peace and quiet on these walks. My fear of walking alone in the dark is fading, and my confidence is building. I get lots of time to think, but mostly my mind goes blank. It’s joyous.

New York City

While walking on the White Pine Trail is quiet and peaceful, I got to enjoy the polar opposite with my family over Thanksgiving. My son’s high school band was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. An incredible life experience – not just for him – but, for all of us.

This was a great chance to wander with my family. And we wandered. And we ate. Over 30 miles in the few days were were in town… plus standing for about 6 hours (4 before the parade started so we’d get a good spot on the parade route). Walking/wandering alone is great, but sharing the experience with my family made exploring the city even more fun.

What’s Next?

  1. December walk-to-work. Snowbound! Most likely.
  2. Continue this for a minimum of once a month throughout 2018. Looking towards twice a month in the warmer months… maybe alternating running one with walking one.
  3. 12 hour walk. Need to build up tolerance for a…
  4. 24 hour walk. Need to build up tolerance to…
  5. complete the 45 hour walk. I need to prove to myself it can be done. Train smarter!
  6. A yet-to-be shared race in June (Exciting!)
  7. And, back to Utah next September for more hill racing.

Thanks for joining me. My wandering inspires me to dream and wander more. I wish only the same for you.

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