Making my way back to a reasonable mileage has meant walking until my body and mind let me know they were comfortable running again.
The mileage challenges offered this summer kept me out there walking until I could run. It started with a local June Challenge, followed by Fleet Feet’s Runnsylvania 283 Challenge. Runnsylvania 283 challenged participants to virtually run or walk the 283 miles across Pennsylvania. The challenge began on summer solstice June 20 and ends on the autumnal equinox September 22.
Runnsylvania was a long and slow go for me. Still recovering from health stuff in early summer, the majority of the miles were done walking with some off-and-on running incorporated in the last 100 miles. Learning to be patient and enjoy the walk was part of the experience.
During the first fifty or so, the miles seemed to drag. Then, I began finding obscure ways to occupy my mind. Circling through my neighborhood, I decided to have my personally created best door contest, anything to keep my mind occupied as I adjusted to a walk pace. The next day it was which house had the most intriguing shutters, followed by best-in-show flower gardens. The homeowners had no idea they were involved in a tough competition playing out in my mind. I did briefly consider providing each of the winners with a token award for helping me pass the miles.
Flora and fauna helped me measure my progress along the 283 mile challenge. Walking gave time to watch plants change over the three-month period. The pastels of mid-June gave way to the muted yellow and orange of September.
I quietly strolled by the fairy house at the base of a maple tree so as not to disturb its occupants.
Down the road I spotted a beautiful butterfly (I think an eastern tiger swallowtail) stopping by for some nourishment. I’m curious whether it will travel south or winter over. I envy its ability to travel. No closed borders for this beautiful creature.
In those final days closing on Mile 283, the lyrics of a song from the 60’s kept scrolling through my mind “I’ve got 25 miles to go now, my feet are hurting mighty bad, I got to keep on walking ” or something like that. The weather was cooling; the corn had grown high.
By the time I had completely surveilled my neighborhood, I found my walking groove and began to enjoy the pace. I had exhausted every nick and cranny of local roads, so ventured a few miles away to some of my go-to peaceful places. The Susquehanna River with the Blue Mountain Water Gap and the Rockville Bridge never disappoint.
My 283 mile journey was complete about a week before the cutoff date. It’s a long walk, although maybe 30 miles or so toward the end were run miles. I had progressed to running and ran most of my longest day – 10 miles. But hey, this walking thing has some advantages. I learned where to find the fairies, where the swallowttails hang out and even some words of wisdom from a soothsayer squirrel.
I hope you are meeting all of your challenges, physical, mental and mileage. We’ve made it to the autumnal equinox so let’s keep rolling forward until we kick 2020 out the door.