Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kentucky I

Kentucky. I have a lot to say about Kentucky and it is only partly me bragging. Yes, I will admit to being darn proud of that accomplishment, but more than that, I want to inspire you to do something you never thought you could or would do or maybe just to get out and look around and find a bit more beauty in the world.

How did it start? The oldest boy had gone away from me for almost 2 weeks the year before on a Boy Scout High Adventure trip and the absence was painful. Long. Worrisome. And now, the youngest was making plans and preparations to go on this year’s trip. In order to spare me the separation from both boys and keep me from the worry, I was invited along. Maybe only in jest at first, but since the trip was to begin at a place I had taken the boys before, the more I was consulted for advice on travel, the more serious the invitations became. Finally, I settled down to think about it. What were the obstacles? I would need to train. To walk the distances and to carry the pack weight. I would need gear. That meant shopping. No problem there. So I consulted a couple friends who had done backpacking and marathons about training and laid out a plan in a spreadsheet, adding miles and weight to the pack in an alternating pattern, planning in rest days and plateaus and occasional challenge days. And on February 14, 2005, I began. I thought it was 2 miles to the hardware store and back, so I tied on the new hiking shoes and set off. Hell. Dammit. Piss. It hurt. My shins hurt and my legs hurt and my hips hurt and I got blisters on two toes and I was out of breath. It was a long hard way there and back. As I was posting the accomplishment of my first painful exhausting 2 miles into my spreadsheet, someone voiced the unwelcome opinion that it was only a mile and a half round trip. I limped to the Jeep and odometered it out, and sure enough. So I went back home, got the shoes back on, and walked a mile the other direction for a total of 3.5 miles that day. I followed the plan as best I could, discovering the wonders of wool socks, learning to tape the toe that persisted in blistering, learning how much water to take, that jelly beans are a quick way to replenish the blood sugar, how many layers to add for specific weather types, and so on. I told everyone I knew about my plan in order to be held accountable. Most were supportive and mentioned later that they saw me while they were out. Some honked or pulled over to say an encouraging word if I was walking on a sidewalk. “You get by with a little help from your friends” was never more true during those first few weeks of training!

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