So, how'd it go?

It’s Wednesday after as I write this, so I’ll try to remember best I can . . .

We started in Gaston right on time at 6:00 a.m. It was very dark (clouds, no moon, etc.), and chilly - around 37 degrees. With my headlamp lighting the way, we began walking south through a sparsely-populated area. Which is good, because there was this nagging fear of getting shot by a nervous landowner who didn’t like strangers walking behind his property at night.

Since it was dark, there wasn’t much to see, but at one point I did see the reflection of two eyes looking back at me from the trees—two beady, reflective eyes about 6 inches apart. Then the animal ran away. I thought it might have been a fox, or possibly a big cat. Charlie thought it was a bear or centaur or something. But he didn’t see the eyes, so he only had the sound of it running away to go on.

We met Cindy at the first stop not long after sunrise. Although, to be fair, I’m not sure the sun ever completely rose that day. It was grey and overcast all day (which was fine with us). She had hot coffee (yum!), and I refilled my water.

We then started on the leg which took us through Muncie. We walked by the airport and crossed Riggin Road, then crossed McGalliard. Both of us wished Chick-Fil-A was open on Sunday, because it was RIGHT THERE, and a chicken biscuit sounded really good! We walked past Wysor Depot, the headquarters of the Cardinal Greenway. Ironically, it’s closed on the weekends, when (I would guess) the majority of people USE the Greenway.

Being a former railroad line, the Greenway runs behind some interesting places. From a train, you see a different side of a city, and the Greenway is similar. Abandoned houses, former industrial parks, strange “education” sites, and the occasional nature area.

We next met Cindy at Mansfield Park. Matthew drove with as well, and it was nice to see him! We had walked 13 miles, and everything was fine. We’d had good conversations, the “grumpy old man” meter was staying down near 2 or 3, not the 8 we were expecting (“GET OFF MY LAWN!”). Anyway, at this stop, Cindy brought us hot chicken broth (well, Cup of Soup), which was AMAZING!! JUST what we needed! (Served in our commemorative metal Ball State tumblers we got at the premiere of the BSU documentary.)

From here, for the next 20 miles or so, we would be on stretches of the Greenway that I had used when I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon. There are some looooooong straightaways, where you see the trail go on for three miles with nothing to look at. Then you make a little turn, and there’s ANOTHER loooooooong straightaway. Charlie was amazed I had done long runs on here (alone!), because they are really soul-sucking stretches of asphalt. At the time I just thought it was because training for a marathon sucks. Now, having a bit more experience, I realize it’s just NOT a good place to do those runs!

Benches. Occasionally, there would be a bench. A nice bench. Built by the Greenway organization. In no particular location. Perhaps they are uniform distances apart, but I don’t think so. I think they just said, “let’s put a bench here.” Maybe they got a grant. One bench was on the east side of the trail looking at US-35, and an old house with a collapsed porch. Maybe they said, “let’s put a bench here so people can rest and look at the house.” It got really weird in the southern, completely barren parts of the trail. There would be a bench. I guess it’s better than NOT having a bench.

However, as we were walking close to Prairie Creek Reservoir (near the Red-Tail Preserve), we saw two figures walking toward us. As I said, it was a long straightaway, so when we first saw them, we thought it was a person and a dog. Then it totally looked like an adult with a child on a bike. Or maybe a scooter. As they got closer, we realized it was Cindy and Christina! They had parked at the next stop and walked back to meet us! They got a bit more than they expected, though, because they walked 2 miles before they found us, so they ended up doing a surprise 4-mile walk! But it was fun walking and talking with them.

So the reason for all of this nonsense was my birthday. At the next stop (19.5 miles), Cindy brought us birthday cake! And not just any old birthday cake - her amazing 4-layer, 3-chocolate cake! Basically, layers of chocolate cake with chocolate mousse between the layers, coated with an amazing chocolate ganache!

Around 17 miles, Charlie and I realized, that felt like the fastest 17 miles either of us had ever done! It wasn’t, of course, but between the company and the pace, it was nice and comfortable, and time really did fly by.

Temperatures were in the low 40s. When walking, we were both comfortable. When we stopped, we quickly got chilly, so we tried not to stop for too long. Or we sat in the heated van.

Our next stop was going to be Losantville. Not too long before that, I got a text from Jim Garringer saying he’s going to join us for a bit! I hear a car on 35 honk as it goes by, and there goes Jim! He parked at Losantville, then walked back to meet us, and walked with us to Losantville (where Cindy had hot subs for us!), then walked a couple more miles after that stop! It was a great visit, and I always love it when my various worlds connect. Charlie and Jim had nice runner conversations.

Finally, we got to Economy. Walking into town, we saw a couple of donkeys on a farm who were very social. One saw us and walked up to the fence, wanting to say hi! Of course, I stopped to talk to him. As we kept moving, he tried to keep up. When the other donkey tried to say hi, the first one moved in front. He’s the jealous type.

Things were getting a bit tough. We were sore and the sun was starting to set. I had the beginnings of two blisters on my left foot, and some unexpected aches in my right leg. None of this was a surprise, but still, it gets tougher. We were 34.5 miles in. Farther than I’ve ever gone on foot in one outing. This was new territory for me (and Charlie).

Unfortunately, the Cardinal Greenway trailhead in Economy is not near the main road (35). You have to turn and drive down a half mile or so. Also unfortunately, there is no sign on 35 for the trailhead. So we arrived, and there was no Cindy. I knew she was o.k., of course, and I figured she wasn’t sure where the trailhead was. I felt bad, though, because I knew she would be frustrated that she wasn’t there, and she would start to get worried about me. Also, cell service was spotty at best. Eventually, we were able to text a bit, and she would meet us at the next available trailhead.

Cindy met us at Newman Road, a paltry 2 miles further. Charlie found a walking stick. It helped him walk, and also made him feel more rustic. I was starting to hobble because of my blisters, so he graciously let me use his walking stick. He eventually got another for himself. It DID help with the walking. And, yes, it DID feel kind of bad ass. Kind of a cross between “let my people go” and “you shall not pass!!!”. Plus, we truly were in the middle of nowhere, so it was good to have them. (Who am I kidding? If anything happened, we’d run away, and Charlie runs a lot faster than me, so…)

This stop was really tough. Sitting was tough. Standing was tough. Walking was like standing, but sort of leaning so you moved forward. The van was nice and warm. Things are looking iffy.

We started on our way. Our next scheduled stop was Webster. Just 7.5 miles ahead. No big deal. Of course, at this pace, that’s a couple of hours. It was dark. We were back to headlamp mode. My foot was not getting worse, but it was annoying me greatly. It hurt to breathe. My right quad and hip were starting to seize. After a couple hundred feet, I stopped for a minute or two. I was a little light-headed. I was really tempted to just turn around and just go back to the car.

We started moving forward again, but I texted Cindy to ask her to meet us at Williamsburg, which was the next trailhead, 3.5 miles ahead. It was decision time, and I would make it at Williamsburg.

It’s a shame the sun was down (I told Charlie), because this is one of the prettier spots on the trail. Nice trees, pretty fields, and Williamsburg itself is classic Americana, with a developed depot, sports fields, and a picnic area. But it was dark, so he had to take my word for it.

I hobbled to the van at Williamsburg and got in, just to sit for a bit. We had walked exactly 40 miles. A marathon PLUS a half marathon. Plus a little bit. I had to weigh the costs and benefits. The benefit of continuing? Meeting my goal. I said I was going to walk 51.5 miles. I rarely miss goals. It’s kind of a thing with me. The cost? Well, as things stood, it was going to be a couple of days of recovery, depending on the blister situation. If I continued to the end, how bad would things get? Like Charlie said, I was capable of finishing - my body was capable, because our bodies are capable of doing more than our minds say, because our minds are programmed for conservation and safety.

The thing of it is, it’s not like it was an actual event—it was something I came up with, for myself (and Charlie, the idiot). I decided that there was no dishonor in stopping at 40 miles, in order to keep myself a bit healthier than if I finished the whole difference.

Yeah, who am I kidding? I was completely disappointed in myself. I set a goal, and I didn’t make it. I felt like I let down Charlie. I felt like I let down Cindy. They had given so much of themselves.

The thing is, THEY didn’t feel that way. They supported me no matter what I decided. They weren’t disappointed in the least. They were my biggest fans.

[Hey, I didn’t say I was thinking logically at this point; things can get a bit raw when you push it.]

So we walked 40 miles in about 14 hours. I didn’t track it on Garmin. I don’t know my splits. I don’t have mile-by-mile pace. Because I didn’t care about any of that. I just wanted to take a walk with a friend. And it was a very nice walk.

Update—Wednesday before

So, it’s looking like it will be a bit chilly Sunday - overnight low of 29, and a projected high (at this point) of 38. Maybe a little bit of snow. (I mean, why not?)

It’s probably a good idea to rethink the aid stops. Obviously we’ll have to have something warm - chicken broth, hot chocolate, whatever. But I think I’ll make them a bit closer together.

The new schedule (and, again, I really have no idea about the pace, so times are extremely approximate). (Also, factoring 10 minutes for each stop; That might (will) also change):

Leave Gaston at 6:00 a.m.

Arrive CR 400 at 7:42 a.m.

Arrive Mansfield Park at 9:51 a.m.

Arrive CR 534 at 11:51 a.m.

Arrive Losantville at 2:17 p.m.

Arrive Economy at 4:26 p.m.

Arrive Webster at 7:07 p.m.

Arrive Richmond at 9:22 p.m.

If you want to look at the Greenway map, click HERE.

"I can eat 50 eggs."

Cool Hand Luke, 1967. The air in the prison is heavy with sweat, humidity, and boredom. Dragline, the “boss prisoner,” is bragging how his boy, Luke, can eat anything. After some blustering and arguing among the prisoners, Luke says, “I can eat 50 eggs.” They ask him: “Have you ever ett 50 eggs before?” Luke answers: “Nobody every ett 50 eggs before,” and we have a bet!

When asked why he said 50, and not something more manageable like 35, Luke says “it just seemed like a nice round number.”

I can walk 51(.5) miles.

Specifics

In a nutshell, I will be walking from Gaston to Richmond. I am hoping to average a 17-minute mile, but I really have no idea how that will go. However, going on that assumption, I have planned five “aid stations.” These are basically just places where I can meet up with family and replenish as needed. I am also allowing for a ten-minute break at each stop.

YOU, gentle reader, are invited to join me at any point along the walk! No need to sign up, you don’t get a medal and you don’t get a t-shirt. But here’s the proposed timeline:

  • 6:00 a.m. Depart Gaston

  • 8:50 a.m. Arrive Wysor (10 miles for the leg)

  • 9:00 a.m. Depart Wysor

  • 12:32 p.m. Arrive Blountsville (12.5 miles)

  • 12:42 p.m. Depart Blountsville

  • 4:06 p.m. Arrive Economy (12 miles)

  • 4:16 p.m. Depart Economy

  • 6:57 p.m. Arrive Webster (9.5 miles)

  • 7:07 p.m. Depart Webster

  • 9:07 p.m. Arrive D Street Richmond (7.5 miles)

Jump in whenever - I’m hoping to live-GPS this so you can find us at any point.

Oh—yeah—US. When I decided to do this, I figured I probably shouldn’t do the whole thing alone. And there was only one person crazy (stupid) enough to do this with me: my good friend and musical partner Charlie St. Cyr-Paul. When I first mentioned the idea, he said “I’m there!,” and his flight was booked within the hour. I figure by the end of the walk we’ll be ready to rip each other’s limbs off, but that’s what friends are for, right?

You're doing what?!

This year, my birthday is on a Sunday (November 18). (Yes, same as Mickey Mouse.) (No, he’s older.) I will be turning 51.

The longest continuous stretch of the Cardinal Greenway, our local rail-to-trail, is 51 (.5) miles.

Coincidence? Well, yeah, of course it is. Don’t be silly.

So, on my birthday this year, I am going to Walk The Greenway.

Why?

Mostly just to do it. To reach the unreachable goal, you know.

Also, the Cardinal Greenway is a great local resource, and this year it was inducted in to the Rails to Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame.

Also also, maybe it can become a little bit of a social event. Come out and walk with me for a mile or two! Details to follow.

No fundraising, no signups, no nothing - just heading out for a nice (15 hour?!) walk.

What could possibly go wrong?

12194949_10153711185256917_3115676713878322338_o.jpg

FAQ

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: Why not?

Q: No, seriously, WHY are you doing this?

A: Because it’s there?

Q: Stop being a jerk. Tell me why.

A: Well, a couple of reasons. First of all, my birthday this year falls on a Sunday (as opposed to a weekday), so I could do something interesting. Last year, for my 50th, I ran* the Chicago Marathon, but that wasn’t on my birthday. However, one thing that WAS on my birthday was the JFK 50 miler. But that was a bit much—plus it’s an actual event, with cutoff times and all that. So I wanted to do something fun/epic/stupid for my birthday this year.

Second, I frequently walk or jog on the Cardinal Greenway, our local rail-to-trail. And I discovered that the longest continuous section is 51.5 miles long. And it’s my 51st birthday - so it seemed obvious! I’ll walk 51(.5) miles on my 51st birthday!

Q: What has your training been like?

A: Nonexistent. I regularly walk or jog, usually 4–6 days a week. But I just haven’t had the opportunity to actually train for this event. I haven’t done any especially long walks. I haven’t rehearsed my nutrition or hydration strategies. Granted, I’ve done some endurance events before, so I have an idea, but this is far, far beyond anything I’ve done before.

Q: Are you raising money for a cause?

A: Nope. Just doing it for fun.

Q: Can I walk with you for a bit?

A: Absolutely! I’m hoping people come out and walk for a mile or half an hour or until the next trailhead - whatever they feel like! There’s no registration fee (heck, there’s no registration), there are no time cutoffs, and there are no expectations!

Q: Can I follow your progress (or find out where you are, so I can join you)?

A: Yes! I am hoping to use RunKeeper Live. I have to do some testing with it first, and I don’t know how good the wireless signal is at all points on the route. You can also refer to the prospective schedule posted elsewhere on the blog.

Q: How can I cure my own bacon?

A: I’m glad you asked! THIS is a good place to start. Let me know how it goes!

Charlie

So, when I decided to do this, I knew I couldn’t do it alone. Whether for safety or encouragement, I figured I needed to have at least one person with me at all times. And there one only one person to ask who was able enough and crazy enough and a good enough friend that he would actually do this, and that’s my buddy Charlie St. Cyr-Paul.

Charlie is actually the one who badgered me into getting into running in the first place. He started by running, and doing marathons, then REALLY going off the deep end and doing triathlons and Ironmans (Ironmen?). I don’t know what his longest run is, but I don’t think it’s 50 miles. Also, he’s a runner. I’m a jogger/walker. So I was VERY clear, telling him we are going to WALK the distance.

Charlie can be very focused. That’s how he’s been successful at things like music and Ironmen. Another side of that is, sometimes Charlie can be kind of an asshole. (He’d be the first to agree—and I know I can sometimes be a jerk. That’s why it works, I guess.) Anyway, sometimes he will stay on something and just keep on it until everybody else is sick of it. Like the running thing—I finally started running just to shut him up. Like that worked . . .

But this is a big reason why I asked him to do this with me. It’s going to get ugly. I’ve had to walk the last 8 miles of a marathon, and it was just miserable, and I hated everything, and I was done with it forever. (Until the next one, of course.) So on this walk, when things get rough, and I’m sick of everything, and I’m sick of Charlie, I know he’ll help me dig deep and finish the walk.

If I don’t kick his ass before we finish.

:-)

1069815_10151703217392480_2049088075_n.jpg