Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Fascination With Distance

The look on my sons faces as I casually told them of my desire to walk 46 miles on my 46th birthday a few days ago while sitting at the kitchen bar was priceless. I wished I would have had a camera to capture that brief look of "Are you serious?" or "Are you insane?"  It made me chuckle because they both just stopped in their tracks and were speechless for a few moments in time.

Let me back up...From the time I was a young girl I have been fascinated with long distances. About age 12 every Summer the March of Dimes would do a walk-a-thon.  Even though I didn't know any body that this would benefit personally, I still had this strong desire to get out there and participate.  I would go from house to house ahead of time with my walk-a-thon forms in hand getting pledges for each mile walked from all the neighbors.  Then when the day came to walk I gathered my friends or sister and away we went to walk.  These walks were 20 miles long (I think?) and the thing I remember most is just how much I enjoyed the day walking with so many others and getting a nice sunburn.  I loved feeling a part of an organized walking event and seeing so many other people enjoying it as well.

Now jump ahead a few years to high school and I'm sitting in my seminary class in 10th grade.  I have a super awesome teacher that shares so many personal stories and exciting adventures from his own life.  He tells us a story about an activity he participated in with the Boy Scouts called the 50/20.  The goal was to walk for 50 miles in 20 hours or less.  My ears perked up and I was once again fascinated!  He shared all the details of this challenging endeavor and I was hooked.  I learned that one of these 50/20's was coming up in the near future and a few of my friends were planning to participate and so of course I decided to join them as well.  I don't remember a lot of details about it except that we started around 9:00 pm at night in Provo and walked all the way out to what is now the Eagle Mountain area (there was absolutely nothing out there then in 1982 but a two lane highway and a big desert). This was the 25 mile marker and half way point and the place where we ate breakfast and saw the sun rise. We then turned around and headed back to Provo where we arrived 18 hours later from when we started.  It was absolutely one of the hardest things I had ever attempted and completed.  I hadn't done any training for this kind of activity and looking back now I know I didn't have enough proper fueling.  I certainly wasn't in the best shape, but I was young and headstrong and I had friends who encouraged me and helped me finish.

Jump ahead 6 years later in the year 1988.  I am married with 2 children and I decided to try it again this time with my husband.  This 50/20 was set up to start in the tiny town of Benjamin where the course took you all the way around a mountain, West Mountain, to be exact and then continued into Spanish Fork, Springville and eventually finished in Provo.  Well, we got a nice start with a very large group of people in the early evening and walked around about 3/4 of the mountain and somehow in the middle of the night around 3:00 am, we took a wrong turn and ended up off course for who knows how long.  Once we got back on track we were deflated, worn out, and discouraged.  We finally located a support vehicle and decided to climb in and call it quits.  It was a major disappointment for me but I did enjoy the time I was out there walking with my husband.  Once again I don't think I was prepared physically or had the proper fueling or resources.    

Now jump ahead another couple years to me being a young mother with 3 small children.  I decided to embark on another 50/20 journey, this time with a female friend, Becky Weeks.  The route was again different this time. We started in Salt Lake City up on the hill at the "This is the Place" monument, across the street from the Hogle Zoo.  We had to walk to somewhere in Provo.  We started in the late afternoon and walked well into the evening.  Somewhere about 5 hours into the walk my friend had had enough and couldn't continue any further. I was then forced to continue my journey alone.  There were support vehicles at random places along the route to pick up anyone ready to stop.  So she got in and we said our good-byes.  I continued for many hours through the night along a very dark and lonely road along the point of the mountain.  I found one kind person along the way and we kept each other company for quite a number of miles but eventually they were just too fast for me and headed on without me.  I walked on into Lehi and was just physically, and emotionally done.  I was tired of walking all alone with no music (back in the days of cassette walkmans) and nobody to talk to in the darkest hours of the night. I can't remember if I even had a flashlight but I do remember feeling scared being all by myself.  After about 10 hours from when I started I found a support vehicle and decided to call it quits.  The van drove me on in to American Fork and then I was able to call my husband to come pick me up somewhere around 6 or 7 am.  I was pretty disappointed in myself AGAIN for not finishing this walk as well.

Well, now here we are in the year 2012, about 23 years later and I am turning 46 in just 3 days.   All of a sudden one day last week I got a crazy idea rolling around my head that I would like to attempt a 46 mile run/walk for my birthday.  I have been running now for about 15 months and have completed 6 half marathons in that time.  I feel a little more prepared physically and definitely know what I need for proper hydration and fueling.  I am in the process of getting my route figured out and a couple of companions squared away to be my support vehicles.  I'm pretty nervous but excited as well to see what my body can do physically as well as mentally and to see just how hard I can push myself.  I also plan to do this from the moment it is light in the morning and hopefully finishing before the sun goes down so that I don't have to be out there in the dark. Actually if it gets dark I will call it quits.  Stay tuned for a full report .....if I make it. 

I was sad that I didn't have one single photo from any of these walk-a-thons I participated in.  I guess my scrap booking and picture taking desires were pretty non-existent back then.



Julia said...

ummm seriously. this is quite possibly the coolest thing ever!!! good luck...i am pulling for you! and HAPPY BIRTHDAYYY!

Momma Twitch said...

What an awesome idea! If I wasn't running a half, I'd totally meet you along the way. I can't wait to hear how it goes. :)

Arica said...

Awesome! So I am guessing you won't want to join us on a long run that morning? Good luck!

Cory Reese said...

There is absolutely no have ultra in your blood! I know it sounds cheesy, but actually WANTING to go farther is the most important thing.

I feel like I could close my eyes and throw a rock and hit someone who is a way better athlete than me. They just don't have the desire to go beyond 13 miles or 26 miles.

I definitely think you need to get an ultra on your calendar!