Monday, September 15, 2008


Short version: I walked a mile! I did it! I walked a mile!
Long version:
After a whole weekend of being antsy about this day, resisting the temptation to go out and do just a little to stay loose and reassure myself that I actually could do this, I woke up this morning so excited I was almost trembling.

The day I've so looked forward to, prepared for with intensive training since June: My very first one-mile walk since June 19 when bilateral Achilles tendonitis, with a small tear in one, put me out of the running.

I dressed carefully: my favorite race shorts (a pair of very old, very soft, very thin cutoffs); my Appalachian Trail t-shirt; my new Brooks Adrenaline ASR trail-running shoes with my new custom orthotics; my SmartWool hiking socks. Except.... oh, gad, where is the other sock??? I just did laundry, is it still in the laundromat??? I couldn't find it. Luckily I had a pair of Danskin Now synthetic running socks (can't find a link) that were OK with my shoes.

Put on the sunscreen, drink a pint of water, grab the GPS to measure my distance, leash up Journey (who was thrilled to see my preparations, which she remembers from before we were both sidelined), and out the door to the expo: our campground store, where I bought "energy cells" (AA batteries for the GPS, it's way low and I don't want to take any chances. Journey was OK with being tied to a porch support while I was in the expo.

There was a long wait, at least it seemed long, at the start while the GPS tracked the satellites. I fumed. Journey panted. Finally the legend appeared : "Ready To Navigate," I hit the start button on my watch, and we were off.

I had to be careful not to go out too fast. Too fast and I blow my chances of finishing. I do not want to DNF my first mile. Slow, easy, relaxed. But it was tempting to try to make some tracks and finish with a good time. I had to hold myself back.

Down the campground lane, around the cul-de-sac, backtrack, take a left. Uh-oh. A hill. I thought this course was flat.... that hill's got to be close to 2% and 20 meters long. My coach (physical therapist) told me to pick a flat course for my first venture. But.... hey, I've been doing little hills like that all summer just working around this campground. Let's try it. Slow and easy. Relax your legs. Let them swing naturally. This is doable. Yay! The top! No pain!

Now a little off-road section; thankfully the course is planned around the next little rise. Cross the grass to the pavement again. Uh-oh, a little twinge in my left Achilles. Stop at a picnic table, put my heel on the bench, stretch out my calf. Don't panic. You've had this before, even just sitting around.... we can't say the activity is doing it. You get it now and then. Don't panic.

Moving again now. Dang, I forgot to stop my watch. Looks like a minute and 10 seconds that I stopped. Remember that number. I'm past 1/4 mile now, 9:15 (including the stop, plus pee stops for Journey.) Not too fast, not too slow, perfect. Now go nice and steady.

Onto another off-road section, flat and grassy. It feels soft to walk on and doesn't challenge my ankles at all... that's good. Back to the cul-de-sac, around the loop, half a mile now, good point to stretch again just as a precaution while Journey plays with a Labradoodle. She forgets what we're about and doesn't want to leave him. Back now towards that hill, but this time I turn before the hill and backtrack to stay on the level course. Around again, over the short grassy space, past the picnic table where I stretched, back over the long grassy section, around the loop. Uh-oh, a little pain, maybe 2 out of 10, in my left soleus. Stop to massage and stretch it. There, that's better. Whew, sun's coming out from the morning overcast, feels hot.... glad this is a morning event. But I'm doing well, don't even have to increase my breathing.

Home stretch now. GPS says .92 mile. My excitement had calmed once I got moving, but now it returns: I'm going to make it, I'm going to make it! I'm going to finish! I feel myself putting on a kick: I've been doing 2:00 miles (that's hours, not minutes) but I see the speed function on the GPS climb to 2.4mph. I'm gonna do it! I can't help the kick. I'm so excited! I've made it!! I did it!! I did it!! I walked a whole mile!! Without running! I walked the whole thing! While I did stop for those couple stretch breaks (and Journey's pit stops) I kept my moving pace steady and averaged 2 miles per hour. Perfect pace for next year's hike.

Distance 1.00 mile
Clock time: 28:08
Watch time: 25:10
Place: 1/1 overall

Came home to a breakfast of turkey wraps -- deli turkey slices around dill pickle spears, a post-race favorite -- hydrated with another pint of water, and now it's off to get a restorative massage (physical therapy appointment.)

I am so happy!!


Shawn said...

Wooo hooo!! Way to go, Ellie!!

Love ya, girl :)

stevehanes said...

Glad you're back, Ellie!!!
I see you've got your spacing back and can get out and exert yourself. Yep, a metaphor there for sure.


ShirleyPerly said...

YAY!!! Congrats on your 1-miler! I like how you managed the little things that came up.

Jade Lady said...

Good for you! And, sounds like Journey was quite happy to get back out there as well!

2008 GOALS said...

Good job, Ellie!!!! Just one caveat--we didn't average 2 mph on the AT when we were hiking. But I'm sure you will, since you're training!!!

Thanks again for calling last weekend--the time sure has flown by!

Peggy in Houston