Mission Accomplished, Now the Journey Begins!
BY JEFF REDMON/BREAKTHROUGH IMPACT GROUP
On September 10, 2022, I accomplished my 12 Hour Walk Journey challenged by Colin O’Brady in his book. I’m glad it’s done, glad I did it, but I won’t lie, it was very tough.
Like any worthy goal, it took a million mini-milestones: just over that next hill, I’ll take a break at the top of the hour, 6 hours, halfway and it’s all downhill, at 8 hours I’ll turn around and head back, push the pace after an extended stop to maintain 2 mph through 10 hours, 2 hours to go, I’ll just shuffle along to get in the time. It was all of the mental mind game Colin O’ Brady suggested it might be.
12 Hours, 50,000 steps, sore feet, stiff legs, and painful hip but I made it. I never hit nirvana, never had a runner’s high. My wife asked if I used the time without music or Audible for reflection. Heck no, all I was trying to do was get through the next hour. The end was more of a relief but as the legs loosen up and the pain settled down, on reflection, it was pretty awesome.
I hesitate to share my learnings because you will undoubtedly discover your own but here is my list:
- It would have been a lot easier if I lost 30 pounds.
- I really enjoy walking. Pre-Covid, I had trained to attack the Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim, 48 miles in 2 days 10,000 feet of descent and climb. With that trip canceled 3 times due to Covid, I gave up in frustration on that summit. An intervening open-heart surgery had taken away all of that training. I want to get back to walking.
- Check your gear out before you start.
- I wore my well-broken in Keen hiking shoes but had not worn them for 2 years. They worked fine with one blister described below.
- Pulled a nice fanny pack with a padded waistband out of the closet. In the car at 4:45 a.m. in the dark couldn’t get the waist buckle to snap. Noticed it had a replacement buckle that did not fit the waist strap and could not be tightened. I tied a knot to keep it fixed but it kept shifting down over my hips. I obsessed about that for the first hour. How in the world was I going to get through 12 hours with this distraction? Could I walk to Target, a few miles out of my planned loop, to buy a backpack, could I use it as a shoulder strap? The obvious answer was nowhere to be found as I hyper-focused on the issue and not on solutions. When you’re in the battle, options are not always obvious. Finally, it came to me, I could just loop back to my daughter’s where I left my car, she would have a backpack I could use. The problem was it was 5:45 a.m. and I assumed their house would still be dark. I planned to walk in that direction, drop my fanny pack at my car and keep walking until a reasonable hour. I arrived at 6 a.m. to find a light on in the kitchen. Our 2-year-old grandson was up with his mom. Problem solved; perfect backpack borrowed. One hour down, eleven to go. This was going to be a long day.
- 12 Hours is a very long time, I’m not sure 8 or 10 would have been enough. The real struggle came with the last push to the summit, the last two hours. I feared most anything could have derailed my goal, but I stuck with it. My use of the Stockdale Paradox kicked in full force. Whatever it takes, I was going to get through this. Not sure how but I would emerge as a better person for the journey.
- Walking further from my return spot from hours 5 to 8 was disconcerting. Ultimately, headed back to my car at hour 8. Felt good to be getting closer to the end with each step, although the goal was a time, not distance.
- No training necessary was what I was told but I might have walked a few steps to get ready. Not exactly sure how you prepare for 12 hours on your feet without just doing it. This certainly was a test of my body but the real test was how my mind dealt with the challenges.
- Brought extra socks, and took shoes off a couple of times to take wrinkles out of socks but did not change socks. I used socks with my toes so my toes would not rub causing blisters. Probably a good thing I never took off my socks. When I took them off at the end, I had a quarter-sized blister on my left big toe. I’m sure that would have become an obsession during my walk and a false reason to stop. The fact is the bottoms of my feet hurt so bad; that I never felt the blister.
- During the walk, I did not eat or drink enough. I felt it at the end. I should have force-fed and hydrated on a set schedule.
- I am amazingly blessed, surrounded by an amazing family and so many close friends. It’s the people who mean the most to me. There are very few things I would change in my life. I have no regrets about things I wish I would have done. A 12 Hour Walk changed none of that for me with one exception.
- Age is inevitable, decay is a choice. I choose not to decay. O’ Brady challenges you to define your Mt. Everest, your personal summit. My summit is an amazing fitness level, that allows me to take full advantage of this wonderful life. That means getting down to my fighting weight for good, along with total body fitness that allows me to take on life and these eccentric things without hesitation. I want to be able to run with grandkids, hike with my son in the mountains, walk with my wife, take on things like Rim2Rim2Rim, do 100-mile bike rides, a Tough Mudder, whatever opportunity that comes up. I want my answer to be, let’s do it, not I don’t know if I could do that. My 12 Hour Walk confirmed my commitment to health and vitality.