Posted by: Kimberly Dredger | May 18, 2010

Lessons Learned

Saturday was my scheduled “Long Walk,” and I had the great good fortune to take it with my RunWildMissoula Walking class led by Candace Crosby and Rolf Tanberg.  We walked up O’Brien Creek… and what a gorgeous day it was for it!  The entire time I was in awe of the beauty of the place we get to call home.  Call it “Big Sky Country,” call it “The Last Best Place,” call it “Montana, Land of the Shining Mountains.”  None of the monikers we give it comes close to describing the breath-taking beauty of my native land.  These mountains surrounding Missoula have cradled me almost all of my life, and I feel a kinship with each of them.

I certainly learned some things on Saturday.  First of all, (and believe me, I realize that this is one of those “Well, DUH!” statements,) when you go long, you have to take MORE WATER and MORE FUEL.  Hmmm.  Imagine.  I had packed as if I was doing a 10K, then after Candace reminded us we’d need more stuff, got the water bottle from my car and bought another pack of energizer Jelly Bellies.  I was sure this would be enough.  I ran out of water and fuel about two miles from the end of our walk, not disastrous, but bad enough to be a lesson.  More on this later.

Secondly, I learned that I can walk at my hoped-for marathon pace of 15 minute miles farther than I thought I could.  I was prepared, on Saturday, for the distance, thinking this was going to be a long, slow walk.  But walking with a group, if one wants to STAY with the group, one walks at the pace of the faster walkers.  The pace was perfect for me on the flat, but as one might suspect, about a third of the walk was uphill, and we kept plugging along at the same brisk clip.  Whew!  Yes, ok, I was the last one in the group on the return trip, but I could still SEE them.  So, Lesson 2 learned, Yep, I can do the pace.  A marathon is only 11 miles farther than we did on Saturday.  Piece of cake.  More on this later, too.

Lesson 3:  Be prepared for “The Wall.”  I hit the wall on Saturday after I ran out of water and fuel, when the end of our walk was within sight, and when I had just had the thought “Oh, I think I might make it” go through my head.  And then, the wall.  Bam!   My legs had been a little sore, my feet were screaming, and the thought of, “Ok, how much longer do I want to be in pain?”  had spurred me into a faster clip.  I had passed the person in front of me.  I had pulled up to the two people who were next.  In my head I had been thinking, “Right now it is do or die,”  and then my brain just pulled the plug.  There was simply no more motivation at all.  I could just about pick up my foot and put it in front of the other, and that was it.  The two people I had just caught up to pulled away again, the person I had passed, passed me, and I limped my way back to my car.  It was as dramatic as if a crowbar got caught in the spokes of a bicycle.  One second I had forward motion, the next second I had none.  My piece of cake was crumbs.  My brain totally lost its focus.  So, Lesson 3 is keep your body hydrated and fueled, so when the  wall appears in front of you, you can keep your focus and climb over it, not get a concussion by hitting it with your eyes closed.

Lesson 4:  In Marathoning for Mortals by John (the Penguin) Bingham and Coach Jenny Hadfield, they say that when you get back from these long walks or runs, a COLD soak is the answer.  Now, you know that I love hot springs and hot soaks, so this idea was something I had to get used to, but believe me, it really works.  I sat in a cold bubble bath until goosebumps got goosebumps.  It seemed like heaven.  And the next day I had absolutely NO leg or foot pain AT ALL.  Amazing.

5/15 – 15 miles at a 15 minute/mile pace
5/16 – 2 hours yard work moving rock and wood chip
5/17 – 4 hours moving rock, wood chip, compost and mowing the lawn
5/18 – 4 miles and 1 hour shoveling compost



  1. i have been there too! but learning this new
    ideas from you is great….i always ate white rolls
    which has always agreed with me the most plus
    water and a cup of jo really early

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