"Just a modest little 4-mile stroll," - I tell myself. It is now three days before the 60-mile walk and I am having to familiarize myself with strange and exotic terms like "pacing" and "moderation". The natural impulse is to train till I drop, but that is precisely what I don't want to do, because it would overstrain the muscles right before I need them most.
So, I suck it up and settle on a short walk - just one circle around my Fletcher Community park route. To keep from feeling like a total slacker, I wear my waist pack as it will be during the walk - fully stocked, with both bottles full and with the rain jacket strapped to the back. Not that I need it - it's been a crystal-clear perfect fall day with golden, crimson and flame-colored leaves outlined prettily against the "Carolina blue" sky.
The mosquitos are out in force. Clouds of them. Swarms of them. Other walkers walk around looking like windmills with their arms swinging in every direction trying to keep the pesky insects away. The runners (damn mutants) don't care, as they develop enough of a speed to push the blood suckers away. No problem! I pull out my handy-dandy miniature container of insect repellent, slap it on and keep on marching.
My leg muscles are a bit on the crampy side after yesterday's elephant-lifting session at the Y, so it takes about a mile and a half to truly get into the swing of things. No biggie, it's happened before. Sometimes I don't find my walking groove until mile number four. Piece of cake.
Just as I get deep into the woods, to the point of my route that is the farthest removed from my car, it suddenly starts to rain. Hard. What the?... Did I mention we had a perfectly cloudless sunny day all day? I don't get to contemplate the fickle nature of weather in the mountains, for within moments I find myself pounded by two elements out of four from every direction. Three, if you include the fact that the hard fast rain causes bits of gravel from the path to jump up and sting me through my leggings. Ow.
I get to practice my "unstrap and unroll the jacket, put it on, button up and get the pack back on in under ten seconds" routine. Note to self: don't attempt to hang on to the pack by the bottle. While the bottle pockets are rather snug, the bottle will slip out and the pack will fall. Fortunately, there is nothing breakable in there. Right. I am in the woods. Like Frodo. Only female. With a ponytail. Dressed in a windbreaker and leggings and silver sneakers with purple stripes. And with no lembas bread. (For the record, my version of lembas bread this evening includes smoke oysters tossed with sauteed onion over pasta and cheese, with a side salad of beets and hearts of palm. Just saying.) There isn't a person around. All I can do is turn around and hoof it back. So, I hoof it.
As I reach the last fourth of my route, the rainy windy hell suddenly stops and reduces to a mere light drizzle. Naturally. I finish the walk. When I get home, I find a small UPS package at the door. It's my second 3-Day for the Cure t-shirt, which was on backorder. Cool beans, now I get to wear them both. The show goes on.