Yesterday I competed a 12 Hour Walk.
56,930 steps. 26.8 miles.
Last month I was browsing the Barnes & Noble personal growth section and I happened upon this book, never heard of it before but the title stood out to me. I was instantly intrigued. The concept is this: walk, distraction free and completely unplugged for 12 hours. You can take rests along the way when needed but you need to be outside (preferably starting and ending at your front door) and phone needs to be in airplane mode the entire time. No podcasts, no music, no books, just you and your mind. I am huge on whitespace - love meditation, float tanks & solitude. But I had never had this much whitespace.
During the walk I brought a notebook and I did quite a bit of output into the journal and also some video check in's, I will compile those into a YouTube video soon. The time stamps show how much time I have walked, here were my thoughts along the way:
1:11 - I am out on my 12 hour walk. One hour and eleven minutes down. The first hour mostly consisted of getting to Constitution Trail. Walking along roads with no side walks from my house into town. I was weirdly embarrassed this morning leaving my house with my backpack. Will my neighbors see me? Do people think I'm like a hitch hiker or something, dressed in all black with a giant backpack. Why do I even care what people think? I don't think I do, but then I surprise myself with those little moments of fear. Gotta keep pushing through those. Anyway, I am currently sitting on a bench, enjoying the shade from the trees above. I am right across the street from the State Farm building, I have a beautiful view of a pond with a fountain in the center. It's just like the fountain from the pond in Brighton Lakes. I am only one hour in but that is something that I am finding as a reoccurring thought - childhood. 7am, late May smells and feels like my childhood. The fresh air, the sunscreen, certain flowers and trees that I walk by have familiar scents, it all reminds me of my childhood. It's a very peaceful feeling and it makes me grateful and extra aware of how much time I spent outside growing up. So far I am loving the solitude. I would really like to do more of this, alone or with the fam or friends. I'd like to hike more and just get out into nature more. I will prioritize that this summer.
2:15 - Obviously I know that being outside and solitude typically make me happy, however I am blown away by the level of absolute bliss this is providing. I feel like I am on vacation. I am seeing sights I've never seen before and I am literally inside the exact space I reside in and drive through every day. Walking, especially fully unplugged gives you an entirely new perspective. The people I see out and about on these trails, they get it. Everyone is so smiley and happy, I can tell that they recognize how sweet this is - a Sunday stroll. An older man riding his bike just passed me journaling on the bench and dinged his bell at me and shot me the biggest grin. Just a few moments before there was a man riding a bike with a baby in front of him. I am not entirely sure how the whole contraption worked, but the baby had baby handle bars just inside dads with a phone mounted in between. He was probably watching cocomelon or something. That baby probably thinks he is driving the bike, what a funny and adorable thought. As soon as we made eye contact, the baby smiles so big at me and WAVES. The happiest, cutest little Asian biker baby living his absolute best life. I am going to channel that happy biker baby the next stretch of this walk. I need to find a spot to pee soon, wish me luck.
3:05 - Gaelic Park, an absolute gem. I have to come back here with the kids. They have a fishing pond, a basketball court, a soccer field, a walking path, a playground, a bocce ball area and a bags set up. This place is a slice of heaven. There is a girl sitting in front of me in the middle of a massive, perfectly kept, freshly mowed field, with a blanket laid out beneath her, reading. All by herself, dead center in the middle of this field. I am now channeling her along with the happy biker baby. When I first spotted her I thought she was meditating and it quite literally took my breath away. She is sitting perfectly criss cross apple sauce and after closer examination I see she is in fact reading, which is still beautiful but I kinda wish she was meditating. Okay so I will take a slice of the lone field reader/meditator and hopefully one day take another bystanders breath away by my courage to read and/or meditate in the middle of a field in Gaelic Park. I am 3 hours in, I have to pee pretty bad now, it's a 49 min walk to quick n easy according to Google Maps, I should have planned this better. Heading that way now, I'll check back in soon.
3:38 - I found a bathroom! Yay! It also looks like I have exhausted this portion of Constitution Trail. So I am going to go a little rouge and travel to another portion of it. I am eager to explore all of this trail. I know I won't get to all of it today, but I will be sure to get back out and eventually explore all of it. I think the "channeling" concept is kinda cute and fun so now I will channel the giant yellow lab who is about 40 feet in front of me at Rollingbrook Park. He was just blissfully rolling in a shady patch of grass, red ball in mouth, happy as can be. He just walked over to join his owner in the sun. I should bring Spud and Balay out and about more, they deserve it. I am so incredibly grateful I picked that book up at Barnes & Noble and was brave enough to go for this today. It is literally paradise.
5:04 - That was quite a trek. Just over 5 hours in now. Found the next part of Constitution Trail. This is like cycling central, super cool spot. I found a picnic table and am enjoying a PB&J. There is a port-a-potty here so I am going to enjoy a little rest, empty my bladder and then see what Constitution Trail has to offer. I am still feeling really good. So grateful that I have a healthy, strong and able body to do this. It looks like they have a water refill station here so I will do that before I head out too. There is a "Little Free Pantry", I am curious so I'll take a peek in there. Humans are so cute that we have things like this. While I was walking here I was reflecting on the antithesis of flow and work. Feminine and Masculine. Foundation and Fluff. This walk so far I have had two laborious treks which then brought me to the space of enjoyment and flow and easy walking and fun. Work is the same way. Build something robust to reap the benefits. Evolve and repeat that process. The cycle of success is exactly that. I've got just under 7 hours left.
5:57 - Just about half way there! I found another incredible spot, Connie Link Amphitheater. I would love to come see some live music here sometime. OK so massive takeaway of today - Bloomington Normal is STUNNING. I kind of went into this thinking I would feel like I didn't exactly love where I live, wishing I had a beach or some super "walkable" city. This trail is incredible. I want to visit it monthly if not weekly. I am still feeling amazing 12.5 miles in. I am going to change into a fresh pair of socks because Colin said that's a nice little halfway point treat. Okay super cute interaction happening in front of me right now... two women, probably in their early 70s, walking towards each other from different directions realize they know each other. They say hello to each others dogs, woman A says in a baby voice "Ginger is about to be a big two year old!" (Ginger in the doodle woman A is walking.) Woman B compliments woman A, who I now know is Judy. "Your hair looks GREAT, you always look so stylish Judy!" Judy thanks her, they talk about their walks they are taking. Woman B shares that she walks regularly, line dances on Mondays and does water exercise classes on Thursdays. Judy (with the good hair) offers Woman B's dog a treat, he happily accepts. I want to be woman B one day. Well at least a slice of her. With her clipped back stylish, white hair, moving my body in every which way possible, complementing women on the trail. I didn't catch her name, I'll call her Connie, I'll be channeling her for a bit.
6:55 - 13.5 miles down. I found a Japanese Garden along the trail in Normal. Another sanctuary. I am currently set up in the "tea house", a nice, wide, wooden L-shaped bench invited me my first spot to lay down today. Feels incredible. I think I am going to be sore tomorrow. This experience is making me want to commit to a more outdoor, active lifestyle. Walking, running, biking, roller blading, I don't care, I just love the energy of everyone out and about. The retreat is 9 days away and I keep finding myself circling back to gratitude around that. What a blessing it is to have this career I have created. I am so proud of myself and so grateful for SST. I am also so grateful for Ryan, Skyler and Bennett. I am so grateful that Ryan supports me doing these silly things and can pick up the slack with the kids while I chase my next wild adventure. I am going to meditate for a bit then hit the trail again.
7:49 - 14.8 miles in. A girl came speeding up behind me on her bike and says "I love your hair" as she passed me. It startled me a bit and I looked up to see her gorgeous dark ponytail almost down to her butt and I yelled back to her "I love YOUR hair!" as she whizzed away. I wonder if she was giving drive by compliments to everyone or just me. I hope everyone. I like that idea. I am going to channel her for a bit.
8:16 - 15.3 miles down. I am feeling pretty crispy. I am hitting a point of being pretty tired. Wondering if I'll get a second wind or if I'll be tired the rest of the way. Regardless, I'll listen to my body, find some shade and take breaks. I am currently at Tipton Park. There's a big, beautiful pond with a fountain. I am currently resting under a pavilion at a picnic table. I am tempted to walk the trail around the pond but there are no trees or shade at all so I think for the first time I am going to turn around and head back where I came from. Hopefully that's not premature. Google maps says it will take 2.5 hours to walk home but that's with no breaks. If anything I will just spend a little extra time resting and reflecting on the tail end. I am thinking about Colin O'Brady and the book. He did his 12 hours in Antartica, pulling a sled, every single day for two weeks. This is just now starting to feel like an endurance challenge. I am channeling Colin for now. I'll check back in soon.
9:15 - 19.8 miles down. I am back by the Japanese Garden, was really hoping for another chance to lay down, but there are some teenage boys sitting there so I snagged a nearby bench instead. I saw a mama duck with a bunch of tiny ducklings trailing behind her in a creek. She was very alert and aware of me, carefully looking after her babes. I also saw a family of geese moments before crossing the trail. Mama and dad working together, getting their babies where they need to go safely. I am channeling those mamas, now and always. Protecting my babies and my tribe, helping guide them from point A to point B, helping along the way whenever I can. Let's keep moving.
10:32 - 22.9 miles down. I just put in some tough steps/distance. I am back at the picnic table from earlier eating my last PB&J. Just an hour and a half to go. I am so incredibly proud of myself. The 12 Hour Walk is HARD. At the halfway point I was feeling fantastic and I thought "maybe this isn't much of a challenge?" It is. A 6 hour walk is delicious. A 12 hour walk is hard. The no phone part has actually been surprisingly way easier than I expected it to be. Airplane mode helps. I think I'll use that as a tool moving forward. Home stretch. I am channeling my highest self with this one. Let's go.
That was my final journal entry. I walked in my front door at 6pm on the dot. My 12 Hour Walk being marked complete at 5:57pm. Talk about perfect timing. The final stretch was brutal. There were no more port-a-potty's, no more shade, no more benches. I got off the trail and finished my trek home walking along streets with no sidewalk. My legs went numb, I just really fucking pushed through. I want to say that's the most physically exhausted I have ever been, but I know Skyler's delivery was harder than that. But that's it. I think it's safe to say this was physically the furthest I have been pushed other than childbirth. (Benny's birth was WAY easier than the 12 hour walk tho)
I am grateful I did this. I am grateful I journaled it and I am looking forward to reading this back years from now. It was a cool experience. 10/10 recommend.