[Challenge] Walking a marathon: LIC to Suffolk County

Random Observation/Comment #338 : I’m glad I did this, but I wasn’t glad doing it. Story of all things that need the extra mile.

nassau county

The Challenge

Walk the length of a marathon (~26 miles) in one day.

The Reason

My friend is doing a walk from the Western point of Long Island (Long Island City) to the Eastern point (Montauk point), which is about 112 miles in 4 days.  His reason was to see the adventures within his own backyard.  My reason was because he asked for company. Being a fellow bad idea bear, I cannot pass up on a bad idea.  I adjusted it as my own parallel challenge and decided to do the 29 mile walk from LIC to Suffolk County.  The whole point of this is not to race or beat any particular time, but rather walk leisurely at a good pace and complete the goal.

The Result

Starting the day at 7AM, we followed a straight route from Queens Blvd (all of it) to Jamaica Ave (until the fork to Hempstead Ave) to Hempstead Turnpike (24) all the way through Nassau County to Suffolk. We ended the day around 7:15PM after getting to the Farmingdale train station.

As you can see from the MapMyWalk app (that I downloaded whilst on the first mile), we did pretty well in the beginning.  It was a solid 3mph pace until we ate lunch at 11:30AM in Nassau county. From there, it went downhill.  The blisters started to ache on my end because I was wearing fashion shoes with flat soles instead of walking/running shoes, and Brian was wearing out because he has bad knees.  We were both a little bit tight around the thighs and calves because we forgot to stretch thoroughly in the beginning.  We just figured “Hey, we’re New Yorkers going on a leisurely stroll. We’ll be fine.”  We were not fine.

see lemons do a marathon walk

As you can see from my Nike Fuel band, the pace of our walk slowed down towards the end. I was swinging my arms less to conserve energy and used my hands to help push those wooden peg-legs along to meet the final few miles (making our walk extremely awkward in Hempstead).  I don’t think we were out of breath, hungry, or dehydrated through any of our walk, but our legs just didn’t want to move anymore. Our pinky toes cut up against the rest of the toes and will probably swell into one large toe in a few days.

Once we got to Farmingdale, it was immensely easier. Brian continues his journey out East, but I passed out on the LIRR and used the last minutes of my battery to keep me awake for the subway.  My legs are beyond exhausted and I currently don’t remember how people walk normally.  What a terrible idea.  What a great day.

Lessons Learned

  • Bring the right shoes. No on the flat stylish shoes. Yes to comfortable sneakers that are wider on the toes so they don’t rub against each other.  Yes on the extra socks.
  • Stretch before and after the walk. Definitely do this even on your little breaks. I consciously did this slightly, but by that time it was probably too late.
  • Invite (Coerce) someone into doing this crazy walk with you.  Doing this alone would have been tough because I would have really wanted to slow down my pace, stop completely, or cheat and say I did it anyway.  Luckily, upholding the bad idea bears triumph moments are very high on our integrity list.  The conversation and humor was also a good touch – I don’t think music or audiobooks would have been nearly as pleasant.
  • Don’t make too many stops.  One of the hardest parts is getting up from the seat after sitting down.  It’s one of the reasons why we didn’t lie down on the nice fluffy green lawn – we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to get back up.
  • When you do stop, do not drink beer.  As this is clearly an exception day, I felt like I deserved anything I wanted to give my body. My body, at the time, wanted a Peroni, so I delivered. This was a terrible idea. I had to pee too much and beer dehydrates further, making me drink more water and not feel too good.
  • Bring your phone charger and maybe an external charger.  Using the app to track our walk was a good idea, but I wish we had it for the whole time. I also realized last minute that the app can run on airplane mode as long as the GPS is turned on.  Regardless, 11 hours of on-time for my Galaxy Nexus is pretty good.
  • Think of a good cause to combine with your walk.  We talked a lot about how we could have made this trip much cooler. Maybe a go-pro camera can be attached somewhere for a time lapse video? Or perhaps we could have raised money for a good cause and market this better.  I don’t think we wanted to get donations, but we could raise awareness for a good cause.
  • Break down your walk into smaller goals.  Walking about 3mph takes a long time. We wound up setting break times at approximately every 5 miles.  The biggest goal for the day was thinking about the jacuzzi that was promised at the first hotel.  Of course we slowed down our pace so I wound up leaving before said jacuzzi.  Either way, it’s good to think about smaller segments so they seem more manageable.
  • Try to stay positive. If you are negative, at least be funny about it. We were both in the same boat and we knew each other was hurting. It was good to talk about lighter subjects and support each other.  What really helped was Mommy Katie finding us twice and giving us a hug of support. Thank you, Mommy Katie :).

The Conclusion

If you’re planning on doing this for the triumph moment, it’s not glorious at all. We were sitting on some concrete sidewalk just rubbing our legs in the saddest triumph moment of all triumph moment history.  There was no theme music or sweeping accomplishment going through our minds.  It was just – “Welp, that was fun. ::Handshake:: God speed.”  I don’t even think we took a picture. Our cameras were stowed in our bag after mile 12, my phone was low on batteries, and none of my concerns/thoughts revolved around photography (ridiculous, right?).

Most of the conversations during the rough parts of the walk started with “Man, why are we doing this?”  What I learned is that sometimes you don’t really need a reason.  It’s a challenge, it’s different, it’s exciting, and I’m glad we did it. Even though I would have had a different answer if you asked me on mile 23 it was clearly epic and I wouldn’t do this again if you paid me….

~See Lemons Triumphantly Exhausted