Training for my S:t Olavsleden Pilgrimage

Published: May 6th 2017
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Today was the kick off of my preparation for walking the S:t Olavsleden pilgrim trail from near the Swedish border to the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway (see Planning my St. Olavsleden Pilgrimage). After a long winter, where my average number of steps per day was about 5,000 (thanks to my Fitbit, a Christmas present) and where my walks for the few good days were about 1 mile (1.6 Km), I really need to be in shape to walk 21 Km...the maximum daily distance on the trail between accommodations...before departing on 4 July, which is only two months away.

My hometown of Woodland Park has been fortunate to be the venue for some major events. In August 2014 we hosted the USA Pro Challenge, the US counterpart to the Tour de France (see USA Pro Challenge Comes to Woodland Park). Today we hosted the Broncos 7K Run/Walk; one of only three venues in Colorado, the others being Fort Collins and Denver. I thought 7 Km would be easy. I did that distance and much more routinely last year while training for the Camino de Santiago. And I hiked twice this distance some days in 100 degree temperatures the first week in Spain. The weather was forecast to be perfect...70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) and blue skies, at least in the morning. Yet last night I was unable to sleep. I had a sense of dog Bonnie was going blind from diabetes and I wondered what else was in store for me.

Well, first, I forgot all the lessons I learned last year while walking the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain (see Camino de Santiago - Navarre - Getting to Know You and following). Linda reminded me of all the things I should take with me; like a hat, water, and a walking stick. I forgot everything as my one track mind was focused in getting to the high school; the starting point for the run/walk. I did take my DSLR camera...big and heavy...and a windbreaker...not needed, and that's about it. To be fair, the organizers had requested volunteers to man the water stations along the way, so I thought I could just get water at these locations. I have no excuse for not bringing the other necessities.

I arrived at the high school in time to pick up my Broncos 7K T-shirt and number, and then strolled around taking pictures of the crowd and a couple Broncos players and cheerleaders. We were organized by the times we thought we could finish. I signed up for Group C which was the Slow Strollers. I was shooting for I hour and 45 minutes, or 4 Km/hr which is my normal pace.

After the initial ceremony we were off...slowly as I was surrounded by baby carriages and children. We were cheered on by spectators. I went slowly to take pictures. No one in Group C seemed to be in a hurry. Some walkers even stopped to use the Port-a-Potties. Skies were blue and the temperature was as forecast...perfect. The first mile went well. Why a 7K run/walk was measured in miles is beyond my comprehension, but seeing the 1 mile meant I had walked 1.6 Km, or a quarter of the way. This was reassuring. I looked at my watch and the time it took was also reassuring. Just beyond the first mile was a watering station. I was given a small cup with small amount of water...two sips. I had a premonition that my carelessness in not bringing my own water was going to spell disaster. Over the next mile I learned that not having a hat or walking stick was compounding my problems. I was hot, which having a hat would have helped. And I started to list to the left, which a walking stick would have countered. I was thirsty and there were no watering stations for the second mile and none to be seen in the distance. My friend Dee, who was a volunteer providing directions, gave me a few gulps of her first Camino Angel.

But this was all catching up with me. I realized that my ability to walk much longer distances last year was based upon a summer's worth of training. This was my first training day after a couch potato winter, and it wasn't going well! After another kilometer, and some water from others walking with me, I felt faint. The EMTs who I passed were a bit concerned; asking me whether they could help. I declined their offer. On a normal walk I would have taken a 5-10 minute break to allow rehydration. But on this walk we were supposed to finish by noon. As we started at 10:10 AM, and my normal pace would have gotten me there by 11:55 AM, I didn't have any time for breaks. I soon decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Pat, who lived on the street I was walking on was about to drive into town on errands and offered me a ride; thus becoming my second Camino Angel. She dropped me off near the high school. I learned that there hadn't been any more watering stations, and I saw others being dropped off.

As I hadn't finished the walk I avoided going to the finish line and didn't pick up my medal of completion as I hadn't. Instead, I walked around the area where the booths were set up. The Denver Bronco players and cheerleaders were signing autographs. I might have stood in line If they had been Pittsburgh Steelers! I then took the shuttle bus back to the off site parking.

While the day was a failure in most respects, I relearned the valuable lessons I had forgotten since completing the Camino de Santiago last October. I will make sure I am prepared for the St. Olavsleden! And I might call the farm houses where I will be staying in Norway to see what can be done if I don't quite walk the 21 Km between them. In Switzerland they send out the St. Bernard dogs. Perhaps in Norway the trolls are helpful.

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


The Simons in front of the Woodland Aquatic CenterThe Simons in front of the Woodland Aquatic Center
The Simons in front of the Woodland Aquatic Center

Gerry is the president of the Woodland Aquatic Project Board of Directors. He had climbed at 54 14,000 ft mountain in Colorado. I'm the vice president and my idea of climbing a mountain is to drive to within 100 yards of the top and walk the rest of the way.

7th May 2017

I am proud of you!
Bob, failure is the pillar of success. In retrospect, it's perhaps blessing in disguise that you didn't quite make it to Finish line.... this is your wake up call before your 21K walk. Although, I think Norway will be more conducive weather for the walk. But I am proud of your motivation. Whether you could touch down the finish line or not, is a secondary matter. It tells a lot about you that you participated. And don't forget the walking stick, hat and your water bottle in Norway.
7th May 2017

Thanks for your encouragement...
I was really discouraged only being able to walk 4 Km this time when normally 7 Km is a breeze. But as you say, it was a wake up call not to take anything for granted. I will remember to take water, walking sick and a hat for future walks.
7th May 2017

Great lesson and the photos are great. Thanks for sharing.
9th May 2017

Keep walking!
slow but steady. You have time to get in shape. Can't wait to see more of your walks in the countryside...and then in Scandinavia!
10th May 2017

You had my attention at Broncos
Steelers? What is wrong with you! Don't say that out loud they may run you out of Colorado. (smile) At least you've realized now what your training sessions need to look like to allow you to be successful in Norway. I know you will be fine...but you've got some walking a head of you. From my perspective you've learned two things. 1. camino angels are every where 2. Always, always, always take reminders from Linda. :) We are proud of what you accomplished last year and know your will and determination will take you on this next journey. Enjoy the process. Remember to have fun training.
10th May 2017

Good lessons!!!
And I will succeed!

Tot: 2.435s; Tpl: 0.058s; cc: 67; qc: 225; dbt: 0.1249s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 2.1mb