this is a story about a long stroll by the sea that took place on 12th of may, 2018.
why walk? okay, but why 100 km?
at that time, spring of 2018, i used to walk a lot because of several reasons: i enjoyed doing that, i liked not being stuck in the public transport or traffic jams. i agree that walking is not the fastest way of moving your body from point x to point y. also one cannot take his wife to work and children to the kindergarten by walking. and this is not the most convenient way to go if one has a lot of stuff to carry such as a sports bag, lunch, etc. however since i am neither married, nor do i have children yet, also i work and study in the city centre where every object could be easily reached by a 20-30 minutes walk, i can allow myself to choose this luxurious (in terms of one’s time resources) way of moving around in the city.
100 – for me this is a special number. recently i have started my blog post series about a hundred day challenge in which i am at the moment. and this is not the first time i use the integer 100 as some kind of a goal milestone. for me this looked like something mysterious, unexplored. something that i just have to try out. i was full of confidence. none of my friends could participate in the hike event and therefore i decided to do it alone. i filled up the form and joined.
the primary goal that i had set before starting was to walk the whole distance with as little stops as possible. the walk started at 7 am. my main aim was to finish at the same day, i.e. before 12 pm. i found out that on average i had to move at approximately 5.9 km per hour pace. i do not know why but i was full of confidence and not a single doubt that this is not possible to achieve was in my mind back then.
the night before
the event took place at liepaja, latvia. this is a small country at the baltic sea shore. since i live in vilnius, lithuania, i had to travel approximately 400km to reach the liepaja city. i arrived there at about 6 pm the night before. after checking in and finding my room at the hotel i finished my self-prepared snacks and went to the beach to explore the place where the big event was supposed to begin. the beach, sun and water looked amazing. i cannot describe how beautiful this view was. therefore i put it as the picture of this blog post. this was the first time in my life i saw the sea being so calm and somehow blended with the sky far in the horizon.
suddenly i start feeling some strange things: a doubt came to my mind. i started asking myself if i am actually capable of doing this thing, why am i doing this at all, why am i alone somewhere in a foreign country and many other related thoughts. i finally realised how long actually the path is going to be. i went to bed early and could not stay calm.
it was easy to wake up in the morning. i managed to get out of the bed even before the alarm went out. i had a surplus of time to prepare, have a shower and eat. i took a cold shower that day. at that time i had not had the 100 days cold shower challenge set up for myself yet. and i can remember one thought clearly:
you are going to walk 100 km today. are you afraid of cold water?
and this convinced me. on my way to the beach i could see a lot of drunk people that had not returned back home from the parties night before. it was an early saturday morning. i had a cup of my favourite black coffee with no sugar in it. ah, good old times (i gave up coffee almost a month ago). 20 minutes before registration i was completely ready and had nothing to do. therefore i just went to the beach again, sat there for a while and thought about how fun this is going to be. suddenly, 6:59 am. i crossed the start gate.
[0-20] in the very beginning i could not even understand, what kind of an affair i had just started. it was extremely exciting, weather was amazing, there were a lot of other people. beach sand was hard. it was an adorable clear and sunny spring morning by the sea. first 20km went as a blink of an eye. i was fully comfortable and my pace was significantly higher than the lower bound necessary to achieve my goal of finishing before the midnight.
[20-50] in this period the path from the seaside changed to a parallel one which was located in a forest near the sea. the surface was very uneven. sometimes the forest changed to a plain field with a gravel path. however the surrounding was much more dynamic and rapidly changing. this helped to keep the excitement level high. in this sector i reached the fastest average pace of a kilometer which was 8 km per hour. looks like i had a lot of energy and was really moving rapidly towards my goal. however at approximately 40th kilometer i started to feel that this is not a pleasant stroll anymore. i already had painful blisters on my feet. i had to put more and more effort to maintain the pace while in the first 20km sector it felt as if it was done automatically.
[50-56] this was a short section yet the hardest of the entire walk. at the 50km milestone the path returned back to the beach. at first i was happy to see the sea again. however when i reached the sand i saw that it was extremely soft and therefore i had to put much more effort to perform a step. my feet were going into the sand and i was searching for a path that would have been softer. i tried walking at the very side of the shore, at the middle, everywhere. however, the softness of sand was the same. these 6 kilometers were hell. i kept moving forward having in mind and saying to myself that
this cannot last for ever. soon the path will improve.
[56-70] here i already felt tired. the sand finally appeared to be soft enough to walk on its surface without getting into it. blisters felt pretty bad at that moment. because of them i started putting my left foot somehow inappropriately which caused some pain in my left hip afterwards. this was the section where it started to be hard to keep on going even with considerably good surface conditions.
[70-96] the path led me through fields, forests and even some swamp – like places. there was a thought in my mind that soon this is going to be finished. more than a half of the distance had already been left behind my back. i imagined that there is also the necessity to get back home. i had been trying to convince myself that the majority is done. just a few hours more. during this part i was able to focus to the process itself the most. there were no thoughts of giving up. i concentrated to putting one foot in front of the other. there was the only thing in my mind:
i must move forward.
[96-100] that was it. during these four kilometers i thought that this small distance is a catwalk to the medal. it may sound hilarious. however i was happy. the surface was firm. it was concrete. my legs were tired. and blisters were at their worst. also it was already getting dark. the level of excitement had risen significantly again. i knew i am going to see the finish line soon.
here i am. crossing the same line i crossed at 6:59 am that morning. the finish line was at the same place where i started. i was happy. i was extremely happy. because at that time my clock showed 10:30 pm. i had one and a half hour of time surplus. i received a wooden medal and a paper noticing that 100km distance had been successfully done. i stopped. i did not have to go anymore. it took me 15.5 hours to complete. i did not stop anywhere except for checkpoints. and my goal was reached. the joy was overwhelming.
at the finish line i was informed that i am the second finished person among all participants in the 100km distance. this event was not a race. however, the fact got me even more satisfied and proud since this was my very first hike of such length. the staff were nice. people were smiling. a moment of warm and sincere emotions.
the way home
my brother together with his wife came to pick me up. they brought me some food and a box of my favourite ben and jerry’s ice cream. this was an amazing meeting. they literally brought me home. my ability to walk after 15.5 hours of moving and sitting in a car for 4 hours straight coincided with a bag’s of potatoes ability to walk. i thought
despite the fact i can hardly move now, i am so happy about what has been done today.
lessons for the future
i had heard many times that starting fast is a mistake. however, for me this was not. i had a plan to start as swiftly as i can and then decrease the pace afterwards. i was used to walk fast. also i knew that it will get hard at some point. therefore i decided to use the ability while i can. also the pace in the second part of the distance suffered from the pain due to blisters more than from my overall lowered energy levels.
the food i brought was rich in fats and carbohydrates. i had several thousand of kcal in my backpack. my beloved girlfriend had prepared me some extremely powerful and nutritious energy balls made from peanut butter, oats, cacao, almonds and dry dates. i also had approximately 5 or 6 bananas, a jar of peanut butter, wheat cakes. i liked all these components. however during the walk my mouth got really dry and it was extremely hard to chew and swallow these goods. so the next time i would consider bringing products that are more liquid and easier to eat.
the main lesson – socks. i had to use synthetic socks. instead i used a pair made from cotton. they got wet fast and caused blisters at an early stage of the challenge. this had decreased my overall performance significantly. however it is amazing to learn by doing. this is my practice and i know what to do the next time in order to help myself coping with these issues.
this experience has been interesting, challenging, inspiring and by all means positive. i managed to fulfil my aims and expectations. i believe that this hike was the first and definitely will not be the last one in my entire life.
if anyone is thinking about starting of something hard, scary and unknown at the beginning, something that might cause a lot of thoughts, doubts and worries, please always remember:
it will be hard, uncomfortable and maybe even painful. however once you overcome the hard part, amazing things will start to happen.