Carrying the Load and breaking through the Wall


Happy belated Memorial Day everyone!

I come from a Military family. This past week, I have been reading alot about an organization called “Carrying the Load” that works to honor fallen, former, and current military members, along with our Emergency First Responders. The group held a 24 hr walk-a-thon in Dallas this Memorial Day and although I could not attend, I decided I wanted to do my small part by doing my own walk-a-thon here in my town. I chose to walk in honor of the three current members of my family that I most look up to. They are my cousin David Pakulak, US ARMY, who is a previous combat veteran, currently stationed as a Military Instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point. Then, we have my cousin Korey, US Army, who is currently completing his training at Fort Hood, Texas. Being Army Infantry, I am pretty sure Korey will probably see a tour in a combat zone in the not-to-distant future as well. Then, we have Korey’s Dad, my cousin Whitney’s husband, Capt. Don Davis, a Fire Captain/Paramedic in suburban Portland, Oregon. Each one of these three men goes out each day and keeps our citizens and country safe, in careers that they voluntarily signed up for. I decided that my walk in their honor had to be a bit more than just my standard everyday training walk. Therefore, I took my 6.6 mile loop, the farthest distance that I have walked since getting hurt, and decided to walk that loop TWICE in one day on Memorial Day.


At 9:30AM on Monday, I trotted out the door for the first of the two loops. I purposely walked a little slower than normal, knowing that I would be trying to make twice the distance I have in decades. I maintained around a 25-minute mile pace and finished the loop in 2 hours and 43 minutes. I’ll admit, I was dying. It was hot, humid, my feet were killing me, and my legs felt like logs. I showered, changed, and then headed to a Memorial Day lunch with my parents and family. By 5:15PM, I had put the walking gear back on and headed back out to see just how far I could make, knowing that each step away from my house was farther than I have walked in 30 years.

I did the first two miles at a slow pace, waiting for my legs to just quit on me. I got to a small, steep hill and felt surprisingly good going up it. I went down the other side, rounded a corner, and now had a 25-30mph wind at my back. My feet felt surprisingly good. I got to the third mile of the loop and noticed I had done that previous mile in a pace 2 minutes faster than the mile before it. I kept motoring. I got to mile 4 of the loop and now had gained about 5 minutes on my mornings pace. Although I was now walking into that strong wind, I kept motoring. Honestly, I felt great! I felt much better than my loop that morning. It was still hot and humid but my legs and feet kept chugging along with no signs of quitting.

In March of 1983, I ran my last Marathon and ended up running the last 13 miles faster than the first 13 miles. I finished third in the under-19 age group, retired from running, and never looked back. Monday night, I motored up to my front door after having completed a total of 13.2 miles for the day, and I felt exhausted but great! I had done that second loop an astounding 14 MINUTES faster than the mornings walk on the same loop. I had to do the math a few times to make sure that was correct, and it was.

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If I did not have a fused spine, I would twist around and slap myself on the back. I would like to thank David, Korey, and Don for the inspiration for this walk in their honor. To properly honor their sacrifices, I did not want to go out and quit this walk without finishing. I surprised myself and did make it, while still having some gas left in the tank! My ankle did not break, my surgically-repaired tendons did not rupture, and a Bigfoot did not run out of the woods and maul me to death.

As for the Appalachian Trail……



I know now that I can indeed push myself to the point of exhaustion, take a break, recharge, and then head back out onto the trail to knock out more miles!

I had been having some nagging worries in my head over the past week. Maybe 6.6 miles was my limit, since it seemed that going that distance seemed to always wipe me out. If I could only muster that low amount of miles a day on the trail, there is no way we could finish in time to make Mt. Katahdin before it closes for the winter. But, now I know………….. 6.6 miles is NOT my limit………… I know I can make 13.2 miles……….if not more…………. and I still have over 9 months until we leave for the trail.

Bring on the next wall!

My next challenge, (for this fall), 20 miles in one day!

Happy Hiking!!

Exercise results for this past week: (Ending this past Sunday)

16.3 Miles walked (117.3 miles total)
13 Miles on Bike (377 Miles total)

Current Weight: 273 (-16 lbs thus far)