Wednesday, November 11, 2009

K’s For Carol

At first one might think that I made a mistake with the title of this blog entry – ‘Maybe Jim means C’s For Carol’ – but that’s not the case. The K’s represents kilometers and Carol is the name of the person that many people walked for, just a few weeks ago.

When I first mentioned that I would be participating in a walk to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society for the company that I work for, I told how this walk was inspired because another employee – Carol – had died from this disease. Oops! I was wrong. I became aware of my mistake when we arrived in Lucan, the starting point for our 22.7 km walk.

There were a few organizers and police officers gathering around the back of the official ‘K’s For Carol’ bus for a photo when I heard someone say, “There’s Carol, now.” I felt a little awkward for having made my mistake, but that feeling soon faded as I realized that I was more than happy to be wrong.

The first twenty minutes were spent waiting for everyone to arrive. There were a number of newspaper reporters interviewing people and taking photos. Three or four police cars had arrived to be our escorts to ensure our safety as we walked along the country roads back to Arva where a hot chili lunch was waiting for us.

Soon enough, the walk began.

It was a beautiful autumn day, with the sun shining and a crisp chill to the air. Many walkers were wearing their jackets and coats but once we started moving these items were quickly removed.

For a few weeks before the walk, I was busy collecting money from a few friends and neighbours. I also asked the high school students that ride my bus for donations. I was really surprised when one on my students asked if he could join me and the other walkers. Of course, I said yes!

This is a photo of Matt – the high school student who rides my bus -, Fran – the bus driver who trained me last spring – and me – the guy who wore the wrong shoes for such a long walk!!!!

It was a great day for a walk. Our route took us along several paved country roads that ran parallel with the major highways. We stayed off of the main roads for safety reasons and I’m glad that we did. There was less automobile traffic and the scenes of orchards, fields and distant forested lots were more pleasing to look at.

I’ve always enjoyed walking. Joanne and I take Koly for walks almost every evening. A little over a decade ago I organized a walk that took me across a huge portion of Southern Ontario. After I had graduated from college, in Toronto, I traveled to the mountains of British Columbia where I spent the entire summer walking along hiking trails.

I had some problems with this walk, though. Just one hour into the walk I started to feel a bit of pain in the middle of the bottom of my right foot. I had been wearing my regular work shoes and I guess I had misjudged their efficiency for such a long walk. About half an hour later I knew that I had at least one giant blister on the bottom of my foot.

I started to walk a bit more on the side of my right foot, to take some of the pressure off. I think that this made things worse. I had taken the pressure off of my foot but I had added more pressure to my hip joints as a result.

I took this picture about 2 ½ hours into the walk. You can see that I’m really trying hard to smile, but the aches and pains I was feeling were starting to take their toll.

I didn’t take any more photos after this. My priorities were changing from taking pictures to surviving this walk. I found that I wasn’t even taking in the scenery any more. My eyes were focussing hard on the road ahead and all I could think of was, “Don’t stop walking, don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop!”

After I had passed the last check-point I knew that I couldn’t go on the way I had been. My feet were screaming in pain. With less than 3 kms to go I decided to take off my shoes and finish the walk in my socked feet. My feet did feel better – having been loosed from their confines – but my legs had been worn down quite a bit. I was determined to persevere so instead of hobbling my way to the end I decided to pick up the pace – I started a slow jog. I started to pass by a few other people and everyone was laughing as I stumbled by with my shoes in hand and not on foot. This laughter gave me strength. I picked up the pace.

I found that the aches and pains began to disappear as I got my body moving in a more elastic and stretched out way. The finish line was getting closer and closer and this encouraged me more. I picked up the pace again and found myself in a slow run, zooming past many of the other walkers.

Then it was over. I had done it! I had walked 22.7 kilometers in one unbroken motion and now I could rest. After all the walkers had gathered together we all enjoyed a hot chili lunch with lots of yummy sweets for desert. A few speeches were shared to thank all of those involved and lots of laugher filled the air when I suggested that next year’s walk should be sponsored by Footlocker!

The next few days at work were filled with lots of joking around as we shared stories about what was aching in our bodies and how many blisters we had received.

I was really happy to have participated in this worthy event and the tales of my woes just bring a smile to my face. I guess it makes for a more interesting story. I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my adventure and that you may be inspired to try something new to help others in your own community. Just remember – wear the proper shoes!!!


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