As we walked toward Piazza Venezia, I flipped open the pedometer on my belt.
“How much?” Daniel asked.
“Nine miles.” I’d made a mistake earlier of telling him that I set a personal record ten days ago when my sister Jessica and I walked seventeen miles one day in Rome. He, of course, wanted to beat that. Not competitive by nature, I had no desire. But as we roamed the city, the miles started adding up. Villa Borghese Gardens, the Dali Exhibit, gelato at the Cremeria. By the time we got back to our hostel, I’d clocked 15 miles – my second highest day yet. (To his credit, we would have probably beat the record if I didn’t have us take a bus back to the hostel that night.)
Italy was a great place to rack up miles for three weeks. Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome. Now that I think about it, though, every place I’ve been since I started training for the Camino in January has been “meant to be” – for both the walking conditions and the people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of walking.
Would I have started training in January were I not living through such a mild winter at Glenda’s house in Hayesville, NC? Would I have not continued training had I not spent ten days on Kiawah Island with all it’s options: walking trails, bike trails, golf courses and beaches? What about those unexpected ten days I got to go to Florida? Walking in 70 degree weather with Sarah and Russ surely beat the temps of winter in my home state of New York.
Speaking of Sarah and Russ, I was pleasantly surprised by all the friends who accepted my invitations to join me on a walk. Leslie, Kate, and Dianna met me at different times on the Norrie/Mills Mansion Trail. Stacey, Lois, and Lynne on Kiawah Island. Sr. Peggy and John on the Walkway Over the Hudson.
“I don’t know if I can keep up with you,” my friend Dora lamented when we took off from her doorstep in Maryland. I’d stopped there for an overnight visit on a drive between Asheville, NC and Hyde Park, NY.
“I’m not walking for speed – just distance. I mostly stroll. You’ll be fine.” Indeed she was. In fact, we walked a trail her husband has volunteered to maintain for their town. Would I have known of his good work had Dora not agreed to take a walk with me?
Kate did my first mountain with me which happened to also be the first time I hiked in the snow. I’m hoping I don’t have to repeat the snow experience in the Pyrenees.
Dad and Mom walked the Walkway Over the Hudson with me.
“How many more miles do you need to do today?” Dad asked.
“Eh – probably another two or three would be good.”
“This trail keeps going – Mom could turn around and get the car, then meet us further down the trail,” he suggested. Mom did just that while Dad and I added more miles to my daily total.
I’ve done plenty of walking alone, as well. Sometimes that was fine. Other times, I needed the distraction of a phone call to keep me going. So thanks to Dawn, Tara, Terry, Mom, Jessica, Meg, Liz, Jenn and Jeff for taking my calls.
A few weeks ago I made a list of everyone I’ve walked with since I started training. My cousin Stephanie and I caught up on a walk around her neighborhood. My Asheville friends Todd and David accompanied me on trails in North Carolina. I’ve got a list of 19 people I’ve walked with since January. And I’m pretty impressed I’m managed to mention every one of them in this post. (If I left you out, please let me know!)
So thanks to all those who put foot to pavement with me. And also thanks to those who were with me by phone on those days I needed someone to keep me going. Know that you all helped to get me to this point: in thirteen days I’ll get to see all this training pay off.