"I'm a-walking in the rain
Tears are falling and I feel the pain…"
Walking in the rain is one thing. Walking in a monsoon is another. That’s what the weather was like last Friday morning as the sun rose over Farm Pond in Framingham, MA. We heard the meteorologists were calling it a nor’easter. Call it whatever you want, it was raining reeeeaaaally hard, and I along with 1500 women and men were about to walk 20 miles in it.
We made a sea of ponchos, cheering as we made our way out of the opening ceremonies and out onto Rt. 135. The ponchos keep you dry for the most part. However they don’t cover your sneakers. The problem with wet shoes in a situation like this is that moisture softens the skin of your feet. Moisture + friction = blisters. People were trying various unique ways of keeping their feet dry. There were inverted ziplocks taped to legs. Some used plastic grocery bags or baggies on the inside of their sneakers, and tied or banded around their ankles. Others planned ahead and bought those rubber foot condoms to put over their sneakers. Some abandoned sneakers altogether in favor of flip flops. That seemed risky to me. Plastic rubbing against wet skin, over, and over, and over with each step? Blister city of you ask me. Maybe if you had trail sandals like Teva or Reefs…
You wouldn’t believe what goes into caring for you feet for an event like this. Everyone kind of does something different. Key #1: change socks often, at least once if not twice a day. 2) Lubricate with Glide or Vasoline. 3) Add powder if necessary. The problem with last Friday was that you could change your socks as much as you wanted, if your sneakers were soaked, the socks would eventually get wet. Then there’s the type of sock; There’s the padding camp, vs. the lightweight, wicking camp. I went with padded socks and found out my feet were sweating too much. I ended up with heat rash, and some hot spots. A hot spot is when you notice a patch of skin getting red and warm from friction. You have to cover it to keep it from getting worse. I’ve been lucky enough to never have to deal with blisters on the walk. I’ve been militant about taking care of my feet. I think the majority of people who end up with debilitating blister problems actually haven’t been properly fitted for sneakers. You should actually be wearing them a ½ to a full size larger than your shoes. You should have plenty of toe room. Then you need to see what kind of support you need based on how your foot strikes the ground.
I did end up with a small blister on my big toe after the end of Day 2, but it didn’t cause me any grief.
I did find a walking partner: Wendy, who I met two years ago on a walk. She had no team this year, so she gladly joined mine. Together, we met Jen moments into the walk. She was walking alone, so we invited her to join us. I felt like I was paying it forward, as I had been adopted by Wendy and her friends when I was alone.
The rain was really awful, as was the wind. We hopped into the first D&D we saw because we needed the bathroom and knew the 1st pit stop would be crowded. Once the crowd starts to spread apart it gets a little easier. Reports had the rain stopping around 8:00 AM. I wasn’t holding my breath. It finally showed signs of slowing around 11:00. We passed a cheering station at the Star Market in Wellesley, and Wendy’s sister and kids were there handing out candy and cheering for us. Jus had hot chocolate! Mmmm.
Lunch wasn’t until like mile 12. It was after 1 o’clock by the time we got there. The rain had started again so they opened a gym at Lasell College in Newton. Got to take off the sneaks, stretch out, and use a real bathroom!! Whoot!
I tried putting pieces of plastic trash bags over my dry socks and under my sneakers. It made a lovely fashion statement. It lasted another 4 or 5 miles, then I ditched it. Too hot. I was steaming my feet.
The sun finally came out. Ponchos were tossed. The last mile to camp was up hill. I couldn’t believe we weren’t back at camp until 5:30. But the crew, Pink Angels, and Men With Heart were all there to cheer us on those last few yards.
Other highlights of Day 1:
The three somewhat-elderly men with pink pom-poms on their sneakers who kept appearing on the route to cheer. They gave us hugs toward the end on that last mile. They were there each day, in the morning and the evening.
Bertucci’s on Washington St, in Wellesley had staff outside with cups of ice water and fresh hot rolls for the walkers. It was a huge treat, as lunch was several miles and hours away!
Thank God for artificial turf. I can’t even imagine having to camp in the mud that would’ve existed on a normal athletic field.
Next: Day 2 “Sunshine on My Shoulders.