I desperately needed to train! That was the discovery I made when I first started preparing for the Waterloo Region Crossing, a trek that happens in the dead of winter with the goal of raising awareness about the risks of exposure for the homeless.
I've already shared a little bit about this trek earlier, a trek that, after a fair amount of preparing, I finally ended up going on last weekend. I'd like to talk more though about my process of training, a process that as I was to discover, had both physical AND emotional aspects.
A difficult start
Most definitely part of the training that I needed was physical. I just needed to don my gear (more on that to follow), get outside, and start moving! I knew this because, during my first brief training walk just three weeks prior to the trek, I was barely able walk a half an hour was around my small neighbourhood. How I would manage the 2 1/2 hour, 8 km ‘Pioneer’ trek that planned to do, I had no idea.
Running counter to this need to walk though was the possibility of knee troubles. In the past, pain in my knees had prevented me from with doing physical activity. I worried that with too much walking, they might give out on the day of the trek.
That leads to the emotional component of my training process. I was, to be honest, feeling quite nervous about it all. It had been a looooonnnnng time since I had done anything seriously physical. Yes, I had done long distance running in high school, biked in university, and cross-country skied during what I call my paid labour days, though my days of doing all that were long in the past.
My Training “Strategy”
A mom of a young daughter and volunteer, finding time for just a brief walk can be difficult. Determined though, I found ways to train, fitting in small walks here and there. At the beginning, I was able to only find time to walk about a half hour tops. Then one day I excitedly realized that I could get in longer one-hour walks in Kitchener while my daughter was in gymnastics. Or at least I felt excited until the first day I went to train at that time.
That day I realized, to my horror, that day we were in the middle of a -30 degree Celsius cold snap! A cold snap complete with strong winds as well!
Not to be deterred, I put on nearly every warm article of clothing I could outfit myself with. That is minus my face mask and ski goggles, which I carefully, surreptitiously, donned outside the gymnastics centre, for fear of how I would look to the other moms at the centre.
(While in reality, the moms there are all quite lovely and would have probably thought nothing of it, my high school memories of trying to 'fit in' kicked in that day big time…)
In-to the cold
Bracing myself against the cold, I told myself that I was doing this all for an important cause, and set out for an urban hiking adventure! Despite having to forge my way, without even gaiters, through some deep snow along a nature trail that had not been cleared, I somehow managed.
To my surprise, I made an amazing discovery on that hike. There within the city on that trail, surrounded by trees, birds, and fresh white snow, I reconnected to my love of nature and the outdoors. “How could I have forgotten that I so *need* this?” I wondered, which lead to the thinking, “This is so close to me. I must to do this more often!”
My inspiration continued
My experience that day further inspired me to continue training, albeit even though I could only manage to do it every couple of days or so, and often only for a little while. As opposed to the cold snap continuing, the weather was constantly changing, with it being sometimes cold, then milder, then cold again in the time leading up to the trek.
Although this weather was inconvenient in that I never knew quite how to prepare, it kept me aware of my purpose in doing the trek: to help connect the dots between homelessness, land-use and global climate change. The climate was changing in strange and unpredictable ways that had dire implications for all of us, especially the homeless, and I waned to raise awareness about that.
What is next
That basically describes my process in training for the Waterloo Region Crossing. Had I stopped with this, I would have met my desire to challenge to myself and pursue more of my dreams, as I had realized I wanted to do following a recent health scare. While these experiences had great significance me, I feel I have some other important stories relating to the trek that I’d like to share, hopefully soon.
My Story of the Waterloo Region Crossing 2019