Monday, May 18, 2015

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

     Fifteen intrepid souls gathered at the Chuy's Mexican food restaurant on Saturday May 18th, 2015 for a unique challenge.  The challenge was to walk to the Chuy's on Barton Springs Rd. in Austin, TX. The event was started by Thomas Orf and Stacey Meyers about 5 years ago.  See the quick write up on the history:
     Over the water cooler at work Stacey mentioned to Thomas, “Walking isn’t that hard. Hell, I could walk to San Antonio from here.” And, that is how the Chuy’s to Chuy’s walk was born. The event founders Thomas and Stacey have made the pilgrimage from the Chuy’s on Barton Springs Road in Austin to the Chuy’s in Selma, Texas each year for the last 4 years. It’s high time we join them in this epic journey. Think Stand by Me without the dead body and the rail road tracks. 
      I worked with Thomas and a few other core folks to negotiate a date and created an event on Facebook and we asked our friends to come and walk with us. In the spirit of the event, you must walk and the main party should advance together as well as possible. Here were the rules:
     1. We are not affiliated or sponsored by the Chuy’s restaurant chain. We are simply fans.
     2. All participants must start and finish together.
     3. You may only walk.
     4. Running only allowed to catch back up after unscheduled stop.
     5. Sticks are allowed.
     6. Headphones and music are allowed, but you’ll miss out on all the great stories.
     7. You are responsible for your own transportation if you decide to retire from the walk.
     8. There will be approximately five scheduled stops for food and water resupply.
     9. Reflective vest, blinkie, and headlamp are required.
     10. Event organizers will not provide any support. Bring your own money for food and water.
     11. Umbrellas are not allowed.

     The concept of walking is simple, but oh so painful when one must walk for a very long time.  Before cars, the most common method of travel was by foot.  Humans are adept walkers and runners and made for it.  The walking pace is typically 2.8 to 3.4 MPH.  What does that mean to  you?  Take for instance a 28 in step with a pace count of 120.  This is 28*120 = 3360 in/min.   Which translates to 201,000 in/hr or 16,800 ft/hour, or 3.18 MPH.  A 30 in step at 120 pace count the rate is 3.4 MPH.  Why a pace count of 120?  120 is the U.S. Army marching cadence pace.  During the American Civil war the standard was 28 in step at a pace count of 110.  Which equates to 2.9 MPH.  
     It is generally observable that the average person is wholly unprepared to walk a great distance.  This is evidenced by the amount of blisters, the aching in the feet and legs at even 10 to 15 mile mark.  Since we sit down most of the time, our core is weak and cannont hold up our torso for hours and hours on end.  Our glutes do not fire and we walk with a soft middle.  The back begins to ache, the hip flexors hurt because the glutes are not engaged etc... Blisters are typically on the heel due to over striding or heel slippage in the shoe.  However blisters are not limited to the heel.  
     Once we started, some stepped out just a bit to fast and pulled a ways ahead of the group. Some a bit slow, but over all it started as to be expected.  After 4 miles a few folks stopped to grab some water at the gas station, check gear, and others decided it would be a good time to sit down for a bit.  We carried on in about 10 minutes and our group coalesced. The pace was about 3.2 MPH overall as to be expected early on.  Everyone seemed to be okay at this point. We were about 1.5 hours into the walk.  Around mile 10 our first walker retired.  Note that 10 miles is about 2hrs20min.  Mile 13 or 14 we had our first stop at the Exxon on Solms Road and IH-35 south of New Branufels. 
     Vincent Antunez with Trail Toes did his first of many minor blister fixing surgeries. He used Trail Tape, Trail Toes Cream and his Blister Kit.  Some walkers ate food, some milled around, some resupplied their hydration and electrolytes.  We carried on after about 20 minutes.  As we were passing through New Braunfels our second walker, Billy, retired from the walk.  This gentleman had just started exercising about 30 days ago and achieved 18 miles.  That is pretty badass. 
     The next stop was at Buccees on the other end of New Branufels @ Mile marker 191.  Buccees is a big store and this stop took quite a bit of time, approx 40 minutes. Mostly because Vincent was fixing everyone's feet. I think at least 6 walkers were getting blister work done. Once we left we faced about 15 miles until the next stop.  There are not many lights or stores in this section, save the Travel America that is 2 miles from Buccess so there is no reason to stop there. 
     We lost quite a few folks here.   It was getting late, almost 2200 by the time we left Buccess and we did not reach the next store until 0130.  About 5 walkers retired before we reached San Marcos proper and were picked up by friends.  At the Whataburger in San Marcos we left a few more walkers and marched forward with 6 of us left.  We didn't reach the next convenience store in time for a beer so that was a huge let down.  We made our way through town but before we reached the other side one other walker retired.  
     San Marcos is a dangerous place at 0230 in the morning on a Saturday night. Lot's of drunk college kids swerving around, yelling out the window.  Party buses, but no tittes were flashed. That was a pretty big let down.  The section between San Marcos and Kyle is long and lonely, about 10 miles with no stores or lights except a big car dealership.  Which we stopped at to lay down for 10 minutes.  As we got up to continue 2 cop cars pulled up flashing their lights. The paper guy called us in to the police as punk kids.  This place gets cars broken into a lot, so the cops are always getting called there.  They were cool and gave us high 5's.  And probably were on the radio all night saying things like, "Man, we met some dumbasses out on the road, walking to Austin.  Yea, man walking to Austin."  
     At 0530 we made it to the 7-11 in Kyle.  41 miles or so in and 15.5 hours.  We were here last year at about the same time.  Stacey, Vincent, Jorge, and Gina slept on the side walk outside.  It just so happened that the parking lot cleaners were there with their gas operated water sprayer so it was loud as shit and I couldn't sleep. I ate a donut and a sausage biscuit breakfast sandwich.  We left about 5:50 and continued our inexorable march towards Austin with the knowledge of a huge storm, filled with rain, thunder, and lightening was about to blow right up our asses.  And also with knowledge of the fact that in the next 30 minutes  I was going to throw up that sausage biscuit sandwich.  
     After a mile and half of burping sausage up, I decided to take manual intervention and puked my guts out.  Yea.  About 6:30 am, just before daylight. The rain came poring down.  We weren't too far from a Chicken Express food chain so we ran for cover under their porch.  We contemplated going to IHOP but we were soaking wet and typically they have the A/C on full blast and figured we'd be cold as hell and we wouldn't be able to lay down.  So we stayed at the chicken place.  We started shivering like crazy because of the wind and being wet.  Luckily Stacy had like 5 survival mylar blankets and he busted those out.  We spooned and covered up in the blankies.  And slept.  Someone might have gotten a chubbie, but no one admitted it. 
     After 2 hours of shivering like a teenage girl in horror movie. Stacey called in some help for us.  We decided that if this crap had not cleared up by 10AM, then we'd officially quit.  We went and chilled out at Stacy's place and it was still pretty shitty at 10 so we bagged it. Besides being out in a rain storm in Texas with retarted drivers is never a good idea.  We can walk another day.
     We let our friends know through FB and other media that the walk was over with 100% DNF.  We went ahead and had lunch at Chuy's and some of other walkers met us there.  We did not make it to Chuy's on foot this trip, but we had a great time anyway.  We will walk this route again if you are interested here is the link.  June 27th Chuy Walk 2.  Apparently Rucking is the hottest trend in 2015, so this is rucking w/o a pack.  But if you want to be a real badass son-of-a-bitch, by all means, bring your 30lbs ruck sack.  Nothing would make me more happy than to see your badassness crushed by time and the fate of the walker.  Below is the way bill text:
    In the age of ever increasing event prices, this event is offered to you free of monetary payment. However, you will pay with your mind and you will sacrifice your feet. This past weekend we attempted to complete the 5th Annual Salsa Walk and we had 100% DNF of the 15 starters for various reasons. So we’re going back out on the road, offering up our minds to be molded by the endurance of time and miles so that we may truly comprehend endurance. There are no medals or swag being offered for finishing. You are free to stop at any time your personal goal is reached. The only reward you will receive is the one you earn through commitment, it doesn’t hang on the medal wall, rather it fills the mind with the confidence of suffering endured. In the words of the great John Fodden “I shan’t wish you luck because if you haven’t trained properly, luck will be of no use. And if you have trained properly then you don’t need luck.”
 For anyone who would like to join us as we try again, I would suggest the following ideas:
     1. Lose your attachement to time. 
     2. Learn how to tie your shoes. 
     3. Learn how to walk. 
     4. Spend lots of time on your feet.
     5. Be Patient.
     6. Learn how to breathe. 
     7. Do core work. 
 We hope to see anyone who wants to make new friends, challenge themselves in a totally unique way, who can tell good jokes, isn't a total #1 grade asshole, and remember time is not on your side.  Time is your enemy. 


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