Sunday, April 3, 2011

Countdown to Camino: Five Weeks

We (bink, Marz, and I) leave to walk the Camino de Santiago across Spain on Sunday, May 8, five weeks from today!
[article in yesterday's Guardian about Camino highlights]

I've lost muscle strength and gained 20 lbs. in the past few years, so 7 weeks ago, I began working on getting in shape again.

This morning I tried on these hiking pants I wore on Camino ten years ago, when I turned 40, and am relieved that they fit again. Still a wee bit snug, but at least I won't have to buy new ones.

I've been feeling pretty buff, so yesterday I walked 8+ miles around the lakes (flat, easy). Then I spent half an hour going up and down, up and down a steep hill. (Minneapolis doesn't have a lot of hills, so you have to use the ones you find.) I was so tired when I got home, I went to bed at 8:30.
Good thing I still have five weeks to get my climbing muscles up to speed.

The Camino isn't terribly mountainous, for the most part, but we'll face some hills right out of the gate, because we're starting in Roncevalles, in the foothills of the Pyrenees on the French border. (Hiking downhill is just as hard as uphill.)

Besides body weight, I'm carrying more years, of course, than in 2001, but we're also giving ourselves an extra week:
instead of walking almost 500 miles in five weeks, like bink and I did last time, we have six... plus a few days traveling time on either end.

I'm hoping that if all goes well, we can use the extra time walk out to Finisterre, on the Atlantic Ocean, which we didn't do last time. Technically the medieval pilgrimage route ends 50 miles inland, at the cathedral in the city of Santiago where lie the supposed remains of Saint James, Sant'Iago.

But I love the idea of walking border to border. Finisterre means "Land's End," or "the end of the world"; you can't go any further than its lighthouse.

(The scallop shell on this "0 km" marker is the traditional sign of the pilgrim. The Camino is marked all along the way with yellow arrows and shells, so it's very easy to follow. Last time we didn't even have a map and we only got lost once, briefly.)

Traditionally pilgrims burn their walking clothes at Finisterre, plunge into the sea, then don new clothes. I'm loathe to carry anything I won't need regularly, but maybe I'll bring something small and symbolic, like a new pair of undies.

One reason I haven't been blogging is because getting in shape is the main thing I've been thinking about, and I expect it's boring to read about. But I also regret that I didn't keep track of the logistics of the walk last time, so I want to record physical details this time.
After all, I might want to do this again when I turn sixty, in 2021 (inshallah).

Like, I can't remember--did I bother bringing an extra bra, or did I just wash the one out all the time?
The weight of a bra may seem piddling, but I DO remember that on about day 4 or 5 last time, when blister pain was making my eyes spin, I went through my backpack and threw out all unnecessary items,
and that included a single piece of paper with the train schedule from Santiago back to Madrid on it.
So I want to go as light as possible.

One thing I'm carrying MORE of, though, is moleskin!
I hope I won't get such bad blisters this time, being better prepared. "Blister" is an insufficient word to describe how my feet were flayed last time.
So, walking up and down hills is not just to toughen up my muscles but my feet.


Margaret said...

Finisterre clothes-burning reminds me of that Bible verse about after you die and meet god your life being stacked up and set fire, and then whatever's leftover was done for "the glory of god". In the context I heard it in, it was used as a motivator to "store up your treasures in heaven" (that never made sense to me) /make sure you have plenty to last the fire, but I like the idea of total burning. A bonfire with gGod and then you leftover without your life

And now I'm walking up the mountain - I've been kind of slack about any conditioning so far because I think I'm young and physically invincible. But just in case I'm not, I want to make love to the mountain.


fresca said...

MARZ: I used to fantasize that a fire would burn up all my possessions. Finally I realized that if I wanted such radical liberation, I could just give or throw my stuff away.
That's when I got rid of my bookshelves full of books (and some other stuff).

So now I don't long for a cleansing fire anymore, but yeah, I still like the idea of a gGod bonfire!

When I was 25, I biked around Ireland for a month and didn't train ahead of time, and I was fine (mostly).
You are lightweight and young--you will be fine (mostly).

Still, climbing a mountain... She is hard.
And Spock won't be there in astroboots to pick us up either.


poodletail said...

Observation: downhill may be harder than uphill. When I spectated @ the San Francisco marathon the runners had grim determination on their faces going uphill and YOWLED on the way down.

Good on ye for training.

bink said...

Downhill @#%&!! them knees. Uphill is sweet. I'm counting on Glide to help a lot!


Fresca said...

POODLE & BINK: Yeah, I think it was going downhill that made my knee freeze up for a couple days. Ugh.

I hope Glide helps prevent the blisters, at least.

Clowncar said...

that looks like so much fun. love the scallop shell marker. why is that the symbol for wayfarers, I wonder?

When I was in school in england for a semester I walked from brighton to portsmith (I think the route is called the south downs), took a ferry to the Isle of Wight, and walked all the way around that.

have Big Fun.

Fresca said...

CLOWN: Sorry I'm late responding... there're lots of stories about why the scallop shell. Like, St. James came along and gave a thirsty pilgrim a drink from such a shell.
Maybe just because they were proof one had gotten near the sea?

Your English pilgrimage sounds terrific! I want to walk to Canterbury one day, or along Hadrian's Wall.