If you had been in my room the night before the 15 Kilometer Nordic Walk…you might have heard a conversation that went something like this:
“What in the WORLD was I thinking? What the heck is Nordic anyway?”
(I looked it up and found some great YouTube videos on Nordic Walking… and it’s all about the poles and working your way up to greater distances with them with lots of practice. Ha! I was about to work my way up alright… to fifteen kilometers.)
“Are you supposed to train for this? Jeremy! What have I signed up for? What if it’s raining and uphill the whole time? Oh my word…”
“Oh yeah, she did say that you should take some longer walks before tomorrow. I forgot to tell you.”
“Oh great. I’m dead.”
The reality is, I signed up because 1) I’m overly ambitious and get in over my head all the time and 2) because the wife of Jeremy’s language partner invited me to join her and her friends. How cool is that? We long to nurture these local friendships… and this is a family we truly, truly enjoy.
The last year with them has been incredible. They’ve introduced us to traditional German meals, taught us their language, out-worked us when we moved… they bring home-baked treats for our kids, invite them out to see his bee farm… the kindness is endless. We can only hope and pray that we’ve been of some joy and benefit to them as well.
All that to say… how could I pass up such a cool opportunity to walk 15 kilometers with Doris and her friends? Even if it might be uphill in the rain for three hours.
Did I mention that there are speed walkers who walk faster than I do?
6am came way faster than I wanted it to. I dreamt all night of this walk… I even dreamt that I tried running it and had to remember that it was a walk not a run.
I arrived at Doris’s house while it was still dark outside. I have something against being awake when it is still dark out- let alone preparing for a long walk. THIS is how much I love Doris and her family.
While we waited for the carpool of her five friends and twin sister, Doris gave me a lesson with the Nordic sticks up and down the street. About an hour later we arrived at the top of the mountain to the little village of Höchenschwand. We received our walking bibs, gift card to a sport store, granola bars, and warm smiles. We had a fifteen minute warm-up before we were all released to our course.
And off we went!
It rained the whole time.
But the nice thing about walking through woods are the trees.
And their leaves.
And the way they slow the rain down somehow.
Doris and her friend walked with me… sometimes just ahead of me, but always keeping my pace. These ladies are FIT! I was nervous about how I would do for three hours with only German-language… but I found Doris to be wonderful and helping me understand with lots of gestures and facial expressions and German. Very important. Because Doris and her family, like many other of the Germans in our local community, mostly speak Alamanish with one another. Of which I know two words. I actually found (quite early on) that I was enjoying myself immensely. I enjoyed their friendship, their ease of conversation with me, the way they treated me like a friend and not at all awkwardly or uncomfortably.
As Doris and her friend and I neared the end of our fifteen kilometers, I was in a good amount of pain. Healthy pain. The kind of pain when your body says, “Hey friend… you’ve done some good physical work today. Next time… you might want to let us know in advance.” The muscles behind my knees were less friendly. “You crazy lady! What were you thinking?! Don’t you realize that you hardly ever use us? And now this? Come on!”
They were right. I’d assumed all the walking I did in Kandern was good enough. HA!
At the finish line I was all but limping. The two ladies stopped and said, “Join us up here in the middle! We’ll finish together.”
I hobbled up and we walked in… the last three of the entire walk (which is okay, it wasn’t a race and we finished before the end time!) In fact, according to Doris, we made great time! We came in at 2 hours and 58 minutes. Considering the up hills, the down hills, the slippery moss and muddy paths… I have to agree!
The announcer held a mic out to each of us as he announced that we were coming. Doris made sure to let him (and everyone) know (proudly) that I was all the way from America. I was a bit of a novelty. We shared lunch together in the great hall while the organizers auctioned off prizes. I won! I won a hat, a shirt, and a lanyard- complete with the local beer’s logo 🙂 (They were also raffling off kegs of the beer so I was quite content with my new wardrobe).
As we drove back down the hill we stopped at a pumpkin patch that had twelve statues made of straw. They were super impressive. Then we drove back to Doris’s house- where I was invited in for tea and cake and conversation. We also started planning the next walk.
18 Kilometers around a lake in May.
Maybe I’ll “train” for this one.
By the time I got home it was about 5pm.
And I was sore.
“You’re alive! I’m so glad!” Jeremy exclaimed. He had a lot of faith in my walking abilities (hee hee… just kidding… he said he was only concerned because I had been so nervous the night before. He’s sweet).
He and the kids were awesome. They made dinner and I was able to rest.
But that was it! The next day I felt great and today even better.
I just had to share this experience with you. Partly because I am proud of this accomplishment, not just the walk, but the determination to put myself in a situation that could be really uncomfortable. Language stuff is hard. But we are committed to this place. To these people. To experiences like these where we get to join in to the special places in the lives of those around us. One day I hope to have enough words to tell Doris how extremely touched I am that she would include me in her day the way she did.