Camino Connections

The Camino doesn’t end when you reach Santiago. It stays with you forever. Thoughts often lead back to the simple life of walking, first breakfast, walking some more, second breakfast, walking…  The simplicity takes your thoughts to a peaceful place, but even better are the memories of laughing and sharing stories with Camino family and friends. These are lifetime connections – even if it’s someone you just met for a day. They stick with you.

I was lucky to have made so many connections with amazing people along The Way. My Camino Family and I shared so many laughs and tears of joy. It’s great to be able to meet up with them on occasion to keep that connection going.

This last weekend I flew back to Philadelphia to spend time with Maurice (aka Big Father) and Paige (aka The Boss). Maurice has the biggest heart and Paige is as caring and friendly as they come. She felt like an instant friend the first time I spoke with her on the Camino.

Maurice and I joined up with a friend from his American Pilgrims on the Camino (APOC) group and caught the train to New York City. After about 10 hours and 13 miles of exploring we had seen Times Square, the Empire State Building, walked past Alec Baldwin in the village, reflected at the 9/11 memorial, stood with the Fearless Girl and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for some amazing Pizza. We laughed, told stories of the Camino and genuinely enjoyed one of the best cities in the world.

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Because Maurice and I are adventurers – or gluttons for punishment – we planned to get up by 5am the following morning so we could drive to Washington D.C. for more walking. This time we picked up another APOC friend, Nadine, from Maurice’s local chapter and our Camino family member Paige.

After a long drive in we met up with other Pilgrims at Arlington National Cemetery. The plan for the day was to walk in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr. from his march in 1963 where he delivered his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.

Our walk would take us past the monument to him and then on through the Capitol mall, around the Capitol building and back to the Lincoln Memorial where Nadine read a portion of MLK’s famous speech. A powerful moment, especially considering the times we are currently living in. Words that everyone in our country could benefit from hearing again.

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It was an incredible day in so many ways. Being able to pick up right where I left off with Camino family, speaking with fellow Pilgrims that become instant friends. These connections are hard to match anywhere in life. These are bonds I’ll never take for granted we understand parts of each other that others may never understand.

Camino de Sounders

I’m 111 days out from my second Camino. That sounds like a lot, but the time will go by quickly. With that, I realize the need to step up my training. Haha, get it, “step up?” đŸ™‚

My fitbit tells me I walk a minimum of 5 miles a day, which has basically been a standard for me for the past two years. I can’t stand it if I don’t hit my minimum goal of 11,000 steps a day. But it’s time to start getting even longer walks in on a regular basis. Not every day allows for plenty of time to get a decent amount of walking in, so you have to make that time. I’ve found that adding the walking into my daily events makes meeting my goal easier.

If it’s a work day, I walk the 1.4 miles each way to work and often add detours that make my walk to work closer to 2.5 or even as much as 5 miles. Of course, this means I need to get up and out the door earlier which is sometimes easier said than done. If I don’t get the longer walk in to work, then I make sure I take a longer walk home.

If I need to run errands, I try to see how many I can do on foot in my neighborhood. Not only do I get my steps in, but I get to support local businesses.

If I’m going to meet friends for happy hour in another neighborhood – as long as it’s 3 miles or less, I walk there. Feels less guilty having that beer if I walked 3 miles before drinking it!

One of my new favorite ways to incorporate training is something I call ‘Camino de Sounders.’ Since 2009, I’ve been a season ticket holder of my beloved Seattle Sounders FC. In fact, I love the team so much that I carried a Sounders scarf with me 500 miles across Spain on my first Camino. My tickets are in the supporter section, so I’m often times standing fully exposed to rain – or in yesterday’s case, hail. One might say it’s good resilience training for walking the Camino on less than ideal days.

It doesn’t always work with the game schedule to incorporate a training walk, but when it does, I don’t hesitate to consider taking the “Nike highway” to the game. (Nike highway is a term my friend used in college to mean walking somewhere…guess the term only works if you’re wearing Nikes)

Yesterday my friend Rachel, who will be joining me on the Camino this June, and I walked from my house down to the stadium – stood in the rain and hail and walked home. After the 10 miles roundtrip of walking and our cheering in the stadium, we had nearly a 12 mile day.

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My Sounders lost, but I still loved the day because I had a lot of quality time to catch up with a good friend and got the perfect training walk in. I love trying to find creative ways to train. Walks like yesterday made me not even realize I was getting a 12 mile walk in.

Go Sounders! Buen Camino!