Carnation, Wash. - Gotta stop thinking about going fast, even though the desire to accelerate ahead zooms through my brain.
Never mind that the terrain I'm traversing - a rails-to-trails pathway topped with short-cropped grass - is ideal for rapid, light-footed locomotion. It's just that after years of competing in everything from fast mile runs to triathlons to insanely long bicycle races, the urge to turn on the jets is intense. I yearn to begin running, ease into a striding pace just below my aerobic threshold and catch those folks 50 yards in front. Honestly, it's just plain difficult for me to slow down.
INFORMATIONFor information about the American Volkssport Association, phone (800) 830-WALK, or visit online at www.ava.org. Information about the Oregon and Washington organizations can be had at (www.walkoregon.org) and (www.esva.org). Locally, contact the Turnaround Trekkers at (503) 728-0400.
To learn more about Remlinger Farms, which features 25 rides and attractions, including pony rides, a hay maze and a climbing wall, call (425) 333-4135, or visit (www.remlingerfarms.com).Fortunately, I have an inspiration to do just that - or rather, a friend to encourage me. I'm accompanied by Christiana Haldane, an experienced Volkswalker, and we're participating in a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) event at Remlinger Farms in Carnation, Wash., a half-hour drive east of Seattle.
Our route this Halloween morning began in a courtyard outside a complex of buildings - refurbished barns that showcase seasonal produce, packaged goods, jars of jams and jellies and fresh-baked pies, all displayed amid pumpkins, multishaped gourds and hay bales. We first registered and signed a waiver holding the sponsors, Washington's Emerald City Wanderers and New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc., harmless. Then Chris and I set off on one of the farm's gravel pathways at a speed slow enough to carry on a conversation.
Gotta stop thinking about going fast and enjoy the rural scenery, the fall colors and the invigorating morning air, I remind myself.
Organized Volkswalks usually include a route sheet, which sometimes features a map and always has specific directives such as: "Turn right along dirt and gravel road through the fence. Pass grassy areas and walk up short hill." That's No. 3 on our Trick or Treat Walk; there are 29 remaining directives, all painstakingly precise.
During previous Volkswalks with Chris, I've attempted to do the navigating, which should be a no-brainer because there are direction arrows at virtually every turn. Yet, frequently I've led us astray by mistaking, say, a jog in the road for an actual route change. Eventually, the ever-meticulous Chris realizes our error and corrects our course. Today, she plots our route over an undulating landscape on Remlinger Farms property and through adjacent neighborhoods.
Young couples pushing strollers, senior women walking in pairs, 20- and 30-somethings, even children old enough to walk on their own - all manner of folks register for these Volkssport events, but no one races them. A good number of our fellow participants wear Halloween attire, and the direction sheet advises us to watch for ghouls with goodies.
Typically, people stop and talk along the way, like Chris does when she eyes a couple of her friends heading back toward the finish from the half-way check point, where costumed volunteers hand out candy corn and lollipops. We pause for, perhaps, 20 minutes for a prolonged chat, Chris and the other two gabbing about who wore what Halloween costume on Friday's "Today" show.
For a brief period, I'm in agony, a self-anointed speedster slowed to a stroll. Gotta stop thinking about going fast; that's my mantra as I remove my fleece jacket in favor of the late-morning sunshine.
Chris and I turn left on Spillman Street, then take another left on Rutherford, a right to Stossel, a third left on Entwhistle and follow a crosswalk that veers off toward Snoqualmie Trail, the converted railway. Chris continues to chart our course and set our pace, still a moderate walk. Soon we're adjacent to the Remlinger Farms' miniature railroad. Behind a fence on our left are emus, alpacas and goats, part of a look-see zoo for kids.
Exhilarated rather than tired, we check in at the finish, where Chris receives a certified stamp in her passport-sized American Volkssport Association record book. I mull about, smile at other participants and snatch a piece of candy from a bowl on the registration table. Chris and I are too old to go trick-or-treating and neither of us have kids, so Volkswalking around a working farm-turned theme park seems a fine way to celebrate Halloween.
During our half-mile return walk to our vehicle, I flash on the thought that finally I'm learning to slow down. For now anyway ... I brought my bike with me to Seattle, and I intend to ride hard and fast this afternoon.
Richard Fencsak is co-owner of Bikes and Beyond. His column appears the second and fourth Thursday of each month in The Daily Astorian.