Well, I did it! I walked for an entire 24 hour period. And it was MUCH harder than I had anticipated. I will do my best to describe everything in great detail, as I will likely remember it today better than I will in the future.
About three weeks ago my friend Eliud Sangabriel sent me a text that said he was thinking about doing a 24-hour walk. That seemed a little boring to me, but I replied that I was intrigued. A week later, on a Sunday afternoon, he sent me a text with a link to a YouTube video with two guys who had completed the challenge. It was a 15 minute video that totally inspired me. I texted him back that I was “IN” for the challenge.
We decided to do it soon, before it got too hot in Texas and set the date for May 1, 2020. Walking on a Friday seemed best, as it would leave the entire weekend to recover. We were extremely lucky with the weather, as it only got to the low-90’s during the day on Friday and dipped to the mid-60’s that evening.
Prior to the event we had a Q&A information Zoom call with Jason Mittman and Charlie Engle. Both of them have completed several week-long racing events and are quite familiar with pushing their bodies and minds beyond their perceived limits. We got some great advice from both of them in terms of nutrition, hydration, and mindset. Knox reminded me that Charlie says, “90 percent is mental, the rest is in your head”. Charlie also said during the call that “Comfort is dangerous and overrated”. Another quote that I can really appreciate.
We also decided since we were doing this crazy challenge to use the event as an opportunity to raise money for one of our favorite charities. We chose the David Nicklas Organ Donor Awareness Foundation as the charity of our choice. It was founded by my dear friend and client, Rodney DeBaun.
It was determined that the walk would take place in Coppell, TX since it is where Eliud lives and he was already familiar with the route we would be taking. Eliud did quite a bit of preparation and mapped out the exact route we would take during the day and night. We coordinated what we would need for nutrition, hydration, clothing changes, and first aid.
We met at the park (Andrew Brown Park) in Coppell at 7:15 AM on Friday morning. Amber, Kai and Sinya (my family) came to see us off. We took some photos and recorded a live FB video before starting our trek at 8:00 AM. Logan Gilpin was there to record video of what we hoped would be an epicjourney. Eliud’s friend Mike Lowe decided to walk the daytime portion on Friday with us. He wanted to go all the way with us but his wife (who is a physician) reminded him of a medical condition he has; she did not want him beating down his immune system, which makes absolute sense during this weird coronavirus time. When the time finally came, we started our trek.
As could be expected, at first there was a ton of excitement and anticipation. The first few hours went pretty quickly with a lot of levity in our conversation. We walked down the Campion Trail and then all the way into downtown Las Colinas. At noon Eliud’s wife, Rochelle, met us in Las Colinas to drop off our lunch bags and give us a refill station for our water. After lunch, we continued walking around Lake Carolyn and then back down the Campion Trail towards Coppell. It took us 8 hours to make the first leg of our journey. We traversed just over 24 miles in that time period, which put us back at our starting point. Eliud and I refilled our water, took some salt tablets and amino acids, changed our socks, and started walking again. Mike decided to call it quits for the day and went home to his family.
Our next leg of the journey was a 4 hour trek that took us through an industrial park in Coppell. We still felt pretty strong at this point, but needed some motivation. We listened to Thom Shea’s book “Unbreakable” during this portion of our trip. In the book he told stories about his relationship with his wife, who he referred to as a “Spartan wife”, detailed harrowing missions with SEAL Team 7 while serving his country around the world, outlined the purpose of the 24-Hour Unbreakable Challenge, and described the wishes he had for his children.
Oh, I forgot to mention that we were also doing 42 push-ups at the start of every hour, along with saying at least one thing we were grateful for. This gratitude practice became highly important as the day wore on. Words matter. And speaking aloud all the positive words we could had a very strong impact for us. When we completed the second leg of the journey we were 12 hours into our commitment. It was 8 PM and the sun was setting. We once again reloaded our water, changed shirts and socks, and grabbed our dinner food bags. We donned our headlamps and put some blister pads on our feet to try and prevent blisters from the hot spots that were emerging. Then off we went.
At this point in the journey, things started to get tough. The sun set by the time we made it back onto the Campion Trail. The push-ups started to get a little more challenging. The trail was filled with lots of noises from the frogs, crickets, birds, and other animals of the night. We saw snakes, raccoons, and skunks in the dark. It took us around 4 hours to reach Las Colinas and by the time we were there my feet felt like I was walking on hot coals. Yet, we still had 8 hours left to walk.
The walk around Lake Carolyn was beautiful and challenging at the same time. I tried to appreciate the lights reflecting off the lake. Yet with each step forward my heals and the balls of my feet felt a burning pain. As time went on, the pain seeped into my ankles and knees. Eliud and I kept affirming positive words to ourselves, including the words that this is where we were meant to be and that we WANTED to be here in this exact moment. We departed Las Colinas around 1 AM and made the long trek down O’Conner Boulevard back to the trails. Our pace was markedly slower than the first half our this adventure. We were averaging 18 to 20 minute miles during the first 12 hours. The next 6 hours our pace slowed to about 27 minutes per mile. By the time we started our final 6 hours, we were down to around a 30+ minutes per mile pace. We talked a lot. We told each other about how we met our spouses. We talked about what led us to the path of personal development. We talked about our children and the hopes and dreams we have for them.
The time from 2 AM until 6 AM was the absolute hardest. My feet hurt with every single step. By 3 AM I started seeing things. I thought I saw children playing in a park we were approaching. Then I thought I saw some benches for us to sit on as we were approaching an intersection. My mind just wanted my body to rest. Yet we forged ahead. We kept telling ourselves to simply keep putting one foot in front of the other. I heard Eliud repeating a mantra over and over. I was repeating my own words….”This is exactly what I wanted. I am where I am supposed to be. I am a man who honors my commitments. If I tell you I am going to do something, it shall be done.”
I thought of the soldiers who have fought for our freedom. How they have endured battles that lasted for days on end. And how they would readily trade places with me to walk for 24 hours in the comfort and safety of the USA. I thought of those going through SEAL training, how their instructors would taunt them at night during excruciating training; how they would tell the recruits that all they had to do to stop the pain is ring the bell. Then they could get to the comfort of a warm bed and a soft pillow. I wondered if I could have made it through.
Around 5:30 AM we walked towards a shopping center. We saw a donut store with an OPEN sign and Eliud suggested we grab a cup of coffee. The sound of it did not appeal to me, even though I am a regular coffee drinker each morning. As he ordered his cup of coffee I changed my mind and decided to order a cup as well. The lady behind the counter looked at us funny (two guys with backpacks and headlamps looking worn as hell) and asked us what we were doing. We told her we were doing a 24 hour walk and that we had already walked over 50 miles. She looked at us with a furrowed brow and said, “Sounds like good exercise”. We grabbed our coffee and once again started walking.
Within 5 minutes of walking with the coffee, we both immediately started to feel better. The simple little act of having a small cup of coffee gave us the small boost of energy that we so desperately needed. Our next split time was 27 minutes per mile. Markedly better than the previous 31 minutes per mile time. Shortly after 6 AM the horizon started showing signs of life in the eastern sky. Our 6 AM push-ups had renewed vigor. We kept our energy up by listening to my Peak State playlist. First up for the songs was Closer to God by Steve Aoki. Then it was followed up with Little John, Eminem, Nelly, and more. At 7 AM we arrived at the transition station once again. We refilled our water bottles, took some Advil, and once again started walking.
The final hour was spent walking through Andrew Brown Park. The sun was up and the park was getting active with people walking, running, and walking their dogs. Eliud and I spent the hour limping around on swollen and blistered feet, pushing forth for our last 2 miles of the journey. Logan was there filming us to document the incredible journey. At 8 AM we were greeted with family and friends. Eliud’s family was there, as well as Mike Lowe and several of his other friends. Amber, Kai, and Grace were there to celebrate the victory. Eliud and I knocked out our final 42 push-ups to put us at 1,008 push-ups for the 24 hour period. We walked a total of 61.25 miles.
This was by far the most difficult thing I had ever done. Walking for that many hours AFTER the crazy pain started was truly a test of my grit and determination. We did it. We kept our word. We honored our commitment. I did this for me. And I also did it for you. I want to be the best possible example to you and I want you to know that anything is possible when you are committed to the result.
Eliud’s Observations and Aha’s
• No matter how hard it is or it gets, you are going to make it • At the worst times of the walk, I chose to be there at that time and wanted to be right there and then, nowhere else period! • Be careful with your words, do not give pain a name, speak words of victory and courage • This too shall pass • Finish what you started, regardless if you like it or not • At the worst times, think what you’ll do when you are done, the days after this is done, see yourself in the future • Plan your game, be ready. If needed make changes as you go • Do it for your internal reasons, not external • Somebody out there has done things far more challenging than you, what you are doing is not too big • Your “Why” will fuel you • Do the challenge with like-minded people, the wrong people could make the challenge extremely hard
This post has been brought to you by Ken Wimberly – father and founder of Legacy of Love.
I’m Ken Wimberly, founder of Legacy of Love and a devoted father of three wonderful children. I love recording precious memories of my family that my children and grandchildren will be able to look back upon for generations to come.