If I had to sum up the kids’ individual mottos during the pandemic, they would be as follows:

John: “I need you to do it for me!”
Edie: “GTFO out of here, I’m doing this myself!”

John seems super needy with everything from getting dressed to entertaining himself for more than one consecutive second, while Edie will scream if I dare try to help her buckle herself into her stroller or peel her orange for her.  Anyway, that’s really all I want to say about that. It was a very challenging weekend of parenting.

For years, Lauren and I have alternated sleeping in on weekend days. Lauren always gets Saturday, and I always get Sunday. This week, though, I traded in my sleep day and gave Lauren both days if she would allow me to disappear for six hours and walk to the state capitol building from our house on one of the days.

If you are familiar with Austin, you’d know this is a crazy idea for a couple reasons. One, it’s almost 15 miles, and two, this is not a pedestrian friendly city, especially up north, where it seems every week someone is killed crossing a major highway, probably because sidewalks are hard to find. Nevertheless, after a recent 4-mile walk with Edie in the stroller, I got the idea in my head to try the longest walk of my life.

Saturday morning, I packed a backpack of water, granola bars, a change of clothes and a few other odds and ends, and headed out around 10:20am. I opted against any headphones or podcasts or anything—I just wanted to clear my head and, you know, also be able to hear if a car was bearing down on me.

For the first two miles, sidewalks were very scarce. I walked on a street, and later in a ditch, before sidewalks became somewhat the norm. There were three times where I needed to cross a major highway, and all three were early on and surprisingly easy. The miles were just flying by, and I was really enjoying seeing some new parts of town I’d never ventured to before. I had a stretchy bandana thing around my neck, and whenever I encountered another pedestrian I’d just put it over my face like a mask to abide by the city mask rules.

After eight miles I finally stopped for some water and to visit with a former colleague whose house was on my route. At that point, things got a little more urban. I ventured down Burnet Ave, Lamar Ave, and Guadalupe, which is the main drag through the University of Texas campus. And before I knew it I was downtown! I stopped and bought a Gatorade to replenish, and hoofed it the final mile to the capitol building, just in time to see the end of an anti-vax rally.

My Apple Watch readout of the way there.

All in all, the 14.6 miles were surprisingly easy. I had done it in 4 hours, 1 minute, and that counted lots of long stops at stop lights to cross streets. My walk pace of 16:35 was probably really under 16. My heart rate settled in the low 140s in the second half, which seemed pretty high for walking, but it allowed me to burn like 3,000 calories. I sat and rested on the capitol grounds, drank some more water, rubbed my feet, and called Lauren to come pick me up. But Edie had taken forever to go down for her nap, so they wouldn’t be able to come get me for quite a while. I sat for another half hour at the capitol before I decided to try to make some progress back north. That’s when I started to realize a few things, like how sunburned I had gotten, and how badly blistered my feet were. I slowly trudged for three miles before the family was able to pick me up at Red River & 43rd.

I know many friends who have run marathons (26+ miles), so me walking roughly 20 should be no major newsworthy feat. But for me, it was a big accomplishment. To my knowledge, it was the farthest I had ever walked—certainly in one go—and it also did wonders mentally for the sheltering in place we’ve had to endure for over a month. I also got some nice landscaping inspiration walking by so many houses, and discovered many places of business I didn’t know existed. I would highly recommend others doing it as well, and would like to do it again with a different route to see even more of the city.