Total Miles: 2,729.7
Near Barntrup, Germany – November 11, 2016
My legs ache for a second day. It isn’t the dull ache of miles, it’s a sharp, torn feeling, like the muscle is stiff and cracked. I feel it most in my right knee, the little muscles around the joint don’t want to bend.
I stare down at them. I stretch them. I glare at them. I run the pain through the catalog that I’ve built in my mind over ten thousand miles. It feels like the first days on the Appalachian Trail when I started too fast and my knees didn’t want to bend.
“But I just gave you ten days off,” I swear down at them. “And you were barely complaining before.”
My legs don’t answer. They just ache in silence.
“You didn’t think we were finished, did you?” I mutter.
I think about the Appalachian Trail and what I did then. I kept walking. Slowly. I let the muscles find themselves, to catch up to my heart. The ache waned until it disappeared. But that was the start of a trail on soft legs. That wasn’t after 2,700 miles when every bit of my legs should be iron.
I trudge forward stiffly, trying to keep my stride as even as I can, not wanting to add some other strain to the joints.
“It’s just rust from the days away,” I tell myself, only half believing. “It will knock away under the miles ahead.”