The Walking Woman of Westborough walks on

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The Walking Woman of Westborough walks on
Wendi Comey (Photo/Courtesy)

WESTBOROUGH – Traveling in one direction, it’s about 1,500 miles from Westborough to Key Largo, and if I walked in that one direction starting last Jan. 1, I’d be on the beach there now!

Two years ago, in October of 2021, I shared my story of walking 1,000 miles around Westborough. I completed that year with 1,340 miles. In 2022, I was not paying attention to my total, and missed 1,500 by about 30 miles. But in 2023 I was committed to reaching that lofty goal, and so, on Dec. 31, my 68th birthday, I crossed that finish line, covering 1,501.2 miles last year.

To give some perspective, even if I walked every single day last year, I would have had to average over 4 miles a day!

The biggest challenge with walking in New England is the seasons. Most people think that walking is a low-cost type of exercise, but that’s sorely incorrect in a place with lots of weather changes. Sure, everyone knows you need a good pair of sneakers, but that’s just the start.

Summer is easy – shorts and a t-shirt or tank top and you’re ready to go. For early autumn and late spring, just add a sweatshirt, though differing weights are helpful. But, the real challenge is November through April, when lots of choices are essential. A simple variance of five degrees can require a total change in wardrobe, and wind can alter the feel of the temperature dramatically.

For the colder months, my choices have multiplied considerably. Long sleeve t-shirts and some with three-quarter length are basic. Capri leggings, full leggings, and fleece-lined leggings all have their purpose. Outerwear can range from heavy fleece up to bulky coats, and need to cover all lengths and varying thicknesses in between. Over the years, my winter wardrobe has expanded to six different coats, with each covering best for a certain temperature. And it doesn’t end there, but rather needs the supplement of accessories – hats, headbands, scarves, a fur-lined hood/scarf combo, light gloves, heavy gloves, and even heavier mittens. I often carry several items with me in a multi-colored bag I designed, in case the temperature – outside, or within my coat – fluctuates. And if rain is in the forecast I need an umbrella in the side pocket of my special walking bag, and a baseball cap hanging off the side.

Not everyone I know is on board with multi-season walking, and on extreme weather days through the year I certainly heard comments about my decision to walk. Most people have no interest when it’s in the 20s, or less. And on a 95+ degree humid day this past July, a wonderful, lovely, older neighbor of mine, stopped her car near me on our street and shouted: “are you f…en kidding me?!” (She did actually use the full word.)

In 2023, I was out there every day but 13. Though I walk faster now, most things have not changed since 2021. When my husband, Greg, is not walking with me, he still keeps an eye on my track through the “Find my…” phone app. I still pop into the Boro Sugar Shack and Yummy Mummy for the occasional sweet, and Dunkin or Westborough Nutrition for liquid refreshment. My errands still include the Post Office, Stop & Shop, Roche Bros., and the library – anything within a 3-mile radius… as long as there are sidewalks. And I still walk to my nail and hair appointments, and my gym, “Get in Shape for Women.” I still have lots of “walk and talk” dates with friends. And I am still extremely grateful for our responsive DPW (thanks Derek!) who I bother from time to time with crosswalk, sidewalk and street issues. I always get a quick response and a helpful explanation or timeline.

Everyone knows that walking is an excellent exercise, but it’s also a great way to connect with neighbors and friends, meditate or think, or just enjoy the outdoors. So, as 2024 begins, I have no plans to stop, though some modification may happen. Oh, I’ll still be out as often as possible, pounding out as many miles as I can, and maintaining a good pace – but maybe, just maybe, I’ll skip an occasional single digit or triple digit day. Happy walking everyone!

Wendi Comey and her husband, Greg, have lived in Westborough since 1983. Wendi volunteers around town, and serves as the Treasurer for the Friends of the Westborough Public Library.

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