The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Friday, 18 May 2007

Catch-up Time

Time for a bit of a catch up, as I seem to have been a bit slack on updating lately:

29 April 2007
I had declared our training for the Keswick to Barrow Walk to be almost complete, but in cognisance of our training having been woefully lacking in hills, I had earmarked a day of this weekend for a spot of hill work.

Tentative plans had been made for a weekend of backpacking in the Bala area, but we completely failed to firm up those plans or do anything towards packing, so instead we opted for a weekend at home, with just a trip to Cannock Chase on Sunday afternoon to walk up and down the side of a small valley there.

The walk in from our usual car park turned into a bit of a ‘run/walk’ affair. Not sure how that happened: husband accused me of running down a hill, causing him to join in, I reckon it was him who upped the pace. Once over at Mere Valley, we just spent the best part of a couple of hours walking up one track, along the top and down the next.

Not the most exciting way to spend the afternoon (although it beats sitting in front of the telly any day), but the weather was fine, if a bit windy, and at least the views made a change from the canal and lane walking that we’ve been doing for months.

I didn’t measure the distance that we walked, but I reckon that we covered at least 10 miles in the 2.5 hours that we were out.

5 May 2007

Given that Husband had missed out on a couple of the longer walks, and given that he had (another) new pair of running shoes to try out for suitability for the K2B (both of us bought new runners earlier in the year that we decided that we didn’t like and wouldn’t be comfortable over a distance of 40 miles), we decided to pop out for a quick 20 miler.

I glanced at a map and chose a route that looked like it was about the right distance and off we set.

Things did not go well for me. I think the effects of the entire week had caught up with me.

On Tuesday I had had a long day when I had to pop down to London for a meeting. I got home late, then had a full day at work on the Wednesday before flying out to Denmark in the evening, arriving at 10.30pm. At 8am on Thursday morning, I was sitting in a lawyers office, with the impossible task of reviewing 7300 pages of documentation in two days. At 8pm, after 12 hours of solidly reading and making notes, I left the office and went out for tea. At 8am the following morning, I was back in the lawyers office, again plodding through files. At 5pm I flew home, arriving at gone 7.

Some people do that sort of thing day in, day out and thrive off it. I have a life and am not one of those people. By the weekend, I was mentally exhausted (and it’s amazing how much of this long distance walking malarkey is a mental issue) and sleep deprived too.

So, by 15 miles through this walk (and with an annoying pull in the back of my knee) I was fit to drop, declared defeat and sent Husband on ahead to get the car to pick me up.

Having sent him on ahead, I managed to muster a little energy and kept up with him, until with only 1 mile to go the pain in my knee was getting worse and I couldn’t face the last fifteen minutes of yomping over fields and stiles. I therefore lay myself down at the roadside (a very small and quiet lane; I didn’t feel too conspicuous) as Husband jogged off across country.

Lying there in the sun was quite pleasant respite for me, and I could happily have fallen asleep. Whilst I lay there, however, Husband was having a bit of drama. He approached the exit from the first field, to find it guarded by a herd of cows. Waving his arms and shouting dispersed them, but as he started making his way past him to the stile they decided to ambush him. He legged it to the stile and vaulted over.

The next field was fine, but as he enter the following one the cows decided to chase him the whole way across, causing him to sprint the entire width of the field to fling himself over the next stile (this one’s covered in barbed wire, but he managed to avoid it, even in his haste). Fortunately, the next couple of fields are cropped and the ones beyond that are used for sheep grazing.

I was surprised to hear the tractor-like rattling engine of my car approaching me a good ten minutes before I expected it and was soon resting my weary bones in an armchair, hoping that a week of good healthy food and lots of sleep would sort me out for 40 miles in a week’s time.

The 41st Keswick to Barrow Walk – Saturday 12 May 2007

If I go into too much detail about the day, I’ll fill at least fifteen pages (that’s how long my full write-up is so far, and I’m not finished yet), so I’ll keep this very short:

After record breaking warm and dry weather throughout April, it was inevitable that the weather would have broken by mid-May and that we would be rained upon for the big walk.

Sure enough the forecast was poor, and the day dawned grey and drizzly. It remained drizzly with occasional showers throughout the morning. However, after a very heavy shower at the half way point, the weather got better. By early afternoon the sun had won through and the day was warming up.

The first half of the walk went remarkably well. We reached the 20 mile point in exactly 5 hours. From around 22 miles, I entered a bit of a slump. Unfortunately, I didn’t recover from that slump and was thoroughly miserable through the next fifteen miles.

A return of the pull in the back of the knee and a short lived hip problem at 32 miles didn’t help my mood and I started to doubt my ability to finish.

Thanks to Husband (and his insistence that we weren’t going to be beaten by the oversized chicken that was hot on our heels; we’d already been overtaken by Scooby Doo) not only did I keep putting one foot in front of the other right to the end, but we even managed to summon a sprint up the crowd-lined drive to the finishing line.

We completed the walk in 10 hours and 37 minutes.

My first statement on finishing was that I would never take part in the event again.

The following day I conceded that I would take part again, but I wouldn’t do it so fast again.

By mid-week I was thinking that maybe it would nice to train harder in future and see if I could achieve a 10 hour finish…. Dangerous thoughts.

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