Tuesday, 24 June 2014

And I Walked 500 Miles (well only 20 but...)

                      
                           
                  
I'm not one for epic challenges really. Taking up running this year I've got to admit has been a really Herculean task. I've always been on the other side of that life-defining fence, you know the one you discover at school which puts you either on the sporty or non-sporty side. You can guess what side I was on. And for most of my life, until very recently, I assumed that was the natural order of things and always would be.

I am curvy, asthmatic, completely uncoordinated, so always agreed with that perception that being fast, strong, having endurance etc was a state I just wasn't destined to achieve in life. I'm not blaming anyone, I just did other things instead like helping a friend exercise her horse, swimming in an enthusiastic but really rubbish synchronised swimming team and enjoyed watching hours and hours of cricket (honestly I do love it). 

Last year I got a bike and things began to change. For the first time ever I got that "buzz" thing energetic people talk about. It was hard, but enjoyable. I made some lovely cycling friends and it began to dawn that you didn't have to treat it as a sport or physical torture. I could take myself over that fence all by myself. If I only tried. I didn't need to be picked for a team (something that never happened to be honest!). I could just have a go.

So the running began. Very slowly but I've kept at it with my eye on our trip to Italy this summer and things working. My waist is a remarkable 8 inches smaller, just by eating a bit more mindfully and moving more. People keep asking when I will do a race, 10k? Half marathon? But they're not for me. I admit I shirk from challenges. They loom terrifyingly and put me off, I'd rather just keep on plodding. 

Then Helen rang me. I love her to bits. She's the sort of lovely friend you can't say no to. So when she asked me to join a 20mile walk with her and some friends for Breast Cancer Care, I agreed straight away, forgetting that I just don't do this sort thing.

But I'm really glad I did! On Saturday we met at the glorious Chatsworth House and walked literally uphill and down dale in fabulous sunshine across some of the most astounding landscapes in Britain. It made me emotional, glad to be alive, chuffed to be part of something so powerful. 600 women took part (plus Helen's two border collies) and every time we crested a hill, that snaking line of bright pink bodies pulled us on and on.

But blimey it was hard. After four hours of Helen and I talking the hind legs off each other as we walked, my legs, (well hips), suddenly gave up. I'm fitter but not fit yet and haven't ever walked more than about 12 miles before. After the 11th hilly mile the pain leapt on me and all I could do was hobble. Only half way...another Herculean task. There was no question of giving up. People with breast cancer have no choice but to face the pain head on - get walking Steph!

So I did. Poor Helen, I went very quiet and stopped taking photos (see that's how bad it was!). But she did an amazing job keeping me going, so did the darling dogs who pulled me up the hills I swear.

And we made it, upright and in one piece, just about inside our eight hour estimate (this is us with our friend Catherine who finished miles ahead with some other friends). I can't believe it, can't believe I even enjoyed it. So that old thing about mind over matter is really true. Being on the verge of 40 helps too. I just don't care anymore and I finally feel a little more confident in myself to just have a go.

I've learned a big lesson and surprised myself. How about you? Surprised yourself lately? I'd love to know x

21 comments:

Louise said...

What a great achievement, well done!

I'm not at all sporty either - I point blank refused to take part in PE at school and have never had any interest in playing or watching sport, but I do like walking :)

itsjustperi said...

I'm not sure I've surprised myself in any way recently but well done on your walk .... it's brilliant and you should be so proud of yourself :-)

Kim said...

Very well done mrs! You should be very proud of yourself.

Jennifer said...

Good for you. That's a great achievement.

Rubyred said...

Congratulations!Sometimes we can surprise ourselves with new challenges.Well done Steph! x

Country Rabbit said...

well done steph!!!!...i know what you mean about sporty things and not feeling you are on that side of the fence. i love to walk and cycled a lot in my 20s, but never really got why people ran or jogged or got so wrapped up in very huffy puffy sports. but one of the mummy friend took me out on one of her daily runs!!~ even though i practically passed out afterwards i really enjoyed the buzz of it though i realized she was way out of my league as she had been doing it forever and i found it very hard to keep up without getting serious stitches. but i went alone the next afternoon and at a good pace of my own i realized how much i really enjoyed it. ive been naughty and not kept it up but its changed my opinions on it. being slightly heavy chested and size 14/16 its wise to invest in a good running bra too hehe. i love swimming but i think i enjoy sea swimming or river swimming more than a lively city pool. i think my thing was after having my daughter i went up 2 dress sizes and its something i must overcome and walking is my main exercise these days. though im saving for a second hand bike!
i'm waffling...happy week x

Please may I? said...

Well done, thats a great achievement. You should be very proud.

X x

driftwood said...

congratulations! that's a long walk with not much training, and in a great time too! hope the blisters are healing xxx

Lynetta said...

I was at Chatsworth on Saturday visiting the house. I applauded a group of ladies in our exit. Well done you. Hope you set recovering well. Lynetta x

Linnet In Oriel said...

Loving that post. Fair play to you, what a great achievement! I have been trying to get back into cycling but ouch it hurts.

...Nina Nixon... said...

You did an amazing job Steph - as a fellow curvy lass and knowing just how hilly it is around those parts I am most impressed.

It's always my hips that get me in the end too - perfect for childbirth but rubbish for walking miles. It's that or age is catching up with me!

Nina x

Donna said...

Well done, that's fab! Looks like a lovely place to walk too.

Frances said...

Wow Steph...20 miles is a long way, particularly when hills and dales are involved. Hoping that your family gave you a good pampering when you got home.

It truly must have been inspiring to see the pink tee shirts ahead, and to realize that folks behind you and your friend and the dogs we also inspired by seeing you all.

Bravo. xo

Lisa said...

Well done you indeed.
I have just started the couch to 5k challenge. It may take me longer than a month to get there but a start needs to be made somewhere and if I don't start it no-one else can do it for me!
Lisa x

Gillian said...

Yay, go you!! That's brilliant. 20 miles is a LONG way. Not that I've ever walked 20 miles, but, you know. I took up running about 3 years ago and did a couple of 10k races. I surprised myself by how much I liked it, being a "bottom set PE" kind of woman. I haven't raced for a while but I still run (well, jog slowly while chatting) a couple of times a week and I love it. Sometimes it's really exhilarating to push ourselves a little. x

Cait O'Connor said...

Well done and such a good cause, close to my heart.

Is that photo your cottage, it is gorgeous?

SandyShoes Cornwall said...

Wow, well done! I'm so impressed, it looks like a change of perception has done wonders.

I've often wished I was more 'sporty' or could take part in team sports at school but the good news is that there are so many different things out there to try ,that clubs and groups are tripping over themselves to welcome beginners and encourage people to try new things.

I've just started gig rowing, and although I never thought I'd be strong enough (turns out with six in the boat you don't need to be) or co-ordinated (I've caught a fair few crabs!) it's fine to give it a go. It's social and fun, plus you're outdoors which makes you glow and gives you something lovely to look at.

Keep it up and let us know your next challenge! Antonia x

SandyShoes Cornwall said...

Wow, well done! I'm so impressed, it looks like a change of perception has done wonders.

I've often wished I was more 'sporty' or could take part in team sports at school but the good news is that there are so many different things out there to try ,that clubs and groups are tripping over themselves to welcome beginners and encourage people to try new things.

I've just started gig rowing, and although I never thought I'd be strong enough (turns out with six in the boat you don't need to be) or co-ordinated (I've caught a fair few crabs!) it's fine to give it a go. It's social and fun, plus you're outdoors which makes you glow and gives you something lovely to look at.

Keep it up and let us know your next challenge! Antonia x

Penelope P. said...

Congratulations! What an inspiring post! Penny Lx

Leanne Paxton said...

I used to be sporty. Then I discovered clubbing and danced my way through my teens and twenties. Then I had kids and did nothing more than pram pushing and eating digestives. Now I swim sporadically. But I love it. When Pops starts school in September, I shall go for it. I mean to run. Try and then give up. How hard is it to keep going, because 8 inches from the waistline sounds good to me!!
Belated congratulations on the walk.
Leanne xx

Leanne Paxton said...

I used to be sporty. Then I discovered clubbing and danced my way through my teens and twenties. Then I had kids and did nothing more than pram pushing and eating digestives. Now I swim sporadically. But I love it. When Pops starts school in September, I shall go for it. I mean to run. Try and then give up. How hard is it to keep going, because 8 inches from the waistline sounds good to me!!
Belated congratulations on the walk.
Leanne xx