Friday, 9 May 2014

It Always Rains on Barnhurst Lane OR Things I've Learned Whilst Training for a Moonwalk

For this is what I have been doing since I last blogged - training for the Moonwalk London. Yup, tomorrow, on 10th May I will spend my night walking a marathon through London in my bra. Not only that, but my walking buddy isn't able to do it, so I will be walking alone. With 17,000 strangers. I'm SCARED!!!

More importantly though, before I even get to the Moonwalk itself, the training has taught me so much. It occurred to me whilst walking my 'big' practice walk of 20 miles, that I was walking it just coming into the Cardinal Grand Cross, and that actually, ever since I'd begun walking training, it's as though I've been walking away from my past and into my future.

Now let's be clear - as an exercise, I HATE walking with a passion. It is so, so SO BLOODY BORING! It's not like Insanity, where you get in there, get sweaty and breathless to the max, and are done. It goes on and on and on - and by the end of it you don't feel out of breath, but every damn bone in your body aches and your feet are covered in blisters.This is most definitely Not Fun. To make things better I always take my iPod with me and catch up on podcasts of radio shows I've missed in the week. Always except the time when I was horrified to find that I didn't have my iPod headphones, and I was already five miles into a 17 mile walk. So what else to do, but to think, and think, and then think some more?

13 Miles is Nothing Special
The first thing I got to thinking was how my view of distances has changed. 6 miles used to be an achievement, and leave me with aching muscles. Now that my 'usual' walks are 13 mile, 6 miles is a skip down the road, an evening ramble, certainly not something to consider 'training'.

I Don't Have a 9-Mile Hip
For as long as I can remember I have had a '9-mile hip' - whenever I go for long walks, it will kick-off hurting at the 9 mile point without fail. So of course, on the first 13 mile walk, it started hurting at 9 miles. Well, it started aching at about 6, due to me walking at a much faster pace than I usually would. By 9 it was proper spasming, and I was feeling a bit apprehensive. By Barnhurst Lane (more about that road later) it was absolute freaking agony. Every step sent a jolt of sharp searing agony through my whole leg, and I was visibly limping. I somehow made it the last two miles - even though I discovered that my other hip was a 12-mile hip, and so it was all I could do not to cry out loud as I struggled that last mile. It was not good. In fact, it made me doubt my ability to complete this thing.

Thing is, I'm a physiotherapist, wasn't this a case of 'physician, heal thyself'? So I read all I could about power-walking technique, analysed my own gait, and came to the conclusion that I needed to shorten my stride quite dramatically. Guess what? It only bloody worked! Not had a problem with either hip since, it's like a miracle! If only I had found this out 20 years ago!

It Always Rains on Barnhurst Lane
I don't know why I hate walking Barnhurst Lane.

Maybe it's because in my memory it looked like this:

whereas in real life it looks like this:

Maybe it's because my secondary school is on that road, and there's something about walking past it and seeing all the woodland that I remember as seedlings that is inherently depressing.

Maybe it's because it is a very straight, poorly tarmacked pavement through an un-scenic housing estate. 

Maybe it's because I am haunted by the memory of the 9-Mile Hip Incident

Maybe it is because it is two miles from finish and it is so near yet so far

Or maybe it is because it always, always, without fail, rains on Barnhurst Lane. No wonder my teen years were so dispiriting.

 © Copyright Gordon Griffiths and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license

There is always a little smile though, when I reach the bridge above. For just the other side of it (on the right as you look at this picture, on my left as I walk it) is a house. Just a normal house, like all the others on the estate. But it's occupants have no idea that during its construction it was the scene of a famous 'flasher' incident, when Loraine Powis memorably exclaimed, 'why's he holding those raw sausages?'

I Am Grateful For Steve
This is something I don't think I ever thought I would say, but my 20-mile walk was dogged with thoughts of him - and not bad ones.

It was an absolutely beautiful Saturday, bright sunshine, but chilly,about 4 miles in and I was feeling incredibly happy. It crossed my mind that this was something I never would have done if I was with Steve - that I'd have been having to lie in bed until he felt like getting up, probably some time about 3pm. Then almost immediately that thought was replaced by one of how actually he started the process that had led me here.

You see, for all that I lost myself in the relationship with him, being with him gave me back a part of myself that had been lost years before.

Recalling the good times with Steve isn't something I've allowed myself to do before, because usually it immediately calls to mind the fact that he was faking all of it: all the love, all the fun - all fake. It's what sociopaths do. Yet because of refusing to think about the good times, I'd missed the massive thing that Steve gave me - he gave me back the confidence to do things I used to enjoy. With him I dressed goth, I went away for weekends, I went to V festival, I went to see bands. So now I am able to remember those good times without feeling upset, because whilst I walked I realised that for me it wasn't fake. I was there, I was in love, I was rediscovering things I'd forgotten I loved, and I HAD FUN. The truth of those good times was that they were nothing to do with Steve, because he was nothing like he pretended to be. Those good times were all about ME, about how I felt doing those things - exactly how I felt whilst walking that day - exhilarated, alive, full of joy, totally in the moment. Had I but known it at the time, Steve was showing me what it was to follow my joy. He was also showing me that I could do it alone - because, after all, I always was.

It's Possible To Feel Sorry For a Road
Especially when it's an orphan:

I'm Not a Born Fundraiser
If this were X-Factor I wouldn't have a chance - I don't have a reason to raise money for breast cancer. If I'm perfectly honest I decided to do this for the challenge to myself, to see if I could do the distance, to see if I could do it when people are sleeping. That I can raise money for charity is an added bonus, and this doesn't make the charity any less worthwhile. If you can spare anything, even a pound or less, it will be going to a good cause, to help those who contract a disease that could affect us all - yes MEN get breast cancer too! So please, if you can, go to my Moonwalk page, and donate! Many thanks to all that do, and thoughts and prayers very welcome tomorrow night!