Well it's only 4 weeks and 1 day until the London Moonwalk!
Excited, erm well you could say that! More surprisingly is the fact that everything is done and ready, bras made, packs received, transport booked, hotel booked . . . . all that's left for us to do now is get on with some more training and pack our bags!!!
Training has been going well, with the consensus that we are ahead of where we should be at this point.
And on that note I feel I must tell you about our last 20mile training walk. We've read the official blog from the fabulous Ellie Birch, now here is my take on it . . .
Saturday 31st March 2012 - 5.30am alarm and I drag myself out of bed. Cold, damp and dark outside, do I really want to do this today? Then I hear those blasted voices in my head, Birchy 1 & 2 plus Benno. So despite my knee being swollen and in pain, plus my stomach churning and cramping I get myself ready, really not feeling 100%. Jane Sturdy arrives at my gate, always smiling and chipper (was it wrong that I wanted to punch her at that precise moment!!) Only kidding Sturdster, love ya really. Collect Benno enroute to the Birchies and we are off to Katy's. It's still cold, damp, dark and we are past the point of no return. It's only the 6 Follies walking today but onwards and upwards.
Ray and I have a passing conversation about the weather; if it's going to rain or not . . . He says not, I say it is - ever the optimist that's me :0) Arrive at our starting point, where the lovely Katy was waiting for us. Katy being another one of those smiley, happy morning people!! After synchronising both Ellie's and Ray GPS thingies (well we don't want there to be any difference in distance at the end with Ray making us walk around the garden do we - it could lead to blood being spilled!!), and we're off - it's now 6.30 am.
Dressed in our new training gear we all looked fantastic! 1 mile in and Benno and I have already dropped back a tad (we have the shortest legs - do not comment Ellie!!). Benno feeling ill and coughing and my knee throbbing, it was going to be a very long day. Katy, Ray, Ellie and Jane were upfront, setting their usual pace and looking back with those telling looks. We know we are going to get a kick up the bum sometime very soon. Ray checking his GPS to see what pace we are doing . . . oops!
The next mile was very tough for me and but for the gang, I think I would have dropped out . . . Not like me at all! Anyway, the sun started to shine and my mood brightened up (In my defence I had prewarned the Follies of my bad mood prior to setting off). Heading out of Hessle towards Anlaby, our first toilet stop was imminent. Our main concern at this point was; Could Benno use Jeanette and Mels loo without spitting drink all over their freshly hung wallpaper . . . Yes there is history here hahahaha. Jeanette and Mel were their normal happy, supportive and welcoming selves, if not a tad apprehensive of Benno using their loo. We took this opportunity for a photo shoot.
Training gear looking good guys. Off we go again. Knee starting to feel a tad better now, warmed up and a few stretches in. Chatting and laughing we head off on our next leg, towards Hull. It's amazing what you see whilst walking, things which just fly past you when you are driving. Thankfully the huge M&S Food Hall was closed but who knew it was even there!!! With Hull ahead of us, Ray, ever the gentleman, was doing his rounds, making sure we were all ok. I think he actually walks about 2 miles more than the rest of us, with his tooing and froing, Bless him. Then the giant chocolate buttons make an appearance - always a happy time! Ooooo and Ellie has orange chocolate Aero bubbles . . . Fantastic! Even Benno had sweets. Yeay!!!
Along the route a gentleman stopped us and asked what we were doing. See, wear proper matching training gear and we get noticed. After congratulating us and wishing us well we get on our way. Getting to almost halfway now but it's funny how those last couple of miles before halfway seem to go on for ever!
Stop for a stretch and sort out the malfunction of the Sturdsters trainers, I'm starting to feel more like my normal self, with a song or a tune about to emerge. Oh how they will wish I was still a quiet moody bugger! Katy does the rounds this time, making sure we are all fine and dandy - It's so great to walk with such fab people!
Oh dear . . . rain! Never mind onwards we must go. By this time, we are being passed by inviting buses. Benno and I always have a joke about jumping on one and laugh - It's really not that funny now, but it still makes us laugh. What does that say about us? The leading pack look back at us laughing and start to worry and this makes us laugh even more. The next few miles, whilst tough, go fairly quickly. We are now in familiar waters and recognise where we are. A car horn toots and we all try and claim the gesture but accept it was probably for Ray, after all he does have the cutest tooshy of us all. Sun shining again and feet, knees, legs, coughing and all other complaints seem to be holding up . . . We are about 12 miles in now.
Along the next road we are joined by a Bobby on the beat, who is interested in what we are doing, how far we have walked and why we are walking. Wishing us well for the day and the Moonwalk, she has to turn off our route as she had a date with a cup of tea . . . Buggar! Not far now until our next toilet stop! Grandad Ken's. The wonderful Ken opens his door to us and allows us the use of his facilities . . . He always does this, despite only actually knowing Ellie and Ray. Such a lovely man.
At this point I realise, whilst sitting on the loo, that my knee is actually very swollen and rather painful. Combination of stopping and sitting obviously wasn't good for my mentality either as I'm actually thinking that if I keep quiet the others may forget about me and leave me . . . Ummm no such luck. Off we go again, pounding them there pavements, each of us trying to say the right things to keep us all going but not really getting the nice response hoped for.
It's at this point that the language starts to deteriorate . . . a lot! Katy is the first to notice this - It must be the reporter in her. Holderness High Road ahead . We can now visualise what's left to go. Smiles appear and a little more of a skip in our step . . . Then the Birch speaks!!! "GPS says if we aren't at 16.5 miles by the end of the road we have to go the long way round" . . . Ppfffttttt! Benno and I look at each other and start grumping, which makes us laugh but the others seem fine with it. I think they dare not cross the Birchster. Haha. Love you Ellie xx.
We can now see the end of Holderness High Road. Oh gawd what's those GPS's going to say . . . fingers crossed and praying we wait to hear the news - 15.5 miles OMG!!! Ellie and Ray 'discuss' what we should do while the rest of us keep quiet. We know when to leave well alone . . . Long way round then! Heads drop a tad as we are reaching the black period of our walk.
From previous walks we know that we all dip at different times over the next 5 or so mile distance. Ellie's fab new walking shoes start to rub a tad but more worringly her thigh, which she tore a muscle in the week before, was starting to really hurt. A few more pain killers down her neck and away we go. What a star!
Hitting a 'dig deep' moment, Jane Sturdy says that she knows a slight detour we should take so that we are not walking on the busy main road - the old Ganstead Road. Due to fatigue, we thought she said short cut so off the planned route we go. Ellie, Annmarie and I make a pact at this point. From here on in, whatever is said and whatever language is used, no-one is to take offence!!! I then announce that I need to find myself some new ****** friends. Oh how we laughed but I wasn't joking, was I? Ray spotted a bungalow he thinks they (Birchs') should move to - Oy Ray we are training not bloody house hunting!!! Ellie replied with some expletives and Ray rolled his eyes and continued along his way, checking the pace on his GPS again. Then as always, that classic moment arrives. The moment when one of us says or does something which has the rest of us all falling about laughing and almost (although I think some actually do - Hornsea walk 1st Oct 2011) wet themselves. Ellie says - "where does this road brings us out? Please tell me it's not at the traffic lights about 100 yards from where we turned off". Benno replies, venomously, "it better not do, if it does I'm getting a ******* Taxi!!!" With legs crossed and tears falling down our faces from laughing we try to compose ourselves with the Sturdster protesting " In my defence, I did say that this wasn't a shortcut guys but as usual you didn't listen to me!!! Nearing the end of the "shortcut", still laughing uncontrollably, realisation dawns and yes we have walked about 400yards and made about 100yards progress . . . Just what we wanted - more howls of laughter. Then to top it off, we still had to walk along the busy main road. Benno was not happy! Such a classic moment . . . We never fail to have one on our walks.
Jane needed to run at this point as Benno was on a mission . . . It was so funny, but I think you had to be there to appreciate it. Poor Jane got it in the neck all the way back. Jane still maintains that she didn't actually say it was a short cut. Still laughing and crying we get to the corner of Thirtleby Lane. The end is nigh - just 3 more short miles to go. At this point the delirium certainly has set it. Most of us were not making much sense, laughing at anything and everything. The conversation still going back to our "shortcut". Oh dear Jane you are never going to live this one down!!!
Time for the Frys chocolate creams - Oh how we needed them. Katy was starting to feel it in the back of one of her knees, but with all these niggles and things somehow we all kept each other going - It's just the Follie way. Our pace had slowed a little now, but our spirits were good - crazy but good. Our next milestone, Basil the bush, could be seen in the distance.
Yes Basil really is just a bush that we have adopted and woe betide any Follie passing him without the now obligatory pleasantries. As we pass we each greet Basil; Hello Basil, Hi Basil how are you doing? then look at each other . . . Yes we are bonkers! Onwards to the end. Every step I take now hurts, new trainers required for me I think. Every boulder, pebble, blade of grass can now be felt by my poor feet through the soles. Having said that my Adidas trainers certainly don't owe me anything at all.
The last mile or so saw us laugh, almost cry, go quiet - and it seemed to take an age. Nearing our village we hobbled home. At the 20 mile mark we all cheered and whoop whooped, then realised that we still had a little bit more to do to get home. I say home, we were all due back at the Birchies for wonderful homemade soup and sandwiches. They really do look after us.
Finished at last! 20.6 miles in the bag, the extra bit thanks mainly to Janes shortcut... :0). Soup and sandwiches inhaled, language and pleasantries restored, we disected the walk and decided that we had all done a fab job.With all the aches and pains, injuries and sickness, we completed in an amazing 7 hours and 10 minutes (Ray will give you the seconds too if you ask him). The conversation then turns to Katy, the youngest of our group, who was going out that evening, dancing and drinking. Oh we all remember the days we had the stamina to do that.... Go girl!!
I'm always just as elated after our longer training walks and the fact that I can actually complete them (although this wasn't my best due to my knee), as I am with our shorter, faster ones. This time last year, I hadn't even thought about the Moonwalk, training or anything, let alone start to walk.
And look at me now . . . Part of the best group of people ever, getting fit, laughing, crying and making a difference!