Wednesday, 23 May 2012

London Moonwalk 2012

Well after months of preparation the day has come that we travel down to London.

Like 8 excited school children we board the train at Hull Paragon Station bound for London (with a changeover in Doncaster). 

What was supposed to be a relaxing trip with a nap on the way was spent chatting, singing, playing cards and the general frivolity that goes with the excitement of the moment.

Arriving at our hotel there were only 2 of the 4 rooms ready so we dumped our bags and the general consensus was to have a walk down to Hyde Park (only a mile away) for a recce of the area we would be going too.  WOW! Although we couldn't see behind the green boarded fencing the pink village looked amazing and the butterflies started whirring in our tummies.  We'd spent the best part of a year training for this event and here we were, in London, looking at the Walk the Walk tent where we would be in only a few hours time.

So back it was to the hotel for a rest before we would go back down to Hyde Park for 8:30 (via Ask Italian Restaurant on the way for a bite to eat).  Some of us managed to get an hours sleep before rendezvousing in our room for last minute adjustments to our outfits and, numbers printed on the top of our chests and backs, we headed off to the start line.

Ray is always such a hoot when we go on Moonwalks, putting him in a flashing bra brings out the fun in him and he gets 'papped' more times than I would care to count and he just loves it!

You see him waving to people, stopping for photos and hugging ladies he has never met in his life. This year he even managed to get interviewed by a television crew!  Did standing there in a bra bother him?? Of course not as he says, he is there supporting everyone he knows who is suffering or has suffered from breast cancer.

He is probably on at least 5 other profile pictures on Facebook as well as his own and is now affectionately known as the Moonwalk hussy!

Hanging around until midnight is always the hard part of Moonwalk city because you just want to be off pounding the streets.  The theme this year was rock through the ages so there we were dancing away to rock and roll music, singing along.  Where we mad -  we had 26.2 miles to walk?!

Giving all the girls a hug and wishing them all the luck in the world, midnight came and away we went.  We had discussed how it would work and that we would stay together for as long as we possibly could before the two groups would split and we would then keep in touch via phone and use the hotel as the meeting area.  We all managed to stay together until a toilet stop at about mile 9 or 10 and then Caroline and Tina were dropping back so we pushed on ahead deciding not to use those toilets but to hold out until Battersea Park (by then, the half mooners would then have split off and the queues wouldn't be so long).  We got word from the girls behind that Caroline wasn't very well and had been ill. We sent our love back but I just knew she would battle through whatever was thrown at her - she normally did!

It was at  the half way point that our group started going down hill a tad. Jayne, one of our strongest walkers was struggling, badly and didn't seem to be able to bring herself round.  It was a long night anyway and now  it was going to be longer but we determined we would see each other over the finish line We cajoled, helped, made each other laugh and probably hindered Jayne all the way. 

Busting for the loo, the Marshall's showed us into Battersea Park and told us the toilets were about a mile away.  Ah but there was a bush up ahead...... 

The next scene was like something out of Mission Impossible "right everyone lights off!" the air went dark and all you could hear were 7 ladies (plus one gent) run giggling behind a bush and for the first time in history we had our first 'Follie Flush' - oh how we laughed.  Ray went across the path only to be greeted by another woman saying "hope you don't mind me joining you?",  "Go for you life love" she was told.  "Oh it's a man!" she giggled but just carried on regardless.  Then out we popped from the bush, lights back on and away we went!! It has to be one of the funniest things ever to happen.

We plodded on being told our outfits were fab and certainly the brightest thing in London.  Even some of the crew said that they could see us on the other side of the Embankment!!


London Moonwalk 2012 has to be the hardest of the 3 Moonwalks I have done,  the sky was clear, we could see every star which meant it was absolutely freezing - I just couldn't get warm.  Could we get through it? Yes but it was going to be tough going. Everyone was an emotional wreck but not only that they were absolutely exhausted.  I did try to warn the girls that although we had been walking and had trained for it but NOTHING could prepare them for walking through the night and the sleep deprivation they would experience and it was starting to show.

Everyone kept each other going, we were all tired, emotional and exhausted.  All that was playing on my mind was, what have I done to these poor women? Is it my fault they are feeling like this? If I hadn't have put that stupid thing on Facebook they wouldn't be going through the pain they are in now! AARRGGHHH!  I have to say Ray was an absolute rock for everyone, he was walking between us all helping us all through and making sure everyone was OK.  How he never finished the marathon with a black eye I really don't know because at times he was talking about absolute rubbish that no-body wanted to hear but they were all too exhausted to say anything... or hit him!

Jayne struggled all the way until the end bless her-  it was heartbreaking to see. She was an emotional wreck for the last 6 miles and probably lost her bodyweight in tears on the route too.  Annmarie like always was by her side but it was her turn to keep her friend going and not the other way round.  Hettie and Hattie there for each other right to the end! 

Katy and Jane were ahead as usual chatting away to each other and Katy smiled for what seemed like the whole of the 26.2 miles if not internally then certainly externally!  If truth be known they probably found the pace a little slow and I think it did hinder them but we had made a pact that we would finish together and no matter how much we said they could push on and leave us, they wouldn't so they just kept stopping and stretching waiting for us to catch up again.

Ray and I went between the two groups keeping eveyone going.  Yes we had our moments but we worked through them and like the others pushed through to the finish line.  The last .2 miles after the 26 mile mark was absolute hell and I really think the markers had got it wrong.  . . . . . Then we could see it the finish line and we were going to cross it!.................

The other 2 girls were about 30 minutes behind us but unfortunatley we didn't hear from them otherwise we would have waited for them at, the finish line.  As Caroline had struggled at the half way point and Tina had helped her through that, at about the 20 mile mark it was Tina's turn to struggle.  It was Caroline's turn to help her team mate and together they crossed the line.

The Yorkshire Follies had completed their first ever challenge.  We had walked the London Moonwalk, a 26.2 mile marathon through the streets of London in flashing bras raising money and awareness for breast cancer.

The photo above is the official photo taken of us at the finish line and none of the girls like it.  I'll let you into a secret... in fairness neither do I (of myself!) but it's a moment in time that I will cherish for the rest of my life.  The emotion in our faces is priceless, the tears of sadness and joy for what we have done, overcome and achieved cannot be taken away from us.  It's for that I love the shot not for how we are stood or how we look or even should look or be stood. 

We've done something we will be eternally proud of and this is only the start, we have plenty ahead of us with charity events, 10k's and half marathons as a starter. But for now it 's time for bed so we can get up and celebrate just what we have achieved.


Monday, 7 May 2012

It's the Final Countdown

Well here we are with only 6 days to go before we get on the train for the London Moonwalk 2012.  A 26.2 mile (marathon) walk around the streets of London for Walk the Walk (raising awareness for breast cancer).  We've eaten healthily, we've pounded streets and treadmills, we've laughed, we've cried, we've socialised but more importantly we have bonded friendships that will last a lifetime.

I have to say that when I posted the event on facebook 11 months ago (to the day!) asking if anyone was interested I never expected either the interest or the friendships I received for the event. 

When we chose our team name for The Moonwalk and became The Yorkshire Follies we quickly established ourselves to be a small group of people not only wanted to better our own lives but improving the lives of others around us less fortunate.  We have held talks, charity nights, quizzes, raffles, cake stalls amongst other events and raised well in excess of £2,500 for charities including Headway, WTW, Movember, HER breast friends and Run for All to name but a few. 

We have had the pleasure of having a feature in our local paper we have monthly meetings, we have our own bank account and our fundraising is going from strength to strength.

So why do I feel so down at the moment?? :o(

Whenever I have done challenges before I have always been quiet on the week leading up to an event.  It always leads me back to the beginning of my own journey, why I started, what I have achieved and what I have gained (and lost!) along the way. 

Next to the loss of our daughter losing my Dad was one of the most devastating days of my life.  He was my precious Dad, my role model and my friend, the man I looked up too and confided in. In a funny sort of way I look forward to this week because I feel so close to him, I know he watches over me all the time and I know he helps me through.  Not that I don't think of him all the time but it's as though this week is 'his' week because I concentrate on him all the more.  I remember the precious memories of times we had together and know he is smiling down on me with pride.

This week seems so different to all my other challenges though.  I have only ever had myself to think about before, myself to worry about and myself to get through. Over the last year I seem to have managed to change not only my life but of others around me. 

What started out as a little walk down Thirtlby Lane seemed to spiral quite rapidly into new beginnings.  Next weekend I have 6 other people depending on me to help them succeed.  I have helped them train as much as I possibly can, I've advised them to the best of my ability and now it is their turn to shine.  The girls have set there first ever challenge and I'm proud of each and every one of them. 

Katy, Jayne, Annmarie, Jane, Caroline and Tina
From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you and wish each and everyone of you good luck. 
I know that you will succeed not just through your training but through pure guts and determination and I am proud to be walking beside you.
I hope I've done you proud.
Lots of love

Unfortunately, although we will be starting the Moonwalk together, work and family ties have not seen some of the Follies train as much as others to finish as a team.  It is a little disappointing but it is as difficult for a faster member to slow down as it is for a slower member to speed up so we have decided between us that we would be together for as long as we need to and then use the hotel as our meeting point.  I have every confidence that we will all cross the finish line and be sporting our medals when we go out to dinner on Sunday evening.

Tomorrow we have a talk at our local toddler group and our local school are hosting a 'dress in pink day' for us on Friday with us going into assembly to explain what we have been up too and to see us off. 

So next time you hear from us we will have medals round our necks and memories to cherish with our first Yorkshire Follies challenge behind us.

And what's next... We have a 10k at the beginning of June, the Humber bridge half marathon at the end of June, Race for life in July and The Great North Run in September!!  Look forward to catching up with you soon