This having a job thing really takes up a lot of time doesn't it?!
Combined with Monday football, Tuesday yoga, Wednesday walking, Thursday climbing, Friday socialising, and Weekend chores I find myself with very little time to spare to write anything about what I've been up to.
And a week and a half ago I did a thing that warrants telling you all a tale. I'll also pepper the post with some photos I took whilst doing the thing, not necessarily with any particular reference to the text though.
I'll cut to the point. On Saturday 26th September, I walked around twenty one and a half miles.
It caused me a large quantity of pain, and I ended up missing out on some Cambridge based pub frivolity in the evening, but there was a reason I walked such an excessive distance.
A while ago I bought a copy of The Big Issue, in which was an advert for Macmillan Cancer Support regarding a sponsored swim. I can't remember the specifics at this point, but I did look it up on the internet thinking that I could take part and raise a bit of cash for a good cause.
The event happened to be taking place on the weekend I looked it up. Not much chance of taking part after all.
I did hang around on the website though, perusing some of the other fund raising events, and came across a sponsored walk that took my fancy.
The London 2 Brighton Challenge is taking place in May next year and I am considering signing up.
The route is 100km, a third on road and two thirds off road. It can be tackled by running, jogging, or walking. It's predicted that walking will take around the 24 hour mark.
This sounds like a challenge to me. But one that maybe I can achieve.
For quite a while now I have been embarking on hour long walks two to three times a week, partly for fitness and partly for pleasure. Whilst in Australia I walked an awful lot because it was cheaper than public transport, and I occasionally walked for 5 or 6 hours in one go. As a result, my fondness for walking distances is growing.
Upon discovering the challenge I began thinking.
Firstly some numbers; I walk at an average pace of about 10 minutes per km. If I could achieve that pace for 100km it would take me 1000 minutes, 16.7 hours. The walk has a couple of break points for food and a rest (I'm not sure how long for), and I'd probably have a slower average pace over such a large distance, but completing the course in 24 hours would be feasible with a pace just shy of 15 minutes per km.
But can I really walk that far in one go? Some training would be needed, but maybe if I could walk half the distance in one go without training, I'd be able to do the whole thing after training?!
My current living arrangements put me very close to Cambridgeshire's guided busway which runs all the way to St Ives (not the one in Cornwall), with a foot/cycle/inline skate/ski (yes, ski) path running along the entire length.
How far is it to St Ives from my house? 10.7 miles down the busway (according to Google Maps). And 10.7 miles back of course. 21.4 miles total.
21.4 miles is 34.4km. Not quite the 50km half distance mark, but still a good starting point.
Allowing myself 8 hours to walk there and back, I set off bright and early Saturday morning with a pack of sausage rolls, a couple of drinks bottles, and some rain proof clothing (just in case) strapped to my back in my trusty rucksack. My camera came too of course.
It was slightly misty when I left the house, and there was a refreshing chill in the air but soon the sun had climbed higher, revealing a bright, clear blue sky. And as you can see by the picture right at the top of this post, there is a huge amount of sky in the fens.
Whilst on my journey, I couldn't help being reminded of a book from my youth, the name of which eludes me (and Google searches), in which a boy moves from Yorkshire to the fens. I remember the boy stating at one point that "there's too much sky". A very astute observation.
I think there's also a windmill involved with the book. I could be making things up, but this didn't help any inaccuracies that my brain may be suffering.
The busway runs underneath the road that this windmill sits next to. The bridge that has been constructed to accommodate this crossing of roads has, at some point in time, been painted.
I'll be honest, I would like to know what it's like for anyone who uses the guided busway to commute to and from work, traveling past this twice a day. Good going Mr./Mrs. street artist!
Anyway. By 11am I had reached St Ives. Half way to complete success. I wandered around the quaint little town centre and paused in Costa for a toasted sandwich and a rather disappointing cup of tea before setting off on the return leg.
The way back was much the same as the way there, just in the opposite direction. The busway became more populated with runners and cyclists as the day wore on. Oh, and do you remember I mentioned a ski path earlier, a couple of chaps made there way past me on skis. The skis had wheels so they would work on concrete, but the men were clad in lycra and used big poles to propel themselves. I used my iPhone to hastily capture the action as best as I could (not very well!).
The walk home wasn't as plain sailing as the first half. When I got about a third of the way home (near Swavesey) I started feeling a slight twang in my left ankle.
After pressing on, with the ankle twang becoming more ankle pain I considered stopping at the next bus stop (it wouldn't be a busway without bus stops!) and getting a ride home. In actual fact, I considered this a few times. Every time I limped past a bus stop as it happens. I was determined.
And that determination paid off.
After 7 and a half hours (including the half hour break in Costa), I walked through the garden gate and unceremoniously took all the weight off my ankle by collapsing on the floor.
I had averaged about 12.5 minutes per km which isn't bad going. And I had walked a third of the distance required for the London 2 Brighton Challenge.
I was in considerable pain though. And my ankle worried me.
My left ankle is the one that I have landed on badly after a failed attempt at a bouldering wall. It's also been whacked pretty hard trying to pop myself onto a surf board. And there was that time I sprained it on a curb whilst failing to drunkenly climb a bus shelter.
It's had some abuse in the past, and it really didn't seem to enjoy walking over 20 miles. Ibuprofen and Dominos pizza helped considerably, and thankfully I had stopped limping and could walk normally again within a couple of days.
I say thankfully because the very short recovery time points to having suffered a bruise as a result of repetitive impact, and not tendon damage or a nasty sprain.
So now I'm left with the contemplation of whether or not to sign up for the challenge. Once signed up I'd be committed to walking the full 100km, and the minimum amount I'd have to raise is £400. I'm not sure what charity I'd support yet either, that'd be a decision for another day though.
I'm a bit busy at the moment to make the final decision of whether to sign up, but I'll certainly give it some further consideration in the near future, maybe after another test walk to see how my ankle does.
What do you think, should I go for it?
Would you be willing to join in the challenge?
Here are some bricks.