the happy – hurting debate

Pretty much every day since the 16th I have thought about what I was doing on the corresponding day one year ago. Today in 2014, I was walking the longest walk of the long walk, 26 miles from Carhampton, my sister Joy’s house, to Bridgwater. It wasn’t the hardest day I had but it was not an easy one, especially since it was followed by two more 20-ish milers on the next two days. Today in 2015, I am nowhere near the same specimen but I did manage 17 miles and, given this was after the longest break from walking for over three years, 27 days, I am pretty happy with that, yet knowing there is considerably more work to do on the walking front before the Wight Challenge in precisely nine weeks time.

My feet are either black and blue, or perhaps pink and white, depending on your viewpoint. Not that I am gong to post photos of my toes as I did one year and two days ago with a nice nascent and juicy blister, which fortunately cleared after a bit of tlc on my rest day at Joy’s. There are certain pressure points on my feet that need me to keep up with the walking in order to avoid blisters or pain after a decent distance. Mine are generally on the sole, the fleshy bits close to the toes, rather than the toes or heels themselves (which are more common with many walkers). The first hour and a half were a decent pace down to Stubbington, and a fairly leisurely coffee, during which an old guy was looking at me every minute or so while I was reading the paper – which happened to be the Daily Mail, because the other options from the rack were The Sun (er, no) and The Times (which we have at home). As soon as I showed the first sign of finishing and leaving he approached and asked for “your Daily Mail please”. Ok, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he had similar reasons to mine!

Starting up again and a troop eastward, marvelling at the incredibly challenging job the Rowner Tourist Board must have in marketing their area to anyone with any concerns for their physical and mental well-being. Two blokes having quite a heated discussion near The Green Dragon was something I was apt to glance towards rather than watch, though I doubt whether either protagonist could have aimed a blow without falling over themselves and actually winning the bout for his opponent. I was half waiting for some Rowner Lil to appear on the scene and screech, “Leave him Wayne, he ain’t wurf it”. No worries, chuckling under my breath, I was approaching the Elson area on the edge of Gosport before I headed north to Fareham, stopping briefly for sustenance on the go.

There are a number of cycle/footpaths/ratwalks away from the main roads and I did take advantage of those at least so I could listen to my radio without the volume control exercised excessively and I just skirted Fareham town centre before a direct route home. I must have looked pretty knackered in the final three miles or so but I was happy in myself. That was a good distance and I had pushed myself as hard as I had needed to. With the sunsets getting later, there are opportunities to take up really good distances now. I have had correspondence from the Wight Challenge organisers to take part in night walks but I’m not quite ready for that – my body clock is never very resilient to very late nights and I would probably need at least the Monday and Tuesday off work to recover from one of those!

Do I hurt more or am I more happy? Probably happy but everybody hurts…..sometimes……

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Not walking the walk yet

Three weeks since my last walk and I’m afraid it will be another week at least until my next one. It has not been a good fortnight or so with what has been diagnosed as a sinus infection really knocking me back. The effect was at first to give me constant pain across the top row of teeth in particular. Antibiotics are gradually sorting me out but having the common side effect of nausea as well as weakness from being unable to eat everything I want. If there is one good thing to come out of this, I have been unable to bite my nails for about 10 days!

So this is not ideal preparation for walking 106 km (66 miles) at the start of May. I will need a couple of weekends at least to catch up with where I was three weeks ago. Still, it pays to be positive and I have at least booked accommodation for that May weekend. A bit niggled that all b&bs and hotels have applied a Round The Island multiplication factor for that weekend and many have a minimum 3 day booking. Add to that that I will only be there for 2 of the 3 nights. Still, I have found somewhere that looks and sounds good.

But certainly no walk tomorrow. About as strenuous as it will get will be walking to the local shop to get a paper and to the cricket ground to have a look at the scorers’ box. Looking forward to next Saturday at least.

It’ll be all wight

Hoping still to get some walking in on Sunday and perhaps even a short one on Saturday afternoon. We have fence panels being delivered on the Saturday and the priority is to get a fence up and, er, running on that day since it’s been a bit of a mess for a few weeks now since the high winds. The weather appears to be dry and slightly warmer on Saturday, so it just has to be done then. No walking last weekend and a timely reminder email from the organisers of The Wight Challenge that it is not that long to go (2-3 May) until the off and that we’d better get training. Ok, ok, I am doing as much as I can!

IOW Route

The route is anti-clockwise with major stops at 32, 54 and 79 kilometres – and refreshment stops halfway between these. I will be issued with a start time in a few weeks (I think I requested a 10am start but I can’t remember) and so I should be somewhere around Chale, just over half distance, by sunset. Apparently masseuses and medics are available at that point, as well as being a hot food point. Walking in the dark won’t be entirely new to me but at least I should have the company of others and the 79km point, somewhere around sunrise or just before, does also supply a breakfast before the final slog (and it will be a slog) up to the finish at West Cowes.

Quite looking forward to this now. I do need to really get fit and I will enjoy doing that, despite the pain that entails. There is a feeling of achievement even getting to the point when I can walk 20 miles without distress, and that is around the point I am at the moment. Will gradually build up now, to a week at the start of April with six days walking, some very decent distances within those. Could have done without a rather nasty bug or cold-like thing that has troubled me this week, mostly via aching teeth, but that will pass and it is certainly better today. Have been investigating accommodation for May on IOW, probably for three nights (though I won’t take advantage of the sleeping facilities on the second night!) and will have Pammy to support me before and after, perhaps even some time during. Astounded what a mark-up many B&Bs and hotels in West Cowes have for this particular weekend – and the Cowes week later in the summer. That’s ok, the sailing fraternity already has more money than sense.  However, for me, that will still be better than camping, which is a popular alternative for many in this event.

Also reminded that I have to raise a minimum of £475 and half of that by 23 March. If you have a few spare quid, then think about donating to SANDS https://www.justgiving.com/Keith-Spicer2. If you are not already aware of the great work done by SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support charity) then please feel free to browse their website http://www.uk-sands.org/. I should make the halfway mark as soon as I sort out the revenue from the calendars – a profit of well over £100 – and thank you ever so much to everyone who bought one, and many even paid more than the asking price. If anybody still wants one, I still have a few lying around.

Hard yakka hard tracker

The Wight Challenge is under three months away and a training plan is well under way. Yes, a plan and not the training, yet. Well, actually, I am doing a decent distance of almost 20 miles each weekend. But 66 miles in one go is a jump, to say the least.
So just as I did a couple of years back, I am going to have a week of walks that should really test me. This is likely to be the week leading up to Good Friday and Easter Saturday. This will also be the first week after the clocks go forward and this should help in the early evenings. All of these walks will be kicking off in the earlier part of the morning in order to get the miles in. Suggestions for decent length walks very welcome – preferably in the South Hampshire and West Sussex area.
Here are my thoughts for what could be possible so far:

Train to Christchurch and walk back to Sarisbury through New Forest and Lyndhurst, Southampton. Reckon about 32 miles or thereabouts. Would be the farthest I have done in one day (currently 28).

A round island perimeter walk on Portsea Island, hoping it is not too windy on the seafront. I think that is about 17 miles – and I can divert inland if I want to take in more miles.

Something similar around Hayling Island. Parking can be a bit of a pain so I might take a train or get a lift to Havant. The Hayling Billy Trail might be interesting, though there were a couple of muggings of women last year! Not certain what the distance would be.

The recent walk to Knowle Village could be extended by turning left onto the A32 to Wickham, which would take me over 20 miles in total. There are a couple of interesting looking paths that I could take on this route.

The walk from Swaythling to Winchester. This was a path (is that called the Itchen Way – I think so) that Pammy and I took the year before last, only to find a collapsed (vandalised) bridge just north of Eastleigh that made the water innavigable. That bridge has been restored and so that should be a nice 15 miles or so, coming back on the train to Swaythling. If I am really fit and feeling good, could be a late lunch in Winchester and walking back.

For light relief, Hindhead, the old A3 was repatriated to nature. This has left a lovely looking little network of grassy paths and it would be a nice relaxing wander. Probably the shortest day of the six or seven.

As I said, nothing is set in stone. Any suggestions gladly received. The South Downs Way is not too far away so that is an option. Blimey, I feel knackered just thinking about this.

A sad day

A very up and down week, at work in particular, and I am hoping for better in the next few days. 18 mile walk today in pretty cold conditions, finding some previously untrodden roads, listening to tennis and various football on my little friend of a radio that I have had for about 10 years. Quite pleased with my fitness, all things being equal, and ready to step up, no pun intended (which always means that it is intended) to greater distances as the days start to get longer. But I am desperately sad today to hear of the passing of a good friend from cricket after a 4 year fight against cancer. So, to be quite frank, I don’t have the heart to talk too much about today’s walk. RIP Debbie Lander.