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……