Not my greatest

Two walks in two days and about the same distance today, this time just under the 14.5 miles. But it was a struggle, so much more difficult than I expected and so much more difficult than it should be. After all, it’s not the first time I’ve walked on consecutive days. It just goes to show how hard I now have to work to get to any sort of fitness level that would allow me a decent chance of completing London2Brighton.

I’m actually quite upset. With me self-funding for that event at the end of May, and not walking for any specific charity, I only have myself to answer to, but that is not the point. It really should not be beyond me to walk this sort of distance two days in a row pretty comfortably. There are no excuses on the weather front, though it was pretty chilly. Neither were there any more inclines than normal. I didn’t have a coffee break, but I did buy some milk, a box of Viennese whirls and a sausage roll, containing easily sufficient energy, and sat down on a bench for a few minutes with those.

This will hang over me this week. I guess I might be walking just one day next weekend, though I am considering a Friday afternoon walk too. Sunday is Mothering Sunday, the first since my mother passed away. Pammy has kindly offered to be my mother for this year, possibly in the hope of getting a present, and I will no doubt be doing something with her next Sunday. It doesn’t somehow feel appropriate to take her on a 20 mile walk to celebrate the day!

But I need to build up both fitness and confidence quickly for London2Brighton. I have booked the hotel in Richmond for the Friday, and for Friday and Saturday in Brighton for Pammy. I can’t let that weekend be another let-down.


The Edge regained

Decided on an amended strategy this weekend. Having suffered stiffness for a couple of days after the previous two walks, I have opted for two short walks for this weekend, one today and one tomorrow. Another factor is the two long rail journeys in the last two days, to Leeds on Thursday and back on Friday, that don’t do marvels for my back or legs. Not a deep vein thrombosis situation, but four and a half hours each way is a fair time sitting down in a confined space. You can only get up and walk around so many times, especially when there is standing room only for much of the journey.

So we’re looking at short walks. A short walk to me is anything under 15 miles, ho ho, and I could feel the effect today as I set off, the travelling having served to take the edge off the feeling of fitness, especially in the legs. I was not especially enthusiastic initially, but gradually broke into a relaxed afternoon stroll, with the odd speedy section. I drifted in the general direction of Fareham, looking down some different side roads, and did the same on the way back, but with greater diversions that built the distance up to near the maximum for a ‘short walk’. Google Maps gives it as 14.6 miles (normally rounded to 14.5) and feeling nothing serious in any aches and pains.

Having plenty of time to kill yesterday, I read back over the blog and the very long walk two years ago. One thing that struck me was that I must have made a point of discussing aches, pains, injuries and possible blisters, since they were mentioned more days than not. I must have sounded quite neurotic! It did bring back some great memories and I appreciated more than ever the visits of my friends, those who walked with me and the plethora of wonderful comments and support. It was an absolutely magical time, though I didn’t always realise it at the time. I had been reminded of the walk by a BBC Breakfast review of Bill Turnbull’s spell, the ‘highlight’ of which was his coverage of the Lockerbie disaster, not only at the time but of a revisit to the town many years later. I recognised a few places (especially the concrete sheep), which was remarkable, given I only spent one night there.

Hankering a bit for another long walk. London2Brighton will be a great challenge but I fancy a longer slog over a few weeks. Not sure how possible that will be in the short term at least. Next thing will be another short walk tomorrow. Will be good to build up the recovery fitness. Hopefully shouldn’t have any stiffness in the morning.


Food and Drink please, Jim

Super, smashing, great. Oh for the days of Bullseye, when Sunday wouldn’t be the same without a bit of Bully. You can catch up with re-runs on Challenge TV (Freeview channel 46) and it is funny to look back and see how basic the programme was and particularly how rubbish the first two series were. Food and Drink also was the subject on the subject board used in Round 1 at which I would be worst.

Jim Bowen

This week, however, has seen two questions on Food and Drink that I now can answer.

  • How much sugar is in a large skinny vanilla latte?
  • What is the best thing to eat before going on a run or a long walk?

The first of those has received a lot of news coverage. A large skinny vanilla (or caramel) latte is my usual refreshing beverage in the middle of a long walk. It is shocking to discover that, depending on the outlet, it contains the equivalent of between 9 and 13 teaspoons of sugar. No wonder that I am not shifting too many pounds despite the amount of walking I do. From now on, if it is a coffee joint that I am to visit, it will be an Americano that I purchase, though I will add one teaspoon of sugar just to combat the bitterness. The answer to the second question is surprisingly simple, not an ultra high isotonic mixture, but water and either a banana or pear. These have high fibre, so I will follow the spirit of that advice by having one of my smoothies, packed with high fibre fruits and the odd vegetable.

Onto Bully’s Prize Board. Iiiiiiinn one….. An overcast morning and, after a couple of miles during which I cleared my mind of cluttered thoughts and minor niggles, I settled down to a well paced walk eastwards. I felt I had not a care in the world at times and that helps maintain a good rhythm and it was clear I was walking at a much quicker pace than normal. Fareham was reached in 94 minutes, instead of the standard 100, and there was no need to stop other than for a quick toilet break. Portchester was another 40 minutes and Cosham (via North Harbour and skimming the very northernmost points of Portsea Island) was another 55. My thighs were slightly achy by now and a half hour stop for an, er, Americano and a skim of one of the Sunday papers was both needed and deserved.

The coffee did leave a slight after taste but nothing too unpleasant. It shouldn’t have been too surprising that the walk back home was much tougher, a lot due to a stiff breeze from the west that I had never noticed behind me on the first leg of the walk today. I was determined to just tough it out and, after four miles or so where the roads were straight and allowed more exposure to the wind, it became gradually easier. A little sustenance was needed just to take the edge off a feeling of tiredness and biscuits are normally pretty good for that. A total of 22 miles for the day and I am likely to feel that for a day or two while I am not yet at the peak of fitness. That needs to be a comfortable distance by the time I do London to Brighton at the end of May and so each of the next few weekends will have a walk of at least that length. Planning a week of walks just after Easter when the clocks go forward. That will be Bully’s Special Prize, and not a speedboat in sight.

Out of the mouths of babes

Recent walks have been short of really humorous incidents but today’s had two, both relating to young children. This was my first walk for two weeks, after last weekend when the weather was not great and I was feeling under, er, the weather. In addition, Pammy and I celebrated our wedding anniversary so a long solitary walk wouldn’t really have been playing the game.

I was in a very good mood this morning, having watched Pompey win well on the Saturday and I was rather up for a few miles today. I took a familiar route into Southampton over the Itchen Bridge, feeling the chill of a decent breeze as I neared the city. I stopped for a coffee, feeling slightly tired after a late night and gave a yawn just as a young boy, no more than 5 years old, walked past with his parents. “You should put your hand to your mouth”, he said, and I was rather taken aback, being accustomed to being left alone to drink coffee and read the paper. His father looked embarrassed and appeared on the verge of admonishing his son, until I smiled and laughed, responding, “Yes you’re absolutely right, it was a bit rude.”

I was still chuckling to myself for some time as I entered Shirley. Lucky old Shirley, you might say, but it is a route I usually take when I need a few miles under a rather tightening belt. I was royally entertained by the three football matches on the radio this afternoon, and despite normally having little real interest in the Premier League apart from for Fantasy Football, I have to say that this is the most interesting title chase for years and it appears now to be a three way chase with little to choose between the three, and only Man City are within touching distance of them. Some good commentaries on good matches made the miles fly past but at around 12 or 13 miles my feet and legs were feeling it. Once I had turned squarely for home and up one of the steepest hills in the area, Woodmill Lane from Swaythling towards Bitterne, I got a second wind and the rest of the walk was pretty easy.

Just short of home, I popped into a local One Stop (other convenience stores are not available anywhere nearby) to pick up some milk for the recovery tonight. I waited at the front of a queue behind a young lad purchasing some Panini-style football stickers but wasn’t sure which of the two types he really wanted. The cashier was being extremely helpful, while smiling somewhat awkwardly at the rapidly lengthening queue. “This one is for the Champions League so you could get Barcelona or Real Madrid, and this one is for the Premiership, so it could be Man United or Liverpool.” I was almost minded to inform him that it was the Premier League rather than the Premiership, but I bit my pedantic tongue. The boy, around 7 years old, opted for the Champions League ones and the cashier rang up £4.00. The boy then got out his wallet and a visa card, which amused and annoyed everyone in approximately equal measure. When did 7 year olds start to have credit cards? He typed in his PIN, without attempting to hide it, and without criticising him, ok, forget that, he didn’t exactly show much imagination in his PIN – it would probably have been one of my first three or four guesses for a child’s PIN.

The milk had not quite matured beyond its sell by date when I reached home, having walked around an hour in the dark. That does not bother me at all in familiar surroundings since I know where I am going and it is quite different otherwise when I need to check directions. Given my apparent shortage of fitness, 20 miles was (were) absolutely fantastic. Decidedly chipper tonight but this is just an early step to getting fit enough for future expeditions. Must remind myself to sort out the dates for the week of pain, now a regular annual event in the spring for me. Could be the week before or after Easter.